This Is One Of The Big Reasons Why So Many Families Are Feeling Extreme Financial Stress

Inflation Blackboard - Public DomainWhen the cost of living rises faster than paychecks do year after year, eventually that becomes a very big problem.  For quite some time I have been writing about the shrinking middle class, and one of the biggest culprits is inflation.  Every month, tens of millions of American families struggle to pay the bills, and most of them don’t even understand the economic forces that are putting so much pressure on them.  The United States never had a persistent, ongoing problem with inflation until the debt-based Federal Reserve system was introduced in 1913.  Since that time, we have had non-stop inflation and the U.S. dollar has lost more than 98 percent of its value.  If our paychecks were increasing faster than inflation this wouldn’t be a problem, but in recent years this has definitely not been the case for most Americans.

And unfortunately inflation is starting to accelerate once again.  In fact, it is being reported that inflation rose at the fastest pace in four years in January…

The prices Americans pay for goods and services surged in January by the largest amount in four years, mostly reflecting a rebound in the cost of gasoline that’s taking a bigger chunk out of household incomes.

The consumer price index, or cost of living, rose by a seasonally adjusted 0.6% in January, the government said Wednesday.

Meanwhile, our incomes have been incredibly stagnant.   In fact, we just learned that median household income did not go up at all during 2016.

This is one of the reasons why we consistently see families fall out of the middle class month after month.  Even if you keep the same job year after year, your standard of living is going to steadily go down unless your pay goes up.

The things that we all spend money on month after month just keep going up in price.  I am talking about food, housing, medical care and other essentials.  If there is one thing that we can always count on, it is the fact that things are going to cost more tomorrow than they do today.

Let’s talk about food for a moment.  Whenever I go to the grocery store, I am almost always shocked.  I still remember a time when I could get everything that I needed for an entire week for about 20 bucks, but these days you can’t even fill up one cart for 100 dollars.

That is because food prices have been rising aggressively for many years.  The following is a list that was posted on The Economic Policy Journal that shows how much some food and grocery items have increased over the past decade…

1. Tobacco and smoking products

-Price increase: 90.4%

2. Margarine

-Price increase: 63.6%

3. Uncooked ground beef

-Price increase: 46.3%

4. Shelf stable fish and seafood
-Price increase: 45.0%

5. Prescription drugs
-Price increase: 43.5%

6. Rice, pasta, cornmeal
-Price increase: 40.3%

7. Bread
-Price increase: 38.9%

8. Snacks
-Price increase: 38.4%

9. Miscellaneous poultry including turkey
-Price increase: 37.0%

10. Apples
-Price increase: 36.6%

11. Frankfurters
-Price increase: 35.8%

12. Canned vegetables
-Price increase: 35.3%

13. Salt and other seasonings and spices
-Price increase: 34.0%

14. Miscellaneous fats and oils including peanut butter
-Price increase: 34.0%

15. Miscellaneous processed fruits and vegetables including dried
-Price increase: 33.7%

16. Bacon and related products
-Price increase: 33.2%

17. Fresh whole chicken
-Price increase: 32.5%

18. Cakes, cupcakes, and cookies
-Price increase: 32.1%

19. Flour and prepared flour mixes
-Price increase: 32.1%

20. Canned fruits
-Price increase: 32.0%

And thanks to out of control government spending and reckless manipulation by the Federal Reserve, we have come to a time when inflation is starting to accelerate once again.

According to John Williams of shadowstats.com, if honest numbers were being used the government would be telling us that inflation is rising at a 6 percent annual rate for the first time since 2011.

At the same time, evidence is mounting that U.S. consumers are simply tapped out.  Previously, I have explained that interest rates are going up, consumer bankruptcies are rising, and lending standards for consumers are really tightening up.

All of those are things we would expect to see if a new recession was starting.

And today we learned that the number of Americans refinancing their homes has fallen to the lowest level that we have seen since 2009

A slowdown in refinancing pulled down the total mortgage application volume last week as changes to certain government-loan programs made refinances less lucrative. Refinance volume now stands at its lowest level since June 2009.

If you will remember, we also saw a slowdown in mortgage refinancing just before the great financial crisis of 2008.

For mortgage applications overall, they are now down almost 31 percent from where they were a year ago…

Total mortgage application volume fell 3.7 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis last week from the previous week, and are nearly 31 percent lower than the same week a year ago, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

A 31 percent decline in a single year is catastrophic.

If this continues, it won’t be too long before everyone is talking about a new housing crash.

And we also learned this week that FHA mortgage delinquencies increased during the fourth quarter “for the first time since 2006”

Federal Housing Administration mortgage delinquencies jumped in the fourth quarter for the first time since 2006, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported Wednesday. The FHA insures low down-payment loans and is a favorite among first-time homebuyers.

The seasonally adjusted FHA delinquency rate increased to 9.02 percent in the fourth quarter from 8.3 percent in the third quarter, MBA data show.

So many things are happening right now that we have not seen happen in many years, but most people are choosing not to see the red flags that are popping up all around us.

None of our long-term economic problems have been fixed.  And even though Donald Trump won the election, the truth is that our economy is in the worst shape it has been since the last financial crisis.  I continue to encourage all of my readers to get prepared for very hard times, but just like back in 2007 we are experiencing a wave of tremendous optimism right now and most people think that the party can somehow continue indefinitely.

Whether Donald Trump won the election or not, the truth is that a major economic downturn was going to come anyway.  You see, Donald Trump is not some magician that can just wave a wand and somehow make the consequences of decades of very foolish decisions instantly disappear.

We have been on the biggest debt binge in human history, and there is going to be a great price to pay when this immense debt bubble finally bursts.

Unfortunately, most people are not going to acknowledge the truth until it is too late.

