The Beginning Of The End
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Does This Look Like A Housing Recovery To You?

Homeownership Rate 2014We just learned that the homeownership rate in the United States has fallen to the lowest level in 19 years.  But of course this is not a new trend.  As you will see in this article, the homeownership rate in the United States has been in a continual decline for more than 7 years.  Obviously this is not a sign of a healthy economy.  Traditionally, homeownership has been one of the key indicators that you belong to the middle class.  When people define “the American Dream”, it is usually one of the first things mentioned.  So if the percentage of Americans that own a home has been steadily going down for 7 years in a row, what does that tell us about the health of the middle class in this country?

The chart that you are about to view is clear evidence that we are in the midst of a long-term economic decline.  It shows what has happened to the homeownership rate in the U.S. since the year 2000, and as you can see it has been collapsing since the peak of the housing market back in 2007.  Does this look like a housing recovery to you?…

Homeownership Rate 2014

So many people get caught up in what is happening on Wall Street, but this is the “real economy” that affects people on a day to day basis.

Most Americans just want to be able to buy a home and provide a solid middle class living for their families.

The fact that the percentage of people that are able to achieve this “American Dream” is falling rapidly is very troubling.

There are some that blame this stunning decline in the homeownership rate on the Millennials.

And without a doubt, they are a significant part of the story.  They are moving back home with their parents at record rates, and many that are striking out on their own are renting apartments in the big cities.

This is one area where the decline of marriage in America is really hitting the economy.  Back in 1968, well over 50 percent of Americans in the 18 to 31-year-old age bracket were already married and living on their own.  Today, that number is below 25 percent.

But that is not all there is to this story.

In fact, the homeownership rate for Americans in the 35 to 44-year-old age bracket has been falling even faster than it has for Millennials…

In the first quarter of 2008, nearly 67% of people aged 35-44 owned homes. Now the number is barely above 59%. The percentage of people under 35 owning homes only fell five percentage points, to 36% from 41%.

So why is this happening?

Well, it is fairly simple actually.

In order to buy homes, people need to have good jobs.  And at this point, the percentage of Americans that are employed is still about where it was during the depths of the last recession.

In addition, wages in the United States have stagnated and the quality of our jobs continues to go down.  As I wrote about the other day, half of all American workers make less than $28,031 a year.  Needless to say, if you make less than $28,031  a year, you are going to have a really hard time getting approved for a home loan or making mortgage payments.

Things have been changing for a long time in this country, and not for the better.  Our economic problems have taken decades to develop, and the underlying causes of these problems is still not being addressed.

Meanwhile, middle class families continue to suffer.  One very surprising new survey discovered that more than half of all Americans now consider themselves to be “lower-middle class or working class with low economic security”.  While Wall Street has been celebrating in recent years, economic pessimism has become deeply ingrained on Main Street…

Optimism may be harder to come by these days. More than half of Americans surveyed in a Harris poll released Tuesday identified themselves as being lower-middle class or working class with low economic security. And 75 percent said they’re being held back financially by roadblocks like the cost of housing (24 percent), health care (21 percent) and credit-card debt (20 percent).

And that’s not the kicker.

“The most disappointing aspect is that 45 percent think they’ll never get their finances back to where they were before the financial crisis,” said Ken Rees, CEO of the Elevate credit service company, which commissioned the survey. “And a third are losing sleep over it.”

The only “recovery” that we have experienced since the last recession has been a temporary recovery on Wall Street.

For the rest of the country, our long-term economic decline has continued.

When I was growing up, my father was serving in the U.S. Navy and we lived in a fairly typical middle class neighborhood.  Everyone that I went to school with lived in a nice home and I never heard of any parent struggling to find work.  Of course life was not perfect, but it seemed to me like living a middle class lifestyle was “normal” for most people.

How times have changed since then.

Today, it seems like we are all part of a giant reality show where people are constantly being removed from the middle class and everyone is wondering who will be next.

So what do you think?

Is there hope for the middle class, or are the economic problems that we are facing just beginning?

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

 

What Recovery? Sears And J.C. Penney Are DYING

Sears - Photo by Belus Capital AdvisorsTwo of the largest retailers in America are steamrolling toward bankruptcy.  Sears and J.C. Penney are both losing hundreds of millions of dollars each quarter, and both of them appear to be caught in the grip of a death spiral from which it will be impossible to escape.  Once upon a time, Sears was actually the largest retailer in the United States, and even today Sears and J.C. Penney are “anchor stores” in malls all over the country.  When I was growing up, my mother would take me to the mall when it was time to go clothes shopping, and there were usually just two options: Sears or J.C. Penney.  When I got older, I actually worked for Sears for a little while.  At the time, nobody would have ever imagined that Sears or J.C. Penney could go out of business someday.  But that is precisely what is happening.  They are both shutting down unprofitable stores and laying off employees in a desperate attempt to avoid bankruptcy, but everyone knows that they are just delaying the inevitable.  These two great retail giants are dying, and they certainly won’t be the last to fall.  This is just the beginning.

The Death Of Sears

Sales have declined at Sears for 27 quarters in a row, and the legendary retailer has been closing hundreds of stores and selling off property in a frantic attempt to turn things around.

Unfortunately for Sears, it is not working.  In fact, Sears has announced that it expects to lose “between $250 million to $360 million” for the quarter that will end on February 1st.

Things have gotten so bad that Sears is even making commercials that openly acknowledge how badly it is struggling.  For example, consider the following bit of dialogue from a recent Sears television commercial featuring two young women…

“Wait, the movie theater is on the other side,” the passenger says.

“But Sears always has parking!” the driver responds.

Sears always has parking???

Of course the unspoken admission is that Sears always has parking because nobody shops there anymore.

I have posted video of the commercial below…

A couple of months ago I walked into a Sears store in the middle of the week and it was like a ghost town.  A few associates were milling around here and there having private discussions among themselves, but other than that it was eerily quiet.

