Consumer Spending Drought: 16 Signs That The Middle Class Is Running Out Of Money

Drought - Photo by Bert KaufmannIs “discretionary income” rapidly becoming a thing of the past for most American families?  Right now, there are a lot of signs that we are on the verge of a nightmarish consumer spending drought.  Incomes are down, taxes are up, many large retail chains are deeply struggling because of the lack of customers, and at this point nearly a quarter of all Americans have more credit card debt than money in the bank.  Considering the fact that consumer spending is such a large percentage of the U.S. economy, that is very bad news.  How will we ever have a sustained economic recovery if consumers don’t have much money to spend?  Well, the truth is that we aren’t ever going to have a sustained economic recovery.  In fact, this debt-fueled bubble of false hope that we are experiencing right now is as good as things are going to get.  Things are going to go downhill from here, and if you think that consumer spending is bad now, just wait until you see what happens over the next several years.

Even though the Dow is surging toward a record high right now, everyone knows that things are not good for the middle class.  A recent quote from CPA Howard Dvorkin kind of summarizes our current state of affairs very nicely…

“The fact of the matter is that America is broke — whether it’s mortgages, student loans or credit cards, we are broke. The old rule of thumb is that people should have six months’ of savings,” Dvorkin says.”If you talk to people, most don’t have two pennies.”

These days most Americans are living from paycheck to paycheck, and thanks to rising prices and rising taxes, those paychecks are getting squeezed tighter and tighter.  Many families have had to cut back on unnecessary expenses, and some families no longer have any discretionary income at all.

The following are 16 signs that the middle class is rapidly running out of money…

#1 According to one brand new survey, 24 percent of all Americans have more credit card debt than money in the bank.

#2 J.C. Penney was once an unstoppable retail powerhouse, but now J.C. Penney has just posted its lowest annual retail sales in more than 20 years

J.C. Penney Co. (JCP) slid the most in more than three decades after the department-store chain lost $4.3 billion in sales in the first year of Chief Executive Officer Ron Johnson’s turnaround plan.

The shares fell 18 percent to $17.40 at 11:28 a.m. in New York after earlier declining 22 percent, the biggest intraday drop since at least 1980, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. J.C. Penney yesterday said its net loss in the quarter ended Feb. 2 widened to $552 million from $87 million a year earlier. The Plano, Texas-based retailer’s annual revenue slid 25 percent to $13 billion, the lowest since at least 1987.

How much worse can things get?  At this point the decline has become so steep for J.C. Penney that Jim Cramer of CNBC is declaring that they are in “a true tailspin“.

#3 In the United States today, a new car has become out of reach for most middle class Americans according to the 2013 Car Affordability Study

Looking to buy a new car, truck or crossover? You may find it more difficult to stretch the household budget than you expected, according to a new study that finds median-income families in only one major U.S. city actually can afford the typical new vehicle.

The typical new vehicle is now more expensive than ever, averaging $30,500 in 2012, according to TrueCar.com data, and heading up again as makers curb the incentives that helped make their products more affordable during the recession when they were desperate for sales. According to the 2013 Car Affordability Study by Interest.com, only in Washington could the typical household swing the payments, the median income there running $86,680 a year.

#4 The founder of Subway Restaurants, Fred Deluca, says that the recent tax increases are having a noticeable impact on his business…

“The payroll tax is affecting sales. It’s causing sales declines,” he said, estimating a decline of about 2 percentage points off sales at his restaurants. “There are a lot of pressures on consumers,” Deluca said, adding “I think this is on the permanent side, but I think business will adjust to it.”

#5 Many other large restaurant chains are also struggling in this tough economic environment…

Darden Restaurants, which owns the casual dining chains Oliver Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse and Red Lobster, said blended same-store sales at its three eateries would be 4.5 percent lower during its fiscal third quarter.

Clarence Otis, Darden’s chairman and chief executive, said that “while results midway through the third quarter were encouraging, there were difficult macro-economic headwinds during the last month of the quarter.”

“Two of the most prominent were increased payroll taxes and rising gasoline prices, which together put meaningful pressure on the discretionary purchasing power of our guests,” he added.

#6 The CFO of Family Dollar recently admitted to CNBC that this is a “challenging time” because of reduced consumer spending…

At Family Dollar where the average customer makes less than $40,000 a year, the combination of a two-percent hike in the payroll tax, rising gas prices and delayed tax refunds has created a “challenging time and an uncertain time for the consumer right now,” said Mary Winston, the company’s chief financial officer.

“In our case, anything that takes money out of our customer’s wallet gives them less money to spend in our stores,” she told CNBC. “So I think all of those things create nervousness for the consumer, and I think there are sometimes political dynamics going on that they might not even fully understand the details, but they know it’s not good.”

#7 Even Wal-Mart is really struggling right now.  According to a recent Bloomberg article, Wal-Mart is struggling “to restock store shelves as U.S. sales slump“…

Evelin Cruz, a department manager at the Wal-Mart Supercenter in Pico Rivera, California, said Simon’s comments from the officers’ meeting were “dead on.”

“There are gaps where merchandise is missing,” Cruz said in a telephone interview. “We are not talking about a couple of empty shelves. This is throughout the store in every store. Some places look like they’re going out of business.”

This all comes on the heels of an internal Wal-Mart memo that was leaked to the press earlier this month that described February sales as a “total disaster”.

#8 Electronics retailer Best Buy continues to struggle mightily.  Best Buy just announced that it will be eliminating 400 jobs at its headquarters in Richfield, Minnesota.

#9 It is being projected that many of the largest retail chains in America, including Best Buy, will close down hundreds of stores during 2013.  The following is a list of projected store closings for 2013 that I included in a previous 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

#10 Another sign that consumer spending is slowing down is the fact that less stuff is being moved around in our economy.   As I have mentioned previously, freight shipment volumes have hit their lowest level in two years, and freight expenditures have gone negative for the first time since the last recession.

#11 Many young adults have no discretionary income to spend because they are absolutely drowning in student loan debt.  According to the New York Federal Reserve, student loan debt nearly tripled between 2004 and 2012.

#12 The student loan delinquency rate in the United States is now at an all-time high.  It is only a matter of time before the student loan debt bubble bursts.

