This Economy Is Ripping The Dignity Of Millions Of Unemployed Americans To Shreds

If you can still put a roof over your head and food on the table for your family, you should consider yourself to be very fortunate.  There are millions of Americans out there right now that are really, really suffering.  The cold, hard reality of it is that there aren’t even close to enough jobs out there for everyone right now.  It is almost as if we are all caught in a really bizarre game of musical chairs where the losers get stripped of their tickets to the middle class.  What this horrible economy is doing to the dignity of millions of middle class Americans is incredibly saddening.  There are a lot of very highly educated and very hard working Americans who cannot seem to get jobs no matter what they do and now find themselves doing whatever they can just to survive.  It can be really hard to keep your dignity when you played by all the rules and you worked as hard as you could all your life and now you find yourself a half step away from being homeless.  Those of us who are still doing okay should never look down on those who are struggling in this economy, because the truth is that any of us could be next.   

If you really want to read some horror stories about what long-term unemployment is doing to some people in America, you should go spend an hour or two over at Unemployed-Friends some time.  It is a great forum with a lot of great resources for the unemployed, but it also contains dozens and dozens and dozens of heartbreaking stories from middle class Americans who have had their lives shattered by this economic downturn.      

The following is a typical story on Unemployed-Friends.  It is from a 48 year old Air Force veteran who has lost everything and is now sleeping in his vehicle.  It turns out that Scott48’s job was shipped off to India and now he has been out of work for over two years….

“I am a 48 year old USAF Vet. I got my house in 1996 with the help of the VA. In 2009 the company I worked for went out of buisness(gone to India) I then became a 99er. I notified Wells Fargo that I lost my job and they said they would work with me, the next mortgage statement I got they conveniently increased my mortgage! With what I got from UE was enough for the house but I had to cut out the luxury of food, gas, utillities, insurance, entertainment and alcohol. That was it for me, so the forecloser ball was in motion. I had to give my dog to my cousin so he would get fed, I took everything I owened to the auction( execpt tools, clothes, pictures, tech manuals and my Saxophone) and sold it. I went to a half-way house the VA recomended for a week and it was joke, so my cousin said I could stay with her. After 4 months she diecided that I wasnt looking hard enough and kicked me out, and Ive applied for everything except selling myself. This summer I was staying in an abandoned house due to forecloser and the real estate company has now put it on the market, and I am now on the street sleeping in my vehicle or a friend here and there. Keeping clean is going to be a challenge cuz the Flying J truck stops charge $10 for a shower, rip-off. What a country!”

The truth is that this economy is driving many Americans to the brink of desperation.  Even recent college graduates are becoming desperate enough to actually consider suicide.  The following story is from an Unemployed-Friends user known as 08pacollegegrad….

“I could just take any job like working at fast food places, but I hear people who try can’t even get hired there. I went to Wendy’s for lunch the other day and I thought of picking up an application…but the slot where they keep the applications was completely empty. That should say it all. Plus, I feel like if I take just any job…I will be set back further and never be able to gain experience in my chosen fields.

I follow up on job applications, but employers ignore me for the most part when I try to contact them. I sent five follow up e-mails last week and got no responses. I contacted an employer expressing my interest in working for them, but all they gave me is the link to their online application system that I have never gotten a job from.

I am thinking of applying for more internships (I have already done two), but I don’t want employers to think why I am applying for an internship when I should have had a full fledged job by now.

I have almost killed myself over my situaion and am taking anti-depressants right now. I see a psychiatrist every 4-6 weeks, but I still have days where I feel so empty. I am sick of sitting at home searching for jobs and praying for a response that never comes.”

Many Americans spend day after day after day looking for a job that never comes.  The sense of hopelessness that can build after doing this for a few years is almost indescribable.  The following is another incredibly sad story from an Unemployed-Friends user known as feuxdejoie….

“I lost my job in June 2008, my husband was working but sentenced to prison for 4 years, for DUI, no accidents or injuries. I had been using my unemployment to pay bills but my last check came June 12, 2010. I’m alone and scared. The city that I live in has the highest unemployment in the State, Illinois. Our children are grown and I sit alone all day searching for jobs. My husband can only call once a month because of the outrageous rates for telephone calls. I’m at the end of my rope and don’t know where to turn if they don’t pass a tier V for unemployment or open up some jobs.
I turned 50 in April and had worked all of my life, starting at age 14 with a work permit! My employer stated to me that they needed someone bilingual and terminated me even after I told them that I would take classes to learn.  I signed up for college and began classes in January then unemployment told me that I wasn’t elgible for unemployment while attending school.”

There are millions of Americans who believe that their lives are over because they can’t get decent jobs.  When you lose your job, your home, your car, your health insurance and then finally your unemployment insurance runs out, it is easy to lose all hope as an Unemployed-Friends user named Ember has done….

“so i feel pretty much hopeless. been unemployed since July 2008. in over two years i haven’t even been called for an interview. tired of looking and applying for jobs outside of my field that require experience i don’t have. it’s all for naught. i have two bachelor of science degrees. my BS degrees, cuz that’s what they’re worth. since losing my job i’ve gotten divorced. lost my house. lost my health insurance. totalled my car and sustained chronic back pain. and moved in with my mom. and did i mention, when all this started i was a new mom, just back from maternity leave? so (now) i’m raising a toddler on my own, with no income. my unemployment insurance ran out a few weeks ago. i don’t even know what to do now. i just want to disappear. i’m tired of trying. i’m tired of being a burden on everyone. if i didn’t have the responsibility to take care of my child i wouldn’t be around anymore.”

