Economic activity is slowing down all over the planet, and a whole host of signs are indicating that we are essentially exactly where we were just prior to the great stock market crash of 2008. Yesterday, I explained that the economies of Japan, Brazil, Canada and Russia are all in recession. Today, I am mainly going to focus on the United States. We are seeing so many things happen right now that we have not seen since 2008 and 2009. In so many ways, it is almost as if we are watching an eerie replay of what happened the last time around, and yet most of the “experts” still appear to be oblivious to what is going on. If you were to make up a checklist of all of the things that you would expect to see just before a major stock market crash, virtually all of them are happening right now. The following are 11 critical indicators that are absolutely screaming that the global economic crisis is getting deeper…
#1 On Tuesday, the price of oil closed below 40 dollars a barrel. Back in 2008, the price of oil crashed below 40 dollars a barrel just before the stock market collapsed, and now it has happened again.
#2 The price of copper has plunged all the way down to $2.04. The last time it was this low was just before the stock market crash of 2008.
#3 The Business Roundtable’s forecast for business investment in 2016 has dropped to the lowest level that we have seen since the last recession.
#4 Corporate debt defaults have risen to the highest level that we have seen since the last recession. This is a huge problem because corporate debt in the U.S. has approximately doubled since just before the last financial crisis.
#5 The Bloomberg U.S. economic surprise index is more negative right now than it was at any point during the last recession.
#6 Credit card data that was just released shows that holiday sales have gone negative for the first time since the last recession.
#7 As I mentioned yesterday, U.S. manufacturing is contracting at the fastest pace that we have seen since the last recession.
#8 The velocity of money in the United States has dropped to the lowest level ever recorded. Not even during the depths of the last recession was it ever this low.
#9 In 2008, commodity prices crashed just before the stock market did, and late last month the Bloomberg Commodity Index hit a 16 year low.
#10 In the past, stocks have tended to crash about 12-18 months after a peak in corporate profit margins. At this point, we are 15 months after the most recent peak.
#11 If you look back at 2008, you will see that junk bonds crashed horribly. Why this is important is because junk bonds started crashing before stocks did, and right now they have dropped to the lowest point that they have been since the last financial crisis.
If just one or two of these indicators were flashing red, that would be bad enough.
The fact that all of them seem to be saying the exact same thing tells us that big trouble is ahead.
And I am not the only one saying this. Just today, a Reuters article discussed the fact that Citigroup analysts are projecting that there is a 65 percent chance that the U.S. economy will plunge into recession in 2016…
The outlook for the global economy next year is darkening, with a U.S. recession and China becoming the first major emerging market to slash interest rates to zero both potential scenarios, according to Citi.
As the U.S. economy enters its seventh year of expansion following the 2008-09 crisis, the probability of recession will reach 65 percent, Citi’s rates strategists wrote in their 2016 outlook published late on Tuesday. A rapid flattening of the bond yield curve towards inversion would be an key warning sign.
Personally, I am convinced that we are already in a recession. There is a lag in the official numbers, so often we don’t know that we are officially in one until it is well underway. For example, we now know that a recession started in early 2008, but in the summer of 2008 Ben Bernanke and our top politicians were still insisting that there was not going to be a recession. They were denying what was actually happening right in front of their eyes, and the same thing is happening now.
And of course if the government was actually using honest numbers, we would all be talking about the recession that never seems to end. According to John Williams of shadowstats.com, honest numbers would show that the U.S. economy has continually been in recession since 2005.
But just like in 2008, the “experts” at the Federal Reserve are assuring all of us that everything is going to be just fine. In fact, Janet Yellen is convinced that things are so rosy that she seems quite confident that the Fed will raise interest rates in December…
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen signaled Wednesday that the Fed is all but certain to raise interest rates this month for the first time in nearly a decade, saying that gains in the economy and labor market have met the central bank’s goals.
Her comments at the Economic Club of Washington amount to the strongest indication the Fed has provided so far that it will take action at a December 15-16 meeting.
This is the exact same kind of mistake that the Federal Reserve made back in the late 1930s. They thought that the U.S. economy was finally recovering, and so interest rates were raised. That turned out to be a tragic mistake.
But this time around, any mistake that the Fed makes will have global consequences. The rising U.S. dollar is already crippling emerging markets all around the globe, and an interest rate hike will just push the U.S. dollar even higher. For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled “The U.S. Dollar Has Already Caused A Global Recession And Now The Fed Is Going To Make It Worse“.
Many people are waiting for “the big crash”, but the truth is that almost everything has crashed already.
Oil has crashed.
Commodities have crashed.
Gold and silver have crashed.
Junk bonds have crashed.
Chinese stocks have crashed.
Dozens of other stock markets around the world have already crashed.
But the “big event” that many are waiting for is the crash of U.S. stocks. And just like in 2008, it is inevitable that a U.S. stock crash will follow all of the other crashes that I just mentioned.
