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America Wastes About HALF The Food That It Produces While Hunger Runs Rampant Around The Globe

Tomatoes - Public DomainIs the United States the most wasteful nation on the entire planet?  We are all certainly guilty of wasting food.  Whether it is that little bit that you don’t want to eat at the end of a meal, or that produce that you forgot about in the back of the refrigerator that went moldy, the truth is that we could all do better at making sure that good food does not get wasted.  It can be tempting to think that wasting food is not a big deal because we have so much of it, but an increasing number of people around the world are really hurting these days.  In fact, it has been estimated that there are more than a billion hungry people around the globe right now.  So as a society we need to figure out how to waste a whole lot less food and how to get it into the mouths of those that really need it.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, close to a third of all food in the United States gets wasted after it gets to the store.  This is commonly referred to as “downstream” waste.  When you add all of this “downstream” waste up, it comes to a grand total of 133 billion pounds of food each year

Nearly a third of the 430 billion pounds of food produced for Americans to eat is wasted, a potential catastrophe for landfills and a wake-up call to officials scrambling to feed the hungry, according to a stunning new report from the Department of Agriculture.

The just-issued report revealed that in 2010, 31 percent, or 133 billion pounds, of food produced for Americans to eat was wasted, either molded or improperly cooked, suffered “natural shrinkage” due to moisture loss, or because people became disinterested in what they purchased.

How many people do you think we could feed with 133 billion pounds of food?

But that isn’t all of the food that we waste.  In addition to “downstream” waste, we also have to add “upstream” waste to the equation.  Massive amounts of food are wasted each year because American consumers don’t want to eat fruits and vegetables that are “imperfect”.  The following comes from the Guardian

Americans throw away almost as much food as they eat because of a “cult of perfection”, deepening hunger and poverty, and inflicting a heavy toll on the environment.

Vast quantities of fresh produce grown in the US are left in the field to rot, fed to livestock or hauled directly from the field to landfill, because of unrealistic and unyielding cosmetic standards, according to official data and interviews with dozens of farmers, packers, truckers, researchers, campaigners and government officials.

And I know that as a consumer I am guilty of this.  Just yesterday, I was picking through the apricots at the grocery store looking for the prettiest ones that I could find.  Of course they were all good to eat, but most of us are in the habit of wanting produce that looks as “perfect” as possible.

As a result, a lot of perfectly good food that may look a little ratty ends of being wasted

“Sunburnt” or darker-hued cauliflower was ploughed over in the field. Table grapes that did not conform to a wedge shape were dumped. Entire crates of pre-cut orange wedges were directed to landfill. In June, Kirschenman wound up feeding a significant share of his watermelon crop to cows.

As the Guardian article quoted above noted, when you add “downstream” waste and “upstream” waste together, we end up wasting about half our food.

This is tragic, because there are a whole lot of people in our own country that could use this food.  According to one estimate, there are 49 million Americans dealing with food insecurity.  But if we didn’t waste nearly half our food, we could likely feed just about everyone sufficiently.

Globally, about one-third of all food is wasted.  That is better than the U.S. number, but it is still way too high.

At this point, we just don’t have a lot of resources to waste.  So many people are suffering these days, and this includes an explosion of crushing poverty in the country that is hosting the Olympics this summer.  Just yards away from the primary stadium that will be used by the Olympic games, people actually have raw sewage running through their homes

In the Mangueira ‘favelas’ no more than 750m away from the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro, which will host the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, young families are living in makeshift houses with no sanitation.

The stadium will stage both the opening and closing ceremonies for the Olympics in August, and as global superstars such as Usain Bolt, Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis-Hill and Justin Gatlin take to the track, the favela residents will be dealing with raw sewage running through their homes.

It has been estimated that more than 20 percent of the population of Rio lives in “favelas”.  But instead of doing something for those people, the government of Brazil has spent hundreds of millions of dollars hosting the World Cup and the Olympics.

What is wrong with that picture?

Meanwhile, things continue to get even worse elsewhere in South America.  In Venezuela, 47 percent of the country can no longer provide three meals a day for their families, and the lack of toilet paper has become a national crisis

Venezuela’s government said it occupied Kimberly-Clark Corp.’s local plant, days after the company had halted operations because of shortages of raw materials in the socialist crisis-stricken country.

“Kimberly-Clark will continue producing for all Venezuelans and is now in the hands of the workers,” Labor Minister Oswaldo Vera said Monday in a televised address from the company’s plant in central Aragua state, before signing an order to take it over, according to WSJ. The labor ministry claims Kimberly-Clark had violated Venezuelan law by firing more than 900 workers without consulting the government.

“It doesn’t matter who’s running the factory,” said Henkel Garcia, director of the Caracas business consultancy Econometrica told WSJ. “The bottom line is that there are no raw materials that anyone can afford to import.”

As the global economy continues to deteriorate, the need to waste less food and less resources will become even more acute.  Over the past several decades, we have grown accustomed to not even thinking twice about wasting food.  In fact, I rarely come across parents that insist that their children finish everything on their plates these days.

But in the not too distant future, things are going to completely change.  Even in the United States, we will eventually get to the point where every scrap of food is considered to be precious.

We are moving into a time when wasting nearly half our food will no longer be an option, and so we should start coming up with better ways of doing things as soon as we can.

Southern California Time Bomb: The Ground Surrounding The San Andreas Fault Is ‘Rising And Sinking’

Pacific Plate And The North American PlateIf you reside on the west coast, you are living on borrowed time.  As you will see below, stress has been building up along the San Andreas fault for more than a century, and scientists tell us that southern California is way overdue for a major earthquake.  When that stress is finally released, the U.S. Geological Survey says that we could be looking at hundreds of billions of dollars in damage.  If you follow my work regularly, then you already know that there has been unusual shaking all along the “Ring of Fire” so far in 2016.  But thankfully the west coast of the United States has been spared from a major disaster up to this point.  Unfortunately, scientists assure us that it is only a matter of time before one strikes, and that is why it is so alarming that the ground surrounding the San Andreas fault has been “rising and sinking”.  The following comes from the Los Angeles Times

For the first time, scientists have produced a computer image showing huge sections of California rising and sinking around the San Andreas fault.

