Is this the end of the last great run for the U.S. stock market? Are we witnessing classic “peaking behavior” that is similar to what occurred just before other major stock market crashes? Throughout 2014 and for the early stages of 2015, stocks have been on quite a tear. Even though the overall U.S. economy continues to be deeply troubled, we have seen the Dow, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq set record after record. But no bull market lasts forever – particularly one that has no relation to economic reality whatsoever. This false bubble of financial prosperity has been enjoyable, and even I wish that it could last much longer. But there comes a time when we all must face reality, and the cold, hard facts are telling us that this party is about to end. The following are 7 signs that a stock market peak is happening right now…
#1 Just before a stock market crash, price/earnings ratios tend to spike, and that is precisely what we are witnessing. The following commentary and chart come from Lance Roberts…
The chart below shows Dr. Robert Shiller’s cyclically adjusted P/E ratio. The problem is that current valuations only appear cheap when compared to the peak in 2000. In order to put valuations into perspective, I have capped P/E’s at 30x trailing earnings. The dashed orange line measures 23x earnings which has been the level where secular bull markets have previously ended. I have noted the peak valuations in periods that have exceeded that 30x earnings.
At 27.85x current earning the markets are currently at valuation levels where previous bull markets have ended rather than continued. Furthermore, the markets have exceeded the pre-financial crisis peak of 27.65x earnings. If earnings continue to deteriorate, market valuations could rise rapidly even if prices remain stagnant.
#2 The average bull market lasts for approximately 3.8 years. The current bull market has already lasted for six years.
#3 The median total gain during a bull market is 101.5 percent. For this bull market, it has been 213 percent.
#4 Usually before a stock market crash we see a divergence between the relative strength index and the stock market itself. This happened prior to the bursting of the dotcom bubble, it happened prior to the crash of 2008, and it is happening again right now…
The first technical warning sign that we should heed is marked by a significant divergence between the relative strength index (RSI) and the market itself. This is noted by a declining pattern of lower highs in the RSI as stocks continue to make higher highs, a sign that the market is “topping out”. In the late ‘90s this divergence persisted for many years as the tech bubble reached epic valuation levels. In 2007 this divergence lasted over a much shorter period (6 months) before the market finally peaked and succumbed to massive selling. With last month’s strong rally to new records, we now have a confirmed divergence between the long-term relative strength index and the market’s price action.
#5 In the past, peaks in margin debt have been very closely associated with stock market peaks. The following chart comes from Doug Short, and I included it in a previous article…
#6 As I have discussed previously, we usually witness a spike in 10 year Treasury yields just about the time that the stock market is peaking right before a crash.
Well, according to Business Insider, we just saw the largest 5 week rate rally in two decades…
Lots of guys and gals went home this past weekend thinking about the implications of the recent rise in the 10-year Treasury bond’s yield.
Chris Kimble notes it was the biggest 5-week rate rally in twenty years!
#7 A lot of momentum indicators seem to be telling us that we are rapidly approaching a turning point for stocks. For example, James Stack, the editor of InvesTech Research, says that the Coppock Guide is warning us of “an impending bear market on the not-too-distant horizon”…
A momentum indicator dubbed the Coppock Guide, which serves as “a barometer of the market’s emotional state,” has also peaked, Stack says. The indicator, which, “tracks the ebb and flow of equity markets from one psychological extreme to another,” is also flashing a warning flag.
The Coppock Guide’s chart pattern is flashing a “double top,” which suggests that “psychological excesses are present” and that “secondary momentum has peaked” in this bull market, according to Stack.
“All of this is just another reason for concern about an impending bear market on the not-too-distant horizon,” Stack writes.
So if we are to see a stock market crash soon, when will it happen?
Well, the truth is that nobody knows for certain.
It could happen this week, or it could be six months from now.
In fact, a whole lot of people are starting to point to the second half of 2015 as a danger zone. For example, just consider the words of David Morgan…
“Momentum is one indicator and the money supply. Also, when I made my forecast, there is a big seasonality, and part of it is strict analytical detail and part of it is being in this market for 40 years. I got a pretty good idea of what is going on out there and the feedback I get. . . . I’m in Europe, I’m in Asia, I’m in South America, I’m in Mexico, I’m in Canada; and so, I get a global feel, if you will, for what people are really thinking and really dealing with. It’s like a barometer reading, and I feel there are more and more tensions all the time and less and less solutions. It’s a fundamental take on how fed up people are on a global basis. Based on that, it seems to me as I said in the January issue of the Morgan Report, September is going to be the point where people have had it.”
Time will tell if Morgan was right.
But without a doubt, lots of economic warning signs are starting to pop up.
One that is particularly troubling is the decline in new orders for consumer goods. This is something that Charles Hugh-Smith pointed out in one of his recent articles…
The financial news is astonishingly rosy: record trade surpluses in China, positive surprises in Europe, the best run of new jobs added to the U.S. economy since the go-go 1990s, and the gift that keeps on giving to consumers everywhere, low oil prices.
So if everything is so fantastic, why are new orders cratering? New orders are a snapshot of future demand, as opposed to current retail sales or orders that have been delivered.
Posted below is a chart that he included with his recent article. As you can see, the only time things have been worse in recent decades was during the depths of the last financial crisis…
To me, it very much appears that time is running out for this bubble of false prosperity that we have been living in.
But what do you think? Please feel free to contribute to the discussion by posting a comment below…
Is the petrodollar monopoly about to be shattered? When U.S. politicians started slapping economic sanctions on Russia, they probably never even imagined that there might be serious consequences for the United States. But now the Russian media is reporting that the Russian Ministry of Finance is getting ready to pull the trigger on a “de-dollarization” plan. For decades, virtually all oil and natural gas around the world has been bought and sold for U.S. dollars. As I will explain below, this has been a massive advantage for the U.S. economy. In recent years, there have been rumblings by nations such as Russia and China about the need to change to a new system, but nobody has really had a big reason to upset the status quo. However, that has now changed. The struggle over Ukraine has caused Russia to completely reevaluate the financial relationship that it has with the United States. If it starts trading a lot of oil and natural gas for currencies other than the U.S. dollar, that will be a massive blow for the petrodollar, and it could end up dramatically changing the global economic landscape.
