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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let that sink in for a moment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hopefully they are right.

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

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

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

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

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

The Globalists Are Systematically Destroying America’s Middle Class

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Would you want to work for $2.25 an hour?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So how do we fix this?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is that acceptable to you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What an incredible idea, eh?

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

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

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

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

Oh.

What a bummer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Debt Nightmare: Does Anyone Actually Care That Our Exploding National Debt Is Destroying Our Future?

When will America finally wake up?  The borrower is the servant of the lender, and we now have a colossal 20 trillion dollar chain around our collective ankles.  We have willingly enslaved ourselves, our children and our grandchildren, and yet our addiction is so insatiable that we continue to add more than 100 million dollars to our debt load every single hour of every single day.  The national debt is sitting at a grand total of $20,162,176,797,904.13 at this moment, but now that the debt ceiling has been lifted that number is expected to shoot up very rapidly toward 21 trillion dollars by the end of the year.  The national debt had been held down by accounting tricks to keep it under the debt limit for many months, but every time this has happened before we have seen the national debt absolutely explode back to projected levels once the debt ceiling was raised.

But very few of our “leaders” in Washington seem to care that we are in the process of committing national suicide.  There is no possible way that we will be able to continue to be the most powerful economy on the planet if we continue down this road.  During Obama’s eight years in the White House, we added more than 9 trillion dollars to the national debt.  That certainly improved things in the short-term, because if we could go back and take 9 trillion dollars out of the economy over the past 8 years we would be in an absolutely nightmarish economic depression right now.

But even with all of this borrowing and spending, our economy has still only grown at an average rate of just 1.33 percent a year over the last 10 years.

And by going into so much debt, we are literally destroying the future for our children and our grandchildren.

What we are doing to them is beyond criminal, and people should be going to prison over this.  But instead we just keep rewarding these Congress critters by sending the same cast of characters back to Washington over and over again.

Are we insane?

The feds are now projecting that the official yearly budget deficit will reach 1.4 trillion dollars by 2027.  Of course federal projections always end up being far more optimistic than reality.

And we are already spending about 500 billion dollars a year just on interest on the national debt, and by 2027 that number is projected to jump to 760 billion dollars a year.

This is complete and utter insanity, and yet we just can’t control ourselves.  The government continues to throw around money as if there is no tomorrow, and our tax dollars are being wasted on some of the most ridiculous things imaginable.

For instance, the U.S. military is spending 42 million dollars each year on Viagra.

We must stop this madness, and we must stop it now.  I really like how an editorial in the Houston Chronicle made this point…

Tax-and-spend politics are bad, but borrow-and-spend is worse. While we have some control over whether our lawmakers raise taxes, our children and grandchildren don’t get a vote on whether we burden them with debt.

Over the long run, huge government debt takes cash out of the economy and drives up interest rates, slowing economic growth and hurting private enterprise.

To protect the U.S. economy, Republicans need to nip plans to eliminate the debt ceiling in the bud and then get to work balancing the federal budget.

Will we ever learn?

Since the beginning of our nation, many of our most prominent statesmen have been warning about the dangers of accumulating government debt.  For example, during his farewell address President George Washington instructed the country to “avoid … the accumulation of debt not only by shunning occasions of expense but by vigorous exertions to discharge the debts, no throwing upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear.”

And Thomas Jefferson famously said that he wished that he could have added one more amendment to the U.S. Constitution which would have banned government borrowing…

“I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our constitution. I would be willing to depend on that alone for the reduction of the administration of our government to the genuine principles of it’s constitution; I mean an additional article, taking from the federal government the power of borrowing.”

This is one of the primary reasons why we must abolish the Federal Reserve system.  The Federal Reserve was actually designed to create a government debt spiral from which we could never possibly escape.  That is why the size of our national debt has gotten more than 5000 times larger since 1913, and we are never going to permanently solve our national debt problem until we get rid of the Fed.

