The Beginning Of The End
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3 Of The 10 Largest Economies In The World Have Already Fallen Into Recession – Is The U.S. Next?

Global RecessionAre 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

France: 10.2%

Poland: 11.5%

Italy: 12.6%

Portugal: 13.1%

Spain: 23.6%

Greece: 26.4%

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.

85 Super Wealthy People Have More Money Than The Poorest 3.5 Billion Combined

New World OrderThe global economy is structured to systematically funnel wealth to the very top of the pyramid, and this centralization of global wealth is accelerating with each passing year.  According to the United Nations, 85 super wealthy people have more money than the poorest 3.5 billion people on the planet combined.  And 1.2 billion of those poor people live on less than $1.25 a day.  There is something deeply, deeply broken about a system that produces these kinds of results.  Seven out of every ten people on the planet live in countries where the gap between the wealthy and the poor has increased in the last 30 years.  Despite our technological advances, somewhere around a billion people go to bed hungry every single night.  And when our fundamentally flawed financial system finally does collapse, it will be the poor that will suffer the worst.

Now, let me make one thing clear at the outset.

Big government and more socialism are not the answer to anything.  Big government and more socialism almost always result in increased oppression and increased poverty.  If you want to see where that road ultimately leads to, just look at North Korea.

What we need is a system that empowers individuals and families to work hard, be creative, build businesses and to take care of themselves.

But instead, we have a system where all power and all wealth are increasingly controlled by giant banks and giant corporations that are in turn controlled by the global elite.  The “financialization” of the global economy has turned almost everyone on the planet into “deft serfs”, and the compound interest on all of that debt enables the global elite to constantly increase their giant piles of money.

As I have written about previously, the total amount of government debt in the world has increased by about 40 percent since the last recession.

And when you consider all forms of debt, the grand total for the planet is now up to a whopping 223 trillion dollars.

This enables the super wealthy to constantly become even wealthier.  It is like a giant vacuum cleaner that sucks wealth out of all of our pockets and transfers it to them.

It has been reported that the global elite have approximately 32 trillion dollars stashed in offshore banks around the globe.

But that is only what we know about.

What we don’t know about is probably far greater.

Just like most people don’t realize that men like Bill Gates and Carlos Slim are not the wealthiest men on the planet.

The people that are really at the top of the food chain are masters at hiding wealth and they absolutely do not want their names being thrown around in the media.

Meanwhile, those at the bottom of the pyramid continue to suffer.

For example, it was been widely reported that there are more people in slavery today than ever before in human history.

That is an absolutely amazing statistic.  It is hard to comprehend how that could be possible, and yet it is.  A new UN report says that there are 21 million slaves around the globe right now

Nearly 21 million people are working as modern day slaves, falling victim to trafficking, forced labor and sexual exploitation, a new UN report finds. The illicit market in exploited people generates billions of dollars in profit worldwide.

The report by the International Labour Organization (ILO), which draws on information gathered in a 2012 survey, also found that annual profits stemming from forced labor are three times higher than previous estimates.

“Put into perspective, the 21 million victims in forced labor and the more than US$150 billion in illegal profits generated by their work exceeds the population and GDP of many countries or territories around the world,” the ILO says.

This is an utter abomination, but this is actually happening all over the planet.  The following is one story that I recently came across out of India

Dialu Nial’s life changed forever when he was held down by his neck in a forest and one of his kidnappers raised an axe to strike.

He was asked if he wanted to lose his life, a leg or a hand.

Six days earlier, Nial had been among 12 young men being taken against their will to make bricks on the outskirts of one of India’s biggest cities, Hyderabad.

During the journey, they got a chance to escape and ran for it – but Nial and a friend were caught and this was their punishment.

And yes, he did end up losing his hand.

Fortunately, most of us are not facing that kind of oppression.

But that doesn’t mean that we aren’t slaves.  The borrower is the servant of the lender, and over the past four decades the total amount of debt in America has gone from about 2.2 trillion dollars to nearly 60 trillion dollars.  Many of us work as “debt serfs” our entire lives, and we never even know the names or the faces of those that we are making rich as we slowly pay off our debts.

And all of this debt is one of the primary factors destroying the middle class in America.  Just this past week, the New York Times reported that the wealth of “the typical household” in the United States has declined by 36 percent over the past decade…

The inflation-adjusted net worth for the typical household was $87,992 in 2003. Ten years later, it was only $56,335, or a 36 percent decline, according to a study financed by the Russell Sage Foundation. Those are the figures for a household at the median point in the wealth distribution — the level at which there are an equal number of households whose worth is higher and lower. But during the same period, the net worth of wealthy households increased substantially.

The Russell Sage study also examined net worth at the 95th percentile. (For households at that level, 94 percent of the population had less wealth and 4 percent had more.) It found that for this well-do-do slice of the population, household net worth increased 14 percent over the same 10 years. Other research, by economists like Edward Wolff at New York University, has shown even greater gains in wealth for the richest 1 percent of households.

Does that upset you when you read that?

It should.

And the outlook for the next generation is even worse.  Most of our young adults are absolutely drowning in student loan debt and other forms of debt, and wages for new college graduates are terrible.

Sadly, most people don’t even realize how the global financial system works or why the gap between the super wealthy and the rest of us continues to grow so rapidly.

It has been estimated that the wealthiest one percent currently have 110 trillion dollars.

That is 65 times more wealth than the bottom half of the global population combined.

They are hoarding wealth as we approach some of the most unstable days in all of human history.

