The Proof Is In The Numbers: America Is Getting Poorer

How in the world can anyone claim that things are getting better?  Sometimes the numbers are so clear that they simply cannot be denied.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, median household income in the United States fell from $51,726 in 2008 to $50,221 in 2009.  That was the second yearly decline in median household income in a row.  In other words, America is getting poorer.  Just let that statistic above sink in for a little bit.  In 2009, American families had roughly $1,500 less coming in than the year before.  Not that the cost of living has gone down either.  Have you been to the supermarket lately?  Things are getting ridiculous out there.  In fact, middle class American families are being squeezed as never before.  More mothers and fathers are scrambling to find second and third jobs just to pay the mortgage and to keep the lights on and to put food on the table.  This is not a time of prosperity in America.  We are in a state of serious decline and it is time to wake up and admit it.

When you stop and analyze the new Census data, something jumps out at you right away.  You quickly realize that these income declines are not limited to just a few regions of the country – they are literally happening from coast to coast.

The U.S. economy is in deep, deep trouble and the proof is in the numbers.  The following are 12 statistics that reveal just how far the standard of living in America is declining….

1According to the Census Bureau, median household income dropped in 34 U.S. states in 2009, and the only state where median household income actually increased was in North Dakota.

2 – The Census Bureau data also revealed that of the 52 largest metro areas in America, only the city of San Antonio did not see a decline in median household income in 2009.

3 – 35 percent of all U.S. households now live on $35,000 or less.

4 – According to the Census Bureau, the percentage of Americans living below the poverty line is the highest it has been in 15 years.

5 – The number of Americans enrolled in the food stamp program passed the 41 million mark for the first time ever in June.

6 – The number of Americans in the food stamp program increased a staggering 55 percent from December 2007 to June 2010.

7One out of every six Americans is now enrolled in at least one anti-poverty program run by the federal government.

8 – Nearly 10 million Americans now receive unemployment insurance, which is almost four times as many that were receiving it back in 2007.

9 – In 2009, U.S. consumer spending experienced the biggest decline since 1942.

10 – As millions of young Americans struggled just to survive, marriages fell to a record low in 2009.  Today, only 52% of Americans 18 years or older are married. 

11 – The only group that saw their household income increase in 2009 was those making $180,000 or more.

12– According to the Huffington Post, the gap between the richest and poorest Americans grew in 2009 to its largest margin ever….

The top-earning 20 percent of Americans – those making more than $100,000 each year – received 49.4 percent of all income generated in the U.S., compared with the 3.4 percent made by the bottom 20 percent of earners, those who fell below the poverty line, according to the new figures. That ratio of 14.5-to-1 was an increase from 13.6 in 2008 and nearly double a low of 7.69 in 1968.

Not that it is a bad thing to make money. 

Contrary to what our socialist friends may think, it is actually a very good thing to work hard and make money.

The point is that the game is rigged and the bottom 80 percent of us are being left behind.

The middle class is being systematically destroyed.  At the rate we are going, we will eventually have a very small group of ultra-wealthy Americans and a gigantic mountain of very poor Americans that are barely able to survive.

The answer to this is not a “redistribution of wealth”. 

What middle class Americans actually need are good jobs with good benefits.

You know, the kind of jobs that the U.S. economy used to produce.

For the vast majority of Americans, all they have to offer in the marketplace is their labor.  If they cannot get someone to hire them for a wage that will enable them to take care of their families then they simply cannot make it without government assistance.

But what our leaders have done in the name of “globalism” is that they have essentially merged our economy with the economies of nations such as China where blue collar workers are paid about a dollar an hour to do the same jobs that American workers get paid 15 to 20 dollars an hour to do.

As a result, jobs and factories are fleeing the United States so rapidly it is hard to even describe.  The deindustrialization of America is happening right in front of our eyes, but the American people have become so dumbed down that most of them don’t even seem to have the capacity to understand what is going on. 

Quite a few advocates of “free trade” (which is not “free” or “fair” at all under our current system) have left comments on my columns telling me that the American people better just suck it up because this is how it is now and the world isn’t going back.  These advocates of the globalist system say that the American people just need to toughen up and learn to compete and need to just accept that the standard of living for workers across the globe is going to be equalized and that is all there is to it.

So are you ready to have the same standard of living as a Chinese sweatshop worker who works 12 hours a day for one dollar an hour?

That is where we are headed.

But things did not have to be this way.  We did not have to merge our economy with communist China and allow them to keep their currency devalued 40 percent lower than it should be so that they could dump massive amounts of cheap goods on our shores.  We did not have to elect politicians that believe that “globalism” is the answer to all of our problems.  We did not have to sign on to the WTO, NAFTA and all the other “free trade” agreements that are destroying the American middle class.

