40 Stats That Prove The U.S. Economy Has Already Been Collapsing Over The Past Decade

40The “coming economic collapse” has already been happening.  You see, the truth is that the economic collapse is not a single event.  It has already started, it is happening right now, and it will accelerate during the years ahead.  The statistics in this article show very clearly that the U.S. economy has fallen dramatically over the past ten years or so.  Unfortunately, there are lots of mockers out there that love to mock the idea of an economic collapse even though one is happening right in front of our eyes.  They love to say stuff like this (and I am paraphrasing): “An economic collapse is never going to happen.  We can consume far more wealth than we produce forever.  We can pile up gigantic mountains of debt forever.  There is no way that the party is over.  In fact, the party is just getting started.  Woo-hoo!”  That sounds absolutely ridiculous, but “economists” and “journalists” actually write things that reflect these kinds of sentiments every single day.  They do not seem alarmed about the fact that our national debt is nearly 17 times larger than it was 30 years ago.  They do not seem alarmed about the fact that the total amount of debt in our country is more than 28 times larger than it was 40 years ago.  They do not seem alarmed about the fact that our economic infrastructure is being absolutely gutted and we are steadily becoming poorer as a nation.  They just think that the magic formula of print, borrow, spend and consume can go on indefinitely.  Unfortunately, the truth is that a massive economic disaster has already started to unfold.  We inherited the greatest economic machine in the history of the world, but we totally wrecked it.  We have been able to live far, far beyond our means for the last couple of decades thanks to the greatest debt bubble in the history of the planet, but now that debt bubble is getting ready to burst.  Anyone with half a brain should be able to see what is coming.  Just open your eyes and look at the facts.  The following are 40 stats that prove the U.S. economy has already been collapsing over the past decade…

#1 According to the World Bank, U.S. GDP accounted for 31.8 percent of all global economic activity in 2001.  That number dropped to 21.6 percent in 2011.

#2 The United States was once ranked #1 in the world in GDP per capita.  Today we have slipped to #14.

#3 The United States has fallen in the global economic competitiveness rankings compiled by the World Economic Forum for four years in a row.

#4 Since the year 2000, the size of the U.S. national debt has grown by more than 11 trillion dollars.

#5 Back in the year 2000, our trade deficit with China was 83 billion dollars.  Last year, it was 315 billion dollars.

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

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

#8 The United States has lost a staggering 32 percent of its manufacturing jobs since the year 2000.

#9 Between December 2000 and December 2010, 38 percent of the manufacturing jobs in Ohio were lost, 42 percent of the manufacturing jobs in North Carolina were lost and 48 percent of the manufacturing jobs in Michigan were lost.

#10 Back in 1998, the United States had 25 percent of the world’s high-tech export market and China had just 10 percent. Today, China’s high-tech exports are more than twice the size of U.S. high-tech exports.

#11 In 2002, the United States had a trade deficit in “advanced technology products” of $16 billion with the rest of the world.  In 2010, that number skyrocketed to $82 billion.

#12 The United States has lost more than a quarter of all of its high-tech manufacturing jobs since the year 2000.

#13 The number of full-time workers in the United States is nearly 6 million below the old record that was set back in 2007.

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

#15 Throughout the year 2000, more than 64 percent of all working age Americans had a job.  Today, only 58.7 percent of all working age Americans have a job.

#16 The official unemployment rate has been at 7.5 percent or higher for 54 months in a row.  That is the longest stretch in U.S. history.

#17 The U.S. government says that the number of Americans “not in the labor force” rose by 17.9 million between 2000 and 2011.  During the entire decade of the 1980s, the number of Americans “not in the labor force” rose by only 1.7 million.

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

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

#20 The U.S. economy lost more than 220,000 small businesses during the recent recession.

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

#22 According to economist Tim Kane, the following is how the number of startup jobs per 1000 Americans breaks down by presidential administration

Bush Sr.: 11.3

Clinton: 11.2

Bush Jr.: 10.8

Obama: 7.8

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

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

#25 Since Barack Obama entered the White House, the average price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States has risen from $1.85 to $3.64.

#26 More than twice as many new homes were sold in the United States in 2005 as will be sold in 2013.

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

#28 The price of ground beef increased by 61 percent between 2002 and 2012.

