Brace For Impact! The U.S. Economy Is Going Down, And It Is Going Down Hard…

I have so many bad economic numbers to share with you that I don’t even know where to start.  I had anticipated that the U.S. economic slowdown would accelerate during the fourth quarter of 2019, and that is precisely what has happened.  The Federal Reserve is trying to do all that it can to keep us from officially slipping into a recession, and the federal government is literally spending money as if tomorrow will never come, but all of that intervention has not been enough to reverse our economic momentum.  We are really starting to see conditions begin to deteriorate very rapidly now, and 2020 is already shaping up to be the most pivotal year for the U.S. economy since 2008.

Let me start my analysis by discussing how U.S. consumers are doing right now.  According to CBS News, a major new study that was just released found that 70 percent of all Americans are struggling financially…

Many Americans remain in precarious financial shape even as the economy continues to grow, with 7 of 10 saying they struggling with at least one aspect of financial stability, such as paying bills or saving money.

The findings come from a survey of more than 5,400 Americans from the Financial Health Network, a nonprofit financial services consultancy. The project, which started a year ago, is aimed at assessing people’s financial health by asking about debt, savings, bills and wages, among other issues.

That sure doesn’t sound like a “booming economy”, does it?

And even though things are already really tough for millions upon millions of American families, it appears that things are rapidly getting worse.  In fact, we just witnessed the largest decline for the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index since 2008

Despite stocks soaring to record highs, The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort index fell last week to 58.0 from 59.1 a week earlier, and has now plunged 5.4 points in three weeks, the biggest such drop since 2008

Yes, the employment situation in this country is still relatively stable for the moment, but the truth is that most of the “jobs” that have been “created” in recent years actually pay very little.  If you can believe it, 58 million jobs in the United States currently pay less than $793 a week

There are now roughly 105 million production and nonsupervisory jobs in the U.S. That’s 83 percent of all private sector jobs. And more than half of them — 58 million — pay less than the average weekly U.S. wage of $793. Many of these jobs don’t offer health care or other benefits.

These are the best jobs that many Americans can find and the most hours they can get.

And I discussed in a previous article, 50 percent of all U.S. workers currently make less than $33,000 a year.

In recent years, many families have increasingly turned to debt in order to maintain their “middle class lifestyles”, but now a lot of those debts are starting to go bad.

In fact, the New York Fed just announced that serious auto loan delinquencies in the United States have hit a brand new record high.  The following comes from Wolf Richter

Serious auto-loan delinquencies – auto loans that are 90 days or more past due – in the third quarter of 2019, after an amazing trajectory, reached a historic high of $62 billion, according to data from the New York Fed today

Do you remember the subprime mortgage meltdown of 2008?

Well, a very similar thing is happening right now with auto loans.

Meanwhile, the bad economic numbers just keep rolling in.  Here are a few new data points that we have gotten since my last article…

-We just witnessed the worst decline for U.S. industrial production since 2009.

-The Cass Freight Index has just fallen for the 11th month in a row.

-Sears has announced that they will be laying off hundreds of workers as they continue to close stores at a very rapid pace.

At this point, it is going to be a real challenge to keep U.S. GDP growth above zero for the fourth quarter.  If you can believe it, the latest forecast from the Atlanta Fed is projecting a fourth quarter growth rate of just 0.3 percent…

The GDPNow model estimate for real GDP growth (seasonally adjusted annual rate) in the fourth quarter of 2019 is 0.3 percent on November 15, down from 1.0 percent on November 8. After this morning’s retail trade releases from the U.S. Census Bureau, and this morning’s industrial production report from the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, the nowcasts of fourth-quarter real personal consumption expenditures growth and fourth-quarter real gross private domestic investment growth decreased from 2.1 percent and -2.3 percent, respectively, to 1.7 percent and -4.4 percent, respectively.

That is terrible.

We aren’t talking about 3 percent.  They are projecting growth of “0.3 percent”, and if we slip below zero we could actually be in the beginning of a recession right now without even realizing it yet.

The Federal Reserve has been attempting to bolster the economy by cutting interest rates and by pumping massive amounts of money into the financial system.  They are telling us that this new round of money creation is “not QE”, but from the very beginning I have been pointing out that it really is more quantitative easing, and many in the financial world are starting to acknowledge this reality

After a month of constant verbal gymnastics (and diarrhea from financial pundit sycophants who can’t think creatively or originally and merely parrot their echo chamber in hopes of likes/retweets) by the Fed that the recent launch of $60 billion in T-Bill purchases is anything but QE (whatever you do, don’t call it “QE 4”, just call it “NOT QE” please), one bank finally had the guts to say what was so obvious to anyone who isn’t challenged by simple logic: the Fed’s “NOT QE” is really “QE.”

In a note warning that the Fed’s latest purchase program – whether one calls it QE or NOT QE – will have big, potentially catastrophic costs, Bank of America’s Ralph Axel writes that in the aftermath of the Fed’s new program of T-bill purchases to increase the amount of reserves in the banking system, the Fed made an effort to repeatedly inform markets that this is not a new round of quantitative easing, and yet as the BofA strategist notes, “in important ways it is similar.”

