The Mainstream Media Declares That This Is “The Worst Time In Decades To Make Money In The Markets”

It looks like the turmoil for the financial markets is going to continue to get worse, and the mainstream media is really starting to freak out.  Just a few months ago, they were continuously using the word “booming” to describe the state of the U.S. economy and they were assuring us that the stock market was going to continue to go up.  But after a couple of really bad months, there has been a dramatic psychological shift.  Instead of telling us that everything is going to be great, now the mainstream media is starting to sound just like The Economic Collapse Blog.  For example, Bloomberg just posted an article with this rather startling headline: “It’s the worst time in decades to make money in the markets”

Market statisticians are falling over each other in 2018 to describe the pain being felt across asset classes. One venerable shop frames it this way: Things haven’t been this bad since Richard Nixon’s presidency.

Ned Davis Research puts markets into eight big asset classes — everything from bonds to U.S. and international stocks to commodities. And not a single one of them is on track to post a return this year of more than 5 percent, a phenomenon last observed in 1972, according to Ed Clissold, a strategist at the firm.

Usually there are at least a few asset classes that are making money, but in 2018 nothing is working.

And it appears that Wednesday is going to be another really tough day on Wall Street.  As I write this article, Dow futures are down more than 300 points, and that almost certainly means that the Dow will be pushed well below the 25,000 threshold.

As I have discussed before, 25,000 is a key psychological resistance barrier for the Dow.  If stock prices break through that barrier and don’t immediately bounce back, the rush for the exits could become a stampede.

The biggest piece of news that is rattling investors at the moment is the fact that Huawei CFO Wanzhou Meng was just arrested in Canada, and it looks like she will be extradited to the United States.  She is also the daughter of the founder of the company, and that makes her a very powerful woman in China.

Needless to say, the Chinese are very upset about this, and they are promising to “take all measures” to protect her “legitimate rights”.  The following comes from their official statement

At the request of the US side, the Canadian side arrested a Chinese citizen not violating any American or Canadian law. The Chinese side firmly opposes and strongly protests over such kind of actions which seriously harmed the human rights of the victim. The Chinese side has lodged stern representations with the US and Canadian side, and urged them to immediately correct the wrongdoing and restore the personal freedom of Ms. Meng Wanzhou. We will closely follow the development of the issue and take all measures to resolutely protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens.

Unless Meng is released, and that seems very doubtful at this point, you can absolutely forget about any sort of a “truce” between the United States and China.

Sadly, most Americans don’t really understand what is happening.  Most Americans are still entirely convinced that the U.S. and China are “friends”, but that was never really accurate.  At best, we were “frenemies”, but now relations have taken an extremely sour turn.

In the months ahead, relations between the United States and China will almost certainly continue to deteriorate, and the two largest economies on the entire planet will increasingly decouple from one another.  This will be a decidedly negative development for the entire global economy, but there is no going back at this point.

And we continue to get more confirmation that the global economic slowdown is starting to accelerate.  For example, Reuters just announced that it will be eliminating 3,200 jobs

Thomson Reuters Corp said on Tuesday that it will cut its workforce by 12 percent in the next two years, axing 3,200 jobs, as part of a plan to streamline the business and reduce costs.

The news and information provider, which completed the sale of a 55-per cent stake in its Financial & Risk (F&R) unit to private equity firm Blackstone Group LP, announced the cuts during an investor day in Toronto, in which it outlined its future strategy and growth plans.

We have also gotten more evidence that consumer credit is really starting to tighten up.  The following numbers come from Business Insider

Rejection rates for credit-card applicants came in at 20.8% in the October survey, up from 14.4% a year ago, while the rejection rate for credit-limit increases ticked up to 31.7%, compared with 24.9% a year ago.

Meanwhile, the proportion of respondents who had an account shut down by a lender reached its highest level since the Fed launched the “Credit Access Survey” in 2013. In October, 7.2% of surveyed consumers reported having an account involuntarily shut down in the previous 12 months, up from 5.7% last year and 4.2% in 2016.

The reason why rejection rates and account shutdowns are soaring is because credit card debt delinquency rates have been rising.

More Americans are getting behind on their credit card payments, and this is spooking a lot of financial institutions.  But if consumer credit really tightens up, that is going to cause economic activity to slow even further, and that will just make a very deep recession even more inevitable.