Labor is now a global commodity.  American workers are now part of the global labor force.  The bargaining power of the average American worker has dropped through the floor.  Now the monolithic predator corporations that dominate our economy don’t even have to deal with American workers if they don’t want to.

Very few of our politicians admitted that merging us into a one world economy would mean a dramatic decline in the standard of living of middle class Americans.

But that is exactly what is happening.

Meanwhile, the federal government, our state governments and our local governments keep going into massive amounts of new debt in an effort to keep paying the bills. 

There are some state governments, like Illinois, that are basically flat broke.  In fact, Illinois doesn’t even bother to pay many of their bills anymore.

Of course the federal government is the worst offender of them all.  The U.S. national debt is rapidly approaching 14 trillion dollars, and most of us have gotten so accustomed to it that we don’t even talk about it much anymore.

That is how bizarre things have gotten.

As America keeps getting poorer, and as U.S. taxpayers see their incomes continue to decline, how in the world are U.S. government finances going to turn around?

The truth is that our leaders should be in full blown crisis mode in an attempt to fix this thing.  Pieces of the U.S. economy are literally falling off all around us and our leaders are pushing the debt accelerator to the floor as we head toward a giant cliff.

But instead our politicians are prancing about the countryside telling us that everything is going to be just great as long as we cast our votes for them in the fall.

And the mainstream media keeps telling us that the “recession” is over and that soon the U.S. economy will be better than ever.

Is it any wonder that faith in the mainstream media is now at an all-time low?      

According to a new poll just released by Gallup, the number of Americans that have little to no trust in the mass media (57%) is at an all-time high.

A significant percentage of the American people is starting to wake up.

What about you?

Are you awake yet?

15 Shocking Poverty Statistics That Are Skyrocketing As The American Middle Class Continues To Be Slowly Wiped Out

The “America” that so many of us have taken for granted for so many decades is literally disintegrating right in front of our eyes.  Most Americans are still operating under the delusion that the United States will always be “the wealthiest nation” in the world and that our economy will always produce large numbers of high paying jobs and that the U.S. will always have a very large middle class.  But that is not what is happening.  The very foundations of the U.S. economy have rotted away and we now find ourselves on the verge of an economic collapse.  Already, millions upon millions of Americans are slipping out of the middle class and into the devastating grip of poverty.  Statistic after statistic proves that the middle class in the United States is shrinking month after month after month.  Meanwhile, millions of Americans are starting to wake up and are beginning to realize that we have very serious problems on our hands, but they have no idea what is causing our economic distress and they are unaware that most of our politicians have absolutely no idea how to fix the economic disaster that we have created.

On the mainstream news, the American people are treated to endless footage of leaders from both political parties proclaiming that the primary reason that we are in the midst of such an economic mess is because of what the other political party has done.

Republicans proclaim that we are experiencing all of this economic chaos because of the Democrats.

Democrats proclaim that we are experiencing all of this economic chaos because of the Republicans.

Even many readers of this column (who are generally more educated and more informed than most average Americans) leave comment after comment blaming either the Democrats of the Republicans for our current economic mess.  

But do you really want to know who is to blame for our economic problems?

Both of them.

This economic nightmare has taken literally decades to develop, and both Democrats and Republicans have contributed greatly to this disaster.

Both parties have absolutely refused to stand up to the Federal Reserve and the horrific economic policies that they have been shoving down our throats for decades.

Both parties have stood idly by as the U.S. trade deficit has absolutely exploded in size and the United States has become significantly poorer month after month after month.

Both parties have refused to do anything as month after month after month large numbers of factories and good paying jobs leave the United States.

Both parties have shoved the spending accelerator to the floor when they have been in power and now we have the largest national debt in the history of the world.

Both parties have done essentially nothing as the health care industry, which was once the envy of the world, has degenerated into a cesspool of corruption and greed and now seems designed to do little more than to provide pharmaceutical companies and health insurance crooks with obscene profits. 

If factories keep leaving the United States and jobs keep leaving the United States and the federal government keeps going into more debt and state governments keep going into more debt and local governments keep going into more debt, then things are going to keep getting worse

It does not take a genius to figure that out.

The United States is continually getting poorer and is continually going into more debt.

Can anyone out there explain how that is a formula for economic prosperity?

Seriously.

Can anyone explain how that would work?

Please leave a comment and explain that to all of us if you can.

The truth is that as wealth continues to leave the United States and as the U.S. gets even deeper into debt, more Americans are going to become poor.

It really is that simple.

The following are 15 shocking poverty statistics that are skyrocketing as the American middle class continues to be slowly wiped out….

#1 Approximately 45 million Americans were living in poverty in 2009.

#2 According to the Associated Press, experts believe that 2009 saw the largest single year increase in the U.S. poverty rate since the U.S. government began calculating poverty figures back in 1959.

