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2017 Is Going To Be The Worst Retail Apocalypse In U.S. History – More Than 300 Retailers Have Already Filed For Bankruptcy

Not even during the worst parts of the last recession did things ever get this bad for the U.S. retail industry.  As you will see in this article, more than 300 retailers have already filed for bankruptcy in 2017, and it is being projected that a staggering 8,640 stores will close in America by the end of this calendar year.  That would shatter the old record by more than 20 percent.  Sadly, our ongoing retail apocalypse appears to only be in the early chapters.  One report recently estimated that up to 25 percent of all shopping malls in the country could shut down by 2022 due to the current woes of the retail industry.  And if the new financial crisis that is already hitting Europe starts spreading over here, the numbers that I just shared with you could ultimately turn out to be a whole lot worse.

I knew that a lot of retailers were filing for bankruptcy, but I had no idea that the grand total for this year was already in the hundreds.  According to CNN, the number of retail bankruptcies is now up 31 percent compared to the same time period last year…

Bankruptcies continue to pile up in the retail industry.

More than 300 retailers have filed for bankruptcy so far this year, according to data from BankruptcyData.com. That’s up 31% from the same time last year. Most of those filings were for small companies — the proverbial Mom & Pop store with a single location. But there are also plenty of household names on the list.

Yes, the growth of online retailers such as Amazon is fueling some of this, but the Internet has been around for several decades now.

So why are retail store closings and retail bankruptcies surging so dramatically all of a sudden?

Just a few days ago, another major victim of the retail apocalypse made headlines all over the nation when it filed for bankruptcy.  At one time Gymboree was absolutely thriving, but now it is in a desperate fight to survive

Children’s clothing chain Gymboree has filed for bankruptcy protection, aiming to slash its debts and close hundreds of stores amid crushing pressure on retailers.

Gymboree said it plans to remain in business but will close 375 to 450 of its 1,281 stores in filing for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. Gymboree employs more than 11,000 people, including 10,500 hourly workers.

And in recent weeks other major retailers that were once very prosperous have also been forced to close stores and lay off staff

This hemorrhaging of retail jobs comes on the heels of last week’s mass layoffs at Hudson Bay Company, where employees from Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor were among the 2,000 people laid off. The news of HBC layoffs came on the same day that Ascena, the parent company of brands like Ann Taylor, Lane Bryant, and Dress Barn, told investors it will be closing up to 650 stores (although it did not specify which brands will be affected just yet). Only two weeks ago, affordable luxury brand Michael Kors announced it too would close 125 stores to combat brand overexposure and plummeting sales.

In a lot of ways this reminds me of 2007.  The stock market was still performing very well, but the real economy was starting to come apart at the seams.

And without a doubt, the real economy is really hurting right now.  According to Business Insider, Moody’s is warning that 22 more major retailers may be forced to declare bankruptcy in the very near future…

Twenty-two retailers in Moody’s portfolio are in serious financial trouble that could lead to bankruptcy, according to a Moody’s note published on Wednesday. That’s 16% of the 148 companies in the financial firm’s retail group — eclipsing the level of seriously distressed retail companies that Moody’s reported during the Great Recession.

You can find the full list right here.  If this many major retailers are “distressed” now, what are things going to look like once the financial markets start crashing?

As thousands of stores close down all across the United States, this is going to put an incredible amount of stress on shopping mall owners.  In order to meet their financial obligations, those mall owners need tenants, but now the number of potential tenants is shrinking rapidly.

I have talked about dead malls before, but apparently what we have seen so far is nothing compared to what is coming.  The following comes from CNN

Store closings and even dead malls are nothing new, but things might be about to get a whole lot worse.

Between 20% and 25% of American malls will close within five years, according to a new report out this week from Credit Suisse. That kind of plunge would be unprecedented in the nation’s history.

I can’t even imagine what this country is going to look like if a quarter of our shopping malls shut down within the next five years.  Already, there are some parts of the U.S. that look like a third world nation.

And what is this going to do to employment?  Today, the retail industry employs millions upon millions of Americans, and those jobs could start disappearing very rapidly

The retail sales associate is one of the most popular jobs in the country, with roughly 4.5 million Americans filling the occupation. In May, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics released data that found that 7.5 million retail jobs might be replaced by technology. The World Economic Forum predicts 30 to 50 percent of retail jobs will be gone once struggling companies like Gymboree fully hop on the digital train. MarketWatch found that over the last year, the department store space bled 29,900 jobs, while general merchandising stores cut 15,700 positions. At this rate, one Florida columnist put it soberingly, “Half of all US retail jobs could vanish. Just as ATMs replaced many bank tellers, automated check-out stations are supplanting retail clerks.”

At this moment, the number of working age Americans that do not have a job is hovering near a record high.  So being able to at least get a job in the retail industry has been a real lifeline for many Americans, and now that lifeline may be in grave danger.

For those running our big corporations, losing these kinds of jobs is not a big deal.  In fact, many corporate executives would be quite happy to replace all of their U.S. employees with technology or with foreign workers.

But if the middle class is going to survive, we need an economy that produces good paying jobs.  Unfortunately, even poor paying retail jobs are starting to disappear now, and the future of the middle class is looking bleaker than it ever has before.

