The Amount Of Stuff Being Bought, Sold And Shipped Around The U.S. Hits The Lowest Level In 6 Years

Trucks - Public DomainWhen less stuff is being bought, sold and shipped around the country with each passing month, how in the world can the U.S. economy be in “good shape”?  Unlike official government statistics which are often based largely on projections, assumptions and numbers seemingly made up out of thin air, the Cass Freight index is based on real transactions conducted by real shipping companies.  And what the Cass Freight Index is telling us about the state of the U.S. economy in 2016 lines up perfectly with all of the other statistics that are clearly indicating that we have now shifted into recession mode.

If you are not familiar with the Cass Freight Index, here is a definition of the index from the official Cass website

Since 1995, the Cass Freight Index™ has been a trusted measure of North American freight volumes and expenditures. Our monthly Cass Freight Index Report provides valuable insight into freight trends as they relate to other economic and supply chain indicators and the overall economy.

Data within the Index includes all domestic freight modes and is derived from $25 billion in freight transactions processed by Cass annually on behalf of its client base of hundreds of large shippers. These companies represent a broad sampling of industries including consumer packaged goods, food, automotive, chemical, OEM, retail and heavy equipment. Annual freight volume per organization ranges from $1 million to over $1 billion. The diversity of shippers and aggregate volume provide a statistically valid representation of North American shipping activity.

When they say “all domestic freight modes”, that includes air, rail, truck, etc.  As you are about to see, the total amount of stuff that is being bought, sold and shipped around the country by all these various methods has now been declining for 15 months in a row.

If it was just one or two months you could say that it was just an anomaly, but how in the world can anyone explain away 15 consecutive months?

Not only that, but the brand new number that just came out for May 2016 is the lowest number that we have seen for the month of May in 6 years.

Of course the number for April was the lowest number that we have seen for that month in 6 years too, and the number for March was also the lowest number that we have seen for that month in 6 years.

Are you starting to get the picture?

Below is some analysis of these numbers and a chart from Wolf Richter

The Index is not seasonally or otherwise adjusted, so it shows strong seasonal patterns. In the chart below, the red line with black markers is for 2016. The colorful spaghetti above that line represents the years 2011 through 2015. The only month this year that was not the worst month since 2010 was February; only February 2011 was worse. That’s how bad it has gotten in the Freight sector:

Cass Freight Index - Wolfstreet

“Truck tonnage continues to slide for both linehaul and spot markets,” according to the report. And railroads are also singing the blues.

To me, these numbers are absolutely staggering.  How anyone can look at them and then attempt to claim that the U.S. economy is heading for good times is a mystery to me.

And this is especially true considering all of the other news that is pouring in.  Just today, we learned that new home sales have fallen by the most in 8 months.  If you are trying to sell your home, hopefully you will get that done very quickly, because this latest property bubble is starting to burst in a major way.

Of course there are many, many more numbers that tell us that a new U.S. economic crisis has already begun and has been going on for quite a while.  If you doubt this at all, please carefully read my previous article entitled “15 Facts About The Imploding U.S. Economy That The Mainstream Media Doesn’t Want You To See“.

Today, I also came across a stunning IMF report that was just released that criticized the U.S. for our shrinking middle class and our rising levels of poverty…

A rising share of the U.S. labor force is shifting into retirement, basic infrastructure is crumbling, productivity gains are scanty, and labor markets and businesses appear less adept at reallocating human and physical capital. These growing headwinds are overlaid by pernicious secular trends in income: labor’s share of income is around 5 percent lower today than it was 15 years ago, the middle class has shrunk to its smallest size in the last 30 years, the income and wealth distribution are increasingly polarized, and poverty has risen.

If you follow my work on a regular basis, you already know that everything that the IMF said in that paragraph is true.

A little bit later in the report, the IMF shared some absolutely startling facts about the growth of poverty in this country…

There is an urgent need to tackle poverty. In the latest data, 1 in 7 Americans is living in poverty, including 1 in 5 children and 1 in 3 female-headed households. Around 40 percent of those in poverty are working.

