10 Heartbreaking Stories Of Unemployment And Economic Despair In America

At times it can be really easy to get caught up in the data and the statistics of the economic collapse and forget that there are millions of very real stories behind these numbers.  The truth is that millions of Americans have had their lives absolutely devastated by this economic crisis, and things are only going to get much worse in the years ahead.  Many Americans who find themselves out of work don’t even understand what is going on – all they know is that they desperately want someone to give them a job and that they will work night and day if they could just get a chance.  In fact, employment is the number one issue on the minds of American voters right now.  A new poll by the Pew Research Center reveals that the two issues that Americans are most concerned about at this moment are the economy and jobs.

You see, if you can’t pay your mortgage and if you can’t feed your family, suddenly other issues become a whole lot less important.  If you still have a job and you can still pay your rent or mortgage every month, you should consider yourself to be very fortunate.  Right now there are literally tens of millions of Americans who are living on the edge of financial disaster.  The following are 10 heartbreaking stories of unemployment and economic despair which should make the rest of us very thankful for what we still have….

1) Can you imagine having to move your wife and kids into your mother-in-law’s basement?  You have got to read this amazing article by Paul Schwartzman in which he profiles the heartbreaking story of one average American couple who have lost their jobs and have completely given in to despair….

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He sinks into the couch, his gaze traveling from his wife to the television to the darkness outside, broken now and then by the distant glow of passing headlights.

His mind settles into another round of “What if?”

As in: What if we don’t have cash to buy milk, eggs, bread or diapers? What if our unemployment benefits run out? What if we never find jobs?

Scott Nichols thinks of the option the 39-year-old husband and father of two has hoped to avoid since being laid off nine months ago.

They already took free food from a church pantry, cardboard boxes filled with Corn Flakes and bologna and saltines. His wife, Kelly, walking in, head down, while he stayed in the car, ashen. They pawned his wedding ring, sold part of her coin collection and had help from the Salvation Army paying their electric bill.

Now another cliff approaches: the loss of the home they rent.

“Looks like we’ll have to go to your mom’s,” Scott Nichols says to Kelly, 33, who is in a beige recliner, staring ahead.

Moving to her mother’s would mean returning to the rundown industrial town where they grew up, a place that makes him feel dirty, inside and out. They would sleep in her basement jammed with forgotten furniture, a few steps from a pair of cat litter boxes and below three narrow windows blocked by insulation.

2) The Nation recently ran an article that included a stunning description of what many California neighborhoods are like in the aftermath of the housing crisis….

There’s a Mad Max feel to daily life in many neighborhoods. The Central Valley has a swath of cities whose home foreclosure rates rank in the top ten in the country. Friends looking to buy a home in a poor part of Sacramento tell me of foreclosed houses stripped of their copper wires, their toilets, their pipes, even their drywall. An ex-student reports visiting homes in which furious foreclosed owners and evicted tenants have urinated and defecated on the carpeting, abandoned pets to starve, left kitchens filled with rotting food. Sure, you can buy these properties for next to nothing, but you’ll have to bring in the biohazard squads before you can safely occupy them.

3) Robin Sherwood

My husband, Ron, was a construction superintendent, and in that field you know the job is always going to end. At the end of September, they handed Ron two checks. We knew it was coming, but we just didn’t expect it so soon.

With more than 1,400 people on the list at the union, it just doesn’t look like any work for a while. With most of the construction sites shut down, the work is just not there. Now what? We don’t know.

It’s rough in Boulder City. There are no construction jobs, and even for me to go find a retail job the chances are slim. In this town, they don’t look at bringing jobs in for local residents.

We get $1,500 a month from the unemployment checks, and the money is not enough to cover expenses. Our mortgage is $1,110 a month.

We’ve cut back to just the basics, even with groceries. We’ve applied for free lunches for my daughter so at least she can have a hot meal at school. We don’t go into town unless we absolutely have to.

4) Kathy Edwards

I lost my job March 6, 2009. I have been working in the insurance industry for 40 years.

At the age of 60 I doubt that I wlll find another job. I lost everything and had to file bankruptcy.

A sad way to end a good life…

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Its the pits… not knowing what the future holds and when unemployment ends who knows.. You start considering what you options are: anywhere from homelessness to suicide.

