U.S. Steel Plants Are Going Idle, But The Fed Continues To Perpetuate The Myth That Everything Is Just Fine

Even though there is a tremendous amount of evidence to the contrary, the Federal Reserve continues to insist that the U.S. economy is in good shape.  On Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell told the nation that “the economy has performed relatively well” in 2019 and he insisted that “the baseline outlook is a good one.”  Of course he didn’t say anything about our collapsing manufacturing numbers, the worst global trade numbers since the last recession or the “bloodbath” in the U.S. trucking industry.  Powell did concede that “the risk of less favorable outcomes has risen”, but other than vague statements like that he really didn’t acknowledge our growing economic problems at all.  Considering the fact that Powell has more power over the U.S. economy than anyone else in the entire country, this should deeply concern all of us.  To me, Powell’s performance on Wednesday was quite reminiscent of the moment in 2008 when Fed Chair Ben Bernanke told us that the Federal Reserve was not “currently forecasting a recession” after a recession had already begun.

As I have been documenting for weeks, evidence that another major economic downturn has already started can be clearly seen all around us.

For example, we got some very alarming news from the steel industry on Wednesday.  When the Trump administration slapped a 25 percent tariff on steel imports last year, that was supposed to greatly help the U.S. steel industry.  But instead, a dramatic drop in demand due to this new economic downturn is forcing steel companies to take dramatic measures.  According to CNN, U.S. Steel just announced that it will be shutting down a blast furnace in Gary, Indiana and another one that is located just outside of Detroit…

Pain has returned to the US steel industry despite the tariffs put on imported steel last year that were designed to help.

Late Tuesday US Steel announced it will idle two of the blast furnaces where it makes steel, one in its flagship mill in Gary, Indiana, near Chicago, the other in Ecorse, Michigan, near Detroit. The idled furnaces will cut production by about 200,000 tons of steel or more a month, the company said.

“We will resume blast furnace production at one or both idled blast furnaces when market conditions improve,” said the company.

But when will market conditions improve?

In 2020?

After this new economic downturn is over?

Never?

Of course U.S. Steel is not the only steel producer that is hurting right now.  In fact, Nucor and Steel Dynamics have both cut profit forecasts

US Steel’s action follows similar warnings Monday from Nucor, the nation’s largest steelmaker, and Steel Dynamics. Both are now forecasting lower profits. Nucor pointed to weaker demand from the US auto industry.

Sadly, the truth is that major industry after major industry is deeply suffering at this moment…

-Our ongoing “retail apocalypse” is absolutely brutalizing the retail industry, and we are on pace to have the worst year for store closings in our entire history.

-Auto industry sales have been absolutely abysmal, and auto loan delinquencies have shot up to alarmingly high levels.

-The agriculture industry is going to have the worst year it has seen in at least several decades.

-Our 800 billion dollar trucking industry is already in the midst of a “bloodbath”.

-The real estate industry is poised for the worst downturn that we have seen since the subprime mortgage meltdown during the last financial crisis.

-The manufacturing industry has not seen numbers this bad since the last recession, and things are rapidly getting worse.

But yeah, let’s tell the American people that the economy is “booming” and see if they will buy it.

Really?

Let’s get real.  The U.S. economy is mired in the worst slump in a decade, and economic conditions continue to deteriorate rapidly.  The Federal Reserve could have given us a short-term boost by cutting interest rates on Wednesday, but they decided not to do that

A divided Federal Reserve held the line on interest rates Wednesday and indicated formally that no cuts are coming in 2019. The decision came amid divisions over what is ahead and still leaves open the possibility that policy loosening could happen before the end of the year depending on how conditions unfold.

The central bank predicts one or two rate cuts in its set of economic predictions, but not until 2020. Despite cautious wording in the post-meeting statement Wednesday, markets are still betting the Fed cuts, as soon as July.

Perhaps they want to save their very limited ammunition for when the recession officially starts, and I can understand that.

But this latest move by the Fed is definitely not going to please President Trump, and it will likely prompt more speculation that Trump would like to demote Powell

The action sets up a possible confrontation between Fed Chairman Jerome Powell and President Donald Trump, who has been pressuring the Fed to cut rates. Just Tuesday, Trump said “let’s see what he does” at the Fed meeting when asked if he still wants to demote Powell.

At the post-statement news conference, Powell was asked about his future as chairman. “I think the law is clear that I have a four year term, and I fully intend to serve it,” he said.

Trump needs the U.S. economy to be as strong as possible as he heads into an election year.

