The Beginning Of The End
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Hungry For The Holidays: 20 Facts About Hunger In America That Will Blow Your Mind

All over America there are millions of people that will be missing meals and going hungry this holiday season.  Even as much of the country indulges in the yearly ritual of unbridled consumerism that we refer to as “the holiday season”, more families in the United States than ever before will be dealing with not having enough food to eat.  Food stamp use is at an all-time high.  Demand at food banks is at an all-time high.  They keep telling us that we are in an “economic recovery” and yet the middle class continues to shrink and the number of Americans living in poverty just continues to grow.  We are witnessing unprecedented hunger in America, and this especially seems tragic during the holidays.  Much of the country is partying as if the good times will never stop, but families that are living from one meal to the next are facing a completely different reality.  How do you tell your children that there isn’t going to be any food to eat for dinner?  How do you explain to them that other families have plenty to eat but you don’t?  Sadly, many food banks are overstretched at this point.  All over the nation, food pantries have actually had to turn people away because of the overwhelming demand.  And more Americans used food stamps to buy their Thanksgiving dinners this year than ever before.  This is a problem that is not going away any time soon, and when the next major economic downturn strikes the problem of hunger in America is going to get even worse.

For many Americans, hunger has become a way of life.  Families that don’t have enough money are often faced with some absolutely heartbreaking choices.  Just check out what one Maine official that works with the Emergency Food Assistance Program recently had to say

“One in six people in Maine don’t know where their next meal is coming from, or skip a meal so their kids can eat, or have to choose between paying for prescriptions and food, or fuel for your car and food,” Hall said. “What’s amazing is that food is always the first thing to go from your budget. It’s staggering, the choices people have to make.”

Food banks all over the country try their best to do what they can, especially during the holidays, but it is often not enough.  In fact, some food banks ran out of turkeys well in advance of Thanksgiving this year

Three days in advance of Thanksgiving, the Pear Street Cupboard and Café in Framingham, Massachusetts, is out of turkeys. According to organizers, “requests for help are up 400 percent over last year.”

But it isn’t just during the holidays that food banks are having problems keeping up with demand.  The truth is that many food banks find themselves out of food and having to turn away hungry families all throughout the year.  The following is from a recent Reuters article

Overall, food pantries and soup kitchens reported a 5 percent spike in demand in 2012, according to the survey. More than half of providers said they were forced to turn away clients, reduce portion sizes, or limit their hours.

In Staten Island, all of the agencies that respond to hunger reported not having enough food to meet demand, while in the Bronx that was true for 80 percent of agencies. In Queens and Brooklyn, more than 60 percent of agencies did not have enough food to meet the needs of the populations they serve.

If you are able, please support your local food bank.  The needs are great and they are only going to get greater.

The following are 20 facts about hunger in America that will blow your mind…

#1 According to one calculation, the number of Americans on food stamps now exceeds the combined populations of “Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.”

#2 In October 2008, 30.8 million Americans were on food stamps.  By August 2012 that number had risen to 47.1 million Americans.

#3 Right now, one out of every seven Americans is on food stamps and one out of every four American children is on food stamps.

#4 It is projected that half of all American children will be on food stamps at least once before they turn 18 years of age.

#5 According to new numbers that were just released by the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of Americans living in poverty increased to a new all-time record high of 49.7 million last year.

#6 The number of Americans living in poverty has increased by about 6 million over the past four years.

#7 Today, about one out of every four workers in the United States brings home wages that are at or below the federal poverty level.

#8 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the poverty rate for children living in the United States is about 22 percent.

#9 Overall, approximately 57 percent of all children in the United States are living in homes that are either considered to be either “low income” or impoverished.

#10 In the United States today, close to 100 million Americans are considered to be either “poor” or “near poor”.

#11 One university study estimates that child poverty costs the U.S. economy 500 billion dollars each year.

#12 Households that are led by a single mother have a 31.6 percent poverty rate.

#13 In 2010, 42 percent of all single mothers in the United States were on food stamps.

#14 According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, 36.4 percent of all children in Philadelphia are living in poverty, 40.1 percent of all children in Atlanta are living in poverty, 52.6 percent of all children in Cleveland are living in poverty and 53.6 percent of all children in Detroit are living in poverty.

#15 Since 2007, the number of children living in poverty in the state of California has increased by 30 percent.

#16 Family homelessness in the Washington D.C. region (one of the wealthiest regions in the entire country) has risen 23 percent since the last recession began.

#17 There are 314 counties in the United States where at least 30 percent of the children are facing food insecurity.

#18 More than 20 million U.S. children rely on school meal programs to keep from going hungry.

