We Have Never Seen An Economic Collapse Quite Like This, And It Is Largely A Self-Inflicted Wound

The rate at which the U.S. economy is unraveling is absolutely breathtaking.  On Thursday, we learned that another 4.4 million Americans filed new claims for unemployment benefits last week, and that means that a grand total of more than 26 million Americans have lost their jobs during this pandemic so far.  To get an idea of just how dramatically this record-setting unemployment spike dwarfs what we witnessed during the last recession, check out these charts.  Prior to this year, the record for new unemployment claims in a single week was just 695,800, and now each of the last five weeks has been at least four times larger than that old record.  And as I discussed in an article earlier today, millions of those workers have absolutely no incentive to go back to work any time soon, because thanks to Congress they are bringing home more money now than when they were actually working.  So even if efforts are made to return the economy “to normal”, millions of workers will want to stay home until the $600 per week “unemployment bonus” finally expires.  The sad thing is that this new economic crisis is largely a self-inflicted wound, and I will explain why that is true later in this article.

But first let’s talk about where things currently stand.  Based on the unemployment claim numbers that we have been seeing, experts are now projecting that the current rate of unemployment in the U.S. “is about 16 percent”

With a labor force that totals about 162 million people, the claims figures suggest the unemployment rate is about 16 percent, or roughly one in six Americans — significantly higher than the 10 percent peak seen during the 2008 financial crisis. The previous one-week high for jobless claims was 695,800 in 1982.

For a long time I have been warning that the next crisis would make the last recession look like a Sunday picnic, and now that has actually happened.

In addition to an unprecedented number of initial claims for unemployment benefits, we have also absolutely smashed the all-time record for the number of “continuing claims”

A person who has filed an “initial claim” for Unemployment Insurance (UI) and still doesn’t have a job a week later is added to “insured unemployment.” The number of the “insured unemployed” – often called “continued claims” – skyrocketed to 15.98 million, by far the highest in the history of the data series. The high before this Covid-19 era was 6.63 million in May of 2009.

And now that Congress has given workers a tremendous financial incentive to stay unemployed, the number of “continuing claims” is likely to keep going higher with each passing week.

Of course this isn’t just happening in the United States.  Over in Europe, business activity is falling at the fastest pace ever recorded

“The eurozone economy suffered the steepest falls in business activity and employment ever recorded during April as a result of measures taken to contain the coronavirus outbreak,” it said.

The company’s purchasing manager’s index (PMI) dived to a record low of 13.5 in April, from the previous all-time low of 29.7 in March, confirming private sector gloom that is savaging the 19-nation eurozone.

To put those numbers in perspective, any reading below 50 indicates a contraction.

Needless to say, these absolutely horrific statistics are the result of the coronavirus lockdowns, but were these lockdowns actually necessary in the first place?

As I discussed yesterday, the only reason why any sort of a lockdown should be implemented is if the hospitals in a particular area are being overwhelmed, because if people are unable to get medical treatment that could definitely push the ultimate death toll from the pandemic higher than it otherwise would have been.

But in most parts of the U.S. and Europe right now, hospitals are not being even close to overwhelmed.

Keeping everyone at home is not going to defeat this virus or end this pandemic.  When you are dealing with a virus that spreads from person to person this easily, there is no way that you are going to contain it.  In fact, the U.S. just had 31,900 newly confirmed cases in the 24 hour period that just ended even though most of the nation has already been locked down for weeks.

Yes, these lockdowns have temporarily slowed down the spread of the virus, but the lockdowns have also extended the duration of this pandemic.  Ultimately, this pandemic is never going to be over until it sweeps through the population and “herd immunity” is achieved.  And as I discussed yesterday, 70 to 90 percent of the population is going to have to develop antibodies in order to get to that point.

And if you are waiting for a “vaccine” to get us out of this mess, you are going to be waiting for a very, very long time.  There has never been a successful vaccine for any coronavirus in all of human history, and the task of trying to develop one for COVID-19 has become exceedingly more difficult now that scientists have discovered that there are 30 different strains of the virus.

So the truth is that this outbreak is going to rip through our population, and nothing that our politicians can do will be able to stop that from happening.

But the good news is that new numbers from New York seem to indicate that we are closer to “herd immunity” than we previously thought…

Preliminary results from New York’s first coronavirus antibody study show nearly 14 percent tested positive, meaning they had the virus at some point and recovered, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday. That equates to 2.7 million infections statewide — more than 10 times the state’s confirmed cases.

The study, part of Cuomo’s “aggressive” antibody testing launched earlier this week, is based on 3,000 random samples from 40 locations in 19 counties. While the preliminary data suggests much more widespread infection, it means New York’s mortality rate is much lower than previously thought.

However, another study that was conducted in L.A. County found that only 4 percent of their residents had developed antibodies, and that is probably more representative of the nation as a whole.