The vertical movement is the result of seismic strain that will be ultimately released in a large earthquake.

The California coastline is where two enormous tectonic plates come together.  The Pacific plate and the North American plate are slowly but surely moving against one another, and this creates a tremendous amount of geological stress.  While areas on both sides of the San Andreas fault have been steadily rising and sinking as a result of this stress, there are sections of the fault itself that have remained “locked” for more than 100 years, and other sections that have remained locked for more than 300 years

The region of the San Andreas fault between Monterey County and Imperial County hasn’t moved in a significant way in more than 150 years, and other parts of the fault have been accumulating stress for more than 300 years.

This build up of stress is extremely dangerous, because the more stress that builds up the worse the ultimate release of that stress could turn out to be.

If you look at this map from the U.S. Geological Survey, you can see all of the earthquakes of magnitude 2.5 or greater that have hit California within the past seven days.  As you can see, there has been a whole lot of shaking going on…

California Earthquakes June 2015 - U.S. Geological Survey

And let us not forget that earlier this month a magnitude 5.2 earthquake struck near San Diego, and it was followed by more than 800 aftershocks.

Unfortunately, none of these quakes has relieved the stress along the San Andreas fault.  While the San Andreas fault may be the most famous of the faults in southern California, the truth is that there are many others.  And just last year the U.S. Geological Survey admitted that the probability of a “megaquake” along the west coast involving multiple faults at once was significantly greater than they had previously been projecting

A recent report by the U.S. Geological Survey shows the inevitability of just such a quake, which is predicted to hit within the next couple of decades.

“The new likelihoods are due to the inclusion of possible multi-fault ruptures, where earthquakes are no longer confined to separate, individual faults, but can occasionally rupture multiple faults simultaneously,” lead author of the study and USGS scientist, Ned Field says. “This is a significant advancement in terms of representing a broader range of earthquakes throughout California’s complex fault system.”

But of course the San Andreas fault represents an absolutely massive threat to southern California all by itself.

Back in May, the Los Angeles Times quoted the director of the Southern California Earthquake Center as saying that the San Andreas fault is “locked, loaded and ready to roll”…

“The springs on the San Andreas system have been wound very, very tight. And the southern San Andreas fault, in particular, looks like it’s locked, loaded and ready to go,” Jordan said in the opening keynote talk.

Other sections of the San Andreas fault also are far overdue for a big quake. Further southeast of the Cajon Pass, such as in San Bernardino County, the fault has not moved substantially since an earthquake in 1812, and further southeast toward the Salton Sea, it has been relatively quiet since about 1680 to 1690.

Here’s the problem: Scientists have observed that based on the movement of tectonic plates, with the Pacific plate moving northwest of the North American plate, earthquakes should be relieving about 16 feet of accumulated plate movement every 100 years. Yet the San Andreas has not relieved stress that has been building up for more than a century.

A number of years ago, a study conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey found that just a magnitude 7.8 earthquake along the southern San Andreas fault would cause more than 1,800 deaths, 50,000 injuries and 200 billion dollars in damage.

So what would a magnitude 8 or worse quake do?

And even though the U.S. Geological Survey does not believe that parts of California will eventually fall into the ocean, it is very open about the fact that Los Angeles and San Francisco will one day “be adjacent to one another” as the Pacific plate and the North American plate slowly slip past each other…

Will California eventually fall into the ocean?

No. The San Andreas Fault System, which crosses California from the Salton Sea in the south to Cape Mendocino in the north, is the boundary between the Pacific Plate and North American Plate. The Pacific Plate is moving northwest with respect to the North American Plate at approximately 46 millimeters per year (the rate your fingernails grow). The strike-slip earthquakes on the San Andreas Fault are a result of this plate motion. The plates are moving horizontally past one another, so California is not going to fall into the ocean. However, Los Angeles and San Francisco will one day be adjacent to one another!

Meanwhile, while we are talking about southern California, I just had to mention the record-breaking heatwave and the horrific wildfires that are plaguing the region this week.  In fact, two massive wildfires that have been raging out of control threaten to combine “into one super fire”

Two new fires raging in California could soon merge, creating one ‘super fire’, as wild blazes continue to consume thousands of acres and have already force massive evacuations.

Throughout the United States, firefighters are battling blazes of varying degrees in nine states, including California, New Mexico, Arizona, Alaska, Montana, Washington, Utah, Wyoming and Colorado.

The most serious of these fires have been week-old blazes in California, New Mexico and Arizona, where scorching triple-digit temperatures have stoked the flames.

Normally we don’t see wildfires of this size and intensity until the late summer or early fall.

As I constantly remind my readers, last year was the worst year for wildfires in all of U.S. history, and so far this year we are more than a million acres ahead of the pace that was set last year.

We live at a time when our planet is becoming increasingly unstable.  Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, wildfires, historic droughts and unusual flooding events all seem to be on the rise globally.

So is there a reason why all of this is happening, or are we just going through a time when we are experiencing an astounding string of truly bizarre coincidences?

Please feel free to tell us what you think by posting a comment below…

*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.*

15 Facts About The Imploding U.S. Economy That The Mainstream Media Doesn’t Want You To See

U.S. Economy - Public DomainYou are about to see undeniable evidence that the U.S. economy has been slowing down for quite some time.  And it is vital that we focus on the facts, because all over the Internet you are going to find lots and lots of people that have opinions about what is going on with the economy.  And of course the mainstream media is always trying to spin things to make Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton look good, because those that work in the mainstream media are far more liberal than the American population as a whole.  It is true that I also have my own opinions, but as an attorney I learned that opinions are not any good unless you have facts to back them up.  So please allow me a few moments to share with you evidence that clearly demonstrates that we have already entered a major economic slowdown.  The following are 15 facts about the imploding U.S. economy that the mainstream media doesn’t want you to see…

1. Industrial production has now declined for nine months in a row.  We have never seen this happen outside of a recession in all of U.S. history.

2. U.S. commercial bankruptcies have risen on a year over year basis for seven months in a row and are now up 51 percent since September.

