The Beginning Of The End
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16 Signs That Most Americans Are NOT PREPARED For The Coming Economic Collapse

Disaster Is ComingSometimes I think that I sound like a broken record.  I am constantly using phrases such as “get prepared while you still can” and “time is running out”.  In fact, I use them so often that people are starting to criticize me for it.  But the truth is that only a small percentage of people out there are actively taking steps to get ready for what is coming.  Most of the country is not prepared at all.  In many ways, it is just like 2007 all over again.  There were many people that could see what was about to happen and were doing all they could to warn people, but most did not listen.  And then the great financial crisis of 2008 struck and millions of people lost their jobs and their homes.  Unfortunately, the next great wave of the economic collapse is going to be even more painful than the last one.  It is imperative that people get prepared for what is on the horizon, but for the most part it is just not happening.

A lot of it has to do with the fact that we have such short memories and such short attention spans in America today.  Thanks to years of television and endless hours on the Internet, I find myself having a really hard time focusing on anything for more than just a few moments.  And we are accustomed to living in an “instant society” where we don’t have to wait for anything.  In such a society, we are used to “news cycles” that only last for 24 hours and very few people take a “long-term view” of anything.

And another one of the big problems that we are facing is something called “normalcy bias”.  The following is how Wikipedia defines it…

The normalcy bias, or normality bias, refers to a mental state people enter when facing a disaster. It causes people to underestimate both the possibility of a disaster occurring and its possible effects. This often results in situations where people fail to adequately prepare for a disaster, and on a larger scale, the failure of governments to include the populace in its disaster preparations. The assumption that is made in the case of the normalcy bias is that since a disaster never has occurred then it never will occur. It also results in the inability of people to cope with a disaster once it occurs. People with a normalcy bias have difficulties reacting to something they have not experienced before. People also tend to interpret warnings in the most optimistic way possible, seizing on any ambiguities to infer a less serious situation.

Over the past several years, the U.S. economy has been relatively stable.  And that is a good thing.  But it has also lulled millions upon millions of people into a false sense of security and complacency.  At this point, most Americans consider 2008 to be a temporary bump in the road, and most assume that the U.S. economy will always be strong.

Unfortunately, that is not the truth.  As I have written about previously, the long-term trends that are destroying our economy have continued to get worse since 2008, and none of the problems that caused the last financial crisis have been fixed.

We are steamrolling toward the edge of an economic cliff, and most people in our entertainment-addicted society are totally oblivious to what is going on.  So they are not doing anything to get ready for the immense economic pain that is coming.  The following are 16 signs that most Americans are completely unprepared for the coming economic collapse…

#1 Could you come up with $2000 right now?  According to a shocking study that was just released, 40 percent of Americans could not

Forty percent of individuals in the U.S. said they could not or probably could not come up with $2,000 if an unexpected need arose, according to research by Atif Mian of Princeton University and Amir Sufi of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

#2 In that same study, Americans were asked the following question…

“Do you have 3 months emergency funds to cover expenses in case of sickness, job loss, economic downturn?”

An astounding 60 percent of people that responded said that they do not.

#3 Another study found that less than one out of every four Americans has enough money stored away to cover six months of expenses.

#4 Some people are actually trying really hard to get ahead, but admittedly that is really tough to do when we are all being taxed into oblivion.  In fact, it was reported this week that Americans now spend more on taxes than they spend on food, clothing and housing combined.

#5 Right now, more Americans are dependent on the government than ever before.  In fact, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 49 percent of all Americans live in a home that currently gets direct monetary benefits from the federal government.

#6 It is estimated that less than 10 percent of the entire U.S. population owns any gold or silver for investment purposes.  That is a stunning number.

#7 It has been estimated that there are approximately 3 million “preppers” in the United States.  But that means that almost everyone else is not prepping.

#8-16 The following are nine more statistics that come from a survey conducted by the Adelphi Center for Health Innovation.  As you can see, a significant portion of the population is not even prepared for a basic emergency that would last for just a few days…

  • 44 percent don’t have first-aid kits
  • 48 percent lack emergency supplies
  • 53 percent do not have a minimum three-day supply of nonperishable food and water at home
  • 55 percent believe local authorities will come to their rescue if disaster strikes
  • 52 percent have not designated a family meeting place if they are separated during an emergency
  • 42 percent do not know the phone numbers of all of their immediate family members
  • 21 percent don’t know if their workplace has an emergency preparedness plan
  • 37 percent do not have a list of the drugs they are taking
  • 52 percent do not have copies of health insurance documents

What do you think is going to happen to these people once the economy collapses and there is chaos in the streets?