In any event, everyone agrees that the vast majority of the U.S. population has not developed antibodies, and that means that there will be many more cases and many more deaths in the months ahead.

And that is going to happen no matter how our politicians respond to this crisis.

So as long as our hospitals are not being overwhelmed, there isn’t a need for any lockdowns.  The final case total and the final death toll will be roughly the same whether there are lockdowns or not.

But these lockdowns are definitely killing our economy, and tens of millions of American workers now find themselves unemployed.

And if we continue to try to keep the U.S. economy shut down for a few more months, the economic damage will be incalculable.

Please don’t misunderstand what I am saying.  I am not saying that we should sacrifice lives in order to save the economy.  What I am saying is that about the same number of people are eventually going to die whether we have the lockdowns or not.  And if we can’t handle this, how in the world are we going to deal with what else is coming?

If you are elderly, have a compromised immune system or are in some other high risk group, you are going to have to quarantine yourself for the foreseeable future, but that would be true whether there are lockdowns or not.  The mortality rates for high risk groups are much, much higher than for the general population as a whole, and the danger is very real.

But everyone else should be allowed to get back to work, because most of the population is eventually going to catch this virus no matter what we do.  As long as our hospitals can handle it, we should proceed with life as normal.

Unfortunately, that isn’t going to happen.  Most of the current lockdowns are going to remain in place for quite some time, and this new economic depression is just going to get deeper and deeper.

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

The UN Is Now Admitting That This Coronavirus Pandemic Could Spark Famines Of “Biblical Proportions”

What the head of the UN’s World Food Program just said should be making front page headlines all over the globe.  Because if what he is claiming is true, we are about to see global food shortages on a scale that is absolutely unprecedented in modern history.  Even before COVID-19 arrived, armies of locusts the size of major cities were voraciously eating crops all across Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia, and UN officials were loudly warning about what that would mean for global food production.  And now the coronavirus shutdowns that have been implemented all over the planet have brought global trade to a standstill, they are making it more difficult to maintain normal food production operations, and they have forced countless workers to stay home and not earn a living.  All of this adds up to a recipe for a complete and utter nightmare in the months ahead.

David Beasley is the head of the UN’s World Food Program, and on Tuesday he warned that we could actually see famines of “biblical proportions” by the end of this calendar year.  The following comes from ABC News

The coronavirus pandemic could soon double hunger, causing famines of “biblical proportions” around the world by the end of the year, the head of the World Food Programme, David Beasley, told the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday.

Beasley warned that analysis from the World Food Programme, the U.N.’s food-assistance branch, shows that because of the coronavirus, “an additional 130 million people could be pushed to the brink of starvation by the end of 2020. That’s a total of 265 million people.”

He described what we are facing as “a hunger pandemic”, and he insisted that urgent action must be taken in order to avoid a nightmare scenario.

But in some parts of the globe a nightmare scenario is already unfolding.  For example, close to half the population of South Sudan is currently facing starvation, and for many of them the only food that is available is what gets dropped from the sky

The villagers hear the distant roar of jet engines before a cargo plane makes a deafening pass over Mogok, dropping sacks of grain from its hold to the marooned dust bowl below.

There is no other way to get food to this starving hamlet in South Sudan. There are no roads, and the snaking Nile is miles away.

Over in South Africa, the “chronic food shortages” have already become so severe that they are starting to spark rioting, looting and civil unrest…

UNREST broke out in parts of South Africa amid chronic food shortages sparked by the coronavirus pandemic.

Looters raided shops, attacked each other, the army and police after breaching one of the strictest lockdowns in the world.

Police fired rubber bullets and teargas to disperse the mobs but local community leaders fear more outbreaks of violence are imminent.

Here in the western world we don’t have to worry about such things yet, but without a doubt the number of needy people is rapidly rising.

This past Saturday, vehicles literally began lining up at 2 AM in the morning for a food distribution event at the San Antonio Food Bank

The San Antonio Food Bank teamed up with Atascosa County to feed meals and hope to hundreds of people Saturday morning. Vehicles began to line up around 2 AM Saturday outside the county courthouse, winding through neighborhoods at least two miles away.

I have never heard of people lining up so early before.

I have heard of vehicles lining up at the crack of dawn around the country in recent days, but 2 AM is absolutely nuts.

But these people realize that when the food is gone there will be no more handouts that day, and there are many that are absolutely desperate to get something to feed their families.

As this coronavirus pandemic has created an enormous amount of fear all over the country, empty shelves have been reported in frozen food sections all over the nation, and the fact that an increasing number of meat processing plants are being temporarily closed down is certainly not helping things.  According to CBS News, at least 17 meat processing plants in the United States have been shut down so far…

Coronavirus infections in at least 17 meat processing plants across nine states are contributing to a spike in confirmed cases in the Midwest. Although 13 plants are already closed temporarily or operating at reduced capacity, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds says shutting down plants would hurt farmers and the national food supply.

