This is exactly what we have been expecting to happen. On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that the U.S. economy only added 38,000 jobs in May. This was way below the 158,000 jobs that analysts were projecting, and it is also way below what is needed just to keep up with population growth. In addition, the number of jobs created in April was revised down by 37,000 and the number of jobs created in March was revised down by 22,000. This was the worst jobs report in almost six years, and the consensus on Wall Street is that it was an unmitigated disaster.
The funny thing is that the Obama administration says that the unemployment rate actually went down last month. Almost every month since Obama has been in the White House, large numbers of Americans that have been unemployed for a very long time are shifted from the “unemployment” category to the “not in the labor force” category. This has resulted in a steadily falling “unemployment rate” even though the percentage of the population that is actually working has not changed very much at all since the depths of the last recession.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics claims that the number of Americans “not in the labor force” increased by 664,000 from April to May. If you believe that, I have a giant bridge on the west coast that I would like to sell you. The labor force participation rate is now down to 62.6, and it is hovering just above a 38 year low.
When you add the number of working age Americans that are “officially unemployed” (7.4 million) to the number of working age Americans that are considered to be “not in the labor force” (an all-time record high of 94.7 million), you get a grand total of 102.1 million working age Americans that do not have a job right now.
This is not a game.
So far in 2016, three members of my own extended family have lost their jobs.
According to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, layoffs at major firms are running 24 percent higher up to this point in 2016 than they were during the same time period in 2015.
It was only a matter of time before those layoffs started showing up in the official employment numbers, and I fully expect that this trend will accelerate in the months ahead.
And here are some other brand new numbers for you to consider…
-Since Barack Obama entered the White House, 14,179,000 Americans have “left the labor force” according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
-The quality of our jobs continues to deteriorate. In May, 59,000 full-time jobs were lost, but 118,000 part-time jobs were gained.
-Since September 2014, 207,000 mining jobs have been lost.
-We just learned that U.S. factory orders have declined once again. This marks the 18th month in a row that this has taken place, and we have never seen such an extended decline outside of a major recession.
-JPMorgan’s “recession indicators” have just soared to the highest level that we have seen since the last recession.
Needless to say, the financial community is pretty horrified by all of this news. They were expecting a much better jobs report, and many of them are not hiding their disappointment. Here is one example from the Wall Street Journal…
“This was an unqualified dud of a jobs report,” said Curt Long, chief economist at the National Association of Federal Credit Unions, noting “the unemployment rate fell, but for the wrong reason as labor force participation declined for the second consecutive month.”
And here is another example that comes from David Donabedian, the chief investment officer at Atlantic Trust Wealth Management…
“We can’t find a positive nugget in today’s job report. If we were looking for signs of strength in this report, there is nothing to hang onto here.”
But of course the mainstream media is doing their best to put a positive spin on these numbers. For instance, CNN just published a laughable article entitled “America’s economy is stronger than weak jobs report“.
And the White House insists that this new employment report really isn’t that big of a deal…
The White House doesn’t get “too disappointed” over the number of unemployed and underemployed Americans.
“I’ve been reacting to jobs numbers here at the White House for more than seven years, and what is true today has been true in the past, which is, we don’t get too excited when jobs numbers are better than expected and we don’t get too disappointed when jobs numbers one-month are lower than expected,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told CNBC.
But of course the truth is that it is a really big deal. We just received major confirmation that the U.S. economy has slipped into recession mode.
For months, I have been writing about how virtually every other indicator has been screaming that a new economic crisis had already begun.
But the employment numbers had remained fairly decent up until now. Employment is typically considered to be a “lagging indicator”, which means that it isn’t one of the first places we would expect to see signs of a recession show up. However, it is inevitable that the official unemployment numbers will reflect an economic downturn eventually, and that is what we are starting to see now.
What this means is that you probably have even less time to get prepared for what is ahead than you may have originally thought.
The U.S. economy has already entered the early chapters of the next great economic crisis, and most of the population is going to be caught totally off guard and will suffer tremendously.
If our leaders had made better decisions since the last crisis, things could have turned out differently. But instead, they continued to conduct business as usual, and now we will reap what they have sown.
*About the author: Michael Snyder is the founder and publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog. Michael’s controversial new book about Bible prophecy entitled “The Rapture Verdict” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.*
What you are about to see is more evidence that the growth of poverty in the United States is wildly out of control. It turns out that there is a tremendous amount of suffering in “the wealthiest nation on the planet”, and it is getting worse with each passing year. During this election season, politicians of all stripes are running around telling all of us how great we are, but is that really true? As you will see below, poverty is reaching unprecedented levels in this country, and the middle class is steadily dying. There aren’t enough good jobs to go around, dependence on the government has never been greater, and it is our children that are being hit the hardest. If we have this many people living on the edge of despair now, while times are “good”, what are things going to look like when our economy really starts falling apart? The following are 21 facts about the explosive growth of poverty in America that will blow your mind…
#1 The U.S. Census Bureau says that nearly 47 million Americans are living in poverty right now.