How are they going to survive?

After all of these years of writing about the coming economic collapse, nothing has changed as far as the long-term outlook is concerned.

We are still heading toward a complete and total economic meltdown.

But most Americans continue to have faith in the system, and the mainstream media keeps assuring them that everything is going to be just fine.

And in this “dumbed-down” society of ours, most people are perfectly content to let others do their thinking for them.  In America today, only one out of every six Americans can even find Ukraine on a map of the world.  That is how far we have fallen.

In this day and age, it is imperative that we all learn how to think for ourselves.  The foundations of our society are crumbling, our economic system is failing and the blind are leading the blind.  If we do not learn to make our own decisions, we are just going to follow the rest of the herd into oblivion.

In addition, we all need to start taking a long-term view of things.  Just because the economic collapse is not going to happen this month does not mean that it is not going to happen.  When you step back and take a broader view of what is happening, it becomes exceedingly clear where we are heading.

Sadly, most Americans will never do that.

50 Predictions For 2013

50 Predictions For 2013Are you ready for a wild 2013?  It should be a very interesting year.  When the calendar flips over each January, lots of people make lots of lists.  They make lists of “resolutions”, but most people never follow through on them.  They make lists of “predictions”, but most of those predictions always seem to end up failing.  Well, I have decided to put out my own list of predictions for 2013.  I openly admit that I won’t get all of these predictions right, and that is okay.  Hopefully I will at least be more accurate than most of the other armchair prognosticators out there.  It is important to look ahead and try to get a handle on what is coming, because I believe that the rest of this decade is going to be extraordinarily chaotic for the U.S. economy.  The false bubble of debt-fueled prosperity that we are enjoying right now is not going to last much longer.  When it comes to an end, the “adjustment” is going to be extremely painful.  Those that understand what is happening and have prepared for it will have the best chance of surviving what is about to hit us.  I honestly don’t know what everybody else is going to do.  Many of the people that don’t see the coming collapse approaching will be totally blindsided by it and will totally give in to despair when they realize what has happened.  But there is no excuse for not seeing what is coming – the signs are everywhere.

So with that being said, the following are 50 bold predictions for 2013…

#1 There will be a major fight between the Republicans and the Democrats over raising the debt ceiling.  This will be one of the stories that dominates news headlines in the months of February and March.

#2 Most of the new “revenue” that will be raised by tax increases in 2013 will come out of the pockets of the middle class.

#3 No matter what “fiscal deals” the Democrats and the Republicans make in 2013, the federal budget deficit will still end up being greater than a trillion dollars for the fifth consecutive year.

#4 The credit rating of the U.S. government will be downgraded again in 2013.

#5 The Federal Reserve, along with major central banks all over the globe, will continue to wildly print money.

#6 There will be more criticism of the Federal Reserve in 2013 than at any other time since it was created back in 1913.

#7 The term “currency war” will be used by the media more in 2013 than it was in 2012.

#8 The movement away from the U.S. dollar as the primary reserve currency of the world will pick up momentum.  This will especially be true in Asia.

#9 The economic depressions in Greece and Spain will get even worse and unemployment in the eurozone will go even higher in 2013.

#10 A financial crisis in Europe will cause officials to grasp for “radical solutions” that will surprise many analysts.

#11 The unemployment rate in the United States will be higher by the end of 2013 than it is now.

#12 The percentage of working age Americans with a job will fall below 58 percent by the end of the year.

#13 At least one “too big to fail” bank will fail in the United States by the end of 2013.

#14 By the end of the year, more people than ever will understand what “derivatives” are, and that will be because they have caused major problems in the financial world.

#15 We will see the beginnings of another major housing crisis before the end of 2013 and foreclosure activity will start rising once again.

#16 We will see another new wave of “tent cities” start to go up in communities around the nation before the end of the year.

#17 There will be another major drought in the United States this upcoming summer and there will be widespread crop failures once again.

#18 The massive dust storms that we have seen roll through cities like Phoenix in recent years will become even larger and even more intense.

#19 Traffic along the Mississippi River will be significantly interrupted at some point during 2013.  This will be a very negative thing for the economy.

#20 Food prices will soar in 2013.  This will especially be true for meat products.

