Over the past decade, there has been only one other time when the value of the U.S. dollar has increased by so much in such a short period of time. That was in mid-2008 – just before the greatest financial crash since the Great Depression. A surging U.S. dollar also greatly contributed to the Latin American debt crisis of the early 1980s and the Asian financial crisis of 1997. Today, the globe is more interconnected than ever. Most global trade is conducted in U.S. dollars, and much of the borrowing done by emerging markets all over the planet is denominated in U.S. dollars. When the U.S. dollar goes up dramatically, this can put a tremendous amount of financial stress on economies all around the world. It also has the potential to greatly threaten the stability of the 65 trillion dollars in derivatives that are directly tied to the value of the U.S. dollar. The global financial system is more vulnerable to currency movements than ever before, and history tells us that when the U.S. dollar soars the global economy tends to experience a contraction. So the fact that the U.S. dollar has been skyrocketing lately is a very, very bad sign.
Most of the people that write about the coming economic collapse love to talk about the coming collapse of the U.S. dollar as well.
But in the initial deflationary stage of the coming financial crisis, we are likely to see the U.S. dollar actually strengthen considerably.
As I have discussed so many times before, we are going to experience deflation first, and after that deflationary phase the desperate responses by the Federal Reserve and the U.S. government to that deflation will cause the inflationary panic that so many have written about.
Yes, someday the U.S. dollar will essentially be toilet paper. But that is not in our immediate future. What is in our immediate future is a “flight to safety” that will push the surging U.S. dollar even higher.
This is what we witnessed in 2008, and this is happening once again right now.
Just look at the chart that I have posted below. You can see the the U.S. dollar moved upward dramatically relative to other currencies starting in mid-2008. And toward the end of the chart you can see that the U.S. dollar is now experiencing a similar spike…
At the moment, almost every major currency in the world is falling relative to the U.S. dollar.
For example, this next chart shows what the euro is doing relative to the dollar. As you can see, the euro is in the midst of a stunning decline…
Instead of focusing on the U.S. dollar, those that are looking for a harbinger of the coming financial crisis should be watching the euro. As I discussed yesterday, analysts are telling us that if Greece leaves the eurozone the EUR/USD could fall all the way down to 0.90. If that happens, the chart above will soon resemble a waterfall.
And of course it isn’t just the euro that is plummeting. The yen has been crashing as well. The following chart was recently posted on the Crux…
Unfortunately, most Americans have absolutely no idea how important all of this is. In recent years, growing economies all over the world have borrowed gigantic piles of very cheap U.S. dollars. But now they are faced with the prospect of repaying those debts and making interest payments using much more expensive U.S. dollars.
Investors are starting to get nervous. At one time, investors couldn’t wait to pour money into emerging markets, but now this process is beginning to reverse. If this turns into a panic, we are going to have one giant financial mess on our hands.
The truth is that the value of the U.S. dollar is of great importance to every nation on the face of the Earth. The following comes from U.S. News & World Report…
In the early ’80s, a bullish U.S. dollar contributed to the Latin American debt crisis, and also impacted the Asian Tiger crisis in the late ’90s. Emerging markets typically have higher growth, but carry much higher risk to investors. When the economies are doing well, foreign investors will lend money to emerging market countries by purchasing their bonds.
They also deposit money in foreign banks, which facilitates higher lending. The reason for this is simple: Bond payments and interest rates in emerging markets are much higher than in the U.S. Why deposit cash in the U.S. and earn 0.25 percent, when you could earn 6 percent in Indonesia? With the dollar strengthening, the interest payments on any bond denominated in U.S. dollars becomes more expensive.
Additionally, the deposit in the Indonesian bank may still be earning 6 percent, but that is on Indonesian rupiahs. After converting the rupiahs to U.S. dollars, the extra interest doesn’t offset the loss from the exchange. As investors get nervous, the higher interest on emerging market debt and deposits becomes less alluring, and they flee to safety. It may start slowly, but history tells us it can quickly spiral out of control.
Over the past few months, I have been repeatedly stressing that so many of the signs that we witnessed just prior to previous financial crashes are happening again.
Now you can add the skyrocketing U.S. dollar to that list.
If you have not seen my previous articles where I have discussed these things, here are some places to get started…
If you are anxiously awaiting the arrival of the “economic collapse”, just open up your eyes and look at what is happening in Europe. The entire continent is a giant economic mess right now. Unemployment and poverty levels are setting record highs, car sales are setting record lows, and there is an ocean of bad loans and red ink everywhere you look. Over the past several years, most of the attention has been on the economic struggles of Greece, Spain and Portugal and without a doubt things continue to get even worse in those nations. But in 2014 and 2015, Italy and France will start to take center stage. France has the 5th largest economy on the planet, and Italy has the 9th largest economy on the planet, and at this point both of those economies are rapidly falling to pieces. Expect both France and Italy to make major headlines throughout the rest of 2014. I have always maintained that the next major wave of the economic collapse would begin in Europe, and that is exactly what is happening. The following are just a few of the statistics that show that an “economic collapse” is happening in Europe right now…
-The unemployment rate in the eurozone as a whole is still sitting at an all-time record high of 12.1 percent.
-It Italy, the unemployment rate has soared to a brand new all-time record high of 12.7 percent.
-The youth unemployment rate in Italy has jumped up to 41.6 percent.
-Many analysts expect major economic trouble in Italy over the next couple of years. The President of Italy is openly warning of “widespread social tension and unrest” in his nation in 2014.
-Citigroup is projecting that Italy’s debt to GDP ratio will surpass 140 percent by the year 2016.
-Citigroup is projecting that Greece’s debt to GDP ratio will surpass 200 percent by the year 2016.