The stronger the U.S. economy is, the more likely it is that he will be re-elected.

And actually the Federal Reserve may be doing Trump a favor by trying to perpetuate the myth that everything is just fine.  Because if the Fed had cut rates on Wednesday, it would have essentially been an admission that a new recession is on our doorstep.  As John P. Hussman has aptly pointed out, almost every initial rate cut in history “has been associated with an oncoming or ongoing recession”…

With the exception of 1967 and 1996, every initial Fed rate cut has been associated with an oncoming or ongoing recession. Be careful what you wish for.

So for now, the Fed seems to have adopted a “fake it until you make it” approach, and sometimes that can work.

Unfortunately, I don’t think it is going to work this time.  And meanwhile millions upon millions of Americans have been lulled into a false sense of security, and they are not getting prepared for the exceedingly hard times that are coming.

One of my readers recently left a comment in which he stated that what we are facing “is not a drill”, and I believe that he is quite correct.

We haven’t seen economic conditions anything like this since the last recession, and the outlook is getting worse with each passing day.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

Evidence That The U.S. Economy Could Be Plunging Into A Very Deep Recession Is Rapidly Mounting

Not since 2008 have we seen so much bad economic data come rolling in all at the same time.  Even without a war with Iran, which by the way is looking increasingly likely with each passing day, it definitely appears that the U.S. economy is steamrolling toward recession territory.  The employment numbers for last month were abysmal, global trade has collapsed to the lowest level that we have seen since the last recession, and manufacturing numbers just keep getting worse and worse.  In fact, the New York Fed’s Empire State manufacturing index just suffered the worst one month decline in history

The New York Fed’s Empire State business conditions index took a sharp turn for the worse in June, falling into negative territory for the first time in more than two years.

The Empire State manufacturing index plummeted 26.4 points to negative 8.6 in June, the New York Fed said Monday. That’s a record decline. Economists had expected a reading of positive 10, according to a survey by Econoday.

Not even during the last recession did we witness a plunge of that magnitude.

And other measures of U.S. manufacturing activity are also “sinking steadily”

And it’s not the only indicator showing a turn for the worse: Others, including the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s Manufacturing Business Outlook Survey, have also been sinking steadily.

When you step back and look at the big picture, it becomes quite clear what is happening.

At this point, it is simply not possible for anyone to credibly claim that the U.S. economy is still in good shape.  All of the numbers are pointing in the same direction, and Morgan Stanley’s chief US equity strategist Michael Wilson made this point exceedingly well on Monday

Decelerations and disappointments are mounting:

  • Cass Freight Index
  • Retailer earnings
  • Durable goods orders
  • Capital spending
  • PMIs
  • May payrolls
  • Semiconductor inventories
  • Oil demand
  • Restaurant performance indices…

and our own Morgan Stanley Business Conditions Index (MSBCI). Looking at the MSBCI in particular, the headline metric showed the biggest one-month drop in its history going back to 2002 and very close to its lowest absolute reading since December 2008.

This index has a tight relationship with ISM new orders and analyst earnings revisions breadth. Our analysis shows downside risk to ISM new orders (25% y/y), S&P earnings revisions breadth (6-13%) and the S&P 500 y/y (8%) if historical links hold.

For much more on the collapse of the MSBCI, please see my previous article entitled “Morgan Stanley’s Business Conditions Index Just Suffered The Biggest One Month Decline In History”.

Many analysts are pointing out that our economic problems really seemed to start accelerating once trade negotiations with China completely broke down, and this is true.

If the U.S. and China could find a way to reach a trade agreement, that would be a tremendous short-term boost to the economy at a time when we desperately need it.

But that isn’t going to happen unless President Trump completely caves in.  Because at this point the Chinese are extremely angry, and they are definitely in no mood to compromise.  In fact, one Chinese editorial that was recently published boldly declared that they are ready “to fight it out till the end”

“China will not be afraid of any threats or pressure the United States is making that may escalate economic and trade frictions. China has no choice, nor escape route, and will just have to fight it out till the end,” the Qiushi commentary said. “No one, no force should underestimate and belittle the steel will of the Chinese people and its strength and tenacity to fight a war.”

When Americans are deeply suffering during the next recession, will they be willing to “fight it out till the end” like the Chinese are?

And if a trade war with China wasn’t enough, now we also have a trade war with India to deal with.  In fact, India just hit U.S. exports with a wave of very large tariffs

India just increased tariffs on US exports, dealing another blow to fragile global trade.

