The Beginning Of The End
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The Economy Of The Largest Superpower On The Planet Is Collapsing Right Now

Globe Earth World - Public DomainHow do you fix a superpower with exploding levels of debt, that has a rapidly aging population, that consumes far more wealth than it produces, and that has scores of zombie banks that could collapse at any moment.  You might think that I am talking about the United States, but I am actually talking about Europe.  You see, the truth is that the European Union has a larger population than the United States does, it has a larger economy than the United States does, and it has a much larger banking system than the United States does.  Most of the time I write about the horrible economic problems that the U.S. is facing, but without a doubt economic conditions in Europe are even worse at the moment.  In fact, there are many (including the Washington Post) that are calling what is happening in Europe a full-blown “depression”.  Sadly, this is probably only just the beginning.  In the months to come things in Europe are likely to get much worse.

First of all, let’s take a look at unemployment.  If the U.S. was using honest numbers, the official unemployment rate would probably be somewhere close to 10 percent.  But in many nations in Europe, the official unemployment rate is already above the ten percent mark…

France: 10.2%

Poland: 11.5%

Italy: 12.6%

Portugal: 13.1%

Spain: 23.6%

Greece: 26.4%

The official unemployment rate for the eurozone as a whole is currently 11.5 percent.  The lack of good jobs is causing the middle class to shrink all over Europe, and more people than ever are becoming dependent on government assistance.  European nations are well known for their generous welfare programs, but all of this spending is causing  debt to GDP ratios to absolutely explode…

Spain: 92.1%

France: 92.2%

Belgium: 101.5%

Portugal: 129.0%

Italy: 132.6%

Greece: 174.9%

At the same time, the value of the euro has been steadily declining over the last six months.  This is significantly reducing the purchasing power that European families have…

Dollar Euro Exchange Rate

Many believe that the euro will ultimately go much lower than this.  Nations such as Greece and Spain are already experiencing deflation, and the inflation rates in Germany and France are both currently below one percent.  If the European Central Bank starts injecting lots of fresh euros into the system to combat this perceived problem, that will lift the level of inflation but it will also further erode the value of the euro.

In the long run, it would not be a surprise to see the U.S. dollar at parity with the euro.

When it happens, remember where you heard it.

The Europeans are scared to death of a deflationary depression, but that is precisely where the long-term economic trends are taking them right now.  The following is from a recent Forbes article

Market consensus believes that the eurozone is edging toward that moment when the scourge of deflation actually becomes a crippling reality. Eurozone data is constantly reminding investors that the region’s economy is barely limping along, as companies slash selling prices in a vain attempt to improve sales in the face of a weakening economy and evaporating new orders. Corporate deflationary reactions like this only hurt a company’s bottom line by squeezing profit margins even further. The obvious knock-on effect will limit resources for hiring and investing, which in turn only dampens any chances of an economic rebound, again putting the region into a bigger hole.

In a desperate attempt to avoid widespread deflation in Europe, the ECB will inevitably take action at some point.

It may not happen immediately, but when it does it will be yet another salvo in the emerging global currency war.

Speaking of currencies, it is being reported that Russia is actually considering legislation that will ban the circulation of the U.S. dollar in that nation.  The following is from an article that was posted on Infowars

Russia may ban the circulation of the United States dollar.

The State Duma has already been submitted a relevant bill banning and terminating the circulation of USD in Russia, APA’s Moscow correspondent reports.

If the bill is approved, Russian citizens will have to close their dollar accounts in Russian banks within a year and exchange their dollars in cash to Russian ruble or other countries’ currencies.

Otherwise their accounts will be frozen and cash dollars levied by police, customs, tax, border, and migration services confiscated.

That is not good news for the U.S. dollar at all.

Expect wild shifts in the foreign exchange markets in the months and years to come.  Turbulent times are ahead for the dollar, the euro and the yen.

Getting back to Europe, let us hope that things stabilize over there – at least for a while.

But that might not happen.  In fact, things could take a turn for the worse at any moment.

Most people don’t realize this, but European banks are even shakier than U.S. banks, and that is saying a lot.

For example, the largest bank in the strongest economy in Europe is Deutsche Bank.  At this point, Deutsche Bank has approximately 75 trillion dollars worth of exposure to derivatives.  That amount of money is about 20 times the size of German GDP, and it is more exposure than any U.S. bank has.

And Deutsche Bank is far from alone.  All over Europe there are zombie banks that are essentially insolvent.  Many of them are being propped up by their governments.  Those governments know that if those banks failed that it would make their economic problems even worse.

Just like in the United States, most economic activity in Europe is fueled by debt.  So those banks are needed to provide mortgages, loans and credit cards to average citizens and businesses.  Unfortunately, bad debt levels and business failures continue to shoot up all over Europe.

The system is breaking down, and nobody is quite sure what is going to happen next.

So keep an eye on Europe.  In particular, keep an eye on Italy.  I have a feeling that big economic news is about to start coming out of Italy, and it won’t be good.

In 2014, we have been experiencing “the calm before the storm”.

But 2015 is right around the corner, and it promises to be extremely “interesting”.

