22 Reasons To Be Concerned About The U.S. Economy As We Head Into The Holiday Season

2013 Holiday SeasonAre we on the verge of another major economic downturn?  In recent weeks, most of the focus has been on our politicians in Washington, but there are lots of other reasons to be deeply alarmed about the economy as well.  Economic confidence is down, retail sales figures are disappointing, job cuts are up, and American consumers are deeply struggling.  Even if our politicians do everything right, there would still be a significant chance that we could be heading into tough economic times in the coming months.  Our economy has been in decline for a very long time, and that decline appears to be accelerating.  There aren’t enough jobs, the quality of our jobs continues to decline, our economic infrastructure is being systematically gutted, and poverty has been absolutely exploding.  Things have gotten so bad that former President Jimmy Carter says that the middle class of today resembles those that were living in poverty when he was in the White House.  But this process has been happening so gradually that most Americans don’t even realize what has happened.  Our economy is being fundamentally transformed, and the pace of our decline is picking up speed.  The following are 22 reasons to be concerned about the U.S. economy as we head into the holiday season…

#1 According to Gallup, we have just seen the largest drop in U.S. economic confidence since 2008.

#2 Retailers all over America are reporting disappointing sales figures, and many analysts are very concerned about what the holiday season will bring.  The following is an excerpt from a recent Zero Hedge article

Chico’s FAS [CHS] Earnings Call 8/28/13:

Traffic was our issue in quarter two. In a highly promotional and challenging environment, comparable sales result was a negative 2.6 percent on top of a positive 5.6 percent last year and a positive 12.8 percent in 2011.”

William-Sonoma [WSM] Earnings Call 8/28/13:

The retail environment, it seems to indicate there’s still a lot of uncertainty out there, that the promotional environment has not gone away and that the retail environment in general continues to be choppy, especially with the recent earnings releases and this global unrest, and we just don’t want to get ahead of ourselves.”

Zale Corp [ZLC] Earnings Call 8/28/13:

“Overall, we continue to take a conservative view of market conditions in both the U.S. and in Canada. That being said, we do expect to continue to achieve positive top line growth. We expect store closures will impact our overall revenue growth for the year by about 250 basis points. It represents net closures of approximately 50 to 55 retail locations.”

DSW Inc. [DSW] Earnings Call 8/27/13:

We did have a traffic decline in Q2, sort of similar to what just about every other retailer in America has reported.”

Guess? [GES] Earnings Call 8/28/13:

“The Korean business continued to be strong as revenue grew in the high single digits in local currency during the quarter. This was offset with the weakness from China, where we are seeing clear evidence of a pullback in consumer spending behavior because of the slowdown in the economy.”

Aeropostale [ARO] Earnings Call 8/22/13:

“Our business trends in the second quarter did not change materially from earlier in the year, which was disappointing given the level of change we registered with the brand. This performance in the third quarter outlook is being influenced by a challenging retail environment, with weak traffic trends and high levels of promotional activity.

#3 Domestic vehicle sales just experienced their largest “miss” relative to expectations since January 2009.

#4 One of the largest furniture manufacturers in America was recently forced into bankruptcy.

#5 According to the Wall Street Journal, the 2013 holiday shopping season is already being projected to be the worst that we have seen since 2009.

#6 The Baltic Dry Index recently experienced the largest 4 day drop that we have seen in 11 months.

#7 Merck, one of the largest drug makers in the nation, has announced the elimination of 8,500 jobs.

#8 Overall, corporations announced the elimination of 387,384 jobs through the first nine months of this year.

#9 The number of announced job cuts in September 2013 was 19 percent higher than the number of announced job cuts in September 2012.

#10 The labor force participation rate is the lowest that it has been in 35 years.

#11 As I mentioned the other day, the labor force participation rate for men in the 18 to 24 year old age bracket is at an all-time low.

#12 Approximately one out of every four part-time workers in America is living below the poverty line.

#13 Incredibly, only 47 percent of all adults in America have a full-time job at this point.

#14 U.S. consumer delinquencies are starting to rise again.

#15 The Postal Service recently defaulted on a 5.6 billion dollar retiree health benefit payment.

#16 The national debt has increased more than twice as fast as U.S. GDP has grown over the past two years.

#17 Obamacare is causing health insurance premiums to skyrocket and this is reducing the disposable income that consumers have available.

#18 Median household income in the United States has fallen for five years in a row.

#19 The gap between the rich and the poor in the United States is at an all-time record high.

#20 Former President Jimmy Carter says that the middle class in America has declined so dramatically that the middle class of today resembles those that were living in poverty when he was in the White House.

#21 According to a Gallup poll that was recently released, 20.0% of all Americans did not have enough money to buy food that they or their families needed at some point over the past year.  That is just under the record of 20.4% that was set back in November 2008.

#22 Right now, one out of every five households in the United States is on food stamps.  There are going to be a lot of struggling families out there this winter, so please be generous with organizations that help the poor.  A lot of people are really going to need their help during the cold months ahead.