But as I discussed earlier, all of the Fed’s efforts are not working.

No matter how hard they try, they have not been able to reverse our economic momentum.

And many people believe that what we have seen so far is just the tip of the iceberg.  In fact, trends forecaster Gerald Celente is convinced that we are heading for “the Greatest Depression”

You think you have a crisis in a country near you now? You haven’t seen anything. When the Greatest Depression hits, people are going to be escaping violence, poverty, corruption — civil wars are happening in front of everybody’s eyes. And you think you’ve got a homeless problem in a city near you? You haven’t seen anything. You are going to see homeless everywhere. This is out of control and it’s going to only get worse as the global economy slows down…

And you know what?

He’s right.

What is coming is going to make 2008 look like a Sunday picnic, and our society is completely and utterly unprepared for what is about to happen.

About the Author: I am a voice crying out for change in a society that generally seems content to stay asleep. My name is Michael Snyder and I am the publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News, and the articles that I publish on those sites are republished on dozens of other prominent websites all over the globe. I have written four books that are available on Amazon.com including The Beginning Of The End, Get Prepared Now, and Living A Life That Really Matters. (#CommissionsEarned) By purchasing those books you help to support my work. I always freely and happily allow others to republish my articles on their own websites, but due to government regulations I need those that republish my articles to include this “About the Author” section with each article. In order to comply with those government regulations, I need to tell you that the controversial opinions in this article are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the websites where my work is republished. This article may contain opinions on political matters, but it is not intended to promote the candidacy of any particular political candidate. The material contained in this article is for general information purposes only, and readers should consult licensed professionals before making any legal, business, financial or health decisions. Those responding to this article by making comments are solely responsible for their viewpoints, and those viewpoints do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of Michael Snyder or the operators of the websites where my work is republished. I encourage you to follow me on social media on Facebook and Twitter, and any way that you can share these articles with others is a great help.

Guess Who Is Preparing For A Major Stock Market Crash?

Pessimism is spreading like wildfire on Wall Street, and this is particularly true among one very important group of investors.  And considering how much money they have, it may be wise to listen to what they are telling us.  According to a very alarming survey that was recently conducted by UBS Wealth Management, most wealthy investors now believe that there will be a “significant” stock market decline before the end of next year.  The following comes from Yahoo Finance

Wealthy people around the globe are hunkering down for a potentially turbulent 2020, according to UBS Global Wealth Management.

A majority of rich investors expect a significant drop in markets before the end of next year, and 25% of their average assets are currently in cash, according to a survey of more than 3,400 global respondents. The U.S.-China trade conflict is their top geopolitical concern, while the upcoming American presidential election is seen as another significant threat to portfolios.

Of course this could ultimately become something of a self-fulfilling prophecy if enough wealthy investors pull their money out of stocks and start increasing their cash reserves instead.  Nobody wants to be the last one out of the barn, and it isn’t going to take too much of a spark to set off a full-blown panic.  Perhaps the most troubling number from the entire survey is the fact that almost 80 percent of the wealthy investors that UBS surveyed believe that “volatility is likely to increase”

Nearly four-fifths of respondents say volatility is likely to increase, and 55% think there will be a significant market sell-off before the end of 2020, according to the report which was conducted between August and October and polled those with at least $1 million in investable assets. Sixty percent are considering increasing their cash levels further, while 62% plan to increase diversification across asset classes.

During volatile times for the market, stocks tend to go down.

And during extremely volatile times, stocks tend to go down very rapidly.

Could it be possible that many of these wealthy investors have gotten wind of some things that the general public doesn’t know about yet?

Of course the truth is that anyone with half a brain can see that stock valuations are ridiculously bloated right now and that a crash is inevitable at some point.

And as I noted yesterday, corporate insiders are currently selling off stocks at the fastest pace in about two decades.

But why is there suddenly so much concern about 2020?

A different survey of business executives that was recently conducted found that 62 percent of them believe that “a recession will happen within the next 18 months”

A majority of respondents – 62% – believe a recession will happen within the next 18 months. Private companies are particularly worried that a recession lurks in the near term, with 39% anticipating a recession in the next 12 months. This compares with 33% of public company respondents who felt the same way. About one-quarter – 23% – of respondents do not expect a recession within the next two years.

62 percent is a very solid majority, and without a doubt we are starting to see businesses pull back on investment in a major way.

In fact, according to Axios business investment in the United States has now dropped for six months in a row…

  • Business investment has fallen for six months straight and declined by 3% in the third quarter, the largest drop since 2015.
  • The retrenchment by businesses helped turn Wednesday’s U.S. workforce productivity report — a key economic metric that compares goods-and-services output to the number of labor hours worked — negative for the first time in four years.

I know that I bombard my readers with numbers like this on an almost daily basis, but I cannot stress enough how ominous the economic outlook is at this point.

