The Beginning Of The End
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Economists: The U.S. Economy Shrank In Q1, But Better Days Are Just Around The Corner

Smiley Face - Photo by FlyingtigersiteDuring the first three months of this year, the U.S. economy contracted at a 1 percent annual rate.  Despite this, mainstream economists flooded the mainstream media with assurances that much better days are just around the corner on Thursday.  In fact, many of them boldly predicted that U.S. GDP would grow at a 3 or 4 percent annual rate in the second quarter.  None of them seem the least bit concerned that another major recession is rapidly approaching.  Instead, they just blamed the bad number for the first quarter on a “severe winter“, and the financial markets responded to the GDP news quite cheerfully.  In fact, the S&P 500 soared to another brand new record high.  No matter how bad the numbers get, almost everyone in the financial world seems quite optimistic.  But is there actually good reason to have such optimism?

As Zero Hedge has pointed out, if it wasn’t for dramatically increased healthcare spending due to the implementation of Obamacare, U.S. GDP would have actually dropped at a 2 percent annual rate during the first quarter of 2014.

That would have been an absolutely disastrous number.

But within a very short time of the revised U.S. GDP number being released, the mainstream media was inundated with positive stories about the news.

For example, CNN published a story entitled “U.S. economy shrinks, but it’s not a big deal” and CNBC released a survey of nine prominent economists that showed that their consensus forecast for the second quarter of 2014 is GDP growth at a 3.74 percent annual rate.

It just seems like almost everyone wants to forget about what happened during the first quarter and wants to look ahead to a great number for quarter two.

Joseph Lavorgna, the chief U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank, is boldly forecasting a 4 percent growth rate for the second quarter.  So is Jim O’Sullivan.  In fact, it is hard to find any “expert” in the mainstream media that does not expect rip-roaring economic growth this quarter.

For example, just check out these quotes…

-Stuart Hoffman, the chief economist for PNC Bank: “The first quarter was disappointing, but rather than view that as an omen of a recession or the first of a down leg in the economy, I see the seeds of a big bounce back in spring.”

-Paul Ashworth of Capital Economics: “For those worried about a recession, it’s worth remembering that employment increased by nearly 300,000 in April.”

-The Bank of Tokyo’s Chris Rupkey: “2Q growth seen at nearly 4%… Weak 1Q is stone cold dead as an indicator of where the economy is headed.”

-Jan Hatzius of Goldman Sachs: “Because of weaker inventory investment in Q1, we increased our Q2 GDP tracking estimate by two-tenths to 3.9%.”

-Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp. CEO Jeffrey Stibel: “Using an alternative model for projecting job growth, we see an entirely different scenario, one in which the U.S. unemployment rate will fall below 5 percent by no later than the middle of next year.”

Hopefully they are right.

Hopefully we are not heading into another recession.

But as I discussed in an article earlier this week, evidence continues to mount that another recession has already begun for much of the country.

And there was another number that was released today that seems to confirm this.  According to CNBC, there was a 6 percent drop in exports in the first quarter of 2014 when compared to the first quarter of 2013…

The U.S. economic reversal was led by a 6 percent drop in exports year over year, until recently hailed as a key driver of the U.S. recovery, and which had risen 9.5 percent in the last three months of 2013.

The slackening of trade has spread to the developing world, where emerging economies are seeing less demand from the U.S., Europe and China for raw materials and other exports.

We saw a similar decline happen in mid-2008 as the U.S. economy plunged into recession.

And Bloomberg’s Consumer Comfort index has fallen to the lowest level that we have seen in six months.  U.S. consumers are increasingly tapped out, and the ongoing “retail apocalypse” is evidence of that fact.

A declining middle class simply cannot support the massive retail infrastructure that America has developed.  As the middle class has fallen to pieces, it was just a matter of time before big trouble started erupting for the retail industry.  This is something that David Stockman recently wrote about…

It does not take much analysis to see that these bell ringers do not represent sustainable prosperity unfolding across the land. For example, around 1990 real median income was $56k per household and now, 25 years later, its just $51k—-meaning that main street living standards have plunged by about 9% during the last quarter century. But what has not dropped is the opportunity for Americans to drop shopping: square footage per capita during the same period more than doubled, rising from 19 square feet per capita at the earlier date to 47 at present.

This complete contradiction—declining real living standards and soaring investment in retail space—did not occur due to some embedded irrational impulse in America to speculate in real estate, or because capitalism has an inherent tendency to go off the deep-end. The fact that in equally “prosperous” Germany today there is only 12 square feet of retail space per capita is an obvious tip-off, and this is not a teutonic aberration. America’s prize-winning number of 47 square feet of retail space per capita is 3-8X higher than anywhere else in the developed world!