12 Signs The Economic Slowdown The Experts Have Been Warning About Is Now Here

Since the election there has been this perception among the American public that the economy is improving, but that has not been the case at all.  U.S. GDP growth for the first quarter was just revised up to 1.2 percent, but that is even lower than the average growth of just 1.33 percent that we saw over the previous ten years.  But when you look even deeper into the numbers a much more alarming picture emerges.  Commercial and industrial loan growth is declining, auto loan defaults are rising, bankruptcies are absolutely surging and we are on pace to break the all-time record for most store closings in a single year in the United States by more than 20 percent.  All of these are points that I have covered before, but today I have 12 new facts to share with you.  The following are 12 signs that the economic slowdown that the experts have been warning about is now here…

#1 According to Challenger, the number of job cuts in May was 71 percent higher than it was in May 2016.

#2 We just witnessed the third worst drop in U.S. construction spending in the last six years.

#3 U.S. manufacturing PMI fell to an 8 month low in May.

#4 Financial stocks have lost all of their gains for the year, and some analysts are saying that this is “a terrible sign”.

#5 One new survey has found that 39 percent of all millionaires “plan to avoid investing in the coming month”.  That is the highest that figure has been since December 2013.

#6 Jobless claims just shot up to a five week high of 248,000.

#7 General Motors just reported another sales decline in May, and it is being reported that the company may be preparing for “more job cuts at its American factories”.

#8 After an initial bump after Donald Trump’s surprise election victory, U.S. consumer confidence is starting to fall.

#9 Since Memorial Day, Radio Shack has officially shut down more than 1,000 stores.

#10 Payless has just increased the number of stores that it plans to close to about 800.

#11 According to the Los Angeles Times, it is being projected that 25 percent of all shopping malls in the United States may close within the next five years.

#12 Over the past 12 months, the number of homeless people living in Los Angeles County has risen by a  staggering 23 percent.

And in case those numbers have not persuaded you that the U.S. economy is heading for rough times, I would encourage you to go check out my previous article entitled “11 Facts That Prove That The U.S. Economy In 2017 Is In Far Worse Shape Than It Was In 2016” for even more eye-popping statistics.

During a bubble, it can feel like the good times are just going to keep rolling forever.

But that never actually happens in reality.

The truth is that we are in the terminal phase of the greatest debt bubble of all time, and the evidence is starting to mount that this debt bubble has just about run its course.  The following comes from Zero Hedge

A recurring theme on this website has been to periodically highlight the tremendous build up in US corporate debt, most recently in April when we showed that “Corporate Debt To EBITDA Hits All Time High.” The relentless debt build up is something which even the IMF recently noted, when in April it released a special report on financial stability, according to which 20% of US corporations were at risk of default should rates rise. It is also the topic of the latest piece by SocGen’s strategist Andrew Lapthorne who uses even more colorful adjectives to describe what has happened since the financial crisis, noting that “the debt build-up during this cycle has been incredible, particularly when compared to the stagnant progression of EBITDA.”

Lapthorne calculates that S&P1500 ex financial net debt has risen by almost $2 trillion in five years, a 150% increase, but this mild in comparison to the tripling of the debt pile in the Russell 2000 in six years. He also notes, as shown he previously, that as a result of this debt surge, interest payments cost the smallest 50% of stocks in the US fully 30% of their EBIT compared with just 10% of profits for the largest 10% and states that “clearly the sensitivity to higher interest rates is then going to be with this smallest 50%, while the dominance and financial strength of the largest 10% disguises this problem in the aggregate index measures.”

The same report noted that net debt growth in the U.S. is quickly headed toward negative territory, and the last time that happened was during the last recession.

We see similar things when we look at the 2nd largest economy on the entire planet.  According to Jim Rickards, China “has multiple bubbles, and they’re all getting ready to burst”…

China is in the greatest financial bubble in history. Yet, calling China a bubble does not do justice to the situation. This story has been touched on periodically over the last year.

China has multiple bubbles, and they’re all getting ready to burst. If you make the right moves now, you could be well positioned even as Chinese credit and currency crash and burn.

The first and most obvious bubble is credit. The combined Chinese government and corporate debt-to-equity ratio is over 300-to-1 after hidden liabilities, such as provincial guarantees and shadow banking system liabilities, are taken into account.

We just got the worst Chinese manufacturing number in about a year, and it looks like economic conditions over there are really starting to slow down as well.

Just like 2008, the coming crisis is going to be truly global in scope.

It is funny how our perspective colors our reality.  Just like in 2007, many are mocking those that are warning that a crisis is coming, but just like in 2009, after the crisis strikes many will be complaining that nobody warned them in advance about what was ahead.

And at this moment it may seem like we have all the time in the world to get prepared for the approaching storm, but once it is here people will be talking about how it seemed to hit us so quickly.

My hope is that many Americans will finally be fed up with our fundamentally flawed financial system once they realize that we are facing another horrendous economic crisis, and that in the aftermath they will finally be ready for the dramatic solutions that are necessary in order to permanently fix things.

11 Reasons Why U.S. Economic Growth Is The Worst That It Has Been In 3 Years

Those that were predicting that the U.S. economy would be flying high by now have been proven wrong.  U.S. GDP grew at the worst rate in three years during the first quarter of 2017, and many are wondering if this is the beginning of a major economic slowdown.  Of course when we are dealing with the official numbers that the federal government puts out, it is important to acknowledge that they are highly manipulated.  There are many that have correctly pointed out to me that if the numbers were not being doctored that they would show that we are still in a recession.  In fact, John Williams of shadowstats.com has shown that if honest numbers were being used that U.S. GDP growth would have been consistently negative going all the way back to 2005.  So I definitely don’t have any argument with those that claim that we are actually in a recession right now.  But even if we take the official numbers that the federal government puts out at face value, they are definitely very ugly

Economic growth slowed in the first quarter to its slowest pace in three years as sluggish consumer spending and business stockpiling offset solid business investment. Many economists write off the weak performance as a byproduct of temporary blips and expect healthy growth in 2017.