National Economic Suicide: The U.S. Trade Deficit With China Just Hit A New Record High

Economics - Public DomainDid you know that we buy nearly five times as much stuff from the Chinese as they buy from us?  According to government numbers that were just released, we imported 44.9 billion dollars worth of stuff from China in September but we only exported 9.3 billion dollars worth of stuff to them.  And this is not happening because our economy is so much larger than China’s.  In fact, the IMF says that China now has the largest economy on the entire planet on a purchasing power basis.  No, the truth is that this is happening because our economy is broken.  Every month, we consume far more wealth than we produce.  Because the outflow of money is far greater than the inflow, we have to go to major exporting nations and beg them to lend our dollars back to us so that we can pay our bills.  Meanwhile, the quality of the jobs in this country continues to go down and our formerly great manufacturing cities are rotting and decaying.  We are committing national economic suicide, and most Americans don’t seem to care.

Barack Obama is constantly hyping a “manufacturing resurgence” in America, but the numbers don’t lie.  In September, our manufactured goods trade deficit with the rest of the world soared to a new all-time record high of 69.16 billion dollars.  For the year, we are nearly 12 percent ahead of last year’s record pace.

When we buy far more things than we sell, we get poorer as a nation.

How do you think that we ever got into a position of owing China more than a trillion dollars?

We just kept buying far more from them than they bought from us, and their money just kept piling up.  Now it has gotten to the point where our politicians literally beg them to lend our money back to us.  They are the head and we are the tail.

And we did this to ourselves.

Once upon a time, the United States was the greatest manufacturing powerhouse that the world had ever seen.  But now China manufactures more stuff than us and China also accounts for more total global trade (imports plus exports) than us.

This should never have happened.  Several decades ago, the Chinese economy was a complete joke.  But decades of incredibly foolish decisions by our politicians have resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of manufacturing facilities, millions of good paying jobs and the destruction of vast stretches of our economic infrastructure.

During the same time frame, gleaming new manufacturing facilities have gone up all over China.

China is literally wiping the floor with us on the global economic stage and most Americans don’t even understand what is happening.  Here is more on the trade deficit numbers that were just released from the RealityChek Blog

>The China goods deficit of $35.56 billion blew past the old mark of $30.86 billion, set in July, by 15.23 percent. The new deficit also represented a 17.77 percent increase over the August level of $30.20 billion.

>U.S. goods exports to the still strongly growing Chinese economy fell on month in September from $9.63 billion to $9.33 billion (3.12 percent). U.S. merchandise imports from China jumped by 12.70 percent over August levels, from $39.83 billion to $44.89 billion – itself an all-time high.

>The U.S. goods deficit with China this year is now so far running 5.62 percent ahead of 2014’s record pace.

>The longstanding U.S. manufacturing trade shortfall shot up from $59.10 billion in August to $69.16 billion in September. This 17.02 percent jump resulted in a beat of the old record of $67.33 billion, also set in July, by 2.72 percent.

And it isn’t just cheap plastic trinkets that China is selling to us.

In fact, their number one export to us is computer equipment.

Meanwhile, one of our main exports to them is “scrap and trash”.

For much more on how China is absolutely dominating us, please see my previous article entitled “Not Just The Largest Economy – Here Are 26 Other Ways China Has Surpassed America“.

Sadly, there are a couple of factors that will probably make our trade deficit with the rest of the world even worse in the months ahead.

Number one, the currency war that I wrote about earlier this week will probably push the U.S. dollar even higher against the yen and the euro.

You might think that a rising dollar sounds good, but the truth is that it will make our exports less competitive in the global marketplace.

Nations such as Japan devalue their currencies so that they can sell more stuff to us.  But that hurts our own domestic industries.  And when our own domestic industries suffer, that means less jobs for American workers.

Secondly, the collapse in the price of oil could have very serious implications for the shale oil industry.

In recent years, the shale oil revolution has caused local economic booms in states such as Texas and North Dakota.  But shale oil tends to be quite expensive to extract.  As I write this, the price of U.S. oil has fallen to about 77 dollars a barrel.  If it stays at that level or keeps going down, shale oil production in the United States will slow down dramatically.

In other words, a lot of these shale oil “boom towns” could go “bust” very rapidly.

If that happens, the amount of oil that we import will rise substantially and that will add to our overall trade deficit.

But of course the biggest factor fueling our trade deficit is that the vast majority of Americans simply do not care that we are committing national economic suicide.

When we buy products made in America, we support American businesses and American workers.

When we buy products made overseas, we hurt American businesses, we kill American jobs and we make ourselves poorer as a nation.

Of course there is nothing wrong with buying a foreign-made product once in a while.  But this holiday season, most people will fill their shopping carts to the brim with foreign-made goods without even thinking twice about it.

The next time that you go into a huge retail establishment such as Wal-Mart, start picking up products and look to see where they were made.

I think that you will be shocked at how few of them are actually made inside the United States.

When are Americans going to get sick and tired of making China wealthier at our expense?

We are willing participants in the destruction of the U.S. economy, and yet only a small minority of people seem to care.

What is it going to take for people to finally wake up?