#21 In some of the poorer areas of the globe, major food riots will break out.  Governments will have trouble containing the civil unrest.

#22 There will be more genetically-modified foods in our supermarkets than ever before, and more Americans than ever will reject them and will seek out alternatives.

#23 The average price of a gallon of gasoline in 2012 was about $3.60.  The average price of a gallon of gasoline in 2013 will be lower than that.  Yes, you read that correctly.

#24 The number of vehicle miles driven in the United States will continue to decline in 2013.

#25 The Dow will end 2013 significantly lower than it is right now.

#26 When the final statistics for 2013 are compiled, U.S. share of global GDP will be less than 20 percent for the first time in modern history.  Back in the year 2001, our share of global GDP was 31.8 percent.

#27 The U.S. Postal Service will continue to experience massive financial difficulties and will lay off personnel.

#28 As violence in our public schools becomes increasingly worse, more Americans families than ever will decide to home school their children.

#29 The Obama administration and Democrats in Congress will make an all-out attempt to pass gun control measures in 2013.  When their efforts on the legislative front are stalled somewhat by Republicans in the House, Obama will use his executive powers to further his gun control agenda.

#30 One of the cities with the strongest gun laws in the nation, Chicago, had 532 murders in 2012 and it is now considered to be one of the most dangerous cities on the planet.  By the end of 2013, the murder total in Chicago will be above 600.

#31 There will be an increasing amount of tension between state governments and the federal government.  The issue of “states rights” will move front and center at various points in 2013.

#32 CNN will continue to sink to horrifying new lows.  Piers Morgan will end up leaving the network before the end of the year.

#33 The number of Americans on food stamps will surpass 50 million for the first time ever at some point during 2013.

#34 The U.S. trade deficit with China in 2013 will be well over 300 billion dollars.

#35 The phrase “made in China” will increasingly be viewed as a reason not to buy a product as Americans become more educated about the millions of good jobs that we have lost to China over the past decade.

#36 We will see increasing cooperation between the governments of the United States, Canada and Mexico and border restrictions will be loosened.

#37 There will continue to be a mass exodus of families and businesses out of the state of California.  The favorite destination will continue to be Texas, but Texas residents will become increasingly resentful of all of these new transplants.

#38 There will be some truly jaw-dropping examples of violence by parents against their own children in 2013.  Many of these stories will make headlines all over the nation.

#39 The percentage of Americans that are obese will continue to rise and will set another new all-time record in 2013.

#40 There will be more war in the Middle East in 2013.  But it will only set the stage for even more war in the Middle East in 2014 and 2015.

#41 U.S. troops will be deployed in more countries than ever before in 2013.

#42 Volcanic eruptions and major earthquakes along the Ring of Fire will make headlines all over the globe in 2013.

#43 Giant sinkholes will continue to appear all over the United States and all over the globe, and scientists will continue to struggle to find an explanation for why it is happening.

#44 The peak of the solar cycle in 2013 will cause significant problems for satellite communications.

#45 The U.S. government will put more resources into the surveillance of the American people than ever before, but most Americans won’t mind all of this surveillance because they have become convinced that it is important to give up some of our liberties for more “security”.

#46 Our infrastructure (roads, bridges, tunnels, airports, sewers, electrical grids, etc.) will be in worse shape by the end of 2013 than it is now.

#47 The percentage of “two parent households” in the United States will continue to decline.

#48Political correctness” will reach ridiculous new heights during 2013, and more Americans than ever will start to rebel against it.

#49 There will be more anger at the wealthy in 2013 than at any other time in modern history.

#50 There will be some shocking political scandals in Washington D.C. in 2013.  We will see some high profile resignations by the end of the year.

Once again, please keep in mind that I do not expect to be 100% correct about all of these things.  I am just trying to put all of the pieces of the puzzle together just like everyone else is.

But I do hope to have a better track record than most of the other people putting out lists of predictions at the beginning of this year.  So save this list and let’s revisit it at the end of the year.