The nation’s gross domestic product — the value of all goods and services produced in the USA — increased at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 0.7%, the Commerce Department said Friday, below the tepid 2.1% pace clocked both in the fourth quarter and as an average throughout the nearly 8-year-old recovery. Economists expected a 1% increase in output, according to a Bloomberg survey.

Even if you want to assume that it is a legitimate number, 0.7 percent economic growth is essentially stall speed, and this follows a year when the U.S. economy grew at a rate of just 1.6 percent.

So why is this happening?

Of course the “experts” in the mainstream media are blaming all sorts of temporary factors

Economists blamed the weather. It was too warm this time around, rather than too cold, which is the usual explanation for Q1 debacles.

And they blamed the IRS refund checks that had been delayed due to last year’s spectacular identity theft problem. Everyone blamed everything on these delayed refund checks, including the auto industry and the restaurant industry. But by mid-February, a veritable tsunami of checks went out, and by the end of February, the IRS was pretty much caught up. So March should have been awash in consumer spending. But no. So we’ll patiently wait for that miracle to happen in second quarter.

They always want us to think that “boom times” for the U.S. economy are right around the corner, but those “boom times” have never materialized since the end of the last financial crisis.

Instead, we have had year after year of economic malaise and stagnation, and it looks like 2017 is going to continue that trend.  The following are 11 reasons why U.S. economic growth is the worst that it has been in 3 years…

#1 The weak economic growth in the first quarter was the continuation of a long-term trend.  Barack Obama was the only president in history not to have a single year when the U.S. economy grew by at least 3 percent, and this is now the fourth time in the last six quarters when economic growth has been less than 2 percent on an annualized basis.  So essentially this latest number signals that our long-term economic decline is continuing.

#2 Consumer spending drives the U.S. economy more than anything else, and at this point most U.S. consumers are tapped out.  In fact, CBS News has reported that three-fourths of all U.S. consumers have to “scramble to cover their living costs” each month.

#3 The job market appears to be slowing.  The U.S. economy only added about 98,000 jobs in March, and that was approximately half of what most analysts were expecting.

#4 The flow of credit appears to be slowing as well.  In fact, this is the first time since the last recession when there has been no growth for commercial and industrial lending for at least six months.

#5 Last month, U.S. factory output dropped at the fastest pace that we have witnessed in more than two years.

#6 We are in the midst of the worst “retail apocalypse” in U.S. history.  The number of retailers that has filed for bankruptcy has already surpassed the total for the entire year of 2016, and at the current rate we will smash the previous all-time record for store closings in a year by nearly 2,000.

#7 The auto industry is also experiencing a great deal of stress.  This has been the worst year for U.S. automakers since the last recession, and seven out of the eight largest fell short of their sales projections in March.

#8 Used vehicle prices are falling “dramatically”, and Morgan Stanley is now projecting that used vehicle prices “could crash by up to 50%” over the next several years.

#9 Commercial bankruptcies are rising at the fastest pace since the last recession.

#10 Consumer bankruptcies are rising at the fastest pace since the last recession.

#11 The student loan bubble is starting to burst.  It is being reported that 27 percent of all student loans are already in default, and some analysts expect that number to go much higher.

And of course some areas of the country are being harder hit than others.  The following comes from CNBC

Four states have not yet fully recovered from the Great Recession. As of the third quarter of last year, the latest data available, the economies of Louisiana, Wyoming, Connecticut and Alaska were still smaller than when the recession ended in June 2009.

Other states that have recovered have seen their economic recoveries stall out. Those include Minnesota, North Dakota, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota and West Virginia.

We should be thankful that we are not experiencing a full-blown economic meltdown just yet, but it is undeniable that our long-term economic decline continues to roll along.

And without a doubt the storm clouds are building on the horizon, and many believe that the next major economic downturn will begin in the not too distant future.

11 Facts That Prove That The U.S. Economy In 2017 Is In Far Worse Shape Than It Was In 2016

There is much debate about where the U.S. economy is ultimately heading, but what everybody should be able to agree on is that economic conditions are significantly worse this year than they were last year.  It is being projected that U.S. economic growth for the first quarter will be close to zero, thousands of retail stores are closing, factory output is falling, and restaurants and automakers have both fallen on very hard times.  As economic activity has slowed down, commercial and consumer bankruptcies are both rising at rates that we have not seen since the last financial crisis.  Everywhere you look there are echoes of 2008, and yet most people still seem to be in denial about what is happening.  The following are 11 facts that prove that the U.S. economy in 2017 is in far worse shape than it was in 2016…

#1 It is being projected that there will be more than 8,000 retail store closings in the United States in 2017, and that will far surpass the former peak of 6,163 store closings that we witnessed in 2008.

#2 The number of retailers that have filed for bankruptcy so far in 2017 has already surpassed the total for the entire year of 2016.

#3 So far in 2017, an astounding 49 million square feet of retail space has closed down in the United States.  At this pace, approximately 147 million square feet will be shut down by the end of the year, and that would absolutely shatter the all-time record of 115 million square feet that was shut down in 2001.

#4 The Atlanta Fed’s GDP Now model is projecting that U.S. economic growth for the first quarter of 2017 will come in at just 0.5 percent.  If that pace continues for the rest of the year, it will be the worst year for U.S. economic growth since the last recession.

