As The Economy Teeters On The Brink Of A Recession, U.S. Debt Levels Are Absolutely Exploding

We now have official confirmation that the U.S. economy has dramatically slowed down.  In recent days I have shared a whole bunch of numbers with my readers that clearly demonstrate that a new economic downturn has begun.  And even though stock prices have been rising, the numbers for the “real economy” have been depressingly bad lately.  But what we didn’t have was official confirmation from the Federal Reserve that the economy is really slowing down, but now we do.  According to the Atlanta Fed’s GDPNow model, the economy is growing “at a 0.3 percent annualized rate in the first quarter”

The U.S. economy is growing at a 0.3 percent annualized rate in the first quarter, based on data on domestic construction spending in December released on Monday, the Atlanta Federal Reserve’s GDPNow forecast model showed.

For years, the goal has been to get U.S. growth above the key 3 percent threshold, but what this forecast is telling us is that economic growth is currently at one-tenth of that level.

That is just barely above recession territory.

So when I say that we are teetering on the brink of a recession, I am not exaggerating.

We also just got some really bad news about construction spending

Construction spending fell 0.6% in December from November, based on a seasonally adjusted annual rate, released today by the Commerce Department. Compared to December a year earlier, total construction spending inched up only 0.8% (not seasonally adjusted), the lowest growth rate since Oct 2011, coming out of the great recession.

Now we can add that to the list of all the other numbers that are telling us that very rough times are ahead.

Meanwhile, debt levels in the U.S. just continue to explode.

According to the latest report, Americans now have 480 million credit cards.  That is about 100 million more than during the last recession.

In other words, there are about 1.5 credit cards for every man, woman and child in the entire country.

The total amount of credit card debt in the United States has now reached a whopping $870,000,000,000.  That number has never been higher in the history of our nation.

And when you total up all forms of individual debt, U.S. consumers are now 13.5 trillion dollars in the hole.

Corporate debt levels are exploding as well, and this is something that Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan warned about on Tuesday

U.S. nonfinancial corporate debt consists mostly of bonds and loans. This category of debt, as a percentage of gross domestic product, is now higher than in the prior peak reached at the end of 2008, Kaplan said.

A number of studies have concluded this level of credit could “potentially amplify the severity of a recession,” he noted.

The lowest level of investment-grade debt, BBB bonds, has grown from $800 million to $2.7 trillion by year-end 2018. High-yield debt has grown from $700 million to $1.1 trillion over the same period. This trend has been accompanied by more relaxed bond and loan covenants, he added.

Overall, corporate debt has more than doubled since the last financial crisis, and that is just one of the reasons why our financial system is far more vulnerable today than it was just before the last financial crisis.

This week we also learned that the federal budget deficit is exploding as well.  The following comes from Business Insider

According to a report from the Treasury Department released Tuesday, the budget deficit — that is the difference between what the federal government takes in and what it spends — hit $310 billion in the first four months of fiscal year 2019.

Fiscal years for the federal government run October through September, so the data reflects the shortfall from October 2018 through January 2019. Based on the data, the deficit increased by 77% compared to the same period the prior year.

A 77 percent increase in one year?

I don’t even have the words to describe how foolish this is.

We are on pace to add way over a trillion dollars to the national debt this year, and one of the big things fueling this horrific debt binge is our rapidly expanding interest payments

Finally, and perhaps most concerning, is that for the first four months of this fiscal year, interest payments on the U.S. national debt hit $192 billion, $17 billion, or 10% more than in the same four-month period last year and the most interest ever paid in the first third of the fiscal year. As Reuters’ Jeoff Hall points out, annualizing the $192BN interest expense means that the interest on U.S. public debt is on track to reach a record $575 billion this fiscal year, more than the entire budget deficit in FY 2014 ($483 BN) or FY 2015 ($439 BN), and equates to 2.7% of estimated GDP, the highest percentage since 2011.