#3 The U.S. poverty rate is now the third worst among the developed nations tracked by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

#4 According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, on a year-over-year basis, household participation in the food stamp program has increased 20.28%.

#5 The number of Americans on food stamps surpassed 41 million for the first time ever in June.

#6 As of June, the number of Americans on food stamps had set a new all-time record for 19 consecutive months.

#7 One out of every six Americans is now being served by at least one government anti-poverty program.

#8 More than 50 million Americans are now on Medicaid, the U.S. government health care program designed principally to help the poor.

#9 One out of every seven mortgages in the United States was either delinquent or in foreclosure during the first quarter of 2010.

#10 Nearly 10 million Americans now receive unemployment insurance, which is almost four times as many as were receiving it in 2007.

#11 The number of Americans receiving long-term unemployment benefits has risen over 60 percent in just the past year.

#12 According to one recent survey, 28% of all U.S. households have at least one member that is looking for a full-time job.

#13 Nationwide, bankruptcy filings rose 20 percent in the 12 month period ending June 30th.

#14 More than 25 percent of all Americans now have a credit score below 599.

#15 One out of every five children in the United States is now living in poverty.

As millions more Americans continue to climb on to the “safety net”, how long is it going to be before it breaks?

The reality is that the system can only support so many people.  We are now at a point where our anti-poverty programs are clearly unsustainable in the long-term, but nobody has a solution for how we are going to get all of these people off of these programs or how we are going to provide good jobs for all of them.

The cost of every U.S. government anti-poverty program is absolutely soaring.  Meanwhile, the U.S. government is already running a budget deficit that is approaching 1.5 trillion dollars every year.  If you cannot understand that we have a very serious problem on our hands then you are probably not awake.

The U.S. economic system is dying.  Blaming the other political party is not a solution.  Running around the country offering “hope” and “change” and giving people a vague sense that things will get “better” soon is not going to cut it either.

The American people need very real economic solutions to very real economic problems. 

But nearly all of our politicians are way too busy either trying to get elected or trying to stay in office to tackle the very serious problems which are destroying our economy.

Unfortunately, the American people love to watch our politicians play politics.  They love to watch the little ping-pong ball of blame go back and forth.  They love to pick sides and to cheer for their “team”.

None of that is doing any good.  Right now millions of Americans are getting sucked into poverty each year and neither major political party is doing anything real to address the very real economic problems that are causing that to happen. 

But most Americans have become so “dumbed down” that they don’t even understand what the real problems are anymore.

All most Americans seem to want these days is to watch a good show.

So send in the clowns.

There are certainly enough of them in Washington D.C. to keep Americans entertained for quite a long time.

Record Low Mortgage Rates, A Record Low Federal Funds Rate And Obscene Economic Stimulus Spending Have All Failed – Will Nothing Stimulate This Dead Horse Of An Economy?

Over the past several years, the Federal Reserve and the U.S. government have tried everything that they can think of to stimulate this dead horse of an economy but nothing has worked.  The Fed has slashed the federal funds rate to record low levels, mortgage rates have been pushed to all-time lows and the U.S. government has spent hundreds of billions of dollars in an effort to get the economy going.  But despite all these of these extraordinary efforts, the U.S. economy continues to just lie there like a dead corpse.  Never before have the Federal Reserve and the U.S. government done more to try to stimulate the economy and never before have their efforts produced such poor results.  Home sales continue to set new record lows, more than 14 million Americans continue to be unemployed, foreclosures continue to soar, personal bankruptcies continue to soar and an increasing number of Americans continue to sign up for food stamps and other anti-poverty programs.  All of the things that once worked so well to stimulate the U.S. economy seem to be doing next to nothing here in 2010, and the American people are becoming increasingly frustrated by economic problems that just keep getting worse.

Once upon a time, a big drop in mortgage rates would get Americans running out to buy homes in big numbers.  But that is just not happening this time. 

As you can see from the chart below, mortgage rates are at ridiculously low levels right now.  The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage was 4.32 percent this week.  That is the lowest it has ever been since Freddie Mac began tracking mortgage rates back in 1971.

These low rates have motivated millions of Americans to refinance their existing home loans, but sales of new and existing loans remain at record low levels.  In fact, the number of Americans refinancing their homes is now at its highest level since May 2009, but the U.S. housing crisis just continues to get worse.  Despite these record low mortgage rates, existing home sales declined 27 percent during the month of July and new homes sales dropped to the lowest level ever recorded in July.

So if Americans are not buying houses when mortgage rates are this ridiculously low, what in the world is going to cause a turnaround in the U.S. housing market?

