Do They Know Something We Don’t? Corporate Insiders Are Selling Stocks At The Fastest Pace In 10 Years

A lot of things are starting to happen that we haven’t seen since the last recession.  A few days ago, I wrote about the fact that home sellers in the United States are cutting their prices at the fastest pace in at least eight years, and now we have learned that corporate insiders are selling stocks at the most rapid pace in ten years.  So why are they dumping their shares so quickly?  Do they know something that the rest of us do not?  Certainly nobody can blame them for taking advantage of the ridiculously high stock prices that we are seeing in the marketplace right now.  But stock prices have been very high for a while.  Why is there such a mad rush for the exits all of a sudden?  According to CNN, corporate insiders have sold 5.7 billion dollars worth of stock so far in September…

CEOs are using the market boom to quietly cash in their own chips.

Insiders at US companies have dumped $5.7 billion of stock this month, the highest in any September over the past decade, according to an analysis of regulatory filings by TrimTabs Investment Research.

It’s not a new trend. Insiders, which include corporate officers and directors, sold shares in August at the fastest pace in 10 years as well, TrimTabs said.

It would be one thing if September was an anomaly, but the fact that insider shares were being sold so rapidly in August as well indicates that this is a clear trend.

Could it be possible that these corporate insiders believe that the market is about to take a tumble?

Of course it doesn’t exactly take inside information to see the writing on the wall.  On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates for the third time in 2018.  Overall, this is the Fed’s eighth interest rate increase since 2015, and it looks like the Fed is anticipating three more rate hikes in 2019

Looking ahead to 2019, Fed officials expect at least three rate hikes will be necessary, and one more in 2020.

“The Fed shows no signs of taking (a) breath in rate hikes,” Robert Frick, corporate economist with Navy Federal Credit Union, wrote in a research note.

This is terrible news for stock market investors, because every rate hiking program in the history of the Federal Reserve has ended in a stock market crash and/or a recession.

In fact, since 1957 there have been 18 rate hiking cycles, and every single one of them has ended in disaster.

So do you think that we are going to beat the odds this time?

After raising rates again, the Fed released a statement in which it said that it expects the U.S. economy to grow “for at least three more years”

The Fed sees the economy growing at a faster-than-expected 3.1 percent this year and continuing to expand moderately for at least three more years, amid sustained low unemployment and stable inflation near its 2 percent target.

“The labor market has continued to strengthen … economic activity has been rising at a strong rate,” it said in its statement.

You can believe that if you want, but it is also important to remember that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke assured all of us that a recession was not coming in 2008.

And later we learned that the moment when he made that statement a recession had actually already begun.

Needless to say, investors were not thrilled by Wednesday’s rate hike, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped another 100 points.  Stocks have really struggled this week, and we continue to get more disappointing news from the real economy.  On the heels of a “disappointing” existing home sales report, we just received news that new home sales missed expectations

Following existing home sales disappointment, hope was once again high for a bounce in new home sales in August but once again disappointed with a 629k print (up from a revised 608k), but missed expectations of 630k.

While the sales gain was the first in three months, the downward revisions to prior figures indicate that the market in recent months was slower than previously reported, adding to broader indications of cooler demand in residential real estate.

And the trade war continues to take a toll as well.  According to Ford’s chief executive, the metals tariffs are going to result in a billion dollars in lost profits for his company…

Ford CEO Jim Hackett told Bloomberg Television on Wednesday that his company faces $1 billion in lost profits from President Donald Trump’s tariffs.

“The metals tariffs took about $1 billion in profit from us – and the irony is we source most of that in the U.S. today anyways,” Hackett said. “If it goes on longer, there will be more damage.”

Perhaps this is one of the main reasons why it looks like Ford could soon be laying off thousands of workers.

The “smart money” is always one step ahead of the “dumb money”, and corporate insiders have a much better view of what is really going on inside their companies than any of the rest of us do.

So if they are collectively convinced that now is a perfect time to sell, that is a major red flag.

On Wall Street, actions speak much louder than words, and corporate insiders are sending a very loud message by selling so many of their own shares.

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

Why Are So Many People Talking About The Potential For A Stock Market Crash In October?