You can find 18 incredibly depressing photographs which do a great job of illustrating why Sears is steadily dying right here.  This was once one of America’s greatest companies, but soon it will be dead.

The Death Of J.C. Penney

J.C. Penny has been a dead man walking for a long time.  In some ways, it is in even worse shape than Sears.

If you can believe it, J.C. Penney actually lost 586 million dollars during the second quarter of 2013 alone.

How in the world do you lose 586 million dollars in three months?

Are they paying employees to flush giant piles of cash down the toilets?

This week J.C. Penney announced that it is eliminating 2,000 jobs and closing 33 stores.  The following is a list of the store closings that was released to the public…

Selma, Ala. — Selma Mall

Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. — Arrow Plaza

Colorado Springs — Chapel Hills Mall

Meriden, Conn. — Meriden Square

Leesburg, Fla. — Lake Square Mall

Port Richey, Fla. — Gulf View Square

Muscatine, Iowa — Muscatine Mall

Bloomingdale, Ill. — Stratford Square Mall

Forsyth, Ill. — Hickory Point Mall

Marion, Ind. — Five Points Mall

Warsaw, Ind. — Marketplace Shopping Center

Salisbury, Md. — The Centre at Salisbury

Marquette, Mich. — Westwood Plaza

Worthington, Minn. — Northland Mall

Gautier, Miss. — Singing River Mall

Natchez, Miss. — Natchez Mall

Butte, Mont. — Butte Plaza Shopping Center

Cut Bank, Mont.

Kinston, N.C. — Vernon Park Mall

Burlington, N.J. — Burlington Center

Phillipsburg, N.J. — Phillipsburg Mall

Wooster, Ohio — Wayne Towne Plaza

Exton, Pa. — Exton Square Mall

Hazleton, Pa. — LaurelMall

Washington, Pa. — Washington Mall

Chattanooga — Northgate Mall

Bristol, Va. — Bristol Mall

Norfolk, Va. — Military Circle Mall

Fond du Lac, Wis., Forest Mall

Janesville, Wis. — Janesville Mall

Rhinelander, Wis. — Lincoln Plaza Center

Rice Lake, Wis. — Cedar Mall

Wausau, Wis. — Wausau Mall

The CEO of J.C. Penney says that these closures were necessary for the future of the company…

“As we continue to progress toward long-term profitable growth, it is necessary to reexamine the financial performance of our store portfolio and adjust our national footprint accordingly,” CEO Myron Ullman said in a news release.

Actually, his statement would be a lot more accurate if he replaced “continue to progress toward long-term profitable growth” with ” prepare for bankruptcy”.

It would be hard to overstate how much of a disaster 2013 was for J.C. Penney.  The following is an excerpt from a recent CNN article

It’s been a brutal year for J.C. Penney, its stock falling over 60% in the past 12 months. The company has been losing hundreds of millions of dollars per quarter, and is in the midst of another turnaround effort after ousting former Apple executive Ron Johnson last year.

Overall, shares of J.C. Penney have fallen by an astounding 84 percent since February 2012.  And keep in mind that this decline has happened during one of the greatest stock market rallies of all-time.

For now, J.C. Penney will continue to try to desperately raise more cash from investors that are foolish enough to give it to them, but all that is really accomplishing is just delaying the inevitable.

If you would like to see some photos that graphically illustrate why J.C. Penney is falling apart, you can find some right here.

And of course Sears and J.C. Penney are not the only large retailers that have fallen on hard times.  This week the CEO of Best Buy admitted that sales declined at his chain during the holiday season…

Best Buy shares skid on Thursday after the retailer said total revenue and sales at its established U.S stores fell in the all-important holiday season due to intense discounting by rivals, supply constraints for key products and weak traffic in December.

In the immediate aftermath of that announcement, Best Buy stock was down more than 30 percent in pre-market trading.

And Macy’s just announced that it is laying off 2,500 employees in an attempt to move in a more profitable direction.

So why is all of this happening?

Aren’t we supposed to be in the midst of an “economic recovery”?

That is what the Obama administration and the mainstream media keep telling us, but it is simply not true.

In fact, a new Gallup survey has found that the number of Americans that are “financially worse off” than a year ago is significantly higher than the number of Americans that say that they are “financially better off” than a year ago…

More Americans, 42%, say they are financially worse off now than they were a year ago, reversing the lower levels found over the past two years. Just more than a third of Americans say their financial situation has improved from a year ago.

That is why these stores are dying.

Things continue to get even worse for the middle class.

But a lot of people out there will continue to deny what is happening right in front of their eyes.  They are kind of like that woman over in California who was conned out of half a million dollars by a Nigerian online dating scam.  They will never admit the truth until it is far too late to do anything about it.

So have you been to a Sears or a J.C. Penney lately?

Do you believe that they will survive?

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

33 Shocking Facts Which Show How Badly The Economy Has Tanked Since Obama Became President

Obama Follow MeBarack Obama has been running around the country taking credit for an “economic recovery”, but the truth is that things have not gotten better under Obama.  Compared to when he first took office, a smaller percentage of the working age population is employed, the quality of our jobs has declined substantially and the middle class has been absolutely shredded.  If we are really in the middle of an “economic recovery”, why is the homeownership rate the lowest that it has been in 18 years?  Why has the number of Americans on food stamps increased by nearly 50 percent while Obama has been in the White House?  Why has the national debt gotten more than 6 trillion dollars larger during the Obama era?  Obama should not be “taking credit” for anything when it comes to the economy.  In fact, he should be deeply apologizing to the American people.

And of course Obama is being delusional if he thinks that he is actually “running the economy”.  The Federal Reserve has far more power over the U.S. economy and the U.S. financial system than he does.  But the mainstream media loves to fixate on the presidency, so presidents always get far too much credit or far too much blame for economic conditions.

