The Psychological Bubble That Has Been Propping Up The U.S. Economy Is Starting To Implode

Optimism can be a very powerful thing.  For a long time Americans believed that things would get better, and that caused them to take action to make things better, and that actually resulted in things moving in a positive direction.  But now things have abruptly shifted.  In late 2018, an increasing number of Americans believe that an economic downturn is coming, and they are taking actions consistent with that belief.  As a result, they are actually helping to produce the result that they fear.  And without a doubt, any rational person should be able to see that signs that the U.S. economy is slowing down are all around us.  So it isn’t as if those that are preparing for the worst are being irrational.  It is just that when large numbers of people all start to move in the same direction, it has a very powerful effect.  We witnessed this in the stock market in recent years when people just kept buying stocks even though they were massively overvalued.  The collective belief that there was money to be made in the stock market became a self-fulfilling prophecy which pushed stock prices up to absurd heights.  But now that process is beginning to reverse as well, and ultimately the unwinding of that bubble will be quite painful.

Over the past couple of years the dominant economic narrative that the mainstream media was pushing was that the U.S. economy was “booming”, and this encouraged businesses to expand and consumers to go out and spend money.

But now the dominant economic narrative has changed, and businesses are starting to take actions that are consistent with the new narrative.  In the retail industry, if executives truly believed we would see an economic boom in the years ahead they would be expanding, but instead stores are being closed at a record pace

Mall and shopping center owners across the U.S. are preparing to be hit by more store closures, following a brutal year that included department store chains like Bon-Ton and Sears going bankrupt, Toys R Us liquidating and even Walmart shutting dozens of its club stores.

Now, a slew of specialty retailers like Gap and L Brands are getting serious about downsizing, which will leave more vacant storefronts within malls until landlords are able to replace tenants.

As a result of these store closings, large numbers of workers will be without jobs, vendors will not be receiving orders and mall owners will be without tenants.

In other words, economic activity will slow down.

Another sector where there has been a major psychological shift is in the real estate industry.  Home prices have been falling all over the nation, and this includes markets that were once extremely hot such as San Francisco

In San Francisco, the number of homes with a price cut in October nearly doubled, to 238 from 124 last October, according to data from Realtor.com.

That’s nothing compared to Santa Clara County, where the number of price cuts rose to 818 last month, more than six times last year’s number. Santa Clara County had been one of the nation’s hottest markets this year, and the Bay Area’s price appreciation leader until September.

“Clearly, there is a market shift,” said Rich Bennett, a Zephyr agent in San Francisco.

If homeowners believed that this dip was just temporary and that home prices would start surging again next year as the U.S. economy thrives, it would be quite foolish of them to slash their prices like this.

In some cases, home prices are being reduced by hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Why throw all of that money away if the market is going to bounce back shortly?

Over in the auto industry, there has also been a noticeable psychological shift.

If the U.S. economy was going to be doing extremely well in the years ahead, the major automakers should all be gearing up for record sales.

But instead, General Motors just shut a bunch of factories and laid off 14,000 workers, and Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas is projecting that Ford will soon be laying off large numbers of employees

“We estimate a large portion of Ford’s restructuring actions will be focused on Ford Europe, a business we currently value at negative $7 billion,” Jonas wrote. “But we also expect a significant restructuring effort in North America, involving significant numbers of both salaried and hourly UAW and CAW workers.”

Ford’s 70,000 salaried employees have been told they face unspecified job losses by the middle of next year as the automaker works through an “organizational redesign” aimed at creating a white-collar workforce “designed for speed,” according to Karen Hampton, a spokeswoman.

“These actions will come largely outside of North America,” Hampton said of Ford’s restructuring. “All of this work is ongoing and publishing a job-reduction figure at this point would be pure speculation.”

Shifting gears, let’s talk about agriculture.

If farmers believed that the trade war was just temporary and that things would soon swing back in their favor, many of them would keep trying to hold on for as long as they possibly could.

But instead, farm bankruptcies are absolutely surging

A total of 84 farms in the upper Midwest filed for bankruptcy between July 2017 and June 2018, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. That’s more than double the number of Chapter 12 filings during the same period in 2013 and 2014 in Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana, reported Vox.

Farms that produce corn, soybeans, milk, and beef were all suffering due to low global demand and low prices before the trade war, according to economists, but president Trump’s trade war is making the problem even worse by exacerbating the weaknesses in the American economy. China has retaliated against the tariffs by slapping billions of dollars worth of tariffs on United States agriculture exports in response to Trump’s tariffs on Chinese products. Other countries, including Canada, have also added duties to US agriculture products in response to Trump’s tariffs on all imported steel and aluminum.

