The Beginning Of The End
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If Everything Is Just Fine, Why Are So Many Really Smart People Forecasting Economic Disaster?

Apocalyptic Disaster - Public DomainThe parallels between the false prosperity of 2007 and the false prosperity of 2014 are rather striking.  If we go back and look at the numbers in the fall of 2007, we find that the Dow set an all-time high in October, margin debt on Wall Street had spiked to record levels, the unemployment rate was below 5 percent and Americans were getting ready to spend a record amount of money that Christmas season.  But then the very next year the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression shook the entire planet and everyone wondered why most people never saw it coming.  Well, now a similar pattern is unfolding right before our eyes.  The Dow and the S&P 500 both hit record highs on Monday, margin debt on Wall Street is hovering near record levels, the unemployment rate has ticked down a little bit and Americans are getting ready to spend more than 600 billion dollars this Christmas season.  The truth is that the economy seems pretty stable for the moment, and most people cannot even imagine that an economic collapse is coming.  So why are so many really smart people forecasting economic disaster in the near future?

For example, just consider what the Jerome Levy Forecasting Center is saying.  This is an organization with a tremendous economic forecasting record that goes all the way back to the Great Depression.  In fact, it predicted ahead of time the financial trouble and the recession that would happen in 2008.  Well, now this company is forecasting that there is a 65 percent chance that there will be a global recession by the end of next year…

In 1929, a businessman and economist by the name of Jerome Levy didn’t like what he saw in his analysis of corporate profits. He sold his stocks before the October crash.

Almost eight decades later, the consultancy company that bears his name declared “the next recession will be caused by the deflating housing bubble.” By February 2007, it predicted problems in the subprime-mortgage market would spread “to virtually all financial markets.” In October 2007, it saw imminent recession — the slump began two months later.

The Jerome Levy Forecasting Center, based in Mount Kisco, New York, and run by Jerome’s grandson David, is again more worried than its peers. Its half-dozen analysts attach a 65 percent probability of a worldwide recession forcing a contraction in the U.S. by the end of next year.

Could they be wrong?

It’s certainly possible.

But I wouldn’t bet against them.

John Hussman is another expert that is warning of financial disaster on the horizon.  He believes that we are experiencing a massive stock market bubble right now and that stocks are approximately double the value that they should be

If you look at corporate profits and especially corporate profit margins, they’re one of the most cyclical and mean-reverting series in economics. Right now, we have corporate profits that are close to about 11% of GDP, but if you look at that series you will find that corporate profits as a share of GDP have always dropped back to about 5.5% or below in every single economic cycle including recent decades, including not only the financial crisis but 2002 and every other economic cycle we have been in.

Right now stocks as a multiple of last year’s expected earnings may look only modestly over valued or modestly richly valued. Really if you look at the measures of valuation that are most correlated to the returns that stocks deliver over time say over seven years or over the next 10 years the S&P 500 in our estimation is about double the level of valuation that would give investors a normal rate of return.

Could you imagine the chaos that would ensue if stocks really did drop by 50 percent?

Well, Hussman says that this is precisely what must happen in order for stock prices to return to historical norms…

Right now, like I say, we are looking at stocks that have been pressed to long-term expected returns that are really dismal. But more important than that, in every market cycle that we’ve seen with the mild exception of 2002, we’ve seen stocks price revert back to normal rates of return. In order to get to that point from here, we would have to have equities drop by about half.

If that does happen, it will make the crisis of 2008 look like a Sunday picnic.

Meanwhile, other very prominent thinkers are also warning that an economic nightmare is rapidly approaching.

Economic cycle theorist Martin Armstrong foresees major economic problems in 2015 which will ultimately lead to “civil unrest”  in 2016

It looks more and more like a serious political uprising will erupt by 2016 once the economy turns down. That is the magic ingredient. Turn the economy down and you get civil unrest and revolution.

And of course there are a whole lot of other economic cycle theorists that are forecasting that we are about to experience a massive economic downturn as well.  For much more on this, please see this article and this article.

What is truly frightening is that we have never even come close to recovering from the last economic crisis.  One poll that was taken just prior to the recent election found that only 28 percent of Americans said that their families were doing better financially.  In addition, here are some more survey numbers about how Americans are feeling about the economy

According to voter exit polls conducted by CNN, 78% said they are worried about the economy, with 69% saying that, in their view, economic conditions are not good. 65% responded that the country is on the wrong track vs. only 31% who believed that it is headed in the right direction.

Even though we are repeating so many of the same patterns that we experienced back in 2007, we are doing so with a fundamentally weaker economy.  The last crisis did a tremendous amount of permanent damage to us.  For an extensive look at this, please see my previous article entitled “12 Charts That Show The Permanent Damage That Has Been Done To The U.S. Economy“.

And there are lots of signs that much of the planet is already entering another major economic slowdown.  In a recent article, Brandon Smith summarized some of these.  He says that we are currently witnessing “the last gasp of the global economy“…

Global exports, and thus consumer demand, are plunging. Germany, the only pillar left to prop up the failing European Union, has experienced a severe decline in exports not seen since 2009.

China, the largest exporter and importer in the world, and Chinese companies, have been caught in a number of instances using fraudulent invoices to artificially inflate their own export numbers, in some cases reporting 50% more exported goods than had actually existed.

China’s manufacturing has also declined for the past five months, exposing the nature of its inflated export stats and indicating a global slowdown.

The Baltic Dry Index, a measure of global shipping rates for raw goods, and thus a measure of demand for shipping, continues to drag along near historic lows.

The U.S. consumer (the only economic asset the U.S. has besides the dollar’s world reserve status), has seen declines in spending as well as wages.

In the meantime, long term jobless Americans continue to fall off welfare rolls by the millions, making unemployment numbers look good, but the overall future picture look terrible as participation rates dissolve into the ether of government statistics.

How is such poverty being hidden? Foodstamps. Plain and simple. Nearly 50 million Americans now subsist on food stamp programs today, and this number shows no signs of dropping. In states like Illinois, two people sign up for food assistance for every citizen that happens to find a job.

From time to time, I get accused of “spreading fear” and of being obsessed with “doom and gloom”.

But that is not the case at all.

I actually want our economy to stay stable for as long as possible.  Many Americans don’t realize this, but even the poorest of us live in luxury compared to much of the rest of the world.  It would be wonderful if we could all live out our lives in peace and quiet and safety.

Unfortunately, it is simply not going to happen.

And it does not take an expert to see what is coming.

Anyone with half a brain should be able to see the economic disaster that is approaching.

There is hope in understanding what is happening and there is hope in getting prepared.  Millions of Americans that are willingly blind to our problems are going to have their lives absolutely destroyed when they get blindsided by the coming crisis.  So please use this brief period of relative stability to get prepared and to warn others.

Once this false bubble of hope runs out, all of our lives are going to dramatically change.

The Worst In The World – The U.S. Balance Of Trade Is Mind-Blowingly Bad

Did you know that we buy about a half a trillion dollars more stuff from the rest of the world than they buy from us?  The U.S. balance of trade is not only mind-blowingly bad – it is the worst in the world.  It is being projected that the U.S. trade deficit for 2011 will be 558.2 billion dollars.  That would be an increase of more than 11 percent from last year.  As I have written about previously, the United States is the worst in the world at a lot of things, but as far as the economic well-being of our nation is concerned, our balance of trade is particularly important.  Every single month, far more money goes out of this country than comes into it.  Tax revenues are significantly reduced as all of this money gets sucked out of our communities.  The federal government, state governments and local governments borrow gigantic piles of money to try to make up the difference, but all of this borrowing just makes our debt problems a whole lot worse.  In the end, no amount of government debt is going to be able to cover over the fact that our national economic pie is shrinking.  We are continually consuming far more wealth than we produce, and that is a recipe for economic disaster.

The “current account balance” is one key indicator of how a country is doing economically.  The following is how the CIA World Factbook defines “current account balance”….

This entry records a country’s net trade in goods and services, plus net earnings from rents, interest, profits, and dividends, and net transfer payments (such as pension funds and worker remittances) to and from the rest of the world during the period specified.

If someone were to ask you what countries in the world have strong, thriving economies right now, what countries would you think of?

Would countries like China, Germany, Russia and Saudi Arabia come to mind?

Well, all of those nations have huge positive current account balances.  In fact, China has the best current account balance in the world at +$305 billion.

So who is on the other end of the scale?

The following information comes directly from a CIA World Factbook chart….

190 Turkey $ -48,420,000,000

191 Canada $ -48,500,000,000

192 India $ -51,780,000,000

193 France $ -54,400,000,000

194 United Kingdom $ -56,190,000,000

195 Spain $ -63,650,000,000

196 Italy $ -67,940,000,000

197 United States $ -470,200,000,000

The United States is rated dead last at number 197.

Just take a close look at those numbers for a minute.

The U.S. had a current account balance of negative 470 billion dollars in 2010.  That figure was almost 7 times worse than the next worst country (Italy).

Not only does the United States have the worst current account balance in the entire world, the truth is that no other country is even in the same ballpark as us.

