The Beginning Of The End
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By The Numbers: 20 Facts About The Collapse Of Europe That Everyone Should Know

By The Numbers - 20 Facts About The Collapse Of Europe That Everyone Should KnowThe economic implosion of Europe is accelerating.  Even while the mainstream media continues to proclaim that the financial crisis in Europe has been “averted”, the economic statistics that are coming out of Europe just continue to get worse.  Manufacturing activity in Europe has been contracting month after month, the unemployment rate in the eurozone has hit yet another brand new record high, and the official unemployment rates in both Greece and Spain are now much higher than the peak unemployment rate in the United States during the Great Depression of the 1930s.  The economic situation in Europe is far worse than it was a year ago, and it is going to continue to get worse as austerity continues to take a huge toll on the economies of the eurozone.  It would be hard to understate how bad things have gotten – particularly in southern Europe.  The truth is that most of southern Europe is experiencing a full-blown economic depression right now.  Sadly, most Americans are paying very little attention to what is going on across the Atlantic.  But they should be watching, because this is what happens when nations accumulate too much debt.  The United States has the biggest debt burden of all, and eventually what is happening over in Spain, France, Italy, Portugal and Greece is going to happen over here as well.

The following are 20 facts about the collapse of Europe that everyone should know…

#1 10 Months: Manufacturing activity in both France and Germany has contracted for 10 months in a row.

#2 11.8 Percent: The unemployment rate in the eurozone has now risen to 11.8 percent – a brand new all-time high.

#3 17 Months: In November, Italy experienced the sharpest decline in retail sales that it had experienced in 17 months.

#4 20 Months: Manufacturing activity in Spain has contracted for 20 months in a row.

#5 20 Percent: It is estimated that bad loans now make up approximately 20 percent of all domestic loans in the Greek banking system at this point.

#6 22 Percent: A whopping 22 percent of the entire population of Ireland lives in jobless households.

#7 26 Percent: The unemployment rate in Greece is now 26 percent.  A year ago it was only 18.9 percent.

#8 26.6 Percent: The unemployment rate in Spain has risen to an astounding 26.6 percent.

#9 27.0 Percent: The unemployment rate for workers under the age of 25 in Cyprus.  Back in 2008, this number was well below 10 percent.

#10 28 Percent: Sales of French-made vehicles in November were down 28 percent compared to a year earlier.

#11 36 Percent: Today, the poverty rate in Greece is 36 percent.  Back in 2009 it was only about 20 percent.

#12 37.1 Percent: The unemployment rate for workers under the age of 25 in Italy – a brand new all-time high.

#13 44 Percent: An astounding 44 percent of the entire population of Bulgaria is facing “severe material deprivation”.

#14 56.5 Percent: The unemployment rate for workers under the age of 25 in Spain – a brand new all-time high.

#15 57.6 Percent: The unemployment rate for workers under the age of 25 in Greece – a brand new all-time high.

#16 60 Percent: Citigroup is projecting that there is a 60 percent probability that Greece will leave the eurozone within the next 12 to 18 months.

#17 70 Percent: It has been reported that some homes in Spain are being sold at a 70% discount from where they were at during the peak of the housing bubble back in 2006.  At this point there are approximately 2 million unsold homes in Spain.

#18 200 Percent: The debt to GDP ratio in Greece is rapidly approaching 200 percent.

#19 1997: According to the Committee of French Automobile Producers, 2012 was the worst year for the French automobile industry since 1997.

#20 2 Million: Back in 2005, the French auto industry produced about 3.5 million vehicles.  In 2012, that number dropped to about 2 million vehicles.

One thing that these shocking numbers cannot convey is the tremendous amount of pain that many average Europeans are living through on a daily basis at this point.  To get a peek into what life is like in Greece these days, check out this short excerpt from a recent Bloomberg article

Anastasia Karagaitanaki, 57, is a former model and cafe owner in Thessaloniki, Greece. After losing her business to the financial crisis, she now sleeps on a daybed next to the refrigerator in her mother’s kitchen and depends on charity for food and insulin for her diabetes.

