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20 Signs That The U.S. Economy Is Heading For Big Trouble In The Months Ahead

20 Signs That The U.S. Economy Is Heading For Big Trouble In The Months Ahead - Photo by Frank KovalchekIs the U.S. economy about to experience a major downturn?  Unfortunately, there are a whole bunch of signs that economic activity in the United States is really slowing down right now.  Freight volumes and freight expenditures are way down, consumer confidence has declined sharply, major retail chains all over America are closing hundreds of stores, and the “sequester” threatens to give the American people their first significant opportunity to experience what “austerity” tastes like.  Gas prices are going up rapidly, corporate insiders are dumping massive amounts of stock and there are high profile corporate bankruptcies in the news almost every single day now.  In many ways, what we are going through right now feels very similar to 2008 before the crash happened.  Back then the warning signs of economic trouble were very obvious, but our politicians and the mainstream media insisted that everything was just fine, and the stock market was very much detached from reality.  When the stock market did finally catch up with reality, it happened very, very rapidly.  Sadly, most people do not appear to have learned any lessons from the crisis of 2008.  Americans continue to rack up staggering amounts of debt, and Wall Street is more reckless than ever.  As a society, we seem to have concluded that 2008 was just a temporary malfunction rather than an indication that our entire system was fundamentally flawed.  In the end, we will pay a great price for our overconfidence and our recklessness.

So what will the rest of 2013 bring?

Hopefully the economy will remain stable for as long as possible, but right now things do not look particularly promising.

The following are 20 signs that the U.S. economy is heading for big trouble in the months ahead…

#1 Freight shipment volumes have hit their lowest level in two years, and freight expenditures have gone negative for the first time since the last recession.

#2 The average price of a gallon of gasoline has risen by more than 50 cents over the past two months.  This is making things tougher on our economy, because nearly every form of economic activity involves moving people or goods around.

#3 Reader’s Digest, once one of the most popular magazines in the world, has filed for bankruptcy.

#4 Atlantic City’s newest casino, Revel, has just filed for bankruptcy.  It had been hoped that Revel would help lead a turnaround for Atlantic City.

#5 A state-appointed review board has determined that there is “no satisfactory plan” to solve Detroit’s financial emergency, and many believe that bankruptcy is imminent.  If Detroit does declare bankruptcy, it will be the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.

#6 David Gallagher, the CEO of Town Sports International, recently said that his company is struggling right now because consumers simply do not have as much disposable income anymore…

“As we moved into January membership trends were tracking to expectations in the first half of the month, but fell off track and did not meet our expectations in the second half of the month. We believe the driver of this was the rapid decline in consumer sentiment that has been reported and is connected to the reduction in net pay consumers earn given the changes in tax rates that went into effect in January.

#7 According to the Conference Board, consumer confidence in the U.S. has hit its lowest level in more than a year.

#8 Sales of the Apple iPhone have been slower than projected, and as a result Chinese manufacturing giant FoxConn has instituted a hiring freeze.  The following is from a CNET report that was posted on Wednesday…

The Financial Times noted that it was the first time since a 2009 downturn that the company opted to halt hiring in all of its facilities across the country. The publication talked to multiple recruiters.

The actions taken by Foxconn fuel the concern over the perceived weakened demand for the iPhone 5 and slumping sentiment around Apple in general, with production activity a leading indicator of interest in the product.

#9 In 2012, global cell phone sales posted their first decline since the end of the last recession.

#10 We appear to be in the midst of a “retail apocalypse“.  It is being projected that Sears, J.C. Penney, Best Buy and RadioShack will also close hundreds of stores by the end of 2013.

#11 An internal memo authored by a Wal-Mart executive that was recently leaked to the press said that February sales were a “total disaster” and that the beginning of February was the “worst start to a month I have seen in my ~7 years with the company.”

#12 If Congress does not do anything and “sequestration” goes into effect on March 1st, the Pentagon says that approximately 800,000 civilian employees will be facing mandatory furloughs.

#13 Barack Obama is admitting that the “sequester” could have a crippling impact on the U.S. economy.  The following is from a recent CNBC article

Obama cautioned that if the $85 billion in immediate cuts — known as the sequester — occur, the full range of government would feel the effects. Among those he listed: furloughed FBI agents, reductions in spending for communities to pay police and fire personnel and teachers, and decreased ability to respond to threats around the world.

He said the consequences would be felt across the economy.

“People will lose their jobs,” he said. “The unemployment rate might tick up again.”

#14 If the “sequester” is allowed to go into effect, the CBO is projecting that it will cause U.S. GDP growth to go down by at least 0.6 percent and that it will “reduce job growth by 750,000 jobs“.