We are bleeding wealth so fast that it is hard to even describe it.

But perhaps a real life example can help put this all into perspective.

One 22-year-old Saudi Arabian student has a collection of sports cars that is worth more than 12 million dollars.  Reportedly, his collection includes at least three Lamborghinis, five Ferraris and five Porsches.

And guess who paid for it?

You did.

Every month, billions of dollars go out of the United States to help pay for the insane lifestyles of the ultra-wealthy oil barons of the Middle East.

Meanwhile, dozens of major U.S. cities are degenerating into hellholes.

Once upon a time, Detroit was one of the greatest industrial cities that the world has ever seen.  It was the envy of the entire globe.

But now Detroit is an utter nightmare….

*An analysis of census figures found that 48.5% of all men living in Detroit from age 20 to age 64 did not have a job in 2008.

*If you can believe it, the median price of a home in Detroit is now just $6000.

*Only 25 percent of students in Detroit graduate from high school.

So what happened to Detroit?

Well, just as has been happening in so many other U.S. cities, industry has been leaving at an astounding pace.

As I have written about previously, an average of 23 manufacturing facilities a day were shut down in the United States during 2010.

Overall, the U.S. has lost a total of more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities since 2001.

This country is bleeding middle class jobs profusely, and neither major political party seems to care.

American family budgets are being stretched tighter and tighter these days.  There are not nearly enough good jobs to go around and yet the cost of everything just seems to keep going up.

Many families are going into massive amounts of debt in an attempt to make ends meet.  According to a recent CNN article, credit card use in the United States is experiencing a major upswing once again….

Purchases made with credit cards rose 8.2% in the first quarter of 2011, 9% in the second quarter and 10.6% in the third quarter, according to First Data.

Of course American consumers were out in force on Black Friday once again this year.  They gleefully filled up their carts with cheap plastic crap made overseas, and many racked up huge credit card balances in the process.

But most of us never stop to think about those that make all of these cheap plastic products for us.

Thanks to the globalization of the economy, big corporations and corrupt governments can make stuff in countries where it is legal to pay slave labor wages and then ship their products into the United States for free.

It is important for all of us to learn what actually happens to these people that are working so hard for slave labor wages.  The following comes from a recent article in the Guardian….

At the Hung Hing factory the researcher found that the 8,000 workers put in up to 100 hours of overtime a month, far in excess of the legal maximum. Workers say they have to sign a document agreeing to work additional overtime on top of the legal maximum. The basic wage was £132 a month (up to £250 with maximum overtime payments) but wages were paid up to three weeks late.

Workers complained of inadequate training with the factory machines and last year one worker died when he fell into a machine. They said there were frequent injuries and concerns over the chemicals used. There were also complaints about the standard of the dormitories, where water for washing and flushing toilets is turned off at 10pm.

How in the world are American workers supposed to “compete” for jobs at those wage levels?

As I have written about previously, Professor Alan Blinder of Princeton University is warning that 40 million more U.S. jobs could be sent offshore over the next two decades if nothing is done to stop this.

But instead, our “representatives” in Congress just keep pushing more “free trade” agreements as the answer to our problems.  Congress has passed new free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama, and the Obama administration has made “the NAFTA of the Pacific” a very high priority.

Well, if “free trade” is supposed to create so many jobs, then why was last decade the worst decade for the creation of jobs since the Great Depression?

If you can believe it, zero jobs were created between 1999 and 2009.  The following comes from an article in Washington Monthly….

“If any single number captures the state of the American economy over the last decade, it is zero. That was the net gain in jobs between 1999 and 2009—nada, nil, zip. By painful contrast, from the 1940s through the 1990s, recessions came and went, but no decade ended without at least a 20 percent increase in the number of jobs.”

But our leaders don’t care about us.  In fact, even the members of Obama’s “jobs panel” have been shipping jobs out of the United States at a very rapid pace.

The U.S. has run a negative balance of trade with the rest of the globe every single year since 1976.  During that time, the U.S. has run up a total trade deficit of more than 7.5 trillion dollars with the rest of the planet.

That 7.5 trillion dollars could have gone to support U.S. workers and U.S. businesses.

But it didn’t.  Instead, it went out of the country and it made foreigners wealthier as our own cities slowly rotted.

Now we are actually passing laws that encourage wealthy foreigners to come in and buy up pieces of the United States.

For example, there is actually a bill in Congress that would automatically give residence visas to any foreigners that are willing to spend at least half a million dollars to buy houses inside the United States.

The idea behind the bill is that this will get the housing market moving again.

There aren’t enough Americans with good jobs to buy houses, so we have now decided to beg foreigners to buy them.

How bizarre is that?

Until our horrendous balance of trade is fixed, the employment situation in this country is going to continue to get worse.

Any politician that tries to sell you on a “jobs plan” that does not address our balance of trade is either totally incompetent or is straight out lying to you.

The economic infrastructure of America is crumbling a little bit more every single day.  If something dramatic is not done, we will continue to bleed businesses, bleed jobs and bleed wealth.

Please share this information with as many people as you can.  The American people need to understand what is happening to the economy.  We need to work to wake up as many people as we can before it is too late.

30 Signs That The U.S. Economy Is About To Go Into The Toilet

If you think the U.S. economy is bad now, just wait for a few months.  Things are about to become absolutely nightmarish.  None of the long-term economic trends that are hollowing out our economy have been addressed and more bad economic news seems to come out virtually every single day.  Now there is constant talk of the “next recession” in the mainstream media.  But did the last recession ever truly end?  The number of good jobs continues to decline, more stores are closing, incomes continue to go down, credit card debt and student loan debt are soaring, the housing market resembles a corpse, the number of Americans living in poverty continues to rise and government debt is at unprecedented levels.  We are losing blood fast, and almost all of our leaders are either too corrupt or too incompetent to be able to do anything about it.  The U.S. economy really and truly is about to go into the toilet, and if something is not done very quickly we are going to experience a complete and total economic disaster in this nation.

Americans have been promised over and over that this economic downturn is just “temporary” and that things will return to normal soon.  During this upcoming election cycle, the Democrats will swear that they have all the answers and that if we just elect them everything will be okay.  The Republicans will also swear that they have all the answers and that if we just elect them everything will be okay.

Well, both sides are lying.  The economic plans of both major political parties are a joke.  Neither of them can restore economic prosperity to this nation.

Our politicians could delay the coming economic collapse by borrowing gigantic piles of money and pumping all of that cash into the economy.  But stealing from our children and our grandchildren is not exactly sound economic policy.

Yes, the U.S. economy is in bad shape right now, but things are about to get even worse.  The long-term problems that are destroying our economy have not been fixed, and the leaks in our ship are going to continue to grow.

The following are 30 signs that the U.S. economy is about to go into the toilet….

#1 An increasing number of unemployed Americans have become so desperate that they have started to look for work overseas.  For example, the number of Americans that are submitting applications for temporary work visas in Canada has approximately doubled since 2008.  Other Americans are willing to learn foreign languages and travel to the other side of the world if that is what it takes to land a decent job.  Just consider the following quote from a recent USA Today report….

Job placement firms are reporting a surge in American worker interest in booming economies such as Hong Kong, Singapore, China and, increasingly, India. Hunt Partners, an executive search firm, estimates that it’s getting 50% to 100% more unsolicited résumés from Americans looking for Asia-based positions today than before the recession.

#2 When Barack Obama first took office, the official U.S. unemployment rate was 7.6 percent.  Today it is 9.1 percent.

#3 The number of Americans that are concerned that they will lose their jobs continues to hover near record highs.  According to Gallup, 30 percent of all employed Americans are worried that they will soon be laid off.

#4 After three straight years of very high unemployment, you can feel frustration and desperation in the air almost everywhere that you go.  Many unemployed Americans are now at the end of their ropes.  The following is from a testimonial that was recently posted on The Atlantic….

The most difficult part of the job search is:

1. that I don’t live near a factory or outsource outlet in China, India, or Malaysia.

2. trying not to appear desperate for a job when I am, in fact, quite desperate for a job.

3. that I am subject to everyone’s advice on how to get a job, but no real job leads.

4. that I am reminded that having a good job is not an entitlement.

5. that when I become depressed from my job search, I’m told told to cheer up or else give a bad vibe to prospective employers … yet when I become happy through non-search related activities, I am reminded that I should be looking for work

7. that when I confide to friends and family that I have “given up” to pursue more fruitful interests,  it elicits a crushing look of disbelief, disappointment, and disgust

8. waiting for permission to give up.

#5 The percentage of American men that are employed continues to plummet.  In July, only 63.5 percent of all men in the United States had a job.  Since 1948, that number has only been lower one time (63.3 percent in December 2009).

#6 Back in the 1950s, manufacturing accounted for about 28 percent of U.S. GDP.  Last year, it accounted for just 11.7 percent.  Meanwhile, manufacturing now accounts for about 25 percent of GDP in China and they now actually have more factory production each year than we do.  Sadly, Barack Obama is pushing for even more trade agreements that will send millions more of our jobs overseas.