During The Coming Economic Crisis Two-Thirds Of The Country Will Be Out Of Cash Almost Immediately

money-one-dollar-bills-public-domainDid you know that almost 70 percent of the U.S. population is essentially living paycheck to paycheck?  As you will see below, a brand new survey has found that 69 percent of all Americans have less than $1,000 in savings.  Of course one of the primary reasons for this is that most of us are absolutely drowning in debt.  In fact, the total amount of household debt in the United States now exceeds 12 trillion dollars.  So many Americans are so busy just trying to pay off their existing debts that they can’t even think about saving anything for the future.  If economic conditions remain relatively stable, the fact that so many of us are living on the edge probably won’t kill us.  But the moment the economy plunges into another 2008-style crisis (or worse), we could be facing a situation where two-thirds of the country is in imminent danger of running out of cash.

If you are living paycheck to paycheck, you live under the constant threat of your life being totally turned upside down if that paycheck ever goes away.  During the last crisis, millions of Americans lost their jobs very rapidly, and because so many of them were living paycheck to paycheck all of a sudden large numbers of people couldn’t pay their mortgages.  As a result, multitudes of American families went through the extremely painful process of foreclosure.

Unfortunately, it appears that we have not learned anything from the last go around.  According to the brand new survey that I mentioned above, 69 percent of all Americans have less than $1,000 in savings…

Last year, GoBankingRates surveyed more than 5,000 Americans only to uncover that 62% of them had less than $1,000 in savings. Last month GoBankingRates again posed the question to Americans of how much they had in their savings account, only this time it asked 7,052 people. The result? Nearly seven in 10 Americans (69%) had less than $1,000 in their savings account.

Breaking the survey data down a bit further, we find that 34% of Americans don’t have a dime in their savings account, while another 35% have less than $1,000. Of the remaining survey-takers, 11% have between $1,000 and $4,999, 4% have between $5,000 and $9,999, and 15% have more than $10,000.

Perhaps the most alarming fact from this survey is that 62 percent of all Americans had less than $1,000 in savings last year.  So that means that this number has gotten 7 percent worse over the last 12 months.

How did that happen?  I thought the mainstream media was telling us that the economy was getting better…

Look, if you don’t have an emergency fund you are in danger of losing everything.  This is a point that I have been making over and over again for years, and in an article about this new survey USA Today made this point very strongly as well…

This data is particularly worrisome since the recommendation is for Americans to have six months in expenses saved in case of an emergency, such as a large medical expense, car repair bill, or losing your job. Without this emergency fund to fall back on, millions of Americans could be risking financial disaster.

As the publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog, people are constantly asking me what they should do to get prepared for what is coming.

The number one thing that I always suggest is to build up an emergency fund.

In a chaotic situation it is always hard to anticipate accurately what is going to happen, but without a doubt we are all going to need to continue to pay our bills and to buy things for our families during the next crisis.

Yes, someday the U.S. dollar will become rather worthless, but until that happens you are going to need to continue to put a roof over the heads of your family and to put food on the table.

And you are going to need money to do those things.

Some time ago, the Federal Reserve also found that a large percentage of Americans are living on the edge of financial disaster.  They discovered that 47 percent of all Americans could not even come up with $400 to pay for an unexpected emergency room visit without borrowing the money or selling something that they own.

If you can’t even come up with $400 you are really hurting, but that is the status of about half the country these days.

We are continually being told that the economy is strong, but that is simply not the truth.

In fact, it turns out that the period from 2005 to 2015 was the worst period for per capita real GDP growth in modern American history.  The following comes from Zero Hedge

  1. Growth was unusually strong in the 1960s and early 1970s. In every year from 1966 through 1973, per-capita income was up between 30 percent and 40 percent from a decade earlier. Thus, it’s not surprising that many Americans recall this as a great period for the nation’s economy.
  2. In every year from 1984 to 2007 — a period that economists call the Great Moderation, because of the way both growth and interest rates stabilized — per-person income was up between 20 percent and 30 percent from a decade earlier. That’s ample reason for Americans to view this as a good period for the economy.
  3. Cumulative per-person growth from 2005 to 2015 was lower than in any prior decade in the sample. That certainly helps explain why many Americans are unhappy with the nation’s recent economic performance.

And as I repeat over and over, Barack Obama is on track to be the one and only president in all of American history to never have a single year when the economy grew by at least 3 percent, and he has had eight years to try to accomplish that feat.

Why doesn’t Donald Trump ever bring up that amazing fact?  I would think that he could get a lot of mileage out of that number.

At this point, nobody can deny that the middle class is shrinking.  61 percent of all Americans lived in middle class households in 1971, but now the middle class makes up a minority of the population for the very first time in our history.

Back in 1970, the middle class brought home approximately 62 percent of all income, but today that figure has plummeted to just 43 percent.

Those that are still doing well often dismiss those that are struggling by barking out such phrases as “get a job”, but the truth is that getting a good job is not so easy these days.

The most recent statistics show that there are 7.9 million Americans that are considered to be officially unemployed.  When you add that number to the 94.1 million working age Americans that are considered to be “not in the labor force”, you get a grand total of 102 million working age Americans that do not have a job right now.

And just because you do have a job does not mean that everything is okay.  As I have discussed previously, 51 percent of all U.S. workers make less than $30,000 a year according to the Social Security Administration.

Everywhere you look things seem to be getting worse and not better.  Not too long ago I documented the explosion of tent cities all over the country as poverty continues to rise, and I discussed how one study found that some young women in our impoverished inner cities are so desperate that they are actually trading sex for food.

Sadly, it isn’t just a few hard cases that we are talking about.  Even in areas of the country that are supposed to be “doing well” we are seeing record-setting poverty numbers.  For example, it was recently reported that the number of New Yorkers sleeping in homeless shelters just set a brand new all-time high, and the number of New York families permanently living in homeless shelters is up 60 percent over the past five years.