-Citigroup is projecting that the unemployment rate in Greece will reach 32 percent in 2015.
-The unemployment rate in Spain is still sitting at an all-time record high of 26.7 percent.
-The youth unemployment rate in Spain is now up to 57.7 percent – even higher than in Greece.
-The percentage of bad loans in Spain has risen for eight straight months and recently hit a brand new all-time record high of 13 percent.
-The number of mortgage applications in Spain has fallen by 90 percent since the peak of the housing boom.
-The unemployment rate in France has risen for 9 quarters in a row and recently soared to a new 16 year high.
-For 2013, car sales in Europe were on pace to hit the lowest yearly level ever recorded.
-Deutsche Bank, probably the most important bank in Germany, is the most highly leveraged bank in Europe (60 to 1) and it has approximately 70 trillion dollars worth of exposure to derivatives.
Europe truly is experiencing an economic nightmare, and it is only going to get worse.
It would be hard to put into words the extreme desperation that unemployed workers throughout Europe are feeling right now. When you can’t feed your family and you can’t find work no matter how hard you try, it can be absolutely soul crushing.
To get an idea of the level of desperation in Spain, check out the following anecdote from a recent NPR article…
Having trouble wrapping your head around southern Europe’s staggering unemployment problem?
Look no further than a single Ikea furniture store on Spain’s Mediterranean coast.
The plans to open a new megastore next summer near Valencia. On Monday, Ikea’s started taking applications for 400 jobs at the new store.
The company wasn’t prepared for what came next.
Within 48 hours, more than 20,000 people had applied online for those 400 jobs. The volume crashed Ikea’s computer servers in Spain.
Of course that should kind of remind you of what I wrote about yesterday. We are starting to see this kind of intense competition for low paying jobs in the United States as well.
As global economic conditions continue to deteriorate, things are going to get even tougher for those on the low end of the economic food chain. Poverty rates are going to soar, even in areas where you might not expect it to happen. In fact, one new report discovered that poverty has already been rising steadily in Germany, which is supposed to be the strongest economy in the entire eurozone…
A few days before the Christmas holidays, the Joint Welfare Association published a report on the regional development of poverty in Germany in 2013 titled “Between prosperity and poverty—a test to breaking point”. The report refutes the official propaganda that Germany has remained largely unaffected by the crisis and is a haven of prosperity in Europe.
According to the report, poverty in Germany has “reached a sad record high”. Entire cities and regions have been plunged into ever deeper economic and social crisis. “The social and regional centrifugal forces, as measured by the spread of incomes, have increased dramatically in Germany since 2006,” it says. Germany faces “a test to breaking point.”
Of course poverty continues to explode on this side of the Atlantic Ocean as well. In the United States, the poverty rate has been at 15 percent or above for three years in a row. That is the first time that this has happened since the 1960s.
And this is just the beginning. The extreme recklessness of European banks such as Deutsche Bank and U.S. banks such as JPMorgan Chase, Citibank and Goldman Sachs is eventually going to cause a financial catastrophe far worse than what we experienced back in 2008.
When that crisis arrives, the flow of credit is going to freeze up dramatically and economic activity will grind to a standstill. Unemployment, poverty and all of our current economic problems will become much, much worse.
So as bad as things are right now, the truth is that this is nothing compared to what is coming.
I hope that you are getting prepared for the coming storm while you still can.
Did you know that the total number of unemployed workers in G20 counties is now up to 93 million and that it is increasing with each passing day? You see, the truth is that the United States is not the only one dealing with a systemic unemployment crisis. This is literally happening all over the planet. So what is causing this crisis? Is there any hope that it will be turned around? Well, unfortunately there are several long-term trends that have been developing for decades that have played a major role in bringing us to this point. First of all, the giant corporations that now totally dominate the global economy have figured out that they can make a lot more money by replacing expensive workers that live in major industrialized nations with workers that live in nations where it is legal to pay slave labor wages. So it isn’t really a huge mystery why there is such a huge problem with unemployment in the western world. If you were running a giant corporation, why would you want to hire workers that will cost you 10 to 20 times as much as other workers? A worker is a worker, and over the past decade we have seen a massive movement of jobs to countries where labor is cheaper. In addition, large corporations are also trying to completely eliminate as many jobs as they can by using technology. If a corporation can get a computer or a machine or a robot to do a task more cheaply than a human worker can do it, then why would that corporation want to continue to rely on human labor? And of course we have seen an overall weakening of the economies of the western world in recent years as well. This has been particularly true in the United States. As these long-term trends intensify, the worldwide unemployment crisis is going to get even worse.
In fact, the director general of the International Labor Organization is fully convinced that unemployment is going to continue to rise in G20 nations. Just check out what he told CNBC on Friday…
Unemployment will likely soar further in the group of 20 major economic powers without immediate action, Guy Ryder, the director general of the International Labor Organization told CNBC on Friday, comparing the jobs crisis to the 2008-2009 financial crisis and warning it needs to be tackled urgently.
“We have gone backwards. It is quite alarming to see…that unemployment has not gone down, in fact it’s gone up,” Ryder told CNBC at the G20 finance ministers’ meeting in Moscow.
He said 93 million people were currently unemployed in the G20.
And when those living in G20 nations lose their jobs, they tend to stay out of work for a very long time. In fact, 30 percent of unemployed workers in G20 countries have been out of work for one year or longer.
Major industrialized nations all over the planet are no longer able to produce enough jobs for their people. In many “wealthy nations” the unemployment rate has already risen well up into double digits. Just consider the following numbers…
-The unemployment rate in Portugal has rocketed up to 17.7 percent.