Sadly, debt bubbles do not last forever.  The big credit card companies can see what is happening, and they are trying to protect themselves.

On a national level, “the Everything Bubble” is now beginning to burst, and for many investors the goal has shifted from “maximizing returns” to “wealth preservation”.

Unfortunately just about every single asset class is doing poorly right now, and as Zero Hedge has noted, that means that “there’s nowhere to run”…

The inability of any single asset class to escape the dismal black hole supergravity of devastating losses in a brutal post-BTFD catharsis that has mutated into an equal-opportunity rout, crushing returns across all assets, has left investors reeling, shellshocked and paralyzed, and dreading what may come tomorrow let alone next year when both the US economy and corporate earnings are expected to see their supercharged recent growth rates come crashing back down to earth.

Such a uniform underperformance by all assets is unique in history, because when “something falls, something else gains. Amid the financial catastrophe of 2008, Treasuries rallied. In 1974, commodities were a bright spot. In 2002, it was REITs.” Yet, in 2018, there’s nowhere to run.

The bull market survived for much longer than many were anticipating, but now the party is over.

Nobody is quite sure exactly what is going to happen next, but there is a growing consensus that whatever is going to happen is likely to be very painful.

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 Psychological Bubble That Has Been Propping Up The U.S. Economy Is Starting To Implode

Optimism can be a very powerful thing.  For a long time Americans believed that things would get better, and that caused them to take action to make things better, and that actually resulted in things moving in a positive direction.  But now things have abruptly shifted.  In late 2018, an increasing number of Americans believe that an economic downturn is coming, and they are taking actions consistent with that belief.  As a result, they are actually helping to produce the result that they fear.  And without a doubt, any rational person should be able to see that signs that the U.S. economy is slowing down are all around us.  So it isn’t as if those that are preparing for the worst are being irrational.  It is just that when large numbers of people all start to move in the same direction, it has a very powerful effect.  We witnessed this in the stock market in recent years when people just kept buying stocks even though they were massively overvalued.  The collective belief that there was money to be made in the stock market became a self-fulfilling prophecy which pushed stock prices up to absurd heights.  But now that process is beginning to reverse as well, and ultimately the unwinding of that bubble will be quite painful.

Over the past couple of years the dominant economic narrative that the mainstream media was pushing was that the U.S. economy was “booming”, and this encouraged businesses to expand and consumers to go out and spend money.

But now the dominant economic narrative has changed, and businesses are starting to take actions that are consistent with the new narrative.  In the retail industry, if executives truly believed we would see an economic boom in the years ahead they would be expanding, but instead stores are being closed at a record pace

Mall and shopping center owners across the U.S. are preparing to be hit by more store closures, following a brutal year that included department store chains like Bon-Ton and Sears going bankrupt, Toys R Us liquidating and even Walmart shutting dozens of its club stores.

Now, a slew of specialty retailers like Gap and L Brands are getting serious about downsizing, which will leave more vacant storefronts within malls until landlords are able to replace tenants.

As a result of these store closings, large numbers of workers will be without jobs, vendors will not be receiving orders and mall owners will be without tenants.

In other words, economic activity will slow down.

Another sector where there has been a major psychological shift is in the real estate industry.  Home prices have been falling all over the nation, and this includes markets that were once extremely hot such as San Francisco

In San Francisco, the number of homes with a price cut in October nearly doubled, to 238 from 124 last October, according to data from Realtor.com.

That’s nothing compared to Santa Clara County, where the number of price cuts rose to 818 last month, more than six times last year’s number. Santa Clara County had been one of the nation’s hottest markets this year, and the Bay Area’s price appreciation leader until September.

“Clearly, there is a market shift,” said Rich Bennett, a Zephyr agent in San Francisco.

If homeowners believed that this dip was just temporary and that home prices would start surging again next year as the U.S. economy thrives, it would be quite foolish of them to slash their prices like this.

In some cases, home prices are being reduced by hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Why throw all of that money away if the market is going to bounce back shortly?

Over in the auto industry, there has also been a noticeable psychological shift.

If the U.S. economy was going to be doing extremely well in the years ahead, the major automakers should all be gearing up for record sales.

But instead, General Motors just shut a bunch of factories and laid off 14,000 workers, and Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas is projecting that Ford will soon be laying off large numbers of employees

“We estimate a large portion of Ford’s restructuring actions will be focused on Ford Europe, a business we currently value at negative $7 billion,” Jonas wrote. “But we also expect a significant restructuring effort in North America, involving significant numbers of both salaried and hourly UAW and CAW workers.”

