12 Economic Collapse Scenarios That We Could Potentially See In 2011

What could cause an economic collapse in 2011? Well, unfortunately there are quite a few “nightmare scenarios” that could plunge the entire globe into another massive financial crisis.  The United States, Japan and most of the nations in Europe are absolutely drowning in debt.  The Federal Reserve continues to play reckless games with the U.S. dollar.  The price of oil is skyrocketing and the global price of food just hit a new record high.  Food riots are already breaking out all over the world.  Meanwhile, the rampant fraud and corruption going on in world financial markets is starting to be exposed and the whole house of cards could come crashing down at any time.  Most Americans have no idea that a horrific economic collapse could happen at literally any time.  There is no way that all of this debt and all of this financial corruption is sustainable.  At some point we are going to reach a moment of “total system failure”.

So will it be soon?  Let’s hope not.  Let’s certainly hope that it does not happen in 2011.  Many of us need more time to prepare.  Most of our families and friends need more time to prepare.  Once this thing implodes there isn’t going to be an opportunity to have a “do over”.  We simply will not be able to put the toothpaste back into the tube again.

So we had all better be getting prepared for hard times.  The following are 12 economic collapse scenarios that we could potentially see in 2011….

#1 U.S. debt could become a massive crisis at any moment.  China is saying all of the right things at the moment, but many analysts are openly worried about what could happen if China suddenly decides to start dumping all of the U.S. debt that they have accumulated.  Right now about the only thing keeping U.S. government finances going is the ability to borrow gigantic amounts of money at extremely low interest rates.  If anything upsets that paradigm, it could potentially have enormous consequences for the entire world financial system.

#2 Speaking of threats to the global financial system, it turns out that “quantitative easing 2” has had the exact opposite effect that Ben Bernanke planned for it to have.  Bernanke insisted that the main goal of QE2 was to lower interest rates, but instead all it has done is cause interest rates to go up substantially.  If Bernanke this incompetent or is he trying to mess everything up on purpose?

#3 The debt bubble that the entire global economy is based on could burst at any time and throw the whole planet into chaos.  According to a new report from the World Economic Forum, the total amount of credit in the world increased from $57 trillion in 2000 to $109 trillion in 2009.  The WEF says that now the world is going to need another $100 trillion in credit to support projected “economic growth” over the next decade.  So is this how the new “global economy” works?  We just keep doubling the total amount of debt every decade?

#4 As the U.S. government and the Federal Reserve continue to pump massive amounts of new dollars into the system, the floor could fall out from underneath the U.S. dollar at any time.  The truth is that we are already starting to see inflation really accelerate and everyone pretty much acknowledges that official U.S. governments figures for inflation are an absolute joke.  According to one new study, the cost of college tuition has risen 286% over the last 20 years, and the cost of “hospital, nursing-home and adult-day-care services” rose 269% during those same two decades.  All of this happened during a period of supposedly “low” inflation.  So what are price increases going to look like when we actually have “high” inflation?

#5 One of the primary drivers of global inflation during 2011 could be the price of oil.  A large number of economists are now projecting that the price of oil could surge well past $100 dollars a barrel in 2011.  If that happens, it is going to put significant pressure on the price of almost everything else in the entire global economy.  In fact, as I have explained previously, the higher the price of oil goes, the faster the U.S. economy will decline.

#6 Food inflation is already so bad in some areas of the globe that it is setting off massive food riots in nations such as Tunisia and Algeria.  In fact, there have been reports of people setting themselves on fire all over the Middle East as a way to draw attention to how desperate they are.  So what is going to happen if global food prices go up another 10 or 20 percent and food riots spread literally all over the globe during 2011?

#7 There are persistent rumors that simply will not go away of massive physical gold and silver shortages.  Demand for precious metals has never been higher.  So what is going to happen when many investors begin to absolutely insist on physical delivery of their precious metals?  What is going to happen when the fact that far, far, far more “paper gold” and “paper silver” has been sold than has ever actually physically existed in the history of the planet starts to come out?  What would that do to the price of gold and silver?

#8 The U.S. housing industry could plunge the U.S. economy into another recession at any time.  The real estate market is absolutely flooded with homes and virtually nobody is buying.  This massive oversupply of homes means that the construction of new homes has fallen off a cliff.  In 2010, only 703,000 single family, multi-family and manufactured homes were completed.  This was a new record low, and it was down 17% from the previous all-time record which had just been set in 2009.

#9 A combination of extreme weather and disease could make this an absolutely brutal year for U.S. farmers.  This winter we have already seen thousands of new cold weather and snowfall records set across the United States.  Now there is some very disturbing news emerging out of Florida of an “incurable bacteria” that is ravaging citrus crops all over Florida.  Is there a reason why so many bad things are happening all of a sudden?

#10 The municipal bond crisis could go “supernova” at any time.  Already, investors are bailing out of bonds at a frightening pace.  State and local government debt is now sitting at an all-time high of 22 percent of U.S. GDP.  According to Meredith Whitney, the municipal bond crisis that we are facing is a gigantic threat to our financial system….

“It has tentacles as wide as anything I’ve seen. I think next to housing this is the single most important issue in the United States and certainly the largest threat to the U.S. economy.”

Former Los Angeles mayor Richard Riordan is convinced that things are so bad that literally 90% of our states and cities could go bankrupt over the next five years….

#11 Of course on top of everything else, the quadrillion dollar derivatives bubble could burst at any time.  Right now we are watching the greatest financial casino in the history of the globe spin around and around and around and everyone is hoping that at some point it doesn’t stop.  Today, most money on Wall Street is not made by investing in good business ideas.  Rather, most money on Wall Street is now made by making the best bets.  Unfortunately, at some point the casino is going to come crashing down and the game will be over.

#12 The biggest wildcard of all is war.  The Korean peninsula came closer to war in 2010 than it had in decades.  The Middle East could literally explode at any time.  We live in a world where a single weapon can take out an entire city in an instant.  All it would take is a mid-size war or a couple of weapons of mass destruction to throw the entire global economy into absolute turmoil.

Once again, let us hope that none of these economic collapse scenarios happens in 2011.

