Stock Market Plunges Again – Global Stocks Down 5 Weeks In A Row – 8 Trillion Dollars In Wealth Wiped Out

It’s not over.  The worst October stock market crash since 2008 got even worse on Friday.  The Dow was down another 296 points, the S&P 500 briefly dipped into correction territory, and it was another bloodbath for tech stocks.  On Wednesday, I warned that there would be a bounce, and we saw that happen on Thursday.  But the bounce didn’t extend into Friday.  Instead, we witnessed another wave of panic selling, and that has many investors extremely concerned about what will happen next week.  Overall, global stocks have now fallen for five weeks in a row, and during that time more than 8 trillion dollars in global wealth has been wiped out.  That is the fastest plunge in global stock market wealth since the collapse of Lehman Brothers, and it is yet another confirmation that a major turning point has arrived.

The wild swings up and down that we witnessed this week are very reminiscent of what we saw in 2008.

Markets just don’t go down in a straight line.  In fact, some of the best days in all of Wall Street history happened right in the middle of the last financial crisis.

When markets are very volatile, the overall trend tends to be down.  So what investors should be hoping for are extremely boring days on Wall Street when not much happens.  That has been the usual state of affairs for much of the past decade, but now volatility has returned with a vengeance.  The following is how CNBC summarized the carnage that we witnessed on Friday…

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 296.24 points lower at 24,688.31 after dropping 539 points at its lows of the day. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 2.1 percent to 7,167.21. At its lows, the tech-heavy Nasdaq had fallen more than 3 percent.

The S&P 500 fell 1.7 percent to 2,658.69 and briefly entered into correction territory, trading more than 10 percent below its record high reached in September. The average stock market correction, since WWII, results in a 13 percent drop and lasts for four months if it does not turn into a full-fledged bear market.

Larry Benedict, CEO of The Opportunistic Trader, said traders “don’t want to be long heading into the weekend.” He added, “S&P now down on the year and people are more afraid to be long today than they were when market was 10 percent higher.”

And when you step back and take a longer-term view of things, the devastation is breathtaking.  The following facts come from Zero Hedge

  • Dow down 9% from record high (down 4 of last 5 weeks)
  • S&P down 10.1% from record high (down 4 of last 5 weeks)
  • Nasdaq down 13% from record high (down 4 weeks in a row)
  • Dow Transports down 15.2% from record high (down 6 weeks in a row)
  • Small Caps down 15.8% from record high (down 6 weeks in a row)

More importantly, global systemically important bank stocks have now fallen for 5 weeks in a row, and they have now plunged more than 30 percent from the peak.

In other words, the “too big to fail banks” around the world have already seen almost a third of their value wiped out.

There are quite a few global candidates that could potentially become “the next Lehman Brothers”, and once one “too big to fail bank” goes down, it could escalate this new financial crisis very rapidly.

But for most ordinary Americans, the main concern is about keeping their own money safe.  Thanks to low returns almost everywhere else, more retirement money is in the stock market than ever before, and many Americans are very anxious about what a stock market crash would mean for their savings…

Nearly 40 percent of Americans said they were “anxious” about stock market volatility, according to Allianz Life’s 2018 Market Perceptions study, mainly because they worried they would not be able to protect their retirement savings.

In the end, a lot of people are going to get completely wiped out.

Hopefully you will not be one of them.

Of course the mainstream media continues to insist that everything is going to be just fine.  In fact, CNN is telling people that now is “a good time for investors to double down on their investments”

Experts say big sell-offs are often a good time for investors to double down on their investments. One recommended looking for companies that are expected to post healthy gains in sales and earnings. A strong balance sheet and a steadily growing dividend don’t hurt either.

“With earnings season in full force, this is when stock pickers can add a lot of value,” said Ernesto Ramos, managing director of active equities with BMO Global Asset Management. “There really was no good reason for the market to be down as much as it was Wednesday.”

That is about the exact opposite from the advice that they should be giving, but unfortunately this is the narrative that we get from the corporate media before every major crisis.

October has historically been the most volatile month for stocks, and without a doubt this has been a wild month.  Of course the midterm elections are coming up early next month, and those results could potentially spook investors.  But once we get past that, hopefully the markets will start to settle down.

But if things continue to unfold as they did in 2008, this crisis could continue to escalate during the months ahead, and that would especially be true if some sort of “trigger event” sent a major surge of panic through the marketplace.

At this point, investors are extremely jumpy.  For example, even though Amazon reported very good earnings this week, the stock crashed on Friday because revenue growth was slightly below expectations.

