Those That Wanted To Get Prepared Have Already Gotten Prepared By Now

No Excuses Road Sign - Public DomainIs the time for warning people to prepare for what is ahead coming to an end?  For years, bold men and women all over America have been sounding the alarm and warning people to get prepared physically, financially, mentally, emotionally and spiritually for the great storm that is rapidly approaching.  Personally, I have written more than 2,500 articles on my primary two websites combined, and so nobody can accuse me of not blowing the trumpet.  It has gotten to the point that sometimes I am even tired of listening to myself warn the people.  But now we are shifting into a new phase.

The other day I was reflecting on some of the things that I have been hearing lately.  Sales of emergency food and supplies are way down across the entire industry.  Many organizations and websites that have been instrumental in sounding the alarm for a long time are really struggling right now.  On my websites, traffic has hit a bit of a plateau after experiencing a tremendous surge late last year.  Overall, “prepping” was very hot just a few years ago, and at one time it was estimated that there were approximately three million “preppers” in the United States.  But these days there seems to be a tremendous amount of apathy out there.

As I reflected on all of this, I came to one inescapable conclusion.

Those that wanted to get prepared have already gotten prepared by now, and those that did not want to get prepared are not likely to do so any time soon.

I personally know a lot of people that are very, very prepared and have been for a long time.  Yes, there is still a small minority of people out there that only recently woke up and started prepping, but overall most of the preparation that people wanted to do has already been completed.  And for those that have not done anything to prepare, you could argue with them until the moon turns to cheese and they still won’t take any action.

At this point the die has been cast.  Most of those that felt that they should prepare have already prepared.  Most of those that felt that they should repent have already repented.  Most of those that felt that they should warn America have already sounded the alarm.

So now all that is left is to wait for the shaking to begin.

In looking back at what has transpired over the last several years, I think that it would be appropriate to say something about the failure of the church in America.

You see, if the churches of America were doing their job, all of the “watchmen” out there would not even be needed.  Our voices would simply be lost in a chorus of thousands upon thousands of pastors, teachers, ministers and evangelists boldly warning people about what is coming to this nation.

But instead, there is just deafening silence coming from most of the mainstream churches.

The sad thing is that many, many church leaders understand very clearly what is coming, but they have purposely chosen not to warn the people.  Some time ago, George Barna conducted a study that looked into why our churches are not addressing the key issues of the day, and what he discovered was absolutely astounding

“‘What we’re finding is that when we ask them about all the key issues of the day, [90 percent of them are] telling us, ‘Yes, the Bible speaks to every one of these issues,” he explained. “Then we ask them: ‘Well, are you teaching your people what the Bible says about those issues?’ and the numbers drop…to less than 10 percent of pastors who say they will speak to it.”

Most churches in America don’t want to talk about the hard things, because they desperately want to make people feel comfortable.  They want to entertain people and make them happy so that they will come back week after week and drop their money into the offering plate.

When it comes to defining success as a church, Barna found that there were five primary factors that were important to the majority of pastors, and none of them had anything to do with repentance and salvation through Jesus Christ…

“There are five factors that the vast majority of pastors turn to,” he outlined. “Attendance, giving, number of programs, number of staff, and square footage.”

Sadly, most Christians in America actually prefer these lukewarm churches, and the Apostle Paul warned that these times were coming nearly 2000 years ago.  The following is what 2 Timothy 4:3-4 says in the Modern English Version

3 For the time will come when people will not endure sound doctrine, but they will gather to themselves teachers in accordance with their own desires, having itching ears, 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth and turn to myths.

You may not want to hear this, but the majority of churches in America have already gone apostate, and that is the truth.

We are slowly but surely losing an entire generation of Americans, and yet our dead and dying churches just continue to slumber.  I shared the following numbers in a previous article, but they bear repeating.  The following comes directly out of a Pew Research Center report

Millennials – especially the youngest Millennials, who have entered adulthood since the first Landscape Study was conducted – are far less religious than their elders. For example, only 27% of Millennials say they attend religious services on a weekly basis, compared with 51% of adults in the Silent generation. Four-in-ten of the youngest Millennials say they pray every day, compared with six-in-ten Baby Boomers and two-thirds of members of the Silent generation. Only about half of Millennials say they believe in God with absolute certainty, compared with seven-in-ten Americans in the Silent and Baby Boom cohorts. And only about four-in-ten Millennials say religion is very important in their lives, compared with more than half in the older generational cohorts.

