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Dying Middle Class: The Number Of Americans That Can’t Afford Their Own Homes Has More Than Doubled

Have you lost your spot in the middle class yet?  For years I have been documenting all of the numbers that show that the middle class in America has been steadily shrinking, and we just got another one.  According to a report that was produced by researchers at Harvard University, the number of Americans that spend more than 30 percent of their incomes on housing has more than doubled.  In 2001, nearly 16 million Americans couldn’t afford the homes that they were currently living in, but by 2015 that figure had jumped to 38 million.

When I write about “economic collapse”, I am writing about a process that has been unfolding for decades in this country.  Back in the early 1970s, well over 60 percent of all Americans were considered to be “middle class”, but now that number has fallen below 50 percent.  Never before in our history has the middle class been a minority of the population, but that is where we are at now, and the middle class continues to get even smaller with each passing day.

So these new numbers saddened me, but they didn’t exactly surprise me.  The following comes from NBC News

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.

Sometimes people try to convince me that the economy is doing “well”, but when I ask them how they are doing personally the news is almost always dreary.  I know so many people that are working for close to minimum wage that used to be solidly in the middle class.

One of the biggest reasons why the middle class is shrinking is because paychecks are staying about the same while the cost of living continues to rise steadily.  Of course one of the biggest factors in the rise of the cost of living is health insurance.

There are many people out there that have seen their health insurance premiums double since Obamacare went into effect.  And one health insurance company actually tried to do this to me and my family too, and so at that time I immediately switched carriers.

But even though virtually every single Republican in Congress campaigned on repealing Obamacare, it doesn’t look like it is going to happen.  In fact, on Sunday Senator John McCain told Face the Nation that the effort to repeal Obamacare is “probably going to be dead”

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said Sunday the Republican bill to repeal and replace Obamacare is “probably going to be dead.”

“My view is that it’s probably going to be dead,” he said on CBS’s Face the Nation.

Support for the bill has been eroding over the July 4th recess, and McCain said he believes Republicans should work with Democrats to craft health care legislation.

As a voter, this greatly frustrates me.  The Republicans got a bill to repeal Obamacare through the House and through the Senate and on to Barack Obama’s desk in early 2016.  So why can’t they get that exact same bill to Donald Trump’s desk now?

We worked really hard to give the Republicans control of the White House, the Senate and the House, and now they are stabbing us in the back once again.

This is just one example of why I intend to be a “wrecking ball” if I get the chance to go to Washington.

We have got to lower health care costs on the middle class.  There is no other option.  Millions of families all over the country are being absolutely suffocated by rising health insurance premiums.  Sometimes I get so frustrated with these RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) that I want to scream.

So many families are living on the edge right now.  Various surveys have discovered that somewhere around two-thirds of the entire nation is living paycheck to paycheck at least part of the time, and one study found that 69 percent of all Americans do not have an adequate emergency fund.

But when you are living on the edge, there is always a danger that you could go over.

Every month, more Americans fall out of the middle class and into poverty.  Even during this so-called “economic recovery”, we are seeing alarming spikes in poverty all over the nation.  For example, the number of homeless people living on the street in New York City has increased by 39 percent over the past year…

Street homelessness in New York increased by 39 percent in 2017, according to the latest annual survey by the Department of Homeless Services.

There were 3,892 homeless and unsheltered people on the night of February 6, 2017, up from 2,794 people at the same time last year, said the report, which is conducted on one night of the year. This is the highest increase since 2005, when Michael Bloomberg was mayor.

And bankruptcies continue to rise as well.  Consumer bankruptcies were up once again last month, and commercial bankruptcies continue their very disturbing climb

Commercial Chapter 11 bankruptcies – an effort to restructure the business, rather than liquidating it – jumped 16% year-over-year in June to 581 filings across the US. Total commercial bankruptcies of all types, by large corporations to tiny sole proprietorships, rose 2% year-over-year to 3,385 filings, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute. This was up 39% from June 2015 and up 18% from June 2014.

Since the end of the last recession, the middle class has continued to get smaller and smaller in this country, and now it appears that another economic downturn is upon us.

Are we just going to stand aside and do nothing as the middle class in America dies?

The Democrats don’t seem to care.

The Republicans don’t seem to care.

If we continue to do the same things that we have been doing, we are going to continue to get the same results.

In other words, unless we start doing things differently the middle class in America is going to continue to be systematically eviscerated.

Wake up America.  The middle class is dying and if we want to save it we have to take action now.

The Next Subprime Crisis Is Here: 12 Signs That A Day Of Reckoning Has Arrived For The U.S. Auto Industry

In 2008, subprime mortgages almost single-handedly took down the entire financial system, and now a new subprime crisis is here.  In recent years, the auto industry has been able to boost sales by aggressively pushing people into auto loans that they cannot afford.  In particular, auto loans made to consumers with subprime credit have been accounting for an increasingly larger percentage of the market.  Unfortunately, when you make loans to people that should not be getting them, eventually a lot of those loans are going to start to go bad, and that is precisely what is happening now.  Meanwhile, automakers and dealers are starting to panic as sales have begun to fall and used car prices have started to crash.  If you work in the auto industry, you might remember how horrible the last recession was, and this new downturn could eventually turn out to be even worse.  The following are 12 signs that a day of reckoning has arrived for the U.S. auto industry…

#1 Seven out of the eight largest automakers in the United States fell short of their sales projections in March.

