Economic Bizarro World: Persistently High Unemployment And Skyrocketing Bond Yields Are Good?

Bizarro Up Is Down - Photo by RRZEiconsThe mainstream media is heralding today’s “fantastic” employment numbers as evidence that the U.S. economy is steadily recovering.  But is that really true?  The number of jobs created in June was just a little bit more than what is required to keep up with population growth, and the official unemployment rate remained at 7.6 percent.  And if you look deeper in the numbers, they don’t look very good at all.  The percentage of low paying part-time jobs in the economy continues to rise, the number of full-time jobs actually decreased and the U-6 unemployment number jumped from 13.8% in May to 14.3% in June.  That is a stunning increase.  And if the labor participation rate in this country was at the level it was at prior to the last recession, the official unemployment rate would be sitting at 11.1%.  But according to the mainstream media, all of this is wonderful news.  It is like we are in some sort of economic bizarro world where bad is good and down is up.

When the jobs numbers were released on Friday, Business Insider breathlessly declared that it “was jobs day in America, and America crushed expectations.”

USA Today ran an article on the jobs numbers with the following headline: “First Take: As job gains grow, optimism rises“.

But should we really be celebrating?

Posted below is a chart that shows the percentage of working age Americans with a job since the beginning of the year 2000.  This chart does include the jobs numbers that were released on Friday…

Employment-Population Ratio 2013

Can you see a “recovery” in there somewhere?

Am I missing something?

Let me look again.  This time I will squint really hard.

Nope – I still can’t see a recovery.

For three and a half years we have been stuck in a range between 58 percent and 59 percent.  We are way, way below where we were before the recession.

So can we please not even begin to use the word “recovery” until we at least get above the 59 percent level?

And most of the jobs that are being created are of very poor quality.  As I mentioned above, the figures show that the number of full-time jobs actually decreased last month.  And as Zero Hedge pointed out, manufacturing employment has actually declined for four months in a row…

Even as the manufacturing jobs continue to collapse, posting their fourth consecutive monthly drop in June to 11.964 million jobs, minimum wage waiters and bartenders have never been happier. In June Restaurant and Bar employees just hit a new all time high of 10,339,800 workers, increasing by a whopping 51,700 in one month.

Things are pretty good in America right now if you want to flip burgers or wait tables.  But if you want a good job that you can support a family with, things are getting even worse.

Meanwhile, bond yields soaring into the stratosphere.

The yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries absolutely exploded today.  It opened at 2.50% and closed at 2.71%.  When I saw what had happened I could hardly believe it.

If bond yields continue to climb like this, it is going to cause some massive problems in the financial markets.  The following is from an article by John Rubino

A few things to look for: recalculations of the deficit in light of spiking interest costs, comparisons of US and Japanese yields and speculation about what this means for Japanese rates — followed by dire analyses of Japan’s future borrowing costs — and last but not least, a growing concern for the hundreds of trillions of dollars of interest rate derivatives that now have one counterparty deeply in the red.

Most Americans don’t think too much about bond yields, but if they keep spiking it is going to dramatically affect every man, woman and child in the entire country.

Yesterday, I described some of the consequences that rapidly rising bond yields would have…

And if interest rates on U.S. Treasury bonds start to rise to rational levels, the U.S. government is going to have to pay more to borrow money, state and local governments are going to have to pay more to borrow money, junk bonds will crash, the market for home mortgages will shrivel up and economic activity in this country will slow down substantially.

Plus, as I am fond of reminding everyone, there is a 441 trillion dollar interest rate derivatives time bomb sitting out there that rapidly rising interest rates could set off.

Never before have we had anything like the gigantic derivatives bubble that is hanging over global financial markets like a sword of Damocles.

As interest rates continue to go up, the derivatives bubble could burst at any time.  When it does, we are going to see financial carnage unlike anything we have ever seen before.

2008 was just the warm up act.  What is coming next is going to be the main event.

But in the economic bizarro world that we are living in, the mainstream media insists that skyrocketing interest rates are nothing to worry about.

