The Rise And Fall Of Netflix: Here Are 5 Reasons Why Netflix Stock Is Crashing As The Company Heads For Oblivion

Netflix originally had a truly disruptive business model and they fundamentally changed the way that Americans consume media, but now they are heading for the same fate as Blockbuster.  For years, Netflix was really the only game in town, but now content costs are spiraling out of control and new competitors with even deeper pockets threaten to become the dominant players in the industry.  Of course Netflix is not going to die overnight, but the writing is on the wall.  In fact, Netflix stock has already been crashing over the last several months as investors have begun to realize that the future is not bright for the company.  Back in the middle of the summer, the stock price peaked at $423.21, and as I write this article it is currently at $269.70.  That is an astounding collapse, and here are 5 reasons why Netflix is headed for so much trouble…

#1 The Loss Of Key Content

At one time Netflix boasted the most impressive lineup of television shows and movies in the entire world by a wide margin, but those days are long gone.  The steady loss of content threatens to become an avalanche over the next two years as Disney, Fox and WarnerMedia all pull key content from the service…

Disney is launching its own Netflix-style subscription VOD service next year — dubbed Disney+ — so Netflix will be losing Disney-owned content starting next year. Disney is acquiring 20th Century Fox, so expect more of Fox’s content to leave Netflix, as well. AT&T’s WarnerMedia had pegged Q4 2019 for its own broad-focused SVOD entry, so it’s also going to be pulling back its own stuff from Netflix.

#2 Disney+ Looks Like A Netflix Killer

If you are going to sign up for a streaming service for your family, would you want the one with Disney movies, the Marvel universe, Star Wars, Pixar and ESPN or would you want the one without all of those things?

Disney already has the best content, and they have much deeper pockets than Netflix does.  As Stephen McBride has noted, it is going to be very difficult for Netflix to compete with that…

Disney will launch its own streaming service called “Disney+” next year. It’s going to pull all its shows and movies off Netflix and put them on Disney+ instead.

This is a huge problem for Netflix because Disney has the world’s best content by a long shot. It owns household brands like Marvel… Pixar Animations… Star Wars… ESPN… ABC… X-Men… not to mention all the traditional characters like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck.

#3 Amazon Prime Is Ramping Up Their Spending On Original Shows

Amazon is willing to spend billions on original content, and they have already been gobbling up market share.  Though still behind Netflix, Amazon has shown a willingness to do whatever it takes to become a major player.

For example, at one time you could watch Downton Abbey on Netflix, but now that entire series is exclusively found on Amazon Prime.

And when Amazon announced that it was going to spend 5 billion dollars on original content next year, that freaked out Netflix so much that they increased their planned spending on original content to 12 billion dollars

In February, Amazon (AMZN) announced it would spend $5 billion developing original shows and movies this year. In response, Netflix upped its spending by 50%.

Netflix had planned to spend $8 billion on shows and series this year… now it’ll spend roughly $12 billion. It now invests more in content than any other American TV network.

#4 Netflix Cannot Win A Content Arms Race Because They Are Already Drowning In Debt

Netflix subscribers may appreciate all of the new content that the company has been churning out, but it has come at a very great cost.

Netflix was already drowning in debt prior to 2018, and that debt has shot up by 71 percent to $8.3 billion so far this year.

Meanwhile, two competitors with much deeper pockets will be able to outspend the company very easily in future years

According to content spending numbers reported by research firm Ampere Analysis, Disney and Fox are projected to spend $22 billion per year on both original and acquired content. Similarly, Comcast and Sky are expected to spend $21 billion in 2018.

#5 The Cost Of Licensed Content Is Getting Out Of Control

Netflix has been heavily promoting their own original content, but 63 percent of the content that their subscribers consume is still from other sources…

Original content accounted for 37% of Netflix’s U.S. streams in October 2018, up from 24% a year earlier (and just 14% in January 2017), per video-measurement firm 7Park Data. But that means the majority (63%) of Netflix’s viewing is still from licensed content.

And that licensed content is becoming prohibitively expensive.  For example, Netflix just made a deal to renew streaming of “Friends” for another year for 100 million dollars

Warner Bros.-owned “Friends” stood at No. 3 — with its ongoing popularity helping to explain why Netflix was motivated to ink a one-year renewal for the ’90s-era sitcom, in a deal reportedly worth $100 million.

It absolutely amazes me that millions of Americans are still willing to tune in to old reruns of that show, but apparently it is happening.

But there is no way that deal makes any economic sense whatsoever.

At this point, Netflix is bleeding cash at a rate that is staggering.  It has been projected that Netflix’s free cash flow will be negative 2.79 billion dollars in 2018, which will be the worst year that it has ever experienced.

