U.S. Economy 2016: 3 Classic Recession Signals Are Flashing Red

Red Light - Public DomainThose that were hoping for an “economic renaissance” in the United States got some more bad news this week.  It turns out that the U.S. economy is in significantly worse shape than the experts were projecting.  Retail sales unexpectedly declined in March, total business sales have fallen again, and the inventory to sales ratio has hit the highest level since the last financial crisis.  When you add these three classic recession signals to the 19 troubling numbers about the U.S. economy that I wrote about last week, it paints a very disturbing picture.  Virtually all of the signs that we would expect to pop up during the early chapters of a major economic crisis have now appeared, and yet most Americans still appear to be clueless about what is happening.

Even I was surprised when the government reported that retail sales had actually fallen in March.  Consumer spending is a very large part of our economy, and so if consumer spending is slowing down already that certainly does not bode well for the rest of 2016.  The following comes from highly respected author Jim Quinn

The Ivy League educated “expert” economists expected March retail sales to increase by 0.1%. They only missed by $6 billion, as retail sales FELL by 0.3%. They have fallen for three straight months. At least gasoline sales were strong, as prices have risen 22% since mid-February. That should do wonders for the finances of American households. If you exclude gasoline sales, retail sales fell by 0.4%. As the chart below reveals, the year over year change in retail sales has been at or near recessionary levels for most of 2015, and into 2016.

You can view the chart that he was referring to right here.  In addition to a decline in retail sales, total business sales have also been falling, and this is another classic recession signal.  The following comes from Wolf Richter

Total business sales fell again in February, the Commerce Department reported today. They include sales by manufacturers, retailers, and wholesalers of all sizes across the US economy. This measure is far broader than the aggregate sales by publicly traded companies, which too have been falling.

At $1.284 trillion in February, total business sales were down an estimated 0.4% from January, adjusted for seasonal and trading-day differences but not for price changes. And they were down 1.4% from the already beaten-down levels of February last year. They’re back where they’d first been in November 2012!

Yes, the stock market has been on quite a run for the past several weeks, but that temporary rebound is not based on the economic fundamentals.

The truth is that the real economy is definitely starting to slow down substantially.  If you want to break it down very simply, less stuff is being bought and sold and shipped around the country, and that tells us far more about what is coming in the months ahead than the temporary ups and downs of stock prices.

Another huge red flag is the fact that the inventory to sales ratio in the U.S. has hit the highest level that we have seen since the last financial crisis

The crucial inventory-to-sales ratio, which tracks how long unsold inventory sits around in relationship to sales, is now at a mind-bending 1.41. That’s the level the ratio spiked to in November 2008, after the Lehman bankruptcy in September had put the freeze on the economy.

Inventories represent prior sales by suppliers. When companies try to reduce their inventories, they cut their orders. Suppliers see these orders as sales. As their sales slump, suppliers adjust by cutting their own orders, thus causing the sales slump to propagate up the supply chain. They all react by cutting their expenses. And if it lasts, they’ll cut jobs. Inventory corrections have a nasty impact on the overall economy.

Because sales have slowed down, inventories are starting to pile up to alarmingly high levels.  And when companies see that business is slowing down, they start to let people go.

In a previous article, I told my readers that Challenger, Gray & Christmas is reporting that job cut announcements at major firms in the United States are up 32 percent during the first quarter of 2016 compared to the first quarter of 2015.

Somehow, most of the talking heads on television don’t seem too alarmed by this.

But ordinary Americans are beginning to become alarmed about what is happening.  In fact, the percentage of Americans that believe that the U.S. economy is “getting worse” is now the highest it has been since last August

One of the more glaring examples of how strong pessimism has become is Gallup’s U.S. Economic Confidence Index. The measure gauges the difference between respondents who say the economy is improving or declining. The most recent results are not good.

Fully 59 percent say the economy is “getting worse” against just 37 percent who say it is “getting better.” That gap of 22 percentage points is the worst since August, according to Gallup, which polled 3,542 adults.

Personally, I thought that we would be a little further down the road by now, but without a doubt a new economic downturn has begun in America.