So how do you think all of this will play out?  Please feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment below…

The Size Of The Derivatives Bubble Hanging Over The Global Economy Hits A Record High

Bubble - Photo by Brocken InagloryThe global derivatives bubble is now 20 percent bigger than it was just before the last great financial crisis struck in 2008.  It is a financial bubble far larger than anything the world has ever seen, and when it finally bursts it is going to be a complete and utter nightmare for the financial system of the planet.  According to the Bank for International Settlements, the total notional value of derivatives contracts around the world has ballooned to an astounding 710 trillion dollars ($710,000,000,000,000).  Other estimates put the grand total well over a quadrillion dollars.  If that sounds like a lot of money, that is because it is.  For example, U.S. GDP is projected to be in the neighborhood of around 17 trillion dollars for 2014.  So 710 trillion dollars is an amount of money that is almost incomprehensible.  Instead of actually doing something about the insanely reckless behavior of the big banks, our leaders have allowed the derivatives bubble and these banks to get larger than ever.  In fact, as I have written about previously, the big Wall Street banks are collectively 37 percent larger than they were just prior to the last recession.  “Too big to fail” is a far more massive problem than it was the last time around, and at some point this derivatives bubble is going to burst and start taking those banks down.  When that day arrives, we are going to be facing a crisis that is going to make 2008 look like a Sunday picnic.

If you do not know what a derivative is, Mayra Rodríguez Valladares, a managing principal at MRV Associates, provided a pretty good definition in her recent article for the New York Times

A derivative, put simply, is a contract between two parties whose value is determined by changes in the value of an underlying asset. Those assets could be bonds, equities, commodities or currencies. The majority of contracts are traded over the counter, where details about pricing, risk measurement and collateral, if any, are not available to the public.

In other words, a derivative does not have any intrinsic value.  It is essentially a side bet.  Most commonly, derivative contracts have to do with the movement of interest rates.  But there are many, many other kinds of derivatives as well.  People are betting on just about anything and everything that you can imagine, and Wall Street has been transformed into the largest casino in the history of the planet.

After the last financial crisis, our politicians promised us that they would do something to get derivatives trading under control.  But instead, the size of the derivatives bubble has reached a new record high.  In the New York Times article I mentioned above, Goldman Sachs and Citibank were singled out as two players that have experienced tremendous growth in this area in recent years…

Goldman Sachs has been increasing its derivatives volumes since the crisis, and it had a portfolio of about $48 trillion at the end of 2013. Bloomberg Businessweek recently reported that as part of its growth strategy, Goldman plans to sell more derivatives to clients. Citibank, too, has been increasing its derivatives portfolio, despite the numerous capital and regulatory challenges, In fact, its portfolio has risen by over 65 percent since the crisis — the most of any of the four banks — to $62 trillion.

According to official government numbers, the top 25 banks in the United States now have a grand total of more than 236 trillion dollars of exposure to derivatives.  But there are four banks that dwarf everyone else.  The following are the latest numbers for those four banks…

JPMorgan Chase

Total Assets: $1,945,467,000,000 (nearly 2 trillion dollars)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $70,088,625,000,000 (more than 70 trillion dollars)

Citibank

Total Assets: $1,346,747,000,000 (a bit more than 1.3 trillion dollars)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $62,247,698,000,000 (more than 62 trillion dollars)

Bank Of America

Total Assets: $1,433,716,000,000 (a bit more than 1.4 trillion dollars)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $38,850,900,000,000 (more than 38 trillion dollars)

Goldman Sachs

Total Assets: $105,616,000,000 (just a shade over 105 billion dollars – yes, you read that correctly)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $48,611,684,000,000 (more than 48 trillion dollars)

If the stock market keeps going up, interest rates stay fairly stable and the global economy does not experience a major downturn, this bubble will probably not burst for a while.

But if there is a major shock to the system, we could easily experience a major derivatives crisis very rapidly and several of those banks could fail simultaneously.

There are many out there that would welcome the collapse of the big banks, but that would also be very bad news for the rest of us.

You see, the truth is that the U.S. economy is like a very sick patient with an extremely advanced case of cancer.  You can try to kill the cancer (the banks), but in the process you will inevitably kill the patient as well.

Right now, the five largest banks account for 42 percent of all loans in the entire country, and the six largest banks control 67 percent of all banking assets.

If they go down, we go down too.

That is why the fact that they have been so reckless is so infuriating.

Just look at the numbers for Goldman Sachs again.  At this point, the total exposure that Goldman Sachs has to derivatives contracts is more than 460 times greater than their total assets.

And this kind of thing is not just happening in the United States.  German banking giant Deutsche Bank has more than 75 trillion dollars of exposure to derivatives.  That is even more than any single U.S. bank has.

This derivatives bubble is a “sword of Damocles” that is hanging over the global economy by a thread day after day, month after month, year after year.

At some point that thread is going to break, the bubble is going to burst, and then all hell is going to break loose.

You see, the truth is that virtually none of the underlying problems that caused the last financial crisis have been fixed.

Instead, our problems have just gotten even bigger and the financial bubbles have gotten even larger.

Never before in the history of the United States have we been faced with the threat of such a great financial catastrophe.

Sadly, most Americans are totally oblivious to all of this.  They just have faith that our leaders know what they are doing, and they have been lulled into complacency by the bubble of false stability that we have been enjoying for the last couple of years.

Unfortunately for them, this bubble of false stability is not going to last much longer.

A financial crisis far greater than what we experienced in 2008 is coming, and it is going to shock the world.

Is “Dr. Copper” Foreshadowing A Stock Market Crash Just Like It Did In 2008?

Stock Market Decline - Photo by NodulationIs the price of copper trying to tell us something?  Traditionally, “Dr. Copper” has been a very accurate indicator of where the global economy is heading next.  For example, back in 2008 the price of copper dropped from nearly $4.00 to under $1.50 in just a matter of months.  And now it appears that another big decline in the price of copper is starting to happen.  So far this year, the price of copper has dropped from a high of $3.40 back in January to a price of $2.95 as I write this article, and many analysts are warning that this is just the beginning.  By itself, this should be quite alarming to investors, but as you will see below there are a whole host of other signs that a stock market crash may be rapidly approaching.

But before we get to those other signs, let us discuss copper a bit more first.  I cannot remember a time since 2008 when there has been such an overwhelming negative consensus about where the price of copper is heading.  The following is from a CNBC article that was posted this week…

Cascading copper prices have multiple root causes that lead to one conclusion: The anticipated global economic recovery may not be all it’s cracked up to be.

