Hard Working Americans Sure Do See The Economy A Lot Differently Than The “Experts” Do

Right now the entire nation is buzzing about the very first debates for Democratic presidential contenders in 2019, and much of the focus of those debates will be on the economy.  A total of 20 candidates will participate in those debates, and the vast majority of them don’t have a prayer of actually winning the nomination.  Of course all of them will have “plans” for “fixing” the economy, but the truth is that most of those plans really aren’t that radically different from what has been tried in the past.  No matter who has been in the White House, our insatiable appetite for debt has allowed us to enjoy a tremendously bloated standard of living that was far beyond what we actually deserved.  We have been consuming far more wealth than we have been producing for so long that most Americans have come to accept this state of affairs as “normal”.  And under no circumstance will Americans elect any presidential candidate that would suggest that we should be willing to accept a lower standard of living and quit going into so much debt.  Everyone wants to hear that we will be able to have an even higher standard of living in the future, and of course that is what a lot of our politicians eagerly tell them.

But it isn’t true.

Sadly, the reality of the matter is that we are at the very end of the greatest debt bubble in the history of the world, and the way we live is about to dramatically change no matter who we send to Washington.

As I discussed yesterday, the evidence that the U.S. economy has already entered a significant downturn continues to grow.  All of the economic numbers that we have been getting lately have been bad, and yet so many of the “experts” continue to claim that the U.S. economy is in great shape.

In fact, a survey that was just released had some rather starting results.  100 percent of the “experts” that were surveyed rated the performance of the U.S. economy as either “excellent” or “good”, but average hard working Americans were a lot more evenly split

A new survey from financial information website Bankrate.com found that everyday Americans have a less favorable view of the economy than experts do. All the experts rated the economy as being “excellent” or “good,” compared to just 59 percent of others. And 39 percent of everyday Americans said the economy was “not so good” or “poor.”

Bankrate surveyed around 1,000 people and nine economic experts for the study.

The survey also included a question about when the next recession would begin.  Approximately 40 percent of average hard working Americans felt that a recession had either already begun or would begin very soon, but none of the “experts” felt that way

Everyday Americans also said they expect a recession to hit sooner than the experts predict. A fifth of Americans polled said they believe the recession has already begun, and 21 percent said they expected it to begin within six months or a year. However, all the experts said they don’t expect a recession to begin for either one to two years or more than two years.

Perhaps we should stop calling them “experts”, because they appear to be completely and utterly clueless.

And we had better hope that the economy can hold up, because a different survey has found that 71 percent of all Americans say that they “are unprepared for another financial crisis”…

Meanwhile, 43% of Americans say they feel financially insecure and 71% are unprepared for another financial crisis, such as going bankrupt or losing their home, a survey of 24,070 adults released this week by market researcher YouGov found. Some 55% of those who feel unprepared say they’re not confident that they will be able to afford retirement; they’re more likely than those who feel financially secure to say the government should make sure everyone has health insurance.

Today, 59 percent of all Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, and U.S. consumer debt just soared to another brand new record high.  People are partying when they should be preparing, and this new economic downturn is going to catch most of us completely off guard.

And day after day we continue to get more numbers that are telling us that the economic outlook is very bleak.  For example, it is now being projected that U.S. auto sales will drop substantially over the next two years

The U.S. auto market hit a record for new cars, with 17.5 million in sales, in 2015. Sales the following year were flat then dipped to 17.2 million in 2017 and rebounded in 2018, rising to 17.3 million. But the first half of this year has plunged into negative territory. Edmunds anticipates sales for all of 2019 will drop to 16.9 million. That’s the same estimate from AlixPartners, which is forecasting a further dip to 16.3 million in 2020 and just 15.1 million in 2021.

Now we are in election season, and all sorts of different candidates will be touted as the one “that can turn the economy around” and restore “the promise of America’s future”.

Every election cycle they spout the same nonsense, and it is amazing that anyone still falls for it anymore.

Right now, America is on a highly self-destructive path that only leads to economic oblivion.  We are 22 trillion dollars in debt, we have been adding more than a trillion dollars a year to the national debt for more than a decade, state and local governments are drowning in record levels of debt, corporate debt has more than doubled since the last financial crisis, U.S. consumers are almost 14 trillion dollars in debt, and the world as a whole is now 244 trillion dollars in debt.