This distressing growth in our poverty numbers has taken place during Barack Obama’s so-called “economic recovery”.

So how bad are things ultimately going to get for America’s poor now that a new economic crisis has begun?

Before I wrap up this article, I have to mention the early returns from the Brexit vote.  All day on Thursday, global news sources were reporting that the latest polls had “Remain” comfortably in the lead, and global financial markets soared on that news.

But now that the actual votes are being reported, it looks like it is going to be much, much closer than anticipated.  In fact, as I write this article “Leave” is ahead by a 54.16 percent to 45.84 percent margin.  Only a relatively small fraction of the votes have been counted so far, but global financial markets are already being spooked by these results.

If “Leave” does actually win, that is going to have enormous implications for the markets and for the future of Europe.  So let’s keep a close eye on what is happening.  If “Leave” does prove to be victorious, that will be one of the biggest things to hit Europe in decades, and I am sure that I will be posting an article about it tomorrow.

We live at a time when global events are beginning to accelerate, and there is much uncertainty in the air.  If you do not have a solid foundation on which to stand, the events of the coming months will likely shake you greatly.  I encourage everyone to start focusing on the things that really matter, because a lot of the other things that we obsess over will soon become quite insignificant.

—–

UPDATE: It is official – the United Kingdom has voted to leave the European Union.  They are to be greatly congratulated for declaring their independence, but without a doubt this vote is going to cause some very serious short-term economic and financial pain.  Already we have witnessed the greatest one day crash in the history of the British pound, and stock markets all over the world are crashing.  For much more, please see our latest video update

Republican Operatives Launch All-Out Effort To Unbind The Delegates And Deny Trump The Nomination

Donald Trump Cube - Public DomainIf you think that Donald Trump already has the Republican nomination locked up, then you don’t understand what is going on behind the scenes.  It has long been my contention that the elite will move heaven and earth in order to keep Trump from ever setting foot in the Oval Office.  One way that they could try to do this is by attempting to deny him the nomination at the Republican convention next month.  Over the past couple of days, the Washington Post, CNN and a whole host of other mainstream news outlets have been reporting on a new “last-ditch effort” that has been launched by Republican operatives to get the Republican convention Rules Committee to unbind all of the delegates and allow them to vote however they want.  As you will see below, they can do this, and if they get enough votes they will do it.

This current effort is different from what we have seen so far during this campaign season, because it is actually being organized by the delegates themselves.  The following comes from the Washington Post

Dozens of Republican convention delegates are hatching a new plan to block Donald Trump at this summer’s party meetings, in what has become the most organized effort so far to stop the businessman from becoming the GOP presidential nominee.

The moves come amid declining poll numbers for Trump and growing concern among Republicans that he is squandering his chance to defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton. Several controversies — including his racial attacks on a federal judge, his renewed call to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the United States and his support for changing the nation’s gun laws — have raised fears among Republicans that Trump is not really a conservative and is too reckless to run a successful race.

This movement is being spearheaded by a delegate from Colorado named Kendal Unruh.  She is actually a key member of the Republican convention Rules Committee, and this is very important for reasons that I will explain below.

For her, it is not about getting some other specific candidate nominated.  Rather, the entire goal is simply to stop Donald Trump

This literally is an ‘Anybody but Trump’ movement,” said Kendal Unruh, a Republican delegate from Colorado who is leading the campaign. “Nobody has any idea who is going to step in and be the nominee, but we’re not worried about that. We’re just doing that job to make sure that he’s not the face of our party.

So what will it take for Unruh and her allies to be successful?

As Fox News explained, there are basically two courses of action…

To prevail, Unruh needs a majority of the 112 members of the convention rules committee, which has two delegates from each state and territory. Then, a majority of the full convention’s 2,472 delegates would have to approve.

There’s a Plan B. If Unruh can win over one-fourth support from the rules committee — just 29 delegates — the full convention must vote on her proposal. So far she’s got around 10 supporters though some prefer delaying the rule’s impact until the 2020 convention, she said.

