Are you in better shape financially than you were last Thanksgiving? If so, you should consider yourself to be very fortunate because most Americans are not. As you chow down on turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce this Thursday, please remember that there are millions of Americans that simply cannot afford to eat such a meal. According to a shocking new report that was just released by the National Center on Family Homelessness, the number of homeless children in the U.S. has reached a new all-time high of 2.5 million. And right now one out of every seven Americans rely on food banks to put food on the table. Yes, life is very good at the moment for Americans at the top end of the income spectrum. The stock market has been soaring and sales of homes worth at last a million dollars are up 16 percent so far this year. But most Americans live in a very different world. The percentage of Americans that are employed is about the same as it was during the depths of the last recession, the quality of our jobs continues to go down, the rate of homeownership in America has fallen for seven years in a row, and the cost of living is rising much faster than paychecks are. As a result, the middle class is smaller this Thanksgiving than it was last Thanksgiving, and most Americans have seen their standards of living go down over the past year.
In 2014, there are tens of millions of Americans that are anonymously leading lives of quiet desperation. They are desperately trying to hold on even though things just keep getting worse. For example, just consider the plight of 49-year-old Darrell Eberhardt. Once upon a time, his job in a Chevy factory paid him $18.50 an hour, but now he only makes $10.50 an hour and he knows that he probably would not be able to make as much in a new job if he decided to leave…
For nearly 20 years, Darrell Eberhardt worked in an Ohio factory putting together wheelchairs, earning $18.50 an hour, enough to gain a toehold in the middle class and feel respected at work.
He is still working with his hands, assembling seats for Chevrolet Cruze cars at the Camaco auto parts factory in Lorain, Ohio, but now he makes $10.50 an hour and is barely hanging on. “I’d like to earn more,” said Mr. Eberhardt, who is 49 and went back to school a few years ago to earn an associate’s degree. “But the chances of finding something like I used to have are slim to none.”
Of course you can’t support a family on $10.50 an hour.
You can barely support one person on $10.50 an hour.
But there are many men out there that would absolutely love to switch positions with Darrell Eberhardt. At this point, one out of every six men in their prime working years (25 to 54) does not have a job. That is an absolutely crazy number.
And of course just because you “have a job” does not mean that things are going well. The number of Americans that are “working part-time involuntarily” has risen by over 50 percent since the beginning of the last recession. There are millions of hard working Americans that would love to get a full-time job if they could land one. But these days “decent jobs” are in short supply.
For example, CNN recently profiled the story of college graduate Meghan Brachle…
Meghan would love to be a music teacher or play full-time in an orchestra. She studied music at Loyola University in New Orleans and plays the flute.
Instead, Meghan works a slew of part-time jobs and receives no benefits.
She is a cashier at Whole Foods, a substitute teacher, a flute tutor and an administrative assistant at a non-profit.
Even with all of her hard work, Brachle and her husband often really struggle to pay the bills…
With inconsistent hours, Meghan monthly income fluctuates between $1,000 and $3,000. Even with her husband’s teaching salary, the couple sometimes struggles to cover the $3,600 of monthly expenses they have.
“It’s very stressful,” Meghan, a college graduate, says. “I think about all the job applications I’ve turned in and all the interviews I’ve been on and all the other people who are in the same situation, looking for those same [full-time] jobs. It’s frustrating.”
Sadly, a lot of these part-time employers know that their employees desperately need these jobs and are using that leverage to treat them very poorly.
For example, it is being reported that any KMart employees that do not show up for work on Thanksgiving will be automatically fired.
What kind of nonsense is that?
And around the country at Wal-Mart stores, food drives are being held for “needy employees“.
So why wouldn’t Wal-Mart just pay their workers enough so that they could afford to take care of themselves in the first place?
Most people don’t realize this, but approximately one out of every four part-time workers in America is currently living below the poverty line. Many of them are working as hard as they can and still can’t make enough to take care of themselves.
Meanwhile, our paychecks are getting stretched further and further with each passing month.
When you don’t make much money, every dollar is precious. And when food prices go up substantially, it can be very painful. Unfortunately, that is precisely what is happening right now…
-From September to October, the price of a pound of Turkey rose from $1.58 to $1.66. That represents a 5.2 percent price increase in just one month.
-The price of a pound of ground beef has just risen to a brand new record high of $4.15 a pound, and more price increases are on the way. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is projecting that U.S. beef production will drop by another 1 billion pounds next year due to a variety of factors including the horrific multi-year drought out west.