And it isn’t just the U.S. that we need to be concerned about.  Two other surveys that measure the business outlook for the entire globe just fell to their lowest levels in a decade

The IHS Markit global business outlook—which surveys 12,000 companies three times a year—fell to the worst level since 2009, when data was first collected.

The Ifo world economic outlook, which surveys 1,230 people in 117 countries, fell in the fourth quarter to the worst level since the second quarter of 2009.

Markit’s poll found optimism for activity, employment and profits in the year ahead were all at the lowest level since the financial crisis. Markit also reported a decline in planned investment spending, with inflation expectations at a three-year low.

It is really happening.

The global economy really is heading into a major downturn.

And once this crisis really gets rolling, it is going to be exceedingly painful.

All across America, big companies are already starting to go under at a pace that is absolutely frightening.  For instance, on Tuesday one of the biggest dairy companies in the entire country filed for bankruptcy

Dairy giant Dean Foods filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as declining milk sales take a toll on the industry.

Dean Foods – whose more than 50 brands include Dean’s, Land O’ Lakes and Country Fresh – said it intends to continue operating.

The company said it “is engaged in advanced discussions” for a sale to Dairy Farmers of America, a national milk cooperative representing farmers, producers and brands such as Borden cheese and Kemps Dairy.

I have quite a few relatives in Minnesota, and I have always had a soft spot for Land O’Lakes butter.  So it definitely saddened me to hear that this was happening.

But a lot more major casualties are coming.

Of course the economic optimists will continue to insist that we are just experiencing a few bumps on a path that leads to a wonderful new era of American prosperity.  They will continue to tell us of a great “financial harvest” that is about to happen even when things are falling apart all around us.

You can believe them if you want, but most wealthy investors and most business owners believe that hard times are dead ahead.

I have never seen so much pessimism about a coming year as I am seeing about 2020 right now.

There is a growing national consensus that it is going to be a very chaotic year, and I would recommend using what little time you have left to get prepared for it.

About the Author: I am a voice crying out for change in a society that generally seems content to stay asleep. My name is Michael Snyder and I am the publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News, and the articles that I publish on those sites are republished on dozens of other prominent websites all over the globe. I have written four books that are available on Amazon.com including The Beginning Of The End, Get Prepared Now, and Living A Life That Really Matters. (#CommissionsEarned) By purchasing those books you help to support my work. I always freely and happily allow others to republish my articles on their own websites, but due to government regulations I need those that republish my articles to include this “About the Author” section with each article. In order to comply with those government regulations, I need to tell you that the controversial opinions in this article are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the websites where my work is republished. This article may contain opinions on political matters, but it is not intended to promote the candidacy of any particular political candidate. The material contained in this article is for general information purposes only, and readers should consult licensed professionals before making any legal, business, financial or health decisions. Those responding to this article by making comments are solely responsible for their viewpoints, and those viewpoints do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of Michael Snyder or the operators of the websites where my work is republished. I encourage you to follow me on social media on Facebook and Twitter, and any way that you can share these articles with others is a great help.

If Impeachment Fails, Will The Elite Crash The Economy In Order To Prevent Four More Years Of Trump?


By now, it is exceedingly obvious that the global elite absolutely hate Donald Trump.  No president in U.S. history has faced such a relentless assault by the corporate media, and there have been attempts to sabotage his presidency at every turn.  Miraculously, Trump has survived all of these attacks so far, but now the specter of impeachment looms large over his administration.  The Democrats have a solid majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, they are working quickly toward drafting articles of impeachment, and they actually hope to have Trump impeached by Christmas Day.  But in order to have Trump removed from office, 67 votes will be needed in the Senate, and right now Democrats only control 47 of those seats.  It was always going to be tough for Democrats to get 20 Republicans in the Senate to turn on Trump, but they have bungled this process so badly that they might not end up getting any at all.

That scenario will become even more likely if House Republicans stand solidly united behind Trump, and at this point even the Washington Post is admitting that there is a possibility “that not a single House Republican” will vote for the articles of impeachment…

Congressional Republicans are sticking with their party leader in the face of thousands of pages of evidence showing President Trump leveraged foreign policy for political favors, raising the possibility that not a single House Republican will vote for his impeachment.

Of course it will only take a simple majority to impeach Trump in the House, and Democrats will be able to do that with no problem, but it appears that the effort to remove Trump will be completely dead when it gets to the Senate.

Yes, things could still change and this is a very fluid situation, but as things stand today it seems that Trump is safe.

So what are the elite going to do if impeachment fails?

They are facing the prospect that Trump could actually win again in 2020, and that would mean that he would remain in the White House until January 2025.

For many among the elite, such a scenario must be avoided at all costs.  And the quickest way to get the general public to turn on any president is for the economy to crumble.

This is one of the reasons why some prominent voices on the left have been openly wishing for a recession.  For example, just check out what Bill Maher said not too long ago

“I’ve been saying for about two years that I hope we have a recession and people get mad at me,” said Maher, a multimillionaire who would likely be well insulated from a financial downturn.

