They Denied That We Were In A Depression In 1933 And They Are Doing It Again In 2013

Great Depression HeadlinesThe more things change, the more things stay the same.  The Great Depression actually started in 1929, but as you will see below, as late as 1933 the Associated Press was still pumping out lots of news stories with optimistic economic headlines and many Americans still did not believe that we were actually in a depression.  And of course we are experiencing a very similar thing today.  The United States is in the worst financial shape that it has ever been in, our economic infrastructure is being systematically gutted, and poverty is absolutely exploding.  Since the stock market crash of 2008, the Federal Reserve has been wildly printing money and the federal government has been running trillion dollar deficits in a desperate attempt to stabilize things, but in the process they have made our long-term economic problems far worse.  It would be hard to overstate how dire our situation is, and yet the mainstream media continues to assure us that everything is just fine and that happy days are here again.

As I have already noted, the mainstream media was doing the exact same thing back during the days of the Great Depression.  The following are actual Associated Press headlines from 1933…

Decisive Break from Panic Shown in Business Figures

Markets Spurt To New Highs

New Farm Bill to End Depression

And the following is a headline discovery from 1933 that was made by Linda Goin

I was browsing through old newspapers the other day and discovered a page filled with news about the stock market and banks in the Daily Capital News from Jefferson City, Missouri. The date was March 15, 1933, well into the Great Depression, and the news was cautiously celebratory as a headline read, “Era of Fear is Declared at End Now.

The Depression-era classic song entitled “Happy Days Are Here Again” was played at the Democratic National Convention in 1932 and it went on to be featured by the Democrats for many years after that.  The following is an excerpt from a Wikipedia article about that song…

Today, the song is probably best remembered as the campaign song for Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s successful 1932 presidential campaign. According to TIME magazine, it gained prominence after a spontaneous decision by Roosevelt’s advisers to play it at the 1932 Democratic National Convention, and went on to become the Democratic Party‘s “unofficial theme song for years to come”.

There is only one huge problem.

The election of Roosevelt didn’t end the depression.  Years of bitter economic suffering and dust bowl conditions were still ahead.  The Great Depression continued all the way up to the start of World War II, and the war years were certainly no picnic for average folks either.

But at least cheery headlines can make people feel better, right?

That is what some believe.

Others believe that giving people false hope is very cruel and that it sets up people for failure.

The following are some actual headlines that were found on mainstream news sites today…

CNBC: “Recession risk gone in all US states but 1: Moody’s Analytics

CNN: “Foreclosure crisis is drawing to a close

NBC News: “Stocks close near highs; S&P logs 7-day rally

Wow, those headlines sound great!

So are happy days here again?

Not quite.

In fact, things continue to get even worse in a whole host of ways.  Just consider the following statistics…

-According to a brand new Gallup poll that was just released, 20.0% of all Americans did not have enough money to buy food that they or their families needed at some point over the past year.  That is just under the record of 20.4% that was set back in November 2008.

-Gallup also found that the ability of American families to meet some of their other most basic needs is near an all-time low…

The Basic Access Index, which includes 13 questions about topics including Americans’ ability to afford food, housing, and healthcare, was 81.4 in August, on par with the all-time low of 81.2 recorded in October 2011.

More than 90 million working age Americans are considered to be “not in the labor force”.

-The labor force participation rate is the lowest that it has been in 35 years.

516,000 Americans “left the labor force” last month.  That was a brand new all-time record high.

-The number of private sector jobs dropped by 278,000 last month.

77 percent of the jobs that have been “created” so far this year have been part-time jobs.

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

-Right now, 40 percent of all U.S. workers are making less than what a full-time minimum wage worker made back in 1968.

-The U.S. trade deficit with China has hit a brand new record high.

-The U.S. trade deficit with the EU has hit a brand new record high.

-The number of U.S. households on food stamps is at a brand new record high.

-One of the largest furniture manufacturers in America was just forced into bankruptcy

The maker of furniture brands such as Thomasville, Broyhill, Lane and Drexel Heritage said Monday that it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

-Total mortgage activity has dropped to the lowest level that we have seen since October 2008.

Yes, those in the top 1 percent are doing very well for the moment thanks to the reckless money printing that the Federal Reserve has been doing.

But for most Americans, the last several years have been a continual struggle.  The following is a list that comes from one of my previous articles entitled “44 Facts About The Death Of The Middle Class That Every American Should Know“…

1. According to one recent survey, “four out of five U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, near poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives”.

2. The growth rate of real disposable personal income is the lowest that it has been in decades.

3. Median household income (adjusted for inflation) has fallen by 7.8 percent since the year 2000.

4. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the middle class is taking home a smaller share of the overall income pie than has ever been recorded before.

5. The home ownership rate in the United States is the lowest that it has been in 18 years.

6. It is more expensive to rent a home in America than ever before.  In fact, median asking rent for vacant rental units just hit a brand new all-time record high.

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

8. The U.S. economy actually lost 240,000 full-time jobs last month, and the number of full-time workers in the United States is now about 6 million below the old record that was set back in 2007.

9. The largest employer in the United States right now is Wal-Mart.  The second largest employer in the United States right now is a temp agency (Kelly Services).

10. One out of every ten jobs in the United States is now filled through a temp agency.

11. According to the Social Security Administration, 40 percent of all workers in the United States make less than $20,000 a year.

12. The ratio of wages and salaries to GDP is near an all-time record low.

13. The U.S. economy continues to trade good paying jobs for low paying jobs.  60 percent of the jobs lost during the last recession were mid-wage jobs, but 58 percent of the jobs created since then have been low wage jobs.

14. Back in 1980, less than 30% of all jobs in the United States were low income jobs.  Today, more than 40% of all jobs in the United States are low income jobs.

15. At this point, one out of every four American workers has a job that pays $10 an hour or less.

16. According to one study, between 1969 and 2009 the median wages earned by American men between the ages of 30 and 50 declined by 27 percent after you account for inflation.

17. In the year 2000, about 17 million Americans were employed in manufacturing.  Today, only about 12 million Americans are employed in manufacturing.

18. The United States has lost more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities since 2001.

19. The average number of hours worked per employed person per year has fallen by about 100 since the year 2000.

20. Back in the year 2000, more than 64 percent of all working age Americans had a job.  Today, only 58.7 percent of all working age Americans have a job.

21. When you total up all working age Americans that do not have a job, it comes to more than 100 million.

22. The average duration of unemployment in the United States is nearly three times as long as it was back in the year 2000.

23. The percentage of Americans that are self-employed has steadily declined over the past decade and is now at an all-time low.

24. Right now there are 20.2 million Americans that spend more than half of their incomes on housing.  That represents a 46 percent increase from 2001.

25. In 1989, the debt to income ratio of the average American family was about 58 percent.  Today it is up to 154 percent.

26. Total U.S. household debt grew from just 1.4 trillion dollars in 1980 to a whopping 13.7 trillion dollars in 2007.  This played a huge role in the financial crisis of 2008, and the problem still has not been solved.

27. The total amount of student loan debt in the United States recently surpassed the one trillion dollar mark.

28. Total home mortgage debt in the United States is now about 5 times larger than it was just 20 years ago.

29. Back in the year 2000, the mortgage delinquency rate was about 2 percent.  Today, it is nearly 10 percent.

30. Consumer debt in the United States has risen by a whopping 1700% since 1971, and 46% of all Americans carry a credit card balance from month to month.

31. In 1999, 64.1 percent of all Americans were covered by employment-based health insurance.  Today, only 55.1 percent are covered by employment-based health insurance.

32. One study discovered that approximately 41 percent of all working age Americans either have medical bill problems or are currently paying off medical debt, and according to a report published in The American Journal of Medicine medical bills are a major factor in more than 60 percent of all personal bankruptcies in the United States.

33. Each year, the average American must work 107 days just to make enough money to pay local, state and federal taxes.

34. Today, approximately 46.2 million Americans are living in poverty.

35. The number of Americans living in poverty has increased by more than 15 million since the year 2000.

36. Families that have a head of household under the age of 30 have a poverty rate of 37 percent.

37. At this point, approximately 25 million American adults are living with their parents.

38. In the year 2000, there were only 17 million Americans on food stamps.  Today, there are more than 47 million Americans on food stamps.

39. Back in the 1970s, about one out of every 50 Americans was on food stamps.  Today, about one out of every 6.5 Americans is on food stamps.

40. Right now, the number of Americans on food stamps exceeds the entire population of the nation of Spain.

41. According to one calculation, the number of Americans on food stamps now exceeds the combined populations of “Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.”

42. At this point, more than a million public school students in the United States are homeless.  This is the first time that has ever happened in our history.  That number has risen by 57 percent since the 2006-2007 school year.

43. According to U.S. Census data, 57 percent of all American children live in a home that is either considered to be “poor” or “low income”.

44. In the year 2000, the ratio of social welfare benefits to salaries and wages was approximately 21 percent.  Today, the ratio of social welfare benefits to salaries and wages is approximately 35 percent.

But there is no way that we are actually in another economic depression, right?

If that was the case, the mainstream media certainly would have told us, right?

According to John Williams of Shadow Government Statistics, if the U.S. government actually used honest numbers, they would show that the U.S. economy has actually been contracting continually since 2005.

In other words, if the numbers were not being manipulated they would show that we have had negative GDP growth every single year since 2005.