Any piece of bad news could send the markets tumbling right now, and if a major disaster were to happen we could be talking about a total collapse.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

The Last Days Warrior Summit is the premier online event of 2018 for Christians, Conservatives and Patriots.  It is a premium members-only international event that will empower and equip you with the knowledge and tools that you need as global events begin to escalate dramatically.  The speaker list includes Michael Snyder, Mike Adams, Dave Daubenmire, Ray Gano, Dr. Daniel Daves, Gary Kah, Justus Knight, Doug Krieger, Lyn Leahz, Laura Maxwell and many more. Full summit access will begin on October 25th, and if you would like to register for this unprecedented event you can do so right here.

October Horror On Wall Street: Investors Nervously Watch To See If The S&P 500 Will Bounce Back Above Its 200-Day Moving Average

Is this going to be another October to remember for Wall Street?  As I have explained previously, the month of October has historically been the worst month by far for the U.S. stock market, and it has also been the month when our most famous stock market crashes have taken place. The stock market crash that started the Great Depression in 1929 happened in October.  The largest single day percentage decline in stock market history happened in October 1987.  And most of us still remember what happened in October 2008.  So will we be adding October 2018 to that list?  Well, so far things are certainly moving in that direction.  Between Wednesday and Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged a total of 1,378 points.  And the S&P 500 has now broken below the all-important 200-day moving average.  If the S&P 500 bounces back above the 200-day moving average on Friday, that will be a sign that things have stabilized at least for the moment.  If that doesn’t happen, all hell might break loose next week.

Personally, I believe that the S&P 500 will bounce back on Friday, but that doesn’t mean that the crisis is over.  Remember, some of the best days in stock market history happened right in the middle of the financial crisis of 2008.  During market panics, we should expect to see dramatic ups and downs.  When markets are calm, that is good news for stocks, but when markets start swinging wildly that is usually a sign to start heading for the exits.

And without a doubt, we have witnessed quite a bit of volatility over the past two days…

-The Dow Jones Industrial Average is now down almost 2000 points from the all-time high that was established just last week.

-The S&P 500 has now fallen for six trading sessions in a row.  That is the longest streak since the 2016 presidential election.

-The Nasdaq is having its worst month since November 2008.

-The Russell 2000 is now down 11.2 percent from the 52-week high, which means that it is officially in correction territory.

-Netflix has fallen 11 percent in just the past week.

-Facebook has lost of whopping 30 percent of its value since July.

-Only 1.5 percent of S&P 500 tech stocks are currently above their 50 day moving averages.

-Wednesday’s decline was the third largest single day stock market point crash in all of U.S. history.

-On Thursday, gold futures shot up by the most that we have seen since Brexit.

-European stocks just hit 20-month lows.

-Italian stocks have officially entered bear market territory.

When markets begin to fall precipitously, often forced selling can accelerate that process.

The following is how Andrew Zatlin described this in his most recent article

You get a call: your $1M stock is now worth only $950K.  The lender can only allow you to have a loan of $475K, and your loan is for $500K.  Problem part 2: that $500K loan also dropped 5% and you are down to $475K.

The lender feels very sorry for you, sends you a ghost hug emoji (it’s a hug that you can’t feel but you know is there).  Unfortunately, you have 1 day to pay back the $25K.  It’s the law and if you don’t get them money by close of business, they will liquidate your stock until they get the $25K

You’ve had paper gains and paper losses, depending on the ebb and flow of the market.  But now your paper loss is going to be a real loss.

You aren’t allowed to ride out the loss: the loan is due in part TODAY.

You have what retail investors know as a margin call.

The term for this situation – extending your market position by borrowing against your existing liquid value  – is called leverage.  And the recent drop in the market means that investors are now over-leveraged.

Forced selling is the meme for the day.  Fire sales will be underway.

Right now, Wall Street is more leveraged that it has ever been before.

As long as stocks have been going up, that hasn’t been a problem and everyone has been making money.

But when stocks start to go down, suddenly that becomes a massive problem.

And it looks like we may have had some dramatic “forced selling” in the market on Wednesday.  At one point in the afternoon, the market was suddenly flooded with sell orders

Today was different, because shortly after 2:40pm when a massive selling program emerged as if out of nowhere and sent the Dow Jones plummeting by over 600 points in a manner of minutes, the selling volume was indeed one for the ages.

