The Chinese do not plan to live in a world dominated by the U.S. dollar for much longer. Chinese leaders have been calling for the U.S. dollar to be replaced as the primary global reserve currency for a long time, but up until now they have never been very specific about what they would put in place of it. Many have assumed that the Chinese simply wanted some new international currency to be created. But what if that is not what the Chinese had in mind? What if they have always wanted their own currency to become the single most dominant currency on the entire planet? What you are about to see is rather startling, but it shouldn’t be a surprise. When it comes to economics and finance, the Chinese have always been playing chess while the western world has been playing checkers. Sadly, we have gotten to the point where checkmate is on the horizon.
On Wednesday, I came across an excellent article by Simon Black. What he had to say in that article just about floored me…
When I arrived to Bangkok the other day, coming down the motorway from the airport I saw a huge billboard—and it floored me.
The billboard was from the Bank of China. It said: “RMB: New Choice; The World Currency”
Given that the Bank of China is more than 70% owned by the government of the People’s Republic of China, I find this very significant.
It means that China is literally advertising its currency overseas, and it’s making sure that everyone landing at one of the world’s busiest airports sees it. They know that the future belongs to them and they’re flaunting it.
This is the photograph of that billboard that he posted with his article…
Everyone knows that China is rising.
And most everyone has assumed that Chinese currency would soon play a larger role in international trade.
But things have moved so rapidly in recent years that now a very large chunk of the financial world actually expects the renminbi to replace the dollar as the primary reserve currency of the planet someday. The following comes from CNBC…
The tightly controlled Chinese yuan will eventually supersede the dollar as the top international reserve currency, according to a new poll of institutional investors.
The survey of 200 institutional investors – 100 headquartered in mainland China and 100 outside of it – published by State Street and the Economist Intelligence Unit on Thursday found 53 percent of investors think the renminbi will surpass the U.S. dollar as the world’s major reserve currency.
Optimism was higher within China, where 62 percent said they saw a redback world on the horizon, compared with 43 percent outside China.
And without a doubt we are starting to see the beginnings of a significant shift.
China’s yuan broke into the top five as a world payment currency in November, overtaking the Canadian dollar and the Australian dollar, global transaction services organization SWIFT said on Wednesday.
The U.S. dollar won’t be replaced overnight, but things are changing.
Of course the truth is that the Chinese have been preparing for this for a very long time. The Chinese refuse to tell the rest of the world exactly how much gold they have, but everyone knows that they have been accumulating enormous amounts of it. And even if they don’t explicitly back the renminbi with gold, the massive gold reserves that China is accumulating will still give the rest of the planet a great deal of confidence in Chinese currency.
But don’t just take my word for it. Consider what Alan Greenspan has had to say on the matter…
Alan Greenspan, who served at the helm of the Federal Reserve for nearly two decades, recently penned an op-ed for the Council on Foreign Relations discussing gold and its possible role in China, the world’s second-largest economy. He notes that if China converted only a “relatively modest part of its $4 trillion foreign exchange reserves into gold, the country’s currency could take on unexpected strength in today’s international financial system.”
Meanwhile, the Chinese have also been accumulating a tremendous amount of U.S. debt. At this point, the Chinese own approximately 1.3 trillion dollars worth of our debt, and that gives them a lot of power over our currency and over our financial system.
Someday if the Chinese wanted to undermine confidence in the U.S. dollar and in the U.S. financial system, they have a lot of ammunition at their disposal.
And it isn’t just all of that debt that gives China leverage. In recent years, the Chinese have been buying up real estate, businesses and energy assets all over the United States at a staggering pace. For a small taste of what has been taking place, check out the YouTube video posted below…
For much, much more on this trend, please see the following articles…
On a purchasing power basis, the size of the Chinese economy has already surpassed the size of the U.S. economy.
And there are lots of signs of trouble ahead for the U.S. economy at this point. I like how Brandon Smith put it in one recent article…
We are only two months into 2015, and it has already proven to be the most volatile year for the economic environment since 2008-2009. We have seen oil markets collapsing by about 50 percent in the span of a few months (just as the Federal Reserve announced the end of QE3, indicating fiat money was used to hide falling demand), the Baltic Dry Index losing 30 percent since the beginning of the year, the Swiss currency surprise, the Greeks threatening EU exit (and now Greek citizens threatening violent protests with the new four-month can-kicking deal), and the effects of the nine-month-long West Coast port strike not yet quantified. This is not just a fleeting expression of a negative first quarter; it is a sign of things to come.
In addition, things continue to look quite bleak for Europe. Once upon a time, many expected the euro to overtake the U.S. dollar as the primary global reserve currency, but that didn’t happen. And in recent months the euro has been absolutely crashing. On Wednesday, it hit the lowest point that we have seen against the dollar in more than a decade…
The euro last stood at $1.1072, off 0.90 percent for the day and below a key support level, Sutton said. It fell to as little as $1.1066, which was the lowest level for the euro against the dollar since September 2003, according to Thomson Reuters data.
The euro also declined to one-month lows against the Japanese yen, which was flat against the dollar at 119.72 yen to the dollar.
As the U.S. and Europe continue to struggle, China is going to want a significantly larger role on the global stage.
And as the billboard in Thailand suggests, they are more than willing to step up to the plate.
So will the road to the future be paved with Chinese currency? Please feel free to share what you think by posting a comment below…
During his State of the Union speech on Tuesday evening, Barack Obama is going to promise to make life better for middle class families. Of course he has also promised to do this during all of his other State of the Union addresses, but apparently he still believes that there are people out there that are buying what he is selling. Each January, he gets up there and tells us how the economy is “turning around” and to believe that much brighter days are right around the corner. And yet things just continue to get even worse for the middle class. The numbers that you are about to see will not be included in Obama’s State of the Union speech. They don’t fit the “narrative” that Obama is trying to sell to the American people. But all of these statistics are accurate. They paint a picture of a middle class that is dying. Yes, the decline of the U.S. middle class is a phenomenon that has been playing out for decades. But without a doubt, our troubles have accelerated during the Obama years. When it comes to economics, he is completely and utterly clueless, and the policies that he has implemented are eating away at the foundations of our economy like a cancer. The following are 27 facts that show how the middle class has fared under 6 years of Barack Obama…
#1 American families in the middle 20 percent of the income scale now earn less money than they did on the day when Barack Obama first entered the White House.