-The unemployment rate in Greece is currently sitting at 26.9 percent and it is being projected that it will soon hit 30 percent.
-The unemployment rate in Spain is even worse than in Greece. The unemployment rate in Spain is a staggering 27.2 percent.
Sadly, it looks like things are not going to be getting better any time soon. In fact, global business confidence is now the lowest that it has been since the last recession.
So what about the United States?
Well, it is true that our official numbers do not look quite as bad as much of the rest of the world. But the official unemployment rate in the U.S. has been at 7.5 percent or higher for 54 months in a row. That is the longest stretch in U.S. history.
But at least it is not in double digits yet.
Things could be worse.
However, that does not mean that we are doing well either.
The mainstream media is attempting to convince us that everything is just fine because the unemployment rate has been “going down”, but when you take a deeper look at the numbers that is not exactly an accurate assessment of our situation.
As the New York Times recently pointed out, the decline in the unemployment rate can almost entirely be accounted for by a decline in the labor participation rate…
Let’s take a step back. Lots of people lost jobs during the Great Recession. In the aftermath, the great surprise has been how few are looking for new jobs. Labor force participation, the share of adults working or trying to find work, has stagnated at about 63.5 percent, almost three percentage points below the pre-recession level.
The unemployment rate has dropped almost entirely because of this decline in labor force participation. In other words, it has not fallen because people are finding jobs. It has fallen because fewer people are looking for jobs.
To get a more accurate picture of what is really happening with employment in America, you need to look at the employment-population ratio. It is a measurement of the percentage of the working age population that is actually working. As you can see, the percentage of working age Americans that actually have a job has been declining since the year 2000…
As you can see, there has been no employment recovery.
When the mainstream media tells you that the employment numbers for June were “great”, that is not being honest. The truth is that the unemployment rate rose in 28 U.S. states and it only declined in 11 states during June, and as I mentioned yesterday, the U.S. economy actually lost 240,000 full-time jobs last month.
So no, things are not getting better, and the unemployment problems in the United States and in Europe are likely going to continue to get worse in the years ahead.
That is very bad news for most of us, because the only thing that most of us have to offer in the marketplace is our labor. If the value that is placed on our labor is continually declining, then that puts us in a very difficult position.
It is almost as if we have all been drafted to play a very twisted game of musical chairs. Each time the music stops, more chairs (jobs) are being pulled out of the game.
You might be doing okay for the moment, but what is going to happen when the music suddenly stops one day and your chair gets pulled out of the game?
That is something that you might want to start thinking about.
When you get into too much debt, eventually really bad things start to happen. This is a very painful lesson that southern Europe is learning right now, and it is a lesson that the United States will soon learn as well. It simply is not possible to live way beyond your means forever. You can do it for a while though, and politicians in the U.S. and in Europe keep trying to kick the can down the road and extend the party, but the truth is that debt is a very cruel master and at some point it inevitably catches up with you. And when it catches up with you, the results can be absolutely devastating. Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal all tried to just slow down the rate at which their government debts were increasing, and look at what happened to their economies. In each case, GDP is shrinking, unemployment is skyrocketing, credit is freezing up and manufacturing is declining. And you know what? None of those countries has even gotten close to a balanced budget yet. They are all still going into even more debt. Just imagine what would happen if they actually tried to only spend the money that they brought in?
I have always said that the next wave of the economic collapse would start in Europe and that is exactly what is happening. So keep watching Europe. What is happening to them will eventually happen to us.
The following are 17 signs that a full-blown economic depression is raging in southern Europe…
#1 The Italian economy is in the midst of a horrifying “credit crunch” that is causing thousands of companies to go bankrupt…
Confindustria, the business federation, said 29pc of Italian firms cannot meet “operational expenses” and are starved of liquidity. A “third phase of the credit crunch” is underway that matches the shocks in 2008-2009 and again in 2011.
In a research report the group said the economy was caught in a “vicious circle” where banks are too frightened to lend, driving more companies over the edge. A thousand are going bankrupt every day.
#2 During the 4th quarter of 2012, the unemployment rate in Greece was 26.4 percent. That was 2.6 percent higher than the third quarter of 2012, and it was 5.7 percent higher than the fourth quarter of 2011.
#3 During the 4th quarter of 2012, the youth unemployment rate in Greece was 57.8 percent.
#4 The unemployment rate in Spain has reached 26 percent.
Data from Italy’s national statistics institute ISTAT showed that the country’s economy shrank by 0.9pc in the fourth quarter of last year and gross domestic product was down a revised 2.8pc year-on-year.
#10 The Greek economy is contracting even faster than the Italian economy is…
Greece also sank further into recession during the fourth quarter of 2012, with figures on Monday showing the economy contracted by 5.7pc year-on-year.
#12 Manufacturing activity is declining just about everywhere in Europe except for Germany…
Research group Markit said its index of activity in UK manufacturing – where 50 is the cut off between growth and decline – sank from 50.5 in January to 47.9 in February. It left Britain on the brink of a third recession in five years after the economy shrank by 0.3 per cent in the final quarter of 2012.
Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit, said: ‘This represents a major setback to hopes that the UK economy can return to growth in the first quarter and avoid a triple-dip recession.’
The eurozone manufacturing index also read 47.9. Germany scored 50.3 but Spain hit 46.8, Italy 45.8 and France 43.9.
#13 The percentage of bad loans in Italian banks has risen to 12.2 percent. Back in 2007, that number was sitting at just 4.5 percent.
#14 Bank deposits experienced significant declines all over Europe during the month of January.