According to the NYSE TICK, or uptick minus downtick, index, at precisely 2:43pm, the selling order flood was so big it not only surpassed the acute liquidation that was observed around 3PM on Wednesday, but the -1,793 print was one that had not been seen for 8 years: as Bay Crest Partners technical analyst Jonathan Krinsky wrote, the sudden and violent surge in selling as measured by the TICK index, when downtick volume overpowered upticks, was the lowest reading since the May 6, 2010 “flash crash” when liquidity dried up in markets, sending the market plummeting for a few minutes, as HFT briefly went haywire (or when a spoofer outsmarted the algos, depending on what version of events one believes).

In any case, “someone” was in a massive hurry to get out of the market and was willing to hit literally any and every bid in doing so.

But now that the panic selling seems to have subsided, many “experts” are urging investors to use this as a “buying opportunity”

“We look at this as a buying opportunity,” said Dryden Pence, chief investment officer at Pence Wealth Management. “I would have my shopping cart out here.”

And even CNBC’s Jim Cramer is encouraging everyone to buy stocks on Friday

Friday is the time to start buying stocks again, Jim Cramer said during a CNBC special show on Thursday evening.

Is this really a good idea?

We shall see.

As I noted above, a lot of people are watching the S&P 500 to see if it will bounce back above the 200-day moving average.  The following comes from CNBC

Wall Street’s anxieties took a new turn Thursday after the stock market broke below a key technical level that has supported the market for the past three years.

The S&P 500 index finished the day below its 200-day moving average, one of the most popular technical indicators used by investors to help analyze price trends. Sell-offs earlier this year — occurring in February, March and April — all had bottomed at that level.

Ultimately, if there is a going to be a full-blown collapse of the stock market right now, we would need some sort of “kick off event” in order to make that happen.  It would have to be something on the scale of another 9/11, the collapse of Lehman Brothers, an unprecedented natural disaster, the start of a major war or something else along those lines.

Yes, conditions are definitely ripe for a “perfect storm” to develop, but it is going to take a little bit of a push to get us there.

So keep your eyes open, because our world is becoming more unstable with each passing day, and it won’t take much to push us into complete and utter economic chaos.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

The Last Days Warrior Summit is the premier online event of 2018 for Christians, Conservatives and Patriots.  It is a premium-members only international event that will empower and equip you with the knowledge and tools that you need as global events begin to escalate dramatically.  The speaker list includes Michael Snyder, Mike Adams, Dave Daubenmire, Ray Gano, Dr. Daniel Daves, Gary Kah, Justus Knight, Doug Krieger, Lyn Leahz, Laura Maxwell and many more. Full summit access will begin on October 25th, and if you would like to register for this unprecedented event you can do so right here.

Do They Know Something We Don’t? Corporate Insiders Are Selling Stocks At The Fastest Pace In 10 Years

A lot of things are starting to happen that we haven’t seen since the last recession.  A few days ago, I wrote about the fact that home sellers in the United States are cutting their prices at the fastest pace in at least eight years, and now we have learned that corporate insiders are selling stocks at the most rapid pace in ten years.  So why are they dumping their shares so quickly?  Do they know something that the rest of us do not?  Certainly nobody can blame them for taking advantage of the ridiculously high stock prices that we are seeing in the marketplace right now.  But stock prices have been very high for a while.  Why is there such a mad rush for the exits all of a sudden?  According to CNN, corporate insiders have sold 5.7 billion dollars worth of stock so far in September…

CEOs are using the market boom to quietly cash in their own chips.

Insiders at US companies have dumped $5.7 billion of stock this month, the highest in any September over the past decade, according to an analysis of regulatory filings by TrimTabs Investment Research.

It’s not a new trend. Insiders, which include corporate officers and directors, sold shares in August at the fastest pace in 10 years as well, TrimTabs said.

It would be one thing if September was an anomaly, but the fact that insider shares were being sold so rapidly in August as well indicates that this is a clear trend.

Could it be possible that these corporate insiders believe that the market is about to take a tumble?

Of course it doesn’t exactly take inside information to see the writing on the wall.  On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates for the third time in 2018.  Overall, this is the Fed’s eighth interest rate increase since 2015, and it looks like the Fed is anticipating three more rate hikes in 2019

Looking ahead to 2019, Fed officials expect at least three rate hikes will be necessary, and one more in 2020.

“The Fed shows no signs of taking (a) breath in rate hikes,” Robert Frick, corporate economist with Navy Federal Credit Union, wrote in a research note.

This is terrible news for stock market investors, because every rate hiking program in the history of the Federal Reserve has ended in a stock market crash and/or a recession.

In fact, since 1957 there have been 18 rate hiking cycles, and every single one of them has ended in disaster.

So do you think that we are going to beat the odds this time?