Without middle class jobs, you can’t have a middle class.  That is why our employment crisis is at the very heart of our economic problems.  Even using the government’s highly manipulated unemployment figures, there are still quite a few cities out there that have official unemployment rates in the double digits

The unemployment rate in Yuma, Ariz., is 23.8%. In El Centro, Calif., it is 21.6%. El Centro sits in an area of California in which unemployment in many metro areas is double the national average. In Merced the figure is 14.3%, in Yuba City the figure is 14.5%, in Hanford it is 13.1% and in Visalia it is 13.4%. In several metros close to these, the figure is above 10%. Most of them are inland from San Francisco and the area just south of it, which also happens to be among the nation’s most drought-plagued regions. This means jobs recovery is highly unlikely.

But of course the truth is that if the government actually used honest numbers, the unemployment rate for the entire nation would be in double digits.

And as I like to remind people, according to the government’s own numbers approximately 20 percent of the families in the entire nation do not have a single member that is employed.

So how is it possible that the “unemployment rate” is just a little above 6 percent?

It is a giant sham.

But that is what they want.

They want us feeling good and thinking that everything is going to be okay.

Unfortunately, they used the same approach back in 2007 and 2008, and we all remember how that turned out.

The Top 12 Signs That The U.S. Economy Is Heading Toward Another Recession

12 SignsIs the U.S. economy steamrolling toward another recession?  Will 2014 turn out to be a major “turning point” when we look back on it?  Before we get to the evidence, it is important to note that there are many economists that believe that the United States never actually got out of the last recession.  For example, data compiled by John Williams of shadowstats.com show that the U.S. economy has continually been in recession since 2005.  So if anyone out there would like to argue that America is experiencing a recession right now, I certainly would not have a problem with that.  In fact, that would fit with the daily reality of tens of millions of Americans that are deeply suffering in this harsh economic environment.  But no matter whether we are in a “recession” at the moment or not, there are an increasing number of indications that we are rapidly plunging into another major economic slowdown.  The following are the top 12 signs that the U.S. economy is heading toward another recession…

#1 We recently learned that the number of new mortgage applications in the United States had fallen to the lowest level that we have seen in nearly 20 years.

#2 Radio Shack has announced that it is going to close more than 1,000 stores.  This is just another sign that we are in the midst of a “retail apocalypse“.

#3 The ISM Services index just fell to its lowest level in 4 years, and ISM Services Employment just experienced its largest decline since the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

#4 Obamacare is really starting to hammer the U.S. health care industry

The Affordable Care Act is creating significant financial uncertainty to health care organizations,” said a survey respondent from the health care and social assistance industry.

“With little warning, the negative impact on revenue has been unprecedented.”

#5 Trading revenue at the “too big to fail” banks on Wall Street is way down

Citigroup Inc. (C) and JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) are bracing investors for a fourth straight drop in first-quarter trading, a period of the year when the largest investment banks typically earn the most from that business.

Citigroup finance chief John Gerspach said yesterday his firm expects trading revenue to drop by a “high mid-teens” percentage, less than a week after JPMorgan Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon said revenue from equities and fixed income was down about 15 percent. If trading at the nine largest firms slumps that much, it would extend the slide from 2010’s first quarter to 36 percent.

#6 One of the “too big to fail” banks, JPMorgan, is planning to fire “thousands” more workers.

#7 Moody’s has downgraded the credit rating of the city of Chicago again.  Now it is just three notches above junk status.

#8 The U.S. economy actually lost 2.87 million jobs during the month of January according to the unadjusted numbers.  Over the past decade, the only time the U.S. economy has lost more jobs during the month of January was in 2009 at the peak of the last recession.

#9 In January, real disposable income in the U.S. experienced the largest year over year decline that we have seen since 1974.

#10 Only 35 percent of all Americans say that they are better off financially than they were a year ago.

#11 Global retail sales for machinery giant Caterpillar have fallen for 14 months in a row.

#12 The economic data show that virtually all of the largest economies on the planet are slowing down right now.  The following is from a recent Zero Hedge article

The last 3 weeks have seen the macro fundamentals of the G-10 major economies collapse at the fastest pace in almost 4 years and almost the biggest slump since Lehman. Despite a plethora of data showing that ‘weather’ is not to blame, US strategists, ‘economists’, and asset-gatherers are sticking to the meme that this is all because of the cold on the east coast of the US (and that means wondrous pent-up demand to come). However, as the New York Times reports, for the earth, it was the 4th warmest January on record.