Consequently, analysts are in virtual unison that the extended-term trajectory is lower for the metal often used as a growth barometer. Copper futures are off more than 12 percent in 2014 and 7 percent over just the past three days, though they rose less than 1 percent in Wednesday trading.

A slowdown in the global economy, forced selling by Chinese banks and technical factors have converged in multiple calls for more weakness in a commodity known by traders and economists as “Dr. Copper” for its ability to accurately make economic prognoses.

Of course there are some out there that are trying to claim that “this time is different” and that the price of copper is no longer a useful indicator for the global economy as a whole.

We shall see.

Meanwhile, there are lots of other signs that the financial markets are repeating patterns that we have seen in the past.  For instance, the level of margin debt on Wall Street just soared to another brand new record high

The amount of money investors borrowed from Wall Street brokers to buy stocks rose for a seventh straight month in January to a record $451.3 billion, a potential warning sign that in the past has coincided with irrational exuberance and stock market tops.

We saw margin debt spike dramatically like this just prior to the crash of the dotcom bubble in 2000 and just before the great financial crisis of 2008.  Just check out the chart in this article.

Shouldn’t we be alarmed that it is happening again?

If you listen carefully, there are many prominent voices in the financial world that are trying to warn us about this.  Here is one example

“One characteristic of getting closer to a market top is a major expansion in margin debt,” says Gary Kaltbaum, president of Kaltbaum Capital Management. “Expanding market debt fuels the bull market and is an investors’ best friend when stocks are rising. The problem is when the market turns (lower), it is the market’s worst enemy.

And of course margin debt is far from the only sign that indicates that we are in a massive stock market bubble that is about to crash.  The following is a list of 10 signs that comes from a recent article by Lance Roberts of STA Wealth Management

I was recently discussing the market, current sentiment and other investing related issues with a money manager friend of mine in California. (Normally, I would include a credit for the following work but since he works for a major firm he asked me not to identify him directly.)  However, in one of our many email exchanges he sent me the following note detailing the 10 typical warning signs of stock market exuberance.

(1) Expected strong OR acceleration of GDP and EPS  (40% of 2013’s EPS increase occurred in the 4th quarter)

(2) Large number of IPOs of unprofitable AND speculative companies

(3) Parabolic move up in stock prices of hot industries (not just individual stocks)

(4) High valuations (many metrics are at near-record highs, a few at record highs)

(5) Fantastic high valuation of some large mergers (e.g., Facebook & WhatsApp)

(6) High NYSE margin debt

Margin debt/gdp (March 2000: 2.7%, July 2007: 2.6%, Jan 2014: 2.6%)

Margin debt/market cap (March 2000: 1.8%, July 2007: 2.3%, Jan 2014: 2.0%)

(7) Household direct holdings of equities as % of total financial assets at 24%, second-highest level (data back to 1953, highest was 1998-2000)

(8) Highly bullish sentiment (down slightly from year-end peaks; still high or near record high, depending on the source)

(9) Unusually high ratio of selling to buying by corporate senior managers (the buy/sell ratio of senior corporate officers is now at the record post-1990 lows seen in Summer 2007 and Spring 2011)

(10) Stock prices rise following speculative press releases (e.g., Tesla will dominate battery business after they get partner who knows how to build batteries and they build a big factory.  This also assumes that NO ONE else will enter into that business such as GM, Ford or GE.)

All are true today, and it is the third time in the last 15 years these factors have occurred simultaneously which is the most remarkable aspect of the situation.

And for even more technical indicators such as these, please see Charles Hugh Smith’s excellent article entitled “Why 2014 Is Beginning to Look A Lot Like 2008“.

So do all of these numbers and charts actually prove that something is about to happen?

Not necessarily.

But if we do not learn from the past then we are doomed to repeat it.

At this point, even representatives from the big Wall Street banks are warning about the “euphoria” on Wall Street…

The stock market entered “euphoria mode” late last year and has remained there, except for a week in February, as “speculative froth” bubbles around the market’s hottest sectors, Citi’s chief equity strategist told CNBC on Tuesday.

And even market cheerleader Jim Cramer is warning that the stock market is now exhibiting “top behavior“…

The parabolic moves of stocks such as Plug Power and FuelCell Energy have the stock market exhibiting “top behavior,” CNBC’s Jim Cramer said Wednesday.

Cramer said he has tracked the fuel cells stocks since his days as a hedge fund manager. Runups in Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae also had him worried.

None of what you just read above guarantees that the stock market will crash this week, this month or even this year.

And nobody knows the exact date when the next stock market crash will happen.

But one thing is for certain – this massive stock market bubble will burst at some point, and when it does our economy is far less equipped to handle it than it was the last time.

Based on my research, I am entirely convinced that the coming economic crisis is going to be substantially worse than the last one, and that is very bad news for the United States.

So what do you think?

Do you agree or do you think that I am nuts?

Please feel free to share your opinion by posting a comment below…

Stock Prices Have Fallen For Six Weeks In A Row

20 Early Warning Signs That We Are Approaching A Global Economic Meltdown

Earth From SpaceHave you been paying attention to what has been happening in Argentina, Venezuela, Brazil, Ukraine, Turkey and China?  If you are like most Americans, you have not been.  Most Americans don’t seem to really care too much about what is happening in the rest of the world, but they should.  In major cities all over the globe right now, there is looting, violence, shortages of basic supplies, and runs on the banks.  We are not at a “global crisis” stage yet, but things are getting worse with each passing day.  For a while, I have felt that 2014 would turn out to be a major “turning point” for the global economy, and so far that is exactly what it is turning out to be.  The following are 20 early warning signs that we are rapidly approaching a global economic meltdown…

#1 The looting, violence and economic chaos that is happening in Argentina right now is a perfect example of what can happen when you print too much money

For Dominga Kanaza, it wasn’t just the soaring inflation or the weeklong blackouts or even the looting that frayed her nerves.

