The Beginning Of The End
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Wow – The Holiday Shopping Season Is Off To A Horrible Start

Beverley Center Mall in Beverly HillsAccording to the National Retail Federation, Americans spent an average of 4 percent less over the four day Thanksgiving weekend than they did last year.  Overall, that means that approximately $1.7 billion less was spent at U.S. retailers compared to last year.  It had already been projected that this holiday shopping season would be the worst for retailers since 2009, but if these numbers are any indication it may be even worse than expected.  So why is this happening?  Well, basically the American consumer is tapped out.  The unemployment crisis in this country is actually getting worse, poverty is absolutely exploding and the middle class is being systematically eviscerated.  In other words, you can’t get blood out of a stone.  Many retailers are offering extreme discounts in a desperate attempt to lure more shoppers, but the money simply isn’t there.

According to Yahoo News, the decline in shopping over the four day Thanksgiving weekend was the first decline that we have seen since the last recession…

Shoppers, on average, were expected to spend $407.02 during the four days, down 3.9 percent from last year. That would be the first decline since the 2009 holiday shopping season when the economy was just coming out of the recession.

The survey underscores the challenges stores have faced since the recession began in late 2007. Retailers had to offer deeper discounts to get people to shop during the downturn, but Americans still expect those “70 percent off” signs now during the recovery.

And according to the New York Times, Americans spent a total of 1.7 billion dollars less than they did last year…

Over the course of the weekend, consumers spent about $1.7 billion less on holiday shopping than they did the year before, according to the National Retail Federation, a retail trade organization.

“There are some economic challenges that many Americans still face,” said Matthew Shay, the chief executive of the retail federation. “So in general terms, many are intending to be a little bit more conservative with their budgets.”

But this downturn for retailers did not just begin this past weekend.  There have been signs of trouble for quite a while now.

For example, posted below is a photo that one of my readers sent to me.  This is a photo of the Beverly Center Mall in Beverly Hills, California that was taken in the middle of the day on Tuesday, November 19th.  She said that there “wasn’t a soul in that mall and the employees were all standing, staring into space with nothing to do”…

Beverley Center Mall in Beverly Hills

So where are all of the shoppers?

Why aren’t people out buying stuff?

Sadly, this is just the continuation of a trend that has been developing for more than a decade.  The truth is that Americans are simply not spending money as rapidly as they used to.

Posted below is a chart that shows that the velocity of M2 in the United States is at an all-time low.  In other words, the rate at which money circulates through our economy is frighteningly low and it continues to drop…

Velocity Of Money

As you can see from the chart above, this decline in the velocity of money has been going on since the late 1990s.  This is a sign of a very unhealthy economy.

Most Americans know that the U.S. economy is very heavily dependent on consumer spending.  But consumers have to make money first in order to spend it.  And right now we have a major employment crisis in this country.

At this point, the labor force participation rate in the United States is at a 35 year low, and an all-time record 102 million working age Americans do not have a job.

Meanwhile, the quality of our jobs continues to decline as well.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, median household income in the United States has fallen for five years in a row, and right now the middle class is taking home a smaller share of the overall income pie than has ever been recorded before.

So should it really be such a surprise that consumers are totally tapped out?

The money simply is not there.

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

A recent CNN article profiled one of these workers.  Carman Iverson is a 28-year-old mother of four that makes minimum wage at McDonald’s.  If it was not for government assistance, her and her four children would not be able to survive…

Iverson said she started working in 2012 at $7.25 an hour, and makes $7.35 an hour now after Missouri adjusted the minimum wage. She makes between $400 and $600 a month. Her rent is $650 a month.

When asked how she could pay her rent on those wages, she said she had a landlord who works with her. “I’m kind of on my last little leg, because I’ve been late on rent. I’m actually behind three months in rent.

“Sometimes I can pay it, sometimes I can’t. I get paid twice a month, and both checks go to rent and the rest of it goes to utilities to the point where I don’t have any money left to buy anything for my kids — to buy them clothes, shoes or anything they need.”

She said she manages to feed her four children on $543 worth of food stamps a month.