Those numbers are absolutely horrifying.  Yes, there are still a few really good churches scattered across the country.  But overall, the church in America is in really sorry shape, and the numbers don’t lie.  Christianity is in rapid decline in the United States, and somebody better wake up and start doing something about it.

Over the years, I can’t tell you how many dead churches that I have sat in.  That is why it is so refreshing when I actually find one where the gospel is preached and where people truly love one another.  I have had the privilege of sharing my message in such a church in recent months, and I wish that there were a lot more of them out there.

Unfortunately, most ministers in America are really busy doing things other than what they should be doing.  For instance, have you ever heard of “clergy response teams”?  If you can believe it, the government has actually recruited ministers to help the population accept martial law when it is declared someday.  The following comes from KSLA News

Could martial law ever become a reality in America?  Some fear any nuclear, biological or chemical attack on U.S. soil might trigger just that.  KSLA News 12 has discovered that the clergy would help the government with potentially their biggest problem: Us.

Can you believe that?

Here is more from the report…

Such clergy response teams would walk a tight-rope during martial law between the demands of the government on the one side, versus the wishes of the public on the other.  “In a lot of cases, these clergy would already be known in the neighborhoods in which they’re helping to diffuse that situation,” assured Sandy Davis.  He serves as the director of the Caddo-Bossier Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.

For the clergy team, one of the biggest tools that they will have in helping calm the public down or to obey the law is the bible itself, specifically Romans 13.  Dr. Tuberville elaborated, “because the government’s established by the Lord, you know.  And, that’s what we believe in the Christian faith.  That’s what’s stated in the scripture.”

I don’t know about you, but I found that article to be extremely chilling.

But this is the state of things in America today.  We have a dead church that is stuffed to the gills with dead ministers, and the people are not being told the truth about the great shaking that is coming to America.

And when the great shaking comes, there will be multitudes of these dead churches and ministries that will go under and never rise again.

Meanwhile, God will be raising up a Remnant, and that Remnant is going to shake the world.

So what do you think about all of this?

Please feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment below…

The Dallas Massacre: This Is The Kind Of Civil Unrest That I Have Been Warning Is Coming To America

Bloody Handprint - Public DomainToday is a day to mourn and pray for America. In Dallas, Texas last night, a hate-filled gunman ruthlessly started gunning down police officers. A total of 12 officers were shot, and five of them are now dead. If we do not learn to love one another, there is no hope for us as a nation. Unfortunately, the love of most people has grown cold, and today messages of hate and division from people on all sides of the debate are being posted all over social media. The massacre in Dallas represented the deadliest day for law enforcement officers in the United States since 9/11, and this is the kind of civil unrest that I have been repeatedly warning is coming to America. I have warned about this in my books, on radio and on television. But of course I am best known for my articles, and the following are just a handful where I warned about what we would soon see…

A Spirit Of Violence And Civil Unrest Is Rising In America

Trump Rallies Reveal Increased Tensions Among Americans As This Nation Plunges Toward Civil Unrest

Civil Unrest Has Begun In Baltimore And This Is Only Just The Start Of Something MUCH Bigger

Prepare Your Homes And Neighborhoods For The Violence That Is Going To Sweep America

Earlier this week, I warned that “the thin veneer of civilization that we all take for granted is evaporating“, but this is one instance when I am definitely not happy to have been proven right. Shooter Micah X. Johnson was a 25-year-old former Army reservist with no criminal history. He was deployed to Afghanistan from November 2013 to July 2014, and what he experienced over there may have deeply scarred him mentally and emotionally. According to the police, the motivation for the shooting was because he “wanted to kill white people, especially white officers”

Johnson, from Mesquite, Texas, a 20 minute drive from Dallas, reportedly told law enforcement that he was a veteran, and claimed to have acted alone, countering initial reports that as many as four gunmen were involved in the massacre.

‘The suspect said he was upset about Black Lives Matter. He said he was upset about the recent police shootings of black suspects. He said he was upset at white people. The suspect stated he wanted to kill white people, especially white officers,’ Dallas Police Chief David Brown revealed at a 7:30am press conference.

Around 11pm on Thursday, cops cornered Johnson at El Centro College and attempted to negotiate, but four hours later the talks failed and a robot was brought in to detonate a bomb and kill the suspect. This was after shots had rung out at a previously peaceful protest in downtown Dallas with demonstrators screaming and running for their lives as cops dropped dead one by one.

What is truly frightening is that it looks like he was potentially planning even more violence in the future. When police searched his home, they found bomb-making materials, rifles, ammunition, and a personal journal of combat tactics.