Today, USA Today ran a headline that declared the following: “Investors: Don’t panic over bond yield spike“.

And Yahoo actually ran a story entitled “Why higher U.S. yields should cheer investors“.  Needless to say, the arguments in that story are not very convincing.

And in that story they even admit that record amounts of money were being pulled out of bond funds in June…

Capital is already flowing out of low-yielding bonds. PIMCO Total Return fund, the world’s largest bond fund, suffered record outflows of $9.6 billion in June, in a second straight month of withdrawals.

Mutual and exchange-traded bond funds lost a record $79.8 billion in June, according to TrimTabs Investment Research.

The rush for the exits in the bond market is threatening to become an avalanche.

I hope that this is not the beginning of a financial panic.  I hope that we have more time before the next major wave of the economic collapse strikes.

But I certainly cannot guarantee that things will remain stable.  Once fear starts to sweep through financial markets, things can change very, very quickly.

By The Numbers: 20 Facts About The Collapse Of Europe That Everyone Should Know

By The Numbers - 20 Facts About The Collapse Of Europe That Everyone Should KnowThe economic implosion of Europe is accelerating.  Even while the mainstream media continues to proclaim that the financial crisis in Europe has been “averted”, the economic statistics that are coming out of Europe just continue to get worse.  Manufacturing activity in Europe has been contracting month after month, the unemployment rate in the eurozone has hit yet another brand new record high, and the official unemployment rates in both Greece and Spain are now much higher than the peak unemployment rate in the United States during the Great Depression of the 1930s.  The economic situation in Europe is far worse than it was a year ago, and it is going to continue to get worse as austerity continues to take a huge toll on the economies of the eurozone.  It would be hard to understate how bad things have gotten – particularly in southern Europe.  The truth is that most of southern Europe is experiencing a full-blown economic depression right now.  Sadly, most Americans are paying very little attention to what is going on across the Atlantic.  But they should be watching, because this is what happens when nations accumulate too much debt.  The United States has the biggest debt burden of all, and eventually what is happening over in Spain, France, Italy, Portugal and Greece is going to happen over here as well.

The following are 20 facts about the collapse of Europe that everyone should know…

#1 10 Months: Manufacturing activity in both France and Germany has contracted for 10 months in a row.

#2 11.8 Percent: The unemployment rate in the eurozone has now risen to 11.8 percent – a brand new all-time high.

#3 17 Months: In November, Italy experienced the sharpest decline in retail sales that it had experienced in 17 months.

#4 20 Months: Manufacturing activity in Spain has contracted for 20 months in a row.

#5 20 Percent: It is estimated that bad loans now make up approximately 20 percent of all domestic loans in the Greek banking system at this point.

#6 22 Percent: A whopping 22 percent of the entire population of Ireland lives in jobless households.

#7 26 Percent: The unemployment rate in Greece is now 26 percent.  A year ago it was only 18.9 percent.

#8 26.6 Percent: The unemployment rate in Spain has risen to an astounding 26.6 percent.

#9 27.0 Percent: The unemployment rate for workers under the age of 25 in Cyprus.  Back in 2008, this number was well below 10 percent.

#10 28 Percent: Sales of French-made vehicles in November were down 28 percent compared to a year earlier.

#11 36 Percent: Today, the poverty rate in Greece is 36 percent.  Back in 2009 it was only about 20 percent.

#12 37.1 Percent: The unemployment rate for workers under the age of 25 in Italy – a brand new all-time high.

#13 44 Percent: An astounding 44 percent of the entire population of Bulgaria is facing “severe material deprivation”.

#14 56.5 Percent: The unemployment rate for workers under the age of 25 in Spain – a brand new all-time high.

#15 57.6 Percent: The unemployment rate for workers under the age of 25 in Greece – a brand new all-time high.

#16 60 Percent: Citigroup is projecting that there is a 60 percent probability that Greece will leave the eurozone within the next 12 to 18 months.

#17 70 Percent: It has been reported that some homes in Spain are being sold at a 70% discount from where they were at during the peak of the housing bubble back in 2006.  At this point there are approximately 2 million unsold homes in Spain.

