Wal-Mart’s Worst Stock Crash In 27 Years Is Another Sign That The Economy Is Rapidly Falling Apart

Wal-Mart - Photo by MikeMozartJeepersMediaNow that a major global recession has begun, you would expect major retailers like Wal-Mart to run into trouble as consumer spending dries up, and that is precisely what is happening.  On Wednesday, shares of Wal-Mart experienced their largest single day decline in 27 years after an extremely disappointing earnings projection was released.  The stock was down about 10 percent, which represented the biggest plunge since January 1988.  Over 21 billion dollars in shareholder wealth was wiped out on Wednesday, and this was just the continuation of a very bad year for Wal-Mart stockholders.  Overall, shares had already declined by 22 percent so far in 2015 before we even got to Wednesday.  Here is more on this stunning turn of events from Bloomberg

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. suffered its worst stock decline in more than 27 years after predicting a drop in annual profit, underscoring the giant retailer’s struggles to reignite growth.

Earnings will decrease 6 percent to 12 percent in fiscal 2017, which ends in January of that year, the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company said at its investor day on Wednesday. Analysts had estimated a gain of 4 percent on average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

If it was just Wal-Mart that was having trouble, that would be bad enough.  But the truth is that signs that the U.S. economy has entered another major downturn are popping up all around us.  Just consider the following list of economic indicators that Graham Summers recently put out

The Fed has now kept interest rates at zero for 81 months.

This is the longest period in the history of the Fed’s existence, lasting longer than even the 1938-1942 period of ZIRP.

And the US economy is moving back into recession. Consider that…

1)   Industrial production fell five months straight in the first half of 2015. This has never happened outside of a recession.

2)   Merchant Wholesalers’ Sales are in recession territory.

3)   The Empire Manufacturing Survey is in recession territory.

4)   All four of the Fed’s September Purchasing Manager Index (PMI) readings (Philadelphia, New York, Richmond, and Kansas City) came in at readings of sub-zero. This usually happens when you are already 4-5 months into a recession. (H/T Bill Hester)

Another huge red flag is the fact that month after month fewer products are being shipped around the country compared to last year.

If less stuff is being shipped around by truck, rail and air, is it a sign that the economy is getting better or is it a sign that the economy is getting worse?

The answer, of course, is self-evident.  With that in mind, please read the following excerpt which comes from a recent article by Wolf Richter

It has been crummy all year: With the exception of January and February, the shipping volume has been lower year-over-year every month!

The index is broad. It tracks data from shippers, no matter what carrier they choose, whether truck, rail, or air, and includes carriers like FedEx and UPS.

Evidence keeps piling up in the most unpleasant manner that something isn’t quite right in the real economy. The world is now in an inexplicable slowdown – “inexplicable” for central bankers who’ve cut interest rates to zero or below zero years ago, and who’re still dousing some economies with QE even as governments are running up big deficits. And yet, despite seven years of this huge monetary and fiscal stimulus, the global economy is deteriorating.

Okay, so is there anyone out there that still believes that the U.S. economy is in good shape?

The Obama administration will probably not admit it for a very long time, but the truth is that the numbers very clearly tell us that we are in a recession.

Anybody out there, whether an “expert” or just someone you happen to know, that tells you that everything is just fine is either completely ignorant or they are purposely lying to you.

And just like in 2008, state and local governments are starting to get into tremendous financial trouble as the real economy sputters.  For example, the governor of Illinois has told reporters that “we are out of money now” and that pension fund payments will be delayed as a result…

Illinois will delay payments to its pension fund as a prolonged budget impasse causes a cash shortage, Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger said.

The spending standoff between Republican Governor Bruce Rauner and Democratic legislative leaders has extended into its fourth month with no signs of ending. Munger said her office will postpone a $560 million retirement-fund payment next month, and may make the December contribution late.

“This decision is choosing the least of a number of bad options,” Munger told reporters in Chicago on Wednesday. “For all intents and purposes, we are out of money now.”

When these sorts of things started happening in 2008, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and the Bush administration went into full-blown denial mode.  They kept telling all of us not to worry and that everything would be okay, and that just made things worse in the end.

The same thing is happening now.  The Obama administration and the mainstream media keep talking about an “economic recovery” even in the face of numbers such as I have discussed in this article.

Perhaps things are going well for you personally at the moment, and that is great.  But now is not the time to buy lots of new toys.   Nor is it the time to accumulate more debt.