#2 Other numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau are also very disturbing. For example, in 2007 about one out of every eight children in America was on food stamps. Today, that number is one out of every five.
#3 According to Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer, the authors of a new book entitled “$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America“, there are 1.5 million “ultrapoor” households in the United States that live on less than two dollars a day. That number has doubled since 1996.
#4 46 million Americans use food banks each year, and lines start forming at some U.S. food banks as early as 6:30 in the morning because people want to get something before the food supplies run out.
#5 The number of homeless children in the U.S. has increased by 60 percent over the past six years.
#6 According to Poverty USA, 1.6 million American children slept in a homeless shelter or some other form of emergency housing last year.
#7 Police in New York City have identified 80 separate homeless encampments in the city, and the homeless crisis there has gotten so bad that it is being described as an “epidemic”.
#8 If you can believe it, more than half of all students in our public schools are poor enough to qualify for school lunch subsidies.
#9 According to a Census Bureau report that was released a while back, 65 percent of all children in the U.S. are living in a home that receives some form of aid from the federal government.
#10 According to a report that was published by UNICEF, almost one-third of all children in this country “live in households with an income below 60 percent of the national median income”.
#11 When it comes to child poverty, the United States ranks 36th out of the 41 “wealthy nations” that UNICEF looked at.
#12 The number of Americans that are living in concentrated areas of high poverty has doubled since the year 2000.
#13 An astounding 45 percent of all African-American children in the United States live in areas of “concentrated poverty”.
#14 40.9 percent of all children in the United States that are being raised by a single parent are living in poverty.
#15 An astounding 48.8 percent of all 25-year-old Americans still live at home with their parents.
#16 There are simply not enough good jobs to go around anymore. It may be hard to believe, but 51 percent of all American workers make less than $30,000 a year.
#17 There are 7.9 million working age Americans that are “officially unemployed” right now and another 94.7 million working age Americans that are considered to be “not in the labor force”. When you add those two numbers together, you get a grand total of 102.6 million working age Americans that do not have a job right now.
#18 Owning a home has traditionally been a signal that you belong to the middle class. That is why it is so alarming that the rate of homeownership in the United States has been falling for eight years in a row.
#19 According to a recent Pew survey, approximately 70 percent of all Americans believe that “debt is a necessity in their lives”.
#20 At this point, 25 percent of all Americans have a negative net worth. That means that the value of what they owe is greater than the value of everything that they own.
#21 The top 0.1 percent of all American families have about as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent of all American families combined.
If we truly are “the greatest nation on the planet”, then why can’t we even take care of our own people?
Why are there tens of millions of us living in poverty?
Perhaps we really aren’t so great after all.
It would be one thing if economic conditions were getting better and poverty was in decline. At least then we could be talking about the improvement we were making. But despite the fact that we are stealing more than a hundred million dollars from future generations of Americans every single hour of every single day, poverty just continues to grow like an aggressive form of cancer.
So what is wrong?
Why can’t we get this thing fixed?
Tell us what you think we should do as a nation to solve this problem by posting a comment below…
The most savage group of Islamic terrorists that any of us have ever seen has taken over large portions of Iraq, Syria and Libya. As they go along, they are gleefully beheading, crucifying and torching innocent civilians. They believe that they are living in the end times, and that they are part of a great Islamic army that will defeat “the forces of Rome” and bring about a glorious new age during which Islam rules the entire planet. But Barack Obama and his minions absolutely refuse to use the words “Islam” or “Muslim” when discussing ISIS. Instead, as you will see below, the Obama administration insists that the reason that ISIS exists is because of a lack of “job opportunities” in that area of the world. If we could just find enough good jobs for the terrorists, apparently the entire problem of Islamic terror would just fade away according to them. This kind of twisted politically correct thinking is going to be one of the things that leads to the downfall of this country. Tens of thousands of crazed maniacs are not setting people on fire and beheading innocent civilians because they can’t find gainful employment. Rather, the truth is that these radicals are obsessed with an apocalyptic version of Islam which dominates every moment of their lives. If we deny why they are doing what they are doing because it does not fit with our view of how the world is supposed to work, then we are never going to have any hope of defeating this evil. And without a doubt, ISIS is evil.
On Monday night, State Department Spokesperson Marie Harf appeared on the Chris Matthews Show. What she had to say about the current situation in the Middle East during that television appearance shows how completely and utterly clueless the Obama administration is when it comes to ISIS…
“We’re killing a lot of them and we’re going to keep killing more of them,” Harf said. “So are the Egyptians, so are the Jordanians. They’re in this fight with us. But we cannot win this war by killing them. We cannot kill our way out of this war. We need in the medium to longer term to go after the root causes that leads people to join these groups, whether it’s lack of opportunity for jobs… We can work with countries around the world to help improve their governance. We can help them build their economies so they can have job opportunities for these people.”
That is the best that our government can come up with?
What in the world is happening to this country?