Looking forward, Netflix will be steadily losing key content and subscribers to competitors, and it is inevitable that their borrowing costs will go up quite a bit.

Without sufficient revenue to service their exploding debt, it is only a matter of time before Netflix flames out and is forced to surrender.

Netflix shares are still worth $269.70 at the moment, but that won’t last for long.  Eventually the company is going to zero, and no amount of irrational optimism will stop that from happening.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

Somebody Pressed The Panic Button On Wall Street – Bank Stocks And Tech Stocks Crash As The Yield Curve Inverts

Stocks aren’t supposed to crash in December.  Most of the time we see a nice “Santa Claus rally” to close out the year, and so what happened on Tuesday is definitely extremely unusual.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 799 points, which was the fourth largest single day point decline in stock market history.  In fact, there was not a single day during the entire financial crisis of 2008 when the Dow dropped by as many points as it did on Tuesday.  Many believed that this “stock market correction” would be limited to October, but then it stretched into November, and now it has extended into the “safe month” of December.  What in the world is going on out there?

It would be difficult to overstate the carnage that we just witnessed.  The Russell 2000 had its worst day in seven years, financial stocks plunged 4.4 percent, and as you will see below FAANG stocks lost enough money to literally buy McDonald’s.

There are many factors that are influencing the markets right now, but the biggest thing that spooked investors on Tuesday was an inversion of the yield curve

Just when it looked like the battered bull was healing, the Dow Jones Industrial Average suffered a drop of nearly 800 points Tuesday when the bond market sent an ominous signal: The yield on the two-year U.S. government bond rose above the interest rate paid out by five-year notes.

Why the pessimism over that obscure-sounding shift? Historically, when short-term rates rise above longer rates – which is dubbed an “inversion of the yield curve” – it signals an economic slowdown is coming.

However, it should be noted that the yield on two year bonds has not yet risen above the yield on 10 year bonds, and until that happens many investors will still not consider the yield curve to have “officially” inverted yet.

But any way that you want to look at it, what has been happening in the bond market is really bad news for the big banks, because it is going to eat into their profits.  In an article posted on Tuesday, CNN explained how this works

The flattening yield curve also affects the income banks collect from lending, since banks pay interest on short-term rates and lend at long-term rates. They make money off the difference.

Once the yield on two year bonds fell below the yield on five year bonds, investors took that as a sign of big trouble for the financial sector, and they started dumping bank stocks like crazy

The flattening yield curve caused investors to bail on bank stocks on concern the phenomenon may hurt their lending margins. The SPDR S&P Bank ETF (KBE) dropped 5.3 percent. Shares of J.P. Morgan Chase, Citigroup and Bank of America all declined more than 4 percent. Citigroup and Morgan Stanley both reached 52-week lows along with Regionals Financial, Citizens Financial and Capital One.

Of course this is just a continuation of a trend that has been building for quite some time, and at this point the damage that has been done is immense.

The following numbers come from Zero Hedge

  • Global Systemically Important Banks are down 30% from 52-week highs.
  • US Financials down 14.5% from 52-week highs.
  • Goldman Sachs is down 33% from 52-week highs.

We haven’t seen anything like this since 2008, and we will want to watch the “too big to fail” banks very carefully during the weeks ahead.

Meanwhile, the FAANG stocks have been getting monkey-hammered as well.

By the end of the day on Tuesday, those stocks had combined to lose more than 140 billion dollars in market value

  • Facebook fell 2.2 percent, losing $7.6 billion in implied market value
  • Amazon fell 5.9 percent, losing $50.8 billion in implied market value
  • Apple fell 4.4 percent, losing $38.5 billion in implied market value
  • Netflix fell 5.2 percent, losing $6.5 billion in implied market value
  • Alphabet fell 4.8 percent, losing $37.5 billion in implied market value

That would be enough money to buy McDonald’s.

Yes, I am talking about the entire company.

Yesterday, I talked about the psychological shift that we have been witnessing.  Instead of endlessly promoting the idea that the U.S. economy is “booming”, the mainstream media is now using phrases such as “economic slowdown”, “the next recession” and “market crash”.  Here are just a few examples…

“Dow plunges nearly 800 points on rising fears of an economic slowdown”

“Worry Less About Inflation and More About Recession”

“The years of easy money in the stock market are coming to an end”

Normally, the markets get very sleepy during the time period between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but that has not happened this year.

The markets will be closed on Wednesday due to the passing of former president George H.W. Bush, and perhaps this “time out” will have soothed a lot of nerves by the time the markets reopen on Thursday.

But as I have warned before, this crisis is not even close to being over.

In fact, it is only just beginning.