I don’t know about you, but that sure sounds like a depression to me.

What do you think?

Great Depression Headlines

Child Hunger Is Exploding In Greece – And 14 Signs That It Is Starting To Happen In America Too

ChildThe world is heading into a horrific economic nightmare, and an inordinate amount of the suffering is going to fall on innocent children.  If you want to get an idea of what America is going to look like in the not too distant future, just check out what is happening in Greece.  At this point, Greece is experiencing a full-blown economic depression.  As I have written about previously, the unemployment rate in Greece has now risen to 27 percent, which is much higher than the peak unemployment rate that the U.S. economy experienced during the Great Depression of the 1930s.  And as you will read about below, child hunger is absolutely exploding in Greece right now.  Some families are literally trying to survive on pasta and ketchup.  But don’t think for a moment that it can’t happen here.  Sadly, the truth is that child hunger is already rising very rapidly in our poverty-stricken cities.  Never before have we had so many Americans unable to take care of themselves.  Food stamp enrollment and child homelessness have soared to brand new all-time records, and there are actually thousands of Americans that are so poor that they live in tunnels underneath our cities.  But for millions of other Americans, the suffering is not quite so dramatic.  Instead, they just watch their hopes and their dreams slowly slip away as they struggle to find a way to make it from month to month.  There are millions of parents that lead lives that are filled with constant stress and anxiety as they try to figure out how to provide the basics for their children.  How do you tell a child that you can’t give them any dinner even though you have been trying as hard as you can?  What many families go through on a regular basis is absolutely heartbreaking.  Unfortunately, more poor families slip through the cracks with each passing day, and these are supposedly times in which we are experiencing an “economic recovery”.  So what are things going to look like when the next major economic downturn strikes?

A recent New York Times article detailed the horrifying child hunger that we are witnessing in Greece right now.  At some schools there are reports of children actually begging for food from their classmates…

As an elementary school principal, Leonidas Nikas is used to seeing children play, laugh and dream about the future. But recently he has seen something altogether different, something he thought was impossible in Greece: children picking through school trash cans for food; needy youngsters asking playmates for leftovers; and an 11-year-old boy, Pantelis Petrakis, bent over with hunger pains.

“He had eaten almost nothing at home,” Mr. Nikas said, sitting in his cramped school office near the port of Piraeus, a working-class suburb of Athens, as the sound of a jump rope skittered across the playground. He confronted Pantelis’s parents, who were ashamed and embarrassed but admitted that they had not been able to find work for months. Their savings were gone, and they were living on rations of pasta and ketchup.

Could you imagine that happening to your children or your grandchildren?

Don’t think that it can’t happen.  Just a few years ago the Greek middle class was vibrant and thriving.

And we are starting to see hunger explode in other European countries as well.  For example, in the UK the number of people receiving emergency food rations has increased by 170 percent over the past year.

This is one of the reasons why I get upset when people say that “things are getting better”.  Yes, the stock market has been setting record highs lately, but things are most definitely not getting better.

Even during this false bubble of debt-fueled economic stability that we are enjoying right now, we continue to see hunger and poverty rise dramatically in America.

Since Barack Obama has been president, the number of Americans on food stamps has grown from 32 million to more than 47 million.

Will we all be on food stamps eventually?

Will we all become dependent on the government for our survival at some point?

According to the Boston Herald, even Tamerlan Tsarnaev was receiving government welfare benefits…

Marathon bombings mastermind Tamerlan Tsarnaev was living on taxpayer-funded state welfare benefits even as he was delving deep into the world of radical anti-American Islamism, the Herald has learned.

State officials confirmed last night that Tsarnaev, slain in a raging gun battle with police last Friday, was receiving benefits along with his wife, Katherine Russell Tsarnaev, and their 3-year-old daughter. The state’s Executive Office of Health and Human Services said those benefits ended in 2012 when the couple stopped meeting income eligibility limits.

Isn’t that crazy?

And yes, there are some people out there that are abusing the system.  In fact, the cost of food stamp fraud has risen sharply to approximately $750 million in recent years.

But most of the people on these programs really need the help.  Thanks to our incredibly foolish economic policies, there are not enough good jobs for everyone and there never will be again.  The percentage of Americans that are unable to take care of themselves is going to continue to rise, and the suffering that we are witnessing right now is going to get much, much worse.

Not that things aren’t really, really bad already.  Here are some signs that child hunger in America has already started to explode…

#1 Today, approximately 17 million children in the United States are facing food insecurity.  In other words, that means that “one in four children in the country is living without consistent access to enough nutritious food to live a healthy life.”

#2 We are told that we live in the “wealthiest nation” on the planet, and yet more than one out of every four children in the United States is enrolled in the food stamp program.

#3 The average food stamp benefit breaks down to approximately $4 per person per day.

#4 It is being projected that approximately 50 percent of all U.S. children will be on food stamps before they reach the age of 18.

#5 It may be hard to believe, but approximately 57 percent of all children in the United States are currently living in homes that are either considered to be either “low income” or impoverished.

#6 The number of children living on $2.00 a day or less in the United States has grown to 2.8 million.  That number has increased by 130 percent since 1996.

#7 According to Feeding America, “households with children reported food insecurity at a significantly higher rate than those without children, 20.6 percent compared to 12.2 percent”.

#8 According to a Feeding America hunger study, more than 37 million Americans are now being served by food pantries and soup kitchens.

#9 For the first time ever, more than a million public school students in the United States are homeless.  That number has risen by 57 percent since the 2006-2007 school year.

#10 Approximately 20 million U.S. children rely on school meal programs to keep from going hungry.

#11 One university study estimates that child poverty costs the U.S. economy 500 billion dollars each year.

#12 In Miami, 45 percent of all children are living in poverty.

#13 In Cleveland, more than 50 percent of all children are living in poverty.

#14 According to a recently released report, 60 percent of all children in the city of Detroit are living in poverty.

For many more facts about the dramatic explosion of poverty in this country, please see my previous article entitled “21 Statistics About The Explosive Growth Of Poverty In America That Everyone Should Know“.

Unfortunately, most of the time statistics don’t really tell the whole story.  Numbers alone cannot really communicate the soul-crushing despair that millions of American families are enduring on a daily basis at this point.

How can numbers communicate the pain that a child feels when her grandmother does not eat because there is not enough food for everyone in the family?  But this is what some families in America actually go through because there is not enough money…

Vanyshia tells about the sacrifices her Grandmother makes so that she and her siblings can eat. “Sometimes my Grandma can’t even eat because she has to feed me and my brother and sister. Sometimes I don’t eat as much as I want to because I leave some for my Grandma because I don’t want her to sit there and starve. Sometimes she doesn’t have enough money to buy food, so she has to go to the bank and borrow money. It makes me feel sad. I don’t want her to be hungry. I just feel sad sometimes,” says Vanyshia.

Things can be particularly tough when you are a single parent.  The BBC recently profiled a single mother that is struggling to raise two young children in Iowa…

“We don’t get three meals a day like breakfast, lunch and then dinner,” says Kaylie. “When I feel hungry I feel sad and droopy.”

Kaylie and Tyler live with their mother Barbara, who used to work in a factory. After losing her job, she was entitled to unemployment benefit and food stamps – this comes to $1,480 (£974) a month.

But they were no longer able to afford to live in their house, which along with bills cost $1,326 (£873) a month, leaving little for food or petrol.

Kaylie supplemented their income by collecting cans along the railway track near their old home – earning between two and five cents per can.

For more examples like this one, I encourage everyone to go watch a recent BBC documentary entitled “America’s Poor Kids” that you can see right here.

I wonder why we don’t see more stuff like this on the mainstream news in this country?

Could it be that the mainstream media does not want to admit how bad things have really gotten?

All of this is also a reminder that we need to be generous to those in need.  Times are going to get much, much harder than this, and we are all going to need one another.

So do you have any stories of poverty or child hunger from your area of the country to share?  Please feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment below…

Child Hunger

History Tells Us That A Gold Crash + An Oil Crash = Guaranteed Recession

History Tells Us That A Gold Crash + An Oil Crash = Guaranteed RecessionIs the United States about to experience another major economic downturn?  Unfortunately, the pattern that is emerging right now is exactly the kind of pattern that you would expect to see just before a major stock market crash and a deep recession.  History tells us that when the price of gold crashes, a recession almost always follows.  History also tells us that when the price of oil crashes, a recession almost always follows.  When both of those things happen, a significant economic downturn is virtually guaranteed.  Just remember what happened back in 2008.  Gold and oil both started falling rapidly in July, and in the fall we experienced the worst financial crisis that the U.S. had seen since the days of the Great Depression.  Well, a similar pattern seems to be happening again.  The price of gold has already crashed, and the price of a barrel of WTI crude oil has dropped to $86.37 as I write this.  If the price of oil dips below $80 a barrel and stays there, that will be a major red flag.  Meanwhile, we have just seen volatility return to the financial markets in a big way.  When volatility starts to spike, that is usually a clear sign that stocks are about to go down substantially.  So buckle your seatbelts – it looks like things are about to get very, very interesting.