These are religiously motivated killers that are absolutely obsessed with their Islamic beliefs. To suggest otherwise is utter insanity. But the White House has become so politically correct that it will not even use the words “Islam” or “Muslim” when talking about ISIS…
On the eve of a White House summit on “countering violent extremism” that has already drawn complaints from some Muslim groups, the administration in its response to the beheading of 21 Egyptian Copts has not mentioned the religious affiliation of either the killers or victims.
Absent from a 192-word statement from White House press secretary Josh Earnest condemning the brutal killings were the words “Christian,” “Coptic,” “Islam” or “Muslim.”
There was a single reference to “faith” – “ISIL’s barbarity knows no bounds. It is unconstrained by faith, sect, or ethnicity.”
These terrorists truly do seem to take great joy in slaughtering people. For example, just today we learned that ISIS burned 45 people to death in one small Iraqi town…
Militants from Islamic State have burned 45 people to death in the western Iraqi town of al-Baghdadi, according to the local police chief.
Col Qasim al-Obeidi said the motive was unknown but he believed some of the victims were members of the security forces.
He has pleaded for help from the government and international community and said the compound, which houses the families of security personnel and local officials, was now under attack.
It follows the capture of al-Baghdadi, near Ain al-Asad air base, by ISIS fighters last week.
With each passing day, ISIS grows even stronger and gains more ground.
In fact, the amount of territory that ISIS controls in Syria has doubled since the beginning of the airstrikes against them.
If ISIS continues to grow, someday they will conduct operations inside the United States. And when they do, there will be no limits. If they had the opportunity, they would kill virtually every man, woman and child in this nation. That is how insane they are.
In order to understand ISIS, you have to understand what motivates them. The following is an excerpt from a recent CNS News article…
In The Atlantic magazine for March 2015, reporter Grame Wood wrote an extensive article on the Islamic State and noted, “The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam.”
“Virtually every major decision and law promulgated by the Islamic State adheres to what it calls, in its press and pronouncements, and on its billboards, license plates, stationery, and coins, ‘the Prophetic methodology,’ which means following the prophecy and example of Muhammad, in punctilious detail,” said Wood.
In addition, as I noted above, the followers of ISIS consider themselves to be part of an end times Islamic army that will win the final battle against the forces that oppose Islam. ISIS is publishing a magazine named “Dabiq” that describes their apocalyptic worldview very clearly…
The name of the Dabiq magazine itself helps us understand ISIS’ worldview. The Syrian town of Dabiq is where the Prophet Mohammed is supposed to have predicted that the armies of Islam and “Rome” would meet for the final battle that will precede the end of time and the triumph of true Islam.
In the recent issue of Dabiq it states: “As the world progresses towards al-Malhamah al-Kubrā, (‘the Great Battle’ to be held at Dabiq) the option to stand on the sidelines as a mere observer is being lost.” In other words, in its logic, you are either on the side of ISIS or you are on the side of the Crusaders and infidels.
So how do you defeat such an enemy?
Needless to say, giving them “good jobs” is not going to solve anything.
Meanwhile, even though large amounts of the weapons that we have airdropped to the “Syrian rebels” have repeatedly fallen into the hands of ISIS, the Obama administration plans to send the Syrian rebels even more weapons. In addition, he wants to give the “Syrian rebels” the ability to call in U.S. airstrikes…
The Obama administration is preparing to equip the so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels with the ability to order U.S. air strikes despite the group’s admitted allegiance to the Islamic State.
The rebel groups will be provided with radios to call in strikes from American B-1B bombers as well as pickup trucks with mounted machine guns as the president puts the final touches on plans to train as many as 3,000 rebels in Jordan and Turkey by the end of 2015.
The planes will reportedly use similar munitions to those seen in Afghanistan, targeting anything from small vehicles to tanks with 500 and 2,000-pound guided bombs.
Aside from the Toyota Hi-Lux trucks, multiple groups of rebels will also be given mortars and possibly antitank weapons as well.
When I first read that the Obama administration wants to give the “Syrian rebels” the ability to order U.S. air strikes, I was absolutely dumbfounded.
How could anyone be so stupid?
When it comes to dealing with ISIS, it seems like Obama is almost constantly making the wrong moves.
In the end, our nation could pay a great price for his foolishness.
So what do you think about all of this? Please feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment below…
Did you know that the rate of homeownership in the United States has fallen to a 20 year low? Did you know that it has been falling consistently for an entire decade? For the past couple of years, the economic optimists have been telling us that the economy has been getting better. Well, if the economy really has been getting better, why does the homeownership rate keep going down? Yes, the ultra-wealthy have received a temporary financial windfall thanks to the reckless money printing the Federal Reserve has been doing, but for most Americans economic conditions have not been improving. This is clearly demonstrated by the housing chart that I am about to share with you. If the economy really was healthy, more people would be getting good jobs and thus would be able to buy homes. But instead, the homeownership rate has continued to plummet throughout the entire “Obama recovery”. I think that this chart speaks for itself…
Of course this homeownership collapse began well before Barack Obama entered the White House. Our economic problems are the result of decades of incredibly bad decisions. But anyone that believes that things have “turned around” for the middle class under Barack Obama is just being delusional.