In a desperate attempt to keep as many facilities in her state open as possible, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has enlisted the help of the National Guard

Hundreds of National Guard personnel are being activated in Iowa as coronavirus sweeps through meat-processing plants in a state that accounts for about a third of U.S. pork supply.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds said 250 National Guard members have been moved to full-time federal duty status and could help with testing and contact tracing for workers at plants operated by Tyson Foods Inc. and National Beef Packing Co.

The good news is that authorities are telling us that any product shortages should just be temporary and that all of these processing plants will eventually be brought back on line.

But for the planet as a whole, life is not going to be getting back to “normal” any time soon.

In fact, Takeshi Kasai of the World Health Organization is warning that we need to accept “a new way of living” until a vaccine finally arrives

“At least until a vaccine, or a very effective treatment, is found, this process will need to become our new normal,” he said.

“Individuals and society need to be ready for a new way of living.”

But now that scientists have discovered approximately 30 different strains of this virus, that is going to greatly complicate matters.

Coming up with a successful vaccine for any coronavirus would be a historic feat, and now scientists also have to hope that they will pick the particular strain of COVID-19 that will become dominant in the future.

And of course many people around the globe will not want to take any vaccine that is developed under any circumstances.

So those that are thinking that there will be an easy way out of this crisis are likely to be deeply disappointed.

Meanwhile, the global economic downturn is getting deeper with each passing day, and global food supplies are getting tighter and tighter.

A global famine is coming, and the UN is sounding the alarm.

Unfortunately, most people in the western world are still not listening.

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

Killed By The Coronavirus Lockdowns: 1000s Of U.S. Businesses That Were Shut Down Will Be Closed Permanently

This economic downturn is turning out to be far deeper and far more severe than most experts were originally anticipating.  More than 22 million Americans have filed claims for unemployment benefits, and economists are telling us that the U.S. economy is contracting at the fastest rate that we have seen since the Second World War.  We are already starting to see some high profile companies move toward bankruptcy, but the real story is what is happening to thousands upon thousands of small and mid-size businesses because of the lockdowns.  Many of them were barely surviving even before this pandemic, and now these lockdowns have delivered a death blow.

The restaurant industry is a perfect example.  Prior to the pandemic, there were more than a million restaurants in the United States, and about half of them were independent.  Those independent restaurants employed approximately 11 million workers, and now the vast majority of those workers have been laid off.

Once the lockdowns are over, it would be wonderful if all of those independent restaurants would spring back to life, but the results of a recent survey suggest that simply is not going to happen.  In fact, that survey found that 28 percent of all independent restaurants are probably not going to survive if the lockdowns last for another month…

A survey released Thursday by the James Beard Association found independent restaurants laid off 91% of their hourly employees and nearly 70% of salaried employees as of April 13 – double-digit increases in both categories since March. The poll of 1,400 small and independent restaurants found 38% of have closed temporarily or permanently, and 77% have seen their sales drop in half or worse.

Perhaps most troubling: 28% of restaurants said they don’t believe they can survive another month of closure, and only 1 out of 5 are certain they can sustain their businesses until normal operations can resume.

28 percent of 500,000 is 140,000, and so if these lockdowns are not lifted soon we could be facing a scenario is which tens of thousands of independent restaurants are lost forever.

Of course a lot of restaurants that do reopen will face a really tough struggle because fear of the coronavirus is going to keep customers away for the foreseeable future.  So even if all of the lockdowns were lifted tomorrow, the restaurant industry would still not fully recover.

Sadly, the same could be said for the fitness industry.  In fact, we just learned that one of the biggest fitness chains in the nation is getting ready to file for bankruptcy

Gym chain 24 Hour Fitness is working with advisors at investment bank Lazard and law firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges to weigh options including a bankruptcy that could come as soon as the next few months, people familiar with the matter tell CNBC.

The chain is grappling with a heavy debt load, deteriorating performance and a coronavirus pandemic that forced it to shut its more than 400 clubs.

Yes, a certain segment of the population is quite eager to resume all of their normal pre-pandemic activities, but even a 20 or 30 percent drop off in revenue will be fatal for many gyms.

And the truth is that a lot of people are simply not going to be in the mood to share exercise equipment with others for a long time to come.

The entertainment, tourism and retail industries have also been hit extremely hard by this pandemic.  The other day I was quite stunned when I learned that Neiman Marcus “is reportedly ready to file bankruptcy”

Neiman Marcus Group, one of the largest retailers in the United States, is reportedly ready to file bankruptcy amid the COVD-19 pandemic after defaulting millions in bond payments last week and furloughing 14,000 employees.

Neiman Marcus would become the first major US department store to crumble amidst the economic set backs from the coronavirus outbreak.