But instead of fixing things, Barack Obama continues to pursue policies that will kill millions more good jobs.  It is absolutely amazing that there are any Americans that still support this guy.  For a long list of statistics that show how badly the economy has tanked since Obama entered the White House, please see this article.

You know that things are bad when increasing the number of Americans on food stamps by 15 million is regarded as an “economic accomplishment”.  In fact, a message recently posted on the official White House website says that “SNAP is boosting the economy right now” and that high food stamp enrollment is creating lots of jobs…

“SNAP’s effect extends beyond the food on a family’s table–to the grocery stores, truck drivers, warehouses, processing plants and farmers that helped get it there.”

So why don’t we just enroll all Americans in every welfare program?

Wouldn’t that produce an extreme economic boom?

And actually under Obama we are already well on our way.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 49.2 percent of all Americans are currently receiving benefits from at least one government program, and the federal government has spent an astounding 3.7 trillion dollars on welfare programs over the past five years.

Yes, there will always be poor people that cannot help themselves that will need our assistance.

But most Americans are capable of working if they could just find jobs.

Unfortunately, our jobs are being killed off and wages are going down.  The middle class is being systematically destroyed and U.S. consumer spending is drying up.

The horrible start to this holiday shopping season is just the beginning.

Things are going to get much worse than this.

Worldwide Unemployment Crisis: There Are 93 Million Unemployed Workers In G20 Nations

Earth At NightDid you know that the total number of unemployed workers in G20 counties is now up to 93 million and that it is increasing with each passing day?  You see, the truth is that the United States is not the only one dealing with a systemic unemployment crisis.  This is literally happening all over the planet.  So what is causing this crisis?  Is there any hope that it will be turned around?  Well, unfortunately there are several long-term trends that have been developing for decades that have played a major role in bringing us to this point.  First of all, the giant corporations that now totally dominate the global economy have figured out that they can make a lot more money by replacing expensive workers that live in major industrialized nations with workers that live in nations where it is legal to pay slave labor wages.  So it isn’t really a huge mystery why there is such a huge problem with unemployment in the western world.  If you were running a giant corporation, why would you want to hire workers that will cost you 10 to 20 times as much as other workers?  A worker is a worker, and over the past decade we have seen a massive movement of jobs to countries where labor is cheaper.  In addition, large corporations are also trying to completely eliminate as many jobs as they can by using technology.  If a corporation can get a computer or a machine or a robot to do a task more cheaply than a human worker can do it, then why would that corporation want to continue to rely on human labor?  And of course we have seen an overall weakening of the economies of the western world in recent years as well.  This has been particularly true in the United States.  As these long-term trends intensify, the worldwide unemployment crisis is going to get even worse.

In fact, the director general of the International Labor Organization is fully convinced that unemployment is going to continue to rise in G20 nations.  Just check out what he told CNBC on Friday…

Unemployment will likely soar further in the group of 20 major economic powers without immediate action, Guy Ryder, the director general of the International Labor Organization told CNBC on Friday, comparing the jobs crisis to the 2008-2009 financial crisis and warning it needs to be tackled urgently.

“We have gone backwards. It is quite alarming to see…that unemployment has not gone down, in fact it’s gone up,” Ryder told CNBC at the G20 finance ministers’ meeting in Moscow.

He said 93 million people were currently unemployed in the G20.

And when those living in G20 nations lose their jobs, they tend to stay out of work for a very long time.  In fact, 30 percent of unemployed workers in G20 countries have been out of work for one year or longer.

Major industrialized nations all over the planet are no longer able to produce enough jobs for their people.  In many “wealthy nations” the unemployment rate has already risen well up into double digits.  Just consider the following numbers…

-The unemployment rate is above 25 percent in South Africa.

-The unemployment rate in France recently hit a 15 year high.

-The unemployment rate in Italy is up to 12.2 percent, which is the highest in 35 years.

-The unemployment rate in the eurozone as a whole is up to an all-time high of 12.2 percent.

-The unemployment rate in Poland is 13.2 percent.

-The unemployment rate in Ireland is now 13.6 percent.

