Is the retail apocalypse in the United States about to go to a whole new level? That is a frightening thing to consider, because the truth is that things are already quite bad. We have already shattered the all-time record for store closings in a single year and we still have the rest of November and December to go. Unfortunately, it truly does appear that things will get even worse in 2018, because a tremendous amount of high-yield retail debt is coming due next year. In fact, Bloomberg is reporting that the amount of high-yield retail debt that will mature next year is approximately 19 times larger than the amount that matured this year…
Just $100 million of high-yield retail borrowings were set to mature this year, but that will increase to $1.9 billion in 2018, according to Fitch Ratings Inc. And from 2019 to 2025, it will balloon to an annual average of almost $5 billion. The amount of retail debt considered risky is also rising. Over the past year, high-yield bonds outstanding gained 20 percent, to $35 billion, and the industry’s leveraged loans are up 15 percent, to $152 billion, according to Bloomberg data.
Even worse, this will hit as a record $1 trillion in high-yield debt for all industries comes due over the next five years, according to Moody’s.
Can you say “debt bomb”?
For those of you that are not familiar with these concepts, high-yield debt is considered to be the riskiest form of debt. Retailers all over the nation went on a tremendous debt binge for years, and many of those loans never should have been made. Now that debt is going to start to come due, and many of these retailers simply will not be able to pay.
So how does that concern the rest of us?
Well, just like with the subprime mortgage meltdown, the “spillover” could potentially be enormous. Here is more from Bloomberg…
The debt coming due, along with America’s over-stored suburbs and the continued gains of online shopping, has all the makings of a disaster. The spillover will likely flow far and wide across the U.S. economy. There will be displaced low-income workers, shrinking local tax bases and investor losses on stocks, bonds and real estate. If today is considered a retail apocalypse, then what’s coming next could truly be scary.
I have written extensively about Sears and other troubled retailers that definitely appear to be headed for zero. But one major retailer that is flying below the radar a little bit that you should keep an eye on is Target. For over a year, conservatives have been boycotting the retailer, and this boycott is really starting to take a toll…
Target has been desperately grasping at ideas to recover lost business, including remodeling existing stores and opening smaller stores, lowering prices, hiring more holiday staff and introducing a new home line from Chip and Joanna Gaines. But Target stock remains relatively stagnant, opening at 61.50 today—certainly nowhere near the mid-80s of April 2016, when the AFA boycott began.
And we must also keep in mind that we do not actually deserve the debt-fueled standard of living that we are currently enjoying. We are consuming far more wealth than we are producing, and the only way we are able to do that is by going into unprecedented amounts of debt. The following comes from Egon von Greyerz…
Total US debt in 1913 was $39 billion. Today it is $70 trillion, up 1,800X. But that only tells part of the story. There were virtually no unfunded liabilities in 1913. Today they are $130 trillion. So adding the $70 trillion debt to the unfunded liabilities gives a total liability of $200 trillion.
In 1913 US debt to GDP was 150%. Today, including unfunded liabilities, the figure becomes almost 1,000%. This is the burden that ordinary Americans are responsible for, a burden that will break the US people and the US economy as well as the dollar.
The only possible way that the game can go on is to continue to grow our debt much faster than the overall economy is growing.
Of course that is completely unsustainable, and when this debt bubble finally bursts everything is going to collapse.
We don’t know exactly when the next great financial crisis is coming, but we do know that conditions are absolutely perfect for one to erupt. According to John Hussman, it wouldn’t be a surprise at all to see stock prices fall more than 60 percent from current levels…
At the root of Hussman’s pessimistic market view are stock valuations that look historically stretched by a handful of measures. According to his preferred valuation metric — the ratio of non-financial market cap to corporate gross value-added (Market Cap/GVA) — stocks are more expensive than they were in 1929 and 2000, periods that immediately preceded major market selloffs.
“US equity market valuations at the most offensive levels in history,” he wrote in his November monthly note. “We expect that more extreme valuations will only be met by more severe losses.”
Those losses won’t just include the 63% plunge referenced above — it’ll also be accompanied by a longer 10 to 12 year period over which the S&P 500 will fall, says Hussman.
A financial system that is based on a pyramid of debt will never be sustainable. As I discuss in my new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters”, the design of our current debt-based system is fundamentally flawed, and it needs to be rebuilt from the ground up.
The borrower is the servant of the lender, and our current system is designed to create as much debt as possible. When it inevitably fails, we need to be ready to offer an alternative, because patching together our current system and trying to re-inflate the bubble is not a real solution.
If the U.S. economy is doing just fine, why have we already shattered the all-time record for retail store closings in a single year? Whenever I write about our “retail apocalypse”, many try to counter my arguments by pointing out the growing dominance of Amazon. And I certainly can’t deny that online shopping is on the rise, but it still accounts for less than 10 percent of total U.S. retail sales. No, something bigger is happening in our economy, and it isn’t receiving nearly enough attention from the mainstream media.