Most Americans want to have hope, but when they look at our economic situation all they see is a very bleak future.

And in some parts of the nation, there still hasn’t been any sort of a “recovery” from the last recession.  For example, a recent Bloomberg article took a hard look at what conditions are currently like in eastern Kentucky…

Tiffany Hensley’s drive home takes her through some picturesque scenery, and an ugly economy.

“The first thing you see when you get down here is beauty,” says Hensley, midway through her shift at a diner in the rolling hills of eastern Kentucky. “But then you get to looking around. It’s real rough.’’

Of course eastern Kentucky is far from alone.  Yes, coastal cities such as San Francisco and New York have prospered in recent years, but rural communities all across America have been deeply suffering.

And now economic conditions are deteriorating once again nationally, and things are about to get a whole lot tougher for everyone.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

3 Things That Happened Just Before The Crisis Of 2008 That Are Happening Again Right Now

Real estate, oil and the employment numbers are all telling us the same thing, and that is really bad news for the U.S. economy.  It really does appear that economic activity is starting to slow down significantly, but just like in 2008 those that are running things don’t want to admit the reality of what we are facing.  Back then, Fed Chair Ben Bernanke insisted that the U.S. economy was not heading into a recession, and we later learned that a recession had already begun when he made that statement.  And as you will see at the end of this article, current Fed Chair Jerome Powell says that he is “very happy” with how the U.S. economy is performing, but he shouldn’t be so thrilled.  Signs of trouble are everywhere, and we just got several more pieces of troubling news.

Thanks to aggressive rate hikes by the Federal Reserve, the average rate on a 30 year mortgage is now up to about 4.8 percent.  Just like in 2008, that is killing the housing market and it has us on the precipice of another real estate meltdown.

And some of the markets that were once the hottest in the entire country are leading the way down.  For example, just check out what is happening in Manhattan

In the third quarter, the median price for a one-bedroom Manhattan home was $815,000, down 4% from the same period in 2017. The volume of sales fell 12.7%.

Of course things are even worse at the high end of the market.  Some Manhattan townhouses are selling for millions of dollars less than what they were originally listed for.

Sadly, Manhattan is far from alone.  Pending home sales are down all over the nation.  In October, U.S. pending home sales were down 4.6 percent on a year over year basis, and that was the tenth month in a row that we have seen a decline…

Hope was high for a rebound (after new-home-sales slumped), but that was dashed as pending home sales plunged 2.6% MoM in October (well below the expected 0.5% MoM bounce).

Additionally, Pending Home Sales fell 4.6% YoY – the 10th consecutive month of annual declines…

When something happens for 10 months in a row, I think that you can safely say that a trend has started.

Sales of new homes continue to plummet as well.  In fact, we just witnessed a 12 percent year over year decline for sales of new single family houses last month

Sales of new single-family houses plunged 12% in October, compared to a year ago, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 544,000 houses, according to estimates by the Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

With an inventory of new houses for sale at 336,000 (seasonally adjusted), the supply at the current rate of sales spiked to 7.4 months, from 6.5 months’ supply in September, and from 5.6 months’ supply a year ago.

If all of this sounds eerily similar to 2008, that is because it is eerily similar to what happened just before and during the last financial crisis.

Up until now, at least the economic optimists could point to the employment numbers as a reason for hope, but not anymore.

In fact, initial claims for unemployment benefits have now risen for three weeks in a row

The number of Americans filing applications for jobless benefits increased to a six-month high last week, which could raise concerns that the labor market could be slowing.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 234,000 for the week ended Nov. 24, the highest level since the mid-May, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Claims have now risen for three straight weeks.

This is also similar to what we witnessed back in 2008.  Jobless claims started to creep up, and then when the crisis fully erupted there was an avalanche of job losses.

And just like 10 years ago, we are starting to see a lot of big corporations start to announce major layoffs.

General Motors greatly upset President Trump when they announced that they were cutting 14,000 jobs just before the holidays, but GM is far from alone.  For a list of some of the large firms that have just announced layoffs, please see my previous article entitled “U.S. Job Losses Accelerate: Here Are 10 Big Companies That Are Cutting Jobs Or Laying Off Workers”.

A third parallel to 2008 is what is happening to the price of oil.

In 2008, the price of oil shot up to a record high before falling precipitously.

Well, now a similar thing has happened.  Earlier this year the price of oil shot up to $76 a barrel, but this week it slid beneath the all-important $50 barrier

Oil’s recent slide has shaved more than a third off its price. Crude fell more than 1% Thursday to as low as $49.41 a barrel. The last time oil closed below $50 was in October 4, 2017. By mid morning the price had climbed back to above $51.