30 stats to show to anyone that does not believe the middle class is being destroyed

Abandoned House - Photo by Flickr User baldeaglebluffThe 30 statistics that you are about to read prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the middle class in America is being systematically destroyed.  Once upon a time, the United States had the largest and most prosperous middle class in the history of the world, but now that is changing at a staggering pace.  Yes, the stock market has soared to unprecedented heights this year and there are a few isolated areas of the country that are doing rather well for the moment.  But overall, the long-term trends that are eviscerating the middle class just continue to accelerate.  Over the past decade or so, the percentage of Americans that are working has gone way down, the quality of our jobs has plummeted dramatically and the wealth of the typical American household has fallen precipitously.  Meanwhile, we have watched median household income decline for five years in a row, we have watched the rate of homeownership in this country decline for eight years in a row and dependence on the government is at an all-time high.  Being a part of the middle class in the United States at this point can be compared to playing a game of musical chairs.  We can all see chairs being removed from the game, and we are all desperate to continue to have a chair every time the music stops playing.  The next time the music stops, will it be your chair that gets removed?

And in this economy, you don’t even have to lose your job to fall out of the middle class.  Our paychecks are remaining very stable while the cost of almost everything that we spend money on consistently (food, gas, health insurance, etc.) is going up rapidly.  Bloomberg calls this “the no-raises recovery”…

Call it the no-raises recovery: Five years of economic expansion have done almost nothing to boost paychecks for typical American workers while the rich have gotten richer.

Meager improvements since 2009 have barely kept up with a similarly tepid pace of inflation, raising the real value of compensation per hour by only 0.5 percent. That marks the weakest growth since World War II, with increases averaging 9.2 percent at a similar point in past expansions, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data compiled by Bloomberg.

There are so many families out there that are struggling right now.  So many husbands and wives find themselves constantly fighting with one another about money, and they don’t even understand that what is happening to them is the result of long-term economic trends that are the result of decades of incredibly foolish decisions.  Without middle class jobs, we cannot have a middle class.  And those are precisely the jobs that have been destroyed during the Clinton, Bush and Obama years.  Without enough good jobs to go around, we have seen the middle class steadily shrink and the ranks of the poor grow rapidly.

The following are 30 stats to show to anyone that does not believe the middle class is being destroyed…

1. In 2007, the average household in the top 5 percent had 16.5 times as much wealth as the average household overall.  But now the average household in the top 5 percent has 24 times as much wealth as the average household overall.

2. According to a study recently discussed in the New York Times, the “typical American household” is now worth 36 percent less than it was worth a decade ago.

3. One out of every seven Americans rely on food banks at this point.

4. One out of every four military families needs help putting enough food on the table.

5. 79 percent of the people that use food banks purchase “inexpensive, unhealthy food just to have enough to feed their families”.

6. One out of every three adults in the United States has an unpaid debt that is “in collections“.

7. Only 48 percent of all Americans can immediately come up with $400 in emergency cash without borrowing it or selling something.

8. The price of food continues to rise much faster than the paychecks of most middle class families.  For example, the average price of ground beef has just hit a brand new all-time record high of $3.884 a pound.

9. According to one recent study, 40 percent of all households in the United States are experiencing financial stress right now.

10. The overall homeownership rate has fallen to the lowest level since 1995.

11. The homeownership rate for Americans under the age of 35 is at an all-time low.

12. According to one recent survey, 52 percent of all Americans cannot even afford the house that they are living in right now.

13. The average age of vehicles on America’s roads has hit an all-time high of 11.4 years.

14. Last year, one out of every four auto loans in the United States was made to someone with subprime credit.

15. Amazingly, one out of every six men in their prime working years (25 to 54) do not have a job at this point.

16. One recent study found that 47 percent of unemployed Americans have “completely given up” looking for a job.

17. 36 percent of Americans do not have a single penny saved for retirement.

18. According to one survey, 76 percent of all Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.

19. More than half of all working Americans make less than $30,000 a year in wages.

20. Only four of the twenty fastest growing occupations in America require a Bachelor’s degree or better.

21.  In America today, one out of every ten jobs is filled by a temp agency.

22. Due to a lack of decent jobs, half of all college graduates are still relying on their parents financially when they are two years out of school.

23. Median household income in the United States is about 7 percent lower than it was in the year 2000 after adjusting for inflation.

24. Approximately one out of every four part-time workers in America is living below the poverty line.

25. It is hard to believe, but more than one out of every five children in the United States is living in poverty in 2014.

26. According to one study, there are 49 million Americans that are dealing with food insecurity.

27. Ten years ago, the number of women in the U.S. that had jobs outnumbered the number of women in the U.S. on food stamps by more than a 2 to 1 margin.  But now the number of women in the U.S. on food stamps actually exceeds the number of women that have jobs.

28. If the middle class was actually thriving, we wouldn’t have more than a million public school children that are homeless.

29. If you can believe it, Americans received more than 2 trillion dollars in benefits from the federal government last year alone.

30. In terms of median wealth per adult, the United States is now in just 19th place in the world.

Greed Is Good? Where Will America’s Sick Obsession With Wealth And Money End?