No, things are definitely not going to be returning to “normal” in America, and there will be a lot more big corporate names among the victims in the days to come.

At this point, even some of the most prominent corporations in the entire country are “indefinitely” sidelining their workers

Indefinite furloughs began this weekend for more than 100,000 Disney, Best Buy and CarMax workers as businesses make cuts to survive the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent mandatory closures.

But most Americans are not in any position to handle “indefinite furloughs”.

In fact, one survey discovered that a whopping 50 percent of all Americans will run through their savings “by the end of April”

One of the largest concerns on most homeowners minds right now is how they are going to pay bills — specifically their monthly mortgage payments. 50% of Americans reported their savings will run out by the end of April. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, 30% of homeowners had less than $1,000 in an emergency fund, with 22% reporting they didn’t have enough in savings to cover their mortgage payment for one month.

Just like during the last recession, countless numbers of Americans will go from living a comfortable middle class lifestyle to being desperately needy in just a matter of weeks.

I have been writing a lot about the absolutely massive lines that we have been seeing at food banks all over the nation, and we just witnessed another example in Miami.  In one of the wealthiest areas of the entire city, vehicles were lined up for a mile as people waited patiently to receive handouts from a local food bank…

Talk about a Norman Rockwell painting idea come to life — a parade of cars filled with hungry people in Miami … smack dab in the middle of two of the city’s ritziest hotels.

Check out this surreal scene down in Miami Beach, where a MILE-long line of cars were arranged in a giant U-curve in between the W Hotel and Setai Hotel — two of MB’s most high-end go-to spots for celebrity out-of-towners … like Kim K, Justin Bieber and more.

You can see photos from that event right here, and if you look closely you will see that some of those vehicles are quite nice.

As I have warned so many times over the years, if you don’t have any sort of a financial cushion you can “suddenly” find yourself in a whole lot of trouble when disaster finally strikes.

Unfortunately, we have now entered a time when there will be one crisis after another, and every new crisis will significantly escalate our woes.

For a very long time, there have been very loud warnings that our debt-fueled economic bubble would burst, and now it has happened.

The road ahead is going to be filled with immense pain, and most Americans are not going to be able to handle it.

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

U.S. Economy Contracting “At Its Sharpest Pace Since World War Two” And “The Worst Is Yet To Come”

Fear of COVID-19 has unleashed economic chaos on a scale that has already surpassed anything that we witnessed during the last recession, and as you will see below, we are now being warned that “the worst is yet to come”.  Many Americans are hoping that things can start to return to normal as the U.S. economy “reopens” in the weeks ahead, but the truth is that we are still in the very early chapters of this crisis.  In fact, it is being estimated that we are only one-tenth of the way through this pandemic, and by “flattening the curve” we have actually extended the economic pain.  You see, the truth is that most Americans are going to end up catching this virus one way or another.  All of the “shelter-in-place” orders have temporarily slowed down the spread of this coronavirus, but once they are lifted it is inevitable that we will see new waves of people becoming infected.  And if you think that a vaccine will be the golden ticket that gets us out of this mess, you might want to reconsider that belief, because there has never been a successful vaccine for any coronavirus.  Of course it is possible that scientists could come up with something this time around, but if the virus mutates significantly that could render any potential vaccine absolutely useless.

In the days ahead, there will be a tremendous amount of debate about the correct way to fight this virus, but meanwhile the U.S. economy will continue to deteriorate.

In fact, Reuters is reporting that economists are now projecting that the U.S. economy is contracting “at its sharpest pace since World War Two”…

The deepening economic slump was also amplified by other data on Thursday showing manufacturing activity in the mid-Atlantic region plunged to levels last seen in 1980 and homebuilding tumbling by the most in 36 years in March.

The reports followed dismal reports on Wednesday of a record drop in retail sales in March and the biggest decline in factory output since 1946. Economists are predicting the economy, which they believe is already in recession, contracted in the first quarter at its sharpest pace since World War Two.

Yesterday, I documented the fact that we are in the midst of the largest tsunami of job losses in U.S. history by a very wide margin.

In fact, we are absolutely obliterating the old records, and that truly puts us in unchartered territory.  And as bad as things have already gotten, one prominent expert told Reuters that “the worst is yet to come”…

Economists are estimating the economy contracted as much as 10.8% in the first quarter, which would be the steepest drop in gross domestic product since 1947. They say the massive fiscal package will likely provide little cushion for the economy.

“The economy is in a downward spiral where job losses beget job losses and the federal government emergency relief checks will not be enough to turn the tide,” said Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG in New York. “The recovery is looking less V-shaped by the day as the deeper we fall, the harder it will be for the nation to climb back out of this deep hole the pandemic has dug for the economy. The worst is yet to come.”

As areas around the country start “reopening for business”, some of the jobs that were lost will come back.

