Two-Thirds Of Americans Think That They Are Middle Class – But Millions Of Them Are Dead Wrong

The middle class has been steadily shrinking, but most Americans still believe that they are a part of it.  Perhaps this is due at least in part to the egalitarian values which have been pounded into our heads for most of our lives.  Very few Americans would have the gall to define themselves as “upper class”, and I have never met anyone that would describe themselves as “lower class”.  In place of “lower class”, many politicians now like to use the much more politically correct term “working class”, but a more apt description might be “the working poor”.  Today, half of all American workers make less than $30,533 a year, and you certainly cannot support a middle class lifestyle for a family with children on that kind of income.

Our incomes have stagnated as the cost of living has soared, and the middle class has experienced steady erosion as a result.  But despite all that, 68 percent of all Americans still consider themselves to be “middle class”

That’s according to new data from Northwestern Mutual’s 2018 Planning & Progress Study, which found that 68 percent of Americans consider themselves middle-class, down 2 percent from last year. However, because of the fuzziness of the definition, far more Americans consider themselves middle-class than technically qualify based on income.

In reality, the middle class now makes up just over 50 percent of the total U.S. population, according to a recent report from Pew Research Center, which used 2016 data. That’s compared to 61 percent in 1971.

So according to that survey, somewhere around 18 percent of all Americans wrongly believe that they belong to the middle class.

There are 325 million people living in the United States today, and so we are potentially talking about 58 million people that think that they are middle class but really aren’t.

Other surveys have come up with similar numbers.  For example, one recent survey discovered that 22 percent of non-middle income Americans identified themselves as middle income

Overall, 22 percent of the non-middle-income Americans surveyed incorrectly classified themselves as middle income. The majority of those people are actually lower-income, with approximately 19 percent of the low-income Americans surveyed defining themselves as middle income. Only approximately 2 percent of upper-income Americans mistakenly defined themselves as middle income.

Of course even if someone can be defined as “middle income” does not necessarily mean that things are going well.

Today, most Americans are living paycheck to paycheck at least part of the time.  Living on the edge financially can be a constant source of stress, and it can easily start taking over your entire life.  To illustrate this point, I would like to share with you a short excerpt from a recent article by Lauren Wellbank

Like so many Americans, we struggle to get by each and every month. The compounding interest we rack up by always being a breath away from being broke plays a large role in that. We pay interest on purchases that we can’t afford to pay out of pocket in the moment (like our electric bill when my pay was short last month), and then we pay late fees when we have to take advantage of that grace period. Our monthly payments never go down because we can’t get out in front of any of it.

All of this has a psychological and emotional impact. I’m constantly running our budget through my mind, trying to reassure myself that the numbers will work out this month. I’m never not thinking about money. I dread going to the store or having to buy gas because each purchase moves us closer back down to that zero balance. The anxiety over our finances never goes away.

Have you ever been there?

Perhaps you are there right now.  If so, you are definitely not alone.  Most American families are deeply struggling, and it is getting worse with each passing year.

Meanwhile, the folks at the very top of the pyramid have been thriving.  In fact, one study discovered that the gap between the wealthy and the poor in the United States is the largest that it has been since the 1920s.

We truly are living in a “new Gilded Age”, and the biggest winners have been those in the “top 0.1 percent”.  The following comes from Matthew Stewart

It is in fact the top 0.1 percent who have been the big winners in the growing concentration of wealth over the past half century. According to the UC Berkeley economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, the 160,000 or so households in that group held 22 percent of America’s wealth in 2012, up from 10 percent in 1963. If you’re looking for the kind of money that can buy elections, you’ll find it inside the top 0.1 percent alone.

It has been said that money cannot buy happiness, and that is true.

But without a doubt the numbers show that there are some tremendous disadvantages to being poor.  Here is more from Stewart

Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, and liver disease are all two to three times more common in individuals who have a family income of less than $35,000 than in those who have a family income greater than $100,000. Among low-educated, middle-aged whites, the death rate in the United States—alone in the developed world—increased in the first decade and a half of the 21st century. Driving the trend is the rapid growth in what the Princeton economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton call “deaths of despair”—suicides and alcohol- and drug-related deaths.

Unfortunately, economic conditions are starting to deteriorate once again, and it is those at the bottom of the totem poll that are going to feel the pain first.

The period of relative stability that we had been enjoying is rapidly ending, and just about everyone can see that hard times are ahead of us.