If the U.S. economy truly was in “good shape”, the percentage of Americans that own homes would not be at a 20 year low…
The U.S. homeownership rate fell to the lowest in more than two decades in the fourth quarter as many would-be buyers stayed on the sidelines, giving the rental market a boost.
The share of Americans who own their homes was 64 percent in the fourth quarter, down from 64.4 percent in the previous three months, the Census Bureau said in a report. The rate was at the lowest since the second quarter of 1994, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
Rising prices and a tight supply of lower-end listings have put homes out of reach for some entry-level buyers, who also face strict mortgage standards. The share of U.S. homebuyers making their first purchase dropped in 2014 to the lowest level in almost three decades, the National Association of Realtors reported last week.
And it appears that this trend is actually accelerating. During 2014, the rate of homeownership plummeted by a total of 1.2 percentage points for the year. That was the largest one year decline that has ever been measured.
So why is this happening?
Well, in order to buy a home you have got to have a good job, and good jobs are in very short supply these days.
Over the past decade, the quality of the jobs in our economy has steadily declined as good jobs have been replaced by low paying jobs. In addition, government policies are absolutely murdering small business. At this point, small business ownership in the U.S. is hovering near record lows.
This has resulted in millions of people falling out of the middle class, and it has contributed to the growing divide between the wealthy and the rest of the country.
If our economy was working the way that it should, the middle class would be thriving.
But instead, it is being systematically destroyed. If you doubt this, I have some statistics that I would like to share with you. The following facts come from my previous article entitled “The Death Of The American Dream In 22 Numbers“…
#1 The Obama administration tells us that 8.69 million Americans are “officially unemployed” and that 92.90 million Americans are considered to be “not in the labor force”. That means that more than 101 million U.S. adults do not have a job right now.
#2 One recent survey discovered that 55 percent of Americans believe that the American Dream either never existed or that it no longer exists.
#3 Considering the fact that Obama is in the White House, it is somewhat surprising that 55 percent of all Republicans still believe in the American Dream, but only 33 percent of all Democrats do.
#4 After adjusting for inflation, median household income has fallen by nearly $5,000 since 2007.
#5 After adjusting for inflation, “the median wealth figure for middle-income families” fell from $78,000 in 1983 to $63,800 in 2013.
#6 At this point, 59 percent of Americans believe that “the American dream has become impossible for most people to achieve”.
You can read the rest of that article right here.
The group that has been hit the hardest by all of this has been young adults.
Back in 2005, the homeownership rate for households headed up by someone under the age of 35 was approximately 43 percent.
Today, it has declined to about 35 percent.
From a very early age, we push our young people to go to college, and today more of them are getting secondary education than ever before.
But when they leave school, the “good jobs” that we promised them are often not there, and most of them end up entering the “real world” already loaded down with massive amounts of debt.
According to the Pew Research Center, close to four out of every ten households that are led by someone under the age of 40 are currently paying off student loan debt.
It is hard to believe, but total student loan debt in this country is now actually higher than total credit card debt. At this point, student loan debt has reached a grand total of 1.2 trillion dollars, and that number has grown by an astounding 84 percent just since 2008.
If you are already burdened with tens of thousands (or in some cases hundreds of thousands) of dollars of debt when you get out of school and you can’t find a decent job, there is no way that you are going to be able to afford to buy a house.
So we have millions upon millions of young people that should be buying homes and starting families that are living with their parents instead.
Back in 1968, well over 50 percent of all Americans in the 18 to 31-year-old age bracket were already married and living on their own.
But today, that number is actually below 25 percent. Instead, approximately 31 percent of all U.S. adults in the 18 to 34-year-old age bracket are currently living with their parents.
Something has fundamentally gone wrong.
Our economy is broken, and anyone that cannot see this is just being foolish.
So what is the solution?
Please feel free to share what you think by posting a comment below…
Are much lower oil prices good news for the U.S. economy? Only if you like collapsing capital expenditures, rising unemployment and a potential financial implosion on Wall Street. Yes, lower gasoline prices are good news for the middle class. I certainly would rather pay two dollars for a gallon of gas than four dollars. But in order to have money to fill up your vehicle you have got to have an income first. And since the last recession, the energy sector has been the number one creator of good jobs in the U.S. economy by far. Barack Obama loves to stand up and take credit for the fact that the employment picture in this country has been improving slightly, but without the energy industry boom, unemployment would be through the roof. And now that the “energy boom” is rapidly becoming an “energy bust”, what will happen to the struggling U.S. economy as we head into 2015?
At the start of this article I mentioned that much lower oil prices would result in “collapsing capital expenditures”.
If you do not know what a “capital expenditure” is, the following is a definition that comes from Investopedia…
“Funds used by a company to acquire or upgrade physical assets such as property, industrial buildings or equipment. This type of outlay is made by companies to maintain or increase the scope of their operations. These expenditures can include everything from repairing a roof to building a brand new factory.”