Ford’s 70,000 salaried employees have been told they face unspecified job losses by the middle of next year as the automaker works through an “organizational redesign” aimed at creating a white-collar workforce “designed for speed,” according to Karen Hampton, a spokeswoman.

“These actions will come largely outside of North America,” Hampton said of Ford’s restructuring. “All of this work is ongoing and publishing a job-reduction figure at this point would be pure speculation.”

Shifting gears, let’s talk about agriculture.

If farmers believed that the trade war was just temporary and that things would soon swing back in their favor, many of them would keep trying to hold on for as long as they possibly could.

But instead, farm bankruptcies are absolutely surging

A total of 84 farms in the upper Midwest filed for bankruptcy between July 2017 and June 2018, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. That’s more than double the number of Chapter 12 filings during the same period in 2013 and 2014 in Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana, reported Vox.

Farms that produce corn, soybeans, milk, and beef were all suffering due to low global demand and low prices before the trade war, according to economists, but president Trump’s trade war is making the problem even worse by exacerbating the weaknesses in the American economy. China has retaliated against the tariffs by slapping billions of dollars worth of tariffs on United States agriculture exports in response to Trump’s tariffs on Chinese products. Other countries, including Canada, have also added duties to US agriculture products in response to Trump’s tariffs on all imported steel and aluminum.

Most Americans want to have hope, but when they look at our economic situation all they see is a very bleak future.

And in some parts of the nation, there still hasn’t been any sort of a “recovery” from the last recession.  For example, a recent Bloomberg article took a hard look at what conditions are currently like in eastern Kentucky…

Tiffany Hensley’s drive home takes her through some picturesque scenery, and an ugly economy.

“The first thing you see when you get down here is beauty,” says Hensley, midway through her shift at a diner in the rolling hills of eastern Kentucky. “But then you get to looking around. It’s real rough.’’

Of course eastern Kentucky is far from alone.  Yes, coastal cities such as San Francisco and New York have prospered in recent years, but rural communities all across America have been deeply suffering.

And now economic conditions are deteriorating once again nationally, and things are about to get a whole lot tougher for everyone.

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 One Election Scenario That Would Be A “Disaster” For The Financial Markets

On Tuesday night all of the speculation about the midterm elections will mercifully be over, and there is one potential outcome that is being called a “disaster” for the financial markets.  Over the past couple of years, stock prices have soared to unprecedented levels, and Wall Street has seemed to greatly appreciate the pro-business environment that President Trump has attempted to cultivate.  Regulations have been rolled back, corporate taxes have been reduced significantly, and many corporate executives no longer fear that the federal government is out to get them.  But after Tuesday, everything could be different.

The most likely outcome appears to be that the Democrats will take control of the House of Representatives and the Republicans will remain in control of the Senate.  For what it is worth, Nate Silver is currently projecting that the Democrats have an 88 percent chance of winning the House and only a 19 percent chance of winning the Senate.

But of course he was also projecting a huge landslide victory for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

In any event, a divided Congress would create gridlock in Washington, and according to Wedbush Securities managing director Steve Massocca that would produce “some negative fallout” for the financial markets…

Steve Massocca, Wedbush Securities managing director said there could be some negative fallout from a split Congress, since Democrats would hold committee chairmen seats in the House. “To what extent are they able to disrupt the Trump agenda will weigh on peoples’ minds,” he said.

“Donald Trump, the agenda, is very good for the markets. Less regulation, lower taxes,” he said.

But in the end, such a scenario is not likely to move stock prices too substantially.

However, if the Democrats are able to take control of both houses of Congress on Tuesday, Massocca believes that would truly be a “disaster” for stock prices…

The least likely scenario—a Democratic sweep— is also seen as the most negative for stocks.

“Disaster,” said Massocca.

Normally by now we would have a really good idea of what is going to happen tomorrow, but at this point the polls are all over the place.

For example, the last generic poll conducted by CNN has Democrats up by 13 points, but the last generic poll conducted by Rasmussen has Republicans in the lead

One day before Americans head to cast their ballots in the crucial midterm congressional elections, two final polls conducted by CNN and Rasmussen have predicted wildly different results.

