The Beginning Of The End
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Economic Pain

For decades, most Americans have enjoyed an extremely high standard of living.  In fact, most of us have been “enjoying the high life” and “living the dream” for so long that we have assumed that it is just always going to be that way.  But now a rapidly growing percentage of Americans is getting the chance to experience some very serious economic pain.  Today, over 40 million Americans are on food stamps and over 20 million U.S. children are living in poverty.  Tens of millions of Americans are unemployed, and personal bankruptcies and foreclosures continue to set all-time records.  For many people, all of this economic turmoil was completely unexpected.  Millions of people now can’t sleep at night because they are constantly stressed about finances.  More couples than ever are being torn about by arguments over money.  Unprecedented numbers of Americans have experienced a sinking feeling in the pit of their stomachs upon the realization that they are going to lose the homes that they have been raising their families in.  Money may not buy happiness, but as tens of millions of Americans are finding out, the lack of it can bring a whole lot of pain.

Now, the truth is that there have always been a small percentage of Americans that have struggled to get by, but today we are seeing more Americans who are “down on their luck” than at any other time in recent memory.  According to one shocking new survey, 28% of all U.S. households have at least one member that is looking for a full-time job.

It seems like almost everyone has a family member or a close friend who is looking for a job.  The truth is that there are not enough jobs for everyone, and there certainly are not nearly enough good jobs. 

A recent Pew Research survey found that 55 percent of the U.S. labor force has experienced either unemployment, a pay decrease, a reduction in hours or an involuntary move to part-time work since the recession began.

55 percent?

That is incredible.

That means that over half of all American workers have been unemployed or have been forced to take a reduction in pay since the recession started.

Things are getting really tough out there.

Millions of Americans are wondering why their husbands or wives suddenly can’t find jobs.

In fact, the average duration of unemployment in the United States has risen to an all-time high.  The declining economy has created a new class of chronically unemployed Americans who would love to work but can’t seem to find anyone to hire them.

Millions of Americans have been forced to turn to part-time work.  In fact, one recent survey found that approximately 8.6 million American workers are working part time because they can’t get full-time jobs.

In this economic environment, there is significant competition for even the lowest paying jobs.

You never know – this holiday season the friendly gentleman greeting you down at the local Wal-Mart may actually have several advanced degrees but just cannot find anyone else who will hire him.

As the economic situation continues to deteriorate, record numbers of Americans are going bankrupt and are losing their homes.  In fact, banks repossessed a record number of U.S. homes during the second quarter of 2010.

So it is really no wonder why so many Americans are feeling so negative about the economy.

According to one new survey, U.S. consumer sentiment weakened in early July to its lowest in 11 months.  In addition, one recent poll found that 76 percent of Americans believe that the U.S. economy is still in a recession.

But sometimes what gets lost in all the numbers are the individual stories of the very real pain that so many Americans are going through.  Today, I thought that I would share just a few of the stories of economic pain that my readers have been sharing with me.

A reader of my column on The American Dream blog named Kate recently graduated from college but now finds that she can’t even get a retail job….

I just graduated college in May… Moved to a new state and am now living with my boyfriend who should not and cannot continue to have to pay everything because i just plain can’t get a job.

I’m over qualified for retail survivor jobs… so I lie on my application. But then retail stores just plain don’t hire full time. So even if I could get a job as a cashier someplace… I’d only work enough hours to maybe pay for my car payment/ car insurance/ gas…. and my half of rent/electric and such is out of the question… not to mention charged to the limit credit cards from being unemployed and student loans that will hit in just a matter of months.

Any other jobs either don’t exist or they just ALL want 5 years professional experience…. which is impossible for someone who just graduated and has been working part time retail jobs since high school.

AND internships are unpaid or only for college students so thats out of the question….

But the fact of the matter is that jobs don’t care about education in the least bit if you don’t have the real professional work experience to back it up.

A reader of this column named David ended up taking a very low paying job overseas because he simply couldn’t find anything here in the United States….

I have been looking for a job since June 2009. I am a prior Army officer who knows four foreign languages and has lived around the world. I have sent out over 100 resumes over the past year. Finally, I got a job offer to teach English in Russia for $720 per month. Yes, $720 per month. Luckily my housing is paid for. So, I took my tax return and left for Russia to teach English. The American economy is broken and it will get worse. We are in the early stages of a total meltdown in America. Yes, if you are an American, you better prepare yourself for the worst is still to come.

But even those who do have jobs are facing some very difficult circumstances as one of my readers named Ana recently described….

I am a cop’s wife. My husband currently works for a Sheriff’s office who is extremely understaffed and the county wastes money like there is no tomorrow. They threaten the Sheriff with more layoffs if they don’t write more tickets on the highway. My husband has often had to patrol the entire county by himself for a full 12 hour shift. It is a bad situation for everyone.

The truth is that there are millions of stories like the ones above.  Economic pain is everywhere, and the American people are becoming increasingly frustrated.  Most Americans don’t understand why the economy is suddenly in the toilet – all most of them know is that things are broken and they desperately want someone to fix things. 

A lot of this frustration is coming out as anger towards the government.  People are waking up and are starting to realize that the American ruling class has been doing an incredibly bad job of running things.  The American people are hungry for a real change.  In fact, a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that just 23% of voters nationwide believe that the U.S. government has the consent of the governed.