#19 Right now, more than 100 million Americans are enrolled in at least one welfare program run by the federal government.  And that does not even count Social Security or Medicare.

#20 According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, approximately 40 percent of all food in America “is routinely thrown away by consumers at home, discarded or unserved at restaurants or left unharvested on farms.”

17 Quotes About The Coming Global Financial Collapse That Will Make Your Hair Stand Up

Is the world on the verge of another massive global financial collapse?  Yes.  The western world is drowning in an ocean of debt unlike anything the world has ever seen before, and our financial markets are gigantic casinos that are dependent on huge mountains of risk and leverage remaining very stable.  In the end, this house of cards that has been built on a foundation of sand is going to come crashing down in a horrifying manner.  Usually in this column I go on and on about why things will soon get much worse.  But today I am going to take a bit of a break.  Today, I am going to let some of the top financial professionals in the world tell you why things will soon get much worse.  Many of the quotes that you are about to read just might make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.  Most people out there have no idea what is about to happen.  Most people out there are working hard and are busy preparing for the holidays and they are hopeful that the economy will turn around soon.  But that is not going to happen.  We are heading for another major global financial collapse, and when it happens the U.S. economy is going to get even worse.

The epicenter for the coming global financial collapse is almost certainly going to be in Europe.  As you will see below, financial professionals all over the world are sounding the alarm about Europe.  It is a disaster that everyone can see coming but that nobody seems to be able to prevent.

Of course the failure of the “supercommittee” in the United States certainly is not helping matters.  There is already talk that we may soon see another downgrade for U.S. debt.  It is hard to even describe how incompetent the U.S. Congress is.

There is a tremendous lack of leadership both in the United States and in Europe right now.  The financial world is more interconnected than ever before, and when the financial dominoes start to fall it is going to take a miracle to keep a complete and total disaster from unfolding.

So when the time comes, who is going to step forward and provide that leadership?

That is a really, really good question.

Right now, panic and fear are spreading like wildfire in the financial world and nobody knows for sure what is going to happen next.

But one thing is for certain.  Pessimism is growing stronger by the day.

The following are 17 quotes about the coming global financial collapse that will make your hair stand up….

#1 Credit Suisse’s Fixed Income Research unit: “We seem to have entered the last days of the euro as we currently know it. That doesn’t make a break-up very likely, but it does mean some extraordinary things will almost certainly need to happen – probably by mid-January – to prevent the progressive closure of all the euro zone sovereign bond markets, potentially accompanied by escalating runs on even the strongest banks.”

#2 Willem Buiter, chief economist at Citigroup: “Time is running out fast.  I think we have maybe a few months — it could be weeks, it could be days — before there is a material risk of a fundamentally unnecessary default by a country like Spain or Italy which would be a financial catastrophe dragging the European banking system and North America with it.”

#3 Jim Reid of Deutsche Bank: “If you don’t think Merkel’s tone will change then our investment advice is to dig a hole in the ground and hide.”

#4 David Rosenberg, a senior economist at Gluskin Sheff in Toronto: “Lenders are finding it difficult to finance their day-to-day operations with short-term funding. This is a lot like 2008 but with more twists.”

#5 Christian Stracke, the head of credit research for Pimco: “This is just a repeat of what we saw in 2008, when everyone wanted to see toxic assets off the banks’ balance sheets”

#6 Paul Krugman of the New York Times: “At this point I’d guess soaring rates on Italian debt leading to a gigantic bank run, both because of solvency fears about Italian banks given a default and because of fear that Italy will end up leaving the euro. This then leads to emergency bank closing, and once that happens, a decision to drop the euro and install the new lira. Next stop, France.”

#7 Paul Hickey of Bespoke Investment Group: “More and more, we are hearing anecdotal comments from individual and professionals that this is the most difficult environment they have ever experienced as the market is like a fish flopping around after being taken out of the water.”

#8 Bob Janjuah of Nomura International: “Germany appears to be adamant that full political and fiscal integration over the next decade (nothing substantive will happen over the short term, in my view) is the only option, and ECB monetisation is no longer possible. I really think it is that clear and simple. And if I am wrong, and the ECB does a U-turn and agrees to unlimited monetisation, I will simply wait for the inevitable knee-jerk rally to fade before reloading my short risk positions. Even if Germany and the ECB somehow agree to unlimited monetisation I believe it will do nothing to fix the insolvency and lack of growth in the eurozone. It will just result in a major destruction of the ECB‟s balance sheet which will force an ECB recap. At that point, I think Germany and its northern partners would walk away. Markets always want short, sharp, simple solutions.”