3. The delinquency rate on commercial and industrial loans has been rising since January 2015.

4. Total business sales in the United States have been steadily dropping since the middle of 2014.  No, I did not say 2015.  Total business sales have been in decline for nearly two years now, and we just found out that they dropped again

Total business sales in the US did in April what they’ve been doing since July 2014: they dropped: -2.9% from a year ago, to $1.28 trillion (not adjusted for seasonal differences and price changes), the Censuses Bureau reported on Tuesday. That’s where sales had been in April 2013!

5. U.S. factory orders have been dropping for 18 months in a row.

6. The Cass Shipping Index has been falling on a year over year basis for 14 consecutive months.

7. U.S. coal production has dropped to the lowest level in 35 years.

8. Goldman Sachs has its own internal tracker of the U.S. economy, and it has fallen to the lowest level since the last recession.

9. JPMorgan’s “recession indicators” have risen to the highest level that we have seen since the last recession.

10. Federal tax receipts and state tax receipts usually both start to fall as we enter a new recession, and that is precisely what is taking place right now.

11. The Federal Reserve’s Labor Market Conditions Index has been falling for five months in a row.

12. The employment numbers that the government released for last month were the worst that we have seen in six years.

13. According to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, layoff announcements at major firms are running 24 percent higher this year than they were at this time last year.

14. Online job postings on the business networking site LinkedIn have been declining steadily since February after 73 months in a row of growth.

15. The number of temporary workers in the United States peaked and started falling precipitously before the recession of 2001 even started.  The exact same thing happened just prior to the beginning of the 2008 recession.  So would it surprise you to learn that the number of temporary workers in the United States peaked in December and has fallen dramatically since then?

Temporary Help Services

Earlier today, we learned that two of our biggest corporations will be laying off even more workers.  Bank of America, which is holding more of our money than any other bank in the country, has announced that it is going to be cutting about 8,000 more workers

Bank of America is expected to reduce staffing in its consumer banking division by as many as 8,000 more jobs.

The nation’s largest retail bank by deposits has already reduced the staffing in its consumer division from more than 100,000 in 2009 to about 68,400 as of the end of the first quarter of 2016, said Thong Nguyen, Bank of America’s president of retail banking and co-head of consumer banking at the Morgan Stanley Financials Conference Tuesday.

And Wal-Mart has announced that it is going to be eliminating “back-office accounting jobs” at approximately 500 locations

Walmart is going to cut some back-office accounting jobs at about 500 stores in a bid to become more efficient.

The job cuts will occur mostly at stores mostly in the West and involve accounting and invoicing workers, says spokesman Kory Lundberg. Instead, bookkeeping functions will be switched to Walmart’s home office in Bentonville, Ark. Cash at the stores will be counted by machine.

Day after day we are hearing about more layoffs like this.  So why would this be happening if the U.S. economy truly was in “recovery mode”?

Even with how manipulated the GDP numbers are these days, Barack Obama is on course to be the only president in all of U.S. history to never have a single year when the economy grew by at least 3 percent.  The truth is that our economy has been stuck in the mud ever since the end of the last recession, and now a major new downturn has clearly already begun.

And you want to know who else realizes this?

Foreign investors do.

Last month, foreign investors dumped U.S. debt at the fastest pace ever recorded

Foreign investors sold a record amount of U.S. Treasury bonds and notes for the month of April, according to U.S. Treasury Department data on Wednesday, as investors priced in a few more rate increases by the Federal Reserve this year.

Foreigners sold $74.6 billion in U.S. Treasury debt in the month, after purchases of $23.6 billion in March. April’s outflow was the largest since the U.S. Treasury Department started recording Treasury debt transactions in January 1978.

There is no debate any longer – the next economic crisis is already here.  This is so abundantly obvious at this point that even George Soros has been feverishly dumping stocks and buying gold.

We can argue about whether the U.S. economy started turning down in late 2015, early 2015 or late 2014, and it is good to have those debates.

But at the end of the day, what is far more important is what is ahead.  Fortunately, our downturn has been fairly gradual so far, and let us hope that it stays that way for as long as possible.

In much of the rest of the world, things are already in full-blown panic mode.  For instance, Venezuela was once the wealthiest nation in South America, but now people are literally hunting cats and dogs for food.

Absent a major “black swan event” of some sort, we won’t see that happening in the United States for at least a while yet, but without a doubt we are steamrolling toward a major economic depression.

Unfortunately for all of us, there isn’t anything that any of our politicians are going to be able to do to stop it.

*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.*

Business Debt Delinquencies Are Now Higher Than When Lehman Brothers Collapsed In 2008

Insolvent - Public DomainYou are about to see more very clear evidence that a new economic crisis has already begun.  During economic recoveries, business debt delinquencies generally fall, and during times of economic recession business debt delinquencies generally rise.  In fact, you will see below that business debt delinquencies shot up dramatically just prior to the last two recessions, and the exact same thing is happening again right now.  In 2008, business debt delinquencies increased at a very frightening pace just before Lehman Brothers collapsed, and this was a very clear sign that big trouble was ahead.  Unfortunately for us, in 2016 business debt delinquencies have already shot up above the level they were sitting at just before the collapse of Lehman Brothers, and every time debt delinquencies have ever gotten this high the U.S. economy has always fallen into recession.

In article after article, I have shown that key indicators for the U.S. economy started falling in either late 2014 or at some point during 2015.  Well, business debt delinquencies are another example of this phenomenon.  According to Wolf Richter, business debt delinquencies have shot up an astounding 137 percent since the fourth quarter of 2014…

Delinquencies of commercial and industrial loans at all banks, after hitting a low point in Q4 2014 of $11.7 billion, have begun to balloon (they’re delinquent when they’re 30 days or more past due). Initially, this was due to the oil & gas fiasco, but increasingly it’s due to trouble in many other sectors, including retail.

Between Q4 2014 and Q1 2016, delinquencies spiked 137% to $27.8 billion.

And we never see this kind of rise unless the U.S. economy is heading into a recession.  Here is more from Wolf Richter

Note how, in this chart by the Board of Governors of the Fed, delinquencies of C&I loans start rising before recessions (shaded areas). I added the red marks to point out where we stand in relationship to the Lehman moment:

Delinquencies-commercial-industrial-loans-2016-q1

Business loan delinquencies are a leading indicator of big economic trouble.