“I’m just saying we can survive a recession,” he continued. “We’ve had 47 of them. We’ve had one every time there’s a Republican president! They don’t last forever, You know what lasts forever? Wiping out species!”

Maher is literally wishing for economic pain for more than 300 million Americans just so that another four years of Trump can be avoided.

That is how obsessed some of these radicals are with getting rid of Trump.

And without a doubt, the performance of the economy could be Trump’s Achilles heel.  Whenever any piece of good economic news comes out, he eagerly takes credit for it, and he has publicly warned that there will be an economic crash if a Democrat wins in 2020…

President Donald Trump predicted doom if he isn’t re-elected in 2020, saying that the economy would “CRASH” like it did during the Great Depression.

In a tweet Wednesday morning, the president called the crowded field of Democratic challengers “clowns” and compared the prospects of one of them winning to the stock market collapse of 1929.

Even though many Democrats on Wall Street absolutely hate Trump, it is undeniable that they have made out very well while he has been in the White House.  In fact, only three presidents have seen the stock market perform better during their first three years in office

Stock market performance in first three years since Trump’s election, then, ranks fourth among the 14 elected presidents since Herbert Hoover. That’s pretty good! It’s worth noting, though, that there’s not a whole lot separating him from John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush. A bad week or two, and he could easily fall to eighth place. On the other hand, falling to ninth would take some work, as would catching up to Dwight Eisenhower for third. Put into letter grades, I’d give the market’s performance since Trump’s election a solid B.

But what happens if the stock market crashes and the U.S. economy plunges into a deep recession in 2020?

Well, just as Trump has been getting credit for the good things that have happened in recent years, he would also get the blame if things got really bad.

Of course that wouldn’t actually be fair, because the truth is that the Federal Reserve actually has far more influence over the performance of the economy and the performance of the stock market than the president does.

But the general public does not understand these things.

When things really start to fall apart, people are going to blame whoever is in the White House, and since Trump was so eager to take credit when things were going good he won’t have any way to avoid the blame when things severely deteriorate.

So would the global elite really resort to “the nuclear option” of crashing the economy in order to prevent Trump from winning the next election?

You never know, but it is entirely possible.  Today, debt is the lifeblood of our economy, and if the big banks started to tighten up the flow of credit that would begin to slow down our economy immediately.  And as I noted yesterday, we are already starting to see banks deny loans to farmers in the middle of the country on a widespread basis.  The tighter that lenders become with their money, the worse that our economy will do, and this is something that we should be watching closely.

The stock market is also a potential flashpoint.  Right now, insiders are selling off their stocks “at the fastest pace in two decades”, and valuations are ridiculously inflated.  Companies that are losing giant mountains of money every single year are supposedly worth billions of dollars, and the market has been going up for so long that most investors have completely forgotten about 2008.  But at some point this entire charade is going to come crashing down, and it wouldn’t take very much of a “push” to make that happen.

There is an even bigger bubble in the bond market.  Today, there is 188 trillion dollars of debt in the global financial system, and those at the very top of the economic food chain control much of that debt.  Could it be possible that they would be willing to unleash a bit of chaos in order to achieve their political goals?

I don’t think that the global elite really want to go through a major crisis, but at this point for many of them just about anything is preferable to four more years of Trump.

We are less than two months away from 2020, and I truly believe that it will be the most chaotic year that any of us have seen in a very long time.

There are a lot of very powerful people that are absolutely determined to keep Trump from winning this upcoming election, and they would be willing to do just about anything in order to make that happen.

About the Author: I am a voice crying out for change in a society that generally seems content to stay asleep. My name is Michael Snyder and I am the publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News, and the articles that I publish on those sites are republished on dozens of other prominent websites all over the globe. I have written four books that are available on Amazon.com including The Beginning Of The End, Get Prepared Now, and Living A Life That Really Matters. (#CommissionsEarned) By purchasing those books you help to support my work. I always freely and happily allow others to republish my articles on their own websites, but due to government regulations I need those that republish my articles to include this “About the Author” section with each article. In order to comply with those government regulations, I need to tell you that the controversial opinions in this article are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the websites where my work is republished. This article may contain opinions on political matters, but it is not intended to promote the candidacy of any particular political candidate. The material contained in this article is for general information purposes only, and readers should consult licensed professionals before making any legal, business, financial or health decisions. Those responding to this article by making comments are solely responsible for their viewpoints, and those viewpoints do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of Michael Snyder or the operators of the websites where my work is republished. I encourage you to follow me on social media on Facebook and Twitter, and any way that you can share these articles with others is a great help.

For Millions Of Americans In The Middle Of The Country, It Feels Like An Economic Depression Right Now

What do you do when you have lost all hope that things will ever turn around?  It may still feel like “the economy is booming” for those at the top end of the economic food chain in big coastal cities such as New York and San Francisco, but for millions of hard working Americans in the middle of the country, talk of a “coming recession” is absolutely ludicrous because it already feels like a severe economic depression is happening right now.  In America’s heartland, bankruptcies are surging, debt burdens are becoming overwhelming, and suicide rates are spiking to unprecedented levels.  We have not seen economic despair this extreme since the last recession, and I am about to share a story with you that will absolutely break your heart.