#29 According to USA Today, water bills have actually tripled over the past 12 years in some areas of the country.

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

#31 Median household income in the United States has fallen for four years in a row.

#32 As I mentioned recently, the homeownership rate in America is now at its lowest level in nearly 18 years.

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

#34 Median household income for families with children dropped by a whopping $6,300 between 2001 and 2011.

#35 Back in 2007, about 28 percent of all working families were considered to be among “the working poor”.  Today, that number is up to 32 percent even though our politicians tell us that the economy is supposedly recovering.

#36 According to the Federal Reserve, the median net worth of families in the United States declined “from $126,400 in 2007 to $77,300 in 2010“.

#37 According to the New York Times, the average debt burden for U.S. households that earn $20,000 a year or less “more than doubled to $26,000 between 2001 and 2010“.

#38 Medicare spending increased by 138 percent between 1999 and 2010.

#39 During Obama’s first term, the federal government accumulated more debt than it did under the first 42 U.S presidents combined.

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

Are there any other items that you would add to this list?  Please feel free to join the discussion by posting a comment below…

Crushed Car By UCFFool

Mass Panic In Cyprus: The Banks Are Collapsing And ATMs Are Running Out Of Money

Cyprus ATM - Photo Via @ImeldaflatteryEuropean officials are openly admitting that the two largest banks in Cyprus are “insolvent“, and it is now being reported that Cyprus Popular Bank only has “enough liquidity to cover the next few hours“.  Of course all banks in Cyprus are officially closed until Tuesday at the earliest, but there have been long lines at ATMs all over Cyprus as people scramble to get whatever money they can out of the banks.  Unfortunately, some ATMs appear to be “malfunctioning” and others appear to have already run out of cash.  You can see some photos of huge lines at one ATM in Cyprus right here.  Some businesses are now even refusing to take credit card payments.  This is creating an atmosphere of panic on the streets of Cyprus.  Meanwhile, the EU is holding a gun to the head of the Cyprus financial system.  Either Cyprus meets EU demands by Monday, or liquidity for the banks will be totally cut off and Cyprus will be forced out of the euro.  It is being reported that European officials believe that the “economy is going to tank in Cyprus no matter what“, and that it would be okay to let the financial system of Cyprus crash and burn if politicians in Cyprus are not willing to do what they have been ordered to do.  Apparently European officials are very confident that the situation in Cyprus can be contained and that it will not spread to other European nations.

Unfortunately, European officials are losing sight of the bigger picture.  If the largest banks in Cyprus are allowed to fail, it will be another “Lehman Brothers moment“.  The faith that people have in banks all over Europe will be called into question, and everyone will be wondering what major European banks will be allowed to fail next.

Meanwhile, European officials have already completely shattered confidence in deposit insurance at this point.  Everyone now knows that when there is a major bank failure that depositors will be expected to share in the pain.  Expect to see “bank jogs” all over southern Europe over the coming weeks.

The banks in Cyprus had been scheduled to reopen on Tuesday, but very few people expect that to actually happen at this point.  In fact, Bloomberg is reporting that EU officials are actually thinking about shutting down the two biggest banks in Cyprus and freezing their assets…

Finance ministers for the 17 euro countries are considering a plan to shutter the two biggest banks in Cyprus and freeze the assets of uninsured depositors, said the four officials, who asked not to be named because the talks are ongoing. The ministers are holding a teleconference tonight.

Cyprus Popular Bank Pcl (CPB) and the Bank of Cyprus Plc would be split to create a so-called bad bank, one of the officials said. Insured deposits — below the European Union ceiling of 100,000 euros ($129,000) — would go into a so-called good bank and not sustain any losses, while uninsured deposits would go into the bad bank and be frozen until assets could be sold, said the four officials.

Losses to unsecured creditors, including uninsured depositors, could reach 40 percent under the plan, which has support from the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank. The proposal, a version of which was rejected last week, is considered a better option than taxing insured deposits or allowing Cypriot banks to collapse in a disorderly fashion if they lose access to ECB aid, the officials said.

Such a scenario would be an utter disaster.

How would you feel if you woke up someday and 40 percent of your life savings was suddenly gone?