Do you have any bold predictions of your own for 2013?  Please feel free to share them by posting a comment below…

Earth From Space

UNSUSTAINABLE

When it comes to explaining the problems with our economy, one of the hardest things to do is to get people to understand that we are living in an economic fantasy world that is completely and totally unsustainable.  As a nation we consume far more than we produce, we spend far more than we bring in, our debt is growing much faster than our GDP is, our entitlement programs are growing at an exponential rate, our retirement system is a Ponzi scheme and the Federal Reserve is printing money as if there is no tomorrow in a desperate attempt to paper over all of our problems.  But we have all grown so accustomed to the debt-fueled prosperity that we have been enjoying for so many decades that it actually feels “real” to most of us.  Unfortunately, history has shown us that it is simply not possible to grow your debt faster than your economy indefinitely.  At some point your consumption will drop back to a level more equal to your production.    Sometimes that adjustment can be gradual, but other times it can be extremely painful.  In our case, we have been living way above our means for so long that it would take a major economic miracle just to keep our adjustment to an “exceedingly painful” level.  We are living in the largest debt-fueled prosperity bubble in the history of the world, and our unsustainable economy is going to crash and burn at some point.  Hopefully it will be later rather than sooner, but a crash is most definitely coming.

The following are some of the reasons why the bubble economy that we are living in right now is unsustainable….

The Trade Deficit

Most Americans do not really understand what a “trade deficit” is, but it is at the very core of our economic problems.

Basically, we buy far more stuff from the rest of the world than they buy from us.  We send them huge piles of our money, and they send us oil that we burn in our cars and cheap plastic products that we end up throwing away.  We keep doing this month after month after month, and this is systematically making us poorer as a nation.

In 2012, it is being projected that our trade deficit will fall somewhere between 500 billion and 600 billion dollars.

At this point, the United States has a trade imbalance that is more than 7 times larger than any other nation on earth has.

Overall, the United States has run a trade deficit of more than 8 trillion dollars with the rest of the world since 1975.

Instead of going out of the country, those 8 trillion dollars could have gone to U.S. businesses and U.S. workers.  In turn, taxes would have been paid on those 8 trillion dollars and our debt problems would not be nearly as dramatic today.

But we didn’t do that.

We chose to allow tens of thousands of businesses, millions of jobs and trillions of dollars of our national wealth to leave the country.

Stupid move, eh?

But both political parties have been endlessly pushing the “free trade” agenda.  They have both promised that it would bring us tremendous prosperity.

Well, just take a look at our formerly great manufacturing cities today.  Do they look prosperous to you?

It turns out that Ross Perot was right when he warned about the “giant sucking sound” that would happen if NAFTA was implemented.

When NAFTA was pushed through Congress in 1993, the United States had a trade surplus with Mexico of 1.6 billion dollars.  By 2010, we had a trade deficit with Mexico of 61.6 billion dollars.

That didn’t work out so well, did it?

What about opening up trade with China?

Back in 1985, our trade deficit with China was approximately 6 million dollars (million with a little “m”) for the entire year.

In 2011, our trade deficit with China was 295.4 billion dollars.  That was the largest trade deficit that one nation has had with another nation in the history of the world.

Our trade with China is tremendously unbalanced.  Today, U.S. consumers spend approximately 4 dollars on goods and services from China for every one dollar that Chinese consumers spend on goods and services from the United States.

This is a huge reason why shiny new factories are going up all over China, and our blue collar cities are turning into rotting war zones filled with unemployed people.

If you can believe it, the United States has actually lost more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities since 2001.

Until we fix the trade deficit we are going to continue bleeding factories, jobs and national wealth at an astounding pace.

The National Debt

It is being projected that U.S. GDP will grow at a rate of about 2.2 percent this year.

The problem is that our federal budget deficit will be somewhere around 7 percent of GDP this year.

With each passing day we are losing ground.  No other nation on earth has been able to run up debt like this indefinitely, and neither will we.

Does this chart look like a healthy situation to you?….

Sadly, all of this government debt is just about the only thing holding up our economy at this point.  Since Barack Obama has been in the White House, the U.S. national debt has increased by about 5.5 trillion dollars.  Of course the Obama administration has spent a lot of that money on incredibly stupid stuff, but it still gets into the pockets of average Americans that in turn spend it on food, gas, mortgage payments, etc.

If we could go back in time and suck that 5.5 trillion dollars of extra spending out of the economy we would be in a horrible economic depression right now.

But that does not mean that borrowing and spending all of that money was the right thing to do.  We have stolen it from our children and our grandchildren and we are going to stick them with the bill.

That is highly immoral and it is a national disgrace.

Yet we continue to do it because we can’t help ourselves.  We are ruining the future of this nation in order to make the present more pleasant for ourselves.

