18 Signs That Massive Economic Problems Are Erupting All Over The Planet

Volcano Eruption - Mount RedoubtThis is no time to be complacent.  Massive economic problems are erupting all over the globe, but most people seem to believe that everything is going to be just fine.  In fact, a whole bunch of recent polls and surveys show that the American people are starting to feel much better about how the U.S. economy is performing.  Unfortunately, the false prosperity that we are currently enjoying is not going to last much longer.  Just look at what is happening in Europe.  The eurozone is now in the midst of the longest recession that it has ever experienced.  Just look at what is happening over in Asia.  Economic growth in India is the lowest that it has been in a decade and the Japanese financial system is beginning to spin wildly out of control.  One of the only places on the entire planet where serious economic problems have not already erupted is in the United States, and that is only because we have “kicked the can down the road” by recklessly printing money and by borrowing money at an unprecedented rate.  Unfortunately, the “sugar high” produced by those foolish measures is starting to wear off.  We are going to experience a massive amount of economic pain along with the rest of the world – it is just a matter of time.

But for the moment, there are a lot of skeptics out there.

For the moment, there are a lot of people that are declaring that the problems of the past have been fixed and that we are heading for incredibly bright economic times ahead.

Unfortunately, those people appear to be purposely ignoring the economic horror that is breaking out all over the globe.

The following are 18 signs that massive economic problems are erupting all over the planet…

#1 The eurozone is now in the midst of its longest recession ever.  Economic activity in the eurozone has declined for six quarters in a row.

#2 Italy’s economy has now been contracting for seven quarters in a row.

#3 Industrial production in Italy has fallen for 15 months in a row.  It has now fallen to its lowest level in about 25 years.

#4 The number of people that are considered to be “seriously deprived” in Italy has doubled over the past two years.

#5 Consumer confidence in France has just hit a new all-time low.

#6 The number of unemployed workers seeking a job in France has hit a brand new all-time record high.  Many unemployed workers in France are utterly frustrated at this point…

“I’ve sent CVs everywhere, I come to the unemployment agency every day, for 3 or 4 hours to look for work as a truck driver and there’s never anything,” said 42-year old Djamel Sami, who has been unemployed for a year, leaving a job agency in Paris.

#7 Unemployment in the eurozone as a whole has just hit a brand new all-time record high of 12.2 percent.

#8 Youth unemployment continues to soar to unprecedented heights in Europe.  The following is from an article that was recently posted on the website of the Guardian that detailed how bad things are getting in some of the worst countries…

In Greece, 62.5% of young people are out of work, in Spain it’s 56.4%, then Portugal with 42.5%, and then Italy with 40.5%.

#9 Youth unemployment is being partially blamed for the worst rioting that Sweden has seen in many years.  The following is how the Daily Mail described the riots…

Sweden is reeling after a third night of rioting in largely run-down immigrant areas of the capital Stockholm.

In the last 48 hours violence has spread to at least ten suburbs with mobs of youths torching hundreds of cars and clashing with police.

It is Sweden’s worst disorder in years and has shocked the country and provoked a debate on how Sweden is coping with youth unemployment and an influx of immigrants.

#10 An astounding 10 percent of all banking deposits were pulled out of banks in Cyprus during the month of April alone.

#11 Economic growth in India is the slowest that it has been in an entire decade.

#12 Suddenly Australia is experiencing some tremendous economic challenges.  The following quotes are from a recent Zero Hedge article

-“We’re seeing a much sharper contraction in the Australian economy than we’d anticipated four or five months ago”. Coffey MD, John Douglas. The engineering group has seen its shares, which traded above $4 in 2007, hit 10c last week.

-“By 10am, the Fitness First gym in the city is packed full of brokers who’ve had a gutful of sitting at their desk doing nothing – salary cuts are starting and next it will be jobs” Perth broker

-“Oh mate, the funding market is dead. You are now seeing a few deeply discounted rights issues for those that are reaching desperate levels ….. liquidity has completely disappeared” Perth broker

#13 The financial system in Japan is beginning to spin wildly out of control.  The Japanese stock market has now declined about 15 percent from the peak, and many believe that the yen will continue to get weaker and that interest rates in Japan will start to rise significantly.

#14 Global cash flow is declining at a rate not seen since the last recession.  This indicates that we could be headed for a global credit crunch.

#15 Real wages continue to decline in the United States.  Even though we are being told that the U.S. is experiencing an “economy recovery”, real weekly earnings have declined from $297.79 in 2010 to $295.49 in 2011 to $294.83 in 2012.  (The preceding calculation is based on 1982-1984 dollars)

#16 Wall Street is buzzing about the fact that “the Hindenburg Omen” appeared at the end of last week.  So exactly what is “the Hindenburg Omen”?  The following are the criteria that are used to determine whether it has appeared or not…

1. The daily number of NYSE new 52 Week Highs and the daily number of new 52 Week Lows must both be greater than 2.2 percent of total NYSE issues traded that day.

2. The smaller of these numbers is greater than or equal to 69 (68.772 is 2.2% of 3126). This is not a rule but more like a checksum. This condition is a function of the 2.2% of the total issues.

3. That the NYSE 10 Week moving average is rising.

4. That the McClellan Oscillator ( a market breadth indicator used to evaluate the rate of money entering or leaving the market and interpretively indicate overbought or oversold conditions of the market)is negative on that same day.

5. That new 52 Week Highs cannot be more than twice the new 52 Week Lows (however it is fine for new 52 Week Lows to be more than double new 52 Week Highs).

When the Hindenburg Omen makes an appearance, it supposedly means that the U.S. stock market is likely to experience a serious decline within the next 40 days.

#17 As I wrote about the other day, the SentimenTrader Smart/Dumb Money Index is now the lowest that it has been in more than two years.  That means that lots of “smart money” has been getting out of the market and lots of “dumb money” has been pouring in.