Back in 2008, a plummeting economy absolutely devastated retailers and it resulted in an all-time record of 6,163 retail stores being closed that year.
So far in 2017, over 6,700 stores have been shut down and we still have nearly two months to go! The following comes from CNN…
More store closings have been announced in 2017 than any other year on record.
Since January 1, retailers have announced plans to shutter more than 6,700 stores in the U.S., according to Fung Global Retail & Technology, a retail think tank.
That beats the previous all-time high of 6,163 store closings, which hit in 2008 amid the financial meltdown, according to Credit Suisse (CS).
Just within the last week, we have learned that Sears is closing down another 60 stores, and Walgreens announced that it intends to close approximately 600 locations.
Housing prices are soaring here thanks to the tech industry, but the boom comes with a consequence: A surge in homelessness marked by 400 unauthorized tent camps in parks, under bridges, on freeway medians and along busy sidewalks. The liberal city is trying to figure out what to do.
But I thought that the Seattle economy was doing so well.
San Diego now scrubs its sidewalks with bleach to counter a deadly hepatitis A outbreak. In Anaheim, 400 people sleep along a bike path in the shadow of Angel Stadium. Organizers in Portland lit incense at an outdoor food festival to cover up the stench of urine in a parking lot where vendors set up shop.
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.
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.
If you didn’t know better, you might be tempted to think that “Space Available” was the hottest new retail chain in the entire country. As you will see below, it is being projected that about a third of all shopping malls in the United States will soon close, and we just recently learned that the number of “distressed retailers” is the highest that it has been since the last recession. Honestly, I don’t know how anyone can possibly believe that the U.S. economy is in “good shape” after looking at the retail industry. In my recent article about the ongoing “retail apocalypse“, I discussed the fact that Sears, J.C. Penney and Macy’s have all announced that they are closing dozens of stores in 2017, and you can find a pretty comprehensive list of 19 U.S. retailers that are “on the brink of bankruptcy” right here. Needless to say, quite a bloodbath is going on out there right now.
But I didn’t realize how truly horrific things were for the retail industry until I came across an article about mall closings on Time Magazine’s website…
About one-third of malls in the U.S. will shut their doors in the coming years, retail analyst Jan Kniffen told CNBC Thursday. His prediction comes in the wake of Macy’s reporting its worst consecutive same-store sales decline since the financial crisis.
Macy’s and its fellow retailers in American malls are challenged by an oversupply of retail space as customers migrate toward online shopping, as well as fast fashion retailers like H&M and off-price stores such as T.J. Maxx. As a result, about 400 of the country’s 1,100 enclosed malls will fail in the upcoming years. Of those that remain, he predicts that about 250 will thrive and the rest will continue to struggle.
Can you imagine what this country is going to look like if that actually happens?
Shopping malls all over the United States are literally becoming “ghost towns”, and many that have already closed have stayed empty for years and years.
The process usually starts when a shopping mall starts losing anchor stores. That is why it is so alarming that Sears, J.C. Penney and Macy’s are planning to shut down so many locations in 2017. According to one recent report, 310 shopping malls in America are in imminent danger of losing an anchor store…
Dozens of malls have closed in the last 10 years, and many more are at risk of shutting down as retailers like Macy’s, JCPenney, and Sears — also known as anchor stores — shutter hundreds of stores to staunch the bleeding from falling sales.
The commercial-real-estate firm CoStar estimates that nearly a quarter of malls in the US, or roughly 310 of the nation’s 1,300 shopping malls, are at high risk of losing an anchor store.
Once the anchor stores start going, traffic falls off dramatically for the other stores and they start leaving too.
Four years ago in “The Beginning Of The End” I warned that empty storefronts would soon litter the national landscape, and now that is precisely what is happening.
Now that the Christmas season is over, some retailers that have been around for decades have suddenly decided that it is time to file for bankruptcy. Sadly, one of those retailers is HHGregg…
HHGregg Inc., the 61-year-old seller of appliances and electronics, is moving closer to Chapter 11 after announcing a store-closing plan, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
The filing may come as soon as next week, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter isn’t public. Bloomberg previously reported that HHGregg might file for bankruptcy in March if it couldn’t reach an out-of-court solution.
Another retailer that was once riding high but is now dealing with bankruptcy is BCBG…
BCBG, the California-based fashion retailer that had acquired fashion design firm Herve Leger in 1998, and that once had more than 570 boutiques globally, including 175 in the US, and whose cocktail dresses and handbags were shown off by celebrities, filed for bankruptcy on Wednesday.
It is buckling under $459 million of debt. It has 4,800 employees. Layoffs have already started. More layoffs and other cost cuts are planned, according to court documents, cited by Bloomberg. It started closing 120 of its stores in January. It wants to sell itself at a court-supervised auction. If that fails, it wants to negotiate a debt-for-equity swap with junior lenders owed $289 million.