It is that time of the year again.  Every year, people start talking about a possible stock market crash in October, because everyone remembers the historic crashes that took place in October 1987 and October 2008.  Could we witness a similar stock market crash in October 2018?  Without a doubt, the market is primed for another crash.  Stock valuations have been in crazytown territory for a very long time, and financial chaos has already begun to erupt in emerging markets all over the globe.  When the stock market does collapse, it won’t exactly be a surprise.  And a lot of people out there are pointing to October for historical reasons.  I did not know this, but it turns out that the month with the most market volatility since the Dow was first established has been the month of October

The difference is quite significant, as judged by a measure of volatility known as the standard deviation: For all Octobers since 1896, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average was created, the standard deviation of the Dow’s daily changes has been 1.44%. That compares to 1.05% for all months other than October.

Like me, you are probably tempted to think that the reason why October’s number is so high is because of what happened in 1987 and 2008.

But even if you pull out those two months, October is still the most volatile

You might think that this difference is caused by a few outliers, such as the 1987 crash (which, of course, occurred in October) or 2008 (the Dow suffered several thousand-point plunges that month as it reacted to the snowballing financial crisis). But you would be wrong: The standard deviation of daily Dow changes is much higher in October than other months even if we eliminate 1987 and 2008 from the sample.

Once we get to Thanksgiving, the market tends to get sleepy, and it usually doesn’t wake up again until the new year begins.

So if something big is going to happen in the market in 2018, it is probably going to happen in the coming weeks.

And it is inevitable that something big will happen at some point.  As Jesse Colombo has pointed out, stocks are more overvalued right now than they were just before the great stock market crash of 1929…

In a bubble, the stock market becomes overpriced relative to its underlying fundamentals such as earnings, revenues, assets, book value, etc. The current bubble cycle is no different: the U.S. stock market is as overvalued as it was at major generational peaks. According to the cyclically-adjusted price-to-earnings ratio (a smoothed price-to-earnings ratio), the U.S. stock market is more overvalued than it was in 1929, right before the stock market crash and Great Depression

It is becoming increasingly obvious what we are heading for, and a growing chorus of market experts are issuing ominous declarations about this market.

For example, David Tice is warning that “we’re getting closer to a meltdown scenario”

According to investor David Tice, who made a name for himself in running the Prudent Bear Fund before selling it to Federated Investors in 2008, the current market is dangerous. Tice was quoted as saying he’s “nervous” because “we’re getting closer to a meltdown scenario.”

And John Hussman ultimately expects “two-thirds of market capitalization” to vanish…

I am aware of no plausible conditions under which current extremes are likely to work out well for investors. There are a few possibilities that could involve a smaller loss than the two-thirds of market capitalization that I expect to vanish, as the run-of-the-mill, baseline expectation for the S&P 500 over the completion of this cycle. Yet it’s worth recognizing that the completion of every market cycle in history has taken the most reliable valuation measures we identify (those best correlated with actual subsequent S&P 500 market returns) to less than half of current levels.

Could you imagine the chaos that would be unleashed if the stock market went down by two-thirds?

That would make what happened in 2008 look like a Sunday picnic.

And there are a lot of parallels between what happened in 2008 and what is happening today.  For example, the housing market is slowing down dramatically just like it did a decade ago.  The following comes from a Bloomberg article that I came across earlier today entitled “Builders Slump as U.S. Housing Market Shifts to the Slow Lane”

The housing market is stalling, and homebuilder stocks are feeling the pain.

The S&P Supercomposite Homebuilding Index is down 21 percent year-to-date, on track for the biggest annual drop since 2008, when it fell 32 percent. That’s even with tax cuts, unemployment near the lowest since 1969 and a real-estate developer in the White House. What gives?

Just a few days ago, I wrote an entire article about the fact that home sellers are cutting prices at the fastest rate that we have seen in eight years.  The housing market is clearly telling us that a big time economic slowdown is coming, but most people are not listening.

Switching gears, we have also recently learned that it looks like Ford Motor Company will soon be laying off lots of workers

Ford Motor employees are warily awaiting details of CEO Jim Hackett’s promised “fitness” plan and the serious possibility of significant job losses as the company faces pressure to improve its operations.