#7 The percentage of Americans that are working low paying jobs continues to relentlessly march upwards.  Back in 1980, less than 30% of all jobs in the United States were low income jobs.  Today, more than 40% of all jobs in the United States are low income jobs.

#8 According to John Williams of shadowstats.com, after you add in all short-term discouraged workers, all long-term discouraged workers and all Americans that are working part-time because they cannot find full-time employment, the real unemployment rate should be approximately 23 percent.

#9 We are starting to see another huge wave of store closings and layoffs.  For example, the parent company of Payless stores has announced that it will be permanently closing 475 stores.  Borders is in the process of closing every single one of its 399 stores.  Also, Bank of America has just announced that it will be closing about 600 branches, and that could result in the loss of about 30,000 good jobs.

#10 Median household income has fallen for three years in a row.

#11 Americans are really starting to rack up consumer debt once again.  According to Time Magazine, U.S. consumers are on pace to collectively add 54 billion dollars in credit card debt in 2011.

#12 Student loan defaults are rising very sharply. Just consider the following excerpt from a recent New York Times article….

The share of federal student loan defaults rose sharply last year, especially at for-profit colleges and universities, where 15 percent of borrowers defaulted in the first two years of repayment, up from 11.6 percent the previous year.

#13 According to a chart in The Economist, whenever the number of newspaper articles in the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal that mention the word “recession” goes over 1,500 in a particular quarter, the U.S. economy almost always goes into a recession.

#14 The U.S. housing crash just continues to get worse.  The index of home builder sentiment put out by the National Association of Home Builders fell once again during the month of September.  With such a glut of unsold foreclosed homes on the market, it is making things really hard of home builders.  Things have gotten so bad that even the U.S. government now owns nearly a quarter of a million foreclosed homes.  The impact of this housing nightmare on families has been absolutely devastating.  Just check out what a recent Time Magazine article had to say about what has been going on in California….

The impact on children has been brutal: since 2007, 7% of the state’s children have had a foreclosure process started on their homes, the fourth-highest level in the nation, according to a study released this month by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

#15 Many believe that due to much tighter lending standards, it is now harder to be approved for a mortgage than at any other time since World War II.  This is absolutely crushing the housing market.

#16 Most Americans don’t seem to expect housing prices to recover for an extended period of time.  One recent survey found that 54 percent of Americans believe that there will not be a housing recovery until “2014 or later“.

#17 The combined debt of the largest GSEs (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Sallie Mae) has increased from 3.2 trillion in 2008 to a whopping 6.4 trillion in 2011.  If that debt goes bad, U.S. taxpayers will be left holding the bill.

#18 There are now nearly 50 million Americans that do not have health insurance, and the percentage of Americans covered by employer-based health plans has fallen for 11 years in a row.  Meanwhile, Americans now spend about 3 times as much on health care as they did back in 1990.

#19 The Postal Service has publicly announced that it is “on the verge” of financial collapse.

#20 The number of small businesses continues to fall.  I recently noted this fact on The American Dream Blog….

The number of “self-employed” Americans continues to rapidly shrink.  According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 16.6 million Americans were self-employed back in December 2006.  Today, that number has shrunk to 14.5 million.  Even though we have 14 million unemployed people in this country and jobs are incredibly difficult to come by, the number of people trying to work for themselves continues to decrease because the environment for small businesses in this country has become so incredibly toxic.

#21 American consumers have become tremendously pessimistic.  According to one recent survey, 61 percent of all Americans believe that they will not return to their “pre-recession” lifestyles until at least 2014.  According to a different recent survey, 39 percent of Americans actually believe that the U.S. economy has now entered a “permanent decline”.

#22 Many U.S. investors certainly seem to believe that trouble is coming.  According to CNN, last month the number of bets against the S&P 500 was the highest that we have seen in about a year.

#23 The number of U.S. households that are “doubling up” continues to grow.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of combined households has increased by 10.7 percent since 2007.

#24 When Barack Obama moved into the White House, the average price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States was $1.83.  Today it is $3.58.

#25 The number of Americans living in poverty grew by 2.6 million last year.  That was the largest increase since the U.S. government began calculating poverty figures back in 1959.

#26 Back in the year 2000, 11.3% of all Americans were living in poverty.  Today, 15.1% of all Americans are living in poverty.

#27 On Barack Obama’s first day on the job, there were about 32 million Americans on food stamps.  Today, there are more than 45 million Americans on food stamps.

#28 If there is a financial collapse in Europe, that will definitely plunge us into another recession.  Right now, things do not look promising.  At this point, headlines all over the world are proclaiming that Greece is dangerously close to defaulting.

#29 At some point soon, investors all over the globe may decide that it is time to start dumping U.S. government debt.  For example, Chinese officials are now openly talking about the need to “liquidate” their holdings of U.S. Treasuries.

#30 The U.S. national debt continues to explode in size and spiral out of control.  According to Professor Laurence J. Kotlikoff, the U.S. “fiscal gap” increased by about 6 trillion dollars last year.  In fact, Kotlikoff makes a compelling argument that Greece is actually in better shape financially than the United States is.

Do you now understand how much trouble we are in?

The long-term trends that are destroying us continue to get worse.

The United States is steamrolling directly toward an economic collapse.

When this economy hits bottom and splatters all over the place, it is not going to be easy to fix.

The America that we know today is going to be wiped out by a gigantic mountain of debt and by the consequences of decades of really bad decisions.

We were handed the keys to the greatest economic machine in the history of the world and we have wrecked it.

So prepare for really, really hard times ahead.

The era of endless prosperity is ending.

Next comes the pain.

 

People Of Earth: Prepare For Economic Disaster

It is not just the United States that is headed for an economic collapse.  The truth is that the entire world is heading for a massive economic meltdown and the people of earth need to be warned about the coming economic disaster that is going to sweep the globe.  The current world financial system is based on debt, and there are alarming signs that the gigantic global debt bubble is getting ready to burst.  In addition, global prices for the key resources that the major economies of the planet depend on are rising very rapidly.  Despite all of our advanced technology, the truth is that human civilization simply cannot function without oil and food.  But now the price of oil and the price of food are both increasing dramatically.  So how is the current global economy supposed to keep functioning properly if it soon costs much more to ship products between continents?  How are the billions of people that are just barely surviving today supposed to feed themselves if the price of food goes up another 30 or 40 percent?  For decades, most of the major economies around the globe have been able to take for granted that massive amounts of cheap oil and massive amounts of cheap food will always be there.  So what happens when that paradigm changes?

At last check, the price of U.S. crude was over 104 dollars a barrel and the price of Brent crude was over 115 dollars a barrel.  Many analysts fear that if the crisis in Libya escalates or if the chaos in the Middle East spreads that we could see the all-time record of 147 dollars a barrel broken by the end of the year.  That would be absolutely disastrous for the global economy.

But it isn’t just the chaos in the Middle East that is driving oil prices.  The truth is that oil prices have been moving upwards for months.  The recent revolutions in the Middle East have only accelerated the trend.

Let’s just hope that the “day of rage” being called for in Saudi Arabia later this month does not turn into a full-blown revolution like we have seen in other Middle Eastern countries.  The Saudis keep a pretty tight grip on their people, but at this point anything is possible.  A true revolution in Saudi Arabia would send oil prices into unprecedented territory very quickly.

But even without all of the trouble in the Middle East the world was already heading for an oil crunch.  The global demand for oil is rising at a very vigorous pace.  For example, last year Chinese demand for oil increased by almost 1 million barrels per day.  That is absolutely staggering.  The Chinese are now buying more new cars every year than Americans are, and so Chinese demand for oil is only going to continue to increase.

Much could be done to increase the global supply of oil, but so far our politicians and the major oil company executives are sitting on their hands.  They seem to like the increasing oil prices.

So for now it looks like oil prices will continue to rise and this is going to result in much higher prices at the gas pump.

Already, ABC News is reporting that regular unleaded gasoline is going for $5.29 a gallon at one gas station in Orlando, Florida.

The U.S. economy in particular is vulnerable to rising oil prices because our entire economic system is designed around cheap gasoline.  If the price of gas goes up to 5 or 6 dollars a gallon and it stays there it is going to have a catastrophic effect on the U.S. economy.

Just remember what happened back in 2008.  The price of oil hit an all-time high of $147 a barrel and then a few months later the entire financial system had a major meltdown.

Well, as the price of oil rises it is going to create a whole lot of imbalances in the global financial system once again.

This is definitely a situation that we should all be watching.

But it is not just the price of oil that could cause a global economic disaster.

The global price of food could potentially be even more concerning.  As you read this, there are about 3 billion people around the globe that live on the equivalent of 2 dollars a day or less.  Those people cannot afford for food prices to go up much.

But global food prices are rising.  According to the United Nations, the global price of food has risen for 8 consecutive months.  Last month, the global price of food set a brand new all-time record high.  Many are starting to fear that we could actually be in the early stages of a major global food crisis.

The price of just about every major agricultural commodity has been absolutely soaring during the past year….

