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The “Economic Recovery” Continues: Businesses Are Being Destroyed Faster Than They Are Being Created

The Death Of Small Business - Photo by Tina McKimmieWhat would you say about an economy where businesses are shutting down faster than they are opening?  Well, a shocking new study released by the Brookings Institution indicates that this is exactly what is happening in the United States.  We are absolutely killing small businesses and the entrepreneurial spirit in this country, and as you will see below, the number of self-employed Americans has been on a downward trend for a decade even though our population has been steadily growing.  Traditionally, small businesses have been the primary engine of job growth in this nation, so the fact that study after study has found that small business creation is being crippled in the United States is a really bad sign for our economic future.

Personally, I write about our long-term economic decline nearly every day, but even I had no idea that businesses were being destroyed faster than they were being created.  According to the Brookings Institution, this first started happening in 2009

The American economy is less entrepreneurial now than at any point in the last three decades. That’s the conclusion of a new study out from the Brookings Institution, which looks at the rates of new business creation and destruction since 1978.

Not only that, but during the most recent three years of the study — 2009, 2010 and 2011 — businesses were collapsing faster than they were being formed, a first.

And this mirrors an earlier study conducted by economist Tim Kane.  According to his analysis of U.S. Department of Labor data, the following is how the decline in the number of new business jobs per one thousand Americans breaks down by presidential administration

Bush Sr.: 11.3

Clinton: 11.2

Bush Jr.: 10.8

Obama: 7.8

As you can see, this is a problem that has been building for decades and that has accelerated under the Obama administration.

We are strangling small business creation to death, and as a result the number of Americans that are self-employed just keeps going down.  Just check out this chart…

Self-Employed 2014

And keep in mind that throughout this entire time the U.S. population has been growing.  So the numbers in the chart above should be going up steadily as the population grows.  But instead they have just kept going down.

Meanwhile, the “economic recovery” is continuing in the corporate world as well.

On Tuesday, we learned that Office Depot is going to be closing 400 stores.

Why would that happen if the economy was actually getting better?

When this was announced, shares of Office Depot rose about 20 percent.

I can never understand why that happens.  You would think that when a business makes an announcement that essentially says “our business is failing” that it would cause people to dump the stock.

In any event, this comes on the heels of an announcement by Staples back in March that it was going to shut down 225 stores in the United States and Canada.

So where will we buy our pens and paper from now on?

If the economy really was “recovering”, you would think that demand for office supplies would actually be on the rise.

But the only places where the economy is “recovering” is in places such as Washington D.C., New York City and San Francisco.

Those at the top of the pyramid are doing well, but almost everyone else in the country is really suffering right now.

When you kill off small businesses and the entrepreneurial spirit, it tends to increasingly funnel money to the very top of the food chain.  And this is precisely what is happening in America at this point.  In a recent article, Charles Hugh Smith included a chart that shows how average household net worth in the U.S. breaks down by quartile…

Bottom 25%: $4,600
From 25% to 50%: $21,700
From 50% to 75%: $78,900
From 75% to 90%: $242,800
Top 10%: $1,606,600

As you can see, the bottom 50 percent are really not that much above zero at all.  In the old days, it seemed like almost everyone was “middle class” in America, but now that is rapidly changing.

We can see this increasing divide in the real estate market as well.  According to Bloomberg, sales of million dollar homes are booming, but sales of homes at the low end are plunging…

“Million-dollar homes in the U.S. are selling at double their historical average while middle-class property demand stumbles, showing that the housing recovery is mirroring America’s wealth divide.

Purchases costing $1 million or more rose 7.8 percent in March from a year earlier, according to data released last week by the National Association of Realtors. Transactions for $250,000 or less, which represent almost two-thirds of the market, plunged 12 percent in the period”

So this explains why it is almost impossible to find an affordable home in San Francisco, but the overall homeownership rate in the United States has dropped to the lowest level in 19 years.

But even in our wealthy enclaves there are signs of deep economic trouble.  For example, in New York City the number of homeless children has soared to a new all-time high…

They’re just like other kids except they have a secret. They are homeless.  Children are living hidden lives in plain sight. They are part a growing number of low income families who find themselves with no way out but they are working hard to find a solution.

It’s a big issue. And it’s growing. More than 23,000 children sleep in homeless shelters every night, an all-time high, according to the Coalition for the Homeless.