If we keep doing the same things over and over again, we are going to keep getting the same results.

Under our current system, there is no way that this game is going to end well for any of us.  The only thing left to do is to extend the party for as long as possible, and that is precisely what our politicians have been doing for a long time.

But at some point “extend and pretend” simply won’t work anymore, and a day of reckoning for America will finally arrive.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

3 Things That Happened Just Before The Crisis Of 2008 That Are Happening Again Right Now

Real estate, oil and the employment numbers are all telling us the same thing, and that is really bad news for the U.S. economy.  It really does appear that economic activity is starting to slow down significantly, but just like in 2008 those that are running things don’t want to admit the reality of what we are facing.  Back then, Fed Chair Ben Bernanke insisted that the U.S. economy was not heading into a recession, and we later learned that a recession had already begun when he made that statement.  And as you will see at the end of this article, current Fed Chair Jerome Powell says that he is “very happy” with how the U.S. economy is performing, but he shouldn’t be so thrilled.  Signs of trouble are everywhere, and we just got several more pieces of troubling news.

Thanks to aggressive rate hikes by the Federal Reserve, the average rate on a 30 year mortgage is now up to about 4.8 percent.  Just like in 2008, that is killing the housing market and it has us on the precipice of another real estate meltdown.

And some of the markets that were once the hottest in the entire country are leading the way down.  For example, just check out what is happening in Manhattan

In the third quarter, the median price for a one-bedroom Manhattan home was $815,000, down 4% from the same period in 2017. The volume of sales fell 12.7%.

Of course things are even worse at the high end of the market.  Some Manhattan townhouses are selling for millions of dollars less than what they were originally listed for.

Sadly, Manhattan is far from alone.  Pending home sales are down all over the nation.  In October, U.S. pending home sales were down 4.6 percent on a year over year basis, and that was the tenth month in a row that we have seen a decline…

Hope was high for a rebound (after new-home-sales slumped), but that was dashed as pending home sales plunged 2.6% MoM in October (well below the expected 0.5% MoM bounce).

Additionally, Pending Home Sales fell 4.6% YoY – the 10th consecutive month of annual declines…

When something happens for 10 months in a row, I think that you can safely say that a trend has started.

Sales of new homes continue to plummet as well.  In fact, we just witnessed a 12 percent year over year decline for sales of new single family houses last month

Sales of new single-family houses plunged 12% in October, compared to a year ago, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 544,000 houses, according to estimates by the Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

With an inventory of new houses for sale at 336,000 (seasonally adjusted), the supply at the current rate of sales spiked to 7.4 months, from 6.5 months’ supply in September, and from 5.6 months’ supply a year ago.

If all of this sounds eerily similar to 2008, that is because it is eerily similar to what happened just before and during the last financial crisis.

Up until now, at least the economic optimists could point to the employment numbers as a reason for hope, but not anymore.

In fact, initial claims for unemployment benefits have now risen for three weeks in a row

The number of Americans filing applications for jobless benefits increased to a six-month high last week, which could raise concerns that the labor market could be slowing.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 234,000 for the week ended Nov. 24, the highest level since the mid-May, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Claims have now risen for three straight weeks.

This is also similar to what we witnessed back in 2008.  Jobless claims started to creep up, and then when the crisis fully erupted there was an avalanche of job losses.

And just like 10 years ago, we are starting to see a lot of big corporations start to announce major layoffs.

General Motors greatly upset President Trump when they announced that they were cutting 14,000 jobs just before the holidays, but GM is far from alone.  For a list of some of the large firms that have just announced layoffs, please see my previous article entitled “U.S. Job Losses Accelerate: Here Are 10 Big Companies That Are Cutting Jobs Or Laying Off Workers”.

A third parallel to 2008 is what is happening to the price of oil.

In 2008, the price of oil shot up to a record high before falling precipitously.

Well, now a similar thing has happened.  Earlier this year the price of oil shot up to $76 a barrel, but this week it slid beneath the all-important $50 barrier

Oil’s recent slide has shaved more than a third off its price. Crude fell more than 1% Thursday to as low as $49.41 a barrel. The last time oil closed below $50 was in October 4, 2017. By mid morning the price had climbed back to above $51.