According to Greek newspaper Kathimerini, European officials are also openly discussing the possibility of a Cyprus exit from the eurozone if a suitable bailout agreement is not worked out…

The possibility of Cyprus exiting the eurozone was discussed during teleconference involving technocrats from the Euro Working Group on Wednesday, Kathimerini understands.

A reliable source told Kathimerini that the technical implications of a euro exit, as well as the adoption of capital controls were debated by the Euro Working Group officials during the teleconference.

As I mentioned above, European officials seemed resigned to the fact that there will be an economic collapse in Cyprus “no matter what”, and so letting Cyprus leave the euro would not make that much of a difference.  Either way, the banks are going to have to be “reorganized” and capital controls will be imposed…

In detailed notes of the call seen by Reuters, the group’s chair Austria’s Thomas Wieser said: “The economy is going to tank in Cyprus no matter what. Restrictions on capital will probably be imposed.”

Never before have we seen European officials impose such a harsh ultimatum with such a short deadline.  It is almost as if they want to boot Cyprus out of the euro.  The following comes from a recent CNBC report…

In stark twin warnings on Thursday, the European Central Bank said it would cut off liquidity to Cypriot banks and a senior EU official made clear to Reuters that the bloc was ready to see the bankrupt island banished from the euro in the belief it could then contain damage to the wider European economy.

And European officials are even publicly talking about the possibility that Cyprus will soon need to start using “their own currency”…

In Brussels, a senior European Union official told Reuters that an ECB withdrawal would mean Cyprus’s biggest banks being wound up, wiping out the large deposits it has sought to protect, and probably forcing the country to abandon the euro.

“If the financial sector collapses, then they simply have to face a very significant devaluation and faced with that situation, they would have no other way but to start having their own currency,” the EU official said.

This is absolutely shocking.  Everyone always thought that Greece would be the first to leave the euro, but now it looks like it might be Cyprus.

However, there is still a chance that Cyprus may find a way to comply with EU demands.  Politicians in Cyprus are frantically searching for a way to raise the needed cash without raiding private bank accounts.  The following is what CNN is saying about the latest efforts…

Leaders of Cyprus’ political parties agreed Thursday to create an “investment solidarity fund,” which would issue bonds backed by state and church assets.

The plan was due to be discussed by the Cypriot government and parliament on Thursday evening, but few details were available and it was not clear how much the fund would be worth.

According to Reuters, other proposals have been under consideration as well…

The government said a “Plan B” was in the works.

Officials said it could include: an option to nationalize pension funds of semi-government corporations, which hold between 2 billion and 3 billion euros; issuing an emergency bond linked to future natural gas revenues; and possibly reviving the levy on bank deposits, though at a lower level than originally planned and maybe excluding savers with less than 100,000 euros.

At this point it is unclear whether any of those proposals will turn out to be acceptable to European officials.

In fact, the tone of European officials has noticeably changed from previous bailout efforts.  They now seem much more willing to play hardball.  For example, just check out what German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble is saying about the situation in Cyprus…

German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told the ZDF public broadcaster on Tuesday night (19 March) he “took note with regret” of the Cypriot parliament’s rejection of the bailout deal, but insisted that the terms will stay the same.

Asked if the eurozone was willing to let Cyprus go bust, he answered: “Well, we are much more stable in the eurozone – we took measures to protect ourselves from the risks of contagion … but I don’t want to have any of this.”

He added: “It is a serious situation, but this cannot lead to a decision that makes absolutely no sense, to rescue a business model that has failed. Cyprus has a banking sector that is totally oversized and this made Cyprus insolvent. And nobody outside Cyprus is to blame for it.”

Schaeuble knows that the EU is holding all of the cards and that Cyprus is doomed without their help…

“The Cypriot state cannot fund itself on the markets. Its two largest banks are insolvent and are being kept afloat with emergency funding from the ECB, but only on the condition that there will be a long-term rescue programme. If this condition is no longer met, Cyprus will no longer be solvent and this is something Cypriot decision makers must know”

But the truth is that the EU can’t really afford to allow major banks to fail or for a single member to leave the eurozone.  If either of those things happen, the confidence game that has been holding the European financial system together will begin to rapidly evaporate.