Sometimes I get criticized for issuing these kinds of alarms. But just think of how many people could have been helped if they would have known that the financial crisis of 2008 was going to happen ahead of time.
The exact same patterns that we experienced back then are playing out once again right in front of our eyes, and the more people that we can warn in advance the better.
There are a dozen significant economic indicators that are warning that the U.S. economy is heading into a recession. The Dow may have soared past the 15,000 mark, but the economic fundamentals are telling an entirely different story. If historical patterns hold up, the economy is heading for a very rocky stretch. For example, the price of copper is called “Dr. Copper” by many economists because it so accurately forecasts the future direction of the U.S. economy. And so far this year the price of copper is way down. But that is not the only indicator that is worrying economists. Home renovation spending has fallen dramatically, retail spending is crashing in a way not seen since the last recession, manufacturing activity and consumer confidence are both declining, and troubling economic data continues to come pouring out of Asia and Europe. So why do U.S. stocks continue to skyrocket? Will U.S. financial markets be able to continue to be divorced from reality? Unfortunately, as we have seen so many times in the past, when stocks do catch up with reality they tend to do so very rapidly. So you better put on your seatbelts because a crash is coming at some point.
But most average Americans are not that concerned with the performance of the stock market. They just want to be able to go to work, pay the bills and provide for their families. During the last recession, millions of Americans lost their jobs and millions of Americans lost their homes. If we have another major recession, that will happen again. Sadly, it appears that another major recession is quickly approaching.
The following are 12 recession indicators that are flashing red…
#1 The price of copper has traditionally been one of the very best indicators of the future performance of the U.S. economy. The fact that it is down nearly 20 percent so far this year has many analysts extremely concerned…
Copper’s downward trend foreshadows a stock market collapse, according to Societe Generale’s famously bearish strategist Albert Edwards, who said equity markets will riot “Japan-style.”
“Copper is acting exactly as it did when I wrote about the impotence of liquidity in the face of the (then imminent) 2007 recession. Once again it is giving us an early warning that liquidity will not save risk assets: time to get out of equities,” Edwards wrote in his latest research note, on Thursday.
#2 Home renovation spending has fallen back to depressingly-low 2010 levels.
#3 As Zero Hedge recently pointed out, U.S. retail spending is repeating a pattern that we have not seen since the last recession…
Retail sales of clothing is growing at the slowest pace since 2010; but while major store sales are about to drop negative YoY for the first time in over 3 years, the utter collapse in general merchandise sales is worse that at the peak of the last recession at -5%. It seems tough to see how a nation with an economy built on 70% consumption is not in a recessionary environment. And while this alone is a dismal signal for the discretionary upside of the US economy/consumer; as Gluskin Sheff’s David Rosenberg points out real personal income net of transfer receipts plunged at a stunning 5.8% annual rate in Q1. The other seven times we have seen such a collapse, the economy was either in recession of just coming out of one.
#4 Manufacturing activity all over the country is showing signs of slowing down. In fact, Chicago PMI has dipped below 50 (indicating contraction) for the first time since the last recession.
#5 In April, consumer confidence unexpectedly fell to a nine-month low…
The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of consumer sentiment declined to 72.3 in April from 78.6 a month earlier. This month’s reading was lower than all 69 estimates in a Bloomberg survey that called for no change from the March number.
#6 NYSE margin debt peaked right before the recession that began in 2002, it peaked right before the financial crisis of 2008, and it is peaking again.
#7 The S&P 500 usually mirrors the performance of Chinese stocks very closely. That is why it is so alarming that Chinese stocks peaked months ago. Will the S&P 500 soon follow?
#8 The economic data coming out of the Chinese economy lately has been mostly terrible…
For starters, China’s recent economic data, as massaged as it is to the upside, is downright awful. China’s PMI numbers were the worst in two years. Staffing levels in the Chinese service sector decreased for the first time since January 2009 (remember that year).
China’s LEI also shows no sign of recovery. If anything, it indicates China is heading towards an economic slowdown on par with that of 2008. And if you account for the rampant debt fueling China’s economy you could easily argue that China is posting 0% GDP growth today.
#9 Things just continue to get even worse over in Europe. Unemployment in both Greece and Spain is now about 27 percent, and the unemployment rate in the eurozone as a whole has just set a brand new all-time record high.
#10 Crude inventories have soared to a record high as demand for energy continues to decline. As I have written about previously, this is a clear sign that economic activity is slowing down.
#11 Casino spending is usually a strong indicator of the overall health of the U.S. economy. That is why it is so noteworthy that casino spending is now back to levels that we have not seen since the last recession.
#12 The impact of the sequester cuts is starting to kick in. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the sequester cuts will cost the U.S. economy about 750,000 jobs this year.
