Whenever you let federal bureaucrats get their hands on anything they are probably going to ruin it. During the Obama administration, the Department of Education spearheaded a transformation of American education that was absolutely breathtaking. Over a period of about five years, Common Core standards were implemented in almost every state in the entire nation. Unfortunately, this has resulted in a huge step backward for public education in this country. Common Core has been called “state-sponsored child abuse”, and it is a big reason why U.S. students are scoring so poorly on standardized tests compared to much of the rest of the world.
According to Wikipedia, at one point 46 states had adopted Common Core, but now some states are having second thoughts…
46 states initially adopted the Common Core State Standards, although implementation has not been uniform. At least 12 states have introduced legislation to repeal the standards outright, and Indiana has since withdrawn from the standards.
Organized in seven chapters, her book describes how the Gates Foundation promoted and continues to promote one extremely wealthy couple’s uninformed, unsupported, and unsupportable ideas on education for other people’s children while their own children are enrolled in a non-Common Cored private school. It explains how (but not exactly why) the Gates Foundation helped to centralize control of public education in the U.S. Department of Education. It also explains why parents, teachers, local school boards, and state legislators were the last to learn how the public schools their local and state taxes supported had been nationalized without Congressional knowledge or permission; and why they were expected to believe that their local public schools were now accountable for what and how they teach … not to the local and state taxpayers who fund them or to locally-elected school boards that by law are still supposed to set education policies not already determined by their state legislature … but to a distant bureaucracy in exchange for money to their state department of education to close “achievement gaps” between unspecified groups.
But this isn’t just an issue about control. The truth is that the approach to teaching basic fundamentals such as how to add and how to subtract is fundamentally different under Common Core.
Let me share just three examples that show how much Common Core is changing the way that U.S. students learn math. All of these examples have been floating around Facebook, and if you have never seen these before they are likely to make you quite angry.
If I asked you to subtract 12 from 32, how would you do it? Well, the “new way” is much, much more complicated than how we were all taught to do it…
If that first one seemed bizarre to you, than you really aren’t going to like this one…
And this last one was so confusing that a parent with a degree in engineering decided to include his own commentary on his child’s homework…
How are kids supposed to function in the real world if this is how they are learning to do basic math?
Personally, I am going to teach my daughter that 9 + 6 equals 15. But that isn’t how it is supposed to be done under Common Core. You can watch a video of a teacher explaining the very convoluted Common Core way to solve that math equation right here.
And of course it isn’t just math that is the problem. Common Core is systematically “dumbing down” our young people, and that may help to explain why the average U.S. college freshman now reads at a seventh grade level.
Since their inception, the Idaho Core Standards have been enmeshed in controversy.
Some legislators and citizens have pushed for a repeal of the Idaho Core Standards, the state’s version of Common Core standards in math and English language arts. Those repeal efforts have gone nowhere in the Legislature.
I don’t know what is wrong with our legislators. The Republicans have full control in this state, and so there is absolutely no excuse for not getting something done.
As I end this article, I want to give you an idea of just how far the quality of education in America has fallen over the past 100 years. In Kentucky, an eighth grade exam from 1912 made a lot of headlines when it was donated to the Bullitt County History Museum. As you can see, it is doubtful whether many of our college students would be able to pass such an exam today…
One thing that almost everyone can agree upon is that our system of public education is broken. We spend far more money on public education than anyone else in the world, and yet the results are depressing to say the least. Considering how much we are putting into education, we should be producing the best students on the entire planet, but it just isn’t happening. Personally, I attended public schools from kindergarten all the way up through law school, and the quality of education that I received was extremely poor. Even on the collegiate level, most of the courses were so “dumbed down” that even the family dog could have passed them. And of course millions of other people all over the country would say the same sorts of things about their own educations. Many refer to what is happening to our society as “the dumbing down of America”, and if we don’t get things fixed the United States is on course to become a second class nation.
If you believe that I am exaggerating, I would like you to consider the following numbers. The following are 14 facts that prove that America’s absolutely pathetic system of education deserves an “F” grade…
#3 The latest PISA tests show that U.S. students are below average compared to the rest of the industrialized world…
One of the biggest cross-national tests is the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which every three years measures reading ability, math and science literacy and other key skills among 15-year-olds in dozens of developed and developing countries. The most recent PISA results, from 2015, placed the U.S. an unimpressive 38th out of 71 countries in math and 24th in science. Among the 35 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which sponsors the PISA initiative, the U.S. ranked 30th in math and 19th in science.
#4 A report from the Educational Testing Service found that American Millennials are way behind Millennials in most other industrialized nations…
Half of American Millennials score below the minimum standard of literacy proficiency. Only two countries scored worse by that measure: Italy (60 percent) and Spain (59 percent). The results were even worse for numeracy, with almost two-thirds of American Millennials failing to meet the minimum standard for understanding and working with numbers. That placed U.S. Millennials dead last for numeracy among the study’s 22 developed countries.
#7 In 2015, the percentage of students in our public schools coming from low income homes crossed the 50 percent mark. That was the first time that had happened in at least 50 years.
#8 One study found that a whopping 76 percent of all high school graduates “were not adequately prepared academically for first-year college courses.”
#9 The following are five numbers which show how far the quality of college education has fallen in the United States…
-“After two years in college, 45% of students showed no significant gains in learning; after four years, 36% showed little change.”
-“Students also spent 50% less time studying compared with students a few decades ago.”