Needless to say, this kind of spending is very good for an economy. It builds infrastructure, it creates jobs and it is an investment in the future.
In recent years, energy companies have been pouring massive amounts of money into capital expenditures. In fact, the energy sector currently accounts for about a third of all capital expenditures in the United States according to Deutsche Bank…
US private investment spending is usually ~15% of US GDP or $2.8trn now. This investment consists of $1.6trn spent annually on equipment and software, $700bn on non-residential construction and a bit over $500bn on residential. Equipment and software is 35% technology and communications, 25-30% is industrial equipment for energy, utilities and agriculture, 15% is transportation equipment, with remaining 20-25% related to other industries or intangibles. Non-residential construction is 20% oil and gas producing structures and 30% is energy related in total. We estimate global investment spending is 20% of S&P EPS or 12% from US. The Energy sector is responsible for a third of S&P 500 capex.
These companies make these investments because they believe that there are big profits to be made.
Unfortunately, when the price of oil crashes those investments become unprofitable and capital expenditures start getting slashed almost immediately.
For example, the budget for 2015 at ConocoPhillips has already been reduced by 20 percent…
ConocoPhillips is one of the bigger shale players. And its decision to slash its budget for next year by 20% is raising eyebrows. The company said the new target reflects lower spending on major projects as well as “unconventional plays.” Despite the expectation that others will follow, it doesn’t mean U.S. shale oil production is dead. Just don’t expect a surge in spending like in recent years.
And Reuters is reporting that the number of new well permits for the industry as a whole plunged by an astounding 40 percent during the month of November…
Plunging oil prices sparked a drop of almost 40 percent in new well permits issued across the United States in November, in a sudden pause in the growth of the U.S. shale oil and gas boom that started around 2007.
Data provided exclusively to Reuters on Tuesday by industry data firm Drilling Info Inc showed 4,520 new well permits were approved last month, down from 7,227 in October.
If the price of oil stays this low or continues dropping, this is just the beginning.
Meanwhile, the flow of good jobs that this industry has been producing is also likely to start drying up.
According to the Perryman Group, the energy sector currently supports 9.3 million permanent jobs in this country…
According to a new study, investments in oil and gas exploration and production generate substantial economic gains, as well as other benefits such as increased energy independence. The Perryman Group estimates that the industry as a whole generates an economic stimulus of almost $1.2 trillion in gross product each year, as well as more than 9.3 million permanent jobs across the nation.
The ripple effects are everywhere. If you think about the role of oil in your life, it is not only the primary source of many of our fuels, but is also critical to our lubricants, chemicals, synthetic fibers, pharmaceuticals, plastics, and many other items we come into contact with every day. The industry supports almost 1.3 million jobs in manufacturing alone and is responsible for almost $1.2 trillion in annual gross domestic product. If you think about the law, accounting, and engineering firms that serve the industry, the pipe, drilling equipment, and other manufactured goods that it requires, and the large payrolls and their effects on consumer spending, you will begin to get a picture of the enormity of the industry.
And these are good paying jobs. They aren’t eight dollar part-time jobs down at your local big box retailer. These are jobs that comfortably support middle class families. These are precisely the kinds of jobs that we cannot afford to lose.
In recent years, there has been a noticeable economic difference between areas of the country where energy is being produced and where energy is not being produced.
Since December 2007, a total of 1.36 million jobs have been gained in shale oil states.
Meanwhile, a total of 424,000 jobs have been lost in non-shale oil states.
So what happens now that the shale oil boom is turning into a bust?
That is a very good question.
Even more ominous is what an oil price collapse could mean for our financial system.
The last time the price of oil declined by more than 40 dollars in less than six months, there was a financial meltdown on Wall Street and we experienced the deepest recession that we have seen since the days of the Great Depression.
And now many fear that this collapse in the price of oil could trigger another financial panic.
According to Citigroup, the energy sector now accounts for 17 percent of the high yield bond market.
J.P. Morgan says that it is actually 18 percent.
In any event, the reality of the matter is that the health of these “junk bonds” is absolutely critical to our financial system. And according to Deutsche Bank, if these bonds start defaulting it could “trigger a broader high-yield market default cycle”…
Based on recent stress tests of subprime borrowers in the energy sector in the US produced by Deutsche Bank, should the price of US crude fall by a further 20pc to $60 per barrel, it could result in up to a 30pc default rate among B and CCC rated high-yield US borrowers in the industry. West Texas Intermediate crude is currently trading at multi-year lows of around $75 per barrel, down from $107 per barrel in June.
“A shock of that magnitude could be sufficient to trigger a broader high-yield market default cycle, if materialized,” warn Deutsche strategists Oleg Melentyev and Daniel Sorid in their report.
If the price of oil stays at this level or continues to go down, it is inevitable that we will start to see some of these junk bonds go bad.