However, we have got to realize that we can’t keep dodging these bullets forever.

As bad as 2010 was, the truth is that it went about as good as any of us could have hoped.  Things are still pretty stable and times are still pretty good right now.

But instead of using these times to “party”, we should be using them to prepare.

A really, really vicious economic storm is coming and it is going to be a complete and total nightmare.  Get ready, hold on tight, and say your prayers.

Two Americas: 12 Facts That Show That Those Who Are Too Big To Fail Are Thriving On The Bailout Money That Our Politicians Gave Them Even As The Economic Suffering Of Ordinary Americans Continues To Deepen

Most Americans have a deep aversion to the phrase “redistribution of wealth”, and rightly so.  On a fundamental level, it is just not right to take the money that one man has worked so hard to earn and “redistribute” it to someone else.  In the political realm, the phrase “a redistribution of wealth” is usually a reference to our ballooning social programs, but what most Americans don’t realize is that one of the biggest redistributions of wealth in world history took place during the Wall Street bailouts of a couple years ago.  Trillions of dollars of our money and of money that belongs to future generations was redistributed to the Wall Street bankers.  The Wall Street bankers did not earn this money and they did not deserve this money.  We were told that if Wall Street did not get this money that the global economy would collapse and that there would be martial law in the streets.  We were promised that this money would “fix” Wall Street and then the prosperity would “trickle down” to Main Street.  So did this happen?  Of course not.

What ended up happening is that Wall Street hoarded all of this cash.  Lending to individuals and small businesses actually decreased.  The Federal Reserve started handing out gigantic piles of nearly interest-free money which many of these big Wall Street banks immediately loaned back to the U.S. government at a significantly higher rate of interest.

Talk about easy money.

Now the big Wall Street banks and the ultra-wealthy are swimming in cash and sales of luxury goods in the United States are absolutely skyrocketing.  Meanwhile, millions of “ordinary” Americans continue to slip into poverty.

So is the answer to all of this just to “tax the rich” and redistribute the wealth again by giving more handouts to the poor?

Of course not.

The American people don’t need more handouts.

What the American people desperately need are some good jobs.

But Wall Street is hoarding the cash they got during the bailouts.

It would be one thing if these big Wall Street banks had made a ton of money based on their own efforts.  It is a very American thing to be able to enjoy the fruits of hard work.

However, the truth is that many big Wall Street banks and financial institutions may have completely imploded if not for the bailouts.

They were “too big to fail” and our politicians jumped to their service.

Our politicians redistributed wealth by taking trillions of dollars that belonged to us and to future generations and handed it to the folks on Wall Street.

So now the boys and girls over on Wall Street are thriving while tens of millions of “average” Americans are desperately suffering.

Does that seem right to you?

Isn’t it about time that the U.S. government gets out of the “redistribution of wealth” business altogether?

Just consider the following statistics.  Even as the economic suffering of ordinary Americans continues to deepen, those who got big piles of bailout money are living the high life….

#1 According to Stephen Lewis of Monument Securities, luxury retailers in the United States have seen an 8.1 percent increase in sales compared to a year ago, while “discount stores” that cater to the poor and the middle class have only seen a 1.2 percent increase in sales compared to a year ago.

#2 The sad truth is that just about every company that deals in luxury goods is booming, while those that primarily serve ordinary Americans are not doing nearly as well.  Just consider the following quote from a recent article by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard of the Telegraph….

Tiffany’s, Nordstrom, and Saks Fifth Avenue are booming. Sales of Cadillac cars have jumped 35pc, while Porsche’s US sales are up 29pc.

Cartier and Louis Vuitton have helped boost the luxury goods stock index by almost 50pc since October. Yet Best Buy, Target, and Walmart have languished.

#3 Elderly Americans in particular are really having a hard time of it right now.  A recent study by a law professor from the University of Michigan found that Americans that are 55 years of age or older now account for 20 percent of all bankruptcies in the United States.  Back in 2001, they only accounted for 12 percent of all bankruptcies.

#4 The number of Americans on food stamps has hit another all-time record.  There are now 43.2 million Americans enrolled in the food stamp program.

#5 According to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, visits to soup kitchens are up 24 percent over the past year.

#6 Meanwhile, the price of food continues to go up.  This hits poor and middle class Americans much harder than it hits the wealthy.  According to a report on 55 top food commodities by the Food and Agriculture Organization, global food prices reached a new record high during December.

#7 Lester Brown, the president of the Washington-based Earth Policy Institute, is publicly declaring that the world is just “one poor harvest” away from total chaos….

“The reality is that the world is only one poor harvest away from chaos. We are so close to the edge that politically destabilizing food prices could come at any time.”

#8 The price of clothes is also increasing dramatically.  It turns out that cotton is 80% more expensive now than it was back at the beginning of 2010.

#9 Americans will also be paying more at the gas pump this upcoming year.  In fact, former Shell Oil President John Hofmeister recently stated that Americans could be paying 5 dollars for a gallon of gasoline by the end of this upcoming year.

#10 Health insurance rates are also skyrocketing.  Blue Shield of California recently announced plans to raise health insurance rates by an average of 30% to 35% this year, and some individual policy holders could actually see their health insurance premiums rise by a whopping 59 percent.

#11 On top of everything else, the U.S. Census is now telling us that there are millions more poor people in America than they had previously calculated.  The U.S. Census Bureau recently revealed that the figure of 43.6 million Americans living in poverty that they announced last September was way too low and that actually 47.8 million Americans are now living in poverty.

#12 If all of these economic problems were not bad enough, now many state and local governments are seriously considering raising taxes.  In Illinois, there is now a proposal to raise state income tax rates by 75 percent.  A recent article that appeared on the CNBC website explained why Illinois is so desperate for cash….

In a moment when states around the country are wrestling with withered revenues, Illinois faces a deficit of at least $13 billion; more than $6 billion in unpaid bills to social service agencies, schools and funeral homes; the most underfinanced state pension system; and growing signs of concern from bond investors.

So won’t the big Wall Street banks and the ultra-wealthy get hit by these tax increases too?

Some of them will, but many of them have learned to “play the game” so well that they barely pay any taxes at all.