-“35% of students report spending five or fewer hours per week studying alone.”
-“50% said they never took a class in a typical semester where they wrote more than 20 pages.”
-“32% never took a course in a typical semester where they read more than 40 pages per week.”
#10 Just 36 percent of all full-time college students receive a bachelor’s degree within four years, and just 77 percent of all full-time college students have earned a bachelor’s degree by the end of six years.
#11 One survey found that nearly 10 percent of our college graduates believe that Judge Judy is on the Supreme Court…
#12 Another survey found that 29 percent of all U.S. adults cannot name the Vice-President.
#13 And yet another survey found that only 43 percent of all U.S. high school students knew that the Civil War was fought some time between the years of 1850 and 1900.
#14 Perhaps worst of all, 75 percent of our young adults cannot find Israel on a map of the Middle East.
This is what happens when we put federal bureaucrats in charge of education.
All over the country there are calls to abolish the Department of Education. For example, the following was published on CNBC…
The DOE currently employs 5,000 government workers and has an annual budget of $73 billion, yet according to the CATO Institute, it has not affected student outcomes in any demonstrable way over its 40-year history . It has successfully created a system that requires educators to teach reams of “politically-correct” content and focus on scoring well on standardized tests. It has created an atmosphere of testing in our schools, putting intense pressure on teachers and students to “ace the test” rather than mastering the material. This promotes a culture of teaching to the test and score tampering.
Unfortunately, abolishing the Department of Education is not going to be easy, because there is a tremendous amount of money at stake. And whenever there is a tremendous amount of money at stake, there are going to be very powerful interests that are determined to keep things just the way that they are…
The major stakeholders in K-12 public education are at an impasse. Teachers’ Unions are primarily concerned with self-preservation, maintaining extravagant perks for union administrators and exerting disproportionate political influence. A handful of publishing houses sell us $8 billion worth of warmed- over text books every year. Testing companies collectively spent tens of millions lobbying in states and on Capitol Hill from 2009 to 2014. These politically powerful, entrenched special interests are heavily invested in maintaining the failing status quo.
But even though there is going to be a lot of resistance, I am going to try to abolish the Department of Education anyway. I believe that full control over education should be returned to the state and local levels, but that is just the beginning.
Ultimately, we need to rebuild our system of education from the ground up. Instead of politically-correct indoctrination centers that endlessly pump progressive propaganda into impressionable young minds, we need to transform our public schools into institutions that focus on the essentials. We need a renewed emphasis on reading, writing, math and the skills that will enable our young people to function successfully once they get out into the real world.
At one time America’s system of education was the best in the world, and we can get there again. But of course the left is going to fight against the changes that need to be made every step of the way.
Could you imagine spending the holidays in a homeless shelter, in a tent city surrounded by drug addicts and prostitutes, or in a sleeping bag on the cold, hard streets of an urban jungle? Unfortunately, that is what real life looks like for an increasing number of Americans. Most of the time when we think of “homeless people”, the image that comes into our minds is one of a grizzled old man asking for some spare change, but the truth is that vast numbers of women and children in our country do not have anywhere to live. In fact, Poverty USA has reported that last year a grand total 1.6 million U.S. children stayed either in a homeless shelter or in some other form of emergency housing. And you never hear the mainstream media report this number, but the truth is that the number of homeless children in the United States has risen by 60 percent since the “end” of the last recession. For the moment the wealthy are getting wealthier, but meanwhile things have just continued to get harder and harder for those that are struggling to survive in this economy.
In Wal-Mart parking lots and campgrounds all over America tonight, you will find formerly middle class families that are living in cars, trucks and recreational vehicles during this holiday season. Most of them will never complain and will try to put on a happy face outwardly, but inside the worry and fear are eating them alive.
As the weather gets cold, many homeless Americans head for warmer climates, and this is one of the factors that is fueling the unprecedented homelessness crisis in Los Angeles. The following comes from L.A. Weekly…
By nearly every metric, Los Angeles has the worst homelessness crisis of any city in America. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, there are more people suffering from chronic homelessness in L.A. than anywhere in the country, and their number is growing at a faster clip than those in New York City.
One homeless man in Los Angeles has decided to do what he can to make the best of his circumstances. He has transformed a depressingly bleak area underneath a freeway underpass into his own “personal paradise”…
A homeless man who turned a freeway underpass into his personal paradise by furnishing it with a make-shift jacuzzi and four-poster bed has become a viral hit and unlikely tourist attraction.
Ceola Waddell Jr, 59, began living in the underpass in L.A.’s 110 freeway near Coliseum six months ago.
He has since foraged two porcelain toilets, discarded refrigerators, couches and two beds to transform the space into his personal refuge.
You can’t help but smile when you read what Mr. Waddell has done, but the truth is that the homelessness crisis in the state is rapidly getting way out of control. In fact, Los Angeles is swamped by so many homeless people at this point that the L.A. City Council has asked California Governor Jerry Brown to officially declare a state of emergency.
On the east coast things are getting really, really bad as well.
You may find this hard to believe, but the number of homeless people in New York City has never been higher…
The number of homeless people living in New York City has reached a record-high.
The Department of Homeless Services reported there were 60,252, up 200 in two weeks.
Now, some are saying the city’s current plan to combat homelessness isn’t working.
So why is this happening?
The stock market is at an all-time high and the mainstream media keeps telling us that things are getting better, and yet poverty just continues to rise.