The fact that the Russian government has held a meeting to discuss “getting rid of the US dollar in Russian export operations” should be front page news on every mainstream news website in the United States. That is how big this is. But instead, we have heard nothing from the big mainstream news networks about this so far. Instead, we have only heard about this from Russian news sources such as the Voice of Russia…
Russian press reports that the country’s Ministry of Finance is ready to greenlight a plan to radically increase the role of the Russian ruble in export operations while reducing the share of dollar-denominated transactions. Governmental sources believe that the Russian banking sector is “ready to handle the increased number of ruble-denominated transactions”.
According to the Prime news agency, on April 24th the government organized a special meeting dedicated to finding a solution for getting rid of the US dollar in Russian export operations. Top level experts from the energy sector, banks and governmental agencies were summoned and a number of measures were proposed as a response for American sanctions against Russia.
The “de-dollarization meeting” was chaired by First Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Igor Shuvalov, proving that Moscow is very serious in its intention to stop using the dollar.
So will Russia go through with this?
After all, this wouldn’t just be a slap in the face. This would essentially be like slamming an economic fist into our nose.
You see, Russia is not just a small player when it comes to trading oil and natural gas. The truth is that Russia is the largest exporter of natural gas and the second largest exporter of oil in the world.
If Russia starts asking for payment in currencies other than the U.S. dollar, that will essentially end the monopoly of the petrodollar.
In order to do this, Russia will need trading partners willing to go along. In the article quoted above, the Voice of Russia listed Iran and China as two nations that would potentially be willing to make the switch…
Of course, the success of Moscow’s campaign to switch its trading to rubles or other regional currencies will depend on the willingness of its trading partners to get rid of the dollar. Sources cited by Politonline.ru mentioned two countries who would be willing to support Russia: Iran and China. Given that Vladimir Putin will visit Beijing on May 20, it can be speculated that the gas and oil contracts that are going to be signed between Russia and China will be denominated in rubles and yuan, not dollars.
And the reality of the matter is that China has seemed ready to move away from the U.S. dollar for quite some time. In a previous article, I included a quote from a French news source that discussed how China’s official news agency has even called for a “new international reserve currency… to replace the dominant US dollar”…
For decades the US has benefited to the tune of trillions of dollars-worth of free credit from the greenback’s role as the default global reserve unit.
But as the global economy trembled before the prospect of a US default last month, only averted when Washington reached a deal to raise its debt ceiling, China’s official Xinhua news agency called for a “de-Americanised” world.
It also urged the creation of a “new international reserve currency… to replace the dominant US dollar”.
For much more on what China is thinking, please see my previous article entitled “9 Signs That China Is Making A Move Against The U.S. Dollar“.
So why is the petrodollar so important?
Well, it creates a tremendous amount of demand for the U.S. dollar all over the globe. Since everyone has needed it to trade with one another, that has created an endless global appetite for the currency. That has kept the value of the dollar artificially high, and it has enabled us to import trillions of dollars of super cheap products from other countries. If other nations stopped using the dollar to trade with one another, the value of the dollar would plummet dramatically and we would have to pay much, much more for the trinkets that we buy at the dollar store and Wal-Mart.
In addition, since the U.S. dollar is essentially the de facto global currency, this has also increased demand for our debt. Major exporting nations such as China and Saudi Arabia end up with giant piles of our dollars. Instead of just letting them sit there and do nothing, those nations often reinvest their dollars into securities that can rapidly be changed back into dollars if needed. One of the most popular ways to do this has been to invest those dollars in U.S. Treasuries. This has driven down interest rates on U.S. debt over the years and has enabled the U.S. government to borrow trillions upon trillions of dollars for next to nothing.
But if the rest of the world starts moving away from the U.S. dollar, all of this could change.
In order for our current standard of living to continue, it is absolutely imperative that everyone else around the globe continues to use our currency.
So if Russia really does pull the trigger on a “de-dollarization” strategy, that would be huge – especially if the rest of the planet started following their lead.
The U.S. economy is already teetering on the brink of another major downturn, and there are a whole host of indications that big trouble is on the horizon. For much more on this, please see the article that I posted on Monday entitled “If Economic Cycle Theorists Are Correct, 2015 To 2020 Will Be Pure Hell For The United States“.
Just about the last thing that we need right now is for our petrodollar monopoly to be threatened.
It would be nice if things would calm down in Ukraine and the relationship between the United States and Russia could go back to normal.
Sadly, that does not appear likely any time soon.
In fact, the Ukrainian government has already admitted that “we are essentially at war“, and on Tuesday six Ukrainian soldiers were killed and eight were wounded in a convoy attack in eastern Ukraine.
The regions in eastern Ukraine that have just declared independence have given the government in Kiev until Wednesday to pull their forces out of eastern Ukraine or else face war.
If a full blown civil war does erupt in Ukraine, it is going to take this crisis to a completely new level.
Unfortunately, most Americans are incredibly apathetic at this point and know very little about what is going on.
But in the end, this could have dramatic implications for all of us.
If the U.S. economy is getting better, then why are major retail chains closing thousands of stores? If we truly are in an “economic recovery”, then why do sales figures continue to go down for large retailers all over the country? Without a doubt, the rise of Internet retailing giants such as Amazon.com have had a huge impact. Today, there are millions of Americans that actually prefer to shop online. Personally, when I published my novel I made it solely available on Amazon. But Internet shopping alone does not account for the great retail apocalypse that we are witnessing. In fact, some retail experts estimate that the Internet has accounted for only about 20 percent of the decline that we are seeing. Most of the rest of it can be accounted for by the slow, steady death of the middle class U.S. consumer. Median household income has declined for five years in a row, but all of our bills just keep going up. That means that the amount of disposable income that average Americans have continues to shrink, and that is really bad news for retailers.
And sadly, this is just the beginning. Retail experts are projecting that the pace of store closings will actually accelerate over the course of the next decade.
So as you read this list below, please take note that things will soon get even worse.
The following are 20 facts about the great U.S. retail apocalypse that will blow your mind…
#1 As you read this article, approximately a billion square feet of retail space is sitting vacant in the United States.
#2 Last week, Radio Shack announced that it was going to close more than a thousand stores.
#3 Last week, Staples announced that it was going to close 225 stores.
#4 Same-store sales at Office Depot have declined for 13 quarters in a row.