As I have written about previously, a third of all the wealth in the world is now held in offshore banks.  When taxes go up, the ultra-wealthy are not the ones that have their wealth “redistributed”.  Instead, it is poor saps like you and I that have our wealth “redistributed”.

In fact, the next time another “financial crisis” comes along, the financial “powers that be” will once again come running to Congress and come running to the Federal Reserve begging for more bailouts.

Now that the precedent has been set, it will only seem natural to redistribute even more of our wealth to the folks over on Wall Street so that we can “save” the financial system.

But the truth is that our financial system is completely doomed to fail in the long run and throwing our money into the financial system is like throwing our money into a black hole.

In the end, all of us are going to greatly suffer when the financial system finally crashes.  But for the moment the wealthy are partying with all of the money that they have looted from the rest of America, and the rest of us which were “small enough to fail” have been left to scratch and claw and fight with each other as we desperately try to survive in this horrible economy.

14 Eye Opening Statistics Which Reveal Just How Dramatically The U.S. Economy Has Collapsed Since 2007

Most Americans have become so accustomed to the “new normal” of continual economic decline that they don’t even remember how good things were just a few short years ago.  Back in 2007, unemployment was very low, good jobs were much easier to get, far fewer Americans were living in poverty or enrolled in welfare programs and government finances were in much better shape.  Of course most of this prosperity was fueled by massive amounts of debt, but at least times were better.  Unfortunately, things have really deteriorated over the last several years.  Since 2007, unemployment has skyrocketed, foreclosures have set new all-time records, personal bankruptcies have soared and U.S. government debt has gotten completely and totally out of control.  Poll after poll has shown that Americans are now far less optimistic about the future than they were in 2007.  It is almost as if the past few years have literally sucked the hope out of millions upon millions of Americans.

Sadly, our economic situation is continually getting worse.  Every month the United States loses more factories.  Every month the United States loses more jobs.  Every month the collective wealth of U.S. citizens continues to decline.  Every month the federal government goes into even more debt.  Every month state and local governments go into even more debt.

Unfortunately, things are going to get even worse in the years ahead.  Right now we look back on 2005, 2006 and 2007 as “good times”, but in a few years we will look back on 2010 and 2011 as “good times”.

We are in the midst of a long-term economic decline, and the very bad economic choices that we have been making as a nation for decades are now starting to really catch up with us.

So as horrible as you may think that things are now, just keep in mind that things are going to continue to deteriorate in the years ahead.

But for the moment, let us remember how far we have fallen over the past few years.  The following are 14 eye opening statistics which reveal just how dramatically the U.S. economy has collapsed since 2007….

#1 In November 2007, the official U.S. unemployment rate was just 4.7 percent.  Today, the official U.S. unemployment rate is 9.4 percent.

#2 In November 2007, 18.8% of unemployed Americans had been out of work for 27 weeks or longer.  Today that percentage is up to 41.9%.

#3 As 2007 began, there were just over 1 million Americans that had been unemployed for half a year or longer.  Today, there are over 6 million Americans that have been unemployed for half a year or longer.

#4 Nearly 10 million Americans now receive unemployment insurance, which is almost four times as many as were receiving it back in 2007.

#5 More than half of the U.S. labor force (55 percent) has “suffered a spell of unemployment, a cut in pay, a reduction in hours or have become involuntary part-time workers” since the “recession” began in December 2007.

#6 According to one analysis, the United States has lost a total of approximately 10.5 million jobs since 2007.

#7 As 2007 began, only 26 million Americans were on food stamps.  Today, an all-time record of 43.2 million Americans are enrolled in the food stamp program.

#8 In 2007, the U.S. government held a total of $725 billion in mortgage debt.  As of the middle of 2010, the U.S. government held a total of $5.148 trillion in mortgage debt.

#9 In the year prior to the “official” beginning of the most recent recession in 2007, the IRS filed just 684,000 tax liens against U.S. taxpayers.  During 2010, the IRS filed over a million tax liens against U.S. taxpayers.

#10 From the year 2000 through the year 2007, there were 27 bank failures in the United States.  From 2008 through 2010, there were 314 bank failures in the United States.

#11 According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the number of U.S. families with children living in homeless shelters increased from 131,000 to 170,000 between 2007 and 2009.

#12 In 2007, one poll found that 43 percent of Americans were living “paycheck to paycheck”.  Sadly, according to a survey released very close to the end of 2010, approximately 55 percent of all Americans are now living paycheck to paycheck.

#13 In 2007, the “official” federal budget deficit was just 161 billion dollars.  In 2010, the “official” federal budget deficit was approximately 1.3 trillion dollars.

#14 As 2007 began, the U.S. national debt was just under 8.7 trillion dollars.  Today, the U.S. national debt has just surpassed 14 trillion dollars and it continues to soar into the stratosphere.

So is there any hope that we can turn all of this around?

Unfortunately, the massive amount of debt that we have piled up as a society over the last several decades has made that impossible.

If you add up all forms of debt (government debt, business debt, individual debt), it comes to approximately 360 percent of GDP.  It is the biggest debt bubble in the history of the world.

If the federal government and our state governments stop borrowing and spending so much money, our economy would collapse.  But if they keep borrowing and spending so much money they will continually make the eventual economic collapse even worse.

We are in the terminal stages of the most horrific debt spiral the world has ever seen, and when the debt spiral gets stopped the house of cards is going to finally come down for good.

So enjoy these times while you still have them.  Yes, today is not nearly as prosperous as 2007 was, but today is most definitely a whole lot better than 2015 or 2020 is going to be.

Sadly, we could have avoided this financial disaster completely if only we had listened more carefully to those that founded this nation.  Once upon a time, Thomas Jefferson 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.

Instead Of Using This Period Of Economic Stability To Party We Should Be Using It To Prepare

The fact that the official U.S. government unemployment rate has dipped slightly is good news.  However, it is not the “economic turning point” that Barack Obama and others are proclaiming it to be.  Rather, what we are in right now is “the calm before the storm”.  The massive amount of government spending that the U.S. government has done over the past few years and the massive quantities of new dollars that the Federal Reserve has been pumping into the system has bought us all just a little bit of time.  Instead of using this brief period of economic stability to party, we should all be using it to prepare for the very hard economic times that are coming.  Please do not get fooled when the short-term economic numbers go up or down a little bit.  When evaluating the state of the U.S. economy, the key is to look at the long-term trends.  The truth is that when you take a longer-term view, it becomes undeniable that the United States is in the midst of a long-term economic decline from which there is no escape.

