Corporate revenues in the United States have been falling for quite some time, but now some of the biggest companies in the entire nation are reporting extremely disappointing results. On Tuesday, Apple shocked the financial world by reporting that revenue for the first quarter had fallen 7.4 billion dollars compared to the same quarter last year. That is an astounding plunge, and it represents the very first year-over-year quarterly sales decline that Apple has experienced since 2003. Analysts were anticipating some sort of drop, but nothing like this. And of course last week we learned that Google and Microsoft also missed revenue and earnings projections for the first quarter of 2016. The economic crisis that began during the second half of 2015 is really starting to take hold, and even our largest tech companies are now feeling the pain.
This wasn’t supposed to happen to Apple. No matter what else has been going on with the U.S. economy, Apple has always been unshakeable. Even during the last recession we never saw a year-over-year decline like this…
Apple today announced financial results for the second fiscal quarter (first calendar quarter) of 2016. For the quarter, Apple posted revenue of $50.6 billion and net quarterly profit of $10.5 billion, or $1.90 per diluted share, compared to revenue of $58 billion and net quarterly profit of $13.6 billion, or $2.33 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter. As expected, the year-over-year decline in quarterly revenue was the first for Apple since 2003.
I think that this announcement by Apple is waking a lot of people up. The global economic slowdown is real, and we can see this in iPhone sales. During the first quarter, Apple sold 16 percent fewer iPhones than it did during the same quarter in 2015. This is the very first year-over-year quarterly sales decline for the iPhone ever. Here are some of the specific sales figures from the Apple announcement…
Apple sold 51.1 million iPhones during the quarter, down from 61.2 million a year earlier, while Mac sales were 4.03 million units, down from from 4.56 million units in the year-ago quarter. iPad sales were also down once again, falling to 10.25 million from 12.6 million.
Once these numbers hit the wires, shares of Apple immediately began to plummet during after-hours trading. In fact, USA Today is reporting that Apple has already lost 43 billion dollars in market value since the annoucement…
Shares of Apple are getting hit roughly 8% in after-hours trading, tumbling to $96.67. They closed in regular trading at $104.35, or down 0.7%, putting them down 0.9% for the year. The downward move in after-hours trading means the company shed $43 billion in market value based on after-hours trading.
Meanwhile, shares of Twitter are crashing in after-hours trading after the social media giant also announced very disappointing results. The stock has now dripped below 16 dollars a share, and the company continues to lose tremendous amounts of money…
For all its other travails, Twitter is unprofitable. It narrowed its loss but still recorded a loss of $79.7 million, or 12 cents a share, compared with a loss of $162.4 million, or 25 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter.
Of course it isn’t just the tech giants that are troubled these days.
On Tuesday we learned that same-store sales for Chipotle declined by a whopping 29.7 percent during the first quarter, and appliance manufacturer Whirlpool has seen sales fall all over the planet…
Whirlpool, the world’s biggest appliance manufacturer, has become the poster child for the deep challenges facing multinational companies these days.
– Latin American sales plunged 22%.
– Revenue fell 8% in Europe, Middle East and Africa.
– Asia sales dipped 2%.
When is it finally going to sink in for most people? The global economy is slowing down significantly, and the next global economic crisis is already here.
Of course the oil companies are feeling more pain than anyone else. According to CNN, the crash in the price of oil has cost the 40 largest publicly-traded U.S. oil producers 67 billion dollars…
American oil companies are drowning in a sea of red ink.
The crash in crude oil prices caused a stunning $67 billion in combined losses by 40 publicly-traded U.S. oil producers last year, according Energy Information Administration research. And the bleeding is expected to continue at least early this year for many.
The losses surpassed $1 billion each from struggling oil companies like EOG Resources (EOG), Devon Energy (DVN) and Linn Energy (LINE) as well as SandRidge Energy (SD), the shale oil driller that recently admitted it’s exploring a bankruptcy filing.
That is an astounding amount of money.
These days we throw around terms like “millions” and “billions” so much that they almost lose their meaning.
But this is real money that we are talking about here.
In recent days, Barack Obama has been running around boasting that he saved the world economy from another Great Depression. But that isn’t true at all. Instead, our “leaders” have simply set the stage for a larger and more painful crisis. I like the way that Doug Casey recently put it…
You’ve got to remember that all of these governments and central banks all around the world have driven interest rates not just to zero, but to negative levels in some cases… and they are simultaneously printing up trillions of currency units. And even while they are desperately doing that the economy is falling apart in lots of different ways.