-The entire planet is bracing for a huge chocolate shortage, and this threatens to push the price of chocolate beyond the reach of many American families…
Start hoarding those Hershey’s Kisses and stockpile your Snickers: The world could soon experience a chocolate shortage.
Mars Inc. and Barry Callebaut, two of the world’s largest chocolate makers, say that’s the path we’re headed down. They cite a perfect storm of factors: Less cocoa is being produced as more and more people are devouring chocolate.
In 2013, consumers ate about 70,000 metric tons more cocoa than was produced, The Washington Post reports, and that deficit could go up to 1 million metric tons by 2020. The Ivory Coast and Ghana produce more than 70 percent of the world’s cacao beans, and both countries are experiencing dry weather that limits growth. To make things worse, a fungal disease called frosty pod has destroyed 30 to 40 percent of global cocoa production.
As a result of all of the things that I have just discussed above, more Americans than ever are being forced to turn to the government for assistance. Today, the number of Americans getting a check from the government each month is at an all-time high, and at this point Americans collectively get more money from the government than they pay in taxes. For much, much more on this, please see my recent article entitled “21 Facts That Prove That Dependence On The Government Is Out Of Control In America“.
So if things are going well for you this Thanksgiving, you should be truly thankful.
For most of the country, things just continue to get even worse. And if the next major wave of our economic crisis arrives next year like many are projecting, this may just be the beginning of our economic pain.
Are you waiting for the next major wave of the global economic collapse to strike? Well, you might want to start paying attention again. Three of the ten largest economies on the planet have already fallen into recession, and there are very serious warning signs coming from several other global economic powerhouses. Things are already so bad that British Prime Minister David Cameron is comparing the current state of affairs to the horrific financial crisis of 2008. In an article for the Guardian that was published on Monday, he delivered the following sobering warning: “Six years on from the financial crash that brought the world to its knees, red warning lights are once again flashing on the dashboard of the global economy.” For the leader of the nation with the 6th largest economy in the world to make such a statement is more than a little bit concerning.
So why is Cameron freaking out?
Well, just consider what is going on in Japan. The economy of Japan is the 3rd largest on the entire planet, and it is a total basket case at this point. Many believe that the Japanese will be on the leading edge of the next great global economic crisis, and that is why it is so alarming that Japan has just dipped into recession again for the fourth time in six years…
Japan’s economy unexpectedly fell into recession in the third quarter, a painful slump that called into question efforts by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to pull the country out of nearly two decades of deflation.
The second consecutive quarterly decline in gross domestic product could upend Japan’s political landscape. Mr. Abe is considering dissolving Parliament and calling fresh elections, people close to him say, and Monday’s economic report is seen as critical to his decision, which is widely expected to come this week.
Of course Japan is far from alone.
Brazil has the 7th largest economy on the globe, and it has already been in recession for quite a few months.
And the problems that the national oil company is currently experiencing certainly are not helping matters…
In the past five days, 23 powerful Brazilians have been arrested, with even more warrants still outstanding.
The country’s stock market has become a whipsaw, and its currency, the real, has hit a nine-year low.
All of this is due to a far-reaching corruption scandal at one massive company, Petrobras.
In the last month the company’s stock has fallen by 35%.
The 9th largest economy in the world, Italy, has also fallen into recession…
Italian GDP dropped another 0.1% in the third quarter, as expected.
That’s following a 0.2% drop in Q2 and another 0.1% decline in Q1, capping nine months of recession for Europe’s third-largest economy.
Like Japan, there is no easy way out for Italy. A rapidly aging population coupled with a debt to GDP ratio of more than 132 percent is a toxic combination. Italy needs to find a way to be productive once again, and that does not happen overnight.
Meanwhile, much of the rest of Europe is currently mired in depression-like conditions. The official unemployment numbers in some of the larger nations on the continent are absolutely eye-popping. The following list of unemployment figures comes from one of my previous articles…
Are you starting to get the picture?
The world is facing some real economic problems.
Another traditionally strong economic power that is suddenly dealing with adversity is Israel.
In fact, the economy of Israel is shrinking for the first time since 2009…
Israel’s economy contracted for the first time in more than five years in the third quarter, as growth was hit by the effects of a war with Islamist militants in Gaza.
Gross domestic product fell 0.4 percent in the July-September period, the Central Bureau of Statistics said on Sunday. It was the first quarterly decline since a 0.2 percent drop in the first three months of 2009, at the outset of the global financial crisis.
And needless to say, U.S. economic sanctions have hit Russia pretty hard.