#2 American families in the middle 20 percent of the income scale have a lower net worth than they did on the day when Barack Obama first entered the White House.
#3 According to a Washington Post article published just a few days ago, more than 50 percent of the children in U.S. public schools now come from low income homes. This is the first time that this has happened in at least 50 years.
#4 According to a Census Bureau report that was recently released, 65 percent of all children in the United States are living in a home that receives some form of aid from the federal government.
#5 In 2008, the total number of business closures exceeded the total number of businesses being created for the first time ever, and that has continued to happen every single year since then.
#6 In 2008, 53 percent of all Americans considered themselves to be “middle class”. But by 2014, only 44 percent of all Americans still considered themselves to be “middle class”.
#7 In 2008, 25 percent of all Americans in the 18 to 29-year-old age bracket considered themselves to be “lower class”. But in 2014, an astounding 49 percent of all Americans in that age range considered themselves to be “lower class”.
#8 Traditionally, owning a home has been one of the key indicators that you belong to the middle class. So what does the fact that the rate of homeownership in America has been falling for seven years in a row say about the Obama years?
#9 According to a survey that was conducted last year, 52 percent of all Americans cannot even afford the house that they are living in right now.
#10 After accounting for inflation, median household income in the United States is 8 percent lower than it was when the last recession started in 2007.
#11 According to one recent survey, 62 percent of all Americans are currently living paycheck to paycheck.
#12 At this point, one out of every three adults in the United States has an unpaid debt that is “in collections“.
#13 When Barack Obama first set foot in the Oval Office, 60.6 percent of all working age Americans had a job. Today, that number is sitting at only 59.2 percent…
#14 While Barack Obama has been in the White House, the average duration of unemployment in the United States has risen from 19.8 weeks to 32.8 weeks.
#15 It is hard to believe, but an astounding 53 percent of all American workers make less than $30,000 a year.
#18 The U.S. national debt is on pace to approximately double during the eight years of the Obama administration. In other words, under Barack Obama the U.S. government will accumulate about as much debt as it did under all of the other presidents in U.S. history combined.
#19 According to the New York Times, the “typical American household” is now worth 36 percent less than it was worth a decade ago.
#20 The poverty rate in the United States has been at 15 percent or above for 3 consecutive years. This is the first time that has happened since 1965.
#21 From 2009 through 2013, the U.S. government spent a whopping 3.7 trillion dollars on welfare programs.
#22 While Barack Obama has been in the White House, the number of Americans on food stamps has gone from 32 million to 46 million.
#23 Ten years ago, the number of women in the U.S. that had full-time jobs outnumbered the number of women in the U.S. on food stamps by more than a 2 to 1 margin. But now the number of women in the U.S. on food stamps actually exceeds the number of women that have full-time jobs.
#24 One recent survey discovered that about 22 percent of all Americans have had to turn to a church food panty for assistance.
#25 An astounding 45 percent of all African-American children in the United States live in areas of “concentrated poverty”.
#2640.9 percent of all children in the United States that are living with only one parent are living in poverty.
#27 According to a report that was released late last year by the National Center on Family Homelessness, the number of homeless children in the United States has reached a new all-time record high of 2.5 million.
Why have we turned our backs on the principles that this nation was founded upon? Many of those that founded this nation bled and died so that we could experience “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. And yet we have tossed their ideals aside as if they were so much rubbish. Our founders had experienced the tyranny of big government (the monarchy) and the tyranny of the big banks and feudal lords, and they wanted something very different for the citizens of the new republic that they were forming. They wanted a country where private property was respected and hard work was rewarded. They wanted a country where the individual was empowered, and where everyone could own land and start businesses. They wanted a country where there were severe restrictions on all large collections of power (government, banks and corporations all included). They wanted a country where freedom and liberty were maximized and where ordinary people had the power to pursue their dreams and build better lives for their families. And you know what? While no system is ever perfect, the experiment that our founders originally set up worked beyond their wildest dreams. But now we are killing it. Why in the world would we want to do that?
Most people are under the illusion that the United States has a “capitalist economy” today, but that simply is not accurate. At best, we have a “mixed economy” that is becoming a little bit more socialist with each passing day. We pay dozens of different types of taxes each year, and some Americans actually end up giving more of their earnings to the government than they keep themselves. But that is still not enough, and so our state governments have accumulated astounding amounts of debt, and our federal government has amassed the largest single debt that the world has ever seen. If future generations of Americans get the chance, they will curse us for the chains of debt that we have placed upon their shoulders.
So what do our government officials do with all of this money?
Well, today approximately 70 percent of all federal government activity involves taking money from some Americans and giving it to other Americans.
Despite this unprecedented wealth-redistribution program, poverty is absolutely exploding in this country and 49 million Americans are dealing with food insecurity.
Meanwhile, the bankers have been getting fabulously wealthy from all of this debt. The Federal Reserve system was designed to trap the U.S. government in an endless spiral of debt from which it could never possibly escape, and that mission has been accomplished. In fact, the U.S. national debt is now more than 5000 times larger than it was when the Federal Reserve was first created a little more than 100 years ago.
Most people like to think of big banks as “capitalist” institutions, but that is not really accurate. In the end, giant corporate banks like we have in the United States are actually collectivist institutions. They tend to greatly concentrate wealth and power, and socialists find those kinds of banks very useful.
In fact, Vladimir Lenin once said that “without big banks, socialism would be impossible.”