The company has warned of $11 billion in restructuring costs over three to five years, which could mean thousands of worker buyouts, according to analysts.

Why would they be doing that if the economy really was in “good shape”?

And let us not forget about the ongoing woes of the retail industry.  Recently, I was astounded to learn that a whopping 20 percent of all retail space in Manhattan is currently vacant

“When you walk the streets, you see vacancies on every block in all five boroughs, rich or poor areas — even on Madison Avenue, where you used to have to fight to get space,” said Faith Hope Consolo, head of retail leasing for Douglas Elliman Real Estate, who said the increase in storefront vacancies in New York City had created “the most challenging retail landscape in my 25 years in real estate.”

A survey conducted by Douglas Elliman found that about 20 percent of all retail space in Manhattan is currently vacant, she said, compared with roughly 7 percent in 2016.

New York City is one of the few areas around the country that has actually been prospering.

If things are that bad there already, what does that say about the outlook for the rest of the nation?

The truth is that the economy is not nearly as good as you are being told, and things could literally start breaking loose at any moment.

Unfortunately, as a society we have not learned very much from history, and most Americans seem to think that this bubble of artificial prosperity is going to last indefinitely.

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

Stock Prices Are Surging Because Corporations Are Spending More Money On Stock Buybacks Than Anything Else

The primary reason why stock prices have been soaring in recent months is because corporations have been buying back their own stock at an unprecedented pace.  In fact, the pace of stock buybacks is nearly double what it was at this time last year.  According to Goldman Sachs, S&P 500 companies spent 384 billion dollars buying back stock during the first half of 2018.  That is an absolutely astounding number.  And in many cases, corporations are going deep into debt in order to do this.  Of course this is going to push up stock prices, but corporate America will not be able to inflate this bubble indefinitely.  At some point a credit crunch will come, and the pace of stock buybacks will fall precipitously.

Prior to 1982, corporations were not permitted to go into the market and buy back stock.

The reason for this is obvious – stock buybacks are a really easy way for corporations to manipulate stock prices.

But these days it is expected that most large corporations will engage in this practice.  Large stockholders love to see the price of the stock go up, and they are never going to complain when smaller shareholders are bought out and their share of the company is increased.  And corporate executives love buybacks because so much of their compensation often involves stock options or bonuses related to key metrics such as earnings per share.

So in the end, stock buybacks are often all about greed.  It is a way to funnel money to those at the very top of the pyramid, and those stock market gains are taxed at capital gains rates which are much lower than the rates on normal income.

Normally, you would expect successful companies to invest most of their available cash back into operations so that they can make even more money in the future.  And for 19 of the past 20 years, corporations have spent more on capital investments than anything else.  But now, share buybacks have actually surpassed capital spending.  The following comes from CNN

But that doesn’t mean companies aren’t spending on job-creating investments, like new equipment, research projects and factories. Business spending is up 19% — it’s just that buybacks are growing much faster.

In fact, Goldman Sachs said that buybacks are garnering the largest share of cash spending by S&P 500 firms. It’s a milestone because capital spending had represented the single largest use of cash by corporations in 19 of the past 20 years.

And this trend seems to be accelerating during the second half of 2018.  It is being projected that firms will spend more than 600 billion dollars on stock buybacks during the second half of this year, and that will bring the grand total for 2018 to more than a trillion dollars

And the trend may not be done yet. Goldman Sachs predicted that share buyback authorizations among all US companies in all of 2018 will surpass $1 trillion for the first time ever.

Wow.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we had more than a trillion dollars that we could put toward reducing the national debt?

This is the reason why stocks hit another new all-time record high this week.  Stock buybacks have reached absolutely insane levels, and what we are witnessing is essentially a giant orgy of greed.

To give you some perspective, the previous annual record for stock buybacks was just 589 billion dollars in 2007.

This year, we may come close to doubling the previous record.

And let us not forget that the year after 2007 was the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

So what corporations are the worst offenders?  Here is more from CNN

Apple (AAPL) alone spent a whopping $45 billion on buybacks during the first half of 2018, triple what it did during the same time period last year, the firm said. That included a record-shattering sum during the first quarter.