As I noted yesterday, the U.S. national debt jumped more on the very first day of fiscal year 2013 than it did from 1776 to 1941 combined.

We are completely addicted to debt and we can’t stop.  We know that we are destroying the future of the United States but we have absolutely no self-discipline.

By the end of Barack Obama’s first term, the U.S. government will have accumulated more debt during those four years than it did from the time that George Washington took office to the time that George W. Bush took office.

But most Americans seem fine with that.

Most Americans don’t even really know why this is happening, and most don’t really seem too concerned about finding out.  They just want the good times to continue to roll.

Sadly, the truth is that our financial system is designed to create government debt.  It is one of the primary purposes of the Federal Reserve system.

At this point, the U.S. national debt is more than 5000 times larger than it was when the Federal Reserve was first created.

So I guess you could say that the Federal Reserve is doing a good job of what it was designed to do.

And until we change the system things are going to continue to get worse until the entire system collapses.

Boston University economist Laurence Kotlikoff is warning that we are basically facing financial armageddon if something is not done.  Kotlikoff speaks of a “fiscal gap” which he defines as “the present value difference between projected future spending and revenue”.  His calculations have led him to the conclusion that the United States is facing a fiscal gap of 222 trillion dollars in the years ahead.

Where in the world are we going to get an extra 222 trillion dollars?

Entitlements

Every society needs a safety net, but we are rapidly getting to the point where there are going to be more Americans on the safety net than there are Americans supporting it.

Back in 1983, less than 30 percent of all Americans lived in a home where at least one person received financial assistance from the federal government.

Today, that number is up to an all-time record of 49 percent.

Many people don’t believe me when I tell them that more than 100 million Americans are enrolled in at least one welfare program run by the federal government right now, and that does not even count Social Security or Medicare.

But it is actually true.

Overall, there are nearly 80 different “means-tested welfare programs” that the federal government is currently running.

But of course the biggest financial burdens are Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security.  All three are on course to become completely and totally unsustainable.

For example, the number of Americans on Medicaid soared from 34 million in 2000 to 54 million in 2011, and it is being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to the Medicaid rolls.

Ouch.

Well, what about Medicare?

Sadly, Medicare is even more frightening.

As I wrote recently, it is being projected that the number of Americans on Medicare will grow from 50.7 million in 2012 to 73.2 million in 2025.

How in the world can we afford that?

At this point, Medicare is facing unfunded liabilities of more than 38 trillion dollars over the next 75 years.  That comes to approximately $328,404 for each and every household in the United States.

Are you ready to contribute your share?

Social Security is in really bad shape as well.

At the moment, approximately 56 million Americans are collecting Social Security benefits.

By 2035, that number is projected to soar to a whopping 91 million.

Overall, the Social Security system is facing a 134 trillion dollar shortfall over the next 75 years.

Where are we going to get that money?

Total Debt

Of course the national debt is not out only debt problem.  All over the country there are state and local governments that are on the verge of insolvency.  Corporations and financial institutions are leveraged like crazy.  And of course consumers have absolutely gorged on debt over the past several decades.

As a result, we are drowning in debt from sea to shining sea.

The good news is that our GDP is more than 12 times larger than it was 40 years ago.

The bad news is that the total amount of debt in our country is more than 30 times larger than it was 40 years ago….

Obviously this is something that cannot go on forever.

We simply cannot keep accumulating debt much faster than our economy is growing.

Nobody knows exactly when the “adjustment” is coming, but it most definitely will arrive at some point.

Money Printing

The Federal Reserve has attempted to monetize many of our economic problems by printing gigantic mountains of money in recent years.

The Federal Reserve is at the very heart of our economic problems, but most Americans don’t realize this.  It was the Federal Reserve that created the conditions for the housing bubble, and it was the Federal Reserve that badly mismanaged the response when that bubble burst.  The Federal Reserve decides how much money will be printed and what our interest rates will be.  The Federal Reserve lends out trillions of dollars to the banks that they like, and other banks they let die.  The Federal Reserve picks winners and losers in our economy, and most of the time that means good things for the big Wall Street banks and bad things for the rest of us.

In a desperate attempt to keep our unsustainable financial system from collapsing, the Federal Reserve has decided to start printing unprecedented amounts of money.  Just look at what this has done to the monetary base….

And QE3 really hasn’t even started to kick in yet.

So how bad will that chart look after QE3 has been adding another 40 billion dollars a month to the financial system for a while?