#18 200 Percent: The debt to GDP ratio in Greece is rapidly approaching 200 percent.

#19 1997: According to the Committee of French Automobile Producers, 2012 was the worst year for the French automobile industry since 1997.

#20 2 Million: Back in 2005, the French auto industry produced about 3.5 million vehicles.  In 2012, that number dropped to about 2 million vehicles.

One thing that these shocking numbers cannot convey is the tremendous amount of pain that many average Europeans are living through on a daily basis at this point.  To get a peek into what life is like in Greece these days, check out this short excerpt from a recent Bloomberg article

Anastasia Karagaitanaki, 57, is a former model and cafe owner in Thessaloniki, Greece. After losing her business to the financial crisis, she now sleeps on a daybed next to the refrigerator in her mother’s kitchen and depends on charity for food and insulin for her diabetes.

“I feel like my life has slipped through my hands,” said Karagaitanaki, whose brother also shares the one-bedroom apartment. “I feel like I’m dead.”

For thousands of Greeks like Karagaitanaki, the fabric of middle-class life is unraveling. Teachers, salaries slashed by a third, are stealing electricity. Families in once-stable neighborhoods are afraid to leave their homes because of rising street crime.

All over Europe, people that have lost all hope are actually setting themselves on fire in a desperate attempt to draw attention.  Millions of formerly middle class Europeans have lost everything and are becoming increasingly desperate.  Suicide and crime are skyrocketing all over southern Europe and massive street riots are erupting on a regular basis.

Unfortunately, this is just the beginning.  Things are going to get even worse for Europe.

Meanwhile, those of us living in the United States smugly look down our noses at Europe because we are still living in a false bubble of debt-fueled prosperity.

But eventually we will feel the sting of austerity as well.  The recent fiscal cliff deal was an indication of that.  Taxes are going up and government spending is at least going to slow down.  It won’t be too long before the effects of that are felt in the economy.

And of course the reality of the situation is that the U.S. economy really did not perform very well at all during 2012 when you take a look at the numbers.  The cold, hard truth is that the U.S. economy has been declining for a very long time, and there are a whole bunch of reasons to expect that our decline will accelerate even further in 2013.

So if you are an American, don’t laugh at what is happening over in Europe at the moment.  We are headed down the exact same path that they have gone, and we are going to experience the same kind of suffering that they are going through right now.

Use these last few “bubble months” to prepare for what is ahead.  At some point this “hope bubble” will disappear and then the time for preparation will be over.

EU Poster Tower Of Babel

The Real Unemployment Numbers Are Worse Than You Are Being Told

According to the Obama administration, the unemployment rate in the United States has been slowly coming down over the past couple of years.  But is that actually true?  When you take a closer look at the data you quickly realize that the real unemployment numbers are much worse than we are being told.  For example, if the labor force participation rate was the same today as it was back when Barack Obama first took office, the unemployment rate in the United States would be a whopping 11.2 percent.  But every month the Obama administration has been able to show “progress” because of the fiction that hundreds of thousands of Americans are “disappearing” from the labor force each month.  Frankly, the way that they come up with these numbers is an insult to our intelligence.  Personally, I much prefer the employment-population ratio.  It is a measure of the percentage of working age Americans that actually have jobs.  I like to call it “the employment rate”.  So what happened to the “employment rate” in August?  It fell slightly to 58.3 percent.  It is lower than it was when the last recession supposedly ended, and it is almost as low as it has been at any point since the very beginning of this crisis.  A few times during this economic downturn it has actually hit 58.2 percent.  Needless to say, things are not getting any better.  So why aren’t the American people being told the truth?

After every other recession in the post-World War II era, the employment rate has always rebounded.

But not this time.

Does this look like a recovery to you?….

So how in the world can Barack Obama claim that we are better off now?

In August 2010, 58.5 percent of working age Americans had jobs.

In August 2012, 58.3 percent of working age Americans had jobs.

So where is the recovery?

It is two years later and a smaller percentage of Americans are employed.