It was all of them combined.

At one point last month, the 37-year-old shop owner refused to open the metal shutters protecting her corner grocery in downtown Buenos Aires more than a few inches — just enough to sell soda to passersby on a sweltering summer day.

#2 The value of the Argentine Peso is absolutely collapsing.

#3 Widespread shortages, looting and accelerating inflation are also causing huge problems in Venezuela

Economic mismanagement in Venezuela has reached such a level that it risks inciting a violent popular reaction. Venezuela is experiencing declining export revenues, accelerating inflation and widespread shortages of basic consumer goods. At the same time, the Maduro administration has foreclosed peaceful options for Venezuelans to bring about a change in its current policies.

President Maduro, who came to power in a highly-contested election last April, has reacted to the economic crisis with interventionist and increasingly authoritarian measures. His recent orders to slash prices of goods sold in private businesses resulted in episodes of looting, which suggests a latent potential for violence. He has put the armed forces on the street to enforce his economic decrees, exposing them to popular discontent.

#4 In a stunning decision, the Venezuelan government has just announced that it has devalued the Bolivar by more than 40 percent.

#5 Brazilian stocks declined sharply on Thursday.  There is a tremendous amount of concern that the economic meltdown that is happening in Argentina is going to spill over into Brazil.

#6 Ukraine is rapidly coming apart at the seams

A tense ceasefire was announced in Kiev on the fifth day of violence, with radical protesters and riot police holding their position. Opposition leaders are negotiating with the government, but doubts remain that they will be able to stop the rioters.

#7 It appears that a bank run has begun in China

As China’s CNR reports, depositors in some of Yancheng City’s largest farmers’ co-operative mutual fund societies (“banks”) have been unable to withdraw “hundreds of millions” in deposits in the last few weeks. “Everyone wants to borrow and no one wants to save,” warned one ‘salesperson’, “and loan repayments are difficult to recover.” There is “no money” and the doors are locked.

#8 Art Cashin of UBS is warning that credit markets in China “may be broken“.  For much more on this, please see my recent article entitled “The $23 Trillion Credit Bubble In China Is Starting To Collapse – Global Financial Crisis Next?

#9 News that China’s manufacturing sector is contracting shook up financial markets on Thursday…

Wall Street was rattled by a key reading on China’s manufacturing which dropped below the key 50 level in January, according to HSBC. A reading below 50 on the HSBC flash manufacturing PMI suggests economic contraction.

#10 Japanese stocks experienced their biggest drop in 7 months on Thursday.

#11 The value of the Turkish Lira is absolutely collapsing.

#12 The unemployment rate in France has risen for 9 quarters in a row and recently soared to a new 16 year high.

#13 In Italy, the unemployment rate has soared to a brand new all-time record high of 12.7 percent.

#14 The unemployment rate in Spain is sitting at an all-time record high of 26.7 percent.

#15 This year, the Baltic Dry Index experienced the largest two week post-holiday decline that we have ever seen.

#16 Chipmaker Intel recently announced that it plans to eliminate 5,000 jobs over the coming year.

#17 CNBC is reporting that U.S. retailers just experienced “the worst holiday season since 2008“.

#18 A recent CNBC article stated that U.S. consumers should expect a “tsunami” of store closings in the retail industry…

Get ready for the next era in retail—one that will be characterized by far fewer shops and smaller stores.

On Tuesday, Sears said that it will shutter its flagship store in downtown Chicago in April. It’s the latest of about 300 store closures in the U.S. that Sears has made since 2010. The news follows announcements earlier this month of multiple store closings from major department stores J.C. Penney and Macy’s.

Further signs of cuts in the industry came Wednesday, when Target said that it will eliminate 475 jobs worldwide, including some at its Minnesota headquarters, and not fill 700 empty positions.

#19 The U.S. Congress is facing another deadline to raise the debt ceiling in February.

#20 The Dow fell by more than 170 points on Thursday.  It is becoming increasingly likely that “the peak of the market” is now in the rear view mirror.

And I have not even mentioned the extreme drought that has caused the U.S. cattle herd to drop to a 61 year low or the nuclear radiation from Fukushima that is washing up on the west coast.

In light of everything above, is there anyone out there that still wants to claim that “everything is going to be okay” for the global economy?

Sadly, most Americans are not even aware of most of these things.

All over the country today, the number one news headline is about Justin Bieber.  The mainstream media is absolutely obsessed with celebrity scandals, and so is a very large percentage of the U.S. population.

A great economic storm is rapidly approaching, and most people don’t even seem to notice the storm clouds that are gathering on the horizon.

In the end, perhaps we will get what we deserve as a nation.

Power Mad Obama Offers Two Choices: Unconditional Surrender Or Default

Obama SleepingBarack Obama is warning that if he does not get everything that he wants that he will force the U.S. government into a devastating debt default which will cripple the entire global economy.  In essence, Obama has become so power mad that he is actually willing to take the entire planet hostage in order to achieve his goals.  A lot of people are blaming the government shutdown on the Republicans, but they have already voted to fund the entire government except for Obamacare.  The U.S. Constitution requires that all spending bills originate in the House of Representatives, and the House did their duty by passing a spending bill.  If the Senate or the President do not like the bill that the House has passed, then negotiations need to take place.  That is how our system works.  And the weak-kneed Republicans have already indicated that they are willing to give up virtually all of their prior demands.  In fact, if Obama offered all of them 20 dollar gift certificates to Denny’s to end this crisis they would probably jump at that deal.  But that is not good enough for Obama.  He has made it clear that he will settle for nothing less than the complete and unconditional surrender of the Republican Party.

Why is Obama doing this?  Why is Obama willing to bring the country to the brink of financial disaster?

It isn’t hard to figure out.  Just check out what one senior Obama administration official said last week

“We are winning…. It doesn’t really matter to us” how long the shutdown lasts “because what matters is the end result,” a senior Obama Administration official told the Wall Street Journal last week.