A new survey of corporate CFOs was just released that contains some eye-popping numbers.  It turns out that 49 percent of them believe that a recession will start by the end of next year, and a whopping 82 percent of them believe that a recession will have started by the end of 2020

Considering that major corporations have been busy shedding workers, it follows that corporate finance leaders see a U.S. recession ahead. Evidence of a slowing economy has been popping up, including recent large-scale cuts in head count by U.S. corporations such as General Motors and Verizon.

Eighty-two percent of chief financial officers polled believe a recession will have started by the end 2020, and nearly 49 percent think the downturn will arrive sometime next year, according to the Duke University/CFO Global Business Outlook, released Wednesday.

This is yet another example of the major psychological shift that is taking place in our nation.  The overwhelming consensus is that economic activity is going to slow down, and it won’t be people with millions of dollars in their bank accounts that will be suffering.

No, once again it will mostly be people that are barely getting by that will be losing their jobs and their homes, and nobody is going to come riding to their rescue.

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.

The Psychological Bubble That Has Been Propping Up The U.S. Economy Is Starting To Implode

Optimism can be a very powerful thing.  For a long time Americans believed that things would get better, and that caused them to take action to make things better, and that actually resulted in things moving in a positive direction.  But now things have abruptly shifted.  In late 2018, an increasing number of Americans believe that an economic downturn is coming, and they are taking actions consistent with that belief.  As a result, they are actually helping to produce the result that they fear.  And without a doubt, any rational person should be able to see that signs that the U.S. economy is slowing down are all around us.  So it isn’t as if those that are preparing for the worst are being irrational.  It is just that when large numbers of people all start to move in the same direction, it has a very powerful effect.  We witnessed this in the stock market in recent years when people just kept buying stocks even though they were massively overvalued.  The collective belief that there was money to be made in the stock market became a self-fulfilling prophecy which pushed stock prices up to absurd heights.  But now that process is beginning to reverse as well, and ultimately the unwinding of that bubble will be quite painful.

Over the past couple of years the dominant economic narrative that the mainstream media was pushing was that the U.S. economy was “booming”, and this encouraged businesses to expand and consumers to go out and spend money.

But now the dominant economic narrative has changed, and businesses are starting to take actions that are consistent with the new narrative.  In the retail industry, if executives truly believed we would see an economic boom in the years ahead they would be expanding, but instead stores are being closed at a record pace

Mall and shopping center owners across the U.S. are preparing to be hit by more store closures, following a brutal year that included department store chains like Bon-Ton and Sears going bankrupt, Toys R Us liquidating and even Walmart shutting dozens of its club stores.

Now, a slew of specialty retailers like Gap and L Brands are getting serious about downsizing, which will leave more vacant storefronts within malls until landlords are able to replace tenants.

As a result of these store closings, large numbers of workers will be without jobs, vendors will not be receiving orders and mall owners will be without tenants.

In other words, economic activity will slow down.

Another sector where there has been a major psychological shift is in the real estate industry.  Home prices have been falling all over the nation, and this includes markets that were once extremely hot such as San Francisco

In San Francisco, the number of homes with a price cut in October nearly doubled, to 238 from 124 last October, according to data from Realtor.com.

That’s nothing compared to Santa Clara County, where the number of price cuts rose to 818 last month, more than six times last year’s number. Santa Clara County had been one of the nation’s hottest markets this year, and the Bay Area’s price appreciation leader until September.

“Clearly, there is a market shift,” said Rich Bennett, a Zephyr agent in San Francisco.

If homeowners believed that this dip was just temporary and that home prices would start surging again next year as the U.S. economy thrives, it would be quite foolish of them to slash their prices like this.

In some cases, home prices are being reduced by hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Why throw all of that money away if the market is going to bounce back shortly?

Over in the auto industry, there has also been a noticeable psychological shift.

If the U.S. economy was going to be doing extremely well in the years ahead, the major automakers should all be gearing up for record sales.

But instead, General Motors just shut a bunch of factories and laid off 14,000 workers, and Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas is projecting that Ford will soon be laying off large numbers of employees

“We estimate a large portion of Ford’s restructuring actions will be focused on Ford Europe, a business we currently value at negative $7 billion,” Jonas wrote. “But we also expect a significant restructuring effort in North America, involving significant numbers of both salaried and hourly UAW and CAW workers.”

Ford’s 70,000 salaried employees have been told they face unspecified job losses by the middle of next year as the automaker works through an “organizational redesign” aimed at creating a white-collar workforce “designed for speed,” according to Karen Hampton, a spokeswoman.

“These actions will come largely outside of North America,” Hampton said of Ford’s restructuring. “All of this work is ongoing and publishing a job-reduction figure at this point would be pure speculation.”

Shifting gears, let’s talk about agriculture.