The Federal Reserve has sure been trying to do what it can to resuscitate the U.S. economy.  For decades, a drop in the federal funds rate could always be counted on to give the economy a jump start.  But the Fed has dropped the federal funds rate almost to zero for quite some time now and it has done next to nothing to get things moving again. 

So is the Federal Reserve out of ammunition?  Well, let’s just say that they have used up all of their “best” ammunition.  The Fed has been telling us since March 2009 that the federal funds rate will remain between zero and 25 basis points “for an extended period” of time, but the U.S. economy doesn’t seem to care. 

Of course Ben Bernanke insists that the Fed is not out of ammunition and that everything is going to be okay, but at this point there is just not a lot left of Bernanke’s fading credibility.

The U.S. government tried to do their best to help the economy by passing stimulus bill after stimulus bill, but it just has not helped much.  The government spent hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars on some of the most wasteful things imaginable, and while the massive injection of cash may have helped temporarily stabilize the economy, it has not brought about the “recovery” that our politicians were hoping for.

Now the pendulum has swung the other way in Congress and there is very little appetite for more economic stimulus spending.  But if the economy was not recovering when the government was throwing giant piles of money at it, what is going to happen as the economic stimulus totally dries up?

Already there are signs that the U.S. economy is in big, big trouble.  General Motors announced this week that U.S. sales in August fell 24.9% to 185,176 vehicles from 246,479 vehicles in August 2009.

But don’t let up and down sales reports fool you.  One month they may be down and the next month they may be up a bit.  The important thing is to keep your eyes on the truly disturbing long-term trends.

Thanks to the nightmarish U.S. trade deficit, far more wealth leaves the United States each month than enters it.  That means that the United States is getting significantly poorer each month.  As I noted yesterday, the United States spends approximately $3.90 on Chinese goods for every $1 that the Chinese spend on goods from the United States.  That is not sustainable and China is going to continue to bleed us dry for as long as we allow it to continue.

In addition, the United States continues to go into more debt every single month.  Each month the U.S. national debt gets bigger, state governments go into more debt and local governments go into more debt.

So what we have is a nation that is getting poorer and that is going into more debt month after month after month.

We are on the road to economic hell, and the American people don’t even realize it because things are still relatively good – at least for now.

But as the economy continues to unravel, is there anything that the folks over at the Federal Reserve can do?

Well, yes there is.  It is called “quantitative easing” and the Fed has already indicated that they are going to start doing it again.  Essentially, quantitative easing is when the Federal Reserve creates money out of thin air and starts buying things like U.S. Treasuries, mortgage-backed securities and corporate debt.

But isn’t there a good chance that this could cause inflation?

Well, yes.

But “Helicopter Ben Bernanke” seems determined to live up to his nickname.  Anyone who thinks that Bernanke is going to just sit there and do nothing is delusional.  At some point he is going to fire up his helicopter and start showering the economy with money. 

And the reality is that feeding massive quantities into the economy will create more economic activity.  However, it will also come with a price.

Someday soon, you may wake up to newspaper headlines that declare that our economy is growing at a 10% annual rate, but what they won’t tell you is that the real rate of inflation will be running about 15 or 20 percent at the same time.  In fact, the U.S. government will probably try to convince us that the “official” rate of inflation is only about 5 or 6 percent.

The cold, hard truth is that the U.S. economy is going to continue to get worse.  Whether it will be a deflationary decline or an inflationary decline depends on the boys over at the Fed.  But it is going to be a decline.

Meanwhile, millions of American families are hanging on by their fingernails and are hoping in vain for the great economic recovery which is never going to come.

Can A Family Of Four Survive On A Middle Class Income In America Today?

When I was growing up, $50,000 sounded like a gigantic mountain of money to me.  And it was actually a very significant amount of money in those days.  But in 2010 it just does not go that far.  Today, the median household income in the United States for a year is approximately $50,000.  About half of all American households make more than that, and about half of all American households make less than that.  So if your family brings in $50,000 this year that would put you about right in the middle.  So can a family of four survive on $50,000 in America today?  The answer might surprise you.  Twenty years ago a middle class American family of four would have been doing quite well on $50,000 per year.  But things have changed.

You see, despite government efforts to manipulate the official inflation numbers, the price of everything just keeps going up.  The price of food slowly but surely keeps moving up each year.  The price of gas is far higher than it was 10 or 20 years ago.  Taxes just keep going up.  Utility bills just keep going up.  Each year middle class American families have found themselves increasingly squeezed as their expenses have risen much more rapidly than their incomes.  

So just how far will $50,000 go for a middle class American family of four today?  Well, $50,000 breaks down to about $4,000 a month.  So how far will $4,000 a month stretch for a family of four in today’s economy?….

First of all, the family of four needs some place to live.  Even though house prices have come down a bit recently, they are still quite expensive compared to a decade ago.  Let’s assume that our family of four has found a great deal and is only spending $1000 a month on rent or on a mortgage payment.  In many of the larger U.S. cities this is a completely unrealistic number, but let’s go with it for now.