“I feel like my life has slipped through my hands,” said Karagaitanaki, whose brother also shares the one-bedroom apartment. “I feel like I’m dead.”

For thousands of Greeks like Karagaitanaki, the fabric of middle-class life is unraveling. Teachers, salaries slashed by a third, are stealing electricity. Families in once-stable neighborhoods are afraid to leave their homes because of rising street crime.

All over Europe, people that have lost all hope are actually setting themselves on fire in a desperate attempt to draw attention.  Millions of formerly middle class Europeans have lost everything and are becoming increasingly desperate.  Suicide and crime are skyrocketing all over southern Europe and massive street riots are erupting on a regular basis.

Unfortunately, this is just the beginning.  Things are going to get even worse for Europe.

Meanwhile, those of us living in the United States smugly look down our noses at Europe because we are still living in a false bubble of debt-fueled prosperity.

But eventually we will feel the sting of austerity as well.  The recent fiscal cliff deal was an indication of that.  Taxes are going up and government spending is at least going to slow down.  It won’t be too long before the effects of that are felt in the economy.

And of course the reality of the situation is that the U.S. economy really did not perform very well at all during 2012 when you take a look at the numbers.  The cold, hard truth is that the U.S. economy has been declining for a very long time, and there are a whole bunch of reasons to expect that our decline will accelerate even further in 2013.

So if you are an American, don’t laugh at what is happening over in Europe at the moment.  We are headed down the exact same path that they have gone, and we are going to experience the same kind of suffering that they are going through right now.

Use these last few “bubble months” to prepare for what is ahead.  At some point this “hope bubble” will disappear and then the time for preparation will be over.

EU Poster Tower Of Babel

37 Facts That Show How Cruel This Economy Has Been To Millions Of Desperate American Families

Have you ever laid in bed awake at night with a knot in your stomach because you didn’t know how your family was possibly going to make it through the next month financially?  Have you ever felt the desperation of not being able to provide the basic necessities for your family even though you tried as hard as you could?  All over America tonight, there are millions of desperate families that are being ripped apart by this economy.  There aren’t nearly enough jobs, and millions of Americans that actually do have jobs aren’t making enough to even provide the basics for their families.  When you have tried everything that you can think of and nothing works, it can be absolutely soul crushing.  Today, one of my regular readers explained that he was not going to be online for a while because his power had been turned off.  He has been out of work for quite a while, and eventually the money runs out.  Have you ever been there?  If you have ever experienced that moment, you know that it stays with you for the rest of your life.  If you are single that is bad enough, but when you have to look into the eyes of your children and explain to them why there won’t be any dinner tonight or why they have to move into a homeless shelter it can feel like someone has driven a stake into your heart.  In this article you will find a lot of very shocking economic statistics.  But please remember that behind each statistic are the tragic stories of millions of desperately hurting American families.

Over the past decade, things have steadily gotten worse for American families no matter what our politicians have tried.  Poverty and government dependence continue to rise.  The cost of living continues to go up and incomes continue to go down.  It is truly frightening to think about what this country is going to look like if current trends continue.

The following are 37 facts that show how cruel this economy has been to millions of desperate American families…

1. One recent survey discovered that 40 percent of all Americans have $500 or less in savings.

2. A different recent survey found that 28 percent of all Americans do not have a single penny saved for emergencies.

3. In the United States today, there are close to 10 million households that do not have a single bank account.  That number has increased by about a million since 2009.

4. 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.

5. The number of Americans living in poverty has increased by about 6 million over the past four years.

6. Median household income has fallen for four years in a row.  Overall, it has declined by more than $4000 over the past four years.

7. 62 percent of middle class Americans say that they have had to reduce household spending over the past year.

8. According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, 85 percent of middle class Americans say that it is more difficult to maintain a middle class standard of living today than it was 10 years ago.