This attack in Dallas comes on the heels of two separate incidents in which young black men were gunned down by white police officers. The following comes from TruNews

The Dallas shooting happened as otherwise largely peaceful protests unfolded around the United States after the police shooting of Philando Castile, a 32-year-old black man, on Wednesday during a traffic stop near St. Paul, Minnesota.

The day earlier, police in Baton Rouge shot dead another black man, Alton Sterling, 37, while responding to a call alleging he had threatened someone with a gun.

Racial tensions have soared to frightening levels in this country, and what is needed right now are calls for love and healing.

But instead, many continue to stoke the flames of hatred and division. Here is just one example

In an interview with BBC Radio 4 in London, Rev Jackson commented on the shooting of unarmed black men by police and the revenge attack in Dallas: ‘It’s a kind of anti-black mood, antisemitism, anti-Muslim bashing, immigrant bashing, female bashing, a kind of mean spirited division in the country.’

Rev Jackson considered what was causing the divisive mood in America.

He said: ‘Threats to deport 15 million immigrants…threats to build a wall between Mexico who we share 2,000 miles of a border, there’s a permissiveness towards black people [which] is readily apparent and we have been used as scape goats for deeper and deeper economic and cultural fears.’

And as I mentioned above, social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter are being absolutely flooded with hate-filled messages toward police officers, white people, black people and those that would seek to bring Americans together in peace and love.

It is a very disgusting thing to see, but this is where we are at as a nation.

Sadly, what just happened in Dallas is not just an isolated incident. In fact, there was another very similar incident which just took place in Tennessee

Authorities in Tennessee say a man who opened fire on a highway in Tennessee targeted police officers and others because he was troubled by incidents involving black people and law enforcement officers.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation says in a news release that initial conversations with the suspect, identified as Lakeem Keon Scott revealed he was troubled by incidents across the U.S. The FBI says the suspect is black; the shooting victims are all white.

And overall, we have seen a 44 percent increase in the number of law enforcement officers shot and killed so far in 2015…

The number of police officers shot and killed in the USA is 44% higher than at this time last year following the Dallas ambush Thursday night that left five officers dead, according to data from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

From now on, it is going to take a lot of courage to be a police officer in America.

Personally, I couldn’t imagine going to work every day knowing that you are a potential target wherever you go.

As I discussed the other day, all the way from the top down the United States has become a lawless nation. We have already seen explosions of anger and frustration all over the country, and the chaos and the violence are going to get a lot worse. We are going to see more crime, more riots, more looting and more shootings.

Ultimately, we are going to see major cities in America burn, and there will be declarations of martial law in an attempt to restore order.

I have been warning that these things are coming for a long time, and now they are starting to happen right in front of our eyes.

So is there any hope for us?

Please feel free to share what you think by posting a comment below…

Economy In Decline: Apple Reports Massive Revenue Decline As iPhone Sales Plummet Dramatically

Apple iPhone And Apple Computer - Public DomainCorporate 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.

Wow.

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.*

Depressing Survey Results Show How Extremely Stupid America Has Become

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

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

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

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

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

Just consider what Newsweek found a few years ago…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So why has this happened?

Why have we become such an extremely stupid nation?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-“What If Harry Potter Is Real?

-“Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame

-“Philosophy And Star Trek

-“Learning From YouTube

-“How To Watch Television

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

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

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

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

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

Watching live television: 4 hours, 32 minutes

Watching time-shifted television: 30 minutes

Listening to the radio: 2 hours, 44 minutes

Using a smartphone: 1 hour, 33 minutes

Using Internet on a computer: 1 hour, 6 minutes

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

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

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

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

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

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

Corporate Debt Defaults Explode To Catastrophic Levels Not Seen Since The Last Financial Crisis

Boom - Public DomainIf a new financial crisis had already begun, we would expect to see corporate debt defaults skyrocket, and that is precisely what is happening.  As you will see below, corporate defaults are currently at the highest level that we have seen since 2009.  A wave of bankruptcies is sweeping the energy industry, but it isn’t just the energy industry that is in trouble.  In fact, the average credit rating for U.S. corporations is now lower than it was at any point during the last recession.  This is yet another sign that we are in the early chapters of a major league economic crisis.  Yesterday I talked about how 23.2 percent of all Americans in their prime working years do not have a job right now, but today I am going to focus on the employers.  Big corporate giants all over America are in deep, deep financial trouble, and this is going to result in a tremendous wave of layoffs in the coming months.