The tariffs on several US products will go into effect on June 16, India’s Finance Ministry said in a statement Saturday. The goods targeted include American apples — which will be hit with a 70% tariff — as well as almonds, lentils and several chemical products.

Of course these tariffs were in retaliation for the tariffs that we hit India with after Trump kicked them out of a preferential trade program

The two countries exchange goods and services worth about $142 billion a year, but the relationship has soured in recent weeks after the Trump administration ended India’s participation in a preferential trade program earlier this month. The program exempted Indian goods worth more than $6 billion from US import duties in 2018.

We were certainly heading for a recession even without these trade conflicts, but without a doubt they have made things substantially worse.

And now is definitely not a good time for a recession, because much of the country is completely and utterly unprepared for any sort of an economic downturn.  The following comes from an opinion piece authored by William Spriggs

One oft-cited statistic points to just how unstable the finances of most Americans are: nearly 40 percent of households could not withstand an unexpected expenditure of $400 — the cost of just one medical bill or car repair.

The most unnerving point to keep in mind is that we are even less prepared for a sudden slowing of the economy than we were before the Great Recession of 2008.

During the relatively stable economic times of the past few years, Americans should have been preparing instead of partying.

But instead, most Americans bought into the myth that our massively bloated debt-fueled standard of living could be perpetuated indefinitely.

So now a crisis is coming which many believe is going to be even worse than what we experienced in 2008, and most of us are going to be completely blindsided by it.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

Morgan Stanley’s Business Conditions Index Just Suffered The Biggest One Month Decline In History

We continue to get more indications that U.S. economic conditions are going to deteriorate rapidly during the second half of this year.  Yesterday, I reported on a brand new survey which found that 69 percent of U.S. CFOs believe that a recession is coming “by the end of 2020”, and today we learned that Morgan Stanley’s Business Conditions Index has fallen dramatically.  In fact, according to CNBC the sudden drop in the index was “the largest one-month decline on record”…

A reading of the economy from Morgan Stanley is signaling “June gloom.”

Morgan Stanley’s Business Conditions Index, which captures turning points in the economy, fell by 32 points in June, to a level of 13 from a level of 45 in May. This drop is the largest one-month decline on record and the lowest level since December 2008 during the financial crisis, according to the firm.

At this point, I really don’t see how anyone can possibly claim that the U.S. economy is doing well.  We also just learned that U.S. unemployment claims have now risen for three weeks in a row, and the trade war is clearly beginning to take an immense toll on the economy.

This week, Walmart, Costco and hundreds of other companies jointly sent President Trump a letter that essentially begged him to end this trade war with China.  The following comes from CNN

More than 600 companies and industry trade associations — including Walmart, Costco, Target, Gap, Levi Strauss and Foot Locker — wrote to the White House urging Trump to remove levies on China and end the ongoing trade war.

“We know firsthand that the additional tariffs will have a significant, negative, and long-term impact on American businesses, farmers, families, and the US economy,” the companies said in the letter. “An escalated trade war is not in the country’s best interest, and both sides will lose.”

Of course this is exactly what I have been telling my readers for a long time.

There aren’t going to be any winners in this trade war, and anyone that suggests that there will be is just being delusional.

If there had been a quick resolution to the trade war, large corporations could have perhaps swallowed the increased costs that they are facing.  But since it appears that this trade war will be with us for the foreseeable future, big companies are going to be forced to pass those costs on to consumers, and some top executives are openly admitting this

“At the end of the day, prices will go up on things,” Costco (COST) chief financial officer Richard Galanti told analysts last month. Dollar General (DG) Chief Financial Officer John Garratt also said the company’s low-income shopping base “will be facing higher prices as 2019 progresses.”

If prices go up but our paychecks stay the same, that means that our standard of living is going to go down.

And as I noted yesterday, it is being projected that U.S. corporate earnings will be way down in the second quarter, so the big corporations are definitely suffering as well.

Meanwhile, China is warning of substantial damage to their economy too, and the Chinese Ministry of Commerce just told the press that this trade war could lead to a global recession

Chinese Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Deng told a Beijing press conference on Thursday that “there will be no winner in the trade war, which could cause a recession in the United States and global economies.”

The ministry did not disclose US investment growth in China for the month of May alone, but the plunge seems to have coincided with the collapse of trade talks between Beijing and Washington.

Of course we were almost certainly heading toward a global recession anyway, but the trade war is definitely accelerating our problems.