The final generic poll conducted by left-leaning CNN has put Democrats 13 points ahead of Republicans. Meanwhile, a separate poll carried out by the more right-leaning Rasmussen agency has suggested that Republicans are leading, but by a much smaller margin of one point.

For the record, Rasmussen was more accurate back in 2016, and in only about 24 hours we will find out who was more accurate this time around.

There are some that are entirely convinced that Republicans will be able to maintain control of both houses of Congress, and needless to say that would almost certainly cause a huge surge on Wall Street.  In fact, one Nevada lawyer is so sure that Republicans will maintain control of the House of Representatives that he just flew to London and bet $130,000 of his own money on that outcome…

A big political gambler I met in Las Vegas in 2016 is in London betting that the Republican Party will keep control of the U.S. Congress. Robert Barnes is essentially wagering that U.S. pollsters haven’t fixed any of the problems that led them astray during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Barnes, a trial lawyer, lives in Las Vegas, frequenting the city’s sportsbooks, but he has to travel to the British Isles to wager on U.S. politics since it’s not allowed in the U.S. On this side of the Atlantic, the bookies know him as a high roller; the political betting team at Ladbrokes even tweeted his photo to mark his arrival and his 100,000 pound ($130,000) bet on the Republicans’ House majority. Given that the entire U.S. primaries betting market is in the single millions in the U.K. and Ireland, that’s quite momentous.

$130,000 is an enormous amount of money, and so I hope that he knows what he is doing.

On the other side, Nancy Pelosi is so confident about the outcome that she has already declared victory on national television.

But of course many other leading Democrats are extremely nervous right now.  They remember the election night debacle of 2016, and they are concerned that something like that might happen again.

Democratic pollster John Anzalone is describing what they are going through as “the bed-wetting phase”

Haunted by memories of 2016, liberals around the country are riven with anxiety in the campaign’s homestretch. They’re suspicious of favorable polls and making election night contingency plans in case their worst fears come true. Some report literal nightmares about a Democratic wipeout.

“We’re kind of just in the bed-wetting phase now,” said Democratic pollster John Anzalone, a Hillary Clinton campaign alumnus who spent election night 2016 in Clinton’s Manhattan war room.

If the Democrats are unable to take the House, that will probably mean that a late “red wave” has saved the day for the Republicans and it will also probably mean that they will likely increase their Senate majority by a little bit.

In that scenario, we will see a lot more than “bed-wetting” from the left.  Their hopes have been pinned on these midterm elections for nearly two years, and a crushing loss could set off a national temper tantrum of frightening proportions.

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.

Global Banking Stocks Are Crashing Hard – Just Like They Did In 2008

Global stocks are falling precipitously once again, and banking stocks are leading the way.  If this reminds you of 2008, it should, because that is precisely what we witnessed back then.  Banking stocks collapsed as fear gripped the marketplace, and ultimately many large global banks had to be bailed out either directly or indirectly by their national governments as they failed one after another.  The health of the banking system is absolutely paramount, because the flow of money is our economic lifeblood.  When the flow of money tightens up during a credit crunch, the consequences can be rapid and dramatic just like we witnessed in 2008.

So let’s keep a very close eye on banking stocks.  Global systemically important bank stocks surged in the aftermath of Trump’s victory in 2016, but now they are absolutely plunging.  They are now down a whopping 27 percent from the peak, and that puts them solidly in bear market territory.

U.S. banking stocks are not officially in bear market territory yet, but they are getting close.  At this point, they are now down 17 percent from the peak…

Monday early afternoon, the US KBW Bank index, which tracks large US banks and serves as a benchmark for the banking sector, is down 2.5% at the moment. It has dropped 17% from its post-Financial Crisis high on January 29.

Of course European banking stocks are doing much worse.  Right now they are down 27 percent from the peak and 23 percent from a year ago.  The following comes from Wolf Richter

But unlike their American brethren, the European banks have remained stuck in the miserable Financial Crisis mire – a financial crisis that in Europe was followed by the Euro Debt Crisis. The Stoxx 600 bank index, which covers major European banks, including our hero Deutsche Bank, has plunged 27% since February 29, 2018, and is down 23% from a year ago

I wish that we didn’t have a global economic system that was so dependent on the “too big to fail” banks, but we do.

If they aren’t healthy, nobody is going to be healthy for long, and it is starting to look and feel a whole lot like 2008.