Other than the very wealthy, the truth is that things are not getting any better for virtually everyone else. In fact, it has been reported that over half of all New Yorkers “are teetering on the brink of homelessness”…
More than half of all New Yorkers are teetering on the brink of homelessness — without enough cash in the bank to cover them in the event of a disaster or lost job, a troubling new study has found.
This is one of the reasons why I am always encouraging my readers to build up their emergency funds. Sadly, the cold, hard reality of the matter is that most of the country is only a couple of paychecks away from losing everything.
To give you an idea of how deep the suffering can be this time of the year for those that have already lost it all, I want to share with you a story of a precious little dog named Ollie…
When Ollie was found, his fur was matted and so long you couldn’t see his adorable little eyes. He was clearly in need of dire help.
A woman and her sister saw Ollie outside her apartment, shivering in the freezing cold. They brought him in and quickly called the Michigan Humane Society to help take care of the dog.
Once Ollie was brought in, it was discovered just how sick he is. Had he not been rescued, he would have suffered a very painful death alone in the streets.
Very few people could come across a hurting dog like Ollie without helping him out, but what about the countless numbers of our fellow Americans that no longer have a warm home and will spend the night shivering in the cold?
Look, the truth is that you don’t have to have a whole lot of resources in order to make a difference. In Tennessee, there is a group of elderly women that refer to themselves as “the bag ladies” that are turning old plastic bags into sleeping mats for the homeless…
It all starts with cutting plastic bags into strips, tying those strips together, and rolling them into a ball.
The Bag Ladies call it “plarn,” instead of yarn. They then crochet the “plarn” into mats.
It takes 600 bags to make an 18 square foot mat. So far, this year, they have used 52,000 bags to make 88 mats.
“This is not young ladies doing this. This is older ladies with the arthritis,” said Akin.
How marvelous is that?
A single act of kindness can make a world of difference.
In the months ahead, temperatures are only going to get colder and economic conditions are only going to get tougher for those that are already living in poverty.
I would encourage all of us to think about what we can do to make a difference for those that are deeply hurting this time of the year.
Could you survive on just $2.50 a day? According to Compassion International, approximately half of the population of the entire planet currently lives on $2.50 a day or less. Meanwhile, those hoarding wealth at the very top of the global pyramid are rapidly becoming a lot wealthier. Don’t get me wrong – I am a very big believer in working hard and contributing something of value to society, and those that work the hardest and contribute the most should be able to reap the rewards. In this article I am in no way, shape or form criticizing true capitalism, because if true capitalism were actually being practiced all over the planet we would have far, far less poverty today. Instead, our planet is dominated by a heavily socialized debt-based central banking system that systematically transfers wealth from hard working ordinary citizens to the global elite. Those at the very top of the pyramid know that they are impoverishing everyone else, and they very much intend to keep it that way.
Let’s start with some of the hard numbers. According to Zero Hedge, Credit Suisse had just released their yearly report on global wealth, and it shows that 45.6 percent of all the wealth in the world is controlled by just 0.7 percent of the people…
As Credit Suisse tantalizingly shows year after year, the number of people who control just shy of a majority of global net worth, or 45.6% of the roughly $255 trillion in household wealth, is declining progressively relative to the total population of the world, and in 2016 the number of people who are worth more than $1 million was just 33 million, roughly 0.7% of the world’s population of adults. On the other end of the pyramid, some 3.5 billion adults had a net worth of less than $10,000, accounting for just about $6 trillion in household wealth.
And since this is a yearly report, we can go back and see how things have changed over time. When Zero Hedge did this, it was discovered that the wealth of those at the very top “has nearly doubled” over the past six years, and meanwhile the poor have gotten even poorer…
Incidentally, we tracked down the first Credit Suisse report we found in this series from 2010, where the total wealth of the top “layer” in the pyramid was a modest $69.2 trillion for the world’s millionaires. It has nearly doubled in the 6 years since then. Meanwhile, the world’s poorest have gotten, you got it, poorer, as those adults who were worth less than $10,000 in 2010 had a combined net worth of $8.2 trillion, a number which has since declined to $6.1 trillion in 2016 despite a half a billion increase in the sample size.
If these trends continue at this pace, it won’t be too long before the global elite have virtually all of the wealth and the rest of us have virtually nothing.
Perhaps you are fortunate enough to still have a good job, and you live in a large home and you will sleep in a warm bed tonight.
Well, you should consider yourself to be very blessed, because that is definitely not the case for most of the rest of the world. The following 11 facts about global poverty come from dosomething.com, and I want you to really let these numbers sink in for a moment…
Nearly 1/2 of the world’s population — more than 3 billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day. More than 1.3 billion live in extreme poverty — less than $1.25 a day.
1 billion children worldwide are living in poverty. According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty.
805 million people worldwide do not have enough food to eat. Food banks are especially important in providing food for people that can’t afford it themselves. Run a food drive outside your local grocery store so people in your community have enough to eat. Sign up for Supermarket Stakeout.
More than 750 million people lack adequate access to clean drinking water. Diarrhea caused by inadequate drinking water, sanitation, and hand hygiene kills an estimated 842,000 people every year globally, or approximately 2,300 people per day.
In 2011, 165 million children under the age 5 were stunted (reduced rate of growth and development) due to chronic malnutrition.