The only “recovery” being experienced in America is the one that is happening on Wall Street, in boardrooms in Silicon Valley and in the halls of power in Washington.

In the rest of the country, retail stores are closing at the fastest pace that we have seen since the collapse of Lehman Brothers, 20 percent of all families do not have a single member that is employed and 49 million Americans are dealing with food insecurity.

There is no way that we are ever going to have a broad-based economic recovery in this nation if we continue to destroy small businesses.  They are the lifeblood of any economy and they are the primary engine of job creation.

Sadly, our politicians seem completely clueless about all of this.  So they will continue to do the same things that they have always been doing and then wonder why the economy never seems to turn around.

Tony Robbins, Ron Paul And Ben Bernanke All Agree: The National Debt Crisis Could Destroy America

Is there one thing that Tony Robbins, Ron Paul and Ben Bernanke can all agree on?  Yes, there actually is.  Recently they have all come forward with warnings that the national debt crisis could destroy America if something is not done.  Unfortunately, our politicians continue to spend us into oblivion as if there will never be any consequences.  When Barack Obama took office, the U.S. national debt was 10.6 trillion dollars.  Today, it is 15.6 trillion dollars and it is rising at the rate of about 150 million dollars an hour.  During the Obama administration so far, the U.S. government has accumulated more debt than it did from 1776 to 1995.  The United States now has a debt to GDP ratio of over 100 percent, and another credit rating agency downgraded U.S. debt earlier this month.  Any talk of a positive economic future is utter nonsense as long as we are bleeding red ink as a nation far faster than we ever have before.  It is absolutely immoral to wreck the financial future of our children and our grandchildren and to leave them with a bill for the greatest mountain of debt in the history of the world, but that is exactly what we are doing.  Unless our current debt-based financial system is thrown out, there are only two ways that this game is going to play out.  One would involve absolutely bitter austerity and deflation unlike anything ever seen before, and the other would involve nightmarish hyperinflation.  Either path would be hellish beyond what most Americans could possibly imagine.

Unfortunately, we are running out of time as a nation.  You know that things are late in the game when the head of the Federal Reserve starts using apocalyptic language to talk about the national debt.  The following is what Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress recently….

Having a large and increasing level of government debt relative to national income runs the risk of serious economic consequences. Over the longer term, the current trajectory of federal debt threatens to crowd out private capital formation and thus reduce productivity growth. To the extent that increasing debt is financed by borrowing from abroad, a growing share of our future income would be devoted to interest payments on foreign-held federal debt. High levels of debt also impair the ability of policymakers to respond effectively to future economic shocks and other adverse events.

Even the prospect of unsustainable deficits has costs, including an increased possibility of a sudden fiscal crisis. As we have seen in a number of countries recently, interest rates can soar quickly if investors lose confidence in the ability of a government to manage its fiscal policy. Although historical experience and economic theory do not indicate the exact threshold at which the perceived risks associated with the U.S. public debt would increase markedly, we can be sure that, without corrective action, our fiscal trajectory will move the nation ever closer to that point.

The sick thing about this is that the Federal Reserve system is actually designed to generate government debt.  The U.S. national debt is now more than 5000 times larger than it was when the Federal Reserve was created back in 1913.  So it is kind of ironic that the head of the organization that was designed to perpetually generate U.S. government debt is now warning that there is too much of it.

But Ben Bernanke is far from alone in warning about the danger of our exploding national debt.

For example, world famous motivational speaker Tony Robbins is also warning that the national debt crisis could destroy our future.

These days, most people throw around the phrase “a trillion dollars” without ever really grasping what it means.

In the video posted below, Tony Robbins uses a fun illustration to help put in perspective how large a “trillion dollars” really is.

If you had a million seconds to do something, would you consider that to be a long time?

Well, it turns out that a million seconds is only about 12 days.

What about a billion seconds?  Is that a long period of time?

Well, yes, a billion seconds is close to 32 years.  So that is definitely a lot longer than a million seconds.

What about a trillion seconds?

How long do you think that is?

Well, a trillion seconds is about 31,688 years.

So when we talk about how the U.S. government is stealing more than a trillion dollars from future generations every single year, we are talking about an absolutely massive amount of money.