#5 Restaurants are experiencing their toughest stretch since the last recession, and in March things continued to get even worse

Foot traffic at chain restaurants in March dropped 3.4% from a year ago. Menu prices couldn’t be increased enough to make up for it, and same-store sales fell 1.1%. The least bad region was the Western US, where sales inched up 1.2% year-over-year and traffic fell only 1.7%, according to TDn2K’s Restaurant Industry Snapshot. The worst was the NY-NJ Region, where sales plunged 4.6% and foot traffic 6.3%.

This comes after a dismal February, when foot traffic had dropped 5% year-over-year, and same-store sales 3.7%.

#6 In March, U.S. factory output declined at the fastest pace in more than two years.

#7 According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, not a single person is employed in nearly one out of every five U.S. families.

#8 U.S. government revenues just suffered their biggest drop since the last recession.

#9 Nearly all of the big automakers reported disappointing sales in March, and dealer inventories have now risen to the highest level that we have seen since the last recession.

#10 Used vehicle prices are absolutely crashing, and subprime auto loan losses have shot up to the highest level that we have seen since the last recession.

#11 At this point, most U.S. consumers are completely tapped out.  According to CNN, almost six out of every ten Americans do not have enough money saved to even cover a $500 emergency expense.

Just like in 2008, debts are going bad at a very alarming pace.  In fact, things have already gotten so bad that the IMF has issued a major warning about it

In America alone, bad debt held by companies could reach $4 trillion, “or almost a quarter of corporate assets considered,” according to the IMF. That debt “could undermine financial stability” if mishandled, the IMF says.

The percentage of “weak,” “vulnerable” or “challenged” debt held as assets by US firms has almost arrived at the same level it was right before the 2008 crisis.

We are seeing so many parallels to the last financial crisis, and many are hoping that our politicians in Washington can fix things before it is too late.

On Monday, the most critical week of Trump’s young presidency begins.  The administration will continue working on tax reform and a replacement for Obamacare, but of even greater importance is the fact that if a spending agreement is not passed by Friday a government shutdown will begin at the end of the week

Trump has indicated that he wants to tackle the repeal and replacement of Obamacare and introduce his “massive” tax plan in the next week, all while a shutdown of parts of federal government looms Friday.

By attempting three massive political undertakings in one week, investors will have a sense of whether or not Trump will be able to deliver on pro-growth policies that would be beneficial for markets.

If Trump can pull off the trifecta, it could restore faith that policy proposals like tax cuts and infrastructure spending are on the way. If not, look out.

Members of Congress are returning from their extended two week spring vacation, and now they will only have four working days to get something done.

And I don’t believe that they will be able to rush something through in just four days.  The Republicans in Congress, the Democrats in Congress, and the Trump administration all want different things, and ironing out all of those differences is not going to be easy.

For example, the Trump administration is insisting on funding for a border wall, and the Democrats are saying no way.  The following comes from the Washington Post

President Trump and his top aides applied new pressure Sunday on lawmakers to include money for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border in a must-pass government funding bill, raising the possibility of a federal government shutdown this week.

In a pair of tweets, Trump attacked Democrats for opposing the wall and insisted that Mexico would pay for it “at a later date,” despite his repeated campaign promises not including that qualifier. And top administration officials appeared on Sunday morning news shows to press for wall funding, including White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, who said Trump might refuse to sign a spending bill that does not include any.

And of course the border wall is just one of a whole host of controversial issues that are standing in the way of an agreement.  Those that are suggesting that all of these issues will be resolved in less than 100 hours are being completely unrealistic.  And even though the Trump administration is putting on a brave face, the truth is that quiet preparations for a government shutdown have already begun.

The stage is being set for the kind of nightmare crisis that I portrayed in The Beginning Of The End.  The stock market bubble is showing signs of being ready to burst, and an extended government shutdown would be more than enough to push things over the edge.

Let us hope that this government shutdown is only for a limited period of time, because an extended shutdown could potentially be catastrophic.  In the end, either the Trump administration or the Democrats are going to have to give in on issues such as funding for Obamacare, the border wall, Planned Parenthood, defense spending increases, etc.

It will be a test of the wills, and it will be absolutely fascinating to see who buckles under the pressure first.

The Worst Retail Cataclysm Ever: Sears Warns It Is On The Verge Of Collapse As Payless Prepares To File For Bankruptcy

Alarm Clock Abstract - Public DomainMore than 3,500 retail stores are going to close all across America over the next few months as the worst retail downturn in U.S. history gets even deeper.  Earlier this week, Sears shocked the world when it announced that there is “substantial doubt” that the company will be able to “continue as a going concern” much longer.  In other words, Sears has announced that it is on the verge of imminent collapse.  Meanwhile, Payless stunned the retail industry when it came out that they are preparing to file for bankruptcy.  The “retail apocalypse” that I have been warning about is greatly accelerating, and many believe that this is one of the early warning signs that the economic collapse that is already going on in other parts of the globe will soon reach U.S. shores.

I have repeatedly warned my readers that “Sears is going to zero“, and now Sears is officially saying that it might actually happen.  When you file official paperwork with the government that says there is “substantial doubt” that the company will survive, that means that the end is very near

The company that operates Sears, the department store chain that dominated retail for decades, warned Tuesday that it faces “substantial doubt” about its ability to stay in business unless it can borrow more and tap cash from more of its assets.

“Our historical operating results indicate substantial doubt exists related to the company’s ability to continue as a going concern,” Sears Holdings said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Sears Holdings operates both Sears and Kmart stores.

In the wake of that statement, the price of Sears stock dipped 13.69% to $7.85 a share.

Personally, I am going to miss Sears very much.  But of course the truth is that they simply cannot continue operating as they have been.