But will we start to see some real changes in the years ahead?

Unfortunately, that is quite doubtful.  The reality is that the American ruling class has a stranglehold on both political parties, and they are not going to release their grip easily.

Meanwhile, our leaders continue to perpetuate the same failed policies that got us into this mess in the first place.  But unless some fundamental changes are made soon, the economic pain that Americans are experiencing is going to continue to get even worse.

So do you have a story of economic pain to share?  Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below….

The U.S. Economy Is A Dead Horse And The American People Are Starting To Get Really Pissed Off And Frustrated

The economic frustration of the American people is reaching a fever pitch.  Millions of Americans can’t seem to get a good job no matter what they do.  Millions of others are working as hard as they can but find that they keep coming up short at the end of the month.  Record numbers of Americans are still going bankrupt.  Record numbers of Americans are still losing their homes.  Meanwhile, the U.S. economy is a dead horse at this point.  It just doesn’t have any more to give.  At this point the U.S. economy is like an aging rock star that requires larger and larger doses of drugs each night just to be able to perform.  The U.S. economy is addicted to “drugs” such as debt and government stimulus, and years ago those things really supercharged the U.S. economic system, but at this point they aren’t provoking much of a response at all.  In fact, the things that once “stimulated” the economy are now slowly killing it.  But the vast majority of the American people do not understand this.  All they know is that the economy is broken and they want someone to “fix” it.

For most Americans, all we have ever known is tremendous prosperity.  All our lives we have been taught that America is the richest and most prosperous nation on the planet, and that while there will always be times of “recession”, things will always bounce back and be better than ever before.

But this time things aren’t bouncing back.

And Americans are starting to become extremely frustrated.   

A couple of quotes that appeared in a recent article in The New York Daily News really embodied the growing frustration that so many are feeling at this point….

“My husband and I are fortunate to be able to move in with my 81-year-old mother-in-law. But how sad is that? I apply for jobs and nothing happens,” writes Gayle Hanson. “Who wants to hire a 59-year-old woman? My answer is nobody. [I] have years of experience, excellent references. And nothing to show for it.”

“I am soon to be 57 and considered too old, too expensive, etc. I can’t get an employer to hire me at any salary,” writes Mike Stiller. “I am BOILING MAD.”

But Gayle Hanson and Mike Stiller are far from alone.

Millions upon millions of Americans are “boiling mad” about the economy at this point.

The truth is that the United States has lost 10.5 million jobs since 2007.  Many of those jobs have been shipped off to countries like China and India where labor is much cheaper and they are never coming back.

There just are not enough jobs for everyone in America at this point.  The number of “chronically unemployed” has been rising at a frightening pace.  In fact, the average duration of unemployment in the United States has risen to an all-time high

If you have never been unemployed and unable to find a job, then you just don’t know how soul crushing it can be.  This is especially true when you have a family to support.

Right now, there are 9.2 million Americans that are unemployed but are not even receiving an unemployment insurance check.  It is easy to tell those unemployed workers that they should “get a job”, but as the chart below shows, the gap between the number of unemployed workers and the number of job openings has increased dramatically over the last couple of years….

But in this economy, even many of those who do have jobs are still struggling mightily.  According to a poll taken in 2009, 61 percent of Americans “always or usually” live paycheck to paycheck.  That was up significantly from 49 percent in 2008 and 43 percent in 2007.

And Americans are still losing their homes in record numbers.  Banks repossessed an average of 4,000 south Florida properties a month in the first half of 2010, which was up 83 percent from the first half of 2009.

Meanwhile, demand for homes is dropping through the floor.  The Mortgage Bankers Association announced on Wednesday that demand for loans to purchase U.S. homes sunk to a 13 year low last week, and refinancing demand also plummeted despite near record-low mortgage rates.

So considering all of these statistics, is it any wonder why so many Americans are so pessimistic?

According to a recent poll conducted by Bloomberg, 71% of Americans say that it still feels like the economy is in a recession.

But the truth is that we haven’t seen anything yet.

Things are going to get much worse.

Already, Federal Reserve policymakers are discussing what steps they might take to stimulate economic activity “if the outlook were to worsen appreciably”.

So can more economic stimulus help?

To a limited extent.

The Federal Reserve and the U.S. government will likely try to inject more debt and more “economic stimulus” into the system to try to shock the economy back to life.

But the more debt the U.S. government takes on the worse our long-term problems are going to get. 

The reality is that the U.S. economic system is broken, and there is simply not any “quick fix” that is available that is going to get things back to normal.

So on an individual level, what should we all do?

Well, we all need to start becoming a lot less dependent on the system.

We should all consider how we can start our own businesses, grow our own food and trade within our own communities.

If the entire system is starting to break down, it is those who are the least dependent on the system that will have the best chance to prosper during the times ahead.

So what do you think?  Do you agree?  Do you disagree?  Feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts below….

Economic Problems?

With each passing news cycle, it seems like the economic headlines just keep getting worse.  And unfortunately, the highly integrated global economy that we have constructed means that what happens on one side of the world is going to very likely have a big impact on the other side of the world.  A meltdown in New York or Los Angeles is going to affect London, Paris, Rome, Berlin, Moscow, Beijing and Tokyo.  That is just the way the world works now.  Back in 2007 and 2008, the financial crisis that began in the United States devastated economies across the globe.  So are there any economic problems brewing out there right now that could send another wave of panic across the globe?