Most Americans don’t realize this, but the path that we are currently on is not sustainable by any definition.  Debt levels are growing much, much faster than GDP, and that is a recipe for disaster.  The following is an excerpt from one of my previous articles

We are living in the greatest debt bubble in the history of the world.  In 1980, total government and personal debt in the United States was just over the 3 trillion dollar mark, but today it has surpassed 41 trillion dollars.  That means that it has increased by almost 14 times since Ronald Reagan was first elected president.  I am searching for words to describe how completely and utterly insane this is, but I am coming up empty.  We are slowly but surely committing national suicide, and yet most Americans don’t even understand what is happening.

According to 720 Global, total government debt plus total personal debt in the United States was just over 3 trillion dollars in 1980.  That broke down to $38,552 per household, and that figure represented 79 percent of median household income at the time.

Today, total government debt plus total personal debt in the United States has blown past the 41 trillion dollar mark.  When you break that down, it comes to $329,961.34 per household, and that figure represents 584 percent of median household income.

Sadly, most people are entirely clueless about what we are doing to ourselves.  Investors are the most optimistic that they have been in years, and most of the talking heads on television seem to believe that the party can go on indefinitely.

But that is simply not possible.

And the same thing is true from a global perspective as well.  The following comes from Chris Martenson

First: our entire economic model, which dependent on borrowing at a faster rate than income (GDP) grows, is something that simply cannot be maintained at its current rate or level. Check.

Second: depleting species, soils and aquifers are all wildly unsustainable practices that are accelerating. Check.

Last (and most glaring of all): the world’s leadership (and we use that term very loosely) continues to insist on adhering to the indefensible idea that infinite growth on a finite planet is possible  Checkmate.

The clock is ticking, and disaster awaits at the end of this road.

Will somebody please do something?

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

Total Government And Personal Debt In The U.S. Has Hit 41 Trillion Dollars ($329,961.34 Per Household)

We are living in the greatest debt bubble in the history of the world.  In 1980, total government and personal debt in the United States was just over the 3 trillion dollar mark, but today it has surpassed 41 trillion dollars.  That means that it has increased by almost 14 times since Ronald Reagan was first elected president.  I am searching for words to describe how completely and utterly insane this is, but I am coming up empty.  We are slowly but surely committing national suicide, and yet most Americans don’t even understand what is happening.

According to 720 Global, total government debt plus total personal debt in the United States was just over 3 trillion dollars in 1980.  That broke down to $38,552 per household, and that figure represented 79 percent of median household income at the time.

Today, total government debt plus total personal debt in the United States has blown past the 41 trillion dollar mark.  When you break that down, it comes to $329,961.34 per household, and that figure represents 584 percent of median household income.

If anyone can make a good argument that we are not in very serious debt trouble, I would love to hear it.

And remember, the figures above don’t even include corporate debt.  They only include government debt on the federal, state and local levels, and all forms of personal debt.

So do you have $329,961.34 ready to pay your share of the debt that we have accumulated?

Nobody that I know could write that kind of a check.  The truth is that as a nation we are flat broke.  The only way that the game can keep going is for all of us to borrow increasingly larger sums of money, but of course that is not sustainable by any definition.

Eventually we are going to slam into a wall and the game will be over.

One of my pet peeves is the national debt.  Our politicians spend money in some of the most ridiculous ways imaginable, and yet no matter how much we complain about it nothing ever seems to change.

For example, the U.S. military actually spends 42 million dollars a year on Viagra.

Yes, you read that correctly.

42 million of your tax dollars are being spent on Viagra every year.

And overall spending on “erectile dysfunction medicines” each year comes to a grand total of 84 million dollars

According to data from the Defense Health Agency, DoD actually spent $41.6 million on Viagra — and $84.24 million total on erectile dysfunction prescriptions — last year.

And since 2011, the tab for drugs like Viagra, Cialis and Levitra totals $294 million — the equivalent of nearly four U.S. Air Force F-35 Joint Strike Fighters.

Is this really where our spending on “national defense” should be going?  We are nearly 20 trillion dollars in debt, and yet we continue to spend money like there is no tomorrow.  For much more on the exploding size of our national debt and the very serious implications that this has for our future, please see my previous article entitled “Would You Like To Steal 128 Million Dollars?”