Concerns about oversupply have sent oil prices into a virtual freefall: Crude hit a four-year high above $76 a barrel less than two months ago.

When economists are asked why the price of oil is falling, the primary answer they give is because global economic activity is softening.

And that is definitely the case.  In fact, we just learned that economic confidence in the eurozone has declined for the 11th month in a row

Euro-area economic confidence slipped for an 11th straight month, further damping expectations that the currency bloc will rebound from a sharp growth slowdown and complicating the European Central Bank’s plans to pare back stimulus.

In addition, we just got news that the Swiss and Swedish economies had negative growth in the third quarter.

The economic news is bad across the board, and it appears to be undeniable that a global economic downturn has begun.

But current Fed Chair Jerome Powell insists that he is “very happy about the state of the economy”

Jerome H. Powell, the Federal Reserve’s chairman, has also taken an optimistic line, declaring in Texas recently that he was “very happy about the state of the economy.”

That is just great.  He can be as happy as he wants, and he can continue raising interest rates as he sticks his head in the sand, but nothing is going to change economic reality.

Every single Fed rate hiking cycle in history has ended in a market crash and/or a recession, and this time won’t be any different.

The Federal Reserve created the “boom” that we witnessed in recent years, but we must also hold them responsible for the “bust” that is about to happen.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

Jim Cramer On The U.S. Economy: “Many CEOS Have Told Me About How Quickly Things Have Cooled”

A lot of people are shocked by how rapidly things are beginning to move.  The U.S. economy is slowing down at a pace that we haven’t seen since the last recession, and this is something that I have been tracking extensively.  But now the slowdown is so obvious that even some of the biggest names in the mainstream media are talking about it.  For example, just take a look at what Jim Cramer of CNBC is saying.  For a long time, he was touting how well the U.S. economy was doing, but now his tune has completely changed.  According to Cramer, a lot of corporate executives have “told me about how quickly things have cooled”, and he says that many of them are shocked because this “wasn’t supposed to occur so soon”

Company leaders across industries are telling Jim Cramer — off the record — that they’re worried about a slowdown in the U.S. economy, Cramer said Thursday on CNBC.

“So many CEOs have told me about how quickly things have cooled,” the “Mad Money” host said. “So many of them are baffled that we could find ourselves in this late-cycle dilemma that wasn’t supposed to occur so soon.”

Just like in 2008, the suddenness of the downturn is taking many of the experts by surprise.

Because our system is so highly vulnerable, when things start to go bad we can see a crisis escalate very rapidly, and the outlook for the months ahead is very troubling.

Normally Jim Cramer doesn’t talk like this, but now he is warning that we are “on the verge” of a slowdown that could potentially “cause an awful lot of havoc and cost a lot of jobs”

“There are degrees of slowdowns that, nonetheless, can cause an awful lot of havoc and cost a lot of jobs, and that’s what we’re on the verge of here,” he said. “That’s what the markets are saying. That’s what the CEOs are worried about offline.”

The situation reminded Cramer of when, on the cusp of the 2008 financial crisis, his corporate sources confided in him that the Fed “seemed to be out of touch … with what was happening” on Wall Street, he said. That led to his now-famous “They know nothing!” rant blasting the Fed for its lack of diligence.

Back in 2008 and 2009, millions of Americans lost their jobs within a matter of months.  Many of you that are reading this article know all about it, because it happened to you personally.

The same thing will happen again, and now it looks like it may happen a lot faster than most of the “experts” were projecting.

There is also another troubling piece of news that I would like to share with all of you.

On Friday, the latest NY Fed report came out, and we learned that U.S. household debt is now 837 billion dollars higher than it was during the previous peak in 2008

Total household debt, driven by a $9.1 trillion in mortgages, is now $837 billion higher than its previous peak in 2008, just as the last recession took hold and brought on massive deleveraging across the United States. Indebtedness has risen steadily for more than four years and sits more than 21 percent above a trough in 2013.

The $219 billion rise in total debt in the quarter ended September 30 was the biggest jump since 2016.

Our entire “economic recovery” has been fueled by debt, and so those numbers are not that surprising.