Greed - Photo by J. Solana from Madrid, SpainEverywhere you look, Americans appear to be extremely obsessed with wealth and money.  These days, networks such as CNN endlessly run “news stories” with titles such as “Best cars for the super rich“.  We have television shows where people proudly show off how wealthy they are, and it seems like Hollywood is putting out an endless parade of movies that glorify the lifestyles of the elite.  We have hordes of motivational speakers and “life coaches” that will teach you how to be “more successful” in life, and every small movement in the stock market is carefully monitored by the mainstream news media.  Even in the world of faith, we have an entire class of ministers known as “prosperity preachers”, and many of those ministers wear that label quite proudly.  Yes, those that grew up in the 1980s may have been the “greed is good” generation, but the truth is that they didn’t have anything on us.  As a society we love money, and we are not ashamed to admit it.  In fact, there are times we absolutely revel in it.  For example, Time Magazine published an article this year entitled “Science Proves It: Greed Is Good” and hardly anyone even raised an eyebrow.  But where will America’s sick obsession with wealth and money end?  Could it end up destroying us?

I got the idea for this article when I was browsing through CNN’s website.  The following are eight “news stories” about wealth that were featured on CNN just on Thursday alone…

#1 “The richest Americans in history

#2 “How much do you need to be happy?

#3 “Where are the super rich?

#4 “From broke to billionaire

#5 “Homes: What $25 million buys around the world

#6 “Best cars for the super rich

#7 “America’s homes are bigger than ever

#8 “Mega yacht with a movie theater

This is what passes for news these days?

It has been said that we tend to talk about the things that we are obsessed with.

And CNN is clearly obsessed with wealth.

Not that there is anything wrong with having money.

If none of us had any money, we would all be homeless and starving.  So the truth is that money can be very useful.  But when it becomes an idol, that is when it becomes a problem.

And because we have taught entire generations of Americans that becoming wealthy is one of the primary goals in life, it is creating a tremendous amount of envy, jealousy, frustration and anger among those that have not been able to become wealthy.

In recent years, the level of bitterness and resentment that the rest of the nation has toward the very wealthy has risen to an unprecedented level.  It has become exceedingly apparent that the system is designed to funnel wealth to the very top of the food chain, and many of those at the bottom of the food chain are starting to become extremely upset about this.

Since the last financial crisis, almost all of the income gains have gone to the top one percent of all income earners.  The following comes from a recent Huffington Post article

Economic statistics show that incomes for the top 1 percent of U.S. households soared 31 percent from 2009 through 2012, after adjusting for inflation, yet inched up an average of 0.4 percent for those making less. Many economists are sounding alarms that the income gap, greater now than at any time since the Depression, is hurting the economy by limiting growth in consumer spending.

And income inequality has become such a hot topic that it has even produced a New York Times bestseller by a French economist named Thomas Piketty.  This is what CBS News recently had to say about his book…

His book has landed on that debate like a bomb. Piketty’s thesis: that the rate of return on capital, such as real estate, dividends and other financial assets, is racing away from the rate of growth required to maintain a healthy economy. If that trend continues for an extended period of time — if wealth becomes ever more concentrated in the hands of a few — then inequality is likely to get worse, says Piketty, 43, who started his academic career as an assistant professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and who now teaches at the Paris School of Economics.

Another reason “Capital” has caught the public’s attention is that inequality is evident in what are by now a host of familiar symptoms. Stagnant pay, except among the super-rich. Soaring health care and education costs. The diminished expectations commonly found in young, especially those lacking college degrees, and old alike, as retirement becomes something to endure rather than to enjoy.

It would be foolish to deny that the gap between the rich and the poor is growing.  Even as the stock market reaches unprecedented heights, the middle class is dying and one out of every five children in America is living in poverty.

On a global scale, the wealthiest one percent now have 65 times more wealth than the entire poorest half of the global population does.

That is an astounding figure.

Most people don’t realize this, but the ultra-wealthy have approximately 32 trillion dollars (that we know about) stashed in offshore banks around the planet.  That amount of money would almost be about enough to pay off the entire U.S. national debt and buy every good and service produced in the United States for an entire year.

Meanwhile, the poorest half of the world’s population only owns about 1 percent of all global wealth, and about a billion people throughout the world go to bed hungry every night.

If greed was going to save the world, it would have done it by now.  At this point, the wealthy have accumulated more wealth than they ever have before.  For example, according to Zero Hedge the total amount of wealth in the U.S. has just hit a brand new record high…

Earlier today the Fed released its latest Flow of Funds report, which showed that in the first quarter household net worth rose from last quarter’s $80.3 trillion to a new record high of $81.8 trillion, driven by a $1.5 trillion increase in total assets while household liabilities were virtually unchanged in the quarter. And since the Fed is onboarding all the liabilities why should households bother with debt: that’s what the central bank balance sheet is for.

As for the proceeds, they go to the mega rich: of the $81.8 trillion in net worth, 70.4% of the total amount or $67.2 trillion, was in financial assets: the higest it has ever been courtesy of just one person: Ben Bernanke, and to a far lesser extent Janet Yellen who however is tasked with picking up Bernanke’s pieces.