But according to the proponents of modern monetary theory (MMT), we can spend as much money as we want because “deficits almost never matter”

Because MMT holds that government spending isn’t funded by taxes, the Green New Deal doesn’t include any measures to finance the very large, open-ended fiscal commitments it would undertake. According to MMT economists, the only possible danger from the resultant government debt would be inflation, which can usually be controlled with tools other than raising taxes. In other words, deficits almost never matter. So confident are they of their theory’s universal applicability that MMT proponents often respond to their critics with scorn.

If you can believe it, there are actually members of Congress that believe this stuff.  Of course the truth is that our national debt is an existential threat to the continued existence of our nation, and this is a point that I have made repeatedly.

The U.S. economy was in far better shape just prior to the financial crisis of 2008 than it is now, and today we are drowning in far more debt than we were at that time.

The stage is set for the most terrifying economic horror show in American history, and the clock is ticking away with each passing day.

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

35 Mind Blowing Facts About America That Previous Generations Of Americans Never Would Have Believed

The only thing that seems to be constant in our society is change, and today America is changing at a pace that is more rapid than we have ever seen before.  But is that a good thing or a bad thing?  For a moment, I would like for you to imagine what it would be like for a group of average Americans from 1919 to suddenly be transported to our time.  How do you think that they would feel about what we have become?  Certainly they would be absolutely amazed by our advanced technology, but beyond that they would almost certainly have very strong opinions about the current state of our society.  Similarly, if any of us were suddenly transported 100 years into the future, I am sure that we would be completely and utterly shocked by how things had changed.  The decisions that we make today are going to echo long into the future, and if we make very bad decisions there might not be a future for our country at all.

The following are 35 mind blowing facts about America that previous generations of Americans never would have believed…

#1 Approximately one-fourth of the entire global prison population is in the United States.

#2 By the time an American child reaches the age of 18, that child will have seen approximately 40,000 murders on television.

#3 The average U.S. adult “logs 6 hours, 43 minutes of total screen time daily”.

#4 Approximately 96 percent of all Americans use the Internet.

#5 According to the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, nearly 56,000 bridges in the United States are currently “structurally deficient”.  What makes that number even more chilling is the fact that vehicles cross those bridges a total of 185 million times a day.

#6 In more than half of all U.S. states, the highest paid public employee in the state is a football coach.

#7 The Pentagon has more square footage of office space than any other office building in the entire world.

#8 The state of Alaska is 429 times larger than the state of Rhode Island.  But Rhode Island has a significantly larger population than Alaska does.

#9 Alaska has a longer coastline than all of the other 49 U.S. states put together.

#10 The city of Juneau, Alaska is about 3,000 square miles in size. It is actually larger than the entire state of Delaware.

#11 The average age of America’s dams is now 52 years.

#12 The average supermarket in the United States wastes about 3,000 pounds of food each year.

#13 There are more than 75 million dogs in the United States, and that number is constantly growing.

#14 Montana has three times as many cows as it does people.

#15 The grizzly bear is the official state animal of California. But no grizzly bears have been seen in the state since 1922.

#16 The only place in the United States where coffee is grown commercially is in Hawaii.

#17 More than 2 million Americans work for Wal-Mart.

#18 Half of all American workers make less than $30,533 a year.

#19 According to one recent survey, 37 percent of all Americans eat fast food every 24 hours.

#20 One study found that one-third of all American teenagers haven’t read a single book in the past year.

#21 Almost one-third of all Millennials are still living with their parents.

#22 The suicide rate in the United States has risen by 33 percent since 1999.

#23 Women have earned at least 57 percent of all bachelor’s degrees in the United States for 18 years in a row.

#24 If the U.S. health care system was a country, it would have the fifth largest GDP on the entire planet.

#25 America does not have a single airport that is considered to be in the top 25 in the world.

#26 Today, a million Americans are living in their RVS, and that number is rising with each passing year.

#27 More than 100 churches in the United States are dying every single week.

#28 The original name of the city of Atlanta was “Terminus“.