Concerns about oversupply have sent oil prices into a virtual freefall: Crude hit a four-year high above $76 a barrel less than two months ago.

When economists are asked why the price of oil is falling, the primary answer they give is because global economic activity is softening.

And that is definitely the case.  In fact, we just learned that economic confidence in the eurozone has declined for the 11th month in a row

Euro-area economic confidence slipped for an 11th straight month, further damping expectations that the currency bloc will rebound from a sharp growth slowdown and complicating the European Central Bank’s plans to pare back stimulus.

In addition, we just got news that the Swiss and Swedish economies had negative growth in the third quarter.

The economic news is bad across the board, and it appears to be undeniable that a global economic downturn has begun.

But current Fed Chair Jerome Powell insists that he is “very happy about the state of the economy”

Jerome H. Powell, the Federal Reserve’s chairman, has also taken an optimistic line, declaring in Texas recently that he was “very happy about the state of the economy.”

That is just great.  He can be as happy as he wants, and he can continue raising interest rates as he sticks his head in the sand, but nothing is going to change economic reality.

Every single Fed rate hiking cycle in history has ended in a market crash and/or a recession, and this time won’t be any different.

The Federal Reserve created the “boom” that we witnessed in recent years, but we must also hold them responsible for the “bust” that is about to happen.

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.

Jim Cramer On The U.S. Economy: “Many CEOS Have Told Me About How Quickly Things Have Cooled”

A lot of people are shocked by how rapidly things are beginning to move.  The U.S. economy is slowing down at a pace that we haven’t seen since the last recession, and this is something that I have been tracking extensively.  But now the slowdown is so obvious that even some of the biggest names in the mainstream media are talking about it.  For example, just take a look at what Jim Cramer of CNBC is saying.  For a long time, he was touting how well the U.S. economy was doing, but now his tune has completely changed.  According to Cramer, a lot of corporate executives have “told me about how quickly things have cooled”, and he says that many of them are shocked because this “wasn’t supposed to occur so soon”

Company leaders across industries are telling Jim Cramer — off the record — that they’re worried about a slowdown in the U.S. economy, Cramer said Thursday on CNBC.

“So many CEOs have told me about how quickly things have cooled,” the “Mad Money” host said. “So many of them are baffled that we could find ourselves in this late-cycle dilemma that wasn’t supposed to occur so soon.”

Just like in 2008, the suddenness of the downturn is taking many of the experts by surprise.

Because our system is so highly vulnerable, when things start to go bad we can see a crisis escalate very rapidly, and the outlook for the months ahead is very troubling.

Normally Jim Cramer doesn’t talk like this, but now he is warning that we are “on the verge” of a slowdown that could potentially “cause an awful lot of havoc and cost a lot of jobs”

“There are degrees of slowdowns that, nonetheless, can cause an awful lot of havoc and cost a lot of jobs, and that’s what we’re on the verge of here,” he said. “That’s what the markets are saying. That’s what the CEOs are worried about offline.”

The situation reminded Cramer of when, on the cusp of the 2008 financial crisis, his corporate sources confided in him that the Fed “seemed to be out of touch … with what was happening” on Wall Street, he said. That led to his now-famous “They know nothing!” rant blasting the Fed for its lack of diligence.

Back in 2008 and 2009, millions of Americans lost their jobs within a matter of months.  Many of you that are reading this article know all about it, because it happened to you personally.

The same thing will happen again, and now it looks like it may happen a lot faster than most of the “experts” were projecting.

There is also another troubling piece of news that I would like to share with all of you.

On Friday, the latest NY Fed report came out, and we learned that U.S. household debt is now 837 billion dollars higher than it was during the previous peak in 2008

Total household debt, driven by a $9.1 trillion in mortgages, is now $837 billion higher than its previous peak in 2008, just as the last recession took hold and brought on massive deleveraging across the United States. Indebtedness has risen steadily for more than four years and sits more than 21 percent above a trough in 2013.

The $219 billion rise in total debt in the quarter ended September 30 was the biggest jump since 2016.

Our entire “economic recovery” has been fueled by debt, and so those numbers are not that surprising.