22 Signs That The Thin Veneer Of Civilization That We All Take For Granted Is Starting To Disappear

In order for a society to function, there has to be a certain level of trust.  Each day when we leave our homes, we take for granted that most people are not going to attack us for no reason, that there will only be isolated incidents of theft in our community and that rioting and violence are not going to erupt in the streets.   Whether we realize it or not, we depend on the fact that the vast majority of the people around us are going to act in a civilized manner.  Unfortunately, the thin veneer of civilization that we all take for granted is starting to disappear.  When I was growing up, I was taught that challenging times reveal our true character.  There are many that believe that the declining economy is causing a lot of the chaos that we are now witnessing, but perhaps what is going on is that these challenging economic times are simply revealing the character that has been there all along.  For decades, a “false prosperity” that was fueled by unprecedented amounts of debt has masked a lot of the internal rot that has taken hold in America.  But now that our prosperity is crumbling, our lack of values is becoming startlingly clear.

Greed, corruption and extreme self-centeredness have deeply infected our society.  We see this on Wall Street and in Congress, and we see this among those that are trying to survive on the mean streets of our largest cities.

Our nation is breaking down on every level.  If by some miracle we were able to fix our economy, that would mask our problems for a while, but it would not solve them.

Unfortunately, as I write about nearly every day, there are a whole host of indications that our economy is about to get even worse.  When it does, millions of Americans will become even more desperate, and as we are now seeing all over this country, desperate people do desperate things.

The following are 22 signs that the thin veneer of civilization that we all take for granted is starting to disappear….

#1 In Detroit, 100 bus drivers recently refused to drive their routes out of fear for their own personal safety.  An article posted on the website of the CBS affiliate in Detroit is quoting the head of the bus drivers union, Henry Gaffney, as saying that the drivers are “scared for their lives”….

“Our drivers are scared, they’re scared for their lives. This has been an ongoing situation about security. I think yesterday kind of just topped it off, when one of my drivers was beat up by some teenagers down in the middle of Rosa Parks and it took the police almost 30 minutes to get there, in downtown Detroit,” said Gaffney.

#2 In Wilmington, Delaware recently, a man offered to help someone carry a television down the street, but quickly realized that it was his own television which had just been stolen out of his house….

A Wilmington resident who stopped home for lunch about noon today saw a man carrying a flat screen TV down the street and asked the man if he needed help.

He then recognized the television as his own, looked up and saw the door to his home ajar, said Master Sgt. Adam Ringle.

#3 Shocking video has surfaced of a young thug walking up to a defenseless elderly man in a Chicago subway station and knocking him out cold.  In the video, the friends of the young man are cheering him on and laughing at how easy it was to knock the old man out cold.

#4 Beating up old people for no reason seems to be catching on all over the country.  Just check out the following report from a recent article posted on philly.com….

AN 84-YEAR-OLD ex-university official savagely attacked by four young punks during a walk in Wissahickon Valley Park earlier this week theorizes that the beating he endured was a cruel game of “get the old geezer.”

Jim Shea, a former vice president of university relations for Temple, from 1968 to 1983, walks up to five miles on Forbidden Drive, in Fairmount Park, three times a week, but that type of stamina wasn’t enough to stave off the lowlifes who not only beat him bloody, but dealt a blow to one of the things he holds most dear – his pride.

#5 All over the United States, police are brutalizing Occupy Wall Street protesters and spraying pepper spray directly in their faces.  Whatever you may think of the Occupy Wall Street protests, the reality is that this is not a sign that things are becoming “more stable” in America.  You can see video of one very disturbing confrontation right here.

#6 Clashes between police and protesters in Oakland, California recently became so violent that at one point the streets of Oakland resembled a war zone.

#7 Unfortunately, as the American people become increasingly frustrated with out system many of them are actually starting to consider violence as a solution.  According to one recent survey, 31 percent of all Occupy Wall Street protesters “would support violence to advance their agenda”.

#8 In New York recently, a confrontation between two female customers and a frustrated cashier ended with the cashier beating the living daylights out of them with a metal rod.  The following is how a local CBS affiliate in New York described this incident….

It appeared to have started when two female customers argued and yelled obscenities at the cashier when he questioned a $50 bill they gave him.

One of the female customers then slapped the cashier. A woman is then seen jumping over the counter while the other woman goes behind the register.

That’s when the cashier can be seen on the video disappearing into the back of the fast-food restaurant. He comes back with a metal rod and begins hitting the women.

You can see video of this violent confrontation right here.

#9 These days, many Americans are so “on edge” that just about anything will make them snap.  For example, a 60-year-old woman in New Mexico recently repeatedly stabbed her boyfriend because she thought that he was cheating during a game of Monopoly.

#10 If you thought that the above example was crazy, just check out what one man down in Georgia did recently.  He actually firebombed a Taco Bell because they did not put enough meat in his Chalupa.

#11 In Cleveland last week, a 49-year-old man was sent to the hospital after a poll monitor working for the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections tried to bite his nose off.