To me, this couldn’t be any clearer.

Just like the U.S. government and just like U.S. consumers, U.S. businesses are absolutely drowning in debt.

In fact, a report that was just released found that debt at U.S. companies has been growing at a pace that is 50 times faster than the rate that cash has been growing.

Just imagine what it would mean for your family if your debt was growing 50 times faster than your bank account.  Needless to say, this is an extremely troubling development

Well, American companies may just have a mountain’s worth of problems, according to a new report from Andrew Chang and David Tesher of S&P Global Ratings.

“At the same time, the imbalance between cash and debt outstanding we reported on last year has gotten even worse: Debt outstanding increased 50x that of cash in 2015,” wrote Chang and Tesher.

“Total debt rose by roughly $850 billion to $6.6 trillion last year, dwarfing the 1% cash growth ($17 billion).”

And the really bad news is that banks all across the country are starting to tighten credit to businesses.

In other words, they are beginning to become much more reluctant to loan money to businesses because debts are going bad at such an alarming rate.

When the flow of credit to the business community starts to slow down, it is inevitable that the overall economy slows down as well.  It is just basic economics.  So the deterioration of the U.S. economy that we have witnessed so far is just the beginning of a process that is going to take quite a while to play out.

And let us not forget that most of the rest of the world is already is much worse shape than we are.  Most global financial markets are officially in bear market territory right now, and some nations are already experiencing full-blown economic depression.

Now that the early chapters of the “next crisis” are here, most American families find themselves ill-equipped to deal with another major downturn.  In fact, USA Today is reporting that approximately two-thirds of the country is currently living paycheck to paycheck…

Two-thirds of Americans would have difficulty coming up with the money to cover a $1,000 emergency, according to an exclusive poll, a signal that despite years after the Great Recession, Americans’ finances remain precarious as ever.

These difficulties span all incomes, according to the poll conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Three-quarters of people in households making less than $50,000 a year and two-thirds of those making between $50,000 and $100,000 would have difficulty coming up with $1,000 to cover an unexpected bill.

What are these people going to do when they lose their jobs or their businesses go under?

If you have any doubt that the U.S. economy is already in recession mode, just look at this chart over and over.

For months, I have been warning that the same patterns that immediately preceded previous recessions were happening once again, and this rise in debt delinquencies is another striking example of this phenomenon.

This stuff isn’t complicated.  Anyone that is willing to be honest with themselves should be able to see it.  As a society, we have been making very, very bad decisions for a very, very long period of time, and what we are watching unfold right now are the inevitable consequences of those decisions.

*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.*

11 Signs That The U.S. Economy Is Rapidly Deteriorating Even As The Stock Market Soars

Dollar Bending - Public DomainWe have seen this story before, and it never ends well.  From mid-March until early May 2008, a vigorous stock market rally convinced many investors that the market turmoil of late 2007 and early 2008 was over and that happy days were ahead for the U.S. economy.  But of course we all know what happened.  It turned out that the market downturns of late 2007 and early 2008 were just “foreshocks” of a much greater crash in late 2008.  The market surge in the spring of 2008 was just a mirage, and it masked rapidly declining economic fundamentals.  Well, the exact same thing is happening right now.  The Dow rose another 222 points on Tuesday, but meanwhile virtually every number that we are getting is just screaming that the overall U.S. economy is steadily falling apart.  So don’t be fooled by a rising stock market.  Just like in the spring of 2008, all of the signs are pointing to an avalanche of bad economic news in the months ahead.  The following are 11 signs that the U.S. economy is rapidly deteriorating…

#1 Total business sales have been declining for nearly two years, and they are now about 15 percent lower than they were in late 2014.

#2 The inventory to sales ratio is now back to near where it was during the depths of the last recession.  This means that there is lots and lots of unsold stuff just sitting around out there, and that is a sign of a very unhealthy economy.

#3 Corporate earnings have declined for four consecutive quarters.  This never happens outside of a recession.

#4 Profits for companies listed on the S&P 500 were down 7.1 percent during the first quarter of 2016 when compared to the same time period a year ago.

#5 In April, commercial bankruptcies were up 32 percent on a year over year basis, and Chapter 11 filings were up 67 percent on a year over year basis.  This is exactly the kind of spike that we witnessed during the initial stages of the last major financial crisis as well.

#6 U.S. rail traffic was 11 percent lower last month than it was during the same month in 2015.  Right now there are 292 Union Pacific engines sitting idle in the middle of the Arizona desert because there is literally nothing for them to do.

#7 The U.S. economy has lost an astounding 191,000 mining jobs since September 2014.  For areas of the country that are heavily dependent on mining, this has been absolutely devastating.

#8 According to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, U.S. firms announced 35 percent more job cuts during April than they did in March.  This indicates that our employment problems are accelerating.

#9 So far this year, job cut announcements are running 24 percent above the exact same period in 2015.

#10 U.S. GDP grew at just a 0.5 percent annual rate during the first quarter of 2016.  This was the third time in a row that the GDP number has declined compared to the previous quarter, and let us not forget that the formula for calculating GDP was changed last year specifically to make the first quarter of each year look better.  Without that “adjustment”, it is quite possible that we would have had a negative number for the first quarter.

#11 Barack Obama is poised to become the first president in U.S. history to never have a single year during his time in office when the economy grew by more than 3 percent.

But you never hear Obama talk about that statistic, do you?

And the mainstream media loves to point the blame at just about anyone else.  In fact, the Washington Post just came out with an article that is claiming that the big problem with the economy is the fact that U.S. consumers are saving too much money…

The surge in saving is the real drag on the economy. It has many causes. “People got a cruel lesson about [the dangers] of debt,” says economist Matthew Shapiro of the University of Michigan. Households also save more to replace the losses suffered on homes and stocks. But much saving is precautionary: Having once assumed that a financial crisis of the 2008-2009 variety could never happen, people now save to protect themselves against the unknown. Research by economist Mark Zandi of Moody’s Analytics finds higher saving at all income levels.

So even though half the country is flat broke, I guess we are all supposed to do our patriotic duty by going out and running up huge balances on our credit cards.

What a joke.