It is very frustrating to me that we are not being told the truth about the unemployment numbers.  The following are some more indications that the real unemployment numbers are much worse than we are being told….

-In July, 142,220,000 Americans were working.  In August, only 142,101,000 Americans were working.  So the number of Americans working fell by 119,000 and yet the government would have us believe that the unemployment rate actually declined from 8.3 percent to 8.1 percent.

-According to the federal government, 96,000 jobs were added to the economy in August and the U.S. labor force shrank by 368,000 even though our population is continually growing. If the size of the U.S. labor force had stayed the same, the official unemployment rate would have actually gone up to 8.4 percent.

-Almost all of the new jobs added in August were the result of the “birth-death” model used by the Labor Department to estimate jobs added by new businesses.  That model has been heavily criticized for being inaccurate.  If you take the 87,000 jobs added by that model out of the equation, then the U.S. economy only added 9,000 jobs in August.  But it takes somewhere around 125,000 new jobs each month just to keep up with the growth of the population.

-If the labor participation rate was sitting where it was when Barack Obama first took office, the unemployment rate in the United States would actually be 11.2 percent.

-If the labor participation rate was sitting at the 30 year average of 65.8 percent, the unemployment rate in the United States would actually be 11.7 percent.

-John Williams of Shadow Government Statistics would put the “real” rate of unemployment up around 23 percent after adding in all workers that have given up looking for work and all underemployed workers.

-The labor participation rate for men has fallen to 69.9 percent.  This is the lowest level that it has been since the U.S. government began tracking this statistic back in 1948.

-There was more bad news for manufacturing in this latest report.  During the month of August the U.S. manufacturing sector lost approximately 15,000 jobs.

-The official unemployment rate has now been above 8 percent for 43 months in a row.

-The percentage of working age Americans with a job has been below 59 percent for 36 months in a row.

-The employment numbers for both June and July were revised downward significantly.  For June, it turns out that only 45,000 jobs were added to the economy as opposed to the 64,000 that were originally reported.  For July, it turns out that only 141,000 jobs were added to the economy as opposed to the 163,000 that were originally reported.

-Incredibly, 58 percent of the jobs created since the end of the last recession have been low income jobs.

-The U.S. economy currently has 4.7 million less jobs than it did when the last recession started.

So what is the solution to these problems?

The media is breathlessly proclaiming that more quantitative easing is on the way and that the Federal Reserve will save the economy and send the stock market soaring to new heights.

A headline on CNBC on Friday boldly declared the following: “Market Sees ‘Helicopter Ben’ Coming to the Rescue“.

You can almost hear the chopper blades whirling now.

Apparently Bernanke has had a love of showering the economy with money for a very long time.  For example, you can see a picture of a young Ben Bernanke in action right here.

Of course that is a joke, but you get the point.

In recent years Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and the rest of his cohorts have printed money like there is no tomorrow.

So have the previous rounds of quantitative easing solved our problems?

Of course not.

The employment rate is even lower today than it was two years ago.

But all of that money printing has sent the stock market soaring and it has enabled the big Wall Street banks to make an obscene amount of money.

The truth is that the Federal Reserve, the Obama administration and the big Wall Street banks don’t really care about you.

They don’t really care that the middle class is rapidly shrinking and that the number of Americans on food stamps has risen by more than 14 million since Barack Obama became president.

What they care about is what is good for them.

As I have written about previously, if we continue on the same path that we have been on for the past several decades, there will never be enough jobs in America ever again.

On our current trajectory, we will end up just like Greece where the unemployment rate is now up to 24.4 percent.

Once upon a time the economy of Greece was thriving.

But today, many formerly middle class Greek citizens are leaving Greece and are picking up whatever work they can find….

As a pharmaceutical salesman in Greece for 17 years, Tilemachos Karachalios wore a suit, drove a company car and had an expense account. He now mops schools in Sweden, forced from his home by Greece’s economic crisis.

“It was a very good job,” said Karachalios, 40, of his former life. “Now I clean Swedish s—.”

Karachalios, who left behind his 6-year-old daughter to be raised by his parents, is one of thousands fleeing Greece’s record 24 percent unemployment and austerity measures that threaten to undermine growth.