Preventable diseases like diarrhea and pneumonia take the lives of 2 million children a year who are too poor to afford proper treatment.
As of 2013, 21.8 million children under 1 year of age worldwide had not received the three recommended doses of vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis.
1/4 of all humans live without electricity — approximately 1.6 billion people.
80% of the world population lives on less than $10 a day.
Oxfam estimates that it would take $60 billion annually to end extreme global poverty–that’s less than 1/4 the income of the top 100 richest billionaires.
The World Food Programme says, “The poor are hungry and their hunger traps them in poverty.” Hunger is the number one cause of death in the world, killing more than HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined.
So how did we get here?
Debt is the primary mechanism that takes wealth from ordinary people like you and me and puts it into the hands of the global elite.
In that very same year, the federal income tax was instituted, and that is a key part of the program for the global elite. You see, the income tax is how wealth is transferred from us to the government. And then a continuously growing national debt is how that wealth is transferred from the government to the elite.
It is a very complicated system, but at the end of the day it is all about taking money from us and getting it into their pockets.
It is a global system that is designed to create as much debt as possible, and I recently shared with my readers that the total amount of debt in the world has hit a staggering all-time record high of 152 trillion dollars.
Interestingly, the Bible actually foretells of a time when rich men would hoard wealth in the last days. The following are the first five verses of the Book of James in the Modern English Version…
Come now, you rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. 2 Your riches are corrupted and your garments are moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have stored up treasures for the last days. 4 Indeed the wages that you kept back by fraud from the laborers who harvested your fields are crying, and the cries of those who harvested have entered into the ears of the Lord of Hosts. 5 You have lived in pleasure on the earth and have been wayward. You have nourished your hearts as in a day of slaughter.
So much of the time we focus on the other great sins that we see all around us, but the truth is that one of the greatest sins of all in our world today is the sin of greed.
The borrower is the servant of the lender, and the global elite have used various forms of debt to turn the rest of the planet into their debt slaves.
As debt levels race higher and higher all over the planet, the elite are using the magic of compound interest to grab a bigger and bigger share of the pie.
Given enough time, those at the very top would have virtually everything and the rest of us would have virtually nothing. The middle class is shrinking all over the globe, and the gap between the wealthy and the poor continues to grow at an astounding pace.
But the vast majority of people out there have no idea how money, debt, taxes and central banks really work, and so they have no idea that this is purposely being done to them.
So please share this article with as many people as you can. The truth is that we don’t have to have this much global poverty, and if we correctly identify the root causes of this poverty we can start working on some real solutions.
What is going to happen when America finally doesn’t have any manufacturing jobs left at all? On Wednesday, we learned that Ford Motor Company is shifting all small car production to Mexico. Of course the primary goal for this move is to save a little bit of money. This hits me personally, because my grandfather once worked for Ford. He was loyal to Ford all his life, and he always criticized other members of the family when they bought a vehicle that was not American-made. When I was young I didn’t understand why making vehicles in America is so important, but I sure do now. By shipping jobs overseas, we are destroying jobs, we are destroying small businesses and we are destroying our tax base. If we want to be a wealthy nation, we have got to make things here, and hopefully we can get the American people to start to understand this.
In 1914, Henry Ford decided to start paying his workers $5.00 a day, which was more than double the average wage for auto workers at the time.
One of the reasons why he did this was because he felt that his workers should be able to afford to buy the vehicles that they were making. This is what he wrote in 1926…
“The owner, the employees, and the buying public are all one and the same, and unless an industry can so manage itself as to keep wages high and prices low it destroys itself, for otherwise it limits the number of its customers. One’s own employees ought to be one’s own best customers.”
These days Ford is going in the complete opposite direction. Pretty soon, Ford won’t be making any more small vehicles in the United States at all…
Ford is shifting all North American small-car production from the U.S. to Mexico, CEO Mark Fields told investors today in Dearborn, even though its plans to invest in Mexico have become a lightning rod for controversy in this year’s presidential election.
“Over the next two to three years, we will have migrated all of our small-car production to Mexico and out of the United States,” Fields said.
Could Ford keep jobs in America?
Of course they could. During the second quarter of 2016, Ford reported a net income of 2,000,000,000 dollars.
But if they move production to Mexico they can boost that profit just a little bit higher.
Shame on them.
Needless to say, Donald Trump is quite upset about this move by Ford. This was his response…
“We shouldn’t allow it to happen. They’ll make their cars, they’ll employ thousands of people, not from this country and they’ll sell their car across the border,” Trump said. “When we send our jobs out of Michigan, we’re also sending our tax base.”
And he is exactly right about all of this. We can’t afford to lose more good paying jobs, we can’t afford for the middle class to shrink any more than it already has, and we certainly can’t afford our tax base to continue to deteriorate.
We may think that we can live on borrowed money indefinitely, but that is going to catch up with us in a major way at some point.
Sadly, Ford is not the only auto company doing this. Just like Ross Perot once predicted, there is a giant sucking sound as good paying auto jobs leave the United States and head to Mexico…
Ford isn’t alone. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said earlier this year it will end production of all cars in the U.S. by the end of this year as it discontinues production of the Dodge Dart in Belvidere, Ill. and the Chrysler 200 in Sterling Heights, Michigan.
In recent years, automakers that include General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Nissan, Mazda, Toyota and Volkswagen have all announced plans to either expand existing plants or build new ones in Mexico.