Well, yes, actually there are a whole bunch of them.  In fact, if certain things break the wrong way it could create a gigantic mess in the financial world.  Let’s take a few moments to examine a few of the questions that economists are asking right now….

Will The Eurozone Break Up And Devastate The Global Economy?

One of the most respected financial journalists in the world, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, is warning that cases currently making their way through the German court system could actually result in the breakup of Europe’s monetary union.  The cases involve the massive EU bailouts that have been agreed to recently.  It is being argued that these bailouts actually violate EU treaty law, and therefore they also violate Germany’s supreme and sovereign Basic Law.

So what would happen if the German courts rule against these bailouts?

Well, it could be catastrophic.  Ambrose Evans-Pritchard put it this way in his recent column…. 

“Should they succeed, of course, the eurozone risks disintegration within days, and perhaps hours.”

And he is not the only one sounding the alarm.  In fact, one major Dutch bank is warning that a full-fledged disintegration of the eurozone would trigger the worst economic crisis in modern history and would unleash a deflationary shockwave that would envelop the entire globe including the United States.

That doesn’t sound promising, does it?

So is it going to happen?

No, probably not.

It would be a great, great victory for national sovereignty if it did happen, but there are just way too many powerful interests that are way too invested in seeing the eurozone succeed.  In addition, the legal, economic and political obstacles that would have to be overcome to fully break apart the eurozone are absolutely mind-numbing when you start thinking about them all.

Instead, what we are likely to see are calls for even more European integration.  Already, many politicians are claiming that the current crisis has been caused because Europe is simply not integrated enough.

So, no, the eurozone is not likely to break up, but that doesn’t mean that we are not going to see massive economic problems in Europe over the coming years.

Will The U.S. Congress Extend Long-Term Unemployment Benefits?

The U.S. Congress continues to debate whether or not they are going to extend long-term unemployment benefits for an estimated 2.1 million unemployed Americans that have stopped getting unemployment checks.

So will they end up getting it done?

Probably.

But there are a growing number of lawmakers that are extremely alarmed about how incredibly fast the U.S. debt is growing.

It is a shame that many of them were not concerned about it 12 or 13 trillion dollars ago.

Not that we shouldn’t help the millions of American workers that have been out of work for a long time and can’t get jobs.

A lot of people are really, really suffering out there right now.

So where did all the jobs go?

Well, as we detailed in a previous article, our politicians and our big American corporations have been busy shipping them off to China and to a whole host of third world nations over the past couple of decades.

The millions upon millions of jobs that have been lost are gone permanently and are not coming back.

So we are likely to continue to have a growing underclass of chronically unemployed blue collar workers that don’t have jobs and can’t get jobs because there are not nearly enough of them for everyone.

So, yes, Congress is likely to extend the unemployment benefits soon, but what those millions of Americans really need are good jobs.

Will The World Trade Imbalance Continue To Get Worse?

It was recently announced that China’s trade surplus climbed 140 percent in June compared to a year earlier.

At least globalism is working well for somebody.

The truth is that someday people will look back and think that U.S. leadership must have been insane when they allowed the greatest economic machine to ever be assembled to systematically be dismantled and shipped off to China, India and dozens of other third world countries around the globe.

The other side of this tragedy is the tremendous exploitation of third world populations which we are allowing big global corporations to get away with.

In one of his recent articles, Stephen Lendman told the tragic story of sweatshop worker Naran Dhula Bhil…. 

In February 2009, he was hospitalized at Dharmaj, in Gujarat state, coughing, very weak, struggling to walk, and unable to lift anything heavier than five pounds. Since mid-2008, he lost almost half his body weight, dropping from 132 to 70 pounds of skin and bones. On April 14, he died of silicosis, the result of greed, indifference, and consumer ignorance about buying “gemstones of death.”

Bhil was 11 when he began working as a grinder, shaper, and polisher, making gemstones into hearts, pendants, rings, beads, and various type ornaments.

For a day’s work, he produced 100 – 150 for 15.5 cents an hour, $1.08 daily, or less than a penny for each stone produced, each giving off silica dust that killed him. By age 20, he knew it, stayed on the job, borrowed money to buy gemstones, and became “bonded,” meaning he couldn’t quit until out of debt, what few grinders ever do.

Bihl said his shop employed 35. Only four or five are left, the others sick or dead. “So many have died,” he said, and when he expired “he did not have a single penny to his name,” as true for most others.

Could you imagine if that was your life story?

What big global corporations are getting away with is absolutely mind blowing.

The global economic system is broken and the only ones who seem to really be benefiting from it are the giant corporations and the ultra-rich.

Is this going to change any time soon?

No, unfortunately, it will not.

Will Americans Continue to Be Obsessed With Money?

According to a new poll of Americans between the ages of 44 and 75, 61% said that running out money was their biggest fear. The remaining 39% thought death was scarier.

Running out of money scarier than death?

Yes, it is very important to provide for ourselves and for our families, especially as we head towards economic collapse, but the obsession that the American people have with money and wealth is completely and totally out of control.

At the end of your life, do you want your life to be defined by the pile of stuff that you have accumulated or by what you were able to do with your life?

The truth is that we don’t even actually “own” most of what we think that we own.

There is so much more to life than getting stuff and having stuff, but the mainstream media will continue to push Americans to love the “consumer culture” which has come to dominate our way of life.