Would you be willing to do that?

Don’t laugh.

Someday when the unemployment rate in the United States gets that high we will see large numbers of desperate Americans leaving this country in search of work somewhere else.

Already, an increasing number of Americans are buying expired food at auctions.

Times are hard and people are trying to get by any way that they can.

More than 100 million Americans are already on welfare and things have not even gotten that bad yet.

This is nothing compared to what is coming.

As you can see from the chart posted near the top of this article, the last economic downturn appears to have permanently weakened the U.S. economy.

Now the next wave of the economic collapse is rapidly approaching.

How much worse will things get when it finally hits us?

That is something to think about.

The Employment Rate In The United States Is Lower Than It Was During The Last Recession

Did you know that a smaller percentage of Americans are working today than when the last recession supposedly ended?  But you won’t hear about this on the mainstream news.  Instead, the mainstream media obsesses over the highly politicized and highly manipulated “unemployment rate”.  The media is buzzing about how “163,000 new jobs” were added in July but the unemployment rate went up to “8.254%“.  Sadly, those numbers are quite misleading.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in June 142,415,000 people had jobs in the United States. In July, that number declined to 142,220,000. That means that 195,000 fewer Americans were working in July than in June. But somehow that works out to “163,000 new jobs” in July.  I am not exactly sure how they get that math to add up.  Perhaps someone out there can explain it to me.  Personally, I find that the “employment rate” gives a much clearer picture of what is actually going on in the economy.  The employment to population ratio is a measure of the percentage of working age Americans that actually have jobs.  When it goes up that is good.  When it goes down, that is bad.  In July, the employment to population ratio dropped from 58.6 percent to 58.4 percent.  Overall, the percentage of working age Americans that have jobs has now been under 59 percent for 35 months in a row.

The following is a chart of the employment to population ratio in the United States over the past 10 years….

The gray shaded bar in the chart represents the last recession as defined by the Federal Reserve.  As you can see, the percentage of working age Americans with a job dropped sharply from nearly 63 percent at the start of 2008 to a little above 59 percent when the recession ended.

But the “employment rate” kept on dropping even further.

It finally bottomed out at 58.2 percent in December of 2009.

Since that time, it has stayed very steady.  It has not fallen below 58 percent and it has not risen back above 59 percent.

This is very odd, because after ever other recession since World War II this number has always bounced back strongly.

But this has not happened this time.

In essence, it is starting to look like 4 percent of the working age population of the United States has been removed from the workforce permanently.

The good news in all of this is that things have at least not been getting any worse over the last couple of years.  Even though things have been bad, at least we have had a period of relative stability.

The bad news is that the employment rate has not rebounded despite unprecedented borrowing and spending by the federal government and despite reckless money printing by the Federal Reserve.

Considering how desperately the federal government and the Federal Reserve have been trying to stimulate the economy, I truly did expect to see the employment rate bounce back at least a little bit by now.

Unfortunately it has not and now the U.S. economy is rapidly heading for another recession.

But Barack Obama is going to prance around over the next few days and talk about how wonderful it is that the economy created “163,000 new jobs” in July.

What he isn’t going to talk about are the millions of Americans that have been unemployed for so long that they don’t even “count” in the official unemployment numbers anymore.

But those people actually exist and they are really hurting.  Many of them are starting to lose their unemployment benefits and they really do not know what they are going to do.  The following is from a recent USA Today article….

Since abruptly losing her $312 weekly unemployment check in June, Laurie Cullinan has depleted her savings, sought food from the Salvation Army and lit candles to save electricity.

If she can’t find a job this month, the Royal Oak, Mich., resident worries she’ll be evicted from her apartment, an unthinkable prospect for the 52-year-old, who enjoyed a solidly middle-class lifestyle until she lost her office-manager job two years ago.

“What am I going to do if I’m homeless?” says Cullinan, who collected unemployment for 1½ years. “My mind won’t let me comprehend that.”

Could you imagine having to face that?

What would you do if you were about to be tossed out on to the street?