Amgen (AMGN), Cisco (CSCO), AbbVie (ABBV) and Oracle (ORCL) have also showered investors with big boosts to their buyback programs.

As I noted earlier, corporate insiders greatly benefit from stock buybacks, and they took advantage of massively inflated stock prices by selling off $10.3 billion worth of their shares during the month of August.

Inflating your stock price by cannibalizing your own shares is not a good long-term strategy for any corporation, but without a doubt it is making a lot of people very wealthy.

But in the process, the size of the stock market as a whole has been steadily shrinking.  In fact, the number of shares on the S&P 500 has fallen by almost 8 percent since the beginning of 2011…

According to Ed Yardeni, the number of S&P 500 shares has shrunk by 7.7% since the start of 2011. This tends to increase the earnings per remaining share and the dividends available per remaining share.

This is yet another example that shows why the stock market has become completely disconnected from economic reality.  Wall Street is inhabited by con men that are promoting Ponzi scheme after Ponzi scheme, and it is only a matter of time before the entire system collapses under its own weight.

But for now, the euphoria on Wall Street continues as stock prices continue to march higher.  Meanwhile, we continue to get more signs of trouble from the real economy.  For instance, this week we learned that the third largest bank in the entire country is going to lay off thousands of workers

Wells Fargo, the third-biggest U.S. bank, plans to lower its employee headcount by 5 percent to 10 percent in the next three years as part of its ongoing turnaround plan, the company announced Thursday.

The bank has 265,000 employees, meaning the reduction would result in a loss of between 13,250 and 26,500 jobs.

Why would they do that if the economy was in good shape?

And globally, the emerging market currency crisis has continued to escalate.  According to one source, more than 80 percent of all global currencies have fallen in value so far this year…

A review of the values of 143 global currencies indicates that so far this year, more than 80 percent have fallen in value.

Another eleven appear to be pegged to the dollar and 13 have risen in value. Of the 13 that have increased in value, only six are up more than 1 percent versus the dollar.

There have been outsized declines in countries like Venezuela (down 99 percent), Argentina (53 percent) and Turkey (38 percent). However, Brazil is down 20 percent, Russia 15 percent, India 11 percent, Sweden 10 percent, and the Philippines 8 percent. Big economies like China are experiencing a 5 percent currency value decline while the Euro is off by 3 percent.

I applaud those that have made lots of money in the stock market, but the party will not last forever.

In 2007 corporations were pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into stock buybacks, and it propped up the market for a time.  But eventually the bubble burst and the crisis of 2008 was so dramatic that it will be remembered forever.

Now we are facing a similar scenario, and it is just a matter of time before this bubble bursts as well.

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

Economic Slowdown Confirmed: The U.S. Economy Lost Jobs Last Month For The First Time In 7 Years

Don’t worry – even though the employment numbers are terrible the mainstream media insists that everything is going to be wonderful for the U.S. economy in the months ahead.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. economy lost 33,000 jobs during September.  That was the first monthly decline in seven years, and as you will see below, overall 2017 is on pace for the slowest employment growth in at least five years.  But the Bureau of Labor Statistics insists that the downturn in September was due to the chaos caused by Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, and they are assuring us that happier times are right around the corner.

Economists were projecting that we would see an increase of around 80,000 jobs last month, and we need to add at least 150,000 jobs each month just to keep up with population growth.  So the -33,000 number was a huge disappointment.

But even though we lost 33,000 jobs last month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that the unemployment rate fell from 4.4 percent to 4.2 percent.

Yes, I know that doesn’t make any sense at all, but that is what they are telling us.

Perhaps if several volcanoes go off inside this country, terrorists detonate a dirty bomb in one of our major cities and Godzilla invades the west coast next month the unemployment rate will drop all the way to zero.

Of course I am being facetious, but I just want to point out the absurdity of what we are being told.  There is no way in the world that the official unemployment rate should be at “a new 16-year low”.