For the quarter that ended on January 28th, Sears lost an astounding 607 million dollars

The company said it lost $607 million, or $5.67 per diluted share, during the quarter that ended on Jan. 28. That compared with a loss of $580 million, or $5.44 per diluted share, a year earlier. It has posted a loss in all but two of the last 24 quarters, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.

How in the world is it possible for a retailer to lose that amount of money in just three months?

As I have said before, if they had employees flushing dollar bills down the toilet 24 hours a day they still shouldn’t have losses that big.

This week we also learned that Payless is heading for bankruptcy.  According to Bloomberg, the chain is planning to imminently close at least 400 stores…

Payless Inc., the struggling discount shoe chain, is preparing to file for bankruptcy as soon as next week, according to people familiar with the matter.

The company is initially planning to close 400 to 500 stores as it reorganizes operations, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations aren’t public. Payless had originally looked to shutter as many as 1,000 locations, and the number may still be in flux, according to one of the people.

Of course these are just two examples of a much broader phenomenon.

Never before in U.S. history have we seen such a dramatic wave of store closures.  According to Business Insider, over 3,500 retail locations “are expected to close in the next couple of months”…

Thousands of mall-based stores are shutting down in what’s fast becoming one of the biggest waves of retail closures in decades.

More than 3,500 stores are expected to close in the next couple of months.

Once thriving shopping malls are rapidly being transformed into ghost towns.  As I wrote about just recently, “you might be tempted to think that ‘Space Available’ was the hottest new retail chain in the entire country.”

The demise of Sears is going to be an absolute nightmare for many mall owners.  Once “anchor stores” start closing, it is usually only a matter of time before smaller stores start bailing out

When an anchor store like Sears or Macy’s closes, it often triggers a downward spiral in performance for shopping malls.

Not only do the malls lose the income and shopper traffic from that store’s business, but the closure often triggers “co-tenancy clauses” that allow the other mall tenants to terminate their leases or renegotiate the terms, typically with a period of lower rents, until another retailer moves into the anchor space.

Years ago I wrote of a time when we would see boarded-up storefronts all across America, and now it is happening.

Instead of asking which retailers are going to close, perhaps we should be asking which ones are going to survive this retail cataclysm.

In the past, you could always count on middle class U.S. consumers to save the day, but today the middle class is steadily shrinking and U.S. consumers are increasingly tapped out.

For instance, just look at what is happening to delinquency rates on auto loans

US auto loan and lease credit loss rates weakened in the second half of 2016, according to a new report from Fitch Ratings, which said they will continue to deteriorate.

“Subprime credit losses are accelerating faster than the prime segment, and this trend is likely to continue as a result of looser underwriting standards by lenders in recent years,” said Michael Taiano, a director at Fitch.

The last time so many Americans got behind on subprime auto loans was during the last financial crisis.

We are seeing so many similarities to what happened just prior to the last recession, and yet most Americans still seem to think that the U.S. economy is going to be just fine in 2017.

Unfortunately, major red flags are popping up in the hard economic numbers and in the financial markets.

The last recession probably should have started back in late 2015, but thanks to manipulation by the Fed and an unprecedented debt binge by the Obama administration, official U.S. GDP growth has been able to stay barely above zero for the last year and a half.

But just because something is delayed does not mean that it is canceled.

All along, our long-term economic imbalances have continued to get even worse, and a date with destiny is rapidly approaching for the U.S. economy.

55 Reasons Why You Should Buy Products That Are Made In America

This is the time of the year when Americans run out to their favorite retail stores and fill up their shopping carts with lots of cheap plastic crap made by workers in foreign countries where it is legal to pay slave labor wages.  By doing this, the American people are actively participating in the destruction of the U.S. economy.  You see, buying products that are made in America is not just a matter of national pride.  It is a matter of national survival.  If we do not support American workers, they are going to continue to see their jobs shipped out of the country.  If we do not support American businesses, they are going to continue to die off at a staggering rate.  Last year, the United States had a trade deficit with the rest of the world of 558 billion dollars.  More than half a trillion dollars that could have gone into the pockets of U.S. workers and U.S. businesses went overseas instead.  If that money had stayed in the country, taxes would have been paid on that mountain of cash and our local, state and federal government debt problems would not be as severe.  As a result of our massive trade imbalance, we have lost tens of thousands of businesses, millions of jobs and trillions of dollars of national wealth.  Both major political parties have sold us out on these issues, and we are getting poorer as a nation with each passing day.  We desperately need a resurgence of economic patriotism in the United States before it is too late.

Yes, I know that it is very tempting to buy foreign-made products.  After all, they are almost always cheaper.

But most people don’t often think about why they are cheaper.

Unfortunately, in the name of “free trade” American workers have been merged into a global labor pool where they have to compete directly for jobs with workers on the other side of the globe that live in countries where it is legal to pay slave labor wages.  This makes employing American workers a tremendous liability.

If a company hires you and pays you 10 to 15 dollars an hour with benefits, how is it going to compete with another company that pays workers a dollar an hour with no benefits on the other side of the planet?

Both major political parties are pushing this emerging “one world economic system“, but it is absolutely killing American jobs.  We have already seen a mass exodus of jobs and businesses out of this country, and wages for the jobs that remain in the United States are being forced down because there are hordes of unemployed workers that are willing to take just about any decent job they can find.

It has become painfully obvious that our politicians are not going to do anything to help us on these issues, so what we need is a mass awakening among the American people.

We need to educate people that buying things that are made in America is good for the economy and that buying things that are made elsewhere is bad for the economy.

But for now, most Americans are clueless.  They will line up on Black Friday morning and trample one another in a desperate attempt to save a few bucks on cheap plastic devices that were made on the other side of the planet.