The bad news for American workers won’t end once all of our manufacturing jobs are gone.
Today there are millions of Americans that make their living by driving, but the revolution in self-driving vehicles threatens to make large numbers of those jobs obsolete.
Ford, General Motors, Tesla, Google, Apple and a whole host of other big corporations have been feverishly working on this technology, and many of the tests have gone very well so far.
Once this technology starts being rolled out on a widespread basis, the job losses could be absolutely staggering. Just consider the following numbers which come from Wolf Richter…
1.8 million heavy-truck and tractor-trailer long-haul drivers in 2014, expected to grow 4% a year (BLS), with a median pay of $40,260 in 2015. At this growth rate, there will be 1.94 million long-haul drivers by the end of this year.
1.33 million delivery truck drivers in 2014, expected to grow 4% a year (BLS), with a median pay of $27,800 in 2015. They’re picking up and/or delivering packages and small shipments within the city or region, driving a vehicle of 26,000 pounds or less, usually between a distribution center and businesses or households. At this growth rate, there will be 1.44 million drivers by the end of this year.
233,700 taxi drivers and chauffeurs in 2014, growing at 13% annually (BLS). They earned a median pay of $23,510 in 2015. One in five worked part time. This doesn’t – or doesn’t fully – reflect the “rideshare” drivers working for Uber, Lyft, and the like.
“Over 500,000” rideshare drivers are estimated to ply the trade in the US. It’s a high-growth sector: the number of Uber drivers in the US doubled in 2015 from the prior year to 327,000. Half of them worked 15 hours or less per week.
In order to have a thriving middle class, we have got to have middle class jobs.
Unfortunately, big corporations have become absolutely obsessed with finding ways to eliminate expensive American workers by sending jobs overseas or by replacing them with technology altogether.
The elite will always need people to cut their hair and wait on them at restaurants, but those aren’t the kinds of jobs that can support middle class families.
As I noted yesterday, for the first time ever the middle class in America has become a minority and poverty is on the rise all over the nation. The long-term trends that are eviscerating the middle class are accelerating, and there doesn’t appear to be any quick fix which will turn things around dramatically any time soon.
So the middle class is going to get smaller and smaller and smaller, and that has dramatic implications for the future of this country.
Are we about to witness trillions of dollars of “paper wealth” vaporize into thin air? During the next financial crisis, a lot of “wealthy” investors are going to be in for a very rude awakening. The truth is that securities are only worth what someone else is willing to pay for them, and that is why liquidity is so important. Back on April 17th, I published an article entitled “The Global Liquidity Squeeze Has Begun“, but it didn’t get nearly as much attention as many of my other articles do. But now that the liquidity crisis is intensifying, hopefully people will start to grasp the implications of what is happening. The 76 trillion dollar global bond bubble is threatening to implode, and if it does, the amount of “paper wealth” that could potentially be lost during the months ahead is almost unimaginable.
For those that do not consider the emerging liquidity crisis to be important, I would suggest that they check out what the financial experts are saying. For instance, the following comes from a recent Bloomberg report…
There are three things that matter in the bond market these days: liquidity, liquidity and liquidity.
How — or whether — investors can trade without having prices move against them has become a major worry as bonds globally tanked in the past few months. As a result, liquidity, or the lack of it, is skewing markets in new and surprising ways.
Things have already gotten so bad that Zero Hedge says that some fund managers “are starting to panic” about the lack of liquidity in the marketplace…
Fund managers who together control trillions in assets are starting to panic in the face of an acute bond market liquidity shortage.
Dealer inventories have collapsed in the post-crisis regulatory regime, eliminating the traditional source of liquidity in secondary corporate credit markets, while HFTs and central banks have combined to create the conditions under which USTs and German Bunds can, at any given time, trade like penny stocks (October’s Treasury flash crash and May’s dramatic Bund rout are the quintessential examples).
For a moment, just imagine what would happen if someone yelled “fire” in a very crowded movie theater, and the only exit was a very small doggie door that only one person at a time could squeeze through. According to experts, that is what the bond market could soon look like…
“When the unwind comes, like we’ve seen in the past few months, it comes abruptly and sharply as the exit door is tiny,” said Ryan Myerberg, a London-based fund manager at Janus Capital Group Inc., which oversees about $190 billion.
Are you starting to get the picture?
In the end, I believe that those that “squeezed through the door” during this time period are going to be very glad that they got out while they still could.
Another very prominent voice that is deeply concerned about bonds is Carl Icahn. The following is what he told CNBC on Wednesday…
Carl Icahn warned investors on Wednesday that he believes the market is “extremely overheated—especially high-yield bonds.”
“I think the public is walking into a trap again as they did in 2007,” the activist investor told CNBC’s “Fast Money Halftime Report.” “I think it’s almost the duty of well-respected investors, like myself I hope, to warn people, to tell people, that really you are making errors.”
Icahn compared the current market situation to the prerecession days, when mortgage-backed securities were being widely sold. “It’s almost deja vu,” he said.
Let’s talk about high-yield bonds for a moment. Prior to the last financial crisis, they started crashing way before stocks did, and now we see the exact same pattern repeating once again.
Normally high yield credit tracks stocks very closely. When there is a disconnect, that can be a huge sign of trouble. The following chart comes from Zero Hedge, and it brilliantly demonstrates how similar things are today to the period just before the stock market crash of 2008…
It is glaringly apparent that we are due for a “correction”. And even though stocks have recently hit brand new record highs, there are rumblings under the surface that a big move down is right around the corner.