But the troubling part of the report is the fact that debt delinquency rates have now risen to the highest levels in 7 years

Aggregate delinquency rates worsened in the third quarter of 2018. As of September 30, 4.7% of outstanding debt was in some stage of delinquency, an uptick from 4.5% in the second quarter and the largest in 7 years. Of the $638 billion of debt that is delinquent, $415 billion is seriously delinquent (at least 90 days late or “severely derogatory”). This increase was primarily due to a large increase in the flow into delinquency for student loan balances during the third quarter of 2018. The flow into 90+ day delinquency for credit card balances has been rising for the last year and remained elevated since then compared to its recent history, while the flow into 90+ day delinquency for auto loan balances has been slowly trending upward since 2012.

In other words, Americans are getting behind on their debts to a degree that we have not seen since the U.S. economy was coming out of the last recession.

This is a very clear indicator that the U.S. economy is really slowing down, and if delinquency rates keep rising that is going to mean big trouble for U.S. financial institutions.

Of course U.S. consumers are not the only ones with a massive debt problem.  Corporate debt has more than doubled since the last financial crisis, state and local government debt levels are at record highs, and the U.S. government is now almost 22 trillion dollars in debt.

Perhaps if we had not spent six trillion dollars on wars in the Middle East since 2001, we would be in much better financial shape as a nation.

The Bubble to End All Bubbles, which some have dubbed “The Everything Bubble”, appears to be starting to burst and that is likely to mean tremendous chaos for global financial markets.

And without a doubt, this was another very tough week for Wall Street.  All of the major indexes were down significantly, and tech stocks got hit particularly hard

The S&P 500 fell 1.6 percent this week, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq Composite both declined more than 2 percent.

Technology, the biggest sector in the S&P 500 by market cap, was the second-worst performer this week, falling 2.5 percent. The sector dropped following a 5.4 percent decline in Apple. Wall Street analysts worry iPhone sales will slow down. Tech-related shares like Amazon and Netflix were also down 7 percent and 5.7 percent, respectively. Sharp losses in Nvidia dragged down the chips sector and the overall tech sector on Friday.

For the past couple of years we have been enjoying a time of relative economic and financial stability, but most Americans used that time to party instead of to prepare.

Now that period of stability is ending, and a very uncertain future is 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.

11 Signs That The U.S. Economy Is Starting To Slow Down Dramatically

The pace at which things are changing is shocking the experts.  Just a few months ago, many of the experts were still talking about how the U.S. economy was “booming”, but since then a major shift has taken place.  Most of the headlines have been about the huge stock market declines that we have been witnessing, but things have not been going well for the real economy either.  Home sales are way down, auto sales are plummeting, the retail apocalypse is escalating, the middle class continues to shrink and economic optimism is rapidly evaporating.  We haven’t seen anything like this since 2008, and many believe that the economic downturn that is now upon us will ultimately be even worse than what we experienced a decade ago.  The following are 11 signs that the U.S. economy is starting to slow down dramatically…

#1 When economic activity is rising, demand for oil increases, and oil prices tend to go up.  But when economic activity is slowing down, demand for oil diminishes, and oil prices tend to go down.  That is why what is happening to the price of oil right now is so alarming

US oil prices plummeted 7% to a one-year low of $55.69 a barrel on Tuesday. It was crude’s worst day since September 2015.

The losses in the oil world have been staggering as worries deepen about excess supply. Crude is down 12 straight days, the longest losing streak since futures trading began in March 1983.

#2 One new poll has found that only 13 percent of Americans plan to buy a home in the next year.  That number has fallen for three quarters in a row, and it is now down by almost half over the last twelve months.

#3 As the market dries up, the inventory of unsold homes is absolutely soaring nationwide…

With that in mind, it comes as no surprise that inventory countywide soared 86% among single-family homes and 188% among condos in October compared to a year prior, according to newly published data by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. It was the most massive year-over-year increase on record, dating back to the Dotcom bust, a rhythm that has some asking: Is the housing industry about to go bust?

#4 California once had the hottest housing market in the entire nation, but now home prices in the state are plummeting like it is 2008 all over again.

#5 According to the latest Bank of America survey, global fund managers are the most bearish that they have been since the financial crisis of 2008…

According to the survey, 44% of the fund managers expect global growth to decelerate in the next year, the worst outlook since November 2008. What’s more, 54% are anticipating a slowdown in Chinese growth in the next year, the most bearish they’ve been in over 2 years.