#13 Due to a lack of jobs and high levels of debt, poverty among young adults in America is absolutely exploding.  Today, U.S. families that have a head of household that is under the age of 30 have a poverty rate of 37 percent.

#14 According to one recent survey, 62 percent of all middle class Americans say that they have had to reduce household spending over the past year.

#15 Median household income in the United States has fallen for four consecutive years.  Overall, it has declined by more than $4000 during that time span.

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

Are you starting to get the picture?

Retailers are desperate for sales, but you can’t squeeze blood out of a rock.

For much more on how the middle class is absolutely drowning in debt, please see this article: “Money Is A Form Of Social Control And Most Americans Are Debt Slaves“.

But if you listen to the mainstream media, they would have you believe that happy days are here again.

Right now, everyone seems to be quite giddy about the fact that the Dow is marching toward an all-time high.  And I actually do believe that the Dow will blow right past it.  In fact, it is even possible that we could see the Dow hit 15,000 before everything starts falling apart.

But at some point, the financial markets will catch up with economic reality.  It is just a matter of time.

In the meanwhile, those that are wise are taking advantage of these times of plenty to prepare for the great economic drought that is coming.

Don’t be caught living paycheck to paycheck and totally unprepared when the next wave of the economic collapse strikes.  Anyone that believes that this debt-fueled bubble of false hope can last indefinitely is just being delusional.

During The Years Of Plenty, Prepare For The Years Of Drought - Photo Taken By Tomas Castelazo

Show This To Anyone That Believes That “Things Are Getting Better” In America

Show This To Anyone That Believes That Things Are Getting Better In AmericaHow can anyone not see that the U.S. economy is collapsing all around us?  It just astounds me when people try to tell me that “everything is just fine” and that “things are getting better” in America.  Are there people out there that are really that blind?  If you want to see the economic collapse, just open up your eyes and look around you.  By almost every economic and financial measure, the U.S. economy has been steadily declining for many years.  But most Americans are so tied into “the matrix” that they can only understand the cheerful propaganda that is endlessly being spoon-fed to them by the mainstream media.  As I have said so many times, the economic collapse is not a single event.  The economic collapse has been happening, it is is happening right now, and it will continue to happen.  Yes, there will be times when our decline will be punctuated by moments of great crisis, but that will be the exception rather than the rule.  A lot of people that write about “the economic collapse” hype it up as if it will be some huge “event” that will happen very rapidly and then once it is all over we will rebuild.  Unfortunately, that is not how the real world works.  We are living in the greatest debt bubble in the history of the world, and once it completely bursts there will be no going back to how things were before.  Right now, we are living in a “credit card economy”.  As long as we can keep borrowing more money, most people think that things are just fine.  But anyone that has lived on credit cards knows that eventually there comes a point when the game is over, and we are rapidly approaching that point as a nation.

Have you ever been there?  Have you ever desperately hoped that you could just get one more credit card or one more loan so that you could keep things going?

At first, living on credit can be a lot of fun.  You can live a much higher standard of living than you otherwise would be able to.

But inevitably a day of reckoning comes.

If the federal government and the American people were forced at this moment to live within their means, the U.S. economy would immediately plunge into a depression.

That is a 100% rock solid guarantee.

But our politicians and the mainstream media continue to perpetuate the fiction that we can live in this credit card economic fantasy land indefinitely.

And most Americans could not care less about the future.  As long as “things are good” today, they don’t really think much about what the future will hold.

As a result of our very foolish short-term thinking, we have now run up a national debt of 16.4 trillion dollars.  It is the largest debt in the history of the world, and it has gotten more than 23 times larger since Jimmy Carter first entered the White House.

The chart that you see below is a recipe for national financial suicide…

U.S. National Debt

Of course things have accelerated over the past four years.  Since Barack Obama entered the White House, the U.S. government has run a budget deficit of well over a trillion dollars every single year, and we have stolen more than 100 million dollars from our children and our grandchildren every single hour of every single day.

It is the biggest theft of all time.  What we are doing to our children and our grandchildren is beyond criminal.

And now our debt is at a level that most economists would consider terminal.  When Barack Obama first entered the White House, the U.S. debt to GDP ratio was under 70 percent.  Today, it is up to 103 percent.

We are officially in “the danger zone”.

If things really were “getting better” in America, we would not need to borrow so much money.

Our politicians are stealing from the future in order to make the present look better.  During Obama’s first term, the federal government accumulated more debt than it did under the first 42 U.S presidents combined.

That is utter insanity!

If you started paying off just the new debt that the U.S. has accumulated during the Obama administration at the rate of one dollar per second, it would take more than 184,000 years to pay it off.

So what is the solution?

Get ready to laugh.

The most prominent economic journalist in the entire country, Paul Krugman of the New York Times, recently suggested the following in an article that he wrote entitled “Kick That Can“…

Realistically, we’re not going to resolve our long-run fiscal issues any time soon, which is O.K. — not ideal, but nothing terrible will happen if we don’t fix everything this year. Meanwhile, we face the imminent threat of severe economic damage from short-term spending cuts.

So we should avoid that damage by kicking the can down the road. It’s the responsible thing to do.

You mean that we might actually do damage to the debt-fueled economic fantasy world that we are living in if we stopped stealing so much money from future generations?

Oh the humanity!

It is horrifying to think that all that one of the “top economic minds” in America can come up with is to “kick the can” down the road some more.

Unfortunately, neither Paul Krugman nor most of the American people understand that our financial system is actually designed to create government debt.

The bankers that helped create the Federal Reserve intended to permanently enslave the U.S. government to a perpetually expanding spiral of debt, and their plans worked.

At this point, the U.S. national debt is more than 5000 times larger than it was when the Federal Reserve was first created.

So why don’t the American people understand what the Federal Reserve system is doing to us?

It is because most of them are still plugged into the matrix.  A Zero Hedge article that I came across today put it beautifully…

US society in a nutshell: Chris Dorner has been around for a week and has 222 million results on Google; the Federal Reserve has been around for one hundred years and has 187 million results.

If nothing is done about our exploding debt, it is only a matter of time before we reach financial oblivion.

According to Boston University economist Laurence Kotlikoff, the U.S. government is facing a “present value difference between projected future spending and revenue” of 222 trillion dollars in the years ahead.