For example, USA Today is reporting that mutual fund investors have pulled more money out of stocks than they have put in for 16 weeks in a row….
In a sign of stock market nervousness on Main Street, mutual fund investors have yanked more money out of U.S. stock funds than they put in for 16 straight weeks.
The last time domestic stock funds had positive net cash inflows was in the week ending Feb. 25, according to data from the Investment Company Institute, a mutual fund trade group.
In the week ended June 17, the most recent data available, mutual funds that invest in U.S. stocks suffered net outflows of $3.45 billion, according to the ICI.
Since late February, U.S. stock funds have suffered estimated outflows of nearly $55 billion. Those net withdrawals come despite the fact the benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 hit a fresh record high of 2130.82 on May 21 and the Dow Jones industrial average notched a fresh record on May 19.
Those that are smart are getting out while the getting is good.
In all the time that I have been publishing The Economic Collapse Blog, I have never seen stocks so primed for a crash. If you were writing up a scenario for a textbook that imagined what a lead up to a major stock market crash would look like, you could very easily use the last six months as a model.
For a long time, many people out there (including some of my readers) have been very impatiently waiting for the financial markets to crash. But this is not something that any of us should want to see. When this next great financial crisis comes, it is going to be absolutely horrible. Millions upon millions of workers will lose their jobs, and there will be tremendous economic suffering all over the planet.
Tomorrow I plan to share something that is going to shock a lot of people.
It is going to be something that I have never done before, but the time has come.
Did you know that the rate of homeownership in the United States has fallen to a 20 year low? Did you know that it has been falling consistently for an entire decade? For the past couple of years, the economic optimists have been telling us that the economy has been getting better. Well, if the economy really has been getting better, why does the homeownership rate keep going down? Yes, the ultra-wealthy have received a temporary financial windfall thanks to the reckless money printing the Federal Reserve has been doing, but for most Americans economic conditions have not been improving. This is clearly demonstrated by the housing chart that I am about to share with you. If the economy really was healthy, more people would be getting good jobs and thus would be able to buy homes. But instead, the homeownership rate has continued to plummet throughout the entire “Obama recovery”. I think that this chart speaks for itself…
Of course this homeownership collapse began well before Barack Obama entered the White House. Our economic problems are the result of decades of incredibly bad decisions. But anyone that believes that things have “turned around” for the middle class under Barack Obama is just being delusional.
The U.S. homeownership rate fell to the lowest in more than two decades in the fourth quarter as many would-be buyers stayed on the sidelines, giving the rental market a boost.
The share of Americans who own their homes was 64 percent in the fourth quarter, down from 64.4 percent in the previous three months, the Census Bureau said in a report. The rate was at the lowest since the second quarter of 1994, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
Rising prices and a tight supply of lower-end listings have put homes out of reach for some entry-level buyers, who also face strict mortgage standards. The share of U.S. homebuyers making their first purchase dropped in 2014 to the lowest level in almost three decades, the National Association of Realtors reported last week.
And it appears that this trend is actually accelerating. During 2014, the rate of homeownership plummeted by a total of 1.2 percentage points for the year. That was the largest one year decline that has ever been measured.
So why is this happening?
Well, in order to buy a home you have got to have a good job, and good jobs are in very short supply these days.
Over the past decade, the quality of the jobs in our economy has steadily declined as good jobs have been replaced by low paying jobs. In addition, government policies are absolutely murdering small business. At this point, small business ownership in the U.S. is hovering near record lows.
This has resulted in millions of people falling out of the middle class, and it has contributed to the growing divide between the wealthy and the rest of the country.
If our economy was working the way that it should, the middle class would be thriving.
But instead, it is being systematically destroyed. If you doubt this, I have some statistics that I would like to share with you. The following facts come from my previous article entitled “The Death Of The American Dream In 22 Numbers“…
#1 The Obama administration tells us that 8.69 million Americans are “officially unemployed” and that 92.90 million Americans are considered to be “not in the labor force”. That means that more than 101 million U.S. adults do not have a job right now.
#2 One recent survey discovered that 55 percent of Americans believe that the American Dream either never existed or that it no longer exists.
#3 Considering the fact that Obama is in the White House, it is somewhat surprising that 55 percent of all Republicans still believe in the American Dream, but only 33 percent of all Democrats do.
#4 After adjusting for inflation, median household income has fallen by nearly $5,000 since 2007.
From a very early age, we push our young people to go to college, and today more of them are getting secondary education than ever before.
But when they leave school, the “good jobs” that we promised them are often not there, and most of them end up entering the “real world” already loaded down with massive amounts of debt.
According to the Pew Research Center, close to four out of every ten households that are led by someone under the age of 40 are currently paying off student loan debt.
It is hard to believe, but total student loan debt in this country is now actually higher than total credit card debt. At this point, student loan debt has reached a grand total of 1.2 trillion dollars, and that number has grown by an astounding 84 percent just since 2008.
If you are already burdened with tens of thousands (or in some cases hundreds of thousands) of dollars of debt when you get out of school and you can’t find a decent job, there is no way that you are going to be able to afford to buy a house.
So we have millions upon millions of young people that should be buying homes and starting families that are living with their parents instead.
Back in 1968, well over 50 percent of all Americans in the 18 to 31-year-old age bracket were already married and living on their own.