If things are this bad during an “economic recovery”, what are they going to look like once the economy really starts imploding?

And considering the fact that almost 70 percent of the population has virtually no savings, could our nation handle an extended economic downturn that may be even worse than what we experienced in 2008 and 2009?

As a nation we truly are living on the edge, and it isn’t going to take very much at all to push us into oblivion.

Working 60 Hours A Week At 3 Part-Time Jobs And Still Living Paycheck To Paycheck

Woman Face Skyline - Public DomainWhat can you do when you are working 60 hours a week at three part-time jobs and it is still not enough?  In America today, many people have taken on more than one job in a desperate attempt to make ends meet, but they still come up short at the end of the month.  And those that are actually working are the fortunate ones, because in one out of every five families in the United States nobody has a job.  There are more than 100 million working age Americans that are currently not employed (yes this is true), and as I pointed out yesterday, job cut announcements by major firms are currently running 24 percent ahead of last year’s pace.  But unemployment is just part of the overall problem.  There is this growing misconception out there that if you “have a job” that you must be doing okay.  Unfortunately for the growing number of “working poor” in America, that is not true at all.

Just consider the case of 55-year-old Erlinda Delacruz.  At one time she had a good full-time manufacturing job, but then her factory closed down.  Millions of other Americans have also seen their good paying jobs sent out of the country in recent years, and yet our politicians refuse to do anything about it.  Today, she works 60 hours a week at three different part-time jobs and she still makes less than she once did at the manufacturing plant…

For 15 years, Erlinda Delacruz had a full-time manufacturing job in rural Winters, Texas.

It gave her health benefits and four weeks of paid vacation along with a salary that supported a good life. Then the rug was pulled from under her in 2009, when the plant closed. Since then, it’s been a battle of survival as Delacruz worked a string of part-time jobs. Last summer, she even lost her home to foreclosure.

Delacruz, 55, still works part-time. Except at three different places — Monday through Wednesday she works eight hours a day at a senior citizens center serving meals, and Thursday through Sunday Delacruz divides her time between two other jobs as a cashier at Walmart (WMT) and the Wes-T-Go convenience store.

She told CNN that she lives paycheck to paycheck”, and just like half the country, she is basically flat broke at this point.

Barack Obama promised to be the hero of the working class when he was elected, but it seems like almost everything that he has done has hurt the working class even more.

Take Obamacare for example.  Health insurance premiums have soared through the roof since Obamacare was implemented, and many struggling families now find that they can no longer afford health insurance at all.

And many of those that have signed up for Obamacare are often discovering that many doctors and hospitals won’t even accept their coverage.  The following comes from the New York Times

AMY MOSES and her circle of self-employed small-business owners were supporters of President Obama and the Affordable Care Act. They bought policies on the newly created New York State exchange. But when they called doctors and hospitals in Manhattan to schedule appointments, they were dismayed to be turned away again and again with a common refrain: “We don’t take Obamacare,” the umbrella epithet for the hundreds of plans offered through the president’s signature health legislation.

“Anyone who is on these plans knows it’s a two-tiered system,” said Ms. Moses, describing the emotional sting of those words to a successful entrepreneur.

“Anytime one of us needs a doctor,” she continued, “we send out an alert: ‘Does anyone have anyone on an exchange plan that does mammography or colonoscopy? Who takes our insurance?’ It’s really a problem.”

Unfortunately, things are not going to be getting any better for the working class because we have now entered the early stages of the next major economic downturn.

Earlier today, I received an email from someone that works for a very large company that provides produce for some of the biggest grocery chains in America.  According to him, there has been a dramatic decline in orders coming in recently, and this is something that didn’t even happen during the depths of the last major recession.

So why in the world would that be happening if the economy was in good shape?

I have been receiving similar anecdotal reports from people all over America.  We may not be experiencing a full-blown economic implosion like Venezuela is quite yet, but we are starting to slide in that direction.

And just like in Venezuela and elsewhere around the globe, when economic conditions get harder violent crime goes up.  I have warned that this would happen over and over again, and it is already starting to happen in major cities all over the nation

According to new reports, 2016 is shaping up to be an even more murderous year than last in over two dozen major U.S. cities as homicides rise at their fastest pace yet.

Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas and Las Vegas have seen the worst, all of which experienced increased homicides in 2015, evidenced by acceleration of murders in the first three months of 2016.

Law enforcement officials and experts are saying the increase over the last year is due to many factors, including an uptick in gang and drug-related violence. Yet, many believe cops and citizens are now interacting differently since the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement has shifted attitudes to distrust police.

Of course we haven’t even gotten to the bad stuff yet.

What we have seen so far is just the very beginning of the chaos that is coming to America.

Before I go today, I want to mention a couple of things.

First of all, the Dow was down another 180 points today, and someone out there is betting unprecedented amounts of money that a major market crash is imminent.  Just check out this chart.  You buy shares of financial instruments such as UVXY because you think that the market is going to implode.  So if there is a giant market crash in our very near future, whoever purchased all of those shares of UVXY stands to make an enormous amount of money.

Secondly, I really started to sound the alarm about German banking giant Deutsche Bank back in September.  And sure enough – their stock price plunged to an all-time record low earlier this year.

But now the whispers are getting louder that even bigger trouble is ahead for this pillar of the European financial system.  The following originally comes from Berenberg analyst James Chappell

Too many problems still: The biggest problem is that DBK has too much leverage. On our measures, we believe DBK is still over 40x levered. DBK can either reduce assets or increase capital to rectify this. On the first path, the markets do not exist in the size nor pricing to enable it to follow this route. Going down the second path also seems impossible at the moment, as the profitability of the core business is under pressure. Seeking outside capital is also likely to be difficult as management would likely find it hard to offer any type of return on new capital invested.

Keep a close eye on Deutsche Bank.  They may very well end up providing us with the next “Lehman Brothers moment” that so many people have been waiting for.