If farmers believed that the trade war was just temporary and that things would soon swing back in their favor, many of them would keep trying to hold on for as long as they possibly could.

But instead, farm bankruptcies are absolutely surging

A total of 84 farms in the upper Midwest filed for bankruptcy between July 2017 and June 2018, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. That’s more than double the number of Chapter 12 filings during the same period in 2013 and 2014 in Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana, reported Vox.

Farms that produce corn, soybeans, milk, and beef were all suffering due to low global demand and low prices before the trade war, according to economists, but president Trump’s trade war is making the problem even worse by exacerbating the weaknesses in the American economy. China has retaliated against the tariffs by slapping billions of dollars worth of tariffs on United States agriculture exports in response to Trump’s tariffs on Chinese products. Other countries, including Canada, have also added duties to US agriculture products in response to Trump’s tariffs on all imported steel and aluminum.

Most Americans want to have hope, but when they look at our economic situation all they see is a very bleak future.

And in some parts of the nation, there still hasn’t been any sort of a “recovery” from the last recession.  For example, a recent Bloomberg article took a hard look at what conditions are currently like in eastern Kentucky…

Tiffany Hensley’s drive home takes her through some picturesque scenery, and an ugly economy.

“The first thing you see when you get down here is beauty,” says Hensley, midway through her shift at a diner in the rolling hills of eastern Kentucky. “But then you get to looking around. It’s real rough.’’

Of course eastern Kentucky is far from alone.  Yes, coastal cities such as San Francisco and New York have prospered in recent years, but rural communities all across America have been deeply suffering.

And now economic conditions are deteriorating once again nationally, and things are about to get a whole lot tougher for everyone.

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.

Now That Facebook, YouTube And Apple Have Come For Alex Jones, Guess Who They Are Coming For Next?

August 6th was one of darkest days in the history of the Internet.  When I learned that Facebook, YouTube, Apple, Spotify, Pinterest and others had colluded to take down content from Alex Jones all on the same day, I knew exactly what was happening.  They timed their attack so that it would hit the press at the beginning of the weekly news cycle on Monday so that their purge would have maximum societal impact.  And the fact that there was such overt collusion was obviously meant to send a message.  We were supposed to understand that if they can do this to Alex Jones, they can do it to any of us, and so we better shut up and fall in line.  I can’t even begin to tell you how sick I feel right now.  The big tech giants have made it abundantly clear how they feel about all of us, and there is no future for alternative points of view on any of their platforms.

The current purge of conservative voices has been going on for months, but this is the biggest bombshell by far.  The following excerpt from a Los Angeles Times article is a typical example of how the mainstream media covered this story…

Major technology companies including Apple, Facebook and YouTube deleted years of content from conservative conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his Infowars platforms over allegations of hate speech, a sudden clampdown that is fueling the growing debate over how big technology companies choose to censor.

The move was unusual for its sweep and speed, suggesting a new assertiveness by technology companies that in the past have worked to avoid alienating conservatives, who often assert that left-leaning Silicon Valley is biased against them. The removals appeared to be prompted by more users flagging Infowars content for policy violations.

In addition to the “big three”, Spotify and Pinterest pulled down content from Infowars as well, and there is no way that this could have been done simultaneously unless it was planned well in advance.  Lawyers have to be consulted, CEOs have to give their approval, etc.  This was a cold-blooded move that was carefully calculated down to the finest details.

So is there anything that conservatives can do?

Well, Mike Adams has suggested that these tech companies could be prosecuted for conspiracy…

This coordinated, illegal censorship is clear proof of an organized criminal racket being conducted by the tech giants. The RICO Act allows for federal prosecution of such criminal conspiracy.

The internet Dark Ages has now descended upon us, where radical left-wing tech giants run by deranged, mentally ill communists will decide whether your content qualifies as “hate speech.” What is hate speech? It’s anything uttered by a conservative.

I think that he is theoretically correct, but I doubt that it will ever actually happen.

Right now, the global elite do not have control of the White House, but they have discovered a powerful new weapon in the tech companies.  They are trying to use this new weapon to smash Alex Jones and other top conservative voices, and they are doing it with a tyrannical flair that is absolutely frightening.  I think that it was quite appropriate that the official WikiLeaks Twitter account made a parallel between this purge and an old Star Wars movie…

The empire strikes back: Apple, Spotify, Facebook and Google/Youtube all purge Infowars/Alex Jones. Yes, Infowars has frequent nonsense, but also a state power critique. Which publisher in the world with millions of subscribers is next to be wiped out for cultural transgression?

And it is quite noteworthy that this comes almost exactly three months before the mid-term elections.

Do you think that is just a coincidence?