In the end, perhaps September will end up being a bit of an anomaly.  But as I mentioned above, we have been witnessing a broader trend build for months.  According to CNBC, we are on pace for “the slowest jobs growth in at least five years”…

In addition to September’s rough month, the July number was revised lower from 189,000 to 138,000 though August got a bump higher from 156,000. In all, though, 2017 thus far has seen the slowest jobs growth in at least five years.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Employment is not booming.  In fact, things haven’t been this slow “in at least five years”.  An economic slowdown is here, and yet most people are totally oblivious to what is happening.

And let me share something else with you.  The following chart shows the average duration of unemployment since the late 1940s…

This chart shows that workers remain unemployed far longer than they did in the “good old days”, but I want you to pay special attention to the very end of the chart.

The duration of unemployment is really starting to spike up again quite dramatically, and that is a very, very troubling sign for the U.S. economy overall, because spikes in this number almost always correspond with recessions.

But the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that we don’t have anything to be concerned about.  In fact, they are blaming all of the bad numbers from last month on Harvey and Irma

Our analysis suggests that the net effect of these hurricanes was to reduce the estimate of total nonfarm payroll employment for September. There was no discernible effect on the national unemployment rate. No changes were made to either the establishment or household survey estimation procedures for the September figures. For both surveys, collection rates generally were within normal ranges, both nationally and in the affected states. In the establishment survey, employees who are not paid for the pay period that includes the 12th of the month are not counted as employed. In the household survey, persons with a job are counted as employed even if they miss work for the entire survey reference week (the week including the 12th of the month), regardless of whether or not they are paid. For both surveys, national estimates do not include Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands.

And the “experts” that are being quoted by the mainstream media are assuring us that “the labor market remains in good shape”

“Despite the decline (in job gains), it’s really clear that the labor market remains in good shape,” says Joel Naroff of Naroff Economic Advisors.

The unemployment rate, which is calculated from a different survey than the headline job totals, edged lower. That’s because gains in the number of people employed outpaced an increase in the labor force, which includes people working and looking for jobs. In that survey of households, workers are counted as employed even if they were temporarily idled by the storms.

Hopefully they are right.

Hopefully happy times are here again and an economic boom is right around the corner.

Unfortunately, the longer term trends tell an entirely different story.  Our economic infrastructure has been gutted, we have shipped millions of good paying jobs overseas, the middle class is slowly being eradicated, and we are living in the terminal phase of the greatest debt bubble in human history.

We have been able to maintain our ridiculously inflated standard of living for an extended period of time by borrowing absolutely colossal mountains of money year after year.  But no debt bubble lasts forever, and this one will not either.

The debt-fueled “prosperity” that we see all around us today is an enormous temporary illusion, and when the illusion collapses the economic pain is going to be greater than anything we have ever seen before in modern American history.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

The Globalists Are Systematically Destroying America’s Middle Class

When people are dependent on the government they are much easier to control.  We are often told that we are not “compassionate” when we object to the endless expansion of government social programs, but that is not how the debate should be framed.  In America today, well over 100 million people receive money from the federal government each month, and the number of Americans that are truly financially independent is continually shrinking.  In fact, only 25 percent of all Americans have more than $10,000 in savings right now according to one survey.  If we eventually get to the point where virtually all of us are dependent on the government for our continued existence, that would give the globalists a very powerful tool of control.  In the end, they want as many of us dependent on the government as possible, because those that are dependent on the government are a lot less likely to fight against their agenda.

Back in 1992, the bottom 90 percent of American income earners brought in more than 60 percent of the country’s income.  But last year that figure slipped to just 49.7 percent.  The wealth of our society is increasingly being concentrated at the very top, and the middle class is steadily being eroded.  Surveys have found that somewhere around two-thirds of the country is living paycheck to paycheck at least part of the time, and so living on the edge has become a way of life for most Americans.

Earlier today, I came across a Business Insider article that was bemoaning the fact that the U.S. economy seems to be rather directionless at this point…

  • We do not have a real plan for health care, and costs continue to gobble up American wages.
  • We do not have a plan for dealing with globalization and economic change, but that change continues to shape our economy.
  • We don’t have a plan to update our decrepit infrastructure.
  • The one plan we did have — the Federal Reserve’s post-financial crisis program — is about to be unwound, marking the end of the last clear, executable plan to bolster America’s economy.