So far, it is less severe than what most of the rest of the planet is experiencing.  Japan’s GDP is officially shrinking, major banks are failing all over Europe, and even CNN admits that what is going on down in Brazil is an “economic collapse”.

It’s funny – yesterday I took time out to write an article about the horrible suffering that ISIS sex slaves are enduring, and a few of my critics took that as a sign that there must not be enough bad economic news to write about.

Well, the truth is that this isn’t the case at all.  The global economic meltdown is steaming along, even if it is moving just a little bit slower than many of us had originally anticipated.  We are moving in the exact direction that myself and many others had warned about, and the rest of 2016 is looking quite ominous for the global economy.

So hopefully everyone (including the critics) is using whatever time we have left wisely.  Because I definitely wish the very best for everyone during the exceedingly hard times that are coming.

*About the author: Michael Snyder is the founder and publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog. Michael’s controversial new book about Bible prophecy entitled “The Rapture Verdict” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.*

22 Reasons To Be Concerned About The U.S. Economy As We Head Into The Holiday Season

2013 Holiday SeasonAre we on the verge of another major economic downturn?  In recent weeks, most of the focus has been on our politicians in Washington, but there are lots of other reasons to be deeply alarmed about the economy as well.  Economic confidence is down, retail sales figures are disappointing, job cuts are up, and American consumers are deeply struggling.  Even if our politicians do everything right, there would still be a significant chance that we could be heading into tough economic times in the coming months.  Our economy has been in decline for a very long time, and that decline appears to be accelerating.  There aren’t enough jobs, the quality of our jobs continues to decline, our economic infrastructure is being systematically gutted, and poverty has been absolutely exploding.  Things have gotten so bad that former President Jimmy Carter says that the middle class of today resembles those that were living in poverty when he was in the White House.  But this process has been happening so gradually that most Americans don’t even realize what has happened.  Our economy is being fundamentally transformed, and the pace of our decline is picking up speed.  The following are 22 reasons to be concerned about the U.S. economy as we head into the holiday season…

#1 According to Gallup, we have just seen the largest drop in U.S. economic confidence since 2008.

#2 Retailers all over America are reporting disappointing sales figures, and many analysts are very concerned about what the holiday season will bring.  The following is an excerpt from a recent Zero Hedge article

Chico’s FAS [CHS] Earnings Call 8/28/13:

Traffic was our issue in quarter two. In a highly promotional and challenging environment, comparable sales result was a negative 2.6 percent on top of a positive 5.6 percent last year and a positive 12.8 percent in 2011.”

William-Sonoma [WSM] Earnings Call 8/28/13:

The retail environment, it seems to indicate there’s still a lot of uncertainty out there, that the promotional environment has not gone away and that the retail environment in general continues to be choppy, especially with the recent earnings releases and this global unrest, and we just don’t want to get ahead of ourselves.”

Zale Corp [ZLC] Earnings Call 8/28/13:

“Overall, we continue to take a conservative view of market conditions in both the U.S. and in Canada. That being said, we do expect to continue to achieve positive top line growth. We expect store closures will impact our overall revenue growth for the year by about 250 basis points. It represents net closures of approximately 50 to 55 retail locations.”

DSW Inc. [DSW] Earnings Call 8/27/13:

We did have a traffic decline in Q2, sort of similar to what just about every other retailer in America has reported.”

Guess? [GES] Earnings Call 8/28/13:

“The Korean business continued to be strong as revenue grew in the high single digits in local currency during the quarter. This was offset with the weakness from China, where we are seeing clear evidence of a pullback in consumer spending behavior because of the slowdown in the economy.”

Aeropostale [ARO] Earnings Call 8/22/13:

“Our business trends in the second quarter did not change materially from earlier in the year, which was disappointing given the level of change we registered with the brand. This performance in the third quarter outlook is being influenced by a challenging retail environment, with weak traffic trends and high levels of promotional activity.

#3 Domestic vehicle sales just experienced their largest “miss” relative to expectations since January 2009.

#4 One of the largest furniture manufacturers in America was recently forced into bankruptcy.

#5 According to the Wall Street Journal, the 2013 holiday shopping season is already being projected to be the worst that we have seen since 2009.