But if you do want to focus on “the change” that has taken place since Barack Obama entered the White House, there is no way in the world that you can claim that things have actually gotten better during that time frame.  The cold, hard reality of the matter is that the U.S. economy has been steadily declining for over a decade, and this decline has continued while Obama has been living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

It is getting very tiring listening to Obama supporters try to claim that Obama has improved the economy.  That is a false claim that is not even remotely close to reality.  The following are 33 shocking facts which show how badly the U.S. economy has tanked since Obama became president…

#1 When Barack Obama entered the White House, 60.6 percent of working age Americans had a job.  Today, only 58.7 percent of working age Americans have a job.

#2 Since Obama has been president, seven out of every eight jobs that have been “created” in the U.S. economy have been part-time jobs.

#3 The number of full-time workers in the United States is still nearly 6 million below the old record that was set back in 2007.

#4 It is hard to believe, but an astounding 53 percent of all American workers now make less than $30,000 a year.

#5 40 percent of all workers in the United States actually make less than what a full-time minimum wage worker made back in 1968.

#6 When the Obama era began, the average duration of unemployment in this country was 19.8 weeks.  Today, it is 36.6 weeks.

#7 During the first four years of Obama, the number of Americans “not in the labor force” soared by an astounding 8,332,000.  That far exceeds any previous four year total.

#8 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the middle class is taking home a smaller share of the overall income pie than has ever been recorded before.

#9 When Obama was elected, the homeownership rate in the United States was 67.5 percent.  Today, it is 65.0 percent.  That is the lowest that it has been in 18 years.

#10 When Obama entered the White House, the mortgage delinquency rate was 7.85 percent.  Today, it is 9.72 percent.

#11 In 2008, the U.S. trade deficit with China was 268 billion dollars.  Last year, it was 315 billion dollars.

#12 When Obama first became president, 12.5 million Americans had manufacturing jobs.  Today, only 11.9 million Americans have manufacturing jobs.

#13 Median household income in America has fallen for four consecutive years.  Overall, it has declined by over $4000 during that time span.

#14 The poverty rate has shot up to 16.1 percent.  That is actually higher than when the War on Poverty began in 1965.

#15 During Obama’s first term, the number of Americans on food stamps increased by an average of about 11,000 per day.

#16 When Barack Obama entered the White House, there were about 32 million Americans on food stamps.  Today, there are more than 47 million Americans on food stamps.

#17 At this point, more than a million public school students in the United States are homeless.  This is the first time that has ever happened in our history.  That number has risen by 57 percent since the 2006-2007 school year.

#18 When Barack Obama took office, the average price of a gallon of regular gasoline was $1.85.  Today, it is $3.53.

#19 Electricity bills in the United States have risen faster than the overall rate of inflation for five years in a row.

#20 Health insurance costs have risen by 29 percent since Barack Obama became president, and Obamacare is going to make things far worse.

#21 The United States has fallen in the global economic competitiveness rankings compiled by the World Economic Forum for four years in a row.

#22 According to economist Tim Kane, the following is how the number of startup jobs per 1000 Americans breaks down by presidential administration

Bush Sr.: 11.3

Clinton: 11.2

Bush Jr.: 10.8

Obama: 7.8

#23 In 2008, that total amount of student loan debt in this country was 440 billion dollars.  At this point, it has shot up to about a trillion dollars.

#24 According to one recent survey, 76 percent of all Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.

#25 During Obama’s first term, the number of Americans collecting federal disability insurance rose by more than 18 percent.

#26 The total amount of money that the federal government gives directly to the American people has grown by 32 percent since Barack Obama became president.

#27 According to the Survey of Income and Program Participation conducted by the U.S. Census, well over 100 million Americans are enrolled in at least one welfare program run by the federal government.

#28 As I wrote about the other day, American households are now receiving more money directly from the federal government than they are paying to the government in taxes.

#29 Under Barack Obama, the velocity of money (a very important indicator of economic health) has plunged to a post-World War II low.

#30 At the end of 2008, the Federal Reserve held $475.9 billion worth of U.S. Treasury bonds.  Today, Fed holdings of U.S. Treasury bonds have skyrocketed past the 2 trillion dollar mark.

#31 When Barack Obama was first elected, the U.S. debt to GDP ratio was under 70 percent.  Today, it is up to 101 percent.

#32 During Obama’s first term, the federal government accumulated more new debt than it did under the first 42 U.S presidents combined.

#33 When you break it down, the amount of new debt accumulated by the U.S. government during Obama’s first term comes to approximately $50,521 for every single household in the United States.  Are you able to pay your share?

Where Is The Recovery? A Higher Percentage Of Americans Had Jobs Three Years Ago

Where Is The Recovery?If you think that the latest employment numbers are good news, you might want to look again.  In April 2013, 58.6 percent of all working age Americans had a job.  But three years ago, in April 2010, 58.7 percent of all working age Americans had a job.  Well, you may argue, that is not much of a difference.  And that is precisely my point.  The percentage of Americans that have a job fell like a rock during the last recession.  It dropped from about 63 percent all the way down to below 59 percent, and it has stayed below 59 percent for 44 months in a row.  So where is the recovery?  This is the first time in the post-World War II era that the employment-population ratio has not bounced back after the end of a recession.  So anyone that tells you that we are experiencing an employment recovery is lying to you.  Yes, the U.S. economy added 165,000 jobs last month.  But it takes nearly that many jobs just to keep up with population growth.  The truth is that we are just treading water.

So why has the unemployment rate been going down?  Well, it is because the government has been pretending that millions upon millions of unemployed Americans “don’t want jobs” anymore.  In fact, an astounding 9.5 million Americans have “left the workforce” since Barack Obama took office.