Ultimately, the truth is that we don’t actually need some sort of “central plan” for our economy.  We are supposed to be a free market system that is not guided and directed by central planners, but many Americans don’t even understand the benefits of free market capitalism anymore.

However, that Business Insider article did make a great point about globalization.   Most people don’t realize that our economy is slowly but surely being integrated into a global economic system.   This is really bad for American workers, because now they are being merged into a global labor pool in which they must compete directly for jobs with workers in other countries where it is legal to pay slave labor wages.

Even down in Mexico, many autoworkers are only making $2.25 an hour

Most of the workers at the new Audi factory in the state of Puebla, inaugurated in 2016 and assembling the Audi Q4 SUV, which carries a sticker price in the US of over $40,000 for base versions, make $2.25 an hour, according to the Union.

Volkswagen, which owns Audi, started building Beetles in Puebla in 1967 and has since created a vast manufacturing empire in Mexico, with vehicles built for consumers in Mexico, the US, Canada, and Latin American markets.

Volkswagen, Ford, GM, or any of the global automakers, which can manufacture just about anywhere in the world, always search for cheap labor to maximize the bottom line.

Would you want to work for $2.25 an hour?

Over time, millions of good paying jobs have been leaving high wage countries and have been going to low wage countries.  The United States has lost more than 70,000 manufacturing facilities since China joined the WTO, and this is one of the biggest factors that has eroded the middle class.

In a desperate attempt to maintain our standard of living, we have gone into increasing amounts of debt.  Of course our federal government is now 20 trillion dollars in debt, but on an individual level we are doing the same thing.  Today, American consumers are over 12 trillion dollars in debt, and it gets worse with each passing day.

The borrower is the servant of the lender, and most Americans have become debt slaves at this point.  This is something that Paul Craig Roberts commented on recently

Americans carry on by accumulating debt and becoming debt slaves. Many can only make the minimum payment on their credit card and thus accumulate debt. The Federal Reserve’s policy has exploded the prices of financial assets. The result is that the bulk of the population lacks discretionary income, and those with financial assets are wealthy until values adjust to reality.

As an economist I cannot identify in history any economy whose affairs have been so badly managed and prospects so severely damaged as the economy of the United States of America. In the short/intermediate run policies that damage the prospects for the American work force benefit what is called the One Percent as jobs offshoring reduces corporate costs and financialization transfers remaining discretionary income in interest and fees to the financial sector. But as consumer discretionary incomes disappear and debt burdens rise, aggregate demand falters, and there is nothing left to drive the economy.

This debt-based system continuously funnels wealth toward the very top of the pyramid, because it is the people at the very top that hold all of the debts.

Each year it gets worse, and most Americans would be absolutely stunned to hear that the top one percent now control 38.6 percent of all wealth in the United States…

The richest 1% of families controlled a record-high 38.6% of the country’s wealth in 2016, according to a Federal Reserve report published on Wednesday.

That’s nearly twice as much as the bottom 90%, which has seen its slice of the pie continue to shrink.

The bottom 90% of families now hold just 22.8% of the wealth, down from about one-third in 1989 when the Fed started tracking this measure.

So how do we fix this?

Well, the truth is that we need to go back to a non-debt based system that does not funnel all of the wealth to the very top of the pyramid.  Unfortunately, most Americans don’t even realize that our current debt-based system is fundamentally flawed, and it will probably take an unprecedented crisis in order to wake people up enough to take action.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

The Middle Class Is Being Destroyed: Now Only 25 Percent Of All Americans Have $10,000 Or More In Savings

We just got more evidence that the middle class is being systematically eviscerated.  According to a GOBankingRates survey that was just released, more than half the country has less than $1,000 in savings.  So in the event of a major economic disaster of some kind, over 50 percent of the nation is going to be completely out of cash almost immediately.  For years I have been writing about the steady decline of the middle class in the United States, but I still get astounded by numbers such as these.  According to this new survey, only 25 percent of all Americans have $10,000 or more in savings at this point…

$0 saved: 39 percent
Less than $1,000 saved: 18 percent
$1,000 to $4,999 saved: 12 percent
$5,000 to $9,999 saved: 6 percent
$10,000 or more saved: 25 percent

Other surveys have come up with similar results.  One discovered that about two-thirds of the country is living paycheck to paycheck, and another which was conducted by the Federal Reserve found that 44 percent of all U.S. adults do not even have enough money “to cover an unexpected $400 expense”.