If the EU thinks that they can abandon Cyprus without the crisis spreading to the rest of southern Europe they are just being delusional.

At least there are a few politicians in Europe that understand what is happening.  Nigel Farage, a very outspoken member of the European Parliament, is telling people to get their money out of banks in southern Europe as quickly as they can.  He is warning that a great collapse of the European financial system is coming and that people need to get prepared for it…

So what do you think?

Do you believe that we are on the verge of a major financial collapse in Europe?

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

Cyprus Bank Run - Photo Via @jkozakou

Retail Apocalypse: Why Are Major Retail Chains All Over America Collapsing?

Why Are Major Retail Chains All Over America Collapsing? -  Photo by Gars129If the economy is improving, then why are many of the largest retail chains in America closing hundreds of stores?  When I was growing up, Sears, J.C. Penney, Best Buy and RadioShack were all considered to be unstoppable retail powerhouses.  But now it is being projected that all of them will close hundreds of stores before the end of 2013.  Even Wal-Mart is running into problems.  A recent internal Wal-Mart memo that was leaked to Bloomberg described February sales as a “total disaster”.  So why is this happening?  Why are major retail chains all over America collapsing?  Is the “retail apocalypse” upon us?  Well, the truth is that this is just another sign that the U.S. economy is falling apart right in front of our eyes.  Incomes are declining, taxes are going up, government dependence is at an all-time high, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the percentage of the U.S. labor force that is employed has been steadily falling since 2006.  The top 10% of all income earners in the U.S. are still doing very well, but most U.S. consumers are either flat broke or are drowning in debt.  The large disposable incomes that the big retail chains have depended upon in the past simply are not there anymore.  So retail chains all over the United States are now closing up unprofitable stores.  This is especially true in low income areas.

When you step back and take a look at the bigger picture, the rapid decline of some of our largest retail chains really is stunning.

It is happening already in some areas, but soon half empty malls and boarded up storefronts will litter the landscapes of cities all over America.

Just check out some of these store closing numbers for 2013.  These numbers are from a recent Yahoo Finance article

Best Buy

Forecast store closings: 200 to 250

Sears Holding Corp.

Forecast store closings: Kmart 175 to 225, Sears 100 to 125

J.C. Penney

Forecast store closings: 300 to 350

Office Depot

Forecast store closings: 125 to 150

Barnes & Noble

Forecast store closings: 190 to 240, per company comments

Gamestop

Forecast store closings: 500 to 600

OfficeMax

Forecast store closings: 150 to 175

RadioShack

Forecast store closings: 450 to 550

The RadioShack in a nearby town just closed up where I live.  This is all happening so fast that it is hard to believe.

But the truth is that those store closings are not the entire story.  When you dig deeper you find a lot more retailers that are in trouble.

For example, Blockbuster recently announced that this year they will be closing about 300 stores and eliminating about 3,000 jobs.

Toy manufacturer Hasbro recently announced that they will be reducing the size of their workforce by about 10 percent.

Even Wal-Mart is going through a tough stretch right now.  According to documents that were leaked to Bloomberg, Wal-Mart is having an absolutely disastrous February…

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. had the worst sales start to a month in seven years as payroll-tax increases hit shoppers already battling a slow economy, according to internal e-mails obtained by Bloomberg News.

“In case you haven’t seen a sales report these days, February MTD sales are a total disaster,” Jerry Murray, Wal- Mart’s vice president of finance and logistics, said in a Feb. 12 e-mail to other executives, referring to month-to-date sales. “The worst start to a month I have seen in my ~7 years with the company.”

So what in the world is going on here?

The mainstream media continues to proclaim that we are experiencing a robust “economic recovery”, but at the same time there are a whole host of indications that things are continually getting worse.

Even global cell phone sales actually declined slightly in 2012.  That was the first time that has happened since the last recession.

Perhaps it is time that we faced the truth.  The middle class is shrinking, incomes are declining and there are not nearly as many jobs as there used to be.

Mort Zuckerman pointed this out in a recent article in the Wall Street Journal

The U.S. labor market, which peaked in November 2007 when there were 139,143,000 jobs, now encompasses only 132,705,000 workers, a drop of 6.4 million jobs from the peak. The only work that has increased is part-time, and that is because it allows employers to reduce costs through a diminished benefit package or none at all.