But of course most people who are rich are only rich on paper.

As noted above, 67.2 trillion dollars of the total of 81.8 trillion dollars of wealth in this nation is made up of financial assets.

So what happens if there is a major financial crisis (such as the derivatives bubble bursting) which causes the total amount of financial wealth in the United States to drop by 50% or more?

What would such an event do to our country?

We are so obsessed with wealth and money that it is truly frightening to think about how we would react as a society if it was taken away.

But this current financial bubble will not last forever.

At some point it will come to an end.

When it does, will our society throw a massive temper tantrum?

Shocking Facts About The Deindustrialization Of America That Everyone Should Know

Abandoned Packard Automobile Factory - Photo by Albert DuceHow long can America continue to burn up wealth?  How long can this nation continue to consume far more wealth than it produces?  The trade deficit is one of the biggest reasons for the steady decline of the U.S. economy, but many Americans don’t even understand what it is.  Basically, we are buying far more stuff from the rest of the world than they are buying from us.  That means that far more money is constantly leaving the country than is coming into the country.  In order to keep the game going, we have to go to the people that we bought all of that stuff from and ask them to lend our money back to us.  Or lately, we just have the Federal Reserve create new money out of thin air.  This is called “quantitative easing”.  Our current debt-fueled lifestyle is dependent on this cycle continuing.  In order to live like we do, we must consume far more wealth than we produce.  If someday we are forced to only live on the wealth that we create, it will require a massive adjustment in our standard of living.  We have become great at consuming wealth but not so great at creating it.  But as a result of running gigantic trade deficits year after year, we have lost tens of thousands of businesses, millions upon millions of jobs, and America is being deindustrialized at a staggering pace.

Most Americans won’t even notice, but the latest monthly trade deficit increased to 42.3 billion dollars

The U.S. trade deficit climbed to the highest level in five months in February as demand for American exports fell while imports increased slightly.

The deficit increased to $42.3 billion, which was 7.7% above the January imbalance of $39.3 billion, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.

When the trade deficit increases, it means that even more wealth, even more jobs and even more businesses have left the United States.

In essence, we have gotten poorer as a nation.

Have you ever wondered how China has gotten so wealthy?

Just a few decades ago, they were basically a joke economically.

So how in the world did they get so powerful?

Well, one of the primary ways that they did it was by selling us far more stuff than we sold to them.  If we had refused to do business with communist China, they never would have become what they have become today.  It was our decisions that allowed China to become an economic powerhouse.

Last year, we sold 122 billion dollars of stuff to China.

That sounds like a lot until you learn that China sold 440 billion dollars of stuff to us.

We fill up our shopping carts with lots of cheap plastic trinkets that are “made in China”, and they pile up gigantic mountains of our money which we beg them to lend back to us so that we can pay our bills.

Who is winning that game and who is losing that game?

Below, I have posted our yearly trade deficits with China since 1990.  Let’s see if you can spot the trend…

1990: 10 billion dollars

1991: 12 billion dollars

1992: 18 billion dollars

1993: 22 billion dollars

1994: 29 billion dollars

1995: 33 billion dollars

1996: 39 billion dollars

1997: 49 billion dollars

1998: 56 billion dollars

1999: 68 billion dollars

2000: 83 billion dollars

2001: 83 billion dollars

2002: 103 billion dollars

2003: 124 billion dollars

2004: 162 billion dollars

2005: 202 billion dollars

2006: 234 billion dollars

2007: 258 billion dollars

2008: 268 billion dollars

2009: 226 billion dollars

2010: 273 billion dollars

2011: 295 billion dollars

2012: 315 billion dollars

2013: 318 billion dollars

Yikes!

It has been estimated that the U.S. economy loses approximately 9,000 jobs for every 1 billion dollars of goods that are imported from overseas, and according to the Economic Policy Institute, America is losing about half a million jobs to China every single year.

Considering the high level of unemployment that we now have in this country, can we really afford to be doing that?

Overall, the United States has accumulated a total trade deficit with the rest of the world of more than 8 trillion dollars since 1975.

As a result, we have lost tens of thousands of businesses, millions of jobs and our economic infrastructure has been absolutely gutted.

Just look at what has happened to manufacturing jobs in America.  Back in the 1980s, more than 20 percent of the jobs in the United States were manufacturing jobs.  Today, only about 9 percent of the jobs in the United States are manufacturing jobs.

And we have fewer Americans working in manufacturing today than we did in 1950 even though our population has more than doubled since then…

Manufacturing Employment

Many people find this statistic hard to believe, but the United States has lost a total of more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities since 2001.

Millions of good paying jobs have been lost.

As a result, the middle class is shriveling up, and at this point 9 out of the top 10 occupations in America pay less than $35,000 a year.

For a long time, U.S. consumers attempted to keep up their middle class lifestyles by going into constantly increasing amounts of debt, but now it is becoming increasingly apparent that middle class consumers are tapped out.

In response, major retailers are closing thousands of stores in poor and middle class neighborhoods all over the country.  You can see some amazing photos of America’s abandoned shopping malls right here.