This final example is from an Unemployed-Friends user identified as Faith1028.  Be warned that this one will shake you to your core if you have any sensitivity at all.  As you read this, keep in mind that this kind of thing is literally happening to millions of Americans these days…. 

“HI, y’all! This is my story. I’m from Chicago.

I lost my job 11.06.09 – I did my best to remain positive & confident that I would get a job by the end of November.

December 2009 – Still no job. I’m getting food stamps (LINK card) & Unemployment Benefits. Not much money at all, but I’m surviving. Thanks to all this stress, my stomach has been burning and/or been painful daily for all December. I puked my guts out on the 26th.

January 2010 – My stomach is still hurting every day. I had to close out my savings account. I haven’t told my slumlord or my fellow tenants that I lost my job; I go on pretending I’m still going to work everyday. Unfortunately on the 26th, I got my eviction notice. I called the office to ask why. The response was “I don’t know.” I became hysterical. I’ve no job, no money, no family/friends to help. (I have many *relatives*, but no *family*.) I truly believed my only alternative was suicide. I wanted to say good-bye to my brother (my only sibling), but we haven’t spoken to each other for over 4 years; I no longer have his address/phone number. I found him on Facebook. I didn’t bring up my situation because I felt he wouldn’t care. We exchanged a few messages and that was it. I haven’t heard from him since. Good riddance.

February 2010 – Someone found a family that I can stay with for only $250/month! My own room! They turned out to be aquaintances of mine. Vegetarian, too! At least I have a place to stay. I’d rather live alone, but, hey, I’m desperate! — And I’m not too crazy about the bedbugs. OW!

June/July 2010 – Thanks to daily/nightly use of citrine crystals since 30 May, I have no more stomach problems!
Thanks to weekly use of a natural (green!) pesticide from PlusNaturalEnzymes.com, I no longer have a problem with bedbugs! However…
Mid-June, my Unemployment Benefits ran out. Of course, I’m still looking for a job! What am I supposed to do – put a gun to someone’s head and force them to hire me? As of this date, I have $12 left to my name; $0 in my chequeing account. I recently reapplied for and am now receiving food stamps. Before I got my food stamps back, I’ve eaten whatever (Vegetarian!) food I can get, even stuff I’m allergic to. As a result, I’ve become sick: cold-like symptoms, pain in lower intestines…and a rash over my arms, legs, & neck. Oh, does it itch! At least my food allergies are not life-threatening.
Needless to say, my depression has gotten worse.

I am really trying hard to remain positive — and alive.
But why? Is it really all worth it?

I haven’t paid July’s rent, and the people I’m staying with are getting very *impatient*; I fear I’ll be evicted again! The money is coming! It’s not my bloody fault!

Someone on Twitter sent me a link to this site. I know I’m not the only one suffering; some folks have already committed suicide. I don’t want to die, but I don’t want to be homeless, either. I am so bloody scared.
Just give me money that my tax dollars paid for!
–Or better yet: GIVE ME A BLASTED JOB!!”

The really sad thing is that there are countless other stories just like these being posted all over the Internet all the time.

People are hurting.

People are losing hope.

So how did we get here?

Well, it turns out that the “haves” have figured out that they really don’t need the “have nots” after all.  Incredible advances in technology have increasingly enabled employers to replace humans with machines and computers.  In addition, as we have detailed previously, millions upon millions of middle class American jobs are being shipped off to China and to dozens of third world nations where workers are more than happy to work for less than a tenth of what an American worker would make.

All of those jobs that have been lost to technology and that have been sent overseas are not going to come back.  The hordes of long-term unemployed that we are seeing now is just the beginning.  It is going to get a lot worse.

So the next time you hear a hard luck story from an unemployed American, don’t look down on that person.

You might be next.

Even Tony Robbins Is Warning That An Economic Collapse Is Coming

It seems like almost everyone is warning of a coming economic collapse these days.  Do you remember Tony Robbins?  He is probably the world’s best known “motivational speaker” and his infomercials dominated late night television during the 80s and 90s.  He was always urging all of us to “unleash the power within” and to take charge of our lives.  Well guess what?  Now Tony Robbins is warning that an economic collapse is coming. In fact, he has issued a special video warning about what he believes is about to happen. Considering the incredible connections that he has at the highest levels of the financial world, it makes a lot of sense to consider what he is trying to warn us about. Robbins says that a “major retracement” is coming to financial markets and that the coming collapse is going to be a “painful process” as we go through it.  Those familiar with Tony Robbins know that he always goes out of his way to stress the positive, so if even he is openly warning the public about a coming economic nightmare than you know that things are starting to get really, really bad out there.

The video that Tony Robbins published where he gives his economic warning is posted in two parts below.  This is unlike any Tony Robbins video that you have ever seen before and it is absolutely jaw dropping….  

Part 1:

Part 2:

So is Tony Robbins right about what is coming?