I didn’t think that our debt bubble could ever possibly get this big, but I didn’t think that our stock market bubble could ever possibly get quite get this large either.  For a few moments, I would like for you to consider a list of facts about this stock market bubble that was recently published by Zero Hedge

  • The S&P 500 Cyclically Adjusted Price to Earnings (CAPE) valuation has only been greater on one occasion, the late 1990s. It is currently on par with levels preceding the Great Depression.
  • CAPE valuation, when adjusted for the prevailing economic growth trend, is more overvalued than during the late 1920’s and the late 1990’s. (LINK)
  • S&P 500 Price to Sales Ratio is at an all-time high
  • Total domestic corporate profits (w/o IVA/CCAdj) have grown at an annualized rate of .097% over the last five years. Prior to this period and since 2000, five year annualized profit growth was 7.95%. (note- period included two recessions) (LINK)
  • Over the last ten years, S&P 500 corporations have returned more money to shareholders via share buybacks and dividends than they have earned.
  • The top 200 S&P 500 companies have pension shortfalls totaling $382 billion and corporations like GE spent more on share buybacks ($45b) than the size of their entire pension shortfall ($31b) which ranks as the largest in the S&P 500. (LINK)
  • Using data back to 1987, the yield to maturity on high-yield (non-investment grade) debt is in the 3rd percentile. Per Prudential as cited in the Wall Street Journal, yields on high-yield debt, adjusted for defaults, are now lower than those of investment grade bonds. Currently, the yield on the Barclays High Yield Index is below the expected default rate.
  • Implied equity and U.S. Treasury volatility has been trading at the lowest levels in over 30 years, highlighting historic investor complacency. (LINK)

Our financial markets are far more primed for a crash than they were in 2008.

The only times in our entire history that are even comparable are the late 1920s just before the infamous crash of 1929 and the late 1990s just before the dotcom bubble burst.

A whole lot of people out there seem to be entirely convinced that things will somehow be different this time.  They seem to believe that the laws of economics no longer apply and that we will never pay a significant price for decades of exceedingly foolish decisions.

Overall, the world is now 217 trillion dollars in debt.  Earlier this year, Bill Gross raised eyebrows when he said that “our highly levered financial system is like a truckload of nitro glycerin on a bumpy road”, and I very much agree with him.

There is no way that this is going to end well.  Yes, central bank manipulation may be enough to keep the party going for a little while longer, but eventually the whole thing is going to come crashing down in a disaster of unprecedented magnitude.

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

Would You Like To Steal 128 Million Dollars?

What would you do with 128 million dollars?  Many people like to daydream about winning the lottery, and I have to admit that when I was much younger I would do the same thing.  If you were suddenly financially set for life, you could quit your job, buy your dream home, travel the world and spend your days doing whatever you felt like doing.  We only get one trip through this crazy journey called life, and an enormous mountain of cash could make the journey a whole lot nicer.  So if you could steal 128 million dollars and be absolutely certain that you could get away with it, would you do it?

You would probably be surprised at how many people out there would answer that question affirmatively.  Money is a very powerful motivator, and if the fear of getting caught was out of the equation a lot of people out there would certainly be willing to “bend the rules” for a cool 128 million dollars.

But let’s turn this around for a moment.

What if someone stole 128 million dollars from you?

How would you feel about that?

Every crime has a victim, and losing that amount of money would be unimaginable.

Perhaps you think that this scenario is way too outlandish to even be considering.  After all, who in the world could steal 128 million dollars from someone and get away with it?

Well, what if I told you that this has been happening every day?

And what if I told you that this has actually been happening every single hour of every single day for many years?

When Barack Obama entered the White House, the U.S. national debt was just over 10.6 trillion dollars, and when he left the White House 8 years later it was sitting just shy of 20 trillion dollars.

So during those 8 years more than 9 trillion dollars was added to the national debt.  But for purposes of this example we will round down to an even 9 trillion dollars.

When you divide 9 trillion dollars by 8, you get an average of 1.125 trillion dollars that was added to the national debt per year during the Obama era.

Dividing that figure by 365, you find that an average of $3,082,191,780 was added to the national debt every single day during the Obama administration.

And since there are 24 hours in a day, that means that an average of $128,424,657 was stolen from our children and our grandchildren every single hour of every single day while Barack Obama was president.