If we could start reducing the size of our trade deficit, that would go a long way toward getting the United States back on the right economic path.

Unfortunately, Barack Obama has been negotiating a treaty in secret which is going to send the deindustrialization of America into overdrive.  The Trans-Pacific Partnership is being called the “NAFTA of the Pacific”, and it is going to result in millions more good jobs being sent to the other side of the planet where it is legal to pay slave labor wages.

According to Professor Alan Blinder of Princeton University, 40 million more U.S. jobs could be sent offshore over the next two decades if current trends continue.

So what will this country look like when we lose tens of millions more jobs than we already have?

U.S. workers are being merged into a giant global labor pool where they must compete directly for jobs with people making less than a dollar an hour with no benefits.

Obama tells us that globalization is good for us and that Americans need to be ready to adjust to a “level playing field”.

The quality of our jobs has already been declining for decades, and if we continue down this path the quality of our jobs is going to get a whole lot worse and our economic infrastructure will continue to be absolutely gutted.

At one time, the city of Detroit was the greatest manufacturing city on the entire planet and it had the highest per capita income in the United States.  But today, it is a rotting, decaying hellhole that the rest of the world laughs at.

In the end, the rest of the nation is going to suffer the same fate as Detroit unless Americans are willing to stand up and fight for their economy while they still can.

Top 1% Has 65 Times More Wealth Than The Bottom Half And The Global Elite Like It That Way

85 Richest People - Photo by OxfamDid you know that the 85 richest people in the world have about as much wealth as the poorest 50% of the entire global population does?  In other words, 85 extremely wealthy individuals have about as much wealth as the poorest 3,500,000,000 do.  This shocking statistic comes from a new report on global poverty by Oxfam.  And actually Oxfam’s report probably significantly underestimates the true scope of the problem, because Oxfam relies on publicly reported numbers.  At the very top of the food chain, the global elite are masters at hiding their wealth.  In fact, as I have written about previously, the global elite have approximately 32 trillion dollars (that we know about) stashed in offshore banks around the world.  That would be about enough to pay off the entire U.S. national debt and buy every good and service produced in the United States for an entire year.  These elitists live on an entirely different planet than the rest of us do.  In fact, according to Oxfam, the richest one percent of the global population has 65 times more wealth than the bottom half of the global population combined.

There is certainly nothing wrong with making money.  In fact, the founders of the United States intended for this nation to be a place where free markets thrived and where everyone could pursue their dreams.  Unfortunately, this country (along with the rest of the world) has moved very much in the opposite direction.  Today, we have a debt-based global financial system which is dominated by gigantic predator corporations and big banks.  Working together with national governments, these corporations and banks have constructed a system that I like to call “Corporatism” in which the percentage of all global wealth that is being funneled to the very top of the pyramid steadily grows over time.

The Founding Fathers were very correct to be very suspicious of large concentrations of power.  In the early days of the United States, the federal government was very small and the size and scope of corporations was greatly limited.  Our nation thrived and a huge middle class blossomed.

Sadly, over the past several decades the pendulum has completely swung in the other direction.  Today, our society is completely and totally dominated by big banks, big corporations and big government.

And of course this is also happening in virtually every other nation on the face of the planet.  The global elite have rigged the game to send just about all of the rewards their way, and it is working.  The following are facts taken directly from Oxfam’s latest report

•Almost half of the world’s wealth is now owned by just one percent of the population.

•The wealth of the one percent richest people in the world amounts to $110 trillion. That’s 65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the world’s population.

•The bottom half of the world’s population owns the same as the richest 85 people in the world.

•Seven out of ten people live in countries where economic inequality has increased in the last 30 years.

•The richest one percent increased their share of income in 24 out of 26 countries for which we have data between 1980 and 2012.

•In the US, the wealthiest one percent captured 95 percent of post-financial crisis growth since 2009, while the bottom 90 percent became poorer.

Starting on Wednesday, several thousand members of the global elite will gather for the World Economic Forum meetings in Davos, Switzerland.  The following is how USA Today described this conference.

For several days at the end of January, presidents, prime ministers, monarchs and corporate titans jostle with actors, rock stars and major influencers for top billing at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum. The confab takes place in the Alpine village of Davos, about 90 miles southeast of Zurich, and for a brief spell each year the pristine ski resort half-sheds its Graubünden roots and becomes a ground zero for the political and business elite.

Unless you are independently wealthy, you can forget about going to this conference.  A ticket to Davos is going to cost you about $30,000, and that is on top of the $55,000 that it costs to join the organization.

Needless to say, it is an organization of the elite, by the elite and for the elite.

This year, the theme of the meeting is “The Reshaping of the World: Consequences for Society, Politics and Business“.  And the founder of the World Economic Forum says that the time has come to press the “reset” button for the global economy…

It’s time to press the “reset” button on the world, the founder of the World Economic Forum said Wednesday, addressing media ahead of the WEF’s much ballyhooed annual meeting in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, that gets underway in a week’s time.