So how in the world are we going to come up with an extra 222 trillion dollars?

But it is not just the U.S. government that is drowning in debt.

Just check out this chart which shows the astounding growth of state and local government debt in recent years…

State And Local Government Debt

All over the United States there are state and local governments that are on the verge of bankruptcy.  Just check out what is going on in Detroit.  The only way that most of our state and local governments can keep going at this point is to also “kick the can” down the road some more.

And of course most of the rest of us are drowning in debt as well.

40 years ago, the total amount of debt in the U.S. economic system (government + business + consumer) was less than 2 trillion dollars.

Today, the total amount of debt in the U.S. economic system has grown to more than 55 trillion dollars.

Can anyone say bubble?

The good news is that U.S. GDP is now more than 12 times larger than it was 40 years ago.

The bad news is that the total amount of debt in our financial system is now more than 30 times larger than it was 40 years ago…

Total Credit Market Debt Owed

At the same time that we are going into so much debt, our ability to produce wealth continues to decline.

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 nightmarish freefall.  Just check out the chart in this article.

We are becoming less competitive as a nation with each passing year.  In fact, the U.S. has fallen in the global economic competitiveness rankings compiled by the World Economic Forum for four years in a row.

Most Americans don’t understand this, but the United States buys far more from the rest of the world than they buy from us each year.  In 2012, we had a trade deficit of more than 500 billion dollars with the rest of the world.

That means that more than 500 billion dollars that could have gone to U.S. workers and U.S. businesses went out of the country instead.

So how does our country survive if hundreds of billions of dollars more is flowing out of the country than is flowing into it?

Well, to make up the shortfall we go to the countries that we sent our money to and we beg them to lend it back to us.  If that doesn’t work, we just print and borrow even more money.

Overall, the United States has run a trade deficit of more than 8 trillion dollars with the rest of the world since 1975.

That is 8 trillion dollars that could have saved U.S. businesses, paid the salaries of U.S. workers and that would have helped fund government.

But instead, our foolish policies have greatly enriched China and the oil barons of the Middle East.

Sadly, politicians from both political parties continue to boldly support the one world economic agenda of the global elite.

Just consider how destructive many of these “free trade” deals have been to our economy…

When NAFTA was pushed through Congress in 1993, the United States had a trade surplus with Mexico of 1.6 billion dollars.

By 2010, we had a trade deficit with Mexico of 61.6 billion dollars.

Back in 1985, our trade deficit with China was approximately 6 million dollars (million with a little “m”) for the entire year.

In 2012, our trade deficit with China was 315 billion dollars.  That was the largest trade deficit that one nation has had with another nation in the history of the world.

In particular, our trade with China is extremely unbalanced.  Today, U.S. consumers spend approximately 4 dollars on goods and services from China for every one dollar that Chinese consumers spend on goods and services from the United States.

But isn’t getting cheap stuff from China good?

No, because it costs us good paying jobs.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, the United States is losing half a million jobs to China every single year.

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

The truth is that there are never going to be enough jobs in America ever again, because millions of our jobs are being sent overseas and millions of our jobs are being lost to technology.

You won’t hear this on the news, but the percentage of the civilian labor force in the United States that is employed has been steadily declining every single year since 2006.

Younger workers have been hit particularly hard.  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.

If you are under the age of 30 and you aren’t living with your parents, there is a really good chance that you are living in poverty.  If you can believe it, U.S. families that have a head of household that is under the age of 30 have a poverty rate of 37 percent.

Our economy has been steadily bleeding huge numbers of middle class jobs, and many of those jobs have been replaced by low paying jobs in recent years.

According to one study, 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.

And at this point, an astounding 53 percent of all American workers make less than $30,000 a year.

Oh, but “things are getting better”, right?

Maybe if you live on Wall Street or if you are an employee of the federal government.

But for most families this economic decline has been a total nightmare.  Median household income in America has fallen for four consecutive years.  Overall, it has declined by over $4000 during that time span.

Sometimes people forget how good things were about a decade ago.  About three times as many new homes were sold in the United States in 2005 as were sold in 2012.

But we like to live in denial.

In fact, a lot of families are trying to keep up their standards of living by going into tremendous amounts of debt.

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.

Fake it until you make it, right?

But how much debt can our system possibly handle?

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

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

We are a nation that is completely addicted to debt, but as the financial crisis of 2008 demonstrated, all of that debt can have horrific consequences.

As the economy has slowed in recent years, the Federal Reserve has decided that “the solution” is to recklessly print money in an attempt to get the debt spiral cranked up again.

Have they gone overboard?  You be the judge…

Monetary Base 2013

And of course this won’t have any affect on the value of the money that you have been saving up all these years right?

Wrong.

Every single dollar that you own is continually losing value…

Purchasing Power Of The Dollar

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

As the cost of living continues to go up and wages continue to go down, millions of American families have fallen out of the middle class and into poverty.

If you can believe it, the number of Americans on food stamps has grown from about 17 million in the year 2000 to more than 47 million today.

But “things are getting better”, right?

Incredibly, 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.

But “things are getting better”, right?

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.

But “things are getting better”, right?

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.

But “things are getting better”, right?

Today, more Americans than ever have found themselves forced to turn to the federal government for help.

Overall, the federal government runs nearly 80 different “means-tested welfare programs”, and at this point more than 100 million Americans are enrolled in at least one of them.

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.

So is it a good sign or a bad sign that the percentage of Americans that are financially dependent on the federal government is at an all-time high?

And in future years the number of Americans that are receiving benefits from the federal government is projected to absolutely skyrocket.

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.

If you take a look at Medicare, things are very more sobering.

As I wrote recently, it is being projected that the number of Americans on Medicare will grow from 50.7 million in 2012 to 73.2 million in 2025.

At this point, Medicare is facing unfunded liabilities of more than 38 trillion dollars over the next 75 years.  That comes to approximately $328,404 for every single household in the United States.

Are you ready to contribute your share?

Social Security is a complete and total nightmare as well.

Right now, there are approximately 56 million Americans collecting Social Security benefits.

By 2035, that number is projected to soar to an astounding 91 million.

Overall, the Social Security system is facing a 134 trillion dollar shortfall over the next 75 years.

Oh, but don’t worry because “things are getting better”, right?