So, yes, Americans will continue to be obsessed with wealth, money and with who LeBron James is playing basketball for. 

But you can make a different choice.  You can choose to live your life for what really matters.

Is The U.S. Economy Going To Turn Around As We Approach The Christmas Season And The End Of The Year?

Many analysts are hoping that as the holidays approach the American people will get back to their old ways of spending massive amounts of money and that this will help jumpstart the U.S. economy.

So is there reason for optimism?

Well, no.

Vacancies and lease rates at U.S. shopping centers continued to get even worse during the second quarter of 2010.  In fact, in some of the most depressed areas of the United States, many malls and shopping centers could end up looking like ghost towns by the time Christmas rolls around. 

So what are some of the areas in the U.S. that are the worst economic disaster zones?

Well, everyone knows about Detroit.  Once regarded as one of the crown jewels of American industry, Detroit is now a rusted-out war zone that is a shell of its former self.

South of there, the state of Illinois has now become a complete and total disaster zone.  The government of Illinois has stopped paying even its most essential bills and it now ranks eighth in the world in possible bond-holder default.  Universities and government agencies are experiencing absolute chaos as they try to figure out how they are going to continue to function without any money.

Of course then there is California, where the Schwarzenegger administration has won an appellate court ruling saying it has the authority to impose the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour on more than 200,000 state workers as California wrestles with its latest budget crisis.  Things are now so bad in California that in the region around the state capital, Sacramento, there is now one closed business for every six that are still open.

Next door to California, in Nevada, things may be even worse.  Official unemployment in Nevada is hovering around 14 percent (unofficially it is much higher of course) and it is estimated that a whopping 65 percent of all homes in the state of Nevada are underwater.  There is perhaps no state in the U.S. that has been hurt more seriously by the housing crash than Nevada.

Unfortunately, things look like they are going to get even tighter for state and local governments in the year ahead.  Economist Mark Zandi is warning that up to 400,000 state and local government workers could lose their jobs in the next year as states, counties and cities grapple with lower revenue and less federal funding.

On top of all this, there is the threat that the Gulf of Mexico oil spill could push the teetering U.S. economy completely over the edge.

Many cities along the Gulf of Mexico coast were already economic disaster zones even before this oil spill.   

But now we are talking about an economic nightmare of unprecedented proportions.

The seafood, tourism and real estate industries along the Gulf coast have been decimated and people are leaving in droves.  It could be years, or even decades, before things get back to some kind of “normal” in the area.

Some are even warning that this oil spill could cause the collapse of BP, and if that happens it could bring about absolute chaos on world financial markets.

Why?

Well, it turns out that BP is a major source of global liquidity and is a major player in the worldwide derivatives market.

If someday the worldwide derivatives market crashes, there won’t be enough money in the entire world to fix that problem.

But that is a topic for another day….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#2) Billy Nungesser, president of Plaquemines Parish:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#7) Richard Charter of the Defenders of Wildlife:

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

#8) Reverand Mike Tran:

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

#9) Louis Miller of the Mississippi Sierra Club:

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

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

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

#11) Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal:

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

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

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

#13) Former Clinton adviser James Carville:

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

#14) An anonymous Louisiana resident:

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

#15) U.S. Representative Edward Markey:

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

#16) Gulf coast resident Marie Michel:

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

#17) Brenda Prosser of Mobile, Alabama:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#21) Louisiania Governor Bobby Jindal:

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

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

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

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

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

#24) Public Service Commissioner Benjamin Stevens:

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

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

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

#26) Hotel Owner Dodie Vegas:

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

#27) Louisiana resident Sean Lanier:

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

#28) White House energy adviser Carol Browner:

“There could be oil coming up until August.”

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

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

#30) Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser:

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

One Out Of Every Ten U.S. Banks Is Now On The FDIC’s Problem List – Do You Know If Your Bank Is Safe?

Do you know if your bank will be there next month?  For a growing number of Americans, that is becoming a very real question.  The Wall Street Journal is reporting that 775 banks (approximately ten percent of all U.S. banks) are now on the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s list of “problem” banks.  This year we have already seen more than six dozen banks fail, and the frightening thing is that we are seeing a rapid acceleration in bank failures even though we are supposedly in a “recovery” right now.  So what happens if the economy takes a bad turn and hundreds of these banks that are barely surviving start failing?

Right now an increasing number of Americans are not paying their loans, and this is shredding the balance sheets of small and medium size banks all over the United States.  In fact, during the first quarter of 2010, the total number of loans that are at least three months past due increased for the 16th consecutive quarter.

16 consecutive quarters?

Once is a coincidence.

Twice is a trend.

Sixteen times in a row is a total nightmare.

Is there anyone out there that is still convinced that the economy is getting better?

If so, perhaps this will convince you otherwise….

There were 252 banks on the FDIC’s “problem list” at the end of 2008.

There were 702 banks on the FDIC’s “problem list” at the end of 2009.

Now there are 775 banks of the FDIC’s “problem list”.

Are you starting to see a trend?

Federal regulators have already closed 73 banks in 2010, more than double the number shut down at this time last year.

The truth is that the U.S. banking system is coming apart like a 20 dollar suit.

So is the FDIC worried?

No, they insist that they have plenty of money to cover all of the banks that are going to fail.