Did you know that 65 percent of all children in the United States live in a home that receives aid from the federal government? We live at a time when child poverty in America is exploding. Yes, the U.S. economy is experiencing a temporary bubble of false stability for the moment, but even during this period of false stability the gap between the wealthy and the poor continues to rapidly expand and the middle class is being systematically destroyed. And sadly, this is having a disproportionate impact on children. This is happening for a couple of reasons. First of all, poorer households tend to have more children than wealthier households. Secondly, most people tend to have children when they are in their young adult years, and right now young adults are being absolutely hammered by this economy. As a result, things just continue to get even worse for children living in this country. Here are 14 facts that show that the number of children in America living in poverty this Christmas is at an all-time record high…
#1 The National Center for Children in Poverty says that 45 percent of all U.S. children belong to low income families.
#2 According to a Census Bureau report that was released just this week, 65 percent of all children in America are living in a home that receives some form of aid from the federal government…
“Almost two-thirds (65 percent) of children,” said the Census Bureau, “lived in households that participated in at least one or more of the following government aid programs: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), Medicaid, and the National School Lunch Program.”
#3 According to a report recently released by UNICEF, almost one-third of all children in this country “live in households with an income below 60 percent of the national median income”.
#4 When it comes to child poverty, the United States ranks 36th out of the 41 “wealthy nations” that UNICEF looked at.
#5 An astounding 45 percent of all African-American children in America live in areas of “concentrated poverty”.
#640.9 percent of all children in the United States that are living with only one parent are living in poverty.
#7 These days, a lot of single mothers are really, really struggling to survive. A decade ago, the number of women in America that had jobs outnumbered the number of women in America on food stamps by more than a 2 to 1 margin. But now the number of women in America on food stamps actually exceeds the total number of women that have jobs.
#9 According to a report that was released last month by the National Center on Family Homelessness, the number of homeless children in the United States has reached a new all-time high of 2.5 million.
#13 One of the primary reasons why kids are suffering so much is because their parents are simply not making enough money. This is especially true for parents of young children. For example, check out the following numbers from the Atlantic…
Since the Great Recession struck in 2007, the median wage for people between the ages of 25 and 34, adjusted for inflation, has fallen in every major industry except for health care.
In retail, wholesale, leisure, and hospitality—which together employ more than one quarter of this age group—real wages have fallen more than 10 percent since 2007. To be clear, this doesn’t mean that most of this cohort are seeing their pay slashed, year after year. Instead it suggests that wage growth is failing to keep up with inflation, and that, as twentysomethings pass into their thirties, they are earning less than their older peers did before the recession.
#14 Overall, the quality of the jobs in America continues to decline. At this point, most Americans do not bring home enough income to support a middle class lifestyle for their families. Below I have shared an excerpt from an article that I published a while back…
The following are some statistics about wages in the U.S. from a Social Security Administration report that was recently released…
-39 percent of American workers made less than $20,000 last year.
-52 percent of American workers made less than $30,000 last year.
-63 percent of American workers made less than $40,000 last year.
-72 percent of American workers made less than $50,000 last year.
In addition to all of these numbers, there is also a lot of anecdotal evidence that families with children are really struggling right now.
For example, McDonald’s has traditionally been a place where poor and middle class families have taken their children for a cheap meal. But the restaurant chain just released the worst sales numbers that we have seen in more than a decade.
And the really bad news is that this is just the beginning of the economic pain for families with children. The U.S. economy is in a bubble period right now, and the authorities have been trying with all of their might to keep the bubble inflated.
Just imagine a bodybuilder that is pressing with all of his might to do one more rep on the bench press. That is essentially where we are at. In a recent piece, Brian Pretti summarized some of the extraordinary measures that global central banks have taken to keep the economic bubble inflated…
Since early 2009, central banks globally have printed more than $13 trillion. In addition, governments across the planet have increased their borrowings at historic proportions (the US just crossed $18T – another new high!), all in an effort to stimulate economies and avoid deflationary pressures. Total US Federal debt has more than doubled in five years, an increase of $9.5 trillion and counting.
Despite all of these efforts, the best that we have achieved is economic stagnation.
And now it is becoming clear that the overwhelming deflationary forces around the globe are starting to win the battle. The central banks have used up their ammunition and they still have not turned things around. In fact, as Ambrose Evans-Pritchard so eloquently put it recently, what we see all around us is “evidence of a 1930s-style depression, albeit one that is still contained”…
What is clear is that the world has become addicted to central bank stimulus. Bank of America said 56pc of global GDP is currently supported by zero interest rates, and so are 83pc of the free-floating equities on global bourses. Half of all government bonds in the world yield less that 1pc. Roughly 1.4bn people are experiencing negative rates in one form or another.
These are astonishing figures, evidence of a 1930s-style depression, albeit one that is still contained. Nobody knows what will happen as the Fed tries to break out of the stimulus trap, including Fed officials themselves.
But will it still be contained once the next major financial crash strikes?
As I discussed yesterday, there has never been a time when conditions have been more ideal for a financial crisis since the last one happened in 2008.
So as bad as things are for the children of America right now, they are only going to get worse.
In the years ahead may we all have great compassion for these victims of our incredibly foolish economic mistakes.