We have been waiting for a long time for the largest financial bubble in American history to burst, and now it is starting to happen.  It is being called “the Everything Bubble”, and as it implodes we are going to see things happen that we have never seen before.

When historians look back on this time of history someday, the crisis of 2008 will be just a footnote compared to what is coming.  It has taken decades of very foolish decisions to get us to this point, and the consequences for our unwise choices are going to be far more painful than most people would dare to imagine.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

George Soros Sold Huge Amounts Of Facebook And Netflix Just Before Tech Stocks Crashed

George Soros avoided a loss of more than 17 million dollars by dumping shares of Facebook, Netflix and Goldman Sachs just before the big crash started happening.  In other words, he made out like a bandit by selling at the peak of the market.  Is he smarter than all the rest of us, did he have some inside information, or was he simply lucky?  In recent months, tech stocks have lost approximately a trillion dollars in value, and many investors have been absolutely devastated.  But not George Soros.  According to the most recent filing with the SEC, Soros Fund Management was able to dump shares in Facebook and Netflix just in time

Soros Fund Management, which Soros founded and chairs, exited social-network giant Facebook (FB) completely in the third quarter, while also slashing positions in Netflix stock (NFLX) and Goldman Sachs Group stock (GS). Those three stocks have tumbled in the fourth quarter so far, with Facebook and Goldman setting new lows Tuesday. They are down almost 20% and 15%, respectively, so far this quarter. Highflying streaming-content giant Netflix has tumbled almost 29% since the end of September.

Soros saved a chunk of cash by selling: Barron’s estimates that, had he maintained positions in those stocks, he would have unrealized losses of about $17.7 million so far in the fourth quarter.

Perhaps we will never know what prompted those moves, but with George Soros these strange “coincidences” have happened again and again throughout his career.

Unfortunately, the top executives at the major tech companies were not as prescient, and so some of them have literally lost billions of dollars

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has lost a stunning $42 billion since early September, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, as the e-commerce giant’s stock has dropped more than 25 percent.

Embattled Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has also taken a beating as reports indicate he’s lost some $34 billion since late July and is now worth $52 billion – ranking as the seventh-richest person in the world.

Google chiefs Larry Page and Sergey Brin have lost a combined $20 billion from their peak wealth in July as the search engine’s stock has dropped 20 percent and closed in a bear market on Monday for the first time since 2011.

Could you imagine losing 42 billion dollars?

If I lose 42 dollars I get upset.  So I couldn’t even imagine how I would feel if I lost $42,000,000,000.

The atmosphere on Wall Street has completely shifted over the last couple of months.  Not too long ago those of us that were calling for a bear market were being mocked, but nobody is mocking anymore.

One of the big things that has been propping up the stock market in recent years has been corporate buybacks.  In fact, I wrote a major article about this not too long ago that you can find right here.  Big corporations have literally been spending hundreds of billions of dollars to prop up their own stock prices, and many of these corporations have been going into tremendous amounts of debt in order to do this.

For a long time General Electric was one of the biggest offenders.  They borrowed billions upon billions of dollars for stock repurchases, and it worked for a while.  But now GE shares have been absolutely tanking, and they can’t keep the game going anymore because they are drowning in about 100 billion dollars of debt.  The following comes from an excellent Marketwatch article

GE was one of Wall Street’s major share buyback operators between 2015 and 2017; it repurchased $40 billion of shares at prices between $20 and $32. The share price is now $8.60, so the company has liquidated between $23 billion and $29 billion of its shareholders’ money on this utterly futile activity alone. Since the highest net income recorded by the company during those years was $8.8 billion in 2016, with 2015 and 2017 recording a loss, it has managed to lose more on its share repurchases during those three years than it made in operations, by a substantial margin.

Even more important, GE has now left itself with minus $48 billion in tangible net worth at Sept. 30, with actual genuine tangible debt of close to $100 billion. As the new CEO Larry Culp told CNBC last Monday: “We have no higher priority right now than bringing those leverage levels down.”

GE was once one of the greatest corporations on the entire planet, but now they stand on the precipice of collapse because they were addicted to borrowing money for stock buybacks.

Of course GE is far from alone.  Other corporations that have gone into serious amounts of debt in order to fund share repurchases are also now paying a very great price for doing so.  Ultimately, it was a giant Ponzi scheme of epic proportions, but now the game is collapsing.

In my first novel, there is a stock market collapse that begins in the fall, and things begin to deteriorate very rapidly in this country thereafter.  Unfortunately, we are starting to watch a very similar scenario play out right in front of our eyes.  In recent years a booming stock market has been a big point of pride for a lot of Americans, but now that bubble is bursting.