After all, the FDIC’s deposit insurance fund now has negative 20.7 billion dollars in it, which represents a slight improvement from the end of 2009.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Negative 20.7 billion dollars.

That should be enough to cover the hundreds of banks that are in the process of failing, right?

Well, if not, the FDIC can just run out and ask the U.S. government for a big, juicy bailout.

After all, can’t the U.S. government borrow an endless amount of money with absolutely no consequences?

Well, no.

Debt always catches up with you sooner or later.

In fact, the IMF is warning that that the gross public debt of the United States will hit 97 percent of GDP in 2011 and 110 percent of GDP in 2015.

Meanwhile, the U.S. financial system continues to shrink even after the unprecedented amount of “stimulus money” that the U.S. government has been shoveling into the economy.

The M3 money supply is now contracting at a frightening pace.

In fact, the current rate of monetary contraction now matches the average rate of monetary contraction the U.S. experienced between 1929 and 1933.

But don’t worry.

We aren’t going into a Depression.

Everything is going to be just fine.

Just look deep into Obama’s eyes and keep repeating the word “change” to yourself over and over.

According to a report in The Telegraph, the M3 money supply declined from $14.2 trillion to $13.9 trillion in the first quarter of 2010.

That represents an annual rate of contraction of 9.6 percent.

In case you were wondering, that is a lot.

Not only that, but the assets of institutional money market funds declined at a 37 percent annual rate.

That was the sharpest drop ever.

Yes, it is time for the alarm bells to start going off.

The Telegraph recently quoted Professor Tim Congdon from International Monetary Research as saying the following about the deep problems that the U.S. is facing….

“The plunge in M3 has no precedent since the Great Depression. The dominant reason for this is that regulators across the world are pressing banks to raise capital asset ratios and to shrink their risk assets. This is why the US is not recovering properly.”

If banks continue to cut their lending, the M3 is going to continue to shrink.

But as noted above, Americans are increasingly getting behind on their loans, so why should banks loan money to a bunch of deadbeats?

Right now U.S. banks are increasingly tightening their lending standards, and this is making it much tougher to get a loan.

In fact, in 2009 the biggest U.S. banks posted their sharpest decline in lending since 1942.

But there is only one problem.

The U.S. economy is completely and totally dependent on credit.

Without easy credit, the entire U.S. economic machine is going to slowly grind to a halt.

So what do you do?

The reality is that we have one gigantic financial mess on our hands, and in many ways it is starting to look like the 1930s all over again.

But perhaps someone out there has a way to get us out of this nightmare.  Please feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts, opinions or solutions….

The Depression Of 2011? 23 Economic Warning Signs From Financial Authorities All Over The Globe

Could the world economy be headed for a depression in 2011?  As inconceivable as that may seem to a lot of people, the truth is that top economists and governmental authorities all over the globe say that the economic warning signs are there and that we need to start paying attention to them.  The two primary ingredients for a depression are debt and fear, and the reality is that we have both of them in abundance in the financial world today.  In response to the global financial meltdown of 2007 and 2008, governments around the world spent unprecedented amounts of money and got into a ton of debt.  All of that spending did help bail out the global banking system, but now that an increasing number of governments around the world are in need of bailouts themselves, what is going to happen?  We have already seen the fear that is generated when one small little nation like Greece even hints at defaulting.  When it becomes apparent that quite a few governments around the globe cannot handle their debt burdens, what kind of shockwave is that going to send through financial markets?

The truth is that we are facing the greatest sovereign debt crisis in modern history.  There is no way out of this financial mess that does not include a significant amount of economic pain.

When you add mountains of debt to paralyzing fear to strict austerity measures, what do you get?

What you get is deflationary pressure and financial markets that seize up.

Some of the top financial authorities in the world are warning us that unless something substantial is done, that is exactly what we are going to be seeing as 2010 turns into 2011.

Of course some governments around the world could try to put these economic problems off for a while by printing and borrowing even more money, but we all know by now that only makes the long-term problems even worse.

For now, however, it seems as though most governments are opting for the austerity measures that the IMF seems determined to cram down the throats of everyone.

So what will austerity measures mean for the global economy?

Think “stimulus” in reverse.

Yes, things are going to get messy.

It looks like there is going to be a great deal of economic fear and a great deal of economic pain in 2011 and the years beyond that.

So are we headed for “the depression of 2011″?

Well, let’s hear what some of the top financial experts in the world have to say….

#1) Economist Nouriel Roubini:

“We are still in the middle of this crisis and there is more trouble ahead of us, even if there is a recovery. During the great depression the economy contracted between 1929 and 1933, there was the beginning of a recovery, but then a second recession from 1937 to 1939. If you don’t address the issues, you risk having a double-dip recession and one which is at least as severe as the first one.”

#2) Bank of England Governor Mervyn King:

“Dealing with a banking crisis was difficult enough, but at least there were public-sector balance sheets on to which the problems could be moved. Once you move into sovereign debt, there is no answer; there’s no backstop.”

#3) German Chancellor Angela Merkel:

“The current crisis facing the euro is the biggest test Europe has faced for decades, even since the Treaty of Rome was signed in 1957.”

#4) Paul Donovan, the Senior Economist at UBS:

“Now people are questioning if the euro will even exist in three years.”