We should rejoice that U.S. stocks have rebounded a bit in the short-term, but the euphoria in the markets is not doing anything to stop the wave of corporate defaults that is starting to hit Wall Street like a freight train.  Zero Hedge is reporting that we have not seen this many corporate defaults since the extremely painful year of 2009…

While many were looking forward to the weekend in last week’s holiday-shortened week for some overdue downtime, the CEOs of five, mostly energy, companies had nothing but bad news for their employees and shareholders: they had no choice but to throw in the towel and file for bankruptcy.

And, as Bloomberg reports, with last week’s five defaults, the 2016 to date total is now 31, the highest since 2009 when there were 42 company defaults, according to Standard & Poor’s. Four of the defaults in the week ended March 23 were by U.S. issuers including UCI Holdings Ltd. and Peabody Energy Corp., the credit rating company said.

And by all indications, what we have seen so far is just the beginning.  According to Wolf Richter, the average rating on U.S. corporate debt is already lower than it was at any point during the last financial crisis…

Credit rating agencies, such as Standard & Poor’s, are not known for early warnings. They’re mired in conflicts of interest and reluctant to cut ratings for fear of losing clients. When they finally do warn, it’s late and it’s feeble, and the problem is already here and it’s big.

So Standard & Poor’s, via a report by S&P Capital IQ, just warned about US corporate borrowers’ average credit rating, which at “BB,” and thus in junk territory, hit a record low, even “below the average we recorded in the aftermath of the 2008-2009 credit crisis.”

What all of this tells us is that we are in the early stages of an absolutely epic financial meltdown.

Meanwhile, we continue to get more indications that the real economy is slowing down significantly.  According to the Atlanta Fed, U.S. GDP growth for the first quarter is now expected to come in at just 0.6 percent, and Moody’s Analytics is projecting a similar number…

First-quarter growth is now tracking at just 0.9 percent, after new data showed surprising weakness in consumer spending and a wider-than-expected trade gap.

According to the CNBC/Moody’s Analytics rapid update, economists now see the sluggish growth pace based on already reported data, down from 1.4 percent last week.

Of course if the government was actually using honest numbers, people wouldn’t be talking about the potential start of a new recession.  Instead, they would be talking about the deepening of a recession that never ended.

We are in the terminal phase of the greatest debt bubble the world has ever experienced.  For decades, the United States has been running up government debt, corporate debt and consumer debt.  Our trade deficits have been bigger than anything the world has ever seen before, and our massively inflated standard of living was funded by an ever increasing pile of IOUs.  I love how Doug Noland described this in his recent piece

With U.S. officials turning their backs on financial excesses, Bubble Dynamics and unrelenting Current Account Deficits, I expected the world to lose its appetite for U.S. financial claims. After all, how long should the world be expected to trade real goods and services for endless U.S. IOUs?

As it turned out, rather than acting to discipline the profligate U.S. Credit system, the world acquiesced to Bubble Dynamics. No one was willing to be left behind. Along the way it was learned that large reserves of U.S. financial assets were integral to booming financial inflows and attendant domestic investment and growth. The U.S. has now run persistently large Current Account Deficits for going on 25 years.

Seemingly the entire globe is now trapped in a regime of unprecedented monetary and fiscal stimulus required to levitate a world with unmatched debt and economic imbalances. History has seen nothing comparable. And I would strongly argue that the consequences of Bubbles become much more problematic over time. The longer excesses persist the deeper the structural impairment.

As this bubble bursts, we are going to endure a period of adjustment unlike anything America has ever known before.  I talk about the pain coming to America in my new book entitled “The Rapture Verdict” which is currently the #1 new release in Christian eschatology on Amazon.com.  To be honest, I don’t know if any of us really understands the horror that is coming to this nation in the years ahead.  None of us have ever experienced anything similar to it, so we don’t really have a frame of reference to imagine what it will be like.

This spike in corporate debt defaults is a major league red flag.  Since the last financial crisis, our big corporations went on a massive debt binge, and now they are starting to pay the price.

We never seem to learn from the errors of the past.  Instead of learning our lessons the last time around, we just went out and made even bigger mistakes.

I am afraid that history is going to judge us rather harshly.

Those that are waiting for the next great financial crisis to begin can quit waiting, because it is already happening right in front of our eyes.

If you believe that the temporary rebound of U.S. stocks is somehow going to change the trajectory of where things are heading, you are going to end up deeply, deeply disappointed.

Credit Card Debt In The United States Is Approaching A Trillion Dollars

Credit Card Debt - Public DomainFor 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.

Former Reagan Administration Official Warns That Financial Disaster Is Dead Ahead

Disaster - Public DomainWhy 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.

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