After all of the uproar about “election interference”, now the big tech companies are overtly doing it very publicly and in a way that nobody can misunderstand.

The biggest reason why they are lashing out at Alex Jones, Mike Adams and a whole host of other top conservative voices is because Donald Trump never would have gotten elected without them.  I guess they figure that if they can start silencing some of those voices that they can turn future elections in their favor.

If it was just a few conservative voices that were being censored, that would be one thing.  But the truth is that hundreds and hundreds of conservatives have had Facebook pages taken down, YouTube accounts terminated and Twitter accounts shadowbanned.  I won’t repeat all of the information that I have previously published on this topic in this article.  Instead, if you would like to learn more I would recommend checking out some of my previous articles…

-“This Is The Worst Purge Of Conservative Voices In The History Of The Internet

-“Governments And Social Media Companies Are Collaborating To Censor Anyone That Would Dare To Question Mainstream Media Narratives

-“The Big Social Media Companies Are Being Used As A Weapon To Advance The Agenda Of The New World Order

-“The Censorship Is Real – EndOfTheAmericanDream.com Is Being Completely Blocked By Library Internet Filters

In the end, this is not about Alex Jones.

This is about a once free society that is becoming more Orwellian with each passing day.

Now that they have come for Alex Jones, they aren’t going to stop.

It might not be tomorrow, but eventually they are going to come for you.

I would like to end this article with a few words from Dr. Michael Brown’s excellent article about all of this censorship…

Let me repeat what I said in my earlier article about Infowars: Whether you’re an Infowars fan or you find their work distasteful, their potential removal from YouTube should concern you.

Otherwise, soon enough, we’ll have our own version of Martin Niemöller’s famous poem, which will now sound something like this:

First they came for Infowars, and I did not speak out—because I found them offensive.

Then they came for Geller and Spencer, and I did not speak out­—because I found them obnoxious.

Then they came for Prager U, and I did not speak out—because I found them opinionated.

Then they came for a host of others, and I did not speak out—because I have my own life to live.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

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.

Wild And Unprecedented Price Fluctuations Are Causing Financial Chaos For U.S. Businesses

In every war there is a high price to pay, and this trade war will not be any different.  The normal flow of goods and services around the globe is being severely disrupted, and even though this trade war has barely just begun, it is already having an enormous impact on the U.S. economy.  Even if we ultimately win this trade war and the Trump administration is able to achieve all of the goals that it is targeting, there will still be a great cost in the short-term.  We are going to see businesses fail, we are going to see workers get laid off, and global economic activity will inevitably contract.  Heck, at this point even Fox News is calling this trade war “economic suicide”.  We live at a time when a delicately balanced formula of economic factors allows us to live a debt-fueled standard of living that is far beyond what we actually deserve.  Now we are messing with that formula, and the consequences are likely to be far more severe than most Americans are anticipating.

Let’s start by talking about steel and aluminum.  One of the chief goals of the tariffs was to help the steel and aluminum industries, and thanks to those tariffs we have seen the price of U.S. steel rise 36 percent since the beginning of 2018…

For instance, US steel and aluminum prices have soared since the imposition of tariffs. US midwest hot-rolled coil steel price, the US steel price benchmark, soared 36% between the start of the year and the start of July. This in turn causes prices of goods made with the metal to rise.

That is good news for the U.S. economy, right?

Actually, it isn’t.

Every product that uses steel and aluminum is now going to cost more.

In many cases, a lot more.

For instance, one grill company is reporting that they have had to raise prices “by almost $350 per grill”

Middleby Residential, a California-based company that makes Lynx grills, told the Dallas Morning News that even though the company uses US steel, the recent price pressures have driven up costs by almost $350 per grill.

Do you want to pay an extra $350 for your next grill?

Retail prices for washer and dryers are surging as well.  They have increased by 20 percent compared to a year ago, and that is because prices for raw materials are skyrocketing

Whirlpool Corp trimmed its full-year profit outlook as it booked a large charge on its European operations and said it wouldn’t be able to offset the effect of steel tariffs with higher prices for consumers.

The company said Monday it now expects to pay about $350 million more this year from rising raw-material costs as it faces “a very challenging cost environment.”

Anybody that purchases any products that contain steel and/or aluminum will be feeling these prices increases.

And any business that uses steel and/or aluminum on a regular basis is going to be feeling an enormous amount of pain.  For example, the largest nail company in America is already laying off workers

When President Trump imposed a 25 percent tariff on steel imports last month, America’s largest nail manufacturer had little choice but to raise its prices. Mid Continent Nail Corporation quickly lost 50 percent of its orders as customers opted for cheaper suppliers. Within weeks, the firm had to lay off 60 workers. Up to 200 more might lose their jobs by the end of this month.