There is so much going on “under the surface” right now, and I am convinced that it will not stay “under the surface” for very much longer.

The global financial system is starting to come apart at the seams even as you read this article, and this is going to have enormous implications for every man, woman and child on the planet in the years ahead.

So as bad as things are for the working class in America right now, the truth is that they are about to get a whole lot worse.

The Price Of Ground Beef Has DOUBLED Since The Last Financial Crisis

Burger And Fries - Photo by Ewan MunroSince the depths of the last recession, the price of ground beef in the United States has doubled.  Has your paycheck doubled since then?  Even though the Federal Reserve insists that we are in a “low inflation” environment, the government’s own numbers show that the price of ground beef has been on an unprecedented run over the past six years.  In early 2009, the average price of a pound of ground beef was hovering near 2 dollars.  In February, it hit a brand new all-time record high of $4.238 per pound.  Even just 12 months ago, the price of ground beef was sitting at $3.555 per pound.  So we are talking about a huge increase.  And this hits American families where they really live.  Each year, the average American consumes approximately 270 pounds of meat.  The only nation in the world that eats more meat than we do is Luxembourg.  If the paychecks of American workers were going up fast enough to deal with this increase, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal.  But of course that is not happening.  In an article just last week, I showed that real median household income is a couple thousand dollars lower now than it was during the depths of the last recession.  The middle class is being squeezed, and we are rapidly getting to the point where burgers are going to be considered a “luxury” item.

The following chart was posted by the Economic Policy Journal on Wednesday, and it incorporates the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  When I first saw it, I was rather stunned.  I knew that the price of ground beef had become rather outrageous in my local grocery stores, but I had no idea just how much damage had been done over the past six years…

Beef Price - Economic Policy Journal

The biggest reason why the price of ground beef has been going up is the fact that the U.S. cattle herd has been shrinking.  It shrunk seven years in a row, and on January 1st, 2014 it was the smallest that it had been since 1951.

The good news is that the decline appears to have stopped, at least for the moment.  According to the Wall Street Journal, the size of the U.S. cattle herd actually increased by 1 percent last year…

The U.S. cattle herd expanded in 2014 for the first time in eight years, offering hope to consumers that beef prices could start to subside after soaring to a series of records.

The nation’s cattle supply increased 1% in the year through Jan. 1 to 89.8 million head, according to data released Friday by the U.S. Agriculture Department, reversing a steady decline fueled by prolonged drought in the southern U.S. Great Plains and industry consolidation that encouraged many ranchers to thin herds.

But an increase of 1 percent is just barely going to keep up with the official population growth rate.  If you factor in illegal immigration, we are still losing ground.

And if we have another major drought in cattle country this summer, the cattle herd is going to start shrinking again.

In addition, the price of food overall has been steadily rising for years.  Here is a chart that I shared the other day

Presentation Food Inflation

It boggles the mind that the Federal Reserve can claim that we are in a “low inflation” environment.  Anyone that goes grocery shopping feels the pain of these rising prices every time that they go to the store.

In the list that I put together yesterday, I included the following statistic…

Almost half of all Americans (47 percent) do not put a single penny out of their paychecks into savings.

One of the primary reasons why so many Americans are not saving any money is because many families simply cannot save any money.  Their paychecks are stagnant while the cost of living just keeps going up and up.

There simply are not enough “good jobs” out there anymore.  Our economy continues to bleed middle class jobs and the competition for the jobs that remain is quite intense.

Do you know what the two most common occupations in America today are?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, they are “retail sales clerk” and “cashier”.

And of course neither of those “occupations” pays even close to what is required to support a middle class family.

On average, a retail sales clerk makes $24,020 a year, and a cashier makes $20,670 a year.

Because the quality of our jobs has declined so much, there are millions of American families today in which both the mother and the father are working multiple jobs in a desperate attempt to make ends meet each month.

But don’t worry, the Federal Reserve says that we are nearly at “full employment“, and Barack Obama says that everything is going to be just fine.

Actually, the truth is that things are about to get a lot worse.  At this point, we are even getting pessimistic numbers out of the Federal Reserve.  Just this week we learned that the Fed is now projecting that economic growth for the first quarter of 2015 will be barely above zero

From almost 2.5% GDP growth expectations in February, The Atlanta Fed’s GDPNow model has now collapsed its estimates of Q1 GDP growth to just 0.2%plunging from +1.4% just 2 weeks ago. The reality of plunging capex and no decoupling is starting to rear its ugly head in the hard data and as the sun warms things up, weather will start to lose its ability to sway sentiment.

We are at a turning point.  The bubble of false stability that we have been living in is rapidly coming to an end, and when people start to realize that another great economic crisis is coming there is going to be a lot of panic.

And as far as food prices go, they are just going to keep taking a bigger chunk out of all of our wallets.

As high as prices are already, the truth is that your food dollars are never going to go farther than they do right now.

So let us hope for the best, but let us also get prepared for the worst.

14 Signs That Most Americans Are Flat Broke And Totally Unprepared For The Coming Economic Crisis

14 Signs Americans Are Flat BrokeWhen the coming economic crisis strikes, more than half the country is going to be financially wiped out within weeks.  At this point, more than 60 percent of all Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, and a whopping 24 percent of the country has more credit card debt than emergency savings.  One of the primary principles that any of these “financial experts” that you see on television will teach you is to have a cushion to fall back on.  At the very least, you never know when unexpected expenses like major car repairs or medical bills will come along.  And in the event of a major economic collapse, if you do not have any financial cushion at all you will be a sitting duck.  Yes, I know that there are millions upon millions of families out there that are just trying to scrape by from month to month at this point.  I hear from people that are deeply struggling in this economy all the time.  So I don’t blame them for not being able to save lots of money.  But if you are in a position to build up an emergency fund, you need to do so.  We have been experiencing an extended period of relative economic stability, but it will not last.  In fact, the time for getting prepared for the next great economic downturn is rapidly running out, and most Americans are not ready for it at all.  The following are 14 signs that most Americans are flat broke and totally unprepared for the coming economic crisis…

#1 According to a survey that was just released, 24 percent of all Americans have more credit card debt than emergency savings.