#2 Overall, U.S. auto sales so far in 2017 have been described as a “disaster” despite record spending on consumer incentives by automakers.

#3 Dealer inventories are now at the highest level that we have seen since the last financial crisis.  Why this is so troubling is because there are a whole lot of unsold vehicles just sitting there doing nothing, and this is becoming a major financial problem for many dealers.

#4 It now takes an average of 74 days before a dealer is able to sell a new vehicle.  This number is also the highest that it has been since the last financial crisis.

#5 Not only is Ford projecting that sales will fall this year, they are also projecting that sales will fall in 2018 as well.

#6 Used vehicle prices are already starting to decline dramatically

The used-vehicle price index from the National Automobile Dealers Association posted a 3.8% decline in February compared to the prior month. NADA also said wholesale prices fell 1.6%.

#7 As I discussed yesterday, Morgan Stanley is projecting that used car prices “could crash by up to 50%” over the next four or five years.

#8 Right now, more than a million Americans are behind on their payments on their auto loans.  This is something that has not happened since the last financial crisis.

#9 In 2017, U.S. consumers are more “underwater” on their auto loans than they have ever been before.

#10 Subprime auto loan losses have soared to their highest level since the last financial crisis, and the delinquency rate on those loans has risen to the highest level that we have seen since the last financial crisis.  By now, I am sure that you are starting to notice a pattern in these data points.

#11 At this moment, approximately $200,000,000,000 has been loaned out by auto lenders to consumers with subprime credit.

#12 Just like with subprime mortgages in the run up to the last financial crisis, subprime auto loans have been bundled together and sold as “securities” to investors.  And just like last time around, this has turned out to be a recipe for disaster

Many auto loans, including those considered subprime, are securitized and sold to investors. But Morgan Stanley recently reported that the share of auto securities tied to “deep subprime” loans – those given to borrowers with a FICO credit score below 550 — has risen from 5.1 percent in 2010 to 32.5 percent today. It said defaults on those bonds have risen significantly in the past five years.

Almost a quarter of the more than $1.1 trillion in U.S. auto loan debt is owed by subprime borrowers, and delinquency rates have hit their highest point in seven years.

In the old days, you could always count on the U.S. auto industry to bounce back eventually because of the economic strength of average U.S. consumers.

Unfortunately, the middle class in America is being systematically hollowed out by long-term economic trends that our leaders in Washington D.C. have consistently ignored.

We have become a nation of economic extremes.  There are more millionaires in this country than ever before, but meanwhile poverty is exploding in communities all over the country.

If you live in a prosperous area, things may be going great where you live for the moment.  But as Gallup has discovered, an all-time record high percentage of Americans are worrying “a great deal” about hunger and homelessness these days…

Over the past two years, an average of 67% of lower-income U.S. adults, up from 51% from 2010-2011, have worried “a great deal” about the problem of hunger and homelessness in the country. Concern has also increased among middle- and upper-income Americans, but they still worry far less than do lower-income Americans.

You may have plenty of money in your bank account, and so for you hunger and homelessness are not very big issues.  But for those that are just scraping by from month to month, having enough food and a place to sleep at night are top priorities.  Here is more from Gallup

Americans at all income levels are expressing greater concern about hunger and homelessness, and it is the top worry among lower-income Americans, who are most likely to struggle to pay for adequate food and housing.

In addition to the woes of the auto industry, the retail industry is going through the worst wave of store closings in modern American history, pension funds are melting down all over the nation, and stocks are primed for a crash of epic proportions.  Things are lining up just right for the kind of scenario that I laid out in The Beginning Of The End, but unfortunately most people are not listening to the warnings.

The same thing happened just before the great financial crisis of 2008.  All of the warning signs were there well in advance, and many of the experts were warning about what was coming as early as 2005.  But because it did not happen immediately, a lot of people greatly mocked the warnings.

But then the fall of 2008 arrived and all of the mockers suddenly went silent.

As you can see from the numbers that I shared above, a new crisis has already arrived.

The only question now is how bad it will ultimately turn out to be.

As always, let us hope for the best, but let us also get prepared for the worst.

Recession 2017? Things Are Happening That Usually Never Happen Unless A New Recession Is Beginning

New Crisis - Public DomainIs the U.S. economy about to get slammed by a major recession?  According to Gallup, U.S. economic confidence has soared to the highest level ever recorded, but meanwhile a whole host of key economic indicators are absolutely screaming that a new recession is beginning.  And if the U.S. economy does officially enter recession territory in 2017, it certainly won’t be a shock, because the truth is that we are well overdue for one.  Donald Trump has inherited quite an economic mess from Barack Obama, and it was probably inevitable that we were headed for a significant economic downturn no matter who won the election.