But how are most Americans responding to the “good news” that the U.S. economy has stabilized for the moment?  Many Americans are running right back out and are spending like it is 1999.  Many Americans are viewing the slight improvement in some of the economic numbers as a sign that “happy times are here again” and they are behaving just as they did right before the financial crisis of 2008.

Many of us have family or friends that are taking expensive trips, making huge purchases and partying as if the good times are never going to end.

But is this wise?

The fact that the official government unemployment rate declined to 9.4% in December has got a lot of people excited, including Barack Obama….

“The pace of hiring is beginning to pick up.”

So is the fact that the unemployment rate declined slightly good news?

Yes, it is good news.

However, there are also a whole lot of reasons not to be so excited about this one piece of unemployment data….

*A big part of the reason why the unemployment figure was down in December was because the government considered 260,000 Americans to have dropped out of the labor force.

*Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says that unemployment is likely to stay very high for four or five more years.

*The 103,000 jobs that were added in December was actually far below the 140,000 to 178,000 jobs that economists were expecting.

*Gallup numbers tell an entirely different story when it comes to unemployment.  According to Gallup, the unemployment rate actually rose to 9.6% at the end of December.  This was a significant increase from 9.3% in mid-December and 8.8% at the end of November.

*Not only that, but Gallup also says that the underemployment rate is moving up dramatically.  According to Gallup, the underemployment rate in the United States increased to 19.0% during December, which was up substantially from 18.5% in mid-December and 17.2% at the end of November.

*The percentage of Americans participating in the labor force is now the lowest it has been since the early 1980s.  In December, the Labor Force Participation Rate fell to 64.3%.   Over the last twenty years, the Labor Force Participation Rate has usually been around 66 or 67 percent.  So do less Americans want jobs today?  Of course not.  What has happened is that millions of Americans have become so discouraged about the lack of jobs that they aren’t even actively searching anymore.

*The number of Americans working part-time for “economic reasons” continues to hover around all-time highs.

*According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of Americans that have been out of work for more than 26 weeks actually increased in December.  In November, there were 6.328 Americans in that category, and in December there were 6.441 million Americans in that category.

So, as you can see, there are a whole lot of reasons not to get too excited about the employment numbers.

But has the economic situation in the United States somewhat stabilized in the short-term?

Yes, but this is not going to last forever.

When you look at the longer-term economic trends they just keep getting worse and worse and worse….

#1 Every single month the U.S. government goes into even more debt.  The U.S. government is now over 14 trillion dollars in debt and this debt in increasing by about 4 billion dollars every single day.

#2 Even single month state and local governments across the United States go into even more debt.  As I have written about previously, our infrastructure is literally crumbling and falling apart from coast to coast but our state and local governments can’t do anything about it because they are drowning in a sea of red ink.

#3 Every single month we are getting poorer as a nation.  Every month we consume massive amounts of foreign oil and cheap, foreign-made plastic trinkets and we send the rest of the world hundreds of billions of dollars of our money.  Unfortunately, very few of our politicians ever even mention this obscene transfer of wealth.

#4 Every single month we send large numbers of our factories and our jobs overseas.  Over the past decade, over 42,000 factories in the United States have shut down permanently and millions of good jobs have been outsourced and offshored.  Those jobs and those factories are never coming back and America is rapidly becoming a “post-industrial” nation.

#5 Every single month the United States continues to lose not only factory jobs, but also many other types of good paying “middle class jobs”.  In fact, since the year 2000, we have lost 10% of our middle class jobs.  In the year 2000 there were about 72 million middle class jobs in the United States but today there are only about 65 million middle class jobs.  Meanwhile, our population continues to grow larger.

#6 Almost every single month the cost of basics such as food, gasoline and health care goes up faster than our incomes do.  Inflation is a brutal “hidden tax” which is destroying the standard of living of middle class Americans.

#7 Confidence in the U.S. dollar and U.S. Treasury bonds is starting to rapidly decline.  When global confidence in the U.S. dollar and in U.S. Treasury bonds is totally gone, the entire world financial system will be thrown into total chaos and the U.S. economic system will fall like a house of cards.

#8 We are being constantly looted and pillaged by those at the top of the food chain.  Every single month the ultra-wealthy and the international banking elite drain even more money out of the system and transfer it to “offshore” banks.  At this point, a third of all the wealth in the world is held in “offshore” banks.

Right now we are still able to enjoy relatively good times because the rest of the world continues to loan the U.S. government massive amounts of cheap money and because the Federal Reserve has so far gotten away with printing gigantic piles of new money out of thin air.

But this “can” cannot be kicked down the road forever.  At some point, the greatest debt bubble in the history of the world is going to completely burst and the fallout is going to be nightmarish.

So what should we all be doing?

What we shouldn’t be doing is partying as if the good times are going to last indefinitely.

What we need to be doing is starting to prepare.

So what are some things that we all can do to prepare for hard economic times?  Well, the following are just a few of the columns I have authored in the past about prepping….

*What To Do

*Disaster Plan

*20 Things You Will Need To Survive When The Economy Collapses And The Next Great Depression Begins

Use this brief time of economic stability to prepare – once the economy falls apart it will be too late.

Hopefully some of the readers of this column will be willing to share some of their best preparation tips.  If you have got some tips and ideas that you would like to share with the rest of us, please feel free to post a comment below….