But the troubling part of the report is the fact that debt delinquency rates have now risen to the highest levels in 7 years

Aggregate delinquency rates worsened in the third quarter of 2018. As of September 30, 4.7% of outstanding debt was in some stage of delinquency, an uptick from 4.5% in the second quarter and the largest in 7 years. Of the $638 billion of debt that is delinquent, $415 billion is seriously delinquent (at least 90 days late or “severely derogatory”). This increase was primarily due to a large increase in the flow into delinquency for student loan balances during the third quarter of 2018. The flow into 90+ day delinquency for credit card balances has been rising for the last year and remained elevated since then compared to its recent history, while the flow into 90+ day delinquency for auto loan balances has been slowly trending upward since 2012.

In other words, Americans are getting behind on their debts to a degree that we have not seen since the U.S. economy was coming out of the last recession.

This is a very clear indicator that the U.S. economy is really slowing down, and if delinquency rates keep rising that is going to mean big trouble for U.S. financial institutions.

Of course U.S. consumers are not the only ones with a massive debt problem.  Corporate debt has more than doubled since the last financial crisis, state and local government debt levels are at record highs, and the U.S. government is now almost 22 trillion dollars in debt.

Perhaps if we had not spent six trillion dollars on wars in the Middle East since 2001, we would be in much better financial shape as a nation.

The Bubble to End All Bubbles, which some have dubbed “The Everything Bubble”, appears to be starting to burst and that is likely to mean tremendous chaos for global financial markets.

And without a doubt, this was another very tough week for Wall Street.  All of the major indexes were down significantly, and tech stocks got hit particularly hard

The S&P 500 fell 1.6 percent this week, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq Composite both declined more than 2 percent.

Technology, the biggest sector in the S&P 500 by market cap, was the second-worst performer this week, falling 2.5 percent. The sector dropped following a 5.4 percent decline in Apple. Wall Street analysts worry iPhone sales will slow down. Tech-related shares like Amazon and Netflix were also down 7 percent and 5.7 percent, respectively. Sharp losses in Nvidia dragged down the chips sector and the overall tech sector on Friday.

For the past couple of years we have been enjoying a time of relative economic and financial stability, but most Americans used that time to party instead of to prepare.

Now that period of stability is ending, and a very uncertain future is ahead.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

11 Signs That The U.S. Economy Is Starting To Slow Down Dramatically

The pace at which things are changing is shocking the experts.  Just a few months ago, many of the experts were still talking about how the U.S. economy was “booming”, but since then a major shift has taken place.  Most of the headlines have been about the huge stock market declines that we have been witnessing, but things have not been going well for the real economy either.  Home sales are way down, auto sales are plummeting, the retail apocalypse is escalating, the middle class continues to shrink and economic optimism is rapidly evaporating.  We haven’t seen anything like this since 2008, and many believe that the economic downturn that is now upon us will ultimately be even worse than what we experienced a decade ago.  The following are 11 signs that the U.S. economy is starting to slow down dramatically…

#1 When economic activity is rising, demand for oil increases, and oil prices tend to go up.  But when economic activity is slowing down, demand for oil diminishes, and oil prices tend to go down.  That is why what is happening to the price of oil right now is so alarming

US oil prices plummeted 7% to a one-year low of $55.69 a barrel on Tuesday. It was crude’s worst day since September 2015.

The losses in the oil world have been staggering as worries deepen about excess supply. Crude is down 12 straight days, the longest losing streak since futures trading began in March 1983.

#2 One new poll has found that only 13 percent of Americans plan to buy a home in the next year.  That number has fallen for three quarters in a row, and it is now down by almost half over the last twelve months.

#3 As the market dries up, the inventory of unsold homes is absolutely soaring nationwide…

With that in mind, it comes as no surprise that inventory countywide soared 86% among single-family homes and 188% among condos in October compared to a year prior, according to newly published data by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. It was the most massive year-over-year increase on record, dating back to the Dotcom bust, a rhythm that has some asking: Is the housing industry about to go bust?

#4 California once had the hottest housing market in the entire nation, but now home prices in the state are plummeting like it is 2008 all over again.

#5 According to the latest Bank of America survey, global fund managers are the most bearish that they have been since the financial crisis of 2008…

According to the survey, 44% of the fund managers expect global growth to decelerate in the next year, the worst outlook since November 2008. What’s more, 54% are anticipating a slowdown in Chinese growth in the next year, the most bearish they’ve been in over 2 years.

#6 America’s ongoing retail apocalypse just continues to accelerate.  According to a recent Bloomberg article, things are going so poorly for some mall operators that they “handing over their keys to lenders even before leases end”

Things are getting worse for malls across America. So much worse that their owners are walking away early from struggling properties, a trend that has mortgage bond investors bracing for losses.