When you borrow and spend 128 million dollars that you do not have every single hour of every single day, of course that is going to have a huge impact on the economy.  I am often asked why we are not in a horrendous economic depression yet, and this is one of the biggest reasons.  If we were to go back and take 9 trillion dollars of government spending out of the economy over the last eight years, we would be in the worst depression in American history right now.

But even with all of this added debt, the U.S. economy has still only grown at an average yearly rate of just 1.33 percent over the past 10 years, and that is absolutely terrible.

Our leaders in D.C. were able to prop things up in the short-term by going on the greatest debt binge in U.S. history, but of course they have also made our long-term financial problems much, much worse in the process.

Many people don’t realize this, but the growth of the national debt was actually accelerating as the Obama era drew to a close.  In fact, we added more than 1.4 trillion dollars to the debt during fiscal year 2016.

Once upon a time a lot of people out there would get really upset about the growth of our debt, but these days most Americans seem to have accepted that this is how we do things.  This fiscal liberals seem to have won, and our nation is steamrolling down a road toward financial oblivion.

When you point out the economic disasters in Greece, Italy, Cyprus, Venezuela and Zimbabwe, it doesn’t seem to register with most Americans that our country is on the exact same path.

By borrowing money, you can live way above your means for a while, but eventually you have to pay a price for being so reckless.  This has been true all throughout human history, and it will be true in our case as well.

In a letter to John Taylor on November 26th, 1798, Thomas Jefferson explained that he wished that he could have added one more amendment to the U.S. Constitution…

I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our constitution; I would be willing to depend on that alone for the reduction of the administration of our government to the genuine principles of it’s constitution; I mean an additional article taking from the federal government the power of borrowing.

Jefferson wrote extensively about how government debt is a way for one generation to steal money from another generation.

And what we are doing to our children and our grandchildren is absolutely inexcusable.

The term “child abuse” is not nearly strong enough to describe what is taking place, and I don’t know why more people are not seething with anger over what is being done to them.  I am going to do whatever I can to stop this madness, and I hope that you will help me.

Have you ever run up a lot of credit card debt?  If you really wanted to, you could go out today and start living like a millionaire by running up huge credit card balances.  But eventually a day of reckoning would arrive, and you would get to a point where your debts were no longer sustainable.

It is the same thing on a national level.  We have been living way beyond our means for quite a while, but we have been stealing from future generations in order to do it.

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

The Triumph Of Materialism: The Average American Will Spend 830 Dollars On Christmas In 2015

Christmas Gift - Public DomainHas there ever been a major holiday more focused on materialism than the modern American Christmas?  This year, Americans are planning to spend an average of 830 dollars on Christmas gifts, which represents a jump of 110 dollars over the average of 720 dollars last year.  But have our incomes gone up accordingly?  Of course not.  In fact, real median household income in the United States has been experiencing a steady long-term decline.  So in order to fund all of our Christmas spending, we have got to go into even more debt.  We love to pull out our credit cards and spend money that we do not have on lots of cheap, useless stuff made on the other side of the world by workers making slave labor wages.  We do the same thing year after year, and most of us have grown accustomed to the endless cycle of growing debt.  In fact, one Pew survey found that approximately 70 percent of all Americans believe that “debt is a necessity in their lives”.  But then we have to work our fingers to the bone to try to make the payments on all of that debt, not realizing that debt systematically impoverishes us.  It may be hard to believe, but if you have a single dollar in your pocket and no debt, you have a greater net worth than 25 percent of all Americans.  I know that sounds crazy, but it is true.

Overall, when you add up all forms of debt (consumer, business, local government, state government and federal government), Americans are more than 60 trillion dollars in debt.

Let that sink in for a bit.

40 years ago, that number was sitting at about 3 trillion dollars.

We have been on the greatest debt binge in the history of the world.  Even though we were “the wealthiest, most prosperous nation on the entire planet”, we always had to have more.  We just kept on borrowing and borrowing and borrowing from the future until we completely destroyed it.

And we still haven’t learned anything.  Instead, this Christmas season we will be partying like it’s 2007

Americans are planning on celebrating Christmas like it’s 2007.