While there may be a bit of animosity between big government and big banks once in a while, the truth is that they are usually very closely tied to one another. We saw this close relationship very clearly during the financial crisis of 2008, and it is no secret that there is a revolving door between the boardrooms of Wall Street and the halls of power in Washington. The elite dominate both spheres, and it is not for the benefit of the rest of us.
What we are doing right now is clearly not working.
So why don’t we go back and do the things that we were doing when we were extremely successful as a nation?
In case you don’t know what those things were, here are some clues…
#1 “A wise and frugal government… shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.” — Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801
#2 “A people… who are possessed of the spirit of commerce, who see and who will pursue their advantages may achieve almost anything.” – George Washington
#3 “Government is instituted to protect property of every sort; as well that which lies in the various rights of individuals, as that which the term particularly expresses. This being the end of government, that alone is a just government which impartially secures to every man whatever is his own.” – James Madison, Essay on Property, 1792
#4 “Banks have done more injury to the religion, morality, tranquility, prosperity, and even wealth of the nation than they can have done or ever will do good.” – John Adams
#5 “To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.” — Thomas Jefferson, letter to Joseph Milligan, April 6, 1816
#6 “The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If ‘Thou shalt not covet’ and ‘Thou shalt not steal’ were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society before it can be civilized or made free.” — John Adams, A Defense of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America, 1787
#7 “I place economy among the first and most important virtues, and public debt as the greatest of dangers to be feared. To preserve our independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. If we run into such debts, we must be taxed in our meat and drink, in our necessities and in our comforts, in our labor and in our amusements.” – Thomas Jefferson
#8 “Beware the greedy hand of government thrusting itself into every corner and crevice of industry.” – Thomas Paine
#9 “If we can but prevent the government from wasting the labours of the people, under the pretence of taking care of them, they must become happy.” – Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Cooper, November 29, 1802
#10 “All the perplexities, confusion and distress in America arise not from defects in the Constitution or Confederation, not from a want of honor or virtue so much as from downright ignorance of the nature of coin, credit and circulation.” – John Adams, at the Constitutional Convention (1787)
#11 “The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.” – Thomas Jefferson
#12 “Liberty must at all hazards be supported. We have a right to it, derived from our Maker. But if we had not, our fathers have earned and bought it for us, at the expense of their ease, their estates, their pleasure, and their blood.” – John Adams, 1765
#13 “If ever again our nation stumbles upon unfunded paper, it shall surely be like death to our body politic. This country will crash.” – George Washington
#14 “I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our Constitution. I would be willing to depend on that alone for the reduction of the administration of our government to the genuine principles of its Constitution; I mean an additional article, taking from the federal government the power of borrowing.” – Thomas Jefferson
#15 “When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.” — Benjamin Franklin
The marriage rate in the United States has fallen to the lowest level ever recorded. So why is this happening? Well, the truth is that there are a lot of reasons why so many young people are choosing not to get married today. One big reason is money. Young adults in the U.S. are really struggling to find good jobs, and many are hesitant to take a big step like marriage without achieving a certain level of financial security first. And as you will see below, many young adults (especially women) do not even want to date someone that is not employed. In this harsh economic environment, money makes a big difference in the world of romance. Another big reason for the decline of marriage in America is a seismic shift in cultural attitudes. Americans (especially young people) do not place the same kind of importance on marriage and having children that they once did. Instead, more Americans are choosing to “move in together” than ever before. But if the percentage of Americans that choose to get married continues to decline, what is that going to mean for our future, and what is our country going to look like moving forward?
According to a startling new study conducted at Bowling Green University, the marriage rate in America has fallen precipitously over the past 100 years.
In 1920, there were 92.3 marriages for every 1,000 unmarried women. In 2012, there were only 31.1 marriages for every 1,000 unmarried women.
That is not just a new all-time low, that is a colossal demographic earthquake.
That same study found that the marriage rate has fallen by an astounding 60 percent since 1970 alone.
As a result, U.S. households look far different today than they once did.
Back in 1950, 78 percent of all households in the U.S. contained a married couple. Today, that number has declined to 48 percent.
That is a very troubling sign if you consider the family to be one of the fundamental building blocks of society.
When young people are asked why they are delaying marriage today, one of the things that always seems to get brought up is money. There is a feeling (especially among men) that you should achieve a certain level of financial security before making the big plunge.
And it is a fact that the more money you have, the more likely you are to be married. Just check out the following stats about income and marriage from a recent Business Insider article…
83% of 30- to 50-year-old men in the top 10% of annual earnings are married today, whereas only 64% of median earners and half of those in the bottom 25th percentile are hitched.
Now, compare that to men in 1970, whose marriage rates were 95% (top earners), 91% (median earners), and 60% (bottom 25th percentile of earners), respectively.
A lot of people like to think that “love is the only thing that matters” when it comes to marriage, but the cold, hard numbers tell a different story. In fact, one very shocking survey discovered that 75 percent of all American women would have a problem even dating an unemployed man…
Of the 925 single women surveyed, 75 percent said they’d have a problem with dating someone without a job. Only 4 percent of respondents asked whether they would go out with an unemployed man answered “of course.”
“Not having a job will definitely make it harder for men to date someone they don’t already know,” Irene LaCota, a spokesperson for It’s Just Lunch, said in a press release. “This is the rare area, compared to other topics we’ve done surveys on, where women’s old-fashioned beliefs about sex roles seem to apply.”
Unfortunately for American men, there simply are not enough good jobs to go around. In fact, the number of working age Americans without a job has increased by 27 million since the year 2000, and businesses in the U.S. are being destroyed faster than they are being created.
Due to a lack of economic opportunities, a rising percentage of our young people have been giving up on the “real world” and have been moving back in with Mom and Dad. For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled “29 Percent Of All U.S. Adults Under The Age Of 35 Are Living With Their Parents“. And when you break down the numbers, you find that young men are almost twice as likely to move back in with their parents as young women are.