Some in the mainstream media have started calling them “missing workers”.  But whatever label you want to use, the reality of the matter is that they are really hurting.  They are part of the reason why food stamp enrollment has soared from 32 million to more than 47 million while Barack Obama has been in the White House.

If you still believe that the employment market is getting better, just look at the following numbers.  The percentage of working age Americans with a job has been sitting at about the same level for four years in a row…

April 2008: 62.7 percent

April 2009: 59.8 percent

April 2010: 58.7 percent

April 2011: 58.4 percent

April 2012: 58.5 percent

April 2013: 58.6 percent

So why is everyone getting so excited over the latest numbers?  When you step back and look at what has happened to the employment-population ratio over the past decade it really is quite horrifying…

Employment-Population Ratio 2013

So exactly what part of that chart are we supposed to get excited about?

Yes, I suppose that we should be thankful that the percentage of Americans with a job has not continued to decline over the past few years.  Unfortunately, the next major wave of the economic collapse is rapidly approaching and that is going to make our employment crisis far worse.

A recovery was supposed to already happen by now.  Now we are running out of time before the next major downturn strikes.

And things have been particularly hard for our young people.  Even if our young people do go to college, there is a very good chance that good jobs will not be waiting for them once they graduate.

According to Accenture’s 2013 College Graduate Employment Survey, 41 percent of all Millennials who graduated from college during the past two years are working in jobs that actually do not require a college degree.

And a different survey conducted a while back found that 53 percent of all college graduates under the age of 25 are either unemployed or underemployed.

Perhaps you have noticed this.  Perhaps you have noticed that there seems to be large numbers of young people that are living with their parents or that can’t seem to get their lives started.

It is because the economy is not producing enough jobs for them.

We have shipped millions of good jobs overseas, we have replaced millions of jobs with technology, and we have created an economic environment that is murdering our small businesses.

Sadly, the future does not look bright for the American worker.  The big corporations that dominate our society are feverishly trying to increase profits by getting rid of as many “expensive” American workers as possible.  That is one of the reasons why corporate profits as a percentage of GDP are at a record high, but wages as a percentage of GDP are at an all-time low.

At this point there are more than 101 million working age Americans that do not have a job, and that number is going to go a lot higher in the years ahead.

But the financial markets seem to be absolutely thrilled with the present state of affairs.  The latest employment numbers caused the Dow to shoot past 15,000 and the S&P 500 to push past 1600.

Of course stocks have become completely and totally divorced from economic reality, but this does happen from time to time and it never lasts forever.  At some point there will be a rude awakening.

And I anticipated that we could potentially see the Dow hit 15,000 before it finally crashed.  Back in February, I made the following statement…

Right now, everyone seems to be quite giddy about the fact that the Dow is marching toward an all-time high.  And I actually do believe that the Dow will blow right past it.  In fact, it is even possible that we could see the Dow hit 15,000 before everything starts falling apart.

Well, now we have seen the Dow hit 15,000.  But that doesn’t change any of the long-term trends that are absolutely eviscerating our economy.

So enjoy this bubble of false hope while you can.

It will not last much longer.

The Beginning Of The End by Michael T. Snyder

Shocking Numbers That Show The Media Is Lying To You About Unemployment In America

Shocking Numbers That Show The Media Is Lying To You About Unemployment In America - Photo by Larali21Did you know that the percentage of the U.S. labor force that is employed has continually been falling since 2006 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics?  Did you know that the increase in the number of Americans “not in the labor force” during Barack Obama’s first four years in the White House was more than three times greater than the increase in the number of Americans “not in the labor force” during the entire decade of the 1980s?  The mainstream media would have us believe that 157,000 jobs were added to the U.S. economy in January.  Based on that news, the Dow broke the 14,000 barrier for the first time since October 2007.  But if you actually look at the “non-seasonally adjusted” numbers, the number of Americans with a job actually decreased by 1,446,000 between December and January.  But nowhere in the mainstream media did you hear that the U.S. economy lost more than 1.4 million jobs between December and January.  It is amazing the things that you can find out when you actually take the time to look at the hard numbers instead of just listening to the media spin.  Back in 2007, more than 146 million Americans were employed.  Today, only 141.6 million Americans are employed even though our population has grown steadily since then.  When the government and the media tell you that we are in a “recovery” and that unemployment is lower than it was a couple of years ago, I encourage you to dig deeper.  The truth is that even the government’s own numbers tell us that the percentage of the U.S. labor force that is employed continues to fall and that the U.S. economy is heading into a recession.  The Obama administration and the media have been lying to you about unemployment and about the true condition of our economy.  After you see the numbers that I have compiled in this article, I think that you will agree with me.

First of all, let’s take a look at the percentage of the civilian labor force that has been employed over the past several years.  These numbers come directly from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  As you can see, this is a number that has been steadily falling since 2006…

2006: 63.1

2007: 63.0

2008: 62.2

2009: 59.3

2010: 58.5

2011: 58.4

In January, only 57.9 percent of the civilian labor force was employed.

Do the numbers above represent a positive trend or a negative trend?

Even a 2nd grader could answer that question.

So how in the world can the Obama administration and the mainstream media claim that the employment picture is getting better and that we are in a “recovery”?

But most Americans believe what they are told.  It is almost as if we are in some kind of a “matrix” where reality is defined by the corporate-controlled propaganda that is relentlessly pumped into our brains.

The only way that the government has been able to show a declining unemployment rate is by dumping massive numbers of Americans into the “not in the labor force” category.

Just check out how the number of Americans “not in the labor force” has absolutely skyrocketed in recent years…

2006: 77,387,000

2007: 78,743,000

2008: 79,501,000

2009: 81,659,000

2010: 83,941,000

2011: 86,001,000

In January, there were supposedly 89,868,000 Americans that were at least 16 years of age that were not in the labor force.