But the truth is that millions of those jobs are gone permanently, and large numbers of the businesses that were closed down will never open again.

For the foreseeable future, a lot of Americans are going to avoid going to restaurants, bars, movie theaters, shopping malls and other businesses that require close human interaction.  One expert that was interviewed by the Los Angeles Times says that for the next few years we need to accept the fact that the world “will be totally different than what we are used to”…

“The world that we are going to live in for at least the next two to three years will be totally different than what we are used to,” said Sung Won Sohn, president of SS Economics and professor at Loyola Marymount University.

“Because of the psychological shock that we have experienced, we are going to be more cautious, and we will probably spend less and save more, and we will have fewer contacts with other individuals,” he said. “We are going to be suspicious about things, [such as] whether people we are meeting have the virus and will the economy fall back down again.”

The fear that this pandemic has created is going to be with us for a very long time, and it is going to cause enormous shifts in economic behavior even after the U.S. starts “reopening”.

In an environment like this, very few people are buying vehicles, the housing market is already imploding all over the nation, and retailers are having a very difficult time envisioning any sort of a positive future for their industry at this point.

But at least we will all be getting big, fat socialist bailout checks from the government, right?

Actually, they won’t be that big, and for most Americans the checks will only get them through about one month.

So once that money is gone, will the federal government send us another round of “universal basic income” checks?

Now that they have gone down this rabbit hole, the federal government is in danger of sparking civil unrest if they don’t keep the checks coming.  In fact, Jim Rickards is entirely convinced that large scale “social disorder” is on the way…

Looting, burglary and violence in the midst of a state of emergency are the shape of things to come.

The veneer of civilization is paper-thin and easily torn. Most people don’t realize how fragile it is. But they’re going to learn that lesson, I’m afraid.

Expect social disorder to get worse long before it gets better.

Unfortunately, Rickards is right on point, and I have also been warning about “great civil unrest” for a very long time.  The delicately balanced debt-fueled prosperity that we had been enjoying for so many years has now been shattered, and things are going to get really ugly in this country.

And this coronavirus pandemic is not going away any time soon.  Over the last 24 hours, the number of confirmed cases in the U.S. has jumped by more than 30,000 and the death toll has risen by more than 2,400 even though most of the nation is currently shut down.

Ending the lockdowns will give a boost to the economy, but it will also cause the virus to start spreading faster, and once that happens we could see another round of lockdowns.

In the end, our battle with COVID-19 will not be over until the virus has swept through most of the population, and we are not going to reach that point for quite a while.

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

This Is The Worst Employment Collapse In U.S. History By A Very Wide Margin

We have never seen an “employment apocalypse” in the United States like we are witnessing right now, and it is not going to end any time soon.  Over the past several days, “coronavirus shutdowns” have officially been extended all over the nation, and the longer these shutdowns last the more jobs our economy is going to lose.  And because most Americans were living paycheck to paycheck before this pandemic hit us, many unemployed workers are already unable to pay their bills.  Yes, our authorities may be slowing down the spread of the virus, but in the process they have absolutely killed the economy.  On Thursday, I was stunned to learn that another 5.2 million Americans filed initial claims for unemployment benefits last week.  That brings the grand total for the last four weekly reports “to a staggering 22 million”

About 5.2 million people filed for unemployment benefits last week, the Labor Department said Thursday.  Jobless claims provide the best measure of layoffs across the country. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had estimated that 5.5 million Americans would file initial applications for unemployment insurance last week.

That brings the total claims over the past four weeks to a staggering 22 million. By comparison, the labor market added 21.5 million jobs since the Great Recession.

Just think about that.

22 million jobs wiped out in one month.

And the true number of jobs lost is actually even higher, because not everyone that loses a job files for unemployment benefits.

Prior to this year, the highest number of initial claims for unemployment benefits during any four week period that we had ever witnessed was 2.7 million during the fall of 1982.

So 22 million in four weeks truly puts us in uncharted territory.  Just look at this chart.

We aren’t just beating the old records, we are absolutely obliterating them.

You know that things are really, really bad when even NBC News sounds just like The Economic Collapse Blog…

“The labor market is obviously very, very important, and has a high correlation with what is going on in the economy,” Jay Bryson, the acting chief economist at Wells Fargo, told NBC News. “It is showing us what I think we all know, that the economy is falling off a cliff at an unprecedented rate.”

In other words, the chief economist at Wells Fargo is saying that the U.S. economy is completely and utterly collapsing.

According to Zero Hedge, “we have lost 710 jobs for every confirmed US death from COVID-19 (30,985).”  Our politicians have prioritized saving lives over saving the economy, and many people out there seem convinced that was the right choice, but the economic devastation has been immense.