9. In the United States today, 77 percent of all Americans are living to paycheck to paycheck at least some of the time.

10. In the United States today, more than 41 percent of all working age Americans are not working.

11. Since January 2009, the “labor force” in the United States has increased by 827,000, but “those not in the labor force” has increased by 8,208,000.  This is how they have gotten the unemployment numbers to “come down”.

12. Sadly, 60 percent of the jobs lost during the last recession were mid-wage jobs, but 58 percent of the jobs created since then have been low wage jobs.

13. Today, about one out of every four workers in the United States brings home wages that are at or below the federal poverty level.

14. Right now, the United States actually has a higher percentage of workers doing low wage work than any other major industrialized nation does.

15. At this point, less than 25 percent of all jobs in the United States are “good jobs”, and that number continues to shrink.

16. There are now 20.2 million Americans that spend more than half of their incomes on housing.  That represents a 46 percent increase from 2001.

17. According to USA Today, many Americans have actually seen their water bills triple over the past 12 years.

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

19. In 1999, 64.1 percent of all Americans were covered by employment-based health insurance.  Today, only 55.1 percent are covered by employment-based health insurance.

20. Health insurance premiums rose faster than the overall rate of inflation in 2011 and that is happening once again in 2012.  In fact, it has been happening for a very long time.

21. According to one recent survey, approximately 10 percent of all employers in the United States plan to drop health coverage when key provisions of the new health care law kick in less than two years from now.

22. Back in 1983, the bottom 95 percent of all income earners had 62 cents of debt for every dollar that they earned.  By 2007, that figure had soared to $1.48.

23. Total home mortgage debt in the United States is now about 5 times larger than it was just 20 years ago.

24. Total consumer debt in the United States has risen by 1700 percent since 1971.

25. Recently it was announced that total student loan debt in the United States has passed the one trillion dollar mark.

26. According to one recent survey, approximately one-third of all Americans are not paying their bills on time at this point.

27. Right now, approximately 25 million American adults are living at home with their parents.

28. The percentage of Americans that find that they are able to retire when they reach retirement age continues to decline.  According to one new survey, 70 percent of middle class Americans plan to work during retirement and 30 percent plan to work until they are at least 80 years old.

29. The U.S. economy lost more than 220,000 small businesses during the recent recession.

30. In 2010, the number of jobs created at new businesses in the United States was less than half of what it was back in the year 2000.

31. Back in 2007, 19.2 percent of all American families had a net worth of zero or less than zero.  By 2010, that figure had soared to 32.5 percent.

32. Approximately 57 percent of all children in the United States are living in homes that are either considered to be either “low income” or impoverished.

33. In the United States today, somewhere around 100 million Americans are considered to be either “poor” or “near poor”.

34. In October 2008, 30.8 million Americans were on food stamps.  Today, 46.7 million Americans are on food stamps.

35. Approximately one-fourth of all children in the United States are enrolled in the food stamp program.

36. 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 count Social Security or Medicare.

37. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, an all-time record 49 percent of all Americans live in a home where at least one person receives financial assistance from the federal government.  Back in 1983, that number was less than 30 percent.

What makes all of this even more frightening is that many homeless shelters and food banks around the nation are so overloaded at this point that they are already over capacity.  Just consider this example

When Janice Coe, a homeless advocate in Loudoun County, learned through her prayer group that a young woman was sleeping in the New Carrollton Metro station with a toddler and a 2-month-old, she sprang into action.

Coe contacted the young woman and arranged for her to take the train to Virginia, where she put the little family up in a Comfort Suites hotel. Then Coe began calling shelters to see who could take them.

Despite several phone calls, she came up empty. Coe was shocked to learn that many of the local shelters that cater to families were full, including Good Shepherd Alliance, where Coe was once director of social services.

“I don’t know why nobody will take this girl in,” Coe said. “The baby still had a hospital bracelet on her wrist.”

Keep in mind that Loudoun Country is smack dab in the middle of one of the wealthiest areas of Virginia.

So if things are that bad in the wealthy areas, exactly how bad are things getting in many of the poorer areas?