This is all about a political victory and crushing the Republicans.  Obama doesn’t really care how long this crisis lasts because he believes that he is getting the end result that he wants.

According to Obama, the Republican Party is just supposed to roll over and give him the exact spending bill that he wants and also give him another trillion dollar increase in the debt limit.

If the Republicans do not give him that, he is willing to plunge us into financial oblivion.

The funny thing is that most Americans do not want the debt limit increased.  According to one new poll, 58 percent of all Americans do not even want the debt ceiling to be increased by a single penny.

And recent polls show that Americans are against Obamacare by an average margin of about 10 percent.

But the pathetic Republican Party is actually willing to hand Obama a trillion dollar debt ceiling increase and fully fund Obamacare if Obama will at least give them something.

Unfortunately, Obama won’t even give them the time of day.

So don’t blame the Republicans for what is happening.  The Republicans have already compromised themselves to the point of utter disgrace.  If Obama had been willing to even compromise a couple of inches this entire crisis would already be over.

And nobody should be claiming that the Republicans won’t vote to end this shutdown.  They have already voted to end it.  The following is from a recent article by Thomas Sowell

There is really nothing complicated about the facts. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted all the money required to keep all government activities going — except for ObamaCare.

This is not a matter of opinion. You can check the Congressional Record.

As for the House of Representatives’ right to grant or withhold money, that is not a matter of opinion either. You can check the Constitution of the United States. All spending bills must originate in the House of Representatives, which means that Congressmen there have a right to decide whether or not they want to spend money on a particular government activity.

Whether ObamaCare is good, bad or indifferent is a matter of opinion. But it is a matter of fact that members of the House of Representatives have a right to make spending decisions based on their opinion.

Once again, the Republicans have already indicated that they are willing to fund Obamacare.  They just want Obama to throw them a bone.

And Obama will not do it.

So either the Republicans are going to cave in completely (a very real possibility) or we are going to pass the “debt ceiling deadline”.

What happens then?

Well, we would have more of a “real government shutdown” than the fake shutdown that we are having right now.

Once the federal government cannot borrow any more money, it will only be able to spend what it actually has on hand.  That means that a lot more government functions will have to shut down.

Money will still be coming in to the government, but it won’t be enough to fund everything.  According to the Wall Street Journal, the federal government will still have enough money to pay interest on the debt, make Social Security payments, make Medicare payments, make Medicaid payments, provide food stamp benefits and pay the military if they cut almost everything else out.

The other day, I suggested that the federal government could potentially start defaulting on interest payments on the debt as early as November.  But that would only happen if the federal government manages their money foolishly.

If the federal government managed their money smartly and saved cash for the interest payments as they came due, they would not have to miss any.

But when was the last time the federal government ever did anything “smartly”?

For the sake of argument, however, let’s assume that the federal government can manage money wisely and can save up enough cash ahead of time for large interest payments as they come due.

If that could somehow be managed, then according to Paul Mampilly the government would never need to actually default…

The U.S. Treasury always has money coming into its accounts. So its always got some amount of cash that it can use to pay interest on bonds. That’s especially true right now because the government is partially shutdown and there’s no cash going out from its accounts.

In fact, when you look at it the U.S. Treasury should simply have no trouble making interest payments on bonds that it has issued.

And there’s no restriction on the U.S. Treasury prioritizing interest payments. Why?

The obligation to pay interest is set by the 1917 Second Liberty Bond Act and laws that commanded the Treasury to pay interest on the debt. You can look this up in section 3123 of Title 31 of the U.S. Code and section 4 of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution and in Supreme Court precedent (Perry v. United States). It’s all there in black and white.

So the only possible way the U.S. defaults on its debt is if Barack Obama, President of the United States, instructs his Treasury secretary Jack Lew to default on the debt.

And according to the Washington Post, Moody’s has just issued a memo that also indicates that the federal government should be able to make all interest payments even if the debt limit is not increased…

In a memo being circulated on Capitol Hill Wednesday, Moody’s Investors Service offers “answers to frequently asked questions” about the government shutdown, now in its second week, and the federal debt limit. President Obama has said that, unless Congress acts to raise the $16.7 trillion limit by next Thursday, the nation will be at risk of default.

Not so, Moody’s says in the memo dated Oct. 7.

“We believe the government would continue to pay interest and principal on its debt even in the event that the debt limit is not raised, leaving its creditworthiness intact,” the memo says. “The debt limit restricts government expenditures to the amount of its incoming revenues; it does not prohibit the government from servicing its debt. There is no direct connection between the debt limit (actually the exhaustion of the Treasury’s extraordinary measures to raise funds) and a default.”

Of course the federal government would have to stop throwing money around like a drunk gambler at a casino in Las Vegas in order for this to work.

On the very first day of the government shutdown, the feds gave $445 million to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.  Apparently Elmo is considered to be “essential personnel” by the Obama administration.

And according to CNS News, the U.S. Army has committed more than $47,000 to buy a mechanical bull during this “shutdown”…

The government shutdown may be keeping furloughed federal workers at home, but on Monday the U.S. Army contracted to buy a mechanical bull.

The $47,174 contract was awarded on Oct. 7 to Mechanical Bull Sales Inc. of State College, Penn.

So needless to say, there is some serious doubt about whether the federal government would be able to manage their money effectively in the event that the debt ceiling deadline passes.

And if the U.S. did start defaulting on debt payments, it would be absolutely disastrous for the global economy as I discussed in a previous article

“A U.S. debt default would cause stocks to crash, would cause bonds to crash, would cause interest rates to soar wildly out of control, would cause a massive credit crunch, and would cause a derivatives panic that would be absolutely unprecedented.  And that would just be for starters.”

Other nations that we depend upon to lend us money would stop lending to us and would start dumping U.S. debt instead.

Could you imagine what would happen if China started dumping a large portion of the 1.3 trillion dollars in U.S. debt that they are holding?

It would be a total nightmare.  The collapse of Lehman Brothers would pale in comparison.