-The unemployment rate in Portugal has rocketed up to 17.7 percent.

-The unemployment rate in Greece is currently sitting at 26.9 percent and it is being projected that it will soon hit 30 percent.

-The unemployment rate in Spain is even worse than in Greece.  The unemployment rate in Spain is a staggering 27.2 percent.

Sadly, it looks like things are not going to be getting better any time soon.  In fact, global business confidence is now the lowest that it has been since the last recession.

So what about the United States?

Well, it is true that our official numbers do not look quite as bad as much of the rest of the world.  But the official unemployment rate in the U.S. has been at 7.5 percent or higher for 54 months in a row.  That is the longest stretch in U.S. history.

But at least it is not in double digits yet.

Things could be worse.

However, that does not mean that we are doing well either.

The mainstream media is attempting to convince us that everything is just fine because the unemployment rate has been “going down”, but when you take a deeper look at the numbers that is not exactly an accurate assessment of our situation.

As the New York Times recently pointed out, the decline in the unemployment rate can almost entirely be accounted for by a decline in the labor participation rate…

Let’s take a step back. Lots of people lost jobs during the Great Recession. In the aftermath, the great surprise has been how few are looking for new jobs. Labor force participation, the share of adults working or trying to find work, has stagnated at about 63.5 percent, almost three percentage points below the pre-recession level.

The unemployment rate has dropped almost entirely because of this decline in labor force participation. In other words, it has not fallen because people are finding jobs. It has fallen because fewer people are looking for jobs.

To get a more accurate picture of what is really happening with employment in America, you need to look at the employment-population ratio.  It is a measurement of the percentage of the working age population that is actually working.  As you can see, the percentage of working age Americans that actually have a job has been declining since the year 2000…

Employment-Population Ratio 2013

As you can see, there has been no employment recovery.

When the mainstream media tells you that the employment numbers for June were “great”, that is not being honest.  The truth is that the unemployment rate rose in 28 U.S. states and it only declined in 11 states during June, and as I mentioned yesterday, the U.S. economy actually lost 240,000 full-time jobs last month.

So no, things are not getting better, and the unemployment problems in the United States and in Europe are likely going to continue to get worse in the years ahead.

That is very bad news for most of us, because the only thing that most of us have to offer in the marketplace is our labor.  If the value that is placed on our labor is continually declining, then that puts us in a very difficult position.

It is almost as if we have all been drafted to play a very twisted game of musical chairs.  Each time the music stops, more chairs (jobs) are being pulled out of the game.

You might be doing okay for the moment, but what is going to happen when the music suddenly stops one day and your chair gets pulled out of the game?

That is something that you might want to start thinking about.

The Shocking Truth About Unemployment In America In One Chart

The mainstream media is not telling you the truth about unemployment in the United States.  The percentage of working age Americans that are employed is not increasing.  In March 2010, 58.5 percent of all working age Americans had a job.  In March 2012, 58.5 percent of all working age Americans had a job.  So if the employment rate is exactly the same as it was two years ago, then how in the world can the Obama administration claim that things have gotten significantly better since then?  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the official unemployment rate in the United States was 9.8 percent in March 2010 and it declined to 8.2 percent in March 2012.  So how is this possible if the percentage of working age Americans that have jobs hasn’t moved?  Well, what they do is they claim that there are millions upon millions of Americans that have “left the labor force”.  In other words, they claim that there are millions upon millions of unemployed Americans that don’t want jobs anymore.  Of course that is a total farce, but the mainstream media and most Americans are buying it.  They actually believe that the unemployment rate is going down.  But the truth is that the unemployment crisis in America has not subsided.  In fact, we are pretty much exactly where we were two years ago, and things are about to get a whole lot worse.

If you want to know the shocking truth about unemployment in America, all you need to do is to look at one chart.  The chart posted below shows the change in the employment-population ratio over the past few years.  What the employment-population ratio measures is the percentage of working age Americans that actually have jobs.  As you can see, it fell dramatically during 2008 and 2009, and since then it has been hovering between 58 and 59 percent….

So there has been no employment recovery, and this is very odd because the employment-population ratio always bounces back after a recession.