I used to love life and my job now I feel worthless and can offer my son nothing to help him out as well.

5) An anonymous poster on the GLP forum

My daughters 23 year old friend graduated with a Bachelors in Foreign Business over a year ago. We are a coastal state (WA) and he has been unable to find a good job in that time. Currently working at a clothing wholesaler making a pittance and struggling to pay his school loans and living expenses.

A couple we are close friends with are about to lose their home. Husband managed a trucking crew. We all know what’s going on with the trucking industry. They’ve for almost a year attempted to save the home they built with their own hands by offering the bank interest only payments or refi to lower payments, they’ve filled out too many forms to count to qualify for the Obama plan to save their home (they totally qualified at every point but new forms were sent again and again and finally after almost a year they were told they do not qualify but not given a reason why) and the bank just last week told them they have until next week to come up with $36,000.00 or move out.

My father, who is on a fixed income, keeps his house at freezing temps, doesn’t go anywhere, and eats crap food and he is living on two retirements! You know why? His lenders suddenly raised interest rates on two loans he had. Then his auto and home insurance company found out he had higher interest rates and used that as an excuse to raise his insurance rates!

6) Carmen

I was working as a Production Supervisor for a very large manufacturing company. They hired me on and about a month later I was told that the plant would be closing down and moving production to Mexico. I like many others am a victim of outsourcing and now the economy.

I have worked in the manufacturing industry for several years in Management Roles. I have actual experience in the industry that I obtained through trial and error, training, and just working. My expertise is Cost Reduction. I am old school and did not graduate from a college with a degree. I am from the school of hard knocks.

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Being unemployed is truly the most difficult thing I have ever had to live through. I have worked since I was 15 and right now have been unemployed for over 16 months. I have applied to every job I am qualified for, joined all the social networks, worked my own personal network and try to utilize any creative way to find work.

I feel useless sitting at home not be able to work and support my family. My wife is working two jobs and still we cannot make ends meet. I have been trying to work with my mortgage company for a year now to modify the loan on our home but basically have been told that because I have still be able to make my payments (by the grace of God we have been able to do so, with the help of family and a little savings, this is all gone now) that being unemployed is not a dire enough hardship, and there is no help for me.

It is frustrating to say the least and seems never ending. I hope they extend the unemployment extensions that are due to expire at the end of February 10 because if they don’t I know what I am going to do. All I want to do is work, I would work 16 hours a day, night, afternoon or morning shift, weekends, overtime, holidays, part-time full time, seasonal, you name it.

7) Jan

I lost my full time job in an automotive related field in April 2008 and have been unemployed since. I finally found a part-time job in July 2009, which was far below the money I was making however I felt, a job is a job. Now after continuing to look for full-time employment without any success, I am at risk of losing my home as my mortgage company is not willing to work with me.

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It is horrible and makes you feel inadequate in every way when u cannot find a full-time job and when you cannot support your family. I am close to losing my home and am frustrated that there is no where to turn. I have spent endless hours on the phone trying to follow up for jobs in which I have applied, only to be told that often there is 1 job available and there have been over 400 or 500 applicants. I don’t even get a letter or any correspondence telling my I did not get a position, I am just left hanging. I have tried to look into many different fields only to be told I have no experience, well how can I get any experience if no one will give me a chance? The problem is that there are so many people here in Michigan without a job, employers don’t HAVE TO take a chance and they have their pick of whoever they want (usually a friend or family member gets hired).

8) Joe

I worked a major online retail store for womens clothing and apparel, i worked at the distribution center here in West Virgina. I operated various loading equipment from order pickers, to forklifts,reese trucks, standups, and walkies.

I was laid off in January of 2009, because it was cheaper for the company to bring in new workers that would not have to be provided with bennefits such as, insurance, paid sick days, holidays, vacation, things of that nature, they laid myself and about 100 other employees off, and turned around and hired about the same number of employees the same month.

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I have now been unemployed for over a year, i have applied for over 250 jobs,and have had no luck with any of them, the only thing that has kept me from losing everything is my unemployment compensation, which ran out at the beginning of the year. I have done everything in my power to find a job, I am also taking courses for IT related field, but I fear that I will have to stop the classes because with no type of income coming in i can no longer afford them. I enough money saved to maybe survive for the next 2 months, after that i don’t know what my family is going to do. there is just simply no work here or anywhere for that matter.