If the U.S. economy was actually doing as well as the stock market says that it should be doing, all of these retail chains would not be closing stores and going bankrupt.
We live at a time when middle class consumers are tapped out. According to one recent survey, 57 percent of all Americans do not even have enough money in the bank to write a $500 check for an unexpected expense.
And people are falling out of the middle class at a staggering pace. The number of homeless people in New York City recently set a brand new record high, and city authorities plan to construct 90 new homeless shelters within the next five years.
On the west coast we are also seeing a dramatic rise in homelessness. The following comes from an article by Dan Lyman…
Citizen journalists have captured stunning images and video of homeless encampments that are spiraling out of control in the shadows of Disneyland and Anaheim Stadium in California.
The tent city has recently sprung up along the Santa Ana riverbed, near a busy convergence of three major California highways known as the “Orange Crush,” at the border of Anaheim and Santa Ana, the latter a “sanctuary city.”
Homeless activists estimate that as many as 1,000 people are camped in the region.
You can see some video footage of this homeless encampment on YouTube right here…
Incredibly, the Federal Reserve is almost certainly going to raise interest rates at their next meeting even though the U.S. economy is faltering so badly. That only makes sense if they are trying to make Donald Trump look as bad as possible.
Even though this giant bubble of false economic stability that we are currently enjoying has lasted far longer than it should have, the truth is that nothing has changed about the long-term economic outlook at all.
America is still heading for “economic Armageddon”, and the retail industry is a huge red flag that is warning us that our day of reckoning is approaching more rapidly than many had anticipated.
For the moment, our top public health officials are quite adamant that there absolutely will not be a major Ebola outbreak in the United States. But what if they are wrong? Or what would happen if terrorists released a form of weaponized Ebola or weaponized smallpox in one of our major cities? What would such an event do to our economy? I think that we can get some clues by looking at the economic collapses that are taking place in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone right now. When an extremely deadly virus like Ebola starts spreading like wildfire, the fear that it creates can be even worse for a society than the disease. All of a sudden people don’t want to go to work, people don’t want to go to school and people definitely don’t want to go shopping. There are very few things that can shut down the economy of a nation faster. Considering the fact that our big banks are being more reckless than ever, we better hope that we don’t see a “black swan event” such as a major Ebola outbreak come along and upset the apple cart. Because if that does happen, our Ponzi scheme of an economy could implode really quick.
Right now there is just one confirmed case of Ebola in Texas. If they isolated him before he infected anyone else, we might be okay for the moment. But already we are being told that there may be “a possible second Ebola patient” in Dallas…
Health officials are closely monitoring a possible second Ebola patient who had close contact with the first person to be diagnosed in the U.S., the director of Dallas County’s health department said Wednesday.
All who have been in close contact with the man officially diagnosed are being monitored as a precaution, Zachary Thompson, director of Dallas County Health and Human Services, said in a morning interview with WFAA-TV, Dallas-Fort Worth.
“Let me be real frank to the Dallas County residents: The fact that we have one confirmed case, there may be another case that is a close associate with this particular patient,” he said. “So this is real. There should be a concern, but it’s contained to the specific family members and close friends at this moment.”
We have learned the name of the man that is confirmed to have Ebola. His name is Thomas Eric Duncan and when he went to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital last Friday, he told them that he was feeling quite ill and that he was from Liberia. You would have thought that should have set off major alarm bells. But instead, he got sent back home…
The first Ebola patient diagnosed in the U.S. initially went to a Dallas emergency room last week but was sent home, despite telling a nurse that he had been in disease-ravaged West Africa, the hospital acknowledged Wednesday.
The decision by Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital to release him could have put many others at risk of exposure to the disease before he went back to the ER two days later, after his condition worsened.
Thomas Eric Duncan explained to a nurse Friday that he was visiting the U.S. from Liberia, but that information was not widely shared, said Dr. Mark Lester, who works for the hospital’s parent company.
So a fully contagious Duncan had the opportunity to spread the virus around for another 48 hours before he was finally admitted to the hospital for treatment.
And it wasn’t just adults that he potentially exposed to the disease. It is being reported that he had “close contact” with five students that attend four different Dallas schools. Local media is reporting that the names of those schools are Tasby Middle School, Hotchkiss Elementary School, Dan D. Rogers Elementary and Conrad High School.
It shall be very interesting to see how many kids actually show up for school tomorrow morning.
But this is what happens to a society when the fear of Ebola takes hold. People almost immediately start shutting down their activities and staying home.
Over in West Africa, months of Ebola fear is starting to take a major toll on the economy. For example, the president of Guinea says that his economy is on the verge of complete collapse…
Guinea has been more successful in containing the Ebola epidemic than its immediate neighbors in West Africa, but the loss of revenue caused by the crisis has left the country in dire financial straits, President Alpha Condé said after concluding a round of meetings at the United Nations General Assembly.