And they will pay for much of this “shopping” with credit cards.

Credit card debt is on the rise once again.  In fact, average credit card debt per borrower was 4.9 percent higher in the third quarter of 2012 than it was in the third quarter of 2011.  It looks like most of us didn’t learn our lessons from the last financial crisis.

But not all Americans enjoy the shopping that is typically involved with this time of the year.  One recent survey found that approximately 45 percent of all Americans think that there is so much financial pressure associated with the holidays that they wouldn’t mind skipping them completely.

That same poll found that approximately 41 percent of all Americans would only be able to survive for two weeks without a paycheck.  Many Americans are up to their eyeballs in debt, their incomes are not keeping up with rising prices, and they find themselves scratching and clawing just to make it from month to month.

Meanwhile, we continue to destroy our own jobs and businesses by spending our money on products that have been made outside the country.

The following are 55 reasons why you should buy products that are made in America this holiday season…

1. When you buy products that are made in America you support American workers.

2. When you buy products that are made in America you support companies that are doing business in America.

3. In 2000, there were more than 17 million Americans working in manufacturing, but now there are less than 12 million.

4. The United States has a trade imbalance that is more than 7 times larger than any other nation on earth has.

5. Our trade deficit with China in 2011 was $295.5 billion.  That was the largest trade deficit that one country has had with another country in the history of the planet.

6. In 2011, our trade deficit with China was 28 times larger than it was back in 1990 and more than 49,000 times larger than it was back in 1985.

7. When NAFTA was passed in 1993, the United States had a trade surplus with Mexico of 1.6 billion dollars.  In 2010, we had a trade deficit with Mexico of 61.6 billion dollars.

8. One professor has estimated that cutting the U.S. trade deficit in half would create 5 million more jobs in the United States.

9. Overall, the United States has run a trade deficit of more than 8 trillion dollars with the rest of the globe since 1975.  That 8 trillion dollars could have gone to support U.S. businesses and pay the wages of U.S. workers.  Federal, state and local taxes would also have been paid on that 8 trillion dollars if it had stayed in the United States.

10. According to the Economic Policy Institute, America is losing half a million jobs to China every single year.

11. The United States has lost an average of approximately 50,000 manufacturing jobs a month since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.

12. According to U.S. Representative Betty Sutton, the United States has lost an average of 15 manufacturing facilities a day over the last 10 years.

13. During 2010 alone, an average of 23 manufacturing facilities permanently shut down in the United States every single day.

14. Overall, the United States has lost more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities since 2001.

15. The United States has lost a staggering 32 percent of its manufacturing jobs since the year 2000.

16. Between December 2000 and December 2010, 38 percent of the manufacturing jobs in Ohio were lost, 42 percent of the manufacturing jobs in North Carolina were lost and 48 percent of the manufacturing jobs in Michigan were lost.

17. As I have written about previously, 95 percent of the jobs lost during the last recession were middle class jobs.

18. Due in part to the globalization of the labor pool, only about 24 percent of all jobs in the United States are “good jobs” at this point.

19. Right now, more than 41 percent of all working age Americans do not have a job, and the vast majority of the new jobs that are being created are low paying jobs.

20. The United States now has 10 percent fewer “middle class jobs” than it did just ten years ago.

21. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the U.S. economy loses approximately 9,000 jobs for every $1 billion of goods that are imported from overseas.

22. As our economic infrastructure is gutted, formerly great manufacturing cities all over America are being transformed into festering hellholes.

23. Between 2001 and 2007, the value of products that Wal-Mart imported from China grew from $9 billion to $27 billion.

24. In 2001, American consumers spent 102 billion dollars on products made in China.  In 2011, American consumers spent 399 billion dollars on products made in China.

25. The United States spends about 4 dollars on goods and services from China for every one dollar that China spends on goods and services from the United States.

26. Back in 1998, the United States had 25 percent of the world’s high-tech export market and China had just 10 percent. Today, China’s high-tech exports are more than twice the size of U.S. high-tech exports.

27. In 2002, the United States had a trade deficit in “advanced technology products” of $16 billion with the rest of the world.  In 2010, that number skyrocketed to $82 billion.

28. The United States has lost more than a quarter of all of its high-tech manufacturing jobs over the past ten years.

29. Manufacturing employment in the U.S. computer industry was actually lower in 2010 than it was in 1975.

30. The Chinese undervalue their currency by about 40 percent in order to gain a critical advantage over foreign competitors.  This means that many Chinese companies are able to absolutely thrive while their competition in the United States goes out of business.

31. According to the New York Times, a Jeep Grand Cherokee that costs $27,490 in the United States costs about $85,000 in China thanks to all the tariffs.

32. In 2010, China produced more than twice as many automobiles as the United States did.

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

34. Do you remember when the United States was the dominant manufacturer of automobiles and trucks on the globe?  Well, in 2010 the U.S. ran a trade deficit in automobiles, trucks and parts of $110 billion.

35. In 2010, South Korea exported 12 times as many automobiles, trucks and parts to us as we exported to them.

36. In 2010, China produced 627 million metric tons of steel.  The United States only produced 80 million metric tons of steel.

37. In 2010, China produced 7.3 million metric tons of cotton.  The United States only produced 3.4 million metric tons of cotton.

38. Today, China produces nearly twice as much beer as the United States does.

39. 85 percent of all artificial Christmas trees are made in China.

40. Right now, China is producing more than three times as much coal as the United States does.

41. China is now the number one supplier of components that are critical to the operation of U.S. defense systems.  How stupid can we possibly be?