…They’ve created a super-bubble in bonds, a bubble in stocks, and meanwhile commodities have collapsed and are below production costs in many cases.
…The economy is going to be very, very bad… It’s the next stage of what I call the Greater Depression.
Whether you want to call it a “Great Depression”, a “Greater Depression” or “The Greatest Depression”, the truth is that we are heading into a period of time that will be unlike anything any of us have ever experienced before.
The greatest debt bubble in the history of the planet is starting to implode, and this time the central bankers and the politicians are not going to be able to put the pieces back together again.
But just like in 2008, the vast majority of the population will not recognize the warning signs until it is way too late.
*About the author: Michael Snyder is the founder and publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog. Michael’s controversial new book about Bible prophecy entitled “The Rapture Verdict” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.*
Ten years ago, a major Hollywood film entitled “Idiocracy” was released, and it was an excellent metaphor for what would happen to America over the course of the next decade. In the movie, an “average American” wakes up 500 years in the future only to discover that he is the most intelligent person by far in the “dumbed down” society that he suddenly finds himself in. Sadly, I truly believe that if people of average intellect from the 1950s and 1960s were transported to 2016, they would likely be considered mental giants compared to the rest of us. We have a country where criminals are being paid $1000 a month not to shoot people, and the highest paid public employee in more than half the states is a football coach. Hardly anyone takes time to read a book anymore, and yet the average American spends 302 minutes a day watching television. 75 percent of our young adults cannot find Israel on a map of the Middle East, but they sure know how to find smut on the Internet. It may be hard to believe, but there are more than 4 million adult websites on the Internet today, and they get more traffic than Netflix, Amazon and Twitter combined.
What in the world has happened to us? How is it possible that we have become so stupid? According to a brand new report that was recently released, almost 10 percent of our college graduates believe that Judge Judy is on the Supreme Court…
The American Council of Trustees and Alumni publishes occasional reports on what college students know.
Nearly 10 percent of the college graduates surveyed thought Judith Sheindlin, TV’s “Judge Judy,” is a member of the U.S. Supreme Court. Less than 20 percent of the college graduates knew the effect of the Emancipation Proclamation. More than a quarter of the college graduates did not know Franklin D. Roosevelt was president during World War II; one-third did not know he was the president who spearheaded the New Deal.
It can be tempting to laugh at numbers like these until you realize that survey after survey has come up with similar results.
Just consider what Newsweek found a few years ago…
When NEWSWEEK recently asked 1,000 U.S. citizens to take America’s official citizenship test, 29 percent couldn’t name the vice president. Seventy-three percent couldn’t correctly say why we fought the Cold War. Forty-four percent were unable to define the Bill of Rights. And 6 percent couldn’t even circle Independence Day on a calendar.
Even worse were the extremely depressing results of a study conducted a few years ago by Common Core…
*Only 43 percent of all U.S. high school students knew that the Civil War was fought some time between 1850 and 1900.
*More than a quarter of all U.S. high school students thought that Christopher Columbus made his famous voyage across the Atlantic Ocean after the year 1750.
*Approximately a third of all U.S. high school students did not know that the Bill of Rights guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
*Only 60 percent of all U.S. students knew that World War I was fought some time between 1900 and 1950.
Of course survey results can be skewed, and much hinges on how the questions are asked.
However, even studies that are scientifically conducted confirm how stupid America has become. In fact, a report from the Educational Testing Service found that Americans are falling way behind much of the rest of the industrialized world. The following comes from CBS News…
Americans born after 1980 are lagging their peers in countries ranging from Australia to Estonia, according to a new report from researchers at the Educational Testing Service (ETS). The study looked at scores for literacy and numeracy from a test called the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, which tested the abilities of people in 22 countries.
The results are sobering, with dire implications for America. It hints that students may be falling behind not only in their early educational years but at the college level. Even though more Americans between the ages of 20 to 34 are achieving higher levels of education, they’re still falling behind their cohorts in other countries. In Japan, Finland and the Netherlands, young adults with only a high school degree scored on par with American Millennials holding four-year college degrees, the report said.
Out of 22 countries that were part of the study, the Educational Testing Service found that Americans were dead last in tech proficiency, dead last in numeracy and only two countries performed worse than us when it came to literacy proficiency…
Half of American Millennials score below the minimum standard of literacy proficiency. Only two countries scored worse by that measure: Italy (60 percent) and Spain (59 percent). The results were even worse for numeracy, with almost two-thirds of American Millennials failing to meet the minimum standard for understanding and working with numbers. That placed U.S. Millennials dead last for numeracy among the study’s 22 developed countries.