A November survey by Gallup found that US adults are planning on spending about $830 on average on Christmas gifts this year.

That’s a huge jump from last year’s $720 average.

Notably, American consumers haven’t suggested a number that high since November 2007, when they were planning on spending $866 on average.

Sadly, our incomes simply do not justify this kind of extravagance.  As Zero Hedge has pointed out, household incomes “actually peaked at least 15 years ago in 81% of U.S. counties.”

So why can’t we adjust our lifestyles to match?

Why must we always have more?

Here are more details on our declining incomes from the Visual Capitalist

  • Income peaked one year ago for many of the counties that are a part of the shale boom. This includes much of North and South Dakota, as well as parts of Texas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma. Income in Washington, D.C. and neighboring Arlington County also peaked then.
  • In 1999, a total of 1,623 counties had their households reach peak income. The majority of these counties are in the Midwest and Southeast.
  • The most southern part of California and parts of New England both peaked around 25 years ago.
  • Many states along the Rocky Mountains such as Wyoming and Montana had counties that peaked roughly 35 years ago.
  • Household income peaked in upstate New York, the northern tip of California, and southern Nevada at the same time that humans were first landing on the moon in 1969.

But you won’t hear this reported on the mainstream news, will you?

They want us to think that happy days are here again.

The following chart comes from the Federal Reserve, and it shows that real median household income in the United States has been trending down since 1999…

Real Median Household Income - Federal Reserve

Americans should be having smaller Christmases instead of bigger ones, but that doesn’t fit the image of who we still think that we are.

Recently, I published an article entitled “Goodbye Middle Class: 51 Percent Of All American Workers Make Less Than 30,000 Dollars A Year” that was shared more than 44,000 times on Facebook.  In that article, I included brand new figures that were just released by the Social Security Administration.  As you can see, the quality of our jobs is not great…

-38 percent of all American workers made less than $20,000 last year.

-51 percent of all American workers made less than $30,000 last year.

-62 percent of all American workers made less than $40,000 last year.

-71 percent of all American workers made less than $50,000 last year.

Without a doubt, most American families should not be spending hundreds of dollars a year on Christmas gifts.

At these income levels, most American families are just barely surviving.

But once again this year, millions upon millions of Americans will flock to the malls and big box stores in a desperate attempt to make themselves happy.

Sadly, those efforts will be in vain.  In fact, in a previous article I highlighted the fact that Christmas is the unhappiest season of the year.  The suicide rate spikes to the highest level of the year during “the holidays”, and 45 percent of all Americans report that they dread the Christmas season.  The following is an excerpt from a Psychology Today article

We are told that Christmas, for Christians, should be the happiest time of year, an opportunity to be joyful and grateful with family, friends and colleagues. Yet, according to the National Institute of Health, Christmas is the time of year that people experience the highest incidence of depression. Hospitals and police forces report the highest incidences of suicide and attempted suicide. Psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health professionals report a significant increase in patients complaining about depression. One North American survey reported that 45% of respondents dreaded the festive season.

In recent years, an increasing number of Americans have given up the tradition of Christmas gifts entirely, and many of them that I know seem quite happy to have done so.

Of course most people are still quite satisfied with the status quo, and there are many that will get very angry with you if you dare to suggest that the way that Americans celebrate Christmas has gotten way out of hand.

But shouldn’t it alarm us that for most Americans the biggest holiday of the year is all about the “stuff” they are going to buy, the “stuff” they are going to give and the “stuff” they are going to get?

As a society, we are obsessed with things, but those things are never going to make us happy.