9) Lady Wolf on the GLP forum

We are fortunate in that we have set aside a nest egg for ourselves in the form of a 401K that we can dip into if we absolutely have to and it’s looking like that might be the case. But that’s supposed to be for our retirement. We’re both in our 40’s so that seems a long way off still…but we may not have a choice. My husband had already enrolled into college because he sees the handwriting on the wall in this economy and he just doesn’t see it getting any better with millions out of work in this country, but the field he’s chosen to branch off into could take up to a year to get his degree…

He’s feeling so discouraged right now…that’s got to be a real beating to a man’s ego. I’m trying to be there for him, but I don’t think this is something I can fix this time. All I can do is let him know how much I love him and that as long as we have each other, everything else will work out…I hate seeing him like this! He’s such a hard worker with a solid work ethic. He doesn’t deserve what’s happening to him…then again, no one really does.

People just want to provide for their families…is that such a bad thing?

10) Carlene Balderrama

On the morning she realized her husband and son would learn the family was losing their house, Carlene Balderrama, 53, faxed a note to the mortgage company, then went to the basement and shot herself.

“I hope you’re more compassionate with my husband than you were with me,” she wrote in a suicide note left for the company.

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Unfortunately, these stories do not represent isolated incidents.  There are millions of other stories just like these.  In fact, you probably have friends, relatives or neighbors who find themselves in similar situations.

Perhaps your own life has been turned upside down by this economic mess.  Millions of people who worked hard in school, always did everything “right” and who were always good to their employers now find themselves up a creek without a paddle.  The reality is that it is almost impossible to find a good job in many areas of the United States today.

If you have a story to share we would love to hear it.  Just post a comment below, and as long as it is is clean and does not advocate violence we will be glad to post it.  The truth is that we will all have to offer one another a helping hand to get through this economic crisis.

And let us not look down on anyone who finds themselves out of work.  Almost all of us have been there, and almost all of us will be there again.  Many Americans who are now out of work are good, hard-working people.  They were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The reality is that the gigantic economic tsunami that is coming is going to impact all of us whether we like it or not.  Millions of jobs and millions of homes are going to be lost.  Many families will be destroyed.  A lot of innocent people are going to pay the price for decades of incompetence and foolishness in Washington D.C.

Things did not have to turn out this way, but this is the hand that we have been dealt.  Let us be kind and compassionate to one another and let us be certain to retain our humanity as we all head into a future that appears to be very bleak.

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Economic Black Hole: 20 Reasons Why The U.S. Economy Is Dying And Is Simply Not Going To Recover

Even though the U.S. financial system nearly experienced a total meltdown in late 2008, the truth is that most Americans simply have no idea what is happening to the U.S. economy.  Most people seem to think that the nasty little recession that we have just been through is almost over and that we will be experiencing another time of economic growth and prosperity very shortly.  But this time around that is not the case.  The reality is that we are being sucked into an economic black hole from which the U.S. economy will never fully recover.

The problem is debt.  Collectively, the U.S. government, the state governments, corporate America and American consumers have accumulated the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the world.  Our massive debt binge has financed our tremendous growth and prosperity over the last couple of decades, but now the day of reckoning is here.

And it is going to be painful.

The following are 20 reasons why the U.S. economy is dying and is simply not going to recover….

#1) Do you remember that massive wave of subprime mortgages that defaulted in 2007 and 2008 and caused the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression?  Well, the “second wave” of mortgage defaults in on the way and there is simply no way that we are going to be able to avoid it.  A huge mountain of mortgages is going to reset starting in 2010, and once those mortgage payments go up there are once again going to be millons of people who simply cannot pay their mortgages.  The chart below reveals just how bad the second wave of adjustable rate mortgages is likely to be over the next several years….

#2) The Federal Housing Administration has announced plans to increase the amount of up-front cash paid by new borrowers and to require higher down payments from those with the poorest credit.  The Federal Housing Administration currently backs about 30 percent of all new home loans and about 20 percent of all new home refinancing loans.  Tighter standards are going to mean that less people will qualify for loans.  Less qualifiers means that there will be less buyers for homes.  Less buyers means that home prices are going to drop even more.