You know, the Weimar Republic was absolutely convinced that they were doing the right thing by printing lots of money too.

But in the end that didn’t work out very well for them at all….

So should we really be celebrating the fact that the Federal Reserve is going down the same path that the Weimar Republic did?

Demonocracy has released a great new graphic that does a wonderful job of illustrating just how huge the amounts of money involved in QE3 are going to be.  If you have not seen it yet, you can view the graphic right here.

The rest of the world is watching the games that we are playing with our currency.  Right now we think that we are getting away with it, but what we are doing is not sustainable.  At some point the rest of the world will totally lose confidence in the U.S. dollar, and when that happens the U.S. dollar could easily lose its status as the primary reserve currency of the world.

If that were to happen the coming shift in our standard of living would happen much more rapidly.

Please share this article with as many people as you can.  We need to wake people up and get them to understand how incredibly vulnerable our financial system really is.  We are on a path that is unsustainable any way that you want to look at it, and if something dramatic is not done our economy is going to experience an unprecedented collapse.

So what happens if nothing is done and everything crashes all around us?

Well, I hope that you are prepared because it isn’t going to be pretty.

17 Reasons Why Those Hoping For A Recession In 2012 Just Got Their Wish

If you were hoping for a recession in 2012, then you are going to be very happy with the numbers you are about to see.  The U.S. economy is heading downhill just in time for the 2012 election.  Retail sales have fallen for three months in a row for the first time since 2008, manufacturing activity is dropping like a rock, sales of new homes are declining again, consumer confidence has moved significantly lower and a depressingly small percentage of businesses anticipate hiring more workers in the coming months.  Even though the Federal Reserve has been wildly pumping money into the financial system and even though the federal government has been injecting gigantic piles of borrowed cash into the economy, we still haven’t seen an economic recovery.  In fact, we appear to be on the verge of yet another major downturn.  In California the other night, Barack Obama told supporters that “we tried our plan — and it worked“, but only those that are still drinking the Obama kool-aid would believe something so preposterous.  The truth is that the U.S. economy has been steadily declining for many years and now we have reached another very painful recession.

And don’t let the second quarter GDP number on Friday fool you.  Analysts are expecting to see GDP growth of about 1.4 percent for the second quarter, but the only reason for our very small amount of “economic growth” is because the economy has been flooded with new dollars.

Let me give you an example.  If I could go out overnight and magically double the bank accounts of every single American, would we all be twice as wealthy?

No, because there would be twice as many dollars now chasing the same amount of goods and services.  The price of those goods and services would soon rise dramatically to reflect this new reality.

With all of those new dollars spinning around in the economy it would look like “economic growth” was going through the roof, but in reality the amount of real economic activity would be about the same.

So whenever we talk about GDP, we need to properly adjust it for inflation.  That means using accurate inflation figures and not the highly manipulated inflation figures that the U.S. government is putting out these days.

And as I noted the other day, after properly adjusting for inflation the U.S. economy has been continually experiencing negative economic growth since about 2005.

So let’s not deceive ourselves.  The U.S. economy has been declining for a long time.

But soon even the GDP number that the government gives us will turn negative.  We will probably see a slightly positive number for the second quarter, and the number will likely go negative either in the third quarter or the fourth quarter.

Economists will debate when this new recession officially “began” just like they do with every recession, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what is happening to our economy right now.

The following are 17 reasons why those hoping for a recession in 2012 just got their wish….

1. U.S. retail sales have declined for three months in a row.  This is the first time this has happened since 2008.  Every other time this has happened in U.S. history (except for once) this has signaled that the U.S. economy was either already in a recession or was about to enter one.

2. The Philadelphia Fed index of manufacturing activity contracted for the third month in a row during July.  According to the Financial Post, this is a very bad sign….

Seven out of eight times when the average reading has been that low (-11.8) for that long the U.S. economy has tipped into recession.

3. Manufacturing activity in the mid-Atlantic region has also declined for three months in a row.  In fact, the only time in the past decade when manufacturing activity in the mid-Atlantic has fallen more dramatically was during the last recession.

4. A factory index calculated by the Institute for Supply Management has fallen to its lowest level since June 2009.

5. The Conference Board index of leading economic indicators has fallen for two of the past three months.

6. According to a recent survey conducted by the Conference Board, only 17 percent of CEOs had a positive view of the economy during the second quarter of 2012.  During the first quarter of 2012, 67 percent did.