But unlike 2008, we also have a global trade war to contend with.  The CEO of one yacht company recently told USA Today that tariffs have had a “catastrophic” effect on his company…

Tariffs imposed on goods by the European Union, and the Chinese and American governments on boats, cribs, bourbon, and more have put Wisconsin businesses between a rock and a hard place. The tariffs imposed are already damaging a bloated bubble economy and the hardships are just beginning.

“It’s been catastrophic,” said Rob Parmentier, who is the president and CEO of Marquis-Larson Boat Group, which builds Carver yachts in Pulaski, Wisconsin. According to USA Today, the first “hand grenade,” as Parmentier described it, tossed during the trade wars at him specifically, was a 25 percent tariff the European Union placed this year on boats built in the United States, along with scores of other products including Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

I have previously warned my readers that the damage caused by this trade war would get progressively worse the longer that it lasts.

Many companies have been trying to ride it out, but eventually the money runs out and layoffs start happening

“We’ve had a lot of order cancellations. Canada and Europe have essentially stopped buying boats,” Parmentier said according to USA Today. “We’ve been absorbing some of the additional costs … hoping the tariffs will go away. But we can only do that for so long,” he said. The next step is layoffs.

Anyone that thought that this trade war would not have very serious consequences was just fooling themselves.  According to one source, tariffs paid by U.S. businesses are up 45 percent compared to a year ago…

“For the most recent months available, August 2018, the amount of tariffs paid increased by $1.4 billion — or 45% — as compared to tariffs paid in August 2017. Tariff costs in Michigan tripled to $178 million and more than doubled in multiple states — to $424 million in Texas, $193 million in Illinois, $50 million in Alabama, $29 million in Oklahoma, $23 million in Louisana, and $7.3 million in West Virginia.

These costs strain businesses of all sizes but are particularly painful for small business, manufacturers, and consumers who bear the burden of tariff increases in the form of higher prices,” via the data compiled by The Trade Partnership and released by Tariffs Hurt the Heartland.

And it doesn’t look like this trade war is going to end any time soon.  In fact, one key Chinese official recently made it very clear that China is not afraid of a long trade war…

On Monday in Beijing, Zhang Qingli, a leading member of a Chinese committee tasked with forging alliances with other nations, told a small group of U.S. business leaders, lobbyists and public relations executives that China refuses to be intimidated by an ongoing trade war with the Trump administration.

“China never wants a trade war with anybody, not to mention the U.S., who has been a long term strategic partner, but we also do not fear such a war,” Zhang said through a translator, according to a meeting attendee who declined to be named.

We are entering a time when the economy was likely to slow down anyway, but if stocks continue to crash and global banking woes escalate, that is going to spread fear and panic like wildfire.

And when there is fear and panic in the air, lending tends to really tighten up, and a major credit crunch is just about the last thing that we need right now.

It’s been a really bad October for global markets so far, and more trouble is brewing.  Hold on to your hats, because it looks like it is going to be a bumpy ride ahead.

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.

10 Numbers That Prove That America’s Current Financial Condition Is A Horror Show

America’s long-term “balance sheet numbers” just continue to get progressively worse.  Unfortunately, since the stock market has been soaring and the GDP numbers look okay, most Americans assume that the U.S. economy is doing just fine.  But the stock market was soaring and the GDP numbers looked okay just prior to the great financial crisis of 2008 as well, and we saw how that turned out.  The truth is that GDP is not the best measure for the health of the economy.  Judging the U.S. economy by GDP is basically like measuring the financial health of an individual by how much money he or she spends, and I will attempt to illustrate that in this article.

If I went out right now and got a whole bunch of new credit cards and started spending money like there was no tomorrow, would that mean that my financial condition had improved?

No, in fact it would mean that my long-term financial condition just got a whole lot worse.

GDP is a measurement of how much economic activity is happening in our society, and it is basically an indication of how much money is changing hands.

But just because more money is changing hands does not mean that things are going well.  What really matters is what is happening to assets and liabilities.  In other words, is wealth being built or is more debt just being accumulated?

Sadly, there are only a handful of bright spots in our economy.  A couple of very large tech companies such as Apple are accumulating wealth, but just about everywhere else you look debt is growing at an unprecedented pace.  Household debt has never been higher, corporate debt has doubled since the last financial crisis, state and local government debt is at record highs, and the U.S. national debt is wildly out of control.