#18 Margin debt on the New York Stock Exchange has set a new all-time high.  The following is from a recent Market Oracle article

Margin debt—that’s the amount of money borrowed to purchase stocks—on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) reached its all-time high in April. Margin debt on the NYSE registered at $384.3 billion as the key stock indices hit new record-highs. (Source: New York Stock Exchange web site, last accessed May 29, 2013.) The highest margin debt ever reached prior to this was in July of 2007, when it stood just above $381.0 billion. At that time, just like today, the key stock indices were near their peaks and “buy now before it’s too late” was the prominent theme of the day

Whenever margin debt spikes like this, a stock market crash almost always follows.  If you doubt this, just check out the chart in this article.

Wall Street has had a good couple of years, but it has been a “false prosperity” that has been pumped up by reckless money printing by the Federal Reserve.  Just like all of the other stock market bubbles that we have seen in recent years, this one is going to burst too.  And as Marc Faber recently pointed out, this bubble has been particularly beneficial to the wealthy…

The Fed has been flooding the system with money. The problem is the money doesn’t flow into the system evenly. It doesn’t increase economic activity and asset prices in concert. Instead, it creates dangerous excesses in countries and asset classes. Money-printing fueled the colossal stock-market bubble of 1999-2000, when the Nasdaq more than doubled, becoming disconnected from economic reality. It fueled the housing bubble, which burst in 2008, and the commodities bubble. Now money is flowing into the high-end asset market – things like stocks, bonds, art, wine, jewelry, and luxury real estate.

Money-printing boosts the economy of the people closest to the money flow. But it doesn’t help the worker in Detroit, or the vast majority of the middle class. It leads to a widening wealth gap. The majority loses, and the minority wins.

The fact that the U.S. stock market has set new all-time record high after new all-time record high in recent months means very little.  At this point, the stock market has become completely divorced from economic reality.  When this current bubble bursts, the adjustment is going to be very painful.  Wall Street will likely whine and complain and ask for more bailouts, but they may find that authorities are not nearly as sympathetic this time.

Much of the rest of the world is already experiencing the next major wave of the economic collapse.  Reckless money printing by the Fed and reckless borrowing and spending by the federal government may have delayed the inevitable in the United States for a little while, but those measures have also made our long-term problems even worse.

There was one piece of advice that Ben Bernanke included in his commencement speech to students at Princeton recently that I thought was particularly ironic…

“Don’t be afraid to let the drama play out.”

Will he take his own advice when the next great financial crisis strikes the United States?

That seems very unlikely.

Unfortunately, things are not going to be so easy to fix this next time.

What happened back in 2008 was just a preview.

What is coming next is going to absolutely shock the world.

21 Statistics About The Explosive Growth Of Poverty In America That Everyone Should Know

21 Statistics About The Explosive Growth Of Poverty In America That Everyone Should Know - Phot by D. Sharon PruittIf the economy is getting better, then why does poverty in America continue to grow so rapidly?  Yes, the stock market has been hitting all-time highs recently, but also the number of Americans living in poverty has now reached a level not seen since the 1960s.  Yes, corporate profits are at levels never seen before, but so is the number of Americans on food stamps.  Yes, housing prices have started to rebound a little bit (especially in wealthy areas), but there are also more than a million public school students in America that are homeless.  That is the first time that has ever happened in U.S. history.  So should we measure our economic progress by the false stock market bubble that has been inflated by Ben Bernanke’s reckless money printing, or should we measure our economic progress by how the poor and the middle class are doing?  Because if we look at how average Americans are doing these days, then there is not much to be excited about.  In fact, poverty continues to experience explosive growth in the United States and the middle class continues to shrink.  Sadly, the truth is that things are not getting better for most Americans.  With each passing year the level of economic suffering in this country continues to go up, and we haven’t even reached the next major wave of the economic collapse yet.  When that strikes, the level of economic pain in this nation is going to be off the charts.

The following are 21 statistics about the explosive growth of poverty in America that everyone should know…

1 – According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately one out of every six Americans is now living in poverty.  The number of Americans living in poverty is now at a level not seen since the 1960s.

2 – When you add in the number of low income Americans it is even more sobering.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 146 million Americans are either “poor” or “low income”.

3 – Today, approximately 20 percent of all children in the United States are living in poverty.  Incredibly, a higher percentage of children is living in poverty in America today than was the case back in 1975.

4 – It may be hard to believe, but approximately 57 percent of all children in the United States are currently living in homes that are either considered to be either “low income” or impoverished.

5 – Poverty is the worst in our inner cities.  At this point, 29.2 percent of all African-American households with children are dealing with food insecurity.

6 – According to a recently released report, 60 percent of all children in the city of Detroit are living in poverty.

7 – The number of children living on $2.00 a day or less in the United States has grown to 2.8 million.  That number has increased by 130 percent since 1996.

8 – For the first time ever, more than a million public school students in the United States are homeless.  That number has risen by 57 percent since the 2006-2007 school year.

9 – Family homelessness in the Washington D.C. region (one of the wealthiest regions in the entire country) has risen 23 percent since the last recession began.

10 – One university study estimates that child poverty costs the U.S. economy 500 billion dollars each year.

11 – At this point, approximately one out of every three children in the U.S. lives in a home without a father.

12 – Families that have a head of household under the age of 30 have a poverty rate of 37 percent.

13 – Today, there are approximately 20.2 million Americans that spend more than half of their incomes on housing.  That represents a 46 percent increase from 2001.

14 – About 40 percent of all unemployed workers in America have been out of work for at least half a year.

15 – At this point, one out of every four American workers has a job that pays $10 an hour or less.

16 – There has been an explosion in the number of “working poor” Americans in recent years.  Today, about one out of every four workers in the United States brings home wages that are at or below the poverty level.

17 – Right now, more than 100 million Americans are enrolled in at least one welfare program run by the federal government.  And that does not even include Social Security or Medicare.

18 – An all-time record 47.79 million Americans are now on food stamps.  Back when Barack Obama first took office, that number was only sitting at about 32 million.

19 – The number of Americans on food stamps now exceeds the entire population of Spain.

20 – According to one calculation, the number of Americans on food stamps now exceeds the combined populations of “Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.”

21 – Back in the 1970s, about one out of every 50 Americans was on food stamps.  Today, close to one out of every six Americans is on food stamps.  Even more shocking is the fact that more than one out of every four children in the United States is enrolled in the food stamp program.