#6 America’s ongoing retail apocalypse just continues to accelerate.  According to a recent Bloomberg article, things are going so poorly for some mall operators that they “handing over their keys to lenders even before leases end”

Things are getting worse for malls across America. So much worse that their owners are walking away early from struggling properties, a trend that has mortgage bond investors bracing for losses.

Mall operators, eyeing defaults caused or made more likely by shuttered stores such as Sears Holdings Corp., are handing over their keys to lenders even before leases end. That’s forcing loan-servicing companies to either take a shot at running the properties or sell them cheap. And if they’re unable to salvage the debt payments, investors in commercial mortgage-backed securities will take a hit.

#7 Despite the eruption of a major trade war, the U.S. trade deficit with the rest of the world is on pace to set a brand new all-time record in 2018.

#8 One new study discovered that 62 percent of all U.S. jobs do not currently pay enough to support a middle class lifestyle.

#9 At this point, most Americans barely have any financial cushion at all.  According to one recent survey, 58 percent of all Americans have less than $1,000 in savings.

#10 Right now, more than half of all U.S. children are living in households that receive financial assistance from the federal government.

#11 As the economy slows down, an increasing number of Americans are being forced into the streets.  More than half a million Americans are currently homeless, and that number is growing with each passing day.

Meanwhile, more troubling news continues to emerge from Wall Street on a daily basis.  One of the big stories this week has been the fact that General Electric appears to be on the verge of “collapse”.  They have been completely locked out of the commercial paper market, they are being completely overwhelmed by the giant mountain of debt that they are carrying, and their formerly “investment grade” bonds are now being traded like junk.  The following comes from Zero Hedge

Two weeks after we reported that GE had found itself locked out of the commercial paper market following downgrades that made it ineligible for most money market investors, the pain has continued, and yesterday General Electric lost just over $5bn in market capitalization. While far less than the $49bn wiped out from AAPL the same day, it was arguably the bigger headline grabber.

The shares slumped -6.88% after dropping as much as -10% at the lows after the company’s CEO, in an interview with CNBC yesterday, failed to reassure market fears about a weakening financial position. The CEO suggested that the company will now urgently sell assets to address leverage and its precarious liquidity situation whereby it will have to rely on revolvers – and the generosity of its banks – now that it is locked out of the commercial paper market.

GE is not a financial company, but could this be a candidate to become “the next Lehman Brothers”?

The upward economic downturn of the last couple of years is totally gone, and many believe that there will soon be a feverish race for the exits on Wall Street.  If you have not already positioned yourself for the coming crisis, now is the time to do so.  As we saw in 2008, markets tend to go down a whole lot faster than they go up.

And once things get really crazy on Wall Street, the real economy can fall apart at a pace that is breathtaking.  In 2008, millions of people lost their jobs within a matter of months.  This will happen again, and there are an increasing number of signs that this is going to happen much sooner than most people had anticipated.

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.

Venezuela Has Officially Abandoned The Petrodollar – Does This Make War With Venezuela More Likely?

Venezuela is the 11th largest oil producing country in the entire world, and it has just announced that it is going to stop using the petrodollar.  Most Americans don’t even know what the petrodollar is, but for those of you that do understand what I am talking about, this should send a chill up your spine.  The petrodollar is one of the key pillars of the global financial system, and it allows us to live a far higher standard of living than we actually deserve.  The dominance of the petrodollar has been very jealously guarded by our government in the past, and that is why many are now concerned that this move by Venezuela could potentially lead us to war.

I don’t know why this isn’t headline news all over the country, but it should be.  One of the few major media outlets that is reporting on this is the Wall Street Journal

The government of this oil-rich but struggling country, looking for ways to circumvent U.S. sanctions, is telling oil traders that it will no longer receive or send payments in dollars, people familiar with the new policy have told The Wall Street Journal.

Before we go any further, we should discuss what we mean by the “petrodollar” for those that are not familiar with the concept.  The following comes from an excellent article by Christopher Doran

In a nutshell, any country that wants to purchase oil from an oil producing country has to do so in U.S. dollars. This is a long standing agreement within all oil exporting nations, aka OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. The UK for example, cannot simply buy oil from Saudi Arabia by exchanging British pounds. Instead, the UK must exchange its pounds for U.S. dollars. The major exception at present is, of course, Iran.