After raising rates again, the Fed released a statement in which it said that it expects the U.S. economy to grow “for at least three more years”

The Fed sees the economy growing at a faster-than-expected 3.1 percent this year and continuing to expand moderately for at least three more years, amid sustained low unemployment and stable inflation near its 2 percent target.

“The labor market has continued to strengthen … economic activity has been rising at a strong rate,” it said in its statement.

You can believe that if you want, but it is also important to remember that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke assured all of us that a recession was not coming in 2008.

And later we learned that the moment when he made that statement a recession had actually already begun.

Needless to say, investors were not thrilled by Wednesday’s rate hike, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped another 100 points.  Stocks have really struggled this week, and we continue to get more disappointing news from the real economy.  On the heels of a “disappointing” existing home sales report, we just received news that new home sales missed expectations

Following existing home sales disappointment, hope was once again high for a bounce in new home sales in August but once again disappointed with a 629k print (up from a revised 608k), but missed expectations of 630k.

While the sales gain was the first in three months, the downward revisions to prior figures indicate that the market in recent months was slower than previously reported, adding to broader indications of cooler demand in residential real estate.

And the trade war continues to take a toll as well.  According to Ford’s chief executive, the metals tariffs are going to result in a billion dollars in lost profits for his company…

Ford CEO Jim Hackett told Bloomberg Television on Wednesday that his company faces $1 billion in lost profits from President Donald Trump’s tariffs.

“The metals tariffs took about $1 billion in profit from us – and the irony is we source most of that in the U.S. today anyways,” Hackett said. “If it goes on longer, there will be more damage.”

Perhaps this is one of the main reasons why it looks like Ford could soon be laying off thousands of workers.

The “smart money” is always one step ahead of the “dumb money”, and corporate insiders have a much better view of what is really going on inside their companies than any of the rest of us do.

So if they are collectively convinced that now is a perfect time to sell, that is a major red flag.

On Wall Street, actions speak much louder than words, and corporate insiders are sending a very loud message by selling so many of their own shares.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

Why Are So Many People Talking About The Potential For A Stock Market Crash In October?

It is that time of the year again.  Every year, people start talking about a possible stock market crash in October, because everyone remembers the historic crashes that took place in October 1987 and October 2008.  Could we witness a similar stock market crash in October 2018?  Without a doubt, the market is primed for another crash.  Stock valuations have been in crazytown territory for a very long time, and financial chaos has already begun to erupt in emerging markets all over the globe.  When the stock market does collapse, it won’t exactly be a surprise.  And a lot of people out there are pointing to October for historical reasons.  I did not know this, but it turns out that the month with the most market volatility since the Dow was first established has been the month of October

The difference is quite significant, as judged by a measure of volatility known as the standard deviation: For all Octobers since 1896, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average was created, the standard deviation of the Dow’s daily changes has been 1.44%. That compares to 1.05% for all months other than October.

Like me, you are probably tempted to think that the reason why October’s number is so high is because of what happened in 1987 and 2008.

But even if you pull out those two months, October is still the most volatile

You might think that this difference is caused by a few outliers, such as the 1987 crash (which, of course, occurred in October) or 2008 (the Dow suffered several thousand-point plunges that month as it reacted to the snowballing financial crisis). But you would be wrong: The standard deviation of daily Dow changes is much higher in October than other months even if we eliminate 1987 and 2008 from the sample.

Once we get to Thanksgiving, the market tends to get sleepy, and it usually doesn’t wake up again until the new year begins.

So if something big is going to happen in the market in 2018, it is probably going to happen in the coming weeks.

And it is inevitable that something big will happen at some point.  As Jesse Colombo has pointed out, stocks are more overvalued right now than they were just before the great stock market crash of 1929…

In a bubble, the stock market becomes overpriced relative to its underlying fundamentals such as earnings, revenues, assets, book value, etc. The current bubble cycle is no different: the U.S. stock market is as overvalued as it was at major generational peaks. According to the cyclically-adjusted price-to-earnings ratio (a smoothed price-to-earnings ratio), the U.S. stock market is more overvalued than it was in 1929, right before the stock market crash and Great Depression

It is becoming increasingly obvious what we are heading for, and a growing chorus of market experts are issuing ominous declarations about this market.

For example, David Tice is warning that “we’re getting closer to a meltdown scenario”

According to investor David Tice, who made a name for himself in running the Prudent Bear Fund before selling it to Federated Investors in 2008, the current market is dangerous. Tice was quoted as saying he’s “nervous” because “we’re getting closer to a meltdown scenario.”