Unfortunately, all of these problems are a result of our long-term economic decline.  In a recent article for the New York Times, David Stockman, the former director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan, did a brilliant job of describing how things have degenerated over the last decade…

Since the S&P 500 first reached its current level, in March 2000, the mad money printers at the Federal Reserve have expanded their balance sheet sixfold (to $3.2 trillion from $500 billion). Yet during that stretch, economic output has grown by an average of 1.7 percent a year (the slowest since the Civil War); real business investment has crawled forward at only 0.8 percent per year; and the payroll job count has crept up at a negligible 0.1 percent annually. Real median family income growth has dropped 8 percent, and the number of full-time middle class jobs, 6 percent. The real net worth of the “bottom” 90 percent has dropped by one-fourth. The number of food stamp and disability aid recipients has more than doubled, to 59 million, about one in five Americans.

For the last couple of years, the U.S. economy has experienced a bubble of false hope that has been produced by unprecedented amounts of government debt and unprecedented money printing by the Federal Reserve.

Unfortunately, that bubble of false hope is not going to last much longer.  In fact, we are already seeing signs that it is getting ready to burst.

For example, initial claims for unemployment benefits shot up to 385,000 for the week ending March 30th.

That is perilously close to the 400,000 “danger level” that I keep warning about.  Once we cross the 400,000 level and stay there, it will be time to go into crisis mode.

In the years ahead, it is going to become increasingly difficult to find a job.  Just the other day I saw an article about an advertisement for a recent job opening at a McDonald’s in Massachusetts that required applicants to have “one to two years experience and a bachelor’s degree“.

If you need a bachelor’s degree for a job at McDonald’s, then what in the world are blue collar workers going to do when the competition for jobs becomes really intense once the economy experiences another major downturn?

Do not be fooled by the fact that the Dow has been setting new all-time highs.  The truth is that we are in the midst of a long-term economic decline, and things are going to get a lot worse.  If you know someone that is not convinced of this yet, just share the following article with them: “Show This To Anyone That Believes That ‘Things Are Getting Better’ In America“.

So what are all of you seeing in your own areas?

Are you seeing signs that poverty is getting worse?

Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below…

Homeless And Cold - Photo By Ed Yourdon

14 Signs That The World Economy Is Getting Weaker

The United States is not the only one with massive economic problems right now.  The truth is that just about wherever you look around the globe things are getting even worse.  China is experiencing a substantial economic slowdown, and Japan has resorted to yet another round of money printing in an effort to keep the Japanese economy moving.  Unemployment in Europe continues to get even worse, and the riots this week in Spain and in Greece have been absolutely frightening at times.  In the United States there are a whole host of signs that another recession is approaching, and the number of American CEOs that say that they plan to eliminate jobs in the coming months is rapidly rising.  The world economy is more interconnected today than ever before, and that means that we are all in this together.  Just remember what happened back in 2008 and 2009.  The economic pain that started on Wall Street was felt in every corner of the planet.  So anyone that believes that the United States (or any other major nation for that matter) is going to escape the next wave of the economic crisis is simply not being realistic.  Why do you think central banks all over the world are in “panic mode” right now?  They are firing all of their ammunition and printing money like there is no tomorrow in an attempt to keep the system together.  Unfortunately, it is not going to work.

If the powers that be had an “easy button” that would quickly fix everything, they would have pressed it by now.  But despite all of their efforts things continue to unravel.  If you want to get an idea of where we are headed,  just look at what is already happening in Europe.   Unemployment has risen above 24 percent in Greece and above 25 percent in Spain.

Those two nations are on the “bleeding edge” of the next wave of economic problems.  Unemployment is rising almost everywhere else in Europe as well, and things are eventually going to get really bad in Asia and in North America too.

So hold on to your seat belts – it is going to be a bumpy ride.

The following are 14 signs from around the globe that the world economy is getting weaker….

#1 Things in China do not look good right now.  The Shanghai Composite index fell to its lowest point in over 3 years earlier this week.  Will the S&P 500 soon follow suit?

#2 The Bank of Japan has resorted to yet another round of money printing in a desperate attempt to try to bolster the faltering Japanese economy….

In Asia, the Bank of Japan has long been manufacturing money out of thin air. It has just announced an eighth round of money printing to prop up the ailing Japanese economy. The Bank of Japan is to purchase 10 trillion yen of bonds to add further liquidity into the financial system. Now it has 80 trillion yen of bonds in its portfolio, equivalent to 20 per cent of Japan’s gross domestic product.

#3 In Spain, violent demonstrations over the state of the Spanish economy just outside the national Parliament building in Madrid on Tuesday evening made headlines all over the globe.  You can view video of police brutally beating young Spanish protesters during those demonstrations right here.

#4 As unemployment hovers around the 25 percent mark, foraging through garbage bins for food has become so rampant in Spain that one city has actually started putting locks on supermarket garbage bins “as a public health precaution“.

#5 Despite all of the money printing that the ECB has been doing, the yield on 10 year Spanish bonds has risen back up to about 6 percent again.

#6 The economic protests in Greece are getting completely and totally out of control.  Just check out this description of the “Day of Rage” that took place in Greece earlier this week….

Police fired stun grenades and tear gas at protesters yesterday as tens of thousands poured into the streets of Athens as part of a nationwide strike to challenge a new round of austerity measures that are expected to cut wages, pensions and healthcare once again.

Dozens of youths, some masking their faces with helmets and T-shirts, hurled Molotov cocktails and rocks at police who fired back in an effort to scatter the angry crowds around the parliament building. More than 50,000 people are believed to have participated in the mass walk-out in Athens alone.

#7 The unemployment rate in France has risen for 16 months in a row and is now the highest that it has been in over a decade.

#8 As I wrote about recently, the number of unemployed workers in Italy has increased by more than 37 percent over the past year.

#9 New orders for durable goods in the United States fell by a whopping 13.2 percent in August.  That was the largest decline that we have seen since the middle of the last recession (January 2009).

#10 According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, U.S. GDP only grew at a 1.3 percent annual rate during the second quarter of 2012 as opposed to the 1.7 percent annual rate previously reported.

#11 The U.S. Postal Service is about to experience its second financial default in just the past two months….