This means that every country in the world that imports oil—which is the vast majority of the world’s nations—has to have immense quantities of dollars in reserve.

As will be explained below, the fact that virtually everyone around the world has to use our currency to buy oil is a massive advantage for us.  Venezuela knows this, and so in response to new sanctions being imposed upon them, they are hitting us where it hurts

Oil traders who export Venezuelan crude or import oil products into the country have begun converting their invoices to euros.

The state oil company Petróleos de Venezuela SA, known as PdVSA, has told its private joint venture partners to open accounts in euros and to convert existing cash holdings into Europe’s main currency, said one project partner.

The new payment policy hasn’t been publicly announced, but Vice President Tareck El Aissami, who has been blacklisted by the U.S., said Friday, “To fight against the economic blockade there will be a basket of currencies to liberate us from the dollar.”

If more nations start to follow suit, it would be absolutely disastrous for the United States.

In other articles, I have detailed why the petrodollar is so incredibly important to our economy and our financial system.  The following is an extended excerpt from one of those previous articles

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.

History has shown that when the status of the petrodollar is threatened, the U.S. is swift to take action.

And it is very interesting to note that President Trump will be meeting with Latin American leaders next week, and the main topic for discussion will be “the Venezuela crisis”

U.S. President Donald Trump has invited three Latin American leaders to dine with him next week in New York as he seeks to address the Venezuela crisis and build bridges with the region after an acrimonious start with neighbor Mexico.

The political and economic turmoil in Venezuela, source of 10 percent of the oil consumed by the United States, will almost certainly top the agenda when he receives the center-right presidents of Peru, Colombia and Brazil at Trump Tower on Monday evening, diplomats said.

Could this latest move by Venezuela be enough to potentially spark a military conflict?

The guys over at Zero Hedge seem to think so…

Having threatened China today with exclusion from SWIFT, we suspect Washington is rapidly running out of any great ally to sustain the petrodollar-driven hegemony (and implicitly its war machine). Cue the calls for a Venezuelan invasion in 3…2..1…!

It would be absolutely no surprise at all if John McCain and Lindsey Graham start appearing on the major news networks calling for war with Venezuela, but hopefully President Trump will not listen to such nonsense.

No matter how important the petrodollar is, there is absolutely no reason to go to war to protect it.

And if war talk does begin, the American people need to make their voices heard very, very loudly.  We have been in useless wars before, and we certainly do not need another one.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

The Price Of Oil Is Crashing Again, And That Is Very, Very Bad News For The U.S. Economy

Oil Price Crashing - Public DomainThis wasn’t supposed to happen.  The price of oil was supposed to start going back up, and this would have brought much needed relief to economically-depressed areas of North America that are heavily dependent on the energy industry.  Instead, the price of oil is crashing again, and that is really bad news for a U.S. economy that is already mired in the worst “recovery” since 1949.  On Monday, U.S. oil was down almost four percent, and for a brief time it actually fell below 40 dollars a barrel.  Overall, the price of oil has fallen a staggering 21 percent since June 8th.  In less than two months, the “oil rally” that so many were pinning their hopes on has been totally wiped out, and if the price of oil continues to stay this low it is going to have very seriously implications for our economy moving forward.

One of the big reasons why the price of oil has been declining is because the OPEC nations continue to pump oil at very high levels.  The following comes from CNBC

Production in July by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries likely rose to its highest in recent history, a Reuters survey found on Friday, as Iraq pumped more and Nigeria squeezed out additional crude exports despite militant attacks on oil installations.

Top OPEC exporter Saudi Arabia also kept output close to a record high, the survey found, as it met seasonally higher domestic demand and focused on maintaining market share instead of trimming supply to boost prices.

These countries don’t know if or when the price of oil will eventually rebound, but what they do know is that they desperately need cash in order to keep their sputtering economies going.  Many of these nations are already experiencing significant economic downturns, and substantially reducing oil revenues at this time would definitely not help things.

Here in North America, oil production costs tend to be higher, and so when the price of oil crashes we tend to see companies shut down rigs.  But when rigs get shut down, that means that good paying jobs are lost.