The rouble has been plummeting like a rock, and the Russian government is preparing for a “catastrophic” decline in oil prices…
President Vladimir Putin said Russia’s economy, battered by sanctions and a collapsing currency, faces a potential “catastrophic” slump in oil prices.
Such a scenario is “entirely possible, and we admit it,” Putin told the state-run Tass news service before attending this weekend’s Group of 20 summit in Brisbane, Australia, according to a transcript e-mailed by the Kremlin today. Russia’s reserves, at more than $400 billion, would allow the country to weather such a turn of events, he said.
Crude prices have fallen by almost a third this year, undercutting the economy in Russia, the world’s largest energy exporter.
It is being reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin has been hoarding gold in anticipation of a full-blown global economic war.
I think that will end up being a very wise decision on his part.
Despite all of this global chaos, things are still pretty stable in the United States for the moment. The stock market keeps setting new all-time highs and much of the country is preparing for an orgy of Christmas shopping.
Unfortunately, the number of children that won’t even have a roof to sleep under this holiday season just continues to grow.
A stunning report that was just released by the National Center on Family Homelessness says that the number of homeless children in America has soared to an astounding 2.5 million.
That means that approximately one out of every 30 children in the United States is homeless.
Let that number sink in for a moment as you read more about this new report from the Washington Post…
The number of homeless children in the United States has surged in recent years to an all-time high, amounting to one child in every 30, according to a comprehensive state-by-state report that blames the nation’s high poverty rate, the lack of affordable housing and the effects of pervasive domestic violence.
Titled “America’s Youngest Outcasts,” the report being issued Monday by the National Center on Family Homelessness calculates that nearly 2.5 million American children were homeless at some point in 2013. The number is based on the Education Department’s latest count of 1.3 million homeless children in public schools, supplemented by estimates of homeless preschool children not counted by the agency.
The problem is particularly severe in California, which has about one-eighth of the U.S. population but accounts for more than one-fifth of the homeless children, totaling nearly 527,000.
This is why I get so fired up about the destruction of the middle class. A healthy economy would mean more wealth for most people. But instead, most Americans just continue to see a decline in the standard of living.
And remember, the next major wave of the economic collapse has not even hit us yet. When it does, the suffering of the poor and the middle class is going to get much worse.
Unfortunately, there are already signs that the U.S. economy is starting to slow down too. In fact, the latest manufacturing numbers were not good at all…
The Federal Reserve’s new industrial production data for October show that, on a monthly basis, real U.S. manufacturing output has fallen on net since July, marking its worst three-month production stretch since March-June, 2011. Largely responsible is the automotive sector’s sudden transformation from a manufacturing growth leader into a serious growth laggard, with combined real vehicles and parts production enduring its worst three-month stretch since late 2008 to early 2009.
A lot of very smart people are forecasting economic disaster for next year.
Hopefully they are all wrong, but I have a feeling that they are going to be right.
It is widely expected that the Federal Reserve is going to announce the end of quantitative easing this week. Will this represent a major turning point for the stock market? As you will see below, since 2008 stocks have risen dramatically throughout every stage of quantitative easing. But when the various phases of quantitative easing have ended, stocks have always responded by declining substantially. The only thing that caused stocks to eventually start rising again was a new round of quantitative easing. So what will happen this time? That is a very good question. What we do know is that the the performance of the stock market has become completely divorced from economic reality, and in recent weeks there have been signs of market turmoil that we have not seen in years. Could the end of quantitative easing be the thing that finally pushes the financial markets over the edge?
After all this time, many Americans still don’t understand what quantitative easing actually is. Since the end of 2008, the Federal Reserve has injected approximately 3.5 trillion dollars into the financial system. Of course the Federal Reserve didn’t actually have 3.5 trillion dollars. The Fed created all of this money out of thin air and used it to buy government bonds and mortgage-backed securities.
If that sounds like “cheating” to you, that is because it is cheating. If you or I tried to print money, we would be put in prison. When the Federal Reserve does it, it is called “economic stimulus”.
But the overall economy has not been helped much at all. If you doubt this, just look at these charts.
Instead, what all of this “easy money” has done is fuel the greatest stock market bubble in history.
As you can see from the chart below, every round of quantitative easing has driven the S&P 500 much higher. And when each round of quantitative easing has finally ended, stocks have declined substantially…
And of course the chart above tells only part of the story. Since April 2013, the S&P 500 has gone much higher…
If someone from another planet looked at that chart, they would be tempted to think that the U.S. economy must be expanding like crazy.