Instead, now is a time to position yourself for a period of difficulty that could stretch on for years.

The next recession is here, and it is going to grow progressively worse.

The wise will take heed and make preparations, but the foolish will just keep on doing what they have been doing until it is far too late.

The Numbers Say That A Major Global Recession Has Already Begun

Global - Public DomainThe biggest bank in the western world has just come out and declared that the global economy is “already in a recession”.  According to British banking giant HSBC, global trade is down 8.4 percent so far this year, and global GDP expressed in U.S. dollars is down 3.4 percentSo those that are waiting for the next worldwide economic recession to begin can stop waiting.  It is officially here.  As you will see below, money is fleeing emerging markets at a blistering pace, major global banks are stuck with huge loans that will never be repaid, and it looks like a very significant worldwide credit crunch has begun.  Just a few days ago, I explained that the IMF, the UN, the BIS And Citibank were all warning that a major economic crisis could be imminent.  They aren’t just making this stuff up out of thin air, but most Americans still seem to believe that everything is going to be just fine.  The level of blind faith in the system that most people are demonstrating right now is absolutely astounding.

The numbers say that the global economy has not been in this bad shape since the devastating recession that shook the world in 2008 and 2009.  According to HSBC, “we are already in a dollar recession”…

Global trade is also declining at an alarming pace. According to the latest data available in June the year on year change is -8.4%. To find periods of equivalent declines we only really find recessionary periods. This is an interesting point. On one metric we are already in a recession. As can be seen in Chart 3 on the following page, global GDP expressed in US dollars is already negative to the tune of USD 1,37trn or -3.4%. That is, we are already in a dollar recession. 

Here is the chart that Zero Hedge posted along with the quote above.  As you can see, the only time global GDP expressed in U.S. dollars has fallen faster in recent years was during the horrible recession of seven years ago…

HSBC Chart

But there are still a whole lot of incredibly clueless people running around out there claiming that “nothing is happening” even though more signs of trouble are erupting all around us every single day.

For instance, just today CNBC published an article entitled “The US is closer to deflation than you think“, and Twitter just announced that it plans to lay off 8 percent of its entire workforce.

But of course the biggest problems are happening in “emerging markets” right now.  The following is an excerpt from an article that was just published in a major British news source entitled “The world economic order is collapsing and this time there seems no way out“…

Now act three is beginning, but in countries much less able to devise measures to stop financial contagion and whose banks are more precarious. For global finance next flooded the so-called emerging market economies (EMEs), countries such as Turkey, Brazil, Malaysia, China, all riding high on sky-high commodity prices as the China boom, itself fuelled by wild lending, seemed never-ending. China manufactured more cement from 2010-13 than the US had produced over the entire 20th century. It could not last and so it is proving.

China’s banks are, in effect, bust: few of the vast loans they have made can ever be repaid, so they cannot now lend at the rate needed to sustain China’s once super-high but illusory growth rates. China’s real growth is now below that of the Mao years: the economic crisis will spawn a crisis of legitimacy for the deeply corrupt communist party. Commodity prices have crashed.

Money is flooding out of the EMEs, leaving overborrowed companies, indebted households and stricken banks, but EMEs do not have institutions such as the Federal Reserve or European Central Bank to knock up rescue packages. Yet these nations now account for more than half of global GDP. Small wonder the IMF is worried.

It is one thing for The Economic Collapse Blog to warn that “the world economic order is collapsing”, but this is one of the biggest newspapers in the UK.

I was writing about these emerging market problems back in July, but at that time very few really understood the true gravity of the situation.  But now giant banks such as Goldman Sachs are calling this the third stage of the ongoing global financial crisis.  The following comes from a recent CNBC piece entitled “Is EM turmoil the third wave of the financial crisis? Goldman thinks so“…

Emerging markets aren’t just suffering through another market rout—it’s a third wave of the global financial crisis, Goldman Sachs said.

“Increased uncertainty about the fallout from weaker emerging market economies, lower commodity prices and potentially higher U.S. interest rates are raising fresh concerns about the sustainability of asset price rises, marking a new wave in the Global Financial Crisis,” Goldman said in a note dated last week.

The emerging market wave, coinciding with the collapse in commodity prices, follows the U.S. stage, which marked the fallout from the housing crash, and the European stage, when the U.S. crisis spread to the continent’s sovereign debt, the bank said.