Unfortunately, things continue to get worse for this economy.  DuPont has just announced plans to eliminate 1,500 jobs.  There are more major layoff announcements almost every single day.  So how bad will things get when our crumbling economic system finally collapses?  When kind of chaos will be unleashed all over the nation when millions upon millions of Americans finally lose all hope?

In the introduction to this article, I mentioned that one of my regular readers has had his lights turned off.  The following is how he described his situation

No gas, no water, no electricity at my house. Couldn’t pay the bills. I’m broke. Desperately searching for any means of income, or at least enough cash to get the juice (electricity) restored.

Typing this missive in a dark house using the battery on my laptop. Feels like I’m camping out at home. Hope to get this situation fixed tomorrow… somehow. Needless to say, I *…. hate this.

I was ready for this, but it is still a major league inconvenience. For those of you who DO have power, etc. – and are not ready… oh brother. You need to get ready. Seriously, you do. Because what I’m going through is just an inconvenience. It may someday be a normal occurence. Ugh. (expletives deleted)

Hopefully a way can be found to get his situation turned around, but the truth is that there are tens of millions of other similar stories out there in America today.

What about you?  What are things like in your neck of the woods?  Please feel free to share your thoughts below…

Not So Fast On That Whole Economic Recovery Thing

Not so fast.  Those that are publicly declaring that an economic recovery has arrived are ignoring a whole host of numbers that indicate that the U.S. economy is in absolutely horrendous shape.  The truth is that the health of an economy should not be measured by how well the stock market is doing.  Rather, the truth health of an economy should be evaluated by looking at numbers for things like jobs, housing, poverty and debt.  Some of the latest economic statistics indicate that unemployment is getting a little bit worse, that the housing market continues to deteriorate, that poverty in America continues to soar and that our debt problem is worse than ever.  If we were truly experiencing the kind of economic recovery that the United States has experienced after every other post-World War II recession we would see a sharp improvement across the board in most of our economic statistics.  But that simply is not happening.  Sadly, this is about as much of an “economic recovery” as we are going to get because soon the economy will be getting much worse.  So enjoy this period of relative stability while you can.

The Obama administration would have us believe that unemployment in the United States has declined, but the truth is that the percentage of working age Americans that are employed has stayed very, very flat for more than two years and now there are some measures of unemployment that are actually getting worse.

For example, according to Gallup the unemployment rate in the United States has risen from 8.5% in December to 8.6% in January to 9.1% in February.  The Obama administration would have us believe that it is actually going the other direction.

Initial unemployment claims are rising again.  For the week ending March 3rd, they increased by 8,000 over the previous week to 362,000.  This is not the kind of good news that people were hoping for.

What the U.S. economy could really use are millions of good jobs.  But those are being shipped out of the country at a staggering pace.

Right now there are millions of Americans in their prime working years that are sitting at home wondering what to do with their lives.  The average duration of unemployment in the United States continues to hover near a record high, and if we were truly experiencing an economic recovery it should have been falling by now.

But a lot of Americans have bought into the propaganda about an economic recovery and they are out running up huge amounts of debt once again.  In January, consumer credit increased by much more than expected.  The following is from a recent Reuters report….

Nonrevolving credit, which includes auto loans as well as student loans made by the government, rose $20.723 billion during the month. That was the biggest increase in dollar terms since November 2001, when credit was surging in the wake of the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington.

Don’t fall into the trap of debt slavery.  During the last recession millions of Americans lost their homes and most of what they owned because they got overextended.

Don’t do it.

The U.S. housing market continues to deeply struggle as well.  If we were really in an economic recovery housing would be bouncing back.  But that is not happening.  Just consider the following facts….

*The number of new homes sold in the United States continues to hover near a record low.

*U.S. home prices in the 4th quarter of 2011 were four percent lower than they were during the 4th quarter of 2010.

*According to CoreLogic, 22.8 percent of all homes with a mortgage in the United States were in negative equity as of the end of the 4th quarter of 2011.  That was an increase from 22.1 percent in the third quarter.