And already some banks are stuffing their ATM machines with extra cash just in case the general public starts to panic.

But none of this has to happen.

If Obama decides to negotiate with the Republicans, this crisis will likely end very rapidly.

If not, and we pass the “debt ceiling deadline”, the federal government will still have enough money to make interest payments on the debt as long as they manage their money correctly.

Unfortunately, Obama seems far more interested in playing political games than he is in solving our problems.

In fact, Park Service rangers have been ordered to “make life as difficult for people as we can” during this government shutdown.  Obama has apparently decided to punish the American people in order to get leverage on the Republicans.  Just check out the following example from a new Weekly Standard article

There’s a cute little historic site just outside of the capital in McLean, Virginia, called the Claude Moore Colonial Farm. They do historical reenactments, and once upon a time the National Park Service helped run the place. But in 1980, the NPS cut the farm out of its budget. A group of private citizens set up an endowment to take care of the farm’s expenses. Ever since, the site has operated independently through a combination of private donations and volunteer workers.

The Park Service told Claude Moore Colonial Farm to shut down.

The farm’s administrators appealed this directive​—​they explained that the Park Service doesn’t actually do anything for the historic site. The folks at the NPS were unmoved. And so, last week, the National Park Service found the scratch to send officers to the park to forcibly remove both volunteer workers and visitors.

Think about that for a minute. The Park Service, which is supposed to serve the public by administering parks, is now in the business of forcing parks they don’t administer to close. As Homer Simpson famously asked, did we lose a war?

The hypocrisy that Obama has demonstrated during this “government shutdown” has been astounding.

He has barricaded open air war memorials to keep military veterans from visiting them, but he temporarily reopened the National Mall so that a huge pro-immigration rally that would benefit him politically could be held.

He has continued to fund al-Qaeda rebels in Syria that are trying to overthrow the Syrian government, but he has been withholding death benefits from families of fallen U.S. soldiers.

The conduct of the Obama administration during this shutdown has been so egregious that is hard to put into words.  Obama has chosen to purposely harm the American people in order to score political points.

But this is how our politicians view us these days.  As Monty Pelerin recently explained, most of our politicians have absolutely no problem with exploiting us for their own purposes…

The concept of political service has been replaced by that of masked exploitation. The public is no longer viewed as clients or constituents to be served. Instead they have become political prey. Politicians see the public as a collection of wallets and votes, fair game to be hunted as the means to expand power and wealth. Constituents are now the Soylent Green of the political food chain.

The political class assumes the public exists to serve them, not the other way around. Public participation beyond the lightening of wallets or the provision of votes is unwelcome. It is considered “interference” that must be deterred by the ruling class.

The political class is now a huge, voracious parasite. Like the plant in the Little Shop of Horrors, its needs have grown to the point where it threatens anything productive. Its needs now exceed the willingness for continued sacrifice on the part of the productive. The parasite threatens the very existence of the host.

The political Ponzi scheme of tax, borrow and spend has reached its limit. Either it will die when citizens turn on it or it will kill the productive, ensuring its own destruction.

It perishes in the end. Whether it takes civilization with it is the bigger question.

Is there anyone out there that still does not believe that our system is broken?

Hopefully cooler heads will prevail and power mad Obama will decide to toss the Republicans a few crumbs and this crisis will be resolved.

Because if this crisis is not resolved soon, it could have consequences that are far beyond what any of us could possibly imagine.

Who Controls The Global Economy? Do Not Underestimate The Power Of The Big Banks

Great Seal - Photo by IpankoninAre the big banks really as powerful as some people say that they are?  Do they really control the global economy?  If y0u asked most people, they would tell you that governments control the global economy.  But the campaigns of our politicians are funded by the ultra-wealthy, the big banks and the large corporations that they control.  Others would tell you that the Federal Reserve and the rest of the central banks around the world control the global economy.  But the truth is that the Federal Reserve was established by the bankers and for the benefit of the bankers.  As you will see below, at the very core of the global economy there exists a “super-entity” of financial institutions that control an almost unimaginable amount of wealth and power.  These financial institutions and the ultra-wealthy individuals behind them are really the ones that are pulling all the strings.  In this world money equals power, and the borrower is the servant of the lender.  When you follow the pyramid all the way to the top, it begins to become very clear who really is in control.

In business schools all over America today, instead of dreaming of starting new businesses and contributing something positive to society, most business students are dreaming of going to Wall Street and getting rich.  But Wall Street doesn’t actually create or build anything of value for society.  Instead, the bankers make most of their profits by essentially pushing money and paper around.  In a recent article, Chris Martenson commented on this…

Today, some of the most celebrated individuals and institutions are ensconced within the financial industry; in banks, hedge funds, and private equity firms. Which is odd because none of these firms or individuals actually make anything, which society might point to as additive to our living standards. Instead, these financial magicians harvest value from the rest of society that has to work hard to produce real things of real value.

While the work they do is quite sophisticated and takes a lot of skill, very few of these firms direct capital to new efforts, new products, and new innovations. Instead they either trade in the secondary markets for equities, bonds, derivatives, and the like, which perform the ‘service’ of moving paper from one location to another while generating ‘profits.’ Or, in the case of banks, they create money out of thin air and lend it out at interest of course.

But just because they aren’t adding much value to society does not mean that these big banks are not extremely powerful.  In fact, anyone that underestimates that power of these monolithic financial institutions is being quite foolish.

A team of researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich studied the relationships between 37 million companies and investors worldwide, and what they found was absolutely stunning.

What they discovered is that there is a “super-entity” of just 147 very tightly knit companies that controls 40 percent of the entire network

When the team further untangled the web of ownership, it found much of it tracked back to a “super-entity” of 147 even more tightly knit companies – all of their ownership was held by other members of the super-entity – that controlled 40 per cent of the total wealth in the network. “In effect, less than 1 per cent of the companies were able to control 40 per cent of the entire network,” says Glattfelder. Most were financial institutions. The top 20 included Barclays Bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co, and The Goldman Sachs Group.