Posted below is a chart that shows what has happened to the price of gold since the late 1960s.  As you will notice, whenever the price of gold rises dramatically and then crashes, a recession usually follows.  It happened in 1980, it happened in 2008, and it is happening again…

The Price Of Gold

A similar pattern emerges when we look at the price of oil.  During each of the last three recessions we have seen a rapid rise in the price of oil followed by a rapid decline in the price of oil…

The Price Of Oil

That is why what is starting to happen to the price of oil is so alarming.  On Wednesday, Reuters ran a story with the following headline: “Crude Routed Anew on Relentless Demand Worries“.  The price of oil has not “crashed” yet, but it is definitely starting to slip.

As you can see from the chart above, the price of oil has tested the $80 level a couple of times in the past few years.  If we get below that resistance and stay there, that will be a clear sign that trouble is ahead.

However, there is always the possibility that the recent “crash” in the price of gold might be a false signal because there is a tremendous amount of evidence emerging that it was an orchestrated event.  An absolutely outstanding article by Chris Martenson explained how the big banks had been setting up this “crash” for months…

In February, Credit Suisse ‘predicted’ that the gold market had peaked, SocGen said the end of the gold era was upon us, and recently Goldman Sachs told everyone to short the metal.

While that’s somewhat interesting, you should first know that the largest bullion banks had amassed huge short positions in precious metals by January.

The CFTC rather coyly refers to the bullion banks simply as ‘large traders,’ but everyone knows that these are the bullion banks.  What we are seeing in that chart is that out of a range of commodities, the precious metals were the most heavily shorted, by far.

So the timeline here is easy to follow.  The bullion banks:

  1. Amass a huge short position early in the game
  2. Begin telling everyone to go short (wink, wink) to get things moving along in the right direction by sowing doubt in the minds of the longs
  3. Begin testing the late night markets for depth by initiating mini raids (that also serve to let experienced traders know that there’s an elephant or two in the room)
  4. Wait for the right moment and then open the floodgates to dump such an overwhelming amount of paper gold and silver into the market that lower prices are the only possible result
  5. Close their positions for massive gains and then act as if they had made a really prescient market call
  6. Await their big bonus checks and wash, rinse, repeat at a later date

While I am almost 100% certain that any decent investigation by the CFTC would reveal that market manipulating ‘dumping’ was happening, I am equally certain that no such investigation will occur.  That’s because the point of such a maneuver by the bullion banks is designed to transfer as much wealth from ‘out there’ and towards the center, and the CFTC is there to protect the center’s ‘right’ to do exactly that.

You can read the rest of that article right here.

There are also rumors that George Soros was involved in driving down the price of gold.  The following is an excerpt from a recent article by “The Reformed Broker” Joshua Brown

And over the last week or so, the one rumor I keep hearing from different hedge fund people is that George Soros is currently massively short gold and that he’s making an absolute killing.

Once again, I have no way of knowing if this is true or false.

But enough people are saying it that I thought it worthwhile to at least mention.

And to me, it would make perfect sense:

1. Soros is a macro investor, this is THE macro trade of the year so far (okay, maybe Japan 1, short gold 2)

2. Soros is well-known for numerous market aphorisms and neologisms, one of my faves being “When I see a bubble, I invest.”  He was heavily long gold for a time and had done well while simultaneously referring to it publicly as a speculative bubble.

3. He recently reported that he had pretty much exited the trade in gold back in February. In his Q4 filing a few weeks ago, we found out that he had sold down his GLD position by about 55% as of the end of 2012 and had just 600,000 shares remaining. That was the “smartest guy in the room” locking in a profit after a 12 year bull market.

4. Soros also hired away one of the most talented technical analysts out there, John Roque, upon the collapse of Roque’s previous employer, broker-dealer WJB Capital. No one has heard from the formerly media-available Roque since but we can only assume that – as a technician – the very obvious breakdown of gold’s long-term trend was at least discussed. And how else does one trade gold if not by using technicals (supply/demand) – what else is there? Cash flow? Book value?

5. Lastly, the last public interview given by George Soros was to the South China Morning Post on April 4th. He does not mention any trading he’s doing in gold but he does reveal his thoughts on it having been “destroyed as a safe haven”

It is also important to keep in mind that this “crash” in the price of “paper gold” had absolutely nothing to do with the demand for physical gold and silver in the real world.  In fact, precious metals retailers have been reporting that they have been selling an “astounding volume” of gold and silver this week.

But that isn’t keeping many in the mainstream media from “dancing on the grave” of gold and silver.

For example, New York Times journalist Paul Krugman seems absolutely ecstatic that gold has crashed.  He seems to think that this “crash” is vindication for everything that he has been saying the past couple of years.

In an article entitled “EVERYONE Should Be Thrilled By The Gold Crash“, Business Insider declared that all of us should be really glad that gold has crashed because according to them it is a sign that the economy is getting better and that faith in the financial system has been restored.

Dan Fitzpatrick, the president of StockMarketMentor.com, recently told CNBC that people are “flying out of gold” and “getting into equities”…

“There have been so many reasons, and there remain so many reasons to be in gold,” Fitzpatrick said, noting currency debasement and the fear of inflation. “But the chart is telling you that none of that is happening. Because of that, you’re going to see people just flying out of gold. There’s just no reason to be in it.Traders are scaling out of gold and getting into equities.”

Personally, I feel so sorry for those that are putting their money in the stock market right now.  They are getting in just in time for the crash.

As CNBC recently noted, a very ominous “head and shoulders pattern” for the S&P 500 is emerging right now…

A scary head-and-shoulders pattern could be building in the S&P 500, and this negative chart formation would be created if the market stalls just above current levels.

“It’s developing and it’s developing fast,” said Scott Redler of T3Live.com on Wednesday morning.

Even worse, volatility has returned to Wall Street in a huge way.  This is usually a sign that a significant downturn is on the way…

Call options buying recently hit a three-year high for the CBOE’s Volatility Index, a popular measure of market fear that usually moves in the opposite direction of the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index.

A call buy, which gives the owner the option to purchase the security at a certain price, implies a belief that the VIX is likely to go higher, which usually is an ominous sign for stocks.

“We saw a huge spike in call buying on the VIX, the most in a while,” said Ryan Detrick, senior analyst at Schaeffer’s Investment Research. “That’s not what you want to hear (because it usually happens) right before a big pullback.”

The last time call options activity hit this level, on Jan. 13, 2010, it preceded a 9 percent stock market drop that happened over just four weeks, triggered in large part by worries over the ongoing European debt crisis.

And according to Richard Russell, the “smart money” has already been very busy dumping consumer stocks…

What do billionaires Warren Buffet, John Paulson, and George Soros know that you and I don’t know? I don’t have the answer, but I do know what these billionaires are doing. They, all three, are selling consumer-oriented stocks. Buffett has been a cheerleader for US stocks all along.

But in the latest filing, Buffett has been drastically cutting back on his exposure to consumer stocks. Berkshire sold roughly 19 million shares of Johnson and Johnson. Berkshire has reduced his overall stake in consumer product stocks by 21%, including Kraft and Procter and Gamble. He has also cleared out his entire position in Intel. He has sold 10,000 shares of GM and 597,000 shares of IBM.

Fellow billionaire John Paulson dumped 14 million shares of JP Morgan and dumped his entire position in Family Dollar and consumer goods maker Sara Lee. To wrap up the trio of billionaires, George Soros sold nearly all his bank stocks including JP Morgan, Citigroup and Goldman Sachs. So I don’t know exactly what the billionaires are thinking, but I do see what they’re doing — they are avoiding consumer stocks and building up cash.

… the billionaires are thinking that consumption is heading down and that America’s consumers are close to going on strike.

So what are all of those billionaires preparing for?

What do they know that we don’t know?

I don’t know about you, but when I start putting all of the pieces that I have just discussed together, it paints a rather ominous picture for the months ahead.

At some point, there will be another major stock market crash.  When it happens, we will likely see even worse chaos than we saw back in 2008.  Major financial institutions will fail, the credit markets will freeze up, economic activity will grind to a standstill and millions of Americans will lose their jobs.

I sincerely hope that we still have at least a few more months before that happens.  But right now things are moving very rapidly and it is becoming increasingly clear that time is running out.

Time Is Running Out

You Will Not Believe What Some People Are Willing To Do For A Paycheck These Days

It is absolutely amazing what some people will do to make a living in this economy.  Desperate times call for desperate measures, and we have not seen this kind of desperation for jobs in America since the Great Depression of the 1930s.  What some people are willing to put up with just to bring home a paycheck these days will totally shock you.  For example, would you slaughter dogs all day long even though you are really a dog lover?  Would you personally train your replacement from China even though you knew he was about to take your job?  Would you trade sex for a job?  There are people out there actually doing all these things and worse.  Every night in America, millions upon millions of people roll around endlessly in their beds and stare at their ceilings for hours because they can’t sleep.  They are sick to their stomachs because their money is gone and nobody will hire them.  They can’t provide even the basics for their families and they feel worthless.  Unemployment can be absolutely soul crushing and it can suck the life right out of you.  Things were supposed to be better by now, but they aren’t.  The month after Barack Obama took office the unemployment rate broke the 8 percent barrier and it has stayed above it ever since.  But the truth is that the “official” unemployment number greatly understates the real amount of suffering that is going on out there.  In reality, the percentage of working age Americans that have jobs is lower today than when the last recession ended.  There are millions upon millions of Americans that are desperate for some hope, and there is no hope on the horizon.  In fact, things are going to be getting a whole lot worse for the U.S. economy.