#5 J.C. Penney has been dying for years, and it recently announced plans to close 33 more stores.
#6 J.C. Penney lost 586 million dollars during the second quarter of 2013 alone.
#7 Sears has closed about 300 stores since 2010, and CNN is reporting that Sears is “expected to shutter another 500 Sears and Kmart locations soon”.
#8 Overall, sales numbers have declined at Sears for 27 quarters in a row.
#9 Target has announced that it is going to eliminate 475 jobs and not fill 700 positions that are currently empty.
#10 It is being projected that Aéropostale will close about 175 stores over the next couple of years.
#11 Macy’s has announced that it is going to be closing five stores and eliminating 2,500 jobs.
#12 The Children’s Place has announced that it will be closing down 125 of its “weakest” stores by 2016.
#13 Best Buy recently shut down about 50 stores up in Canada.
#14 Video rental giant Blockbuster has completely shut down all of their stores.
#15 It is being projected that sales at U.S. supermarkets will decline by 1.7 percent this year even as the overall population continues to grow.
#16 McDonald’s has reported that sales at established U.S. locations were down 3.3 percent in January.
#17 A home appliance chain known as “American TV” in the Midwest is going to be shutting down all 11 stores.
#18 Even Wal-Mart is struggling right now. Just check out what one very prominent Wal-Mart executive recently admitted…
David Cheesewright, CEO of Walmart International was speaking at the same presentation, and he pointed out that Walmart would try to protect its market share in the US – where the company had just issued an earnings warning. But most of the growth would have to come from its units outside the US. I mean, via these share buybacks?
Alas, outside the US too, economies were limping along at best, and consumers were struggling and the operating environment was tough. “We’re seeing economies under stress pretty much everywhere we operate,” Cheesewright admitted.
#19 In a recent CNBC article entitled “Time to close Wal-Mart stores? Analysts think so“, it was recommended that Wal-Mart should close approximately 100 “underperforming” supercenters in rural locations across America.
#20 Retail consultant Howard Davidowitz is projecting that up to half of all shopping malls in America may shut down within the next 15 to 20 years…
Within 15 to 20 years, retail consultant Howard Davidowitz expects as many as half of America’s shopping malls to fail. He predicts that only upscale shopping centers with anchors like Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus will survive.
So is there any hope that things will turn around?
Well, if the U.S. economy started producing large numbers of good paying middle class jobs there would definitely be cause for optimism.
Unfortunately, that is just not happening.
On Friday, we were told that the U.S. economy added 175,000 jobs during the month of February.
That sounds pretty good until you realize that it takes almost that many jobs each month just to keep up with population growth.
And according to CNS News, the number of unemployed Americans actually grew faster than the number of employed Americans in February…
The number of unemployed individuals 16 years and over increased by 223,000 in February, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
In February, there were 10,459,000 unemployed individuals age 16 and over, which was up 223,000 from January, when there were 10,236,000 unemployed individuals.
Meanwhile, the labor force participation rate continues to sit at a 35 year low, and a staggering 70 percent of all Americans not in the labor force are below the age of 55.
That is outrageous.
And things look particularly depressing when you look at the labor force participation rate for men by themselves.
In 1950, the labor force participation rate for men was sitting at about 87 percent. Today, it has dropped beneath 70 percent to a brand new all-time record low.
The truth is that there simply are not enough jobs for everyone anymore.
The chart posted below shows how the percentage of working age Americans that actually have a job has changed since the turn of the millennium. As you can see, the employment-population ratio declined precipitously during the last recession, and it has stayed below 59 percent since late 2009…
If we were going to have a “recovery”, we should have had one by now.
Since there are not enough jobs, what is happening is that more highly educated workers are taking the jobs that were once occupied by less educated workers and bumping them out of the labor force entirely. The following is an excerpt from a recent Bloomberg article…
Recent college graduates are ending up in more low-wage and part-time positions as it’s become harder to find education-level appropriate jobs, according to a January study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
The share of Americans ages 22 to 27 with at least a bachelor’s degree in jobs that don’t require that level of education was 44 percent in 2012, up from 34 percent in 2001, the study found.
Due to the fact that there are not enough middle class jobs to go around, the middle class has been steadily shrinking.
In 2008, 53 percent of all Americans considered themselves to be “middle class”. Today, only 44 percent of all Americans consider themselves to be “middle class”.
That is a pretty significant shift in just six years, don’t you think?
For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled “28 Signs That The Middle Class Is Heading Toward Extinction“.
Despite what the politicians and the mainstream media are telling you, the truth is that something is fundamentally wrong with our economy.
On a gut level, most people realize this.
According to one recent survey, only 35 percent of all Americans say that they are better off financially than they were a year ago. And according to a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, only 28 percent of all Americans believe that this country is moving in the right direction.
The frightening thing is that this is about as good as things are going to get. The next great wave of the economic collapse is approaching, and when it strikes the plight of the middle class is going to get a whole lot worse.
Is the U.S. economy steamrolling toward another recession? Will 2014 turn out to be a major “turning point” when we look back on it? Before we get to the evidence, it is important to note that there are many economists that believe that the United States never actually got out of the last recession. For example, data compiled by John Williams of shadowstats.com show that the U.S. economy has continually been in recession since 2005. So if anyone out there would like to argue that America is experiencing a recession right now, I certainly would not have a problem with that. In fact, that would fit with the daily reality of tens of millions of Americans that are deeply suffering in this harsh economic environment. But no matter whether we are in a “recession” at the moment or not, there are an increasing number of indications that we are rapidly plunging into another major economic slowdown. The following are the top 12 signs that the U.S. economy is heading toward another recession…
#1 We recently learned that the number of new mortgage applications in the United States had fallen to the lowest level that we have seen in nearly 20 years.
#2 Radio Shack has announced that it is going to close more than 1,000 stores. This is just another sign that we are in the midst of a “retail apocalypse“.
#3 The ISM Services index just fell to its lowest level in 4 years, and ISM Services Employment just experienced its largest decline since the collapse of Lehman Brothers.
#4 Obamacare is really starting to hammer the U.S. health care industry…
“The Affordable Care Act is creating significant financial uncertainty to health care organizations,” said a survey respondent from the health care and social assistance industry.