#3) It is getting really hard to find a job in the United States.  A total of 6,130,000 U.S. workers had been unemployed for 27 weeks or more in December 2009.  That was the most ever since the U.S. government started keeping track of this statistic in 1948.  In fact, it is more than double the 2,612,000 U.S. workers who were unemployed for a similar length of time in December 2008.  The reality is that once Americans lose their jobs they are increasingly finding it difficult to find new ones. 

#4) In December, there were also 929,000 “discouraged” workers who are not counted as part of the labor force because they have “given up” looking for work.  That is the most since the U.S. government first started keeping track of discouraged workers in 1949.  Many Americans have simply given up and are now chronically unemployed.

#5) Some areas of the U.S. are already virtually in a state of depression.  The mayor of Detroit estimates that the real unemployment rate in his city is now somewhere around 50 percent.

#6) For decades, our leaders in Washington pushed us towards “a global economy” and told us it would be so good for us.  But there is a flip side.  Now workers in the U.S. must compete with workers all over the world, and our greedy corporations are free to pursue the cheapest labor available anywhere on the globe.  Millions of jobs have already been shipped out of the United States, and Princeton University economist Alan S. Blinder estimates that 22% to 29% of all current U.S. jobs will be offshorable within two decades.  The days when blue collar workers could live the American Dream are gone and they are not going to come back.   

#7) During the 2001 recession, the U.S. economy lost 2% of its jobs and it took four years to get them back. This time around the U.S. economy has lost more than 5% of its jobs and there is no sign that the bleeding of jobs is going to stop any time soon.

#8) All of this unemployment is putting severe stress on state unemployment funds.  At this point, 25 state unemployment insurance funds have gone broke and the Department of Labor estimates that 15 more state unemployment funds will likely go broke within two years and will need massive loans from the federal government just to keep going.

#9) 37 million Americans now receive food stamps, and the program is expanding at a pace of about 20,000 people a day.  The United States of America is very quickly becoming a socialist welfare state.

#10) The number of Americans who are going broke is staggering.  1.41 million Americans filed for personal bankruptcy in 2009 – a 32 percent increase over 2008.

#11) For decades, the fact that the U.S. dollar was the reserve currency of the world gave the U.S. financial system an unusual degree of stability.  But all of that is changing.  Foreign countries are increasingly turning away from the dollar to other currencies.  For example, Russia’s central bank announced on Wednesday that it had started buying Canadian dollars in a bid to diversify its foreign exchange reserves.

#12) The recent economic downturn has left some localities totally bankrupt.  For instance, Jefferson County, Alabama is on the brink of what would be the largest government bankruptcy in the history of the United States – surpassing the 1994 filing by Southern California’s Orange County.

#13) The U.S. is facing a pension crisis of unprecedented magnitude.  Virtually all pension funds in the United States, both private and public, are massively underfunded.  With millions of Baby Boomers getting ready to retire, there is simply no way on earth that all of these obligations can be met.  Robert Novy-Marx of the University of Chicago and Joshua D. Rauh of Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management recently calculated the collective unfunded pension liability for all 50 U.S. states for Forbes magazine.  So what was the total?  3.2 trillion dollars.

#14) Social Security and Medicare expenses are wildly out of control.  Once again, with millions of Baby Boomers now at retirement age there is simply going to be no way to pay all of these retirees what they are owed.

#15) So will the U.S. government come to the rescue?  The U.S. has allowed the total federal debt to balloon by 50% since 2006 to $12.3 trillion.  The chart below is a bit outdated, but it does show the reckless expansion of U.S. government debt over the past several decades.  To get an idea of where we are now, just add at least 3 trillion dollars on to the top of the chart….

#16) So has the U.S. government learned anything from these mistakes?  No.  In fact, Senate Democrats on Wednesday proposed allowing the federal government to borrow an additional $2 trillion to pay its bills, a record increase that would allow the U.S. national debt to reach approximately $14.3 trillion

#17) It is going to become even harder for the U.S. government to pay the bills now that tax receipts are falling through the floor.  U.S. corporate income tax receipts were down 55% in the year that ended on September 30th, 2009.