I like personal stories because they tell us things that all of the economic statistics in the world never could.

There are millions of Americans that have had their lives totally turned upside down by this economy.  They feel abandoned and worthless, and many of them feel as though life is no longer worth living.

As you read the following stories, try to put yourself in their shoes and try to feel their pain.

Also, try to remember that these kinds of stories are going to multiply in the years ahead as the U.S. economy falls apart all around us.

A 61-Year-Old Woman Begging For A Job

A recent article posted on gawker.com included the story of a 61-year-old woman who has been through hell and back during this economic downturn….

I sent out close to 500 resumes. Most never were even acknowledged and those that were I was told I was over qualified. When you would press them they would fumble but I was sure my age was part of the “over qualified”. The thoughts of wanting life to be over were with me every day. I wanted the horror to stop. Every time I would hear of the unemployment rates I would cry-what about ME.

At one point she was so desperate she took a job where she was making the decision about what dogs to slaughter at an animal shelter.  Approximately 85 percent of the dogs at the shelter ended up being killed, and she was working about 80 hours a week doing this.  The really sad part is that she really loves dogs….

In 2008 I was able to get a job at the local shelter as a dog trainer. That turned into a job as an Operations Manager. Though I was thankful for the job we had a euthanasia rate of nearly 85%. I was the one that would be the decision maker on who lives and dies of over 10,000 animals per year and the toll mentally was hard. Being salary I was working nearly 80 hours a week due to shorthanded staff.

After she was fired for not being aggressive enough in killing off dogs, she started endlessly sending out resumes once again.  Nobody wants to hire her, and she essentially feels like an old lady begging for a job….

Since February I began sending out 3 resumes a day. As the no return answer, over qualified and now I was getting I was out of engineering too long I started to set my sights lower. I have sent in resumes to sit in the booth in gas stations, secretary and so on. Local colleges have said I am qualified to teach there but they have no openings. I am for all purposes the old lady begging for a job.

Personally Training Their Replacements

If you knew that your company was going to tear down your factory and send your job to China, would you personally train your replacement?

That is what a whole bunch of workers in Illinois are doing.

The following is from a recent article that appeared in the Guardian….

The shock of losing a precious job in a town afflicted by high unemployment is always hard. A foundation for a stable family life and secure home instantly disappears, replaced with a future filled with fears over health insurance, missed mortgage payments and the potential for a slip below the breadline.

But for Bonnie Borman – and 170 other men and women in Freeport, Illinois – there is a brutal twist to the torture. Borman, 52, and the other workers of a soon-to-be-shuttered car parts plant are personally training the Chinese workers who will replace them.

It’s a surreal experience, they say. For months they have watched their plant being dismantled and shipped to China, piece by piece, as they show teams of Chinese workers how to do the jobs they have dedicated their lives to.

Can you imagine that?

Would you be willing to do the same thing just to keep the paychecks coming in for as long as possible?

Sadly, both major political parties are obsessed with promoting unrestricted free trade even though millions of American jobs continue to go overseas.

Our top political candidates even argue about which of them love “free trade” more.

It truly is sickening.

Do you remember when U.S. taxpayers bailed out the auto industry?

Well, since the auto industry bailout approximately 70 percent of all GM vehicles have been built outside the United States.

The insanity has gotten to such a level that some Americans simply cannot take it anymore.  Just consider the following example from a recent article by Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele….

On his last day on the job, Kevin Flanagan, after clearing out a few personal effects and putting them in boxes in the back of his Ford Ranger, left the building where he’d worked for seven years.

He settled into the front seat of his pickup truck on the lower level of the company garage, placed a 12-gauge Remington shotgun to his head, and pulled the trigger. He was 41 years old.

He was a computer programmer. He’d been a programmer his entire working life. Until, that is, his job was shipped overseas. The business of moving traditional U.S. jobs abroad-called “outsourcing”-has been one of this country’s few growth industries. It’s the ultimate short-sighted business promoted by the country’s elite because it means lower wages and fatter profits. As for the American workers eliminated along the way, they are just collateral damage.

It turns out that Kevin’s replacement was a programmer from India that he personally trained.

Trading Sex For A Job

If you were truly desperate, would you trade sex for a job?

I hope not, but that is exactly what some Americans are doing.

The following is a story from a desperate unemployed woman that was posted on gawker.com recently….

I have been very depressed since I lost my job. I go through periods where I spend most of my days in bed, and although I’ve had a few interviews those people don’t even have the decency to let you know the position is filled. Sometimes I’d call for weeks asking for updates only to get the HR persons voicemail, and they’d never return my calls. With no experience I can’t even get a job waiting tables. I apply to every job in the paper and online, whether I’m qualified or not, and have had 7 interviews total, none of which ended with a job offer. Living paycheck to paycheck would be a blessing at this point.

She has become so desperate that she is even willing to trade her body for a paycheck….

The current ‘bright side’ is that I know someone who owns a small retail clothing chain and has offered me a minimum wage job there on the condition that we become ‘close friends’. I think you & I both know what that entails, but at this time in my life it seems like a better alternative than losing the little that I have. I’d have a paycheck equal to what I am getting on unemployment with the opportunity for overtime and advancements, full benefits and a schedule that would allow me to continue schooling.

A Lot More Layoffs Coming Soon

The frightening thing is that a whole lot more layoffs are on the horizon.

Just check out this excerpt from a recent article on thehill.com….

Lockheed Martin and Pratt & Whitney are going forward with plans to issue layoff notices to thousands of employees due to looming defense cuts under sequestration, despite administration claims that such warnings are unnecessary.

So how many jobs will be lost?

Unfortunately, it is being projected that we could be looking at a million jobs lost….

Top industry officials have said publicly that automatic cut under sequestration could lead to the loss of 1 million defense-related jobs.

Industry leaders and their supporters in Congress say those job losses would hit battleground states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Florida particularly hard.

Like I have written about before, we simply cannot continue to steal more than a trillion dollars from future generations every single year, but when we do make deep cuts to the federal budget the economic pain is going to be immense.

We already have more than 100 million Americans on welfare.

What is this country going to look like if things get even worse?

The good news is that if you do lose your job and your home you might have somewhere to sleep.  New York City is opening up a bunch of new homeless shelters….

New York City has opened nine new shelters in the last two months in efforts to handle the city’s rapidly growing homeless population, officials said.

The city recorded 43,731 homeless people in shelters this week, which is up 18 percent from the 37,143 at the same time last year, The New York Times reported.

So don’t get too down.

If you can’t find a job and you can’t afford a home perhaps you can at least get into one of those shiny new homeless shelters.

Seriously, I don’t actually want anyone reading this to end up in a homeless shelter.

That is why I endlessly urge people to adjust their priorities and to work as hard as they can right now to prepare for the very hard economic times that are coming.

Now is not the time to be going on expensive vacations and now is not the time to be blowing your money on all kinds of stupid stuff.

We are moving into the most difficult times that any of us have ever seen, and if you do nothing to prepare yourself you will be very sorry.

14 Questions People Ask About How To Prepare For The Collapse Of The Economy

How in the world is someone supposed to actually prepare for an economic collapse?  What should you do with your money?  How can you make sure that your family is going to be okay?  How can you prepare if your resources are extremely limited?  These are the kinds of questions people ask me all the time.  Once people understand that the economy has been collapsing and will continue to collapse, then the next step for most of them is that they want to get prepared for the storm that is coming.  So where should someone get started?  Well, the truth is that no two people are facing the exact same set of circumstances, so preparation is going to look different for each individual.  But there are certain core principles that we can all benefit from.  For example, when a financial storm is coming that is not the time to be blowing thousands of dollars on vacations and new toys.  You would be surprised at how many people there are that claim that they have no extra money in their budgets and yet somehow have plenty of money to run down to Wal-Mart and buy a big stack of DVDs.  When times are difficult, each hard-earned dollar becomes much more precious, and we all need to start getting into the habit of making the most out of our limited resources.  The seemingly endless prosperity that we have all been enjoying for decades is coming to an end, and most of us have absolutely no experience on how to deal with truly hard times.  If you are under the age of 60, it might be a really good idea to read a book or two on what conditions were like during the Great Depression of the 1930s.  There is a lot that we can learn from our own history.

Another key characteristic that we will all need in the years ahead is flexibility.  Anyone that has spent any time in the military knows that very few plans ever work out perfectly.  As the global economy breaks down and the world becomes increasingly unstable, conditions are going to change rapidly.  What might work really well in one situation might be the exact wrong thing to do 6 months later.  If you are not willing or able to adapt to dramatic change then you are going to have a lot of difficulty in the years ahead.

Many people refer to me as a “doom and gloomer” because I run a website called “The Economic Collapse” and I am constantly pointing out that the entire world is heading for a complete and total financial nightmare.

But I don’t think that it does any good to stick your head in the sand.  I believe that there is hope in understanding what is happening and I believe that there is hope in getting prepared.

It is those that are completely oblivious to what is really going on that will be totally blindsided by the coming crisis.  When they finally realize what has come upon them many of them will totally lose it.

From my little spot on the wall I am trying my best to warn people so that they can have a chance to be prepared for what is coming.

I am not spreading doom and gloom.

I am spreading hope.