In The Future You May Not Be Able To Provide The Basics For Your Family Even If Everyone In Your Family Has A Job

Today, millions of American families are extremely stressed out because they are working as hard as they can and yet they find at the end of the month they still haven’t been able to pay all of the bills.  Unfortunately, things are only going to get rougher in the years ahead.  The U.S. government has reached a terminal phase of the debt spiral that it is trapped in, and the only way to keep the system going is to print more money, borrow more money and spend more money.  But won’t this cause horrible inflation eventually?  Of course it will.  That is why so many people around the world have so loudly denounced “quantitative easing 2”.  The Federal Reserve is just creating hundreds of billions of dollars out of thin air and is chucking all of this money into the system in a desperate attempt to get it moving again.  This is also why the Tea Party movement is so angry about the record amounts of government debt that are being piled up.  When the U.S. government goes into more debt, it creates more dollars.  As the Federal Reserve and the U.S. government flood the system with new dollars, it means that there are now more dollars chasing roughly the same number of goods and services, and that is a recipe for inflation.

Fortunately (or unfortunately, however you want to look at it), most of this new money is trapped in the financial markets right now.  The first people that get their hands on all of this new money are banks, financial institutions and the folks down on Wall Street and right now they are hoarding much of it and much of it is going to pump up the stock market.

That is one reason why we saw such a tremendous bubble in commodities in 2010.  It is also a key reason why we have seen such a stock market “recovery”.

But eventually all of this new money is going to get into the hands of average U.S. consumers and it is going to start pushing the price of everything up.

Ronald Reagan once said that inflation is “as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber, and as deadly as a hit man.”  Ron Paul has called inflation a “hidden tax” on all of us, and that is exactly what it is.  All of the paper money that we are storing in the banks is losing a little bit of value every single day.  Over long periods of time, this loss of value becomes absolutely massive.  For example, did you know that the U.S. dollar has lost over 95 percent of its purchasing power since the Federal Reserve was created in 1913?

Unfortunately, as the Federal Reserve and the U.S. government continue to flood the system with new dollars in a desperate attempt to stimulate the economy, inflation is only going to get worse and worse and worse.

So enjoy the relatively tame inflation that we are enjoying for now.  The official U.S. government inflation rate has been hovering around 1 percent or so, but everyone knows that the official inflation rate is an absolute joke.  The government pulls different categories in and out of the inflation rate almost at will in an attempt to keep the numbers low.

One recent study that analyzed price movement of 86 products in Wal-Mart stores found that the “real” rate of inflation was approximately twice the “official” rate reported by the U.S. government.

Others are convinced that the official rate of inflation is even higher than that.  For example, John Williams of ShadowStats.com has closely studied inflation in the U.S. and he believes that it is currently hovering somewhere around 5 percent.

However, John Williams does not believe that inflation is going to stay at 5 percent for much longer.  He recently released a “Hyperinflation Special Report” for 2010 that everyone needs to read.  Personally, I do not agree with all of his conclusions and I do not believe that things are going to happen quite as quickly as he is projecting, but his overall analysis is sound.

The truth is that our financial system has now reached a terminal phase.  Just look at the chart below.  Really look at it.  How can any financial system survive debt that is rising this fast?  The printing and borrowing of money continues to spiral out of control with no end in sight.  It is hard to imagine any scenario in which we can even achieve a “soft landing”.  One way or another, this exploding debt is going to take us down…..

So are the politicians sorry that they have saddled us with all of this debt?

Well, just the other day Nancy Pelosi was directly asked this question and the following was her response….

“No, we have no regrets.”

In fact there are quite a few politicians running around in Washington D.C. that are still convinced “that deficits don’t matter” and that all this debt will never catch up with us.

Well, hold on to your hats, because this is going to be the decade when all of this debt really does start to catch up with us.

One of the ways that we are going to feel the pain is through inflation.

In the months and years ahead, wages will remain relatively stable and government entitlement payments will not increase much while prices for the basic things that American families need go through the roof.

Already we are starting to see some troubling signs of inflation.  In 2010, the price of almost every major agricultural commodity you can name shot up dramatically.  We are starting to see these price increases filter into the supermarket.  Some companies are trying to hide these price increases by shrinking package sizes.

Have you noticed this yet?  Have any of the packages that you buy regularly seemed to shrink in recent months?

Sadly, it looks like food prices are headed even higher.  According to a recent report by Reuters, world food prices hit an all-time record high in December….

World food prices rose to a record in December on higher sugar, grain and oilseed costs, the United Nations said, exceeding levels reached in 2008 that sparked deadly riots from Haiti to Egypt.

So what are you and your family going to do if a worldwide food shortage pushes food prices up significantly?

Another place where American families are really going to start feeling the pain is at the gas pump.

Do you remember back in October when I warned you that 100 dollar oil is coming?

Well, the price of Brent crude reached 95 dollars a barrel for the first time in almost two years on Monday.

Unfortunately, there are many who now believe that the price of oil is going to go a lot higher than that.

John Hofmeister, the former president of Shell Oil, believes that American consumers will likely be paying 5 dollars for a gallon of gas by the time 2012 rolls around.

So is your employer going to be paying you much more to keep up with rising gas prices?

Of course not.

And you know what?

When the price of oil rises, it affects the price of almost everything else in the stores, because nearly everything has to be transported in one way or another.

So why is the price of oil going up so much?  Well, of course there are speculators and of course the price of oil is highly manipulated, but one of the big reasons why oil is going up is because the U.S. dollar is losing value.

The cost of other basics is going up as well.  Have your health insurance premiums gone up lately?  All over the country, horrific health insurance premium increases are being reported.

Quite a few of the readers of this column have stated that they simply cannot afford health insurance anymore and so they are now doing without it.  There are millions of Americans that refuse to go to a hospital because there is no way they can pay for health insurance and there is no way they can pay the ridiculous fees charged by our hospitals today.

Sadly, in the months and years to come millions more working American families will be pushed into poverty-like conditions by rising inflation.

Already we are seeing huge numbers of American families that are working as hard as they can not being able to afford the basics.

A year-end survey conducted by Pew Research found the following….

*51% of Americans say that it is difficult to afford health care.

*48% of Americans say that it is difficult to pay their home heating and electric bills.

*29% of Americans say that it is difficult to afford food.

Those numbers should be quite sobering for us all – especially considering the fact that jobs are becoming very difficult to get.

According to the same Pew Research study, a staggering 46 percent of all Americans say that someone in their household has been without a job and looking for work at some point during the past year.