Mr. Condé said Guinea would need about $100 million until December to cover its budget gap, which will grow if Ebola is not tackled by the end of the year.
“The slowing down of our economies due to Ebola requires that most of our countries get some budgetary support … it’s going to be crucial that we get that support so our economies don’t completely collapse,” he said.
And things are even worse in Liberia. The Washington Post says that Liberia is descending “into economic hell”…
Liberia, the West African nation hardest it by Ebola, has begun a frightening descent into economic hell.
That’s the import of three recent reports from international organizations that seem to bear out the worst-case scenarios of months ago: that people would abandon the fields and factories, that food and fuel would become scarce and unaffordable, and that the government’s already meager capacity to help, along with the nation’s prospects for a better future, would be severely compromised.
If thousands of people start getting Ebola in major cities all over America, the same thing will happen here too.
A major Ebola pandemic in America would mean an almost total economic shutdown and basic essentials would start disappearing from the marketplace almost immediately. Just check out what is happening in Liberia even as you read this…
Even though economic demand would drop through the floor for most things, prices for food and other essential supplies tend to skyrocket during a major emergency. The IMF says that the inflation rate will hit approximately 13 percent in Liberia by the end of the year even though economic activity has declined dramatically. It is going to become extremely challenging for most families over there to feed themselves.
And as economic activity withers, tax revenues also dry up. Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone are all facing massive revenue shortfalls, and they are asking for international assistance.
But if the same thing happened in the United States, do you think the rest of the world would send us lots of money to help us pay our bills?
I don’t think so.
Needless to say, an Ebola outbreak is not good for financial markets either. News of the confirmed case of Ebola in Texas helped push down the Dow more than 238 points on Wednesday, and airline stocks in particular declined sharply.
If there are no more confirmed cases of Ebola in Texas, things will probably get back to normal for U.S. markets.
According to the National Retail Federation, Americans spent an average of 4 percent less over the four day Thanksgiving weekend than they did last year. Overall, that means that approximately $1.7 billion less was spent at U.S. retailers compared to last year. It had already been projected that this holiday shopping season would be the worst for retailers since 2009, but if these numbers are any indication it may be even worse than expected. So why is this happening? Well, basically the American consumer is tapped out. The unemployment crisis in this country is actually getting worse, poverty is absolutely exploding and the middle class is being systematically eviscerated. In other words, you can’t get blood out of a stone. Many retailers are offering extreme discounts in a desperate attempt to lure more shoppers, but the money simply isn’t there.
According to Yahoo News, the decline in shopping over the four day Thanksgiving weekend was the first decline that we have seen since the last recession…
Shoppers, on average, were expected to spend $407.02 during the four days, down 3.9 percent from last year. That would be the first decline since the 2009 holiday shopping season when the economy was just coming out of the recession.
The survey underscores the challenges stores have faced since the recession began in late 2007. Retailers had to offer deeper discounts to get people to shop during the downturn, but Americans still expect those “70 percent off” signs now during the recovery.
And according to the New York Times, Americans spent a total of 1.7 billion dollars less than they did last year…
Over the course of the weekend, consumers spent about $1.7 billion less on holiday shopping than they did the year before, according to the National Retail Federation, a retail trade organization.
“There are some economic challenges that many Americans still face,” said Matthew Shay, the chief executive of the retail federation. “So in general terms, many are intending to be a little bit more conservative with their budgets.”
But this downturn for retailers did not just begin this past weekend. There have been signs of trouble for quite a while now.
For example, posted below is a photo that one of my readers sent to me. This is a photo of the Beverly Center Mall in Beverly Hills, California that was taken in the middle of the day on Tuesday, November 19th. She said that there “wasn’t a soul in that mall and the employees were all standing, staring into space with nothing to do”…
So where are all of the shoppers?
Why aren’t people out buying stuff?
Sadly, this is just the continuation of a trend that has been developing for more than a decade. The truth is that Americans are simply not spending money as rapidly as they used to.
Posted below is a chart that shows that the velocity of M2 in the United States is at an all-time low. In other words, the rate at which money circulates through our economy is frighteningly low and it continues to drop…
As you can see from the chart above, this decline in the velocity of money has been going on since the late 1990s. This is a sign of a very unhealthy economy.
Most Americans know that the U.S. economy is very heavily dependent on consumer spending. But consumers have to make money first in order to spend it. And right now we have a major employment crisis in this country.
Meanwhile, the quality of our jobs continues to decline as well. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, median household income in the United States has fallen for five years in a row, and right now the middle class is taking home a smaller share of the overall income pie than has ever been recorded before.
So should it really be such a surprise that consumers are totally tapped out?