And I want to make another point.  Generally, things are going to be getting progressively worse as the years roll along.  As I have written about before, I believe that the economic collapse is not a single event.  Rather, I see it as a series of waves that will be punctuated by moments of great crisis.

So advice about preparation is going to be different depending on whether you are talking about the short-term or the mid-term or the long-term.  Hopefully you will keep that in mind as you read my answers to the questions below.

The following are common questions that people ask about how to prepare for the collapse of the economy….

#1 How Do I Get Started?

When the financial crisis of 2008 hit, what was the biggest danger for most Americans?

The biggest danger was that they would lose their jobs and not be able to pay their bills.

During the last recession, millions and millions of Americans did end up losing their jobs.

And because many of them were living paycheck to paycheck many of them also ended up losing their homes.

You do not want that to happen to you.

So what I am about to say next is not considered to be very “sexy” in prepper circles, but it is absolutely crucial advice.

You need to have an emergency fund saved up that can cover your expenses for at least six months.

That way if you lose your job or your business goes under you will be able to keep going for a while as you figure out what your next move will be.

These days it takes the average unemployed American nearly 40 weeks to find a new job, and it will likely be even worse in the next major economic downturn.

So make sure that you have plenty of cash saved up just in case.  If you are currently living paycheck to paycheck you are extremely vulnerable.

#2 What Should I Do With My Money?

I get this question a lot.

People always want to know where they should put their money.

Well, my first piece of advice is always to build an emergency fund.  See #1 above.  Most people do not have one.

After that is done, I am a big believer in not putting all of my eggs into one basket.

Sometimes people will tell me that they are going to take all of their money out of the banks because they don’t feel safe having their money in them.

Well, if you stick all of your money in your mattress, what happens if there is a fire or what happens if someone robs you?

That is why I believe in spreading your risk around.  Having money a bunch of different places is a good thing.

But one place I would not put it is in the stock market.  If you were fortunate enough to catch the recent rally you should get out while the getting is good.

If you have blind faith in the stock market you are going to be deeply disappointed eventually.  I do not have a single penny in the stock market, and a couple of years from now that is going to look like a very wise move.

#3 Should I Invest In Precious Metals?

A lot of people that write about the economic crisis in this country really advocate investing in precious metals because they tend to hold value over time (unlike fiat currencies).

I like precious metals myself, but if you are going to invest you need to get educated so that you know what you are doing.  If you go in blindly you are likely to get burned at some point.

In addition, you need to be prepared for wild fluctuations in price over the coming years.  There will be times when gold and silver absolutely soar and there will be times when they drop like a rock.

So if you are going to play the game you need to be able to handle the ride.

#4 Should I Get Out Of Debt?

Many that write about the coming economic collapse say that you shouldn’t even bother to pay off your debts because the financial system is going to collapse anyway.

I don’t see it that way.

I don’t believe that our banks are going to totally collapse and suddenly go out of existence.

Not in the short-term anyway.

So I believe that it is actually a good idea to get out of debt.  When financial troubles hit you don’t want a horde of bill collectors coming after you.

There is a lot of freedom that comes with getting out of debt, and in this environment it is wise to become as independent of the system as possible.

#5 What If I Don’t Have Any Money To Prepare?

In this kind of economic environment it is no surprise that I get this question a lot.

Many families are just barely scraping by each month and they do not have much money to put into anything.

And I can definitely sympathize with that.

However, I would say that there are very, very few families out there that do not have anything that can be cut out of the budget.

The truth is that American families are experts at blowing money on really stupid stuff.

In general, I recommend that all families do what they can to reduce their expenses.

The smaller of a financial footprint you have, the better off you will be and the more resources you will have to help you get prepared.

Also, now is the time to be looking for ways that you can increase your income.

For many Americans, starting a side business is a way to bring in some extra cash.  Yes, this will cut into your television watching time, but now is not the time to be lazy.

The time you spend working hard now while the sun is still shining will pay off later.

Don’t be afraid to work harder than you ever have before.

#6 Should I Rent Or Buy?

This is a question that I also get a lot, and it really depends on your situation.

If you rent, that gives you a lot more flexibility.  You can move for a new job or a new opportunity without having to sell a house.  And you get to avoid a lot of the expenses and hassles that come with being a homeowner.

If you buy, you get to “lock in” your housing expenses for many years.  In a highly inflationary environment this would potentially be very beneficial.  And interest rates are very low right now.

In addition, it is going to be really hard to rent a really good “prepper” property.  If you are looking for a property that is away from the big cities where you can grow your own food and become more independent of the system, then in most cases you are going to have to buy such a property.

But if you do buy, it is going to be much harder to move if something does happen and you need to go somewhere else.

#7 What About My Health Condition?

Over the next few years, our health care system should continue operating at least somewhat normally.  But the truth is that our health care system is in horrible shape and it is not a good thing to be totally dependent on pills and doctors.

Even if economic conditions were perfect it would be a good idea to learn what you can do on your own to improve your health.  But this is especially true as we move into a time of great economic instability.

#8 Should I Be Storing Food?

Yes.

However, even though the United States is experiencing a historic drought right now, I do not believe that there will be major food shortages in America this year or next year.

Down the road, however, is a different story.

And your food dollars are never going to go farther than they do right now.  As I wrote about the other day, this drought is likely to cause food prices to go up substantially, and so the food you store now might end up being twice as valuable a few years from now.

In addition, you never know when a major disaster or emergency is going to strike so it is always good to become more independent of the system.

I encourage everyone to learn how to grow a garden.  Yes, your space may be limited, but there is actually one family that produces 6000 pounds of produce every year on just 1/10th of an acre right in the middle of Pasadena, California.

If they can do such extraordinary things with their little plot of land, why can’t you try to do what you can with what you have?

#9 Should I Be Storing Water?

It is always good to have some water on hand in case disaster or emergency strikes.

And you should be rotating whatever water you currently have on hand because you don’t want water sitting around indefinitely.

But what is much more important is to make sure that you and your family have access to a source of water that you can depend on if disaster strikes and the grid goes down.

In a previous article I discussed a report put out by the American Trucker Associations entitled “When Trucks Stop, America Stops” that detailed just how incredibly vulnerable our water supply really is….

According to the American Water Works Association, Americans drink more than one billion glasses of tap water per day. For safety and security reasons, most water supply plants maintain a larger inventory of supplies than the typical business. However, the amount of chemical storage varies significantly and is site specific. According to the Chlorine Institute, most water treatment facilities receive chlorine in cylinders (150 pounds and one ton cylinders) that are delivered by motor carriers. On average, trucks deliver purification chemicals to water supply plants every seven to 14 days. Without these chemicals, water cannot be purified and made safe for drinking. Without truck deliveries of purification chemicals, water supply plants will run out of drinkable water in 14 to 28 days. Once the water supply is drained, water will be deemed safe for drinking only when boiled. Lack of clean drinking water will lead to increased gastrointestinal and other illnesses, further taxing an already weakened healthcare system.

So yes, water is definitely something you should be accounting for in your preparations.

#10 Other Than Food And Water What Other Supplies Will I Need?

Anything that you use on a regular basis or that you would use in an emergency situation is something that you should consider storing up.

For example, if you could not buy any more toilet paper from the stores, what would you do?

Basic things like that are often overlooked by many preppers.

In a previous article, I listed dozens of things you may want to consider storing.  Preparation is going to look different for every family, but hopefully that list will give you some ideas.

#11 What Happens If The Power Grid Goes Down?

This is a very important consideration – especially if you live in a colder climate.

Some people have a backup generator for such circumstances.

Others have set up wind and/or solar systems for their homes.

Alternative energy solutions are great if you can afford them, and they will enable you to become much more independent of the system.

But not everyone can afford to put in solar panels or a big wind turbine.

So do what you can with what you have.

#12 Should I Leave The Big Cities?

A lot of people ask me this, but there is no easy answer.

In this day and age, a good job is like gold.  It can be really, really tough to give up a good job and move to the middle of nowhere.

But without a doubt, society is starting to come apart at the seams and I do expect rioting and major civil unrest in our major cities at some point in the future.

In the end, you need to do what is right for you and your own family.  Nobody else can make this decision for you.

#13 Should I Get Some Self-Defense Training?

America seems to be overrun by psychopaths and sociopaths these days, and in such an environment being able to defend yourself becomes more important.

When criminals come to your home, they are not going to sit down and have a debate with you.  They are not going to care what your political outlook is or if you sympathize with their plight.

The criminals are simply going to do what they came there to do unless someone stops them.

So yes, some self-defense training may come in very handy in the years ahead.

#14 What Should I Do If My Family And Friends Won’t Listen To Me?

This is another very common question that I get.

What should people do if nobody will listen to them?

Well, you just have to do the best that you can.  If they won’t listen now, just keep planting seeds.  Keep sending them articles that are packed with statistics and information that show why an economic collapse is going to happen.

In the years ahead we are all going to need our families and our friends because communities will endure what is coming much better than “lone wolf” individuals will be able to.

No matter how hard you prepare, at some point you are going to need the help of someone else.

So don’t be afraid to reach out to others.

If nobody among your family or friends will listen to you at the moment, you may have to prepare on your own right now.

In fact, you may have to do extra preparation because at some point it is probably inevitable that your family and friends will come to you for help.