For much more on how the rest of the global economy is also slowing down, please see my recent article entitled “20 Signs That The Global Economic Crisis Is Starting To Catch Fire“.

Meanwhile, things in Ukraine continue to become even more tense, and the Russian government continues to debate how it will respond if the U.S. does end up deciding to hit Russia with economic sanctions.

According to one Russian news source, the Russian parliament is actually considering the confiscation of the property and assets of U.S. businesses in Russia if the U.S. decides to go ahead with economic sanctions against Russia…

The upper house of Russia’s parliament is mulling measures allowing property and assets of European and US companies to be confiscated in the event of sanctions being adopted against Russia over its threatened military intervention in Ukraine.

We are talking about banks, retail chains, mining operations, etc.

U.S. companies have billions invested in Russia, and all of that could be gone in an instant.

So let us certainly hope that economic war between the United States and Russia is averted.  Our economy is hurting enough as it is.

But no matter how things with this crisis in Ukraine play out, it looks like hard times are ahead for the U.S. economy.

Unfortunately, most Americans never learned the lessons that they should have learned back in 2008.

They just assume that the federal government and the Federal Reserve have fixed our problems and have everything under control, so they are not preparing for the next great crisis.

In the end, tens of millions of Americans will be absolutely devastated when they get absolutely blindsided by what is coming.

Time Is Running Out

40 Stats That Prove The U.S. Economy Has Already Been Collapsing Over The Past Decade

40The “coming economic collapse” has already been happening.  You see, the truth is that the economic collapse is not a single event.  It has already started, it is happening right now, and it will accelerate during the years ahead.  The statistics in this article show very clearly that the U.S. economy has fallen dramatically over the past ten years or so.  Unfortunately, there are lots of mockers out there that love to mock the idea of an economic collapse even though one is happening right in front of our eyes.  They love to say stuff like this (and I am paraphrasing): “An economic collapse is never going to happen.  We can consume far more wealth than we produce forever.  We can pile up gigantic mountains of debt forever.  There is no way that the party is over.  In fact, the party is just getting started.  Woo-hoo!”  That sounds absolutely ridiculous, but “economists” and “journalists” actually write things that reflect these kinds of sentiments every single day.  They do not seem alarmed about the fact that our national debt is nearly 17 times larger than it was 30 years ago.  They do not seem alarmed about the fact that the total amount of debt in our country is more than 28 times larger than it was 40 years ago.  They do not seem alarmed about the fact that our economic infrastructure is being absolutely gutted and we are steadily becoming poorer as a nation.  They just think that the magic formula of print, borrow, spend and consume can go on indefinitely.  Unfortunately, the truth is that a massive economic disaster has already started to unfold.  We inherited the greatest economic machine in the history of the world, but we totally wrecked it.  We have been able to live far, far beyond our means for the last couple of decades thanks to the greatest debt bubble in the history of the planet, but now that debt bubble is getting ready to burst.  Anyone with half a brain should be able to see what is coming.  Just open your eyes and look at the facts.  The following are 40 stats that prove the U.S. economy has already been collapsing over the past decade…

#1 According to the World Bank, U.S. GDP accounted for 31.8 percent of all global economic activity in 2001.  That number dropped to 21.6 percent in 2011.

#2 The United States was once ranked #1 in the world in GDP per capita.  Today we have slipped to #14.

#3 The United States has fallen in the global economic competitiveness rankings compiled by the World Economic Forum for four years in a row.

#4 Since the year 2000, the size of the U.S. national debt has grown by more than 11 trillion dollars.

#5 Back in the year 2000, our trade deficit with China was 83 billion dollars.  Last year, it was 315 billion dollars.

#6 In the year 2000, about 17 million Americans were employed in manufacturing.  Today, only about 12 million Americans are employed in manufacturing.

#7 The United States has lost more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities since 2001.

#8 The United States has lost a staggering 32 percent of its manufacturing jobs since the year 2000.

#9 Between December 2000 and December 2010, 38 percent of the manufacturing jobs in Ohio were lost, 42 percent of the manufacturing jobs in North Carolina were lost and 48 percent of the manufacturing jobs in Michigan were lost.

#10 Back in 1998, the United States had 25 percent of the world’s high-tech export market and China had just 10 percent. Today, China’s high-tech exports are more than twice the size of U.S. high-tech exports.

#11 In 2002, the United States had a trade deficit in “advanced technology products” of $16 billion with the rest of the world.  In 2010, that number skyrocketed to $82 billion.

#12 The United States has lost more than a quarter of all of its high-tech manufacturing jobs since the year 2000.

#13 The number of full-time workers in the United States is nearly 6 million below the old record that was set back in 2007.