But economic factors alone certainly do not account for the tremendous decline in the marriage rate that we have witnessed in this country. Shifting cultural attitudes also play a huge role.
A whole host of opinion polls and surveys show that Americans simply do not value marriage and having children as much as they once did. For example, the Pew Research Center has found that the younger you are, the more likely you are to believe that “marriage is becoming obsolete” and that “children don’t need a mother and a father to grow up happily”.
In fact, an astounding 44 percent of all Americans in the 18 to 29-year-old age bracket now believe that “marriage is becoming obsolete”.
And why should they get married? Our movies and television shows constantly tell them that they can have the benefits of being married without ever having to make a lifelong commitment.
This sounds particularly good to men, since they can run around and have sex with lots of different women without ever having to “settle down”.
But there are most definitely consequences for this behavior. The “sexual revolution” has left behind countless broken hearts, shattered dreams, unintended pregnancies and devastated families.
In addition, the U.S. has become a world leader when it comes to sexually-transmitted disease.
It is hard to believe this number, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approximately one-third of the entire population of the United States (110 million people) currently has a sexually transmitted disease.
So nobody should claim that the “sexual revolution” has not had any consequences.
But most Americans don’t actually run around and sleep with lots of different people at the same time. Instead, most Americans seem to have adopted a form of “serial monogamy“.
In America today, most people only sleep with one person at a time, and “living together” is being called “the new marriage”.
According to the CDC, 74 percent of all 30-year-old women in the U.S. say that they have cohabitated with a romantic partner without being married to them, and it has been estimated that 65 percent of all couples that get married in the United States live together first.
Many believe that by “trying out” the other person first that it will give them a much better chance of making marriage work if they eventually do choose to go down that path. Unfortunately, that does not seem to work out very well in practice. In fact, the divorce rate for couples that live together first is significantly higher than for those that do not.
And when it comes to divorce, America is the king.
For years, the U.S. has had the highest divorce rate in the developed world.
But it wasn’t always this way. Back in 1920, less than one percent of all women in the United States were currently divorced or separated. Today, approximately 15 percent of all women in the United States are currently divorced or separated.
So why are so many people getting divorced?
Of course there are a lot of factors involved (including money), but a big one is cheating. According to one survey, 41 percent of all spouses admit to infidelity. Many Americans simply find it very difficult to stay committed to one person for an extended period of time.
As a result of what I have discussed so far, it is easy to see why people in our society are so lonely and so isolated. Less people are getting married, more divorces are happening and couples are having fewer children. This means that our households are smaller and we have far fewer family connections than we once did.
100 years ago, 4.52 people were living in the average U.S. household, but now the average U.S. household only consists of 2.59 people.
And of course when there is no marriage involved, a lot of times the guy does not stick around. At this point, approximately one out of every three children in the United States lives in a home without a father, and in many impoverished areas of the country the rate is well over 50 percent.
In addition, women are waiting much longer to have children than they once did.
In 1970, the average woman had her first child when she was 21.4 years old. Now the average woman has her first child when she is 25.6 years old.
The biggest reason for this, once again, is money…
In the United States, three-quarters of people surveyed by Gallup last year said the main reason couples weren’t having more children was a lack of money or fear of the economy.
The trend emerges as a key gauge of future economic health — the growth in the pool of potential workers, ages 20-64 — is signaling trouble ahead. This labor pool had expanded for decades, thanks to the vast generation of baby boomers. Now the boomers are retiring, and there are barely enough new workers to replace them, let alone add to their numbers.
We are waiting longer to have children and having fewer of them, but those children are needed for the economic future of this country.
Fifteen years from now, one out of every five Americans will be over the age of 65. All of those elderly Americans are going to want the rest of us to keep the financial promises that were made to them. But that is going to turn out to be quite impossible. We simply do not have enough people.
In the end, the economics of marriage does not just affect those that are thinking of getting married or those that are already married.
The truth is that the economics of marriage affects all of us.
So what do you think is in store for the future of the institution of marriage in this country?
Please feel free to share what you believe by posting a comment below…
If you want to get an idea of where the rest of America is heading, just take a trip through the western half of West Virginia and the eastern half of Kentucky some time. Once you leave the main highways, you will rapidly encounter poverty on a level that is absolutely staggering. Overall, about 15 percent of the entire nation is under the poverty line, but in some areas of eastern Kentucky, more than 40 percent of the population is living in poverty. Most of the people would work if they could. Over the past couple of decades, locals have witnessed businesses and industries leave the region at a steady pace. When another factory or business shuts down, many of the unemployed do not even realize that their jobs have been shipped overseas. Coal mining still produces jobs that pay a decent wage, but Barack Obama is doing his very best to kill off that entire industry. After decades of decline, vast stretches of impoverished Appalachia look like they have been through a war. Those living in the area know that things are not good, but they just try to do the best that they can with what they have.
In previous articles about areas of the country that are economically depressed, I have typically focused on large cities such as Detroit or Camden, New Jersey. But the economic suffering that is taking place in rural communities in the heartland of America is just as tragic. We just don’t hear about it as much.
Most of those that live in the heart of Appalachia are really good “salt of the earth” people that just want to work hard and do what is right for their families. But after decades of increasing poverty, the entire region has been transformed into an economic nightmare that never seems to end. The following is a description of what life is like in Appalachia today that comes from a recent article by Kevin D. Williamson…
Thinking about the future here and its bleak prospects is not much fun at all, so instead of too much black-minded introspection you have the pills and the dope, the morning beers, the endless scratch-off lotto cards, healing meetings up on the hill, the federally funded ritual of trading cases of food-stamp Pepsi for packs of Kentucky’s Best cigarettes and good old hard currency, tall piles of gas-station nachos, the occasional blast of meth, Narcotics Anonymous meetings, petty crime, the draw, the recreational making and surgical unmaking of teenaged mothers, and death: Life expectancies are short — the typical man here dies well over a decade earlier than does a man in Fairfax County, Va. — and they are getting shorter, women’s life expectancy having declined by nearly 1.1 percent from 1987 to 2007.