If I went out tomorrow and spent $20,000 with a bunch of new credit cards, I could claim that my “personal GDP” was soaring because I was spending a lot more money then before.  But my boasting would be pointless because in reality I would just be putting my family in an extremely precarious financial position.

Economic growth that is produced by continually increasing amounts of debt is not a positive thing.  I wish that more people understood this very basic concept.  The following are 10 numbers that prove that America’s current financial condition is a horror show…

#1 U.S. consumer credit just hit another all-time record high.  In the second quarter of 2008, total consumer credit reached a grand total of 2.63 trillion dollars, and now ten years later that number has soared to 3.87 trillion dollars.  That is an increase of 48 percent in just one decade.

#2 Student loan debt has surpassed 1.5 trillion dollars for the first time ever.  Over the last 8 years, the total amount of student loan debt has shot up 79 percent in the United States.

#3 According to the Federal Reserve, the credit card default rate in the U.S. has risen for 7 quarters in a row.

#4 One recent survey found that 42 percent of American consumers paid their credit card bill late “at least once in the last year”, and 24 percent of Americans consumers paid their credit card bills late “more than once in the last year”.

#5 Real wage growth in the United States just declined by the most that we have seen in 6 years.

#6 According to one recent study, the “rate of people 65 and older filing for bankruptcy is three times what it was in 1991”.

#7 We are in the midst of the greatest “retail apocalypse” in American history.  At this point, 57 major retailers have announced store closings so far in 2018.

#8 The size of the official U.S. budget deficit is up 21 percent under President Trump.

#9 It is being projected that interest on the national debt will surpass half a trillion dollars for the first time ever this year.

#10 Goldman Sachs is projecting that the yearly U.S. budget deficit will surpass 2 trillion dollars by 2028.

And I haven’t even talked about unfunded liabilities.  Those are essentially future commitments that we have made that we don’t have the money for at the moment.

According to Professor Larry Kotlikoff, our unfunded liabilities are well in excess of 200 trillion dollars right now.

If individuals, corporations, state and local governments and the federal government all stopped going into more debt, we would plunge into the greatest economic depression in U.S. history immediately.

The system is deeply, deeply broken, and the only way that we can keep this debt bubble going is go keep accumulating even more debt.

Anyone out there that believes that the U.S. economy has been “fixed” is completely deceived.  NOTHING has been fixed.  Instead, our long-term financial imbalances are getting worse at an escalating pace.

Unfortunately, the attitude of the general public is so similar to what it was just prior to the great financial crisis of 2008.  Most people seem to assume that just because we have not experienced great consequences for our very foolish decisions up to this point that no great consequences are coming.

And many also assume that since control of the White House has switched parties that somehow things must magically be better as well.

Of course the truth is that the only way that our long-term problems are ever going to be fixed is if we start addressing the issues that caused those long-term problems in the first place, and that simply is not happening.

As I have traveled extensively over the course of the past year, I discovered that most Americans do not want to make fundamental changes to the system, because they are under the illusion that the current system is working just fine.  So it will probably take another major crisis before most people are ready to consider fundamental changes, and when it finally arrives we will need to be ready to educate the public.

The system that we have today is not fundamentally sound at all.  We desperately need to return to the values and principles that this nation was founded upon, but until things start getting really, really bad it is highly unlikely that the American people will be ready to embrace those changes.

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 Wal-Mart And Boeing Laying Off Workers If The U.S. Economy Is In Good Shape?

wal-mart-photo-by-mikemozartjeepersmediaThe stock market has been on quite a roll in recent weeks, but signs of trouble continue to plague the real economy.  Earlier this week, I talked about the “retail apocalypse” that is sweeping America.  Major retail chains such as Sears and Macy’s are closing stores and laying off workers, but I didn’t think that Wal-Mart would be feeling the pain as well.  Unfortunately, that is precisely what is happening.  USA Today is reporting that approximately 1,000 jobs will be cut at Wal-Mart’s corporate headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas by the end of this month…

Walmart’s plan to lay off of hundreds of employees is the latest ripple in a wave of job cuts and store closures that are roiling the retail industry.

The world’s largest retailer is cutting roughly 1,000 jobs at its corporate headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., later this month, according to a person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to speak about it.

The company is saying that these cuts are necessary because Wal-Mart is always “looking for ways to operate more efficiently and effectively“.  But something doesn’t smell right here.  You don’t get rid of 1,000 employees at your corporate headquarters if everything is just fine.