Perhaps we should all take some time to reflect on the traditions that we choose to participate in and what they really mean to us during this “holiday season”…

The Global Liquidity Squeeze Has Begun

Squeeze Globe - Public DomainGet ready for another major worldwide credit crunch.  Today, the entire global financial system resembles a colossal spiral of debt.  Just about all economic activity involves the flow of credit in some way, and so the only way to have “economic growth” is to introduce even more debt into the system.  When the system started to fail back in 2008, global authorities responded by pumping this debt spiral back up and getting it to spin even faster than ever.  If you can believe it, the total amount of global debt has risen by $35 trillion since the last crisis.  Unfortunately, any system based on debt is going to break down eventually, and there are signs that it is starting to happen once again.  For example, just a few days ago the IMF warned regulators to prepare for a global “liquidity shock“.  And on Friday, Chinese authorities announced a ban on certain types of financing for margin trades on over-the-counter stocks, and we learned that preparations are being made behind the scenes in Europe for a Greek debt default and a Greek exit from the eurozone.  On top of everything else, we just witnessed the biggest spike in credit application rejections ever recorded in the United States.  All of these are signs that credit conditions are tightening, and once a “liquidity squeeze” begins, it can create a lot of fear.

Over the past six months, the Chinese stock market has exploded upward even as the overall Chinese economy has started to slow down.  Investors have been using something called “umbrella trusts” to finance a lot of these stock purchases, and these umbrella trusts have given them the ability to have much more leverage than normal brokerage financing would allow.  This works great as long as stocks go up.  Once they start going down, the losses can be absolutely staggering.

That is why Chinese authorities are stepping in before this bubble gets even worse.  Here is more about what has been going on in China from Bloomberg

China’s trusts boosted their investments in equities by 28 percent to 552 billion yuan ($89.1 billion) in the fourth quarter. The higher leverage allowed by the products exposes individuals to larger losses in the event of stock-market drops, which can be exaggerated as investors scramble to repay debt during a selloff.

In umbrella trusts, private investors take up the junior tranche, while cash from trusts and banks’ wealth-management products form the senior tranches. The latter receive fixed returns while the former take the rest, so private investors are effectively borrowing from trusts and banks.

Margin debt on the Shanghai Stock Exchange climbed to a record 1.16 trillion yuan on Thursday. In a margin trade, investors use their own money for just a portion of their stock purchase, borrowing the rest. The loans are backed by the investors’ equity holdings, meaning that they may be compelled to sell when prices fall to repay their debt.

Overall, China has seen more debt growth than any other major industrialized nation since the last recession.  This debt growth has been so dramatic that it has gotten the attention of authorities all over the planet

Wolfgang Schaeuble, Germany’s finance minister says that “debt levels in the global economy continue to give cause for concern.”

Singling out China in particular, Schaeuble noted that “debt has nearly quadrupled since 2007″, adding that it’s “growth appears to be built on debt, driven by a real estate boom and shadow banks.”

According to McKinsey’s research, total outstanding debt in China increased from $US7.4 trillion in 2007 to $US28.2 trillion in 2014. That figure, expressed as a percentage of GDP, equates to 282% of total output, higher than the likes of other G20 nations such as the US, Canada, Germany, South Korea and Australia.

This credit boom in China has been one of the primary engines for “global growth” in recent years, but now conditions are changing.  Eventually, the impact of what is going on in China right now is going to be felt all over the planet.

Over in Europe, the Greek debt crisis is finally coming to a breaking point.  For years, authorities have continued to kick the can down the road and have continued to lend Greece even more money.

But now it appears that patience with Greece has run out.

For instance, the head of the IMF says that no delay will be allowed on the repayment of IMF loans that are due next month…

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde roiled currency and bond markets on Thursday as reports came out of her opening press conference saying that she had denied any payment delay to Greece on IMF loans falling due next month.

Unless Greece concludes its negotiations for a further round of bailout money from the European Union, however, it is not likely to have the money to repay the IMF.

And we are getting reports that things are happening behind the scenes in Europe to prepare for the inevitable moment when Greece will finally leave the euro and go back to their own currency.

For example, consider what Art Cashin told CNBC on Friday

First, “there were reports in the media [saying] that the ECB and/or banking authorities suggested to banks to get rid of any sovereign Greek debt they had, which suggests that maybe the next step will be Greece exiting,” Cashin told CNBC.

Also, one of Greece’s largest newspapers is reporting that neighboring countries are forcing subsidiaries of Greek banks that operate inside their borders to reduce their risk to a Greek debt default to zero

According to a report from Kathimerini, one of Greece’s largest newspapers, central banks in Albania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Romania, Serbia, Turkey and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia have all forced the subsidiaries of Greek banks operating in those countries to bring their exposure to Greek risk — including bonds, treasury bills, deposits to Greek banks, and loans — down to zero.