Mall operators, eyeing defaults caused or made more likely by shuttered stores such as Sears Holdings Corp., are handing over their keys to lenders even before leases end. That’s forcing loan-servicing companies to either take a shot at running the properties or sell them cheap. And if they’re unable to salvage the debt payments, investors in commercial mortgage-backed securities will take a hit.

#7 Despite the eruption of a major trade war, the U.S. trade deficit with the rest of the world is on pace to set a brand new all-time record in 2018.

#8 One new study discovered that 62 percent of all U.S. jobs do not currently pay enough to support a middle class lifestyle.

#9 At this point, most Americans barely have any financial cushion at all.  According to one recent survey, 58 percent of all Americans have less than $1,000 in savings.

#10 Right now, more than half of all U.S. children are living in households that receive financial assistance from the federal government.

#11 As the economy slows down, an increasing number of Americans are being forced into the streets.  More than half a million Americans are currently homeless, and that number is growing with each passing day.

Meanwhile, more troubling news continues to emerge from Wall Street on a daily basis.  One of the big stories this week has been the fact that General Electric appears to be on the verge of “collapse”.  They have been completely locked out of the commercial paper market, they are being completely overwhelmed by the giant mountain of debt that they are carrying, and their formerly “investment grade” bonds are now being traded like junk.  The following comes from Zero Hedge

Two weeks after we reported that GE had found itself locked out of the commercial paper market following downgrades that made it ineligible for most money market investors, the pain has continued, and yesterday General Electric lost just over $5bn in market capitalization. While far less than the $49bn wiped out from AAPL the same day, it was arguably the bigger headline grabber.

The shares slumped -6.88% after dropping as much as -10% at the lows after the company’s CEO, in an interview with CNBC yesterday, failed to reassure market fears about a weakening financial position. The CEO suggested that the company will now urgently sell assets to address leverage and its precarious liquidity situation whereby it will have to rely on revolvers – and the generosity of its banks – now that it is locked out of the commercial paper market.

GE is not a financial company, but could this be a candidate to become “the next Lehman Brothers”?

The upward economic downturn of the last couple of years is totally gone, and many believe that there will soon be a feverish race for the exits on Wall Street.  If you have not already positioned yourself for the coming crisis, now is the time to do so.  As we saw in 2008, markets tend to go down a whole lot faster than they go up.

And once things get really crazy on Wall Street, the real economy can fall apart at a pace that is breathtaking.  In 2008, millions of people lost their jobs within a matter of months.  This will happen again, and there are an increasing number of signs that this is going to happen much sooner than most people had anticipated.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

The Last Days Warrior Summit is the premier online event of 2018 for Christians, Conservatives and Patriots.  It is a premium members-only international event that will empower and equip you with the knowledge and tools that you need as global events begin to escalate dramatically.  The speaker list includes Michael Snyder, Mike Adams, Dave Daubenmire, Ray Gano, Dr. Daniel Daves, Gary Kah, Justus Knight, Doug Krieger, Lyn Leahz, Laura Maxwell and many more. Full summit access will begin on October 25th, and if you would like to register for this unprecedented event you can do so right here.

New Vehicle Sales “Collapse” And Pending Home Sales “Plunge” As America’s Economic Slowdown Accelerates

In late 2018, the bad economic news just keeps rolling in.  At a time when consumer confidence is absolutely soaring, the underlying economic numbers are clearly telling us that enormous problems are right around the corner.  Of course this is usually what happens just before a major economic downturn.  Most people in the general population feel like the party can go on for quite a while longer, but meanwhile the warning signs just keep becoming more and more obvious.  I have been hearing from people that truly believe that the economy is “strong”, but if the U.S. economy really was in good shape would new vehicle sales be “collapsing”?

According to the latest estimates released by Edmunds, new vehicle sales for September are expected to collapse both on a monthly basis and year-over-year basis. The company predicted that 1,392,434 new cars and trucks will be sold in the U.S. in September, which makes for a estimated seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 17 million. This will be a 5.4% decrease from last month and an 8.3% drop from September of last year.

Those are absolutely terrible numbers.

And this news comes after all of the major automakers had already revised earnings guidance lower.  The following comes from Zero Hedge

The drop in sales capped another rough month for the auto industry during which Detroit’s carmakers all revised their earnings guidance lower and Ford embarked on a five-year restructuring plan. Earlier this week, we reported that Ford’s CEO claimed that President Trump’s auto tariffs had cost the company $1 billion in profits.

Sadly, this may just be the very beginning of the auto industry’s troubles.

It is now being projected that if this trade war with China continues, U.S. automakers could see total sales fall “by 2 million vehicles per year”

Retaliation by China to tariffs already in place have made some American auto exports uncompetitive, and could collapse US auto sales by 2 million vehicles per year, resulting in the loss of up to 715,000 American jobs and a devastating hit of as much as $62 billion to the US GDP.