That number has risen by more than 8 million since Barack Obama first entered the White House, and that is highly unusual, because the number of Americans “not in the labor force” only increased by 2,518,000 during the entire decade of the 1980s.

You sure can get the numbers to look more “favorable” if you pretend that millions upon millions of American workers simply “don’t want a job” any longer.  The truth is that if the labor force participation rate was at the same level it was at when Barack Obama was first elected, the official unemployment rate would be well above 10 percent.

But that wouldn’t do at all, would it?  7.9 percent sounds so much nicer.

And of course even if you do have a job that does not mean that you are doing okay.

If you can believe it, in America today 41 percent of all workers make $20,000 a year or less.

To me, that is a mind blowing statistic.  It would be incredibly challenging for anyone to live on $20,000 a year, much less try to support a family.

If you live in Washington D.C. or New York City and you have a “good job” working for the establishment, you may not realize it, but there are tens of millions of American families that are really hurting out there.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 146 million Americans are either “poor” or “low income” at this point, and most of those people actually do have jobs.

For much more on the “working poor” in the United States, please see my previous article entitled “35 Statistics About The Working Poor In America That Will Blow Your Mind“.

If something is not done, the middle class will continue to disappear and poverty in America will continue to explode.

In a previous article, I noted that during Obama’s first term, the number of Americans on food stamps increased by an average of about 11,000 per day.

How bad do things have to get before people realize that we are living through a nightmare?

Sadly, most Americans still have faith in the system.

Most Americans are still convinced that our politicians will somehow find a way to turn things around.

Most Americans will gather around their television sets this weekend and watch the Super Bowl and laugh at all the funny commercials without even thinking about how America is literally falling apart all around them.

But there is one group of Americans that is acutely aware of how bad things have really gotten.  Small businesses have traditionally been the primary engine of job growth in this country, but right now small business owners all over the nation are facing a tremendous crisis.

Millions of small businesses are on the verge of extinction, and yet our politicians just continue to pile on more taxes, more rules and more regulations.

A recent Gallup poll found that 61 percent of all small business owners in America are “worried about the potential cost of healthcare”, and that an astounding 30 percent of all small business owners in America are not hiring and fear that they will go out of business within the next 12 months.

In a previous article entitled “We Are Witnessing The Death Of Small Business In America“, I detailed how small businesses in America are being systematically wiped out.  Small businesses are dying all around us, and the number of new small businesses continues to decline.

According to economist Tim Kane, the following is how the decline in the number of startup jobs per one thousand Americans breaks down by presidential administration

Bush Sr.: 11.3

Clinton: 11.2

Bush Jr.: 10.8

Obama: 7.8

Is that a good trend or a bad trend?

All of this is so simple that even the family pet should be able to figure it out, and yet most Americans seem oblivious to all of this.  They just keep gobbling up the mainstream media propaganda and they just continue to go out and wildly spend money.

It is almost as if we didn’t learn any lessons from 2008.

Even while household spending in Europe has moderated, household spending in the United States continues to soar.  Just check out the chart in this article.

And guess what?  The infamous “no money down mortgages” are back.  If we wait long enough, perhaps “interest only mortgages” will make a comeback as well.

Unfortunately, I am afraid that time is running out.  we have been living in the biggest debt bubble in the history of the world, and it is only a matter of time until it bursts.

2008 was just a “hiccup” compared to what is coming.  Our politicians and the Federal Reserve were able to keep the house of cards from completely crashing down back then, but they are not going to be able to avert the economic horror show that is rapidly approaching.

I hope that you are getting prepared.  Back in 2008, millions of Americans suddenly lost their jobs, and because many of them did not have any savings, many of them suddenly lost their homes.  One of the most important things that you can do to prepare for the coming crisis is to build up an emergency fund.  If things suddenly go bad, you don’t want to lose your house and everything that you have always worked for.

In addition, anything that you can do to become more self-sufficient and more independent of the system is a good thing, because the system is failing.  The years ahead are going to be much more chaotic than what we are experiencing right now, and when the next crisis strikes you will be very thankful for the time and the energy that you put into preparing.

So what are all of you seeing in your own areas?

Are businesses shutting down?

Are people having a hard time finding good jobs?

Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below…

Kitty Scared By Unemployment - Photo by shira gal

15 Signs That You Better Get Prepared For The Obama Recession Of 2013

15 Signs That You Better Get Prepared For The Obama Recession Of 2013 - Photo by DjembayzYou better get ready, because there are a whole host of signs that economic trouble is on the horizon.  U.S. economic growth slipped into negative territory during the fourth quarter of 2012.  That was the first time that has happened in more than three years.  Several important measures of manufacturing activity have also contracted in recent weeks, and consumer confidence is way down.  There is a tremendous amount of economic pessimism in the air right now, and Americans are pulling enormous amounts of money out of our banks and they are buying up precious metals at unprecedented rates.  Meanwhile, our “leaders” seem very confused about what is happening.  For example, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid continues to insist that we are “in a recovery“, and some other Democrats are calling the latest GDP numbers “the best-looking contraction in U.S. GDP you’ll ever see“.  On the other hand, the Federal Reserve says that economic growth has “paused” in recent months, and therefore a continuation of their latest quantitative easing scheme is necessary.  Well, no matter how hard any of them try to spin the numbers, there is no way that they are going to get them to look good.  Despite four years of outrageous “stimulus” spending by the federal government, despite four years of record low interest rates, and despite four years of unprecedented money printing by the Federal Reserve, the U.S. economy continues to perform miserably.  Later this year the federal government will probably finally acknowledge that we have entered another recession, even though the truth is that if the federal government used honest numbers they would indicate that we are already in one.  In any event, nobody should have ever expected that our debt-fueled prosperity would last forever.  When the debt bubble that we have been living in completely bursts, a “recession” will be the least of our worries.