The Tony Robbins video about the national debt crisis posted below has started to go viral all over the Internet.  If you have not seen it yet, I definitely recommend taking a few minutes to watch it….

So why are our politicians not doing anything about the U.S. debt crisis?

Well, it is because most of them value getting elected over and over again above doing what is right for future generations.

For the past four decades, the United States has been enjoying a 15 trillion dollar party.  All of this borrowed money has enabled us to live far, far beyond our means.

If our politicians voted to severely cut spending or to raise taxes dramatically at this point, our economy would suddenly readjust to a more realistic standard of living.  But that would be extremely painful and most Americans voters would be absolutely furious.  They would demand that someone “fix” the economy immediately.  But the truth is that what we have been enjoying all these years has not been real.  It has been bought with trillions of dollars stolen from future generations.  But most of our politicians just want to keep the party rolling as long as humanly possible so that they can keep getting voted back into office.

Fortunately, there are a few politicians that are willing to stand up and tell the truth about our national debt crisis.  For example, in the video posted below Ron Paul scolds the rest of Congress for continuing to vote for debt limit increase after debt limit increase….

Unfortunately, the American people seem to prefer politicians that endlessly lie to them about how bad things really are.

For example, back at the beginning of the Bush administration we were promised that we would be swimming in gigantic surpluses by now.

That didn’t exactly work out, now did it?

Barack Obama promised us that he would cut the size of the federal budget deficit in half by the end of his first term.

Well, guess what?

He lied too.

Things just continue to get worse and worse.

Since 1975, we have added more than 15 trillion dollars to the national debt.  In fact, the U.S. national debt is now more than 22 times larger than it was when Jimmy Carter became president.

A lot of talking heads on television continue to assure us that everything is going to be okay, but the truth is that we are about to experience some absolutely devastating consequences for decades of really bad decisions.

For example, the rest of the world is rapidly losing faith in our currency and the reign of the U.S. dollar as the primary world reserve currency is in serious danger of coming to an end.  When that happens, gasoline, food and just about everything else that you buy is going to be a lot more expensive.

Already, there are very ominous signs that the rest of the world is getting tired of financing our endless spending.  In 2011, the Federal Reserve bought approximately 61 percent of all new government debt issued by the U.S. Treasury Department.  This is not supposed to happen.  The Federal Reserve is not supposed to be monetizing our debt and this is something that Congress should be looking into.

Also, at this time of the year people love to complain about the outrageous amount of taxes that most hard working Americans have to pay, but the truth is that eventually it will likely get a whole lot worse.

Just look at Greece.  Taxes in Greece have been raised to suffocating levels, government spending has been slashed to the bone and yet they are still running up more debt.

That is going to happen in the United States at some point too, especially if our leaders choose the path of austerity and deflation.

You can’t hide from debt forever.

Have you ever run up debt on a credit card?

A lot of us did that when we were young and foolish, and it can be a lot of fun on the way up.

But eventually a day of reckoning comes and it is extremely painful to find yourself drowning in credit card debt.

Well, we are rapidly approaching our credit limit as a nation.

Some hard choices will have to be made, and there will be a lot of pain.

The false prosperity that we are enjoying now is going to disappear.

Now is the time to prepare for the massive economic shift that is coming.  In the coming economic environment, those that are currently living month to month and those that are 100% dependent on the system are going to be in a huge amount of trouble.

Instead of wildly spending money as if the good times will never end like most Americans are, now is the time to get out of debt, to become more self-sufficient and to set aside the money, resources and supplies you will need to weather the storm that is rapidly approaching.

Anyone with half a brain should be able to see that a gigantic economic collapse is coming.

Use the time that you still have left to prepare the best that you can.

