We Have Seen This Happen Before The Last 3 Recessions – And Now It Is The Worst It Has Ever Been

Since the last financial crisis, we have witnessed the greatest corporate debt binge in U.S. history.  Corporate debt has more than doubled since then, and it is now sitting at a grand total of more than 9 trillion dollars.  Of course there have been other colossal corporate debt binges throughout our history, and they all ended badly.  In fact, the ratio of corporate debt to U.S. GDP rose above 40 percent prior to each of the last three recessions, but this time around we have found a way to top that.  According to Forbes, the ratio of nonfinancial corporate debt to U.S. GDP is now nearly 50 percent…

Since the last recession, nonfinancial corporate debt has ballooned to more than $9 trillion as of November 2018, which is nearly half of U.S. GDP. As you can see below, each recession going back to the mid-1980s coincided with elevated debt-to-GDP levels—most notably the 2007-2008 financial crisis, the 2000 dot-com bubble and the early ’90s slowdown.

You can see the chart they are talking about right here, and it clearly shows that each of the last three recessions coincided with the bursting of an enormous corporate debt bubble.

This time around the corporate debt bubble is larger than it has ever been before, and risky corporate debt has been growing faster than any other category

Through 2023, as much as $4.88 trillion of this debt is scheduled to mature. And because of higher rates, many companies are increasingly having difficulty making interest payments on their debt, which is growing faster than the U.S. economy, according to the Institute of International Finance (IIF).

On top of that, the very fastest-growing type of debt is riskier BBB-rated bonds—just one step up from “junk.” This is literally the junkiest corporate bond environment we’ve ever seen.

Needless to say, the stage is set for a corporate debt meltdown of epic proportions.

What makes this debt bubble even worse is the way that our big corporations have been spending the money that they are borrowing.

Instead of spending the money to build factories, hire workers and expand their businesses, our big corporations have been spending more money on stock buybacks than anything else.

Every year, publicly traded corporations spend hundreds of billions of dollars buying back their own stocks from shareholders, and much of that is being done with borrowed money.

For example, in recent years General Motors has spent nearly 14 billion dollars on stock buybacks.  And that number certainly sounds quite impressive until you learn that General Electric has spent a whopping 40 billion dollars on stock buybacks.

Sadly, both corporate behemoths are now absolutely drowning in debt as a result of their foolishness.

In the final analysis, borrowing money to fund stock buybacks is little more than an elaborate Ponzi scheme.  In their endless greed, corporate executives are cannibalizing their own companies because it makes some people wealthier in the short-term.

And now this giant corporate debt bubble has reached a bursting point, and there is no way that this story is going to end well.

Meanwhile, another financial bubble of epic proportions is also getting a lot of attention these days.  If you are not familiar with “shadow banking”, here is a pretty good explanation from CNBC

Nonbank lending, an industry that played a central role in the financial crisis, has been expanding rapidly and is still posing risks should credit conditions deteriorate.

Often called “shadow banking” — a term the industry does not embrace — these institutions helped fuel the crisis by providing lending to underqualified borrowers and by financing some of the exotic investment instruments that collapsed when subprime mortgages fell apart.

This kind of lending has absolutely exploded all over the globe since the last recession, and it has now become a 52 trillion dollar bubble

In the years since the crisis, global shadow banks have seen their assets grow to $52 trillion, a 75% jump from the level in 2010, the year after the crisis ended. The asset level is through 2017, according to bond ratings agency DBRS, citing data from the Financial Stability Board.

Who is going to pick up the pieces when a big chunk of those debts start going bad during the next financial crisis?

Never before in human history have we seen so much debt.  Government debt is at all-time record levels all over the world, corporate debt is wildly out of control and consumer debt continues to surge.

A system that requires debt levels to grow at a much faster pace than the overall global economy is growing to maintain itself is a fundamentally flawed system.

But that is what we are facing.  If global debt growth fell to zero, the global economy would instantly plunge into a horrific depression.  The only way to keep the game going is to keep expanding the debt bubble, and the larger it becomes the worse the future crash will be.

Most of us have been in this system for our entire lives, and so most of us don’t even realize that it is possible to have a financial system that is not based on debt.  This is one of the reasons why I get so frustrated with the financially-illiterate politicians who insist that everything will be just fine if we just tweak our current system a little bit.

No, everything is not going to be just fine.  In fact, we have perfectly set the stage for the worst financial meltdown in human history.

At this point nobody has put forth a plan to fundamentally change the system, and there is no way out.

All that is left to do is to keep this current bubble going for as long as humanly possible, and then to duck and cover when disaster finally strikes.

Get Prepared NowAbout the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

General Motors And General Electric Were Both Victimized By The Same Ponzi Scheme, And They Are Both Telling Us The U.S. Economy Is In HUGE Trouble

America’s twin economic “generals” are both in very deep trouble.  General Electric was founded in 1892, and it was once one of the most powerful corporations on the entire planet.  But now it is drowning in so much debt that it may be forced into bankruptcy.  General Motors was founded in 1908, and at one time it was the largest automaker that the world had ever seen.  But now it is closing a bunch of factories and laying off approximately 14,000 workers as it anticipates disappointing sales and a slowing economy.  If the U.S. economy really was “booming”, both of these companies would probably be thriving.  But as you will see below, both of them have been victimized by the exact same Ponzi scheme, and both firms are sending us very clear signals that the U.S. economy is heading for troubled waters.