Hopefully this little stretch of false economic hope that we have been living in will last for a little while longer.  I don’t think that too many people are very eager to repeat the horrible economic pain that we experienced back in 2008 and 2009.  Unfortunately, we never fully recovered from that last downturn and now the incredibly foolish decisions that our “leaders” continue to make have made another major economic downturn inevitable.

Personally, I would very much prefer for 2013 to be a year of peace and prosperity for America.  But at this point there appears to be a great deal of downward momentum for the economy.

The following are 15 signs that you better get prepared for the Obama recession of 2013…

#1 The mainstream media was absolutely shocked when it was announced that U.S. GDP actually contracted at an annual rate of 0.1 percent during the fourth quarter of 2012.  This was the first contraction that the official numbers have shown in more than three years.  But of course the truth is that the official numbers always make things appear better than they really are.  According to John Williams of shadowstats.com, U.S. GDP growth has actually been continuously negative all the way back to 2005 once you account “for distortions in government inflation usage and methodological changes that have resulted in a built-in upside bias to official reporting.”

#2 For the entire year of 2012, official U.S. GDP growth was only about 1.5%.  According to Art Cashin, every time economic growth has fallen that low (below 2 percent annually) the U.S. economy has always ended up going into a recession.

#3 According to the Conference Board, consumer confidence in the United States has hit its lowest level in more than a year.

#4 For the week ending January 26th, initial claims for unemployment rose to 368,000.  In future weeks, watch to see if it goes above 400,000.  If we hit that level, that will be a sign of real trouble for the economy.

#5 During the first full week of January, an astounding $114 billion was pulled out of U.S. banks.  That is the largest amount that we have seen moved out of U.S. banks in one week since 2001.

#6 The U.S. Mint was on pace to sell more silver eagles during the first month of 2013 than it did during the entire year of 2007.  Why is so much silver being sold all of a sudden?

#7 The payroll tax hike that went into effect in January has reduced the paychecks of average American workers by about $100 a month.

#8 Several important measures of manufacturing activity along the east coast missed expectations by a huge margin in January.  The following summary is from a recent Zero Hedge article

So much for the latest “recovery.” While everyone continued to forget that in the New Normal markets do not reflect the underlying economy in the least, and that the all time highs in the Russell 2000 should indicate that the US economy has never been better, things in reality took a deep dive for the worse, at least according to the Empire State Fed, the Philly Fed, and now the Richmond Fed, all of which missed expectations by a huge margin, and are now deep in contraction territory. Moments ago, the Richmond Fed reported that the Manufacturing Index imploded from a 9 in November, 5 in December and missed expectations of a 5 print at -12: this was the biggest miss to expectations since September 2009.

#9 An astounding 33 percent of all “subprime student loans” are at least 90 days past due.  Back in 2007, that number was only at 24 percent.  Could this be evidence that the student loan debt bubble is beginning to burst?

#10 Time Inc. has just announced that it will be eliminating hundreds of jobs.

#11 Blockbuster recently announced that they are closing hundreds of stores and eliminating about 3,000 jobs.

#12 Toy maker Hasbro has announced that the size of their workforce will be reduced by about 10 percent.

#13 According to a new Pew Research study that was just released, one out of every seven adults in the United States is financially supporting their kids and their parents at the same time.  Pew Research is calling it “the Sandwich Generation”.

#14 According to one recent Gallup poll, 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 behind us.

#15 According to a different Gallup poll, Americans are now more pessimistic about where the U.S. economy will be five years from now than Gallup has ever recorded before.

So what is Barack Obama doing about all of this?

Not much.

Actually, he is shutting down his much ballyhooed “Council on Jobs and Competitiveness”.  It last convened more than a year ago on Jan. 17th, 2012, and apparently Obama does not feel that it is needed any longer.

Of course we all know that it was just a political stunt to begin with.

Sadly, the truth is that both parties have been leading us down a road toward economic oblivion.  The past four years under Obama have been absolutely nightmarish, and even though the Republicans have been in control of the House for the last couple of years they have done very little to even slow him down.

For much more on the decline of the economy over the past four years, please see this article: “37 Statistics Which Show How Four Years Of Obama Have Wrecked The U.S. Economy“.

Yes, I tend to criticize Obama’s economic policies a lot, and rightfully so, but neither political party is willing to tell the American people the truth.

40 years ago, the total amount of debt in the U.S. economic system was less than 2 trillion dollars.

Today, the total amount of debt in the U.S. economic system has grown to more than 55 trillion dollars.

It hasn’t mattered which party has occupied the White House or which party has been in control of Congress.  The debt bubble that we have been living in has just continued to grow.

And all bubbles eventually pop.

The mainstream media is endlessly obsessed with the little fights that the Republicans and the Democrats are having, but they never talk about the bigger picture.

The prosperity that we are enjoying today is the result of the biggest debt binge in the history of the world.

We have stolen a giant mountain of money from our children and our grandchildren and we have destroyed their futures.

People can debate about whether the next “recession” has already started or not, but the truth is that what we are experiencing now is nothing compared to what is coming.

In the end, we will pay a great price for our decades of foolishness.

The U.S. economy is going to completely collapse, and the last few years have only been the very beginning of that process.

United States Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts administers the oath of office to President Barack Obama in the Blue Room of the White House on Inauguration Day

The Bad Jobs Report Is Just A Very Small Taste Of The Economic Nightmare That Is Coming

Another month, another bad jobs report.  For the month of May, the U.S. economy only added 69,000 jobs and the unemployment rate rose to 8.2%.  Many are calling this a total “disaster” and are worried that the U.S. economy could be headed back into another recession.  Economists had been expecting 150,000 payroll jobs would be added, so the 69,000 number really shocked a lot of people.  The truth is that the economy needs to add approximately 125,000 new jobs every single month just to keep the unemployment rate steady.  So yes, this bad jobs report is not welcome news at all – especially for the Obama administration.  When Barack Obama first took office the unemployment rate was sitting at 7.6 percent and now it is sitting at 8.2 percent.  Some “recovery”, eh?  But the reality is that this jobs report was really not that “devastating” even though the stock market had its worst day of the year.  Unemployment in America is still about at the same level as it was back at the beginning of 2012.  The tough stretch that we are going through right now is only a very small taste of the economic nightmare that is on the horizon.  If you think that things are a “disaster” right now, just wait until you see what is coming.