24 Statistics To Show To Anyone Who Believes That America Has A Bright Economic Future

Beware of bubbles of false hope.  Right now there is a lot of talk about how the U.S. economy is improving, but it is all a lie.  The mainstream media can be very seductive.  When you sit down to watch television your brain tends to go into a very relaxed mode.  In such a state, it becomes easy to slip thoughts and ideas past your defenses.  Sometimes when I am watching television I realize what the media is trying to do and yet I can still feel it happening to me.  In this day and age, it is absolutely critical that we all think for ourselves.  When you look at the long-term trends and the long-term numbers, a much different picture of the U.S economy emerges than the one that is painted for us on television.  Over the long-term, the number of good jobs in America has been steadily going down.  Over the long-term, the number of Americans living in poverty and living on food stamps has been steadily going up.  Over the past couple of decades, tens of thousands of businesses, millions of jobs and trillions of dollars of our national wealth have gone out of the country.  Our debt is nearly 15 times larger than it was 30 years ago, and U.S. consumer debt has soared by 1700% over the past 40 years.  Year after year the rate of inflation goes up faster than our incomes do, and this is absolutely devastating the middle class.  Anyone who believes that we can keep doing the same things that we have been doing and yet America will still have a bright economic future is delusional.  Until the long-term trends which are taking the U.S. economy straight into the toilet are reversed, any talk of a bright economic future is absolute nonsense.

In America today, we have such a short-term focus.  We are all so caught up with what is happening right now.  Our attention spans seem to get shorter every single year.  At this point it would not be hard to argue that kittens have longer attention spans than most of us do.  (If you have ever owned a kitten you know how short their attention spans can be.)  Things have gotten so bad that most of our high school students cannot even answer the most basic questions about our history.  If people are not talking about it on Facebook or Twitter it is almost as if it does not even matter.

But any serious student of history knows that is is absolutely crucial to examine long-term trends.  And when you look at the long-term trends, it rapidly becomes apparent that the U.S. economy is in the midst of a nightmarish long-term decline.

The following are 24 statistics to show to anyone who believes that America has a bright economic future….

#1 Inflation is a silent tax that steals wealth from all of us.  We continue to shell out increasing amounts of money for the basic things that we need, and yet our incomes are not keeping pace.  Just check out the following example.  Gasoline prices have been trending higher for several years in a row as one blogger recently noted….

January 2009           $1.65

January 2010           $2.57

January 2011           $3.04

January 2012           $3.29

#2 If you can believe it, the average American household spent approximately $4,155 on gasoline during 2011.

#3 Electricity bills in the United States have risen faster than the overall rate of inflation for five years in a row.

#4 Health care costs continue to rise at a very alarming pace.  According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, health care costs accounted for just 9.5% of all personal consumption back in 1980.  Today they account for approximately 16.3%.

#5 Getting a college education has also become insanely expensive in America.  After adjusting for inflation, U.S. college students are borrowing about twice as much money as they did a decade ago.

#6 To get the same purchasing power that you got out of $20.00 back in 1970 you would have to have more than $116 today.

#7 To get the same purchasing power that you got out of $20.00 back in 1913 you would have to have more than $457 today.

#8 There are fewer payroll jobs in the United States today than there were back in 2000 even though we have added more than 30 million extra people to the population since then.

#9 The U.S. economy is bleeding millions of good jobs.  Greedy CEOs are systematically shipping them overseas and our politicians are standing around and doing nothing about it.  This has gone on year after year after year.  The following is from a recent article by Paul Craig Roberts….

In the first decade of the 21st century, Americans lost 5,500,000 manufacturing jobs. US employment in the manufacture of computer and electronic products fell by 40%; in the production of machinery by 30%, in motor vehicles and and parts by 44%, and in the manufacture of clothing by 66%.

#10 Our economic infrastructure is being torn apart right in front of our eyes.  In 2010, an average of 23 manufacturing facilities a day shut down in the United States.  Overall, more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities in the United States have shut down since 2001.

We have made it legal for big corporations to send millions of jobs to countries where it is legal to pay slave labor wages, where the tax burden is much lighter and where there are barely any regulations.  The following is a brief excerpt from a recent article posted on Economy in Crisis….

Back in the ‘80s, I called my friend Walter in California and asked: “On your next expansion we need a plant in South Carolina.” Walter replied: “We don’t produce anything in the United States. It’s all in China. China furnishes you the plant on a year-to-year basis. If your investment works out, you don’t have to pay any corporate tax; just reinvest it for another plant and more profit. If it doesn’t work out, you can walk away with no legacy costs. I send a quality controller to watch production. I check on it every day. I don’t have any labor, health, safety, or environmental concerns, and have time to play a round of golf.” The bleeding of jobs off-shore started in the ‘80s — now hemorrhages under Bush and Obama. Waiting for the economy to bounce back; calling this “the worst recession” is a bum rap. The reason the economy hasn’t bounced back since 2008 is because the economy is being off-shored.