#14 The average duration of unemployment in the United States is nearly three times as long as it was back in the year 2000.

#15 Throughout the year 2000, more than 64 percent of all working age Americans had a job.  Today, only 58.7 percent of all working age Americans have a job.

#16 The official unemployment rate has been at 7.5 percent or higher for 54 months in a row.  That is the longest stretch in U.S. history.

#17 The U.S. government says that the number of Americans “not in the labor force” rose by 17.9 million between 2000 and 2011.  During the entire decade of the 1980s, the number of Americans “not in the labor force” rose by only 1.7 million.

#18 The average number of hours worked per employed person per year has fallen by about 100 since the year 2000.

#19 The U.S. economy continues to trade good paying jobs for low paying jobs.  60 percent of the jobs lost during the last recession were mid-wage jobs, but 58 percent of the jobs created since then have been low wage jobs.

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

#21 The percentage of Americans that are self-employed has steadily declined over the past decade and is now at an all-time low.

#22 According to economist Tim Kane, the following is how the number of startup jobs per 1000 Americans breaks down by presidential administration

Bush Sr.: 11.3

Clinton: 11.2

Bush Jr.: 10.8

Obama: 7.8

#23 In the year 2000, there were only 17 million Americans on food stamps.  Today, there are more than 47 million Americans on food stamps.

#24 In the year 2000, the ratio of social welfare benefits to salaries and wages was approximately 21 percent.  Today, the ratio of social welfare benefits to salaries and wages is approximately 35 percent.

#25 Since Barack Obama entered the White House, the average price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States has risen from $1.85 to $3.64.

#26 More than twice as many new homes were sold in the United States in 2005 as will be sold in 2013.

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

#28 The price of ground beef increased by 61 percent between 2002 and 2012.

#29 According to USA Today, water bills have actually tripled over the past 12 years in some areas of the country.

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

#31 Median household income in the United States has fallen for four years in a row.

#32 As I mentioned recently, the homeownership rate in America is now at its lowest level in nearly 18 years.

#33 Back in the year 2000, the mortgage delinquency rate was about 2 percent.  Today, it is nearly 10 percent.

#34 Median household income for families with children dropped by a whopping $6,300 between 2001 and 2011.

#35 Back in 2007, about 28 percent of all working families were considered to be among “the working poor”.  Today, that number is up to 32 percent even though our politicians tell us that the economy is supposedly recovering.

#36 According to the Federal Reserve, the median net worth of families in the United States declined “from $126,400 in 2007 to $77,300 in 2010“.

#37 According to the New York Times, the average debt burden for U.S. households that earn $20,000 a year or less “more than doubled to $26,000 between 2001 and 2010“.

#38 Medicare spending increased by 138 percent between 1999 and 2010.

#39 During Obama’s first term, the federal government accumulated more debt than it did under the first 42 U.S presidents combined.

#40 Today, more than a million public school students in the United States are homeless.  This is the first time that has ever happened in our history.  That number has risen by 57 percent since the 2006-2007 school year.

Are there any other items that you would add to this list?  Please feel free to join the discussion by posting a comment below…

Crushed Car By UCFFool

Will It Be Inflation Or Deflation? The Answer May Surprise You

Inflation Or DeflationIs the coming financial collapse going to be inflationary or deflationary?  Are we headed for rampant inflation or crippling deflation?  This is a subject that is hotly debated by economists all over the country.  Some insist that the wild money printing that the Federal Reserve is doing combined with out of control government spending will eventually result in hyperinflation.  Others point to all of the deflationary factors in our economy and argue that we will experience tremendous deflation when the bubble economy that we are currently living in bursts.  So what is the truth?  Well, for the reasons listed below, I believe that we will see both.  The next major financial panic will cause a substantial deflationary wave first, and after that we will see unprecedented inflation as the central bankers and our politicians respond to the financial crisis.  This will happen so quickly that many will get “financial whiplash” as they try to figure out what to do with their money.  We are moving toward a time of extreme financial instability, and different strategies will be called for at different times.