One of the key indicators to watch is average weekly hours.  When the economy shifts into recession mode, employers tend to start cutting back hours, and that is happening right now.  In fact, as Graham Summers has pointed out, we just witnessed the largest percentage decline in average weekly hours since the recession of 2008…

Average Weekly Hours

In addition to the decline in hours, Summers has suggested that there are a number of other reasons to believe that a new recession is here…

The fact is that the GDP growth of 4%-5% is not just around the corner. The US most likely slid into recession in the last three months. GDP growth collapsed in 4Q16, with a large portion of the “growth” coming from accounting gimmicks.

Consider the following:

  • Tax receipts indicate the US is in recession.
  • Gross private domestic investment indicates were are in a recession.
  • Retailers are showing that the US consumer is tapped out (see AMZN’s recent miss).
  • UPS, another economic bellweather, dramatically lowered 2017 forecasts.

To me, even more alarming is the tightening of lending standards.  In our debt-based economy, the flow of credit is absolutely critical to economic growth, and when credit starts to get tight that almost always leads to a recession.

So the fact that lending standards have now tightened for medium and large sized firms for six quarters in a row is very bad news.  The following comes from Business Insider

“Although modest over the past couple of quarters, it is still worth noting that this is now the sixth quarter in succession that standards have tightened for large and medium sized firms,” Deutsche Bank economist Jim Reid wrote in a research note to clients.

“This usually only happens in recessions.”

Reid is 100 percent correct on this point.  This is precisely the kind of thing that we would expect to see if a new recession was beginning, and if this trend continues it is hard to imagine that the U.S. economy will be able to continue to grow.

And it is interesting to note that job growth at S&P 500 companies has gone negative for the first time since the last recession, and so large firms are definitely starting to feel the pressure.

Simultaneously, lending standards are also tightening up for consumers

“The most notable tightening in standards though was in consumer loans,” the Fed said. “During the quarter, banks reported an 8.3% net tightening in credit standards for credit cards and 11.6% net tightening for auto loans.”

US consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of economic activity and is thus a key driver of growth in the world’s largest economy.

Those numbers for credit cards and auto loans are major red flags.

It is very simple.  Tighter credit means less economic activity which means slower economic growth.  The U.S. economy grew at a dismal 1.9 percent annual rate during the 4th quarter of 2016, and it would be absolutely no surprise if we end up with a negative number for the first quarter of 2017.

One of the big reasons why lending standards are tightening is because bankruptcies are rising.

As I reported the other day, consumer bankruptcies just rose on a year-over-year basis in back to back months for the first time in almost seven years.  Commercial bankruptcies had already been rising on a year-over-year basis throughout 2016, and so the fact that consumer bankruptcies have now joined the party is a very bad sign.

And we have also just learned that real median household income declined in 2016

Its official! The spectacular Obama/Fed “recovery” produced no increase in real medin household income in 2016 (the last year of Obama’s reign of [economic] error). In fact, real median annual household income in December 2016 ($57,827) was 0.9 percent lower than in December 2015 ($58,356).

Yes, I understand that there is a tremendous amount of optimism out there right now because of Donald Trump.

But the truth is that it is literally going to take some sort of an economic miracle to avoid a recession.

And if a recession is going to happen anyway, the Trump administration should want it to occur as quickly as possible.

You see, if a recession starts a year from now, it will be much more difficult for Trump to blame it on Obama.  But if a recession starts right now, he will definitely be able to argue that it happened because of the mess that he inherited from the last administration.

In addition, the sooner the next recession ends the sooner the next recovery can begin.  If a recession is still going on during the 2020 campaign, that would be really bad for Trump, but if a recovery is well underway by then that would be really good for his chances.

If you doubt this, just go back and look at the 1984 campaign.  After a very difficult recession, the U.S. economy bounced back strongly and Ronald Reagan was able to ride that momentum to an easy victory.

So this may sound very strange to many of you, but the truth is that if a new recession is coming Trump supporters should want it to happen as rapidly as possible.

Unfortunately, once a new recession begins it may not play out like recessions normally do.  The U.S. government is 20 trillion dollars in debt, we are in the midst of one of the biggest stock market bubbles in history, and our planet is becoming more unstable with each passing day.  So even though Trump is in the White House and Obama is gone, let there be no doubt that a catastrophic economic crisis could literally erupt at any moment.  I continue to encourage my readers to do all that they can to get prepared, because those that are prepared in advance will have the best chance of successfully getting through what is coming.

Unfortunately, a lot of people out there seem to believe that all of our problems have somehow evaporated just because Donald Trump is now living in the White House.

That is simply not true, and we all need to be praying for guidance and wisdom for Trump and his team as they prepare to deal with the great challenges that are ahead for our nation.