“With little warning, the negative impact on revenue has been unprecedented.”
#5 Trading revenue at the “too big to fail” banks on Wall Street is way down…
Citigroup Inc. (C) and JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) are bracing investors for a fourth straight drop in first-quarter trading, a period of the year when the largest investment banks typically earn the most from that business.
Citigroup finance chief John Gerspach said yesterday his firm expects trading revenue to drop by a “high mid-teens” percentage, less than a week after JPMorgan Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon said revenue from equities and fixed income was down about 15 percent. If trading at the nine largest firms slumps that much, it would extend the slide from 2010’s first quarter to 36 percent.
#6 One of the “too big to fail” banks, JPMorgan, is planning to fire “thousands” more workers.
#7 Moody’s has downgraded the credit rating of the city of Chicago again. Now it is just three notches above junk status.
#8 The U.S. economy actually lost 2.87 million jobs during the month of January according to the unadjusted numbers. Over the past decade, the only time the U.S. economy has lost more jobs during the month of January was in 2009 at the peak of the last recession.
#9 In January, real disposable income in the U.S. experienced the largest year over year decline that we have seen since 1974.
#10 Only 35 percent of all Americans say that they are better off financially than they were a year ago.
#11 Global retail sales for machinery giant Caterpillar have fallen for 14 months in a row.
#12 The economic data show that virtually all of the largest economies on the planet are slowing down right now. The following is from a recent Zero Hedge article…
The last 3 weeks have seen the macro fundamentals of the G-10 major economies collapse at the fastest pace in almost 4 years and almost the biggest slump since Lehman. Despite a plethora of data showing that ‘weather’ is not to blame, US strategists, ‘economists’, and asset-gatherers are sticking to the meme that this is all because of the cold on the east coast of the US (and that means wondrous pent-up demand to come). However, as the New York Times reports, for the earth, it was the 4th warmest January on record.
For much more on how the rest of the global economy is also slowing down, please see my recent article entitled “20 Signs That The Global Economic Crisis Is Starting To Catch Fire“.
Meanwhile, things in Ukraine continue to become even more tense, and the Russian government continues to debate how it will respond if the U.S. does end up deciding to hit Russia with economic sanctions.
According to one Russian news source, the Russian parliament is actually considering the confiscation of the property and assets of U.S. businesses in Russia if the U.S. decides to go ahead with economic sanctions against Russia…
The upper house of Russia’s parliament is mulling measures allowing property and assets of European and US companies to be confiscated in the event of sanctions being adopted against Russia over its threatened military intervention in Ukraine.
We are talking about banks, retail chains, mining operations, etc.
U.S. companies have billions invested in Russia, and all of that could be gone in an instant.
So let us certainly hope that economic war between the United States and Russia is averted. Our economy is hurting enough as it is.
But no matter how things with this crisis in Ukraine play out, it looks like hard times are ahead for the U.S. economy.
Unfortunately, most Americans never learned the lessons that they should have learned back in 2008.
They just assume that the federal government and the Federal Reserve have fixed our problems and have everything under control, so they are not preparing for the next great crisis.
In the end, tens of millions of Americans will be absolutely devastated when they get absolutely blindsided by what is coming.
If the economy is really “getting better”, then why have millions upon millions of formerly middle class Americans been pushed to the point of utter despair? The stories that you are about to read are absolutely heartbreaking. I don’t know how anyone can read them without getting chills. In America today, if you lose a good job, there is a good chance that you will get back on your feet before too long. But there is also a good chance that you won’t be able to find a decent job and will plunge into the abyss of depression and desperation that so many millions of other Americans have fallen into. As I wrote about earlier this month, the U.S. economy is definitely not getting any better. For example, if you assume that the percentage of Americans that want to work is about at the long term average, then the official unemployment rate in the United States would be above 11 percent. And compared to six years ago, 1,154,000 fewer Americans are working today even though our population has gotten significantly larger since then. Behind all of these numbers are real flesh and blood people, and you are about to hear from some of them. The following are 10 stories from the cold, hard streets of America that will break your heart…
#1 A 34-year-old man named Rocco…
“While my wife goes to work, I’ve been staying at home to conserve fuel. I’ve been losing weight from eating less, so my family has more on their plates. It feels like the government and big business expect more and more while trying to give back as little as possible. Soon my internet connection will be shut off and since most companies don’t offer paper applications, how will I find work then? Walking around for miles a day, asking for an application that may or may not be available?”
#2 Homeless people wasting away in “Obamavilles” on the outskirts of Baltimore, Maryland…
A sheet of plastic laid over a clothesline. A mini-fortress of milk crates stacked under a tree. A thin mattress on a flimsy crate lying in a dark tunnel.
On the edge of Baltimore’s woodlands, dozens of the city’s transients live in makeshift homes which they consider safer than homeless shelters.
You can see some incredible photos of how these homeless people are living right here.
#3 A 50-year-old woman in Pennsylvania named Karen…
“My husband only makes 10 dollars an hour and drives 30 miles round trip, so it’s taking all we have just to keep the Jeep filled with gas. We stopped going to church and all to save gas. We are homebodies now, afraid to use what gas we have. We save two kids from getting put in foster care just to be hit like this. It’s just a constant trap they try to keep you from receiving any help! I’m so disgusted when my 12-year-old asks me why we don’t have snacks anymore, or why are we eating so much rice, etc.”
#4 The following is an excerpt from a comment that was recently left by one of my readers…
“I live right at ground zero. South West Virginia and let me tell you things are bad and getting worse by the day. We don’t do drugs but have family members hooked on meth and or pills or both. Many of these pills are prescribed by local doctors either Suboxone to get you off the opiates, a total joke by the way and tons of Xanax why would anyone need 120 Xanax a month how can you even be expected to function. These pills get traded for cash sex and other items, same goes for the SNAP cards. We have family members going to jail repeatedly for the same crimes making meth, selling pills and stealing anything that’s not nailed down. People who are 30 years old look like they are 55 years old. The jobs here are awful walmat, gas stations, fast food etc. Most of our whole county is on the government dole.”
#5 A 55-year-old man from California named Randy Carpadus…
“I was working as a firefighter for the state of California and was laid off in April 2012, right at the beginning of fire season. At my age, I’m not going to be picked up by another fire department. They want younger guys.