“The world is complex, it’s fast-moving, it’s interconnected, and we in Davos want to provide a mirror to the world as it is. It is not a meeting devoted to one set of issues. It’s a meeting that address the complexity of our world,” said Klaus Schwab, the WEF’s founder and executive chairman.

At first glance, that sounds pretty good.

Personally, I would love to hit a “reset” button for the global economy.

But what the elite mean by “reset” is much different from what most of the rest of us would mean.

The following is an excerpt from the executive summary for the agenda for the 2014 World Economic Forum…

“At an international level, the formal architecture for global governance was not designed for the interdisciplinary challenges and collective action problems of today. As a result, international cooperation has yet to fully enter the information age and capture its associated productivity gains.”

For the global elite, the answers to our problems always involve more centralization and more “global governance”.  In other words, the answers to our problems always involve giving them more control and more power.

The elite never actually want the pendulum to swing back in the direction of the “little guy”.  The elite are generally pleased with how the game is being played because they are winning.

Most people don’t even realize that they are participants in a debt-based neo-feudalist system in which money is being used as a form of social control.

As I have written about previously, there is about 190 trillion dollars of debt in the world, but global GDP is only about 70 trillion dollars.

There is no way that all of this debt could ever be paid off at one time.  It is mathematically impossible.  Over time, all of this debt transfers the wealth of the planet away from us and to the global elite.  If this game was allowed to go on long enough, eventually they would have nearly all of it.

And some would argue that we are already getting close to that point.  A study by the World Institute for Development Economics Research discovered that the bottom half of the global population only owns approximately 1 percent of all wealth, and at this point about a billion people throughout the world go to bed hungry every night.

This is one of the reasons why I am so adamant about the fact that the Federal Reserve needs to be shut down.  It is at the very heart of the debt-based system that we have in the United States, and over the past 100 years it has brought us to the brink of economic Armageddon.

Sadly, most Americans do not understand any of these things.  They just assume that the debt-fueled prosperity that we have been enjoying will be able to go on indefinitely.

So is there any hope for the “little guy”?

Well, you could try to win the one billion dollar NCAA tournament bracket contest that Warren Buffett is backing.

Or you could go out and try to win the lottery or try to date a famous professional athlete.

But the odds of any of those things actually happening are so low that they aren’t even worth mentioning.

Personally, I would rather spend my time trying to wake people up and help them understand how our global system really works.

I believe that a “great awakening” is coming.

I believe that millions of people are going to start breaking out of the “matrix of control” that has such a tight grip on their lives and are going to start thinking for themselves.

I believe that as the darkness gets even darker that the light is going to get even brighter.  I believe that we are going to see “renewal” on a whole bunch of different levels.

Yes, a great economic collapse is coming.

Yes, there is going to be a tremendous amount of pain.

But it won’t all be bad news.

The times ahead are going to be full of adventure and excitement for those who are willing to embrace it.

So what do you think about what is coming in the years ahead?  Please feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment below…

85 Richest People - Photo by Oxfam

The Most Homeless Children In New York City Since The Great Depression

Child Crying - Photo by D Sharon PruittAt a time when Wall Street is absolutely swimming in wealth, New York City is experiencing an epidemic of homelessness.  According to the New York Times, the last time there was this many homeless children in New York City was during the days of the Great Depression.  And the number of homeless children in the United States overall recently set a new all-time record.  As I mentioned yesterday, there are now 1.2 million public school kids in America that are homeless, and that number has gone up by about 72 percent since the start of the last recession.  As Americans, we like to think of ourselves as “the wealthiest nation on the planet”, and yet the number of young kids that don’t even have a roof over their heads at night just keeps skyrocketing.  There truly are “two Americas” today, and unfortunately most Americans that live in “good America” don’t seem to really care too much about the extreme suffering that is going on in “bad America”.  In the end, what kind of price will we all pay for neglecting the most vulnerable members of our society?

If you live in “good America”, I very much encourage you to read an excellent piece about homelessness in New York City that was just published in the New York Times.  What some young kids have to go through on a nightly basis should break all of our hearts…

She wakes to the sound of breathing. The smaller children lie tangled beside her, their chests rising and falling under winter coats and wool blankets. A few feet away, their mother and father sleep near the mop bucket they use as a toilet. Two other children share a mattress by the rotting wall where the mice live, opposite the baby, whose crib is warmed by a hair dryer perched on a milk crate.

Could you imagine having your own family live like that?  The name of the little girl in the story is Dasani, and every night her family sleeps in a city-run homeless shelter that sounds like it is straight out of a horror movie…

Her family lives in the Auburn Family Residence, a decrepit city-run shelter for the homeless. It is a place where mold creeps up walls and roaches swarm, where feces and vomit plug communal toilets, where sexual predators have roamed and small children stand guard for their single mothers outside filthy showers.

It is no place for children. Yet Dasani is among 280 children at the shelter. Beyond its walls, she belongs to a vast and invisible tribe of more than 22,000 homeless children in New York, the highest number since the Great Depression, in the most unequal metropolis in America.

You can read the rest of that excellent article right here.  Sadly, there are countless other children just like Dasani that live like this day after day, month after month, year after year.