Of course the U.S. economy is actually doing significantly better at the moment than almost everywhere else on the planet.  Many areas of South America have already plunged into an economic depression, major banks all over Europe are in the process of completely melting down, Japanese GDP has gone negative again despite all of their emergency measures, and Chinese stocks are down more than 40 percent since the peak of the market.

This is a global economic slowdown, and just like in 2008 it is only a matter of time before the financial markets catch up with reality.  I really like how Andrew Lapthorne put it recently

On the more bearish slant is Andrew Lapthorne, head of quantitative strategy at Societe Generale. To him this profit downturn is a sign that stocks are far too overvalued and the economy is weaker than you think.

“MSCI World EPS is now declining at the fastest pace since 2009, losing 4% in the last couple of months alone (this despite stronger oil prices),” wrote Lapthorne in a note. For the S&P 500 specifically, the year on year drop in profit drop was the most since third quarter of 2009.

“Global earnings are now 14% off the peak set in August 2014 and back to where they stood five years ago. Equity prices on the other hand are 25% higher. Gravity beckons!”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Look, this is not a game.

So far in 2016, three members of my own extended family have lost their jobs.  Businesses are going under at a pace that we haven’t seen since 2008, and this means that more mass layoffs are on the way.

We can certainly be happy that U.S. stocks are doing okay for the moment.  May it stay that way for as long as possible.  But anyone that believes that this state of affairs can last indefinitely is just being delusional.

Gravity beckons, and the crash that is to come is going to be a great sight to behold.

All Of A Sudden, Fish Are Dying By The MILLIONS All Over The Planet

Fish Deaths - Public DomainWhy are millions upon millions of dead sea creatures suddenly washing up on beaches all over the world?  It is certainly not unusual for fish and other inhabitants of our oceans to die.  This happens all the time.  But over the past month we have seen a series of extremely alarming mass death incidents all over the planet.  As you will see below, many of these mass death incidents have involved more than 30 tons of fish.  In places such as Chile and Vietnam, it has already gotten to the level where it has started to become a major national crisis.  People see their coastlines absolutely buried in dead sea creatures, and they are starting to freak out.

For example, just check out what is going on in Chile right now.  The following comes from a Smithsonian Magazine article entitled “Why Are Chilean Beaches Covered With Dead Animals?“…

Compared to other countries, Chile is almost all coast, and that geographical fluke means that the country is known for its beautiful beaches. But that reputation may be on the wane thanks to a new sight on Chilean shores: dead animals. Lots of them. Heaps of them, in fact. As Giovanna Fleitas reports for the Agence France-Presse, the South American country’s beaches are covered with piles of dead sea creatures—and scientists are trying to figure out why.

Tales of dead animals washing up on shore are relatively common; after all, the ocean has a weird way of depositing its dead on shore. But Chile’s problem is getting slightly out of hand. As Fleitas writes, recent months have not been kind to the Chilean coast, which has played host to washed-up carcasses of over 300 whales, 8,000 tons of sardines, and nearly 12 percent of the country’s annual salmon catch, to name a few.

Authorities in Chile are scrambling to come up with a reason for why this is happening, but nobody appears to be quite sure what is causing this tsunami of death.

In Vietnam, things are even worse.  At this point, so many dead fish and clams have been washing up along the coast that soldiers have been deployed to bury them

Millions of fish have washed up dead along a 125-kilometre stretch of the Vietnamese coast in one of the communist country’s worst environmental disasters.

Soldiers have been deployed to bury tonnes of fish, clams and the occasional whale that began dying in early April along the north-central coast, including some popular tourist beaches.

Vietnamese officials facing growing anger over the disaster have not announced the official cause of the deaths, which have affected the livelihoods of tens of thousands of families.

Elsewhere in Asia, there have been similar incidents.  For example, CNN is reporting that one lake in southern China is currently dealing with 35 tons of dead fish…

At least 35 tons of dead fish appeared in a lake in southern China, leaving residents stunned.

The piles of fish washed up in a lake in Hainan province on Wednesday, Chinese state media reported.

Residents expressed concerns on pollution, but local authorities said the fish died as a result of salinity change.

On the other side of the world, similar incidents have also happened in major lakes.  Here is one example from Bolivia

Thousands of dead fish have washed up onto the shores of a lake in Bolivia.

Just before they died, some of the fish had just hatched from their eggs in lake Alalay, in the central Bolivian city of Cochabamba.

No one yet knows the number of dead fish, but they have stockpiled five cubic metres (177 cubic feet) so far, so it’s possible there is over a tonne of dead fish in the lake.

And here is an example from Brazil

More than 200 tons of dead fish were removed from the Furnas Lake on Sunday (1st) in Alfenas (MG). According to the Military Police of the Environment, both fish raised in ponds, networks and those who are released, all of the tilapia species in the lake were affected. The damage to the psicultores is estimated at around R $ 900 thousand.

I could go on and on all day with examples such as these.

Just within the last month, 40 tons of fish died in India, 65 tons of fish died in Cambodia, 70 tons of fish died in Colombia, and millions of fish “suddenly died” in Indonesia.

So why is this happening?

I don’t know.

Could it be possible that these mass deaths are somehow related to the alarming earth changes that we see happening all around us?

Without a doubt, we have seen a dramatic rise in seismic activity during the early portions of 2016.  There has been a series of very destructive earthquakes around the world in recent months, and once dormant volcanoes are coming to life all over the globe with distressing regularity.

Of course humanity has done much to destroy the planet as well, and we continue to deal with the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.  I do think that it is very interesting to note that most of these mass fish deaths have happened in nations that border the Pacific Ocean.

I am certainly not claiming to have an answer for why so many fish are dying.  All I know is that millions upon millions of dead fish are washing up on shores all over the globe, and people are really starting to freak out about this.

We live in a world that is becoming increasingly unstable, and major disasters seem to be getting more frequent and more intense.  Just look at what is happening up in Alberta right now.

I believe that we are entering the “perfect storm” that myself and so many others have been warning about for so long.

Or could it be possible that I am just being overly dramatic?