As per NBC News, the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) warns that the auto industry could receive a devastating blow if Section 232 declares foreign-made cars and car parts a threat to national security.

Kristin Dziczek, a vice president and senior economist at CAR, said if Section 232 is enacted, it could trigger a “downward cycle” in the auto industry – not seen since the last great recession.

And needless to say, the thousands of companies that do business with those large automakers would also lose sales and jobs.

Once these downturns get rolling, the domino effect can be absolutely devastating.

On Thursday, we also learned that pending home sales “plunged in August”

Pending home sales plunged in August, dropping 1.8% MoM (almost four times worse than expected) to its lowest since Oct 2014 (and fell 2.5% YoY) – the fourth month of annual declines in a row…

If the U.S. economy truly is “strong”, then why have we seen four monthly declines in a row?

And it isn’t just one part of the nation that is experiencing a downturn.  According to Bloomberg, all four major regions of the country showed a decline…

As Bloomberg notes, the decline, which was broad-based across all four regions, shows that higher mortgage rates, rising prices and a shortage of affordable homes continue to squeeze buyers. Existing-home sales in August matched the lowest in more than two years, while revisions to new-home sales showed a slower market than thought, according to previously released figures.

Homes are not selling like they once were.  There is a reason why one out of every four home sellers in America slashed their prices in August.  Demand is way down, and that strongly indicates that an economic slowdown is here.

When it looks like the economy is headed for a major downturn, a lot of people go out and stock up on gold, and it turns out that is precisely what global central banks have been doing

Central banks have emerged as some of the biggest buyers of gold this year, buying a total of 264 metric tons this year to reach the highest level in six years, according to analysts at Macquarie.

Of course the Federal Reserve and other central banks are trying to assure us that everything is going to be okay, but meanwhile their actions are telling us a different story.

Much of the world is already in the midst of a crippling economic crisis, and every indicator seems to be pointing to the fact that the U.S. is headed down the same path.

Even without any extenuating circumstances, the truth is that we are way overdue for a recession.  But when you throw in political chaos, exploding debt levels, an emerging market currency crisis and a trade war between the two largest economies on the entire planet, you definitely have a recipe for a perfect storm.

If you do not believe that this trade war is a big deal, you should consider the words of former Reagan administration official David Stockman

Folks, it’s not a “skirmish”. On the scale of trade warfare we are now at DEFCON 2.

At this very moment, the US is taxing $250 billion of Chinese imports or nearly half the total flow; and China is taxing $110 billion of its imports from the US or 85% of the flow.

And it’s soon going full monte. The Donald has repeatedly threatened to tariff the remaining $267 billion of Chinese imports if Beijing retaliates against his $200 billion, but, self-evidently, they already have.

The U.S. economy has found a way to muddle through for the past couple of years, and we should all hope that the economy can find a way to navigate through these current problems.

But the storm clouds are growing more ominous with each passing day, and at some point time will run out.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

The Last Days Warrior Summit is the premier online event of 2018 for Christians, Conservatives and Patriots.  It is a premium-members only international event that will empower and equip you with the knowledge and tools that you need as global events begin to escalate dramatically.  The speaker list includes Michael Snyder, Mike Adams, Dave Daubenmire, Ray Gano, Dr. Daniel Daves, Gary Kah, Justus Knight, Doug Krieger, Lyn Leahz, Laura Maxwell and many more. Full summit access will begin on October 25th, and if you would like to register for this unprecedented event you can do so right here.

Recession 2017? Things Are Happening That Usually Never Happen Unless A New Recession Is Beginning

New Crisis - Public DomainIs the U.S. economy about to get slammed by a major recession?  According to Gallup, U.S. economic confidence has soared to the highest level ever recorded, but meanwhile a whole host of key economic indicators are absolutely screaming that a new recession is beginning.  And if the U.S. economy does officially enter recession territory in 2017, it certainly won’t be a shock, because the truth is that we are well overdue for one.  Donald Trump has inherited quite an economic mess from Barack Obama, and it was probably inevitable that we were headed for a significant economic downturn no matter who won the election.

One of the key indicators to watch is average weekly hours.  When the economy shifts into recession mode, employers tend to start cutting back hours, and that is happening right now.  In fact, as Graham Summers has pointed out, we just witnessed the largest percentage decline in average weekly hours since the recession of 2008…

Average Weekly Hours

In addition to the decline in hours, Summers has suggested that there are a number of other reasons to believe that a new recession is here…

The fact is that the GDP growth of 4%-5% is not just around the corner. The US most likely slid into recession in the last three months. GDP growth collapsed in 4Q16, with a large portion of the “growth” coming from accounting gimmicks.