At this point, global trade has already collapsed to levels not seen since the depths of the last recession.  Manufacturing numbers are plunging all over the world, and we just got some brand new numbers from the U.K. that are extremely alarming

Production output in the UK dropped by 2.7% in April from March, and GDP fell by 0.4% in just one month, according to the latest figures by the Office of National Statistics. The manufacturing sector provided the largest contribution to the downturn, with the manufacturing index plunging 3.9% in April, from March, its biggest monthly fall since June 2002.

June 2002 was 17 years ago.

Not even during the last recession did we witness a monthly decline of that magnitude.

The speed at which the global economy is now deteriorating is breathtaking, and the crisis that so many thought had passed us by could actually be right on the doorstep.

And of course most Americans are completely and utterly unprepared for any sort of an economic crisis.  Today, 59 percent of us are living paycheck to paycheck, and a survey that was just released discovered that the financial situation of most Americans has not improved since 2007

Bankrate surveyed 2,740 adults across the country. Of those surveyed, 2,315 were older than 18 when the recession started.

Among people who were adults before the recession hit, 33 percent said their financial situation is “about the same” as it was before 2007, while 23 percent said their situation is worse.

When you add those two numbers together, you get a total of 56 percent of all Americans that say that their financial situation is either “worse” or “about the same” as it was just before the last recession hit.

That isn’t good, and now another major downturn is here.

But of course most Americans assume that everything is going to be just fine.  For most of us, the pain of the last recession is a fading distant memory, and things have been relatively stable for an extended period of time.

So for the moment, most of the population is not too alarmed about what is coming.

Unfortunately, that will soon change in a major way.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

Economic Chaos Erupts! – Global Manufacturing Plunges, The Trade War Expands And The Nasdaq Enters Correction Territory

The global economic slowdown is really starting to accelerate.  Just within the past few days, we have gotten more really awful global manufacturing numbers, the trade war has expanded to more nations, and the Nasdaq has officially entered correction territory.  We have not witnessed this sort of global economic environment since the Great Recession, and if the economic chaos continues to escalate it won’t take too much to spark a brand new financial crisis.  Of course the global financial system is far more vulnerable than it was back in 2008, and so if we stay on the path that we are currently on we could be facing a nightmare scenario very rapidly.

Let’s talk about the manufacturing numbers first.  The numbers coming out of Germany are already at a crisis level, and manufacturing is also now contracting in Japan, South Korea and China as well.

Overall, global manufacturing as a whole has now fallen into contraction territory for the first time in seven years

Global manufacturing was the weakest since 2012 last month, a victim of mounting trade tensions and further reason to worry that the world economy is weakening.

With softness in Germany, Japan, the U.K. — as well as the lowest U.S. result in a decade — IHS Markit’s global Purchasing Managers Index fell to 49.8 in May, below the 50 level that divides expansion from contraction.

The reports underscore the growing threat posed by the escalating U.S.-China trade war, and they coincided with a fresh warning from Wall Street about recession risks.

The reason why so many people are freaking out about these numbers is because this is exactly what we would expect to see if we were entering a global recession.

Meanwhile, global financial markets are looking increasingly shaky.  On Monday, the Nasdaq fell another 120 points and it has now officially entered correction territory

Stocks ended mostly lower Monday, June’s first day of trading, amid reports that the U.S. government is planning to target a host of big tech companies with antitrust and business practice probes. Shares of Alphabet, Amazon, Facebook and Apple all weighed on the market during Monday’s session.

The Nasdaq dropped 1.6% to enter correction territory, closing more than 10% below its record high set in late April.

The term “correction territory” might not mean a lot to many of you, so let me put what is happening in terms you may understand.

On Monday alone, America’s most prominent tech stocks lost approximately 150 billion dollars in value.  It looks like the Trump administration is getting ready to go to war with the big tech companies, and that is really, really bad news for tech investors.  The following comes from Breitbart

The Masters of the Universe got hit hard by investors on Monday. Like $150 billion hard.

Shares of the top tech giants fell sharply on Monday after reports that U.S. antitrust regulators had divided up oversight of the sector, with the Department of Justice assuming responsibility for Alphabet and Apple and the Federal Trade Commission taking on Facebook and Amazon. This triggered fears that the government could mount challenges to the business models of the companies.

Shares of Alphabet dived 6.1 percent on Monday after the Wall Street Journal reported that the Justice Department is in the early stage of preparing an antitrust probe of the company. Reuters reported that the Department of Justice is also looking into Apple’s business for possible antitrust violations.