On Thursday night, Unruh was on a conference call that included at least 30 delegates from 15 different states, and the Washington Post says that regional coordinators for this effort have been recruited “in Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana, Washington and other states.”

One individual that took part in this conference call on Thursday night told CNN that calls are pouring in from people all over the country that want to be part of this movement…

I will tell you, about every two hours people contact me about how to join this effort,” Lonegan said. “This has never been done before, so there’s no textbook on how to do it. So we’re building an organic effort, state by state, to convince members of the Rules Committee to sign onto a rule that unbinds the delegates to vote their moral conscience.”

So could the Republican convention Rules Committee actually do this?

Could they actually unbind all of the delegates and allow them to vote however they wished?

Well, yes they actually could do this.  As Time Magazine has explained, the Republican convention Rules Committee essentially has the power to make up any rules that they want…

It has the power to review and amend all of the rules of the Republican Party, pending ratification by the full convention. If it wanted to, it could insert a rule that says only candidates with blue hair could be the party’s nominee. It’s that powerful. In a contested scenario, the Rules Committee would be ground zero for fights over who and how candidates are nominated on the floor, as well as how the convention itself is conducted.

And thanks to political wrangling by the Cruz campaign, we do know that the rules committee is dominated by delegates that are loyal to Cruz

The convention rules committee is made up of one man and one woman from each of the 50 states, U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia. Dominated by party insiders and loyalists to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz—who aggressively worked state conventions to secure slots on the committee—it remains to be seen what the committee’s appetite would be for such a dramatic break from the existing rules.

If I was Donald Trump, I would be taking this very, very seriously.

But at this point he seems to be brushing it off

“I have tremendous support and get the biggest crowds by far and any such move would not only be totally illegal but also a rebuke of the millions of people who feel so strongly about what I am saying,” Trump said in a statement. “People that I defeated soundly in the primaries will do anything to get a second shot — but there is no mechanism for it to happen.”

Right at this moment we still have about a month left before the convention.

So that gives those involved in the anti-Trump movement quite a bit of time to rally their forces.

The rule change that would unbind all of the delegates and free them up to “vote their consciences” has already been drafted.  Here is the text of the proposed rule change…

Preserving Delegates’ Ability to Vote Their Individual Conscience

The secretary of the national convention shall receive and faithfully announce and record each delegate’s vote in accordance with these rules. If any such delegate notifies the secretary of his or her intent to cast a vote of conscience, whether personal or religious, each such delegate shall be unbound and unconstrained by these rules on any given vote, including the first ballot for the selection of the Republican nominee for President of the United States, without the risk of challenge, sanction, or retribution by the Republican National Committee. Allowable personal reasons shall include the public disclosure of one or more grievous acts of personal conduct by a nominee candidate, including but not limited to, criminally actionable acts, acts of moral turpitude or extreme prejudice, and/or notorious public statements of support for positions that clearly oppose or contradict the policies embodied in the Republican Party’s platform as established at the national convention.

In my new book, I warn about the great political shaking that is coming to this nation, and if this rule change is even attempted at the Republican convention it would create seismic shifts in the U.S. political landscape.

Of course there is still one huge question that I have not even addressed in this article yet.

If Trump has the nomination taken away from him, who would the Republican nominee be?

Some are convinced that it would be Paul Ryan, but I believe that it would be somebody else.

Mitt Romney has certainly not hidden his disdain for Donald Trump, and right now he is quietly waiting in the wings.  If the anti-Trump forces get their way, I believe that he would be the man that ultimately walks away with the prize.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Temporary Help Services

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And you want to know who else realizes this?