#2 That same survey discovered that an additional 13 percent of all Americans do not have any credit card debt, but they do not have a single penny of emergency savings either.

#3 At this point, approximately 62 percent of all Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.

#4 Adults under the age of 35 in the United States currently have a savings rate of negative 2 percent.

#5 More than half of all students in U.S. public schools come from families that are poor enough to qualify for school lunch subsidies.

#6 A study that was conducted last year found that more than one out of every three adults in the United States has an unpaid debt that is “in collections“.

#7 One survey discovered that 52 percent of all Americans really cannot even financially afford the homes that they are living in right now.

#8 According to research conducted by Atif Mian of Princeton University and Amir Sufi of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, 40 percent of Americans could not come up with $2000 right now without borrowing it.

#9 That same study found that 60 percent of Americans could not say yes to the following question…

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

#10 A different study discovered that less than one out of every four Americans has enough money stored away to cover six months of expenses.

#11 Today, the average American household is carrying a grand total of 203,163 dollars of debt.

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

#13 48 percent of all Americans do not have any emergency supplies in their homes whatsoever.

#14 53 percent of all Americans do not even have a minimum three day supply of nonperishable food and water in their homes.

Perhaps none of this concerns you.

Perhaps you think that this bubble economy can persist indefinitely.

Well, if you won’t listen to the more than 1200 articles that set out the case for the coming economic collapse on my website, perhaps you will listen to former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan.  The following is what he recently told one interviewer

We asked him where he thought the gold price will be in five years and he said “measurably higher.”

In private conversation I asked him about the outstanding debts… and that the debt load in the U.S. had gotten so great that there has to be some monetary depreciation. Specially he said that the era of quantitative easing and zero-interest rate policies by the Fed… we really cannot exit this without some significant market event… By that I interpret it being either a stock market crash or a prolonged recession, which would then engender another round of monetary reflation by the Fed.

He thinks something big is going to happen that we can’t get out of this era of money printing without some repercussions – and pretty severe ones – that gold will benefit from.

And as I have stressed so frequently, the signs that the next crisis is almost here are all around us.

For example, the Baltic Dry Index has just plunged to a fresh record low, and things have already gotten so bad that some global shippers are now filing for bankruptcy

The unintended consequences of a money-printed, credit-fueled, mal-investment-boom in commodities (prices – as opposed to physical demand per se) and the downstream signals that sent to any and all industries are starting to bite. The Baltic Dry Index has plunged once again to new record lows and the collapse of the non-financialized ‘clean’ indicator of the imbalances between global trade demand and freight transport supply has the real-world effects are starting to be felt, as Reuters reports the third dry-bulk shipper this month has filed for bankruptcy… in what shippers call “the worst market conditions since the ’80s.”

Perhaps you do see things coming.

Perhaps you do want to get prepared.

If you are new to all of this, and you don’t quite know how to get started preparing, please see my previous article entitled “89 Tips That Will Help You Prepare For The Coming Economic Depression“.  It will give you some basic tips that you can start implementing right away.

And of course one of the most important things is something that I talked about at the top of this article.

If at all possible, you have got to have an emergency fund.  When the coming economic storm strikes, your family is going to need something to fall back on.

If you are trusting in the government to save you when things fall apart, you will be severely disappointed.

Show This To Anyone That Believes That Taxes Are Too Low

Every year average Americans pay dozens of different types of taxes, and yet many of our politicians are very open about the fact that they want to raise rates even higher and invent even more ways to bleed us all dry.  Someday historians will look back and be absolutely amazed at how stupid we were.  We have the most complicated tax code in all of human history and at this point the federal tax code is more than four times as long as the entire collected works of William Shakespeare.  In many places it is so incomprehensible that nobody actually understands what it means and the entire thing is absolutely riddled with loopholes from the beginning to the end.  Trust me, I used to study this stuff.  Nobody could ever read the entire thing – it is close to four million words long.  But that is just for federal income taxes.  We have a number of other taxes taken out of our paychecks such as state income taxes, Social Security taxes and Medicare taxes.  Sadly, the taxes taken out of your paycheck are only just the beginning.  As I will detail below, there are more than 40 other taxes that average Americans pay each year in addition to the taxes that are taken out of our paychecks.  Our politicians love to find ways that they can “raise revenue” without us feeling it.  Most people just focus on income tax rates and they forget about the dozens of other ways that they are bleeding us dry.  It really is kind of like “death by a thousand cuts”, and of course the middle class gets hit the hardest.  The poor are exempt from many taxes, the ultra-wealthy are masters at cheating the system and avoiding taxes, and so the most pain is always felt by those in the middle.  Hard working middle class families and small businesses all over America are being financially raped by this insidious system.  If you know of anyone out there that believes that taxes are “too low”, please show this article to them.

Just counting federal, state and local income taxes, some Americans will be paying marginal tax rates of over 50 percent in 2013.  But like I said, there are a lot of other taxes we pay than just those.