#15 According to a recent Gallup survey, 65 percent of all Americans believe that 2013 will be a year of “economic difficulty“, and 50 percent of all Americans believe that the “best days” of America are now in the past.

#16 U.S. GDP actually contracted at an annual rate of 0.1 percent during the fourth quarter of 2012.  This was the first GDP contraction that the official numbers have shown in more than three years.

#17 For the entire year of 2012, U.S. GDP growth was only about 1.5 percent.  According to Art Cashin, every time GDP growth has fallen this low for an entire year, the U.S. economy has always ended up going into a recession.

#18 The global economy overall is really starting to slow down

The world’s richest countries saw their economies contract for the first time in almost four years during the final three months of 2012, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said.

The Paris-based thinktank said gross domestic product across its 34 member states fell by 0.2% – breaking a period of rising activity stretching back to a 2.3% slump in output in the first quarter of 2009.

All the major economies of the OECD – the US, Japan, Germany, France, Italy and the UK – have already reported falls in output at the end of 2012, with the thinktank noting that the steepest declines had been seen in the European Union, where GDP fell by 0.5%. Canada is the only member of the G7 currently on course to register an increase in national output.

#19 Corporate insiders are dumping enormous amounts of stock right now.  Do they know something that we don’t?

#20 Even some of the biggest names on Wall Street are warning that we are heading for an economic collapse.  For example, Seth Klarman, one of the most respected investors on Wall Street, said in his year-end letter that the collapse of the U.S. financial system could happen at any time

“Investing today may well be harder than it has been at any time in our three decades of existence,” writes Seth Klarman in his year-end letter. The Fed’s “relentless interventions and manipulations” have left few purchase targets for Baupost, he laments. “(The) underpinnings of our economy and financial system are so precarious that the un-abating risks of collapse dwarf all other factors.”

So what do you think is going to happen to the U.S. economy in the months ahead?

Please feel free to express your opinion by leaving a comment below…

LoLCat - Help!

Who Tells Us What To Think? Does The Mainstream Media = The Matrix?

Who Tells Us What To Think? Does The Mainstream Media = The Matrix? - Photo by ProperpilotDo you believe that you really think for yourself?  Did you come up with your attitudes, opinions and beliefs on your own, or are they continually being shaped and molded by someone else?  Could it be possible that you and everyone around you is actually hooked into a real life version of “the matrix” that is constantly defining your reality for you?  Sadly, the truth is that almost all of us have willingly hooked ourselves into a colossal media system that literally tells us what to think.  In the United States today, the average American watches 153 hours of television a month.  We also spend huge amounts of time watching movies, surfing the Internet, reading books and magazines, playing video games and listening to music.  Many Americans are so addicted to being “connected” that they will actually become physically uncomfortable if they are at home and there is total silence.  Unfortunately, as I pointed out in a previous article, somewhere around 90 percent of the “information” that we are allowing to be endlessly pumped into our heads is owned by just 6 gigantic media corporations.  So could it be possible that the thousands of hours of “news and entertainment” that you are allowing these gigantic corporations to fill your head with each year is having an effect on you?  Does the mainstream media have more control over you than you ever dreamed possible?  If you want to continue on in blissful ignorance, stop reading now,  but if you want to take “the red pill”, keep on reading because the further down the rabbit hole you go, the stranger that things get.

When you go to work or to school in the morning, what is everyone talking about?

Usually, people are talking about something that they saw on television or that they heard about in the news.

In our society today, the limited interactions that we do have with other people are usually defined by our mutual connection to the media.

The mainstream media literally defines for us what is important and what is not.  If the mainstream media does not talk about something, then it simply does not matter.

I don’t know how many times over the years I have heard someone tell me some version of the following statement: “If that was true we would have heard about it on the news.”

Has anyone ever said something similar to you?

The funny thing is that most of the time I won’t even mention something important that I may have heard in one of my articles unless I can back it up with a “mainstream source”, and I don’t even trust the mainstream media.

I know that the mainstream media often distorts the facts and often tells outright lies, but I regularly link to them because that gives my articles more “credibility” in the eyes of those that are still fully hooked into the matrix.

In a world where the big media corporations have so much power, is there any hope for us?

As long as the big corporations that control the media are dominating and controlling the conversation, is there any chance that there will ever be a mass awakening among the American people?

Our young people seem particularly addicted to being constantly “connected” to the media matrix that is being constructed all around us.  The following is a brief excerpt from a recent article by Daniel Taylor

According to a 2010 LA Times report, young people spend on average 53 hours a week watching TV, playing video games, and sitting at the computer.