At the moment, 53 percent of all Americans with a bachelor’s degree under the age of 25 are either unemployed or underemployed, and there are more than 100 million working age Americans that do not currently have jobs.

But this is only just the beginning.

During the next major economic downturn, the unemployment rate in the United States is going to soar well up into the double digits.

Many Americans will look back on 2010, 2011 and 2012 as “the good old days”.

Right now, there are only small pockets of the country that are total economic hellholes.

For example, Yuma, Arizona has an unemployment rate of 26 percent, and El Centro, California has an unemployment rate of 26.2 percent.

In the future, those kinds of numbers are going to become the norm all over the nation.

Sadly, most Americans have no idea what is coming.

Today, I wanted to share with you all a couple of chilling economic forecasts that I have been made aware of recently.

The first is from Raoul Pal.  According to Zero Hedge, Raoul Pal “previously co-managed the GLG Global Macro Fund in London for GLG Partners, one of the largest hedge fund groups in the world. Raoul came to GLG from Goldman Sachs where he co-managed the hedge fund sales business in Equities and Equity Derivatives in Europe… Raoul Pal retired from managing client money in 2004 at the age of 36 and now lives on the Valencian coast of Spain, from where he writes.”

The following is from a Zero Hedge summary of a recent presentation by Raoul Pal….

  • We don’t know exactly what is to come, but we can all join the very few dots from where we are now, to the collapse of the first major bank…
  • With very limited room for government bailouts, we can very easily join the next dots from the first bank closure to the collapse of the whole European banking system, and then to the bankruptcy of the governments themselves.
  • There are almost no brakes in the system to stop this, and almost no one realises the seriousness of the situation.
  • The problem is not Government debt per se. The real problem is that the $70 trillion in G10 debt is the collateral for $700 trillion in derivatives…
  • Yes, that equates to 1200% of Global GDP and it rests on very, very weak foundations
  • From an EU crisis, we only have to join one dot for a UK crisis of equal magnitude.
  • And then do you think Japan and China would not be next?
  • And then do you think the US would survive unscathed?
  • That is the end of the fractional reserve banking system and of fiat money.
  • It is the big RESET.

It continues:

  • Bonds will be stuck at 1% in the US, Germany, UK and Japan (for this phase).
  • The whole bond market will be dead.
  • Short selling on bonds – banned
  • Short selling stocks – banned
  • CDS – banned
  • Short futures – banned
  • Put options – banned
  • All that is left is the Dollar and Gold

It only gets better. We use the term loosely:

  • We have around 6 months left of trading in Western markets to protect ourselves or make enough money to offset future losses.
  • Spend your time looking at the risks of custody, safekeeping, counterparty etc. Assume that no one and nothing is safe.
  • After that…we put on our tin helmets and hide until the new system emerges

So how soon does Raoul Pal think all of this is going to happen?….

From a timing perspective, I think 2012 and 2013 will usher in the end.

You can find his entire presentation entitled “The End Game” right here.

What Raoul Pal is saying lines up very well with what Steve Quayle’s anonymous international banking source is telling him….

There is no stopping this…We are still on track as I have been predicting for a while now for a fall/winter collapse of the Eurozone and naked exposure of all derivative markets the world over. Europeans will go through a major reset, after time they will recover as Europeans do not carry the type of personal debt that Americans do. It is for America that I worry. Look for these signs next:

1- JPM will be bailed out again but it will not stop the coming market crash. More details will emerge about their derivative swap failure $150 billion and counting.

2-BOA (BAC Bank of America) will fold and be absorbed into JPM as a way to prop up the bleeding Giant. JPM will get the best picking of this deal just like they got with Bear Stearns.

3- Massive layoffs at Citigroup and Wells Fargo

4- Goldman Sachs finally pays the piper, look for massive cuts there as well as BIG Losses

5- Bond market bust which leads to freeze of all bond sales

6- Derivative bust the next one will be BOA followed by Citigroup

7- All CDS shorts and swaps will freeze.

8- Total Meltdown

You can read the rest of what that source is saying right here.

As I have been saying all along, there are two keys that you need to be watching right now….

#1 Europe

#2 Derivatives

Sadly, the articles that I write about Europe tend to get far less of a response than my other articles get.  Most Americans simply do not understand that what is happening in Europe right now is going to significantly affect their daily lives.

And most Americans have very little understanding of derivatives.  But as you just read, there are some in the financial community that are warning that we could see the derivatives bubble burst very soon.

Time is running out.  This period of relative stability that we are currently experiencing will not last forever.

You better get ready.

Economic Recovery?

If this is supposed to be an “economic recovery” it sure is pathetic.  In fact, as you will read below, the numbers tell us that this is the worst economic recovery that the American economy has ever seen.  If what we had experienced was a “normal” recession and a “normal” recovery, then jobs, economic growth and home values would have come roaring back by now.  But they haven’t.  The Federal Reserve injected unprecedented amounts of new money into the system and the federal government went into unprecedented amounts of new debt, but all of that effort has not accomplished much.  It did buy us a little bit of time and a period of relative economic stability, but now there are all kinds of signs that we are about to go into another recession (or something even worse).  So is it really honest for Ben Bernanke and Barack Obama to be using the term “economic recovery” to describe what is happening?

The truth is that what is really taking place is that the long-term economic decline of the United States is beginning to accelerate.

But most Americans simply don’t understand what is going on.