The Bank For International Settlements Warns That A Major Debt Meltdown In China Is Imminent

chinese-money-public-domainThe pinnacle of the global financial system is warning that conditions are right for a “full-blown banking crisis” in China.  Since the last financial crisis, there has been a credit boom in China that is really unprecedented in world history.  At this point the total value of all outstanding loans in China has hit a grand total of more than 28 trillion dollars.  That is essentially equivalent to the commercial banking systems of the United States and Japan combined.  While it is true that government debt is under control in China, corporate debt is now 171 percent of GDP, and it is only a matter of time before that debt bubble horribly bursts.  The situation in China has already grown so dire that the Bank for International Settlements is sounding the alarm

A key gauge of credit vulnerability is now three times over the danger threshold and has continued to deteriorate, despite pledges by Chinese premier Li Keqiang to wean the economy off debt-driven growth before it is too late.

The Bank for International Settlements warned in its quarterly report that China’s “credit to GDP gap” has reached 30.1, the highest to date and in a different league altogether from any other major country tracked by the institution. It is also significantly higher than the scores in East Asia’s speculative boom on 1997 or in the US subprime bubble before the Lehman crisis.

Studies of earlier banking crises around the world over the last sixty years suggest that any score above ten requires careful monitoring.

If you are not familiar with the Bank for International Settlements, just think of it as the capstone of the worldwide financial pyramid.  It wields enormous global power, and yet it is accountable to nobody.  The following is a summary of how the Bank for International Settlements works that comes from one of my previous articles entitled “Who Controls The Money? An Unelected, Unaccountable Central Bank Of The World Secretly Does“…

An immensely powerful international organization that most people have never even heard of secretly controls the money supply of the entire globe.  It is called the Bank for International Settlements, and it is the central bank of central banks.  It is located in Basel, Switzerland, but it also has branches in Hong Kong and Mexico City.  It is essentially an unelected, unaccountable central bank of the world that has complete immunity from taxation and from national laws.  Even Wikipedia admits that “it is not accountable to any single national government.”  The Bank for International Settlements was used to launder money for the Nazis during World War II, but these days the main purpose of the BIS is to guide and direct the centrally-planned global financial system.  Today, 58 global central banks belong to the BIS, and it has far more power over how the U.S. economy (or any other economy for that matter) will perform over the course of the next year than any politician does.  Every two months, the central bankers of the world gather in Basel for another “Global Economy Meeting”.  During those meetings, decisions are made which affect every man, woman and child on the planet, and yet none of us have any say in what goes on.  The Bank for International Settlements is an organization that was founded by the global elite and it operates for the benefit of the global elite, and it is intended to be one of the key cornerstones of the emerging one world economic system.

Normally the Bank for International Settlements is not prone to making extremely bold pronouncements, and so this warning about China seems a bit out of character.

Is something going on behind the scenes that we don’t know about?

Without a doubt, the global financial system is shakier and more vulnerable than most people would dare to imagine.  Global central banks have been on the greatest money creation spree in recorded history, and interest rates have been pushed to ridiculously low levels.

If you can believe it, approximately 10 trillion dollars worth of bonds are trading at negative interest rates right now.  This is completely and utterly irrational, and when this giant bond bubble finally explodes it is going to create a crisis unlike anything the world has ever seen before.

Just recently, Michael Pento of Pento Portfolio Strategies commented on this bubble

He said the current financial conditions are “the most dangerous markets i have ever witnessed in my entire life – and i’ve been investing for over 25 years… The membrane has been stretched so wide and so tight that its about to burst.”

Pento believes that once the bond crash happens, it will trigger a cataclysmic wave of crashes throughout the entire global financial system

Mr Pento has now warned that when policymakers signal they are set to stop buying, which will stop bond prices rising, there is going to be a devastating crash – not just in bond markets but across all investment assets.

He said: “When the bond market breaks, when that bubble bursts, it will wipe out every asset, everything will collapse together… I mean diamonds, sports cars, mutual funds, municipal bonds, fixed income, reits, collateralised loan obligations, stocks, bonds – even commodities – will collapse in tandem along with the bond bubble burst.”

Many had been anticipating that we would have already seen a major financial crash in 2016, but so far things have been pretty stable, and this has lulled many into a false sense of complacency.

But it is important to remember that we have seen corporate earnings fall for five quarters in a row, and it is expected to be six when the final numbers for the third quarter come in.

Never before in history have we had a stretch like this without major economic and financial consequences.  The following comes from a recent Fortune article which referred to an earlier piece authored by Jim Bianco…

None of this, however, is apparent from how stock market indexes have been moving lately, which unlike the charts above have been going up and to the right. “Since 1947, every time profits fell this much, or for this long, a recession was either underway or about to begin,” writes Bianco. “The only exception was the middle of 1986 to early 1987.”

If you remember, there was a pretty important event that happened in 1987: A massive stock market crash that sapped close to 30% of the S&P 500’s value in just five days.

It is only a matter of time before this earnings recession takes a major bite out of Wall Street.

Stock prices can stay at irrationally high levels for quite a while, but history has shown that every bubble bursts eventually.

And when this bubble bursts, it is going to make 2008 look like a walk in the park.