So why will we see deflation first?  The following are some of the major deflationary forces that are affecting our economy right now…

The Velocity Of Money Is At A 50 Year Low

The rate at which money circulates in our economy is the lowest that it has been in more than 50 years.  It has been steadily falling since the late 1990s, and this is a clear sign that economic activity is slowing down.  The shaded areas in the chart represent recessions, and as you can see, the velocity of money always slows down during a recession.  But even though the government is telling us that we are not in a recession right now, the velocity of money continues to drop like a rock.  This is one of the factors that is putting a tremendous amount of deflationary pressure on our economy…

Velocity Of Money

The Trade Deficit

Even single month, far more money leaves this country than comes into it.  In fact, the amount going out exceeds the amount coming in by about half a trillion dollars each year.  This is extremely deflationary.  Our system is constantly bleeding cash, and this is one of the reasons why the federal government has felt a need to run such huge budget deficits and why the Federal Reserve has felt a need to print so much money.  They are trying to pump money back into a system that is constantly bleeding massive amounts of cash.  Since 1975, the amount of money leaving the United States has exceeded the amount of money coming into the country by more than 8 trillion dollars.  The trade deficit is one of our biggest economic problems, and yet most Americans do not even understand what it is.  As you can see below, our trade deficit really started getting bad in the late 1990s…

Trade Deficit

Wages And Salaries As A Percentage Of GDP

One of the primary drivers of inflation is consumer spending.  But consumers cannot spend money if they do not have it.  And right now, wages and salaries as a percentage of GDP are near a record low.  This is a very deflationary state of affairs.  The percentage of low paying jobs in the U.S. economy continues to increase, and we have witnessed an explosion in the ranks of the “working poor” in recent years.  For consumer prices to rise significantly, more money is going to have to get into the hands of average American consumers first…

Wages And Salaries As A Percentage Of GDP

When The Debt Bubble Bursts

Right now, we are living in the greatest debt bubble in the history of the world.  When a debt bubble bursts, fear and panic typically cause the flow of money and the flow of credit to really tighten up.  We saw that happen at the beginning of the Great Depression of the 1930s, we saw that happen back in 2008, and we will see it happen again.  Deleveraging is deflationary by nature, and it can cause economic activity to grind to a standstill very rapidly.

During the next major wave of the economic collapse, there will be times when it will seem like hardly anyone has any money.  The “easy credit” of the past will be long gone, and large numbers of individuals and small businesses will find it very difficult to get loans.

When the debt bubble bursts, cash will be king – at least for a short period of time.  Those that do not have any savings at all will really be hurting.

And some of the financial elite seem to be positioning themselves for what is coming.  For example, even though he has been making public statements about how great stocks are right now, the truth is that Warren Buffett is currently sitting on $49 billion in cash.  That is the most that he has ever had sitting in cash.

Does he know something?

Of course there will be a tremendous amount of pressure on the U.S. government and the Federal Reserve to do something once a financial crash happens.  The response by the federal government and the Federal Reserve will likely be extremely inflationary as they try to resuscitate the system.  It will probably be far more dramatic than anything we have seen so far.

So cash will not be king for long.  In fact, eventually cash will be trash.  The actions of the U.S. government and the Federal Reserve in response to the coming financial crisis will greatly upset much of the rest of the world and cause the death of the U.S. dollar.

That is why gold, silver and other hard assets are going to be so good to have in the long-term.  In the short-term they will experience wild swings in price, but if you can handle the ride you will be smiling in the end.

In the coming years, we are going to experience both inflation and deflation, and neither one will be pleasant at all.

Get prepared while you still can, because time is running out.

The Price Of Copper And 11 Other Recession Indicators That Are Flashing Red

Red LightThere are a dozen significant economic indicators that are warning that the U.S. economy is heading into a recession.  The Dow may have soared past the 15,000 mark, but the economic fundamentals are telling an entirely different story.  If historical patterns hold up, the economy is heading for a very rocky stretch.  For example, the price of copper is called “Dr. Copper” by many economists because it so accurately forecasts the future direction of the U.S. economy.  And so far this year the price of copper is way down.  But that is not the only indicator that is worrying economists.  Home renovation spending has fallen dramatically, retail spending is crashing in a way not seen since the last recession, manufacturing activity and consumer confidence are both declining, and troubling economic data continues to come pouring out of Asia and Europe.  So why do U.S. stocks continue to skyrocket?  Will U.S. financial markets be able to continue to be divorced from reality?  Unfortunately, as we have seen so many times in the past, when stocks do catch up with reality they tend to do so very rapidly.  So you better put on your seatbelts because a crash is coming at some point.

But most average Americans are not that concerned with the performance of the stock market.  They just want to be able to go to work, pay the bills and provide for their families.  During the last recession, millions of Americans lost their jobs and millions of Americans lost their homes.  If we have another major recession, that will happen again.  Sadly, it appears that another major recession is quickly approaching.

The following are 12 recession indicators that are flashing red…

#1 The price of copper has traditionally been one of the very best indicators of the future performance of the U.S. economy.  The fact that it is down nearly 20 percent so far this year has many analysts extremely concerned

Copper’s downward trend foreshadows a stock market collapse, according to Societe Generale’s famously bearish strategist Albert Edwards, who said equity markets will riot “Japan-style.”