Speaking of war, our trade conflict with China continues to escalate.  The mainstream media hasn’t been talking much about it, but apparently the Chinese have decided to put purchases of U.S. soybeans “on hold” until a trade agreement is reached…

China, the world’s largest soybean buyer, has put purchases of American supplies on hold after the trade war between Washington and Beijing escalated, according to people familiar with the matter.

State-grain buyers haven’t received any further orders to continue with the so-called goodwill buying and don’t expect that to happen given the lack of agreement in trade negotiations, said the people, who asked not to be named because the information is private.

U.S. soybean farmers have been sitting on unprecedented amounts of soybeans in hopes that an end to the trade war would raise prices.

But instead, demand for U.S. soybeans is going to go through the floor, and this could potentially force thousands of soybean farmers into bankruptcy.

And in addition to our trade war with China, the Trump administration has apparently decided that now is a good time to start a trade war with Mexico

From produce to cars, a wide variety of Mexican goods could become more expensive if Trump follows through on his threat to hit Mexican imports with tariffs that soon could climb to 25%. Trump wants to pressure Mexico into doing more to halt the flow of Central American migrants to the U.S. via the Mexican border.

The tariffs, set to begin June 10, would gradually climb to 25% on Oct. 1 if Mexico doesn’t take steps “to dramatically reduce or eliminate” the number of migrants, Trump said Thursday. Such a strategy would hurt American shoppers, the economy and stocks, experts say, just as U.S. growth is slowing and the threat of more tariffs on Chinese imports looms larger.

At least in this case the U.S. and Mexico are still talking, and so perhaps some kind of resolution can be reached.

On top of everything else, the Trump administration has also just decided to add India to the trade war as well

Mr. Trump on Friday said India would be removed from the U.S.’s privileged-trading program called the Generalized System of Preferences on Wednesday. Under the decadeslong program meant for some developing economies, the U.S. had allowed India to avoid tariffs on certain exports to the U.S. in the interest of promoting tighter trade ties and development.

India, the U.S.’s ninth-largest trading partner, is a top beneficiary of the GSP program. Mr. Trump’s move will add tariffs of as much as 7% on Indian exports of goods like chemicals, auto parts and tableware to the U.S., which in 2018 accounted for more than 11%, or $6.3 billion, of India’s total exports of goods valued at $54.4 billion, according to the Congressional Research Service, a research agency for the U.S. Congress.

A global trade war is going to be incredibly painful for everyone, and this is all happening at a time when the global economy was already starting to slow down substantially.

Here in the United States, a lot of businesses are really starting to notice a big decline in economic activity.  Here is just one example that was published on Zero Hedge earlier today…

Down here, in Texas, I am seeing a big drop in economic activity over the last 6 months. Our healthcare businesses’ volume over this period is at 629, down from 770, year-on-year, almost a 20% decline, and the worst six month decline in our 15 year history. We have been pulling out all of the stops for business development, cutting overhead, and running all the QC traps to determine if it is something within our business, within our local market, within our industry, or having to do with the economy in general.

In this period, we have seen seven competitors go out of business in our city. We have recently confirmed similar experiences with colleagues in Kentucky, Colorado, and elsewhere in Texas. One of them asked me, “If this is not temporary, what would the strategy be?” My response was, “Hunker in the bunker and wait for everyone else to die.”

This is what we have all been preparing for, and things are going to get progressively tougher in the months ahead.

Unfortunately, most Americans are completely and totally clueless about what is ahead.  Today, 59 percent of all Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, and the truth is that the vast majority of us are entirely unprepared to go through another recession.

And of course many believe that what we are facing is going to be much worse than just a “recession”.  A perfect storm is rapidly coming together, and the chaos that we have seen so far is nothing compared to what is rapidly approaching.

Get Prepared NowAbout the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

All Of The Economic Momentum Is Moving In Just One Direction Now

Earlier today, I was greeted by this jarring headline when I visited the Drudge Report: “BONDS FLASH RECESSION WARNING”.  These days, it seems like the “R word” is being thrown around constantly, but at this time last year everyone was celebrating how well the economy was doing.  Unfortunately, we have witnessed a dramatic shift in recent months, and we just got some more really bad economic numbers.  Thanks to those bad numbers and an increasing amount of anxiety about the trade war, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell another 237 points on Monday.  That means that we are on pace to potentially see the Dow fall for a sixth week in a row, and that is something that hasn’t happened since the last recession.