#15 Private bond default rates are soaring all over southern Europe…
S&P said the default rate for Italian non-investment grade bonds jumped to 9.5pc last year from 5.7pc in 2012 as local banks shut off funding. It was even worse in Spain, doubling to 14.3pc.
The default rate in France rocketed from 0.8pc to 8.7pc, the latest in a blizzard of bad news from the country as the delayed effects of tax rises, fiscal tightening, and the strong euro do their worst.
#16 Lars Feld, a key economic adviser to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, recently said the following…
“The sustainability of Italian public finances is in jeopardy. The euro crisis will therefore return shortly with a vengeance.”
#17 Things have gotten so bad in Greece that the Greek government plans to sell off 28 state-owned buildings – including the main police headquarters in Athens.
One of the few politicians in Europe that actually understands what is happening in Europe is Nigel Farage. A video of one of his recent rants is posted below. Farage believes that “the Eurozone has been a complete economic disaster” and that the worst is yet to come…
Most people believe that the eurozone has been “saved”, but that is not even close to the truth.
In fact, it becomes more likely that we will see the eurozone break up with each passing day.
So who would leave first?
Well, recently there have been rumblings among some German politicians that Greece should be the first to leave. The following is from a recent Reuters article…
Greece remains the biggest risk for the euro zone despite a calming of its economic and political crisis and may still have to leave the common currency, a senior conservative ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel said.
But there is also a chance that Germany could eventually be the first nation that decides to leave the euro. In fact, a new political party is forming in Germany that is committed to getting Germany out of the euro. The following is a brief excerpt from a recent article by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard…
A new party led by economists, jurists, and Christian Democrat rebels will kick off this week, calling for the break-up of monetary union before it can do any more damage.
“An end to this euro,” is the first line on the webpage of Alternative für Deutschland (AfD). “The introduction of the euro has proved to be a fatal mistake, that threatens the welfare of us all. The old parties are used up. They stubbornly refuse to admit their mistakes.”
They propose German withdrawl from EMU and return to the D-Mark, or a breakaway currency with the Dutch, Austrians, Finns, and like-minded nations. The French are not among them. The borders run along the ancient line of cleavage dividing Latins from Germanic tribes.
However this all plays out, the reality is that things are about to get much more interesting in Europe.
No debt bubble lasts forever. The Europeans are finding that out right now, and the U.S. won’t be too far behind.
But for the moment, most Americans assume that everything is going to be okay because the Dow keeps setting new all-time record highs.
Well, enjoy this little bubble of debt-fueled false prosperity while you can, because it won’t last for long.
A massive wake up call is coming, and it will be exceedingly painful for those that are not ready for it.
Why are so many politicians around the world declaring that the debt crisis is “over” when debt to GDP ratios all over the planet continue to skyrocket? The global economy has never seen anything like the sovereign debt bubble that we are experiencing today. The United States, Japan, and nearly every major nation in Europe are absolutely drowning in debt. We have heard a lot about “austerity” over in Europe in recent years, but debt to GDP ratios continue to rise in Greece, Spain, Italy, Ireland and Portugal. In general, most economists consider a debt to GDP ratio of 100% to be a “danger level”, and most of the economies of the western world have either already surpassed that level or are rapidly approaching it. Of course the biggest debt offender of all in many ways is the United States. The U.S. debt to GDP ratio has risen from 66.6 percent to 103 percent since 2007, and the U.S. government accumulated more new debt during Barack Obama’s first term than it did under the first 42 U.S. presidents combined. This insane sovereign debt bubble will continue to expand until a day of reckoning arrives and the system implodes. Nobody knows exactly when that moment will be reached, but without a doubt it is coming.
But if you listen to the mainstream media in the United States, you would be tempted to think that this giant bubble of debt is not much of a concern at all. For example, in a recent article in the Washington Post entitled “The case for deficit optimism“, Ezra Klein wrote the following…
“Here’s a secret: For all the sound and fury, Washington’s actually making real progress on debt.”
How many times have we heard that before?
About a decade ago, government officials were projecting that we would be swimming in gigantic government surpluses by now.
Instead, we are running trillion dollar deficits.
But right now there is a lot of optimism about the economy. The stock market recently hit a 5 year high and the business community is loving all of the false prosperity that all of this debt is buying us.
“It is not a good thing to have it going up in relation to GDP. That should be stabilized. But the debt itself is not a problem.”
A debt of 16 trillion dollars “is not a problem”?
Perhaps we should all run our finances that way.
Why don’t we all go out and open up 20 different credit cards, run them all up to the max, and then tell the credit card companies that we can’t pay them back but that it “is not a problem”.
Of course real life does not work that way.
The truth is that government debt is becoming a monstrous problem all over the globe. Just check out how debt to GDP ratios all over the planet have grown over the past five years…
Debt to GDP ratio in 2007: 66.6 percent
Debt to GDP ratio in 2012: 103 percent
Debt to GDP ratio in 2007: 43.4 percent
Debt to GDP ratio in 2012: 85.0 percent
Debt to GDP ratio in 2007: 63.7 percent
Debt to GDP ratio in 2012: 86 percent
Debt to GDP ratio in 2007: 67.6 percent
Debt to GDP ratio in 2012: 80.5 percent
Debt to GDP ratio in 2007: 39.6 percent
Debt to GDP ratio in 2012: 69.3 percent
Debt to GDP ratio in 2007: 24.8 percent
Debt to GDP ratio in 2012: 106.4 percent
Debt to GDP ratio in 2007: 63.9 percent
Debt to GDP ratio in 2012: 108.1 percent
Debt to GDP ratio in 2007: 106.6 percent
Debt to GDP ratio in 2012: 120.7 percent
Debt to GDP ratio in 2007: 106.1 percent
Debt to GDP ratio in 2012: 170.6 percent
The Eurozone As A Whole
Debt to GDP ratio in 2007: 68.4 percent
Debt to GDP ratio in 2012: 87.3 percent
Debt to GDP ratio in 2007: 172.1 percent
Debt to GDP ratio in 2012: 211.7 percent
So how does all of this end?