*The price of corn has doubled over the last six months.

*The price of wheat has more than doubled over the past year.

*The price of soybeans is up about 50% since last June.

*The price of cotton has more than doubled over the past year.

*The commodity price of orange juice has doubled since 2009.

*The price of sugar is the highest it has been in 30 years.

Unfortunately, the production of food in most countries around the world is very highly dependent on oil, so as oil goes up in price this is going to make the food crisis even worse.

Hold on to your hats folks.

Also, as I have written about previously, the world is facing some very serious problems when it comes to water.  Due to the greed of the global elite, there is not nearly enough fresh water to go around.  The following are some very disturbing facts about the global water situation….

*Worldwide demand for fresh water tripled during the last century, and is now doubling every 21 years.

*According to USAID, one-third of all humans will face severe or chronic water shortages by the year 2025.

*Of the 60 million people added to the world’s cities every year, the vast majority of them live in impoverished slums and shanty-towns with no sanitation facilities whatsoever.

*It is estimated that 75 percent of India’s surface water is now contaminated by human and agricultural waste.

*Not only that, but according to a UN study on sanitation, far more people in India have access to a mobile phone than to a toilet.

*In northern China, the water table is dropping one meter per year due to overpumping.

These days, one of the trendy things to do is to call water “the oil of the 21st century”, but unfortunately that is not a completely inaccurate statement.  Fresh, clean water is something that we all need, but right now world supplies are getting tight.

Our politicians and the global elite could be doing something about this if they really wanted to, but right now they seem perfectly fine with what is happening.

On top of everything else, the sovereign debt crisis is worse than it has ever been before.

All of the major global central banks have been feverishly printing money in an attempt to “paper over” this crisis, but it is not going to work.

Most Americans don’t realize it, but right now the continent of Europe is a financial basket case.  Greece and Ireland would have imploded already if they had not been bailed out, and now Portugal is on the verge of collapse.  The interest rate on Portugal’s 10-year notes has now been above 7% for about 3 weeks, and most analysts believe that it is only a matter of time before they are forced to accept a bailout.

Sadly, if the entire global economy experiences a slowdown because of rising oil prices, we could see half a dozen European nations default on their debts if they are not bailed out.

For now the Germans seem fine with bailing out the weak sisters that are all around them, but that isn’t going to last forever.

A day or reckoning is coming for Europe, and when it arrives the reverberations are going to be felt all across the face of the earth.  The euro is on very shaky ground already, and whether or not it can survive the coming crisis is an open question.

Of course there are some very serious concerns about Asia as well.  The national debt of Japan is now well over 200% of GDP and nobody seems to have a solution for their problems.  Up to this point, Japan has been able to borrow massive amounts of money at extremely low interest rates from their own people, but that isn’t going to last forever either.

As I have written about so many times before, the biggest debt problem of all is the United States.  Barack Obama is projecting that the federal budget deficit for this fiscal year will be a new all-time record 1.65 trillion dollars.  It is expected that the total U.S. national debt will surpass the 15 trillion dollar mark by the end of the fiscal year.

Shouldn’t we have some sort of celebration when that happens?

15 trillion dollars is quite an achievement.

Most Americans cannot even conceive of a debt that large.  If the federal government began right at this moment to repay the U.S. national debt at a rate of one dollar per second, it would take over 440,000 years to pay off the national debt.

But the United States is not alone.  The truth is that wherever you look, there is a sea of red ink covering the planet.

The current global financial system is entirely based on debt.  If the total amount of debt does not continually expand, the system will crash.  If somehow a way was found to keep this system going perpetually (which is impossible), the size of global debt would keep on increasing infinitely.

Now the World Economic Forum says that we need to grow the total amount of debt by another 100 trillion dollars over the next ten years to “support” the anticipated amount of “economic growth” around the world that they expect to see.

The entire global financial system is a gigantic Ponzi scheme.  It is designed to keep everyone enslaved to perpetual debt.  If at some point the debt spiral gets interrupted in some significant way, we are going to witness an economic disaster that is going to make what happened in 2008 look like a Sunday picnic.

The more research that one does on the current global economic situation, the more clear it becomes that we are absolutely doomed.

So people of earth you had better get ready.

An economic disaster is coming.

Disaster Plan

Does your family have an economic disaster plan?  If not, why not?  By now, most people know that very hard economic times are coming.  No, America is not going to turn into a post-apocalyptic war zone where motorcycle gangs ravage the populace next week, but the truth is that it doesn’t take a genius to understand that the U.S. economic system (and indeed the entire world economic system) is in the process of dying.  For decades we have lived far beyond our means by borrowing insane amounts of money, but the party is ending and now many of us are going to get to experience what it means to live below our means.  The golden days of the U.S. economic machine are gone, and now we are moving into a time when we are going to reap the fruit of the incredibly foolish economic policies of the past hundred years.  Meanwhile, the two major political parties will continue to play the American people against each other.  The Democrats will insist that everything will be great if we just give them control.  The Republicans will insist that everything will be great if we just give them control.  But the truth is that both political parties have had numerous chances over the past 50 years, and each of them have blown them badly.  Both parties have had a hand in piling up the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the world, both parties have been complicit in shipping our jobs and our factories off to China and to dozens of third world nations, both parties have dramatically expanded the size of government and the welfare state when they were in control, and both parties have continually handed more power to the big banks and to the Federal Reserve.  We built an entire economy based on paper money and a gigantic spiral of debt and now the wheels are starting to come off and people are starting to panic.  We are truly going to pay the price for decades of foolish decisions.

Not that an economic collapse is the only reason to have a family disaster plan.  We live at a time when it seems like the whole world is going crazy.  You never know when or where the next oil spill, hurricane, earthquake, volcano, pandemic or terror event is going to strike. 

So the reality is that it is imperative that we all have a disaster plan that sets out exactly how we are going to provide food, water, shelter and security for our families in the event of a major disaster or emergency.

So exactly what should such a disaster plan entail?

If you have not done so already, please read the following two articles that we previously published on this theme….

1) 20 Things You Will Need To Survive When The Economy Collapses And The Next Great Depression Begins

2) What To Do

Both of those articles lay out some of the basic principles of emergency preparedness.

But there is so much to know about emergency preparation beyond just the basics.

Over the last couple of months, the readers of this column have shared some amazing information on this topic, and we have compiled some of the very best of those tips below….

Smuggler:

As a long time hiker and back country lover I have had a bit of experience in rustic living. From Tents in the Rockies and Sierras to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and an old trapper’s cabin in Alaska I have pretty much lived in that way most of my life.

Survival depends on a lot of things, not just how much grub you got or how many bottles of water are stashed away. If all roads are blocked your stocked RV is suddenly going to be a liability not an asset.With roads blocked by earthquake or check points the ability to travel cross country will be reduced to foot transportation, unless you plan to tote your pick-up over the mountains think lighter….

If it all goes up the first thing you must do is realize that this is not a camping trip, you come home from a camping trip, you won’t have a home to come to if it all goes up. You are going to have to find food and water as you go and in the case of food you will most likely have to kill it and clean it. Man bites dog will have a whole new meaning.

That is where the best survival tool will be most welcome. The nice thing about this tool is it takes up no room and it doesn’t weigh an oz. Become knowledgeable.learn about water and how to test it, find it and save it. learn how to preserve foods by drying or smoking. learn what plants in your area can be eaten or used for medicine.

You get the idea here, the more ya know the longer you will live. One of the places I have spent some time hiking is the Idaho and Utah boarder area and parts of the old Boozeman Trail. one of the remarkable things you see on the Trail is tons of cast Iron cook stoves, nickel trimmed Parlor stoves, furniture, house hold goods, sinks etc. that litter the ground. All tossed off overloaded wagons, from about the middle part of the Trail tapering off to just a few items the farther west they got. Take to much you have to throw it away.

A good make pro back pack, a good sleeping bag/ground pad, light tent, fire making items, [ I recommend a mag and steel striker. ]a good hand axe, a good hunting knife, a pro grade compass, [Learn how to use it.} Food, freeze dried is best very lite and can carry many days of food. Limit clothes as appropriate for the weather and how much you can carry. Water, what you can carry and treatment tablets for new sources if in doubt. Other wise boil it for ten mins.

Things like sewing kits are nice but won’t kill ya if you don’t have one. Judge your wants balanced against your needs, in the case of candles and radios and such, they are heavy hard to secure and take up lots of room. In the case of candles I’ve had them melt all over the inside of my back pack not a fun thing.

Keep it light and essential,you may have to relocate in a big hurry. Now, do you see why community is a good idea? You can survive one man alone, but in a group is easier, safer and more productive and more fun. Here’s hoping all your trips are camping trips and may you always come home.

RLTW:

Food: If you are about to go on a long “hike” like for a couple of weeks… seriously fatten up. Talk to anyone who has done ranger school. They lose 20-45lbs in only 63 days. Most fatten up just before going. If you only have one meal/ day, then eat in the morning and eat small amounts throughout the day (like a candy or cracker) and keep drinking water. Surprise salt is important, dont go low sodium in food especially if you are consuming a lot of water. On the move, Eat the most perishable first, eat based solely off the energy you are expending. If you open it consume it, or you will have unwanted pests/animals. In bear country, hang it from a high limb away from where you sleep. If you cant brush your teeth, chew gum, or chew soft twigs.