#5) Michael Pento, Chief Economist at Delta Global Advisors:

“The crisis in Greece is going to spread to Spain and it’s going to be very difficult to deal with. They are bailing out debt with more debt and it isn’t sustainable. It’s a wonderful scenario for gold.”

#6) LEAP/E2020:

“LEAP/E2020 believes that the global systemic crisis will experience a new tipping point from Spring 2010. Indeed, at that time, the public finances of the major Western countries are going to become unmanageable, as it will simultaneously become clear that new support measures for the economy are needed because of the failure of the various stimuli in 2009, and that the size of budget deficits preclude any significant new expenditures.”

#7) Telegraph Columnist Edmund Conway:

“Whatever yardstick you care to choose – share-price moves, the rates at which banks lend to each other, measures of volatility – we are now in a similar position to 2008.”

#8) Peter Morici, an Economics Professor at the University of Maryland:

“The next financial tsunami is emerging and will ripple to America.”

#9) Bob Chapman of the International Forecaster:

“The green shoots of recovery have now turned into poison ivy. The abyss has again been filled with more debt and more fiat currency. In the process the Fed and now the ECB have lost all credibility.”

#10) Telegraph Columnist Ambrose Evans-Pritchard:

“The M3 money supply in the United States is contracting at an accelerating rate that now matches the average decline seen from 1929 to 1933, despite near zero interest rates and the biggest fiscal blitz in history.”

#11) Professor Tim Congdon from International Monetary Research:

“The plunge in M3 has no precedent since the Great Depression. The dominant reason for this is that regulators across the world are pressing banks to raise capital asset ratios and to shrink their risk assets. This is why the US is not recovering properly.”

#12) Reuters Columnist Iliana Jonas:

“The default rate for commercial mortgages held by banks in the first quarter hit its highest level since at least 1992 and is expected to surpass that by year-end and peak in 2011, according to a study by Real Capital Analytics.”

#13) Paul Krugman, a Nobel Prize-winning Economist:

“It’s not hard to see Japan-style deflation emerging if the economy stays weak.”

#14) Stan Humphries, Chief Economist for Zillow.com:

“Anyone expecting a robust rebound in the housing market … will be sorely disappointed.”

#15) Fox News:

“As the national debt clock ticked past the ignominious $13 trillion mark overnight, Congress pressed to pass a host of supplemental spending bills.”

#16) Bloomberg:

“The U.S. government’s Aaa bond rating will come under pressure in the future unless additional measures are taken to reduce projected record budget deficits, according to Moody’s Investors Service Inc.”

#17) Peter Schiff:

“When creditors ultimately decide to curtail loans to America, U.S. interest rates will finally spike, and we will be confronted with even more difficult choices than those now facing Greece. Given the short maturity of our national debt, a jump in short-term rates would either result in default or massive austerity. If we choose neither, and opt to print money instead, the run-a-way inflation that will ensue will produce an even greater austerity than the one our leaders lacked the courage to impose. Those who believe rates will never rise as long as the Fed remains accommodative, or that inflation will not flare up as long as unemployment remains high, are just as foolish as those who assured us that the mortgage market was sound because national real estate prices could never fall.”

#18) The National League of Cities:

“City budget shortfalls will become more severe over the next two years as tax collections catch up with economic conditions.  These will inevitably result in new rounds of layoffs, service cuts, and canceled projects and contracts.”

#19) Dan Domenech, Executive Director of the American Association of School Administrators:

“Faced with continued budgetary constraints, school leaders across the nation are forced to consider an unprecedented level of layoffs that would negatively impact economic recovery and deal a devastating blow to public education.”

#20) Mike Whitney:

“Without another boost of stimulus, the economy will lapse back into recession sometime by the end of 2010.”

#21) Kevin Giddis, Managing Director of Fixed Income at Morgan Keegan:

“There is big money making big bets that at a minimum we we’ll have a recession if not a depression that could last for years.”

#22) John P. Hussman, Ph.D.:

“In my estimation, there is still close to an 80% probability (Bayes’ Rule) that a second market plunge and economic downturn will unfold during the coming year. This is not certainty, but the evidence that we’ve observed in the equity market, labor market, and credit markets to-date is simply much more consistent with the recent advance being a component of a more drawn-out and painful deleveraging cycle.”

#23) Richard Russell, the Famous Author of the Dow Theory Letters:

“Do your friends a favor. Tell them to “batten down the hatches” because there’s a HARD RAIN coming. Tell them to get out of debt and sell anything they can sell (and don’t need) in order to get liquid. Tell them that Richard Russell says that by the end of this year they won’t recognize the country. They’ll retort, “How the dickens does Russell know — who told him?” Tell them the stock market told him.”

11 Signs That The U.S. Government Has Become An Overgrown Monstrosity That Almost Every American Is Dependent Upon For Economic Survival

Today, the number of Americans who are able to financially survive without any reliance on the U.S. government whatsoever is declining at a staggering rate.  Whether it is through direct handouts, entitlement programs, student loans, government bailouts, government contracts or direct employment, the truth is that now a solid majority of the American people are at least partially dependent on the federal government for their economic survival.  The sad thing is that the majority of the American people say that there is too much government in their lives when opinion polls are taken, but if you try to take the government check that they are getting away from them those same people will scream bloody murder.  But the truth is that it is getting to be really, really hard to be completely independent of the U.S. government economically.  That is because the U.S. government has their hands in almost everything.  The ideal of a “limited federal government” has long since faded away.  Very few people seem to believe in it anymore.  Instead, Americans today look to the federal government as the answer to all of our problems, as the provider of all of our needs, and as the regulator of every single detail of our lives. 