42. According to author Clyde Prestowitz, China’s number one export to the U.S. is computer equipment.  According to an article in U.S. News & World Report, during 2010 the number one U.S. export to China was “scrap and trash”.

43. All over the United States, road and bridge projects are being outsourced to Chinese firms.  Just check out the following excerpt from a recent ABC News article….

In New York there is a $400 million renovation project on the Alexander Hamilton Bridge.

In California, there is a $7.2 billion project to rebuild the Bay Bridge connecting San Francisco and Oakland.

In Alaska, there is a proposal for a $190 million bridge project.

These projects sound like steps in the right direction, but much of the work is going to Chinese government-owned firms.

“When we subsidize jobs in China, we’re not creating any wealth in the United States,” said Scott Paul, executive director for the Alliance for American Manufacturing.

44. The new World Trade Center tower is going to include glass that has been imported from China.

45. The new Martin Luther King memorial on the National Mall was made in China.

46. The Chinese economy has grown 7 times faster than the U.S. economy has over the past decade.

47. The Chinese economy is projected to be larger than the U.S. economy by 2016.

48. One economist is projecting that the Chinese economy will be three times larger than the U.S. economy by the year 2040.

49. In recent years the U.S. economy has embraced “free trade” and the emerging one world economy like never before.  Instead of increasing the number of jobs in our economy, it has resulted in the worst stretch of job creation in the United States in modern history….

If any single number captures the state of the American economy over the last decade, it is zero. That was the net gain in jobs between 1999 and 2009—nada, nil, zip. By painful contrast, from the 1940s through the 1990s, recessions came and went, but no decade ended without at least a 20 percent increase in the number of jobs.

50. If you gathered together all of the workers that are “officially” unemployed in the United States today, they would constitute the 68th largest country in the world.

51. China now holds approximately more than a trillion dollars of U.S. government debt.  If you were alive back when Jesus was born and you had spent a million dollars every single day since then, you still would not have spent that much money by now.

52. Jeffrey Immelt, the head of Barack Obama’s highly touted “Jobs Council”, has shipped tens of thousands of good jobs out of the United States.

53. Without enough good jobs, more Americans than ever before are falling into poverty.  Today, more than 100 million Americans are enrolled in at least one welfare program run by the federal government.

54. According to Professor Alan Blinder of Princeton University, 40 million more U.S. jobs could be sent offshore over the next two decades if current trends continue.

55. If U.S. consumers do not start supporting U.S. workers and U.S. businesses, eventually we will all be so poor that very few of us will be able to afford to buy any gifts during the holiday season.

9 Ways That The World Has Gotten Even Crazier In May

In case you haven’t noticed, the world has gotten even crazier in May. Just when you think that things can’t get any more bizarre, events go to a whole new level. Sadly, millions of Americans seem almost completely oblivious to all of the world-altering things that are going on all around us. I recently got back from doing a bit of traveling, and the reality is that most people out there are so busy living their lives and trying to survive from month to month that they don’t really have much time to pay attention to what is going on in the world around them. They are too busy working their tails off to make a living, they are too busy stocking up on groceries and foreign-made goods at the big box retail stores and they are too busy cheering for Scotty on American Idol. Unfortunately, what little information about the rest of the world that most Americans actually take in comes from the mainstream media. Most of the time the mainstream media is very adept at lulling the American people to sleep, but things are starting to get so crazy out there that a growing minority of Americans are starting to sit up and take notice.

When I was away on vacation I kept a bit of an eye on the news, but I had no idea just how crazy things were getting until I returned home. These days more seems to happen in a single week than used to happen in an entire month. The globe has become an incredibly unstable place, and you never know what is going to happen next.

The following are 9 ways that the world has gotten even crazier in May….

#1 What in the world is going on with the weather?  All of a sudden “unprecedented tornadoes” are popping up almost every day now.  Did you see what happened in Joplin, Missouri the other day?  There are very few things that will put sheer terror into you like an F5 tornado will.  If you doubt that, just check out this video.

The National Weather Service says that the Joplin tornado was the 8th worst tornado to ever hit the United States.  At least 122 people were killed and at least 750 people were injured.

Sadly, the Joplin tornado is part of a larger trend.  Many are already calling this a “100 year” tornado season.  It seems like a major tornado outbreak somewhere in the U.S. is a nightly occurence now.  For example, just tonight a huge tornado near Oklahoma City killed a couple of people.

In April, there were approximately 600 tornadoes across the country.  That is the most tornadoes that have ever been recorded in a single month inside the United States.  Usually, we only have about 1,200 tornadoes for the entire year.

There is nothing “normal” about these tornado outbreaks.  Something really weird is happening.

In addition, we have just experienced the worst Mississippi River flood ever.  That flood is also being called something that only happens “once in a hundred years”.

Why are such horrible natural disasters striking the United States right now?

Can anyone explain why this is happening?

#2 The globe continues to inch ever closer to World War III.  Just consider a few of the headlines we have seen just this week….

*NATO Warplanes in New Bombing Campaign on Tripoli

*Obama’s hidden war: US intensifies drone attacks in Pakistan

*US, Pakistan Near Open War; Chinese Ultimatum Warns Washington Against Attack

*Netanyahu’s defiance on deal is ‘declaration of war’

Sadly, it appears that the appetite for war is growing.  Many had hoped that Barack Obama would be a peacemaker, but that definitely is not the case.

The United States has been at war for so long that the American people have learned to accept it as a normal part of life.  As long as it is something that happens “over there”, most Americans don’t really seem too concerned about it.

But in the end, what is unfolding in the Middle East will have dramatic consequences for the United States.  Unfortunately, most Americans have become so “dumbed down” that they simply do not understand what is happening.