You know that it is late in the game when Goldman Sachs starts sounding exactly like The Economic Collapse Blog.  I have been warning about a “series of waves” for years.

When will people wake up?

What is it going to take?

The crisis is happening right now.

Of course many Americans will refuse to acknowledge what is going on until the Dow Jones Industrial Average collapses by several thousand more points.  And that is coming.  But let us all hope that day is delayed for as long as possible, because all of our lives will become much crazier once that happens.

And the truth is that many Americans do understand that bad times are on the horizon.  Just check out the following numbers that were recently reported by CNBC

The CNBC All-America Economic Survey finds views on the current state of the economy about stable, with 23 percent saying it is good or excellent and 42 percent judging it as fair. About a third say the economy is poor, up 3 points from the June survey.

But the percentage of Americans who believe the economy will get worse rose 6 points to 32 percent, the highest level since the government shutdown in 2013. And just 22 percent believe the economy will get better, 2 points lower than June and the lowest level since 2008, when the nation was gripped by recession.

If you want to believe that everything is going to be just fine somehow, then go ahead and believe that.

All I can do is present the facts.  For months I have been warning about this financial crisis, and now it is playing out as a slow-motion train wreck right in front of our eyes.

We are moving into a period of time during which events are going to start to move much more rapidly, and life as we know it is about to change in a major way for all of us.

Hopefully you have already been preparing for what is about to come.

If not, I wouldn’t want to be in your position.

Oh Crud! 19 Reasons Why It Is Time To Start Freaking Out About The Global Economy

Yes, it is officially time to start freaking out about the global economy.  The European financial system is falling apart and it is going to go down hard.  If Europe was going to be saved it would have happened by now.  The big money insiders have already pulled their funds from vulnerable positions and they are ready to ride the coming chaos out.   Over the next few months the slow motion train wreck currently unfolding in Europe will continue to play out and things will likely really start really heating up in the fall once summer vacations are over.  Most Americans greatly underestimate how much Europe can affect the global economy.  Europe actually has a larger population than the United States does.  Europe also has a significantly larger economy and a much larger banking system.  The world is more interconnected today than ever before, and a collapse of the financial system in Europe will cause a massive global recession.  Once the global economy slides into another major recession, it is going to take years to recover.  The pain is going to be immense.  Yes, that is going to include the United States.  Sadly, we never recovered from the last recession, and it is frightening to think about how much farther this next recession is going to knock us down.

The big problem is that there is simply way, way, way too much debt in the United States and Europe.  It has been a lot of fun spending all of this borrowed money, but now we get to pay the price.

The following are 19 reasons why it is time to start freaking out about the global economy….

#1 The yield on 10 year Italian bonds has now risen to more than 6 percent.

#2 The yield on 10 year Spanish bonds has now risen to more than 7 percent.  This is considered to be an unsustainable level.

#3 Citigroup Chief Economist Willem Buiter says that both Italy and Spain are going to need major bailouts.

#4 The Spanish banking crisis continues to get worse.  The following is from a CNN article that was posted on Monday….

But the depth of the nation’s crisis has raised doubts about whether €100 billion will be enough to recapitalize the banks. For example, the Bank of Spain, the nation’s central bank, released data Monday showing that “doubtful” loans — those that are more than 3 months overdue — rose to €152.7 billion in April, equal to 8.7% of all the loans held by the nation’s banks.

#5 Unemployment in Spain is sitting at a record high of over 24 percent with no hope in sight.

#6 Unemployment in the eurozone as a whole has hit a brand new all-time record high.

#7 The socialists won an outright majority in the recent parliamentary elections in France.  That means that France and Germany are now headed in completely different directions.  The close cooperation that we have seen between France and Germany in recent years is now over.

#8 New French President Francois Hollande has promised to implement a top tax rate of 75 percent on those making over 1 million euros a year.

#9 German Chancellor Angela Merkel has declared that Germany will not budge at all on the terms of the Greek bailout.

#10 Analysts at Citigroup Global Markets are projecting that the odds of Greece leaving the euro over the next 12 to 18 months are still between 50 and 75 percent.

#11 Money is being transferred from banks in southern Europe to banks in northern Europe at an astounding pace….

Financial advisers and private bankers whose clients have accounts too large to be covered by a Europe-wide guarantee on deposits up to 100,000 euros ($125,000), are reporting a “bank run by wire transfer” that has picked up during May.