All over the country, companies are going to be forced to either raise prices, fire workers or move production facilities out of the United States.

Meanwhile, farmers all over America are facing a different problem.  Thanks to a massive decline in demand from China (thanks to tariffs that they have hit us with), prices are plummeting and warehouses are filling up with food that doesn’t have anywhere to go.

Every year, the U.S. usually imports about 14 billion dollars worth of soybeans to China, and I covered the plight of soybean farmers in a previous article.  But of course soybean farmers are far from alone.  It is being reported that more than 2.5 billion pounds of meat and poultry products that have been produced by our farmers is being stockpiled in cold-storage warehouses.  To help the agricultural community, President Trump announced 12 billion dollars in aid to farmers on Tuesday

As President Donald Trump embarks on a multistate tour through parts of the country hit heavily by trade battles, his administration said Tuesday it will direct $12 billion to farmers whose harvests have been hurt by tariffs.

But the idea faced immediate criticism from Republicans on Capitol Hill.

Responding to farm groups and the Republican discontent, administration officials said they have been working since April on a short-term plan to shore up slipping prices for soybeans, pork and other crops hit with retaliatory tariffs from China.

Sure, this will help farmers get through the trade war in the short-term, but isn’t this exactly the kind of big government socialism that we are always railing against?

And who is going to bail out the real estate industry?

CNBC is reporting that home sales fell a whopping 11.8 percent year over year in southern California last month…

Southern California home sales hit the brakes in June, falling to the lowest reading for the month in four years. Sales of both new and existing houses and condominiums dropped 11.8 percent year over year, as prices shot up to a record high, according to CoreLogic. The report covers Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties.

And do you know who has been fueling the extremely hot real estate market on the west coast?

The Chinese.

At one time they were buying up everything in sight, but now they have become net sellers of U.S. real estate.

And there are rumblings that we could soon see some sort of “national boycott” of American goods in China.  The following comes from Zero Hedge

The survey found that 54 percent of 2,000 respondents in 300 cities across China would “probably” or “definitely” stop buying US-branded goods “in the event of a trade war”. Just 13 percent said they would not.

The remaining 33 percent said they were unsure or did not at present buy US branded goods, according to the survey, conducted for FT Confidential Research (FTCR), a research unit at the Financial Times.

The survey was carried out between June 27 and July 10, mostly before the US imposed 25 percent tariffs on $34bn of Chinese goods on July 6. The move elicited an immediate tit-for-tat response from Beijing.

Of course something similar could be tried in the United States, but most Americans simply do not care if a product comes from China or not.  They are simply going to buy the cheapest stuff no matter what anyone tells them to do.

Look, I very much understand that we have been sending businesses and jobs overseas for a very long time.  I have been writing about this for years, and something had to be done.

But trying to fight trade wars with virtually everyone else on the planet simultaneously is madness, and the consequences for the U.S. economy are going to cause all of us an immense amount of pain.

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.

Beware – The Last 7 Times The Yield Curve Inverted The U.S. Economy Was Hit By A Recession

Seven times since the 1960s we have seen the yield curve invert, and in each of those seven instances an economic recession in the United States has followed.  Will this time be any different?  Today, the yield curve is the flattest that it has been in 11 years, and many analysts believe that we will see an inversion before the end of 2018.  If an inversion does take place, experts will be all over the mainstream media warning about “an imminent recession”.  Unfortunately, most Americans don’t understand these things, and when they hear terms like “yield curve” they tend to quickly tune out.  So in this article we are doing to define what a yield curve is, why it is so important, and why another U.S. recession may be rapidly approaching.

Let’s start with a really basic definition of a yield curve.  This one comes from Investopedia

A yield curve is a line that plots the interest rates, at a set point in time, of bonds having equal credit quality but differing maturity dates. The most frequently reported yield curve compares the three-month, two-year, five-year and 30-year U.S. Treasury debt. This yield curve is used as a benchmark for other debt in the market, such as mortgage rates or bank lending rates, and it is also used to predict changes in economic output and growth.

But most of the time, the experts that are talking about “the yield curve” are talking about the difference between interest rates on two-year and ten-year U.S. Treasury bonds.  The following comes from CNBC

Start with a government issued two-year Treasury bond and a 10-year Treasury bond. They both pay interest. Typically, the 10-year pays a higher interest rate than the two-year to compensate buyers for the time difference. The difference between the interest rates in these two bonds is called the “spread”. If the spread is greater than zero, it means the two-year interest rate is lower than the 10-year, and that is normally the case.