But right now investors are far more spooked about what is going on in the bond market.  According to Mish Shedlock, we haven’t seen this many yield curve inversions “since the start of the Great Recession”…

On Friday, US Treasury yields plunged at the mid to long end of the curve providing the most inversions since the start of the Great Recession. This is the biggest recession warning since 2007.

In so many ways, what we are witnessing at this moment is very reminiscent of the conditions that prevailed just prior to the last financial crisis.

Back then, the economic numbers were definitely starting to slide, but most Americans didn’t think that we were heading toward big trouble.  But those that understood what was happening were sounding the alarm, and the same thing is happening today.  For example, the following comes from a CNBC article entitled “Morgan Stanley says economy is on ‘recession watch’ as bond market flashes warning”

“Recent data points suggest US earnings and economic risk is greater than most investors may think,” wrote Michael Wilson, the firm’s chief U.S. equity strategist.

Specifically, the stock strategist highlighted a recent survey from financial data firm IHS Markit that showed manufacturing activity fell to a nine-year low in May. That report also revealed a “notable slowdown” in the U.S. services sector, a key area for an American economy characterized by huge job gains in health care and business services.

In addition to disappointing manufacturing numbers, we also just learned that orders for capital goods were down significantly during the month of April…

The Commerce Department said on Friday orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business spending plans, dropped 0.9% last month as demand weakened almost across the board. Data for March was revised down to show these so-called core capital goods orders rising 0.3% instead of increasing 1.0% as previously reported.

Also, we just found out that U.S. home price gains have now fallen for 12 months in a row.

When you add those numbers to all of the other depressing economic numbers that have been rolling in lately, a very clear picture emerges.

The U.S. economy is heading in the wrong direction, and things are steadily getting worse.

A resolution to our trade war with China would be a huge economic boost in the short-term, but that is not likely to happen for the foreseeable future.  In fact, on Monday President Trump stated that he is “not ready” to make a deal with China

Bank shares fell broadly amid the lower interest rates. Goldman Sachs dropped 1.8% while Citigroup and J.P. Morgan Chase fell 0.9% and 1.1%, respectively. Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo also slipped.

The drop in bank shares and rates come after President Donald Trump said on Monday the U.S. was “not ready” to make a deal with China, before adding he expected one in the future. Trump also said tariffs on Chinese imports could go up “substantially.”

And the Chinese are clearly digging in as well.  The chief editor of the Global Times, Hu Xijin, has a very close relationship with top Chinese officials, and he just warned that China “is seriously considering restricting rare earth exports” to the United States…

While the official at China’s national planning body did not directly answer whether Beijing would restrict rare earth exports to the United States, Global Times Editor-in-chief Hu Xijin wrote on Twitter: ‘Based on what I know, China is seriously considering restricting rare earth exports to the U.S. China may also take other countermeasures in the future.’

Although the tabloid Global Times is not one of China’s official media, it is widely read and is published by the ruling Communist Party’s People’s Party newspaper.

Just a few days ago I published an entire article about the impact that such a move would have on the U.S. economy, and I won’t reproduce all of that information here.

But the bottom line is this – the U.S. economy would be in a massive amount of trouble if that happened.

A deteriorating relationship with China is part of the scenario that we have been anticipating, and events are definitely starting to accelerate now.

For most Americans, however, there is no reason to be concerned.  Most of us simply trust that our leaders in Washington have things under control and that everything will work out just fine somehow.

But if we do plunge into another deep economic crisis, many Americans will be in enormous trouble right away.  According to one recent survey, 45 percent of us rate our financial situations as either “fair” or “poor”

Nearly 30% of respondents rate their financial situation as “only fair” and 15% say it’s “poor.” Meanwhile, 25% worry “all” or “most” of the time that their household income won’t be enough to cover their expenses.

Their biggest concerns: Saving enough for retirement and unplanned medical costs, with 54% and 51%, respectively, saying they’re “very” or “moderately” worried about each prospect.

In addition, another recent survey discovered that 59 percent of all Americans are currently living paycheck to paycheck.

Just like last time around, most Americans are living on the edge financially.

And just like last time around, millions of Americans will be completely blind-sided by an economic train wreck that they didn’t see coming.