Foreign investors do.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dozens Shot Over Memorial Day Weekend As The Collapse Of Chicago Accelerates

Gang Violence - Public DomainChaos and violence threaten to spiral out of control in America’s third largest city, and nobody seems to have any idea how to solve the problem.  After decades of control by the radical left, many parts of the “Windy City” have become rotting, decaying, gang-infested hellholes.  Just like Detroit, the city of Chicago is rapidly becoming a joke to the rest of the world, but a horribly corrupt political culture likely stands in the way of any type of major reform any time soon.  And just like much of the rest of the nation, a spirit of violence and civil unrest is rising in Chicago.  So far this year, the number of shootings in Chicago is up 50 percent compared to the same time period last year, and that was before we even got to Memorial Day weekend.  As of Sunday morning, at least 40 people had already been shot, and authorities were bracing for even more violence as the holiday weekend stretched on…

A string of nearly two dozen shootings on the West Side has pushed the number of people shot during the Memorial Day weekend to at least 40, with two more days to go.

As of early Sunday morning, the toll stood at four dead and 36 wounded across the city, including a 15-year-girl shot to death as she rode in a Jeep on Lake Shore Drive near Fullerton Avenue, police said.

The cries to fix what is wrong with Chicago are becoming increasingly desperate, but at this point the city is drowning in debt and is pretty much flat broke.

So the options for doing anything about this growing crisis are quite limited.

But that isn’t stopping prominent city leaders from speaking out.  According to the New York Times, Rev. Corey Brooks believes that “we could be looking at a blood bath” this summer if nothing changes…

“If something doesn’t change, if we don’t get jobs for these kids, if we don’t change the economic situation, I’m worried that we could be looking at a blood bath,” said the Rev. Corey Brooks, a pastor on the city’s South Side, a mostly African-American area where some of the shootings have been concentrated. “If something doesn’t happen, I fear that we’re potentially looking at one of the worst summers we’ve ever had.”

As of Friday morning, homicides in Chicago were up 52 percent in 2016, compared with the same period a year ago, and shootings had increased by 50 percent, though the pace of violence had slowed in recent weeks, the police said.

I believe that Rev. Brooks is correct, but he isn’t identifying the core of the problem.

Thanks in large part to unchecked illegal immigration, gang membership has been surging in Chicago.  Back in 2012, the Chicago Crime Commission estimated that there were 150,000 gang members living in the city, but of course by now that number is likely far higher.

No city in the United States has a higher population of gang members than Chicago does, and hundreds of factions are constantly battling for turf.  The police in Chicago insist that they have the situation under control, but everyone can see that they do not.

And how could they?  There are only 13,318 law enforcement officers of all types in the city of Chicago.  They are outnumbered by the gangs by much more than a 10 to 1 margin.  There is no way in the world that they are ever going to be able to stop the gang violence.  All they can do is hope to contain it.

Sadly, they are fighting a losing battle, because with each passing month thousands more gang members cross our southern border illegally and head directly for our major cities where they are warmly received by their gang brothers.

Perhaps this helps to explain why 3,000 millionaires left the city of Chicago last year.

Do you want to know somewhere else that has been controlled by the radical left for decades and that is now seeing chaos and violence spin out of control?

In Venezuela, we get to see what it looks like when an entire country starts to shut down.  The following comes from the New York Times

The courts? Closed most days. The bureau to start a business? Same thing. The public defender’s office? That’s been converted into a food bank for government employees.

Step by step, Venezuela has been shutting down.

This country has long been accustomed to painful shortages, even of basic foods. But Venezuela keeps drifting further into uncharted territory.

At this point, more than 80 percent of all basic consumer products are in short supply, and some people have become so desperate that they are actually hunting cats and dogs for food.  My wife and I had a lot more to say about the rapidly deteriorating situation down in Venezuela during a recent episode of our new television show.  It is so important to watch what is going on down there right now, because eventually the same things will be happening here in America too.

When society breaks down, people become very desperate, and crime spirals out of control.  The mafia and the gangs are having a field day at the moment, and the police are so overwhelmed that they can’t do much to stop them.

And if you need medical treatment down in Venezuela right now, you might as well forget it

The Luis Razetti Hospital in the portal city of Barcelona looks like a war zone.

Patients can be seen balancing themselves on half-broken beds with days-old blood on their bodies.

They’re the lucky ones; most are curled up on the floor, blood streaming, limbs blackening.

Children lie among dirty cardboard boxes in the hallways without food, water or medication.