Please feel free to tell us what you think by posting a comment below…

Economic Collapse Is Erupting All Over The Planet As Global Leaders Begin To Panic

Earth Ready To Explode - Public DomainMainstream news outlets are already starting to use the phrase “economic collapse” to describe what is going on in some areas of our world right now.  For many Americans this may seem a bit strange, but the truth is that the worldwide economic slowdown that began during the second half of last year is starting to get a lot worse.  In this article, we are going to examine evidence of this from South America, Europe, Asia and North America.  Once we are done, it should be obvious that there is absolutely no reason to be optimistic about the direction of the global economy right now.  The warnings of so many prominent experts are now becoming a reality, and what we have witnessed so far are just the early chapters of a crushing economic crisis that will affect every man, woman and child in the entire world.

Let’s start with Brazil.  It has the 7th largest economy on the entire planet, and it is already enduring its worst recession in 25 years.  In fact, at the end of last year Goldman Sachs said that what was going on down there was actually a “depression“.

But now the crisis in Brazil has escalated significantly.

I want to share with you an excerpt from a recent article entitled “Brazil: Economic collapse worse than feared“.  I know, that title sounds like it comes directly from The Economic Collapse Blog, but I didn’t write it.

It actually comes from CNN

Amid political chaos, Brazil’s economic collapse is worse than its government once believed.

In the midst of rising calls to impeach President Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s central bank announced Thursday that it now expects the country’s economy to shrink 3.5% this year.

That’s worse than the central bank’s previous estimate for a 1.9% contraction. The darker forecast matches what the International Monetary Fund projected for Brazil — Latin America’s largest country — and what many independent economists have suspected.

It is one thing for Michael Snyder to tell you that Brazil is in the midst of “economic collapse”, but it is another thing entirely for CNN to say it.

And of course I have been warning about the crisis down in Brazil for quite some time now.  For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled “The Economic Collapse Of South America Is Well Underway“.

Meanwhile, things are actually much worse in Venezuela than they are in Brazil.  Food and basic supplies are in short supply, the inflation rate has hit 720 percent, and crime is completely out of control.

The following is from an article in the Independent entitled “Venezuela is on the brink of complete economic collapse“…

The only question now is whether Venezuela’s government or economy will completely collapse first.

The key word there is “completely.” Both are well into their death throes. Indeed, Venezuela’s ruling party just lost congressional elections that gave the opposition a veto-proof majority, and it’s hard to see that getting any better for them any time soon — or ever.

Incumbents, after all, don’t tend to do too well when, according to the International Monetary Fund, their economy shrinks 10 percent one year, an additional 6 percent the next, and inflation explodes to 720 percent. It’s no wonder, then, that markets expect Venezuela to default on its debt in the very near future. The country is basically bankrupt.

Once again we see a very respected mainstream publication using the phrase “economic collapse” to describe what is happening in South America.

You can find some stunning video of the “economic Armageddon” that is taking place in Venezuela right here.  I would encourage you to watch that video, because what is happening down there will eventually be happening here.

Meanwhile, over in Europe the collapse of the Italian banking system has entered a disturbing new chapter.  Italy’s finance minister has called a meeting in Rome for Monday that will be focusing on a “last resort” bailout plan for the troubled banks…

Finance minister Pier Carlo Padoan has called a meeting in Rome on Monday with executives from Italy’s largest financial institutions to agree final details of a “last resort” bailout plan.

Yet on the eve of that gathering, concerns remain as to whether the plan will be sufficient to ringfence the weakest of Italy’s large banks, Monte dei Paschi di Siena, from contagion, according to people involved in the talks.

Italian bank shares have lost almost half their value so far this year amid investor worries over a €360bn pile of non-performing loans — equivalent to about a fifth of GDP. Lenders’ profitability has been hit by a crippling three-year recession.

As Italy descends into financial chaos, the rest of the continent better be paying attention.

Do you remember how hard it was for the rest of Europe to rescue Greece?

Well, Greece has the 44th largest economy on the planet.

Italy has the 8th.

It would be hard to overstate the seriousness of what is going on over in Europe, and it is not just Italy we are talking about.  All over the continent major banks are in deep trouble, and the chairman of France’s second largest  retail bank recently told reporters that “I am much more worried than I was in 2009“.

And there is very good reason for concern.  On Sunday, we learned that a major “bail-in” had just been announced for one of Austria’s most prominent banks.  The following comes from Zero Hedge

And then today, following a decision by the Austrian Banking Regulator, the Finanzmarktaufsicht or Financial Market Authority, Austria officially became the first European country to use a new law under the framework imposed by Bank the European Recovery and Resolution Directive to share losses of a failed bank with senior creditors as it slashed the value of debt owed by Heta Asset Resolution AG.

The highlights from the announcement:

Today, the Austrian Financial Market Authority (FMA) in its function as the resolution authority pursuant to the Bank Recovery and Resolution Act (BaSAG – Bundesgesetz über die Sanierung und Abwicklung von Banken) has issued the key features for the further steps for the resolution of HETA ASSET RESOLUTION AG. The most significant measures are:

  • a 100% bail-in for all subordinated liabilities,
  • a 53.98% bail-in, resulting in a 46.02% quota, for all eligible preferential liabilities,
  • the cancellation of all interest payments from 01.03.2015, when HETA was placed into resolution pursuant to BaSAG,
  • as well as a harmonisation of the maturities of all eligible liabilities to 31.12.2023.

According to the current resolution plan for HETA, the wind-down process should be concluded by 2020, although the repayment of all claims as well as the legally binding conclusion of all currently outstanding legal disputes will realistically only be concluded by the end of 2023. Only at that point will it be possible to finally distribute the assets and to liquidate the company.

The dominoes are starting to fall in Europe, and I would expect even bigger announcements in the weeks and months to come.

Over in Asia, economic chaos is beginning to prevail as well.

In China, the stock market is already down more than 40 percent from the peak, Chinese exports were down 25.4 percent on a year over year basis in February, and Chinese economic numbers overall have not been this poor since the depths of the last global recession.

At the same time, the Japanese economy is really struggling right now.  As I wrote about the other day, Japanese GDP has shrunk for two out of the last three quarters, we just saw Japanese industrial production experience the biggest one month decline that we have witnessed since the tsunami of 2011, and business sentiment has fallen to a three year low.  The Nikkei has dropped by about 5,000 points from where it was last summer, and some analysts believe that Japanese markets “are being destroyed” due to massive intervention by the Bank of Japan.