For many people, money is more important than anything else in life.  In fact, a recent survey discovered that Americans find more meaning and purpose in life from “career” and “money” than they do from “faith”.

But when “the god of money” fails, how are most Americans going to respond?

I do not believe that the United States is going to handle another economic meltdown very well.  We are already a deeply angry and divided nation, but at least our debt-fueled “prosperity” has kept things relatively calm.

If that “prosperity” completely disappears, we are going to have a complete and utter national nightmare on our hands.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

Stock Market Crash: The Dow Has Fallen Nearly 2,500 Points And FAANG Stocks Have Lost A TRILLION Dollars In Value

Thanksgiving week was not supposed to be like this.  Normally things are slow in the days leading up to Thanksgiving as investors prepare to gorge themselves with turkey and stuffing as they gather with family and friends.  But this year the stock market is crashing, and Wall Street is in panic mode.  On Tuesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 24,465.64, which is nearly 2,500 points lower than the all-time high of 26,951.81 that was set in early October.  But as I noted yesterday, what has been happening to tech stocks is even more dramatic.  Each one of the FAANG stocks is now down by more than 20 percent, and they have combined to lose more than a trillion dollars in value.  We haven’t seen anything like this since the financial crisis of 2008, and at this point all of Wall Street’s gains for 2018 have been completely wiped out.

Fear is a very powerful motivator, and right now a lot of investors are feverishly getting out of the market because they are afraid of losing their paper profits.

One analyst is describing what is going on as a rush for the exits

“The highways will be crowded this evening as the Thanksgiving rush will begin in earnest, but this morning investors are rushing for the exits,” Paul Hickey, co-founder of Bespoke Investment Group, wrote to clients on Tuesday.

But for many tech investors, the truth is that the cattle have already left the barn.

Just check out how much market capitalization the “big five” have already lost.  The following numbers come from CNBC

  • Facebook: $253 billion
  • Amazon: $280 billion
  • Apple: $253 billion
  • Netflix: $67 billion
  • Alphabet: $164 billion

When you add those figures together, you get a grand total of 1.02 trillion dollars.

If you were alive when Jesus was born, and you spent a million dollars every day since then, you still would not have spent a trillion dollars by now.

A trillion dollars is an amount of money so vast that it is difficult to comprehend, and those that hesitated to sell at the peak of the market mania are never going to get that money back.

And many believe that the tech losses are just beginning because several of these companies have now entered “death cross” territory

This could be the final nail in the coffin for the FANG trade.

Three of the companies within the big-tech quartet have entered into death crosses, with Facebook, Netflix and Google parent Alphabet seeing their 50-day moving averages cross below their 200-day moving averages.

We shall see what happens in the days ahead, but right now things do not look good.

Apple was supposed to be the strongest and most profitable of the FANG companies, but slowing sales have suddenly changed everything.  In fact, Goldman Sachs just cut their price target for the stock…

Goldman Sachs slashed its Apple price target on Tuesday. The firm said in a note there is a “weakness in demand for Apple’s products in China and other emerging markets,” as well as a disappointing reception for the iPhone XR model.

As the trade war intensifies, many in China have been encouraging a boycott of American goods.

Could this be one of the reasons why Apple phone sales are slowing over there?

The trade war is also being singled out as one of the reasons why the stock market as a whole is falling.  The following comes from CNN

The losses have been sparked by a flurry of concerns about everything from higher interest rates and crashing oil prices to the US-China trade war. But the overarching theme is that investors are bracing for the end of the fantastic economic and profit growth that marked the past year. Analysts expect a deceleration in 2019 driven by tariffs, the fading impact of the tax cuts and higher borrowing costs caused by the Federal Reserve.

“Put simply, stocks have already started to price in the risk of an economic slowdown,” Goldman Sachs chief US equity strategist David Kostin wrote to clients on Tuesday.

Ultimately, people buy stocks because they believe in the future.  If investors believe that they will get more money back than they are originally investing, they will buy stocks.  But if they don’t believe that will be the case, they won’t buy stocks.

For a long time, there was a tremendous amount of optimism about the future on Wall Street, but now that has disappeared.  Without that relentless optimism, it is inevitable that stock ratios will return to their long-term averages, and the S&P 500 sales to price ratio is telling us that stock prices still have a very long way to fall.

But our system will not be able to handle a decline of that magnitude.  There is more leverage on Wall Street today than ever before, and a huge decline in stock prices would lead to a meltdown unlike anything we have ever witnessed.

If we break 20,000 on the Dow, the panic on Wall Street will be off the charts, and the flow of credit will be absolutely strangled. As a result, economic activity would crash at a pace that would make 2008 look like a Sunday picnic.