Gerber or Leatherman is better than a Swiss knife, and BTW Butch I pack heat, so good luck and don’t let the laser sight on your forehead deter you.

Gasoline doesnt store for very long, and know the difference between diesel and gas (I know this is basic, but some people cant tell except for what it says at the pump). And also know that Syphoning gas from new autos is impossible, so don’t try, remove it from the fuel line/filter under the car.

Have a small tool kit/box, with basic tools.

If you are on the move, the right Clothing is extremely important…. Get loose fitting clothing that you can easily layer, have about 3 layers or more (depending on your local climate). One layered set should be enough, but you NEED extra socks, 2-3 pair (or more) of heavy cushioned socks are ESSENTIAL if you are on the move. Change your socks every day, even if you cannot wash them. A week could turn into a month. Dont pack underwear, b/c after a week it will be gone anyway (Most infantry soldiers go without in the field) and is just extra weight. Think of going for a long hunting trip when packing this up, and remember its always colder than you think even in the summer especially when you cannot go indoors anywhere. Pack gloves and ski type hats. At a minimum, keep your feet and shoes dry. If they get wet, walk it out, & change socks more frequently. In the cold, Keep your shoes/boots next to you when you sleep to keep them warm and be ready if you need to move out quickly. Dont be unpacked, take out what you need and leave the rest packed. You may have to take off quickly. (Pack everything you want to keep dry in gallon-sized ziplocks)

Don’t rely on a store first aid kits, buy a medium sized tool bag and get a good first aid “trauma” list(most stuff you can get at walmart). But also consider learning how to start an IV and get a few. Also, address all knicks and cuts, even the small ones. Infections can put you under, ESPECIALLY ON YOUR FEET/LEGS.

Water: If you have bleach, you can use that to purify water. One drop per Quart. Be careful, if you use too much then you will have a bad case of buttmud.

Fire: can be started with 2 D-cell batteries and steel wool, but invest in a magnesium stick that you can use with a knife.

If Money is worthless, have things to bargin with & you will be better off. Consider gold coins, you can always cut off chucks to use as payment. CAUTION: To much of something valuable will make you a target, so consider things that are valuable other than Gold.

A NON-digital watch is helpful, and can be used for navigation… plz dont ask, google it or get a survival book (which is also good) – I use the SAS survival book

MAPS!!!!! Hello, a good map of your area where you intend on going is very helpful, especially of your immediate area (topographic) and will help you locate water. It is impossible to hand carry your water needs, know your sources along your route. Keep a good small atlas with your kit, may have to leave a contaminated area and may have to travel on the roads or beside the roads. You can easily use a good atlas to terrain navigate in lieu of a good topo map. Know the state evacuation routes, then plan an alternative b/c they will be packed.

Set up “rally” points that everyone knows and will link up or leave messages if safe and no communications exist.

Flashlight: invest in an efficient LED headlamp, that way you have both hands free.

The AXE is not required: You need only a good Knife, like a K-bar…dont buy a cheap hollow survival knife (they will break), buy a regular good 5-8in blade that is heavy and durable. You can use the knife with a piece of wood or log to hammer the knife like an axe for firewood….but your call. Remember, you may have to carry it.

If you have a friend in Spec ops or is a Ranger, Seal, etc… ask them for tips or advice… we train in this type of thing.

Elocutionist:

There are other things people can do; must do: Build up a network of support. Get to know your neighbors and be certain all of you support one another. I live in a small development of about 90 homes. We are closed off from the main highway and, even in these relatively ‘good’ times, we always rely on one another for various things (i.e. snow ploughing, lawn mowing, etc.). Make a plan with your family, if they’re not nearby, so that in tough times you’re not alone. Develop a skill. Learn how to make bread, for instance, from flour on a wood stove. Become an expert ‘handyman,’ the ability to repair things will be an important skill. Plan for the worst, hope for the best. In either case, you’ll be prepared.

Jim:

You’d be surprised at how little work it takes to have a seed turn into dinner. It’s almost as if that was what the seed was designed to do. Even people in apartments can cut their food down quite a bit with herbs, tomatoes, and the like in the windows. 1/4 acre can feed a family of more than four, and that’s worth spending a few minutes a day if you ask me.

Paul:

A couple of useful items: Clorox. Very cheap. Can purify water and also handy for sterilizing anything. Saving a pile of old newspapers is another good cheap item — useful for starting a fire and, hey— better than nothing, using as toilet paper. More expensive — a couple of handfuls of silver coins in case no one wants US paper dollars.

John:

Also, look at yard sales and thrift shops. If you really need a couple of cheap shirts, instead of buying cheap ones made in India, recycle what is already in your community, putting some money into your neighbors’ pockets.

Try to buy food locally. It’s more expensive, but if you are careful, you can find a few affordable items. If you live in the city, talk to your local council and try to get projects going that allow community vegetable patches on vacant land. In some areas this is already happening. Grow herbs in your kitchen. When you are down to beans and rice, it is amazing how a little bit of fresh herbs can spice up your life. YOu have a sunny window in your house? Start growing something easy like zucchini.

Learn how to repair – anything. You won’t get rich, but you might eventually make a decent living. Most of us are getting poorer and are going to want what we have to last longer. I remember as a kid in a small town there was a shoe repair shop, an electrical repair shop, a furniture repair shop, etc. Now they have all disappeared because most of us have gotten use to throwing things out and buying new. My guess is that the market for repairs is only going to grow.

Have you got a sewing machine? Buy up cheap clothing/fabrics from a thrift shop and turn them into quilts, stuffed animals, bags, interesting clothes for kids. This Xmas lots of people are going to be looking for cheap gifts for their children. You won’t be making much per hour, but at least you might be making something

Go dumpster diving. Especially if you live in a private college town, you will be amazed at how much perfectly good clothing and furniture gets dumped every year. In a small town that I visit every summer, one thrift shop fills a complete dumpster with clothes every week – almost all of it in near perfect condition. The dumpsters near dorms are overflowing at the end of terms.

Boycott. Don’t buy from/do business with companies that send all their jobs overseas.

If you live in a place with a community college and if you have a bit of money, learn a trade. Community colleges tend to be relatively cheap and they give you good skills. And if you have a kid of college age, ask them if they really want that degree in 18th century literature badly enough to starve.

Finally – get involved and become political. A lot of people know that they are not happy, but they are not sure what to do and are waiting around for other people to come up with the solutions. Start thinking about something that is important to you locally, regionally or nationally and figure out a way to be part of the solution. One reason we are in such a mess is because we all tuned out a bit and let the bigshots call all the shots – and they created a world that works great for them, but at our expense.

Michael:

Every once in a while, I see these “survivalist” cans of Costa Rican canned green coffee beans. Ok, so I pay about $80 bucks (not to mention some paying for some hefty shipping charges). I thought to myself-why can’t I do it (in the spirit of DIY). Ok, it can be easily done. First, purchase GREEN coffee beans. Second, seal them in a good container. I use a half gallon Ball canning jar WITH an oxygen absorber. A half gallon jar will hold about 2.5 pounds of beans and I use one or two 500CC oxygen absorbers-just to make sure no oxygen exists afterwards. Thrid, Seal the jar with a new canning jar lid. Keep out of light. No moisture (dry beans and glass sealed jar), no oxygen (absorber does that), no light, and keep in cool storage (room temp or cooler); and the coffee is good to go for years!

J.E. Chapman:

I will tell you that a swiss army knife wont cut it, you need a good beefy knife like a K-Bar fighting knife something you can use to pound, dig, chop, and even kill with if nessesary, a SOG is another good choice, remember you get what you pay for.  Also read and study up time I believe is short a good manual is Emergency Preparedness and Survival Guide from Backwoods Home magazine is a very good book to have along with all the military survival manuals you can get your hands on, arm up with a Good rifle a good sidearm and plenty of ammo, enough food for a year and good luck. Praying Helps moreso than most would believe, God Bless.

Uncle Sam:

Knowledge is the store of value that “neither moth nor flame can corrupt or destoy” They can’t take that from you.

Store enough food to make it through a year from ANY point in the agricultural cycle. Start growing food now, so you can learn how it works. A farmer doesn’t become a farmer after one or two seasons, you must get everything wrong before you know how to do it right, and that takes time and experience. Start now, its July…plant greens in August and have salads through November just to get some experience.

Basically, you will find that it breaks down like this…If you can’t grow it, mine it, trade for it, or kill for it; you are not going to have it, and if you are not prepared to do all four of those, you are in danger.