Here in the United States, we haven’t been hit quite as hard as the rest of the world just yet, but there are lots of very disturbing warning signs all around us.

At the end of last week, we learned that it is being projected that U.S. GDP will have grown by just 0.1 or 0.2 percent during the first quarter of 2016.  And on Monday corporate earnings reporting season begins, and it is expected to be a very, very bad one.  The following comes from Business Insider

We are about to get confirmation that earnings growth for America’s biggest companies was negative in the first quarter, compared to the same period a year ago.

When aluminum giant Alcoa releases its results on Monday, it will mark the unofficial start of the heaviest reporting season for S&P 500 companies.

The final scoreboard is expected to show a 9.1% earnings drop for the quarter, according to FactSet senior earnings analyst John Butters.

If these projections turn out to be accurate, it will be the fourth quarter in a row of earnings declines.  This is something that we never see outside of a recession.

And for a whole bunch more numbers which indicate that the U.S. economy is in very serious trouble, please see my previous article entitled “19 Facts That Prove Things In America Are Worse Than They Were Six Months Ago“.

Of course I am just another voice in the crowd when it comes to predicting that the U.S. economy is headed for rough times.  For example, just check out what Societe Generale economist Albert Edwards is saying

A tidal wave is coming to the US economy, according to Albert Edwards, and when it crashes it’s going to throw the economy into recession.

…the profit recession facing American corporations is going to lead to a collapse in corporate credit.

“Despite risk assets enjoying a few weeks in the sun our fail-safe recession indicator has stopped flashing amber and turned to red”

He continued:

Whole economy profits never normally fall this deeply without a recession unfolding. And with the US corporate sector up to its eyes in debt, the one asset class to be avoided — even more so than the ridiculously overvalued equity market — is US corporate debt. The economy will surely be swept away by a tidal wave of corporate default.

As you can see, it isn’t just one nation or one region of the world that we need to be concerned about.

Economic chaos is erupting literally all over the planet, and global leaders are starting to panic.

Unfortunately, they have had seven years to try to fix things since the last global recession, and they didn’t get the job done.  Anyone that believes that by some miracle they will be able to pull us out of the fire this time and that everything will somehow be okay is simply engaged in wishful thinking.

*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.*

23 Percent Of Americans In Their Prime Working Years Are Unemployed

Unemployment - Public DomainDid you know that when you take the number of working age Americans that are officially unemployed (8.2 million) and add that number to the number of working age Americans that are considered to be “not in the labor force” (94.3 million), that gives us a grand total of 102.5 million working age Americans that do not have a job right now?  I have written about this before, but today I want to focus just on Americans that are in their prime working years.  When you look at only Americans that are from age 25 to age 54, 23.2 percent of them are unemployed right now.  The following analysis and chart come from the Weekly Standard

Here’s a chart showing those in that age group currently employed (95.6 million) and those who aren’t (28.9 million):

Americans In Their Prime Working Years Not Working

“There are 124.5 million Americans in their prime working years (ages 25–54). Nearly one-quarter of this group—28.9 million people, or 23.2 percent of the total—is not currently employed. They either became so discouraged that they left the labor force entirely, or they are in the labor force but unemployed. This group of non-employed individuals is more than 3.5 million larger than before the recession began in 2007,” writes the Republican side of the Senate Budget Committee.

Clearly, we have never recovered from the impact of the last recession.

But let’s try to put these numbers in context.

Below, I would like to share two charts with you.  They show what has happened to the inactivity rates for men and for women in their prime working years in the United States in recent years.

In order to be considered “inactive”, you can’t have a job and you can’t be looking for a job.  So this subset of people is smaller than the group that we were talking about above.  The 23.2 percent of Americans in their prime working years that are unemployed right now includes those that are looking for a job and those that are not looking for a job.

These next two charts do not include anyone that has a job or that is currently looking for a job.  These charts only cover “inactive” people in their prime working years that are not considered to be in the labor force.

As you can see in this first chart, the inactivity rate for men in their prime working years exploded higher during the last recession and then continued to go up even after the recession supposedly ended.  At this point, it is hovering near all-time record highs.  Does this look like an “economic recovery” to you?…

Inactivity Rate Men

For women, we see a similar thing.  In this next chart, you can see that the inactivity rate for women in their prime working years rose during the last recession and then just kept on rising.  At this point, it remains far higher than it was during the last recession…

Inactivity Rate Women

What are we to make of all this?

For both men and women in their prime working years, the inactivity rate is significantly higher than it was during the last recession.

All of these people neither have a job nor are they looking for one.

So what in the world is going on here?

Are they independently wealthy?

Have these people found rich spouses to marry so they don’t have to work?

No, the truth is that the middle class in America is steadily eroding and poverty is absolutely exploding.  Credit card debt has soared to a new record high, and 48 percent of all U.S. adults under the age of 30 believe that “the American Dream is dead”.

The issue isn’t that people don’t want to work.

The issue is that people cannot find enough work.

And even if you have a job, that does not mean that you are on easy street.  According to the Social Security Administration, 51 percent of all American workers make less than $30,000 a year.

Tens of millions of Americans are now among the ranks of “the working poor”.  So many families are watching their expenses soar while their paychecks go down or stagnate.  If you are in this situation right now, then you probably know how exceedingly stressful it can be.

Just look at what is happening to the cost of health insurance.  The following comes from Fox News

Health insurance premiums have increased faster than wages and inflation in recent years, rising an average of 28 percent from 2009 to 2014 despite the enactment of Obamacare, according to a report from Freedom Partners.

And I am not exactly sure where they got those numbers.  Personally, I know that my health insurance rates have gone up far faster than that.

Two years ago, my health insurance company wanted to double the health insurance premiums for my family even though we never get sick.  So I switched to another insurance company that offered a policy that was only about 30 percent higher than my last one.  But then when it came time to renew, that insurance company wanted to raise my rate by another 50 percent.

Thanks to Obamacare, American families are being absolutely crippled by the cost of health care.  And of course we are seeing the rising cost of living so many other places as well.  Our paychecks are being squeezed harder and harder, and this is absolutely killing the middle class.  In fact, the middle class in America is now a minority for the first time ever.