The socialist “stimulus payments” and unemployment benefits will help all of these unemployed workers temporarily, but the payments from the federal government are supposedly just a one time deal, and it won’t be too long before many states start running out of unemployment money

Six states — including New York, which has the highest number of cases in the US — can only fund up to 10 weeks of unemployment benefits from their state coffers before money runs out and they have to turn to the federal government for additional funding, according to a recent estimate from the Tax Foundation.

Another 15 state trust funds don’t meet the federal Department of Labor’s recommended minimum solvency standard, which requires being able to pay benefits for a year in an economic downturn similar to the Great Recession.

So what will the federal government do once we get to that point?

I imagine that Congress will eventually want to borrow and spend trillions more dollars that we don’t have, and it is likely that “conservatives” and “liberals” will both be quite eager to vote for another pork-filled bill.

But it is probably going to take some time for Congress to get through the process of passing another crazy spending package, and meanwhile deep economic suffering is erupting all over the nation.

On Thursday, vehicles were lined up for two miles in Miramar, Florida as needy individuals waited for hours to get handouts from a local food bank.  We are starting to see food lines like this all over the country, and if things are this bad already, what will things look like a few months from now?

The chief economist at Grant Thornton in Chicago is calling this “the deepest, fastest, most broad-based recession we’ve ever seen”, and I can’t argue with that assessment one bit.

For a moment, I would like for you to consider just a few of the economic news items that we have seen over the past few days…

-United Airlines has reduced its schedule of flights for May and June “by about 90%” as demand for air travel has absolutely plummeted.

-U.S. retail sales were down 8.7 percent in March.

-J.C. Penney is “considering bankruptcy”.

-Housing starts just collapsed by the most that we have seen in 36 years.

-The mayor of Los Angeles says that large gatherings in his city will likely be banned until 2021.

-Facebook has canceled all large events until June 2021.

-Chinese GDP just experienced the largest drop ever recorded.

Of course nearly every nation will soon report absolutely staggering declines in GDP.  The shutdowns have brought economic activity to a standstill all over the globe, and no region is immune.

The following is how the Daily Mail is describing the current state of global trade…

The coronavirus pandemic is crippling global trade because crews on transport ships have been stranded at sea for months and food processing plants have been forced to close, threatening to bring the world’s supply chain to a grinding halt.

Shipping workers at sea are denied entry into ports, truckers can’t get to work in some countries or are confronted with complications at borders, food plants are closing and farm harvests going to waste in the crisis.

Does that sound like a “perfect storm” to you?

Well, the truth is that it is just getting started.

Eventually this pandemic will subside, but now that all of the economic dominoes are starting to tumble it will be exceedingly difficult to reverse that momentum.

And as I pointed out the other day, most Americans are not likely to resume all of their normal daily activities once the restrictions are finally lifted, and fear of this virus is going to be a dominant economic force for the foreseeable future.

What all of this means is that we are facing incredible economic pain for the short-term, the mid-term and for a long time to come.

At this point, we should no longer speak of “economic collapse” as something that will happen in the future.

It is here.

It is now.

And it is going to get a lot worse.

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

Will You Resume Normal Daily Activities Once The Coronavirus Restrictions Are Finally Lifted?

COVID-19 has turned all of our lives upside down, and most people are quite eager for a return to normalcy.  But as you will see below, fear of the coronavirus is going to prevent the vast majority of Americans from immediately resuming all of their normal daily activities once the coronavirus restrictions have been lifted.  Every day there are more stories in the news about prominent individuals that have died from the virus, and the chilling testimonies of those that have wrestled with the virus and survived are extremely sobering.  Yes, most people that catch this virus will ultimately recover, but the fact that tens of thousands of Americans are dying is seriously scaring a lot of people.  And even though the “shelter-in-place” orders appear to be slowing the spread of the virus to a certain extent, the official U.S. death toll has actually doubled over the past week

U.S. deaths from the novel coronavirus topped 25,000 on Tuesday, doubling in one week, according to a Reuters tally, as officials debated how to reopen the economy without reigniting the outbreak.

The United States, with the world’s third-largest population, has recorded more fatalities from COVID-19 than any other country. There were a total of nearly 597,000 U.S. cases – three times more than any other country – with nearly 2 million reported cases globally.

And according to Worldometers.info, more than 2,200 Americans have died over the last 24 hours, and that would make this the deadliest day of this pandemic so far.

So it is easy to understand why so many people out there are deeply afraid of this virus.  Most of us don’t want to die, and COVID-19 can kill you.

In recent days, there has been a whole lot of talk about “reopening America”, and many are assuming that life will start to look somewhat normal once that happens.

But Gallup just conducted a survey in which they asked people if they would be “resuming their normal daily activities” once the restrictions are lifted, and these were the results

Americans remain hesitant about resuming their normal daily activities amid the COVID-19 outbreak according to a Gallup question first asked in late March and repeated in early April.