Much of this money has headed north to banks in London, Frankfurt and Geneva, financial advisers say.

“It’s been an ongoing process but it certainly picked up pace a couple of weeks ago We believe there is a continuous 2-3 year bank run by wire transfer,” said Lorne Baring, managing director at B Capital, a Geneva-based pan European wealth management firm.

#12 As I wrote about recently, about 500 million euros a day has been pulled out of Greek banks so far this month.

#13 The Bank for International Settlements is warning that global lending is contracting at the fastest rate that we have seen since the end of the last financial crisis.

#14 Lloyd’s of London has publicly admitted that it is making preparations for a collapse of the eurozone.

#15 Government debt levels all over the industrialized world have exploded in recent years.  The following is from a recent article by Stephen Lendman….

Five years ago, OECD countries sovereign debt/GDP ratios were 70%. Today it’s 106% and rising.

Anything over 100% is considered to be an extremely dangerous level.

#16 The economic problems in Europe are already taking a toll on the U.S. economy.  At this point U.S. exports to Europe are way down.

#17 One recent poll found that 75 percent of Americans are either “very or somewhat worried” that the U.S. economy is heading for another recession.

#18 Under Barack Obama, the United States has been indulging in a debt binge unlike anything ever seen in U.S. history.  The following is from a recent Forbes article….

After just one year of the Obama spending binge, federal spending had already rocketed to 25.2% of GDP, the highest in American history except for World War II.  That compares to 20.8% in 2008, and an average of 19.6% during Bush’s two terms.  The average during President Clinton’s two terms was 19.8%, and during the 60-plus years from World War II until 2008 — 19.7%.  Obama’s own fiscal 2013 budget released in February projects the average during the entire 4 years of the Obama Administration to come in at 24.4% in just a few months.  That budget shows federal spending increasing from $2.983 trillion in 2008 to an all time record $3.796 trillion in 2012, an increase of 27.3%.

Moreover, before Obama there had never been a deficit anywhere near $1 trillion.  The highest previously was $458 billion, or less than half a trillion, in 2008. The federal deficit for the last budget adopted by a Republican controlled Congress was $161 billion for fiscal year 2007.  But the budget deficits for Obama’s four years were reported in Obama’s own 2013 budget as $1.413 trillion for 2009, $1.293 trillion for 2010, $1.3 trillion for 2011, and $1.327 trillion for 2012, four years in a row of deficits of $1.3 trillion or more, the highest in world history.

#19 Barack Obama almost seems more focused on his golf game than on the problems the global economy is having.  He just finished up playing his 100th round of golf since he became president.

If you are looking for some kind of a global financial miracle you can stop watching.

If European leaders had a master plan to save Europe they would have shown it by now.

If Barack Obama had a master plan to fix things he would have implemented it by now.

If the Federal Reserve had a master plan to fix things we would have seen it by now.

The entire house of cards is starting to come down and things are going to get really messy.

A lot of people both in the United States and in Europe are going to lose their jobs and their homes over the next few years.

It is likely that the next recession will be even more painful than the last one was.

Now is not the time to panic.  If you acknowledge what is coming and prepare accordingly then you will likely be in good shape.

But if you stick your head in the sand and pretend that everything is going to be okay then the next few years will likely be incredibly painful for you.

25 Signs That The Smart Money Has Completely Written Off Southern Europe

When it comes to the financial world, it is important to listen to what the “smart money” is saying, but it is much more important to watch what the “smart money” is actually doing.  The ultra-wealthy and those that run the biggest financial institutions on the planet are far more “connected” to what is really going on in financial circles behind the scenes than you and I could ever hope to be.  But if we watch their behavior we can get clues as to what they think is about to happen.  As is the case with so many other things, if you want to figure out what is really going on in Europe, just follow the money.  And right now, money is rapidly flowing out of southern Europe and into northern Europe.  In fact, some large corporations are now pulling the money that they make in Greece during the day out of the country every single night.  It is becoming increasingly clear that the upper crust of the financial world considers a Greek exit from the euro to be “inevitable” and that it also considers much of the rest of southern Europe to be a lost cause.  Unfortunately, a financial collapse across southern Europe is also likely to trigger another devastating global recession.

Even though all the warning signs were there, very few people actually expected to see the kind of financial crisis that we saw back in 2008.

But it happened.

Now very few people actually expect another “Lehman Brothers moment” to happen in Europe although the warning signs are all around us.