Well, it is going to be messy, but it is very difficult to say exactly when the system will collapse under the weight of too much debt. Some nations, such as Japan, are able to handle very high debt loads because they have a very high level of domestic saving. Up to this point, an astounding 95 percent of all Japanese government bonds have been purchased domestically. But other nations collapse under the weight of government debt even before they reach a debt to GDP ratio of 100%. The following is an excerpt from a recent Congressional Research Service report…
It is hard to predict at what point bond holders would deem it to be unsustainable. A few other advanced economies have debt-to-GDP ratios higher than that of the United States. Some of those countries in Europe have recently seen their financing costs rise to the point that they are unable to finance their deficits solely through private markets. But Japan has the highest debt-to-GDP ratio of any advanced economy, and it has continued to be able to finance its debt at extremely low costs.
When a government runs up massive amounts of debt, it is playing with fire. You can pile up mountains of government debt for a while, but eventually it catches up with you.
Over the past 10 years, the U.S. national debt has grown by an average of 9.3 percent per year, but the overall U.S. economy has only grown by an average of just 1.8 percent per year. That is unsustainable by definition.
There is going to be a tremendous price to pay for the debt binge that the U.S. government has indulged in over the past decade. During Barack Obama’s first term, the amount of new debt accumulated by the federal government breaks down to about $50,521 for every single household in the United States. That is utter insanity.
If you can believe it, we have accumulated more new government debt under Obama than we did from the inauguration of George Washington to the end of the Clinton administration.
And most Americans realize that something is seriously wrong. One recent poll found that only 34 percent of all Americans believe that the country is heading in the right direction, and 60 percent of all Americans believe that the country is heading in the wrong direction.
If we keep piling up so much debt, at some point a moment of great crisis will arrive. When that moment arrives, we could see havoc throughout the entire global financial system. For instance, most people don’t really understand the key role that U.S. Treasuries play in the derivatives market. The following is from a recent article posted on Zero Hedge…
This time around, things will be far worse if nothing is solved. If the US loses another AAA rating, then the financial markets could face systemic risk. The reason for this is that US Treasuries are one of the senior most forms of collateral used by the banks to backstop the $600+ trillion derivatives market.
As any trader who trades on margin can tell you, when the value of your collateral is called into question, those on the other side of the trade come looking for you to put up more capital on your trades. This can result in assets being sold en masse (similar to what happened after Lehman failed) and things can get very ugly very fast.
“These processes are not linear,” warns Prof. Reinhart. “You can increase debt for a while and nothing happens. Then you hit the wall, and—bang!—what seem to be minor shocks that the markets would shrug off in other circumstances suddenly become big.”
At some point the global financial system will hit the wall that Professor Reinhart has warned about.
Are you constantly tired and do you feel incredibly stressed almost all the time? Well, that means that there is a really good chance that you are a typical American worker. Even though our incomes are going down, Americans are spending more time at work than ever before. In fact, U.S. workers spend more time at work than anyone else in the world. But it was not always this way. Back in 1970, the average work week for an American worker was about 35 hours. Today, it is up to 46 hours. But there are other major economies around the globe that are doing just fine without burning their workers out. For example, the average American worker spends 378 more hours working per year than the average German worker does. Sadly, for many Americans work is not even finished once they leave the office. According to one recent survey, the average American worker spends an extra seven hours per week on work tasks such as checking emails and answering phone calls after normal work hours have finished. Other Americans are juggling two or three jobs in a desperate attempt to make ends meet. Americans are busier than ever and work is often pushing the other areas of our lives on to the back burner. What this also means is that “family vacations” are becoming increasingly rare in the United States. In fact, Americans spend less days on vacation than anyone else in the industrialized world. While some would applaud our “work ethic”, the truth is that the fact that we are being overworked is having some very serious consequences. In fact, as you will see below, Americans are literally being worked to death.
The following is an excerpt from a comment that one reader posted on one of my recent articles. Can you identify with what this family is going through?….
I always try and remember to be thankful and say prayers of gratitude for the blessings I have, however I can tell you that my wife and I are getting more and more exhausted.
Straight forward payroll taxes nailed us for $35k last year and the dozens of other taxes are often over-looked but also hitting us harder and harder.
My wife works 14 hour shifts at her dialysis clinic 3 days a week and every other weekend. On the Tuesdays and thursdays she has off she ends up resting half the day to give her poor feet a break since a nurse on her feet 14 straight hours of continual busyness is exhausting.
On top of that, her company has had a pay freeze for 3 years, has dropped Holidays down to just 2 per year ( Thanksgiving and Christmas of which she must work 1 of them), has canceled the reimbursement of her CEU’s ( medical professionals are required to continue to take schooling and classes for their entire career in order to renew their licenses) –also they no longer match 401k’s and her company health plan just bumped up $30 per week!!
I put in so many hours at times that when I get home I am too tired to eat. I come home, change clothes/shower and go straight to bed–this is not living. I try and keep up with my volunteer work and rounds at our local nursing home but something is going to have to give. My caseloads are growing and growing and people are making appts 2-3 weeks in advance. I never had a schedule so filled in advance before. I usually have more long-term pt’s with needs of stroke, Parkinson’s, traumatic brain injuries..but now ortho pt’s are scheduling surgeries as to when I’ll have slots for hip replacement and knee replacement rehab time.