In these kinds of conditions, people do whatever they have to do just to survive. With so much poverty around, serving those on food stamps has become an important part of the local economy. In fact, cases of soda purchased with food stamps have become a form of “alternative currency” in the region. In his article, Williamson described how this works…
It works like this: Once a month, the debit-card accounts of those receiving what we still call food stamps are credited with a few hundred dollars — about $500 for a family of four, on average — which are immediately converted into a unit of exchange, in this case cases of soda. On the day when accounts are credited, local establishments accepting EBT cards — and all across the Big White Ghetto, “We Accept Food Stamps” is the new E pluribus unum – are swamped with locals using their public benefits to buy cases and cases — reports put the number at 30 to 40 cases for some buyers — of soda. Those cases of soda then either go on to another retailer, who buys them at 50 cents on the dollar, in effect laundering those $500 in monthly benefits into $250 in cash — a considerably worse rate than your typical organized-crime money launderer offers — or else they go into the local black-market economy, where they can be used as currency in such ventures as the dealing of unauthorized prescription painkillers — by “pillbillies,” as they are known at the sympathetic establishments in Florida that do so much business with Kentucky and West Virginia that the relevant interstate bus service is nicknamed the “OxyContin Express.” A woman who is intimately familiar with the local drug economy suggests that the exchange rate between sexual favors and cases of pop — some dealers will accept either — is about 1:1, meaning that the value of a woman in the local prescription-drug economy is about $12.99 at Walmart prices.
I would encourage everyone to read the rest of Williamson’s excellent article. You can find the entire article right here.
In Appalachia, the abuse of alcohol, meth and other legal and illegal drugs is significantly higher than in the U.S. population as a whole. In a desperate attempt to deal with the pain of their lives, many people living in the region are looking for anything that will allow them to “escape” for a little while. The following is an excerpt from an excellent article by Chris Hedges which describes what life is like in the little town of Gary, West Virginia at this point…
Joe and I are sitting in the Tug River Health Clinic in Gary with a registered nurse who does not want her name used. The clinic handles federal and state black lung applications. It runs a program for those addicted to prescription pills. It also handles what in the local vernacular is known as “the crazy check” — payments obtained for mental illness from Medicaid or SSI — a vital source of income for those whose five years of welfare payments have run out. Doctors willing to diagnose a patient as mentally ill are important to economic survival.
“They come in and want to be diagnosed as soon as they can for the crazy check,” the nurse says. “They will insist to us they are crazy. They will tell us, ‘I know I’m not right.’ People here are very resigned. They will avoid working by being diagnosed as crazy.”
The reliance on government checks, and a vast array of painkillers and opiates, has turned towns like Gary into modern opium dens. The painkillers OxyContin, fentanyl — 80 times stronger than morphine — Lortab, as well as a wide variety of anti-anxiety medications such as Xanax, are widely abused. Many top off their daily cocktail of painkillers at night with sleeping pills and muscle relaxants. And for fun, addicts, especially the young, hold “pharm parties,” in which they combine their pills in a bowl, scoop out handfuls of medication, swallow them, and wait to feel the result.
Of course this kind of thing is not just happening in the heart of Appalachia. All over the country there are rural communities that are economically depressed. In fact, according to the Wall Street Journal, economic activity in about half of the counties in the entire nation is still below pre-recession levels…
Did you know that the Obama administration is negotiating a super secret “trade agreement” that is so sensitive that he isn’t even allowing members of Congress to see it? The Trans-Pacific Partnership is being called the “NAFTA of the Pacific” and “NAFTA on steroids”, but the truth is that it is so much more than just a trade agreement. This treaty has 29 chapters, but only 5 of them have to do with trade. Most Americans don’t realize this, but this treaty will fundamentally change our laws regarding Internet freedom, health care, the trading of derivatives, copyright issues, food safety, environmental standards, civil liberties and so much more. It will also merge the United States far more deeply into the emerging one world economic system.
Once again, our politicians are betraying the American people and millions of jobs will be lost as a result.
But now the ongoing economic collapse seems to be picking up steam again. For example, the Baltic Dry Index (a very important indicator of global economic activity) is collapsing at a rate not seen since the great financial crash of 2008…
Despite ‘blaming’ the drop in the cost of dry bulk shipping on Colombian coal restrictions, it seems increasingly clear that the 40% collapse in the Baltic Dry Index since the start of the year is more than just that. While this is the worst start to a year in over 30 years, the scale of this meltdown is only matched by the total devastation that occurred in Q3 2008. Of course, the mainstream media will continue to ignore this dour index until it decides to rise once again, but for now, 9 days in a row of plunging prices is yet another canary in the global trade coalmine and suggests what inventory stacking that occurred in Q3/4 2013 is anything but sustained.
Soon economic conditions will get even worse for Appalachia and for the rest of the country. The consequences of decades of very foolish decisions are rapidly catching up with us, and millions upon millions of Americans are going to experience immense economic pain during the years to come.
So what are things like in your area of the country right now? Please feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment below…
“If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it.” Sadly, that appears to be the approach that the Obama administration and the mainstream media are taking with the U.S. economy. They seem to believe that if they just keep telling the American people over and over that things are getting better, eventually the American people will believe that it is actually true. On Friday, it was announced that the unemployment rate had fallen to “7 percent”, and the mainstream media responded with a mix of euphoria and jubilation. For example, one USA Today article declared that “with today’s jobs report, one really can say that our long national post-financial crisis nightmare is over.” But is that actually the truth? As you will see below, if you assume that the labor force participation rate in the U.S. is at the long-term average, the unemployment rate in the United States would actually be 11.5 percent instead of 7 percent. There has been absolutely no employment recovery. The percentage of Americans that are actually working has stayed between 58 and 59 percent for 51 months in a row. But most Americans don’t understand these things and they just take whatever the mainstream media tells them as the truth.