So why has this happened?
Why have we become such an extremely stupid nation?
Well, at least a portion of the blame must be directed at our system of education. The following is an excerpt from an article written by reporter Mark Morford. In this article, he shared how one of his friends which had served for a very long time as a high school teacher in Oakland, California was considering moving out of the country when he retired due to the relentless “dumb-ification of the American brain”…
It’s gotten so bad that, as my friend nears retirement, he says he is very seriously considering moving out of the country so as to escape what he sees will be the surefire collapse of functioning American society in the next handful of years due to the absolutely irrefutable destruction, the shocking — and nearly hopeless — dumb-ification of the American brain. It is just that bad.
Now, you may think he’s merely a curmudgeon, a tired old teacher who stopped caring long ago. Not true. Teaching is his life. He says he loves his students, loves education and learning and watching young minds awaken. Problem is, he is seeing much less of it.
And of course things don’t get much better when it comes to our college students. In a previous article, I shared some statistics from USA Today about the rapidly declining state of college education in the United States…
-“After two years in college, 45% of students showed no significant gains in learning; after four years, 36% showed little change.”
-“Students also spent 50% less time studying compared with students a few decades ago”
-“35% of students report spending five or fewer hours per week studying alone.”
-“50% said they never took a class in a typical semester where they wrote more than 20 pages”
-“32% never took a course in a typical semester where they read more than 40 pages per week.”
I spent eight years studying at some of the finest public universities in the country, and I can tell you from personal experience that even our most challenging college courses have been pathetically dumbed down.
And at our “less than finest” public universities, the level of education can be something of a bad joke. In another previous article, I shared some examples of actual courses that have been taught at U.S. universities in recent years…
-“What If Harry Potter Is Real?”
-“Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame”
-“Philosophy And Star Trek”
-“Learning From YouTube”
-“How To Watch Television”
Could you imagine getting actual college credit for a course entitled “What If Harry Potter Is Real?”
This is why many of our college graduates can barely put two sentences together. They aren’t being challenged, and the quality of the education most of them are receiving is incredibly poor.
But even though they aren’t being challenged, students are taking longer to get through college than ever. Federal statistics reveal that only 36 percent of all full-time students receive a bachelor’s degree within four years, and only 77 percent of all full-time students have earned a bachelor’s degree by the end of six years.
Of course our system of education is not entirely to blame. The truth is that young Americans spend far more time consuming media than they do hitting the books, and what passes for “entertainment” these days is rapidly turning their brains to mush.
According to a report put out by Nielsen, this is how much time the average American spends consuming media on various devices each day…
Watching live television: 4 hours, 32 minutes
Watching time-shifted television: 30 minutes
Listening to the radio: 2 hours, 44 minutes
Using a smartphone: 1 hour, 33 minutes
Using Internet on a computer: 1 hour, 6 minutes
When you add it all up, the average American spends more than 10 hours a day plugged into some form of media.
And if you allow anyone to pump “programming” into your mind for 10 hours a day, it is going to have a dramatic impact.
In the end, I truly believe that we all greatly underestimate the influence that the mainstream media has on all of us. We willingly plug into “the Matrix” for endless hours, but then somehow we still expect “to think for ourselves”.
There are very few of us that can say that we have not been exposed to thousands upon thousands of hours of conditioning. And all of that garbage can make it very, very difficult to think clearly.
It is not because of a lack of input that we have become so stupid as a society. The big problem is what we are putting into our minds.
If we continue to put garbage in, we are going to continue to get garbage out, and that is the cold, hard reality of the matter.
For the first time ever, total credit card debt in the United States is approaching a trillion dollars. Instead of learning painful lessons from the last recession, Americans continue to make the same horrendous financial mistakes over and over again. In fact, U.S. consumers accumulated more new credit card debt during the 4th quarter of 2015 than they did during the years of 2009, 2010 and 2011 combined. That is absolutely insanity, because other than payday loans, credit card debt is just about the worst kind of debt that consumers could possibly go into. Extremely high rates of interest, combined with severe penalties and fees, can choke the financial life out of almost any family in no time at all.
These days, most Americans use credit cards for various purposes, and they can be very convenient.
And if you pay them off every single month, they don’t become a problem.