I’m ground down and in the mean time everything is getting more expensive, they keep taking more of my money I earn and we are having all of our benefits cut or completely stopped.
All over this country, millions of hard working men and women are slowly being worn down by jobs that are sucking the life out of them. Working way too many hours for an extended period of time can have dramatic consequences for your health, your family and just about every other area of your life.
But for some Americans, there is simply no other choice. There are millions upon millions of Americans that live on the edge of financial disaster these days. According to one recent survey, 77 percent of all Americans live paycheck to paycheck at least some of the time, and the middle class in the United States has been shrinking at a very steady pace in recent years.
Many Americans are not working 60 or 70 hours per week because they want to.
Many are doing it because that is what they must do just to survive.
For example, a recent article posted on Economy In Crisis profiled a mother of four up in Michigan named Lisa Bosworth who can’t make ends meet for her family despite working three jobs….
Bosworth remarried but her current husband, Ray, was forced onto medical disability when a prescription medication caused health problems. The couple, who had a fourth child together, struggle to support their family on Lisa’s meager income.
Bosworth’s gross monthly income from working as a classroom aide in Reeths-Puffer schools and doing two Chronicle newspaper routes is $1,900. That amounts to $22,800 annually, nearly $5,000 below the poverty level for a family of six.
When they run out of money near the end of each month, Lisa and Ray Bosworth line up at one of several food trucks that visit Muskegon each month.
Earlier this month, the couple and three of their children waited in line at a food truck at Calvin Christian Reformed Church in Norton Shores. Lisa Bosworth had just finished her two newspaper routes and was clearly fatigued after another 70-hour work week. “I’m tired,” she said.
Today, there are more than 100 million Americans on welfare, and a significant percentage of those people actually do have jobs. In fact, some are working two or three jobs.
Working class Americans are working harder than ever, but at the same time many of them are making less money than they once did.
This is putting an incredible amount of stress on working class families.
In fact, it appears that a lot of Americans are literally working themselves to death.
And as a recent CBS News article described, this is particularly true for poor Americans that do not have much education….
Overall life expectancy has dropped for white Americans who have less than a high school diploma to rates similar to those of the 1950s and 1960s, new research finds.
The study found non-Hispanic white men without a diploma lived on average until 67.5 in 2008, three years less than they did in 1990. The drop in lifespan was even bigger for non-Hispanic white women with low education: They live five years shorter than 1990 rates, from 78 years old to just 73.5.
This is a sign that our society is going backwards. Working class Americans are actually living significantly shorter lives than they used to.
Of course the garbage that passes for “food” these days certainly is not helping matters any, but that is a topic for another article.
Sadly, those that are working themselves to death consider themselves to be the “lucky ones” in our society today.
There are countless millions of other Americans that are sitting at home right now without a job.
The mainstream media is trying to convince us that the unemployment rate has been falling, but that is a lie. If the labor force participation rate was the same today as it was back when Barack Obama first took office, the unemployment rate in the United States would be 11.2 percent right now.
But that doesn’t sound nearly as good as 8.1 percent sounds, right?
And the percentage of working age Americans with a job is actually lower today than when the last recession supposedly ended.
In this economic environment, most people are scared to death of losing the jobs that they currently have because they don’t know if they will be able to get another one.
During the month of August, the unemployment rate actually increased in 26 different U.S. states, and yet we are supposedly in the midst of “an economic recovery”.
But the truth is that we are not better off than we were back during the last recession. In fact, there are a whole host of statistics that indicate that things are getting worse.
Unfortunately, much of the time people tend to forget that the horrible economic numbers that we are seeing have very substantial real life consequences.
People that cannot find work and people that work very long hours for a very long period of time tend to be much more depressed than the population as a whole.
And depression can often lead to suicide. According to a recent Daily Mail article, more Americans now die from suicide than from car accidents….
Suicide is the cause of more deaths than car crashes, according to an alarming new study.
The number of people who commit suicide in the U.S. has drastically increased while deaths from car accidents have dropped, making suicide the leading cause of injury death.
Suicides via falls or poisoning have risen significantly and experts fear that there could be many more unaccounted for, particularly in cases of overdose.
That is incredibly tragic, because there is never a reason for anyone to commit suicide. One of the things that I have learned in my own life is that there is always a way for things to be turned around.
Yes, life can be very hard when you don’t have much money, but our lives should not be about chasing material things anyway. Our lives should be about so much more than that.
If you are currently feeling overly tired and overly stressed because you have been working too much, I encourage you to take a vacation.
We are only given one life to live. We shouldn’t spend it working ourselves to death.
So what do you think about all of this? Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below….
In recent days, New York Times economist Paul Krugman has been doing a whole bunch of interviews in which he has declared that the solution to our economic problems is very easy. Krugman says that all we need to do to get the global economy going again is for the governments of the world to start spending a lot more money. Krugman believes that austerity is only going to cause the economies of the industrialized world to slow down even further and therefore he says that it is the wrong approach. And you know what? Krugman is partly right about all of this. The false prosperity that the United States and Europe have been enjoying has been fueled by unprecedented amounts of debt, and in order to maintain that level of false prosperity we are going to need even larger amounts of debt. But there are several reasons why Krugman is mostly wrong. First of all, we have not seen any real “austerity” yet. Even though there have been some significant spending cuts and tax increases over in Europe, the truth is that nearly every European government is still piling up more debt at a frightening pace. Here in the United States, the federal government continues to spend more than a trillion dollars a year more than it brings in. If the United States were to go to a balanced federal budget, that would be austerity. What we have now is wild spending by the federal government beyond anything that John Maynard Keynes ever dreamed of. Secondly, Krugman focuses all of his attention on making things more comfortable for all of us in the short-term without even mentioning what we might be doing to future generations. Yes, more government debt would give us a short-term economic boost, but it would also make the long-term financial problems that we are passing on to our children even worse.