There exists a critical tipping point, a point of mass despair and anger that will capitulate our way of life. This is NOT like the 30’s. In that era, we were set up to live autonomously, so long as we could keep the mortgator at bay (with a shotgun) we are not like that anymore. Americans especially are not prepared for what is coming. We are too integrated. Most have neither the means or opportunity to live autonomously, they only have fear as the motive when they run out of food or are kicked out of their homes. Very dangerous, they are forced to crime. In the 30’s, people were bummed that they had to return to the agrarian lifestyle of their ancestors on the family farm instead of “making it” in the city, we don’t have that option today. People will riot hard and more and more police are laid off every day.

One day, the power will go out and not return. The day that happens, the poles will be felled for the wood, and the copper stripped for trade. Then, the infrastructure is gone. Remember that sight, as the defining momonet of the descent.

Francis:

The two of us have a tiller, a grubbing hoe and some smaller hoes. Each spring we hire a tractor to prepare the garden. Get soil tested through gov’t. or ag school for knowledge of correct soil amendments (lime, fertilizer etc.) Bugs will take care of themselves for the most part, though some hand work may be necessary. Diseases will need to be worked around (different varieties of plants) We don’t use poisons.

We work about an hour a day in the spring, 4-5 days a week on about 1/2 acre, less as the year goes along. We grow two crops, the fall garden is usually small. Our biggest chore is weeds. The two of us could live off of this if we had to. We have about 20 fig trees and lots of other fruit trees. Yes, we are blessed. But there is something we can all do to supplement the bounty nature gives.

City folk, think small. You will be amazed at what some diligence and patience will do when joined to a willing hand and some knowledge. By the way, the sweetest meal you will ever eat is the one you grow yourself.

Lots of you talk about slavery. The best way out is to get rich. The best way to get rich is slowly. If you are profligate forget it. But if you save some of everything you get and through nothing away that has any possible worth, you will start finding ways to save a penny here and there.

And community is the long term key to subsistence. Even the hard-headedest persons I know take notice when the fruits of frugality are exposed. I can’t fix a motor and my mechanic neighbor can’t grow corn. I have gone out of my way to make him a friend.

We Americans are resourceful when not anesthetized by superfluity. Despise nothing. Make every object the subject of evaluation. A lot of something adds up to a little of anything.

Wake up.

Bearmaster:

Those of us who are preparing for what now seems to be at our door will be ready. Not only preparing with water, food, fuel, matches, seasonal clothing and whatever else is needed, we will be the few who do survive and will remember the rest of you who did not ‘believe’.

There is no shame in getting ready for any event, especially when it comes on suddenly. Those caught by surprise are the ones who will suffer the most. If you think because you have guns and ammo that you will come and take away what you feel you need and deserve, how?

Without water after two days you will be delirious to the point you can’t think straight. After five days of beans and bacon bits you’ll wish you had stocked up on toilet paper. When you come staggering up with gun in hand, do you really think you’ll be able to pull off this ‘robbery’ and take what you can, how?

Will you have a shopping cart or a little red wagon? Maybe the back of your pickup would work but where will you get the gas? How can you carry anything with guns in hand, don’t you think there will be others waiting who will then take advantage of you?

Those who think the ‘community’ idea won’t work are those who can’t get along with or won’t trust other people. How can you stay awake and alert for 24/7, you, the wife and kids against what odds? Think about it, trusting family, neighbors and friends in a small group will be the only way to get through this unless they bomb us into eternity.

A small group can provide many things, sharing in the expense of preparing and putting things away in the best, safest location you can find. Those living in a city, large town or even in a development, you need to have a plan of escape to quickly get to a safer location.

*****

So what do you think of the tips shared by the readers?  Do you have any additional disaster plan tips to share?  Please feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts below….

The Death Of Las Vegas

There are quite a few U.S. cities that are complete and utter economic disaster zones in 2010 (Detroit for example), but there is something about the demise of Las Vegas that is absolutely stunning.  In recent decades, Las Vegas has become a symbol for the over-the-top affluence and decadence of America.  But now it is a microcosm of the economic nightmare that has gripped the entire nation.  When the subprime mortgage crisis stuck, no major U.S. city was more devastated than Las Vegas.  When the recession went from bad to worse, Americans decided that they really didn’t need to gamble so much and casino revenues plummeted.  Suddenly unemployment started to increase dramatically in Vegas and even today it continues to soar.  Like so many other cities that are highly dependent on tourism and entertainment, Las Vegas has gone from boom to bust.  Local officials are hoping that the worst will soon be over, but the truth is that the worst is yet to come.  As the U.S. economy continues to unravel, average Americans will be spending what little money they do have to put a roof over their heads and to feed their families.   The truth is that the glory days of Las Vegas are over and they are not coming back.     

Already, the number of unemployed in Las Vegas is reaching unprecedented levels.  Unemployment rates for the state of Nevada and for the city of Las Vegas both set new records during the month of April.  In Las Vegas the unemployment rate in April was 14.2%.  For the entire state the unemployment rate was 13.7%.

Of course those are just the “official” numbers.  We all know that the “real” unemployment numbers are much higher.

For example, the “official” unemployment figure is about 14 percent in the state of Michigan right now.  But if you actually believe that 86 percent of able-bodied workers in the state of Michigan are employed, then perhaps you would be interested in an offer to purchase the Golden Gate Bridge as well.

Elliott Parker, an economist at the University of Nevada, Reno says that the record-setting unemployment numbers in Nevada are just part of a larger trend…. 

“Nevada has been losing jobs since March 2008, and we are continuing to do so.”

But where the state of Nevada and the city of Las Vegas have really been hammered is in the housing industry.

It is estimated that a whopping 65 percent of all homes in the state of Nevada are underwater.

Let that sink in for a bit.

65 percent of all home owners with a mortgage in the state of Nevada owe more than their homes are worth.

Talk about an implosion.

Nationally, the number of homes that are “underwater” is about 24 percent.  That is an all-time record for the entire nation, but it doesn’t come anywhere close to the nightmare that is unfolding in Nevada and in Las Vegas.

And the number of foreclosures taking place in Nevada is absolutely breathtaking.

According to RealtyTrac, Nevada is still ranked number one for foreclosure filings.  In fact, one out of every 79 Nevada homes received a foreclosure filing in the month of May alone. 

Nevada’s foreclosure rate is now five times the national average.

By just about any measure, the economy of Nevada is a complete and total disaster.

A reader recently sent an email describing the economic horror that is unfolding in Las Vegas.  No matter what you may think about the city, the truth is that it is sad to see any great U.S. city fall to pieces like this….

“Las Vegas is a goner. The homeless population is out of control. The real estate is far worse than I have seen in the media (no surprise there). The towers of condos are ninety five percent vacant with zero activity. The streets and parks are in decline. Local governments are busy making cuts and fighting unions. When I ride the streets they are deserted, a big change from 2006. The major casino companies have all but moved the casinos out of Nevada. Rooms and restaurants have been closing for years, even while they finished the new projects. The entire town is a skeleton staff providing substandard service and decaying properties. I still work for one of the majors which is in bankruptcy. When the next wave hits there is nowhere to cut. It will be a game of dominoes with the Wynn properties the only ones left standing. I see the ninety nine cent breakfast making a comeback. The bullet train a day late and a few billion dollars short.”

So is there any hope for Las Vegas?

Well, if the U.S. economy gets back up off of the operating table and roars back to life there is little doubt that millions of Americans would once again soon be flying there to gamble away their discretionary income.

But the truth is that any “revival” that is going to happen in Vegas is going to be very short-lived.

The U.S. economy as a whole is caught in a death spiral, and we are about to see a repeat of the housing crash that devastated Las Vegas so badly the first time around.

No, there really isn’t any way that the death of Las Vegas can be avoided.  Just like the U.S. economy as a whole, it is inevitably doomed.  The numbers don’t lie.

The grand total of all government, corporate and consumer debt in the United States is now equal to 360 percent of GDP.  That is a far greater level than the U.S. ever approached during the Great Depression.

The entire U.S. economy is a house of cards built on a gigantic pile of debt and paper money, and it is only a matter of time until it all comes crashing down.

But of course that isn’t stopping the U.S. government from spending even more money and getting us all into even more debt.

According to a recent Treasury Department report to Congress, the U.S. national debt will top $13.6 trillion this year and climb to an estimated $19.6 trillion by 2015.

But as many of you who have experienced this on a personal level know, getting into continually increasing amounts of debt never ends well.

So do any of you have a tale to tell about the city where you live?  Do you find yourself caught in the middle of an economic nightmare?  Feel free to leave a comment telling us what is happening in your area of the United States….

****UPDATE****

A number of readers have chimed in with some very insightful comments.  A sampling is below….

Vegas Bob:

I lived here in Vegas from 1998-2006 and moved back at the beginning of 2010. I worked in Corporate Finance for one of the largest casino operators up until I retired.

The article is spot on. Compared to its heyday in 2005-2006, Las Vegas today is an economic disaster zone. The condo I sold in 2006 for $172,500 now goes for $48,900 – a 72% haircut.

It’s not getting any better. Real estate prices are resuming their descent, now that the $8,000 homebuyer tax bribe is gone.

The so-called economic recovery is for wealthy people only. Everyday people just keep getting the shaft. Obama is just another Republican with a ‘D’ after his name.