A recent CNN article profiled one of these workers. Carman Iverson is a 28-year-old mother of four that makes minimum wage at McDonald’s. If it was not for government assistance, her and her four children would not be able to survive…
Iverson said she started working in 2012 at $7.25 an hour, and makes $7.35 an hour now after Missouri adjusted the minimum wage. She makes between $400 and $600 a month. Her rent is $650 a month.
When asked how she could pay her rent on those wages, she said she had a landlord who works with her. “I’m kind of on my last little leg, because I’ve been late on rent. I’m actually behind three months in rent.
“Sometimes I can pay it, sometimes I can’t. I get paid twice a month, and both checks go to rent and the rest of it goes to utilities to the point where I don’t have any money left to buy anything for my kids — to buy them clothes, shoes or anything they need.”
She said she manages to feed her four children on $543 worth of food stamps a month.
But instead of fixing things, Barack Obama continues to pursue policies that will kill millions more good jobs. It is absolutely amazing that there are any Americans that still support this guy. For a long list of statistics that show how badly the economy has tanked since Obama entered the White House, please see this article.
You know that things are bad when increasing the number of Americans on food stamps by 15 million is regarded as an “economic accomplishment”. In fact, a message recently posted on the official White House website says that “SNAP is boosting the economy right now” and that high food stamp enrollment is creating lots of jobs…
“SNAP’s effect extends beyond the food on a family’s table–to the grocery stores, truck drivers, warehouses, processing plants and farmers that helped get it there.”
So why don’t we just enroll all Americans in every welfare program?
Wouldn’t that produce an extreme economic boom?
And actually under Obama we are already well on our way. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 49.2 percent of all Americans are currently receiving benefits from at least one government program, and the federal government has spent an astounding 3.7 trillion dollars on welfare programs over the past five years.
Yes, there will always be poor people that cannot help themselves that will need our assistance.
But most Americans are capable of working if they could just find jobs.
Unfortunately, our jobs are being killed off and wages are going down. The middle class is being systematically destroyed and U.S. consumer spending is drying up.
The horrible start to this holiday shopping season is just the beginning.
Have you ever been so poor that you had to live in your car? Have you ever been so low on funds that the only place you could afford to live was a rat-infested motel? Have you ever spent a night living in a tent city or sleeping in the streets? If not, you should consider yourself to be very fortunate. As the recent Black Friday madness demonstrated, there are still lots of Americans that are doing well enough to go on wild shopping sprees, but the reality is that there are also millions of American families that are falling through the “safety net” to a place of total desperation. In a previous article I talked about the fact that the U.S. Census Bureau recently announced that a higher percentage of Americans is living in extreme poverty than has ever been measured before. Not only that, 2.6 million more Americans fell into poverty last year. That was also a new all-time record. As you read this, one out of every seven Americans is on food stamps and one out of every four U.S. children is on food stamps. Tens of millions of American families are living on the edge of desperation. In many communities across the United States, there is so much despair in the air that it is almost tangible. When you look into the eyes of many Americans these days, it almost seems as if all the hope has been sucked right out of their hearts. Economic despair is at epidemic levels, and unfortunately the economy is about to get a whole lot worse.
Did you see the report on families that are living in their cars that Scott Pelley did for 60 Minutes the other night?
If you have not seen it yet, I highly recommend that you take a few minutes to check it out.
At one school in Florida alone, Pelley met 15 children who had been living in their cars.
The following is a brief excerpt from Pelley’s report….
This is the home of the Metzger family. Arielle,15. Her brother Austin, 13. Their mother died when they were very young. Their dad, Tom, is a carpenter. And, he’s been looking for work ever since Florida’s construction industry collapsed. When foreclosure took their house, he bought the truck on Craigslist with his last thousand dollars. Tom’s a little camera shy – thought we ought to talk to the kids – and it didn’t take long to see why.
Pelley: How long have you been living in this truck?
Arielle Metzger: About five months.
Pelley: What’s that like?
Arielle Metzger: It’s an adventure.
Austin Metzger: That’s how we see it.
Pelley: When kids at school ask you where you live, what do you tell ’em?
Austin Metzger: When they see the truck they ask me if I live in it, and when I hesitate they kinda realize. And they say they won’t tell anybody.
You can view the entire 60 Minutes report below….
Did you ever think that this would happen to America?
What makes things even sadder is that there are millions upon millions of empty homes right now in the United States.
Millions of American families have been foreclosed upon in recent years and home prices keep falling with no end in sight.
In fact, today it was reported that home prices are now the lowest that they have been in eight years.
So why aren’t people renting or buying more homes?
Well, the truth is that you can’t afford a mortgage payment or a rent payment if you don’t have a decent job.
When someone can’t find a good job, then none of the other economic statistics that many of us love to talk about so much really matter.