It is important to understand that Paul Krugman is a hardcore Keynesian. He believes that national governments can solve most economic problems simply by spending more money. His prescription for the U.S. economy in 2012 was summarized in a recent Rolling Stone article….
The basic issue, says Krugman, is a lack of demand. American consumers and businesses, aren’t spending enough, and efforts to get them to open their wallets have gone nowhere. Krugman’s solution: The federal government needs to step in and spend. A lot. On debt relief for struggling homeowners; on infrastructure projects; on aid to states and localities; on safety-net programs. Call it “stimulus” if you like. Call it Keynesian economics, after the great economic thinker (and Krugman idol) John Maynard Keynes, who first championed the idea that government has an essential role in saving the free market from its own excesses.
So is Krugman right?
Would the U.S. economy improve if the federal government borrowed and spent an extra half a trillion dollars this year for example?
Yes, it would.
But it would also get us half a trillion dollars closer to bankruptcy as a nation.
Krugman claims that “austerity” has failed, but the truth is that we have not even seen any real “austerity” yet.
When a government spends more than it brings in, that is not real austerity.
People talk about the “austerity” that we have seen in places such as Greece and Spain, but the truth is that both nations are still piling up huge amounts of new debt.
So let’s not pretend that the western world is serious about austerity.
The goal for most European nations at this point is to get their debts down to “sustainable” levels.
But for economists such as Krugman, this is a very bad idea. Krugman insists that cutting government spending during a recession is a very stupid thing to do. The following is from one of his recent articles in the New York Times….
For the past two years most policy makers in Europe and many politicians and pundits in America have been in thrall to a destructive economic doctrine. According to this doctrine, governments should respond to a severely depressed economy not the way the textbooks say they should — by spending more to offset falling private demand — but with fiscal austerity, slashing spending in an effort to balance their budgets.
Critics warned from the beginning that austerity in the face of depression would only make that depression worse. But the “austerians” insisted that the reverse would happen. Why? Confidence! “Confidence-inspiring policies will foster and not hamper economic recovery,” declared Jean-Claude Trichet, the former president of the European Central Bank — a claim echoed by Republicans in Congress here. Or as I put it way back when, the idea was that the confidence fairy would come in and reward policy makers for their fiscal virtue.
Yes, Krugman is correct that government austerity measures will only make a recession worse.
Just look at what has happened in Greece. Wave after wave of austerity measures has pushed Greece into an economic depression. If you want to see what austerity has done to the unemployment rate in Greece, just check out this chart.
As other nations across Europe have taken measures to get debt under control, we have seen similar economic results all across the continent.
But Paul Krugman does not consider this to be a major problem.
The Obama administration is currently stealing approximately 150 million dollars from our children and our grandchildren every single hour to finance our reckless spending, but for Paul Krugman that is not nearly good enough.
To Krugman, the only thing that is important is what is happening right now. Apparently the future can be thrown into the toilet as far as he is concerned.
The founder of PIMCO, Bill Gross, told CNBC on Tuesday that the U.S. government is likely to be hit with another credit rating downgrade this year if something is not done about our exploding debt.
The United States already has more government debt per capita than Greece, Portugal, Italy, Ireland or Spain does.
But Krugman insists that the solution to our economic problems is even more debt and even more spending.
In a previous article, I detailed how we are doomed if the U.S. government keeps spending money wildly like this and we are doomed if the U.S. governments stops spending money wildly like this.
If we keep running trillion dollar deficits every year, at some point our financial system will collapse, the U.S. dollar will fail, and we will essentially be facing national bankruptcy.
But if the federal government stops borrowing and spending money like this, our debt-fueled prosperity will rapidly disappear, unemployment will shoot well up into double digits, and we will soon have mass rioting in major U.S. cities.
The truth is that we have already been following Paul Krugman’s economic prescription for the nation for decades. Our 15 trillion dollar party has funded a standard of living unlike anything the world has ever seen, but the party is coming to an end.
The Federal Reserve is trying to keep the party going by buying up huge amounts of government debt. The Fed actually purchased approximately 61 percent of all government debt issued by the U.S. Treasury Department in 2011.
It is a shell game that cannot go on for too much longer.
The national debt crisis can be delayed for a while, but at some point the house of cards is going to come crashing down on top of us all.
If Paul Krugman wanted to talk about real solutions he could talk about shutting down the Federal Reserve and he could talk about going to an entirely debt-free currency.
But we all know that is not going to happen, don’t we?
As I have written about before, the Federal Reserve was designed to be a perpetual government debt machine. The system was designed to have the amount of money and the amount of government debt constantly expand.
And it has been working quite well in that regard. At this point, the U.S. national debt is more than 5000 times larger than it was when the Federal Reserve was first created.
But Paul Krugman is not going to talk about the real issues. Instead, he is just going to keep running around declaring that more government spending and more government debt will solve all of our problems.
It is a very big lie, but millions of people are going to believe it.
If you enjoy watching financial doom, then you are quite likely to really enjoy the rest of 2012. Right now, red flags are popping up all over the place. Corporate insiders are selling off stock like there is no tomorrow, major economies all over Europe continue to implode, the IMF is warning that the eurozone could actually break up and there are signs of trouble at major banks all over the planet. Unfortunately, it looks like the period of relative stability that global financial markets have been enjoying is about to come to an end. A whole host of problems that have been festering just below the surface are starting to manifest, and we are beginning to see the ingredients for a “perfect storm” start to come together. The greatest global debt bubble in human history is showing signs that it is getting ready to burst, and when that happens the consequences are going to be absolutely horrific. Hopefully we still have at least a little bit more time before the global financial system implodes, but at this point it doesn’t look like anything is going to be able to stop the chaos that is on the horizon.