The One Trillion Dollar Consumer Auto Loan Bubble Is Beginning To Burst

Soap Bubble - Public DomainDo you remember the subprime mortgage meltdown from the last financial crisis?  Well, this time around we are facing a subprime auto loan meltdown.  In recent years, auto lenders have become more and more aggressive, and they have been increasingly willing to lend money to people that should not be borrowing money to buy a new vehicle under any circumstances.  Just like with subprime mortgages, this strategy seemed to pay off at first, but now economic reality is beginning to be felt in a major way.  Delinquency rates are up by double digit percentages, and major auto lenders are bracing for hundreds of millions of dollars of losses.  We are a nation that is absolutely drowning in debt, and we are most definitely going to reap what we have sown.

The size of this market is larger than you may imagine.  Earlier this year, the auto loan bubble surpassed the one trillion dollar mark for the first time ever

Americans are borrowing more than ever for new and used vehicles, and 30- and 60-day delinquency rates rose in the second quarter, according to the automotive arm of one of the nation’s largest credit bureaus.

The total balance of all outstanding auto loans reached $1.027 trillion between April 1 and June 30, the second consecutive quarter that it surpassed the $1-trillion mark, reports Experian Automotive.

The average size of an auto loan is also at a record high.  At $29,880, it is now just a shade under $30,000.

In order to try to help people afford the payments, auto lenders are now stretching loans out for six or even seven years.  At this point it is almost like getting a mortgage.

But even with those stretched out loans, the average monthly auto loan payment is now up to a record 499 dollars.

That is the average loan size.  To me, this is absolutely infuriating, because only a very small percentage of wealthy Americans are able to afford a $499 monthly payment on a single vehicle.

Many middle class American families are only bringing in three or four thousand dollars a month (before taxes).  How in the world do they think that they can afford a five hundred dollar monthly auto loan payment on just one vehicle?

Just like with subprime mortgages, people are being taken advantage of severely, and the end result is going to be catastrophic for the U.S. financial system.

Already, auto loan delinquencies are rising to very frightening levels.  In July, 60 day subprime loan delinquencies were up 13 percent on a month-over-month basis and were up 17 percent compared to the same month last year.

Prime delinquencies were up 12 percent on a month-over-month basis and were up 21 percent compared to the same month last year.

We have a huge crisis on our hands, and major auto lenders are setting aside massive amounts of cash in order to try to cover these losses.  The following comes from USA Today

In a quarterly filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Ford reported in the first half of this year it allowed $449 million for credit losses, a 34% increase from the first half of 2015.

General Motors reported in a similar filing that it set aside $864 million for credit losses in that same period of 2016, up 14% from a year earlier.

Meanwhile, other big corporations are also alarmed about the economic health of average U.S. consumers.  Just check out what Dollar General CEO Todd Vasos had to say about this just the other day

I know that when we look at globally the overall U.S. population, it seems like things are getting better. But when you really start breaking it down and you look at that core consumer that we serve on the lower economic scale that’s out there, that demographic, things have not gotten any better for her, and arguably, they’re worse. And they’re worse, because rents are accelerating, healthcare is accelerating on her at a very, very rapid clip.

The stock market may seem to be saying that everything is fine (for the moment), but the hard economic numbers are telling a completely different story.  What we are experiencing right now looks so similar to 2008, and this includes big institutions just dropping dead seemingly out of the blue.  On Tuesday, we learned that ITT Technical Institute is immediately shutting down and permanently closing all locations.  This is from a Los Angeles Times report

The company that operates the for-profit chain, one of the country’s largest, announced that it was permanently closing all its campuses nationwide. It blamed the shutdown on the recent move by the U.S. Education Department to ban ITT from enrolling new students who use federal financial aid.

“Two quarters ago there were rumors about the school having problems, but they told us that anyone who was already a student would be allowed to finish,” said Wiggins, who works as the assistant manager for a family-run auto parts business and went to ITT to open new opportunities.

“Am I angry?” he said. “I’m like angry times 10 million.”

As a result of this shutdown, 35,000 students are suddenly left out in the cold and approximately 8,000 employees have lost their jobs.

This is what happens during a major economic downturn.  Large institutions that may have been struggling under the surface for quite a while suddenly give up and drop a bomb on those that were depending on them.  In the months ahead, there will be a lot more examples of this.

Already, some of the biggest corporate names in America have been laying off thousands of workers in 2016.  Mass layoffs are usually an early warning sign that big trouble is ahead, so keep a close eye on those companies.

The pace of the economic decline has been a bit slower than many (including myself) originally anticipated, but without a doubt it has continued.

And it is undeniable that the stage is set for a crisis that will absolutely dwarf 2008.  Our national debt has nearly doubled since the beginning of the last crisis, corporate debt has doubled, student loan debt has crossed the trillion dollar mark, auto loan debt has crossed the trillion dollar mark, and total household debt has crossed the 12 trillion dollar mark.

We are living in the greatest debt bubble in world history, and there are signs that this giant bubble is now starting to burst.  And when it does, the pain is going to be greater than most people would dare to imagine.