#29 There are three towns in the United States that have the name “Santa Claus“.

#30 There is actually a town in Michigan called “Hell“, and during the recent polar vortex it actually froze over.

#31 Almost one-third of all land in the United States is owned by the federal government.

#32 More than 27 million acres of U.S. farmland is owned by foreigners.

#33 Congestion on our highways costs Americans approximately 101 billion dollars a year in wasted fuel and time.

#34 According to Bloomberg, it is being projected “that by 2025, shortfalls in infrastructure investment will subtract as much as $3.9 trillion from U.S. gross domestic product.”

#35 In 1980, the U.S. national debt had just surpassed the one trillion dollar mark.  In 2019, we are about to surpass the 22 trillion dollar mark with no end in sight.

These days, just about everyone that tries to step forward and shake up the system is slapped with heavy criticism.

But at least they are trying to do something.

Holding an important position does not make you a leader.  Rather, being a leader is about having a positive vision for the future and doing whatever you can to achieve that vision.

We have way too many “leaders” out there that are simply filling seats.  Our country is literally falling apart at the seams, and all they can think about is protecting their careers.

America desperately needs change, but unfortunately we have very few change agents.  So we continue to steamroll toward our date with destiny, and time is not on our side.

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

The Most Depressing Stat Of The Month: The U.S. National Debt Is About To Pass The $22 Trillion Mark

The U.S. national debt is wildly out of control, and nobody in Washington seems to care.  According to the U.S. Treasury, the federal government is currently $21,933,491,166,604.77 in debt.  In just a few days, that figure will cross the 22 trillion dollar mark.  Over the last 10 years, we have added more than 11 trillion dollars to the national debt, and that means that it has been growing at a pace of more than a trillion dollars a year.  To call this a major national crisis would be a massive understatement, and yet there is absolutely no urgency in Washington address this absolutely critical issue.  We are literally destroying the financial future of this nation, but most Americans don’t seem to understand the gravity of the situation that we are facing.

The Congressional Budget Office projects that the national debt and interest on that debt will both explode at an exponential rate in future years if we stay on the path that we are currently on.  According to the CBO, the federal government spent 371 billion dollars on net interest during the most recent fiscal year…

In fiscal 2018, the government spent $371 billion on net interest, while the Defense Department budget was $599 billion. Social Security benefits cost $977 billion, Medicare $585 billion and Medicaid $389 billion, according to the CBO estimates.

But the CBO said interest outlays’ rate of growth in fiscal 2018 was faster than that for the three mandatory federal programs: Social Security (up $43 billion, or 5 percent); Medicaid (up $14 billion, or 4 percent); and Medicare (up $16 billion, or 3 percent). In comparison, net interest on the public debt increased by $62 billion, or 20 percent.

The 371 billion dollars that we spent on interest could have been spent on roads, schools, airports, strengthening our military or helping the homeless.

Instead, it was poured down a black hole.

As interest rates rise, it is being projected that we will soon be spending more on interest on the national debt than we do on national defense.  And not too long after that, interest on the national debt will cost us more than the entire Social Security program each year.

The bigger our debt gets, the more interest we have to pay, and the CBO is projecting that we will add another 12 trillion dollars to the debt during the 2020s…

Washington has been drowning in red ink for years and it’s only going to get a lot worse over the next decade, a fresh government estimate shows.

The U.S. is likely to add $12 trillion in public debt from 2020 to 2029 through a combination of higher government spending and slower economic growth, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Of course CBO estimates are almost always way too optimistic, and so reality will probably be a lot worse than that.

But if government debt is so bad, why do we just keep on accumulating more of it?

Well, the truth is that government debt always makes the short-term look better.  When the government borrows money and spends it into the economy, it increases GDP.  In essence, we are sacrificing our long-term prosperity in order for some short-term gain.

If we went back and removed the 11 trillion dollars that the federal government borrowed and spent over the last decade, we would be in the worst economic depression in American history right now.  But by stealing from the future, the federal government has been able to stabilize things.