But of course that is not happening.
This market binge has been solely fueled by reckless money printing by the Federal Reserve. It is not backed up by economic fundamentals in any way, shape or form.
And now that quantitative easing is ending, many are wondering if the party is over.
For example, just check out what CNN is saying about the matter…
Even in this bull market, all good things must come to an end.
The Federal Reserve is expected to close a chapter in history this week and announce the conclusion of its massive stimulus program. Known as quantitative easing, the program is widely credited with driving investors back into stocks in the aftermath of the financial crisis.
“I think to some extent quantitative easing has provided an assurance to investors that (has) kept them optimistic,” said Bruce McCain, Chief Investment Strategist of Key Private Bank in Cleveland, Ohio. “Now we’re going to have to see whether investors can ride without training wheels.”
Everyone knows that quantitative easing was a massive gift to those that own stocks.
So how will the stock market respond now that the monetary heroin is ending?
We shall see.
Meanwhile, deflationary pressures are already starting to take hold around the rest of the globe. The following is an excerpt from a recent Reuters report…
After months of focus on slack in U.S. labor markets, the Federal Reserve faces a new challenge: the possibility that weak inflation may be so firmly entrenched it upends the return to normal monetary policy.
The soft global inflation backdrop, from sliding oil prices to stagnant wages in advanced economies, has triggered debate over whether the Fed and its peers merely need to wait for a slow-motion business cycle to improve, or face a shift in the underlying nature of inflation after the global recession.
That uncertainty has become the Fed’s chief concern in recent weeks, likely to shape upcoming policy statements and delay even further the moment when interest rates, pinned near zero for nearly six years, will start rising again.
If the Federal Reserve and other global central banks were not printing money like mad, the global economy would have almost certainly entered a deflationary depression by now.
But all the Federal Reserve and other global central banks have done is put off the inevitable and make our long-term problems even worse.
Instead of fixing the fundamental problems that caused the great financial crash of 2008, the central bankers decided to try to paper over our problems instead. They flooded the global financial system with easy money, but today our financial system is shakier than ever.
In fact, we just learned that 10 percent of the biggest banks in Europe have failed their stress tests and must raise more capital…
The European Central Bank says 13 of Europe’s 130 biggest banks have flunked an in-depth review of their finances and must increase their capital buffers against losses by 10 billion euros ($12.5 billion).
The ECB said 25 banks in all were found to need stronger buffers — but that 12 have already made up their shortfall during the months in which the ECB was carrying out its review. The remaining 13 now have two weeks to tell the ECB how they plan to increase their capital buffers.
Most people do not realize how vulnerable our financial system truly is. It is essentially a pyramid of debt and credit that could fall apart at any time.
Right now, the “too big to fail” banks account for 42 percent of all loans and 67 percent of all banking assets in the United States.
Without those banks, we essentially do not have an economy.
But instead of being careful, those banks have taken recklessness to unprecedented heights.
At this moment, five of the “too big to fail” banks each have more than 40 trillion dollars of exposure to derivatives.
Most Americans don’t even understand what derivatives are, but when the next great financial crisis strikes we are going to be hearing a whole lot about them.
The big banks have transformed Wall Street into the biggest casino in the history of the planet, and there is no way that this is going to end well.
A great collapse is coming.
It is just a matter of time.
Is Ebola going to cause another of the massive October stock market crashes that Wall Street is famous for? At one point on Wednesday, the Dow was down a staggering 460 points. It ultimately closed down just 173 points, but this was the fifth day in a row that the Dow has declined. And of course Ebola is one of the primary things that is being blamed for this stunning stock market drop. Since September 19th, we have seen the S&P 500 fall about 7 percent and the Nasdaq fall nearly 10 percent. The VIX (the most important measure of volatility on Wall Street) shot up an astounding 22 percent on Wednesday. So many of the ominous signs for the markets that I wrote about on Tuesday are now even worse. If a handful of Ebola cases in the United States can cause this much panic in the financial world, what would a full-blown pandemic look like?
Of course Ebola is not the only reason why stocks are declining. Just look at what is happening over in Europe. The European Stoxx 600 index is already down a whopping 11.4 percent from the high that it hit just 18 days ago. That is officially considered to be “correction” territory.
And Greece experienced a full-blown stock market collapse on Wednesday…
As if the world didn’t have enough to be worried about (ISIS, Ebola, slowing China, Ukraine, slowing Germany, Fed tightening, etc.) now look what’s back: Greece. And in a big way.