I’ve applied for everything from truck driver, to sales, to nonprofit work. I’ve sent out almost 400 resumes, and I’ve gotten nothing. I’ve done whatever I could to make ends meet.
Through some connections, I got a temp job as a truck driver in Napa Valley — a 3-hour commute from where I live. I lived in my car and worked during grape harvest.”
#6 In this tough economic environment, debt collectors are becoming even more aggressive. Just check out the kind of harassment that one woman named Jennifer Posey has been put through…
“This is Jimmy Lee calling from CheckCare. Just letting you know we’re in full force,” he said. The man had a thick Southern accent that stretched the word “you” into a two-syllable accusation. “We’re going to have warrants out for your arrest in Columbus, Ga.,” the man threatened. “We know you have an apartment on the canal in Clearwater.”
It was when he mentioned her home in Florida that Posey began to feel anxious. “We’re hurting you,” he continued. “We’re hurting your family, your son’s family, your cousin’s family. Whatever we can do to get you to pay.”
Forty minutes later, her phone rang again. “What about that 12-, 13-year-old child you’re trying to raise?” the voice sneered.
#7 A 50-year-old woman from New York named Sharon Ritchie…
“I am constantly told I am ‘overqualified.’ I’ve also been told to dumb down my resume, but I can’t just erase 30 years of experience.
You can only stand the word ‘no’ so many times. There are times that I cry at night wondering what happened, and at times I have thought about suicide.
But, I keep on going, hoping the cycle will break.”
#8 In response to my recent article about Appalachia, a reader named Rob shared the following…
“I am from rural south central KY (Brodhead, Rockcastle County) and I can tell you that most of the things described above are exactly how it is here. There are so many people on drugs it’s crazy. First it was the meth, which was more of a problem back in 2002-2007, then the pain pills really started becoming a huge problem, OxyContin and perc 30’s (roxicet) obtained from Florida and Georgia doctors. The pain pills are something that you can’t just walk away from after doing them for a while; they cause people to steal from family, sell everything they own, and/or prostitute themselves in order to avoid opiate withdrawal.”
#9 A 30-year-old man from California named Alejandro…
“I need to provide for my son who is diagnosed with autism and my baby girl. I’ve sold a bunch of my belongings to try and put food on the table, to buy clothes for my kids, to pay rent and utilities and to put gas in my vehicle to go job hunting. Not having money for necessities takes a toll on my mind. Depression has kicked in. It really takes a toll on one’s self-esteem and confidence to move forward.I’ve applied to countless amounts of jobs, only to not even get a call back. I’ve gone from construction site to construction site, only to be told they are not hiring. Finally, I got at least a positive call back from a company telling me they will call me to work in a couple of weeks. I am crossing my fingers and praying. There are millions of people in my situation or even worse.”
#10 An excerpt from a heartbreaking letter that an unemployed woman named Paula Bray sent to Barack Obama…
Dear Mr. President,
I write to you today because I have nowhere else to turn. I lost my full time job in September 2012. I have only been able to find part-time employment — 16 hours each week at $12 per hour — but I don’t work that every week. For the month of December, my net pay was $365. My husband and I now live in an RV at a campground because of my job loss. Our monthly rent is $455 and that doesn’t include utilities. We were given this 27-ft. 1983 RV when I lost my job.
This is America today. We have no running water; we use a hose to fill jugs. We have no shower but the campground does. We have a toilet but it only works when the sewer line doesn’t freeze — if it freezes, we use the campground’s restrooms. At night, in my bed, when it’s cold out, my blanket can freeze to the wall of the RV. We don’t have a stove or an oven, just a microwave, so regular-food cooking is out. Recently we found a small toaster oven on sale so we can bake a little now because eating only microwaved food just wasn’t working for us. We don’t have a refrigerator, just an icebox (a block of ice cost about $1.89). It keeps things relatively cold. If it’s freezing outside, we just put things on the picnic table.
Sadly, this is just the beginning.
The economic despair that we are witnessing right now is just a taste of the horrible economic nightmare that is going to unfold in the United States during the coming years.
And already there are signs that things are starting to take another turn for the worse. In recent months, we have seen a whole host of retail chains announce store closings. In fact, one of my readers wrote to me the other day and told me about a home appliance chain known as “American TV” that is going out of business in the Midwest. When these stores shut down, close to another 1000 Americans will soon be out of work…
“While this is a sad moment it is also a proud moment. It’s a moment to be proud of our efforts and to be proud of what we have delivered to the community”, said Doug Reuhl, President and CEO of American since 1988. “Words cannot adequately express how grateful we are to our millions of loyal customers, and to the incredible, dedicated family of employees that we have been blessed with over our 60 years of business”. Advanced notice of the business closing has been given to the 989 employees affected in eleven locations. Employees will be compensated, with benefits, through the notification period, and the majority will continue employment through the closing process.
But if you listen to the mainstream media, you would think that happy days are here again for America. Just check out some of the bizarre headlines that I have collected in recent weeks…
CNBC: “Stop whining! The US economy is in good shape”
USA Today: “Economists: U.S. will see better growth in ’14”
Newsday: “Why the economy isn’t doomed”
Most Americans will buy into this propaganda and will never see the next major economic crisis coming until it is too late to do anything about it.
So what do you think about all of this?
Do you have a personal story to share?
Please feel free to add to the discussion by leaving a comment below…
That headline is not a misprint. The number of working age Americans that do not have a job has increased by nearly 10 million since Barack Obama first entered the White House. In January 2009, the number of “officially unemployed” workers plus the number of Americans “not in the labor force” was sitting at a grand total of 92.6 million. Today, that number has risen to 102.2 million. That means that the number of working age Americans that are not working has grown by close to 10 million since Barack Obama first took office. So why does the “official unemployment rate” keep going down? Well, it is because the federal government has been pretending that millions upon millions of unemployed workers have “left the labor force” over the past few years and do not want to work anymore. The government says that another 347,000 workers “left the labor force” in December. That is nearly five times larger than the 74,000 jobs that were “created” by the U.S. economy last month. And it is important to note that more than half of those jobs were temporary jobs, and it takes well over 100,000 new jobs just to keep up with population growth each month. So the unemployment rate should not have gone down. If anything, it should have gone up.