The U.S. Postal Service will default this week on a $5.6 billion congressionally mandated obligation to pre-fund retiree health benefits, marking the second time in two months the cash-strapped agency has done this.

#12 It looks like General Motors is on a path that will lead to bankruptcy (again).

#13 According to a recent survey conducted by State Street Global Advisors, 71 percent of “investors in a survey of 300 around the world, including the largest pension funds, asset managers and private banks, fear an imminent Lehman-like event.”

#14 According to a recent survey of American CEOs by Business Roundtable, the number of CEOs that plan to eliminate jobs has risen significantly from earlier this year….

The CEOs’ decline in confidence comes alongside a worsening employment outlook. Thirty-four percent of the 138 CEOs surveyed said in this quarter’s survey that they expected their companies to cut jobs in the next six months, compared to just 20 percent in the second quarter. Likewise, only 29 percent say they expect employment to grow in the next half year, down from 36 percent last quarter.

But the mainstream media in the United States would like us to believe that everything is getting better.

The mainstream media would like us to believe that QE3 is going to stimulate lots of new hiring all over America, and they are greatly celebrating the fact that the S&P 500 hit a five year high on Thursday.

Well, those on Wall Street should celebrate this monetary “sugar high” while they still can.  Of course QE3 was going to cause stock prices to rise in the short-term, but the reality of the matter is that QE3 is not going to do a thing to stop the financial markets from crashing when the time comes for them to crash.

Economies tend to flourish in a stable, predictable environment.  When you start recklessly printing money, it may help your economic numbers in the short-term, but it disrupts the stability of the system.

And once you have created a tremendous amount of instability, it is really, really hard to convince people that you can create stability once again.

When it comes to economics, confidence is one of the most important ingredients.  If people lose confidence in the system, it almost does not matter what else you do.

As I wrote about the other day, quantitative easing worked for the Weimar Republic for a little while, but in the end it resulted in total disaster.

It will also end in total disaster for us.

All over the globe financial authorities are playing all sorts of games in an attempt to keep the system functioning smoothly.  But these games are going to steadily undermine confidence in the system, and that is going to prove to be absolutely deadly.

Take advantage of this period of relative stability while you still can, because when it is gone it is not coming back.

12 Signs That Spain Is Shifting Gears From Recession To Depression

Where have we seen this before?  Bond yields soar above the 7 percent danger level.  Check.  The stock market crashes to new lows.  Check.  Industrial activity plummets like a rock and the economy contracts.  Check.  The unemployment rate skyrockets to more than 20 percent.  Check.  The bursting of a massive real estate bubble pushes the banking system to the brink of implosion.  Check.  Broke local governments beg the broke national government for bailouts.  Check.  The international community pressures the national government to implement deep austerity measures which will slow down the economy even more and hordes of violent protesters take to the streets.  Check.  All of this happened in Greece, it is happening right now in Spain, and mark my words it will eventually happen in the United States.  Every debt bubble eventually bursts, and right now Spain is experiencing a level of economic pain that very, very few people saw coming.  The recession in Spain is rapidly becoming a full-blown economic depression, and at this point there is no hope and no light at the end of the tunnel.

The bad news for the global economy is that Spain is much larger than Greece.  According to the United Nations, the Greek economy is the 32nd largest economy in the world.  The Spanish economy, on the other hand, is the 4th largest economy in the eurozone and the 12th largest economy on the entire planet.  It is nearly five times the size of the Greek economy.

Financial markets all over the globe are very nervous right now because if the Spanish government ends up asking for a full-blown bailout it could spell the end for the eurozone.  There simply is not enough money to do the same kind of thing for Spain that is being done for Greece.

Of course European officials are going to do their best to keep the eurozone from collapsing, but what they have completely failed to do is to keep these countries from falling into depression.

As I have written about previously, Greece has already been in an economic depression for some time.

I warned that Spain, Italy, Portugal and a bunch of other European nations were going down the exact same path.

Now we are watching a virtual replay of what happened in Greece take place in Spain.

Unfortunately, the global financial system may not be able to handle a complete implosion of the Spanish economy.

The following are 12 signs that Spain is shifting gears from recession to depression….

#1 At one point on Monday, the IBEX stock market index fell to 5,905, which was the lowest level in nearly ten years.  When it hit 5,905 that represented a drop of about 12 percent over just two trading days.  If that happened in the United States, it would be the equivalent of the Dow falling by about 1500 points in 48 hours.

#2 So far this year, the Spanish stock market is down more than 25 percent.  Back in 2008, the IBEX 35 was well over 15,000.  Today it is sitting just above 6,000.

#3 Spain has banned many forms of short selling for 3 months.

#4 The yield on 10 year Spanish bonds is now well above the 7 percent “danger level”.

#5 Thanks to the problems in Spain, the euro continues to fall like a rock.  On Monday it hit a new two year low against the U.S. dollar, and it is near a twelve year low against the Japanese yen.

#6 During the first quarter of 2012, the Spanish economy contracted by 0.3 percent.  During the second quarter of 2012, the Spanish economy contracted by 0.4 percent.

#7 Local governments all over Spain are flat broke and need to be bailed out by the broke national government.  The following is from a recent CNBC article….

Adding to Madrid’s woes, media reports suggested another half a dozen of Spain’s 17 regional authorities, facing an undeclared funding crisis, were ready to follow Valencia in seeking aid from the central government.

#8 The percentage of bad loans on the books of Spanish banks has reached an 18 year high.  European officials have already promised a 100 billion euro bailout for Spain’s troubled banking system, but most analysts agree that 100 billion euros will not be nearly enough.

#9 Spanish industrial output declined for the ninth month in a row in May.

#10 The unemployment rate in Spain is up to an astounding 24.6 percent.  The unemployment rate in Spain is already higher than it was in the United States at the peak of the Great Depression of the 1930s.

#11 The youth unemployment rate in Spain is now over 52 percent.

#12 The Spanish government has just announced a whole bunch of new tax increases and spending cuts which will cause the Spanish economy to slow down even more.  In response to these austerity measures, people are taking to the streets all over Spain.  Last week, 100,000 demonstrators poured into the streets to protest in Madrid alone.

Sadly, the nightmare in Spain is just beginning.