“Copper is acting exactly as it did when I wrote about the impotence of liquidity in the face of the (then imminent) 2007 recession. Once again it is giving us an early warning that liquidity will not save risk assets: time to get out of equities,” Edwards wrote in his latest research note, on Thursday.

#2 Home renovation spending has fallen back to depressingly-low 2010 levels.

#3 As Zero Hedge recently pointed out, U.S. retail spending is repeating a pattern that we have not seen since the last recession…

Retail sales of clothing is growing at the slowest pace since 2010; but while major store sales are about to drop negative YoY for the first time in over 3 years, the utter collapse in general merchandise sales is worse that at the peak of the last recession at -5%. It seems tough to see how a nation with an economy built on 70% consumption is not in a recessionary environment. And while this alone is a dismal signal for the discretionary upside of the US economy/consumer; as Gluskin Sheff’s David Rosenberg points out real personal income net of transfer receipts plunged at a stunning 5.8% annual rate in Q1. The other seven times we have seen such a collapse, the economy was either in recession of just coming out of one.

#4 Manufacturing activity all over the country is showing signs of slowing down.  In fact, Chicago PMI has dipped below 50 (indicating contraction) for the first time since the last recession.

#5 In April, consumer confidence unexpectedly fell to a nine-month low

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of consumer sentiment declined to 72.3 in April from 78.6 a month earlier. This month’s reading was lower than all 69 estimates in a Bloomberg survey that called for no change from the March number.

#6 NYSE margin debt peaked right before the recession that began in 2002, it peaked right before the financial crisis of 2008, and it is peaking again.

#7 The S&P 500 usually mirrors the performance of Chinese stocks very closely.  That is why it is so alarming that Chinese stocks peaked months ago.  Will the S&P 500 soon follow?

#8 The economic data coming out of the Chinese economy lately has been mostly terrible

For starters, China’s recent economic data, as massaged as it is to the upside, is downright awful. China’s PMI numbers were the worst in two years. Staffing levels in the Chinese service sector decreased for the first time since January 2009 (remember that year).

China’s LEI also shows no sign of recovery. If anything, it indicates China is heading towards an economic slowdown on par with that of 2008. And if you account for the rampant debt fueling China’s economy you could easily argue that China is posting 0% GDP growth today.

#9 Things just continue to get even worse over in Europe.  Unemployment in both Greece and Spain is now about 27 percent, and the unemployment rate in the eurozone as a whole has just set a brand new all-time record high.

#10 Crude inventories have soared to a record high as demand for energy continues to decline.  As I have written about previously, this is a clear sign that economic activity is slowing down.

#11 Casino spending is usually a strong indicator of the overall health of the U.S. economy.  That is why it is so noteworthy that casino spending is now back to levels that we have not seen since the last recession.

#12 The impact of the sequester cuts is starting to kick in.  According to the Congressional Budget Office, the sequester cuts will cost the U.S. economy about 750,000 jobs this year.

Do you have any other recession indicators that you would add to this list?

I invite you to share your thoughts by posting a comment below…

A Recession Is Coming - Photo by Angie from Sawara, Chiba-ken, Japan

The Bad Jobs Report Is Just A Very Small Taste Of The Economic Nightmare That Is Coming

Another month, another bad jobs report.  For the month of May, the U.S. economy only added 69,000 jobs and the unemployment rate rose to 8.2%.  Many are calling this a total “disaster” and are worried that the U.S. economy could be headed back into another recession.  Economists had been expecting 150,000 payroll jobs would be added, so the 69,000 number really shocked a lot of people.  The truth is that the economy needs to add approximately 125,000 new jobs every single month just to keep the unemployment rate steady.  So yes, this bad jobs report is not welcome news at all – especially for the Obama administration.  When Barack Obama first took office the unemployment rate was sitting at 7.6 percent and now it is sitting at 8.2 percent.  Some “recovery”, eh?  But the reality is that this jobs report was really not that “devastating” even though the stock market had its worst day of the year.  Unemployment in America is still about at the same level as it was back at the beginning of 2012.  The tough stretch that we are going through right now is only a very small taste of the economic nightmare that is on the horizon.  If you think that things are a “disaster” right now, just wait until you see what is coming.

At the moment, 53 percent of all Americans with a bachelor’s degree under the age of 25 are either unemployed or underemployed, and there are more than 100 million working age Americans that do not currently have jobs.

But this is only just the beginning.

During the next major economic downturn, the unemployment rate in the United States is going to soar well up into the double digits.