In fact, if the federal government was using an honest labor force participation rate, the official unemployment rate would be far higher than it is right now. Instead of 6.7 percent, it would be 11.5 percent, and it has stayed at about that level since the end of the last recession.
But “6.7 percent” makes Obama look so much better than “11.5 percent”, don’t you think?
The labor force participation rate is now at a 35 year low, and the only way that the federal government has been able to get the “unemployment rate” to go down is by removing hundreds of thousands of Americans out of the labor force every month.
Why don’t they just get it over with and announce that they have decided that all workers immediately leave the labor force the moment that they lose their jobs? That way we could have an unemployment rate of “0.0 percent” and Obama could be hailed as a great economic savior.
Of course the truth is that the employment crisis in the United States is about as bad now as it was during the depths of the last recession.
If you want a much more accurate reading of the employment picture in America, just look at the employment-population ratio. The percentage of working age Americans that actually have a job continues to stagnate at an extremely low level. In fact, the percentage of working age Americans that are employed has stayed between 58.2 percent and 58.8 percent for 52 months in a row…
Does that look like an “employment recovery” to you?
Because no matter how hard I squint my eyes, I just can’t see it.
The percentage of Americans that actually have jobs should have bounced back at least a little bit by now.
But it has not happened.
And guess what? Most people don’t know this, but the U.S. economy actually created fewer jobs in 2013 than it did in 2012. So the momentum of job creation is actually going the wrong way.
No matter how rosy the mainstream media makes things out to be, the reality on the ground tells an entirely different story.
For example, just check out the desperation that was displayed on the streets of New York City last week…
The line wrapped nearly around an entire city block on Friday as approximately 1,500 people waited in Queens for a chance to apply for a coveted union job as painters or blasters on bridges and steel structures.
The first few people on line had been there since 1 p.m. on Tuesday when the temperature in New York City was in the single digits.
The job that those desperate workers wanted to apply for only pays $17.20 an hour.
Of course that is far from an isolated incident. Last week, I wrote about how 1,600 workers recently applied for just 36 jobs at an ice cream plant in Maryland.
We would not be witnessing scenes like these if the unemployment rate in America was really just 6.7 percent.
An article by Phoenix Capital Research does a good job of summarizing how useless the official government numbers have become…
Since 2009, we’ve been told that things have improved. The fact of the matter is that the improvement has been largely due to accounting tricks rather than any real change in reality.
Sure you can make unemployment look better by not counting people, you can claim the economy is growing by ignoring inflation, you can argue that inflation is low because you don’t count food or energy, but the reality is that all of these arguments are grade “A” BS.
We are now five years into the “recovery.” The single and I mean SINGLE accomplishment from spending over $3 trillion has been the stock market going higher. This is a complete and total failure. Based on the business cycle alone, the economy should be roaring.
What does it say that we’ve spent this much money and accomplished so little?
The word is FAILURE.
The media is lying about the economy. They have been for years. Even the BLS now admits that its methodologies are either inefficient (read: DON’T work) or outright wrong.
The cold, hard reality of the matter is that there has not been an economic recovery in this nation.
Anyone that tries to tell you that is lying to you.
And now the next major wave of the economic collapse is rapidly approaching.
The U.S. national debt is on pace to more than double during the eight years of the Obama administration and the Federal Reserve has been recklessly printing up trillions of dollars. The long-term damage that they have done to our economy is incalculable. But despite all of those extraordinary “stimulus” measures, the percentage of Americans that are actually working has not budged.
If we were going to have a recovery, it would have happened by this point. In fact, this is all the “recovery” that we are going to experience.
From here on out, this is about as good as things are going to get. As bad as you may think things are now, the truth is that this is rip-roaring prosperity compared to what is coming.
I hope that you are getting prepared.
Are we on the verge of another major economic downturn? In recent weeks, most of the focus has been on our politicians in Washington, but there are lots of other reasons to be deeply alarmed about the economy as well. Economic confidence is down, retail sales figures are disappointing, job cuts are up, and American consumers are deeply struggling. Even if our politicians do everything right, there would still be a significant chance that we could be heading into tough economic times in the coming months. Our economy has been in decline for a very long time, and that decline appears to be accelerating. There aren’t enough jobs, the quality of our jobs continues to decline, our economic infrastructure is being systematically gutted, and poverty has been absolutely exploding. Things have gotten so bad that former President Jimmy Carter says that the middle class of today resembles those that were living in poverty when he was in the White House. But this process has been happening so gradually that most Americans don’t even realize what has happened. Our economy is being fundamentally transformed, and the pace of our decline is picking up speed. The following are 22 reasons to be concerned about the U.S. economy as we head into the holiday season…
#1 According to Gallup, we have just seen the largest drop in U.S. economic confidence since 2008.
#2 Retailers all over America are reporting disappointing sales figures, and many analysts are very concerned about what the holiday season will bring. The following is an excerpt from a recent Zero Hedge article…
Chico’s FAS [CHS] Earnings Call 8/28/13:
“Traffic was our issue in quarter two. In a highly promotional and challenging environment, comparable sales result was a negative 2.6 percent on top of a positive 5.6 percent last year and a positive 12.8 percent in 2011.”
William-Sonoma [WSM] Earnings Call 8/28/13:
“The retail environment, it seems to indicate there’s still a lot of uncertainty out there, that the promotional environment has not gone away and that the retail environment in general continues to be choppy, especially with the recent earnings releases and this global unrest, and we just don’t want to get ahead of ourselves.”
Zale Corp [ZLC] Earnings Call 8/28/13:
“Overall, we continue to take a conservative view of market conditions in both the U.S. and in Canada. That being said, we do expect to continue to achieve positive top line growth. We expect store closures will impact our overall revenue growth for the year by about 250 basis points. It represents net closures of approximately 50 to 55 retail locations.”
DSW Inc. [DSW] Earnings Call 8/27/13:
“We did have a traffic decline in Q2, sort of similar to what just about every other retailer in America has reported.”
Guess? [GES] Earnings Call 8/28/13:
“The Korean business continued to be strong as revenue grew in the high single digits in local currency during the quarter. This was offset with the weakness from China, where we are seeing clear evidence of a pullback in consumer spending behavior because of the slowdown in the economy.”