I have driven past Wal-Mart’s headquarters in Bentonville a number of times, and it is in a beautiful part of the country.  Bentonville and the surrounding areas had been booming, but it looks like times may be changing.

Meanwhile, there are signs of trouble out on the west coast as well.  The Los Angeles Times is reporting that there is going to be a new round of engineering job cuts at Boeing…

Boeing Co. has internally announced a new round of employee buyouts for engineers companywide, including in Southern California, and warned that layoff notices will follow later this month to engineers in Washington state, where the company has a large presence.

Management did not cite a target for the number of projected job cuts.

The news comes after company Vice Chairman Ray Conner and the new chief executive of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, or BCA, Kevin McAllister, warned in December of the need to aim for further cuts in 2017.

And according to Boeing spokesperson Doug Alder, similar job cut announcements are coming for other classes of workers as well.

So why is Boeing getting rid of so many employees?

Well, the truth is that Boeing’s business is way down.  The following comes from Wolf Richter

Business has been tough. In 2016, deliveries fell by 14 jets from a year ago, to 748. Net orders dropped 13% from an already rotten level in 2015, to just 668, down 53% from 2014. And the lowest level since 2010!

When the economy is doing well, air traffic tends to rise, and when the economy is doing poorly it tends to go down.

Needless to say, the fact that Boeing is doing so poorly does not bode well for the future.

In addition to Wal-Mart, another major retailer that is letting people go is Petco

Petco is cutting 180 positions with about 50 at its San Diego headquarters, the pet supply retailer confirmed Wednesday.

The company made the cuts across its workforce and include both existing and open positions.

Petco has about 650 workers at its headquarters in Rancho Bernardo. It employs 27,000 in the U.S.

My wife and I have three cats, and even though Petco tends to be a bit overpriced we have always appreciated the work that they do.

Unfortunately, when the economy gets tough spending on pets tends to be one of the first things to get cut back, and this current trouble at Petco could be a sign that rough sledding is ahead for the entire economy.

Of course your personal perspective on these things is likely to be very heavily influenced by your immediate surroundings.  Those that live in wealthy enclaves of major cities such as San Francisco, New York City or Washington D.C. may be wondering how anyone could possibly be talking about economic trouble right now.

But if you live in economically depressed areas of Appalachia or the upper Midwest, it may seem like the last economic recession never even ended.

There have been pockets of economic prosperity in recent years, and this has resulted in some people becoming exceedingly wealthy.  Meanwhile, things have just continued to become even tougher for millions of other families as the cost of living always seems to grow faster than their paychecks do.

If you are in the top one percent of all income earners, maybe to you it seems like things have never been better.  But most of the country is living paycheck to paycheck and is just struggling to survive from month to month.  The following comes from CNN

The rich are money-making machines. Today, the top mega wealthy — the top 1% — earn an average of $1.3 million a year. It’s more than three times as much as the 1980s, when the rich “only” made $428,000, on average, according to economists Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman.

Meanwhile, the bottom 50% of the American population earned an average of $16,000 in pre-tax income in 1980. That hasn’t changed in over three decades.

The workers being laid off at the companies discussed above are real people with real hopes and real dreams.  Perhaps many of them will be able to land other employment fairly soon, but the truth is that the job market is really tough in many areas of the country right now.

Finding a good job that will allow you to pay the bills and support your family is not easy.  You may find that out the hard way if you end up losing your current job during the economic troubles that will come in 2017.

Earlier today, I came across an excellent article by Gail Tverberg that detailed a whole bunch of reasons why a significant economic downturn appears to be imminent in 2017.  If you would like to read it, you can find it here.  She points to many of the same things that I have been pointing to for a very long time.

Even though economic conditions were fairly stable throughout 2016, our long-term problems just continued to get even worse.  So the truth is that we are more primed for a major crisis today than we have been at any point since the last recession.

My hope is that things will not be nearly as bad in 2017 as Gail Tverberg and others are projecting that they could be, but the warning signs are definitely there, and it isn’t going to take much to push the U.S. economy off the rails.

The Election Of Donald Trump Is Already Having An Enormous Impact On The Economy

donald-trump-and-barack-obama-in-the-oval-office-public-domainThe election of Donald Trump has sent shockwaves through the U.S. economy and the U.S. financial system.  Since November 8th, the Dow has hit a brand new all-time record high, the U.S. dollar has strengthened greatly, and bank stocks are way up.  But not all of the economic news is good news.  Unlike stocks, bonds have reacted very negatively to Trump’s election victory.  The past week has been an absolute bloodbath for bond traders, and as you will see below this is going to have dramatic implications for all U.S. consumers moving forward.