Next, our family of four has to pay for power and water for their home.  This amount can vary dramatically depending on the climate, but let’s assume that the average utility bill is somewhere around $300 a month.

Our family is also going to need phone and Internet service.  Cell phone bills for a family of four can balloon to ridiculous proportions, but let’s assume that our family of four is extremely budget conscious and has found a package where they can get basic phone service, Internet and cable for $100 a month.  Most middle class American families spend far more than that.

Both parents are also going to need cars to get to work.  Let’s assume that both cars were purchased used, so the car payments will only total about $400 a month.  If the vehicles were purchased new this number could potentially be much higher.

If our family has two cars that means that they will also be paying for automobile insurance.  Let’s assume that they both have exemplary driving records and so they are only spending about $100 a month on car insurance.

Our hypothetical family of four is also going to need health insurance.  In the past, families could choose to go without health insurance (at least for a while), but now thanks to Barack Obama all American families will essentially be forced to purchase health insurance.  Health insurance premiums are absolutely skyrocketing, but let’s assume that our family has somehow been able to find an amazing deal where they only pay $500 a month for health insurance.

Our hypothetical family is also going to have to eat.  Let’s assume that our family clips coupons and cuts corners any way that it can and only spends about $50 for each member of the family on food and toiletries each week.  That works out to a total of $800 a month for the entire family.

Lastly, the parents are also going to need to buy gas to get to and from work each week.  Let’s assume that they don’t live too far from work and only need to fill up both cars about once per week.  That would give them a gasoline bill of about $50 a week or $200 a month.  Of course if either of them lived a good distance from work or if a lot of extra driving was required for other reasons this expense could be far, far higher.

So far our family has spent $3400 out of a total of $4000 for the month.  Not bad, eh?

Wrong.

We haven’t taken federal, state and local taxes out of the paycheck yet.  Depending on where our family lives, this will be at least $1000 a month. 

So now we are $400 in the hole.

But to this point we have assumed that our family does not have any credit card debt or student loan debt at all.  If they do, those payments will have to be made as well.

In addition, the budget above includes no money for clothing, no money for dining out, no money for additional entertainment, no money for medications, no money for pets, no money for hobbies, no money for life insurance, no money for vacations, no money for car repairs and maintenance, no money for child care, no money for birthday or holiday gifts and no money for retirement.

On top of all that, if our family of four has a catastrophic health expense that their health insurance won’t pay for (and health insurance companies try to weasel out of as many claims as they can), then our family of four is not just broke – they are totally bankrupt.

Are you starting to get the picture?

It is getting really, really hard out there for middle class American families these days.

And unfortunately, many American families now have at least one parent that is not working.  In some areas of the nation it just seems like there are virtually no jobs available.  For example, at 14.3%, the state of Nevada now has the highest unemployment rate in the nation.  Michigan (which had been number one) is not very far behind.

But even those Americans who are able to find work are finding themselves increasingly squeezed.  For many Americans, a new job means much lower pay.  Millions of highly educated people who once worked in professional positions now find themselves working in retail positions or in the food service industry.  Many are hoping that the economy will “turn around” soon and that they will be able to go back to higher paying jobs, but the truth is that the U.S. economy is simply not producing enough good jobs for everyone any longer.

So where did all the good jobs go?  Well, millions of them have been shipped off to China, India and dozens of other nations around the globe.  Today the United States spends approximately $3.90 on Chinese goods for every $1 that China spends on goods from the United States.  A Chinese factory worker makes about a tenth of what an American factory worker makes.  And China continues to keep their currency artificially low so that jobs will continue to flow into China and so that we will continue to run a massive trade imbalance with them.

In a previous article, “Winners And Losers“, I went into much greater detail about how globalism is destroying middle class jobs.  We are rapidly moving toward an America where there will be a small group of “haves” and a very large group of “have nots”. 

The middle class in America is going to continue to shrink and shrink and shrink in the years ahead.  Not only are both parents going to have to work to pay the bills, but both parents in many families will be forced to take two or three jobs each just to make it each month. 

So what do you think?  Do you think that a family of four can make it on a middle class income in America today?  Feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts….

Home Sales Drop 27 Percent In July And Things Are Only Going To Get Worse For The U.S. Housing Industry

On Tuesday the National Association of Realtors announced that existing home sales in the United States dropped a whopping 27.2% in the month of July.  The consensus among analysts was that we would see a drop of around 13 percent, so when the 27 percent figure was announced it sent a shock through world financial markets.  To say that the real estate industry is alarmed by these numbers would be a tremendous understatement. What we are seeing unfold is essentially “Armageddon” for those involved in the housing and real estate industries.  The real estate market is grinding to a standstill and a shockingly low number of people are actually in the market to buy a home right now.  In the months ahead home sales may pick up a little bit, but only if housing prices start to fall.  Why?  Because right now there are tons of houses on the market and there are very few qualified buyers available to purchase them and potential buyers are starting to realize this.  Buyers are beginning to understand that they have all the leverage now and they are waiting for prices to fall.