The following are 44 more taxes that at least some average Americans are paying now or will be paying soon other than federal, state and local income taxes…

#1 Building Permit Taxes

#2 Capital Gains Taxes

#3 Cigarette Taxes

#4 Court Fines (indirect taxes)

#5 Dog License Taxes

#6 Drivers License Fees (another form of taxation)

#7 Federal Unemployment Taxes

#8 Fishing License Taxes

#9 Food License Taxes

#10 Gasoline Taxes

#11 Gift Taxes

#12 Hunting License Taxes

#13 Inheritance Taxes

#14 Inventory Taxes

#15 IRS Interest Charges (tax on top of tax)

#16 IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)

#17 Liquor Taxes

#18 Luxury Taxes

#19 Marriage License Taxes

#20 Medicare Taxes

#21 Medicare Tax Surcharge On High Earning Americans Under Obamacare

#22 Obamacare Individual Mandate Excise Tax (if you don’t buy “qualifying” health insurance under Obamacare you will have to pay an additional tax)

#23 Obamacare Surtax On Investment Income (a new 3.8% surtax on investment income that goes into effect next year)

#24 Property Taxes

#25 Recreational Vehicle Taxes

#26 Toll Booth Taxes

#27 Sales Taxes

#28 Self-Employment Taxes

#29 School Taxes

#30 Septic Permit Taxes

#31 Service Charge Taxes

#32 Social Security Taxes

#33 State Unemployment Taxes (SUTA)

#34 Tanning Tax (a new Obamacare tax on tanning services)

#35 Telephone Federal Excise Taxes

#36 Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Taxes

#37 Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Taxes

#38 Telephone State And Local Taxes

#39 Tire Taxes

#40 Tolls (another form of taxation)

#41 Traffic Fines (indirect taxation)

#42 Utility Taxes

#43 Vehicle Registration Taxes

#44 Workers Compensation Taxes

Sadly, this list is far from complete.  There are many more forms of taxation that could be included.

When you account for all forms of taxation, there are some Americans that “play by the rules” that are sending more than half of their incomes to the government.

This is why “tax avoidance” has become a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States.  People are sick and tired of being drained dry by a system that is way too complicated and way too unfair.

Posted below are 30 reasons why the U.S. tax system is stupid.  Some of these facts I have discussed before, and some of them are new.  You might want to be sitting down while you are reading this, because this list is likely to make many of you very angry…

1. Thanks to Proposition 30, many high income residents of California will be paying marginal income tax rates of 51.9% in 2013 if the fiscal cliff is not avoided.  Keep in mind that the 51.9% figure only includes federal and state income taxes.  It does not count any of the dozens of other taxes that we pay each year.

2. If a fiscal cliff deal is not reached, many residents of New York and Hawaii will also be paying marginal income tax rates of more than 50 percent.

3. If Americans fully funded the government through their taxes without any borrowing, the average American would have to work for 197 days just to meet the expenses incurred by government.

4. The U.S. tax code is now 3.8 million words long.  If you took all of William Shakespeare’s works and collected them together, the entire collection would only be about 900,000 words long.

5. According to the National Taxpayers Union, U.S. taxpayers spend more than 7.6 billion hours complying with federal tax requirements each year.  Imagine what our society would look like if all of that time was spent on more economically profitable activities.

6. 75 years ago, the instructions for Form 1040 were two pages long.  Today, they are 189 pages long.

7. There have been 4,428 changes to the tax code over the last decade.  It is incredibly costly to change tax software, tax manuals and tax instruction booklets for all of those changes.

8. According to the National Taxpayers Union, the IRS currently has 1,999 different publications, forms, and instruction sheets that you can download from the IRS website.

9. Our tax system has become so complicated that it is almost impossible to file your taxes correctly.  For example, back in 1998 Money Magazine had 46 different tax professionals complete a tax return for a hypothetical household.  All 46 of them came up with a different result.

10. In 2009, PC World had five of the most popular tax preparation software websites prepare a tax return for a hypothetical household.  All five of them came up with a different result.

11. The IRS spends $2.45 for every $100 that it collects in taxes.  That is incredibly inefficient.

12. According to The Tax Foundation, the average American has to work until April 17th just to pay federal, state, and local taxes.  Back in 1900, “Tax Freedom Day” came on January 22nd.

13. When the U.S. government first implemented a personal income tax back in 1913, the vast majority of the population paid a rate of just 1 percent, and the highest marginal tax rate was just 7 percent.

14. Residents of New Jersey pay $1.64 in taxes for every $1.00 of federal spending that they get back.

15. The United States is the only nation on the planet that tries to tax citizens on what they earn in foreign countries.

16. According to Forbes, the 400 highest earning Americans pay an average federal income tax rate of just 18 percent.

17. Warren Buffett had an effective federal income tax rate of just 17.4 percent for 2010.

18. The top 20 percent of all income earners in the United States pay approximately 86 percent of all federal income taxes.

19. Sadly, as Bill Whittle has shown, you could take every single penny that every American earns above $250,000 and it would only fund about 38 percent of the federal budget.

20. The United States has the highest corporate tax rate in the world (35 percent).  In Ireland, the corporate tax rate is only 12.5 percent.  This is causing thousands of corporations to move operations out of the United States and into other countries.

21. Some tax havens are doing a booming business in setting up sham headquarters for U.S. corporations.  For example, the city of Zug, Switzerland only has a population of 26,000 people but it is the headquarters for 30,000 companies.

22. In 1950, corporate taxes accounted for about 30 percent of all federal revenue.  In 2012, corporate taxes will account for less than 7 percent of all federal revenue.

23. In a previous article, I discussed how many of our largest corporations make huge profits and yet pay less than nothing in taxes….

What U.S. corporations are able to get away with is absolutely amazing.

The following figures come directly out of a report by Citizens for Tax Justice.  These are combined figures for the tax years 2008, 2009 and 2010.

During those three years, all of the corporations below made a lot of money.  Yet all of them paid net taxes that were below zero for those three years combined.

How is that possible?  Well, it turns out that instead of paying in taxes to the federal government, they were actually getting money back.

So for these corporations, their rate of taxation was actually below zero.

If you have not seen these before, you are going to have a hard time believing some of these statistics…..