So exactly who are the companies that are at the core of this “super-entity”?

Well, almost all of them are banks or financial institutions.  The following is a list of the 50 “most connected” companies from the study, and the notes in parentheses are from Chris Martenson

1. Barclays plc
2. Capital Group Companies Inc (Investment Management)
3. FMR Corporation (Financial Services)
4. AXA (Investments & Life Insurance)
5. State Street Corporation (Investment Management)
6. JP Morgan Chase & Co (Bank)
7. Legal & General Group plc (Investments & Life Insurance)
8. Vanguard Group Inc (Investment Management)
9. UBS AG (Bank)
10. Merrill Lynch & Co Inc (Bank)
11. Wellington Management Co LLP (Investment Management)
12. Deutsche Bank AG (Bank)
13. Franklin Resources Inc (Investment Management)
14. Credit Suisse Group (Bank)
15. Walton Enterprises LLC
16. Bank of New York Mellon Corp (Bank)
17. Natixis (Investment Management)
18. Goldman Sachs Group Inc (Bank)
19. T Rowe Price Group Inc (Investment Management)
20. Legg Mason Inc (Investment Management)
21. Morgan Stanley (Bank)
22. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc (Bank)
23. Northern Trust Corporation (Investment Management)
24. Société Générale (Bank)
25. Bank of America Corporation (Bank)
26. Lloyds TSB Group plc (Bank)
27. Invesco plc (Investment mgmt) 28. Allianz SE 29. TIAA (Investments & Insurance)
30. Old Mutual Public Limited Company (Investments & Insurance)
31. Aviva plc (Insurance)
32. Schroders plc (Investment Management)
33. Dodge & Cox (Investment Management)
34. Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc* (Bank)
35. Sun Life Financial Inc (Investments & Insurance)
36. Standard Life plc (Investments & Insurance)
37. CNCE
38. Nomura Holdings Inc (Investments and Financial Services)
39. The Depository Trust Company (Securities Depository)
40. Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance
41. ING Groep NV (Bank, Investments & Insurance)
42. Brandes Investment Partners LP (Financial Services)
43. Unicredito Italiano SPA (Bank)
44. Deposit Insurance Corporation of Japan (Owns a lot of banks’ shares in Japan)
45. Vereniging Aegon (Investments & Insurance)
46. BNP Paribas (Bank)
47. Affiliated Managers Group Inc (Owns stakes in 27 money management firms)
48. Resona Holdings Inc (Banking Group in Japan)
49. Capital Group International Inc (Investments and Financial Services)
50. China Petrochemical Group Company

Are you starting to get the idea?

The global economy truly is completely dominated by banks and other financial institutions.

In the United States, the big banks are not just content to own other companies anymore.  Now, some of our largest banks are actually starting to directly get into businesses such as “electric power production, oil refining and distribution, owning and operating of public assets such as ports and airports, and even uranium mining”.  The following is an excerpt from a letter that several members of the U.S. Congress recently sent to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke

We write in regards to the expansion of large banks into what had traditionally been non-financial commercial spheres. Specifically, we are concerned about how large banks have recently expanded their businesses into such fields as electric power production, oil refining and distribution, owning and operating of public assets such as ports and airports, and even uranium mining.

Here are a few examples. Morgan Stanley imported 4 million barrels of oil and petroleum products into the United States in June, 2012. Goldman Sachs stores aluminum in vast warehouses in Detroit as well as serving as a commodities derivatives dealer. This “bank” is also expanding into the ownership and operation of airports, toll roads, and ports. JP Morgan markets electricity in California.

In other words, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and Morgan Stanley are no longer just banks – they have effectively become oil companies, port and airport operators, commodities dealers, and electric utilities as well. This is causing unforeseen problems for the industrial sector of the economy. For example, Coca Cola has filed a complaint with the London Metal Exchange that Goldman Sachs was hoarding aluminum. JP Morgan is currently being probed by regulators for manipulating power prices in California, where the “bank” was marketing electricity from power plants it controlled. We don’t know what other price manipulation could be occurring due to potential informational advantages accruing to derivatives dealers who also market and sell commodities. The long shadow of Enron could loom in these activities.

You can read the rest of their letter right here.

This week, Goldman Sachs has been facing allegations that it has cost American consumers billions of dollars by manipulating the price of aluminum.  The following is from an article that was posted on CNBC

Hundreds of millions of times a day, thirsty Americans open a can of soda, beer or juice. And every time they do it, they pay a fraction of a penny more because of a shrewd maneuver by Goldman Sachs and other financial players that ultimately costs consumers billions of dollars.

The story of how this works begins in 27 industrial warehouses in the Detroit area where Goldman stores customers’ aluminum. Each day, a fleet of trucks shuffles 1,500-pound bars of the metal among the warehouses. Two or three times a day, sometimes more, the drivers make the same circuits. They load in one warehouse. They unload in another. And then they do it again.

This industrial dance has been choreographed by Goldman to exploit pricing regulations set up by an overseas commodities exchange, an investigation by The New York Times has found. The back–and-forth lengthens the storage time. And that adds many millions a year to the coffers of Goldman, which owns the warehouses and charges rent to store the metal. It also increases prices paid by manufacturers and consumers across the country.

If that sounds shady to you, that is because it is shady.

But as the big banks continue to gain even more power in our society, this kind of thing will become even more common.

So what can we do about it?

Not much.

Do you think that the media will tell us the truth about all of this?  I wouldn’t count on it.  At this point, there are just six giant media corporations that control more than 90 percent of the news and entertainment that you see on your television.  And those six giant media corporations are very hesitant to do anything that will damage their corporate owners or their corporate advertisers.

Do you think that our politicians will do anything about all of this?  I wouldn’t count on it.  In national elections, the candidate that raises more money wins more than 80 percent of the time.  Our politicians know where their bread is buttered, and as history has shown most of them are very good to the guys with the big checkbooks.

As I said at the top of this article, money is power, and according to a report that was released last summer, the global elite have up to 32 TRILLION dollars stashed in offshore banks around the globe.