It can be really depressing to search for a decent job month after month after month when there doesn’t seem to be any out there.

The truth is that there are 7 million less middle class jobs in America today than there were just a decade ago.

So if even one person if your family has a decent job you should consider yourself to be very fortunate.

But sadly even families where everyone is working are going to continue to be stretched further and further financially as rapidly increasing inflation steals our purchasing power a little bit more every single day.

The “good times” are rapidly coming to an end.  The greatest debt-fueled party in the history of the world is wrapping up and you should enjoy it while you still can, because the years ahead are just going to be brutal.

Everything Is Falling Apart: 20 Facts That You Will Not Want To Read If You Still Want To Feel Good About America’s Decaying Infrastructure

If you haven’t noticed lately, America is literally falling apart all around us.  Decaying infrastructure is everywhere.  Our roads and bridges are crumbling and are full of holes.  Our rail system is ancient.  Our airports and runways have definitely seen their better days.  Aging sewer systems all over the country are leaking raw sewage all over the place.  The power grid is straining to keep up with the ever-increasing thirst of the American people for electricity.  Dams are failing at an unprecedented rate.  Virtually all of our ports are handling far more traffic than they were ever intended to handle.  Meanwhile, our national spending on infrastructure is way down.  Back during the 1950s and 1960s we were spending between 3 and 4 percent of our national GDP on infrastructure, but today we are spending less than 2.5 percent of our national GDP on it.  According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, we need to spend approximately $2.2 trillion on infrastructure repairs and upgrades just to bring our existing infrastructure up to “good condition”.

Does anyone have an extra $2.2 trillion to spare?

If you get the feeling that America is decaying as you drive around this great country of ours, it is not just your imagination.  It is literally happening.

You should not read the list of facts below if you want to keep feeling good about the condition of America’s infrastructure.  There really is no way to sugar-coat what is happening.  Previous generations handed us the greatest national infrastructure that anyone in the world has ever seen and we have neglected it and have allowed it to badly deteriorate.

This first set of facts about America’s decaying infrastructure was compiled from a fact sheet entitled “The Case For U.S. Infrastructure Investment” by an organization called Building America’s Future….

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#1 One-third of America’s major roads are in poor or mediocre condition.

#2 Traffic on more than half the miles of interstate highway exceeds 70 percent of capacity, and nearly 25 percent of the miles are strained at more than 95 percent of capacity.

#3 Americans waste 4.2 billion hours and 2.8 billion gallons fuel a year sitting in traffic – equal to nearly one full work week and three weeks’ worth of gas for every traveler.

#4 Over the next 30 years, our nation is expected to grow by 100 million and highway traffic will double again. Even if highway capacity grows no faster than in the last 25 years, Americans can expect to spend 160 hours – 4 work weeks – each year in traffic by 2035.

#5 Nearly a third of all highway fatalities are due to substandard road conditions, obsolete road designs, or roadside hazards.

#6 Over 4,095 dams are “unsafe” and have deficiencies that leave them more susceptible to failure, especially during large flood events or earthquakes.

#7 Rolling blackouts and inefficiencies in the U.S. electrical grid cost an estimated $80 billion a year.

#8 By 2020, every major U.S. container port is projected to at least double the volume of cargo it was designed to handle. Some East Coast ports will triple in volume, and some West Coast ports will quadruple.

#9 Other countries are leapfrogging past us by investing in world-class ports. China is investing $6.9 billion; the port of Shanghai now has almost as much container capacity as all U.S. ports combined.

#10 By 2020, China plans to build 55,000 miles of highways, more than the total length of the U.S. interstate system.

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The rest of these facts were compiled from various sources around the Internet.  The more research that you do into America’s decaying infrastructure the more depressing it becomes….

#11 According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, more than 25 percent of America’s nearly 600,000 bridges need significant repairs or are burdened with more traffic than they were designed to carry.

#12 More than a third of all dam failures or near failures since 1874 have happened in just the last decade.

#13 All across the United States, conditions at many state parks, recreation areas and historic sites are deplorable at best.  Some states have backlogs of repair projects that are now over a billion dollars long.  The following is a quote from a recent MSNBC article about these project backlogs….

More than a dozen states estimate that their backlogs are at least $100 million. Massachusetts and New York’s are at least $1 billion. Hawaii officials called park conditions “deplorable” in a December report asking for $50 million per year for five years to tackle a $240 million backlog that covers parks, trails and harbors.

#14 Over the past year, approximately 100 of New York’s state parks and historic sites have had to cut services and reduce hours.

#15 All over America, asphalt roads are being ground up and are being replaced with gravel because it is cheaper to maintain.  The state of South Dakota has transformed over 100 miles of asphalt road into gravel over the past year, and 38 out of the 83 counties in the state of Michigan have transformed at least some of their asphalt roads into gravel roads.

So why don’t our state and local governments just spend the money necessary to fix all of these problems?

Well, they can’t spend the money because they are flat broke.

Just consider some of the financial problems that state and local governments around the nation are facing right now….

#16 One town in Michigan is so incredibly broke that it is literally begging the state to allow them to declare bankruptcy.

#17 One Alabama town is in such financial turmoil that it has decided to simply quit paying pension benefits.

#18 In Georgia, the county of Clayton recently eliminated its entire public bus system in order to save 8 million dollars.

#19 Major cities such as Philadelphia, Baltimore and Sacramento are so desperate to save money that they have instituted “rolling brownouts” in which various city fire stations are shut down on a rotating basis throughout the week.

#20 Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has come up with a unique way to save money.  He wants to cut 20 percent of Detroit off from essential social services such as road repairs, police patrols, functioning street lights and garbage collection.

The truth is that there are dozens of cities across the United States that are on the brink of bankruptcy.  To see a bunch of high profile examples of this, check out the following article from Business Insider: “16 US Cities Facing Bankruptcy If They Don’t Make Deep Cuts In 2011“.

But it just isn’t local governments that are in deep trouble right now.  In fact, there are quite a few state governments that are complete and total financial disaster zones at this point.

According to 60 Minutes,  the state of Illinois is at least six months behind on their bill payments.  60 Minutes correspondent Steve Croft recently asked Illinois state Comptroller Dan Hynes how many people and organizations are waiting to be paid by the state, and this is how Hynes responded….