Get Prepared NowAbout the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

$220,000 For Every Man, Woman And Child – America Is Now 72 Trillion Dollars In Debt

Are you ready to cough up $220,000 to pay your share?  One of the reasons why a day of reckoning for the U.S. economy is inevitable is because we are in way too much debt.  The 22 trillion dollar debt that the federal government has accumulated gets most of the attention, but the truth is that we would still be 50 trillion dollars in debt even if the national debt was eliminated somehow.  Today, debt levels are exploding on every level of society.  Corporate debt has more than doubled since the last financial crisis, U.S. consumers are more than 13 trillion dollars in debt, and state and local governments are piling up debt as if tomorrow will never come.  According to a Federal Reserve chart that you can find right here, the total amount of debt in the U.S. financial system has now reached an astounding 72 trillion dollars.

My father was a math teacher for many years, and so I like numbers.

I divided $72,000,000,000,000 by the current population of the United States (Google says it is 327.2 million), and I discovered that it breaks down to more than $220,000 for every man, woman and child in the entire country.

So if you have a family of four, your share of all this debt is $880,000.

This debt bubble has been growing much, much faster than the overall economy for a very long time.  When Ronald Reagan took office the total amount of debt in our system was less than 5 trillion dollars, and when George W. Bush took office the total amount of debt in our system was just over 29 trillion dollars.

Just prior to the last financial crisis we surpassed the 54 trillion dollar mark, and so since that time we have added nearly 18 trillion dollars to our total.

Of course all of this debt will never actually be paid off.  The only thing left to do is to keep this debt bubble going for as long as possible, and the only way to do that is to keep it growing at a faster pace than the overall economy is growing.

And our financial engineers have definitely been successful in extending this Ponzi scheme for a lot longer than many of us had anticipated, but they can’t keep doing this indefinitely.

Every financial bubble in history has eventually ended, and this one will too.  I really like what Charles Hugh Smith had to say to Greg Hunter just the other day

Journalist and book author Charles Hugh Smith says the next market crash and recession will unfold like the bursting of the 2000 Dotcom bubble. Smith explains, “The bubble popped or deflated not for any crisis, but simply because there was too much debt, too much leverage, too much euphoria and unrealistic valuations. I think we are seeing that now in stocks, housing and a lot of other assets around the world. The valuations just exceed what makes financial sense. . . . And remember, we are at the longest expansion in history. It’s over 10 years, and the average expansion lasts 5, 6 or 7 years. So, this expansion is pretty long in tooth. . . . You will get a slowdown, and that is a self-reinforcing feedback loop. Once people stop buying houses and once people stop buying cars . . . then you are going to get people being laid off, less people being able to afford to eat out, and then you get a self-reinforcing recession. It’s not a crisis, but like an erosion because everybody is kind of tapped out.”

In the end, nobody can “fix” our system, because our debt-based financial system was fundamentally flawed when it was designed.  This is something that I have repeatedly pointed out, but unfortunately most Americans still don’t seem to understand this very basic concept.

If you have a financial system that is literally designed to endlessly create more debt, more money and more inflation, then you are living in a “bubble economy”.

And a “bubble economy” can seem fine as long as the bubble is inflating and economic activity seems to be humming along, but when things start to go bad they can go really, really bad very rapidly.

Individually, there is very little that we can do about our national debt, state and local government debt or corporate debt.  We can try to vote people into office that want to do the right thing, but unfortunately fiscal responsibility and financial reform are not hot button political issues right now.

But what we can do is get our own financial houses in order.  Now is not the time to take on more debt, and paying off any debt that you have already accumulated would be a very good thing.  This is something that Mac Slavo commented on in one of his recent articles

The real truth that no one seems to want to hear, is that those who took out these loans signed on the line and voluntarily entered into a contract.  If they didn’t understand the contract, it’s their responsibility (a big scary word) to ask or seek clarity before the agreement is made and signed. That’s called personal responsibility for your actions.  However, it’s lacking all over the globe, but particularly in the United States where people are always looking to blame others for their poor decisions that they themselves have made. “Blame the rich for my decision to go into debt and agree to bad terms!”

The debt crisis the U.S. has found itself in could very well cause another recession such as the one that started in 2008. This is exactly why personal wealth gurus such as Dave Ramsey and Future Money Trends‘ James Davis tell people to avoid debt if at all possible. Doing so will protect you when others start to default on their loans.  You can’t default if you haven’t borrowed money. It also won’t matter what type of predatory loans exist if people aren’t borrowing that money. Personal responsibility could help lead to more freedom. If people are not free to make bad decisions as well as good decisions, people are not free.

As for the nation as a whole, we can only hope that there is as much time as possible before the inevitable implosion comes.

For decades we have been making exceedingly foolish decisions, and the consequences of those decisions are going to be exceedingly painful indeed.