Our economy is more dependent on Wall Street than ever, and it is absolutely imperative that we have a healthy financial system.  Now that the financial system is starting to crumble, a lot of people are becoming highly alarmed.

But according to Larry Kudlow, we have absolutely nothing to worry about…

‘Corrections come and go,’ he told reporters at the White House, saying that the economy is strong overall.

‘I’m reading some of the weirdest stuff how a recession is in the future,’ Kudlow said. ‘Nonsense.’

‘Recession is so far in the distance I can’t see it,’ he said after appearing in a Fox Business Network interview.

It would be wonderful if Kudlow turns out to be correct.  But in “Get Prepared Now”, I warned about what can happen when we allow others to do our thinking for us.  What is happening on Wall Street should be obvious to everyone, and no amount of optimistic chatter is going to change that.

And the truth is that even the mainstream media is starting to acknowledge the reality of what we are now facing.  CNBC just took a poll of global finance executives, and they discovered that more than half of them believe that the Dow will fall below 23,000…

More than half of the members of the CNBC Global CFO Council think the Dow Jones Industrial Average will fall below 23,000 — roughly 2,000 points from its current level — before the stock market barometer is ever able to top the 27,000 level. The 23,000 level would equate to another 8 percent in decline among the Dow group of stocks before the selling stops.

Ultimately the Dow is going to go much lower than 23,000, and it will shake Wall Street to the core.

But for now, hopefully everyone can have a happy Thanksgiving, because it is likely that there won’t be many happy days for investors after that as this financial meltdown accelerates.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

All The FANG Stocks Are Now In A Bear Market And Facebook Investors Have Already Lost 39 Percent Of Their Paper Wealth

These large stock market declines are starting to become a regular thing, and tech stocks are getting hit particularly hard.  But we have been in a bull market for such a long time that many investors are having a difficult time comprehending what is happening.  Many just keep believing that their beloved tech stocks will eventually bounce back because they just can’t accept the fact that the party is over.  At this point, all of the “FANG stocks” have officially entered bear market territory.  Facebook is down 39.5 percent from their 52 week high, Amazon is down 25.4 percent, Netflix is down 35.6 percent and Google is down 20.3 percent.  And since many throw in Apple to make the acronym “FAANG”, we should also note that Apple’s stock price is now down more than 20 percent from the peak.  The tech stock crash that so many have been waiting for has arrived, and many analysts believe that it is going to get a whole lot worse.

The combined market value of Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google has fallen by 610 billion dollars so far.

Just think about that for a moment.

Most Americans don’t even realize that tech stocks have been crashing, and many of them simply assume that their investments are safe.

And at one time Facebook was considered to be a very safe investment, but now 39.5 percent of the value of Facebook has already been completely wiped out.

It looks like November will be Facebook’s third month in a row in the red, and that will be the longest monthly losing streak that it has ever had.

A lot of people are shocked that this is happening so rapidly.  But really the only surprise is that it has taken this long for these massively overvalued stocks to crash and burn.

The truth is that these companies have been priced beyond perfection.  So when even the smallest piece of bad news comes along, investors can start to panic.

For example, one of the big reasons why Apple has declined so much is because production orders for all three of the new iPhones that were unveiled in September have been slashed.  It looks like iPhone sales are not going to be at quite the level everyone had anticipated, and Wall Street responded by throwing a huge temper tantrum.

And things look even more ominous for Facebook.  As Joel Kulina of Wedbush recently noted, the number of people that are using Facebook on a daily basis in North America is falling…

Joel Kulina of Wedbush says problems in the company have been evident longer than this month. “If you go back to that earnings report back in July, they missed across the board and what really jumps out at me is that we’re seeing declining daily and monthly active users in North America or stalling active user metrics in North America, declining in Europe and the only regions that are seeing growth is in Asia where the average revenue per user is much lower than the Western world,” Kulina said.

When Facebook decided to start censoring people for their political views on a massive basis, that was the beginning of the end for the company.  At this point they have alienated millions upon millions of users that were once addicted to the service, and that is damage that will never be repaired.

And it is inevitable that something newer, better and more engaging will eventually come along.  Not too long ago, MySpace was the unbeatable giant in social media, but then Facebook came along and crushed them.  Now it is clear that Facebook has peaked, and the void that is being created as Facebook declines will certainly be filled by someone else.

But what we are witnessing in the financial marketplace is not just about tech stocks.  This is a broad-based global decline, and it has been going on for quite some time.

In fact, just check out the following tidbit from Simon Black

Deutsche Bank says 89% of all asset classes it tracks are negative this year – the worst year since 1901.

This is often how a big downturn begins: gradually, then suddenly. Asset prices stew and fester, slowly grinding downward for months while people maintain hope that prices will recover.