Consider the following:

  • Tax receipts indicate the US is in recession.
  • Gross private domestic investment indicates were are in a recession.
  • Retailers are showing that the US consumer is tapped out (see AMZN’s recent miss).
  • UPS, another economic bellweather, dramatically lowered 2017 forecasts.

To me, even more alarming is the tightening of lending standards.  In our debt-based economy, the flow of credit is absolutely critical to economic growth, and when credit starts to get tight that almost always leads to a recession.

So the fact that lending standards have now tightened for medium and large sized firms for six quarters in a row is very bad news.  The following comes from Business Insider

“Although modest over the past couple of quarters, it is still worth noting that this is now the sixth quarter in succession that standards have tightened for large and medium sized firms,” Deutsche Bank economist Jim Reid wrote in a research note to clients.

“This usually only happens in recessions.”

Reid is 100 percent correct on this point.  This is precisely the kind of thing that we would expect to see if a new recession was beginning, and if this trend continues it is hard to imagine that the U.S. economy will be able to continue to grow.

And it is interesting to note that job growth at S&P 500 companies has gone negative for the first time since the last recession, and so large firms are definitely starting to feel the pressure.

Simultaneously, lending standards are also tightening up for consumers

“The most notable tightening in standards though was in consumer loans,” the Fed said. “During the quarter, banks reported an 8.3% net tightening in credit standards for credit cards and 11.6% net tightening for auto loans.”

US consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of economic activity and is thus a key driver of growth in the world’s largest economy.

Those numbers for credit cards and auto loans are major red flags.

It is very simple.  Tighter credit means less economic activity which means slower economic growth.  The U.S. economy grew at a dismal 1.9 percent annual rate during the 4th quarter of 2016, and it would be absolutely no surprise if we end up with a negative number for the first quarter of 2017.

One of the big reasons why lending standards are tightening is because bankruptcies are rising.

As I reported the other day, consumer bankruptcies just rose on a year-over-year basis in back to back months for the first time in almost seven years.  Commercial bankruptcies had already been rising on a year-over-year basis throughout 2016, and so the fact that consumer bankruptcies have now joined the party is a very bad sign.

And we have also just learned that real median household income declined in 2016

Its official! The spectacular Obama/Fed “recovery” produced no increase in real medin household income in 2016 (the last year of Obama’s reign of [economic] error). In fact, real median annual household income in December 2016 ($57,827) was 0.9 percent lower than in December 2015 ($58,356).

Yes, I understand that there is a tremendous amount of optimism out there right now because of Donald Trump.

But the truth is that it is literally going to take some sort of an economic miracle to avoid a recession.

And if a recession is going to happen anyway, the Trump administration should want it to occur as quickly as possible.

You see, if a recession starts a year from now, it will be much more difficult for Trump to blame it on Obama.  But if a recession starts right now, he will definitely be able to argue that it happened because of the mess that he inherited from the last administration.

In addition, the sooner the next recession ends the sooner the next recovery can begin.  If a recession is still going on during the 2020 campaign, that would be really bad for Trump, but if a recovery is well underway by then that would be really good for his chances.

If you doubt this, just go back and look at the 1984 campaign.  After a very difficult recession, the U.S. economy bounced back strongly and Ronald Reagan was able to ride that momentum to an easy victory.

So this may sound very strange to many of you, but the truth is that if a new recession is coming Trump supporters should want it to happen as rapidly as possible.

Unfortunately, once a new recession begins it may not play out like recessions normally do.  The U.S. government is 20 trillion dollars in debt, we are in the midst of one of the biggest stock market bubbles in history, and our planet is becoming more unstable with each passing day.  So even though Trump is in the White House and Obama is gone, let there be no doubt that a catastrophic economic crisis could literally erupt at any moment.  I continue to encourage my readers to do all that they can to get prepared, because those that are prepared in advance will have the best chance of successfully getting through what is coming.

Unfortunately, a lot of people out there seem to believe that all of our problems have somehow evaporated just because Donald Trump is now living in the White House.

That is simply not true, and we all need to be praying for guidance and wisdom for Trump and his team as they prepare to deal with the great challenges that are ahead for our nation.