The stock market is down over 9% on Wednesday, which is about as big as crashes come.
And the banks are getting absolutely smashed.
In general, markets tend to fall faster than they rise.
When there is a sudden downturn, the price action can be violent. And just like we saw back in 2008, financial stocks are leading the way. Just check out what happened to some of the biggest banks in America before the final bell sounded…
Volume leader Bank of America, down 5%, Citigroup, off 5.5%, and JP Morgan, down 4.6%, were particularly hard hit.
And thanks to Ebola fears, airline stocks plummeted as well…
Airline stocks were roiled by the prospects of curtailed travel due to the spreading Ebola virus. United Continental fell 4% and American Airlines was off 4.3%. Among tech stocks, Intel lost 3.3%. Apple fell 1.7% and Microsoft slipped 2.3%.
An increasing number of voices are concerned that we could be on the verge of a repeat of what happened back in 2008.
For example, Professor Steve Keen, the head of Economics, History & Politics at Kingston University in London, wrote the following in a piece for CNN entitled “Brace yourself for another financial crash“…
My acceleration indicator has been flagging that the stock market was due for a fall since mid-2013.
It’s a tribute to the power of the Fed’s Quantitative Easing that the market continued to defy the gravity of decelerating debt for so long. QE was really a program to inflate asset prices since, as my colleague Michael Hudson puts it, “the Fed’s helicopter money fell on Wall Street, not Main Street”.
But with QE being unwound, the stock market is now back under the control of the not so tender mercies of excessive private debt.
So welcome to the New Crisis — same as the Old Crisis. The roller coaster ride is likely to continue.
Others are even more pessimistic. For example, just check out what Daniel Ameduri of Future Money Trends recently told his readers…
“If it drops below 15,000 points I would suggest people start buying food and ammo, because this depression is about to turn nasty.”
However, keep in mind that not that much has really changed from a month or two ago.
Yes, we now have had three confirmed cases of Ebola in the United States, but this could be just the beginning.
At first, the fear of Ebola will be worse than the disease.
But if a worst-case scenario does develop in the United States where hundreds of thousands of people are getting the virus, the fear such a pandemic will create will be off the charts.
In the midst of a full-blown Ebola pandemic, we wouldn’t just be talking about a 10 percent, 20 percent or 30 percent stock market decline.
Rather, we would be talking about the greatest stock market collapse in the history of stock market collapses. In essence, there would not be much of a market at all at that point.
And if Ebola does start spreading wildly in this country, we would have a credit crunch that would make 2008 look like a Sunday picnic.
During times of extraordinary fear, financial institutions do not want to lend money to each other or to consumers. But our economy is entirely based on debt. If credit were to stop flowing, we would essentially not have an economy.
That is why we need to pray that this Ebola crisis stops here. But thanks to the incompetence of Barack Obama and the CDC, there has been a series of very grave errors in trying to contain this disease. This display of incompetence would be absolutely hilarious if we weren’t talking about a disease that could potentially kill millions of us.
Let us hope for the best, but let us also prepare for the worst. That means stocking up on the food and supplies that you will need to stay isolated for an extended period of time. As we have seen so many times in the past, basic essentials fly off of store shelves during any type of an emergency. During an extended Ebola pandemic, those essentials would be in very short supply and prices on the basics would absolutely skyrocket. Those that have taken the time to get prepared now will be way ahead of the game.
And if there were dozens or hundreds of people in your community that were contagious, you would definitely not want to go to a grocery store or anywhere else where large numbers of people circulate.
The key during any major pandemic is to keep yourself and your family isolated from the virus. This is basic common sense, but it is something that Barack Obama does not seem to understand. As I write this, he still has not done anything to restrict air travel between the United States and West Africa. Hopefully this very foolish decision will not result in scores of dead Americans.
Is the stock market about to crash? Hopefully not, and there definitely have been quite a few “false alarms” over the past few years. But without a doubt we have been living through one of the greatest financial bubbles in U.S. history, and the markets are absolutely primed for a full-blown crash. That doesn’t mean that one will happen now, but we are starting to see some ominous things happen in the financial world that we have not seen happen in a very long time. So many of the same patterns that we witnessed just prior to the bursting of the dotcom bubble and just prior to the 2008 financial crisis are repeating themselves again. Hopefully we still have at least a little bit more time before stocks completely crash, because when this market does implode it is going to be a doozy.
The following are 9 ominous signals coming from the financial markets that we have not seen in years…
#1 By the time the markets closed on Monday, we had witnessed the biggest three day decline for U.S. stocks since 2011.