Yes, you read that correctly.

89 percent of all the asset classes that they track are down in 2018.

That is an absolutely astounding number.

We haven’t seen anything like this since the last financial crisis.  Most people seem to assume that the problems that caused the last financial crisis have been fixed, but that is not the case at all.  Instead, things were patched together and the global financial bubble was made even bigger.  Here is more from Simon Black

Instead of giving million-dollar mortgages to unemployed borrowers with a history of default, investors are loaning billions of dollars to money-losing zombie businesses, or to governments that are already in debt up to their eyeballs, all while pretending these are safe, credible investments.

Total global debt back in 2008 was about $173 trillion, worth about 280% of GDP.

Today total global debt is $250 trillion, worth about 320% of GDP. It’s only gotten worse.

Now the “Bubble To End All Bubbles” is starting to burst, and great chaos is ahead.  What we experienced in 2008 and 2009 is nothing compared to what is in front of us, and most Americans have absolutely no idea what is coming.

At the moment, one key thing to keep a close eye on is the high yield bond market.

High yield bonds (also known as “junk bonds”) crashed really hard just before the financial crisis of 2008 erupted, and now it is happening again.

Even if high yield bonds didn’t go down any further, they have already dropped to a level that indicates that stocks still have a lot more room to fall.

But if high yield bonds do continue to plummet like this, it is a clear indication that it is time to put your crash helmet on.

These are interesting times, and I have a feeling that they are about to get a whole lot more interesting.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

House Of Cards: Netflix Is One Of The Poster Children For Tech Bubble 2.0

How can a company that is going to generate $2,000,000,000 in negative free cash flow in 2017 be worth 70 billion dollars?  Netflix has soared in popularity in recent years, but so have their financial losses.  Just like during the original tech bubble, investors are ignoring basic fundamentals and are greatly rewarding firms that are bleeding giant mountains of cash year after year just because they are trendy “tech companies”.  But somewhere along the line you actually have to quit losing money if you are going to survive.  Just ask tech bubble 1.0 victims Pets.com, Webvan and Etoys.com.  The investors that poured enormous amounts of money into those companies ended up losing everything, and similar tragedies will play out as tech bubble 2.0 bursts.

So far in 2017, the S&P 500 is up about 8 percent, but FANG stocks (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google) are up a whopping 30 percent.

But at least Facebook, Amazon and Google are making money.

Netflix is not.

So why in the world has the stock shot up by more than 30 percent so far this year?  It just doesn’t make any sense at all.  According to CNBC, during the first quarter Netflix had $423 million in negative free cash flow, and for the entire year it is being projected that it will have $2 billion in negative free cash flow…

The California-based company is now dumping cash into original content to maintain its dominance over its growing field of rivals. The company’s had $423 million negative free cash flow during the quarter, wider than the $261 million negative free cash flow a year ago. Netflix expects to have $2 billion in negative free cash flow this year.

The bleeding of cash at Netflix only seems to be accelerating.  The number for the first quarter of 2017 was 62 percent worse than the number for the first quarter of 2016, and it was more than twice as bad as the number for the first quarter of 2015.

It is hard to imagine that Netflix will ever be more popular than it is right now.

So if Netflix is not making a profit at this point, when will it ever make a profit?

Similar things could be said about Twitter.  This is a company that has never made a yearly profit and that is actually starting to see revenues decline.  But somehow the stock just continues to go up.  Since the last time I wrote about Twitter, the market cap has shot up another 1.5 billion dollars.

At this point, the market values Twitter at 13 billion dollars, but in the entire history of the company it has actually lost 2 billion dollars.

What we are witnessing is a modern day version of “tulip mania”, and at some point this irrational euphoria will come to a sudden end.  In fact, there are already some signs that tech bubble 2.0 may be in a significant amount of trouble.  The following is an excerpt from a Bloomberg article entitled “Investors Go All-In on Tech Giants”

The tech-powered rally has catapulted the sector to a price-to-earnings ratio of 24.4, or 41 percent above the 10-year average. But as Google and Amazon stretch to nearly $1,000 a share, not everyone is comfortable with the valuations. Investors pulled more than $716 million from the most popular technology exchange-traded fund last week — the $17.4 billion Technology Select Sector SPDR Fund, or XLKits largest weekly outflow in over a year, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

“Most everybody remembers 2000, so they might be getting a little nervous with this development,” said Maley. “I just wonder how many people have said to themselves, ‘If AMZN gets to $1,000, I’m going to take at least some profits.’”