So how can the mainstream media be talking about how “good” things are if we still have 6.4 million fewer jobs than we had back in November 2007?

And sadly, things may soon be getting a lot worse.  If Congress does not do anything about the “sequester”, millions of federal workers may shortly be facing some very painful furloughs according to CNN

Federal workers could start facing furloughs as early as April, according to federal agencies trying to prepare for the worst.

Unless Congress steps in, some $85 billion in massive spending reductions will hit the federal government, doling out furloughs to much of the nation’s 2.1 million federal workforce, experts say.

If you still live in an area of the country where the stores and the restaurants are booming, you should be very thankful because that is not the reality for most of the country.

I often write about the stunning economic decline of major cities such as Detroit, but there are huge sections of rural America that are in even worse shape than Detroit in many ways.

For example, many Indian reservations all over America have been shamefully neglected by the federal government and have become hotbeds for crime, drugs and poverty.

Business Insider recently profiled the Wind River Indian reservation in western Wyoming.  The following is a brief excerpt from that outstanding article

The Wind River Indian Reservation is not an easy place to get to, but I had to see it for myself.

Thirty-five-hundred square miles of prairie and mountains in western Wyoming, the reservation is home to bitter ancestral enemies: the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes.

Even among reservations, it’s renowned for brutal crime, widespread drug use, and legal dumping of toxic waste.

You can see some amazing photos of the Wind River Indian reservation right here.

It is hard to believe that there are places like that in America, but the truth is that conditions like that are spreading to more U.S. communities with each passing day.

We are a nation that is in an advanced state of decline.  But as long as the financial markets are okay, our leaders don’t seem too concerned about the suffering that everyone else is going through.

In fact, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan essentially admitted as much during a recent interview with CNBC.  The following is how a Zero Hedge article summarized that interview…

Starting at around 1:50, Greenspan states the odds of sequester occurring are very high – in fact, the playdough-faced ex-Chair-head notes, “I find it very difficult to find a scenario in which [the sequester] doesn’t happen” But when asked how this will affect the economy, Awkward Alan is unusually clearly spoken – “the issue is how does it affect the stock market.”

While not so many of our leaders have taken the path to direct truthiness, Greenspan somewhat shocks a Botox’d and babbling Bartiromo when he admits “the stock market is the key player in the game of economic growth.”

Bartiromo shifts uncomfortably in her seat, strokes her imaginary beard and stares blankly as Greenspan explains that while the sequester will have a real effect on the real economy, “if the stock market can hold up through this, then the effect will be rather minor.”

Do you see?

As long as the stock market is moving higher they think that everything is just fine and dandy.

And the Obama administration?

They continue to pursue the same policies that got us into this mess.

Their idea of “economic reform” is to threaten to sue businesses that do not hire ex-convicts.

And of course now that Obama has been re-elected he is putting a tremendous amount of effort into “stimulating the economy”.

For example, he spent this weekend golfing in Florida, and the Obamas recently spent about 20 million taxpayer dollars vacationing in Hawaii.

Meanwhile, the U.S. economy is getting worse with each passing day.

If you doubt that economic conditions are getting worse, please read this article: “Show This To Anyone That Believes That ‘Things Are Getting Better’ In America“.

When you look at the cold, hard numbers, it is undeniable what is happening to America.

And our leaders are not doing anything to fix our problems.  In fact, most of the time they are just making things worse.

So buckle up and get prepared.  We are in for very bumpy ride, and this is only just the beginning.