A normal spread for these two bonds will take the appearance of a rising chart — an upward sloping yield curve. But when the spread goes negative, the yield curve “inverts” giving the appearance of a negative yield curve.

An “inverted yield curve” strikes fear among investors because it makes lending unprofitable.

As a USA Today article recently explained, our banks borrow at short-term rates and lend that money out at long-term rates…

Banks borrow at short-term rates, lend long term and profit from the difference. So the gap between long and short rates predicts future loan profitability. The bigger the gap, the more eager banks are to lend. The yield curve is a great predictive proxy for future lending.

Lending matters because loans allow for economically expansive activities. Sally deposits $10,000 at Community Banks-R-Us, which can keep $1,000 in reserve and lend out $9,000 to Jim’s Widgets. Jim uses that to grow his business. Hence lending can fuel growth. So, steeper yield curves spur economic activity. Flatter curves render less.

Our economy is fueled by debt, and an inverted yield curve tends to greatly discourage lending.  When banks cut back on lending, that has the effect of “choking off” the economy, and that usually leads to an economic contraction…

In this interest-rate environment, banks would lose money by making loans. Not necessarily on all loans, but it does make some loans unfeasible and some less profitable, forcing banks to cut back on making loans; thereby choking off the access to credit markets that businesses need to grow. When it becomes harder for businesses to borrow, many businesses cancel or delay projects and hiring. Weaker businesses go out of business because they lose access to credit, which in turn causes layoffs. When this happens, it takes about a year, on average, for the U.S. economy to slip into a recession.

The yield curve inverted prior to the recession of 2008, and lending started to get a lot tighter.  The resulting recession was a surprise to many Americans, but it should not have been.  It was simply the logical conclusion of basic economic forces at work.

In fact, an inverted yield curve has preceded every single recession since the 1960s, but Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell doesn’t seem concerned that it is about to happen again…

Asked whether “a dramatic change in the shape of the yield curve in any way influence the trajectory you guys are on with respect to normalizing interest rates and the balance sheet,” Powell stated “no,” adding that “what really matters is what the neutral rate of interest is.

That’s the interest rate level that neither stimulates growth or slows it down — something that changes over time and which Fed officials try hard to gauge.

Interestingly, yield curves are about to “invert” in Japan, Germany and China too.

But it should be noted that there are some experts that insist that we are focusing on the wrong things.  One of those experts is Ken Fisher

Almost everyone everywhere misses that the total global yield curve matters much more than America’s. And it’s doing just fine, thank you. Today’s global financial system is super interconnected. Behemoth banks can borrow in low-rate countries such as Germany, transfer funds here, hedge for currency risk and lend to Jim’s Widgets in mere seconds.

The global yield curve combines every developed country’s curve, weighted by the size of each economy. You get Britain’s 0.88 percent 10-year/three-month spread, Canada’s 0.69 percent gap, Germany’s 0.92 percent, France’s 1.23 percent, Japan’s 0.18 percent and the rest. Mash them all together based on GDP weighting, and that gets you a 0.9 percent global spread that’s bouncing along, going nowhere fast. Current U.S. yield curve fears miss this.

In the end, Fisher may be right.

Without a doubt, the global financial system is more interconnected today than ever before, and we may find a way to muddle through even if the yield curve inverts in the United States.

But I wouldn’t count on it.  An inverted yield curve has accurately predicted a recession every single time since the 1960s, and it is not likely to be wrong this time around either.

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.

The Trade War Is Already Having A Huge Impact On The U.S. Economy

The trade war has barely just begun, and yet significant ripple effects are already being felt all across the U.S. economy.  Once thriving businesses are on the verge of failure, workers are being laid off, and some sectors of the economy are witnessing enormous price hikes.  Right now the mainstream media is absolutely fixated on the drama surrounding the recently concluded Trump-Putin summit meeting, but the consequences of this trade war will ultimately be far more important for the lives of most ordinary Americans.  As more tariffs continue to be implemented, this will perhaps be the biggest disruption to the global economic system that we have seen in decades.  Perhaps you have not been affected personally yet, but for many Americans this trade war has changed everything.  For example, just consider the plight of soybean farmer Tim Bardole

The U.S. is China’s second-biggest source of soybeans at 34% of the imports, after Brazil, which ships 53%. The staple is used to make cooking oil and seasoning, and soybean meal is found in pig feed.

Now the tariffs have taken the bottom out of U.S. soybean prices, delivering a gut punch to farmers like Tim Bardole. He was already $100,000 in the red last year due to a yearslong slump in cereal prices, and the current predicament has driven him into a corner.