Unfortunately, the future always arrives eventually, and our future is looking extremely bleak at the moment.

If we want to turn things around, we should not be afraid to learn from what other countries have done.  Switzerland and Sweden have both found a lot of success in managing their budgets by adopting very strict fiscal frameworks

What magic formula keeps the Swiss and Swedish fiscal houses in order?

In both cases, they adopted a comprehensive fiscal framework anchored by sensible fiscal targets and enforced by spending and tax limits. It allows them to live with prevailing economic cycles by pegging federal spending and debt to GDP — spending more when the economy is down, and less when growth is strong — and establishing a process for living within those goals.

But that would require discipline, and that is something that is severely lacking in our nation’s capital right now.

In fact, on the left it has become very trendy to say that the U.S. can never face a debt crisis because we can always “print more money”.  Here is one example

All lending to the U.S. government is done in dollars, and the Treasury controls the supply of that currency. It is literally impossible for America to face a pure debt crisis because it can always print enough money to pay its bills.

Again, that creates its own problems. Doing so would risk significant inflation which would almost certainly harm the country’s credit rating, making future borrowing more expensive. However, America structurally can’t reach a point where it doesn’t have the money to pay its debts; only a point where it prioritizes different concerns.

There is so much wrong with those two paragraphs that I don’t even know where to begin.

First of all, the U.S. Treasury does not control the supply of our currency.  The Federal Reserve does, and under normal circumstances more “Federal Reserve notes” do not come into existence unless a corresponding amount of U.S. debt is also issued.

In other words, the process of creating more money also creates more debt.  Most Americans simply do not understand that the Federal Reserve system was designed to be a perpetual debt machine, and it is the primary reason why we are now nearly 22 trillion dollars in debt.  During my run for Congress, abolishing the Federal Reserve was one of the key issues that I ran on, and we need to continue to educate the American people about these issues.

Because the truth is that the national debt is an existential threat to the future of this nation, and we are systematically destroying the very bright future that our children and our grandchildren were supposed to have.

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

55 Facts About The Debt And U.S. Government Finances That Every American Voter Should Know

The future of the United States of America is being systematically destroyed by our politicians, but unfortunately most Americans don’t really grasp exactly what is happening.  30 years ago, our national debt had just crossed the one trillion dollar mark.  Just recently, it crossed the 16 trillion dollar mark.  Prior to every election, politicians from both parties swear up and down that they will do something about our exploding debt, but it never happens.  Once again this year, our politicians are making all kinds of grand promises about getting U.S. government finances under control.  But they are also promising all kinds of new plans and programs which are going to cost a lot more money on top of what we are already spending.  For the average American, all of this can be incredibly confusing.  That is why I have put together a list of facts about the debt and U.S. government finances below.  These are things that every voter should know.  The federal government is stealing more than a trillion dollars a year from our children and our grandchildren, and they are spending that money in some of the most foolish ways that you could ever imagine.  We have accumulated the largest mountain of debt in the history of the world, but our politicians just can’t help themselves – they appear to be absolutely addicted to spending money.  If we continue on the path that we are currently on, our entire financial system and our entire economy will be destroyed by all of this debt.  Time is running out and urgent action is needed to address this crisis.

Many of our founding fathers attempted to warn us about the dangers of government debt.  For example, Thomas Jefferson once said the following

I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our Constitution. I would be willing to depend on that alone for the reduction of the administration of our government to the genuine principles of its Constitution; I mean an additional article, taking from the federal government the power of borrowing.

Where would we be today if such an amendment had been added to our Constitution?

How much brighter would our future be if the federal government had been forced to only spend what it took in all these years?

Those are very good questions.

The following are 55 facts about the debt and U.S. government finances that every American voter should know….

#1 While Barack Obama has been president, the U.S. government has spent about 11 dollars for every 7 dollars of revenue that it has actually brought in.