In fact, one Motley Fool article recently stated that one industry analyst believes that up to 40 percent of all energy junk bonds could eventually go into default…
The junk bonds, or noninvestment-rated bonds, of energy companies are also beginning to see heavy selling as investors start to worry that drillers could one day default on these bonds. Those defaults could get so bad, according to one analyst, that up to 40% of all energy junk bonds go into default over the next few years if oil prices don’t recover.
That would be a total nightmare for Wall Street.
And of course bond defaults would only be part of the equation. As I wrote about the other day, a crash in junk bonds is almost always followed by a significant stock market correction.
In addition, plunging oil prices could end up absolutely destroying the banks that are holding enormous amounts of energy derivatives. This is something that I recently covered in this article and this article.
As you read this, there are five “too big to fail” banks that each have more than 40 trillion dollars in exposure to derivatives. Of course only a small fraction of that total exposure is made up of energy derivatives, but a small fraction of 40 trillion dollars is still a massive amount of money.
These derivatives trades are largely unregulated, and even Forbes admits that they are likely to be at the heart of the coming financial collapse…
No one understands the derivative risk positions of the Too Big To Fail Banks, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs or Morgan Stanley. There is presently no way to measure the risks involved in the leverage, quantity of collateral, or stability of counter-parties for these major institutions. To me personally they are big black holes capable of potential wrack and ruin. Without access to confidential internal data about these risky derivative positions the regulators cannot react in a timely and measured fashion to block the threat to financial stability, according to a National Bureau of Economic Research study.
So do we have any hope?
Yes, if oil prices start going back up, much of what you just read about can be averted.
Unfortunately, that does not seem likely any time soon. Even though U.S. energy companies are cutting back on capital expenditures, most of them are still actually projecting an increase in production for 2015. Here is one example from Bloomberg…
Continental, the biggest holder of drilling rights in the Bakken, last month said 2015 output will grow between 23 percent and 29 percent even after shelving plans to allocate more money to exploration.
Higher levels of production will just drive the price of oil even lower.
At this point, Morgan Stanley is saying that the price of oil could plummet as low as $43 a barrel next year.
If that happens, it would be absolutely catastrophic to the most important industry in the United States.
In turn, that would be absolutely catastrophic for the economy as a whole.
So don’t let anyone tell you that much lower oil prices are “good” for the economy.
That is just a bunch of nonsense.
If you are fortunate enough to have a job in America today, the phrase “just over broke” probably describes you. Yes, there are a handful of jobs that certainly pay very well, but most Americans that work for somebody else are just barely making it from month to month. More than half of all working Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, and more than half of all working Americans make less than $30,000 a year. That is an amazing statistic but it is actually true. Once upon a time, anyone that was responsible and that was willing to work hard could get a good job in America. But now those days are long gone. Instead, we live at a time when good jobs are disappearing and when the middle class is getting smaller with each passing year. In some homes, the husband and the wife are both working multiple jobs and they can still barely pay their bills. Something has gone horribly wrong, and yet our leaders just keep telling us how wonderful our economy is.
One of the biggest things that has killed jobs in this country is the fact that the U.S. economy has been steadily merged into the emerging one world economic system over the past several decades. They call it “free trade”, but they never told us that we would be merged into a single global labor pool where we would be competing directly for jobs with workers on the other side of the planet that live in nations where it is legal to pay slave labor wages.
According to Gallup, only about 1.3 billion people around the world work full-time for an employer at this point.
But overall there are more than 7 billion people.
That means that there are a whole lot of really poor, really desperate people that need to be employed.
This has been wonderful for the big corporations. They can just take jobs away from American workers and give them to people who are willing to work for less than a tenth of what an American worker would make. This has resulted in the systematic deindustrialization of the United States and horrific decline in dozens of formerly great manufacturing cities.
At the same time, we have also been losing millions of middle class jobs to technology. At this point, robots are even starting to replace warehouse workers and fast food employees. As robots become even more advanced and become even cheaper to produce, there will be less jobs available for the rest of us.
And what happens when robots can do everything better than us?
Because there are fewer middle class jobs available, the competition for the remaining jobs has become incredibly intense. In recent years, millions of Americans have been forced to take just about anything that they can get. For those Americans, “just over broke” has become “just trying to survive” as they scratch and claw their way through life.
A recent CNBC article profiled one such individual. His name is Ken Bowman, and his job at a guitar shop just barely enables him to pay his rent and feed himself…
Ken Bowman joins the line for a free lunch in the Youngstown Salvation Army canteen, just like he does every Friday.
Looking younger than his 21 years, his hair dyed jet black and wearing big, battered boots, Bowman plays heavy metal on his cell phone. He chooses a seat at the end of a table and sits hunched over his tray, his blues eyes furtively sweeping the room. The others sit in packs, regulars who’ve formed lunchtime friendships over their burnt coffee and peppered corn, discussing the jobs they once had and the government benefits they no longer get.
Bowman is sensitive to the stigma of accepting handouts like lunch. “[It] doesn’t mean you’re homeless or poor, people have standards but they struggle,” he said, his chin jutting out, his eyes glowering.