And of course the reality of the matter is that we should have seen some sort of an economic recovery by now. Those running our system have literally been mortgaging the future in a desperate attempt to try to pump up our economic numbers. The federal government has been on the greatest debt binge in U.S. history and the Federal Reserve has been printing money like crazed lunatics. All of that “stimulus” should have had some positive short-term effects on the economy.
Sadly, all of those “emergency measures” do not appear to have done much at all. The percentage of Americans that have a job has stayed remarkably flat since the end of 2009, median household income has fallen for five years in a row, and the rate of homeownership in the United States has fallen for eight years in a row. Anyone that claims that the U.S. economy is experiencing a “recovery” is simply not telling the truth. The following are 37 reasons why “the economic recovery” is a giant lie…
#1 The only reason that the official unemployment rate has been declining over the past couple of years is that the federal government has been pretending that millions upon millions of unemployed Americans no longer want a job and have “left the labor force”. As Zero Hedge recently demonstrated, if the labor force participation rate returned to the long-term average of 65.8 percent, the official unemployment rate in the United States would actually be 11.5 percent instead of 7 percent.
#2 The percentage of Americans that are actually working is much lower than it used to be. In November 2000, 64.3 percent of all working age Americans had a job. When Barack Obama first entered the White House, 60.6 percent of all working age Americans had a job. Today, only 58.6 percent of all working age Americans have a job. In fact, as you can see from the chart posted below, there has been absolutely no “employment recovery” since the depths of the last recession…
#13 In this economic environment, there is intense competition even for the lowest paying jobs. Wal-Mart recently opened up two new stores in Washington D.C., and more than 23,000 people applied for just 600 positions. That means that only about 2.6 percent of the applicants were ultimately hired. In comparison, Harvard offers admission to 6.1 percent of their applicants.
#14 According to the Social Security Administration, 40 percent of all U.S. workers make less than $20,000 a year.
#15 When Barack Obama took office, the average duration of unemployment in this country was 19.8 weeks. Today, it is 37.2 weeks.
#16 According to the New York Times, long-term unemployment in America is up by 213 percent since 2007.
#17 Thanks to Obama administration policies which are systematically killing off small businesses in the United States, the percentage of self-employed Americans is at an all-time low today.
#21 Back in 1999, 64.1 percent of all Americans were covered by employment-based health insurance. Today, only 54.9 percent of all Americans are covered by employment-based health insurance, and thanks to Obamacare millions more Americans are now losing their health insurance plans.
#22 As 2003 began, the average price of a gallon of regular gasoline was about $1.30. When Barack Obama took office, the average price of a gallon of regular gasoline was $1.85. Today, it is $3.26.
#23 Total consumer credit has risen by a whopping 22 percent over the past three years.
#24 In 2008, the total amount of student loan debt in this country was sitting at about 440 billion dollars. Today, it has shot up to approximately a trillion dollars.
#25 Under Barack Obama, the velocity of money (a very important indicator of economic health) has plunged to a post-World War II low.
#28 Right now, 1.2 million students that attend public schools in the United States are homeless. That is a brand new all-time record high, and that number has risen by 72 percent since the start of the last recession.
#29 When Barack Obama first entered the White House, there were about 32 million Americans on food stamps. Today, there are more than 47 million Americans on food stamps.
#31 According to the Survey of Income and Program Participation conducted by the U.S. Census, well over 100 million Americans are enrolled in at least one welfare program run by the federal government.
#32 In 2000, the U.S. government spent 199 billion dollars on Medicaid. In 2008, the U.S. government spent 338 billion dollars on Medicaid. In 2012, the U.S. government spent 417 billion dollars on Medicaid, and now Obamacare is going to add tens of millions more Americans to the Medicaid rolls.
#33 In 2000, the U.S. government spent 219 billion dollars on Medicare. In 2008, the U.S. government spent 462 billion dollars on Medicare. In 2012, the U.S. government spent 560 billion dollars on Medicare, and that number is expected to absolutely skyrocket in the years ahead as the Baby Boomers retire.
#34 According to the most recent numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau, an all-time record high 49.2 percent of all Americans are receiving benefits from at least one government program.
#35 The U.S. government has spent an astounding 3.7 trillion dollars on welfare programs over the past five years.
#37 The U.S. national debt is on pace to more than double during the eight years of the Obama administration. In other words, under Barack Obama the U.S. government will accumulate more debt than it did under all of the other presidents in U.S. history combined.
Fortunately, it appears that most Americans are not buying into the propaganda. According to a new CNN survey, the percentage of Americans that believe that the economy is getting worse far exceeds the percentage of Americans that believe that the economy is improving…
Americans views on the state of the nation are turning increasingly sour, according to a new national poll.
And a CNN/ORC International survey released Friday also indicates that less than a quarter of the public says that economic conditions are improving, while nearly four in ten say the nation’s economy is getting worse.
Forty-one percent of those questioned in the poll say things are going well in the country today, down nine percentage points from April, and the lowest that number has been in CNN polling since February 2012. Fifty-nine percent say things are going badly, up nine points from April.
So what do you think?