Why are things still getting worse for the U.S housing market?

That is a really good question.

We should have seen some improvement by now.

But it isn’t happening.

Also, poverty in America continues to explode.

For example, the number of Americans on food stamps has increased to 46.5 million – a brand new all-time record.

If we really were in an economic recovery, wouldn’t that number be going down?

We should be thankful that the U.S. economy is not declining as rapidly as it was during 2008 and 2009.  But what we are experiencing right now is not an economic recovery.  It is simply just a bubble of false hope.

The big problem is that our nation is covered in an ocean of constantly expanding debt.

U.S. consumers are drowning in debt, U.S. businesses have pushed debt levels to the red line, and the U.S. financial system is massively overleveraged.

Of course government debt is our biggest debt problem of all.

All over the nation, state and local governments are on the verge of financial ruin.

If we were in the middle of an economic recovery, so many states would not be in crisis mode.  A recent article in the Los Angeles Times declared that “California could run out of cash in March“.  As the economy continues to crumble we are going to hear a lot more of this kind of thing.

A lot of local governments around the nation are on the verge of total financial collapse.  Stockton, California has announced that they will be defaulting on some debt payments, and Suffolk County in New York recently declared a fiscal emergency after discovering that it would rack up more than 500 million dollars of debt between 2011 and 2013.

Keep your eyes open for more news items like this in the months ahead.

Of course the biggest problem of all is the U.S. national debt and it continues to rapidly get worse.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the U.S. government had a budget deficit of 229 billion dollars in the month of February.  That is the worst one month budget deficit in the history of the United States.

The Congressional Budget Office also says that the U.S. government is now borrowing 42 cents of every single dollar that it spends.

Ouch.

The U.S. national debt has gotten more than 59 times larger since 1950.

The U.S. national debt is now more than 22 times larger than it was when Jimmy Carter became president.

Are there any words in the English language that are strong enough to describe how foolish we have been?

Of course we won’t be able to accumulate so much debt indefinitely.  At some point the trillion dollar deficits will stop and our false prosperity will disappear.

If you want to get an idea of what happens then, just take a look at Greece.

But Barack Obama and most members of the U.S. Congress don’t really care about what they are doing to our future.

What they care about is winning the next election so that they can continue living their fabulous lives.

Barack Obama is supposed to be taking care of the American people, but instead he has been very busy taking care of the people who helped him get elected.  Politics in America is all about money.  Just check out the following very short excerpt from a recent article in the Washington Post….

More than half of Obama’s 47 biggest fundraisers, those who collected at least $500,000 for his campaign, have been given administration jobs. Nine more have been appointed to presidential boards and committees.

At least 24 Obama bundlers were given posts as foreign ambassadors, including in Finland, Australia, Portugal and Luxembourg. Among them is Don Beyer, a former Virginia lieutenant governor who serves as ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

Washington D.C. is deeply corrupt and if you are waiting for our politicians to fix our problems you are going to be deeply disappointed.

The federal government is not going to save you.

Our politicians are not going to save you.

You better figure out how you are going to take care of yourself and your family in the years ahead because this is about as good as things are going to get.

This “economic recovery” is about to end and more pain is about to begin.

If The Economy Is Improving….

Everywhere you turn these days, someone is proclaiming that the economy is improving.  Barack Obama is endlessly touting the “improvement” in the economy, the mainstream media is constantly talking about “the economic recovery” and an increasing number of Americans seem to be buying into this line of thinking.  A new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that 37 percent of Americans believe that the economy will improve over the next year, while only 17 percent of Americans believe that it will get worse.  But is the economy actually improving?  Not really.  At the moment things are relatively stable.  Some economic statistics are improving slightly and some continue to get even worse.  However, it is very important to keep in mind that one of the biggest reasons why things have stabilized is because the federal government is pumping more than a trillion dollars a year into the economy that it does not have.  The Obama administration is engaging in a debt binge unlike anything America has ever seen before, and yet many economic indicators are still in decline.  So what is going to happen when the federal government stops injecting gigantic waves of borrowed money into the economy?  That is a frightening thing to think about.  The best efforts of our “leaders” in Washington D.C. are not accomplishing a whole lot.  The Federal Reserve has pushed interest rates as low as they can go and the federal government is spending unprecedented amounts of money.  But even with the federal government and the Federal Reserve pushing the accelerator all the way to the floor, the economy is still not improving much at all.  Millions upon millions of Americans out there are anticipating some sort of a “great economic recovery”, and they are going to be bitterly disappointed.