Yup.

An economic collapse is coming.

You need to get prepared.

For those not familiar with my previous articles, let’s review just some of the reasons why America is headed towards an economic nightmare of unprecedented proportions….

The National Debt – The U.S. government has accumulated a national debt that is rapidly approaching the 14 trillion dollar mark.  According to Democrat Erskine Bowles, one of the heads of Barack Obama’s national debt commission, if we continue on the path we are on the U.S. government will be spending $2 trillion just for interest on the national debt by 2020.

State And Local Debt – Many of America’s state and local governments may be in even worse financial shape than the federal government is.  In fact, some state and local governments are in such a financial mess that they have starting cutting off even the most essential services.

Consumer Debt – The total amount of consumer debt that Americans have accumulated now stands at approximately 11.7 trillion dollars

The Trade Deficit – The U.S. trade deficit has exploded to nightmarish proportions over the past two decades.  Every single month tens of billions more dollars flows out of the country than flows into it.  The rest of the world is literally bleeding us dry in slow motion.

No Jobs – Today it takes the average unemployed American over 8 months to find a job.  The number of Americans receiving long-term unemployment benefits has risen over 60 percent in just the past year.

The Credit Crunch – The U.S. is experiencing a credit crunch unlike anything it has seen since the Great Depression.  Lending has really, really dried up, but without loans our economic system cannot function properly.

The Housing Crisis – Even with mortgage rates at historic lows, a shockingly low number of Americans are buying houses.  There has been a total collapse in home sales since the home buyer tax credit expired.  At the same time, mortgage defaults, foreclosures and home repossessions by banks continue to set new all-time records. 

Rising Bankruptcies – Nationwide, bankruptcy filings rose 20 percent in the 12-month period ending June 30th.

Rising Poverty – One out of every eight Americans and one out of every four American children are now on food stamps.  Approximately 50 million Americans couldn’t even afford to buy enough food to stay healthy at some point last year.

The Coming Pension Crisis – America is facing a pension crisis that is so nightmarish that it is almost impossible to adequately describe it.  State and local government pension plans are woefully underfunded, dozens of large corporate pension plans either have collapsed or are on the verge of collapsing, Social Security is a complete and total financial disaster and about half of all Americans essentially have nothing saved up for retirement.

The Derivatives Bubble – Our financial system has become a gigantic gambling parlor and we have allowed a horrific derivatives bubble to develop that could destroy the entire world economy if it ever bursts.  Nobody knows exactly how big the derivatives bubble is, but low estimates place it at around 600 trillion dollars and high estimates put it at around 1.5 quadrillion dollars.  Once that bubble pops there simply will not be enough money in the entire world to fix it.

The Federal ReserveThe Federal Reserve has devalued the U.S. dollar by over 95 percent since 1913 and it has been used to create the biggest mountain of government debt in the history of the world.  There are many economists who would argue that the Federal Reserve is at the very core of our economic problems.

As we get even closer to the economic abyss that we are racing towards, even more big names such as Tony Robbins will come forward with warnings.

The truth is that these problems did not develop overnight, and they are not going to be solved overnight either. 

Perhaps our economic future is best summed up by this one statement that economist Paul Krugman recently made….

“America is now on the unlit, unpaved road to nowhere.”

It would be great if I could write about America’s bright economic future and the unlimited prosperity that is ahead for all of us, but that would be a lie.

We are headed for an economic collapse.

It is going to be painful.

It is time to get prepared.

Foreclosures Continue To Dramatically Increase In 2010

In a very alarming sign for the U.S. economy, foreclosures have continued to dramatically increase in 2010.  But there has been a shift.  Back in 2007 and 2008, experts tell us that most foreclosures were due to toxic mortgages.  People were being suckered into mortgages that they couldn’t afford with “teaser rates” or with payments that would dramatically escalate after a few years, and when those mortgages reset, the people who had agreed to them no longer could make the payments.  But now RealtyTrac says that unemployment has become the major reason for foreclosures.  Millions of Americans have become chronically unemployed during the economic downturn and many of them are losing their homes as a result.  But whatever the cause, one thing is certain – foreclosures have continued to skyrocket at a staggering rate.

According to a new report from RealtyTrac, foreclosure filings climbed in 75% of the nation’s metro areas during the first half of 2010.  At a time when the Obama administration believes that we are “turning the corner”, things just seem to get even worse. 

Some areas of the country continue to be complete and total disaster areas when it comes to real estate.  For example, you have got to feel really sorry for anyone trying to sell a house down in Florida right now.  According to RealtyTrac, Florida led the way with nine of the top 20 metro foreclosure rates in the country during the first half of 2010.

Ouch.

But the worst city for foreclosures continues to be Las Vegas.

According to RealtyTrac spokesman Rick Sharga, unemployment has replaced bad loans as the number one cause of foreclosures there….

“Las Vegas has seamlessly shifted from having a high level of foreclosures due to bad loans to defaults caused by a high level of unemployment.”

But other cities with high unemployment rates are having huge problems as well.

For those who believe that the economy is supposed to be “improving”, it must seem really odd that foreclosure rates in major cities such as Chicago continue to soar.

RealtyTrac says that foreclosure filings in Chicago have increased 23 percent year-over-year to one out of every 48 households.