If the yield on 10 year Spanish bonds stays above 7 percent, that is going to be a really bad sign.  According to the Wall Street Journal, the 7 percent level is key as far as investor confidence is concerned….

Monday’s dramatic market moves suggest Spain may be stuck in a spiral that culminates in a bailout from other euro-zone countries.

“The rise in the 10-year yield well beyond 7% carries a very distinct reminder of events in Greece in April 2010, Ireland in October 2010 and Portugal in February 2011,” said analysts at Bank of New York Mellon. “In each case, a decisive move beyond 7% signaled the start of a collapse in investor confidence that, in each case, led to a bailout within weeks,” they added.

So keep an eye on that number in the weeks ahead.

Meanwhile, the Spanish economy continues to get worse with each passing month.

So just how bad are things in Spain right now?

Just check out this excerpt from a recent article by Mark Grant….

Recently two noted Spanish economists were interviewed. One was always an optimist and one was always a pessimist. The optimist droned on and on about how bad things were in Spain, the dire situation with the regional debt, the huge problems overtaking the Spanish banks and the imminent collapse of the Spanish economy. In the end he said that the situation was so bad that the Spanish people were going to have to eat manure. The pessimist was shocked by the comments of his colleague who had never heard him speak in such a manner. When it was the pessimist’s turn to speak he said that he agreed with the optimist with one exception; the manure would soon run out.

That may make you laugh, but for those in Europe going through these horrific economic conditions it is no laughing matter.

On Sunday, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras actually told former U.S. president Bill Clinton that Greece is already in a “Great Depression“.

Like Spain, the unemployment rate in Greece is well above 20 percent and the youth unemployment rate is above 50 percent.

The only reason the Greek financial system has not totally collapsed is because of outside assistance, but now there are indications that the assistance may soon be cut off.

At this point there are persistent rumors that the IMF does not plan to give any more aid money to Greece unless Greece “shapes up”.

Meanwhile, the suffering in Greece just gets worse and worse.

Sadly, most Americans pay very little attention to what is going on in Greece and Spain.

Most Americans just assume that we will always have “the greatest economy on earth” and that we can take prosperity for granted.

Unfortunately, the truth is that the United States already has more government debt per capita than either Greece or Spain does.

Just like Greece and Spain, we are also rapidly traveling down the road to economic oblivion, and depression-like conditions will arrive in this country soon enough.

So enjoy these last months of economic prosperity while you still can.

A whole lot of pain is on the horizon.

This Is What An Economic Depression Looks Like In The 21st Century

Do you want to see what a 21st century economic depression looks like?  Just look at Greece.  Once upon a time, the Greek economy was thriving, the Greek government was borrowing money like there was no tomorrow and Greek citizens were thoroughly enjoying the bubble of false prosperity that all that debt created.  Those that warned that Greece was headed for a financial collapse were laughed at and were called “doom and gloomers”.  Well, nobody is laughing now.  You see, the truth is that debt is a very cruel master.  Greeks were able to live way beyond their means for many, many years but eventually a day of reckoning arrived.  At this point, the Greek economy has been in a recession for five years in a row, and the economic crisis in that country is rapidly getting even worse.  It was just recently announced that the overall rate of unemployment in Greece has soared above 20 percent and the youth unemployment rate has risen to an astounding 48 percent.  One out of every five retail stores has been shut down and parents are literally abandoning children in the streets.  The frightening thing is that this is just the beginning.  Things are going to get a lot worse in Greece.  And in case you haven’t been paying attention, these kinds of conditions are coming to the United States as well.  We are heading down the exact same road as Greece went down, and the economic pain that this country is eventually going to suffer is going to be beyond anything that most Americans would dare to imagine.

All debt spirals eventually come to an end.  For years, Greece borrowed huge amounts of very cheap money, but there came a point when the debt became absolutely strangling and the rest of the world refused to lend the Greek government money at such cheap rates anymore.

Greece would have defaulted long before now if the EU and the IMF had not stepped in to bail them out.  But along with those bailouts came strings.  The EU and the IMF insisted that the Greek government cut spending and raise taxes.

Well, those spending cuts and tax increases caused the economy to slow down.  Tax revenues decreased and deficit reduction targets were missed.  So the EU and the IMF insisted on even more spending cuts and tax increases.

Even after all of the spending cuts and all of the tax increases that we have seen, the debt to GDP ratio in Greece is still higher than it was before the crisis began.  Today, the Greek national debt is sitting at 142 percent of GDP.

Now the EU and the IMF are demanding even more austerity measures before they will release any more bailout money.

Needless to say, the Greek people are pretty much exasperated by all of this.  They created this mess by going into so much debt, but they certainly don’t like the solutions that are being imposed upon them.

Protesters in Greece are absolutely outraged that the EU and the IMF are now demanding a 22 percent reduction in the minimum wage.

Most families in Greece are just barely surviving at this point.  Unfortunately, Greece is probably looking at depression conditions for many years to come.

Over the past three years, the size of the Greek economy has shrunk by 16 percent.

In 2012, it is being projected that the Greek economy will shrink by another 5 percent.

Sadly, that projection is probably way too optimistic.

Over the past couple of months, it has been like someone has pulled the rug out from under the Greek economy.  Just check out the following numbers from an article in the Telegraph by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard….

Another normal day at the Hellenic Statistical Authority.

We learn that:

Greece’s manufacturing output contracted by 15.5pc in December from a year earlier.

Industrial output fell 11.3pc, compared to minus 7.8pc in November.

Unemployment jumped to 20.9pc in November, up from 18.2pc a month earlier.

I have little further to add. This is what a death spiral looks like.

Can you imagine unemployment going up by 2.7 percent in one month?

This is what a 21st century economic depression looks like.

And needless to say, civil unrest is rampant in Greece.

The following is how a USA Today article described some of the protests that we saw in Greece this week….

Scores of youths, in hoods and gas masks, used sledge hammers to smash up marble paving stones in Athens’ main Syntagma Square before hurling the rubble at riot police.

The country’s two biggest labor unions stopped railway, ferry and public transport schedules, and hospitals worked on skeleton staff while most public services were disrupted. Unions were planning protests in Athens and other cities around midday.