7. Gallup’s U.S. Economic Confidence Index is now the lowest that it has been since January.

8. Optimism among small business owners has declined in three of the last four months and is now at its lowest level since last October.

9. Believe it or not, the amount of waste being carted around on trains in the United States has an 82 percent correlation with U.S. economic growth.  Unfortunately, right now the number of garbage carloads on trains is falling dramatically.

10. Sales of previously occupied homes dropped by 5.4 percent during June.

11. Sales of new homes declined by 8.4 percent during June.  At this point new home sales are less than a third of what they were during the boom years.

12. An increasing number of Americans are relying on high interest “payday loans” to pay the rent and put food on the table.

13. Far more companies are defaulting on their debts this year than last year.

14. According to the U.S. Labor Department, the unemployment rate fell in 11 states and Washington, D.C. last month, but it rose in 27 states.

15. The unemployment rate in New York City is now back up to 10 percent.  That equals the peak unemployment rate in New York City during the last recession.

16. The teen unemployment rate in Washington D.C. right now is 51.7 percent.

17. A recent survey conducted by the National Association for Business Economics found that only 23 percent of all U.S. companies plan to hire more workers over the next 6 months.  When the same question was asked a few months ago that number was at 39 percent.

All of those are very powerful pieces of evidence that a new recession has started.

But do you want to know one of my favorite indicators that the U.S. economy is sliding into recession?

In a previous article, I noted that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke made the following statement to Congress recently: “At this point we don’t see a double dip recession. We see continued moderate growth.”

As I mentioned the other day, Bernanke has a track record of failure that is absolutely embarrassing.  Back on January 10, 2008 Bernanke made the following statement….

“The Federal Reserve is not currently forecasting a recession.”

That turned out to be a great call, didn’t it?

On June 10, 2008 he doubled down on his call that the U.S. economy was going to avoid a recession….

“The risk that the economy has entered a substantial downturn appears to have diminished over the past month or so.”

Just before Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac collapsed Bernanke made this statement….

“The GSEs are adequately capitalized. They are in no danger of failing.”

And there are dozens of other examples just like these.

This is the guy running our economic system.

I am very critical of the Federal Reserve, but there are very good reasons for this.

The Federal Reserve is running our economy into the ground, and we need to pound this into the heads of the American people so that they will wake up and demand change.

Perhaps this next recession will be painful enough to wake people up.

The Wall Street Journal is already even using the “D word” to describe what we are experiencing.  Just today, the Wall Street Journal ran an article that asked this question: “Do Two Recessions Equal One Depression?

Sadly, this is just the leading edge of what is coming.  By the time 2014 or 2015 rolls around, we are going to look back and long for the “good old days” of 2011 and 2012.

Over the next few years, the unemployment rate is going to skyrocket and poverty in the United States is going to get a whole lot worse.

Now is not the time to goof off.  Now is the time to work really hard to get yourself and your family into the best position that you can for the storm that is coming.

Nothing is going to stop the terrible economic crisis that is coming, but at least we can get prepared for it.

There is hope in being prepared.

Sadly, most people will never even see the next crisis coming until they get blindsided by it.

Stagflation 2011: Why It Is Here And Why It Is Going To Be Very Painful

Are you ready for an economy that has high inflation and high unemployment at the same time? Well, welcome to “Stagflation 2011″.  Stagflation exists when inflation and unemployment are both at high levels at the same time.  Of course we all know about the high unemployment situation already.  Gallup’s daily tracking poll says that the U.S. unemployment rate has been hovering around 10 percent all year so far.  But now thanks to rapidly rising food prices and the exploding price of oil, rampant inflation is being added to the equation.  Normally inflation is a sign of increased economic activity, but when the basic commodities that we depend on to run our economy (such as oil) go up in price it actually causes a slowdown in economy activity.  When the price of oil goes up high enough, it fundamentally changes the behavior of individuals and businesses.  Suddenly certain types of economic activities that were feasible when oil was very cheap are not profitable any longer.  When the price of oil rises to a new level and it stays there, essentially what is happening is that more “blood” is being drained out of our economy.  Our economy will continue to function when there are higher oil prices, it will just be a lot more sluggish.

In some way, shape or form the price of oil factors into the production of most of our goods and services and it also factors into the transportation of most of our goods and services.  A significant rise in the price of oil changes the economic equation for almost every business in the United States.