And John Hussman ultimately expects “two-thirds of market capitalization” to vanish…

I am aware of no plausible conditions under which current extremes are likely to work out well for investors. There are a few possibilities that could involve a smaller loss than the two-thirds of market capitalization that I expect to vanish, as the run-of-the-mill, baseline expectation for the S&P 500 over the completion of this cycle. Yet it’s worth recognizing that the completion of every market cycle in history has taken the most reliable valuation measures we identify (those best correlated with actual subsequent S&P 500 market returns) to less than half of current levels.

Could you imagine the chaos that would be unleashed if the stock market went down by two-thirds?

That would make what happened in 2008 look like a Sunday picnic.

And there are a lot of parallels between what happened in 2008 and what is happening today.  For example, the housing market is slowing down dramatically just like it did a decade ago.  The following comes from a Bloomberg article that I came across earlier today entitled “Builders Slump as U.S. Housing Market Shifts to the Slow Lane”

The housing market is stalling, and homebuilder stocks are feeling the pain.

The S&P Supercomposite Homebuilding Index is down 21 percent year-to-date, on track for the biggest annual drop since 2008, when it fell 32 percent. That’s even with tax cuts, unemployment near the lowest since 1969 and a real-estate developer in the White House. What gives?

Just a few days ago, I wrote an entire article about the fact that home sellers are cutting prices at the fastest rate that we have seen in eight years.  The housing market is clearly telling us that a big time economic slowdown is coming, but most people are not listening.

Switching gears, we have also recently learned that it looks like Ford Motor Company will soon be laying off lots of workers

Ford Motor employees are warily awaiting details of CEO Jim Hackett’s promised “fitness” plan and the serious possibility of significant job losses as the company faces pressure to improve its operations.

The company has warned of $11 billion in restructuring costs over three to five years, which could mean thousands of worker buyouts, according to analysts.

Why would they be doing that if the economy really was in “good shape”?

And let us not forget about the ongoing woes of the retail industry.  Recently, I was astounded to learn that a whopping 20 percent of all retail space in Manhattan is currently vacant

“When you walk the streets, you see vacancies on every block in all five boroughs, rich or poor areas — even on Madison Avenue, where you used to have to fight to get space,” said Faith Hope Consolo, head of retail leasing for Douglas Elliman Real Estate, who said the increase in storefront vacancies in New York City had created “the most challenging retail landscape in my 25 years in real estate.”

A survey conducted by Douglas Elliman found that about 20 percent of all retail space in Manhattan is currently vacant, she said, compared with roughly 7 percent in 2016.

New York City is one of the few areas around the country that has actually been prospering.

If things are that bad there already, what does that say about the outlook for the rest of the nation?

The truth is that the economy is not nearly as good as you are being told, and things could literally start breaking loose at any moment.

Unfortunately, as a society we have not learned very much from history, and most Americans seem to think that this bubble of artificial prosperity is going to last indefinitely.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

Stock Prices Are Surging Because Corporations Are Spending More Money On Stock Buybacks Than Anything Else

The primary reason why stock prices have been soaring in recent months is because corporations have been buying back their own stock at an unprecedented pace.  In fact, the pace of stock buybacks is nearly double what it was at this time last year.  According to Goldman Sachs, S&P 500 companies spent 384 billion dollars buying back stock during the first half of 2018.  That is an absolutely astounding number.  And in many cases, corporations are going deep into debt in order to do this.  Of course this is going to push up stock prices, but corporate America will not be able to inflate this bubble indefinitely.  At some point a credit crunch will come, and the pace of stock buybacks will fall precipitously.

Prior to 1982, corporations were not permitted to go into the market and buy back stock.

The reason for this is obvious – stock buybacks are a really easy way for corporations to manipulate stock prices.

But these days it is expected that most large corporations will engage in this practice.  Large stockholders love to see the price of the stock go up, and they are never going to complain when smaller shareholders are bought out and their share of the company is increased.  And corporate executives love buybacks because so much of their compensation often involves stock options or bonuses related to key metrics such as earnings per share.

So in the end, stock buybacks are often all about greed.  It is a way to funnel money to those at the very top of the pyramid, and those stock market gains are taxed at capital gains rates which are much lower than the rates on normal income.

Normally, you would expect successful companies to invest most of their available cash back into operations so that they can make even more money in the future.  And for 19 of the past 20 years, corporations have spent more on capital investments than anything else.  But now, share buybacks have actually surpassed capital spending.  The following comes from CNN

But that doesn’t mean companies aren’t spending on job-creating investments, like new equipment, research projects and factories. Business spending is up 19% — it’s just that buybacks are growing much faster.