At one time, South Dakota farmers Chris and Amber Dykshorn looked toward the future with great optimism.  But mounting debts and several years of disastrous weather changed all that, and in June their community was shocked when Chris took his own life

Amber Dykshorn stood at her kitchen window and watched the storm come in.

It was a very dark Saturday night in the middle of the summer in the middle of a year that is on track to be the wettest in more than a century. The wind blew over the farm, the rain came down and she heard the ominous pings on her roof – pea-sized hail, striking the still-fragile stalks of the only corn her husband, Chris Dykshorn, was able to plant before he took his own life in June.

Chris had lost all hope.

The couple was absolutely drowning in debt, and they desperately needed a good year just to keep the farm going.

But then the rain just kept on coming, and now Amber has to deal with three young kids and $300,000 in farm debt all by herself

Did their crop insurance cover hail damage? She had no idea. That was something Chris would have taken care of, if he were here. Instead she was alone, with nearly $300,000 in farm debt, three kids ages 5 to 13 and a host of grief-fueled questions. Why hadn’t she been able to save him? What would happen to them now?

Sadly, the Dykshorns are not an isolated case.

All across the Midwest, farms are going under at a staggering rate.  According to the vice president of the National Farmers Union, the state of Wisconsin is “losing two farms a day” at this point…

“You look at the weather, you look at the crops you can’t get off the field, you look at the bills you can’t pay,” Patty Edelburg, vice president of the National Farmers Union, told Yahoo Finance. “Bankruptcies are up. Wisconsin is attributed as the No. 1 bankruptcy in the nation right now, when it comes to dairy farmers. That number is up, I think, 24% from last year already. We’re losing two farms a day.”

If you can believe it, the state of Wisconsin “lost almost 1,200 dairy farms” between 2016 and 2018.

Overall, the number of dairy farms in the state has fallen by 49 percent during the last 15 years.

Just think about that.

Half of all the dairy farms in our most important dairy producing state are completely gone.

And instead of tapering off, this “farm apocalypse” just continues to pick up speed.  Sadly, the bankers are contributing to this crisis in a major way by denying loans to many of these troubled farmers

“Farming is such a stressful occupation by itself,” Edelburg said. “When you start adding financial stress on top of it, it’s just going to add more stress. Farmers can’t pay their bills, they have no extra money, they have people honing down their neck looking to pay bills. They’re going to banks and they can’t get loans. They’re literally being denied loans.”

When you are already drowning in debt and your crops are failing and the banks won’t give you any more money, it can seem like there is no way out.

This is the position that Chris Dykshorn found himself in, and we can get an idea of what his emotional state was like just before he committed suicide from the final texts that he sent to his wife

“I’m struggling so bad today. I don’t know what to do anymore,” he texted on May 31. “I seriously don’t know how we r gonna make it.”

On June 1: “I just want to sit in the house and cry.”

And then: “What am I supposed to do. I am failing and feel like I’m gonna lose everything I’ve worked for the past how many years.”

As I have stressed over and over, suicide is never the answer.  But when someone loses all hope that there will ever be an opportunity to turn things around, it can be very difficult to keep going.

Meanwhile, money is flowing like wine on Wall Street thanks to the Federal Reserve.  The unelected Fed has been pumping billions upon billions of dollars into the financial markets, and this has resulted in a higher concentration of wealth among the top one percent than ever before.  The following comes from Bloomberg

The top 1% of American households have enjoyed huge returns in the stock market in the past decade, to the point that they now control more than half of the equity in U.S. public and private companies, according to data from the Federal Reserve. Those fat portfolios have America’s elite gobbling up an ever-bigger piece of the pie.

The very richest had assets of about $35.4 trillion in the second quarter, or just shy of the $36.9 trillion held by the tens of millions of people who make up the 50th percentile to the 90th percentile of Americans — much of the middle and upper-middle classes.

In essence, Wall Street is being showered by “welfare money” from the Federal Reserve, and nobody is holding the Fed accountable.

At the same time, tens of millions of American families are working low paying jobs and are just barely getting by from month to month.  The following comes from Zero Hedge

For instance, a new report sheds light on 53 million Americans, or about 44% of all US workers, aged 18 to 64, are considered low-wage and low-skilled.

Many of these folks are stuck in the gig economy, making approximately $10.22 per hour, and they bring home less than $20,000 per year, according to a Brookings Institution report.

Today, half of all American workers make less than $33,000 a year.  As the cost of living continues to rise much faster than wages do, hard working Americans are increasingly turning to debt in order to make ends meet, and during the next recession many families will not be able to service those debts.

All over the nation, we are watching a tragedy play out in slow motion.