But it isn’t just cities like Las Vegas and Chicago that are nightmares right now.

The truth is that this is a national crisis.

The Mortgage Bankers Association recently announced that more than 10% of all U.S. homeowners with a mortgage had missed at least one mortgage payment during the January to March time period.  That was a new all-time record and represented an increase from 9.1 percent a year ago.

Unfortunately, new all-time records are being set all over the place….

*The number of home foreclosures set a record for the second consecutive month in May.

*Banks repossessed 269,962 U.S. homes during the second quarter of 2010, which was a new all-time record.

*As of March, U.S. banks had an inventory of approximately 1.1 million foreclosed homes, which was a new record and which was up 20 percent from a year ago.

So is there any hope that things are going to get better soon?

Well, according to RealtyTrac’s CEO James Saccacio, that depends on the U.S. economy….

“The fragile stability achieved in many local housing markets hinges on improvements in the underlying economy, specifically job growth. If unemployment remains persistently high and foreclosure prevention efforts only delay the inevitable, then we could continue to see increased foreclosure activity and a corresponding weakness in home prices in many metro areas.”

Without good jobs, the American people are not going to be able to pay their mortgages.

So are the millions upon millions of jobs that have been lost coming back soon?

No, unfortunately they are not.

As we discussed at length in a previous article, the big global corporations that dominate our economy are figuring out that they don’t really need the rest of us anymore.  The American worker is becoming obsolete.  After all, why pay an American ten times as much to do the same job?  Big corporations can hire two people in China or India to do the same job and still pocket 80% of the difference.

In addition, big corporations don’t really need the headache of making employer contributions to Social Security, setting up benefit packages and pension plans or of trying to comply with the thousands upon thousands of ridiculous regulations that the U.S. government continues to spew out.

At this point, the American worker has become extremely unattractive for large corporations, and so jobs will continue to migrate to other areas of the world.

We allowed our politicians to merge us into a “global economy”, so now we are all going to have to deal with being part of a “global workforce”.

As jobs continue to be offshored and outsourced, more Americans are going to become unemployed and the foreclosure crisis is going to continue to be a nightmare.

It would be nice to put a positive spin on all of this, but there isn’t one.

Economic Pain

For decades, most Americans have enjoyed an extremely high standard of living.  In fact, most of us have been “enjoying the high life” and “living the dream” for so long that we have assumed that it is just always going to be that way.  But now a rapidly growing percentage of Americans is getting the chance to experience some very serious economic pain.  Today, over 40 million Americans are on food stamps and over 20 million U.S. children are living in poverty.  Tens of millions of Americans are unemployed, and personal bankruptcies and foreclosures continue to set all-time records.  For many people, all of this economic turmoil was completely unexpected.  Millions of people now can’t sleep at night because they are constantly stressed about finances.  More couples than ever are being torn about by arguments over money.  Unprecedented numbers of Americans have experienced a sinking feeling in the pit of their stomachs upon the realization that they are going to lose the homes that they have been raising their families in.  Money may not buy happiness, but as tens of millions of Americans are finding out, the lack of it can bring a whole lot of pain.

Now, the truth is that there have always been a small percentage of Americans that have struggled to get by, but today we are seeing more Americans who are “down on their luck” than at any other time in recent memory.  According to one shocking new survey, 28% of all U.S. households have at least one member that is looking for a full-time job.

It seems like almost everyone has a family member or a close friend who is looking for a job.  The truth is that there are not enough jobs for everyone, and there certainly are not nearly enough good jobs. 

A recent Pew Research survey found that 55 percent of the U.S. labor force has experienced either unemployment, a pay decrease, a reduction in hours or an involuntary move to part-time work since the recession began.

55 percent?

That is incredible.

That means that over half of all American workers have been unemployed or have been forced to take a reduction in pay since the recession started.

Things are getting really tough out there.

Millions of Americans are wondering why their husbands or wives suddenly can’t find jobs.

In fact, the average duration of unemployment in the United States has risen to an all-time high.  The declining economy has created a new class of chronically unemployed Americans who would love to work but can’t seem to find anyone to hire them.

Millions of Americans have been forced to turn to part-time work.  In fact, one recent survey found that approximately 8.6 million American workers are working part time because they can’t get full-time jobs.

In this economic environment, there is significant competition for even the lowest paying jobs.

You never know – this holiday season the friendly gentleman greeting you down at the local Wal-Mart may actually have several advanced degrees but just cannot find anyone else who will hire him.

As the economic situation continues to deteriorate, record numbers of Americans are going bankrupt and are losing their homes.  In fact, banks repossessed a record number of U.S. homes during the second quarter of 2010.

So it is really no wonder why so many Americans are feeling so negative about the economy.

According to one new survey, U.S. consumer sentiment weakened in early July to its lowest in 11 months.  In addition, one recent poll found that 76 percent of Americans believe that the U.S. economy is still in a recession.

But sometimes what gets lost in all the numbers are the individual stories of the very real pain that so many Americans are going through.  Today, I thought that I would share just a few of the stories of economic pain that my readers have been sharing with me.

A reader of my column on The American Dream blog named Kate recently graduated from college but now finds that she can’t even get a retail job….