The global economy belongs to them.  We are just living in it.

But hopefully if enough people start waking up, someday we will see some significant changes.

One of my favorite musical artists of all-time, Michael W. Smith, once wrote a song that contained the following lyrics…

Tell me, how long will we grovel at the feet of wealth and power?

Tell me, how long will we bow down to that golden calf, now?

(How long will be too long)

Will the people of the world ever get sick and tired of the overwhelming power of the big banks and start demanding changes?

That is a very good question.  Please feel free to share what you think by posting a comment below…

Worldwide Unemployment Crisis: There Are 93 Million Unemployed Workers In G20 Nations

Earth At NightDid you know that the total number of unemployed workers in G20 counties is now up to 93 million and that it is increasing with each passing day?  You see, the truth is that the United States is not the only one dealing with a systemic unemployment crisis.  This is literally happening all over the planet.  So what is causing this crisis?  Is there any hope that it will be turned around?  Well, unfortunately there are several long-term trends that have been developing for decades that have played a major role in bringing us to this point.  First of all, the giant corporations that now totally dominate the global economy have figured out that they can make a lot more money by replacing expensive workers that live in major industrialized nations with workers that live in nations where it is legal to pay slave labor wages.  So it isn’t really a huge mystery why there is such a huge problem with unemployment in the western world.  If you were running a giant corporation, why would you want to hire workers that will cost you 10 to 20 times as much as other workers?  A worker is a worker, and over the past decade we have seen a massive movement of jobs to countries where labor is cheaper.  In addition, large corporations are also trying to completely eliminate as many jobs as they can by using technology.  If a corporation can get a computer or a machine or a robot to do a task more cheaply than a human worker can do it, then why would that corporation want to continue to rely on human labor?  And of course we have seen an overall weakening of the economies of the western world in recent years as well.  This has been particularly true in the United States.  As these long-term trends intensify, the worldwide unemployment crisis is going to get even worse.

In fact, the director general of the International Labor Organization is fully convinced that unemployment is going to continue to rise in G20 nations.  Just check out what he told CNBC on Friday…

Unemployment will likely soar further in the group of 20 major economic powers without immediate action, Guy Ryder, the director general of the International Labor Organization told CNBC on Friday, comparing the jobs crisis to the 2008-2009 financial crisis and warning it needs to be tackled urgently.

“We have gone backwards. It is quite alarming to see…that unemployment has not gone down, in fact it’s gone up,” Ryder told CNBC at the G20 finance ministers’ meeting in Moscow.

He said 93 million people were currently unemployed in the G20.

And when those living in G20 nations lose their jobs, they tend to stay out of work for a very long time.  In fact, 30 percent of unemployed workers in G20 countries have been out of work for one year or longer.

Major industrialized nations all over the planet are no longer able to produce enough jobs for their people.  In many “wealthy nations” the unemployment rate has already risen well up into double digits.  Just consider the following numbers…

-The unemployment rate is above 25 percent in South Africa.

-The unemployment rate in France recently hit a 15 year high.

-The unemployment rate in Italy is up to 12.2 percent, which is the highest in 35 years.

-The unemployment rate in the eurozone as a whole is up to an all-time high of 12.2 percent.

-The unemployment rate in Poland is 13.2 percent.

-The unemployment rate in Ireland is now 13.6 percent.

-The unemployment rate in Portugal has rocketed up to 17.7 percent.

-The unemployment rate in Greece is currently sitting at 26.9 percent and it is being projected that it will soon hit 30 percent.

-The unemployment rate in Spain is even worse than in Greece.  The unemployment rate in Spain is a staggering 27.2 percent.

Sadly, it looks like things are not going to be getting better any time soon.  In fact, global business confidence is now the lowest that it has been since the last recession.

So what about the United States?

Well, it is true that our official numbers do not look quite as bad as much of the rest of the world.  But the official unemployment rate in the U.S. has been at 7.5 percent or higher for 54 months in a row.  That is the longest stretch in U.S. history.

But at least it is not in double digits yet.

Things could be worse.

However, that does not mean that we are doing well either.

The mainstream media is attempting to convince us that everything is just fine because the unemployment rate has been “going down”, but when you take a deeper look at the numbers that is not exactly an accurate assessment of our situation.

As the New York Times recently pointed out, the decline in the unemployment rate can almost entirely be accounted for by a decline in the labor participation rate…

Let’s take a step back. Lots of people lost jobs during the Great Recession. In the aftermath, the great surprise has been how few are looking for new jobs. Labor force participation, the share of adults working or trying to find work, has stagnated at about 63.5 percent, almost three percentage points below the pre-recession level.

The unemployment rate has dropped almost entirely because of this decline in labor force participation. In other words, it has not fallen because people are finding jobs. It has fallen because fewer people are looking for jobs.

To get a more accurate picture of what is really happening with employment in America, you need to look at the employment-population ratio.  It is a measurement of the percentage of the working age population that is actually working.  As you can see, the percentage of working age Americans that actually have a job has been declining since the year 2000…

Employment-Population Ratio 2013

As you can see, there has been no employment recovery.

When the mainstream media tells you that the employment numbers for June were “great”, that is not being honest.  The truth is that the unemployment rate rose in 28 U.S. states and it only declined in 11 states during June, and as I mentioned yesterday, the U.S. economy actually lost 240,000 full-time jobs last month.

So no, things are not getting better, and the unemployment problems in the United States and in Europe are likely going to continue to get worse in the years ahead.

That is very bad news for most of us, because the only thing that most of us have to offer in the marketplace is our labor.  If the value that is placed on our labor is continually declining, then that puts us in a very difficult position.

It is almost as if we have all been drafted to play a very twisted game of musical chairs.  Each time the music stops, more chairs (jobs) are being pulled out of the game.

You might be doing okay for the moment, but what is going to happen when the music suddenly stops one day and your chair gets pulled out of the game?

That is something that you might want to start thinking about.

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