Sadly, most people never want to believe the truth until it is too late.

The following are 25 signs that the smart money has completely written off southern Europe….

#1 Lloyd’s of London is publicly admitting that it is rapidly making preparations for a collapse of the eurozone.

#2 According to the New York Times, top global law firms are advising their clients to withdraw all cash and all other liquid assets from Greece….

So their advice is blunt: Remove cash and other liquid assets from Greece and prepare to take a short-term hit on any other investments.

“My personal view is that it is irrational for anyone, whether a corporation or an individual, to be leaving money in Greek financial institutions, so long as there is a credible prospect of a euro zone exit,” said Ian M. Clark, a partner in London for White & Case, a global law firm that has a team of 10 lawyers focusing on the issue.

#3 According to CNBC, large numbers of wealthy Europeans have been moving their money from banks in southern Europe to banks in northern Europe….

Financial advisers and private bankers whose clients have accounts too large to be covered by a Europe-wide guarantee on deposits up to 100,000 euros ($125,000), are reporting a “bank run by wire transfer” that has picked up during May.

Much of this money has headed north to banks in London, Frankfurt and Geneva, financial advisers say.

“It’s been an ongoing process but it certainly picked up pace a couple of weeks ago We believe there is a continuous 2-3 year bank run by wire transfer,” said Lorne Baring, managing director at B Capital, a Geneva-based pan European wealth management firm.

#4 The President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, Charles Plosser, says that the Federal Reserve is advising money market funds to reduce their exposure to Europe….

The Fed and regulators have tried to stress to money market funds, for example, to reduce their exposure to European financial institutions.

#5 The yield on 10-year Spanish bonds is rapidly moving toward the very important 7 percent level.

#6 Many multinational corporations that operate in Greece are now pulling their funds out of the country on a nightly basis.

#7 Juergen Fitschen, the co-CEO of Deutsche Bank, has publicly proclaimed that Greece is a “failed state“.

#8 The head of the Swiss central bank has admitted that Switzerland is developing an “action plan” for how it will handle the collapse of the eurozone.

#9 The European Commission has urged all member states to develop contingency plans for a Greek exit from the euro….

Last week, the European Commission said that it has asked member states to make plans to deal with a potential Greek exit, ahead of a second round of Greek elections on 17 June.

#10 PIMCO CEO Mohamed El-Erian says that a Greek exit from the euro “is probably inevitable“.

#11 Spanish stocks continue to drop like a rock.

#12 The percentage of bad loans on the books of Spanish banks has reached an 18 year high.

#13 Late on Friday, the Spanish government announced that banking giant Bankia is going to need a 19 billion euro bailout.

#14 Standard & Poor’s downgraded the credit ratings of five more Spanish banks to junk status on Friday.

#15 Moody’s downgraded the credit ratings of 16 Spanish banks back on May 17th.

#16 According to the Telegraph, “struggling European banks could be seized and controlled by Brussels as part of secret plans being drawn up”.

#17 The head of equity strategy at Societe Generale, Claudia Panseri, is warning that European stocks could fall by as much as 50 percent if Greece leaves the euro.

#18 Economist Marc Faber is warning that there is now a “100% chance” that there will be another global recession.

#19 There seems to be an increasing attempt to pin the problems that Greece is now experiencing on the behavior of Greek citizens.  The following are some of the shocking things that the head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, said in a recent interview….

“Do you know what? As far as Athens is concerned, I also think about all those people who are trying to escape tax all the time. All these people in Greece who are trying to escape tax.”

Even more than she thinks about all those now struggling to survive without jobs or public services? “I think of them equally. And I think they should also help themselves collectively.” How? “By all paying their tax. Yeah.”

It sounds as if she’s essentially saying to the Greeks and others in Europe, you’ve had a nice time and now it’s payback time.

“That’s right.” She nods calmly. “Yeah.”

And what about their children, who can’t conceivably be held responsible? “Well, hey, parents are responsible, right? So parents have to pay their tax.”

#20 According to the Telegraph, an unidentified member of Angela Merkel’s cabinet has stated that Germany simply will not “pour money into a bottomless pit”.

#21 This week the Bank of England is holding a “secret summit” of global central bankers to address the European financial crisis….

The summit will be dominated by central bankers including the host, Sir Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England. Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank, and Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of the People’s Bank of China, have been invited.

#22 According to Zero Hedge, a major German newspaper is reporting that a Greek exit from the eurozone is a “done deal”….