I’m glad I was smart enough to rent a place instead of buying one. I’m getting the hell out of this hellhole when my lease is up at year-end.

Tiara:

I am born and raised Vegas. When I say I was raised in Vegas I don’t mean a casino. I mean the middle of the dessert 30 miles north from the strip with the lizards and tumbleweeds. Vegas and I have a love hate relationship. I have seen this the growth in this town blow up in my face and now it is imploding just like an old worn out casino. It has been a crazy ride but due to the economy I will most likely be leaving Las Vegas soon. Growing up in this town has been interesting and leaving it will be bittersweet.

Craig:

I lived in vegas in 2006 and have been back to visit many times. I was there recently for the first time after the economy imploded in late 2008—That town is a shell of it’s former self.

On any given night there are half the people on the strip that there used to be. The service even in the 5-star hotels has declined. You can see the lack of morale, sucked from the faces of the wokrers.

I loved this town in its hay day. Right now, it’s pretty sad.

Dolly:

Vegas was, and is, easy to understand. I’m in the musical equipment business– audio– and we go to Trade Shows.

These are held all over the world, but let’s contrast just two places, Los Angeles and Vegas:

If you go to Los Angeles, you will visit with the worlds best engineering talent, and a solidly-grounded people that are there to PRODUCE something OF VALUE. You have small manufacturers, Farm and Ranch people, Oil people, the film industry and plenty of unspoiled, honest, clean-living young people who work hard, and then play hard. Many are Surfers, etc., and are a breath of Fresh Air.

In short, a business convention or trade show in this city is a TREAT.

Now, let’s look at Las Vegas. Everything that’s big there is built around money manipulation and power. No one gives a damn about anybody else. Got a brilliant idea? One that Los Angelinos would want to encourage you to develop and succeed at? NOT in Vegas! Any Casino in town handles more money than that in a microsecond. Besides– who are YOU? YOU don’t matter. Vegas gets all the big shows and all the big stuff– so YOU DON’T COUNT.

Want to hold a convention in a DECENT CITY– say L.A., or Denver? SORRY– Vegas will move right in– bribe the show principals and it WILL be held in Vegas. Look at what happened to the National Finals Rodeo– Oklahoma City was GREAT, but VEGAS has STOLEN it.

Vegas deserves the worst that can happen to it– GOOD RIDDANCE!

Bob:

LV was built by losers. I’ve lived in & near LV since ‘89, watched it grow cancerously, and now the tumor is shrinking… good riddance indeed to a grand delusion. This city is not electrified by the dam — it is fed with coal-generated power from Moapa. Fake Lake Mead is dying too ( and the city is fed by one old pipeline that can break down at any time … There is no primary industry here, just gambling and military — everyone here (except me, of course ) is living the Big Lie. The place is a death trap… stay away!

BD:

I recently went back to visit my old neighborhood (moved out of vegas and sold my house in summer of ‘08) and talked with a few of my neighbors. Apparently its so bad they dont even park their cars on the streets anymore because “these damn people siphon gas out of your gas tank”.  No lie.  And this is a nice gated neighborhood in Henderson….

30 Shocking Quotes About The Gulf Of Mexico Oil Spill That Reveal The Soul-Crushing Horror This Disaster Is Causing

It is incredibly hard to put into words the absolute horror that is happening in the Gulf of Mexico right now.  The millions of gallons of oil that have gushed into the Gulf of Mexico and BP’s efforts to fight the massive leak are turning the Gulf into a lifeless toxic stew of oil and chemicals.  The damage caused to wildlife in the Gulf by this spill will be incalculable.  Entire species are at risk of being wiped out.  Scientists are telling us that the primary dispersant being used by BP ruptures red blood cells and causes fish to bleed.  This is by far the greatest environmental disaster in U.S. history, and there is no end in sight.  It is a worse environmental and economic disaster than all of the hurricanes of the past ten years combined.  The great wetlands and beaches along the Gulf of Mexico will never be the same in our lifetimes.  The seafood and tourism industries in the Gulf are being completely destroyed.  The thousands of jobs and businesses being wiped out by this disaster could potentially throw the entire Gulf coast region into a depression.  The damage already caused by this oil spill is beyond measure and yet the government tells us that up to 19,000 barrels (798,000 gallons) of oil a day continue to flow into the Gulf of Mexico.

Federal officials have expanded the “no fishing” area in the Gulf of Mexico to 75,920 square miles.  That is 31 percent of all federal waters in the Gulf.  As the oil continues to spread out there may soon be nowhere to fish.

And the oil is starting to come ashore in more places.  Red-brown oil was found on Alabama’s Dauphin Island on Tuesday.  As Gulf coast residents slowly watch this oil destroy everything around them they are starting to realize that this is it.

Life along the Gulf of Mexico will simply never be the same again. 

The following are 30 shocking quotes about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill that reveal the soul-crushing horror this disaster is causing….

#1) Councilman Jay LaFont of Grand Isle, Louisiana:

“As long as you have something to look forward to, a little glimmer of hope, you can move on. But this just drained everything out of us.”

#2) Billy Nungesser, president of Plaquemines Parish:

“They said the black oil wouldn’t come ashore. Well, it is ashore. It’s here to stay and it’s going to keep coming.”

#3) Prosanta Chakrabarty, a Louisiana State University fish biologist:

“Every fish and invertebrate contacting the oil is probably dying. I have no doubt about that.”

#4) Marine toxicologist Dr. Susan Shaw, director of the Marine Environmental Research Institute on BP’s use of chemical dispersants:

“They’ve been used at such a high volume that it’s unprecedented. The worst of these – Corexit 9527 – is the one they’ve been using most. That ruptures red blood cells and causes fish to bleed. With 800,000 gallons of this, we can only imagine the death that will be caused.”

#5) Dr. Larry McKinney, director of the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies in Texas:

“Bluefin tuna spawn just south of the oil spill and they spawn only in the Gulf. If they were to go through the area at a critical time, that’s one instance where a plume could destroy a whole species.”

#6) Carol Browner, Barack Obama’s adviser on energy and climate:

“This is probably the biggest environmental disaster we have ever faced in this country. It is certainly the biggest oil spill and we are responding with the biggest environmental response.”

#7) Richard Charter of the Defenders of Wildlife:

“It is so big and expanding so fast that it’s pretty much beyond human response that can be effective. … You’re looking at a long-term poisoning of the area. Ultimately, this will have a multidecade impact.”

#8) Reverand Mike Tran:

“We don’t know when this will ever be over. It’s a way of life that’s under assault, and people don’t when their next paycheck is going to be.”

#9) Louis Miller of the Mississippi Sierra Club:

“This is going to destroy the Mississippi and the Gulf Coast as we know it.”

#10) Dean Blanchard, owner of a seafood business:

“I hold Obama responsible for not making BP stand up and look at the people in the face and fix it.”

#11) Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal:

“The day that we’ve been fearing is upon us.”

#12) Billy Nungesser, president of Plaquemines Parish, about BP CEO Tony Hayward:

“We ought to take him offshore and dunk him 10 feet underwater and pull him up and ask him ‘What’s that all over your face?”

#13) Former Clinton adviser James Carville:

“The country feels like it’s entitled to abuse this state and forget about us, and we are sick of it.”

#14) An anonymous Louisiana resident:

“A hurricane is like closing your bank account for a few days, but this here has the capacity to destroy our bank accounts.”

#15) U.S. Representative Edward Markey:

“I have no confidence whatsoever in BP . I think that they do not know what they are doing.”

#16) Gulf coast resident Marie Michel:

“Immediately, it’s no more fishing, no more crabbing, no more swimming, no more walking on the beach.”

#17) Brenda Prosser of Mobile, Alabama:

“I just started crying. I couldn’t quit crying. I’m shaking now.  To know that our beach may be black or brown, or that we can’t get in the water, it’s so sad.”

#18) Qin Chen, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge on the possibility that a hurricane could push massive amounts of oil ashore along the Gulf:

“A hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico this year would be devastating.”

#19) Retired Army General Russel Honore on the effect this spill is having on residents of the Gulf coast:

“I’m sure, every time they hear a negative word, their skin crawls, ’cause they need these jobs. … This is what’s going to put their kids in school, and what pays the rent.”

#20) A group calling itself “Seize BP”:

“The greatest environmental disaster with no end in sight! Eleven workers dead. Millions of gallons of oil gushing for months (and possibly years) to come. Jobs vanishing. Creatures dying. A pristine environment destroyed for generations. A mega-corporation that has lied and continues to lie, and a government that refuses to protect the people.”

#21) Louisiania Governor Bobby Jindal:

“There has been failure, particularly with the effort to protect our coast and our marsh. And that was the biggest topic of discussion in a very frank meeting we had with the president.”

#22) BP’s chief operating officer, Doug Suttles:

“This scares everybody — the fact that we can’t make this well stop flowing, the fact that we haven’t succeeded so far.”

#23) Doug Rader, chief ocean scientist for the Environmental Defense Fund:

“You simply cannot make more (reefs), unless you have a few thousand years to wait.”