The following are 22 red flags that indicate that very serious doom is coming for global financial markets….
#1 According to CNN, the level of selling by insiders at corporations listed on the S&P 500 is the highest that it has been in almost a decade. Do those insiders know something that the rest of us do not?
#2 Home prices in the United States have fallen for six months in a row and are now down 35 percent from the peak of the housing market. The last time that home prices in the U.S. were this low was back in 2002.
#4 Despite wave after wave of austerity measures, Greece is still going to have a budget deficit equivalent to about 7 percent of GDP in 2012.
#5 Interest rates on Italian and Spanish sovereign debt are rapidly rising. The following is from a recent RTE article….
Spain’s borrowing rate nearly doubled in a short-term debt auction as investors fretted over the euro zone’s determination to deal with its debts.
And Italy raised nearly €3.5 billion in a short-term bond sale today but at sharply higher interest rates amid fresh concerns over the euro zone outlook, the Bank of Italy said.
#6 The government of Spain recently announced that its 2011 budget deficit was much larger than originally projected and that it probably will not meet its budget targets for 2012 either.
#7 Amazingly, bad loans now make up 8.15 percent of all loans on the books of Spanish banks. That is the highest level in 18 years. The total value of all toxic loans in Spain is equivalent to approximately 13 percent of Spanish GDP.
#9 The Spanish government has announced a ban on all cash transactions larger than 2,500 euros. Many are interpreting this as a panic move.
#10 It is looking increasingly likely that a major bailout for Spain will be needed. The following is from a recent Reuters article….
Economic experts watching Spain don’t know how much money will be needed or precisely when, but some are near certain that Madrid will eventually seek a multi-billion euro bailout for its banks, and perhaps even for the state itself.
#11 Analysts at Moody’s Analytics are warning that Italy has now reached financially unsustainable territory….
“Italy is already out of fiscal space, in our estimate.” said Moody’s. “Its debt levels relative to GDP already exceed a manageable level. The manageable limit for Italian 10-year bond yields is estimated at 4.2pc. As of Wednesday, Italian 10-year yields were 5.46pc.”
#12 It is being projected that the Portuguese economy will shrink by 5.7 percent during 2012.
#13 There is even trouble in European nations that have been considered relatively stable up to this point. For example, the Dutch government collapsed on Monday after austerity talks broke down.
#15 The top economist for the IMF, Olivier Blanchard, recently made this statement: “One has the feeling that at any moment, things could get very bad again.”
#16 A recent IMF report admitted that the current financial crisis could lead to the break up of the eurozone….
Under these circumstances, a break-up of the euro area could not be ruled out. The financial and real spillovers to other regions, especially emerging Europe, would likely be very large.
This could cause major political shocks that could aggravate economic stress to levels well above those after the Lehman collapse.
#17 George Soros is publicly declaring that the European Union could soon experience a collapse similar to what happened to the Soviet Union.
#18 A member of the European Parliament, Nigel Farage, stated during one recent interview that it is inevitable that some major banks in Europe will collapse….
There are going to be some serious banking collapses and the impact of that on some sovereign states, will be serious. I’m afraid we’ve gotten to a point where we really can’t stop this now. We’re beginning to reach a stage where however much false money you create, the problem becomes bigger than the people trying to solve it. We are very close to that point.
When I talk about the threats and the risk that this thing could wind up in some kind of rebellion, some sort of awful social cataclysm, they (other European politicians) are now very worried indeed. They will talk to you in private, but in public, nobody dares utter a word.
I think the deterioration, in the last two or three weeks, in the eurozone is very serious indeed. It’s the bond spreads in Italy and Spain. It’s the fact that youth unemployment is now over 50% in some of these Mediterranean countries.
It’s riot and disorder on the streets. And yet a month ago I was here and there was Herman Van Rumpuy telling us, ‘We’ve turned the corner. Everything is solved. There are no more problems with the eurozone.’ What a pack of jokers they look like.”
#19 The IMF is projecting that Japan will have a debt to GDP ratio of 256 percent by next year.
#20 Goldman Sachs is projecting that the S&P 500 will fall by about 11 percent by the end of 2012.
#21 Over the past six months, hundreds of prominent bankers have resigned all over the globe. Is there a reason why so many are suddenly leaving their posts?
#22 The 9 largest U.S. banks have a total of 228.72 trillion dollars of exposure to derivatives. That is approximately 3 times the size of the entire global economy. It is a financial bubble so immense in size that it is nearly impossible to fully comprehend how large it is.
The financial crisis of 2008 was just a warm up act for what is coming. The too big to fail banks are larger than ever, the governments of the western world are in far more debt than they were back then, and the entire global financial system is more unstable and more vulnerable than ever before.
But this time the epicenter of the financial crisis will be in Europe.
Spain, Italy and Portugal are all heading for an economic depression and Greece is already in one.
The European Central Bank was able to kick the can down the road a little bit by expanding its balance sheet by about a trillion dollars over the last nine months, but the truth is that the underlying problems in Europe just continue to get worse and worse.
It truly is like watching a horrible car wreck happen in slow motion.
The good news is that there is still a little time to get yourself into a better position for the next financial crisis. Don’t leave yourself financially exposed to the next crash.
Sadly, just like back in 2008, most people will never even see this next crisis coming.
So do you have any other red flags to add to the list above? Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below….