“I’m not sure if I can get a loan from the bank to finance our next year’s crop,” said Bardole.

If this trade war had not happened, perhaps Bardole would have been able to eventually get out of debt.  But now he is facing financial ruin and the potential loss of his entire farm.

Switching gears, U.S. consumers will soon discover that common electronics such as phones and computers cost a lot more.  The following comes from CBS News

Buyers in the U.S. will soon see price hikes on computers, phones, thermostats and “everyday items,” according to the Information Technology Industry Council, a group that represents tech companies.

Hundreds of Chinese components that the Trump administration penalized are used to make everything from LEDs to sensors to printer and scanner components. When manufacturers pay more for their parts, the costs are typically passed on to consumers, the ITI said.

Are you ready to pay 50 dollars for your next phone to support this trade war?

Maybe.

50 dollars is ultimately not that big of a deal.

But what about paying $9,000 more for your next house?

Tariffs on lumber coming from the evil Canadians are adding about $9,000 to the cost of a new house, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

Washing machine prices have jumped some 15% this year, the fastest increase ever recorded by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Are you starting to understand why starting trade wars with all of our major trading partners simultaneously was a really bad idea?

We are about to see major price hikes in just about every sector of the economy.  According to the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the average American could pay over $5,000 more for their next vehicle

Consumers may see an average price increase of $5,800 if a 25 percent import tariff that Mr. Trump has threatened goes into effect, according to estimates cited by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (AAM), a lobbying group for carmakers.

That’s a “$45 billion tax on consumers,” the group said, citing an analysis of Commerce Department data.

U.S. consumers are already stretched to the max, and they will not be able to easily absorb these price increases.

Meanwhile, farm incomes all across the interior of the country are going to be absolutely devastated by this trade war.  Just check out these numbers

The American Farm Bureau says it expects farm incomes to drop to a 12-year low this year, largely because of the trade war.

An agricultural economist at Purdue University, Christopher Hurt, added that 1,000 acres of corn and soybeans would have made a farmer a $42,000 profit on June 1. Now, it could net him a $126,000 loss.

And as I mentioned above, many businesses all over the United States that rely heavily on exports are already struggling so mightily that they have to lay off workers.  The following comes from USA Today

In Poplar Bluff, Missouri, Mid-Continent Nail, the nation’s largest nail maker, laid off 60 workers last month. Sales plunged 70 percent after Trump placed a 25 percent tariff on steel from Mexico and Canada. When the company boosted its prices, customers defected. Now, Mid-Continent is strongly considering a second round of 200 layoffs, company spokeswoman Elizabeth Heaton says, and all 500 employees could be axed by Labor Day.

Yes, we desperately needed to do something about China and other trade partners that were taking advantage of us.  But there is a right way to handle things and a wrong way to handle things, and starting a trade war with everyone at the same time is a really, really bad idea.

I think that a recent piece by Thomas Grennes, a professor of economics at North Carolina State University, made this point quite well

The Trump administration has said that tariffs are a negotiating technique that need not be implemented. Now that tariffs are in place, they say other countries will soon back down. However, trading partners have not backed down, and, in fact, retaliatory tariffs against U.S. exports are already in place. Foreign officials have expressed confusion about exactly what concessions the US government wants. Currently, no formal negotiations are taking place. Higher future tariffs are being announced regularly. There are no signs of an end to this tariff war. When will both sides recognize that interfering with voluntary trade is harmful to both parties? Trade wars are lose-lose propositions.

Unfortunately, I don’t think that most Americans have any idea how exceedingly painful this trade war could potentially become.

The longer it lasts, the worse things will get, and ultimately it could tip the U.S. economy into the worst recession that any of us have ever experienced.

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.

An Absolutely Epic Escalation Of The Trade War Has Us On The Precipice Of A Cataclysmic Global Economic Crisis

If Americans really understood how much their standard of living was about to change, the streets of our major cities would be packed with protesters by tomorrow morning.  For the past several decades, China and other low cost exporters have been flooding our shores with hundreds of billions of dollars worth of cheap goods.  This is the only reason why you can go to Wal-Mart and buy a shirt for three bucks.  But since we buy far more stuff from the rest of the world than they buy from us, we ultimately have to go back to those other nations and beg them to lend our money back to us so that we can pay our bills.  This sick, twisted co-dependent relationship has enabled Americans to live a debt-fueled standard of living that is far beyond what we deserve, and now our rapidly escalating trade war with China is going to bring the party to a crashing halt.  On Tuesday, the Trump administration released a list of $200,000,000,000 worth of Chinese exports that will be hit with 10 percent tariffs.  Those tariffs are in addition to the 25 percent tariffs that had previously been announced on 50 billion dollars worth of Chinese exports.  These new tariffs are scheduled to go into effect on August 30th, and the Chinese have already pledged to retaliate.