Without electricity or functioning machines, medics have had to create their own solutions. Two men who had surgery on their legs have their limbs elevated by makeshift slings made out of water bottles.

Most Americans would scoff at the suggestion that we could ever see scenes like that in the United States, but just a few years ago most Venezuelans would have probably said the exact same thing.

For so long, watchmen all over America have been endlessly warning people to get prepared.

But at some point, time runs out.

In fact, down in Venezuela time has already run out.  Store shelves all over the country are empty, there are chronic shortages of basic supplies, some people are hunting dogs and cats for food, and there has been an almost total breakdown of public services.

I wish that I could say that these kinds of conditions are only going to be limited to Venezuela.  But I cannot say that.  Great suffering is going to eventually spread all over the world, and that is going to include our own nation.

I hope that you are using this short period of relative stability wisely, because it will be gone way too soon.

A Spirit Of Violence And Civil Unrest Is Rising In America

Riot 2 - Public DomainIt was only a matter of time before our deeply divided nation was going to start coming apart at the seams.  Waves of anger, frustration, violence and civil unrest are starting to sweep across the United States, and political rallies for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump have become a focal point for releasing some of that energy.  The angry mob that threw rocks, bottles and burning T-shirts at police and Donald Trump supporters on Tuesday night wanted to get the attention of the national media, and they got it in droves.  Now that the election is less than five months away, this kind of scene is going to be repeated over and over, and this is something that I warned about back in March.  Millions upon millions of our young people have fully embraced the radical left, and they have already made it exceedingly clear that they are not afraid to use violence to advance their cause.

Never before in my lifetime have I seen America so divided.  Our politicians and the mainstream media have been endlessly pitting various groups against one another for years, and wherever you look hearts are growing very cold.

I have said it before, and I will say it again.  I believe that this is going to be the most chaotic election season that we have ever experienced, and the chaos and violence that are going to be unleashed over the next five months are going to shock the entire world.

On Tuesday night, the angry mob that gathered outside of the Albuquerque Convention Center didn’t seem to care who they hurt as they unleashed their anger.  According to Fox News, some of the protesters even tried to set police horses on fire…

The rampaging gang was made up of anti-Trump goons — waving the Mexican flag and burning a Trump banner.

“Viva Mexico,” protesters shouted, according to the Albuquerque Journal.

The rioters even targeted police horses — knocking one down – and throwing burning T-shirts at others. Who tries to burn down a horse?

How sick and twisted do you have to be to try to set a horse on fire?

But this is what happens when a spirit of violence descends on a group of people.  The consequences can quickly spiral out of control in unexpected ways.

Here is how CNS News described the chaotic scene outside of the Albuquerque Convention Center…

In one of the presidential campaign year’s more grisly spectacles, protesters in New Mexico opposing Donald Trump’s candidacy threw burning T-shirts, plastic bottles and other items at police officers, injuring several, and toppled trash cans and barricades.

Police responded by firing pepper spray and smoke grenades into the crowd outside the Albuquerque Convention Center.

According to at least one report, rocks thrown by some of the rioters were actually flying through the convention center windows, and a number of innocent people got hurt.

What would make people act like that?  This isn’t what America is supposed to look like.  But when fundamental institutions such as the family and the church start to crumble, this is how people start to behave.  You can see a clip that includes footage of protesters jumping on police cars last night in Albuquerque right here

And of course the spirit of violence and civil unrest that is rising in America is not limited to Donald Trump rallies.

In major cities all over the nation, violent crime is rising by double digit percentages.  In Chicago, the number of people that have been shot so far in 2016 is 50 percent higher than during the same period last year

This past weekend in Chicago saw another five killed and 40 wounded in shootings, slightly down from Mother’s day weekend when eight people were killed and 42 wounded. The two weekends are indicative of what’s taking place in the homicide riddled city, in which the number of people shot so far this year is running an astonishing 50% above this time last year – what’s worse, summer is not even here yet, which is traditionally the city’s most violent period.

Yikes!