Unfortunately, a lot of people are not doing this. According to CNBC, total U.S. credit card debt rose by an astounding 71 billion dollars last year alone…
Last year, credit card debt in the U.S. surged by approximately $71 billion to $917.7 billion, according to a new study from CardHub.com. The research also found that most of the debt accrued in 2015 came in the fourth quarter, when Americans tacked on more than $52 billion.
“With 7 of the past 10 quarters reflecting year-over-year regression in consumer performance, evidence is mounting to support the notion that credit card users are reverting to pre-downturn bad habits,” CardHub CEO Odysseas Papadimitriou said in a statement.
And as noted above, things were particularly gruesome during the 4th quarter of last year.
According to Alternet, Americans added more credit card debt during those three months than during the entire years of 2009, 2010 and 2011 combined…
Not since we headed into the Great Recession of 2008 have we been quite so loosey-goosey with our credit cards, racking up debt with stunning speed. Of our 4Q totals, CardHub notes, “during this one quarter, we added more debt than in 2009, 2010 and 2011 put together.” That brings dollars owed to credit card companies by each debt-saddled American family up to $7,879, the highest since the Great Recession.
I can’t even begin to describe how unwise this is. When I was in my twenties, I made the same mistakes that so many other Americans are making right now. I very foolishly racked up large balances on my credit cards, and it took years of extremely painful payments to fix those mistakes.
In America today, 37 percent of all households maintain credit card balances from month to month, and the average level of credit card debt for those households is $15,700. The following comes from CBS Minnesota…
According to NerdWallet, 37 percent of American households have credit card debt, which is defined as not paying off the full balance every month. Using data from the Federal Reserve of New York, U.S. Census and its own poll, NerdWallet found the average balance for those in credit debt is $15,700.
What most people don’t realize is that by letting balances run from month to month, you can end up paying just about as much in interest as you did for the original purchases.
Here is one credit card repayment scenario that comes from NerdWallet…
For the sake of simplicity in calculating the cost of the average credit card debt, let’s assume an APR of 16% and a fixed payment. We’ll also assume a minimum payment of 2% of the principal balance of $15,762, the average as of the end of 2015, or $315.
Based on those terms — and assuming you don’t add any more to your credit card balance — it would take 84 months, or seven years, to pay off the balance in full. During that time, you’ll pay $10,402 in interest — about two-thirds of the original balance — for a total of $26,164. This averages out to about $124 in interest per month.
The scenario above assumes that all payments are made on time. But a single late payment can trigger higher interest rates, penalties and fees that can be absolutely suffocating.
In fact, some people end up paying back three, four or five times as much as they originally borrowed to the credit card companies.
If you use credit cards for convenience or to buy things online or to automatically pay bills, that is fine. Just don’t let balances accumulate. As you can see, that can be financial suicide.
And as we head into a new global recession, you definitely don’t want to be saddled with high levels of debt. All of us have little luxuries that we can cut back on, and now is not the time to be living on the financial edge.
Just look at some of the troubling signs that we have seen in the news in recent days…
-The U.S. oil and rig count just dropped to the lowest level ever recorded
-One Houston CEO told employees that he was laying off that we have entered a “depression”
-It is being reported that 35 percent of all oil and gas companies around the world are at risk of falling into bankruptcy
-Unemployment in Canada just hit a three year high
-The number of job cuts in the United States skyrocketed 218 percent during the month of January according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas
-U.S. manufacturing activity has been in contraction for four months in a row
-U.S. factory orders have now fallen for 15 months in a row
-Subprime auto loan delinquencies have hit their highest level since the last recession
-Orders for Class 8 trucks in the United States dropped by 48 percent on a year over year basis in January
-The Restaurant Performance Index in the United States has dropped to the lowest level that we have seen since 2008
-Major retailers all over America are shutting down hundreds of stores
And this list does not even include all of the signs of severe economic trouble from around the rest of the planet that I have been writing about lately.
Credit card debt truly is financial poison, and it is not something that you want to have during the hard times that are coming.
Unfortunately, most Americans never learn, and they continue to rack up credit card debt as if there is no tomorrow even as the global economy starts to spiral downhill all around them.
Why won’t the American people listen to the warnings? David Stockman was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1977 to 1981, and he served as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan from 1981 to 1985. These days, he is running a website called “Contra Corner” which I highly recommend that you check out. Stockman believes that a global “debt super-cycle” that has been building for decades is now bursting, and he is convinced that the consequences for the U.S. and for the rest of the planet will be absolutely catastrophic. His findings are very consistent with what I have been writing about on The Economic Collapse Blog, and if Stockman is correct the times ahead of us are going to be exceedingly painful.