I honestly do not know how anyone can look at the numbers above and come to the conclusion that the economy is in good shape.

We have accumulated the largest mountain of debt in the history of the world, our economic infrastructure is being gutted, we are bleeding good jobs, government dependence is at an all-time high and we are getting poorer as a nation with each passing day.

But other than that, everything is rainbows and lollipops, right?

If you want to see the economic collapse, just open up your eyes.

And if dramatic changes are not made quickly, things are going to get much, much worse from here.

Please share this article with as many people as possible.  Time is quickly running out and there are a whole lot of people out there that we need to wake up while we still can.

The Economic Collapse Is Happening

 

 

The Student Loan Debt Bubble Is Creating Millions Of Modern Day Serfs

Every single year, millions of young adults head off to colleges and universities all over America full of hopes and dreams.  But what most of those fresh-faced youngsters do not realize is that by taking on student loan debt they are signing up for a life of debt slavery.  Student loan debt has become a trillion dollar bubble which has shattered the financial lives of tens of millions of young college graduates.  When you are just starting out and you are not making a lot of money, having to make payments on tens of thousands of dollars of student loan debt can be absolutely crippling.  The total amount of student loan debt in the United States has now surpassed the total amount of credit card debt, and student loan debt is much harder to get rid of.  Many young people view college as a “five year party“, but when the party is over millions of those young people basically end up as modern day serfs as they struggle to pay off all of the debt that they have accumulated during their party years.  Bankruptcy laws have been changed to make it incredibly difficult to get rid of student loan debt, so once you have it you are basically faced with two choices: either you are going to pay it or you are going to die with it.

But we don’t warn kids about this before they go to school.  We just endlessly preach to them that they need a college degree in order to get a “good job”, and that after they graduate they will easily be able to pay off their student loans with the “good job” that they will certainly be able to find.

Sadly, tens of millions of young Americans have left college in recent years only to find out that they were lied to all along.

As I have written about previously, college has become a giant money making scam and the victims of the scam are our young people.

Back in 1952, a full year of tuition at Harvard was only $600.

Today, it is over $35,000.

Why does college have to cost so much?

At every turn our young people are being ripped off.

For example, the cost of college textbooks has tripled over the past decade.

Has it suddenly become a lot more expensive to print books?

Of course not.

The truth is that an entire industry saw an opportunity to gouge students and they went for it.

The amount of money being spent on higher education in this country is absolutely outrageous.  One father down in Texas says that he will end up spending about 1.5 million dollars on college expenses for his five daughters before it is all said and done.

Unfortunately, most young adults in America don’t have wealthy fathers so they have to take out large student loans to pay for their educations.

Average student loan debt at graduation is estimated to be about $28,720 right now.

That is a crazy figure and it has absolutely soared in recent years.  In fact, student loan debt in America has grown by 511 percent since 1999.

And student loan debt will follow you wherever you go.

If you do not pay your loans when you graduate, you could end up having your wages, your tax refunds and even your Social Security benefits garnished.

In addition, your account could be turned over to the debt collectors and they can be absolutely brutal.

The student loan debt bubble is the best thing to happen to debt collectors in ages.  The following is what one professional who works in the industry said in a recent article that he wrote for a debt collection industry publication….

As I wandered around the crowd of NYU students at their rally protesting student debt at the end of February, I couldn’t believe the accumulated wealth they represented – for our industry.

It was lip-smacking.

At my right, to graphically display how she was debt-burdened, was a girl wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the fine sum of $90,000, another with $65,000, a third with $20,000 and over there a really attractive $120,000 was printed on another shirt.  Guys were shouldering their share, with t-shirts of $20,000, $15,000, $27,000, $33,000 and $75,000.

There is no way that our young people can afford to take on those kinds of debt loads, and that is one reason why student loan delinquency rates continue to surge.

In fact, the student loan default rate in the United States has nearly doubled since 2005.

Today, one out of every six Americans that owes money on a student loan is in default.

One out of every six.

And it is going to get a whole lot worse.

At this point there are about 5.9 million Americans that are at least 12 months behind on their student loan payments.

So could the bursting of the student loan bubble do tremendous damage to our financial system?

Don’t worry – Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is promising that the student loan debt bubble won’t cause a crisis.

And you can trust him, right?

For those living with the burden of unpaid student loan debt, life can be really tough.  Some try to avoid the debt collectors, but it is easier said than done.  The following is from a recent article in the New York Times….

Hiding from the government is not easy.

“I keep changing my phone number,” said Amanda Cordeiro, 29, from Clermont, Fla., who dropped out of college in 2010 and has fielded as many as seven calls a day from debt collectors trying to recover her $55,000 in overdue loans. “In a year, this is probably my fourth phone number.”

Unlike private lenders, the federal government has extraordinary tools for collection that it has extended to the collection firms. Ms. Cordeiro has already had two tax refunds seized, and other debtors have had their paychecks or Social Security payments garnisheed.

The biggest problem, of course, is that there are not nearly enough jobs for the hordes of college graduates that our system produces each year.

During 2011, 53 percent of all Americans with a bachelor’s degree under the age of 25 were either unemployed or underemployed.

So without a good job, how are those young people supposed to service their student loans?

Once upon a time, a college degree was a guaranteed ticket to the middle class.

Sadly, those days are long gone.  Today, millions upon millions of college graduates have taken jobs that do not even require a college education.  The following is from a recent CNBC article….

In the last year, they were more likely to be employed as waiters, waitresses, bartenders and food-service helpers than as engineers, physicists, chemists and mathematicians combined (100,000 versus 90,000). There were more working in office-related jobs such as receptionist or payroll clerk than in all computer professional jobs (163,000 versus 100,000). More also were employed as cashiers, retail clerks and customer representatives than engineers (125,000 versus 80,000).

You probably know young people who have experienced the “wake up call” that comes as a result of entering the “real world” in this horrible economic environment.

It is not easy out there.

And this can be extremely disappointing for parents as well.  How would you feel if your daughter got very high grades all of the way through college and ended up working as a waitress because she couldn’t find anything else?

Even those that pursue advanced degrees are having an extremely challenging time finding work in this economy.

For example, a Business Insider article from a while back profiled a law school graduate named Erin that is actually on food stamps….