The Subprime Auto Loan Meltdown Is Here

Debt Loans Auto Loans - Public DomainUh oh – here we go again.  Do you remember the subprime mortgage meltdown during the last financial crisis?  Well, now a similar thing is happening with auto loans.  The auto industry has been doing better than many other areas of the economy in recent years, but this “mini-boom” was fueled in large part by customers with subprime credit.  According to Equifax, an astounding 23.5 percent of all new auto loans were made to subprime borrowers in 2015.  At this point, there is a total of somewhere around $200 billion in subprime auto loans floating around out there, and many of these loans have been “repackaged” and sold to investors.  I know – all of this sounds a little too close for comfort to what happened with subprime mortgages the last time around.  We never seem to learn from our mistakes, and a lot of investors are going to end up paying the price.

Everything would be fine if the number of subprime borrowers not making their payments was extremely low.  And that was true for a while, but now delinquency rates and default rates are rising to levels that we haven’t seen since the last recession.  The following comes from Time Magazine

People, especially those with shaky credit, are having a tougher time than usual making their car payments.

According to Bloomberg, almost 5% of subprime car loans that were bundled into securities and sold to investors are delinquent, and the default rate is even higher than that. (Depending on who’s counting, delinquency is up to three or four months behind in payments; default is what happens after that). At just over 12% in January, the default rate jumped one entire percentage point in just a month. Both delinquency and default rates are now the highest they’ve been since 2010, when the ripple effects of the recession still weighed heavily on many Americans’ finances.

The chart below was posted by David Stockman, and it shows how the delinquency rate for subprime borrowers has hit the highest level since 2009.  In fact, we are not too far away from totally smashing through the previous highs that were set during the last crisis…

Subprime Auto Loans

It is quite foolish to try to sell expensive cars to people with bad credit.  This is especially true now that the economy is slowing down significantly in many areas.  But people are greedy and they are going to do what they are going to do.

The most disturbing thing to me is that many of these loans are being “repackaged” and sold off to investors as “solid investments”.  The following description of what has been happening comes from Wolf Richter

The business of “repackaging” these loans, including subprime and deep-subprime loans, into asset backed securities has also been booming. These ABS are structured with different tranches, so that the highest tranches – the last ones to absorb any losses – can be stamped with high credit ratings and offloaded to bond mutual funds designed for retail investors.

Deep-subprime borrowers are high-risk. Typically they have credit scores below 550. To make it worth everyone’s while, they get stuffed into loans often with interest rates above 20%. To make payments even remotely possible at these rates, terms are often stretched to 84 months. Borrowers are typically upside down in their vehicle: the negative equity of their trade-in, along with title, taxes, and license fees, and a hefty dealer profit are rolled into the loan. When the lender repossesses the vehicle, losses add up in a hurry.

It almost makes you want to tear your hair out.

This is exactly the kind of thing that caused so much chaos with subprime mortgages.

When will we ever learn?

Meanwhile, we continue to get even more numbers that indicate that a substantial economic slowdown has already begun

We just got the clearest sign yet that something is wrong with the US economy.

Markit Economics’ monthly flash services purchasing manager’s index, a preliminary reading on the sector, fell into contraction for the first time in over two years.

The tentative February index was reported Wednesday at 49.8.

Statistic after statistic is telling us that a new recession is already here.  And of course some would argue that the last recession never actually ended.  According to John Williams of shadowstats.com, the U.S. economy has continually been in contraction mode since 2005.

If we do not learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it.  All over the world, “non-performing loans” are starting to become a major problem, and already some financial institutions are starting to get tighter with credit.

As credit conditions tighten up, this is going to cause economic activity to slow down even more.  And as economic activity slows down, it is going to become even harder for ordinary people to make their debt payments.

Deflationary forces are on the rise, and most global central banks are just about out of ammunition at this point.

Everyone knew that the global debt bubble could not keep expanding much faster than the overall rate of economic growth forever.

It was only a matter of time until the bubble burst.

Now we can see signs of crisis popping up all around us, and things are only going to get worse in the months ahead…

The Oil Crash Of 2016 Has The Big Banks Running Scared

Running Scared - Public DomainLast time around it was subprime mortgages, but this time it is oil that is playing a starring role in a global financial crisis.  Since the start of 2015, 42 North American oil companies have filed for bankruptcy, 130,000 good paying energy jobs have been lost in the United States, and at this point 50 percent of all energy junk bonds are “distressed” according to Standard & Poor’s.  As you will see below, some of the big banks have a tremendous amount of loan exposure to the energy industry, and now they are bracing for big losses.  And the longer the price of oil stays this low, the worse the carnage is going to get.

Today, the price of oil has been hovering around 29 dollars a barrel, and over the past 18 months the price of oil has fallen by more than 70 percent.  This is something that has many U.S. consumers very excited.  The average price of a gallon of gasoline nationally is just $1.89 at the moment, and on Monday it was selling for as low as 46 cents a gallon at one station in Michigan.