#18) So where will the U.S. government get the money?  From the Federal Reserve of course.  The Federal Reserve bought approximately 80 percent of all U.S. Treasury securities issued in 2009.  In other words, the U.S. government is now being financed by a massive Ponzi scheme.

#19) The reckless expansion of the money supply by the U.S. government and the Federal Reserve is going to end up destroying the U.S. dollar and the value of the remaining collective net worth of all Americans.  The more dollars there are, the less each individual dollar is worth.  In essence, inflation is like a hidden tax on each dollar that you own.  When they flood the economy with money, the value of the money you have in your bank accounts goes down.  The chart below shows the growth of the U.S. money supply.  Pay particular attention to the very end of the chart which shows what has been happening lately.  What do you think this is going to do to the value of the U.S. dollar?….

#20) When a nation practices evil, there is no way that it is going to be blessed in the long run.  The truth is that we have become a nation that is dripping with corruption and wickedness from the top to the bottom.  Unless this fundamentally changes, not even the most perfect economic policies in the world are going to do us any good.  In the end, you always reap what you sow.  The day of reckoning for the U.S. economy is here and it is not going to be pleasant.

11 Clear Signs That The U.S. Economy Is Headed Into The Toilet

The U.S. Economy Is Headed Into The ToiletThe vast majority of the talking heads on television are still speaking of the current economic collapse as if it is a temporary “recession” that will soon be over.  So far, the vast majority of the American people seem to believe this as well, although for many Americans there is a very deep gnawing in the pit of their stomachs that is telling them that there is something very, very wrong this time around.  The truth is that the foundations of the U.S. economy have been destroyed by an orgy of government, corporate and individual debt that has gone on for decades.  It was the greatest party in the history of the world, but now the party is over.  The following are 11 signs from just this past month that show that the U.S. economy is headed into the toilet and will not be recovering….

#1) When even Wal-Mart is closing stores you know things are bad.  Wal-Mart announced on Monday that it will close 10 money-losing Sam’s Club stores and will cut 1,500 jobs in order to reduce costs.  So if even Wal-Mart has to shut down stores, what chance do other retailers have?

#2) Americans are going broke at a staggering pace.  1.41 million Americans filed for personal bankruptcy in 2009 – a 32 percent increase over 2008.

#3) American workers are working harder than ever and yet making less.  After adjusting for inflation, pay for production and non-supervisory workers (80 percent of the private workforce) is 9% lower than it was in 1973.  But those Americans who do still have jobs are the fortunate ones.

#4) Unemployment is absolutely exploding all over the United States.  Minority groups have been hit particularly hard.  For example, unemployment on many U.S. Indian reservations is over 80 percent.

#5) Unfortunately the employment situation is showing no signs of turning around.  December was actually the worst month for U.S. unemployment since the so-called “Great Recession” began.

#6) So just how bad are things when compared to past recessions?  During the 2001 recession, the U.S. economy lost 2% of its jobs and it took four years to get them back. This time the U.S. economy has lost more than 5% of its jobs and there is no sign that the bleeding of jobs will stop any time soon.

#7) Can you imagine trying to get your first job in this economic climate?  Our young men and women either can’t get work or have given up on work altogether.  The percentage of Americans 16 to 24 who have jobs is 13 percent lower than ten years ago.

#8) So where did all the jobs go?  Over the past few decades we have allowed the corporate giants to ship mountains of American jobs overseas, and there are signs that this trend is only going to get worse.  In fact, Princeton University economist Alan S. Blinder estimates that 22% to 29% of all current U.S. jobs will be offshorable within two decades.  So get ready for even more of our jobs to be shipped off to Mexico, China and India.

#9) All of these job losses are leading to defaults on mortgages.  Over the past couple of years we have seen the American Dream in reverse.  According to a report that was just released, delinquent home loans at government-controlled mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac surged 20 percent from July through September.

#10) But that is nothing compared to what is coming.  A massive “second wave” of mortgage defaults is getting ready to hit the U.S. economy starting in 2010.  In fact, this “second wave” is so frightening that even 60 Minutes is reporting on it

#11) Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve has announced that it made a record profit of $46.1 billion in 2009.  Apparently during this economic crisis it is a very good time to be a bankster.