Anyone who has taken Economics 101 in college knows that when supply is high and demand is low prices will fall, and that is exactly the situation we have in the U.S. housing market right now.

At the moment, most home sellers in the United States are very hesitant to lower the prices on their homes too much.  Many have no intention of selling their homes below what they originally paid for them, and many others truly believe that the housing market will eventually rebound.

But the truth is that housing prices are simply not going to rebound to 2006 levels.  If anything, they are going to continue to fall.

The following are the three basic points that every American needs to understand about the U.S. housing market right now….    

1) There Is A Gigantic Mountain Of Unsold Homes On The Market

There are a staggering number of unsold homes on the market right now.  As you can see from the chart from the Calculated Risk blog below, there is now over a year’s worth of unsold homes flooding the marketplace….

So who is going to buy all of those unsold homes with so few qualified purchasers in the marketplace?

That is a very good question.

Unfortunately, all the signs indicate that the glut of unsold homes is going to get even worse.

As of this March, U.S. banks had an inventory of 1.1 million foreclosed homes, which was a new all-time record and which was up 20 percent from one year ago.

And the tsunami of foreclosures and repossessions just keeps growing….

*One out of every seven mortgages were either delinquent or in foreclosure during the first quarter of 2010.

*According to RealtyTrac, a total of 1.65 million U.S. properties received foreclosure filings during the first half of 2010.

*U.S. Banks repossessed 269,962 U.S. homes during the second quarter of 2010, which was a new all-time record.

The supply of unsold homes is already incredibly massive and it is growing at a staggering rate. 

With such a flood of homes on the market, why in the world would anyone in their right mind pay a premium price for a home in 2010?

2) There Are Not Nearly Enough Qualified Buyers Seeking To Buy Homes

The banks and lending institutions that survived the subprime mortgage crisis of 2007 and 2008 learned some very valuable lessons.  The days when even the family dog could get approved for a home loan are long gone.  Now the pendulum has swung to the other end of the spectrum.  Fearful of making more bad loans, banks and lending institutions have really, really tightened up lending standards.  So a lot fewer people are getting approved for home loans these days.

That makes a lot of business sense for banks and lending institutions, but it also means that there are a lot fewer qualified buyers out there looking for homes.

Not only that, but millions of Americans who could potentially buy homes are waiting for the market to go down even further.

When you add that all together, you get the kind of home sales numbers discussed at the beginning of the article.

The Mortgage Bankers Association recently announced that demand for loans to purchase U.S. homes has sunk to a 13-year low.  Unless the number of Americans getting approved for home loans starts increasing, you simply are not going to see housing numbers recover much.

And the truth is that Americans are not even doing much browsing for homes right now.  Even Internet searches for homes are way down.  Internet searches on real estate websites are down about 20 percent compared to this same time period in 2009.

So with a massive flood of houses on the market and with very few qualified buyers to purchase them, how in the world are housing prices supposed to go up?

3) The Housing Industry Will Never Fully Recover Without A Jobs Recovery First

In order to get qualified for home loans, Americans have to have good jobs first.  But in this economy that is a huge problem.

Robert Dye, a senior economist with PNC Financial Services Group, recently told USA Today what he believes the bottom line problem of this housing crisis is…. 

“Jobs, jobs, jobs”

Today, 14 million Americans are unemployed and millions more are underemployed.  Unfortunately, there are not nearly enough good jobs for all of them.

Today it takes the average unemployed American over 8 months to find a job.  The number of Americans receiving long-term unemployment benefits has risen a staggering 60 percent in the past year alone.

Things have gotten so bad that according to one recent survey 28% of all U.S. households have at least one person that is searching for a full-time job.

To get an understanding of how horrific the unemployment situation has become in the United States, take 38 seconds to watch the incredible video posted below….

The truth is that without jobs, Americans simply cannot buy homes.

So is there any hope that we will see a robust jobs recovery any time soon?

Well, as I have written about previously, unfortunately there is every indication that the employment market is going to get even worse.

So the bottom line is that the housing market is going to continue to suffer.

There is going to continue to be a massive glut of unsold homes on the market.

There are going to continue to be very few qualified buyers in the marketplace.

Large numbers of Americans are going to continue to be unemployed.

Yes, that is a lot of bad news, but you aren’t reading this column to get the same kind of mindless optimism that you get from the mainstream media news.