When you add up all of the working age Americans without a job in the United States today, it comes to more than 100 million.

Some people have accused me of lying about that figure, but it is actually true.

There are more than 100 million working age Americans that are not employed right now.

And even if you do have a job that does not mean that you are doing well.  As I wrote about yesterday, only 24.6 percent of all jobs in the United States today are good jobs.

The cost of living continues to rise much faster than wages are.  Many families are having a really hard time just paying for the basics.  The inflated standard of living that we have all enjoyed for so long is starting to disappear.

An increasing number of young people are living with their parents well past the age of 18 because there are not enough good jobs and it is just so hard to make it in this economy.  If you can believe it, 24 percent of all Americans in the 20 to 34 year old age bracket are living at home with their parents at this point.

But we will be seeing a lot more of this as the economy gets even worse.  “Multi-generational households” will become very common, and that is not necessarily a bad thing.  Perhaps this will give some families a chance to do some bonding.

Meanwhile, many of our once great cities continue to rot and decay at a staggering pace.  Today, I saw one report that discussed how the city of Detroit has become a dumping ground for dead bodies.

How sad is that?

Detroit was once the envy of the world and now it is a place where murder victims are dumped.

These are all indications of just how far we have fallen.

But things are going to get a lot worse, so we should actually be thankful for the period of relative stability that we are enjoying right now.

The long-term economic collapse that we are experiencing right now will soon accelerate.  Eventually even the highly manipulated official “unemployment rate” will soar well up into the double digits.

When it does, the anger and frustration that is boiling under the surface in this country is going to explode.

Let us hope for the best, but let us also prepare for the worst.

12 Signs That Spain Is Shifting Gears From Recession To Depression

Where have we seen this before?  Bond yields soar above the 7 percent danger level.  Check.  The stock market crashes to new lows.  Check.  Industrial activity plummets like a rock and the economy contracts.  Check.  The unemployment rate skyrockets to more than 20 percent.  Check.  The bursting of a massive real estate bubble pushes the banking system to the brink of implosion.  Check.  Broke local governments beg the broke national government for bailouts.  Check.  The international community pressures the national government to implement deep austerity measures which will slow down the economy even more and hordes of violent protesters take to the streets.  Check.  All of this happened in Greece, it is happening right now in Spain, and mark my words it will eventually happen in the United States.  Every debt bubble eventually bursts, and right now Spain is experiencing a level of economic pain that very, very few people saw coming.  The recession in Spain is rapidly becoming a full-blown economic depression, and at this point there is no hope and no light at the end of the tunnel.

The bad news for the global economy is that Spain is much larger than Greece.  According to the United Nations, the Greek economy is the 32nd largest economy in the world.  The Spanish economy, on the other hand, is the 4th largest economy in the eurozone and the 12th largest economy on the entire planet.  It is nearly five times the size of the Greek economy.

Financial markets all over the globe are very nervous right now because if the Spanish government ends up asking for a full-blown bailout it could spell the end for the eurozone.  There simply is not enough money to do the same kind of thing for Spain that is being done for Greece.

Of course European officials are going to do their best to keep the eurozone from collapsing, but what they have completely failed to do is to keep these countries from falling into depression.

As I have written about previously, Greece has already been in an economic depression for some time.

I warned that Spain, Italy, Portugal and a bunch of other European nations were going down the exact same path.

Now we are watching a virtual replay of what happened in Greece take place in Spain.

Unfortunately, the global financial system may not be able to handle a complete implosion of the Spanish economy.

The following are 12 signs that Spain is shifting gears from recession to depression….

#1 At one point on Monday, the IBEX stock market index fell to 5,905, which was the lowest level in nearly ten years.  When it hit 5,905 that represented a drop of about 12 percent over just two trading days.  If that happened in the United States, it would be the equivalent of the Dow falling by about 1500 points in 48 hours.

#2 So far this year, the Spanish stock market is down more than 25 percent.  Back in 2008, the IBEX 35 was well over 15,000.  Today it is sitting just above 6,000.

#3 Spain has banned many forms of short selling for 3 months.