America’s heartland is being gutted, and the “next recession” hasn’t even officially started yet.  But soon enough it will, and the deep depression that we are already witnessing in many parts of the middle of the country will get a lot worse.

About the Author: I am a voice crying out for change in a society that generally seems content to stay asleep. My name is Michael Snyder and I am the publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News, and the articles that I publish on those sites are republished on dozens of other prominent websites all over the globe. I have written four books that are available on Amazon.com including The Beginning Of The End, Get Prepared Now, and Living A Life That Really Matters. (#CommissionsEarned) By purchasing those books you help to support my work. I always freely and happily allow others to republish my articles on their own websites, but due to government regulations I need those that republish my articles to include this “About the Author” section with each article. In order to comply with those government regulations, I need to tell you that the controversial opinions in this article are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the websites where my work is republished. This article may contain opinions on political matters, but it is not intended to promote the candidacy of any particular political candidate. The material contained in this article is for general information purposes only, and readers should consult licensed professionals before making any legal, business, financial or health decisions. Those responding to this article by making comments are solely responsible for their viewpoints, and those viewpoints do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of Michael Snyder or the operators of the websites where my work is republished. I encourage you to follow me on social media on Facebook and Twitter, and any way that you can share these articles with others is a great help.

Middle Class Death Spiral: Consumers Have Never Been In More Debt, And Bankruptcies Are Surging

This wasn’t supposed to happen.  During the relative economic stability of the past few years, the middle class was supposed to experience a resurgence, but instead it has just continued to be hollowed out.  The cost of living has risen much faster than wages have, and as a result hard working families all over America are being stretched financially like never before.  Even though most of us are working, 59 percent of all Americans are currently living paycheck to paycheck, and almost 50 million Americans are living in poverty.  In a desperate attempt to continue their middle class lifestyles, many Americans have been piling up mountains of debt, and it has gotten to the point where we have a major crisis on our hands.

According to the New York Post, the total amount of debt that U.S. households have accumulated is about to cross the 14 trillion dollar mark for the first time ever…

Meanwhile, record American household debt, near $14 trillion including mortgages and student loans, is some $1 trillion higher than during the Great Recession of 2008. Credit card debt of $1 trillion also exceeds the 2008 peak.

Americans are spending heavily, again — and often recklessly, say analysts.

This is the exact opposite of what U.S. consumers should be doing.  We can see signs of a fresh economic slowdown all around us, and consumers should be feverishly trying to get out of debt as fast as they can.

But instead, debt levels just keep setting record after record.  In fact, total student loan debt just hit a brand new record high of 1.605 trillion dollars, and auto loan debt just hit a brand new record high of 1.174 trillion dollars.

It would be one thing if we could handle all of this debt, but that isn’t the case.  Bankruptcies have been steadily rising, and according to the latest figures the number of bankruptcy filings shot up another 5 percent in the month of July

Bankruptcy petitions for consumers and businesses are on the rise. There was a 5% increase in total bankruptcy filings in July 2019 from the previous month, the American Bankruptcy Institute said this week. There were 64,283 bankruptcy filings, up from 62,241 for the same period last year.

Unfortunately, this is probably just the beginning.

Right now, most of the country is living on the edge financially, and so a major economic slowdown would inevitably cause another enormous tsunami of consumer bankruptcies like we saw in 2008.

Even now, things are already so bad that many hard working “middle class” workers in high-cost cities such as New York are so financially stretched that they have to rely on free food from local food banks

“In high-cost cities like New York, personal incomes are not often enough to pay the household bills,” Zac Hall, vice president of anti-poverty programs at the Food Bank For New York City, told The Post. “We are seeing people using consumer debt as a way to make ends meet when they come here,” he added, citing the pressures his nonprofit faces to keep up the distribution of food and meals at no cost to some 1.5 million New Yorkers.

If 1.5 million people in New York are being fed by food banks now while things are still relatively stable, how bad will things be when the economy really starts to tank?

For decades, the “almighty U.S. consumer” was one of the fundamental pillars of our economy, but now that is no longer true.

U.S. consumers simply do not have a lot of discretionary income to spend these days, and this is killing major retailers all over the nation.  We are on pace to absolutely shatter the all-time record for store closings in a single year, and within the past 7 days more big retailers have announced that they will be permanently shutting down stores.

For example, Walgreens just announced that they will be closing “approximately 200 U.S. stores”

Walgreens plans to close approximately 200 U.S. stores, the company announced Tuesday in an SEC filing.

According to the document posted Tuesday on the Securities and Exchange Commission website, the move to close stores follows “a review of the real estate footprint in the United States.”

That wouldn’t be happening if the U.S. economy really was “booming”.

Here is another example that comes to us from Wolf Street

A’Gaci, a young women’s fashion retailer based in Texas, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Thursday, for the second time, after having filed for the first time in January 2018. This time, it will liquidate. All its remaining 54 stores in seven states and Puerto Rico will be closed – the “bulk” of them by the end of this month.