But this oil crash is nothing to cheer about as far as the big banks are concerned.  During the boom years, those banks gave out billions upon billions of dollars in loans to fund exceedingly expensive drilling projects all over the world.

Now those firms are dropping like flies, and the big banks could potentially be facing absolutely catastrophic losses.  The following examples come from CNN

For instance, Wells Fargo (WFC) is sitting on more than $17 billion in loans to the oil and gas sector. The bank is setting aside $1.2 billion in reserves to cover losses because of the “continued deterioration within the energy sector.”

JPMorgan Chase (JPM) is setting aside an extra $124 million to cover potential losses in its oil and gas loans. It warned that figure could rise to $750 million if oil prices unexpectedly stay at their current $30 level for the next 18 months.

Citigroup is another bank that also has a tremendous amount of exposure

Citigroup (C) built up loan loss reserves in the energy space by $300 million. The bank said the move reflects its view that “oil prices are likely to remain low for a longer period of time.”

If oil stays around $30 a barrel, Citi is bracing for about $600 million of energy credit losses in the first half of 2016. Citi said that figure could double to $1.2 billion if oil dropped to $25 a barrel and stayed there.

For the moment, these big banks are telling the public that the damage can be contained.

But didn’t they tell us the same thing about subprime mortgages in 2008?

We are already seeing bank stocks start to slide precipitously.  People are beginning to realize that these banks are dangerously exposed to a lot of really bad deals.

If the price of oil were to shoot back up above 50 dollars in very short order, the damage would probably be manageable.  Unfortunately, that does not appear likely to happen.  In fact, now that sanctions have been lifted on Iran, the Iranians are planning to flood the world with massive amounts of oil that they have been storing in tankers at sea

Iran has been carefully planning for its return from the economic penalty box by hoarding tons of oil in tankers at sea.

Now that the U.S. and European Union have lifted some sanctions on Iran, the OPEC country can begin selling its massive stockpile of oil.

The sale of this seaborne oil will allow Iran to get an immediate financial boost before it ramps up production. The onslaught of Iranian oil is coming at a terrible time for the global oil markets, which are already drowning in an epic supply glut.

Just the other day, I explained that some of the biggest banks in the world are now projecting that the price of oil could soon fall much, much lower.

Morgan Stanley says that it could go as low as 20 dollars a barrel, the Royal Bank of Scotland says that it could go as low as 16 dollars a barrel, and Standard Chartered says that it could go as low as 10 dollars a barrel.

But the truth is that the price of oil does not need to go down one penny more to have a catastrophic impact on global financial markets.  If it just stays right here, we will see an endless parade of layoffs, energy company bankruptcies  and debt defaults.  Without any change, junk bonds will continue to crash and financial institutions will continue to go down like dominoes.

We are already experiencing a major disaster.  Things are already so bad that some forms of low quality crude oil are literally selling for next to nothing.  The following comes from Bloomberg

Oil is so plentiful and cheap in the U.S. that at least one buyer says it would pay almost nothing to take a certain type of low-quality crude.

Flint Hills Resources LLC, the refining arm of billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch’s industrial empire, said it offered to pay $1.50 a barrel Friday for North Dakota Sour, a high-sulfur grade of crude, according to a corrected list of prices posted on its website Monday. It had previously posted a price of -$0.50. The crude is down from $13.50 a barrel a year ago and $47.60 in January 2014.

While the near-zero price is due to the lack of pipeline capacity for a particular variety of ultra low quality crude, it underscores how dire things are in the U.S. oil patch.

A chart that I saw posted on Zero Hedge earlier today can help put all of this into perspective.  Whenever the price of oil falls really low relative to the price of gold, there is a major global crisis.  Right now an ounce of gold will purchase more oil than ever before, and many believe that this indicates that a new great crisis is upon us…

The number of barrels of oil that a single ounce of gold can buy has never, ever been higher.

Barrels Of Oil Per Ounce Of Gold

All over the planet, big banks are absolutely teeming with bad loans.  And to be honest, the big banks in the U.S. are probably in better shape than some of the major banks in Europe and Asia.  But once the dominoes start to fall, very few financial institutions are going to escape unscathed.

In the coming days I would expect to see more headlines like we just got out of Italy.  Apparently, Italian banks are nearing full meltdown mode, and short selling has been temporarily banned.  To me, it appears that we are just inches away from full-blown financial panic in Europe.

However, just like with the last financial crisis, you never quite know where the next “explosion” is going to happen next.

But one thing is for sure – the financial crisis that began during the second half of 2015 is raging out of control, and the pain that we have seen so far is just the beginning.

The Numbers Say That A Major Global Recession Has Already Begun

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

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

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

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

HSBC Chart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When will people wake up?

What is it going to take?