Many Americans will look back on 2010, 2011 and 2012 as “the good old days”.

Right now, there are only small pockets of the country that are total economic hellholes.

For example, Yuma, Arizona has an unemployment rate of 26 percent, and El Centro, California has an unemployment rate of 26.2 percent.

In the future, those kinds of numbers are going to become the norm all over the nation.

Sadly, most Americans have no idea what is coming.

Today, I wanted to share with you all a couple of chilling economic forecasts that I have been made aware of recently.

The first is from Raoul Pal.  According to Zero Hedge, Raoul Pal “previously co-managed the GLG Global Macro Fund in London for GLG Partners, one of the largest hedge fund groups in the world. Raoul came to GLG from Goldman Sachs where he co-managed the hedge fund sales business in Equities and Equity Derivatives in Europe… Raoul Pal retired from managing client money in 2004 at the age of 36 and now lives on the Valencian coast of Spain, from where he writes.”

The following is from a Zero Hedge summary of a recent presentation by Raoul Pal….

  • We don’t know exactly what is to come, but we can all join the very few dots from where we are now, to the collapse of the first major bank…
  • With very limited room for government bailouts, we can very easily join the next dots from the first bank closure to the collapse of the whole European banking system, and then to the bankruptcy of the governments themselves.
  • There are almost no brakes in the system to stop this, and almost no one realises the seriousness of the situation.
  • The problem is not Government debt per se. The real problem is that the $70 trillion in G10 debt is the collateral for $700 trillion in derivatives…
  • Yes, that equates to 1200% of Global GDP and it rests on very, very weak foundations
  • From an EU crisis, we only have to join one dot for a UK crisis of equal magnitude.
  • And then do you think Japan and China would not be next?
  • And then do you think the US would survive unscathed?
  • That is the end of the fractional reserve banking system and of fiat money.
  • It is the big RESET.

It continues:

  • Bonds will be stuck at 1% in the US, Germany, UK and Japan (for this phase).
  • The whole bond market will be dead.
  • Short selling on bonds – banned
  • Short selling stocks – banned
  • CDS – banned
  • Short futures – banned
  • Put options – banned
  • All that is left is the Dollar and Gold

It only gets better. We use the term loosely:

  • We have around 6 months left of trading in Western markets to protect ourselves or make enough money to offset future losses.
  • Spend your time looking at the risks of custody, safekeeping, counterparty etc. Assume that no one and nothing is safe.
  • After that…we put on our tin helmets and hide until the new system emerges

So how soon does Raoul Pal think all of this is going to happen?….

From a timing perspective, I think 2012 and 2013 will usher in the end.

You can find his entire presentation entitled “The End Game” right here.

What Raoul Pal is saying lines up very well with what Steve Quayle’s anonymous international banking source is telling him….

There is no stopping this…We are still on track as I have been predicting for a while now for a fall/winter collapse of the Eurozone and naked exposure of all derivative markets the world over. Europeans will go through a major reset, after time they will recover as Europeans do not carry the type of personal debt that Americans do. It is for America that I worry. Look for these signs next:

1- JPM will be bailed out again but it will not stop the coming market crash. More details will emerge about their derivative swap failure $150 billion and counting.

2-BOA (BAC Bank of America) will fold and be absorbed into JPM as a way to prop up the bleeding Giant. JPM will get the best picking of this deal just like they got with Bear Stearns.

3- Massive layoffs at Citigroup and Wells Fargo

4- Goldman Sachs finally pays the piper, look for massive cuts there as well as BIG Losses

5- Bond market bust which leads to freeze of all bond sales

6- Derivative bust the next one will be BOA followed by Citigroup

7- All CDS shorts and swaps will freeze.

8- Total Meltdown

You can read the rest of what that source is saying right here.

As I have been saying all along, there are two keys that you need to be watching right now….

#1 Europe

#2 Derivatives

Sadly, the articles that I write about Europe tend to get far less of a response than my other articles get.  Most Americans simply do not understand that what is happening in Europe right now is going to significantly affect their daily lives.

And most Americans have very little understanding of derivatives.  But as you just read, there are some in the financial community that are warning that we could see the derivatives bubble burst very soon.

Time is running out.  This period of relative stability that we are currently experiencing will not last forever.

You better get ready.

Why Is Global Shipping Slowing Down So Dramatically?