Store Closed Until Further Notice - Photo by Gryllida

Wake Up! 11 Facts That Show That Europe Is Heading Into An Economic Depression

Europe is not just heading into another recession.  The truth is that Europe is heading into a full-blown depression.  The economy of the EU is actually larger than the U.S. economy, and we are watching it melt down right in front of our eyes.  Things just continue to get worse in Europe, and yet somehow the authorities over in Europe just keep insisting that everything is going to be “just fine”.  Well, everything is not “just fine” over in Europe right now.  Unemployment in the eurozone has just hit another brand new record high.  In some nations in Europe, the unemployment rate is already significantly higher than anything the United States experienced during the Great Depression of the 1930s.  Europe is a continent that is collapsing under the weight of its own debt, and this is just the beginning.  A lot more pain is on the way.  Officials over in Europe are trying to hold the European financial system together with duct tape and prayers, but it could literally fall apart at any moment.  Europe has a much larger banking system than the United States does, so when a financial collapse happens in Europe, it is going to be very significant for the entire globe.  Sadly, most Americans do not even pay attention to much of anything that is happening in Europe.  They tend to think that the United States is the center of the universe and that as long as we are fine that everything will be okay.  Well, all of those people who are not paying attention need to wake up.  First of all, the U.S. economy is most definitely in decline.  Secondly, the European economy is imploding right in front of our eyes and Europe is going to end up dragging the entire globe down with it.

The following are 11 facts that show that Europe is heading into an economic depression…

1. The economies of 17 out of the 27 countries in the EU have contracted for at least two consecutive quarters.

2. Unemployment in the eurozone has hit a brand new all-time record high of 11.7 percent.

3. The unemployment rate in Portugal is now up to 16.3 percent.  A year ago it was just 13.7 percent.

4. The unemployment rate in Greece is now up to 25.4 percent.  A year ago it was just 18.4 percent.

5. The unemployment rate in Spain has hit a brand new all-time record high of 26.2 percent.  How much higher can it possibly go?  This is already higher than the unemployment rate in the United States ever reached during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

6. Youth unemployment levels in both Greece and Spain are rapidly approaching the 60 percent level.

7. Earlier this month, Moody’s stripped France of its AAA credit rating, and wealthy individuals are leaving France in droves as the socialists implement plans to raise taxes to very high levels on the rich.

8. Industrial production is collapsing all over Europe.  Just check out these numbers…

You don’t have to be an economic genius to understand that the perpetual uncertainty over the Eurozone’s future has led to a widespread freeze on industrial investment and development. Industrial production is collapsing at an accelerating rate, falling 7% year-on-year in Spain and Greece, 4.8% in Italy, and 2.1% in France.

9. There are even trouble signs in the “stable” economies in Europe.  In Germany, factory orders in September were down 3.3 percent from the month before, and retail sales in October declined 2.8 percent from the previous month.

10. The debt of the Greek government is now projected to hit 189 percent of GDP by the end of this year.

11. The Greek economy has shrunk by more than 7 percent this year, and it is being projected that the Greek economy will contract by another 4.5 percent in 2013.

But sometimes you can’t really get a feel for how bad things really are over there just from the raw economic numbers.

Many people that are living through these depression-like conditions are totally giving in to despair.  Just check out the following example from an RT article from earlier this year…

A 61-year-old Greek pensioner has hung himself from a tree in a public park after succumbing to the pressure of crushing debt. A note in his pocket indicates he is merely the latest in a rash of economic crisis-induced suicides.

The pensioner’s lifeless body was found dangling by an attendant in a public park not far from his home in the suburb of Nikaia, Athens. The attendant also found a suicide note in the man’s pocket, The Athens news reports.

The man, identifying himself as Alexandros, said he was a man of few vices who “worked all day.”  However, he blamed himself from committing one “horrendous crime”: becoming a professional at the age of 40 and plunging himself into debt. He referred to himself as a 61-year-old idiot who had to pay, hoping his grandchildren would not be born in Greece, as the country’s prospects were so bleak.

Please take note of what is happening in places like Greece and Spain right now, because similar conditions will soon be coming to the United States.

This is one reason why I try so hard to encourage people to prepare for what is coming.  There is hope in understanding what is coming and there is hope in getting prepared.

You don’t want to end up getting blindsided by the coming crisis and end up sitting on a park bench trying to figure out if life is still worth living or not.

Life is most definitely worth living.  Yes, a storm is coming and the world is going to become incredibly unstable in more ways than one.  But if you understand what is coming and you work hard to prepare, then you and your family will have a chance to thrive even in the midst of the storm.

Please learn from what is happening over in Europe.  The economic horror show that is unfolding over there is going to come to America too, and time is running out.