That is the perspective that my wife and I take.  We are not only preparing for ourselves.  We are also preparing for the family members that may have to depend on us someday.

Nobody said that preparing was going to be easy.

But beyond any physical preparations, I also believe that it is absolutely crucial to prepare mentally and spiritually.

The times that are coming are going to be incredibly challenging.  They are going to require a great deal of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual strength.

If you are a “lone wolf” that believes that you don’t need anyone or anything, then I feel sorry for you and I honestly don’t know how you are going to make it.

None of us have all the answers.

I know that I certainly do not.

I have just written nearly 3000 words, but after I post this article I know that some of the great visitors to my site will post ideas that I never even considered for this article.

We can all learn from each other.  Most of the people that I have met that think “they know it all” are some of the most clueless people that I have ever come across.

I never want to stop learning, and hopefully that is the case for you as well.

If we work together, perhaps we can all make it through the horrible, horrible times that are coming.

15 Potentially Massive Threats To The U.S. Economy Over The Next 12 Months

We live in a world that is becoming increasingly unstable, and the potential for an event that could cause “sudden change” to the U.S. economy is greater than ever.  There are dozens of potentially massive threats that could easily push the U.S. economy over the edge during the next 12 months.  A war in the Middle East, a financial collapse in Europe, a major derivatives crisis or a horrific natural disaster could all change our economic situation very rapidly.  Most of the time I write about the long-term economic trends that are slowly but surely ripping the U.S. economy to pieces, but the truth is that just a single really bad “black swan event” over the next 12 months could accelerate our economic problems dramatically.  If oil was cut off from the Middle East or a really bad natural disaster suddenly destroyed a major U.S. city, the U.S. economy would be thrown into a state of chaos.  Considering how bad the U.S. economy is currently performing, it would be easy to see how a major “shock to the system” could push us into the “next Great Depression” very easily.  Let us hope that none of these things actually happen over the next 12 months, but let us also understand that we live in a world that has become extremely chaotic and extremely unstable.

In the list below, you will find some “sudden change” events that are somewhat likely and some that are quite unlikely.  I have tried to include a broad range of potential “black swan events”, but there are certainly dozens more massive threats that could potentially be listed.

The following are 15 potentially massive threats to the U.S. economy over the next 12 months….

#1 War With Syria – U.S. Senator John McCain is now publicly calling for U.S. airstrikes against Syria.  A military conflict with Syria becomes more likely with each passing day.

#2 War With Iran – A war in the Middle East involving Iran could literally erupt at any time.  The following is from a Reuters news report that was issued on Monday….

President Barack Obama appealed to Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday to give sanctions time to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but the Israeli prime minister offered no sign of backing away from possible military action, saying his country must be the “master of its fate.”

#3 A Disorderly Greek Debt Default – Many reporters in Europe seem to think that this is becoming increasingly likely.  So what would a disorderly Greek debt default mean for the global financial system?  A leaked report that was authored by the Institute of International Finance says that a disorderly Greek debt default would have some very serious consequences.  You can read the full text of that leaked report right here.

#4 An Economic Collapse In Spain – Spain has one of the largest economies in Europe and it is rapidly becoming a basket case.  As I have written about previously, the unemployment rate in Spain has hit 19.9 percent, and the unemployment rate for workers under the age of 25 is up to 49.9 percent.  Unfortunately, the situation in Spain continues to deteriorate.  The following is from a recent article by Marc Chandler….

However, the devolution in Spain is particularly troubling. The new fiscal compact had just been signed last week, which includes somewhat more rigorous fiscal rule and enforcement, when Spain’s PM Rajoy revealed that this year’s deficit would come in around 5.8 percent of GDP rather the 4.4 percent target. This of course follows last year’s 8.5 percent overshoot of the 6 percent target.

The problem that for Spain is that the 4.4 percent target was based on forecasts for more than 2 percent growth this year. However, in late February, the EU cuts its forecast to a 1 percent contraction. This still seems optimistic. The IMF forecasts a 1.7 percent contraction, which the Spanish government now accepts.

#5 The Price Of Gasoline – The average price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States has risen for 27 days in a row and is now up to $3.77.  Virtually all forms of economic activity are affected by the price of gasoline, and if the price of gas keeps going up it is eventually going to have dramatic consequences for the U.S. economy.

#6 The Student Loan Debt Bubble – Just like we saw with the housing bubble, the student loan debt bubble just continues to grow and grow and grow.  At some point the nearly 1 trillion dollar bubble is going to burst.  What effect will it have on our financial system when that finally happens?

#7 State And Local Government Debt Crisis – It is being reported that California is running out of cash again and there are cities all over the country that are on the verge of bankruptcy.  Could we see a significant municipal bond crisis in the next 12 months?

#8 The Collapse Of A Major U.S. Bank – A number of top U.S. banks are looking increasingly shaky.  In a recent article, David Trainer explained why he has such serious concerns about Bank of America right now….

In my opinion, there are four actions taken by financial services that signal the company is headed to serious trouble.

1. Management shake-up and major layoffs – lots of layoffs over the past year

2. Exploiting accounting rules to boost earnings – SFAS 159

3. Drawing down reserves to boost earnings: to the tune of $13.3 billion in 2011 and 2012

4. Bilking customers with new fees: tried it before and trying it again

Bank of America has taken all four steps.

#9 A Derivatives Crisis – The International Swaps and Derivatives Association recently ruled that the Greek debt deal will not trigger payouts on credit default swaps.  This is seriously shaking confidence in the global market for derivatives.  But the global financial system simply cannot afford a major derivatives crisis.

Estimates of the notional value of the worldwide derivatives market range from $600 trillion all the way up to $1.5 quadrillion.  The notional value of all derivatives held by Bank of America is approximately $75 trillion.  JPMorgan Chase is holding derivatives with a notional value of approximately $79 trillion.

When the derivatives bubble finally bursts it is going to be a financial horror show unlike anything we have ever seen.

#10 The Fall Of The Japanese Economy – The Japanese economy shrank at a 2.3 percent rate during the fourth quarter of 2011.  Japan has a debt to GDP ratio of over 200 percent and a major debt crisis involving Japan could erupt at any time.

#11 A “Solar Megastorm” – Scientists tell us that there is a “1 in 8 chance” that a “solar megastorm” will hit the earth by 2014.  A recent Daily Mail article detailed what some of the consequences of such an event would be….

‘We live in a cyber cocoon enveloping the Earth. Imagine what the consequences might be,’ Daniel Baker, of the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics told National Geographic when asked about a potential ‘megastorm’.

‘Every time you purchase a gallon of gas with your credit card, that’s a satellite transaction.

‘Imagine large cities without power for a week, a month, or a year. The losses could be $1 to $2 trillion, and the effects could be felt for years.

#12 A Major West Coast Earthquake Or Volcanic Eruption – On Monday, there was a 4.0 earthquake in San Francisco and a 6.1 earthquake in Argentina.  Is the “Ring of Fire” waking up again?

#13 Tornado Damage To Major U.S. Cities – Last year, the U.S. experienced one of the worst tornado seasons of all time.  This year, we have already seen the worst tornado outbreak ever recorded in the United States in the month of March.  A couple of towns in Indiana were completely wiped out by that outbreak.  So what should we expect when we get to the heart of tornado season this year?

#14 Severe Drought In The United States – Last summer was one of the driest summers on record in the United States, and in many areas there is simply not enough water available for farmers this year.  Some are even projecting that we could see “dust bowl conditions” return to some areas of the country eventually.

#15 An Asteroid Strike In 2013 – Although scientists tell us that the probability is extremely low, the truth is that there is a slight chance that a sizeable asteroid could hit the earth in February 2013.  The asteroid is estimated to be between 60 and 100 meters wide, and it is projected to pass by our planet “at a distance of under 27,000 km“.  If it did hit us (and scientists say that the odds of that happening are very low) it would potentially be as serious an event as the Tunguska Event in Siberia in 1908.  Mac Slavo of shtfplan.com recently described how awesome the Tunguska Event really was….

On June 30, 1908 an incoming meteor exploded approximately 5 miles above Siberia. The force of the air burst explosion, estimated at between 15 and 30 megatons, or about 1000 times bigger than the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima, was so powerful that it annihilated everything in an 830 square mile area, and reports suggest that that explosion was heard up to 1000 miles away. Because of the remoteness of the impact zone, the Tunguska Event over Siberia had very little effect on the human population in the region, but the destruction of some 80 million trees in the area shows just how powerful a blast was created.

Of course there are so many other “sudden change” events that could potentially happen – a terror event in a major U.S. city, a deadly pandemic, an EMP attack, cyberterrorism or a major political scandal could all possibly cause a stock market crash and an economic collapse in the United States.

In the world that we are living in today, you just never know what is going to happen.

So what are all of you concerned about over the next 12 months?

Do you see the potential for some “black swan events” to happen?

Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below….