America: Land Of The Unemployed – 3 Unemployment Charts That Will Absolutely Shock You

UnemploymentWith the unprecedented spending by the U.S. government over the past year and a half, shouldn’t we at least see some jobs being produced by now? After all, if we are putting our children and grandchildren into perpetual debt from which they will never emerge, shouldn’t we at least be able to put American workers back to work? Unfortunately, as you will see from the charts in this article, that is most definitely not the case. In fact, unemployment is reaching levels in the U.S. that have not been seen for decades. The high paying manufacturing and construction jobs that were the bedrock for the American middle class for decades have disappeared and they are simply not coming back.

Despite the reckless spending of the U.S. government, the U.S. economy continues to bleed jobs month after month.  In fact, December was the worst month for U.S. unemployment since the “Great Recession” began.  The U.S. labor force contracted by 661,000 in December.  The number that actually “lost” their jobs in December was much smaller than this.  The 661,000 number includes thousands upon thousands of American workers that have given up on employment and have simply dropped out of the system. The broader U6 measure of unemployment in the United States rose to 17.3 percent in December.  That is staggering.

In fact, the civilian participation rate in the employment pool has nosedived and has now reached levels not seen since the recession of the early 80s…..

Unemployment

In particular, the construction industry has been hit particularly hard.  As you can see from the chart below, construction employment boomed during the years of the housing bubble, but the bursting of the housing bubble has been absolutely catastrophic for construction employment….

Construction Employment

But not only have millions of people lost their jobs, they also can’t find jobs once they start looking for work.  The average duration of unemployment is already at record levels and it is shooting through the roof….

Duration Of Unemployment

It is really easy to tell someone to “go get a job”, but in many areas of the United States there simply are NO jobs.

In fact, there have been reports of people literally getting down on their knees and begging for a job at a city dump in Florida.  In other areas of the U.S., hundreds of people line up to apply for fast food jobs.

Without jobs or even the hope for a job, many families are now existing on the edge of survival.  Millions of men and women would be more than willing to work if something was available.

But nothing is available.

All of their jobs have been shipped off to Mexico, China and India.

For the last several decades the politicians in Washington D.C. have sold out U.S. workers and have sold out the U.S. economy and now the day of reckoning is here.

Unfortunately, as is too often the case, it is the working man that is feeling the pain first.

But eventually we will all feel the economic pain.

The great American economic empire is crumbling and the fall will be very great.

The economic despair that is coming in the years ahead is going to be so great that there are no words to even describe it.

You better get ready.

25 States Have Run Out Of Unemployment Money And 15 More Are On The Verge Of Running Out

UnemploymentOne aspect of the current economic collapse that has not been widely reported is the extreme difficulty that most state unemployment insurance funds are facing. At this point, 25 state unemployment insurance funds have gone broke and the Department of Labor estimates that 15 more state unemployment funds will likely go broke within two years and need massive loans from the federal government just to keep going.

So how bad are things out there?

Indiana state Representative David Niezgodski was recently very blunt about the status of Indiana’s unemployment program….

“Our system was absolutely broke.”

State unemployment funds are generally separate from the general budgets of most states.  When these funds do go broke, usually there are two solutions that are considered.  Either unemployment benefits are cut or payroll taxes are increased.

But now many states have resorted to borrowing billions upon billions of dollars from the federal government to keep their programs going.  In fact, states have borrowed a total of 24 billion dollars from the federal government up to this point.

But there is a huge problem.

Unemployment is not going away any time soon.

For decades, U.S. corporations have been allowed to ship good jobs overseas and now everyone is looking around and wondering where all the jobs went.

The truth is that they are gone, and as the U.S. economy continues to collapse things are going to get even worse.

For example, the mayor of Detroit recently said that the real unemployment rate in his city is around 50 percent.

Are you starting to get the picture?

Meanwhile, the U.S. federal government raised the debt ceiling to 12.5 trillion dollars just before they left for Christmas, and there are reports that they will soon be raising it to 14 trillion.

Peter Schiff discusses this latest action by Congress and also addresses the fact that the U.S. federal government is now guaranteeing all losses by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in his latest video….