Aeropostale [ARO] Earnings Call 8/22/13:
“Our business trends in the second quarter did not change materially from earlier in the year, which was disappointing given the level of change we registered with the brand. This performance in the third quarter outlook is being influenced by a challenging retail environment, with weak traffic trends and high levels of promotional activity.”
#3 Domestic vehicle sales just experienced their largest “miss” relative to expectations since January 2009.
#4 One of the largest furniture manufacturers in America was recently forced into bankruptcy.
#5 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.
#6 The Baltic Dry Index recently experienced the largest 4 day drop that we have seen in 11 months.
#7 Merck, one of the largest drug makers in the nation, has announced the elimination of 8,500 jobs.
#8 Overall, corporations announced the elimination of 387,384 jobs through the first nine months of this year.
#9 The number of announced job cuts in September 2013 was 19 percent higher than the number of announced job cuts in September 2012.
#10 The labor force participation rate is the lowest that it has been in 35 years.
#11 As I mentioned the other day, the labor force participation rate for men in the 18 to 24 year old age bracket is at an all-time low.
#12 Approximately one out of every four part-time workers in America is living below the poverty line.
#13 Incredibly, only 47 percent of all adults in America have a full-time job at this point.
#14 U.S. consumer delinquencies are starting to rise again.
#15 The Postal Service recently defaulted on a 5.6 billion dollar retiree health benefit payment.
#16 The national debt has increased more than twice as fast as U.S. GDP has grown over the past two years.
#17 Obamacare is causing health insurance premiums to skyrocket and this is reducing the disposable income that consumers have available.
#18 Median household income in the United States has fallen for five years in a row.
#19 The gap between the rich and the poor in the United States is at an all-time record high.
#20 Former President Jimmy Carter says that the middle class in America has declined so dramatically that the middle class of today resembles those that were living in poverty when he was in the White House.
#21 According to a Gallup poll that was recently released, 20.0% of all Americans did not have enough money to buy food that they or their families needed at some point over the past year. That is just under the record of 20.4% that was set back in November 2008.
#22 Right now, one out of every five households in the United States is on food stamps. There are going to be a lot of struggling families out there this winter, so please be generous with organizations that help the poor. A lot of people are really going to need their help during the cold months ahead.
There is a reason why every fiat currency in the history of the world has eventually failed. At some point, those issuing fiat currencies always find themselves giving in to the temptation to wildly print more money. Sometimes, the motivation for doing this is good. When an economy is really struggling, those that have been entrusted with the management of that economy can easily fall for the lie that things would be better if people just had “more money”. Today, the Federal Reserve finds itself faced with a scenario that is very similar to what the Weimar Republic was facing nearly 100 years ago. Like the Weimar Republic, the U.S. economy is also struggling and like the Weimar Republic, the U.S. government is absolutely drowning in debt. Unfortunately, the Federal Reserve has decided to adopt the same solution that the Weimar Republic chose. The Federal Reserve is recklessly printing money out of thin air, and in the short-term some positive things have come out of it. But quantitative easing worked for the Weimar Republic for a little while too. At first, more money caused economic activity to increase and unemployment was low. But all of that money printing destroyed faith in German currency and in the German financial system and ultimately Germany experienced an economic meltdown that the world is still talking about today. This is the path that the Federal Reserve is taking America down, but most Americans have absolutely no idea what is happening.
It is really easy to start printing money, but it is incredibly hard to stop. Like any addict, the Fed is promising that they can quit at any time, but this month they refused to even start tapering their money printing a little bit. The behavior of the Fed is so shameful that even CNBC is comparing it to a drug addict at this point…
The danger with addictions is they tend to become increasingly compulsive. That might be one moral of this week’s events.
A few days ago, expectations were sky-high that the Federal Reserve was about to reduce its current $85 billion monthly bond purchases. But then the Fed blinked, partly because it is worried that markets have already over-reacted to the mere thought of a policy shift.
Faced with a choice of curbing the addiction or providing more hits of the QE drug, in other words, it chose the latter.
So why won’t the Fed cut back on the reckless money printing?
Well, as Peter Schiff recently noted, Fed officials seem to be convinced that any “tapering” could result in the bursting of the massive financial bubbles that they have created…
The Fed understands, as the market seems not to, that the current “recovery” could not survive without continuation of massive monetary stimulus. Mainstream economists have mistaken the symptoms of the Fed’s monetary expansion, most notably rising stock and real estate prices, as signs of real and sustainable growth. But the current asset price bubbles have nothing to do with the real economy. To the contrary, they are setting up for a painful correction that will likely be worse than the one we experienced five years ago.
As I have written about previously, the Federal Reserve is usually very careful not to do anything which will hurt the short-term interests of the financial markets and the big banks.
But at this point the Fed is caught in a trap. If it continues to pump, the financial bubbles that it has created will get even worse. If it stops, those bubbles will burst. But as Doug Kass noted recently, it is inevitable that these financial bubbles will burst at some point one way or another…
“Getting in was easy. Getting out—not so much. The Fed is trapped and can’t end tapering or else the bond and stock markets will blow up. The longer this continues the bigger the inevitable burst.”
In essence, we can have disaster now or disaster later.
But most Americans don’t care much about what is happening on Wall Street. They just want economic conditions to get better for them and for those around them. And to this day, the mainstream media continues to sell quantitative easing to the American people as an “economic stimulus” program by the Federal Reserve.
So has quantitative easing actually been good for the U.S. economy?
For example, while the Fed has been recklessly printing money out of thin air, household incomes have actually been going down for five years in a row…
What about employment?
Don’t more Americans have jobs now?
Actually, that is not the case at all. Posted below is a chart that shows how the percentage of working age Americans with a job has changed since the year 2000. As you can see, the employment to population ratio fell from about 63 percent before the last recession down to underneath 59 percent at the end of 2009 and it has stayed there ever since…
So where is the “employment recovery”?
Can you point it out to me? Because I have been staring at this chart for a long time and I still can’t find it.
So if quantitative easing has not been good for average Americans, who has it been good for?
The wealthy, of course.
Just check out what billionaire hedge fund manager Stanley Druckenmiller told CNBC about quantitative easing the other day…
“This is fantastic for every rich person,” he said Thursday, a day after the Fed’s stunning decision to delay tightening its monetary policy. “This is the biggest redistribution of wealth from the middle class and the poor to the rich ever.”