#2 On Monday, the S&P 500 moved below its 200 day moving average for the first time in about two years. The last time this happened after such an extended streak of success, the S&P 500 ended up declining by a total of 22 percent.
#3 This week the put-call ratio actually moved higher than it was at any point during the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008. This is an indication that there is a tremendous amount of fear on Wall Street right now.
#4 Everybody is watching the VIX at the moment. According to the Economic Policy Journal, the VIX has now risen to the highest level that it has been since the heart of the European debt crisis. This is another indicator that there is extraordinary fear on Wall Street…
US stock market volatility has jumped to the highest since the eurozone debt crisis, according to a closely watched index, the the CBOE Vix index of implied US share price volatility.
It jumped to 24.6 late on Monday and is up again this morning. On Thursday, it was as low as 15.
That’s a very strong move, but things have been much worse. At height of the recent financial crisis – the Vix index peaked at 80.1 in November 2008.
Could we get there again? Yeah.
#5 The price of oil is crashing. This also happened in 2008 just before the financial crisis erupted. At this point, the price of oil is now the lowest that it has been in more than two years.
#6 As Chris Kimble has pointed out, the chart for the Dow has formed a “Doji Star topping pattern”. We also saw this happen in 2007. Could this be an indication that we are on the verge of another stock market crash similar to what happened in 2008?
#7 Canadian stocks are actually doing even worse than U.S. stocks. At this point, Canadian stocks have already dropped more than 10 percent from the peak of the market.
#8 European stocks have also had a very rough month. For example, German stocks have already dropped about 10 percent since July, and there are growing concerns about the overall health of the German economy.
#9 The wealthy are hoarding cash and precious metals right now. In fact, one British news report stated that sales of gold bars to wealthy customers are up 243 percent so far this year.
So what comes next?
Some experts are saying that this is the perfect time to buy stocks at value prices. For example, USA Today published a story with the following headline on Tuesday: “Time to ‘buy’ the fear? One Wall Street pro says yes“.
Other experts, however, believe that this could represent a major turning point for the financial markets.
Just consider what Abigail Doolittle recently told CNBC…
Technical strategist Abigail Doolittle is holding tight to her prediction of market doom ahead, asserting that a recent move in Wall Street’s fear gauge is signaling the way.
Doolittle, founder of Peak Theories Research, has made headlines lately suggesting a market correction worse than anyone thinks is ahead. The long-term possibility, she has said, is a 60 percent collapse for the S&P 500.
In early August, Doolittle was warning both of a looming “super spike” in the CBOE Volatility Index as well as a “death cross” in the 10-year Treasury note. The former referenced a sharp move higher in the “VIX,” while the latter used Wall Street lingo for an event that already occurred in which the fixed income benchmark saw its 50-day moving average cross below its 200-day trend line.
Both, she said, served as indicators for trouble ahead.
So what do you think?
Are we about to witness a stock market crash and another major financial crisis?
Or is this just another “false alarm” that will soon fade?
Please feel free to share what you think by posting a comment below…
There are some who believe that the next great financial crash will not begin in the United States. Instead, they are convinced that a financial crisis that begins in Europe or in Japan (or both) will end up spreading across the globe and take down the U.S. too. Time will tell if they are ultimately correct, but even now there are signs that financial trouble is already starting to erupt in both Germany and Japan. German stocks have declined 10 percent since July, and that puts them in “correction” territory. In Japan, the economy is a total mess right now. According to figures that were just released, Japanese GDP contracted at a 7.1 percent annualized rate during the second quarter and private consumption contracted at a 19 percent annualized rate. Could a financial collapse in either of those nations be the catalyst that sets off financial dominoes all over the planet?
This week, the worst German industrial production figure since 2009 rattled global financial markets. Germany is supposed to be the economic “rock” of Europe, but at this point that “rock” is starting to show cracks.
And certainly the civil war in Ukraine and the growing Ebola crisis are not helping things either. German investors are becoming increasingly jittery, and as I mentioned above the German stock market has already declined 10 percent since July…
German stocks, weighed down by the economic fallout spawned by the Ukraine-Russia crisis and the eurzone’s weak economy, are now down more than 10% from their July peak and officially in correction territory.
The DAX, Germany’s benchmark stock index, has succumbed to recent data points that show the German economy has ground to a halt, hurt in large part by the economic sanctions levied at its major trading partner, Russia, by the U.S. and European Union as a way to get Moscow to butt out of Ukraine’s affairs. The economic slowdown in the rest of the debt-hobbled eurozone has also hurt the German economy, considered the economic locomotive of Europe.