After paying his rent, Bowman says his job in a guitar shop leaves him with $50 a month to live on — if he can get shifts. He is one of America’s “underemployed,” a group of as many as 11 million Americans struggling to survive in society’s shadows on wages that put them below the federal poverty line.
There are millions of others out there just like Bowman. In fact, as I mentioned in a previous article, one out of every four part-time workers in America is living below the poverty line. The “working poor” is a phrase that describes a very large segment of the U.S. population today.
And the cold, hard truth of the matter is that most of the country is steadily getting poorer. According to a study recently discussed in the New York Times, the “typical American household” is now worth 36 percent less than it was worth a decade ago. That is a staggering decline in just ten years.
Meanwhile, the cost of living continues to rise. This is something that I have discussed repeatedly, but sometimes a picture can say things far better than any words can.
The photo posted below has been floating around on Twitter. It is of a McDonald’s menu from the 1960s. As you can see, prices have gone up a little bit since then…
Most people think that I am crazy when I tell them that I can remember a cup of coffee being sold for a quarter when I was young. But it is true. Over the long-term, our purchasing power has been systematically destroyed by the insane polices of the Federal Reserve.
Sadly, most Americans don’t understand any of this. They just trust that our leaders actually know what they are doing. Meanwhile, they just keep on struggling to survive in an economic system that is stacked against them.
According to one recent study, 40 percent of all households in the United States are experiencing financial stress right now and the homeownership rate for Americans under the age of 35 is at an all-time low.
In the old days, if you got your education, worked hard and did all the right things, it was just about an automatic ticket to the middle class.
Today it doesn’t work like that.
Instead, more Americans than ever are being forced to become dependent on the government. If you can believe it, Americans received more than 2 trillion dollars in benefits from the federal government last year alone.
So it astounds me whenever I hear anyone say that the economy is in “good shape”.
How can it be in “good shape” when one out of every three adults in the United States has an unpaid debt that is “in collections” and there are 49 million Americans that are dealing with food insecurity?
The truth is that we are in the midst of a long-term economic decline that is the result of decades of incredibly foolish decisions.
Until the American people start understanding what has happened to us, they are never going to demand real change that actually accomplishes something.
The level of employment in the United States has been declining since the year 2000. There have been moments when things have appeared to have been getting better for a short period of time, and then the decline has resumed. Thanks to the offshoring of millions of jobs, the replacement of millions of workers with technology and the overall weakness of the U.S. economy, the percentage of Americans that are actually working is significantly lower than it was when this century began. And even though things have stabilized at a reduced level over the past few years, it is only a matter of time until the next major wave of the economic collapse strikes and the employment level goes even lower. And the truth is that more good jobs are being lost every single day in America. For example, as you will read about below, Warren Buffett is shutting down a Fruit of the Loom factory in Kentucky and moving it to Honduras just so that he can make a little bit more money. We see this kind of betrayal over and over again, and it is absolutely ripping the middle class of America to shreds.
Below I have posted a chart that you never hear any of our politicians talk about. It is a chart that shows how the percentage of working age Americans with a job has steadily declined since the turn of the century. Just before the last recession, we were sitting at about 63 percent, but now we have been below 59 percent since the end of 2009…
We should be thankful that things have stabilized at this lower level for the past few years.
At least things have not been getting worse.
But anyone that believes that “things have returned to normal” is just being delusional.
And nothing is being done about the long-term trends that are absolutely crippling our economy. One of those trends is the offshoring of middle class jobs. As I mentioned above, Fruit of the Loom (which is essentially owned by Warren Buffett) has made the decision to close their factory in Jamestown, Kentucky and lay off all the workers at that factory by the end of 2014…
Clothing company Fruit of the Loom announced Thursday that it will permanently close its plant in Jamestown and lay off all 600 employees by the end of the year.
The Jamestown plant is the last Fruit of the Loom plant in a state where the company had once been a manufacturing titan second only to General Electric.
This isn’t being done because Fruit of the Loom is going out of business. They are still going to be making t-shirts and underwear. They are just going to be making them in Honduras from now on…
The company, owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway but headquartered in Bowling Green, said the move is “part of the company’s ongoing efforts to align its global supply chain” and will allow the company to better use its existing investments to provide products cheaper and faster.
The company said it is moving the plant’s textile operations to Honduras to save money.
So what are those workers supposed to do?
Go on welfare?
The number of Americans that are dependent on the government is already at an all-time record high.
And doesn’t Warren Buffett already have enough money?
In business school, they teach you that the sole responsibility of a corporation is to maximize wealth for the shareholders.
And so when business students get out into “the real world”, that is how they behave.
But the truth is that corporations have a responsibility to treat their workers, their customers and the communities in which they operate well. This responsibility exists whether corporate executives want to admit it or not.
And we all have a responsibility to our fellow citizens. When we stand aside and do nothing as millions of good paying American jobs are shipped overseas so that the “one world economic agenda” can be advanced and so that men like Warren Buffett can stuff their pockets just a little bit more, we are failing our fellow countrymen.