The Greece-exit is a done deal: According to the German economic news from financial circles EU and the ECB have abandoned the motherland of democracy as a euro member. The reason is, interestingly, not in the upcoming elections – these are basically become irrelevant. The EU has finally realized that the Greeks have not met any agreements and will not continue not to meet them. A banker: “We helped with the Toika. The help of the troika was tied to conditions. Greece has fulfilled none of the conditions, and has been for months now.”

#23 According to CNBC, preparations are quietly being made to print up and distribute new drachmas should the need arise….

British banknote printer De La Rue is drawing up plans to print new drachma notes in the event of a Greek euro exit, according to an industry source with knowledge of the matter.

The world’s biggest security firm G4S expects to be involved in distributing notes around the country.

#24 Citibank’s chief economist Willem Buiter is warning that any new currency issued by the Greek government could “immediately fall by 60 percent“.

#25 Reuters is reporting that a planning memo exists that suggests that Greece could receive as much as 50 billion euros to “ease its path” out of the eurozone.

If Greece does leave the eurozone, the cost to the rest of Europe is going to be astronomical.  The following is from a recent article by John Mauldin….

The debate among very knowledgeable individuals and institutions as to the future of Europe is intense. There are those who argue that the cost of breaking up the eurozone, even allowing Greece to leave, is so high that it will not be permitted to happen. Estimates abound of a cost of €1 trillion to European banks, governments, and businesses, just for the exit of Greece. And that does not include the cost of contagion as the markets wonder who is next. Keeping Spanish and Italian interest-rate costs at levels that can be sustained will cost even more trillions, as not just government debt but the entire banking system is at stake. Not to mention the pension and insurance funds. If the cost of Greece leaving is €1 trillion, then who can guess the cost of Spain or Italy?

As I have written about previously, a Greek exit from the euro would cause the “bank jogs” that are already happening in Spain and Italy to accelerate.

The problem in Europe is not just government debt.  The truth is that the entire European financial system is in danger of melting down.

Unfortunately, there are no more grand solutions on the horizon and so things are going to continue to get worse for Europe.

As I have talked about so many times, the next wave of the economic collapse is going to start in Europe, but it is going to deeply affect the entire globe.

During the next major economic downturn, the official unemployment rate in the United States will rise well up into the double digits.

Once that happens, perhaps many more Americans will finally figure out that they should have been paying much more attention to what was taking place in Europe.

22 Signs That We Are On The Verge Of A Devastating Global Recession

2012 is shaping up to be a very tough year for the global economy.  All over the world there are signs that economic activity is significantly slowing down.  Many of these signs are detailed later on in this article.  But most people don’t understand what is happening because they don’t put all of the pieces together.  If you just look at one or two pieces of data, it may not seem that impressive.  But when you examine all of the pieces of evidence that we are on the verge of a devastating global recession all at once, it paints a very frightening picture.  Asia is slowing down, Europe is slowing down and there are lots of trouble signs for the U.S. economy.  It has gotten to a point where the global debt crisis is almost ready to boil over, and nobody is quite sure what is going to happen next.  The last global recession was absolutely nightmarish, and we should all hope that we don’t see another one like that any time soon.  Unfortunately, things do not look good at this point.

The following are 22 signs that we are on the verge of a devastating global recession….

#1 On Thursday it was announced that U.S. jobless claims had soared to a six-week high.

#2 Hostess Brands, the maker of Twinkies and Wonder Bread, has filed for bankruptcy protection.

#3 Sears recently announced that somewhere between 100 and 120 Sears and Kmart stores will be closing, and Sears stock has fallen nearly 60% in just the past year.

#4 Over the past 12 months, dozens of prominent retailers have closed stores all over America, and one consulting firm is projecting that there will be more than 5,000 more store closings in 2012.

#5 Richard Bove, an analyst at Rochdale Securities, is projecting that the global financial industry will lose approximately 150,000 jobs over the next 12 to 18 months.

#6 Investors are pulling money out of the stock market at a rapid pace right now.  In fact, as an article posted on CNBC recently noted, investors pulled more money out of mutual funds than they put into mutual funds for 9 weeks in a row.  Are there some people out there that are quietly repositioning their money for tough times ahead?….

Investors yanked money out of U.S. equity mutual funds for a ninth-consecutive week despite a bullish 2012 outlook from Wall Street and a December rally that’s carried over into the New Year.