#11  As a result of our insane economic policies, our trade balances are absolutely exploding.  For example, the U.S. trade deficit with China in 2010 was 27 times larger than it was back in 1990.

#12 As you read this, there are millions of Americans out there wondering why they can’t find any jobs.  According to Reuters, 23.7 million American workers are either unemployed or underemployed right now.

#13 The number of good jobs has been steadily shrinking in America.  Since the year 2000, the United States has lost 10% of its middle class jobs.  In the year 2000 there were about 72 million middle class jobs in the United States but today there are only about 65 million middle class jobs.

#14 Over the last three decades, the percentage of low income jobs has consistently risen.  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.

#15 The number of middle class neighborhoods also continues to decline.  In 1970, 65 percent of all Americans lived in “middle class neighborhoods”.  By 2007, only 44 percent of all Americans lived in “middle class neighborhoods”.

#16 A decade ago, the United States was ranked number one in average wealth per adult.  By 2010, the United States had fallen to seventh.

#17 Our incomes continue to go down.  Since December 2007, median household income in the United States has declined by a total of 6.8% once you account for inflation.

#18 Unfortunately, middle class Americans have been seeing their incomes decline for a very long time.  According to one study, between 1969 and 2009 the median wages earned by American men between the ages of 30 and 50 dropped by 27 percent after you account for inflation.

#19 Since 1971, consumer debt in the United States has increased by a whopping 1700%.  Unfortunately, U.S. consumers have still not learned how to stay out of debt.  According to a recent article posted on Financial Armageddon, the rate of personal savings in the United States is rapidly falling right now at the same time that the total amount of consumer credit is absolutely skyrocketing.

#20 The number of children living in poverty in America keeps rising year after year. The percentage of children living in poverty in the United States increased from 16.9 percent in 2006 to nearly 22 percent in 2010.

#21 The number of Americans on food stamps continues to set new all-time records.  Just check out the following progression….

October 2008: 30.8 million Americans on food stamps

October 2009: 37.6 million Americans on food stamps

October 2010: 43.2 million Americans on food stamps

October 2011: 46.2 million Americans on food stamps

#22 The U.S. debt problem has gotten completely and totally out of control.  Recently, the debt of the federal government surpassed 100% of GDP for the first time ever.

#23 During the Obama administration, the U.S. government has accumulated more debt than it did from the time that George Washington took office to the time that Bill Clinton took office.

#24 Barack Obama’s proposed 2012 budget projects that the national debt will rise to 26 trillion dollars a decade from now.  And his budget numbers are ridiculously optimistic.

Are you starting to get the picture?

All of the long-term economic numbers are progressively getting worse.

As the economy continues to crumble, large numbers of Americans are becoming really desperate.  For example, a recent Mother Jones article detailed how large numbers of formerly middle class Americans are now actually growing marijuana in an effort to make ends meet.

As things continue to get worse, people will become even more desperate.  There are millions of people out there that find themselves unable to pay the mortgage and put food on the table for their families.  When people hit rock bottom, they often find themselves doing things that they never dreamed that they would do.

Meanwhile, the big Wall Street banks just keep getting larger and more powerful.  We have allowed the “too big to fail” banks to become much bigger than they have ever been before.  The total assets of the six largest U.S. banks increased by 39 percent between September 30, 2006 and September 30, 2011.

Wealth is becoming increasingly concentrated at the very top even as the overall economic pie in America continues to get smaller.

As our economic problems become worse, more Americans than ever are trying to find ways to “escape”.

For example, according to one new government report one out of every six adults in America is a binge drinker.

Other Americans “tune out” by watching endless hours of television, by playing endless hours of video games or by indulging in endless hours of other forms of entertainment.

There are even some Americans that are giving up completely.  For example, one elderly man actually robbed a bank just so that he could get arrested and be taken to prison where he would get free health care.

But as I have written about previously, now is not the time to give up.  Instead, now is the time to prepare for the great challenges that are ahead.

Almost every generation in history has been faced with great challenges and great hardships at some point.

Yes, there will be some incredibly hard times ahead, but that also means that there will be a need for some great heroes.

Just because the U.S. economy is falling apart does not mean that life is over.

We are living during one of the most exciting times in all of human history.  Instead of cowering in fear, let us embrace these times and focus on becoming the people that we were created to be.

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