I just graduated college in May… Moved to a new state and am now living with my boyfriend who should not and cannot continue to have to pay everything because i just plain can’t get a job.

I’m over qualified for retail survivor jobs… so I lie on my application. But then retail stores just plain don’t hire full time. So even if I could get a job as a cashier someplace… I’d only work enough hours to maybe pay for my car payment/ car insurance/ gas…. and my half of rent/electric and such is out of the question… not to mention charged to the limit credit cards from being unemployed and student loans that will hit in just a matter of months.

Any other jobs either don’t exist or they just ALL want 5 years professional experience…. which is impossible for someone who just graduated and has been working part time retail jobs since high school.

AND internships are unpaid or only for college students so thats out of the question….

But the fact of the matter is that jobs don’t care about education in the least bit if you don’t have the real professional work experience to back it up.

A reader of this column named David ended up taking a very low paying job overseas because he simply couldn’t find anything here in the United States….

I have been looking for a job since June 2009. I am a prior Army officer who knows four foreign languages and has lived around the world. I have sent out over 100 resumes over the past year. Finally, I got a job offer to teach English in Russia for $720 per month. Yes, $720 per month. Luckily my housing is paid for. So, I took my tax return and left for Russia to teach English. The American economy is broken and it will get worse. We are in the early stages of a total meltdown in America. Yes, if you are an American, you better prepare yourself for the worst is still to come.

But even those who do have jobs are facing some very difficult circumstances as one of my readers named Ana recently described….

I am a cop’s wife. My husband currently works for a Sheriff’s office who is extremely understaffed and the county wastes money like there is no tomorrow. They threaten the Sheriff with more layoffs if they don’t write more tickets on the highway. My husband has often had to patrol the entire county by himself for a full 12 hour shift. It is a bad situation for everyone.

The truth is that there are millions of stories like the ones above.  Economic pain is everywhere, and the American people are becoming increasingly frustrated.  Most Americans don’t understand why the economy is suddenly in the toilet – all most of them know is that things are broken and they desperately want someone to fix things. 

A lot of this frustration is coming out as anger towards the government.  People are waking up and are starting to realize that the American ruling class has been doing an incredibly bad job of running things.  The American people are hungry for a real change.  In fact, a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that just 23% of voters nationwide believe that the U.S. government has the consent of the governed.

But will we start to see some real changes in the years ahead?

Unfortunately, that is quite doubtful.  The reality is that the American ruling class has a stranglehold on both political parties, and they are not going to release their grip easily.

Meanwhile, our leaders continue to perpetuate the same failed policies that got us into this mess in the first place.  But unless some fundamental changes are made soon, the economic pain that Americans are experiencing is going to continue to get even worse.

So do you have a story of economic pain to share?  Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below….

Bad Economic News

It seems like almost everywhere you turn these days there is bad economic news.  Foreclosures are setting records, unemployment remains depressingly high, poverty is exploding, U.S. government debt is wildly out of control and Europe is on the verge of an economic collapse that could send the entire globe into a devastating financial panic.  If all that wasn’t enough, the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has destroyed the seafood and tourism industries along the Gulf coast and threatens to push that entire region into a depression for years to come.  The truth is that the more you look at the economic statistics coming in from around the globe the more it becomes obvious that we are headed for a complete and total economic nightmare. 

Just consider some of the most recent economic news…. 

*The number of U.S. home foreclosures set a record for the second consecutive month in May.  How can the U.S. housing industry be recovering when the number of Americans being foreclosed on continues to set all-time records?

*As of March, U.S. banks had an inventory of approximately 1.1 million foreclosed homes, up 20 percent from a year ago.  Instead of working their way through the huge backlog of unsold homes, U.S. banks continue to pile up a massive inventory of foreclosed homes at a staggering pace.

*According to figures from the U.S. Commerce Department, housing starts in the United States fell 10 percent in May, the biggest decline since March 2009.  The data also revealed that single-family home starts suffered the biggest drop since 1991.  There is already a massive glut of unsold homes on the market, so builders simply do not think it is profitable to build many new homes right now.

*Officials now tell us that the cost of “fixing” Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-backed mortgage companies that last year bought or guaranteed the vast majority of all U.S. home loans, will be at least $160 billion and could grow as high as $1 trillion.  The twin pillars of the U.S. mortgage industry have become financial black holes that the U.S. government endlessly pours massive amounts of cash into.  That is not a good sign.

*Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are to be delisted from the New York Stock Exchange because their stock prices have been trading under $1 per share for more than 30 trading days.  The truth is that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would have completely imploded by now if the U.S. government had not decided to step in and bail them out.

*The average duration of unemployment in the United States has risen to an all-time high.  Not only are a ton of Americans out of work, they can’t find work for a very, very long time once they are unemployed.

*For Americans younger than 25 years of age, the unemployment rate is 18.8%.  But even those young Americans that can find employment often find themselves working in very low paying service jobs.

*Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says that the U.S. unemployment rate is likely to stay “high for a while”.  Considering how badly Bernanke has been doing his job, it would be really nice if we could add just one more person to the unemployment rolls.

*According to one new study, approximately 21 percent of children in the United States are living below the poverty line in 2010 – the highest rate in 20 years.  There are hundreds of thousands of American children on the streets each night, and yet we continue to insist that we are the greatest country in the world. 