The crisis is happening right now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

23 Nations Around The World Where Stock Market Crashes Are Already Happening

Globe Earth World Planet Ominous - Public DomainYou can stop waiting for a global financial crisis to happen.  The truth is that one is happening right now.  All over the world, stock markets are already crashing.  Most of these stock market crashes are occurring in nations that are known as “emerging markets”.  In recent years, developing countries in Asia, South America and Africa loaded up on lots of cheap loans that were denominated in U.S. dollars.  But now that the U.S. dollar has been surging, those borrowers are finding that it takes much more of their own local currencies to service those loans.  At the same time, prices are crashing for many of the commodities that those countries export.  The exact same kind of double whammy caused the Latin American debt crisis of the 1980s and the Asian financial crisis of the 1990s.

As you read this article, almost every single stock market in the world is down significantly from a record high that was set either earlier this year or late in 2014.  But even though stocks have been sliding in the western world, they haven’t completely collapsed just yet.

In much of the developing world, it is a very different story.  Emerging market currencies are crashing hard, recessions are starting, and equity prices are getting absolutely hammered.

Posted below is a list that I put together of 23 nations around the world where stock market crashes are already happening.  To see the stock market chart for each country, just click the link…

1. Malaysia

2. Brazil

3. Egypt

4. China

5. Indonesia

6. South Korea

7. Turkey

8. Chile

9. Colombia

10. Peru

11. Bulgaria

12. Greece

13. Poland

14. Serbia

15. Slovenia

16. Ukraine

17. Ghana

18. Kenya

19. Morocco

20. Nigeria

21. Singapore

22. Taiwan

23. Thailand

Of course this is just the beginning.  The western world is going to feel this kind of pain as well very soon.  I want to share with you an excerpt from an article that just appeared in the Telegraph entitled “Doomsday clock for global market crash strikes one minute to midnight as central banks lose control“.  You see, the Telegraph is not just one of the most important newspapers in the UK – it is truly one of the most important newspapers in the entire world.  When it speaks on financial matters, millions of people listen very carefully.  So for the Telegraph to declare that the countdown to a “global market crash” is “one minute to midnight” is a very, very big deal…

When the banking crisis crippled global markets seven years ago, central bankers stepped in as lenders of last resort. Profligate private-sector loans were moved on to the public-sector balance sheet and vast money-printing gave the global economy room to heal.

Time is now rapidly running out. From China to Brazil, the central banks have lost control and at the same time the global economy is grinding to a halt. It is only a matter of time before stock markets collapse under the weight of their lofty expectations and record valuations.

I encourage you to read the rest of that excellent article right here.  It contains lots of charts and graphs, and it discusses many of the exact same things that I have been hammering on for months.

When one of the newspapers of record for the entire planet starts sounding exactly like The Economic Collapse Blog, then you know that it is late in the game.

Others are sounding the alarm about an imminent global financial crash as well.  For example, just consider what Egon von Greyerz recently told King World News

Eric, I fear that this coming September – October all hell will break loose in the world economy and markets. A lot of factors point to that, both fundamental and technical indicators and this indicates that we could have a number of shocks this autumn.

Sadly, most investors will hold stocks, bonds and property and will see any decline in value as an opportunity. It will be a long time and a very big fall before they realize that the system will not help them this time because the central bankers have run out of ammunition to save the global financial system one more time. Yes, we will see more massive money printing, but it will just make things worse. And at some stage, which could be quite soon, real fear will set in, a fear of a magnitude the world has not experienced before.

Hmm – there is another example of someone talking about September.  It is funny how often that month keeps coming up.

And of course most of the major stock market crashes in U.S. history have been in the fall.  Just go back and take a look at what happened in 1929, 1987, 2001 and 2008.

The “smart money” has been pulling their money out of stocks for quite a while now, and at this point a lot of others have hopped on the bandwagon.  The following comes from CNBC

The flight of investor money from U.S. stocks has turned into a stampede.

In fact, the $78.7 billion leaving domestic equity-focused funds has been worse in 2015 than it was even during the financial crisis years, when the S&P 500 tumbled some 60 percent, according to data released Friday by Morningstar. The total is the highest since 1993.

Domestic equity funds surrendered $20.4 billion in July alone and have seen $158.6 billion in redemptions over the past 12 months. Even a strong flow of money into passively managed exchange-traded funds has been unable to offset the stream to the exit among retail investors, who generally focus more on mutual funds than ETFs.

A global financial crisis has already begun.

So those that were claiming that one would not happen in 2015 are already wrong.

Over the coming months we will find out how bad it will ultimately be.

Sometimes I get criticized for talking about these things.  There are a few people out there that don’t like all of the “doom and gloom” that I discuss on my website.  Apparently it is a bad thing to talk about the things that really matter and we should all just be “keeping up with the Kardashians” instead.

I consider myself just to be another watchman on the wall.  From our spots on the wall, watchmen such as myself all over the nation are sounding the alarm about what we clearly see coming.

If we saw what was coming and we did not warn the people, their blood would be on our hands.  But if we do warn the people, then we have done our duty.

Every day I just do the best that I can with what I have been given.  And there are many others just like me that are doing exactly the same thing.

Those that do not like the warning message are going to feel really stupid when things start falling apart all around them and they finally realize how wrong they truly were.

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