“It’s fair to say that there are tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people waiting to be paid by the state.”

Investors across the globe are watching all this and they are starting to panic.  In fact, investors are now pulling money out of municipal bonds at a rate that is absolutely staggering.

But if states get cut off from all the debt that they need to operate, things are going to get a lot worse very quickly.

Already we are seeing all kinds of troubling signs.  For example, the state of Arizona recently decided to stop paying for many types of organ transplants for people enrolled in its Medicaid program.

Sadly, as much as our politicians try to “fix” our problems, things just only seem to keep getting worse.

One prominent illustration of this is our health care system.  Our health care system is absolutely falling apart all around us.  Thanks to the new health care reform law, doctors are flocking out of the profession in droves.  According to an absolutely stunning new poll, 40 percent of all U.S. doctors plan to bail out of the profession over the next three years.

Our economy continues to fall apart as well.  The number of personal bankruptcies in the United States continues to set stunning new highs.  According to the American Bankruptcy Institute, more than 1.53 million Americans filed bankruptcy petitions in 2010.  This was up 9 percent from 1.41 million in 2009.

Not only that, but the housing crisis shows no signs of abating. 382,000 new foreclosures were initiated during the third quarter of 2010.  This was up 31.2 percent from the previous quarter and it was 3.7 percent higher than the third quarter of 2009.

The U.S. banking system is also falling apart.  In 2006, no U.S. banks failed.  In 2009, 140 U.S. banks failed.  So did things get better in 2010?  No.  In 2010, 157 U.S. banks failed.

Unemployment continues to remain at depressingly high levels, and in many areas of the country it is getting even worse.  According to the U.S. Labor Department, the unemployment rate rose in two-thirds of America’s largest metro areas during November.

Millions of Americans have become so disgusted with the job market that they have given up altogether.  The number of people who are so discouraged that they have completely given up searching for work now stands at an all-time high.

So who is doing a booming business during these hard times?  Welfare agencies and food banks are.  During this economic downturn, millions of American families have found themselves going to a food bank for the very first time ever.

It is getting harder and harder for average American families to feed themselves.  A recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center found that 29 percent of Americans say that it is hard to afford food, and 48 of Americans say that it is hard to afford their heating and electric bills.

So is there any hope for the future?  Well, our new college graduates are supposed to lead us into the future, but most of them are saddled with overwhelming amounts of student loan debt.  Those who graduated during 2009 had an average of $24,000 in student loan debt.  This represented a 6 percent increase from the previous year.

Not only that, but these new college grads are not finding jobs.  According to the one recent report, the unemployment rate for recent college graduates was 8.7 percent in 2009.  This was up from 5.8 percent in 2008, and it was the highest unemployment rate ever recorded for college graduates between the ages of 20 to 24.

As if all of this was not bad enough, now the Baby Boomers are starting to reach retirement age.  Beginning January 1st, 2011 every single day more than 10,000 Baby Boomers will reach the age of 65.  That is going to keep happening every single day for the next 19 years.

So where in the world are we going to come up with all of the money to give them the retirement benefits that they are due?

The truth is that we are flat broke as a nation and so America’s decaying infrastructure is going to continue to decay.  We don’t have the money to repair what we already have, much less add desperately needed new infrastructure.

But perhaps it is only fitting.  The decay of our roads and cities will match the deep social, moral and political decay that has already been going on in this country for decades.

So will the American people awaken soon enough to be able to recapture the legacy of greatness that previous generations tried to pass on to us?

Unfortunately, the vast majority of our politicians are completely incompetent.  Posted below is a short video from Tim Hawkins that is absolutely hilarious but that also demonstrates just how incompetent our government really is….

Economic War

Most Americans have no idea what an “economic war” is, and even fewer realize that economic warfare is being waged against the United States right now.  For generations, it has been drummed into our heads that “free trade” is always a good thing and that truly free trade will always benefit both sides in the long run.  None of our universities teach that trade can actually also be used as a brutally effective weapon of warfare and that economic warfare can bring down entire societies.  Nowhere in the mainstream media will you even get a hint that other nations are purposely trying to damage the U.S. economy for their own benefit.  But in a world where a “shooting war” with the United States is virtually unthinkable, those that wish to damage the U.S. must resort to other means to accomplish their goals.

The American people need to wake up and stop being so naive.  The truth is that much of the rest of the world absolutely hates our guts.  They resent our dominance and they are tired of us imposing our will on the rest of the globe.  For generations, Americans have been taught to view themselves as “the good guys”, but the sad fact of the matter is that most of the rest of the world does not view us as “the good guys” anymore.

In fact, there are quite a few nations out there that would actively like to do us harm.

So if they can’t shoot at us, then how can they harm us?

Well, they can try to destroy us financially and economically.

Today, major exporting nations around the globe are draining the United States of wealth, they are stealing our industries and they are feeding our national debt addiction.

For some of these nations, they may not actively want to destroy our economy, but they sure do want to steal what we have got.  They are more than happy to keep trading with us as long as they keep getting wealthier and their national economic infrastructure continues to get built up.  The fact that their economies are getting stronger at the expense of the U.S. economy is not really a huge concern for nations in this category.

However, there are also quite a few nations that do actively wish to do harm to the United States.  If trading with the United States will cause the U.S. to become poorer and to go into more debt, then that is a tool that they can use to reduce the power and influence of the Americans in the world.

Is this something that really happens?  Yes.  Do yourself a favor some time and read some economic articles and research papers from the other side of the world.  In some of these countries they are not afraid to openly talk about economic war.

So what are some of the goals of economic warfare?

Well, when it comes to the United States, the goal is to induce big corporations (or even entire industries) to leave the U.S. and set up shop somewhere else.  The idea is that the economic infrastructure of the United States will decline while the economic infrastructure of the “attacking nation” will be built up.  The jobs and wealth creation that once were a benefit to America will now benefit someone else.