All over the financial world, prominent voices are warning that the enormous financial bubbles that we see all around us are not sustainable and that a major crisis is heading our way.  I wrote about some of these voices yesterday, and today we can add Paul Singer to the list…

Given groupthink and the determination of policy makers to do ‘whatever it takes’ to prevent the next market ‘crash,’ we think that the low-volatility levitation magic act of stocks and bonds will exist until the disenchanting moment when it does not. And then all hell will break loose (don’t ask us what hell looks like…), a lamentable scenario that will nevertheless present opportunities that are likely to be both extraordinary and ephemeral. The only way to take advantage of those opportunities is to have ready access to capital.

When the financial markets collapse, Donald Trump will likely get most of the blame.

But Donald Trump did not create the stock market bubble, and he will not be responsible for ending it either.

Since the Federal Reserve was created in 1913, we have seen this same story play out over and over again.  There have been 18 distinct recessions or depressions since the Fed was established, and the more the Fed interferes in the marketplace the larger the booms and busts tend to be.

And it could be argued that this time around the Fed has manipulated financial markets more than ever before.  Interest rates were pushed as low as possible and trillions of dollars were pumped into the financial system during the Fed’s quantitative easing programs.  Of course those actions were going to create a huge bubble, and of course that bubble is going to inevitably burst.

Unfortunately, this is not just a game.  Real people with real hopes and real dreams are going to be absolutely devastated.  Millions of Americans that were carefully saving for retirement are going to be financially crippled, and pension funds all over the nation are going to be wiped out.

I don’t know why we can’t seem to learn from history.  And I am not talking about events that happened decades ago.  The build up to this coming crisis is so similar to what we witnessed just before the crashes of 2000 and 2008, but we just keep getting fooled over and over again.

But once things fall apart this time, I think that the American people will finally be fed up.  I think that they will be sick and tired of an unelected, unaccountable central bank that creates endless booms and busts, and I think that they will finally be ready to push Congress to shut the Federal Reserve down for good.

Depressing Survey Results Show How Extremely Stupid America Has Become

No Thinking - Public DomainTen years ago, a major Hollywood film entitled “Idiocracy” was released, and it was an excellent metaphor for what would happen to America over the course of the next decade.  In the movie, an “average American” wakes up 500 years in the future only to discover that he is the most intelligent person by far in the “dumbed down” society that he suddenly finds himself in.  Sadly, I truly believe that if people of average intellect from the 1950s and 1960s were transported to 2016, they would likely be considered mental giants compared to the rest of us.  We have a country where criminals are being paid $1000 a month not to shoot people, and the highest paid public employee in more than half the states is a football coach.  Hardly anyone takes time to read a book anymore, and yet the average American spends 302 minutes a day watching television.  75 percent of our young adults cannot find Israel on a map of the Middle East, but they sure know how to find smut on the Internet.  It may be hard to believe, but there are more than 4 million adult websites on the Internet today, and they get more traffic than Netflix, Amazon and Twitter combined.

What in the world has happened to us?  How is it possible that we have become so stupid?  According to a brand new report that was recently released, almost 10 percent of our college graduates believe that Judge Judy is on the Supreme Court…

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni publishes occasional reports on what college students know.

Nearly 10 percent of the college graduates surveyed thought Judith Sheindlin, TV’s “Judge Judy,” is a member of the U.S. Supreme Court. Less than 20 percent of the college graduates knew the effect of the Emancipation Proclamation. More than a quarter of the college graduates did not know Franklin D. Roosevelt was president during World War II; one-third did not know he was the president who spearheaded the New Deal.

It can be tempting to laugh at numbers like these until you realize that survey after survey has come up with similar results.

Just consider what Newsweek found a few years ago…

When NEWSWEEK recently asked 1,000 U.S. citizens to take America’s official citizenship test, 29 percent couldn’t name the vice president. Seventy-three percent couldn’t correctly say why we fought the Cold War. Forty-four percent were unable to define the Bill of Rights. And 6 percent couldn’t even circle Independence Day on a calendar.

Even worse were the extremely depressing results of a study conducted a few years ago by Common Core…

*Only 43 percent of all U.S. high school students knew that the Civil War was fought some time between 1850 and 1900.

*More than a quarter of all U.S. high school students thought that Christopher Columbus made his famous voyage across the Atlantic Ocean after the year 1750.

*Approximately a third of all U.S. high school students did not know that the Bill of Rights guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

*Only 60 percent of all U.S. students knew that World War I was fought some time between 1900 and 1950.

Of course survey results can be skewed, and much hinges on how the questions are asked.