Today, the price of WTI crude soared past 100 dollars a barrel before closing at $98.10.  The price of Brent crude increased 5.3 percent to $111.25.  The protests in Libya are certainly causing a lot of the price activity that we have seen over the past few days, but the truth is that oil has been going up for a number of months.  Right now we are only seeing an acceleration of the long-term trend.

Things are likely to get far worse if the “day of rage” planned for Saudi Arabia next month turns into a full-blown revolution.  Up to this point, the revolutions that have been sweeping the Middle East have been organized largely on Facebook, and now there are calls all over Facebook for the “Saudi revolution” to start on March 20th.

That date is less than 4 weeks away.  If Saudi Arabia plunges into chaos, the price of oil is going to go through the roof.

A rapidly rising price for oil is really bad news for the U.S. economy, because it is going to mean lots of inflation.  Unfortunately, this also comes at a time when the economy is also feeling the inflationary effects of more quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve.

So if rising oil prices are going to cause more inflation and if rising oil prices are also going to cause our economy to become even more sluggish, what does all of that add up to?

It adds up to stagflation.

Wikipedia defines stagflation in the following manner….

In economics, stagflation is the situation when both the inflation rate and the unemployment rate are persistently high.

This is going to rapidly become the “new normal” for America.  High oil prices are going to cause the cost of just about everything to go up, and high oil prices are also going to cause the economy to slow down thus making the unemployment numbers even worse.

It is going to be just like the 1970s all over again.

Only worse.

Economists differ as to how much rising oil prices affect U.S. GDP, but almost all of them agree that rising oil prices do cause a decline in U.S. GDP at least to some extent.

If American families have to spend $10 or $20 more each time they visit a gas station, that means that they are going to have less discretionary income.  They won’t be able to spend as much at the stores.

Not only that, but since the price of oil affects the price of almost everything else, Americans will find that their dollars have reduced purchasing power.

An oil crisis would force American families to stretch their already overburdened budgets even farther.

So where is the price of gasoline going from here?  Well, the average price of gasoline in the United States is rapidly sneaking up on the $3.20 a gallon mark.  Almost everyone believes that it is going to be going significantly higher.

Tom Kloza, the chief analyst for the Oil Price Information Service, was recently quoted in USA Today as saying that he believes that the average price for gasoline in the United States will reach somewhere between $3.50 and $3.75 a gallon by April.

As I wrote about yesterday, there are other analysts that believe that we are going to see $4.00 gasoline in the United States by the end of the year, and there are some that believe that we could see $5.00 gasoline if revolution sweeps Saudi Arabia.

If gasoline becomes that expensive and it stays there for a while, it is going to seriously start affecting the behavior of American businesses and American consumers.

Just remember what happened back in 2008.  Andrew Busch of BMO Capital Markets recently told CNBC the following….

“Remember when oil was last at $140 (a barrel), Americans reacted and cut the amount of miles they drove.”

Can you imagine what it would do to the economy if millions of Americans start sitting in their homes instead of doing their normal amounts of driving and flying?

In addition, one of the biggest problems with a higher price for oil is that it would cause our trade deficit to explode.  According to the U.S. government, more than half of the oil that we use is imported.  So every month we send the rest of the world billions and billions of our dollars and they send us massive amounts of oil.  We rapidly consume all of the oil they send us and we continually need more.  So we keep sending larger and larger amounts of money overseas and they keep sending us larger amounts of oil.  In the process, our national wealth is being drained at an astounding rate.  It is one of the greatest transfers of wealth the world has ever seen.

When the price of oil rises substantially, the transfer of wealth accelerates.  This is a very bad thing for the U.S. economy.  For example, when oil prices were above $100 a barrel back in 2008 our trade deficit for the year was almost 700 billion dollars.

It would be great if the Middle East would settle down and oil prices would start declining because that would really help out the U.S. economy.  Unfortunately, it does not look like that is going to happen.  Instead, it appears that we are steamrolling directly towards stagflation.  Anyone that lived through the stagflation of the 1970s knows that it is not a lot of fun.

The cold, hard reality of the matter is that without cheap oil our lifestyles are going to change.  Our economy was not set up to run on expensive oil.  If oil moves well above $100 a barrel and it stays there it is going to bring about significant societal changes.

For the rest of 2011, the price of oil will be the number one economic indicator to watch.  If it gets too high it is going to be an absolute disaster for the U.S. economy.

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