During the first four months of 2016, approximately 35,000 jobs were lost at Texas energy companies.  Globally, more than 290,000 energy jobs have been lost since the price of oil started falling back in 2014.

And even though there was hope that energy companies would add jobs as the price of oil started rebounding during the second quarter, it turned out that the job losses just kept on coming

Energy companies continued to cut thousands of jobs during the second quarter, even though many chief executives are now voicing optimism that the oil market crash is ending and a rebound in drilling is afoot.

Although the heads of Halliburton Co. , Schlumberger Ltd. and other major firms forecast higher crude prices and a return to U.S. shale fields when discussing earnings this week, those companies and others disclosed another 15,000 industry layoffs.

Personally, I have quite a few members of my own extended family that live in areas that are heavily dependent on the energy industry, and three of them have lost their jobs so far this year.

And these are precisely the sort of good paying middle class jobs that we cannot afford to lose.  In order to having a thriving middle class, you need lots of middle class jobs.  Unfortunately, those kinds of jobs are going away, and the middle class in the United States is systematically dying.

If the price of oil keeps going lower, that will mean even more jobs losses for the energy industry, and that will be very bad news for the U.S. economy.

In addition, many of these energy companies are getting into very serious debt problems.  Delinquency rates on corporate debt are already the highest that they have been since the last recession as firms struggle to pay their bills.  Of course some of them have already gone belly up, and this has pushed default rates on corporate debt to the highest level since the last financial crisis.

At a price of 40 dollars a barrel, most oil companies in the United States are not profitable in the long-term.  The longer the price of oil stays down in this neighborhood, the more energy companies we will see go bankrupt.  At this point it is just a waiting game.

Also, it is important to keep in mind that Wall Street is very heavily exposed to the energy industry.  Just as subprime mortgages brought down quite a few financial institutions back in 2008, so this time around it is inevitable that the oil crash will claim a fair number of victims as well.

As the global economy has slowed down, the demand for oil has decreased.  And at this point, even the U.S. economy appears to be seriously slowing down.  U.S. GDP only grew at about a one percent rate for the first half of 2016, and the rate of homeownership in this country just hit the lowest level ever recorded.

In the mainstream financial media, there is a lot of hopeful talk about a potential turnaround for the energy industry, but most of that talk appears to be just wishful thinking.

To me, about the only thing that could push the price of oil back to where U.S. oil companies need it to be in the short-term would be a major war in the Middle East.  And of course that is definitely always a possibility considering who is running things in Washington.  But absent that, it is hard to see the price of oil getting back to 70 or 80 dollars a barrel any time soon.

So that means that we are likely to see more job losses, more debt delinquencies and debt defaults, and more financial institutions getting into trouble due to their reckless exposure to the energy industry.

15 Facts About The Imploding U.S. Economy That The Mainstream Media Doesn’t Want You To See

U.S. Economy - Public DomainYou are about to see undeniable evidence that the U.S. economy has been slowing down for quite some time.  And it is vital that we focus on the facts, because all over the Internet you are going to find lots and lots of people that have opinions about what is going on with the economy.  And of course the mainstream media is always trying to spin things to make Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton look good, because those that work in the mainstream media are far more liberal than the American population as a whole.  It is true that I also have my own opinions, but as an attorney I learned that opinions are not any good unless you have facts to back them up.  So please allow me a few moments to share with you evidence that clearly demonstrates that we have already entered a major economic slowdown.  The following are 15 facts about the imploding U.S. economy that the mainstream media doesn’t want you to see…

1. Industrial production has now declined for nine months in a row.  We have never seen this happen outside of a recession in all of U.S. history.

2. U.S. commercial bankruptcies have risen on a year over year basis for seven months in a row and are now up 51 percent since September.

3. The delinquency rate on commercial and industrial loans has been rising since January 2015.

4. Total business sales in the United States have been steadily dropping since the middle of 2014.  No, I did not say 2015.  Total business sales have been in decline for nearly two years now, and we just found out that they dropped again

Total business sales in the US did in April what they’ve been doing since July 2014: they dropped: -2.9% from a year ago, to $1.28 trillion (not adjusted for seasonal differences and price changes), the Censuses Bureau reported on Tuesday. That’s where sales had been in April 2013!