48 Percent Of Americans Believe Another Great Depression Is Likely In The Next 12 Months – 19 Reasons Why They Are Not Completely Crazy

Do you believe that the U.S. economy is steamrolling toward a depression?  If so, you are not alone.  According to a recent CNN poll, 48 percent of Americans believe that “another Great Depression” is likely within the next 12 months.  Americans have been waiting for almost three years for a “recovery” to materialize, but instead there are all kinds of signs that the economy is about to get worse yet again.  Inflation is rising but wages are not.  There are millions of Americans that would do just about anything to get a decent job.  The “misery index” is the highest it has been in almost 30 years.  All of the recent polls show that the American people are more pessimistic about the economy than at any other time in recent memory.  World financial markets are incredibly unstable right now and many analysts are expecting a repeat of 2008 (or worse).  Meanwhile, our state and local governments are drowning in debt, the federal government is drowning in debt and governments all over Europe are drowning in debt.  No, it is not crazy for 48 percent of Americans to believe that we are about to go into another Great Depression.

Just think about that statistic for a moment.  Nearly half of the country expects the economy to fall to pieces at some point over the next year.

So do I agree with them?

Yes, I certainly believe that an economic collapse is coming.  But that doesn’t mean that it will necessarily happen within the next year.  The United States is in the midst of a long-term economic decline, and the next big financial crisis could potentially happen in 2011 or 2012.

But it might not.

There are so many variables and it is so hard to predict with certainty the exact timing of how things will play out.

However, it is true that incredibly painful economic times are coming.  Our long-term economic future looks unbelievably bleak.

So anyone that believes that we are headed for another depression is certainly not crazy.  The following are 19 reasons why it is perfectly rational to be pessimistic about the U.S. economy right now….

#1 Today, 25 million Americans are either unemployed or underemployed.  6 million of those have been out of work for at least 6 months.  The average duration of unemployment in the U.S. is now close to 40 weeks.

#2 The unofficial misery index, which is calculated by combining unemployment and inflation, is now at a 28 year high.

#3 Sadly, if unemployment and inflation were calculated the same way that they were back in the 1970s, the misery index would actually be much, much higher.  According to John Williams of Shadow Government Statistics, the current “real” rate of inflation is approximately 11.2% instead of the 3.6% figure that the U.S. government wants us to believe.

#4 Greece is on the verge of complete and total financial collapse.  The yield on two year Greek bonds is up to 28 percent.  The European Central Bank and the German government have been fighting over what to do to solve the Greek crisis.  The truth is that without a bailout the Greek government will default.  If Greece defaults, it would be a huge nightmare for world financial markets.

#5 Neil MacKinnon, an analyst at VTB Capital, is warning that a Greek implosion could set off a 2008-style financial crisis….

“The risk of a ‘Lehman moment’ for the eurozone is increasing”

#6 Spain is also potentially a major problem.  The Spanish economy is more than twice the size of the Greek, Irish and Portuguese economies combined.  Over the past 12 months, the yield on 10 year Spanish bonds has been rising steadily, and many believe that Spain could be the tipping point that pushes the sovereign debt crisis in Europe over the edge.

#7 State and local governments all over the United States are cutting their budgets and are implementing brutal austerity measures.  For example, one small town in Alabama has actually decided that they are simply going to stop paying pension benefits to their retirees.  In other areas, teachers and police officers are being fired in massive numbers. UBS Investment Research is projecting that state and local governments in the U.S. will combine to slash a whopping 450,000 jobs by the end of next year.

#8 The middle class in the United States is being systematically ripped to shreds.  The poorest 50% of all Americans collectively own just 2.5% of all the wealth in the United States at this point.

#9 It is never a good sign when even the big Wall Street banks start laying off workers.  CNBC is reporting that Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and many other big firms on Wall Street are planning some large staff reductions in the months ahead.  That is a very bad sign for the economy.

#10 Things have gotten so bad that some mainstream media outlets are actually encouraging Americans to go out and start racking up credit card debt once again.  For example, one recent USA Today article was actually entitled “More credit card debt might be good for the economy“.  Of course the big banks are ready to suck the lifeblood out of anyone that does slip up on making their credit card payments.  One major bank has announced that a single late payment could result in a penalty rate as high as 29.99%.

#11 According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the share of national income being taken home by American workers is at a post-war low and is rapidly declining.

#12 Reuters is reporting that many of Wall Street’s biggest banks plan to cut their use of U.S. Treasuries starting in August.  China has already been dumping short-term U.S. debt.  But if most of the big players abandon the market, who is going to buy up the massive amounts of debt that the U.S. government needs to issue?

#13 Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research apparently believes that we are already in a depression….

“At some point, the pain of high unemployment may lead to some new thinking in Washington – but until that time, welcome to the second Great Depression”

#14 The U.S. banking system could plunge into disaster at any moment.  The FDIC is backing up 7 trillion dollars in deposits with an insurance fund that barely has anything in it.

#15 It seems like almost everyone is talking about the next financial collapse.  Renowned investor Jim Rogers recently said the  following….

“I would expect to see some serious problems in the foreseeable future….By 2011, 2012, 2013, 2013, I don’t know when, we’re going to have an economic slowdown again.”

#16 Legendary hedge fund manager Mark Mobius is bracing for the worst.  Just consider the following quote from Mobius that recently appeared in Forbes magazine….

There is definitely going to be another financial crisis around the corner,” says hedge fund legend Mark Mobius, “because we haven’t solved any of the things that caused the previous crisis.”

#17 Between 2007 and 2010, U.S. GDP grew by only 4.26%, but the U.S. national debt soared by 61% during that same time period.  It is clearly unsustainable for our debt to be growing so much faster than our economy is.

#18 Peter Yastrow, a market strategist for Yastrow Origer, recently told CNBC the following….

“Interest rates are amazingly low and that, thanks to Ben Bernanke, is driving everything,” Yastrow said. “We’re on the verge of a great, great depression. The [Federal Reserve] knows it.”

#19 The American people are extremely pessimistic about the economy right now.  According to one recent poll, 56 percent of Americans have lost sleep due to the economy and about three-quarters of Americans believe that the nation is on the wrong track.

The nation is in a very sour mood right now, and this is causing even many in the mainstream media to ask some very hard questions.

For example, Jack Cafferty recently asked the following question to viewers on CNN….

“What are the chances the U.S. economy could eventually trigger violence in our country?”

You can view the video of Cafferty asking this question right here or you can just watch it below….

Sadly, we are already starting to see violence erupt all over North America.

Yesterday I highlighted the horrifying violence that we saw in Vancouver this week.

In previous articles I have discussed the insanity that has been going on in major U.S. cities such as Chicago.

Now even the mainstream media is being forced to report on the surge in violence.

A recent USA Today article described some of the most recent mob robberies that have been happening in Chicago….

A Chicago Tribune report tells of a 68-year-old man from Washington State who was set upon while he was smoking a cigar on a bench when youths surrounded him, attacked him and reportedly stole a phone and iPad. The report says a 42-year-old Japanese tourist also was beaten and robbed on a bicycle path by the lakefront. The paper says seven were arrested, but that the group participating in the felonies was estimated at 15 to 20 people strong. One 20something suburbanite told Chicago’s WGN TV that he was hit so hard in the head with a baseball that it knocked his motorcycle helmet off. he managed to fight his way out of trouble and hail police, he said.

When people don’t have hope, they get desperate.

There are millions of other Americans that are suffering through this economy quietly.

There are so many people out there that have worked hard and have followed all the rules and yet now find themselves struggling just to survive.

For example, a reader named Carolyn recently left a comment in which she shared her story with my readers….

My husband lost his long-term job in 2009 due to budget cuts. Don’t worry, I said. I’m still working, and we have a year of our salary in savings. You’re smart, you’re educated, you’re a hard worker. You’ll find a job soon.

Two months later, my long-term job was sent to India.

I still wasn’t worried. I’m smart, I’m educated, and I’m a smart worker.

A year and a half later, I haven’t found new career yet. I’m 50. No one is going to hire me. I am working – at a Home Depot. At a 79% pay cut from my prior position. But it doesn’t pay for anything. My husband found a new position in his field – at a 62% pay cut from his prior position.

We lived off unemployment and our savings, until both ran out. We put our house and investment property on the market the day after I lost my job.

We haven’t had one offer.

We just had our Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharged. Our foreclosure is still pending. No word yet when that will be done.

To add insult to injury, we owe Federal income taxes on the penalties we used to make withdrawals from our 401(k)’s to live off. My husband took a job in another state, and we were SHOCKED to learn that we owed NEW YORK STATE taxes on the income he earned in Mississippi – to New York state! Apparently there is some loophole that if you are a property owner in New York, but earn income in another state, you have to pay New York state income taxes on out of state earned income.

We’ve been told once our foreclosure is finalized, we may owe taxes on that as well.

What happened to our country?

It is so sad to see what is happening to America.

Things are so hard out there for so many millions of American families right now.

But the truth is that things are much better at the moment than they will be in a few years.

So what is America going to look like when there is no doubt that the economy has collapsed and people have no hope at all?

20 Things You Will Need To Survive When The Economy Collapses And The Next Great Depression Begins

Today, millions of Americans say that they believe that the United States is on the verge of a major economic collapse and will soon be entering another Great Depression.  But only a small percentage of those same people are prepared for that to happen.  The sad truth is that the vast majority of Americans would last little more than a month on what they have stored up in their homes.  Most of us are so used to running out to the supermarket or to Wal-Mart for whatever we need that we never even stop to consider what would happen if suddenly we were not able to do that.  Already the U.S. economy is starting to stumble about like a drunken frat boy.  All it would take for the entire U.S. to resemble New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina would be for a major war, a terror attack, a deadly pandemic or a massive natural disaster to strike at just the right time and push the teetering U.S. economy over the edge.  So just how would you survive if you suddenly could not rely on the huge international corporate giants to feed, clothe and supply you and your family?  Do you have a plan?