Painful To Watch: This Is The Weakest U.S. Economic ‘Recovery’ Since 1949

Dollar Bending - Public DomainMost of us have never witnessed an economic “recovery” this bad.  As you will see below, the average rate of economic growth since the last recession has been the lowest for any “recovery” in at least 67 years.  And unfortunately, the economy appears to be slowing down even more here in 2016.  On Friday, I talked about how the U.S. economy grew at a painfully slow rate of just 1.2 percent in the second quarter after only growing 0.8 percent during the first quarter.  And last week we also learned that the homeownership rate in the United States has dropped to the lowest level ever.  This is not what a recovery looks like.  Instead, it very much appears that a new economic downturn has already begun.

But don’t just take my word for how painful this economic “recovery” has been.  The following comes from a Wall Street Journal article that was just posted entitled “Seven Years Later, Recovery Remains the Weakest of the Post-World War II Era“…

Even seven years after the recession ended, the current stretch of economic gains has yielded less growth than much shorter business cycles.

In terms of average annual growth, the pace of this expansion has been by far the weakest of any since 1949. (And for which we have quarterly data.) The economy has grown at a 2.1% annual rate since the U.S. recovery began in mid-2009, according to gross-domestic-product data the Commerce Department released Friday.

The prior expansion, from 2001 through 2007, was the only other business cycle of the past 11 when the economy didn’t grow at least 3% a year, on average.

This entire seven year stretch has come while Barack Obama has been in the White House.  After more than seven and a half years, he is solidly on track to be the only president in U.S. history to never have a single year when the U.S. economy grew by at least three percent.

And unlike many presidents, he has had two terms in which to try to accomplish that feat.

One of the industries that had been doing fairly well during this recovery was the auto industry, but now in early 2016 they have found themselves struggling too

Now, the auto sector, which has propped up GDP growth for years, is slowing down. For the first six months, total car and light truck sales, at a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 17.5 million vehicles, are lagging behind last year by 100,000 units. Over the first half, fleet sales to rent-a-car companies and big fleet buyers were up industry wide. But retail sales fell 2%.

All over the corporate world, earnings are down.

In some cases, they are way down.

It is being projected that this will be the fifth quarter in a row when corporate earnings have declined, and even mainstream analysts are now admitting that it is “evident” that we have entered “a global slowdown”

“Earnings season in the U.S. confirms the overall macro picture that we have. We have a global slowdown. It’s evident in all of the major economies,” said Peter Garnry, head of equity strategy at Saxo Bank, on a Bloomberg podcast.

Of course I have been saying this exact thing for the past 12 months, but a lot of people have tuned me out because the stock market in the United States has been doing so well.

But the stock market is not an accurate barometer for the real economy.  It never has been, and it never will be.

If stocks accurately reflected the health of the U.S. economy, they would have already crashed really hard a long time ago.  At this moment, stock prices are completely disconnected from economic reality, and this has many of the most respected names on Wall Street scratching their heads.  One of them is Jeffrey Gundlach, the chief executive of DoubleLine Capital.  Just check out what he told Reuters on Friday

Noting the recent run-up in the benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 index while economic growth remains weak and corporate earnings are stagnant, Gundlach said stock investors have entered a “world of uber complacency.”

The S&P 500 on Friday touched an all-time high of 2,177.09, while the government reported that U.S. gross domestic product in the second quarter grew at a meager 1.2 percent rate.

“The artist Christopher Wool has a word painting, ‘Sell the house, sell the car, sell the kids.’ That’s exactly how I feel – sell everything. Nothing here looks good,” Gundlach said in a telephone interview. “The stock markets should be down massively but investors seem to have been hypnotized that nothing can go wrong.”

If you follow Gundlach, you probably already know that he has been dead on accurate with regard to the financial markets over the past couple of years.

So when he says that the stock market “should be down massively” and that it is time to “sell everything”, we should all take him very, very seriously.

All throughout history, a huge decline in corporate earnings has almost always resulted in a huge decline in stock prices.  As Jesse Felder has noted, “we have never seen a decline in earnings of this magnitude without at least a 20% fall in stock prices” during the last 50 years.

To any rational observer, it is quite obvious that stock prices should have already started collapsing quite some time ago.

And to a large extent this has already happened around the planet, but here in the United States stocks continue to defy the laws of economics.

But at this point it isn’t going to do much good to warn people about this.  Those that could see the danger coming have already pulled their money out of stocks, and most of those that want to stick their heads in the sand and pretend that things are somehow going to be different this time are not likely to be persuaded this late in the game.

In the end, we should all be grateful that this absurd financial bubble has lasted for as long as it has, because stability is much more pleasant than instability.  The U.S. economy and the U.S. financial system have enjoyed a prolonged period of stability that has defied all the odds, and let us hope that it lasts for at least a little while longer…