Do you have any other recession indicators that you would add to this list?
I invite you to share your thoughts by posting a comment below…
If the global economy is not heading for a recession, then why is global shipping slowing down so dramatically? Many economists believe that measures of global shipping such as the Baltic Dry Index are leading economic indicators. In other words, they change before the overall economic picture changes. For example, back in early 2008 the Baltic Dry Index began falling dramatically. There were those that warned that such a rapid decline in the Baltic Dry Index meant that a significant recession was coming, and it turned out that they were right. Well, the Baltic Dry Index is falling very rapidly once again. In fact, on February 3rd the Baltic Dry Index reached a low that had not been seen since August 1986. Some economists say that there are unique reasons for this (there are too many ships, etc.), but when you add this to all of the other indicators that Europe is heading into a recession, a very frightening picture emerges. We appear to be staring a global economic slowdown right in the face, and we all need to start getting prepared for that.
If you don’t read about economics much, you might not know what the Baltic Dry Index actually is.
Investopedia defines the Baltic Dry Index this way….
A shipping and trade index created by the London-based Baltic Exchange that measures changes in the cost to transport raw materials such as metals, grains and fossil fuels by sea.
When the global economy is booming, the demand for shipping tends to go up. When the global economy is slowing down, the demand for shipping tends to decline.
And right now, global shipping is slowing way, way down.
In fact, recently there have been reports of negative shipping rates.
According to a recent Bloomberg article, one company recently booked a ship at the ridiculous rate of negative $2,000 a day….
Glencore International Plc paid nothing to hire a dry-bulk ship with the vessel’s operator paying $2,000 a day of the trader’s fuel costs after freight rates plunged to all-time lows.
Glencore chartered the vessel, operated by Global Maritime Investments Ltd., a Cyprus-based company with offices in London, Steve Rodley, GMI’s U.K. managing director, said by phone today. The daily payments last the first 60 days of the charter, Rodley said. The vessel will haul a cargo of grains to Europe, putting the carrier in a better position for its next shipment, he said.
So why would anyone agree to ship goods at negative rates?
Well, it beats the alternative.
This was explained in a recent Fox Business article….
“They’re doing this because you can’t just have ships sitting. If they sit too long, then that’s hard on the ships. They have to keep them loaded and moving from port to port,” said Darin Newsom, senior commodities analyst at DTN.
If the owner of a ship can get someone to at least pay for part of the fuel and the journey will get the ship closer to its next destination, then that is better than having the ship just sit there.
But just a few short years ago (before the last recession) negative shipping rates would have been unthinkable.
Asian shipping is really slowing down as well. The following comes from a recent article in the Telegraph….
Shanghai shipping volumes contracted sharply in January as Europe’s debt crisis curbed demand for Asian goods, stoking fresh doubts about the strength of the Chinese economy.
Container traffic through the Port of Shanghai in January fell by more than a million tons from a year earlier.
So this is something we are seeing all over the globe.
Another indicator that is troubling economists right now is petroleum usage. It turns out that petroleum usage is really starting to slow down as well.
The following is an excerpt from a recent article posted on Mish’s Global Economic Trend Analysis….
As I have been telling you recently, there is some unprecedented data coming out in petroleum distillates, and they slap me in the face and tell me we have some very bad economic trends going on, totally out of line with such things as the hopium market – I mean stock market.
This past week I actually had to reformat my graphs as the drop off peak exceeded my bottom number for reporting off peak – a drop of ALMOST 4,000,000 BARRELS PER DAY off the peak usage in our past for this week of the year.
I would encourage you to go check out the charts that were posted in that article. You can find them right here. Often a picture is worth a thousand words, and those charts are quite frightening.
Over the past few days, I have been trying to make the point that nothing got fixed after the financial crisis of 2008 and that an even bigger crisis is on the way.
Yes, the stock market is flying high right now.
Yes, even “Dr. Doom” Nouriel Roubini is convinced that the stock market will go even higher.
But this rally will not last that much longer.
Wherever you look, global economic activity is slowing down. The UK economy and the German economy both actually shrank a bit in the fourth quarter of 2011. About half of all global trade involves Europe in one form or another. As Europe slows down, it is going to affect the entire planet.
Many thought that the German economy was so strong that it would not be significantly affected by the problems the rest of Europe is having, but that is turning out not to be the case.
In a new article by CBS News entitled “German economic slowdown worse than expected?“, we are told that industrial production in Germany is declining even more than anticipated….
German industrial production fell 2.9 percent in December from the month before, according to official data released Tuesday, suggesting the country’s economic slowdown could be worse than expected.
So don’t believe all the recent hype about an “economic recovery”. Europe is heading into a recession, Asia is slowing down and the U.S. will not be immune.
Despite what you hear from the mainstream media, the truth is that the U.S. economy is not improving and incredibly tough times are ahead.