Did you know that the number of gold bars being purchased by ultra-wealthy individuals has increased by 243 percent so far this year? If stocks are just going to keep soaring, why are they doing this? On Thursday, the Dow Jones industrial average and the S&P 500 both closed at record highs once again. It is a party that never seems to end, and there are a lot of really happy people on Wall Street these days. But those that are discerning realize that we witnessed the exact same kind of bubble behavior during the dotcom boom and during the run up to the last financial crash in 2007. The irrational exuberance that we are witnessing right now cannot go on forever. And the bigger that this bubble gets, the more painful that it is going to be when it finally bursts. Those that get out at the peaks of the market are the ones that usually end up making lots of money. Those that ride stocks all the way up and all the way down are the ones that usually end up getting totally wiped out.
To get an idea of how irrational the markets have become, all one has to do is to look at Twitter.
Would you value “a horribly mismanaged company” that is less than 10 years old and that has never made a yearly profit at 31 billion dollars?
Well, that is precisely how much the financial markets say that Twitter is worth at this moment.
Even though Twitter will probably never be much more popular than it is right now, it continues to bleed money profusely. On a GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles) basis, Twitter lost an astounding 145 million dollars during the second quarter of 2014…
Twitter’s GAAP net loss totaled $145 million, up from $42 million a year ago. On a GAAP basis, Twitter lost $0.24 per share. Investors, however, were not expecting Twitter to be profitable by GAAP measurements, so the loss isn’t too much of a drag.
Why would anyone want to invest in such a money pit?
Currently, Twitter (TWTR) is valued at $31 billion.That’s 18X revenue, but the catch is that the revenue in question is it’s lifetime bookings over the 18 quarters since Q1 2010.
When it comes to profits, the numbers are not nearly so promising! For the LTM period ending in June, TWTR booked $974 million of revenue and $1.7 billion of operating expense. That why “NM” shows up in its LTM ratio of enterprise value to EBITDA. It turns out that its EBITDA was -$704 million. In fact, its R&D expense alone was 83% of revenues.
Of course the truth is that Twitter should be able to make money.
And it probably would be making money if it was being managed better.
The following is what Silicon Valley venture capitalist Peter Thiel said about Twitter on CNBC the other day…
“It’s a horribly mismanaged company — probably a lot of pot-smoking going on there.”
But because Twitter is a “hot tech stock” investors are literally throwing money at it.
And there are many other tech companies that have similar stories. Off the top of my head, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Yelp and Pinterest come to mind.
Fueled by the quantitative easing policies of the Federal Reserve, U.S. stocks have enjoyed an unprecedented joy ride.
However, as David Stockman recently told Yahoo Finance, the subsequent crash is likely to be enormously painful…
“I think what the Fed is doing is so unprecedented, what is happening in the markets is so unnatural,” he said. “This is dangerous, combustible stuff, and I don’t know when the explosion occurs – when the collapse suddenly is upon us – but when it happens, people will be happy that they got out of the way if they did.”
The behavior that we are observing in the stock market simply does not reflect what is happening in the economy overall whatsoever.
In many ways, U.S. economic fundamentals just continue to get even worse. Small business ownership in the United States is at an all-time low, the labor force participation rate is the lowest that it has been in 36 years, and the U.S. national debt has grown by more than a trillion dollars over the past 12 months.
But on Wall Street right now, there is very little fear that the party is going to end any time soon.
The following is how Seth Klarman recently described the market complacency that he is seeing at the moment…
To put it a bit differently, writer and investor John Mauldin is right when he says that there is “a bubble in complacency.” Fear has effectively been banished. The members of the Fed know it. Stock traders who chase the market to new highs almost daily know it. Implied volatilities (and realized volatilities) are historically low (the VIX Index recently hit a seven-year low), and falling. The Bank for International Settlements recently cautioned that financial markets are euphoric and in the grip of an aggressive search for yield. The S&P has gone over 1,000 days without a 10% decline, according to Birinyi Associates. Dutch and French 10-year government bond yields are at 500 and 250 year lows, respectively; Spain, 225 years. Spanish debt yields were recently inside of U.S. levels.
But as Klarman also observed, just because “investors have been seduced into feeling good” does not mean that this current bubble is any different from what we witnessed back in 2007…
It’s not hard to reach the conclusion that so many investors feel good not because things are good but because investors have been seduced into feeling good—otherwise known as “the wealth effect.” We really are far along in re-creating the markets of 2007, which felt great but were deeply unstable when shocks started to pile up. Even Janet Yellen sees “pockets of increasing risk-taking” in the markets, yet she has made clear that she won’t raise rates to fight incipient bubbles. For all of our sakes, we really wish she would.
Meanwhile, the ultra-wealthy are making moves to protect themselves from the inevitable chaos that is coming.
For example, the Telegraph recently reported that sales of gold bars to wealthy customers are up 243 percent so far in 2014…
The super-rich are looking to protect their wealth through buying record numbers of “Italian job” style gold bars, according to bullion experts.
The number of 12.5kg gold bars being bought by wealthy customers has increased 243 percent so far this year, when compared to the same period last year, said Rob Halliday-Stein founder of BullionByPost.
“These gold bars are usually stored in the vaults of central banks and are the same ones you see in the film ‘The Italian Job’,” added David Cousins, bullion executive from London based ATS Bullion.
Do they know something that we don’t?
The ultra-wealthy are able to stay ultra-wealthy for a reason.
They are usually a step or two ahead of most of the rest of us.
And any rational person should be able to see that this financial bubble is going to end very, very badly.