But right now, most people don’t seem to be in the mood to listen to these types of warnings. Even though there is a mountain of evidence that the global economy has already plunged into recession, U.S. stocks had a great month in October, and so most Americans seem to think that the crisis has passed.
Of course the truth is that the stock market is not an accurate barometer of the economy and it never has been. Back in 2008, almost everything else started to go downhill before stocks did, and the same thing is happening once again. In a recent article, Stockman explained that stocks are surging to absolutely ridiculous levels even though corporate earnings are actually way down…
At this point, 75% of S&P 500 companies have reported Q3 results, and earnings are coming in at $93.80 per share on an LTM basis. That happens to be 7.4% below the peak $106 per share reported last September, and means that the market today is valuing these shrinking profits at a spritely 22.49X PE ratio.
And, yes, there is a reason for two-digit precision. It seems that in the 4th quarter of 2007 LTM earnings came in at 22.19X the S&P 500 index price. We know what happened next!
Why do so many refuse to see the parallels?
This crisis is unfolding so similarly to 2008, and yet most of the “experts” are willingly blind.
Much of the stock buying that has been happening in 2015 has been fueled by stock buybacks and by M&A (merger and acquisitions). Many firms have even been going into debt to buy back their own stocks, but now sources of financing are starting to dry up. This year we have already seen the most corporate debt downgrades since 2009, and big financial institutions are now becoming much more hesitant to loan giant stacks of cash to these large corporations at super low interest rates.
So it is very, very difficult to see how the equity markets are going to move much higher than they are right now.
Meanwhile, the global economy is starting to unravel right in front of our eyes. In his recent piece, Stockman discussed some of these data points…
In the last two days we posted the latest data on two crucial markers of global economic direction——-export shipments from Korea and export orders coming into the high performance machinery factories of Germany.
In a word, they were abysmal, and smoking gun evidence that the suzerains of Beijing have not stopped the implosion in China, and that their latest paddy wagon forays—–arresting the head of China’s third largest bank and hand-cuffing several hedge fund managers including the purported “Warren Buffett” of China—-are signs not of stabilization, but sheer desperation.
So it is not surprising that Korea’s October exports—–the first such data from anywhere in the world—were down by a whopping 16% from last year, and have now been down for 10 straight months. Needless to say, China is the number one destination for Korean exports.
Likewise, German export orders plummeted by 18% in September, and this was no one month blip.
For many more recent statistics just like these, please see my previous article entitled “18 Numbers That Scream That A Crippling Global Recession Has Arrived“.
If the global economy really was doing “just fine” as Barack Obama and others suggest, then why is the largest shipping line in the world eliminating jobs and scaling back capacity?…
A.P. Moeller-Maersk A/S is scaling back capacity and cutting jobs in the world’s largest shipping line to adapt to a drop in demand.
The Danish company, which last month lowered its profit forecast for 2015 citing a gloomier outlook for the global shipping market, will shed 4,000 jobs in its Maersk Line unit as part of a program to “simplify the organization,” it said in an e-mailed statement on Wednesday.
And why are some of the biggest banks in the western world laying off tens of thousands of workers?…
Standard Chartered Plc became the third European bank in less than two weeks to announce sweeping job cuts, bringing the total planned reductions to more than 30,000, or almost one in seven positions.
The London-based firm said Tuesday it will eliminate 15,000 jobs, or 17 percent of its workforce, as soaring bad loans in emerging markets hurt earnings. Deutsche Bank AG, based in Frankfurt, last week announced plans for 11,000 job cuts, while Credit Suisse Group AG said it would trim as many as 5,600 employees.
And if things are so great in the United States, why is Target suddenly closing stores?
The truth, of course, is that things are not great. Global GDP expressed in U.S. dollars is down 3.4 percent so far this year, and total global trade has plummeted 8.4 percent.
We have entered a major global economic slowdown, and like usual, equity markets will be the last to get the memo.
But when they finally do react, that is likely going to greatly accelerate our problems. Just like we saw in 2008, when there is fear and panic in the financial markets that tends to cause the flow of credit to freeze up. And that is something that we simply cannot afford, because the flow of credit has become the lifeblood of the global economy.
So no, “the crisis” is not “over”.
Rather, the truth is that “the crisis” is just beginning, and it will soon be making front page headlines all over the planet.
Sometimes 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.
Are 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.
#48 “Political 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…
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?
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.
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?
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.
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.