When asked how quickly they will return to their normal activities once the government lifts restrictions and businesses and schools start to reopen, the vast majority of Americans say they would wait and see what happens with the spread of the virus (71%) and another 10% would wait indefinitely. Just 20% say they would return to their normal activities immediately.

In other words, about 80 percent of the country is going to take a hesitant approach, and that has huge implications for our economy moving forward.

Of course all of the coronavirus restrictions are not going to be lifted any time soon anyway, and this is something that I discussed yesterday.

Today, California Governor Gavin Newsom set forth six specific conditions which must be met before the restrictions will be lifted in his state…

  1. The ability to monitor and protect our communities through testing, contact tracing, isolating, and supporting those who are positive or exposed.
  2. The ability to prevent infection in people who are at risk for more severe COVID-19.
  3. The ability of the hospital and health systems to handle surges.
  4. The ability to develop therapeutics to meet the demand.
  5. The ability for businesses, schools, and child care facilities to support physical distancing.
  6. The ability to determine when to reinstitute certain measures, such as the stay-at-home orders, if necessary.

Needless to say, California may continue to be locked down for an extended period of time to come.

But the longer that these shutdowns persist, the more impatient many Americans are going to become.

Already, we are starting to see protests pop up all over the nation.  For example, just check out what is happening in Michigan

At least 15,000 cars and trucks are expected to descend on Michigan’s state capital on Wednesday to protest what they’re calling Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s tyrannical new guidelines to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus in the state.

The so-called “drive-by” demonstration – in order to maintain social distancing — aims to bring traffic to a gridlock in Lansing and protest the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order by Whitmer, a Democrat, mandating what businesses could stay home, what some businesses could sell and ordering people in her state against any gatherings – no matter the size or family ties.

I am seeing a lot of anger out there right now.  Business owners, workers and entrepreneurs are not being allowed to make a living and provide for their families, and I can certainly understand their frustration.

And the longer that things are shut down, the worse this economic downturn is going to become.  At this point, the IMF is projecting the worst performance for the global economy since the Great Depression of the 1930s

The global economy will this year likely suffer the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, the International Monetary Fund said Tuesday, as governments worldwide grapple with the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Washington-based organization now expects the global economy to contract by 3% in 2020. By contrast, in January it had forecast a global GDP (gross domestic product) expansion of 3.3% for this year.

Actually, I believe that the IMF’s projection is way too optimistic.

If global GDP only declines by 3 percent in 2020, that should be considered a rip-roaring success.

Now that the U.S. has become the epicenter for this pandemic, our nation is being hit particularly hard economically, and we are being warned that more than 2,000 cities “are anticipating major budget shortfalls this year”

More than 2,100 U.S. cities are anticipating major budget shortfalls this year and many are planning to slash programs and cut staff in response, according to a new survey of local officials released Tuesday, illustrating the widespread financial havoc threatened by the coronavirus pandemic.

The bleak outlook — shared by local governments representing roughly 93 million people nationwide — led some top mayors and other leaders to call for greater federal aid to protect cities now forced to choose between balancing their cash-strapped ledgers and sustaining the public services that residents need most.

Of course this is just only the beginning of the end.  All of the economic and financial bubbles are bursting, and this is going to cause severe distress on the national, state, local and community levels.

And as long as COVID-19 is still spreading somewhere, fear of the coronavirus is going to cause a lot of people to greatly alter their normal economic patterns.

So the truth is that we have a very long and very painful road ahead of us, and the months to come are going to make the last recession look like a Sunday picnic.

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

Now They Are Telling Us That Life In America Will Definitely Not Be Returning To Normal “For The Foreseeable Future”

If you thought that this pandemic would pass quickly and that life in America would soon return to “normal”, I am afraid that you are in for quite a shock.  Some of the restrictions currently in place will eventually be lifted, and efforts will be made to get people back to work, but life is still going to be radically different from what we had become accustomed to before COVID-19 started sweeping across the globe.  Authorities are telling us that there may be “rolling shutdowns” for up to 18 months, that social distancing guidelines will be necessary for a long time to come, and that this crisis will not ultimately be resolved until they can inject everyone with a vaccine.  If all of this greatly alarms you, please be assured that you are not alone.

In recent days there has been a tremendous amount of debate about when to “reopen the U.S. economy”, and organizations all along the political spectrum have drafted plans for how to do that.

Ezra Klein actually read quite a few of those plans, and he discovered that none of them would return our lives to normal “for the foreseeable future”

Over the past few days, I’ve been reading the major plans for what comes after social distancing. You can read them, too. There’s one from the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute, the left-leaning Center for American Progress, Harvard University’s Safra Center for Ethics, and Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Romer.