She remains on food stamps so her social life suffers. She can’t afford a car, so she has to rely on the bus to get around Austin, Texas, where she lives. And currently unable to pay back her growing pile of law school debt, Gilmer says she wonders if she will ever be able to pay it back.

“That has been really hard for me,” she says. “I have absolutely no credit anymore. I haven’t been able to pay loans. It’s scary, and it’s a hard thing to think you’re a lawyer but you’re impoverished. People don’t understand that most lawyers actually aren’t making the big money.”

And the really sad thing is that the quality of the education that our young people are receiving is very poor.  I spent eight years attending U.S. universities, and most parents would be absolutely shocked at how little our college students are actually learning.

Going to college really has become a ticket to party for four or five or six years with a little bit of “education” thrown in.

But our society has put a very high value on those little pieces of paper called “diplomas” so we all continue to play along with the charade.

Some college students are finding other “creative” ways to pay for their educations other than going into tremendous amounts of debt.  For example, an increasing number of young women are seeking out “sugar daddies” who will “sponsor” their educations.  The following is from a Huffington Post article about this disturbing trend….

On a Sunday morning in late May, Taylor left her Harlem apartment and boarded a train for Greenwich, Conn. She planned on spending the day with a man she had met online, but not in person.

Taylor, a 22-year-old student at Hunter College, had confided in her roommate about the trip and they agreed to swap text messages during the day to make sure she was safe.

Once in Greenwich, a man who appeared significantly older than his advertised age of 42 greeted Taylor at the train station and then drove her to the largest house she had ever seen. He changed into his swimming trunks, she put on a skimpy bathing suit, and then, by the side of his pool, she rubbed sunscreen into the folds of his sagging back — bracing herself to endure an afternoon of sex with someone she suspected was actually about 30 years her senior.

Of course that young woman will probably deeply regret doing that later on in her life.

Once graduation comes, millions upon millions of our young people are discovering that it is really hard to be financially independent if you are drowning in student loan debt and you can’t find a good job.

So what are they doing?

They are moving back in with Mom and Dad.

One poll discovered that 29 percent of all Americans in the 25 to 34 year old age bracket are still living with their parents.

Ouch.

So what do you think about all of this?  Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below….

Data Mining: Big Corporations Are Gathering Every Shred Of Information About You That They Can And Selling It For Profit

When most people think of “Big Brother”, they think of the FBI, the CIA, the NSA, the Department of Homeland Security and other shadowy government agencies.  Yes, they are definitely watching you, but so are many big corporations.  In fact, there are some companies that are making tens of millions of dollars by gathering every shred of information about all of us that they can and selling it for profit to anyone willing to pay the price.  It is called “data mining”, and these data miners want to keep track of literally everything that you do.  Most people know that basically everything that we do on the Internet is tracked, but data mining goes far beyond that.  When you use a customer rewards card at the supermarket, the data miners know about it.  When you pay for a purchase with a credit card or a debit card, the data miners know about it.  Every time you buy a prescription drug, that information is sold to someone.  Every time you apply for a loan, a whole host of organizations is notified.  Information has become an extremely valuable commodity, and thanks to computers and the Internet it is easier to gather information than ever before.  But that also means that our personal information is no longer “private”, and this trend is only going to get worse in the years ahead.

You have probably never even heard of many of these companies that are making millions of dollars selling your personal information.  Acxiom and Epsilon are two of the biggest names in the industry, and most of the time they are selling your information to companies that want to sell you stuff.

Almost every single day, very personal information about you is being bought and sold without your permission and it is all perfectly legal.

A recent article in The Week says the following about Acxiom….

An Arkansas company you’ve probably never heard of knows more about you than some of your friends, Google, and even the FBI — and it’s selling your data

The scale of the information gathering that Acxiom does is absolutely mind blowing.  If you can believe it, Acxiom actually keeps track of more than 190 million people inside the United States….

The company fits into a category called database marketing. It started in 1969 as an outfit called Demographics Inc., using phone books and other notably low-tech tools, as well as one computer, to amass information on voters and consumers for direct marketing. Almost 40 years later, Acxiom has detailed entries for more than 190 million people and 126 million households in the U.S., and about 500 million active consumers worldwide. More than 23,000 servers in Conway, just north of Little Rock, collect and analyze more than 50 trillion data ‘transactions’ a year.

So what does Acxiom want to know about you?

Everything.

The following is from a recent New York Times article about Acxiom….

IT knows who you are. It knows where you live. It knows what you do.

It peers deeper into American life than the F.B.I. or the I.R.S., or those prying digital eyes at Facebook and Google. If you are an American adult, the odds are that it knows things like your age, race, sex, weight, height, marital status, education level, politics, buying habits, household health worries, vacation dreams — and on and on.

Companies such as Acxiom literally want every shred of information about you that they can possibly get.

Once they gather all that data, Acxiom analyzes it, packages it and sells it to large corporations such as Wells Fargo, HSBC, Toyota, Ford and Macy’s.

And being in the “Big Brother business” is very, very profitable.

Acxiom made more than 77 million dollars in profits during their latest fiscal year.

Some members of Congress are very alarmed by all of this.  According to U.S. Senator John Kerry, this industry is virtually unregulated….

“There’s no code of conduct. There’s no standard. There’s nothing that safeguards privacy and establishes rules of the road.”

So what do big corporations do with all of this data after they purchase it from companies like Acxiom?

Well, for one thing, they use it to try to predict how you will behave.  A Daily Beast article gave some examples of how this works….

Predicting people’s behavior is becoming big business—and increasingly feasible in an era defined by accessible information. Data crunching by Canadian Tire, for instance, recently enabled the retailer’s credit card business to create psychological profiles of its cardholders that were built upon alarmingly precise correlations. Their findings: Cardholders who purchased carbon-monoxide detectors, premium birdseed, and felt pads for the bottoms of their chair legs rarely missed a payment. On the other hand, those who bought cheap motor oil and visited a Montreal pool bar called “Sharx” were a higher risk. “If you show us what you buy, we can tell you who you are, maybe even better than you know yourself,” a former Canadian Tire exec said. 

I don’t know about you, but I find that a bit creepy.

Later on in that same article, how some U.S. companies are using this kind of information was explained….