#9 Dan Akerson, CEO of General Motors: “The ’08 recession, which was a credit bubble that manifested itself through primarily the real estate market, that was a serious stress….This is much more serious.”

#10 Francesco Garzarelli of Goldman Sachs: “Pressures on Euro area sovereign bond markets have progressively intensified and spread like a wildfire.”

#11 Jim Rogers: “In 2002 it was bad, in 2008 it was worse and 2012 or 2013 is going to be worse still – be careful”

#12 Dr. Pippa Malmgren, the President and founder of Principalis Asset Management who once worked in the White House as an adviser to President Bush: “Market forces are increasingly determining what the options are and foreclosing on options policymakers thought they had. One option which is now under discussion involves permitting a country to temporarily leave the Euro, return to its native currency, devalue, commit to returning to the Euro at a better debt to GDP ratio, a better exchange rate and a better growth trajectory and yet not sacrifice its EU membership. I would like to say for the record that this is precisely the thought process that I expected to evolve,but when I proposed this possibility back in 2009, and again in September 2010, I had a 100% response from clients and others that this was “impossible” and many felt it was “ridiculous”. They may be right but this is the current state of the discussion. The Handelsblatt in Germany has reported this conversation, but wrongly assumes that the country that will exit is Germany. I think that Germany will have to exit if the Southern European states do not. Germany’s preference is to stay in the Euro and have the others drop out. The problem has been the Germans could not convince the others to walk away. But, now, market pressures are forcing someone to leave. Germany is pushing for that someone to be Italy. They hope that this would be a one off exception, not to be repeated by any other country. Obviously, though, if Italy leaves the Euro and reverts to Lira then the markets will immediately and forcefully attack Spain, Portugal and even whatever is left  of the already savaged Greeks. These countries will not be able to compete against a devalued Greece or Italy when it come to tourism or even infrastructure. But, the principal target will be France. The three largest French banks have roughly 450 billion Euros of exposure to Italian debt. So, further sovereign defaults are certainly inevitable, but that is true under any scenario. Growth and austerity will not do the trick, as ZeroHedge rightly points out. Ultimately, I will not be at all surprised to see Europe’s banking system shut for days while the losses and payments issues are worked out. People forget that the term “bank holiday” was invented in the 1930’s when the banks were shut for exactly the same reason.”

#13 Daniel Clifton, a policy strategist with Strategas Research Partners on the potential for more downgrades of U.S. debt: “We would expect further downgrades, a first downgrade from Moody’s and Fitch and possibly a second downgrade from S&P.”

#14 Warren Buffett on the problems in the eurozone: “The system as presently designed has revealed a major flaw. And that flaw won’t be corrected just by words. Europe will either have to come closer together or there will have to be some other rearrangement because this system is not working”

#15 David Kostin, equity strategist for Goldman Sachs: “The wide range of possible outcomes on both the super committee process and the unstable political economy in Europe drives our view that investors should assume the worst while hoping for the best.”

#16 Mark Mobius, the head of the emerging markets desk at Templeton Asset Management: “There is definitely going to be another financial crisis around the corner”

#17 Gerald Celente, founder of The Trends Research Institute: “The whole system is going down. Pull your money out your Fidelity account, your Scwhab accout, and your ETFs.”

Are you starting to get the picture?

When so many top financial professionals are freaking out like this, perhaps the rest of us should start paying attention.

They are telling us that “time is running out”.

They are telling us that “there is definitely going to be another financial crisis”.

They are telling us that this “is going to be worse” than 2008.

They are telling us that “the whole system is going down”.

Yes, a devastating financial collapse really is coming.  Just like in 2008, it will seem like the “end of the world” while it is happening, but it won’t be.  It will severely damage our financial system and our economy, but it will not finish us off.

Think of it this way.  When you build a sand castle at the beach, it doesn’t get totally wiped out by the first wave or the second wave that hits it.  Each wave does significant damage, but the destruction of your sand castle is a process.

It is the same thing with the U.S. economy.  We once had the most incredible economic machine that the world has ever seen.  It is constantly being gutted and the financial crisis of 2008 hit us really hard, but we are still doing okay.

After this next financial crisis we will be in even worse shape.  But we will still be breathing.

More “waves” will come after this next financial crisis.  If we continue on the road that we are on, our economy will progressively get worse and worse.

Not everyone will agree with this analysis, and that is okay.  In the end, time will reveal the truth to all of us.

Right now, we all need to get ready for the next wave that is about to hit us.  A lot of people are going to lose their jobs over the next few years.  Hopefully you are prepared for that.

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