#3 The news from Japan just continues to get worse and worse.  Now TEPCO is finally admitting that there were at least partial meltdowns at three of the reactors at Fukushima.  Why we are only finding this out now is anyone’s guess.

It has been more than 2 months since the tsunami and officials in Japan still do not have Fukushima under control.  Every single day the complex continues to release massive amounts of radioactive material into the environment and the effects of this disaster will be felt for decades to come.

#4 When all of the crazy new security measures went into airports, we were all assured that scanners and “enhanced pat-downs” would never show up in subway stations, bus stations, sporting events and public schools.

Well, sadly the ridiculous security measures that have been implemented at our airports are spreading.  In fact, if you can believe it, a “certified TSA official” was brought in to oversee student searches at the Santa Fe High School prom last weekend.

When TSA officials start showing up at high school proms that should be a major red flag for all of us.  America is becoming a much different place than it used to be.

Do you enjoy living in a prison grid where we are all being constantly watched, tracked and searched?  If not, you better say something now before it is too late.

#5 The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld an order from a three-judge panel in California that mandates the release of approximately 40,000 inmates from California prisons.

Yes, the prisons are so overcrowded that up to 54 prisoners are using a single toilet, but you can’t just release thousands upon thousands of criminals on to the streets of California and expect that there will not be major problems.

California Governor Jerry Brown is proposing a “realignment plan” which would shift tens of thousands of prisoners to county jails, but the California legislature so far has not authorized the hundreds of millions of dollars that it is going to take to implement the plan.

Hopefully something can be done, because releasing more than one out of every four California inmates back on to the streets sure does seem like a bad idea to me.

#6 It is looking more likely than ever that the U.S. debt ceiling may not be raised and that we could actually see the U.S. government default on some debt.  The Democrats and the Republicans are fighting like cats and dogs again and there is such a deadlock right now that this could actually happen.

U.S. Representative Barney Frank certainly does not sound optimistic….

“It may be that we’re going to have to see some failure to raise the debt limit and some temporary hiatus in our ability to pay our bills (for lawmakers to act).”

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon is using language that is even more apocalyptic.  Dimon says that a U.S. debt default would “dwarf Lehman Brothers” and that in the event of a default things will take place “that are not going to be pretty”.

#7 The U.S. real estate crash continues to get even worse. This week it was announced that U.S. commercial real estate is now down 47 percent from 2007 and has now reached a post-crash low. The following is how an article by Bloomberg described the latest data….

U.S. commercial property prices fell to a post-recession low in March as sales of financially distressed assets weighed on the market, according to Moody’s Investors Service.

The Moody’s/REAL Commercial Property Price Index dropped 4.2 percent from February and is now 47 percent below the peak of October 2007, Moody’s said in a statement today.

But it is not just commercial real estate that is a giant mess.  New home sales also continue to struggle mightily.

In April, the number of new homes sold in the United States tied the lowest level ever recorded for that month.

These latest statistics just underscore the reality that the U.S. housing crash if very far from over.  As I have written about previously, the real estate crisis is absolutely crippling the economy and instead of signs of hope arising, things seem to be getting even worse.  For example, during the first quarter of 2011, home values declined at the fastest rate since late 2008.

So when in the world are things going to finally start turning around?

#8 Most Americans don’t realize it, but Europe is closer to a financial meltdown than it ever has been before. Greece is either going to get another bailout or it is going to default.  If you do not understand the kind of chaos this would set off on world financial markets, just read this editorial.

The Greek debt crisis continues to get worse.  At this point, the yield on 10-year Greek bonds has now reached an astounding 16.76%.

But it is not just Greece that is in trouble.  All over Europe there are nations that are on the verge of financial collapse.  In Spain, nearly half of those between the ages of 18 and 25 are unemployed and the economic protests there have reached a frightening level.

Everyone hoped that a bailout or two would be enough to make the European debt crisis go away.  It has now become obvious that is not going to happen.

A financial meltdown in Europe is happening.  The only question is how it is going to play out.

#9 Over the past couple weeks, one of the most talked about people in the world has been Harold Camping.  I have avoided writing about him because there are at least a billion issues that are more important than what Harold Camping is saying.

But this is what the mainstream media loves to do.  They love to find a Christian with a crackpot theory and splash him all over the front page.

Camping has a very limited following and the vast majority of Christians think he is totally and completely wrong.

However, the mainstream media loves to talk about people like Camping because it is a tremendous opportunity for them to mock Christians and Christianity.

Look, anyone that put any stock in any of Camping’s predictions is seriously deceived.  In case you didn’t know, Camping predicted the date of the rapture before.  On September 6th, 1994, hundreds of Camping’s followers gathered at an auditorium in Alameda, California waiting for the rapture.

So now Camping has been wrong two times.

Now Camping is saying that Judgment Day is going to be on October 21st and he says that he has figured out why he was wrong about May 21st.

If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you.

If you are a Christian, then you know that there are dozens of prophecies that still need to be fulfilled before “the end of the world”.  What Camping is proposing is literally impossible according to the Bible.

Of course the mainstream media knows this, but they have no problem turning Camping into a household name while ignoring the thousands upon thousands of Christians around the world that are doing really great things.

But this is the crazy world we live in.  We are all talking about Harold Camping because the big media companies decided that was the way it was going to be.

It is time that all of us wake up and start thinking for ourselves.

Our world is becoming crazier by the minute and the mainstream media is certainly not helping things.  In times like these, it is going to be absolutely vital for all of us to engage our critical thinking skills and to not just blindly accept anything that someone else is trying to tell us.

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