In addition, we just learned that Party City is going to be closing more stores than expected in 2019

Party City is increasing the number of stores expected to shutter this year.

The New Jersey-based party supplies company said it was looking to close 55 stores throughout the year, up 10 from the May estimate of 45 stores.

I honestly don’t know what malls and shopping centers all over the U.S. are going to do.  I once warned of a future in which America’s landscape would be littered with abandoned stores, and that future has now arrived.

For the moment, those at the very top of the economic pyramid are still doing okay, but the middle class is eroding a little bit more with each passing day.  For much more on this, I would encourage you to check out this Youtube video by Jeremiah Babe.

I have been writing about the evisceration of the U.S. middle class for a decade, and the condition of the middle class right now is as bad as I have ever seen it.

And as we plunge into this new economic downturn, things are only going to get worse.  The middle class is absolutely drowning in debt, and even a mild recession would be enough to financially wipe out millions of American families.

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.

It’s Only April, And U.S. Retailers Have Already Closed More Stores Than They Did ALL Of Last Year

If the U.S. economy is in good shape, why have retailers already shuttered more stores than they did in all of 2018?  Not only that, we are also on pace to absolutely shatter the all-time record for store closures in a single year by more than 50 percent.  Yes, Internet commerce is growing, but the Internet has been around for several decades now.  It isn’t as if this threat just suddenly materialized.  As Internet commerce continues to slowly expand, we would expect to see a steady drip of brick and mortar stores close, but instead what we are witnessing is an avalanche.  If the U.S. economy really was “booming”, this wouldn’t be happening.  But if the U.S. economy was heading into a recession, this is precisely what we would expect to see.

Last year, U.S. retailers closed 5,864 stores.

That was a rather depressing number, but here we are in April 2019 and we have already surpassed it.  The following comes from CNN

This year, US retailers have announced that 5,994 stores will close. That number already exceeds last year’s total of 5,864 closure announcements, according to a recent report from Coresight Research.

At this time last year, there was a lot of optimism for the retail industry.  Foot traffic at our shopping centers rose steadily throughout the early portion of the year before peaking in August.

But then something changed, and since that time there has been a clear downward trend

Foot traffic at some of the best shopping centers across the country peaked around August 2018 and has since started to fall, after rebounding for much of last year, according to a new report from data analytics firm Thasos, which uses more than 100 million mobile phones to track when consumers enter and leave certain trade areas.

Once again, you can’t blame this on Internet commerce.  Foot traffic was rising for quite a while, but now what we are seeing is perfectly consistent with an economic slowdown.

Sadly, this could be just the beginning.  In fact, one expert quoted by CNBC expects total store closures in the U.S. to hit 12,000 by the end of 2019…

“I expect store closures to accelerate in 2019, hitting some 12,000 by year end,” Deborah Weinswig, founder and CEO of Coresight, said.

If that happens, we will shatter the old yearly record by about 4,000.

We are in the early innings of America’s “retail apocalypse”, and it is going to get much, much worse.

Of course it isn’t just the retail industry that is hurting right now.  With each passing day, we continue to get more signs that the U.S. economy is sliding into a new recession.  For example, we just learned that during the first quarter of 2019 U.S. manufacturing was down 1.1 percent compared to a year ago…

Manufacturing fell 1.1 percent in the first three months of the year compared to the same period of 2018, the Fed reported.

The biggest reason for the decline in manufacturing is quite obvious.  Businesses are absolutely swamped with unsold inventory, and the inventory to sales ratio in the U.S. has been steadily rising for months.

Earlier today, a Bloomberg article commented on the bloated inventories that we are seeing all over the nation…

One overhang is the auto market, where the six-month average of dealer stocks of cars and trucks matches the highest since 2009 at 75 days. Manufacturers and sellers of furniture and clothing share the same problem, as do small businesses. The inventory swing is likely to exacerbate the U.S. slowdown, with the economy already facing headwinds from the waning impact of tax cuts, slowing global growth and continuing trade tensions.

As economic activity slows down, less stuff is being shipped around the nation by air, rail and truck.  We just got a new update from the Cass Freight Index, and it shows that freight shipment volume in the U.S. has now fallen for four months in a row

Freight shipment volume in the US across all modes of transportation – truck, rail, air, and barge – in March fell 1% from last year, according to the Cass Freight Index. It was the fourth month in a row of year-over-year declines, and the first declines since the transportation recession of 2015 and 2016.

For my regular readers, these new numbers should be no surprise, because I have been tracking these trends for an extended period of time.

All of the numbers are telling us that economic conditions are getting worse, and all of the experts are telling us that we are way overdue for another recession.

Unfortunately, it isn’t likely to be “just another recession”.  As I have repeatedly stressed, all of our long-term economic and financial problems have gotten far worse since the last recession.  We have never seen bubbles like the bubbles that we are facing now, and the stage is set for the greatest meltdown in American history.

The only reason why we have even been able to get this far is by ruthlessly mortgaging the future.  We borrowed trillions upon trillions of dollars that we should not have borrowed, and the Federal Reserve relentlessly pumped “hot money” into overheated financial markets.