*For the first time in U.S. history, more than 40 million Americans are on food stamps, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that number will go up to 43 million Americans in 2011.  How many tens of millions of Americans have to be on food stamps before we officially say that we are in a depression?

*According to the Wall Street Journal, the debates have begun inside the Fed about what it should do in the event of a “double dip” recession.  If they are already debating what to do during the next economic downturn that means it is probably a foregone conclusion. 

*If you were alive when Christ was born and spent one million dollars every single day from then until now, you still would not have spent one trillion dollars by now.  But somehow the U.S. government is now over 13 trillion dollars in debt.  According to a U.S. Treasury Department report to Congress, the U.S. national debt will top $13.6 trillion this year and climb to an estimated $19.6 trillion by 2015

*It is being projected that the U.S. national debt will grow to surpass our gross domestic product in 2012.  Needless to say, that is a really, really bad sign.

*The total of all government, corporate and consumer debt in the United States is now equal to 360 percent of GDP.  At no point during the Great Depression did we ever even come close to such a figure.

But things may be even worse in Europe right now.  Unfortunately for the U.S., when Europe experiences an economic collapse it will devastate the American economy as well. 

The economic news coming out of Europe lately has been extremely alarming….

*George Soros says that a European recession next year is “almost inevitable”.  Considering how much access George Soros has to inside information, the fact that he is so pessimistic about Europe is a very troubling thing indeed.

*A report by the Bank for International Settlements says that the debt crisis hitting southern Europe resembles the 2007 subprime mortgage crisis.  Is history about to repeat itself?

*Moody’s has downgraded Greece government bond ratings into junk territory, citing the risks inherent in the rescue package that the rest of the eurozone has put together for them.  Soon Spain, Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Romania and a number of other European nations could have their debt downgraded as well. 

*The U.K.’s  new Office for Budget Responsibility has announced that the U.K. economy was more damaged by the recent financial crisis than previously admitted, and that it may never fully recover.  But the same could be said for many other nations across the world as well.

*21.5% of all working-age people in the U.K. do not have a job.  It seems like almost every country has a shortage of jobs these days.

*New U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron is warning that Britain’s “whole way of life” is about to be significantly disrupted for years by the most drastic public spending cuts in a generation.  In fact, severe austerity measures being implemented all across Europe could make this one of the most “interesting” European summers in ages.

*Spanish banks are borrowing record amounts of money from the European Central Bank as Spain’s financial institutions are finding it increasingly difficult to acquire funds in international capital markets.  But the truth is that it isn’t just Spanish banks that are facing a liquidity squeeze – the entire world is heading for a massive credit crunch.

But the biggest piece of bad economic news of all is the nightmare that is unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico.  There is no way that the southeast United States is going to be the same after this.  Hordes of businesses and entire industries have been literally destroyed over the past two months.  The total economic damage from this unprecedented disaster will easily run into the hundreds of billions of dollars.  This is an economic blow that the teetering U.S. economy simply could not afford right now.  Once the oil finally stops flowing the crisis will not be over.  In fact, the aftermath from this oil spill could end up echoing for decades.

So are things bad out there?  Yes, things are incredibly bad and they are about to get a whole lot worse.  In fact, there are so many cancers eating away at the U.S. economy that it would take an entire book to detail them all. 

What we are dealing with is not “just another recession” or “just another economic downturn”.  What we are witnessing is the fundamental unraveling of the monstrous debt spiral that our economy is based upon.  Any economy that is built on a foundation of debt and paper money is inevitably doomed.

So yes, the bad economic news is going to continue.  Things may get better for a while here and there, but the truth is that we are caught in a long-term spiral of economic decline from which there is no escape.

So what do you think?  Do you believe that there is hope for the U.S. economy?  Feel free to leave a comment with your opinion….

25 Questions To Ask Anyone Who Is Delusional Enough To Believe That This Economic Recovery Is Real

If you listen to the mainstream media long enough, you just might be tempted to believe that the United States has emerged from the recession and is now in the middle of a full-fledged economic recovery.  In fact, according to Obama administration officials, the great American economic machine has roared back to life, stronger and more vibrant than ever before.  But is that really the case?  Of course not.  You would have to be delusional to believe that.  What did happen was that all of the stimulus packages and government spending and new debt that Obama and the U.S. Congress pumped into the economy bought us a little bit of time.  But they have also made our long-term economic problems far worse.  The reality is that the U.S. cannot keep supporting an economy on an ocean of red ink forever.  At some point the charade is going to come crashing down. 

And GDP is not a really good measure of the economic health of a nation.  For example, if you would have looked at the growth of GDP in the Weimar republic in the early 1930s, you may have been tempted to think that the German economy was really thriving.  German citizens were spending increasingly massive amounts of money.  But of course that money was becoming increasingly worthless at the same time as hyperinflation spiralled out of control.

Well, today the purchasing power of our dollar is rapidly eroding as the price of food and other necessities continues to increase.  So just because Americans are spending a little bit more money than before really doesn’t mean much of anything.  As you will see below, there are a whole bunch of other signs that the U.S. economy is in very, very serious trouble. 