Over just a two day period, more than a trillion dollars was wiped out as bond yields spiked all over the globe.  As CNN has noted, this type of “violent reaction” in the bond market has only happened three other times within the past ten years…

The rate on 10-year Treasury notes has surged to 2.3%, from 1.77% before the election. Last week’s spike in Treasury rates was so big, that it had only happened three times before in the last decade.

BlackRock’s Russ Koesterich called it a “violent reaction.”

The move stands to have broad repercussions for all Americans. Not only will the U.S. government have to pay more to borrow money, but mortgage rates and car loan costs should also rise. That’s because Treasuries are used as the benchmark for many other forms of credit.

As interest rates rise, virtually everyone in our society is going to feel the pain.

Those that need an auto loan in order to purchase a vehicle are going to find that loan payments are significantly higher than they were before.

Credit card rates will also go up, and those just getting out of school will discover that their student loan payments are even more suffocating.

But the biggest impact will be felt in the housing market.  The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage just hit the psychologically-important 4 percent barrier, and that could mean big trouble for the housing market in 2017

The average contract rate on the popular 30-year fixed mortgage hit 4 percent, according to Mortgage News Daily, a level most didn’t expect to see until the middle of next year. Rates have now moved nearly a half a percentage point higher since Donald Trump was elected president.

“The situation on the ground is panicked. Damage control,” said Matthew Graham, chief operating officer of Mortgage News Daily. “People were trying to lock loans quickly last week and are now facing a tough choice to lock today or hope for a bounce. Many hoped for a bounce last week heading into the long weekend and we obviously didn’t get it.”

Rising interest rates was one of the key factors that precipitated the financial crisis of 2008, and many fear that it could happen again.

And without a doubt, this rise in rates is going to affect the affordability of homes that are already on the market

“If you’re going to buy a house and your mortgage payment went up by $200 or $300, you may buy a smaller house. There’s impact on interest rate sensitive sectors, like autos and housing, and also corporate bonds themselves, where financial engineering has helped juice up the equity market,” said George Goncalves, head of rate strategy at Nomura.

In addition, rising rates will make it more difficult for those with adjustable rate mortgages to keep their homes.  Foreclosure activity was already up 27 percent during the month of October, and many are projecting that we could see another giant spike in foreclosures during the months ahead that is similar to what we saw during the last financial crisis.

Many Trump supporters don’t really care what the rest of the world thinks of our new president, but this is an area where what the rest of the world thinks really, really matters.

The truth is that the rest of the planet is not all too fond of Trump, and if that makes them a lot less eager to lend us money that is a major problem.

The only way that we can maintain our massively inflated debt-fueled standard of living is to continue to borrow gigantic mountains of money from the rest of the world at ultra-low interest rates.

If the rest of the world starts demanding higher rates of return now that Trump is president, we are going to experience economic pain on a scale that most Americans don’t believe is possible.

One of our big lenders has been China, and right now they are deeply concerned about what a Trump presidency might mean.  Trump has talked very tough about trade with China, and the Chinese are gearing up for a major trade war.  The following comes from CNBC

During his election campaign this year, Trump spoke of a 45 percent import tariff on all Chinese goods while failing to outline how it would work. Should any such policy come into effect, China will take a “tit-for-tat approach”, according to an opinion piece in the Global Times, a newspaper backed by the Communist party.

“A batch of Boeing orders will be replaced by Airbus. U.S. auto and iPhone sales in China will suffer a setback, and U.S. soybean and maize imports will be halted. China can also limit the number of Chinese students studying in the U.S.,” the Global Times article read.

Most Trump supporters assume that since Trump has been a very successful businessman that he will be able to strengthen the U.S. economy.

But it isn’t that simple.

The only reason we are able to live the way that we live today is because we have been able to borrow trillions upon trillions of dollars at irrationally low interest rates.

The moment the rest of the world decides that they are not going to loan us money at irrationally low interest rates any longer the game is over, and it won’t really matter who is in the White House at that point.

So watch interest rates very carefully.  If they keep going up, it is inevitable that a major economic slowdown will follow no matter what economic policies the new Trump administration implements.