#6 The Baltic Dry Index recently experienced the largest 4 day drop that we have seen in 11 months.

#7 Merck, one of the largest drug makers in the nation, has announced the elimination of 8,500 jobs.

#8 Overall, corporations announced the elimination of 387,384 jobs through the first nine months of this year.

#9 The number of announced job cuts in September 2013 was 19 percent higher than the number of announced job cuts in September 2012.

#10 The labor force participation rate is the lowest that it has been in 35 years.

#11 As I mentioned the other day, the labor force participation rate for men in the 18 to 24 year old age bracket is at an all-time low.

#12 Approximately one out of every four part-time workers in America is living below the poverty line.

#13 Incredibly, only 47 percent of all adults in America have a full-time job at this point.

#14 U.S. consumer delinquencies are starting to rise again.

#15 The Postal Service recently defaulted on a 5.6 billion dollar retiree health benefit payment.

#16 The national debt has increased more than twice as fast as U.S. GDP has grown over the past two years.

#17 Obamacare is causing health insurance premiums to skyrocket and this is reducing the disposable income that consumers have available.

#18 Median household income in the United States has fallen for five years in a row.

#19 The gap between the rich and the poor in the United States is at an all-time record high.

#20 Former President Jimmy Carter says that the middle class in America has declined so dramatically that the middle class of today resembles those that were living in poverty when he was in the White House.

#21 According to a Gallup poll that was recently released, 20.0% of all Americans did not have enough money to buy food that they or their families needed at some point over the past year.  That is just under the record of 20.4% that was set back in November 2008.

#22 Right now, one out of every five households in the United States is on food stamps.  There are going to be a lot of struggling families out there this winter, so please be generous with organizations that help the poor.  A lot of people are really going to need their help during the cold months ahead.

17 Reasons Why Those Hoping For A Recession In 2012 Just Got Their Wish

If you were hoping for a recession in 2012, then you are going to be very happy with the numbers you are about to see.  The U.S. economy is heading downhill just in time for the 2012 election.  Retail sales have fallen for three months in a row for the first time since 2008, manufacturing activity is dropping like a rock, sales of new homes are declining again, consumer confidence has moved significantly lower and a depressingly small percentage of businesses anticipate hiring more workers in the coming months.  Even though the Federal Reserve has been wildly pumping money into the financial system and even though the federal government has been injecting gigantic piles of borrowed cash into the economy, we still haven’t seen an economic recovery.  In fact, we appear to be on the verge of yet another major downturn.  In California the other night, Barack Obama told supporters that “we tried our plan — and it worked“, but only those that are still drinking the Obama kool-aid would believe something so preposterous.  The truth is that the U.S. economy has been steadily declining for many years and now we have reached another very painful recession.

And don’t let the second quarter GDP number on Friday fool you.  Analysts are expecting to see GDP growth of about 1.4 percent for the second quarter, but the only reason for our very small amount of “economic growth” is because the economy has been flooded with new dollars.

Let me give you an example.  If I could go out overnight and magically double the bank accounts of every single American, would we all be twice as wealthy?

No, because there would be twice as many dollars now chasing the same amount of goods and services.  The price of those goods and services would soon rise dramatically to reflect this new reality.

With all of those new dollars spinning around in the economy it would look like “economic growth” was going through the roof, but in reality the amount of real economic activity would be about the same.

So whenever we talk about GDP, we need to properly adjust it for inflation.  That means using accurate inflation figures and not the highly manipulated inflation figures that the U.S. government is putting out these days.

And as I noted the other day, after properly adjusting for inflation the U.S. economy has been continually experiencing negative economic growth since about 2005.

So let’s not deceive ourselves.  The U.S. economy has been declining for a long time.

But soon even the GDP number that the government gives us will turn negative.  We will probably see a slightly positive number for the second quarter, and the number will likely go negative either in the third quarter or the fourth quarter.

Economists will debate when this new recession officially “began” just like they do with every recession, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what is happening to our economy right now.

The following are 17 reasons why those hoping for a recession in 2012 just got their wish….