Other industries have bolstered their bottom lines by predicting how consumers will behave, according to Super Crunchers. UPS predicts when customers are at risk of fleeing to one of its competitors, and then tries to prevent the loss with a telephone call from a salesperson. And with its “Total Rewards” card, Harrah’s casinos track everything that players win and lose, in real time, and then analyze their demographic information to calculate their “pain point”—the maximum amount of money they’re likely to be willing to lose and still come back to the casino in the future. Players who get too close to their pain point are likely to be offered a free dinner that gets them off the casino floor.

So is all of this data gathering harmless?

Does it simply make our economy more efficient?

Or is there a greater danger here?

At some point could all of our personal information be used for more insidious purposes?

One thing is for sure – this is a trend that is not going away any time soon.

As our society becomes even more integrated through the Internet, data gathering is going to become even more comprehensive.

Eventually these complicated computer algorithms will be able to make very detailed predictions about your future behavior with a very, very high degree of accuracy.

When you add government snooping into the equation, it becomes easy to see why privacy advocates are going crazy these days.

Our society is literally being transformed into a technological monitoring grid.  Virtually everything we do is monitored, tracked and recorded in some way.

If we are not very careful, eventually we could end up living in a society that is much more oppressive than anything George Orwell ever dreamed of.

So what do you think of all of this snooping, spying and data mining?

Do you believe that it is harmless or do you believe that it represents a significant threat?

Feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below….

The Financial Crisis Of 2008 Was Just A Warm Up Act For The Economic Horror Show That Is Coming

The people out there that believe that the U.S. economy is experiencing a permanent recovery and that very bright days are ahead for us should have their heads examined.  Unfortunately, what we are going through right now is simply just a period of “hopetimism” between two financial crashes.  Things may seem relatively stable right now, but it won’t last long.  The truth is that the financial crisis of 2008 was just a warm up act for the economic horror show that is coming.  Nothing really got fixed after the crash of 2008.  We are living in the biggest debt bubble in the history of the world, and it has gotten even bigger since then.  The “too big to fail” banks are larger now than they have ever been.  Americans continue to run up credit card balances like there is no tomorrow.  Tens of thousands of manufacturing facilities and millions of jobs continue to leave the country.  We continue to consume far more than we produce and we continue to become poorer as a nation.  None of the problems that caused the crisis of 2008 have been solved and we are even weaker financially than we were back then.  So why in the world are so many people so optimistic about the economy right now?

Just take a look at the chart posted below.  It shows the growth of total debt in the United States.  During the financial crisis of 2008 there was a little “hiccup”, but the truth is that not much deleveraging really took place at all.  And since the recession “ended”, total credit market debt has gone on to even greater heights….

So what does this mean for the future?

Well, if a small “hiccup” in the debt bubble caused so much chaos back in 2008, what is going to happen when this debt bubble finally bursts?

That is something to think about.

Sadly, most Americans seem oblivious to all of this.

If you go out to malls in the wealthy areas of America today, people are charging up a storm.  In all, Americans charged a whopping 2.5 trillion dollars on their credit cards during 2011.  Way too many people have already forgotten the lessons that we all learned back in 2008.

Of course some Americans pay off their credit cards every month, but way too many Americans are not doing that.  Today, Americans are carrying 793 billion dollars in revolving credit balances.

And student loan debt is an even bigger bubble than credit card debt is.  As I have written about previously, total student loan debt in America is rapidly approaching a trillion dollars.

So it looks like U.S. consumers have not learned to stay away from debt.

That is not good.

Well, what about the banks?

Has the financial system learned any lessons since 2008?

No, not really.

Sadly, the “too big to fail” banks are now even bigger than ever.  The total assets of the six largest U.S. banks increased by 39 percent between September 30, 2006 and September 30, 2011.  If they were to fail today, they would be even more of a threat to our financial system than they were back in 2008.

And our major banks continue to be very highly leveraged.  In fact, major banks all over the world are absolutely swamped with debt.

The following statistics come from Zero Hedge….

The U.S. banking system is leveraged 13 to 1.

The Japanese banking system is leveraged 23 to 1.

The French banking system is leveraged 26 to 1.

The German banking system is leveraged 32 to 1.

These are insane levels of leverage, and they are just inviting another major financial crisis.

Do you all remember Lehman Brothers?  The fact that they were leveraged so highly is what did them in back in 2008.  When the value of their holdings declined by just a little bit they were totally wiped out.

Well, during this next financial crisis large financial institutions are going to be wiped out all over the world.  Major banks all over the globe are going to be crying out for more bailouts when things take a turn against them.

They are making the exact same mistakes that they made before, and they are going to be expecting more government handouts when things go bad.

Will we ever learn?

So obviously the banking system has not learned any lessons.

What about the federal government?

Well, if you follow my blog regularly, you know that I love to write about how horrific U.S. government debt is.

Unfortunately, over the past four years things have gotten so much worse.

Back in 2008, the U.S. national debt crossed the 10 trillion dollar mark.

Just recently, it crossed the 15 trillion dollar mark.

So now we are in a much weaker position financially to respond to another major financial crisis.

Just check out the chart posted below.  This is a recipe for national financial suicide….

During fiscal 2011, the Obama administration stole close to 150 million dollars from our children and our grandchildren every single hour.

At the moment, the legacy of debt that we are passing on to future generations is sitting a grand total of $15,351,406,294,640.49.

But keep in mind that it is going up every single hour.

Meanwhile, our ability to service that debt is declining.  We are rapidly getting poorer as a nation.

During 2011, the amount of money that left the United States exceeded the amount of money that entered the United States by more than a half a trillion dollars.

This gap is called a trade deficit, and it is absolutely ripping our economy to shreds.

For a moment, imagine Uncle Sam standing next to a giant pile of money on a map of the United States.  Then imagine a half a trillion dollars being taken out of that pile every single year.

So why haven’t we totally run out of money yet?

Well, it is because we borrow those dollars back.  In order to maintain our false standard of living, our federal government, our state governments and our local governments have to go out and beg the rest of the world to lend us our dollars back.

Sadly, our government schools have “dumbed-down” the population so much that most of them don’t even know what a “trade deficit” is anymore.

Meanwhile, our economic infrastructure is being gutted like a fish.

Look, I know that I go over this point over and over and over, but it is absolutely imperative that we all understand this.