Other big cities are seeing similar spikes in violent crime.  The following is an excerpt from a recent article in the New York Times

Experts cannot agree on what to call a recent rise in homicides, much less its cause, but new data on Friday that showed a sharp spike in homicide rates in more than 20 cities rekindled debate over whether it was time for alarm.

The data showed particularly significant increases in homicides in six cities in the first three months of the year compared with the same period last year — Chicago, Dallas, Jacksonville, Fla., Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Memphis.

If this is happening now, with the stock market soaring and unemployment a bit lower than it was during the depths of the last recession, what is going to happen when things start getting really bad in this country?

Desperate people do desperate things, and if people are willing to hurl rocks and set horses on fire because they are upset at a political candidate, what are they going to do when there is no food for their families?

Just look at what is happening down in Venezuela.  People are hunting down dogs and cats because they don’t have anything to eat.  There have been at least 107 mass looting events so far in 2016 alone, and crime is completely and utterly out of control.

What is happening down there is eventually coming to America too, and the chaos and violence that we will see during the coming months will be a small preview of that.

The funny thing is that none of these political protests are going to matter anyway.  It remains my contention that the elite will move heaven and earth to do whatever is necessary to keep Donald Trump out of the White House.  They have already spent tens of millions of dollars against him and they have continuously had their media outlets put out “hit pieces” in an attempt to destroy him.

But their bag of tricks goes a lot deeper than that, and this is not a game to them.

I know that a lot of people out there have some very high hopes for Donald Trump, and we should be praying for him and for his family.

However, the time when the people determined the direction of this nation is long past, and the elite guard their monopoly over the political process very zealously.

40 Volcanoes Are Erupting Right Now As The Crust Of The Earth Becomes Increasingly Unstable

Volcano Erupting 2 - Public DomainHave you noticed that our planet has begun to shake, rattle and roll?  Over the past few days we have seen major volcanic eruptions in Costa Rica and Indonesia, and according to Volcano Discovery 40 volcanoes around the planet are erupting right now as you read this article.  Meanwhile, earthquakes continue to shake the globe with alarming regularity.  Just last week, Ecuador was hit by a magnitude 6.7 earthquake and a magnitude 6.8 earthquake in rapid succession.  Overall, there have been more than 3,000 earthquakes of magnitude 1.5 or greater within the past month globally.  So yes, I write constantly about the rapidly accelerating deterioration of our financial system, but the coming “collapse” is not just about money.  I am convinced that we are entering a “perfect storm” in which a confluence of factors will absolutely cripple society and bring about changes that most of us would not even dare to imagine right now.

Let’s talk about the volcanic eruptions that we have seen in recent days.  The eruption down in Costa Rica took authorities completely by surprise, and a thick layer of dust and ash is coating vehicles and buildings 30 miles away in the capital city of San Jose

A volcano has erupted in central Costa Rica, belching smoke and ash up to 3,000m (9,840ft) into the air.

Hundreds of people have gone to hospital, complaining of breathing difficulties and skin problems.

Some schools were shut and some flights into the country cancelled or diverted.

People in the capital San Jose, about 45km (30 miles) west of the Turrialba volcano, said layers of ash had coated buildings and cars and there was a fierce smell of sulphur.

Leading up to this eruption, there were “swarms of small earthquakes” in the vicinity of the volcano, but scientists assured the public that these earthquake swarms were “not signs of an imminent eruption.”

Keep that in mind, because later in the article I am going to show you something.

But first let us talk about the other major eruption that is happening right now.  Down in Indonesia, Mount Sinabung has violently erupted, and this is causing all sorts of chaos

The death toll from a volcanic eruption in western Indonesia has climbed to six, an official said Sunday, with fears more could have been trapped by the hot ash.

Three people also remain in a critical condition after Mount Sinabung, a highly-active volcano on Sumatra island, unleashed a series of fresh eruptions on Saturday afternoon, disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.

“Nine people were struck by the hot clouds. Six died, and three others remain critical with burns,” he said, adding the injured had been taken to hospital.