1. U.S. retail sales have declined for three months in a row.  This is the first time this has happened since 2008.  Every other time this has happened in U.S. history (except for once) this has signaled that the U.S. economy was either already in a recession or was about to enter one.

2. The Philadelphia Fed index of manufacturing activity contracted for the third month in a row during July.  According to the Financial Post, this is a very bad sign….

Seven out of eight times when the average reading has been that low (-11.8) for that long the U.S. economy has tipped into recession.

3. Manufacturing activity in the mid-Atlantic region has also declined for three months in a row.  In fact, the only time in the past decade when manufacturing activity in the mid-Atlantic has fallen more dramatically was during the last recession.

4. A factory index calculated by the Institute for Supply Management has fallen to its lowest level since June 2009.

5. The Conference Board index of leading economic indicators has fallen for two of the past three months.

6. According to a recent survey conducted by the Conference Board, only 17 percent of CEOs had a positive view of the economy during the second quarter of 2012.  During the first quarter of 2012, 67 percent did.

7. Gallup’s U.S. Economic Confidence Index is now the lowest that it has been since January.

8. Optimism among small business owners has declined in three of the last four months and is now at its lowest level since last October.

9. Believe it or not, the amount of waste being carted around on trains in the United States has an 82 percent correlation with U.S. economic growth.  Unfortunately, right now the number of garbage carloads on trains is falling dramatically.

10. Sales of previously occupied homes dropped by 5.4 percent during June.

11. Sales of new homes declined by 8.4 percent during June.  At this point new home sales are less than a third of what they were during the boom years.

12. An increasing number of Americans are relying on high interest “payday loans” to pay the rent and put food on the table.

13. Far more companies are defaulting on their debts this year than last year.

14. According to the U.S. Labor Department, the unemployment rate fell in 11 states and Washington, D.C. last month, but it rose in 27 states.

15. The unemployment rate in New York City is now back up to 10 percent.  That equals the peak unemployment rate in New York City during the last recession.

16. The teen unemployment rate in Washington D.C. right now is 51.7 percent.

17. A recent survey conducted by the National Association for Business Economics found that only 23 percent of all U.S. companies plan to hire more workers over the next 6 months.  When the same question was asked a few months ago that number was at 39 percent.

All of those are very powerful pieces of evidence that a new recession has started.

But do you want to know one of my favorite indicators that the U.S. economy is sliding into recession?

In a previous article, I noted that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke made the following statement to Congress recently: “At this point we don’t see a double dip recession. We see continued moderate growth.”

As I mentioned the other day, Bernanke has a track record of failure that is absolutely embarrassing.  Back on January 10, 2008 Bernanke made the following statement….

“The Federal Reserve is not currently forecasting a recession.”

That turned out to be a great call, didn’t it?

On June 10, 2008 he doubled down on his call that the U.S. economy was going to avoid a recession….

“The risk that the economy has entered a substantial downturn appears to have diminished over the past month or so.”

Just before Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac collapsed Bernanke made this statement….

“The GSEs are adequately capitalized. They are in no danger of failing.”

And there are dozens of other examples just like these.

This is the guy running our economic system.

I am very critical of the Federal Reserve, but there are very good reasons for this.

The Federal Reserve is running our economy into the ground, and we need to pound this into the heads of the American people so that they will wake up and demand change.

Perhaps this next recession will be painful enough to wake people up.

The Wall Street Journal is already even using the “D word” to describe what we are experiencing.  Just today, the Wall Street Journal ran an article that asked this question: “Do Two Recessions Equal One Depression?

Sadly, this is just the leading edge of what is coming.  By the time 2014 or 2015 rolls around, we are going to look back and long for the “good old days” of 2011 and 2012.

Over the next few years, the unemployment rate is going to skyrocket and poverty in the United States is going to get a whole lot worse.

Now is not the time to goof off.  Now is the time to work really hard to get yourself and your family into the best position that you can for the storm that is coming.

Nothing is going to stop the terrible economic crisis that is coming, but at least we can get prepared for it.

There is hope in being prepared.

Sadly, most people will never even see the next crisis coming until they get blindsided by it.

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