#2 During the fiscal year that just ended, the U.S. government took in 2.449 trillion dollars but it spent 3.538 trillion dollars.

#3 During fiscal year 2011, over a trillion dollars of government money was spent on 83 different welfare programs, and those numbers do not even include Social Security or Medicare.

#4 Over the past four years, welfare spending has increased by 32 percent.  In inflation-adjusted dollars, spending on those programs has risen by 378 percent over the past 30 years.  At this point, more than 100 million Americans are enrolled in at least one welfare program run by the federal government.  Once again, these figures do not even include Social Security or Medicare.

#5 Over the past year, the number of Americans getting a free cell phone from the federal government has grown by 43 percent.  Now more than 16 million Americans are enjoying what has come to be known as an “Obamaphone”.

#6 When Barack Obama first entered the White House, about 32 million Americans were on food stamps.  Now, nearly 47 million Americans are on food stamps.  And this has happened during what Obama refers to as “an economic recovery”.

#7 The U.S. government recently spent 27 million dollars on pottery classes in Morocco.

#8 The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently spent $300,000 to encourage Americans to eat caviar at a time when more families than ever are having a really hard time just trying to put any food on the table at all.

#9 During 2012, the National Science Foundation spent $516,000 to support the creation of a video game called “Prom Week”, which apparently simulates “all the social interactions of the event.

#10 The U.S. Department of Agriculture gave the largest snack food maker in the world (PepsiCo Inc.) a total of 1.3 million dollars in corporate welfare that was used to help build “a Greek yogurt factory in New York.

#11 The National Science Foundation recently gave researchers at Purdue University $350,000.  They used part of that money to help fund a study that discovered that if golfers imagine that a hole is bigger it will help them with their putting.

#12 If you can believe it, $10,000 from the federal government was actually used to purchase talking urinal cakes up in Michigan.

#13 The National Science Foundation recently gave a whopping $697,177 to a New York City-based theater company to produce a musical about climate change.

#14 The National Institutes of Health recently gave $666,905 to a group of researchers that is studying the benefits of watching reruns on television.

#15 The National Science Foundation has given 1.2 million dollars to a team of “scientists” that is spending part of that money on a study that is seeking to determine whether elderly Americans would benefit from playing World of Warcraft or not.

#16 The National Institutes of Health recently gave $548,731 to a team of researchers that concluded that those that drink heavily in their thirties also tend to feel more immature.

#17 The National Science Foundation recently spent $30,000 on a study to determine if “gaydar” actually exists.  This is the conclusion that the researchers reached at the end of the study….

“Gaydar is indeed real and… its accuracy is driven by sensitivity to individual facial features”

#18 Back in 2011, the National Institutes of Health spent $592,527 on a study that sought to figure out once and for all why chimpanzees throw poop.

#19 The U.S. government spends more on the military than China, Russia, Japan, India, and the rest of NATO combined.  In fact, the United States accounts for 41.0% of all military spending on the planet.  China is next with only 8.2%.

#20 In a previous article, I noted that close to 500,000 federal employees now make at least $100,000 a year.

#21 In 2006, only 12 percent of all federal workers made $100,000 or more per year.  Now, approximately 22 percent of all federal workers do.

#22 If you can believe it, there are 77,000 federal workers that make more than the governors of their own states do.

#23 During 2010, the average federal employee in the Washington D.C. area received total compensation worth more than $126,000.

#24 The U.S. Department of Defense had just nine civilians earning $170,000 or more back in 2005.  When Barack Obama became president, the U.S. Department of Defense had 214 civilians earning $170,000 or more.  By June 2010, the U.S. Department of Defense had 994 civilians earning $170,000 or more.

#25 During 2010, compensation for federal employees came to a grand total of approximately 447 billion dollars.

#26 If you can believe it, close to 15,000 retired federal employees are currently collecting federal pensions for life worth at least $100,000 annually.  That list includes such names as Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole, Trent Lott, Dick Gephardt and Dick Cheney.