#4 The yield on 10 year Spanish bonds is now well above the 7 percent “danger level”.

#5 Thanks to the problems in Spain, the euro continues to fall like a rock.  On Monday it hit a new two year low against the U.S. dollar, and it is near a twelve year low against the Japanese yen.

#6 During the first quarter of 2012, the Spanish economy contracted by 0.3 percent.  During the second quarter of 2012, the Spanish economy contracted by 0.4 percent.

#7 Local governments all over Spain are flat broke and need to be bailed out by the broke national government.  The following is from a recent CNBC article….

Adding to Madrid’s woes, media reports suggested another half a dozen of Spain’s 17 regional authorities, facing an undeclared funding crisis, were ready to follow Valencia in seeking aid from the central government.

#8 The percentage of bad loans on the books of Spanish banks has reached an 18 year high.  European officials have already promised a 100 billion euro bailout for Spain’s troubled banking system, but most analysts agree that 100 billion euros will not be nearly enough.

#9 Spanish industrial output declined for the ninth month in a row in May.

#10 The unemployment rate in Spain is up to an astounding 24.6 percent.  The unemployment rate in Spain is already higher than it was in the United States at the peak of the Great Depression of the 1930s.

#11 The youth unemployment rate in Spain is now over 52 percent.

#12 The Spanish government has just announced a whole bunch of new tax increases and spending cuts which will cause the Spanish economy to slow down even more.  In response to these austerity measures, people are taking to the streets all over Spain.  Last week, 100,000 demonstrators poured into the streets to protest in Madrid alone.

Sadly, the nightmare in Spain is just beginning.

If the yield on 10 year Spanish bonds stays above 7 percent, that is going to be a really bad sign.  According to the Wall Street Journal, the 7 percent level is key as far as investor confidence is concerned….

Monday’s dramatic market moves suggest Spain may be stuck in a spiral that culminates in a bailout from other euro-zone countries.

“The rise in the 10-year yield well beyond 7% carries a very distinct reminder of events in Greece in April 2010, Ireland in October 2010 and Portugal in February 2011,” said analysts at Bank of New York Mellon. “In each case, a decisive move beyond 7% signaled the start of a collapse in investor confidence that, in each case, led to a bailout within weeks,” they added.

So keep an eye on that number in the weeks ahead.

Meanwhile, the Spanish economy continues to get worse with each passing month.

So just how bad are things in Spain right now?

Just check out this excerpt from a recent article by Mark Grant….

Recently two noted Spanish economists were interviewed. One was always an optimist and one was always a pessimist. The optimist droned on and on about how bad things were in Spain, the dire situation with the regional debt, the huge problems overtaking the Spanish banks and the imminent collapse of the Spanish economy. In the end he said that the situation was so bad that the Spanish people were going to have to eat manure. The pessimist was shocked by the comments of his colleague who had never heard him speak in such a manner. When it was the pessimist’s turn to speak he said that he agreed with the optimist with one exception; the manure would soon run out.

That may make you laugh, but for those in Europe going through these horrific economic conditions it is no laughing matter.

On Sunday, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras actually told former U.S. president Bill Clinton that Greece is already in a “Great Depression“.

Like Spain, the unemployment rate in Greece is well above 20 percent and the youth unemployment rate is above 50 percent.

The only reason the Greek financial system has not totally collapsed is because of outside assistance, but now there are indications that the assistance may soon be cut off.

At this point there are persistent rumors that the IMF does not plan to give any more aid money to Greece unless Greece “shapes up”.

Meanwhile, the suffering in Greece just gets worse and worse.

Sadly, most Americans pay very little attention to what is going on in Greece and Spain.

Most Americans just assume that we will always have “the greatest economy on earth” and that we can take prosperity for granted.

Unfortunately, the truth is that the United States already has more government debt per capita than either Greece or Spain does.

Just like Greece and Spain, we are also rapidly traveling down the road to economic oblivion, and depression-like conditions will arrive in this country soon enough.

So enjoy these last months of economic prosperity while you still can.

A whole lot of pain is on the horizon.

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