Shouldn’t we be able to do better than this as a society?  After all, the stock market has been hovering near record highs lately, and Wall Street is absolutely drenched with wealth for the moment.

With so much wealth floating around, why are New York City subways being “overrun with homeless” right now?

Something has gone horribly wrong.

I think that a recent editorial by David Simon, the creator of the Wire, summarized things pretty well.  We are not “one America” anymore, and most of the people that live in “good America” don’t really care much about those living in “bad America”…

America is a country that is now utterly divided when it comes to its society, its economy, its politics. There are definitely two Americas. I live in one, on one block in Baltimore that is part of the viable America, the America that is connected to its own economy, where there is a plausible future for the people born into it. About 20 blocks away is another America entirely. It’s astonishing how little we have to do with each other, and yet we are living in such proximity.

There’s no barbed wire around West Baltimore or around East Baltimore, around Pimlico, the areas in my city that have been utterly divorced from the American experience that I know. But there might as well be.

Once upon a time, things were different in America.  Nobody resented businessmen for building strong businesses and making lots of money.  And successful businessmen such as Henry Ford hired large numbers of American workers and paid them very well.  He felt that his workers should make enough money to buy the cars that they were building.  In those days, businessmen were loyal to their workers and workers were loyal to those that employed them.

Unfortunately, those days are long gone.  Today, in business schools all over America students are taught that the sole purpose of a corporation is to make as much money as possible for the stockholders.  Not that there is anything wrong with making money.  But at this point we have elevated greed above all other economic goals.  Taking care of one another isn’t even a consideration anymore.

In the old days, big businesses actually needed our labor.  But that is now no longer the case.  Today, corporations are shipping millions of our jobs overseas and they are replacing as many of us with technology as they possibly can.  The value of the labor of the working man is declining with each passing day.

As a result, the fortunes of big business and American workers are increasingly diverging.  For example, the disconnect between employment levels and stock prices has never been greater in this country.  If you doubt this, just check out this chart.

And instead of fixing things, Barack Obama is negotiating a secret treaty which will result in millions more American jobs being shipped overseas.  The following is a brief excerpt about this secret treaty from an Australian news source

The government has refused the Senate access to the secret text of the trade deal it is negotiating in Singapore, saying it will only be made public after it has been signed.

As the final round of ministerial talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership resumed on Sunday, Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz wrote to each of the 12 participating nations warning that the deal and the secrecy surrounding it presented ”grave risks”.

So why aren’t we hearing much about this secret treaty from U.S. news sources?

If this is going to affect millions of American jobs, shouldn’t the mainstream media be making a big deal out of this?

And even if we weren’t losing millions of jobs to the other side of the planet, we would still be losing millions of jobs to advancements in technology.  In fact, a CNBC article that was posted earlier this week seems to look forward to the day when nobody will have to worry about the low pay that fast food workers get anymore because they will all be replaced by droids…

Maybe so, but as fast food workers protest low wages and the president of the United States equates hard work with the right to decent pay, the rise of technology once again proves to be no stunt, or laughing matter. McDonald’s, where food production is already about as mechanized as food science allows, stopped updating the famous number “served” figure at its restaurants back in 1994—just short of 100 billion—but how long will it be before trillions are served their burgers and fries by a drone, after being cooked by a droid? Those machines work for cheap, and the best thing is, they have no concept of hard work, or dignity, or the foresight to consider whether or not the “cool” things they can do ultimately contribute, or detract, from a strong, consumer-dependent economy.

So what is the solution to all of this?

Where will the millions of desperately needed jobs for “bad America” come from?

Well, it appears that good ideas are in short supply these days.  In fact, some of the ideas being promoted by our “leaders” are absolutely insane.  For example, one prominent entrepreneur recently suggested that the solution to our employment crisis is for Congress to pass an immigration bill which would bring in 30 million more low-skilled workers over the next ten years…

Middle class Americans face a tough future because robots and machinery are eliminating their jobs, according to Steve Case, an entrepreneur who earned roughly $1 billion by creating the first successful internet firm, America Online.

But Congress could help the situation by passing an immigration bill that would import some foreign entrepreneurs and almost 30 million low-skilled workers over the next decade, Case told an audience of D.C. lobbyists and lawyers gathered on Tuesday by the business-backed Bipartisan Policy Center.

Exactly how would this improve the employment situation in this country?

I still cannot figure that one out.

But there are people out there that actually believe this stuff.

Meanwhile, many parts of Europe are suffering through similar things.

The unemployment rate in the eurozone recently hit a new all-time high, and the number of people living in poverty in Europe just continues to grow

Over 124 million people in the European Union – or almost a quarter of its entire population – live under the threat of poverty or social exclusion, a report by EU’s statistical office has revealed.

Last year, 124.5 million people, or 24.8 percent of Europe’s population were at risk of poverty or social exclusion, compared to 24.3 percent in 2011 and 23.7 percent in 2008, the Eurostat said in a document published earlier in the week.

So what is going to fix this?

Where are the good jobs for workers in North America and Europe going to come from in the years ahead?

If you have a potential solution, please feel free to share it below…

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