#27 During 2010, the federal government spent $33,387 on the hair care needs of U.S. Senators.

#28 During 2010, U.S. Senators pulled $72,370 out of the “Senate Restaurant Fund”.

#29 During 2010, an average of $4,005,900 of U.S. taxpayer money was spent on “personal” and “office” expenses per Senator.

#30 In 2013, 3.7 million dollars will be spent to support the lavish lifestyles of former presidents such as George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

#31 During 2011, the federal government spent a total of 1.4 BILLION dollars just on the Obamas.

#32 When you combine all federal government spending, all state government spending and all local government spending, it comes to approximately 41 percent of U.S. GDP.  But don’t worry, all of our politicians insist that this is not socialism.

#33 As I have written about previously, less than 30 percent of all Americans lived in a home where at least one person received financial assistance from the federal government back in 1983.  Today, that number is sitting at an all-time high of 49 percent.

#34 Back in 1990, the federal government accounted for just 32 percent of all health care spending in America.  This year, it is being projected that the federal government will account for more than 50 percent of all health care spending in the United States.

#35 The number of Americans on Medicaid soared from 34 million in 2000 to 54 million in 2011, and it is being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to the Medicaid rolls.

#36 In one of my previous articles, I discussed how 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.

#37 If you can believe it, Medicare is facing unfunded liabilities of more than 38 trillion dollars over the next 75 years.  That comes to approximately $328,404 for each and every household in the United States.

#38 In the United States today, more than 61 million Americans receive some form of Social Security benefits.  By 2035, that number is projected to soar to a whopping 91 million.

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

#40 When Barack Obama first took office, the U.S. national debt was about 10.6 trillion dollars.  Now it is about 16.2 trillion dollars.  That is an increase of 5.6 trillion dollars in less than 4 years.

#41 The federal government has now run a budget deficit of more than a trillion dollars for four years in a row.

#42 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.

#43 If you were alive when Jesus Christ was born and you spent one million dollars every single day since that point, you still would not have spent one trillion dollars by now.

#44 Some suggest that “taxing the rich” is the answer.  Well, if Bill Gates gave every single penny of his entire fortune to the U.S. government, it would only cover the U.S. budget deficit for 15 days.

#45 If the federal government used GAAP accounting standards like publicly traded corporations do, the real federal budget deficit for 2011 would have been 5 trillion dollars instead of 1.3 trillion dollars.

#46 The United States already has more government debt per capita than Greece, Portugal, Italy, Ireland or Spain does.

#47 At this point, the United States government is responsible for more than a third of all the government debt in the entire world.

#48 The amount of U.S. government debt held by foreigners is about 5 times larger than it was just a decade ago.

#49 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.

#50 The U.S. national debt is now more than 37 times larger than it was when Richard Nixon took us off the gold standard.

#51 The U.S. national debt is now more than 5000 times larger than it was when the Federal Reserve was first created.

#52 The U.S. national debt jumped more on the very first day of fiscal year 2013 than it did from 1776 to 1941 combined.

#53 Historically, the interest rate on 10 year U.S. Treasuries has averaged 6.68 percent.  If the average interest rate on U.S. government debt rose to that level today, the U.S. government would find itself spending more than a trillion dollars per year just on interest on the national debt.

#54 A recently revised IMF policy paper entitled “An Analysis of U.S. Fiscal and Generational Imbalances: Who Will Pay and How?” projects that U.S. government debt will rise to about 400 percent of GDP by the year 2050.

#55 Boston University economist Laurence Kotlikoff is warning that the U.S. government is facing a gigantic tsunami of unfunded liabilities in the coming years that we are counting on our children and our grandchildren to pay.  Kotlikoff speaks of a “fiscal gap” which he defines as “the present value difference between projected future spending and revenue”.  His calculations have led him to the conclusion that the federal government is facing a fiscal gap of 222 trillion dollars in the years ahead.

Please share this article with as many people as you can.  Time is running out to fix these problems.

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