#7 There are signs that the Chinese economy is seriously slowing down.  The following comes from a recent article in the Guardian….

Growth had slowed to an annual rate of 1.5% in the second and third quarters of 2011, below the “stall speed” that historically led to recession.

#8 The Bank of Japan says that the economic recovery in that country “has paused“.

#9 Manufacturing activity in the euro zone has fallen for five months in a row.

#10 Germany’s economy actually contracted during the 4th quarter of 2011.  At this point many economists believe that Germany is already experiencing a recession.

#11 According to a recent article by Bloomberg, it is being projected that the French economy is heading into a recession….

The French economy will shrink this quarter and next, suggesting the nation is in a recession as investment and consumer spending stagnate, national statistics office Insee said.

#12 There are a multitude of statistics that indicate that the UK economy is definitely slowing down.

#13 The credit ratings of Italy, Spain, Portugal, France and Austria all just got downgraded.

#14 It is being reported that the Spanish economy contracted during the 4th quarter of 2011.

#15 Bad loans in Spain recently hit a 17-year high and the unemployment rate is at a 15-year high.

#16 According to a recent article in the Telegraph, the Italian government is forecasting that there will be a recession for the Italian economy in 2012….

The Italian government predicts GDP will contract 0.4pc next year, but many economists fear the figure is optimistic.

“We can say without mincing words that we have already slipped into recession,” said Intesa Sanpaolo analyst Paolo Mameli. “We expect GDP to keep contracting for the next 3-4 quarters.”

#17 Italy’s youth unemployment rate has hit the highest level ever.

#18 The unemployment rate in Greece for those under the age of 24 is now at 39 percent.

#19 Greece is already experiencing a full-blown economic depression.  About a third of the country is now living in poverty and extreme medicine shortages are being reported.  Things have gotten so bad that entire families are being ripped apart.  According to the Daily Mail, hundreds of Greek children are being abandoned because the economy has gotten so bad that their parents simply cannot afford to take care of them anymore.  The note that one mother left with her child was absolutely heartbreaking….

One mother, it said, ran away after handing over her two-year-old daughter Natasha.

Four-year-old Anna was found by a teacher clutching a note that read: ‘I will not be coming to pick up Anna today because I cannot afford to look after her. Please take good care of her. Sorry.’

#20 In Greece, large numbers of people are simply giving up on life.  Sadly, the number of suicides in Greece has increased by 40 percent in just the past year.

#21 In many European countries, the money supply continues to contract rapidly.  The following comes from a recent article in the Telegraph….

Simon Ward from Henderson Global Investors said “narrow” M1 money – which includes cash and overnight deposits, and signals short-term spending plans – shows an alarming split between North and South.

While real M1 deposits are still holding up in the German bloc, the rate of fall over the last six months (annualised) has been 20.7pc in Greece, 16.3pc in Portugal, 11.8pc in Ireland, and 8.1pc in Spain, and 6.7pc in Italy. The pace of decline in Italy has been accelerating, partly due to capital flight. “This rate of contraction is greater than in early 2008 and implies an even deeper recession, both for Italy and the whole periphery,” said Mr Ward.

#22 The major industrialized nations of the world must roll over trillions upon trillions of dollars in debt during 2012.  At a time when credit is becoming much tighter, this is going to be quite a challenge.  The following list compiled by Bloomberg shows the amount of debt that some large nations must roll over in 2012….

Japan: 3,000 billion
U.S.: 2,783 billion
Italy: 428 billion
France: 367 billion
Germany: 285 billion
Canada: 221 billion
Brazil: 169 billion
U.K.: 165 billion
China: 121 billion
India: 57 billion
Russia: 13 billion

Keep in mind that those numbers do not include any new borrowing.  Those are just old debts that must be refinanced.

As I mentioned at the top of this article, things do not look good.

The last thing that we need is another devastating global recession.

As I wrote about yesterday, the U.S. economy is in the midst of a nightmarish long-term decline.  The last major global recession helped to significantly accelerate that decline.

So what will happen if this next global recession is worse than the last one?

Sadly, the people that will get hurt the most by another recession will not be the wealthy.

The people that will get hurt the most will be the poor and the middle class.

So what should all of us be doing about this?

We should use the time during this “calm before the storm” to prepare for the hard times that are coming.

As always, let us hope for the best and let us prepare for the worst.

But things certainly do not look promising for the global economy in 2012.