Most of us have grown accustomed to barely scraping by from month to month.  But that is not what being “middle class” is supposed to be about.  If you are in the “middle class” you should be making more than you are spending and building long-term wealth.

But just like our federal government, most of us are spending money like there is no tomorrow.  If we don’t have quite enough money for what we want to do, we just borrow more.  Right now, U.S. consumers are more than 12 trillion dollars in debt, and it is impossible to build any real wealth when you are constantly drowning in red ink.

We are willingly enslaving ourselves, but most people were never even taught about the dangers of going into too much debt.

Another major factor in the decline of the middle class is the fact that we have been shipping millions of good paying jobs overseas.  We have lost more than 70,000 manufacturing facilities since China joined the WTO, and we have been replacing good paying manufacturing jobs with low paying service jobs.

Without enough good paying jobs, our middle class has been steadily shrinking.  In 2015, the middle class became a minority of the population in the United States for the first time ever recorded.

If you go back to the early 1970s, the middle class was well over 60 percent of the population, but now that number is hovering in the high 40s.

And things continue to get even worse.  For example, NBC News recently reported that the number of Americans that can’t afford to be living in their own homes has more than doubled since 2001…

Over 38 million American households can’t afford their housing, an increase of 146 percent in the past 16 years, according to a recent Harvard housing report.

Under federal guidelines, households that spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing costs are considered “cost burdened” and will have difficulty affording basic necessities like food, clothing, transportation and medical care.

But the number of Americans struggling with their housing costs has risen from almost 16 million in 2001 to 38 million in 2015, according to the Census data crunched in the report. That’s more than double.

If we want to turn things around for the middle class, we need more entrepreneurs and more small businesses.

Small businesses have traditionally been the primary engine for job growth in this country.  But instead of encouraging small businesses to start and grow, the federal government has been absolutely killing small businesses with red tape and high taxes.

If I win my election, I am going to do all that I can to fight for entrepreneurs and small businesses.  Today, the percentage of Americans that work for themselves is close to a record low, and we desperately need to get that turned around.

So I I go to Congress, one of the first things I plan to do is to push for the elimination of the “self-employment tax”.

If you are an entrepreneur, then you already know how painful that particular tax can be.

We have got to get this economy growing again.  Barack Obama was the only president in our entire history never to have a single year when the U.S. economy grew by at least 3 percent, and overall we have not had a year when our economy grew by at least 3 percent in over a decade.

And as I noted earlier this week, “our economy has still only grown at an average rate of just 1.33 percent a year over the last 10 years.”

Is that acceptable to you?

I hope not, because it sure is not acceptable to me.

What we have been doing is simply not working.  In fact, if we were not propping up the economy with the greatest debt binge in human history, we would be a in a rip-roaring economic depression right now.

If we want America to once again become the greatest economic machine on the planet, we need to do the things that made us great in the first place.  We need an extremely limited federal government that stays out of the way of business, and we need to once again embrace the principles of free market capitalism.

Free markets work tremendously well if you allow them to do so.

But if we continue to march down the road toward big government socialism, we will get what we deserve, and it won’t be pretty.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

Hillary Almost Proposed ‘A Universal Basic Income’ In 2016, And The Idea Is Catching Fire Among Grassroots Democrats

Should you get free money from the U.S. government every month simply for being alive?  That may sound like a crazy idea to many of us, but the truth is that this will likely be one of the biggest political issues in the 2020 presidential election.  At this point, 40 percent of all Americans already “prefer socialism to capitalism”, and the concept of a “universal basic income” is starting to catch fire among grassroots Democrats.  Many liberals are convinced that the time has come to fight for the right to “a minimum standard of living”, and one study by a “left-leaning” group found that giving every adult in the country $1,000 each month would increase the size of the U.S. economy by more than 2 trillion dollars

Giving every adult in the United States a $1,000 cash handout per month would grow the economy by $2.5 trillion by 2025, according to a new study on universal basic income.