In essence, our trade war with China has now “gone nuclear”, and this is going to have extremely serious implications for the U.S. economy.  The following is a short excerpt from the statement that U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer released about these new tariffs…

On Friday, in response to unfair Chinese practices, the United States began imposing tariffs of 25 percent on approximately $34 billion worth of Chinese imports. These tariffs will eventually cover up to $50 billion in Chinese imports as legal processes conclude. The products targeted by the tariffs are those that benefit from China’s industrial policy and forced technology transfer practices.

China has since retaliated against the United States by imposing tariffs on $34 billion in U.S. exports to China, and threatening tariffs on another $16 billion. It did this without any international legal basis or justification.

As a result of China’s retaliation and failure to change its practices, the President has ordered USTR to begin the process of imposing tariffs of 10 percent on an additional $200 billion of Chinese imports. This is an appropriate response under the authority of Section 301 to obtain the elimination of China’s harmful industrial policies.

Without a doubt, something needed to be done about China’s unfair trade practices.  The Chinese manipulate currency rates, they impose very high tariffs on U.S. goods, and they have been stealing our intellectual property for decades.

But it is very unlikely that anyone is going to “win” this trade war, and in the short-term all it is going to mean is a whole lot of economic and financial pain.

According to Politico, the new tariff list that was just released hits a very broad range of products…

The new tariff list broadens the types of goods caught up in the trade war by targeting items like seafood, minerals, chemicals, and personal care items, such as shampoo and soap. It also includes a number of consumer products such as handbags, luggage, gloves and paper.

Do you buy any of those things?

Well, expect to pay significantly more in the not too distant future.

When compiling this new list, the Trump administration specifically “took into account what could cause disruptions to China’s economy”.  The following comes from CNBC

Some of the products on the list facing tariffs are from Made in China 2025 sectors, the official said. Made in China 2025 is a strategic plan to make China a leader in key global industries, including technology.

When compiling the list of goods, the U.S. Trade Representative took into account what could cause disruptions to China’s economy.

So what do you think that the Chinese are going to do in response?

Yes, they are going to look at measures that will “cause disruptions to America’s economy”.

The Chinese are a very proud people, and they aren’t stupid.  They know where our pain points are, and they will not be afraid to go for the jugular.

China cannot match this round of U.S. tariffs dollar for dollar, because China only imports approximately 130 billion dollars worth of U.S. goods a year.

But China could decide to cut off some or all agricultural imports from the United States, and that would be absolutely devastating to many farming states.  In fact, many farming states are already feeling substantial pain from the tariffs that China has already imposed…

“Agricultural states, I think, are being hit the hardest,” said Rodney Ludema, a Georgetown University professor and former senior international economist in the White House Council of Economic Advisers under President Barack Obama. The tariffs spare states “that are heavily service-dependent, like New York.”

In terms of value, some 38 percent of products on the tariff list are agricultural, including soybeans, sorghum, tobacco and meat, said Chad Bown, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. That’s bad news for farm-belt states, primarily in the Midwest.

In addition, China could decide to “go nuclear” by cutting off U.S. investment in China, by restricting our access to rare earth elements, or by dumping our debt.

The only reason why we have even been able to get to 21 trillion dollars in debt is because nations such as China have been buying our debt at ultra-low interest rates that are way below the real rate of inflation.

If China quit buying our debt and started dumping their current holdings, interest rates would start skyrocketing and we would be in a world of hurt almost immediately.

We don’t have the kind of leverage that some people seem to think that we have.  And there are many prominent experts that are warning that we are heading for catastrophic consequences.  For example, just consider what David Stockman recently told CNBC…

The United States is heading to a “massive trade war” because President Donald Trump “doesn’t know what he’s doing,” said former Reagan budget director David Stockman.

“We have an absurd policy — dangerous, stupid. The worst that I’ve seen since my whole career started in 1970 under [President Richard] Nixon, and he did some crazy things,” Stockman said Tuesday on CNBC’s “Closing Bell.”

The financial markets have reacted very strongly to these latest developments.  As soon as the new tariffs were announced, Asian stocks began to drop and Dow futures plummeted about 300 points from the closing highs.

Unfortunately, most ordinary Americans simply do not grasp the importance of what is happening, because we have never seen anything like this in modern American history.  The two largest economies on the entire planet are now in a state of economic conflict, and there is no way that this is going to end well.

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.