34 Signs That America Is In Decline

The United States is clearly in an advanced state of decline.  Many people around the world (and even inside America) rejoice at this, but not me.  I mourn for the country that I was born in and that I still love.  Yes, the United States has never been perfect, but the Republic that our Founding Fathers started truly has been a light to the rest of the world in a lot of ways over the centuries.  Unfortunately, our foundations are badly rotting and our nation is collapsing all around us.  Many Americans like to think that the United States is greater today than it has ever been before, but the truth is that America is like a patient that has stage 4 cancer that has spread to almost every area of the body.  Our nation is being destroyed in thousands of different ways, and more distressing news emerges with each passing day.  This article will mainly focus on the economic decline of America, but much could also be said about our social, political, moral and spiritual decline as well.  We are simply not the same country that we used to be.  Americans are proud, selfish, greedy, arrogant, ungrateful, treacherous and completely addicted to entertainment and pleasure.  Our country is literally falling apart all around us, but most Americans are so plugged into entertainment that they can’t even be bothered to notice what is happening.  Most Americans seem to assume that we will always have endless prosperity just because of who we are, but unfortunately that simply is not true.  We inherited the greatest economic machine the world has ever seen and we have wrecked it, and now a very painful day of reckoning is approaching.  But most people will not understand until it is too late.

The following are 34 signs that America is in decline…

#1 According to the World Bank, U.S. GDP accounted for 31.8 percent of all global economic activity in 2001.  That number dropped to 21.6 percent in 2011.  That is not just a decline – that is a freefall.  Just check out the chart in this article.

#2 According to The Economist, the United States was the best place in the world to be born into back in 1988.  Today, the United States is only tied for 16th place.

#3 The United States has fallen in the global economic competitiveness rankings compiled by the World Economic Forum for four years in a row.

#4 According to the Wall Street Journal, of the 40 biggest publicly traded corporate spenders, half of them plan to reduce capital expenditures in coming months.

#5 More than three times as many new homes were sold in the United States in 2005 as will be sold in 2012.

#6 America once had the greatest manufacturing cities on the face of the earth.  Now many of our formerly great manufacturing cities have degenerated into festering hellholes.  For example, the city of Detroit is on the verge of financial collapse, and one state lawmaker is now saying that “dissolving Detroit” should be looked at as an option.

#7 In 2007, the unemployment rate for the 20 to 29 age bracket was about 6.5 percent.  Today, the unemployment rate for that same age group is about 13 percent.

#8 Back in 1950, more than 80 percent of all men in the United States had jobs.  Today, less than 65 percent of all men in the United States have jobs.

#9 If you can believe it, approximately one out of every four American workers makes 10 dollars an hour or less.

#10 Sadly, 60 percent of the jobs lost during the last recession were mid-wage jobs, but 58 percent of the jobs created since then have been low wage jobs.

#11 Median household income in America has fallen for four consecutive years.  Overall, it has declined by over $4000 during that time span.

#12 The U.S. trade deficit with China during 2011 was 28 times larger than it was back in 1990.

#13 Incredibly, more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities in the United States have been shut down since 2001.  During 2010, manufacturing facilities were shutting down at the rate of 23 per day.  How can anyone say that “things are getting better” when our economic infrastructure is being absolutely gutted?

#14 Back in early 2005, the average price of a gallon of gasoline was less than 2 dollars a gallon.  During 2012, the average price of a gallon of gasoline has been $3.63.

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

#16 As I have written about previously, 61 percent of all Americans were “middle income” back in 1971 according to the Pew Research Center.  Today, only 51 percent of all Americans are “middle income”.

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

#18 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the poverty rate for children living in the United States is about 22 percent.

#19 Back in 1983, the bottom 95 percent of all income earners in the United States had 62 cents of debt for every dollar that they earned.  By 2007, that figure had soared to $1.48.

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

#21 Total credit card debt in the United States is now more than 8 times larger than it was just 30 years ago.

#22 The value of the U.S. dollar has declined by more than 96 percent since the Federal Reserve was first created.

#23 According to one survey, 29 percent of all Americans in the 25 to 34 year old age bracket are still living with their parents.

#24 Back in 1950, 78 percent of all households in the United States contained a married couple.  Today, that number has declined to 48 percent.

#25 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 49 percent of all Americans live in a home that receives direct monetary benefits from the federal government.  Back in 1983, less than a third of all Americans lived in a home that received direct monetary benefits from the federal government.