That is why I write about what is happening to American jobs so often. Today, big corporations are shipping as many jobs as they can out of the country. An average of 23 manufacturing facilities were shut down every single day in the United States last year. Even though our population is rapidly increasing, there are 10 percent fewer middle income jobs in the U.S. today than there were a decade ago. Until this trend gets reversed, the number of American families living in their vehicles is only going to increase.
Unfortunately, the U.S. economy is about to get even worse.
Today, it was announced that American Airlines has filed for bankruptcy. Sadly, there will be many more companies filing for bankruptcy during the upcoming economic downturn.
Jim Cramer of CNBC says that because of what is happening in Europe, the global financial system is at “DEFCON 3, two stages from a financial collapse that is so huge it’s hard to get your mind around.”
Unfortunately, Jim Cramer is not exaggerating. The global economy is heading for a massive amount of trouble if something dramatic is not done immediately.
This is not a drill. Bert Van Roosebeke, an economist with the Center for European Policy, recently made the following statement about the cold, hard reality now facing Europe….
“We’re actually really running out of money”
Back during the early 1930s, the flow of credit was greatly restricted and that was one of the primary causes of the Great Depression. Back in 2008, another massive credit crunch just about brought the financial world to its knees.
Well, now it is starting to happen again. A nightmarish credit crunch has already begun in Europe, and nobody seems to have any answers about how to stop it.
From global airlines and shipping giants to small manufacturers, all kinds of companies are feeling the strain as European banks pull back on lending in an effort to hoard capital and shore up their balance sheets.
The result is a credit squeeze for companies from Berlin to Beijing, edging the world economy toward another slump.
When there is a credit crunch of this magnitude, it causes the money supply to start to shrink. This is already happening all over Europe as a recent article in the Telegraph noted….
All key measures of the money supply in the eurozone contracted in October with drastic falls across parts of southern Europe, raising the risk of severe recession over coming months.
Right now, we are seeing the money supply in each of the “PIIGS” nations fall at a staggering rate. The following comes from the same Telegraph article referenced above….
Simon Ward from Henderson Global Investors said “narrow” M1 money – which includes cash and overnight deposits, and signals short-term spending plans – shows an alarming split between North and South.
While real M1 deposits are still holding up in the German bloc, the rate of fall over the last six months (annualised) has been 20.7pc in Greece, 16.3pc in Portugal, 11.8pc in Ireland, and 8.1pc in Spain, and 6.7pc in Italy. The pace of decline in Italy has been accelerating, partly due to capital flight. “This rate of contraction is greater than in early 2008 and implies an even deeper recession, both for Italy and the whole periphery,” said Mr Ward.
Those numbers are really, really bad.
But instead of doing something to prepare for the coming economic crisis, members of the U.S. Congress are focused on stripping even more of our liberties and freedoms away from us.
As I wrote about yesterday, a new law (S. 1867) is being pushed through the U.S. Senate that is extremely frightening.
If this bill becomes a law, the United States of America would officially become part of the “battlefield” in the war on terror, and any American citizen could easily be flagged as a “potential terrorist”.
Once identified as a “potential terrorist”, the U.S. military would be able to arrest you, take you to a foreign prison and detain you for the rest of your life without ever having to charge you with anything.
What in the world is happening to America?
Unfortunately, as the economy gets even worse civil unrest in this country is going to intensify and the thin veneer of civilization that we all take for granted is going to start to disappear.
In response to the coming civil unrest, the U.S. Congress will try to pass laws that will be even more repressive than S. 1867.
Our nation has entered a downward spiral and things are going to become very frightening if this thing is not turned around.
So what do all of you see happening as we get ready to enter 2012? Please feel free to leave a comment with your opinion below….
We all knew that this was coming, didn’t we? Each year Black Friday violence just seems to get worse and worse. What does it say about American consumers when they are willing to fight like crazed animals just to save a few bucks on cheap plastic crap made in China? Not that retailers are innocent in any of this. It certainly seems as though many of them purposely create wild situations on Black Friday where customers will rush like crazy people into their stores and nearly riot as they fight over discounted merchandise. The more Black Friday madness there is, the more of an “event” it becomes, and the higher the profits of the retailers go. This year there was more Black Friday hype than ever and there was also more Black Friday violence than ever. It is being projected that this year a record-setting 152 million Americans will go shopping between Thanksgiving and Sunday night. That may be good news for the big corporate retailers, but the shocking lack of character being displayed by American consumers all over the country this weekend is very bad news for the future of this nation.
Most Americans would agree that there is a tremendous amount of selfishness and greed on Wall Street, but as the videos posted below demonstrate, there is also a tremendous amount of selfishness and greed on “Main Street” as well.
This year, Black Friday violence included robberies, gunfire and shootings, but the most shocking incidents actually happened inside the big retail stores.