In trading today, the DAX fell as low as 8960.43, which put it down 10.7% from its July 3 closing high of 10,029.43 and off nearly 11% from its June 20 intraday peak of 10,050.98.
And when you look at some of the biggest corporate names in Germany, things look even more dramatic.
Just check out some of these numbers…
The hardest hit sectors have been retailers, industrials and leisure stocks with sports clothing giant Adidas down 37.7pc for the year, airline Lufthansa down 27pc, car group Volkswagen sliding 23.6pc and Deutchse Bank falling 20.2pc so far this year.
Meanwhile, things in Japan appear to be going from bad to worse.
The government of Japan is more than a quadrillion yen in debt, and it has been furiously printing money and debasing the yen in a desperate attempt to get the Japanese economy going again.
Unfortunately for them, it is simply not working. The revised economic numbers for the second quarter were absolutely disastrous. The following comes from a Japanese news source…
On an annualized basis, the GDP contraction was 7.1 percent, compared with 6.8 percent in the preliminary estimate. That makes it the worst performance since early 2009, at the height of the global financial crisis.
The blow from the first stage of the sales tax hike in April extended into this quarter, with retail sales and household spending falling in July. The administration signaled last week that it is prepared to boost stimulus to help weather a second stage of the levy scheduled for October 2015.
Corporate capital investment dropped 5.1 percent from the previous quarter, more than double the initial estimate of 2.5 percent.
Private consumption was meanwhile revised to a 5.1 percent drop from the initial reading of 5 percent, meaning it sank 19 percent on an annualized basis from the previous quarter, rather than the initial estimate of 18.7 percent, Monday’s report said.
For the moment, things are looking pretty good in the United States.
But as I have written about so many times, our financial markets are perfectly primed for a fall.
Other experts see things the same way. Just consider what John Hussman wrote recently…
As I did in 2000 and 2007, I feel obligated to state an expectation that only seems like a bizarre assertion because the financial memory is just as short as the popular understanding of valuation is superficial: I view the stock market as likely to lose more than half of its value from its recent high to its ultimate low in this market cycle.
At present, however, market conditions couple valuations that are more than double pre-bubble norms (on historically reliable measures) with clear deterioration in market internals and our measures of trend uniformity. None of these factors provide support for the market here. In my view, speculators are dancing without a floor.
And it isn’t just stocks that could potentially be on the verge of a massive decline. The bond market is also experiencing an unprecedented bubble right now. And when that bubble bursts, the carnage will be unbelievable. This has become so obvious that even CNBC is talking about it…
Picture this: The bond market gets spooked by a sudden interest rate scare, sending a throng of buyers streaming toward the exits, only to find a dearth of buyers on the other side.
As a result, liquidity evaporates, yields soar, and the U.S. finds itself smack in the middle of another debt crisis no one saw coming.
It’s a scenario that TABB Group fixed income head Anthony J. Perrotta believes is not all that far-fetched, considering the market had what could be considered a sneak preview in May 2013. That was the “taper tantrum,” which saw yields spike and stocks sell off after then-Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke made remarks that the market construed as indicating rates would rise sooner than expected.
If the strength of our financial markets reflected overall strength in the U.S. economy there would not be nearly as much cause for concern.
But at this point our financial markets have become completely and totally divorced from economic reality.
The truth is that our economic fundamentals continue to decay. In fact, the IMF says that China now has the largest economy on the planet on a purchasing power basis. The era of American economic dominance is ending. It is just that the financial markets have not gotten the memo yet.
Hopefully we still have at least a few more months before stock markets all over the world start crashing. But remember, we are entering the seventh year of the seven year cycle of economic crashes that so many people are talking about these days. And we are definitely primed for a global financial collapse.
Sadly, most people did not see the crash of 2008 coming, and most people will not see the next one coming either.
The U.S. economy has had six full years to bounce back since the financial collapse of 2008, and it simply has not happened. Median household income has declined substantially since then, total household wealth for middle class families is way down, the percentage of the population that is employed is still about where it was at the end of the last recession, and the number of Americans that are dependent on the government has absolutely exploded. Even those that claim that the economy is “recovering” admit that we are not even close to where we used to be economically. Many hope that someday we will eventually get back to that level, but the truth is that this is about as good as things are ever going to get for the middle class. And we should enjoy this period of relative stability while we still can, because when the next great financial crisis strikes things are going to fall apart very rapidly.