But right now there are some “bright spots” in the economy, and you are bound to run into family and friends that will repeat to you the nonsense that they are hearing on the television about how the economy is recovering.

When they try to convince you that the economy is getting better, ask them these questions….

If the economy is getting better, then why did new home sales in the United States hit a brand new all-time record low during 2011?

If the economy is getting better, then why are there 6 million less jobs in America today than there were before the recession started?

If the economy is getting better, then why is the average duration of unemployment in this country close to an all-time record high?

If the economy is getting better, then why has the number of homeless female veterans more than doubled?

If the economy is getting better, then why has the number of Americans on food stamps increased by 3 million since this time last year and by more than 14 million since Barack Obama entered the White House?

If the economy is getting better, then why has the number of children living in poverty in America risen for four years in a row?

If the economy is getting better, then why is the percentage of Americans living in “extreme poverty” at an all-time high?

If the economy is getting better, then why is the Federal Housing Administration on the verge of a financial collapse?

If the economy is getting better, then why do only 23 percent of American companies plan to hire more employees in 2012?

If the economy is getting better, then why has the number of self-employed Americans fallen by more than 2 million since 2006?

If the economy is getting better, then why did an all-time record low percentage of U.S. teens have a job last summer?

If the economy is getting better, then why does median household income keep declining?  Overall, median household income in the United States has declined by a total of 6.8% since December 2007 once you account for inflation.

If the economy is getting better, then why has the number of Americans living below the poverty line increased by 10 million since 2006?

If the economy is getting better, then why is the average age of a vehicle in America now sitting at an all-time high?

If the economy is getting better, then why are 18 percent of all homes in the state of Florida currently sitting vacant?

If the economy is getting better, then why are 19 percent of all American men between the ages of 25 and 34 living with their parents?

If the economy is getting better, then why does the number of “long-term unemployed workers” stay so high?  When Barack Obama first took office, the number of “long-term unemployed workers” in the United States was approximately 2.6 million.  Today, that number is sitting at 5.6 million.

But there is some good news.

When Barack Obama first took office, an ounce of gold was going for about $850.  Today, the price of an ounce of gold is over $1700.

The era of great prosperity that America has enjoyed for so long is coming to an end.

In fact, our long-term economic decline is about to accelerate.

So enjoy this “bubble of hope” while you can, because it won’t last long.

As I have written about previously, many are warning that Europe is on the verge of a nightmarish financial crisis that could potentially plunge us into a global recession even worse than 2008.

So let us hope for the best, but let us also prepare for the worst.

Just because the economy is about to go through hard times does not mean that you have to go through hard times personally.

Right now, you can decide to make an investment or start a business that will thrive in a tough economic environment.

Victory often goes to the most prepared.  So don’t just sit there while the storm clouds gather.  Instead, this should be a time when you are gathering resources and developing a gameplan for the coming economic chaos.

Those that choose to have blind faith in “the system” are going to be tremendously disappointed in the years ahead.  Just because you have a job right now does not mean that it is always going to be there.  Just because your stock portfolio is doing well right now does not mean that will always be the case.

Hopefully we all learned some important lessons from 2008.  The global financial situation can turn on a dime.  When markets fall apart, they tend to do so very rapidly.

Ultimately, the debate about whether the economy is improving or not is going to be ended very emphatically.  When the next wave of the financial crisis hits, there will be no doubt about what direction things are going.

Don’t let the next wave catch you by surprise.

Now is the time to prepare.

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