For example, as merchandise was being unveiled on Black Friday night at a Wal-Mart in the Los Angeles area, one woman actualy pulled out pepper spray and sprayed it at other customers that were gathered around her.
Did she do this because she felt threatened?
No, according to the Los Angeles Times, authorities say that the woman was just seeking a “competitive” edge.
It is being reported that at least 20 people were affected by the pepper spray.
The pepper spray incident just added to the wild and frenzied atmosphere inside that Wal-Mart last night.
Employees attempted to hold back the scrum of shoppers and pick up merchandise even as customers trampled the video games and DVDs strewn on the floor.
“It was absolutely crazy,” he said.
Another customer said screams erupted after about 100 people waiting in line to snag Xbox gaming consoles and Wii video games got into a shoving match.
Alejandra Seminario, 24, said she was waiting in line to grab some toys at the store around 9:55 p.m. when people the next aisle over started shouting and ripping at the plastic wrap encasing gaming consoles, which was supposed to be opened at 10 p.m.
“People started screaming, pulling and pushing each other, and then the whole area filled up with pepper spray,” the Sylmar resident said.
Pepper spray was used at a Wal-Mart on the other side of the country as well. Over in Kinston, North Carolina an off-duty police officer used pepper spray as an unruly shopper was being subdued. Approximately 20 people (including some children) were affected by the pepper spray.
Most Americans are not really concerned over the fact that this country is rapidly heading into the toilet, but they sure will get worked up into a frenzy over some good deals. Just check out the following video that was filmed in California. In the video, a huge crowd can be seen storming the entrance of Urban Outfitters in the Thousand Oaks Mall on Black Friday night….
There are lots of other crazy videos of Black Friday madness on YouTube today as well. Just check out some of the following examples….
*In Fresno, California law enforcement authorities were barely able to keep a stampede at the entrance of one store from turning into a riot.
*In this next video, you can see people going absolutely crazy over memory cards at about the 1:20 mark.
*On Black Friday night, American consumers will riot over just about anything. For example, there was a huge panic over Tupperware at one Wall-Mart last night.
*Of course electronics is probably the hottest category in most stores on Black Friday night. In some areas, the fighting over video games became incredibly intense.
*Some of the worst Black Friday rioting goes on inside Wal-Marts. Just check out this shocking video of what happens inside a Wal-Mart on Black Friday night.
If this is how the American people will act just to save a few bucks on cheap plastic crap made in foreign countries, how are they going to act when the economy collapses?
If Americans will literally fight each other over saving 20 bucks, what is going to happen someday when millions of them don’t know where their next meal is going to come from?
Thankfully the economy is still in good enough shape that most Americans can participate in these orgies of consumerism. But the reality is that the global financial system is in a massive amount of trouble, and it looks like we could be on the verge of another global financial collapse.
Do the American people have enough character to be able to deal with a full-blown economic depression?
Instead of teaching our children to love and care for one another, we have taught them to be incredibly self-involved. Today, way too many Americans deeply love themselves, deeply love money and are deeply addicted to entertainment. Each new generation seems to be even more prideful, even more arrogant and even more violent. As a nation, we are losing our empathy for others, our compassion for the needy and our respect for the elderly. Our family units are breaking down and thousands of our communities are being transformed into hellholes.
Over the past several decades, the biggest debt bubble in the history of the world has enabled us to enjoy unprecedented prosperity. But it has been a “false prosperity”, and it is frightening to think about what America is going to look like when the good times finally end.
The other thing that is really disturbing about Black Friday is the fact that the vast majority of the products that Americans are fighting over are made overseas.
As I pointed out recently, 23 manufacturing facilities were shut down every single day in the United States last year.
Since 2001, the U.S. has lost a total of more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities.
This country is bleeding jobs, bleeding businesses and bleeding wealth at a pace that is nearly impossible to fully grasp.
We are becoming poorer as a nation every single day, and yet Americans are seemingly more enamored with consumerism than ever before.
Most Americans could not care less about where something was made. The only thing that matters to them is how cheap it is.
It doesn’t matter to them that a record-setting 2.6 million Americans slipped into poverty last year or that there are 10 percent fewer middle class jobs in America today than there were a decade ago.
We have become a nation that is so self-centered that it is hard to find the words to describe it.
Rather than caring about what is good for America, most of us only care about what is good for ourselves.
The madness that we see every Black Friday is just one more sign that our society is coming apart at the seams.
America has become a nation that is absolutely saturated with greed. Unfortunately, all of that greed is going to make the hard economic times that are coming much, much more painful.