*Honeywell*

Profits: $4.9 billion

Taxes: -$34 million

*Fed Ex*

Profits: $3 billion

Taxes: -$23 million

*Wells Fargo*

Profits: $49.37 billion

Taxes: -$681 million

*Boeing*

Profits: $9.7 billion

Taxes: -$178 million

*Verizon*

Profits: $32.5 billion

Taxes: -$951 million

*Dupont*

Profits: $2.1 billion

Taxes -$72 million

*American Electric Power*

Profits: $5.89 billion

Taxes -$545 million

*General Electric*

Profits: $7.7 billion

Taxes: -$4.7 billion

Are you starting to get the picture?

24. Exxon-Mobil paid $15 billion in taxes in 2009, but not a single penny went to the U.S. government.

25. If Bill Gates gave every single penny of his entire fortune to the U.S. government, it would only cover the U.S. budget deficit for 15 days.

26. The number of traffic accidents spikes each year right around April 15th.  The following is from a recent Bloomberg article….

Deaths from traffic accidents around April 15, traditionally the last day to file individual income taxes in the U.S., rose 6 percent on average on each of the last 30 years of tax filing days compared with a day during the week prior and a week later, according to research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

27. The elite are not stupid.  They are not just going to sit there and let our politicians tax them into oblivion.  In fact, many of them will openly cheat if that is what it takes to avoid taxes.  Most of them have become masters at avoiding taxes or they have hired people that do that kind of work for them.  According to the IMF, the global elite are holding a total of 18 trillion dollars in offshore banking havens such as the Cayman Islands.

28. It has been reported that 80 percent of all international banking transactions involve offshore banks.  A whopping 1.4 trillion dollars is being held in offshore banks in the Cayman Islands alone.

29. An article that appeared in the Guardian estimated that a third of all the wealth on the entire planet is being kept in offshore banks.  One of the primary reasons for this is tax avoidance.

30. If a deal is not reached and the “fiscal cliff” is not avoided, the average American taxpayer can expect to pay about $3,500 more in taxes next year.

Clearly, the tax system that we are using right now is not working.

The big corporations and the ultra-wealthy have mastered the art of moving money offshore and using loopholes to make their tax burdens as low as possible.

So our politicians just keep finding more ways to squeeze more money out of the middle class and small businesses in order to make up the difference.

If you are a middle class American and you don’t think that you are paying enough taxes already then you are one sick puppy.

They are draining blood from us in dozens of different ways, and they are constantly inventing new ways to tax all of us.

So what is the solution?

Well, a good first step would be to completely abolish the federal income tax.  It is terribly inefficient, it is way too complicated and it is terribly unfair.  It rewards those that know how to exploit loopholes and those that know how to cheat the system.  Those that “play by the rules” always get the short end of the stick.

Our government could easily be funded by tariffs and other forms of taxation that are more equitable.  There were vast stretches of American history when there was no federal income tax, and the federal government did just fine.

And of course one of our biggest problems is that the federal government simply spends way, way too much money.  There is not a single category of government spending that does not need to be reduced and/or made much more efficient.  The amount of waste that goes on in Washington D.C. is absolutely mind boggling.

Unfortunately, both political parties seem content to be married to the current system so I would not expect any significant changes any time soon.

So what do you think about all this?

Do you believe that taxes are too low, or do you believe that they are too high?

Please leave a comment below with your thoughts, and please share this article with as many people as you can.

You Will Not Believe What Some People Are Willing To Do For A Paycheck These Days

It is absolutely amazing what some people will do to make a living in this economy.  Desperate times call for desperate measures, and we have not seen this kind of desperation for jobs in America since the Great Depression of the 1930s.  What some people are willing to put up with just to bring home a paycheck these days will totally shock you.  For example, would you slaughter dogs all day long even though you are really a dog lover?  Would you personally train your replacement from China even though you knew he was about to take your job?  Would you trade sex for a job?  There are people out there actually doing all these things and worse.  Every night in America, millions upon millions of people roll around endlessly in their beds and stare at their ceilings for hours because they can’t sleep.  They are sick to their stomachs because their money is gone and nobody will hire them.  They can’t provide even the basics for their families and they feel worthless.  Unemployment can be absolutely soul crushing and it can suck the life right out of you.  Things were supposed to be better by now, but they aren’t.  The month after Barack Obama took office the unemployment rate broke the 8 percent barrier and it has stayed above it ever since.  But the truth is that the “official” unemployment number greatly understates the real amount of suffering that is going on out there.  In reality, the percentage of working age Americans that have jobs is lower today than when the last recession ended.  There are millions upon millions of Americans that are desperate for some hope, and there is no hope on the horizon.  In fact, things are going to be getting a whole lot worse for the U.S. economy.

I like personal stories because they tell us things that all of the economic statistics in the world never could.

There are millions of Americans that have had their lives totally turned upside down by this economy.  They feel abandoned and worthless, and many of them feel as though life is no longer worth living.

As you read the following stories, try to put yourself in their shoes and try to feel their pain.

Also, try to remember that these kinds of stories are going to multiply in the years ahead as the U.S. economy falls apart all around us.

A 61-Year-Old Woman Begging For A Job

A recent article posted on gawker.com included the story of a 61-year-old woman who has been through hell and back during this economic downturn….

I sent out close to 500 resumes. Most never were even acknowledged and those that were I was told I was over qualified. When you would press them they would fumble but I was sure my age was part of the “over qualified”. The thoughts of wanting life to be over were with me every day. I wanted the horror to stop. Every time I would hear of the unemployment rates I would cry-what about ME.

At one point she was so desperate she took a job where she was making the decision about what dogs to slaughter at an animal shelter.  Approximately 85 percent of the dogs at the shelter ended up being killed, and she was working about 80 hours a week doing this.  The really sad part is that she really loves dogs….