Those “emergency measures” were able to stabilize the U.S. economy for a while, but in the process they made our long-term problems much, much worse.

In the end, it isn’t just the retail industry that is heading for an “apocalypse”.  Our entire economy is built on a foundation of sand, and a giant storm is rapidly approaching our shores.

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.

We Have Seen This Happen Before The Last 3 Recessions – And Now It Is The Worst It Has Ever Been

Since the last financial crisis, we have witnessed the greatest corporate debt binge in U.S. history.  Corporate debt has more than doubled since then, and it is now sitting at a grand total of more than 9 trillion dollars.  Of course there have been other colossal corporate debt binges throughout our history, and they all ended badly.  In fact, the ratio of corporate debt to U.S. GDP rose above 40 percent prior to each of the last three recessions, but this time around we have found a way to top that.  According to Forbes, the ratio of nonfinancial corporate debt to U.S. GDP is now nearly 50 percent…

Since the last recession, nonfinancial corporate debt has ballooned to more than $9 trillion as of November 2018, which is nearly half of U.S. GDP. As you can see below, each recession going back to the mid-1980s coincided with elevated debt-to-GDP levels—most notably the 2007-2008 financial crisis, the 2000 dot-com bubble and the early ’90s slowdown.

You can see the chart they are talking about right here, and it clearly shows that each of the last three recessions coincided with the bursting of an enormous corporate debt bubble.

This time around the corporate debt bubble is larger than it has ever been before, and risky corporate debt has been growing faster than any other category

Through 2023, as much as $4.88 trillion of this debt is scheduled to mature. And because of higher rates, many companies are increasingly having difficulty making interest payments on their debt, which is growing faster than the U.S. economy, according to the Institute of International Finance (IIF).

On top of that, the very fastest-growing type of debt is riskier BBB-rated bonds—just one step up from “junk.” This is literally the junkiest corporate bond environment we’ve ever seen.

Needless to say, the stage is set for a corporate debt meltdown of epic proportions.

What makes this debt bubble even worse is the way that our big corporations have been spending the money that they are borrowing.

Instead of spending the money to build factories, hire workers and expand their businesses, our big corporations have been spending more money on stock buybacks than anything else.

Every year, publicly traded corporations spend hundreds of billions of dollars buying back their own stocks from shareholders, and much of that is being done with borrowed money.

For example, in recent years General Motors has spent nearly 14 billion dollars on stock buybacks.  And that number certainly sounds quite impressive until you learn that General Electric has spent a whopping 40 billion dollars on stock buybacks.

Sadly, both corporate behemoths are now absolutely drowning in debt as a result of their foolishness.

In the final analysis, borrowing money to fund stock buybacks is little more than an elaborate Ponzi scheme.  In their endless greed, corporate executives are cannibalizing their own companies because it makes some people wealthier in the short-term.

And now this giant corporate debt bubble has reached a bursting point, and there is no way that this story is going to end well.

Meanwhile, another financial bubble of epic proportions is also getting a lot of attention these days.  If you are not familiar with “shadow banking”, here is a pretty good explanation from CNBC

Nonbank lending, an industry that played a central role in the financial crisis, has been expanding rapidly and is still posing risks should credit conditions deteriorate.

Often called “shadow banking” — a term the industry does not embrace — these institutions helped fuel the crisis by providing lending to underqualified borrowers and by financing some of the exotic investment instruments that collapsed when subprime mortgages fell apart.

This kind of lending has absolutely exploded all over the globe since the last recession, and it has now become a 52 trillion dollar bubble

In the years since the crisis, global shadow banks have seen their assets grow to $52 trillion, a 75% jump from the level in 2010, the year after the crisis ended. The asset level is through 2017, according to bond ratings agency DBRS, citing data from the Financial Stability Board.

Who is going to pick up the pieces when a big chunk of those debts start going bad during the next financial crisis?

Never before in human history have we seen so much debt.  Government debt is at all-time record levels all over the world, corporate debt is wildly out of control and consumer debt continues to surge.

A system that requires debt levels to grow at a much faster pace than the overall global economy is growing to maintain itself is a fundamentally flawed system.

But that is what we are facing.  If global debt growth fell to zero, the global economy would instantly plunge into a horrific depression.  The only way to keep the game going is to keep expanding the debt bubble, and the larger it becomes the worse the future crash will be.

Most of us have been in this system for our entire lives, and so most of us don’t even realize that it is possible to have a financial system that is not based on debt.  This is one of the reasons why I get so frustrated with the financially-illiterate politicians who insist that everything will be just fine if we just tweak our current system a little bit.

No, everything is not going to be just fine.  In fact, we have perfectly set the stage for the worst financial meltdown in human history.

At this point nobody has put forth a plan to fundamentally change the system, and there is no way out.

All that is left to do is to keep this current bubble going for as long as humanly possible, and then to duck and cover when disaster finally strikes.

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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