The U.S. Census Bureau has just released some brand new numbers, and they are quite sobering. For example, after accounting for inflation median household income in the United States has declined a total of 8 percent from where it was back in 2007.
That means that middle class families have significantly less purchasing power than they did just prior to the last major financial crisis.
And one research firm is projecting that it is going to take until 2019 for median household income to return to the level that we witnessed in 2007…
For everybody wondering why the economic recovery feels like a recession, here’s the answer: We’re still at least five years away from regaining everything lost during the 2007-2009 downturn.
Forecasting firm IHS Global Insight predicts that real median household income — perhaps the best proxy for middle-class living standards — won’t reach the prior peak from 2007 until 2019. Since the numbers are adjusted for inflation, that means the typical family will wait 12 years until their purchasing power is as strong as it was before the recession. That would be the longest period of stagnation, by far, since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Of course that projection assumes that the economy will continue to “recover”, which is a very questionable assumption at best.
Meanwhile, total household wealth has been declining for middle class families as well.
According to the New York Times, the “typical American household” is now worth 36 percent less than it was worth a decade ago.
That is a pretty substantial drop. But you never hear our politicians (especially the Democrats) bring up numbers like that because they want us to feel good about things.
So why is all of this happening?
The biggest reason why the middle class is struggling so much is the lack of good jobs.
As the chart posted below demonstrates, the percentage of the working age population that is actually employed is still way, way below where it was prior to the last recession…
The “employment recovery” (the tiny little bump at the end of the chart) has been so miniscule that it is hardly even worth mentioning.
At the moment, we still have 1.4 million fewer full-time jobs than we did in 2008 even though more than 100,000 people are added to the U.S. population each month.
And a lot of the workers that have lost jobs since the start of the last recession have never been able to find a new one.
According to a brand new survey conducted by Rutgers University, more than 20 percent of all workers that have been laid off in the past five years still have not found a new job.
Meanwhile, the control freak bureaucrats that run this country continue to kill off small businesses.
In recent years we have seen large numbers of small businesses fail, and at this point the rate of small business ownership in the United States is at an all-time low.
As a result of everything that you have just read, the middle class is shrinking and dependence on the government is soaring.
Today, there are 49 million Americans that are dealing with food insecurity, and Americans received more than 2 trillion dollars in benefits from the federal government last year alone.
For many more statistics just like this, please see my previous article entitled “30 stats to show to anyone that does not believe the middle class is being destroyed“.
Without a doubt, things are not that good for the middle class in America these days.
Unfortunately, the next great wave of financial trouble is rapidly approaching, and once it strikes things are going to get substantially worse for the middle class.
Yes, the stock market set record high after record high this summer. But what we have observed is classic bubble behavior. So many of the exact same patterns that occurred just prior to previous stock market crashes are happening once again.
And it is interesting to note that September 22nd has marked important market peaks at various times throughout history…
For traders, September 22 is one of those days with a notorious history. UBS’s Art Cashin notes that September 22 marked various market highs in 1873, 1929, 1980, and even as recent as 2008.
Could the coming months be the beginning of the next major stock market decline?
Small-cap stocks are already starting to show signs of real weakness. In fact, the Russell 2000 just hit a “death cross” for the first time in more than 2 years…
The Russell 2000 has been diverging from the broader market over the last several weeks, and now technicians point out it has flashed a bearish signal. For the first time in more than two years, the small-cap index has hit a so-called death cross.
A death cross occurs when a nearer-term 50-day moving average falls below a longer-term, 200-day moving average. Technicians argue that a death cross can be a bearish sign.
None of us knows what the market is going to do tomorrow, but a lot of the “smart money” is getting out of the market right now while the getting is good.
So where is the “smart money” putting their assets?
In a previous article, I discussed how sales of gold bars to wealthy clients is way up so far this year.
And CNBC has just reported that the ultra-wealthy “are holding mountains of cash” right now…
Billionaires are holding mountains of cash, offering the latest sign that the ultra-wealthy are nervous about putting more money into today’s markets.
According to the new Billionaire Census from Wealth-X and UBS, the world’s billionaires are holding an average of $600 million in cash each—greater than the gross domestic product of Dominica.
Why are they doing this?
Are they concerned about the potential of a market crash?
And if we do see another market crash like we witnessed back in 2008, what is that going to mean for the rest of us?
2008 certainly did not destroy our economy.
But it did cause an immense amount of damage that we have never recovered from.
Now the next wave is approaching, and most people don’t even see it coming.