The chart posted below shows how the employment-population ratio has changed since the late 1940s.  The shaded areas represent recessions.  Please take note that after every single recession (other than the current one) the employment-population ratio has always bounced back substantially.

During the most recent recession, the employment-population ratio fell farther than it had during any other recession in the post-World War II era.

If these were normal economic times, it would have been reasonable to expect a huge surge in hiring by now.

But we have not seen that.

Instead, the employment rate in the United States has been remarkably flat for more than two years.

So Barack Obama should not even begin to say anything at all about a “recovery” until the employment rate at least breaks the 59 percent barrier.

In the past I have written about how fraudulent the employment statistics put out by the federal government are.

Well, fortunately there are some folks up on Capitol Hill that are starting to take notice of this phenomenon as well.  There is a new bill in Congress that would change the way that the unemployment rate is calculated….

A Republican lawmaker is intensifying his push for legislation that would change how the government measures the unemployment rate. 

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) intends to press GOP leaders to move his bill to include the number of individuals who gave up looking for work in the percentage of jobless claims.

Of course there is probably not a chance that such a bill would ever get through the Senate, but at least some lawmakers are trying to get people to notice what is going on.

The sad truth of the matter is that the employment crisis in America is still about as bad as it was a couple of years ago.

Do you remember a couple of months ago when Barack Obama spoke with the wife of an unemployed engineer and asked her to send his resume to the White House?

Well, it turns out that the unemployed engineer still doesn’t have a job….

More than two months after President Barack Obama asked for Darin Wedel’s résumé, the phone is quiet, e-mails are no longer flooding in and the long-sought-after job interviews — which had begun to be scheduled — have petered out.

“Not even recruiting companies are calling anymore,” said Jennifer Wedel, the Fort Worth mother of two who chatted online this year with Obama about her out-of-work husband.

She says his job search has been hurt by a program to hire skilled foreign workers.

But Barack Obama is doing the same thing on a national level.

He is promising all of us that things are improving and that there will be lots of jobs for everyone soon, but it is all a lie.

The truth is that this period of relative stability that has been purchased by unprecedented levels of government debt will soon give way to even more economic trouble.

One of my readers recently brought to my attention a list of some of the major companies that are currently getting rid of workers….

Ford will be laying off 1,200 assembly line workers later on this month.

Pittsburgh-based paint and coating manufacturer PPG has announced that it will be laying off 2,000 workers.

J.C. Penney recently laid off 600 workers and has plans to lay off another 300 workers in July.

Lockheed Martin has announced that it will be laying off hundreds of workers.

Dow Chemical has announced that hundreds of workers are going to be laid off.

Yahoo has formally announced that it will be getting rid of about 2,000 workers.

Sony has announced plans to eliminate 10,000 jobs globally.

Even Oprah Winfrey is laying off workers.  Oprah is reducing the size of the staff at the OWN network by 20 percent.

Meanwhile, our economy continues to bleed jobs at an astounding pace.  At a time when American workers desperately need jobs, millions of them continue to be sent overseas.

In fact, even some jobs that you would think would be impossible to outsource are being given to foreigners.  Just recently, ABC News did a major report on all of the roads and bridges all over the United States that are being built by Chinese companies.  If you have not seen that report yet, you can view it online right here.

If you go into a Wal-Mart or a dollar store and you start turning over products you will find that huge numbers of them are made in China and that very few of them are made in the United States.  China is absolutely dominating us on the global economic stage.  Last year our trade deficit with China was the largest trade deficit that one nation has had with another nation in the history of the world.  Yet we continue to pursue the exact same trade policies year after year.

So how is the American economy ever supposed to recover if we continue to play to lose?

As a nation we spend far more than we make, we consume far more than we produce and our federal government implements thousands of new business-crippling regulations every single year.

If you still have a good job, you should treasure it and you should try to hold on to it for as long as you can.  Soon the next major economic downturn will be upon us and millions more Americans will lose their jobs and their homes.

Things did not have to turn out this way, but we made horribly bad decisions for decades and now the consequences are catching up with us.

You better get ready.

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