Do you believe that the U.S. economy is getting better or getting worse? Please feel free to share what you think by posting a comment below…
One of the men that won the Nobel Prize for economics this year says that “bubbles look like this” and that he is “most worried about the boom in the U.S. stock market.” But you don’t have to be a Nobel Prize winner to see what is happening. It should be glaringly apparent to anyone with half a brain. The financial markets have been soaring while the overall economy has been stagnating. Reckless injections of liquidity into the financial system by the Federal Reserve have pumped up stock prices to ridiculous extremes, and people are becoming concerned. In fact, Google searches for the term “stock bubble” are now at the highest level that we have seen since November 2007. Despite assurances from the mainstream media and the Federal Reserve that everything is just fine, many Americans are beginning to realize that we have seen this movie before. We saw it during the dotcom bubble, and we saw it during the lead up to the horrible financial crisis of 2008. So precisely when will the bubble burst this time? Nobody knows for sure, but without a doubt this irrational financial bubble will burst at some point. Remember, a bubble is always the biggest right before it bursts, and the following are 15 signs that we are near the peak of an absolutely massive stock market bubble…
#1 Bob Shiller, one of the winners of this year’s Nobel Prize for economics, says that “bubbles look like this” and that he is “most worried about the boom in the U.S. stock market.”
#2 The total amount of margin debt has risen by 50 percent since January 2012 and it is now at the highest level ever recorded. The last two times that margin debt skyrocketed like this were just before the bursting of the dotcom bubble in 2000 and just before the financial crisis of 2008. When this house of cards comes crashing down, things are going to get very messy…
“When the tablecloth gets pulled out from under the place settings, you’re going to have a lot of them crash and smash on the floor,” said Uri Landesman, president of Platinum Partners hedge fund. “That margin’s going to get pulled and everyone’s going to have to cover. That’s when you get really serious corrections.”
#4 Market research firm TrimTabs says that the S&P 500 is “very overpriced” right now.
#5 Marc Faber recently told CNBC that “we are in a gigantic speculative bubble”.
#6 In the United States, Google searches for the term “stock bubble” are at the highest level that we have seen since November 2007 – just before the last stock market crash.
#7 Price to earnings ratios are very high right now…
The Dow was trading at 17.8 times the past four quarters of earnings of its 30 components, according to The Wall Street Journal on Friday. That was up from 13.7 times its earnings a year ago. The S&P 500 is trading at 18.7 times earnings. The Nasdaq-100 Index is trading at 21.5 times earnings. At the very least, the ratios are signaling that stock prices are rich.
#9 Twitter is a seven-year-old company that has never made a profit. It actually lost 64.6 million dollars last quarter. But according to the financial markets it is currently worth about 22 billion dollars.
#11 Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital recently stated that he believes that “markets are riskier than at any time since the depths of the 2008/9 crisis”.
#12 As Graham Summers recently noted, retail investors are buying stocks at a level not seen since the peak of the dotcom bubble back in 2000.
#13 David Stockman, a former director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan, believes that this financial bubble is going to end very badly…
“We have a massive bubble everywhere, from Japan, to China, Europe, to the UK. As a result of this, I think world financial markets are extremely dangerous, unstable, and subject to serious trouble and dislocation in the future.”
#15 According to Tyler Durden of Zero Hedge, the U.S. stock market is repeating a pattern that we have seen many times before. According to him, we are experiencing “a well-defined syndrome of ‘overvalued, overbought, overbullish, rising-yield’ conditions that has appeared exclusively at speculative market peaks – including (exhaustively) 1929, 1972, 1987, 2000, 2007, 2011 (before a market loss of nearly 20% that was truncated by investor faith in a new round of monetary easing), and at three points in 2013: February, May, and today.”
As I mentioned at the top of this article, this stock market bubble has been fueled by quantitative easing. Easy money from the Fed has been artificially inflating stock prices, and this has greatly benefited a very small percentage of the U.S. population. In fact, 82 percent of all individually held stocks are owned by the wealthiest 5 percent of all Americans.
When this stock market bubble does burst, those wealthy Americans are going to be in for a tremendous amount of pain.
But there are some people out there that argue that what we are witnessing is not a stock market bubble at all. That includes Janet Yellen, the new head of the Federal Reserve. Recently, she insisted that there is absolutely nothing to be worried about…
“Stock prices have risen pretty robustly,” Yellen said. “But I think that if you look at traditional valuation measures, you would not see stock prices in territory that suggests bubble-like conditions.”
We shall see who was right and who was wrong. Let’s all file that one away and come back to it in a few years.
So where are stocks going next?
If you had the answer to that question, you could probably make a lot of money.
Yes, the current bubble could burst at any moment, or stocks could continue going up for a little while longer.
Barack Obama has destroyed the future of America in order to improve his chances of winning the next election. Under Obama, 5.3 trillion dollars has been ruthlessly stolen from our children and our grandchildren. That money has been used to pump up the debt-fueled false prosperity that we have been experiencing. When the U.S. government borrows money that it does not have from someone else (such as China) and spends that money into the economy it is going to make our economic numbers look better. Even if the government spends that money on incredibly stupid things, it still gets into the hands of average Americans who in turn spend that money on food, gas, clothes, etc. If we were to go back and take that extra 5.3 trillion dollars out of the U.S. economy, I guarantee you that we would be in a rip-roaring depression right now. We would look a lot like Greece at this point. For several years Greece has been raising taxes and cutting government spending in an attempt to balance the budget and these austerity measures have resulted in an unemployment rate of over 23 percent and an economy that has contracted by close to 25 percent. Most Americans don’t want to go through pain like that so they are okay with continuing to financially rape our children and our grandchildren. Just imagine how you would feel if your parents died tomorrow and you found out that they had left you with a million dollar debt that you were legally obligated to pay off. How would you feel, knowing that you had just been sold into debt slavery for the rest of your life? Well, that is how our children and our grandchildren are going to feel. We are destroying the greatest economic machine the world has ever seen, we are accumulating the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the planet, and the coming economic collapse that we have caused is going to wipe out the promising future that our children and our grandchildren were supposed to have. If they get the chance, future generations of Americans will curse us bitterly and will spit on our graves. What we are doing to our children and our grandchildren is the kind of stuff that horror movies are made of. You should be ashamed of yourself America.
The federal budget deficit for 2012 will be larger than the entire U.S. national debt was 30 years ago. In 1982 Ronald Reagan was in the White House and the U.S. national debt was considered to be a tremendous national crisis. But somehow we have allowed our national debt to grow from about a trillion dollars back then to approximately $16,000,000,000,000 today.