The half a trillion dollars a year that leaves this country every year could have gone to support businesses and jobs inside the United States.

But instead it is going to support businesses and jobs on the other side of the world.

The consequences of this are absolutely devastating.

According to U.S. Representative Betty Sutton, an average of 23 manufacturing facilities a day closed down in the United States during 2010.  Overall, more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities in the United States have shut down since 2001.

Even many so-called “American companies” have been bought up by the rest of the world.  The following comes from a recent article posted on Economy In Crisis….

RCA is now a French company, Zenith is a Korean company. Frigidaire is a Swedish company. IBM’s Personal Computer Division—with its 500 patents—is now a Chinese company. Westinghouse Nuclear Energy’s major shareholder is Toshiba—a Japanese Company. Lucent Technologies, a former research division of AT&T, along with all the patents acquired from the beginning of the phone system, is now a French company. In 2008, Brazilian-Belgian brewing company InBev purchased the iconic American brewer Anheuser-Busch, makers of Budweiser. With the sale of these manufacturing companies, the future profit and technologies all belong to foreign entities.

We once had the greatest economic machine in the history of the world.

Now it is being dismantled and bought up by foreigners.

When America’s economic infrastructure declines, that means that there are less jobs available for all of us.

As I wrote about the other day, the employment situation in this country is not getting better and we have never even come close to recovering from the recession that started back in 2008.

During 2008 and 2009, the U.S. economy lost millions of jobs.  Since the beginning of 2010, the percentage of the U.S. population that has had a job has remained very stable….

Normally, when a recession ends the percentage of Americans that have a job bounces back pretty dramatically.

So considering the fact that the employment situation has never recovered from the last financial crisis, what is going to happen when the next financial crisis hits?

And most of the jobs that have been “created” during this so-called “recovery” have been low income jobs.  In fact, if you look closely at the employment numbers that were released last Friday, you will find that the vast majority of the “new jobs” were part-time jobs.

But you cannot pay a mortgage and support a family on a part-time job.

Sadly, the truth is that median household income in America has been steadily dropping over the past several years.  Tens of millions of American families are deeply struggling and more Americans than ever are falling into poverty.

Back in the year 2000, about one out of every nine Americans was living in poverty.  Today, about one out of every seven Americans is living in poverty.

All of this is causing a great deal of anxiety in America today.  Large numbers of Americans know that something has fundamentally changed, even if they don’t understand the specifics.  That is one reason why sites such as this one have become so popular.  People want some answers.

And once people get some answers about what is really happening, they tend to want to prepare for the hard times that are coming.

In a few days, a new series on National Geographic entitled “Doomsday Preppers” premieres.  The mainstream media is starting to take notice of the growing “prepper” movement in America today.  It is estimated that there are at least 2 million “preppers” in the United States at this point.  Of course people are “prepping” for a whole host of reasons, but the number one concern among most groups of preppers is the economy.

As the economy crumbles, more Americans than ever have decided that it is not a good thing to be 100% dependent on the system.

Back in 2008 and 2009, millions of Americans suddenly lost their jobs.  Because they did not have any finances stored up, large numbers of them also lost their homes.  Many went from being solidly middle class to being out on the street in a matter of months.

That doesn’t have to happen to you.  Instead of blowing your money on frivolous things, do what you can to set something aside for the difficult times that are on the horizon.

A lot of those “in the know” are quietly making their own preparations.  For example, legendary film director James Cameron (Avatar, Titanic and Terminator) has purchased more than 2600 acres of farmland in New Zealand and he is getting out of the U.S. for good apparently.

Unfortunately, most of us do not have the resources for something like that.  But what most of us can do is we can change our priorities and start focusing on the things that will help us survive the hard times that are coming.

So are you ready?

If The U.S. Government Keeps Spending Money Like This We Are Doomed And If The U.S. Government Stops Spending Money Like This We Are Doomed

If you increased your credit card spending by a couple thousand dollars per month would your lifestyle improve?  Of course it would.  By going into large amounts of debt, it is possible to live a lifestyle that you can’t really afford, at least for a while.  But if you keep racking up huge amounts of credit card debt every single month, eventually it gets to a point where it is extremely difficult to even keep up with the minimum monthly payments and the credit card companies will not lend you any more money.  Well, on a larger scale it is the same thing with government debt.  Right now, the U.S. government is spending more than a trillion dollars more than it takes in every year.  Even if the U.S. government spends all of that money on incredibly stupid stuff, it still gets into the pockets of ordinary Americans.  In turn, those ordinary Americans use that money to pay the mortgage, buy food, shop at the mall, etc.  All of this borrowing and spending by the U.S. government has created a “false prosperity” bubble that is not real.  It may feel real to you right now, but it is unsustainable by definition.  If the U.S. government suddenly started spending only the money that it actually brought in every year, our economy would be doomed and all of this “false prosperity” would rapidly disappear.  But if the U.S. government continues to rack up debt at this pace we are doomed as well.  In fact, every dollar that gets borrowed makes our eventual collapse ever worse.  We are heading down the exact same road that Greece has gone.  Eventually the rest of the world is not going to lend us gigantic mountains of super cheap money anymore.  When the flow of cheap money stops, it can be extremely painful.  Anyone that has ever seen the interest rates on their credit cards go above 20 percent knows how this feels.  If we had addressed these problems as a nation a decade or two ago, perhaps we could have found a solution.  But now there is no way out under our current financial system and a devastating economic collapse is on the horizon no matter what we do.

If there was a Hollywood movie where some crooks successfully stole 150 million dollars, what would you think of those crooks?

Would you have admiration for them?

Would you be disgusted with them?

Would you feel like your intelligence was insulted because nobody could ever steal 150 million dollars and get away with it?

Well, right now the federal government is stealing approximately 150 million dollars from our children and our grandchildren every single hour.

That’s right – the U.S. government is borrowing an astounding 150 million dollars an hour that our children and our grandchildren will be expected to deal with.

It is a theft so vast that it is almost unimaginable.

So what should be done?

A lot of people out there think that our problems would be solved if the government would just quit borrowing so much money.

Well, it is just not that simple.