Any “recovery” that the U.S. economy is experiencing is illusory and will be quite temporary.  The entire financial system of the United States is falling apart, and the powers that be can try to patch it up and prop it up for a while, but in the end this thing is going to come crashing down.

But as obvious as that may seem to most of us, there are still quite a few people out there that are absolutely convinced that the U.S. economy will fully recover and will soon be stronger than ever.

So the following are 25 questions to ask anyone who is delusional enough to believe that this economic recovery is real….  

#1) In what universe is an economy with 39.68 million Americans on food stamps considered to be a healthy, recovering economy?  In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture forecasts that enrollment in the food stamp program will exceed 43 million Americans in 2011.  Is a rapidly increasing number of Americans on food stamps a good sign or a bad sign for the economy?

#2) According to RealtyTrac, foreclosure filings were reported on 367,056 properties in the month of March.  This was an increase of almost 19 percent from February, and it was the highest monthly total since RealtyTrac began issuing its report back in January 2005.  So can you please explain again how the U.S. real estate market is getting better?

#3) The Mortgage Bankers Association just announced that more than 10 percent of U.S. homeowners with a mortgage had missed at least one payment in the January-March period.  That was a record high and up from 9.1 percent a year ago.  Do you think that is an indication that the U.S. housing market is recovering?

#4) How can the U.S. real estate market be considered healthy when, for the first time in modern history, banks own a greater share of residential housing net worth in the United States than all individual Americans put together?

#5) With the U.S. Congress planning to quadruple oil taxes, what do you think that is going to do to the price of gasoline in the United States and how do you think that will affect the U.S. economy?

#6) Do you think that it is a good sign that Arnold Schwarzenegger, the governor of the state of California, says that “terrible cuts” are urgently needed in order to avoid a complete financial disaster in his state?

#7) But it just isn’t California that is in trouble.  Dozens of U.S. states are in such bad financial shape that they are getting ready for their biggest budget cuts in decades.  What do you think all of those budget cuts will do to the economy?

#8) In March, the U.S. trade deficit widened to its highest level since December 2008.  Month after month after month we buy much more from the rest of the world than they buy from us.  Wealth is draining out of the United States at an unprecedented rate.  So is the fact that the gigantic U.S. trade deficit is actually getting bigger a good sign or a bad sign for the U.S. economy?

#9) Considering the fact that the U.S. government is projected to have a 1.6 trillion dollar deficit in 2010, and considering the fact that if you went out and spent one dollar every single second it would take you more than 31,000 years to spend a trillion dollars, how can anyone in their right mind claim that the U.S. economy is getting healthier when we are getting into so much debt?

#10) The U.S. Treasury Department recently announced that the U.S. government suffered a wider-than-expected budget deficit of 82.69 billion dollars in April.  So is the fact that the red ink of the U.S. government is actually worse than projected a good sign or a bad sign?

#11) According to one new report, the U.S. national debt will reach 100 percent of GDP by the year 2015.  So is that a sign of economic recovery or of economic disaster?

#12) Monstrous amounts of oil continue to gush freely into the Gulf of Mexico, and analysts are already projecting that the seafood and tourism industries along the Gulf coast will be devastated for decades by this unprecedented environmental disaster.  In light of those facts, how in the world can anyone project that the U.S. economy will soon be stronger than ever?

#13) The FDIC’s list of problem banks recently hit a 17-year high.  Do you think that an increasing number of small banks failing is a good sign or a bad sign for the U.S. economy?

#14) The FDIC is backing 8,000 banks that have a total of $13 trillion in assets with a deposit insurance fund that is basically flat broke.  So what do you think will happen if a significant number of small banks do start failing?

#15) Existing home sales in the United States jumped 7.6 percent in April.  That is the good news.  The bad news is that this increase only happened because the deadline to take advantage of the temporary home buyer tax credit (government bribe) was looming.  So now that there is no more tax credit for home buyers, what will that do to home sales? 

#16) Both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac recently told the U.S. government that they are going to need even more bailout money.  So what does it say about the U.S. economy when the two “pillars” of the U.S. mortgage industry are government-backed financial black holes that the U.S. government has to relentlessly pour money into?

#17) 43 percent of Americans have less than $10,000 saved for retirement.  Tens of millions of Americans find themselves just one lawsuit, one really bad traffic accident or one very serious illness away from financial ruin.  With so many Americans living on the edge, how can you say that the economy is healthy?

#18) The mayor of Detroit says that the real unemployment rate in his city is somewhere around 50 percent.  So can the U.S. really be experiencing an economic recovery when so many are still unemployed in one of America’s biggest cities?

#19) Gallup’s measure of underemployment hit 20.0% on March 15th.  That was up from 19.7% two weeks earlier and 19.5% at the start of the year.  Do you think that is a good trend or a bad trend?

#20) One new poll shows that 76 percent of Americans believe that the U.S. economy is still in a recession.  So are the vast majority of Americans just stupid or could we still actually be in a recession?

#21) The bottom 40 percent of those living in the United States now collectively own less than 1 percent of the nation’s wealth.  So is Barack Obama’s mantra that “what is good for Wall Street is good for Main Street” actually true?