Even Tony Robbins Is Warning That An Economic Collapse Is Coming

It seems like almost everyone is warning of a coming economic collapse these days.  Do you remember Tony Robbins?  He is probably the world’s best known “motivational speaker” and his infomercials dominated late night television during the 80s and 90s.  He was always urging all of us to “unleash the power within” and to take charge of our lives.  Well guess what?  Now Tony Robbins is warning that an economic collapse is coming. In fact, he has issued a special video warning about what he believes is about to happen. Considering the incredible connections that he has at the highest levels of the financial world, it makes a lot of sense to consider what he is trying to warn us about. Robbins says that a “major retracement” is coming to financial markets and that the coming collapse is going to be a “painful process” as we go through it.  Those familiar with Tony Robbins know that he always goes out of his way to stress the positive, so if even he is openly warning the public about a coming economic nightmare than you know that things are starting to get really, really bad out there.

The video that Tony Robbins published where he gives his economic warning is posted in two parts below.  This is unlike any Tony Robbins video that you have ever seen before and it is absolutely jaw dropping….  

Part 1:

Part 2:

So is Tony Robbins right about what is coming?

Yup.

An economic collapse is coming.

You need to get prepared.

For those not familiar with my previous articles, let’s review just some of the reasons why America is headed towards an economic nightmare of unprecedented proportions….

The National Debt – The U.S. government has accumulated a national debt that is rapidly approaching the 14 trillion dollar mark.  According to Democrat Erskine Bowles, one of the heads of Barack Obama’s national debt commission, if we continue on the path we are on the U.S. government will be spending $2 trillion just for interest on the national debt by 2020.

State And Local Debt – Many of America’s state and local governments may be in even worse financial shape than the federal government is.  In fact, some state and local governments are in such a financial mess that they have starting cutting off even the most essential services.

Consumer Debt – The total amount of consumer debt that Americans have accumulated now stands at approximately 11.7 trillion dollars

The Trade Deficit – The U.S. trade deficit has exploded to nightmarish proportions over the past two decades.  Every single month tens of billions more dollars flows out of the country than flows into it.  The rest of the world is literally bleeding us dry in slow motion.

No Jobs – Today it takes the average unemployed American over 8 months to find a job.  The number of Americans receiving long-term unemployment benefits has risen over 60 percent in just the past year.

The Credit Crunch – The U.S. is experiencing a credit crunch unlike anything it has seen since the Great Depression.  Lending has really, really dried up, but without loans our economic system cannot function properly.

The Housing Crisis – Even with mortgage rates at historic lows, a shockingly low number of Americans are buying houses.  There has been a total collapse in home sales since the home buyer tax credit expired.  At the same time, mortgage defaults, foreclosures and home repossessions by banks continue to set new all-time records. 

Rising Bankruptcies – Nationwide, bankruptcy filings rose 20 percent in the 12-month period ending June 30th.

Rising Poverty – One out of every eight Americans and one out of every four American children are now on food stamps.  Approximately 50 million Americans couldn’t even afford to buy enough food to stay healthy at some point last year.

The Coming Pension Crisis – America is facing a pension crisis that is so nightmarish that it is almost impossible to adequately describe it.  State and local government pension plans are woefully underfunded, dozens of large corporate pension plans either have collapsed or are on the verge of collapsing, Social Security is a complete and total financial disaster and about half of all Americans essentially have nothing saved up for retirement.

The Derivatives Bubble – Our financial system has become a gigantic gambling parlor and we have allowed a horrific derivatives bubble to develop that could destroy the entire world economy if it ever bursts.  Nobody knows exactly how big the derivatives bubble is, but low estimates place it at around 600 trillion dollars and high estimates put it at around 1.5 quadrillion dollars.  Once that bubble pops there simply will not be enough money in the entire world to fix it.

The Federal ReserveThe Federal Reserve has devalued the U.S. dollar by over 95 percent since 1913 and it has been used to create the biggest mountain of government debt in the history of the world.  There are many economists who would argue that the Federal Reserve is at the very core of our economic problems.

As we get even closer to the economic abyss that we are racing towards, even more big names such as Tony Robbins will come forward with warnings.

The truth is that these problems did not develop overnight, and they are not going to be solved overnight either. 

Perhaps our economic future is best summed up by this one statement that economist Paul Krugman recently made….

“America is now on the unlit, unpaved road to nowhere.”

It would be great if I could write about America’s bright economic future and the unlimited prosperity that is ahead for all of us, but that would be a lie.

We are headed for an economic collapse.

It is going to be painful.

It is time to get prepared.