According to one report, “torrents of lava” are pouring out of the volcano, and this is just one example of how volcanoes that were once considered to be “inactive” are coming to life all over the world.  In fact, prior to 2010 Mount Sinabung had been dormant for about 400 years.

Meanwhile, there is “unprecedented” activity at Iceland’s very dangerous Baroabunga volcano.  This one is not erupting quite yet, but we definitely want to keep an eye on it, because a major eruption there would have serious implications for Europe.

To finish this article, I would like to provide an update to a piece that I posted last week on End of the American Dream.  Just prior to the eruption of the Turrialba volcano in Costa Rica, there were significant earthquake swarms in the vicinity of the volcano.  Well, the exact same thing is happening at three major volcanoes in the United States right now.

I would like to share three images with you that come from Google Earth via the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network.  This first image shows the earthquake activity that has taken place in the area around Mt. St. Helens in recent days.  Over the past month there have been 95 earthquakes in the region, and most of them have been centered right along the core of the volcano…

Mt. St. Helens Today

This next image shows what has been happening at Mt. Rainier.  Those that follow my work closely already know that I consider it to be the most dangerous mountain in America and that I believe that a major eruption of the volcano is coming in the not too distant future.  There have been 36 earthquakes at Mt. Rainier over the past month, and once again most of them have occurred right along the core of the volcano…

Mt. Rainier Today

Mt. Hood is also a very dangerous volcano.  There have been 126 earthquakes in the vicinity of Mt. Hood in recent days, and in this image you can see that the earthquakes have been centered very tightly on a spot on the south face of the mountain.  This is alarming because it was also the south side of Mt. St. Helens that violently erupted back in 1980…

Mt. Hood Today

When there are major volcanic eruptions or major earthquakes in other parts of the globe, many Americans don’t seem to care too much because they don’t think that this rise in global seismic activity is any sort of a threat to them personally.

But the truth is that the entire west coast of the United States lies along the Ring of Fire, and virtually every other section of the Ring of Fire is roaring to life these days.

At some point, there will be historic earthquakes on the west coast.

At some point, there will be historic volcanic eruptions on the west coast.

Scientists assure us that these things are inevitable.

So let us certainly hope for the best, but putting our heads in the sand and pretending that these dangers do not exist is not going to help matters one bit.

Get prepared while you still can, because at some point time will run out.

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

Undeniable Evidence That The Real Economy Is Already In Recession Mode

Evidence - Public DomainYou are about to see a chart that is undeniable evidence that we have already entered a major economic slowdown.  In the “real economy”, stuff is bought and sold and shipped around the country by trucks, railroads and planes.  When more stuff is being bought and sold and shipped around the country, the “real economy” is growing, and when less stuff is being bought and sold and shipped around the country, the “real economy” is shrinking.  I know that might sound really basic, but I want everyone to be on the same page as we proceed in this article.  Just because stock prices are artificially high right now does not mean that the U.S. economy is in good shape.  In fact, there was a stock rally at this exact time of the year in 2008 even though the underlying economic fundamentals were rapidly deteriorating.  We all remember what happened later that year, so we should not exactly be rejoicing that precisely the same pattern that we witnessed in 2008 is happening again right in front of our eyes.

During the month of April, the Cass Transportation Index was down 4.9 percent on a year over year basis.  What this means is that a lot less stuff was bought and sold and shipped around the country in April 2016 when compared to April 2015.  The following comes from Wolf Richter

Freight shipments by truck and rail in the US fell 4.9% in April from the beaten-down levels of April 2015, according to the Cass Transportation Index, released on Friday. It was the worst April since 2010, which followed the worst March since 2010. In fact, shipment volume over the four months this year was the worst since 2010.

This is no longer statistical “noise” that can easily be brushed off.

Of course this was not just a one month fluke.  The reality is that we have now seen the Cass Shipping Index decline on a year over year basis for 14 consecutive months.  Here is more commentary and a chart from Wolf Richter

The Cass Freight Index is not seasonally adjusted. Hence the strong seasonal patterns in the chart. Note the beaten-down first four months of 2016 (red line):

Cass Freight Index - Wolfstreet

This is undeniable evidence that the “real economy” has been slowing down for more than a year.  In 2007-2008 we saw a similar thing happen, but the Federal Reserve and most of the “experts” boldly assured us that there was not going to be a recession.