5. U.S. factory orders have been dropping for 18 months in a row.

6. The Cass Shipping Index has been falling on a year over year basis for 14 consecutive months.

7. U.S. coal production has dropped to the lowest level in 35 years.

8. Goldman Sachs has its own internal tracker of the U.S. economy, and it has fallen to the lowest level since the last recession.

9. JPMorgan’s “recession indicators” have risen to the highest level that we have seen since the last recession.

10. Federal tax receipts and state tax receipts usually both start to fall as we enter a new recession, and that is precisely what is taking place right now.

11. The Federal Reserve’s Labor Market Conditions Index has been falling for five months in a row.

12. The employment numbers that the government released for last month were the worst that we have seen in six years.

13. According to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, layoff announcements at major firms are running 24 percent higher this year than they were at this time last year.

14. Online job postings on the business networking site LinkedIn have been declining steadily since February after 73 months in a row of growth.

15. The number of temporary workers in the United States peaked and started falling precipitously before the recession of 2001 even started.  The exact same thing happened just prior to the beginning of the 2008 recession.  So would it surprise you to learn that the number of temporary workers in the United States peaked in December and has fallen dramatically since then?

Temporary Help Services

Earlier today, we learned that two of our biggest corporations will be laying off even more workers.  Bank of America, which is holding more of our money than any other bank in the country, has announced that it is going to be cutting about 8,000 more workers

Bank of America is expected to reduce staffing in its consumer banking division by as many as 8,000 more jobs.

The nation’s largest retail bank by deposits has already reduced the staffing in its consumer division from more than 100,000 in 2009 to about 68,400 as of the end of the first quarter of 2016, said Thong Nguyen, Bank of America’s president of retail banking and co-head of consumer banking at the Morgan Stanley Financials Conference Tuesday.

And Wal-Mart has announced that it is going to be eliminating “back-office accounting jobs” at approximately 500 locations

Walmart is going to cut some back-office accounting jobs at about 500 stores in a bid to become more efficient.

The job cuts will occur mostly at stores mostly in the West and involve accounting and invoicing workers, says spokesman Kory Lundberg. Instead, bookkeeping functions will be switched to Walmart’s home office in Bentonville, Ark. Cash at the stores will be counted by machine.

Day after day we are hearing about more layoffs like this.  So why would this be happening if the U.S. economy truly was in “recovery mode”?

Even with how manipulated the GDP numbers are these days, Barack Obama is on course to be the only president in all of U.S. history to never have a single year when the economy grew by at least 3 percent.  The truth is that our economy has been stuck in the mud ever since the end of the last recession, and now a major new downturn has clearly already begun.

And you want to know who else realizes this?

Foreign investors do.

Last month, foreign investors dumped U.S. debt at the fastest pace ever recorded

Foreign investors sold a record amount of U.S. Treasury bonds and notes for the month of April, according to U.S. Treasury Department data on Wednesday, as investors priced in a few more rate increases by the Federal Reserve this year.

Foreigners sold $74.6 billion in U.S. Treasury debt in the month, after purchases of $23.6 billion in March. April’s outflow was the largest since the U.S. Treasury Department started recording Treasury debt transactions in January 1978.

There is no debate any longer – the next economic crisis is already here.  This is so abundantly obvious at this point that even George Soros has been feverishly dumping stocks and buying gold.

We can argue about whether the U.S. economy started turning down in late 2015, early 2015 or late 2014, and it is good to have those debates.

But at the end of the day, what is far more important is what is ahead.  Fortunately, our downturn has been fairly gradual so far, and let us hope that it stays that way for as long as possible.

In much of the rest of the world, things are already in full-blown panic mode.  For instance, Venezuela was once the wealthiest nation in South America, but now people are literally hunting cats and dogs for food.

Absent a major “black swan event” of some sort, we won’t see that happening in the United States for at least a while yet, but without a doubt we are steamrolling toward a major economic depression.

Unfortunately for all of us, there isn’t anything that any of our politicians are going to be able to do to stop it.

*About the author: Michael Snyder is the founder and publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog. Michael’s controversial new book about Bible prophecy entitled “The Rapture Verdict” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.*

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