#26 In 1980, government transfer payments accounted for just 11.7 percent of all income.  Today, government transfer payments account for more than 18 percent of all income.

#27 In November 2008, 30.8 million Americans were on food stamps.  Today, 47.1 million Americans are on food stamps.

#28 Right now, one out of every four American children is on food stamps.

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

#30 Back in 1965, only one out of every 50 Americans was on Medicaid.  Today, one out of every 6 Americans is on Medicaid, and things are about to get a whole lot worse.  It is being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to the Medicaid rolls.

#31 In 2001, the U.S. national debt was less than 6 trillion dollars.  Today, it is over 16 trillion dollars and it is increasing by more than 100 million dollars every single hour.

#32 The U.S. national debt is now more than 23 times larger than it was when Jimmy Carter became president.

#33 According to a PBS report from earlier this year, U.S. households that make $13,000 or less per year spend 9 percent of their incomes on lottery tickets.  Could that possibly be accurate?  Are people really that foolish?

#34 As the U.S. economy has declined, the American people have been downing more antidepressants and other prescription drugs than ever before.  In fact, the American people spent 60 billion dollars more on prescription drugs in 2010 than they did in 2005.

So what are our “leaders” doing about all of this?

Not much.

They just continue to insist that everything is “just fine”.

Sadly, the truth is that they live in a world that is very different from most of the rest of us.

Barack Obama is getting ready to take a 20 day vacation to Hawaii.

When was the last time you got to take a 20 day vacation?

And most of our “leaders” have no idea what it is like to struggle from month to month on a paycheck.

Overall, more than half of the members of Congress are millionaires.  We are led by wealthy men who are serving the interests of other wealthy men.

But the problem with our system is not limited to the president and the members of Congress.  The truth is that the political system in America has become a colossal beast that just continues to grow no matter who is in power.  The political establishment of both parties is totally dependent on this beast, and they will continue to feed it and serve it because it has been very good to them.  The following is from an outstanding article by Steve McCann

The Republican and Democratic political establishments are made up of the following: 

1) many current and nearly all retired national office holders whose livelihood and narcissistic demands depends upon fealty to Party and access to government largesse;

2) the majority of the media elite, including pundits, editors, writers and television news personalities based in Washington and New York whose proximity to power and access is vital to their continued standard of living;  

3) academia, numerous think-tanks, so-called non-government organizations, and lobbyists who fasten onto those in the administration and Congress for employment, grants, favorable legislation and ego-gratification;  

4) the reliable deep pocket political contributors and political consultants whose future is irrevocably tied to the political machinery of the Party; and

5) the crony capitalists, i.e. leaders of the corporate and financial community as well as unions whose entities are dependent on or subject to government oversight and/or benevolence .

Do you think that there is any chance that this insidious system will be uprooted any time soon?

Of course not.

We will continue on the same path that we are on right now and America will continue to decline.

Many will rejoice as America falls, but I will not.

I will mourn for a mighty Republic that has fallen and for a dream that has been lost.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am not spreading doom and gloom.

I am spreading hope.

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

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

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

#1 How Do I Get Started?

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

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

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

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

You do not want that to happen to you.

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

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

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

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

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

#2 What Should I Do With My Money?

I get this question a lot.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#3 Should I Invest In Precious Metals?

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

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

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

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

#4 Should I Get Out Of Debt?

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

I don’t see it that way.

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

Not in the short-term anyway.

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

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

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

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

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

And I can definitely sympathize with that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#6 Should I Rent Or Buy?

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

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

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

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

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

#7 What About My Health Condition?

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

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

#8 Should I Be Storing Food?

Yes.

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

Down the road, however, is a different story.

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

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

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

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

#9 Should I Be Storing Water?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Basic things like that are often overlooked by many preppers.

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

#11 What Happens If The Power Grid Goes Down?

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

Some people have a backup generator for such circumstances.

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

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

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

So do what you can with what you have.

#12 Should I Leave The Big Cities?

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

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

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

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

#13 Should I Get Some Self-Defense Training?

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

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

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

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

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

This is another very common question that I get.

What should people do if nobody will listen to them?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nobody said that preparing was going to be easy.

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

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

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

None of us have all the answers.

I know that I certainly do not.

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

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

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

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

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