The U.S. government has become the “Big Mother” that we all scramble to for a handout when we get into trouble.

When you sit down and really analyze it, you quickly realize that there is no way that the U.S. government can be extricated from the U.S. economy now.  Instead of the free enterprise system that we once had in this country, today we have a situation where the U.S. government has become the very core of the economy.  It is the hub around which everything else in the economy revolves.

You don’t believe this?

The following are 11 signs that the U.S. government has become an overgrown monstrosity that almost every American is dependent upon for economic survival…. 

#1) The Explosion Of Government Handouts

39.68 million Americans are now on food stamps.  Millions of others are completely dependent on the extended unemployment benefits that they are receiving.  Millions of other Americans are able to survive financially because of the dozens of other welfare programs that the U.S. government subsidizes.  More Americans are receiving some form of welfare than ever before in history, and each month the numbers continue to go up.  Could there come a day when we all receive government handouts every month?

#2) The Entitlements Programs That Threaten To Destroy U.S. Government Finances

Entitlements are the single biggest U.S. government expense.  These programs include Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other social Ponzi schemes.  Tens of millions of Americans receive government assistance through these programs.  In fact, nearly 51 million Americans received $672 billion in Social Security benefits in 2009.  We all have friends or family members who receive these kinds of payments.  But cutting so many people a check year after year is slowly but surely destroying U.S. government finances.  According to an official U.S. government report, rapidly growing interest costs on the national debt together with spending on major entitlement programs will absorb approximately 92 cents of every dollar of federal revenue by the year 2019.  That is before a penny is spent on anything else.  This is clearly not a sustainable financial situation by any definition, but who wants to tell tens of millions of Americans that their checks are going to be reduced?

#3) The U.S. Government Is Now Even Paying Mortgages

Yes, you read that right.  As part of the “stimulus” package, the U.S. government is going to send money to some of the states that were hit the hardest by the real estate crisis.  So what is that money going to be used for?  Well, Florida, Michigan, California and Arizona have all announced that they plan to use $1.4 billion the Obama administration is sending their way to help the unemployed and the “underwater” pay their mortgages.

#4) Without The Student Loan Program A Huge Percentage Of College Students Would Not Get An Education

The federal student loan program (which was recently entirely nationalized) helps millions of college students pay for their education.  Without this assistance by the government, a lot less students would be going to college.  In fact, many of you that are reading this article directly benefited from the federal student loan program.

#5) The Bailout Of AIG

One of the biggest insurance companies in the world, AIG, would not be in existence today if not for direct federal government intervention.  It kind of makes you wonder what George Washington and Thomas Jefferson would think about a federal government that hands big bags of cash to a giant insurance company so that it can survive.  Whether it was so they could pay off their debts to Goldman Sachs or whether it was so that they could keep paying out record-setting bonuses, the truth is that AIG would not have made it without the federal government stepping in.

#6) The “Too Big To Fail” Banks

But it wasn’t just AIG that got bailed out.  A number of big banks may have gone under if not for the U.S. government.  The U.S. government decided that they were “too big to fail”.  Well, what about all the small banks that are going under?  The truth is that they are “too small to bother with”.  We now live in a nation where the U.S. government is the one who decides which banks live and which banks die like dogs.  Doesn’t that just make you feel all warm and fuzzy?

#7) The Bailout Of General Motors

But not only does the federal government bail out financial institutions – it is also now in the car business.  Yes, grand old General Motors may have ended up on the scrap heap of history if not for the U.S. government stepping in.  So if you work for General Motors or if you work for any company that does business with General Motors, you can thank Uncle Sam for the fact that you still have a job.

#8) The Bailouts Of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

If the U.S. government had not bailed out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, we may not have much of a mortgage industry at this point at all.  According to Inside Mortgage Finance, government-related entities backed 96.5% of all home loans during the first quarter of 2010, which was up from 90% in 2009.  So if you borrowed money to buy a home over the past couple of years, there is a very strong likelihood that the U.S. government was involved.

#9) The U.S. Government – The Nation’s Biggest Employer

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 2 million civilians work for the federal government, excluding the Postal Service.  When you add in all U.S. military personnel, that number goes much higher. 

The truth is that as the government continues to expand (become more bloated), more Americans than ever are hopping aboard the gravy train.  Today, the average federal worker now earns about twice as much as the average worker in the private sector.  So if you want to do little work, produce little of real value and enjoy super cushy benefits, maybe you should apply for a job with the federal government too.

#10) Millions Of Americans Are Employed By Firms That Rely On Government Contracts

When considering the impact of the U.S. government on the economy, you can’t forget the hundreds of companies that would go out of business if their U.S. government contracts were taken away.  There are literally millions of people who work for companies that do business with the government.  If the government disappeared it would cause economic chaos for those firms.  The truth is that a whole lot of people make a really good living plugging into the sweetest revenue source of them all – the U.S. government.