#24) Public Service Commissioner Benjamin Stevens:

“You get hit by a hurricane and you can rebuild. But when that stuff washes up on the white sands of Pensacola Beach, you can’t just go and get more white sand.”

#25) Wilma Subra, a chemist who has served as a consultant to the Environmental Protection Agency:

“Every time the wind blows from the south-east to the shore, people are being made sick.”

#26) Hotel Owner Dodie Vegas:

“It’s just going to kill us. It’s going to destroy us.”

#27) Louisiana resident Sean Lanier:

“Until they stop this leak, it’s just like getting stabbed and the knife’s still in you, and they’re moving it around.”

#28) White House energy adviser Carol Browner:

“There could be oil coming up until August.”

#29) Marine toxicologist Dr. Susan Shaw, director of the Marine Environmental Research Institute:

“We’ll see dead bodies soon. Sharks, dolphins, sea turtles, whales: the impact on predators will be seen in a short time because the food web will be impacted from the bottom up.”

#30) Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser:

“We will die a slow death over the next two years as this oil creeps ashore.”

8 Reasons Why The Pain From The Gulf Of Mexico Oil Spill Is Going To Be Felt For Decades

As oil continues to pour into the Gulf of Mexico at a staggering rate, many are now starting to realize that the pain from this oil spill will be felt not just for months or years – but for decades.  At least 4.2 million gallons of oil (and some estimates put the total at far higher than that) are already in the Gulf of Mexico causing untold damage to the ecologically fragile Louisiana coast.  The oil has already made contact with the Chandeleur Islands off of the coast of Louisiana, and over the next few days more areas are expected to see oil come ashore.  But just because this disaster is unfolding in slow-motion does not mean that this is not going to be a complete and utter tragedy for the Gulf Coast region.  In fact, many of those living along the Gulf Coast now fear that this oil spill is going to do far more damage to the region than Hurricane Katrina did.  And after Hurricane Katrina and everything else that folks living down there have been through over the past several years, the thought of weathering another massive tragedy is almost too much.

It certainly doesn’t help that those attempting to stop the leak don’t really seem to know what they are doing.  After failing to contain the oil spill with a giant concrete and steel dome, BP announced on Monday that it will make a second attempt this week using a smaller version of the dome dubbed the “Top Hat”.

“Top Hat”?

If BP was as good at stopping oil leaks as they are at coming up with cute little code names for their operations perhaps this crisis would be over by now.

But the truth is that attempting to do anything at depths of up to one mile below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico is extremely difficult.

It kind of makes you wonder what in the world we were doing drilling for oil down there in the first place.

In any event, BP is not just relying on the “Top Hat” to stop the leak.

BP is also considering plugging the damaged blowout preventer on the underwater well by pumping debris into it at high pressure.  This technique is known as a “junk shot”.

Or, in other words, BP would be plugging the leak by shooting a bunch of garbage into it.  One official recently described this method to CBS News this way….

“They are actually going to take a bunch of debris — some shredded up tires, golf balls and things like that — and under very high pressure shoot it into the preventer itself and see if they can clog it up to stop the leak.”

But what many media outlets are not admitting is that the “junk shot” procedure is extremely risky.  In fact, some experts are warning that tinkering with the damaged blowout preventer could make the leak much worse.

But something has got to be done.  Even members of the U.S. Congress are admitting that this oil could end up getting into the Loop Current and going up the east coast of the United States….

“If this gusher continues for several months, it’s going to cover up the Gulf Coast and it’s going to get down into the Loop Current and that’s going to take it down into the Florida Keys and up the east coast of Florida,” Florida Democratic Senator Bill Nelson told CNN.

To get an idea of just how devastating the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is already, check out the aerial footage in the video below.  As you watch this video, just try to imagine how horrific this crisis is going to be if oil continues to gush into the Gulf for weeks or months….

The truth is that this has the potential to be one of the greatest tragedies in the history of the United States.  The following are 8 of the reasons why the pain from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill is going to be felt for decades to come….

#1) The Fishing, Shrimping And Oyster Industries In The Gulf Are Being Destroyed

Seafood is a 2.4 billion dollar industry in the state of Louisiana.  In fact, Louisiana produces more than 30 percent of the seafood originating in the continental United States.

But that is about to dramatically change.  As the waters off Louisiana are being progressively poisoned by all the oil, fishermen and shrimpers are starting to realize that their lives will never be the same.

In fact, some local shrimpers in Louisiana are already predicting that it will be seven years before they can set to sea again.

So are they being overly dramatic?

No, especially when you consider the fact that fishermen in Cordova, Alaska are still struggling 21 years after the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill devastated the fishing industry in that region.

#2) The Damage To The Environment And Wildlife In the Gulf Is Going To Be Unprecedented

Already, environmentalists are warning that the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico could absolutely devastate the bird population of the region.  You see, nearly 75 percent of all U.S. waterfowl use Louisiana’s three million acres of wetlands to rest or nest.  Once the oil spill gets into those wetlands it is going to be an absolute nightmare for those waterfowl.

But it isn’t just waterfowl that are at risk.  Literally hundreds of different species that inhabit the coastal areas surrounding the Gulf of Mexico will soon be facing an oily nightmare that they don’t even know is coming.  Entire ecosystems are going to be permanently altered.  Florida Governor Charlie Crist recently put it this way….

“Florida is currently preparing for what we all know is an environmental disaster of unprecedented proportions for our state and Gulf of Mexico partner states.”

In fact, Richard Charter of the Defenders of Wildlife says that we are looking at an environmental impact that is going to last for decades….

“It is so big and expanding so fast that it’s pretty much beyond human response that can be effective. … You’re looking at a long-term poisoning of the area. Ultimately, this will have a multidecade impact.”

#3) The Natural Beauty Of The Gulf Coast Region Will Never Be The Same

Anyone who has ever been to the Gulf Coast knows how amazingly beautiful that it can be.  But once it is covered with millions of gallons of oil it will never be the same.

Brenda Prosser of Mobile, Alabama said that she wept when she saw the workers attempting to try to prevent the oil spill from spreading….

“I just started crying. I couldn’t quit crying. I’m shaking now.  To know that our beach may be black or brown, or that we can’t get in the water, it’s so sad.”

And it is a great tragedy.  This didn’t have to happen.  But now the great natural beauty of our coasts is being destroyed and we aren’t going to be able to get it back for a long, long time as Public Service Commissioner Benjamin Stevens recently explained….

“You get hit by a hurricane and you can rebuild. But when that stuff washes up on the white sands of Pensacola Beach, you can’t just go and get more white sand.”

Louis Miller of the Mississippi Sierra Club was a bit more dramatic in describing what this oil spill means for the region….

“This is going to destroy the Mississippi and the Gulf Coast as we know it.”

#4) Tourism Along The Gulf Coast Is Now Dead

Needless to say, very few people are going to want to vacation along the Gulf Coast for quite a long time.

Hotel Owner Dodie Vegas put it this way….

“It’s just going to kill us. It’s going to destroy us.”

#5) The Gulf Of Mexico Oil Spill Is Going To Greatly Contribute To The Ongoing Poisoning Of The World’s Water Supply

Over the past twenty years, the world has witnessed 30 oil spills larger than the Exxon Valdez tragedy.  Both the global food chain and the world’s waters are being progressively poisoned by all of this oil.  In fact, nature can simply not keep up with how fast we are poisoning the water all over the world.  This current oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is not going to help things at all.

#6) This Oil Spill Is Going To Have A Dramatic Chilling Effect On Oil Exploration

The head of the International Energy Agency is warning that this disaster will slow the exploration and development of offshore oil projects worldwide.  Now that the danger of offshore drilling has become more apparent, approval of new projects is going to be much more difficult around the world, and oil companies are going to be less inclined to invest in such projects.

#7) Oil Prices Around The Globe Are Going To Rise

Oil prices have already gone up as a result of this oil spill, and they are likely to stay high for the long-term as demand continues to increase while supplies grow less quickly.  As noted in point #6, this crisis is going to have a chilling effect on oil exploration, and that is going to mean less oil as we move forward.  Less oil and increasing demand means that prices are going to rise, and that is not good news for the U.S. economy.

#8) The Economy Of The Gulf Coast Region Is Going To Be Devastated

Two of the major industries in the Gulf region, seafood and tourism, are going to be pretty much wiped out in the short-term.  Many areas along the Gulf, particularly in Louisiana, were already economic disaster areas even before this oil spill.  The truth is that economic conditions down there are simply not strong enough to weather another major tragedy.

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is essentially “a slow-motion Katrina” which is going to alter the economy of the Gulf region permanently.

One anonymous Louisiana resident put it this way….

“A hurricane is like closing your bank account for a few days, but this here has the capacity to destroy our bank accounts.”

It is hard to even imagine the despair that those living along the Gulf Coast are feeling right now.  Let’s pray for them and assist them in any way that we can, and let us hope that they get that darn leak stopped as quickly as possible.

Austin Coins

 

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