“Who owns assets—the rich, the billionaires. You think Warren Buffett hates this stuff? You think I hate this stuff? I had a very good day yesterday.”
Druckenmiller, whose net worth is estimated at more than $2 billion, said that the implication of the Fed’s policy is that the rich will spend their wealth and create jobs—essentially betting on “trickle-down economics.”
“I mean, maybe this trickle-down monetary policy that gives money to billionaires and hopefully we go spend it is going to work,” he said. “But it hasn’t worked for five years.”
Sadly, Druckenmiller is exactly correct.
Since the end of the last recession, the Dow has been on an unprecedented tear…
Of course these stock prices have nothing to do with economic reality at this point, but for the moment those that are making giant piles of cash on Wall Street don’t really care.
Sadly, what very few people seem to understand is that what the Fed is doing is going to absolutely destroy confidence in our currency and in our financial system in the long-term. Yeah, many investors have been raking in huge gobs of cash right now, but in the long run this is going to be bad for everybody.
We have now entered a money printing spiral from which there is no easy exit. According to Graham Summers, the Fed has “crossed the Rubicon” and we are now “in the End Game”…
If tapering even $10-15 billion per month from $85 billion month QE programs would damage the economy, then we’re all up you know what creek without a paddle.
Put it this way… here we are, five years after 2008, and the Fed is stating point blank that the economy would absolutely collapse if it spent any less than $85 billion per month. This admission has proven just how long ago we crossed the Rubicon. We’re already in the End Game. Period.
Most Americans don’t really understand what quantitative easing is, and most don’t really try to understand it because “quantitative easing” sounds very complicated.
But it really isn’t that complicated.
The Federal Reserve is creating gigantic mountains of money out of thin air every month, and the Fed is using all of that newly created money to buy government debt and mortgage-backed securities. Over the past several years, the value of the financial securities that the Fed has accumulated is greater than the total amount of publicly held debt that the U.S. government accumulated from the presidency of George Washington though the end of the presidency of Bill Clinton…
The same day that the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee announced last week that the Fed would continue to buy $40 billion in mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and $45 billion in U.S. Treasury securities per month, the Fed also released its latest weekly accounting sheet indicating that it had already accumulated more Treasuries and MBS than the total value of the publicly held U.S. government debt amassed by all U.S. presidents from George Washington though Bill Clinton.
To say that this is a desperate move by the Fed would be a massive understatement. We have never seen anything like this before in U.S. history.
And look at what all of this wild money printing has done to our money supply…
In many ways, the chart above is reminiscent of what the Weimar Republic did during the early years of their hyperinflationary spiral…
Just like the Weimar Republic, our money supply is beginning to grow at an exponential pace.
So far, complete and total disaster has not struck, so most people think that everything must be okay.
But it is not.
In a previous article, I included an outstanding illustration from Simon Black that I think would be extremely helpful here as well…
Let’s say you’re at a party in a small apartment that’s about 500 square feet in size. Then suddenly, at 11pm, a pipe bursts, starting a trickle into the living room.
Aside from the petty annoyance, would you feel like you were in danger? Probably not. This is a linear problem– the rate at which the water is leaking is more or less constant, so the guests can keep partying through the night without worry.
But let’s assume that it’s an exponential leak.
At first, there’s just one drop of water. But each minute, the rate doubles. So by 11:01pm, there’s 2 drops. By 11:02, 4 drops. And so forth.
By 11:27pm, there’s only six inches of standing water. Yet by 11:31pm, just four minutes later, the entire room is under nearly 8 feet of water. And the party’s over.
For nearly half an hour, it all seemed safe and manageable. People had all the time in the world to leave, right up until the bitter end. 11:27, 11:28, 11:29. Then it all went from benign to deadly in a matter of minutes.
Are you starting to get the picture?
What the Federal Reserve is doing is systematically destroying the U.S. dollar, and the rest of the world is starting to take notice.
Why should they continue to lend us trillions of dollars at super low interest rates when we are exploding the size of our money supply?
It is simply not rational for other nations to continue to lend us money at less than 3 percent a year when the real rate of inflation is somewhere around 8 to 10 percent and reckless money printing by the Fed threatens to greatly accelerate the devaluation of our currency.
When QE first started, the added demand for U.S. government debt by the Federal Reserve helped drive long-term interest rates down to record low levels.
But in the long-term, the only rational response by all other buyers of U.S. government debt will be to demand a much higher rate of return because of the rapid devaluation of U.S. currency.
So QE drives down long-term interest rates in the short-term, but in the long-term the only rational direction for long-term interest rates to go is much, much higher and in recent months we have already started to see this.
The only way that the Fed can stop this is by increasing the amount of quantitative easing.
Right now, the Fed is buying roughly half a trillion dollars worth of U.S. Treasuries a year, but the U.S. government issues close to a trillion dollars of new debt and must roll over about 3 trillion dollars of existing debt each year.
If the Federal Reserve eventually decides to buy all of the debt, then interest rates won’t be a major problem. But if the Fed goes that far our financial system would be regarded as a total joke by the remainder of the globe and we would reach hyperinflation much more rapidly.
If the Federal Reserve stops buying debt completely, the financial bubbles that they have created will burst and we will rapidly be facing a financial crisis even worse than what we experienced back in 2008.
But almost whatever the Fed does at this point, the rest of the world will probably continue to start to move away from the U.S. dollar as the de facto reserve currency of the planet. This move is just beginning, but it is going to have major implications for us in the years ahead. This is a topic that I will be addressing extensively in future articles.
Most of the debate about quantitative easing has focused on the impact that it will have on the U.S. economy in the short-term.
That is a huge mistake.
Of much greatest importance is what quantitative easing means for the long-term.
The rest of the world is losing confidence in the U.S. dollar and in U.S. debt because of the reckless money printing that the Fed has been doing.
But we desperately need the rest of the world to use “the petrodollar” and to lend us the money that we need to pay our bills.
As the rest of the planet starts to reject the U.S. dollar and starts to demand a much higher rate of return to lend us money, the U.S. economy is going to experience a tremendous amount of pain.
It is hard to put into words how foolish the Federal Reserve has been. The Fed is systematically destroying what was once the strongest financial system in the world, and in the end we are all going to pay the price.