Thankfully, those of us that are aware of what is happening can make preparations for the economic storm that is coming.
Others will not be so fortunate.
Everywhere you turn these days, someone is proclaiming that the economy is improving. Barack Obama is endlessly touting the “improvement” in the economy, the mainstream media is constantly talking about “the economic recovery” and an increasing number of Americans seem to be buying into this line of thinking. A new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that 37 percent of Americans believe that the economy will improve over the next year, while only 17 percent of Americans believe that it will get worse. But is the economy actually improving? Not really. At the moment things are relatively stable. Some economic statistics are improving slightly and some continue to get even worse. However, it is very important to keep in mind that one of the biggest reasons why things have stabilized is because the federal government is pumping more than a trillion dollars a year into the economy that it does not have. The Obama administration is engaging in a debt binge unlike anything America has ever seen before, and yet many economic indicators are still in decline. So what is going to happen when the federal government stops injecting gigantic waves of borrowed money into the economy? That is a frightening thing to think about. The best efforts of our “leaders” in Washington D.C. are not accomplishing a whole lot. The Federal Reserve has pushed interest rates as low as they can go and the federal government is spending unprecedented amounts of money. But even with the federal government and the Federal Reserve pushing the accelerator all the way to the floor, the economy is still not improving much at all. Millions upon millions of Americans out there are anticipating some sort of a “great economic recovery”, and they are going to be bitterly disappointed.
But right now there are some “bright spots” in the economy, and you are bound to run into family and friends that will repeat to you the nonsense that they are hearing on the television about how the economy is recovering.
When they try to convince you that the economy is getting better, ask them these questions….
If the economy is getting better, then why did new home sales in the United States hit a brand new all-time record low during 2011?
If the economy is getting better, then why are there 6 million less jobs in America today than there were before the recession started?
If the economy is getting better, then why is the average duration of unemployment in this country close to an all-time record high?
If the economy is getting better, then why has the number of homeless female veterans more than doubled?
If the economy is getting better, then why has the number of Americans on food stamps increased by 3 million since this time last year and by more than 14 million since Barack Obama entered the White House?
If the economy is getting better, then why has the number of children living in poverty in America risen for four years in a row?
If the economy is getting better, then why is the percentage of Americans living in “extreme poverty” at an all-time high?
If the economy is getting better, then why is the Federal Housing Administration on the verge of a financial collapse?
If the economy is getting better, then why do only 23 percent of American companies plan to hire more employees in 2012?
If the economy is getting better, then why has the number of self-employed Americans fallen by more than 2 million since 2006?
If the economy is getting better, then why did an all-time record low percentage of U.S. teens have a job last summer?
If the economy is getting better, then why does median household income keep declining? Overall, median household income in the United States has declined by a total of 6.8% since December 2007 once you account for inflation.
If the economy is getting better, then why has the number of Americans living below the poverty line increased by 10 million since 2006?
If the economy is getting better, then why is the average age of a vehicle in America now sitting at an all-time high?
If the economy is getting better, then why are 18 percent of all homes in the state of Florida currently sitting vacant?
If the economy is getting better, then why are 19 percent of all American men between the ages of 25 and 34 living with their parents?
If the economy is getting better, then why does the number of “long-term unemployed workers” stay so high? When Barack Obama first took office, the number of “long-term unemployed workers” in the United States was approximately 2.6 million. Today, that number is sitting at 5.6 million.
But there is some good news.
When Barack Obama first took office, an ounce of gold was going for about $850. Today, the price of an ounce of gold is over $1700.
The era of great prosperity that America has enjoyed for so long is coming to an end.
In fact, our long-term economic decline is about to accelerate.
So enjoy this “bubble of hope” while you can, because it won’t last long.
As I have written about previously, many are warning that Europe is on the verge of a nightmarish financial crisis that could potentially plunge us into a global recession even worse than 2008.
So let us hope for the best, but let us also prepare for the worst.
Just because the economy is about to go through hard times does not mean that you have to go through hard times personally.
Right now, you can decide to make an investment or start a business that will thrive in a tough economic environment.
Victory often goes to the most prepared. So don’t just sit there while the storm clouds gather. Instead, this should be a time when you are gathering resources and developing a gameplan for the coming economic chaos.
Those that choose to have blind faith in “the system” are going to be tremendously disappointed in the years ahead. Just because you have a job right now does not mean that it is always going to be there. Just because your stock portfolio is doing well right now does not mean that will always be the case.
Hopefully we all learned some important lessons from 2008. The global financial situation can turn on a dime. When markets fall apart, they tend to do so very rapidly.
Ultimately, the debate about whether the economy is improving or not is going to be ended very emphatically. When the next wave of the financial crisis hits, there will be no doubt about what direction things are going.
Don’t let the next wave catch you by surprise.
Now is the time to prepare.