The mainstream media teaches us to blame our politicians for the economy.  One recent survey found that 44 percent of the American people believe that the U.S. economy is “worse than when Obama was inaugurated”.

Yes, Barack Obama is a horrible president.  But the economic downfall of this nation is not all his fault.  George W. Bush was a horrible president too.  So was Bill Clinton.  Congress has been corrupt and incompetent for decades.

Of course the institution that is most responsible for our economic problems is the Federal Reserve.  Thankfully, more Americans than ever are starting to realize this.

But if you listen to Ben Bernanke and Barack Obama, you would think that a great “economic recovery” has begun.  They would have us believe that they know exactly what our problems are and that they know exactly how to get us out of this mess.

Unfortunately, what we have experienced is not much of an “economic recovery” at all.  According to the Wall Street Journal, this is the worst “recovery” from a recession that the U.S. economy has ever seen….

On economic growth, real GDP has risen 0.8% over the 13 quarters since the recession began, compared to an average increase of 9.9% in past recoveries. From the beginning of the recession to April 2011, real personal income has grown just .9% compared to 9.4% for the same period in previous post 1960 recessions.

So what is really going on?

Sadly, what we are experiencing right now is a brief period of stability in the middle of a downward spiral toward economic oblivion.

The CEO of Pimco, Mohamed El-Erian, says that it should now be obvious to everyone that all of the efforts of the U.S. government and the Federal Reserve to stimulate the economy simply have not been enough to solve the structural economic challenges that we are facing….

“It’s clear that the stimulus-induced recovery hasn’t overcome the structural challenges to large-scale job creation.”

The U.S. economy is not producing enough jobs.  Today, there are 25 million Americans that are either unemployed or underemployed.

But the inability to create jobs is not a new phenomenon for the U.S. economy.  The truth is that between 2000 and 2007, the U.S. economy had its poorest stretch of job creation since the Great Depression.

However, since 2007 the employment situation in this country has gotten a lot worse.  Take a minute and watch the stunning video posted below.  It shows how rampant unemployment swept across this country between 2007 and 2011….

Our politicians promised us that globalization would be great for the U.S. economy.

Well, it was great for the big corporations to be able to pay slave labor wages to workers on the other side of the globe, but things have not worked out so well for workers in this country.

Millions of our jobs have been lost.  Millions more jobs are being lost.  Yet our politicians do nothing to stop the bleeding.

Things have gotten so bad that even the top of the food chain is shipping jobs overseas.

Just consider this recent headline which appeared in Business Insider: “Goldman Sachs Is Firing Employees In The US So It Can Hire 1,000 In Singapore

If even jobs at Goldman Sachs are being sent out of the country, are any of our jobs safe?

Many Americans would love to start a business instead of having to work for someone else, but the economic environment has become incredibly toxic for small businesses in the United States.

The rate of new business creation in the United States has been declining steadily since the 1980s.  Our politicians are literally choking the entrepreneurial spirit to death in this country.

Today, more Americans than ever are dependent on the government.  In fact, it has gotten to the point where the U.S. economy itself is highly dependent on the government.

So what is going to happen when the government is not handing out so many goodies?

The era of rampant spending in Washington D.C. seems to be coming to an end, at least for now.  The U.S. national debt has become so outrageous that many members of Congress are finally determined to start making some cuts.

While it is true that cutting government spending is long overdue, most Americans don’t realize that cutting government spending will also mean that “the economic sugar high” that we have been experiencing will start to wear off.

If we try to live within our means, that is going to cause a lot of economic pain, and the American people are not too good about making sacrifices these days.

Look, whoever is elected in 2012 is going to be in for a rough ride.  Some very difficult economic times are ahead, and whoever is elected in 2012 is going to get blamed.  By 2016, the president is probably going to be the most hated person in America.

But the truth is that these economic problems have been building for decades.

We didn’t get here by accident, and our economic problems are not going to be solved overnight.

In fact, many financial analysts are warning that they are about to get a lot worse.

For example, David Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff says that there is a 99 percent chance that the U.S. will fall into another recession by the end of 2012.

As the economy continues to crumble, U.S. cities will become increasingly hostile places in which to live.

According to a recent Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey, 41 percent of Americans say that crime has increased where they live over the past year and only 6 percent of Americans say that crime has decreased where they live over the past year.

But just wait until the economy really collapses – that is when all hell will break loose.

In a recent article entitled “Is The Economy Improving?“, I quoted statistic after statistic that showed that the U.S. economy is actually continuing to decline.

The American people are starting to lose patience.  In fact, people all over the country are starting to get more than a little crazy.  For example, there is a now a national “epidemic” of people robbing pharmacies in order to get a hold of painkillers.

Pharmacists all over the country are being robbed at gunpoint.  Some prescription painkillers will reportedly sell for as much as 80 dollars a pill on the street.  As a recent article in the Washington Post noted, things are getting really dangerous out there for pharmacists….

“It’s an epidemic,” said Michael Fox, a pharmacist on New York’s Staten Island who has been stuck up twice in the last year. “These people are depraved. They’ll kill you.”

Armed robberies at pharmacies rose 81 percent between 2006 and 2010, from 380 to 686, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says. The number of pills stolen went from 706,000 to 1.3 million. Thieves are overwhelmingly taking oxycodone painkillers like OxyContin or Roxicodone, or hydrocodone-based painkillers like Vicodin and Norco. Both narcotics are highly addictive.

But this is what our country is turning into.

We are a nation of addicts.

Our national addiction to debt and our national addiction to greed have brought us to the brink of economic disaster.

If you are waiting for an “economic recovery”, you should stop waiting.

This is about as good as things are going to get.

From here on out, things are just going to keep going downhill.

Most Americans are going to be absolutely blindsided by the economic collapse that is coming.

But that doesn’t have to be you.

You still have some time to get prepared.

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