Once Greece leaves the euro, that is going to create a tremendous credit crunch in Europe as fear begins to spread like wildfire.  Everyone will be wondering which nation will be “the next Greece”, and investors will want to pull their money out of perceived danger zones before they get hammered.

In the past, other European nations have been willing to bend over backwards to accommodate Greece and avoid this kind of mess, but those days appear to be finished.  In fact, the finance minister of France openly admits that the French “are not sympathetic to Greece”

Greece isn’t winning much sympathy from its debt-wracked European counterparts as the country draws closer to default for failing to make bailout repayments.

“We are not sympathetic to Greece,” French Finance Minister Michael Sapin said in an interview at the International Monetary Fund-World Bank spring meetings here.

“We are demanding because Greece must comply with the European (rules) that apply to all countries,” Sapin said.

Yes, it is possible that another short-term deal could be reached which could kick the can down the road for a few more months.

But either way, things in Europe are going to continue to get worse.

Meanwhile, very disappointing earnings reports in the U.S. are starting to really rattle investors.

For example, we just learned that GE lost 13.6 billion dollars in the first quarter…

One week following the announcement that it would dismantle most of its GE Capital financing operations to instead focus on its industrial roots, General Electric reported a first quarter loss of $13.6 billion.

The results were impacted by charges relating to the conglomerate’s strategic shift. A year ago GE reported a first quarter profit of $3 billion.

That is a lot of money.

How in the world does a company lose 13.6 billion dollars in a single quarter during an “economic recovery”?

Other big firms are reporting disappointing earnings numbers too

In earnings news, American Express Co. late Thursday said its results were hurt by the strong U.S. dollar, which reduced revenue booked in other countries. Chief Executive Kenneth Chenault reiterated the company’s forecast that 2015 earnings will be flat to modestly down year over year. Shares fell 4.6%.

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. said its first-quarter loss widened as revenue slumped. The company said it was exiting its dense server systems business, effective immediately. Revenue and the loss excluding items missed expectations, pushing shares down 13%.

And just like we saw just before the financial crisis of 2008, Americans are increasingly having difficulty meeting their financial obligations.

For instance, the delinquency rate on student loans has reached a very frightening level

More borrowers are failing to make payments on their student loans five years after leaving college, painting a grim picture for borrowers, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Student debt continues to increase, especially for people who took out loans years ago. Those who left school in the Great Recession, which ended in 2009, had particular difficulty with repayment, with many defaulting, becoming seriously delinquent or not being able to reduce their balances, the New York Fed said today.

Only 37 percent of borrowers are current on their loans and are actively paying them down, and 17 percent are in default or in delinquency.

At this point, the American consumer is pretty well tapped out.  If you can believe it, 56 percent of all Americans have subprime credit today, and as I mentioned above, we just witnessed the biggest spike in credit application rejections ever recorded.

We have reached a point of debt saturation, and the credit crunch that is going to follow is going to be extremely painful.

Of course the biggest provider of global liquidity in recent years has been the Federal Reserve.  But with the Fed pulling back on QE, this is creating some tremendous challenges all over the globe.  The following is an excerpt from a recent article in the Telegraph

The big worry is what will happen to Russia, Brazil and developing economies in Asia that borrowed most heavily in dollars when the Fed was still flooding the world with cheap liquidity. Emerging markets account to roughly half of the $9 trillion of offshore dollar debt outside US jurisdiction.

The IMF warned that a big chunk of the debt owed by companies is in the non-tradeable sector. These firms lack “natural revenue hedges” that can shield them against a double blow from rising borrowing costs and a further surge in the dollar.

So what is the bottom line to all of this?

The bottom line is that we are starting to see the early phases of a liquidity squeeze.

The flow of credit is going to begin to get tighter, and that means that global economic activity is going to slow down.

This happened during the last financial crisis, and during this next financial crisis the credit crunch is going to be even worse.

This is why it is so important to have an emergency fund.  During this type of crisis, you may have to be the source of your own liquidity.  At a time when it seems like nobody has any cash, those that do have some will be way ahead of the game.

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