Black Friday – the day after Thanksgiving when millions of Americans line up before the crack of dawn at retail stores across the nation hoping to find great deals on cheap plastic stuff made outside the United States. The Friday after Thanksgiving has become an “unofficial holiday” in recent years, and in fact in many ways it is starting to become as big as Thanksgiving itself. A recent search on Google News found over 31,000 stories about “Thanksgiving” and over 24,000 stories about “Black Friday”. Almost every major news organization has been running stories about Black Friday for weeks now. Some of the biggest retailers, including Wal-Mart, Sears, Old Navy and Toys R Us, have had such success with Black Friday sales that they have decided to stay open for Thanksgiving now. You would think that we could all have one day off to spend with family and friends to give thanks for all that we have been blessed with, but apparently that is not going to be possible. Just like so many of our other holidays, the true purpose behind having a holiday called “Thanksgiving” is being totally obliterated by a tsunami of greed. Meanwhile, more Americans than ever are living in poverty this year and very few people even seem to notice.
Not that there is anything wrong with enjoying all the things you and your family have been blessed with. However, perhaps we should all take time this week to remember the tens of millions of Americans that are going to be deeply suffering this winter. They keep telling us that “the recession is over” and yet poverty continues to spread like an out of control plague. But for most Americans life is still relatively “normal”, and so the horrible suffering going on out there doesn’t really affect them.
The truth is that the U.S. economy is dying. Americans have been living beyond their means for decades, and now we are starting to pay the price for the gigantic mountains of debt that we have accumulated. But instead of preparing for harder times and looking for ways to help those who are hurting, most Americans are preparing for another orgy of shopping this holiday season….
*The National Retail Federation estimates that holiday retail sales will hit $447.1 billion for 2010.
Meanwhile, more Americans are on food stamps than ever before. Today, more than 43 million Americans are enrolled in the food stamp program. The number of Americans on food stamps has increased almost 60 percent since 2007. If our economy is getting better, then why is hunger spreading like an out of control virus?….
*Millions of American families will be streaming into Wal-Mart and Target to buy foreign-made electronic gadgets this upcoming Friday.
Meanwhile, millions of other American families would gladly give up their Thanksgiving meals in exchange for a decent job for a family member. According to one recent survey, 28% of all U.S. households have at least one person that is looking for a full-time job. Unfortunately, there are not even close to enough jobs to go around in post-industrial America.
*Consumer Reports has posted a Black Friday shopping guide that encourages people to be prepared to wait in line out in the cold for several hours if they want to get the “best deals”….
It’s not always worth breaking down the ‘door.’ … But consumers shouldn’t bother to show up unless they are willing to wait in line, sometimes for hours before the store opens, and should be prepared for possible disappointment. There are no guarantees.
Meanwhile, there are millions of American children that barely have enough to eat. According to one recent study, approximately 21 percent of all children in the United States are living below the poverty line in 2010.
The age of consumerism is coming to a close so enjoy it while it lasts.
Sadly, many proponents of “free trade” (which is actually not “free” or “fair” at all) point to the “great deals” available on Black Friday as evidence that globalism works.
Yes, you might get 20 extra bucks off on that 32-inch television, but in the end American workers are going to be supported somehow.
Either we provide jobs for American workers that enable them to feed their families or we provide for them by giving them food stamps and unemployment checks.
The United States has lost over 42,000 factories since 2001. Are you willing to have your taxes raised to provide food and shelter for all of those displaced workers?
The following is how Wikipedia defines deindustrialization….
Deindustrialization (also spelled deindustrialisation) is a process of social and economic change caused by the removal or reduction of industrial capacity or activity in a country or region, especially heavy industry or manufacturing industry. It is an opposite of industrialization.
In case you haven’t noticed, that is what is happening to America.
As of the end of 2009, less than 12 million Americans worked in manufacturing. The last time less than 12 million Americans were employed in manufacturing was in 1941.
Not that all trade is a bad thing. Trading with other nations such as Canada and Germany that have similar standards of living and that pay their workers similar wages could potentially be beneficial to both sides.
However, merging our economy with nations such as communist China was a colossal mistake. In China, most workers earn less than a tenth of what most American workers make. Today, our factories, our jobs and our wealth are being transferred to China at a pace that is almost unbelievable.
In case you are wondering, that is not a good trend.
Every single month, tens of billions of dollars more goes out of the United States than comes into it.
In other words, we are being drained.
But that isn’t going to stop tens of millions of Americans from running out on Black Friday and buying huge piles of stuff that nobody really needs with money that they can’t really afford to spend.
America is in the midst of a long-term economic decline, but nearly everyone in the media keeps expecting the economy to “snap out of it” and for the good times to start rolling once again.
Unfortunately, things aren’t going to get better. This is about as good as things are going to get.
The federal government has piled up the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the world. Our state and local governments are drowning in a sea of red ink. Average Americans are seeing their incomes decline and their standards of living go down. The greatest economic machine in world history is being dismantled and most Americans have become so dumbed-down that they don’t even understand what is going on.
But as they say, ignorance is bliss.
So enjoy this “Black Friday” while you still can. Perhaps the memories of these good times will keep us warm during the truly dark days that are ahead.