In fact, Goldman Sachs said that buybacks are garnering the largest share of cash spending by S&P 500 firms. It’s a milestone because capital spending had represented the single largest use of cash by corporations in 19 of the past 20 years.

And this trend seems to be accelerating during the second half of 2018.  It is being projected that firms will spend more than 600 billion dollars on stock buybacks during the second half of this year, and that will bring the grand total for 2018 to more than a trillion dollars

And the trend may not be done yet. Goldman Sachs predicted that share buyback authorizations among all US companies in all of 2018 will surpass $1 trillion for the first time ever.

Wow.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we had more than a trillion dollars that we could put toward reducing the national debt?

This is the reason why stocks hit another new all-time record high this week.  Stock buybacks have reached absolutely insane levels, and what we are witnessing is essentially a giant orgy of greed.

To give you some perspective, the previous annual record for stock buybacks was just 589 billion dollars in 2007.

This year, we may come close to doubling the previous record.

And let us not forget that the year after 2007 was the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

So what corporations are the worst offenders?  Here is more from CNN

Apple (AAPL) alone spent a whopping $45 billion on buybacks during the first half of 2018, triple what it did during the same time period last year, the firm said. That included a record-shattering sum during the first quarter.

Amgen (AMGN), Cisco (CSCO), AbbVie (ABBV) and Oracle (ORCL) have also showered investors with big boosts to their buyback programs.

As I noted earlier, corporate insiders greatly benefit from stock buybacks, and they took advantage of massively inflated stock prices by selling off $10.3 billion worth of their shares during the month of August.

Inflating your stock price by cannibalizing your own shares is not a good long-term strategy for any corporation, but without a doubt it is making a lot of people very wealthy.

But in the process, the size of the stock market as a whole has been steadily shrinking.  In fact, the number of shares on the S&P 500 has fallen by almost 8 percent since the beginning of 2011…

According to Ed Yardeni, the number of S&P 500 shares has shrunk by 7.7% since the start of 2011. This tends to increase the earnings per remaining share and the dividends available per remaining share.

This is yet another example that shows why the stock market has become completely disconnected from economic reality.  Wall Street is inhabited by con men that are promoting Ponzi scheme after Ponzi scheme, and it is only a matter of time before the entire system collapses under its own weight.

But for now, the euphoria on Wall Street continues as stock prices continue to march higher.  Meanwhile, we continue to get more signs of trouble from the real economy.  For instance, this week we learned that the third largest bank in the entire country is going to lay off thousands of workers

Wells Fargo, the third-biggest U.S. bank, plans to lower its employee headcount by 5 percent to 10 percent in the next three years as part of its ongoing turnaround plan, the company announced Thursday.

The bank has 265,000 employees, meaning the reduction would result in a loss of between 13,250 and 26,500 jobs.

Why would they do that if the economy was in good shape?

And globally, the emerging market currency crisis has continued to escalate.  According to one source, more than 80 percent of all global currencies have fallen in value so far this year…

A review of the values of 143 global currencies indicates that so far this year, more than 80 percent have fallen in value.

Another eleven appear to be pegged to the dollar and 13 have risen in value. Of the 13 that have increased in value, only six are up more than 1 percent versus the dollar.

There have been outsized declines in countries like Venezuela (down 99 percent), Argentina (53 percent) and Turkey (38 percent). However, Brazil is down 20 percent, Russia 15 percent, India 11 percent, Sweden 10 percent, and the Philippines 8 percent. Big economies like China are experiencing a 5 percent currency value decline while the Euro is off by 3 percent.

I applaud those that have made lots of money in the stock market, but the party will not last forever.

In 2007 corporations were pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into stock buybacks, and it propped up the market for a time.  But eventually the bubble burst and the crisis of 2008 was so dramatic that it will be remembered forever.

Now we are facing a similar scenario, and it is just a matter of time before this bubble bursts as well.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

Median Household Income Has Fallen For FIVE YEARS IN A ROW

Five - Photo by woodley wonderworksIf the economy is getting better, then why do incomes keep falling?  According to a shocking new report that was just released by the U.S. Census Bureau, median household income (adjusted for inflation) has declined for five years in a row.  This has happened even though the federal government has been borrowing and spending money at an unprecedented rate and the Federal Reserve has been on the most reckless money printing spree in U.S. history.  Despite all of the “emergency measures” that have been taken to “stimulate the economy”, things just continue to get worse for average American families.  Americans are working harder than ever, but their paychecks are not reflecting that.  Meanwhile, the cost of everything just keeps going up.  The Federal Reserve insists that inflation is “low”, but anyone that goes grocery shopping or that stops at a gas station knows that is a lie.  In fact, if inflation was calculated the exact same way that it was calculated back in 1980, the inflation rate would be somewhere between 8 and 10 percent right now.  Paychecks are being stretched more than ever before, and that is probably the reason why about three-fourths of the entire country is living paycheck to paycheck at this point.