Because so many of us have fallen for the lie that “globalism is good”, we have allowed our once great manufacturing cities to crumble and die. Just consider what is happening to Detroit. It was once the greatest manufacturing city in the history of the planet, but now foreign newspapers publish stories about what a horror show that it has become…
Khalil Ligon couldn’t tell if the robbers were in her house. She had just returned home to find her front window smashed and a brick lying among shattered glass on the floor. Ligon, an urban planner who lives alone on Detroit’s east side, stepped out and called the police.
It wasn’t the first time Ligon’s home had been broken into, she told me. And when Detroit police officers finally arrived the next day, surveying an area marred by abandoned structures and overgrown vegetation, they asked Ligon a question she often ponders herself: why is she still in Detroit?
Of course this kind of thing is not just happening to Detroit. The truth is that it is happening all over the nation. For example, this article contains an incredible graphic which shows how the middle class of Chicago has steadily disappeared over the past several decades.
Once again, even though we have never had a “recovery”, it is a good thing that things have at least stabilized at a lower level for the past few years.
But now there are all sorts of indications that we are rapidly heading toward yet another economic downturn. The tsunami of retail store closings that is now upon us is just one sign of this. The following is a partial list of retail store closings from a recent article by Daniel Jennings…
- Quiznos has filed for bankruptcy, USA Today reported, and could close many of its 2,100 stores.
- Sbarro which operates pizza and Italian restaurants in malls, is planning to close 155 locations in the United States and Canada. That means nearly 20 percent of Sbarro’s will close. The chain operates around 800 outlets.
- Ruby Tuesday announced plans to close 30 restaurants in January after its sales fell by 7.8 percent. The chain currently operates around 775 steakhouses across the US.
- An unknown number of Red Lobster stores will be sold. The chain is in such bad shape that the parent company, Darden Restaurants Inc., had to issue a press release stating that the chain would not close. Instead Darden is planning to spin Red Lobster off into another company and sell some of its stores.
- Ralph’s, a subsidiary of Kroger, has announced plans to close 15 supermarkets in Southern California within 60 days.
- Safeway closed 72 Dominick’s grocery stores in the Chicago area last year.
And the following are some more signs of trouble for the retail industry from one of my recent articles entitled “20 Facts About The Great U.S. Retail Apocalypse That Will Blow Your Mind“…
#1 As you read this article, approximately a billion square feet of retail space is sitting vacant in the United States.
#2 Last week, Radio Shack announced that it was going to close more than a thousand stores.
#3 Last week, Staples announced that it was going to close 225 stores.
#4 Same-store sales at Office Depot have declined for 13 quarters in a row.
#5 J.C. Penney has been dying for years, and it recently announced plans to close 33 more stores.
#6 J.C. Penney lost 586 million dollars during the second quarter of 2013 alone.
#7 Sears has closed about 300 stores since 2010, and CNN is reporting that Sears is “expected to shutter another 500 Sears and Kmart locations soon”.
#8 Overall, sales numbers have declined at Sears for 27 quarters in a row.
#9 Target has announced that it is going to eliminate 475 jobs and not fill 700 positions that are currently empty.
#10 It is being projected that Aéropostale will close about 175 stores over the next couple of years.
#11 Macy’s has announced that it is going to be closing five stores and eliminating 2,500 jobs.
#12 The Children’s Place has announced that it will be closing down 125 of its “weakest” stores by 2016.
But it isn’t just the retail industry that is deeply troubled.
All over America we are seeing economic weakness.
In this economic environment, it doesn’t matter how smart, how educated or how experienced you are. If you are out of work, it can be extremely difficult to find a new job. Just consider the case of Abe Gorelick…
Abe Gorelick has decades of marketing experience, an extensive contact list, an Ivy League undergraduate degree, a master’s in business from the University of Chicago, ideas about how to reach consumers young and old, experience working with businesses from start-ups to huge financial firms and an upbeat, effervescent way about him. What he does not have — and has not had for the last year — is a full-time job.
Five years since the recession ended, it is a story still shared by millions. Mr. Gorelick, 57, lost his position at a large marketing firm last March. As he searched, taking on freelance and consulting work, his family’s finances slowly frayed. He is now working three jobs, driving a cab and picking up shifts at Lord & Taylor and Whole Foods.
So what does Abe need in order to find a decent job?
No, what he needs is an economy that produces good jobs.
Sadly, the cold, hard reality of the matter is that the U.S. economy will never produce enough jobs for everyone ever again.
The way that America used to work is long gone, and it has been replaced by a cold, heartless environment where the company that you work for could rip your job away from you at a moment’s notice if they decide that it will put a few extra pennies into the pockets of the shareholders.
You may have worked incredibly hard for 30 years and been super loyal to your company.
It doesn’t matter anymore.
All that matters is the bottom line, and in the process the middle class is being destroyed. But by destroying the middle class, those corporations are destroying the consumer base that their corporate empires were built upon in the first place.