If the global economy is not heading for a recession, then why is global shipping slowing down so dramatically?  Many economists believe that measures of global shipping such as the Baltic Dry Index are leading economic indicators.  In other words, they change before the overall economic picture changes.  For example, back in early 2008 the Baltic Dry Index began falling dramatically.  There were those that warned that such a rapid decline in the Baltic Dry Index meant that a significant recession was coming, and it turned out that they were right.  Well, the Baltic Dry Index is falling very rapidly once again.  In fact, on February 3rd the Baltic Dry Index reached a low that had not been seen since August 1986.  Some economists say that there are unique reasons for this (there are too many ships, etc.), but when you add this to all of the other indicators that Europe is heading into a recession, a very frightening picture emerges.  We appear to be staring a global economic slowdown right in the face, and we all need to start getting prepared for that.

If you don’t read about economics much, you might not know what the Baltic Dry Index actually is.

Investopedia defines the Baltic Dry Index this way….

A shipping and trade index created by the London-based Baltic Exchange that measures changes in the cost to transport raw materials such as metals, grains and fossil fuels by sea.

When the global economy is booming, the demand for shipping tends to go up.  When the global economy is slowing down, the demand for shipping tends to decline.

And right now, global shipping is slowing way, way down.

In fact, recently there have been reports of negative shipping rates.

According to a recent Bloomberg article, one company recently booked a ship at the ridiculous rate of negative $2,000 a day….

Glencore International Plc paid nothing to hire a dry-bulk ship with the vessel’s operator paying $2,000 a day of the trader’s fuel costs after freight rates plunged to all-time lows.

Glencore chartered the vessel, operated by Global Maritime Investments Ltd., a Cyprus-based company with offices in London, Steve Rodley, GMI’s U.K. managing director, said by phone today. The daily payments last the first 60 days of the charter, Rodley said. The vessel will haul a cargo of grains to Europe, putting the carrier in a better position for its next shipment, he said.

So why would anyone agree to ship goods at negative rates?

Well, it beats the alternative.

This was explained in a recent Fox Business article….

“They’re doing this because you can’t just have ships sitting. If they sit too long, then that’s hard on the ships. They have to keep them loaded and moving from port to port,” said Darin Newsom, senior commodities analyst at DTN.

If the owner of a ship can get someone to at least pay for part of the fuel and the journey will get the ship closer to its next destination, then that is better than having the ship just sit there.

But just a few short years ago (before the last recession) negative shipping rates would have been unthinkable.

Asian shipping is really slowing down as well.  The following comes from a recent article in the Telegraph….

Shanghai shipping volumes contracted sharply in January as Europe’s debt crisis curbed demand for Asian goods, stoking fresh doubts about the strength of the Chinese economy.

Container traffic through the Port of Shanghai in January fell by more than a million tons from a year earlier.

So this is something we are seeing all over the globe.

Another indicator that is troubling economists right now is petroleum usage.  It turns out that petroleum usage is really starting to slow down as well.

The following is an excerpt from a recent article posted on Mish’s Global Economic Trend Analysis….

As I have been telling you recently, there is some unprecedented data coming out in petroleum distillates, and they slap me in the face and tell me we have some very bad economic trends going on, totally out of line with such things as the hopium market – I mean stock market.

This past week I actually had to reformat my graphs as the drop off peak exceeded my bottom number for reporting off peak – a drop of ALMOST 4,000,000 BARRELS PER DAY off the peak usage in our past for this week of the year.

I would encourage you to go check out the charts that were posted in that article.  You can find them right here.  Often a picture is worth a thousand words, and those charts are quite frightening.

Over the past few days, I have been trying to make the point that nothing got fixed after the financial crisis of 2008 and that an even bigger crisis is on the way.

Yes, the stock market is flying high right now.

Yes, even “Dr. Doom” Nouriel Roubini is convinced that the stock market will go even higher.

But this rally will not last that much longer.

Wherever you look, global economic activity is slowing down.  The UK economy and the German economy both actually shrank a bit in the fourth quarter of 2011.  About half of all global trade involves Europe in one form or another.  As Europe slows down, it is going to affect the entire planet.

Many thought that the German economy was so strong that it would not be significantly affected by the problems the rest of Europe is having, but that is turning out not to be the case.

In a new article by CBS News entitled “German economic slowdown worse than expected?“, we are told that industrial production in Germany is declining even more than anticipated….

German industrial production fell 2.9 percent in December from the month before, according to official data released Tuesday, suggesting the country’s economic slowdown could be worse than expected.

So don’t believe all the recent hype about an “economic recovery”.  Europe is heading into a recession, Asia is slowing down and the U.S. will not be immune.

Despite what you hear from the mainstream media, the truth is that the U.S. economy is not improving and incredibly tough times are ahead.

Thankfully, those of us that are aware of what is happening can make preparations for the economic storm that is coming.

Others will not be so fortunate.

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