According to the Census report, the high point for median household income in the United States was back in 1999 ($56,080).  It almost got back to that level in 2007 ($55,627), but ever since then there has been a steady decline.  The following figures come directly from the report, and as you can see, median household income has fallen every single year for the past five years…

2007: $55,627

2008: $53,644

2009: $53,285

2010: $51,892

2011: $51,100

2012: $51,017

How far does that number have to go down before we admit that we have a major problem on our hands?

The new Census report also revealed that 46.5 million Americans are living in poverty.  As CNSNews.com noted, this is far higher than when Barack Obama first entered the White House…

During the four years that marked President Barack Obama’s first term in office, the real median income of American households dropped by $2,627 and the number of people on poverty increased by approximately 6,667,000, according to data released today by the Census Bureau.

So why does Obama continue to insist that things are getting better?

Right now, one out of every five households in the United States is on food stamps.

One out of every five.

How bad does it have to get before we acknowledge that what we are doing economically is not working.

Will half of us eventually end up on food stamps?

In addition, the new Census report also says that 48 million Americans are currently without any kind of health insurance whatsoever.

The biggest culprit for this is the stunning decline of employment-based health insurance.  Back in 1999, 64.1 percent of all Americans were covered by employment-based health insurance.  Today, only 54.9 percent are covered by employment-based health insurance.

And of course as I noted yesterday, even more companies are going to be dumping health insurance plans because of Obamacare.

All in all, what we have been witnessing over the past decade and a half is the systematic evisceration of the middle class.

After accounting for inflation, right now 40 percent of all U.S. workers are making less than what a full-time minimum wage worker made back in 1968.

Over the years, our incomes have certainly gone up, but inflation has increased even faster.

Back when I was growing up, $50,000 a year sounded like a whole lot of money.  I thought that anyone should be able to live a very comfortable lifestyle on that amount of money.

Unfortunately, $50,000 a year doesn’t go nearly as far as it once did.

If you take the current median household income ($51,017) and divide it up by 12 months, it comes to just a little bit more than $4000 a month.

And as I noted last year, it is not easy for the average American family to do everything that it needs to do on $4000 a month…

So can an average family of four people make it on just $4000 a month?

Well, first of all you have got to take out taxes.  After accounting for all forms of taxation you will be lucky if you have $3000 remaining.

With that $3000, you have to pay for all of the following…

*Housing

*Power

*Water

*Food

*Phone

*Internet

*At Least One Vehicle

*Gasoline

*Vehicle Repairs

*Car Insurance

*Health Insurance

*Dental Bills

*Home Or Rental Insurance

*Life Insurance

*Student Loan Debt Payments

*Credit Card Payments

*Furniture

*Clothing

*Pets

*Entertainment (although it is hard to imagine any money will be left for that)

Have I left anything out?

The truth is that $3000 does not go as far as it used to.

No wonder American families are feeling so stretched financially these days.

The new Census report also noted that the gap between the wealthiest Americans and the rest of us continues to grow.  There is certainly nothing wrong with making money, but if the economy was working properly all Americans should be able to have the opportunity to better themselves.

According to CNBC, the 400 wealthiest Americans now have more money than the poorest 50 percent of all Americans combined.

So why is this happening?  Well, certainly there are a lot of reasons, but in recent years quantitative easing has definitely played a role.  As I noted in my recent article about the Federal Reserve, quantitative easing has been incredibly good for those with stocks and other forms of financial investments.  All of that liquidity has juiced the financial markets, and the extremely wealthy have been loving it.

Meanwhile, things just continue to get even tougher for most of the rest of the American people, and the frightening thing is that the next major wave of the economic collapse has not even hit us yet.

How bad will things be for average American families once that happens?

And there are certainly lots of troubling signs as we get ready to head into the fall season…

-Total mortgage activity has dropped to the lowest level that we have seen since October 2008.

-One of the largest furniture manufacturers in America was just forced into bankruptcy.

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

Hopefully the slow and steady economic decline that we have been experiencing will not accelerate into a full-blown avalanche any time soon.

But I would definitely get prepared just in case.