By the end of Obama’s first term, the U.S. national debt will have grown more than it did from the time that George Washington became president to the time that George W. Bush became president.
That is hard to believe.
Obama is going to outdo all the presidents from George Washington through Bill Clinton in just one term.
This has allowed us to enjoy a standard of living far beyond what we deserved to. We have stolen from the future to make the present more pleasant.
But hardly anybody wants the party to end. Especially not our Congress critters – they are living like kings and queens at our expense. Our “representatives” in Washington D.C. love to give speeches about being “financially responsible”, but most of them never take any serious action about the debt because the way things are working now has been incredibly good to them.
And the truth is that both political parties have been responsible. In 2010, Republicans took control of the House of Representatives with a clear mandate to get government spending under control. Not a single penny of government money can be spent without their permission. But since they took control, the U.S. national debt has increased by another 1.8 trillion dollars.
At this point, this current Congress (controlled by both Republicans and Democrats) has added more to the national debt than the first 97 Congresses combined.
We expect this kind of nonsense from the Democrats, but the Republicans are supposed to know better.
Of course our entire financial system is designed to permanently entrap our federal government in an endless spiral of debt, but neither political party ever talks about that.
Sadly, the U.S. national debt is now more than 5000 times larger than it was when the Federal Reserve was first created.
But we never hear about the link between the Federal Reserve and our national debt from either political party or on the mainstream news.
So most Americans do not even realize that our system is designed to create government debt.
It is absolutely disgusting.
We say that we care about our kids, and yet we are passing down a $16,000,000,000,000 debt to them.
Talk about child abuse.
Most people have a really hard time grasping how much money 16 trillion dollars actually is.
If right this moment you went out and started spending one dollar every single second, it would take you more than 31,000 years to spend one trillion dollars.
And it would take you more than half a million years to spend 16 trillion dollars.
This is a debt that is impossible to pay back. Just look at how it has exploded over the past 40 years….
In a previous article I discussed the distressing rate at which our debt is growing….
It took more than 200 years for the U.S. national debt to reach 1 trillion dollars. In 1986, the U.S. national debt reached 2 trillion dollars. In 1992, the U.S. national debt reached 4 trillion dollars. In 2005, the U.S. national debt doubled again and reached 8 trillion dollars. Now the U.S. national debt is about to cross the 16 trillion dollar mark. How long can this kind of exponential growth go on?
If we can’t even slow down the growth of our debt, how do we ever expect to repay a single penny?
The sad truth is that we aren’t ever going to start paying down our debt. We have gotten to the point where if we take our foot off the debt accelerator we plunge directly into a depression and the entire system collapses. It is like a really sick version of the movie “Speed”.
Where is Keanu Reeves when you need him?
Since Barack Obama entered the White House, he has approved a whole host of measures that have been good for the economy in the short-term. TARP, the stimulus packages, the auto industry bailout and the payroll tax cut are just a few examples.
Barack Obama has wanted to do everything he possibly can to stimulate the economy in the short-term so that he can win again in 2012.
But what about the future?
Barack Obama could not care less about the future. He is just like so many of our other politicians. He is blinded by selfish ambition.
Since Barack Obama became president, the U.S. national debt has increased by an average of more than $64,000 per taxpayer.
Are you willing to write a check for your share?
Oh, let’s just pass this horrific debt on to our children, right?
The path that we are on as a nation cannot go on too much longer. The truth is that we are headed for financial oblivion.
Of course we will never get to the point. Our financial system will collapse long before then.
Sadly, the United States already has more government debt per capita than Greece, Portugal, Italy, Ireland or Spain does.
So why are we not like Greece or Spain yet?
Well, it is because we are still able to borrow huge piles of money very, very cheaply.
But at some point that will come to an end, and when it does the consequences are going to be nightmarish.
Historically, the interest rate on 10 year U.S. Treasuries has averaged 6.68 percent. If the average rate of interest on U.S. debt rose to that level today, we would be paying more than a trillion dollars a year just in interest on the national debt.
And when you consider our future unfunded liabilities things get even more frightening.
According to Boston University economist Laurence Kotlikoff, the “fiscal gap” is “the present value difference between projected future spending and revenue”. His calculations have led him to the conclusion that the United States is facing a fiscal gap of 222 trillion dollars.
And this gap is rising at a breathtaking pace.
The following is an excerpt from a recent article co-authored by Kotlikoff….
In 2007, the first year the CBO produced the Alternative Fiscal Scenario, the gap, by our reckoning, stood at $175 trillion. By 2009, when the CBO began reporting the AFS annually, the gap was $184 trillion. In 2010, it was $202 trillion, followed by $211 trillion in 2011 and $222 trillion in 2012.
But if we interrupt this debt cycle we immediately go into a depression.
We are a debt addict that will die without more debt.
Meanwhile, our national ability to produce wealth is going down the toilet.
All over the country businesses are shutting down, factories are being closed and millions of jobs are being sent overseas.
As I wrote about the other day, American families are steadily getting poorer. The middle class is shrinking and the tax base is shriveling up.
Many Americans end up flat broke at the end of their lives these days. In fact, one study found that nearly half of all retirees end up with $10,000 or less when they die.
So where is all of the money for servicing this gigantic national debt going to come from?
Even if Bill Gates gave every single penny of his fortune to the U.S. government, it would only cover the U.S. budget deficit for 15 days.
So what is the solution?
If we keep spending money like this we are doomed, but if we stop spending money like this we are doomed.
And debt is not just a problem that the federal government is facing.
Posted below is a chart that shows the growth of all forms of debt in the United States over the past several decades. 40 years ago, there was less than 2 trillion dollars of total debt owed in the United States. Now there is nearly 55 trillion dollars of debt owed. This generation has destroyed the future and has set the stage for an unprecedented economic collapse. Shame on you America….