Unless you already live in a cave or you are a complete and total mindless follower of the establishment media, you should be able to see very clearly that our society is more vulnerable now than it ever has been.  This year there have been an unprecedented number of large earthquakes around the world and volcanoes all over the globe are awakening.  You can just take a look at what has happened in Haiti and in Iceland to see how devastating a natural disaster can be.  Not only that, but we have a world that is full of lunatics in positions of power, and if one of them decides to set off a nuclear, chemical or biological weapon in a major city it could paralyze an entire region.  War could erupt in the Middle East at literally any moment, and if it does the price of oil will double or triple (at least) and there is the possibility that much of the entire world could be drawn into the conflict.  Scientists tell us that a massive high-altitude EMP (electromagnetic pulse) blast could send large portions of the United States back to the stone age in an instant.  In addition, there is the constant threat that the outbreak of a major viral pandemic (such as what happened with the 1918 Spanish Flu) could kill tens of millions of people around the globe and paralyze the economies of the world. 

But even without all of that, the truth is that the U.S. economy is going to collapse.  So just think of what will happen if one (or more) of those things does happen on top of all the economic problems that we are having.

Are you prepared?  

The following is a list of 20 things you and your family will need to survive when the economy totally collapses and the next Great Depression begins….

#1) Storable Food

Food is going to instantly become one of the most valuable commodities in existence in the event of an economic collapse.  If you do not have food you are not going to survive.  Most American families could not last much longer than a month on what they have in their house right now.  So what about you?  If disaster struck right now, how long could you survive on what you have?  The truth is that we all need to start storing up food.  If you and your family run out of food, you will suddenly find yourselves competing with the hordes of hungry people who are looting the stores and roaming the streets looking for something to eat.

Of course you can grow your own food, but that is going to take time.  So you need to have enough food stored up until the food that you plant has time to grow.  But if you have not stored up any seeds you might as well forget it.  When the economy totally collapses, the remaining seeds will disappear very quickly.  So if you think that you are going to need seeds, now is the time to get them.

#2) Clean Water

Most people can survive for a number of weeks without food, but without water you will die in just a few days.  So where would you get water if the water suddenly stopped flowing out of your taps?  Do you have a plan?  Is there an abundant supply of clean water near your home? Would you be able to boil water if you need to?

Besides storing water and figuring out how you are going to gather water if society breaks down, another thing to consider is water purification tablets.  The water you are able to gather during a time of crisis may not be suitable for drinking.  So you may find that water purification tablets come in very, very handy.

#3) Shelter

You can’t sleep on the streets, can you?  Well, some people will be able to get by living on the streets, but the vast majority of us will need some form of shelter to survive for long.  So what would you do if you and your family lost your home or suddenly were forced from your home?  Where would you go? 

The best thing to do is to come up with several plans.  Do you have relatives that you can bunk with in case of emergency?  Do you own a tent and sleeping bags if you had to rough it?  If one day everything hits the fan and you and your family have to “bug out” somewhere, where would that be?  You need to have a plan.

#4) Warm Clothing

If you plan to survive for long in a nightmare economic situation, you are probably going to need some warm, functional clothing.  If you live in a cold climate, this is going to mean storing up plenty of blankets and cold weather clothes.  If you live in an area where it rains a lot, you will need to be sure to store up some rain gear.  If you think you may have to survive outdoors in an emergency situation, make sure that you and your family have something warm to put on your heads.  Someday after the economy has collapsed and people are scrambling to survive, a lot of folks are going to end up freezing to death.  In fact, in the coldest areas it is actually possible to freeze to death in your own home.  Don’t let that happen to you.

#5) An Axe

Staying along the theme of staying warm, you may want to consider investing in a good axe.  In the event of a major emergency, gathering firewood will be a priority.  Without a good tool to cut the wood with that will be much more difficult.

#6) Lighters Or Matches

You will also want something to start a fire with.  If you can start a fire, you can cook food, you can boil water and you can stay warm.  So in a true emergency situation, how do you plan to start a fire?  By rubbing sticks together?  Now is the time to put away a supply of lighters or matches so that you will be prepared when you really need them.

In addition, you may want to consider storing up a good supply of candles.  Candles come in quite handy whenever the electricity goes out, and in the event of a long-term economic nightmare we will all see why our forefathers relied on candles so much.

#7) Hiking Boots Or Comfortable Shoes

When you ask most people to list things necessary for survival, this is not the first or the second thing that comes to mind.  But having hiking boots or very comfortable and functional shoes will be absolutely critical.  You may very well find yourself in a situation where you and your family must walk everywhere you want to go.  So how far do you think you will get in high heels?  You will want footwear that you would feel comfortable walking in for hours if necessary.  You will also want footwear that will last a long time, because when the economy truly collapses you may not be able to run out to the shoe store and get what you need at that point. 

#8) A Flashlight And/Or Lantern

When the power goes off in your home, what is the first thing that you grab?  Just think about it.  A flashlight or a lantern of course.  In a major emergency, a flashlight or a lantern is going to be a necessity – especially if you need to go anywhere at night. 

Solar powered or “crank style” flashlights or lanterns will probably be best during a long-term emergency.  If you have battery-powered units you will want to begin storing up lots and lots of batteries.   

#9) A Radio

If a major crisis does hit the United States, what will you and your family want?  Among other things, you will all want to know what in the world is going on.  A radio can be an invaluable tool for keeping up with the news. 

Once again, solar powered or “crank style” radios will probably work best for the long term.  A battery-powered until would work as well – but only for as long as your batteries are able to last.

#10) Communication Equipment

When things really hit the fan you are going to want to communicate with your family and friends.  You will also want to be able to contact an ambulance or law enforcement if necessary.  Having an emergency cell phone is great, but it may or may not work during a time of crisis.  The Internet also may or may not be available.  Be sure to have a plan (whether it be high-tech or low-tech) for staying in communication with others during a major emergency.

#11) A Swiss Army Knife

If you have ever owned a Swiss Army knife you probably already know how incredibly handy they can be.  It can be a very valuable and versatile tool.  In a true survival situation, a Swiss Army knife can literally do dozens of different things for you.  Make sure that you have at least one stored up for emergencies.

#12) Personal Hygiene Items 

While these may not be absolute “essentials”, the truth is that life will get very unpleasant very quickly without them.  For example, what would you do without toilet paper?  Just think about it.  Imagine that you just finished your last roll of toilet paper and now you can’t get any more.  What would you do? 

The truth is that soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, toilet paper and other hygiene products are things that we completely take for granted in society today.  So what would happen if we could not go out and buy them any longer?

#13) A First Aid Kit And Other Medical Supplies

One  a more serious note, you may not be able to access a hospital or a doctor during a major crisis.  In your survival supplies, be absolutely certain that you have a good first aid kit and any other medical supplies that you think you may need.

#14) Extra Gasoline

There may come a day when gasoline is rationed or is simply not available at all.  If that happens, how will you get around?  Be certain to have some extra gasoline stored away just in case you find yourself really needing to get somewhere someday.

#15) A Sewing Kit

If you were not able to run out and buy new clothes for you and your family, what would you do?  Well, you would want to repair the clothes that you have and make them last as long as possible.  Without a good sewing kit that will be very difficult to do.

#16) Self-Defense Equipment

Whether it is pepper spray to fend off wild animals or something more “robust” to fend off wild humans, millions of Americans will one day be thankful that they have something to defend themselves with.

#17) A Compass

In the event of a major emergency, you and your family may find yourselves having to be on the move.  If you are in a wilderness area, it will be very hard to tell what direction you are heading without a compass.  It is always a good idea to have at least one compass stored up. 

#18) A Hiking Backpack

If you and your family suddenly have to “bug out”, what will you carry all of your survival supplies in?  Having a good hiking backpack or “survival bag” for everyone in your family is extremely important.  If something happened in the city where you live and you suddenly had to “go”, what would you put your most important stuff in?  How would you carry it all if you had to travel by foot?  These are very important things to think about. 

#19) A Community

During a long-term crisis, it is those who are willing to work together that will have the best chance of making it.  Whether it is your family, your friends, a church or a local group of people that you know, make sure that you have some people that you can rely on and work together with in the event that everything hits the fan.  Loners are going to have a really hard time of surviving for long.

#20) A Backup Plan

Lastly, it is always, always, always important to have a backup plan for everything.

If someone comes in and steals all the food that you have stored up, what are you going to do?

If travel is restricted and your can’t get to your “bug out” location immediately do you have a Plan B?

If you have built your house into an impregnable survival fortress but circumstances force you to leave do you have an alternate plan?

The truth is that crisis situations rarely unfold just as we envision.  It is important to be flexible and to be ready with backup plans when disaster strikes. 

You don’t want to end up like the folks in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.  You don’t want to have to rely on the government to take care of you if something really bad happens. 

Right now the U.S. strategic grain reserve contains only enough wheat to make half a loaf of bread for each of the approximately 300 million people in the United States.

How long do you think that is going to last?

Now is the time to get ready.

Now is the time to prepare.

The United States economy is going to collapse and incredibly hard times are coming.

Will you be able to survive when it happens?

The Economic Collapse