Greek citizens are exasperated by the endless rounds of austerity that are being imposed upon them.  They wonder how far all of this is going to go.

How much higher can taxes go in Greece?  Greece already has tax rates that are among the highest in Europe….

Greece has the third highest rate of VAT in Europe, second highest gas/petrol tax, third highest tax on social insurance contributions, fifth highest VAT on alcohol, highest property tax and one of the worst corporate tax rates, without the quality of living or competitiveness to match.

How much farther can government pay be cut?  Greek civil servants have had their incomes slashed by about 40 percent since 2010.

How would you feel if your pay was reduced by 40 percent?

Large numbers of Greeks are rapidly reaching the end of their ropes.  The following is from a recent article in the Independent….

“People are scared and haven’t really realised what’s happening yet,” George Pantsios, an electrician for the country’s public power corporation, said. He has only been receiving half of his €850 monthly wage since August. “But once we all lose our jobs and can’t feed our kids, that’s when it’ll go boom and we’ll turn into Tahrir Square.”

Instead of turning violent, others are simply giving in to despair.  According to the Daily Mail, large numbers of Greek children are being abandoned because their parents simply cannot afford to take care of them anymore.  The note that one mother left with her little toddler was absolutely heartbreaking….

One mother, it said, ran away after handing over her two-year-old daughter Natasha.

Four-year-old Anna was found by a teacher clutching a note that read: ‘I will not be coming to pick up Anna today because I cannot afford to look after her. Please take good care of her. Sorry.’

Sadly, there are an increasing number of Greeks that are giving up on life entirely.  The number of suicides in Greece rose by 40 percent during just one recent 12 month time period.

But we haven’t even seen the worst in Greece yet.  The worst is still yet to come.

And the people of Greece are going to get angrier and angrier and angrier.

According to one recent poll, about 90 percent all of Greeks are unhappy with the interim government led by Prime Minister Lucas Papademos.

This week, that government has started to fall apart.  Over just the past few days, 6 members of the 48-member government cabinet have resigned.  Not only is there real doubt if the new austerity measures will be approved, there is very real doubt if this government will be able to hold together much longer.

Frustration with the EU and the IMF has reached a fever pitch in Greece.  Just check out what Reuters is reporting….

In a letter obtained by Reuters on Friday, the Federation of Greek Police accused the officials of “…blackmail, covertly abolishing or eroding democracy and national sovereignty” and said one target of its warrants would be the IMF’s top official for Greece, Poul Thomsen.

So what is going to happen next in Greece?

The truth is that nobody knows.

But whatever kind of “deals” are reached, the reality is that nothing is going to keep Greece from continuing to experience depression-like conditions for quite some time.

Unfortunately, Greece is not an isolated case.

Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Spain are all going down the same path and Europe does not have enough money to bail all of them out.

To get an idea of how much money it would take to bail out the financially troubled nations of Europe, just check out this infographic that was recently posted on ZeroHedge.

A day of reckoning is coming for the United States as well.  As CNBC recently noted, the U.S. debt problem is far worse than the European debt problem is.

That is why I have written over and over about the U.S. national debt and about how the U.S. government is spending too much money.

Right now, the U.S. government is still able to borrow gigantic mountains of very cheap money and is spending money as if tomorrow will never come.

Well, just like we saw in Greece, when debt gets out of control a day of great pain eventually arrives.

What we are watching unfold in Greece right now is coming to America.

You better get ready.

The Tim Tebow Comeback Story Continues But There Will Be No Miracle Comebacks For The U.S. Economy

Never in the history of the NFL has there ever been anything like this.  Today, Tim Tebow engineered yet another miraculous 4th quarter comeback.  Almost everyone has been expecting this unprecedented string of comebacks to come to an end, yet Tebow just keeps pulling off miracle after miracle.  It seems like nearly every week now we are talking about another unbelievable Tim Tebow comeback.  It is truly a great story, and what is wonderful about Tebow is that he is not out to glorify himself.  He is very humble, he always recognizes his teammates and he is a terrific role model for a generation of American youth that is in desperate need of one.  Unfortunately, there is not going to be a similar comeback story for the U.S. economy.  It is late in the 4th quarter, we have accumulated over 50 trillion dollars of total debt as a nation, and our economic guts are being ripped out at a rate that is almost impossible to believe.  The game is essentially over and we are headed for an incredible amount of economic pain as a nation.

We desperately need a “political Tim Tebow” to come along to dismantle our current debt-based economic system.  But instead, the corrupt politicians in Washington D.C. just keep patching up our current system and hope that somehow it will recover.

Unfortunately, this is about as good as things are going to get for the U.S. economy.  The federal government and the Federal Reserve are already pushing things to the “red line”, and all of that effort has not accomplished much.

We have been experiencing “economic stagnation” for much of the past year, and there is not much more that they can do to improve things under our current system.

Right now, the Federal Reserve has pushed interest rates as low as they can go.  They can’t go any lower.

Right now, the federal government is borrowing and spending unprecedented amounts of money.  Federal spending cannot go much higher.

Right now, we have already seen tax cut after tax cut and virtually none of them have been paid for.  Any additional tax cuts will just send our budget deficits even higher.

Right now, we have already seen unprecedented intervention by the Federal Reserve.  They have done just about everything short of dropping huge bags of money over the countryside from helicopters.

The federal government and the Federal Reserve have done just about everything that they can possibly do to “stimulate” the economy, and yet things just keep getting worse.

So what is going to happen when the federal government and the Federal Reserve quit stimulating the economy?

As I wrote about the other day, when evaluating the future of the U.S. economy, it is vitally important to look at the balance sheet numbers and the long-term trends.

When you do that, you suddenly do not feel so good about the upward “blips” that we have seen in the economy lately.

Yes, the “official” unemployment rate recently went down slightly.  But as Mac Slavo recently pointed out, even with the recent “improvement” the truth is that the “real” level of unemployment in the United States is still well over 20 percent.

And all of the long-term trends indicate that we heading for a massive amount of trouble.

The number of good jobs continues to decline.  Even though our population is rapidly increasing, there are 10 percent fewer middle income jobs in the U.S. today than there were a decade ago.

In recent years, the employment to population ratio has been steadily declining.  At the start of the recession it was at 62.7%.  Today, it is at 58.5%.