5 Trillion MORE Dollars To Fix Fannie Mae And Freddie Mac???

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have become gigantic financial black holes that the U.S. government endlessly pours massive quantities of money into.  Unfortunately, if the U.S. government did allow Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to totally implode, both the mortgage industry and the housing industry in the United States would completely collapse.  So essentially the U.S. government finds itself between a rock and a hard place.  Prior to the financial crisis of the last few years, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were profit-seeking private corporations that also had a government-chartered mission of expanding home ownership in America.  But now that they have been officially taken over by the U.S. government, they have become gigantic bottomless money pits.  It is hard to even describe just how much of a mess Fannie and Freddie are in.  However, the unprecedented intervention by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the mortgage market over the past couple of years has been about the only thing that has kept it from plunging into absolute chaos.  So what does the future hold for Fannie Mae and for Freddie Mac?  Well, according to one estimate, it could take another 5 trillion dollars to “fix” Fannie Mae And Freddie Mac.

Yes, you read the correctly.  According to an article in the Christian Science Monitor, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are facing $5 trillion dollars in liabilities that the federal government is going to have to deal with one way or another….

An exit strategy could involve adding Fannie and Freddie’s roughly $5 trillion in obligations, in effect, to a federal balance sheet that already includes $13.3 trillion in federal government debts. The GSE obligations would be a different animal, because those liabilities would need to be covered by taxpayers only if things went bad in the housing market.

It is hard to even put into words how much money that is.  If you were alive when Jesus was born, and you spent one million dollars every single day since then, you still would not have spent one trillion dollars by now.

But Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are not a one trillion dollar problem.

They are a five trillion dollar problem.

And if the housing market gets even worse (which it will), that figure could rise substantially.

Of course the U.S. government should have never gotten into the mortgage business in the first place, but these days the U.S. government is intervening in virtually every industry.

And don’t expect U.S. government support for the mortgage industry to stop any time soon.  In fact, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner says that the U.S. government plans to continue to play a prominent role in back-stopping mortgages in order to keep the U.S. economy stabilized.

But if the only thing keeping the U.S. housing industry from plunging into the abyss is unprecedented intervention by the U.S. government, what does that say about the overall health of the U.S. economy?

Mortgage defaults and foreclosures continue to set new all-time records even with all of this government intervention.  In fact, major U.S. banks wrote off about $8 billion on mortgages during the first 3 months of 2010, and if this pace continues it will even exceed 2009’s staggering full-year total of $31 billion.

Not only that, but construction of new homes in the U.S. and applications to build new homes in the U.S. both declined to their lowest levels in more than a year during July.

And things are rapidly getting even worse for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Mortgages held by Fannie and Freddie are going delinquent at a very alarming pace as the Christian Science Monitor recently explained….

As of March 31 this year, 6.3 percent of mortgages held by Fannie and Freddie are either seriously delinquent or in foreclosure. Although that’s down slightly from the figure three months earlier, it represents a big one-year rise (from 3.9 percent in early 2009).

An increase in delinquencies of over 50 percent in just one year?

That is not a promising trend.

If the U.S. housing market takes another big dive in the next few years, and things certainly look very ominous at the moment, what in the world is that going to do to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?

So what is the solution?

Well, on Tuesday the Obama administration invited prominent banking executives to offer their thoughts on the mortgage market.

So what was the consensus?

It was something along the lines of this: “Please, oh please, oh please continue propping up the 11 trillion dollar mortgage market.”

So much for capitalism, eh?

When even the banksters are begging for massive ongoing government intervention you know that the game has changed.

Adam Smith must be rolling over in his grave.

But this is where we are at.

We are on the verge of a horrific economic collapse, and it is only enormous intervention by the U.S. government that is holding things together.

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Federal Housing Administration and the Veterans Administration backed approximately 90 percent of all home loans made during the first half of 2010.

So where would we be without the government?

Of course we could let the whole thing collapse and allow housing prices to eventually settle at a level where people could actually afford them, but what fun would that be?

No, for now the U.S. government will continue to endlessly spend billions of dollars to prop up a system that is artificially inflated and that is destined to collapse one way or another.

The truth is that the American middle class is slowly being wiped out and they just can’t afford to pay $300,000, $400,000 or $500,000 for their houses anymore.

Without good jobs, the American people are not going to be able to afford hefty mortgages.  Unfortunately, millions upon millions of middle class jobs are being offshored and outsourced every single year and they are not coming back.

There simply will never be a recovery in the housing market without jobs.  But in the new global economy, American workers have been put in direct competition with the cheapest labor in the world.  It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that jobs are going to be taken away from American workers and given to people who are willing to work for less than ten percent as much.

So, no, the housing market is never going to fully recover.  Things got dramatically out of balance over the past couple of decades, and the housing market is going to try to restore that balance regardless of what the U.S. government does. 

The U.S. government can continue to throw billions (or even trillions) of dollars at the problem, but in the end the underlying economic fundamentals are simply not going to be denied.

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