The “McDonald’s Budget”: Laughably Unrealistic But Also Deeply Tragic

The McDonald's BudgetCan you support a family on $2,000 a month?  Recently, McDonald’s and Visa teamed up to launch a website that is intended to help employees of McDonald’s manage their money.  The aspect of the website that is getting a tremendous amount of national attention is the “McDonald’s Budget” which is a sample monthly budget which is designed to help workers plan their spending.  You can see a copy of it for yourself right here.  This budget is laughably unrealistic, but it is also deeply tragic, because there are tens of millions of American workers that are actually trying to raise families on this kind of an income.

The first thing that you will notice about the McDonald’s Budget is that it expects workers to have two jobs.  It is an open admission that working at McDonald’s is not enough to survive.  So this budget assumes that the worker will take on a second job which will pay nearly as much as the first one does.  Assuming that both jobs pay about the minimum wage, the budget will require about 70 to 80 hours of work every week.

People can put in those kind of hours for a time, but after a while your body starts to break down.  I have been there, and I have known many others that have been there.

But let’s assume that the hypothetical worker that this budget is for can work that many hours indefinitely.  The budget assumes a yearly income of about $24,000 after taxes, and that would make it a fairly typical budget for a typical working class American.

In the United States today, 47 percent of all U.S. workers make less than $25,000 a year before taxes.  So millions upon millions of U.S. workers are trying to make ends meet each month on very limited incomes.

Does the “McDonald’s Budget” provide any solutions for those workers?

Well, this budget allocates $0 for food, so if you plan on following this budget you might want to anticipate fasting a lot each month.

This budget also allocates $0 for gasoline.  So either you will have to ride a bicycle or walk everywhere you go.

This budget does not allocate any money for clothing either.  If you really need something to wear, perhaps you can take some cash from the “monthly spending money” category and go down to the local thrift store and get something.

In addition, this budget has no money for water, no money for child care and you might as well forget about saving for retirement.  But if you work yourself 70 to 80 hours a week, you probably won’t even make it to retirement age anyway.

So what are some of the things that actually are in the budget?

Well, it allocates $20 a month for health insurance.

Wow – where can I sign up for that health insurance plan?

As the Washington Post noted, nobody is going to be able to get health insurance that cheaply…

Low-income individuals receive assistance from Medicaid, but an after-tax income of $24,720 would put Medicaid out of reach in most states. The same point will likely apply to the subsidies offered by Obamacare: An individual with an income of $17,000 in California will be able to get a basic health insurance plan at no cost, but an individual making $28,000 will have to pay at least $137 per month.

So even a young, healthy person will have to pay $100 or more for an individual health insurance policy in most circumstances. Perhaps McDonalds is tacitly admitting that many low-income workers, including McDonalds employees, can’t afford health insurance and simply make do without it.

The original version of the budget also assumed that the worker would spend zero dollars a month on “heating”.

Perhaps McDonald’s just expects their workers to freeze all winter.

The new version of the budget now allocates $50 a month for heating.  Perhaps that may work for the state of Florida, but anyone that lives in a northern state knows that it takes a whole lot more than that just to heat up your home to a level that is barely livable during the winter.

This budget is absolutely crazy.  But perhaps even more patronizing then the budget itself is the following statement that is made on the website: “You can have almost anything you want as long as you plan ahead and save for it.”

Oh really?

Do they expect anyone to actually fall for that line?

Don’t get me wrong.  Working at McDonald’s is great for some people.  I worked there myself when I was in high school.  But the vast majority of adult Americans need jobs that will enable them to take care of their families.  And those kinds of jobs are rapidly disappearing.

Last month, the U.S. economy lost 240,000 full-time jobs.  We are about 6 million full-time jobs below the all-time record that was set back in 2007.  For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled: “The Decline Of Breadwinner Jobs Has Resulted In The Longest Bread Lines In American History“.

Today, one out of every four American workers has a job that pays $10 an hour or less.  A lot of very talented people are cutting hair, flipping burgers or working for temp agencies.  Those people should be doing something that takes advantage of their skills and abilities, but the U.S. economy is not producing enough of those kinds of jobs anymore.

Unfortunately, this is only just the beginning.  The next major wave of the economic collapse is rapidly approaching, and when it strikes unemployment in this country is going to get much worse.

So don’t put all of your faith in the system, because the system is failing.  Even if you do have a good job right now, you could lose it at any moment.

Whatever you can do to become more independent of the system is a good thing.  For example, starting up a side business is a wonderful thing.  It takes a tremendous amount of effort, but nobody can fire you if you are the boss.

So what do you think of the “McDonald’s Budget”?  Please feel free to share your opinion by posting a comment below…

McDonald's