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

So why is this happening?  Well, as I wrote about recently, the United States has the worst balance of trade in the entire world by far.

Wealth, jobs and economic infrastructure are pouring out of this country and very few politicians are trying to stop it.

An average of 23 manufacturing facilities were shut down every single day in the United States last year.

That represents a huge amount of lost jobs.

So do you hear any political candidates talking about how they are going to stop this from happening or about how they are going to get all of those lost jobs back?

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

So how can an economy be great when it is constantly bleeding huge amounts of economic infrastructure?

We have become way too dependent on other nations for the things that we need.

How much trouble would we be in if Saudi Arabia suddenly decided to quit shipping us oil or if China suddenly decided to quit shipping us cheap plastic products to sell in our stores?

Right now, businesses are absolutely racing to get out of the United States.  Big corporations are shipping as many jobs as they possibly can out of the country.  Our insane economic policies have turned American workers into tremendous liabilities.

One economist from Princeton University is warning that 40 million more U.S. jobs could be sent offshore over the next two decades if nothing is done to stop this.

So why aren’t more politicians screaming and yelling about this?

Without good jobs, Americans are falling out of the middle class in staggering numbers.

Since 2007, the number of children living in poverty in the state of California has increased by 30 percent.

So is that a sign that things are getting better or that things are getting worse?

A higher percentage of Americans is living in extreme poverty than has ever been measured before.  Not only that, 2.6 million more Americans fell into poverty last year.  That was also a new all-time record.

So are those signs that things are getting better or that things are getting worse?

The American people generally do not understand why these things are happening, but they are clearly getting frustrated.

A recent Gallup poll found that an all-time record 76 percent of all Americans believe that most members of Congress do not deserve to be reelected.

But when election time rolls around, they will probably send most of them back to Washington D.C. anyway.

Our politicians keep kicking the can down the road, but time for doing that is running out.  The unprecedented “stimulus” efforts by the federal government will be coming to an end sooner or later.

In a recent article, author Bruce Krasting listed a whole bunch of reasons why the economic can is not going to be able to be kicked down the road much farther.  The following are some of the things that he says are scheduled to end by the beginning of 2013….

A) The Bush tax cuts on those making more than $200k will expire.

B) The Bush tax cuts on those making less than $200k will also expire.

C) The Patch on AMT will expire.

D) The 2% payroll tax holiday will expire for all workers on 12/31/12 (I’m sure the current holiday will be rolled for another year)

E) The 99-week extended unemployment benefits die on 12/31. (The emergency benefits will also be extended for 2012)

F) There will have to be a budget that is approved. Alternatively, a series of continuing resolutions is required to avert a government shutdown. We have not had an approved budget in over 900 days.

G) 2013 is the first year that there will be mandatory caps on discretionary spending. These limits will result in a YoY decline in government spending.

H) The Federal Reserve has promised to keep interest rates at zero into 2013. While it is possible that the Fed could continue the madness for even longer, the reality is that interest rates have nowhere to go but up.

I) By January 2013 it will be painfully evident that the country’s key social programs, Social Security and Medicare will be running in the red at a pace that is far higher than anyone considered possible. The need for dramatic changes in these programs will have to come onto the table. The implications of this will be significant.

J) In 2013 the issues of Fannie, Freddie, FHA and the Federal Home Loan Banks must be addressed. The problems at the housing agencies has festered too long.

K) The country will face another debt ceiling extension. The last time cost us our AAA.

Sadly, we will probably not have to wait until 2013 to feel a whole lot of economic pain.

The reality is that a 15 trillion dollar debt and trillion dollar yearly budget deficits are not sustainable.  We have created a situation where a horrible crash is inevitable, and there is no way that our current debt-based system can be fixed to keep a nightmarish collapse from happening.

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.  That is a recipe for national financial suicide.

Meanwhile, despite what you may have heard, the European debt crisis has not been fixed.

Not at all.

The truth is that none of the fundamental problems were fixed by this recent “agreement” as Ambrose Evans-Pritchard recently noted in one of his columns….

There is no shared debt issuance, no fiscal transfers, no move to an EU Treasury, no banking licence for the ESM rescue fund, and no change in the mandate of the European Central Bank.

In short, there is no breakthrough of any kind that will convince Asian investors that this monetary union has viable governance or even a future.

Germany has kept the focus exclusively on fiscal deficits even though everybody must understand by now that this crisis was not caused by fiscal deficits (except in the case of Greece). Spain and Ireland were in surplus, and Italy had a primary surplus.

For many more reasons why Europe is headed for big trouble, please read this article: “22 Reasons Why We Could See An Economic Collapse In Europe In 2012“.

When Europe goes down, it is going to have a devastating impact on the United States.

Meanwhile, the economies of China and Japan are also steamrolling toward recession.

There is simply way too much debt in the world, and a great day of reckoning is coming.

Combined, the industrialized nations of the world borrowed more than 10 trillion dollars this year, and that number is expected to soar even higher next year.

Jim Cramer of CNBC stated recently that the global economy is at “DEFCON 3, two stages from a financial collapse so huge it’s hard to get your mind around.”

Most Americans don’t understand this yet.  But hopefully we can get more of them educated while there is still time.

The global financial system is a big shell game.  It is a gigantic mountain of debt, leverage and risk.

You would have thought that we would have learned some key lessons from the financial crisis of 2008, but we didn’t.

Back in 2002, the top 10 U.S. banks controlled 55 percent of all U.S. banking assets.  Right now, the top 10 U.S. banks control 77 percent of all U.S. banking assets.

Today, the “too big to fail” banks are larger than ever.  The total assets of the six largest U.S. banks increased by 39 percent between September 30, 2006 and September 30, 2011.

So instead of doing something about the “too big to fail” banks, they are now more “too big to fail” than ever.

As big banks and big corporations have come to dominate our economy more than ever before, wealth and power have also become much more concentrated….

*The wealthiest 1 percent of all Americans now own more than a third of all the wealth in the United States.

*The poorest 50 percent of all Americans collectively own just 2.5% of all the wealth in the United States.

*The six heirs of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton have a net worth that is roughly equal to the bottom 30 percent of all Americans combined.