I thought, perhaps naively, that reading them would be a comfort — at least then I’d be able to imagine the path back to normal. But it wasn’t. In different ways, all these plans say the same thing: Even if you can imagine the herculean political, social, and economic changes necessary to manage our way through this crisis effectively, there is no normal for the foreseeable future. Until there’s a vaccine, the United States either needs economically ruinous levels of social distancing, a digital surveillance state of shocking size and scope, or a mass testing apparatus of even more shocking size and intrusiveness.

Over and over again, a “vaccine” is being touted as the golden ticket that will get us out of this mess.

The head of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, Neel Kashkari, is another prominent voice that is warning that there won’t be a return to normalcy until a vaccine comes along.  And until that time comes, he believes that we are potentially facing “an 18-month strategy of rolling shutdowns”

Kashkari, while acknowledging the downside of what a prolonged shutdown could mean for the economy, said the U.S., “barring some health-care miracle,” is looking at an 18-month strategy of rolling shutdowns based on what has happened in other countries.

“We could have these waves of flare-ups, controls, flare-ups and controls, until we actually get a therapy or a vaccine,” he said. “We need to find ways of getting the people who are healthy, who are at lower risk, back to work and then providing the assistance to those who are most at risk, who are going to need to be quarantined or isolated for the foreseeable future.”

In other words, Kashkari believes that all or part of the nation will be shut down over and over again whenever the number of coronavirus cases starts to spike too high.

Of course the WHO is eagerly looking forward to global vaccination as well, and the head of the WHO just told the media that he believes that this virus is ten times deadlier than the swine flu pandemic of 2009…

Coronavirus is ten times deadlier than the 2009 swine flu pandemic and a vaccine will be needed to halt it, the World Health Organisation has said.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual briefing from Geneva the organisation was constantly learning about the bug sweeping the globe.

Over and over again, officials are telling us that we are facing an 18 month timeframe until a vaccine will be ready.  Just check out what New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said during his press conference earlier today…

On Monday, governor Cuomo was joined on a conference call by the other Northeast governors. The recovery must be careful, incremental and guided by experts rather than politics, Cuomo said, and the pandemic won’t be truly “over” until a vaccine is available, which could take as long as 18 months. Ideally, a plan would also involve widespread testing, he said, to allow those without the virus – and those who have recovered and may now be resistant to it – to return to work first.

By the time 18 months goes by, most of the general population will be so desperate to feel safe from this virus that they will race out to get the vaccine as fast as they possibly can.

And until then, we can expect economic conditions to steadily deteriorate.

Yes, hopefully most businesses in the country will be allowed to reopen in a matter of weeks, but that doesn’t mean that the customers will come back.

Prior to this pandemic, we were already witnessing the worst “retail apocalypse” in U.S. history, and now one research firm is warning that an all-time record 15,000 stores could be permanently shuttered in 2020

Coresight Research predicts that 15,000 U.S. stores will permanently close this year, setting a new record and nearly doubling its earlier forecast of 8,000 store closings.

‘Retail has hung a closed sign on the door literally and metaphorically,’ Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail, said.

Pretty soon, our communities are going to be absolutely littered with abandoned buildings, and “space available” signs will start popping up everywhere.

Meanwhile, millions upon millions of U.S. consumers will be falling on very hard times.  We are in the midst of the greatest spike in unemployment in all of American history, and the number of people taking advantage of the federal government’s mortgage forbearance program has gone through the roof

With unemployment claims hitting nearly 17 million over the last three weeks, the number of Americans applying for the government’s mortgage forbearance program under the COVID-19 relief plan spiked 73% for the week ending April 5 vs. the previous week – jumping from 2.73% to 3.74%, according to new data from the Mortgage Bankers Association.

For context, the total number of loans in forbearance was just 0.25% for the week of March 2 – an increase of 1,496% in just six weeks, with the number of borrowers in forbearance now topping 2 million according to CNBC.

Realizing that we are on the verge of another massive wave of mortgage defaults, mortgage lenders all over the nation are rapidly tightening standards.  JPMorgan is just one example

Over the weekend our skepticism was confirmed when Reuters reported that JPMorgan, the country’s largest lender by assets and which will kick off earnings season tomorrow, will raise borrowing standards this week for most new home loans as the bank “moves to mitigate lending risk stemming from the novel coronavirus disruption.”

Starting Tuesday, customers applying for a new mortgage will need a credit score of at least 700, and will be required to make a down payment equal to 20% of the home’s value (something which we thought was the norm after the last financial crisis, but apparently lending conditions had eased quite a bit in the past decade).

For a very long time I have been warning that the flow of credit would get really tight when the next crisis hit.

Now we are here, and Americans are going to have a much harder time getting loans to buy homes, vehicles or anything else.

Everything that I have been warning about in my books is beginning to transpire, and a tremendous amount of pain is ahead.

My hope is that all of the pain that is ahead will cause a mass awakening and America will turn in a more positive direction.

But to most people, the immediate future looks really bleak right now, and that is not going to change any time soon.

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

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