However, even studies that are scientifically conducted confirm how stupid America has become.  In fact, a report from the Educational Testing Service found that Americans are falling way behind much of the rest of the industrialized world.  The following comes from CBS News

Americans born after 1980 are lagging their peers in countries ranging from Australia to Estonia, according to a new report from researchers at the Educational Testing Service (ETS). The study looked at scores for literacy and numeracy from a test called the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, which tested the abilities of people in 22 countries.

The results are sobering, with dire implications for America. It hints that students may be falling behind not only in their early educational years but at the college level. Even though more Americans between the ages of 20 to 34 are achieving higher levels of education, they’re still falling behind their cohorts in other countries. In Japan, Finland and the Netherlands, young adults with only a high school degree scored on par with American Millennials holding four-year college degrees, the report said.

Out of 22 countries that were part of the study, the Educational Testing Service found that Americans were dead last in tech proficiency, dead last in numeracy and only two countries performed worse than us when it came to literacy proficiency

Half of American Millennials score below the minimum standard of literacy proficiency. Only two countries scored worse by that measure: Italy (60 percent) and Spain (59 percent). The results were even worse for numeracy, with almost two-thirds of American Millennials failing to meet the minimum standard for understanding and working with numbers. That placed U.S. Millennials dead last for numeracy among the study’s 22 developed countries.

So why has this happened?

Why have we become such an extremely stupid nation?

Well, at least a portion of the blame must be directed at our system of education.  The following is an excerpt from an article written by reporter Mark Morford.  In this article, he shared how one of his friends which had served for a very long time as a high school teacher in Oakland, California was considering moving out of the country when he retired due to the relentless “dumb-ification of the American brain”

It’s gotten so bad that, as my friend nears retirement, he says he is very seriously considering moving out of the country so as to escape what he sees will be the surefire collapse of functioning American society in the next handful of years due to the absolutely irrefutable destruction, the shocking — and nearly hopeless — dumb-ification of the American brain. It is just that bad.

Now, you may think he’s merely a curmudgeon, a tired old teacher who stopped caring long ago. Not true. Teaching is his life. He says he loves his students, loves education and learning and watching young minds awaken. Problem is, he is seeing much less of it.

And of course things don’t get much better when it comes to our college students.  In a previous article, I shared some statistics from USA Today about the rapidly declining state of college education in the United States…

-“After two years in college, 45% of students showed no significant gains in learning; after four years, 36% showed little change.”

-“Students also spent 50% less time studying compared with students a few decades ago”

-“35% of students report spending five or fewer hours per week studying alone.”

-“50% said they never took a class in a typical semester where they wrote more than 20 pages”

-“32% never took a course in a typical semester where they read more than 40 pages per week.”

I spent eight years studying at some of the finest public universities in the country, and I can tell you from personal experience that even our most challenging college courses have been pathetically dumbed down.

And at our “less than finest” public universities, the level of education can be something of a bad joke.  In another previous article, I shared some examples of actual courses that have been taught at U.S. universities in recent years…

-“What If Harry Potter Is Real?

-“Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame

-“Philosophy And Star Trek

-“Learning From YouTube

-“How To Watch Television

Could you imagine getting actual college credit for a course entitled “What If Harry Potter Is Real?”

This is why many of our college graduates can barely put two sentences together.  They aren’t being challenged, and the quality of the education most of them are receiving is incredibly poor.

But even though they aren’t being challenged, students are taking longer to get through college than ever.  Federal statistics reveal that only 36 percent of all full-time students receive a bachelor’s degree within four years, and only 77 percent of all full-time students have earned a bachelor’s degree by the end of six years.

Of course our system of education is not entirely to blame.  The truth is that young Americans spend far more time consuming media than they do hitting the books, and what passes for “entertainment” these days is rapidly turning their brains to mush.

According to a report put out by Nielsen, this is how much time the average American spends consuming media on various devices each day…

Watching live television: 4 hours, 32 minutes

Watching time-shifted television: 30 minutes

Listening to the radio: 2 hours, 44 minutes

Using a smartphone: 1 hour, 33 minutes

Using Internet on a computer: 1 hour, 6 minutes

When you add it all up, the average American spends more than 10 hours a day plugged into some form of media.

And if you allow anyone to pump “programming” into your mind for 10 hours a day, it is going to have a dramatic impact.

In the end, I truly believe that we all greatly underestimate the influence that the mainstream media has on all of us.  We willingly plug into “the Matrix” for endless hours, but then somehow we still expect “to think for ourselves”.

There are very few of us that can say that we have not been exposed to thousands upon thousands of hours of conditioning.  And all of that garbage can make it very, very difficult to think clearly.

It is not because of a lack of input that we have become so stupid as a society.  The big problem is what we are putting into our minds.

If we continue to put garbage in, we are going to continue to get garbage out, and that is the cold, hard reality of the matter.