And now for the real bad news – this is about as good as things are ever going to get in this country.  As you can see from what I have shared above, we never really had any sort of meaningful “economic recovery”, and now we have entered the early phases of the next major downturn.

So where do we go from here?  Unfortunately, our debt-fueled prosperity has provided us with a massively inflated standard of living that is not even close to sustainable.  As this bubble bursts, the economic pain is going to be absolutely unprecedented.

But it won’t be just economic pain that we are facing.  In my new book, I detail the things that I believe that are coming to this country, and I explain why the entire planet will soon be facing incredibly challenging times.  It is going to be one of the most controversial Christian books of 2016, because it directly challenges many of the things that are being taught in mainstream churches today.  My book is an ominous message of warning and an inspiring message of hope, and I truly believe that it is the most important thing that I have ever written.

No matter how you may see the future, the key is that we all learn to love one another.  The years ahead are going to be extremely challenging, and those that want to chase everyone else away and survive as lone wolves are going to have a very rough time.  We all need each other, and those that have friends, family and communities around them are going to be in a much better position to weather the coming storms.

So let us hope for the best, but let us also prepare for the worst…

Do Not Despise Small Beginnings – An Incredible True Story That You May Find Hard To Believe

Michael SnyderIt has been said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.  Well, I would like to share a little bit of my journey with you, and hopefully this will inspire someone out there.  We live in a day and age when you don’t have to be a celebrity to make a difference.  I know this is true because ten years ago I was about as anonymous as you could possibly get.  I was newly married and working as a lawyer in the heart of Washington D.C. not too far from the White House.  That may sound glamorous to you, but it definitely was not.  Approximately one out of every 12 residents of D.C. is a lawyer according to some estimates, and so they are a dime a dozen.  And my work was about as meaningless as you could get.  If there was a lawyer version of a toilet scrubber, that would have been me.  Nobody knew who I was, and nobody cared who I was.  I was having no real measurable impact on the world around me, but I wanted to.  I just didn’t know how.

In 2008, I started to look into something called blogging.  I learned that there were more than a million blogs already on the Internet by that time, and so I had no idea why anyone would possibly want to read anything that I had to say, but I decided to try it.  I began with a few free Blogger blogs, and my readership in those days could have been measured with a magnifying glass.

But I stuck with it.

And that is one of the keys to success in any area of life.  So many people give up if they don’t have immediate success.  And that is so sad, because all “overnight success stories” had to start somewhere.

So do not despise small beginnings – they can ultimately lead to something great.

Eventually my readership began to grow, and the real turning point for me came when I left the legal world at the end of 2009 and started The Economic Collapse Blog.  Of course that had very humble beginnings as well.  The first month the site was live I only had about 4,800 pageviews.  But that was a whole lot more than I had before.

Very early on I decided that I was going to try to put out the highest quality articles that I could possibly write, and people really responded to that.  They knew that they weren’t getting straight answers about the economy from the mainstream media, and they were seeking out alternative sources of information.  We have seen the “alternative media” absolutely explode in recent years, and I am proud to be part of that revolution.

In early 2010, my wife and I decided to take a leap and move across the country to a little town outside of Seattle, Washington.  We didn’t really have much money, so it was kind of a crazy thing to do.  But we felt called to do it, so by faith we packed up our lives and moved all the way across the continent.  We figured that I could make a little money writing and she could make a little money painting furniture and we could figure out a way to survive somehow.

We spent a little over a year out near Seattle, and during that time The Economic Collapse Blog started to grow by leaps and bounds.  We also had other websites such as End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News that were really starting to grow as well, and so we felt secure enough to seek out a more permanent home.  That was always the plan anyway, because we wanted to get away from the large population centers.

God eventually led us to a wonderful home in the mountains in a very isolated part of the northwest United States.  And my wife and I both agree that this is the best place that either of us have ever lived.  We absolutely love the peace and quiet, and the view that we have across the valley is priceless.  I could have very easily sat up on that mountain living a very quiet life for the rest of my days and been very happy.

But God had other things in mind for us.  When we moved up there, we believed that God was instructing us to prepare for what He wanted us to do.  So we studied, and we prayed and we kept working on our websites.  And then we studied, and we prayed and we worked some more.  We never knew what kinds of doors God was going to open up for us.  By faith we just tried to do what we believed that He was instructing us to do.

And of course many of you already know about the amazing doors that God has been opening up for us over the past few years.  He is doing things that I never even would have imagined asking Him to do.

The reason why I am sharing all of this is to say that if someone like me can be used to make a difference, so can you.

If a completely anonymous Washington D.C. lawyer can move to the mountains in the middle of nowhere and be used to touch millions of lives all over the planet, that just shows that all things are possible with God.

Of course not everyone has a talent for writing.  But we all have some way to make a difference.  Individually, each one of us in limited, but collectively we can make a massive difference in this world if we are willing to work together.

When I was growing up, I wanted to be a rock star someday, but to this day I still don’t have any musical talent.  However, there are people out there with amazing gifts in that area, and I often find myself in awe of their talents.

Other people can make a different in other areas.  What some people are about to do with YouTube videos absolutely amazes me.  Others write gripping novels or host amazing radio shows.  And yet others organize street protests or get heavily involved in local politics.

We all have different gifts and abilities, and we all have ways that we can make a difference.

Part of my message is to warn people about the incredibly hard times that are coming, but part of my message is also to give hope to people so that they can come through those hard times.

You may choose to curse the darkness when it comes, but I plan on lighting a candle.

No matter how bad things get, I will not bend, I will not break and I will not fear.  It is when times are the darkest that the greatest heroes are needed, and we need people that are going to be willing to face the great challenges that are coming with tremendous strength and courage.

Even in the midst of all of the chaos and all of the darkness, my wife and I believe that the greatest chapters of our lives are still ahead of us.

And we invite you to work with us to make a difference.  God took the broken pieces of my life and turned them into a beautiful thing, and He can do the same thing for you.

No matter how hard things may seem right now, please do not give up.

It’s not over.

In fact, your future is only just beginning, and all things are possible…

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