Whenever you hear the word “restructuring”, that is always a sign that things are not going well for a company.

And it turns out that GM’s “restructuring” is actually going to cost the firm 3.8 billion dollars

General Motors said Monday it plans to effectively halt production at a number of plants in the U.S. and Canada next year and cut more than 14,000 jobs in a massive restructuring that will cost up to $3.8 billion.

Of course GM doesn’t have 3.8 billion dollars just lying around, and so they are actually going to have to borrow money in order to close these plants and lay off these workers.

Needless to say, President Trump is not very happy with General Motors right now…

Trump said he spoke Monday with GM’s CEO, Mary Barra, and ‘I told them, “you’re playing around with the wrong person”.’

He told reporters as he left the White House for a pair of political rallies in Mississippi that the United States ‘has done a lot for General Motors. They better get back to Ohio, and soon.’

There is no way that Mary Barra should have ever been made CEO of General Motors, and now the entire world is getting to see why.

In addition to the elimination of about 6,000 factory jobs, GM will also be cutting about 8,000 “white collar jobs”

In addition to the production cuts, GM said it will reduce its North American white-collar workforce by about 8,000. The deadline passed last week on a voluntary buyout for those workers, and GM spokesman Pat Morrissey told the Free Press that only 2,250 employees have asked to take the offer, meaning as many as 5,750 workers could be cut if the company keeps to its announced total. Analysts told the Free Press to expect involuntary cuts in January.

So why is General Motors doing this?

After all, if the U.S. economy really is “booming” that should mean increased sales for all of the major automakers in the coming years, right?

Unfortunately, the truth is that hard times are already here for automakers.  In fact, Bob Lutz told CNBC that “we’ve got a demand problem on cars”…

Former GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz said the automaker historically would have raised sales incentives to try to sell more cars before resorting to plant closures.

“Nowadays GM looks at the hard reality, says we’ve got a demand problem on cars, what are we going to do about it. We have to shut some facilities and move production to truck plants,” Lutz said on CNBC’s “Halftime Report. ” “So I think what we are seeing is a fast-acting and reality-oriented GM management.”

In other words, sales are not good and so now is the time to shut down factories.

Of course GM is not the only one that is shutting down facilities and laying off workers.  If you doubt this, please see my previous article entitled “U.S. Job Losses Accelerate: Here Are 10 Big Companies That Are Cutting Jobs Or Laying Off Workers”.

But if General Motors had been much wiser with their money, they wouldn’t have had to initiate a “restructuring” so quickly.

Over the past four years, General Motors spent a staggering 13.9 billion dollars on stock buybacks.

GM executives were able to prop up the stock price for a while, but at this point the stock is down about 10 percent from where it was four years ago.  The following comes from Wolf Richter

During this four-year period in which GM blew, wasted, and annihilated nearly $14 billion on share buybacks, the price of its shares, including today’s 5.5% surge – getting rid of workers is always good news for shares – fell 10%.

These stock buybacks are a massive Ponzi scheme, and everyone that was involved in blowing such a giant mountain of cash at GM should be fired.

And now thousands of hard working Americans are going to lose their jobs, but it didn’t have to happen.

General Electric has also been victimized by the exact same Ponzi scheme, and at this point they are in a struggle for survival which they are probably going to lose.

On Monday the stock slid another couple of percent, and so far this year it is down a total of 58 percent

Not a day passes lately without GE stock getting hit by some unexpected development, and today was no exception.

GE shares, which are down 58% YTD, dropped over 2% on Monday, after sliding as much as 4.1% earlier in the session and approaching its financial crisis low of $6.66, following a research report by Gordon Haskett analyst John Inch which prompted fresh questions about the treatment of goodwill at GE Capital.

In the end, GE is probably heading for total collapse.

But if GE had not blown 40 billion dollars on stock buybacks in recent years, they would be in far, far better shape.  The following comes from the Marketwatch article that I quoted the other day…

GE was one of Wall Street’s major share buyback operators between 2015 and 2017; it repurchased $40 billion of shares at prices between $20 and $32. The share price is now $8.60, so the company has liquidated between $23 billion and $29 billion of its shareholders’ money on this utterly futile activity alone. Since the highest net income recorded by the company during those years was $8.8 billion in 2016, with 2015 and 2017 recording a loss, it has managed to lose more on its share repurchases during those three years than it made in operations, by a substantial margin.

Even more important, GE has now left itself with minus $48 billion in tangible net worth at Sept. 30, with actual genuine tangible debt of close to $100 billion. As the new CEO Larry Culp told CNBC last Monday: “We have no higher priority right now than bringing those leverage levels down.”

Combined, General Electric and General Motors have blown more than 53 billion dollars on stock buybacks, and now both companies are in huge trouble.

The executives that gutted the finances of both firms by engaging in these sorts of Ponzi tactics should all be fired and should never be hired by anyone else in the corporate world.

For years, big corporations have been borrowing massive amounts of money to fund reckless stock buybacks, and that has helped to fuel an amazing bull market run.

But now the game is imploding, and the unraveling of this massive Ponzi scheme is not going to be pretty.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!