#12 Not only do TSA agents make us feel like dehumanized cattle as we go through airport security, some of them are evening making fun of us at the same time.  For example, one TSA agent recently scribbled “GET YOUR FREAK ON GIRL” on a TSA inspection notice after discovering a sex toy in the luggage of one female traveler.

#13 Identity theft is rising to very alarming levels all over the United States.  For example, a recent article in the Palm Beach Post described what has been going on down in Florida this year….

In the first half of this year, the Federal Trade Commission received more than 20,000 complaints from Floridians whose identities had been stolen — nearly as many as in all of 2010. More than half of those reporting their Social Security numbers or other personal information had been ripped off and used to commit fraud or theft were in South Florida, with heavy concentrations in parts of Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood and Hallandale Beach.

“That kind of increase is really shocking,” said Vance Luce, deputy special agent in charge of the U.S. Secret Service in South Florida, which investigates identity theft and financial crimes. “The fact that it’s on the upturn doesn’t surprise me at all, but that’s pretty alarming.”

#14 In the Seattle area, an elderly couple in their eighties was recently brutally attacked by a 31-year-old man armed with a crossbow and a hatchet.  The following description of this brutal crime comes from King 5 News….

Prosecutors say 31-year-old John Chase was walking down the highway when he saw Ralph Aldrich, 88, in his back yard. Detectives say Chase shot and killed Aldrich with a crossbow and then went inside the home and repeatedly hit 83-year-old June Aldrich with a hatchet.

#15 As America falls apart, more of us than ever are taking medication for depression.  At this point, more than 1 out of every 10 Americans over the age of 12 is taking prescription antidepressants.

#16 In some areas of the country, people have been literally tearing apart their own cities in an attempt to find things to sell.  I recently discussed this phenomenon on The American Dream Blog….

In Fresno, California the damage caused by thieves stealing copper wire from city street lights is costing the city about $50,000 a month.  So far, about 2,500 street lights have been stripped of their wiring.

#17 As people become more desperate, we are starting to see some truly bizarre crimes in many parts of the nation.  In northern Alabama, one team of crooks has been using a forklift to pull entire ATM machines out of the ground.

#18 Most Americans don’t realize this, but all over the U.S. livestock is being stolen from ranchers in unprecedented numbers.  The following is from a recent Associated Press article….

While the brazenness may be unusual, the theft isn’t. High beef prices have made cattle attractive as a quick score for people struggling in the sluggish economy, and other livestock are being taken too. Six thousand lambs were stolen from a feedlot in Texas, and nearly 1,000 hogs have been stolen in recent weeks from farms in Iowa and Minnesota. The thefts add up to millions of dollars in losses for U.S. ranches.

Authorities say today’s thieves are sophisticated compared to the horseback bandits of the rugged Old West. They pull up livestock trailers in the middle of the night and know how to coax the animals inside. Investigators suspect it’s then a quick trip across state lines to sell the animals at auction barns.

#19 At this point, thieves are becoming so bold that they will steal literally anything that they are able to cart away.  For example, in the San Francisco area a while back thieves actually stole a copper bell that weighs 2.7 tons.

#20 According to the FBI, the number of gang members in the United States has increased by a staggering 40 percent since 2009.  Right now, there are 1.4 million gang members terrorizing citizens on the streets of America.

#21 Down in Miami, thieves have become so bold that they have actually been breaking into parked police cruisers and stealing guns and ammo out of them.  Many of those guns undoubtedly are ending up in the hands of gangs members.

#22 Be careful who you befriend online.  They might just hold you captive and use you as part of a Satanic sex ritual.  The following description of an incident that recently happened in Milwaukee comes from thesmokinggun.com….

Two young Milwaukee women were arrested this week after an 18-year-old Arizona man–who traveled to Wisconsin by bus after meeting one of the suspects online–told cops that he was held captive in the duo’s apartment for two days and slashed and stabbed more than 300 times as part of an apparent satanic sex ritual.

Anger and frustration are growing to unprecedented levels in this country, and all of this anger and frustration is manifesting in thousands of different ways.

As I have written about previously, the rioting, the crime and the violence that we are seeing now is only just the beginning of what is coming.

Unless a miracle happens, our country is going to keep heading down the road toward societal collapse.  For even more examples that show that our country is starting to come apart at the seams, please see the following articles that I have authored previously….

-“18 Signs The Collapse Of Society Is Accelerating

-“12 More Signs That Society Is Collapsing

It won’t happen all at once, but unless our nation changes direction dramatically, we will see things get progressively worse and worse.

Instead of teaching our children to love and care for one another, we have taught them to be incredibly self-involved.  Today, way too many Americans deeply love themselves, deeply love money and are deeply addicted to entertainment.  Each new generation seems to be even more prideful, even more arrogant and even more violent.  As a nation, we are losing our empathy for others, our compassion for the needy and our respect for the elderly.  Our family units are breaking down and thousands of our communities are being transformed into hellholes.

What in the world is happening to America?

If you have a thought on this topic, please feel free to share your opinion by leaving a comment below….

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