Another goal is to transfer wealth from the target country (the United States) to the attacking country.  Each month the United States buys tens of billions of dollars more stuff from the rest of the world than they buy from us.  Each month we send them big chunks of our national wealth and they send us oil and cheap plastic trinkets which we greedily consume.  As this continues month after month after month, the rest of the world is getting richer while the United States is becoming poorer.

In a desperate attempt to maintain our standard of living, our federal government, our state governments and even our local governments are going into insane amounts of debt.  Debt is another tool of economic warfare.  As we continue to borrow trillions of dollars from the rest of the world, the ability of the United States to exert power and control over those nations diminishes.

The eventual goal of waging economic warfare against the United States is to make us so impoverished and so far in debt that our entire financial system crashes.  If the U.S. experiences a “financial armageddon”, it will greatly reduce America’s place in the world.  It could ultimately lead to the collapse of the U.S. government.  Other nations (or organizations) that wish to have more power would then be able to fill the void that would be created.

So what are the tools of economic warfare?

One is currency manipulation.  By keeping national currencies at an artificially low level, major exporting nations make their own exports much more attractive, thus stimulating job growth and wealth creation in their own nations.

Another tool of economic war is government subsidization of industries.  Virtually all governments do this to some degree these days, but some take it much farther than others.

For example, there are some governments in Asia that will openly pump huge piles of government money into industries that are considered to be of “national interest”.  There is simply no way that western industries can compete on an equal footing against that kind of unfair advantage.

In the United States, companies face one of the highest overall tax rates in the world, they face mountains of ridiculous regulations and they have to provide health care and retirement benefits for their employees.  But in other areas of the world the government takes care of health care for everyone, regulations are much less strict and corporate tax rates are much lower.

Is it any wonder why so many U.S. companies are having such a hard time today?

Another weapon of economic warfare is technology theft.

U.S. companies spend billions upon billions of dollars developing new technology that gets “stolen” one way or another by many foreign governments.

For example, there is one major Asian nation that offers huge tax incentives and kickbacks to big companies to get them to come over and set up shop there.  But these companies are also required to train and hire local workers and they must agree to certain “technology disclosures”.

Well, after a time the host nation sets us their own “domestic competitors” using the technology that they have acquired from the foreign company.  Then the “domestic competitors” are tremendously subsidized and are given huge advantages that the original foreign company simply cannot compete with.  Eventually the “domestic competitors” become the dominant players in the market.

This is happening over and over and over.  Companies are shutting down operations in the United States and are opening up facilities in other nations where the labor is much cheaper, where regulations are not nearly as suffocating and where taxes are much lower.  However, once these other nations learn the technology and are able to set up “domestic competitors”, the original companies are learning that maybe it wasn’t such a sweet deal they were being offered after all.

As the U.S. is being stripped of industry and is being deindustrialized, the American middle class is being absolutely devastated.  Since the year 2000, we have lost 10% of our middle class jobs.  In the year 2000 there were about 72 million middle class jobs in the United States but today there are only about 65 million middle class jobs.  Sadly, the millions of jobs that have been sent overseas are never coming back.

Meanwhile, our national wealth is being drained from our bank accounts.  Back in 1985, the U.S. trade deficit with one particular Asian nation was just 6 million dollars for the entire year.  But for this past August alone, the trade deficit with that same nation was over 28 billion (that’s billion with a “b”) dollars.

In other words, the U.S. trade deficit with that one Asian nation in August was more than 4,600 times larger than the U.S. trade deficit with that Asian nation was for the entire year of 1985.

So how are we maintaining our high standard of living if we are shipping all of our wealth overseas?

Well, what we are doing is going back to all those nations where we have sent our wealth and we are begging them to loan it back to us.

Our federal government now owes trillions of dollars to major exporting nations.  Our state governments also owe insane amounts of money to major exporting nations.  We are in debt up to our eyeballs and it gets worse every single year.

Meanwhile, our national economic infrastructure is being absolutely ripped to shreds….

*Back in 1970, 25 percent of all jobs in the United States were manufacturing jobs. Today, only 9 percent of the jobs in the United States are manufacturing jobs.

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

*Since 2001, over 42,000 U.S. factories have closed down for good.

*As of the end of 2009, less than 12 million Americans worked in manufacturing.  The last time that less than 12 million Americans were employed in manufacturing was in 1941.

*Manufacturing employment in the U.S. computer industry was actually lower in 2010 than it was in 1975.

The sad truth is that the U.S. is being dominated even in very high-tech industries.  The major exporting nations are becoming rich by creating wealth and we are becoming poor by voraciously consuming wealth.

Unfortunately, some of the major exporting nations that we have a massively imbalanced trade relationship with are doing this to us on purpose.  They see our weakness and the are taking advantage of it.  They believe that it is in their own national interests to make the United States weaker.

Sadly, a very significant percentage of those that will read this article will not believe it.  Most Americans have been so brainwashed when it comes to trade that they could never even conceive that it could possibly be used as a weapon of economic war.

But the truth is that there are even many prominent Americans that openly talk of weakening the U.S. economy and of reducing the standard of living of the U.S. middle class so that we can be more easily merged into the emerging global economic system.

It is time to wake up.  The United States is under economic attack.

More jobs are going to leave the United States this month.  More factories are going to leave the United States this month.  Tens of billions more dollars of our national wealth is going to be transferred out of the country this month.  Our federal, state and local governments are all going to go into more debt to foreigners this month.

Month after month after month this goes on.  It is being done by design.

Perhaps when the entire U.S. financial system collapses the American people will finally begin to understand.  The truth is that the greatest threats to our national security are not some impoverished goat herders hiding out in caves in Afghanistan.  Rather, the cold, hard reality of the situation is that our national economic infrastructure is being ripped apart and stolen right in front of our eyes and we have become so dumbed-down that we don’t even understand what is happening.

If you want to see “the future of America”, just tour some of the formerly great industrial centers of the upper Midwest some time.  Ask yourself why “the greatest economy on earth” has so many abandoned factories and boarded-up homes.  There are many decaying communities across America right now that are so depressing that the moment you enter them you get the sense that all of the hope has been sucked right out of them.

The U.S. economy is under attack and it is dying.  We are being looted and pillaged from coast to coast.  This is really happening.

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

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