Get Prepared NowAbout the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

Uh Oh: The Number Of Job Openings In The U.S. Dropped By More Than Half A Million In Just One Month

According to the Labor Department, the number of job openings in the United States just plunged by the largest amount we have seen in nearly four years.  The latest JOLTS report shows that the number of job openings has declined by 538,000, and that is a really big number for just a single month.  But we shouldn’t be surprised by this at all, because it is perfectly consistent with all of the other dismal economic numbers that have been coming in recently.  An economic slowdown is here, and many believe that it is just getting started.

Very briefly, let’s review some of the reasons why we should expect to see the employment numbers get worse.  As the economy slows down, goods begin to pile up in our warehouses, and that is precisely what the numbers show.  In fact, the inventory to sales ratio in the U.S. has now increased for five months in a row.

Fewer sales should result in less stuff being shipped around the nation by freight, rail and air, and this is yet another thing that we see happening right now.  Overall, U.S. freight shipment volume has dropped for three months in a row.

Once businesses realize that economic conditions have changed, then they start reducing the number of job openings and laying off workers.  That is why employment statistics are often referred to as “trailing indicators”.  The employment numbers don’t usually start to go down until other indicators start dropping first.

And without a doubt, the employment numbers are starting to move.  Continuing jobless claims have been rising at the most rapid pace in 10 years, and U.S. businesses have been adding jobs at the slowest pace in 18 months.

With all of that in mind, we should not be surprised at all by this latest number

Job openings, a measure of labor demand, tumbled by 538,000 to a seasonally adjusted 7.1 million, the Labor Department said in its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS, report on Tuesday. The drop was the biggest since August 2015.

That is a really dreadful number, and there is no way to spin it to make it look good.

One factor that is shifting the employment environment is all of the minimum wage laws that are being passed around the country.

A number of liberal enclaves have raised the minimum wage to 15 dollars an hour, and as a result a lot of small businesses have been forced to let workers go

In what has become just one more example of government intervention going the exact opposite of what socialists intend, minimum wage laws are driving a “payroll tsunami.”  Small businesses are being forced to lay off workers in order to comply with a law demanding an increase in wages.

This isn’t all that surprising. Economists, small business owners, and other analysts have said that the net result of higher wages is a loss of jobs. And small businesses, who don’t have the capital or return that large corporations do, are feeling the proverbial pinch. According to Fox News, several mom-and-pop coffee shops and restaurants, are responding by cutting hours, eliminating jobs or closing down entirely because they can’t keep up with rising wages under the law.

My very first job was flipping burgers for McDonald’s, and I made $3.35 an hour doing it.  As a teenager, I was grateful to have such a job, but now such minimum wage jobs are in danger.  Wal-Mart and other major corporations are already making extensive use of robots to perform basic tasks, and making human workers more expensive is going to hurt those at the bottom of the economic food chain the most.

But for the moment, things are still relatively stable.  Most Americans still seem to believe that the bubble of debt-fueled economic “prosperity” that we are currently enjoying is going to continue for the foreseeable future, and they are spending money as if tomorrow will never come.

According to Zero Hedge, U.S. consumer credit has now surged past the 4 trillion dollar mark…

After a few months of wild swings in mid 2018, in February US consumer credit continued to normalize, rising by $15.2 billion, slightly below the $17 billion expected, following January’s $17.7 billion increase. The continued increase in borrowings saw total credit storm above $4 trillion, and hit a new all time high of $4.045 trillion on the back of a America’s ongoing love affair with auto and student loans, and of course credit cards.

We better hope that the U.S. economy is able to pull out of this new slowdown, because most of us are living right on the edge financially.

Sadly, we never seem to learn.  The same mistakes that we made last time around are all happening again, and Americans are completely and totally unprepared for what is coming.

And the warnings are all around us.  On Tuesday, the IMF downgraded their forecast for global economic growth for the third time in six months.  Commenting on this downgrade, IMF executive director Christine Lagarde noted that this is a “delicate moment” for the global economy…

Christine Lagarde, the IMF’s executive director, said the global economy is in a “delicate moment.”

“Only two years ago, 75% of the global economy experienced an upswing,” Lagarde said, according to the text of a speech she’s due to give at the US Chamber of Commerce. “For this year, we expect 70% of the global economy to experience a slowdown in growth.”

It is not often that I agree with a globalist like Christine Lagarde, but she is quite right in saying that this is a “delicate moment”.

Global economic numbers have not been this bad since the last financial crisis, and many believe that we have now reached a major turning point.

Get Prepared NowAbout the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

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