Of course then we immediately proceeded to plunge into the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Traditionally, railroad activity has been a key indicator of where the U.S. economy is heading next.  Just a few days ago, I wrote about how U.S. rail traffic was down more than 11 percent from a year ago during the month of April, and I included a photo that showed 292 Union Pacific engines sitting in the middle of the Arizona desert doing absolutely nothing.

Well, just yesterday one of my readers sent me a photograph of a news article from North Dakota about how a similar thing is happening up there.  Hundreds of rail workers are being laid off, and engines are just sitting idle on the tracks because there is literally nothing for them to do…

North Dakota Railroad Engines Idle

Intuitively, does it seem like this should be happening in a “healthy” economy?

Of course not.

The reason why this is happening is because businesses have been selling less stuff.  Total business sales have now been declining for almost two years, and they are now close to 15 percent lower than they were in late 2014.

Because sales are way down, unsold inventories are really starting to pile up.  The inventory to sales ratio is now close to the level it was at during the worst moments of the last recession, and many analysts expect it to continue to keep going up.

Why can’t people understand what is happening?  So far this year, job cut announcements are up 24 percent and the number of commercial bankruptcies is shooting through the roof.  Signs that we are in the early chapters of a new economic downturn are all around us, and yet denial is everywhere.

For instance, just consider this excerpt from a CNBC article entitled “This key recession signal is broken“…

Treasury yields are behaving as if they are signaling a recession, but strategists say this time it’s more likely a sign of something else.

The market has been buzzing about the flattening yield curve, or the fact that yields on longer duration Treasurys are getting closer to yields on shorter duration securities.

In the case of 10-year notes and two-year notes, that spread was the flattest Friday than it has been on a closing basis since late 2007. The yield curve had turned negative in 2006 and stayed there for months in 2007 before turning higher ahead of the Great Recession. The spread was at 95 at Friday’s curve but widened Monday to more than 96.

Treasury yields are very, very clearly telling us that a new recession is here, but because the “experts” don’t want to believe it they are telling us that the signal is “broken”.

For many Americans, all that seems to matter is that the stock market has recovered from the horrible crashes last August and earlier this year.  But in the end, I am convinced that those crashes will simply be regarded as “foreshocks” of a much greater crash in our not too distant future.

But if you don’t want to believe me, perhaps you will listen to Goldman Sachs.  They just came out with six reasons why stocks are about to tumble.

Or perhaps you will believe Bank of America.  They just came out with nine reasons why a big stock market decline is on the horizon.

To me, one of the big developments has been the fact that stock buybacks are really starting to dry up.  In fact, announced stock buybacks have declined 38 percent so far this year

After snapping up trillions of dollars of their own stock in a five-year shopping binge that dwarfed every other buyer, U.S. companies from Apple Inc. to IBM Corp. just put on the brakes. Announced repurchases dropped 38 percent to $244 billion in the last four months, the biggest decline since 2009, data compiled by Birinyi Associates and Bloomberg show. “If the only meaningful source of demand in the market is companies buying their own shares back, then what happens if that goes away?” asked Brad McMillan, CIO of Commonwealth “We should be concerned.”

Stock buybacks have been one of the key factors keeping stock prices at artificially inflated levels even though underlying economic conditions have been deteriorating.  Now that stock buybacks are drying up, it is going to be difficult for stocks to stay disconnected from economic reality.

A lot of people have been asking me recently when the next crisis is going to arrive.

I always tell them that it is already here.

Just like in early 2008, economic conditions are rapidly deteriorating, but the stock market has not gotten the memo quite yet.

And just like in 2008, when the financial markets do finally start catching up with reality it will likely happen very quickly.

So don’t take your eyes off of the deteriorating economic fundamentals, because it is inevitable that the financial markets will follow eventually.