#22) Richard Russell, the famous author of the Dow Theory Letters, says that Americans should sell anything they can sell in order to get liquid because of the economic trouble that is coming.  Do you think that Richard Russell is delusional or could he possibly have a point?

#23) Defaults on apartment building mortgages held by U.S. banks climbed to a record 4.6 percent in the first quarter of 2010.  In fact, that was almost twice the level of a year earlier.  Does that look like a good trend to you?

#24) In March, the price of fresh and dried vegetables in the United States soared 49.3% – the most in 16 years.  Is it a sign of a healthy economy when food prices are increasing so dramatically?

#25) 1.41 million Americans filed for personal bankruptcy in 2009 – a 32 percent increase over 2008.  Not only that, more Americans filed for bankruptcy in March 2010 than during any month since U.S. bankruptcy law was tightened in October 2005.  So shouldn’t we at least wait until the number of Americans filing for bankruptcy is not setting new all-time records before we even dare whisper the words “economic recovery”?

The Economic Recovery Is Moving Along Quite Well – For The Boys Down On Wall Street

If you are part of the Wall Street establishment, the economic recovery is moving along quite well.  Many of the biggest firms on Wall Street just handed out record-setting bonuses, the Stock Market has been moving up steadily and the DOW is back up to around 11,000.  Profits at the top banks have been quite impressive lately.  Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Wells Fargo combined for first quarter profits of $13.4 billion – the most in almost three years.  Yes, life is quite good down on Wall Street these days.  People are still buying fast cars, big yachts and homes in the Hamptons.  It is almost as if “the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression” didn’t even happen.  Things are quickly getting back to “normal” for the banking elite and to many it seems like there are a lot more smiles down on Wall Street than there have been in a long, long time.

Bank of America’s chief executive officer, Brian T. Moynihan, is being quoted by Reuters as saying that “the worst of the credit cycle is clearly behind us” and that the economic growth we are experiencing is “real”.

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon is quoted as saying that the U.S. economy may be poised for “a strong recovery”.

And why wouldn’t they say these things?  Profits are up.  Their stock portfolios are up.  They are getting record bonuses.  They know that if anything does go wrong again that their friends in Washington D.C. will bail them out because they are “too big to fail”.

But for tens of millions of other Americans, the economy seems like it is getting worse than ever.  It is hard to explain the gut-wrenching agony that many highly-educated and highly-qualified American workers are going through as they send out hundreds of resumes only to get no response.  Or the absolute frustration of only being able to get a very low paying retail job and realizing that it will not even be able to pay the mortgage – much less support an entire family.  Or the soul-crushing despair of working two or three jobs and still not being able to pay the bills at the end of the month.

But these are the daily realities that millions of Americans must face now.  The truth is that there are not nearly enough jobs for everyone.  The number of unemployed Americans per job opening hit 5.5 in February.  It is like we are all caught in some bizarre game of musical chairs, and the losers end up destitute and out in the street.

Even many of those who can get jobs find themselves in bad situations.  Gallup’s underemployment measure hit 20.0% on March 15th.  That was up from 19.7% two weeks earlier and 19.5% at the start of the year.  A lot of very educated, very qualified people find themselves slaving away at jobs that high school students are qualified for.

But the ones being hurt the worst by this unemployment epidemic are the poor.  Check out the following chart.  At the end of 2009, the unemployment rate for those at the top end of the income scale in the United States was about 3%.  For those at the bottom of the income scale, the unemployment rate was about 30%….

It isn’t the boys down on Wall Street that are losing their homes and their jobs.

No, they are “too big to fail”.

It is millions of ordinary Americans that are losing their homes and their jobs.

And things keep getting worse.

According to RealtyTrac, foreclosure filings were reported on 367,056 properties in the month of March.  This was an increase of almost 19 percent from February, and it was the highest monthly total since RealtyTrac began issuing its report in January 2005.

Not only that, but RealtyTrac projects that there will be a total of 4.5 million home foreclosures by the end 2010.  If you figure that there are approximately 4 people per household, that is another 18 million people that will be facing the pain of a foreclosure filing.

For many Americans, losing their home to foreclosure is just too much.  For example, one man in Ohio actually decided to bulldoze his own home rather than let the bank take it in foreclosure proceedings.

Because of the extreme economic conditions, millions of Americans are in severe pain and are becoming increasingly desperate.  In some of the most depressed areas, crime is absolutely spiralling out of control.  So far this year in Detroit, car thefts are up 83%, robberies are up 50%, burglaries are up 20% and property destruction is up 42%.

Adding to all of this economic despair is the fact that food and gas prices are starting to shoot up.

In some areas of the United States, people are already paying as much as $3.50 for a gallon of gasoline, and many experts are now predicting that gasoline could hit $4.00 a gallon by the end of 2010.

Not only that, but wholesale food prices rose 2.4% in March, matching the biggest gain in 26 years.

So while the economic recovery is buzzing along quite well down on Wall Street, the reality is that for millions of other Americans things are really hard.  In fact, not even the smaller banks are experiencing much of a recovery.  The FDIC’s list of problem banks just hit a 17-year high.

No, the main beneficiaries of this “economic recovery” are the boys over on Wall Street.  They should enjoy it while it lasts, because even harder economic times are on the way, and the reality is that none of us will be able to completely escape the economic pain that is coming.

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