*Overall, the wealthiest one percent of all Americans have a greater net worth than the bottom 90 percent combined.

It would be wonderful if we could send a “Tim Tebow of politics” to Washington D.C., but instead the Democrats and the Republicans look like they just plan to give us more of the same.

Are the Republicans really going to nominate someone who co-sponsored 418 bills with Nancy Pelosi?  The truth is that the latest “anti-Romney candidate” is almost a clone of Mitt Romney.

Newt Gingrich is essentially an older, ruder version of Barack Obama.  If you are counting on him to “save America” then you are going to be incredibly disappointed.

Sadly, we just do not have nearly enough men like Tim Tebow in America today.  The following comes from a recent profile of Tebow that recently appeared in the Wall Street Journal….

While at Florida, Mr. Tebow became well known for spending his summers helping the poor and needy in the Philippines. He also spoke in prisons and appeared to accept every opportunity to volunteer. He encouraged his teammates and classmates to follow his lead.

You can see video of Tim Tebow speaking to a group of prisoners at the Lake City Correctional Facility while he was still attending the University of Florida right here.

Unfortunately, there is no “Tim Tebow comeback” on the horizon for the U.S. economy at this point.

But when the U.S. economy does get worse, we can take a cue from Tim Tebow and be very generous with those in need.  There are going to be a lot of people that will be really hurting, and those of us that have been blessed should do what we can to help them out.

A lot of people say that my site is all about “doom and gloom”, but telling the truth to the American people is never a bad thing.

We do not do ourselves any favors by sticking our heads in the sand and pretending that everything is going to be okay.

There is going to be no miracle comeback for the U.S. economy.

A horrific economic collapse is coming.

You better get ready.

Feeling Depressed? 27 Depressing Statistics About The U.S. Economy That Will Make You Feel Even Worse

If you know someone that believes that the U.S. economy is in great shape, just show that person the following statistics.  But please don’t show these statistics to anyone that is feeling depressed or that has just lost a job – it might push such a person over the edge.  The sad truth is that the U.S. economy is in the midst of a long-term decline and it is coming apart at the seams.  Right now the Obama administration and the Federal Reserve are attempting to “paper over” our economic problems with massive amounts of government debt and paper currency, but in the end it is not going to work.  When you analyze the numbers objectively, it leads to the inescapable conclusion that we are headed for another Great Depression.  That is a very depressing thought, but there is no denying that decades of debt and incredibly bad decisions are starting to catch up with us.  The economic pain that is coming is going to be absolutely mind blowing.

It would be nice if our politicians and our business leaders suddenly started making incredibly wise decisions so that we could bring the U.S. economy in for a “soft landing”, but the chance of that happening is so small that it is not even worth mentioning.

It is time for all of us to face up to the truth.  In this day and age it is really easy to get caught up in the trap of feeling depressed, but once we understand exactly how bad our problems are it can be empowering because then we can start focusing on solutions.

The following are 27 depressing statistics about the U.S. economy that are almost too crazy to believe….

#1 The Obama administration projects that the federal budget deficit will be approximately $1,600,000,000,000 this year.  Right now the Republicans and the Democrats are fighting tooth and nail over budget cuts.  The Republicans are proposing to cut the budget deficit by 3.8%.  The Democrats only want to cut it by 2.1%.

#2 The U.S. economy actually grew more between 1930 and 1940 than it did during the decade that recently ended.

#3 Over the last decade, the number of Americans without health insurance has risen from about 38 million to about 52 million.

#4 Agricultural commodities are absolutely soaring.  The price of corn has more than doubled over the last 12 months.  Considering the fact that corn is in literally thousands of our food products, that is a very frightening statistic.

#5 Between 1999 and 2009, real median household income in the United States declined by 5.0%.

#6 It is being estimated that total U.S. government debt will grow by 42 percent by the year 2015.

#7 According to the Pentagon, the cost of the first week of attacks on Libya was 600 million dollars.

#8 The average American now spends approximately 23 percent of his or her income on food and gas.

#9 According to the U.S. Energy Department, the average U.S. household will spend approximately $700 more on gasoline in 2011 than it did during 2010.

#10 It is being projected that for the first time ever, the OPEC nations are going to bring in over a trillion dollars from exporting oil this year.  Their biggest customer is the United States.

#11 According to the Economic Policy Institute, almost 25 percent of U.S. households now have zero net worth or negative net worth.  Back in 2007, that number was just 18.6 percent.

#12 China produced 19.8 percent of all the goods consumed in the world last year.  The United States only produced 19.4 percent.

#13 The United States has lost an average of 50,000 manufacturing jobs per month since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.

#14 The U.S. trade deficit with China in 2010 was 27 times larger than it was back in 1990.

#15 U.S. home values have fallen an astounding 6.3 trillion dollars since the peak of the real estate market in 2005.

#16 According to RealtyTrac, one out of every 45 U.S. households was hit with a foreclosure filing in 2010.

#17 The number of homes that were actually repossessed reached the 1 million mark for the first time ever during 2010.

#18 New home sales in the United States set a brand new all-time record low in the month of February.

#19 Now home sales in the United States are now down 80% from the peak in July 2005.

#20 The financial condition of American families continues to deteriorate rapidly.  In 2010, one out of every eight American families had at least one family member that was unemployed.  That number was the highest it has been since the U.S. Labor Department began keeping track of that statistic back in 1994.

#21 There are now more than 6 million Americans that the government says have given up looking for work completely.

#22 According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average length of unemployment in the U.S. is now an all-time record 39 weeks.

#23 Americans now owe more than $900 billion on student loans, which is also an all-time record high.

#24 Average household debt in the United States has now reached a level of 136% of average household income.

#25 According to the Federal Reserve, between 2007 and 2009 median household net worth in the United States fell by 23 percent.

#26 The Federal Reserve also says that median household debt in the United States has risen to $75,600.

#27 According to a recent article posted on the website of the American Institute of Economic Research, the purchasing power of a U.S. dollar declined from $1.00 in 1913 to 4.6 cents in 2009.  Sadly, the Federal Reserve is working very hard to get rid of the little bit of purchasing power that the U.S. dollar has left.

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