Facebook users spend about 15 hours a month on the social networking site.

People are walking – and driving – blindly while texting, sometimes walking into fountains and even falling off cliffs.

Wow – our young people spend more than 200 hours a month connected to the mainstream media?

But we only have about 480 waking hours a month to work with.

If they are being exposed to that amount of continuous propaganda, what hope do our young people have?

In the old days, kids actually played with each other in the streets and adults actually left their homes to interact with one another.

But these days we spend nearly all of our time sitting passively in our homes staring at flickering screens.

Is that a sign of a healthy society?

We were created to be social creatures.  We were designed to love and to be loved.  But these days people “love” their favorite sports teams or they “love” their favorite television shows but we have an increasingly difficult time having real relationships with each other.

Meanwhile, the global elite rely on the mainstream media to keep us distracted and to control the boundaries of public discourse.  Most of the time, the mainstream media focuses on the latest celebrity scandal or the latest dogfights between the Republicans and the Democrats and they systematically ignore many of the more important things that are taking place out there.

Let me just give you one example of how the mainstream media shapes the news.  For decades, there was almost a complete and total media blackout on the Bilderberg Group meetings that happen every year.  Top newspaper executives from the United States would actually attend these meetings, but then their newspapers would not say a single word about them.

If anyone out there did bring up “the Bilderberg Group”, they were dismissed as wacky “conspiracy theorists” and were told that it simply does not exist.

Of course now we all know that it does exist, although the mainstream media in the U.S. still mostly ignores it.  In fact, this has been by design.  The following is what David Rockefeller is alleged to have said during a Bilderberg Group meeting back in 1991…

We are grateful to The Washington Post, The New York Times, Time magazine and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion for almost forty years. … It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subject to the bright lights of publicity during those years. But, the world is now much more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world government. The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national auto-determination practiced in past centuries.

Even today, many prominent “journalists” in the U.S. mock people when they bring up the Bilderberg Group.  For example, Lawrence O’Donnell of MSNBC says that he is “way too lazy” to look into the Bilderberg Group and that he “doesn’t know about it, so it must not exist”.

For much more on the connection between the mainstream media and the global elite, please see this article: “Who Runs The World? Solid Proof That A Core Group Of Wealthy Elitists Is Pulling The Strings“.

Instead of telling us what is really going on in the world, the mainstream media keeps us endlessly distracted.  The following are just a few of the headlines that can be found on the front pages of major mainstream news sites right now…

-College student creates condom delivery service

-Michael Douglas is feeling ‘good’

-Golf tournament delayed by kangaroos

-Rock ‘n’ roll hamburger experience

-Lady Gaga cancels tour, set for surgery

Wow – those are some examples of some really hard-hitting journalism right there.

So why do most Americans continue to fall for this nonsense?

Sadly, part of the reason is because we have become so “dumbed down” as a society.

Recently, the Guardian conducted an evaluation of the reading level of every State of the Union address in U.S. history.  What they found is that Barack Obama’s State of the Union addresses have had the second lowest reading level average in history, and that in general the reading levels of the speeches have been significantly declining over time.

But it is not just our presidents that appear to be getting stupider.  The truth is that our public education system is a total joke at this point.  Many of our high school students are as dumb as a rock, and if you can believe it, 23 percent of all Americans cannot even read beyond a fourth-grade level.

Of course the elite are quite pleased with this, because a stupid public is a public that is easier to dominate.

When a large segment of the population can barely read and is accustomed to letting others do their thinking for them, it becomes easier to lie.

For example, on Thursday Paul Krugman of the New York Times made the following statement

“Growing dependence on government is mostly a myth”

Of course most of you that are reading this know that is a flat-out lie.  The charts in this article clearly show that the number of Americans on food stamps is at an all-time high and the percentage of the population that is on food stamps is at an all-time high.

Back in 1983, less than a third of all Americans lived in a household that got money from the federal government each month,  Now, an all-time high 49 percent of all Americans live in a home where at least one person receives money from the government each month.

For many more stats and charts that demonstrate the stunning growth of government dependence, please see this article and this article.

Sadly, the truth doesn’t seem to matter too much to the media these days.  The mainstream media tends to be incredibly arrogant, and most of the time they don’t even pretend to be “objective” or “neutral” anymore.

Fortunately, more Americans than ever are becoming dissatisfied with the mainstream media and are starting to seek out alternative sources of information.  According to a recent Gallup poll, the level of trust that the American public has in the mainstream media is now at an all-time low.

So perhaps there is hope after all.

What do you think?

The Matrix - Photo by Jamie Zawinski

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