#11) The U.S. Government Takeover Of The Health Care System

The U.S. government takeover of the health care system is going to fundamentally change the economics of the health care industry.  The U.S. government will now play a major role in deciding which hospitals get built and which do not.  Approximately 17% of U.S. GDP is spent on health care, and now the U.S. government has unprecedented control over where that money goes.  Over a dozen new taxes have been established by the new health care reform law, and the U.S. government is going to pour an unprecedented amount of money into the system.  So will this result in all of us getting better health care?  We’ll just have to wait and see.

The truth is that the Founding Fathers never envisioned a federal government that completely dominated that national economy.  But that is what we have got.  As of now, only a very small percentage of Americans are still able to say that they are completely financially independent of the U.S. government. 

You see, in economic terms the U.S. government is not just the elephant in the room.  It is the elephant that sat on the room and nearly suffocated everything else out of existence.

As Americans, we live in an economy that is so intertwined with the government that it is impossible to separate the two anymore.

But the really bad news is that the U.S. government is in massive financial trouble.  According to one new report, the U.S. national debt will reach 100 percent of GDP by the year 2015.  Many economists regard that as an incredibly dangerous threshold to cross.

If U.S. government finances collapse, it will mean the collapse of the entire U.S. economy as well.  There is simply no separating the two.  And considering the fact that the U.S. government has piled up the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the world, things don’t look promising.

America is headed for an unprecedented economic collapse, and the U.S. government is leading the way.  If you can get financially independent, now is the time to try to do that, but the reality is that we will all feel massive economic pain when this thing comes crashing down.

Get Ready To Taste The Bitter Side Of Keynesian Economics

Most Americans have no idea what the term “Keynesian economics” means, but the truth is that it has been deeply influencing U.S. economic policy for decades.  Essentially, it is an economic theory that originated with a 20th century British economist named John Maynard Keynes, and it advocates government intervention in the economy in order to smooth out economic cycles.  The general idea was that lower interest rates and increased government spending could be used to increase aggregate demand when the economy was experiencing a downturn, thus increasing economic activity and reducing unemployment.

And you know what?

To a certain degree, Keynesian economic theory actually does work.

Increased government spending DOES stimulate the economy.

But the problem is that governments all over the world decided that they would just run constant budget deficits and stimulate the economy all the time.

All of this debt has brought a temporary prosperity to many of the nations around the globe, but there is one huge problem with debt.

It has to be paid back eventually.

With interest.

So what happens when nations have to start spending huge chunks of their national budgets just to service all the debt that they have piled up?

Well, that is when they taste the bitter side of Keynesian economics.

In fact, we see that starting to happen all over the world right now.

All of a sudden, governments all over the globe are talking about huge budget cuts, pay decreases, and higher taxes.

We all know about what is going on in Greece right now, but suddenly it seems like “austerity measures” are being implemented all over the place.  Just consider the following examples….

*Portugal has pledged to impose fresh austerity measures that include much higher taxes and dramatic budget cuts.

*Barack Obama is personally pressuring Spain to make severe austerity cuts.

*It’s not just Southern Europe that is facing these austerity measures either.  It is being reported that Germans are bracing themselves for a “bitter” round of budget cuts.

*The exploding debt situation in the U.K.was a major issue in the most recent election.  Bank of England governor Mervyn King has even gone so far as to warn that public anger over the “austerity measures” that soon must be implemented in the U.K. will be so painful that whichever party is seen as responsible will be out of power for a generation.

*Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says that United States citizens will soon have to make difficult choices between higher taxes and reduced government spending.

*California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is reportedly planning to seek “terrible cuts” to eliminate an $18.6 billion budget deficit facing the most-populous U.S. state through June 2011.

*In fact, many U.S. states are getting ready for their biggest budget cuts in decades.

Austerity measures for everyone?

That is the way it is shaping up.

So what happens when austerity measures are implemented?

Well, just as Keynesian economics correctly predicts that economic growth goes up when government spending increases, it also correctly tells us that economic growth goes down when government spending decreases.

So all of these austerity measures are going to mean economic pain for a whole lot of people.

Not only that, but there are now whispers that this European debt crisis could potentially cause the break up of the euro.

Whether or not that is actually the case, officials in Europe are sure seizing on this crisis to advocate for increased centralization of power in the EU.

For example, senior administrators of the European Union are proposing that they be given unprecedented power to scrutinize the spending plans of member countries before national parliaments can vote on those budgets.

Talk about a loss of sovereignty.

But not only that, the Governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, has come right out and said that he believes that the European Union must become a federalized fiscal union if it is to survive.

Doesn’t it seem like whenever there is a crisis the solution that is always being proposed is to give centralized institutions even more power?

There has also been talk that nations such as Greece could end up being ejected from the euro, but the reality is that such a scenario is not very likely.

For one thing, the ECB has already come out and said that under current EU law, ejection of a nation from the monetary union is “legally next to impossible”.

In addition, leaders throughout Europe realize that if the euro fails then the entire EU may fail as well.  German Chancellor Angela Merkel made this very clear when she recently warned that if the euro collapses, “then Europe and the idea of European union will fail.”

For many in Europe that would seem like a disaster, but the truth is that it would be a wonderful, wonderful thing if the euro failed.

Why?

Because it would represent a major defeat for those who are seeking to drag us towards a “world currency” and a “global government”.

It would also be a huge victory for those who still believe in national sovereignty and the decentralization of economic power.

So let us hope that the euro breaks up.

But don’t count on it.

Meanwhile, the one thing that we can count on is all of the economic pain that all of these new austerity measures are going to bring.

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