In 2008 I was able to get a job at the local shelter as a dog trainer. That turned into a job as an Operations Manager. Though I was thankful for the job we had a euthanasia rate of nearly 85%. I was the one that would be the decision maker on who lives and dies of over 10,000 animals per year and the toll mentally was hard. Being salary I was working nearly 80 hours a week due to shorthanded staff.

After she was fired for not being aggressive enough in killing off dogs, she started endlessly sending out resumes once again.  Nobody wants to hire her, and she essentially feels like an old lady begging for a job….

Since February I began sending out 3 resumes a day. As the no return answer, over qualified and now I was getting I was out of engineering too long I started to set my sights lower. I have sent in resumes to sit in the booth in gas stations, secretary and so on. Local colleges have said I am qualified to teach there but they have no openings. I am for all purposes the old lady begging for a job.

Personally Training Their Replacements

If you knew that your company was going to tear down your factory and send your job to China, would you personally train your replacement?

That is what a whole bunch of workers in Illinois are doing.

The following is from a recent article that appeared in the Guardian….

The shock of losing a precious job in a town afflicted by high unemployment is always hard. A foundation for a stable family life and secure home instantly disappears, replaced with a future filled with fears over health insurance, missed mortgage payments and the potential for a slip below the breadline.

But for Bonnie Borman – and 170 other men and women in Freeport, Illinois – there is a brutal twist to the torture. Borman, 52, and the other workers of a soon-to-be-shuttered car parts plant are personally training the Chinese workers who will replace them.

It’s a surreal experience, they say. For months they have watched their plant being dismantled and shipped to China, piece by piece, as they show teams of Chinese workers how to do the jobs they have dedicated their lives to.

Can you imagine that?

Would you be willing to do the same thing just to keep the paychecks coming in for as long as possible?

Sadly, both major political parties are obsessed with promoting unrestricted free trade even though millions of American jobs continue to go overseas.

Our top political candidates even argue about which of them love “free trade” more.

It truly is sickening.

Do you remember when U.S. taxpayers bailed out the auto industry?

Well, since the auto industry bailout approximately 70 percent of all GM vehicles have been built outside the United States.

The insanity has gotten to such a level that some Americans simply cannot take it anymore.  Just consider the following example from a recent article by Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele….

On his last day on the job, Kevin Flanagan, after clearing out a few personal effects and putting them in boxes in the back of his Ford Ranger, left the building where he’d worked for seven years.

He settled into the front seat of his pickup truck on the lower level of the company garage, placed a 12-gauge Remington shotgun to his head, and pulled the trigger. He was 41 years old.

He was a computer programmer. He’d been a programmer his entire working life. Until, that is, his job was shipped overseas. The business of moving traditional U.S. jobs abroad-called “outsourcing”-has been one of this country’s few growth industries. It’s the ultimate short-sighted business promoted by the country’s elite because it means lower wages and fatter profits. As for the American workers eliminated along the way, they are just collateral damage.

It turns out that Kevin’s replacement was a programmer from India that he personally trained.

Trading Sex For A Job

If you were truly desperate, would you trade sex for a job?

I hope not, but that is exactly what some Americans are doing.

The following is a story from a desperate unemployed woman that was posted on gawker.com recently….

I have been very depressed since I lost my job. I go through periods where I spend most of my days in bed, and although I’ve had a few interviews those people don’t even have the decency to let you know the position is filled. Sometimes I’d call for weeks asking for updates only to get the HR persons voicemail, and they’d never return my calls. With no experience I can’t even get a job waiting tables. I apply to every job in the paper and online, whether I’m qualified or not, and have had 7 interviews total, none of which ended with a job offer. Living paycheck to paycheck would be a blessing at this point.

She has become so desperate that she is even willing to trade her body for a paycheck….

The current ‘bright side’ is that I know someone who owns a small retail clothing chain and has offered me a minimum wage job there on the condition that we become ‘close friends’. I think you & I both know what that entails, but at this time in my life it seems like a better alternative than losing the little that I have. I’d have a paycheck equal to what I am getting on unemployment with the opportunity for overtime and advancements, full benefits and a schedule that would allow me to continue schooling.

A Lot More Layoffs Coming Soon

The frightening thing is that a whole lot more layoffs are on the horizon.

Just check out this excerpt from a recent article on thehill.com….

Lockheed Martin and Pratt & Whitney are going forward with plans to issue layoff notices to thousands of employees due to looming defense cuts under sequestration, despite administration claims that such warnings are unnecessary.

So how many jobs will be lost?

Unfortunately, it is being projected that we could be looking at a million jobs lost….

Top industry officials have said publicly that automatic cut under sequestration could lead to the loss of 1 million defense-related jobs.

Industry leaders and their supporters in Congress say those job losses would hit battleground states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Florida particularly hard.

Like I have written about before, we simply cannot continue to steal more than a trillion dollars from future generations every single year, but when we do make deep cuts to the federal budget the economic pain is going to be immense.

We already have more than 100 million Americans on welfare.

What is this country going to look like if things get even worse?

The good news is that if you do lose your job and your home you might have somewhere to sleep.  New York City is opening up a bunch of new homeless shelters….

New York City has opened nine new shelters in the last two months in efforts to handle the city’s rapidly growing homeless population, officials said.

The city recorded 43,731 homeless people in shelters this week, which is up 18 percent from the 37,143 at the same time last year, The New York Times reported.

So don’t get too down.

If you can’t find a job and you can’t afford a home perhaps you can at least get into one of those shiny new homeless shelters.

Seriously, I don’t actually want anyone reading this to end up in a homeless shelter.

That is why I endlessly urge people to adjust their priorities and to work as hard as they can right now to prepare for the very hard economic times that are coming.

Now is not the time to be going on expensive vacations and now is not the time to be blowing your money on all kinds of stupid stuff.

We are moving into the most difficult times that any of us have ever seen, and if you do nothing to prepare yourself you will be very sorry.