Look at Greece.  They were forced by the EU and the IMF to dramatically reduce government spending.  But when Greece reduced government spending, that caused the economy to shrink rapidly and it caused tax receipts to go down more than expected.  So Greek budget deficits were even larger than anticipated and so Greece was forced to cut spending even more.  But that created even more economic problems.

A recent article by John Mauldin described the nightmarish effect that this cycle has had on Greece….

And as Greece began shake and bake its way to “austerity,” the very act of cutting deficits pushed the country into recession, which lowered tax revenues and increased expenses, putting the elusive goal of a balanced budget even further off. We should quickly note that this is not just a Greek problem. Spain’s “draconian” cuts have meant that its 6% deficit target for the year has this week been raised to a more likely 8%, making it harder to get back to even.

For country after country, this is the Endgame. It is the end of the Debt Supercycle. Debt has grown to the size that it cannot be sustained. The market will not lend any more money on terms that can be afforded, and any efforts to cut spending and raise taxes will result in an even worse economy, in various degrees of recession, with falling revenues and rising costs.

This is what happens when a country that has been spending far beyond its means is forced to dramatically cut back.

Those that are convinced that balancing the federal budget in the United States will be relatively painless should take a close look at what is happening in Greece.

As I have written about previously, the Greek economy has been plunged into a 21st century “Great Depression”.  In Greece, 20 percent of all retail stores have already shut down, the unemployment rate for those under the age of 24 is sitting at 39 percent, and one third of the entire nation is living in poverty.

And this is only just the beginning for Greece.

Things are going to get even worse.

Unfortunately, many believe that the United States is destined to experience far worse pain than Greece is currently experiencing.

For example, Peter Schiff insists that the United States is in worse financial shape than Europe at this point.  Just check out this video….

Anyone that attempts to downplay the U.S. debt problem is making a serious mistake.  Yes, we are still able to borrow trillions of dollars for next to nothing, but that is going to come to an end.

Remember all of those “suckers” that signed up for mortgages at “teaser rates” that later got jacked up dramatically?

Of course you do.

So what happened to them?

When the rates went up many of them ended up losing everything.

Well, we have gotten ourselves into the exact same kind of a position.  All of this cheap money has enabled us to live very nicely for now, but when the cheap money ends the nightmare will begin.

Right now, our debt is growing much, much faster than our economy is.  Between 2007 and 2010, U.S. GDP grew by only 4.26%, but the U.S. national debt soared by 61% during that same time period.

What would your household finances look like if your total debt grew by 61 percent next year but your income only grew by 4 percent?

When I was a little boy, the U.S. national debt was considered to be a huge national crisis.  Politicians from both major political parties were promising that they would fix things.

But what has happened since then?

Well, when Ronald Reagan took office the U.S. national debt was less than 1 trillion dollars.  Today, the U.S. national debt is over 15.2 trillion dollars.

During 2011, the federal government went into more debt than the U.S. government accumulated from the time that George Washington became president to the time that Ronald Reagan became president.

That may be hard to believe, but it is true.

During fiscal year 2011, the U.S. government spent 3.7 trillion dollars but it only brought in 2.4 trillion dollars.

That is utter insanity, and yet most Americans have become convinced that this is “normal” and that there is nothing to worry about.

It is hard to grasp how much money a trillion dollars is.

If right this moment you went out and started spending one dollar every single second, it would take you more than 31,000 years to spend one trillion dollars.

That is how much money a trillion dollars is.

And things look even worse when you look at the balance sheet of the U.S. government.

The U.S. government has total assets of 2.7 trillion dollars and has total liabilities of 17.5 trillion dollars.  Those liabilities do not even count 4.7 trillion dollars of intragovernmental debt that is currently outstanding.

But it is not just the federal government that has been living a fantasy.

The chart posted below shows the growth of total debt in America over the past several decades.  Consumers, businesses and government officials have been on a debt binge that is absolutely unprecedented….

The scary thing is that even with all of this borrowed money, our economy is still in the dumps.

So what in the world is it going to look like when the debt bubble totally bursts?

Even with all of this “borrowed prosperity”, anger at the government is rapidly growing.  A recent Gallup poll found that “satisfaction with government” in the United States is now at an all-time record low of 29 percent.

So how angry will the American people be when all of this “borrowed prosperity” disappears?

When this whole thing comes tumbling down, a lot of people are going to blame our problems on “capitalism”.

In fact, it is already happening.  Just check out what the founder of the World Economic Forum is saying….

“We have a general morality gap, we are over-leveraged, we have neglected to invest in the future, we have undermined social coherence, and we are in danger of completely losing the confidence of future generations,” said Klaus Schwab, host and founder of the annual World Economic Forum.

“Solving problems in the context of outdated and crumbling models will only dig us deeper into the hole.

“We are in an era of profound change that urgently requires new ways of thinking instead of more business-as-usual,” the 73-year-old said, adding that “capitalism in its current form, has no place in the world around us.”

But capitalism is not the problem.  Capitalism has produced the greatest eras of prosperity that the world has ever seen.

No, the real problem is our debt-based financial system that is managed and run by the central banks of the world.

You see, debt-based central banking is not capitalism.  But way too many people equate the two.

A lot of people cannot even imagine this, but theoretically you could have capitalism without any debt whatsoever.

But what we have today is a financial system that has debt as the very foundation.  And such a system is inevitably going to fail someday.

As I have written about so many times before, the Federal Reserve is at the very heart of our economic problems here in the United States.

The Federal Reserve was designed to be a perpetual debt machine.  And it has performed that task very well.  The U.S. national debt is now more than 5000 times larger than it was when the Federal Reserve was first created.

So yes, even though things seem somewhat “stable” for the moment, there are all kinds of reasons to be concerned about the viability of our economy and our financial system in the years ahead.

The other day, I was quoted in a Reuters article about our coming economic problems….

“Most people have a gut feeling that something has gone terribly wrong, but that doesn’t mean that they understand what is happening,” he said. “A lot of Americans sense that a massive economic storm is coming and they want to be prepared for it.”

Of course the Reuters reporter did not even bother to spell my name correctly, but at least he got the quote right.

A great economic storm is coming.

Don’t let this false prosperity and this “calm before the storm” fool you.

We are living in the greatest debt bubble the world has ever seen, and no matter how it plays out there is going to be a massive amount of pain.

You might want to get yourself and your family prepared for that.

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