The report was released in August by the left-leaning Roosevelt Institute. Roosevelt research director Marshall Steinbaum, Michalis Nikiforos at Bard College’s Levy Institute, and Gennaro Zezza at the University of Cassino and Southern Lazio in Italy co-authored the study.

What an incredible idea, eh?

All we have to do is give out free stuff and the economy grows like magic.  And the study also discovered that the larger the universal basic income is, the more the economy would grow.

So why not make it $10,000 a month for everyone?

Well, it turns out that there is a catch.  According to the study, the economy only grows if the universal basic income is funded by deficit spending.  If we have to raise taxes to pay for it, there is no positive benefit to the economy at all

These estimates are based on a universal basic income paid for by increasing the federal deficit. As part of the study, the researchers also calculated the effect to the economy of paying for the cash handouts by increasing taxes. In that case, there would be no net benefit to the economy, the report finds.

Oh.

What a bummer.

Getting free stuff from the government always sounds like a great idea until you realize that we are going to end up paying for it one way or another.

Unfortunately, that little detail isn’t stopping potential Democratic presidential candidates such as Mark Zuckerberg from “exploring” the idea.  And actually, it is being reported that Hillary Clinton almost made a “universal basic income” part of her platform in 2016

In her new book “What Happened,” and in a recent subsequent interview with Vox Editor-in-Chief Ezra Klein, Clinton explains how she seriously considered including a version of universal basic income — a radical solution to poverty, currently being tested in cities and countries around the world — as one of her platforms in the 2016 US presidential election.

The platform would have been called “Alaska for America,” in homage to the state’s Permanent Dividend Fund. Every year since 1982, Alaskans have received a yearly check — typically ranging from $1,000 to $2,000 — as a kickback from the pot of money that has been set aside in case oil reserves dry up.

If the left is ever able to get this implemented, do you think that we will ever be able to take it away?

Over time, government just keeps getting bigger and bigger and so does our national debt.  In fact, we just hit a major milestone in that regard.  According to CNS News, we just surpassed the 20 trillion dollar mark for the first time ever…

The federal debt officially surpassed $20 trillion for the first time on Friday, as the debt subject to the legal limit set by Congress jumped $317,645,000,000 in one day–following President Donald Trump’s signing of a spending-and-debt-limit deal that will fund the government through Dec. 8.

If the left wants a “universal basic income”, they are going to have to get the money from somewhere.  Our budget deficit is already larger “than the entire GDP of Argentina”, and hard working Americans are already being taxed to death.

The truth is that the money simply isn’t there.  As it is, we need to dramatically cut back our borrowing because the path that we are currently on leads to national suicide.  Just consider the following numbers

Here’s the problem: the national debt is growing MUCH faster than the US economy. In Fiscal Year 2016, for example, the debt grew by 7.84%.

Yet even when including the ‘benefits’ of inflation, the US economy only grew by 2.4% over the same period.

This is not even close to the realm of being sustainable.  We are steamrolling toward an inevitable financial collapse, and yet most Americans don’t seem to care.

And thanks to our rapidly aging population, our entitlement spending is set to absolutely explode in coming years.  The following comes from David Stockman

The Federal spending machine is almost entirely on autopilot and heading for disaster owing to ballooning populations and debt. Ten years from now the combined cost of mandatory programs and debt service will reach $5.12 trillion compared to just $2.87 trillion during FY 2018.

Entitlement spending will be nearly double — even if Congress took a 10-year recess!

As shown below, that means the Federal spending share of GDP is now inexorably climbing toward 30% owing to baby boom retirements, even as revenue under current law is stuck at about 18% of GDP. The CBO’s latest projection of the widening fiscal gap — soon more than 10% of GDP annually — leaves nothing to the imagination.

There is no such thing as “free money”.  In the end, we all have to pay for any “free stuff” that the government gives out.

But the “free stuff army” is going to continue to demand more free stuff from the government, and the Democrats are going to be more than happy to give it to them.

To many of you this may sound like complete and utter insanity, but the truth is that the path that we are already on is completely insane as well.  If we don’t find a way to right the ship, it is just a matter of time before it goes under, and anyone that tries to tell you otherwise is not being straight with you.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.