Economy In Decline: Apple Reports Massive Revenue Decline As iPhone Sales Plummet Dramatically

Apple iPhone And Apple Computer - Public DomainCorporate revenues in the United States have been falling for quite some time, but now some of the biggest companies in the entire nation are reporting extremely disappointing results.  On Tuesday, Apple shocked the financial world by reporting that revenue for the first quarter had fallen 7.4 billion dollars compared to the same quarter last year.  That is an astounding plunge, and it represents the very first year-over-year quarterly sales decline that Apple has experienced since 2003.  Analysts were anticipating some sort of drop, but nothing like this.  And of course last week we learned that Google and Microsoft also missed revenue and earnings projections for the first quarter of 2016.  The economic crisis that began during the second half of 2015 is really starting to take hold, and even our largest tech companies are now feeling the pain.

This wasn’t supposed to happen to Apple.  No matter what else has been going on with the U.S. economy, Apple has always been unshakeable.  Even during the last recession we never saw a year-over-year decline like this

Apple today announced financial results for the second fiscal quarter (first calendar quarter) of 2016. For the quarter, Apple posted revenue of $50.6 billion and net quarterly profit of $10.5 billion, or $1.90 per diluted share, compared to revenue of $58 billion and net quarterly profit of $13.6 billion, or $2.33 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter. As expected, the year-over-year decline in quarterly revenue was the first for Apple since 2003.

I think that this announcement by Apple is waking a lot of people up.  The global economic slowdown is real, and we can see this in iPhone sales.  During the first quarter, Apple sold 16 percent fewer iPhones than it did during the same quarter in 2015.  This is the very first year-over-year quarterly sales decline for the iPhone ever.  Here are some of the specific sales figures from the Apple announcement…

Apple sold 51.1 million iPhones during the quarter, down from 61.2 million a year earlier, while Mac sales were 4.03 million units, down from from 4.56 million units in the year-ago quarter. iPad sales were also down once again, falling to 10.25 million from 12.6 million.

Once these numbers hit the wires, shares of Apple immediately began to plummet during after-hours trading.  In fact, USA Today is reporting that Apple has already lost 43 billion dollars in market value since the annoucement…

Shares of Apple are getting hit roughly 8% in after-hours trading, tumbling to $96.67. They closed in regular trading at $104.35, or down 0.7%, putting them down 0.9% for the year. The downward move in after-hours trading means the company shed $43 billion in market value based on after-hours trading.

Wow.

Meanwhile, shares of Twitter are crashing in after-hours trading after the social media giant also announced very disappointing results.  The stock has now dripped below 16 dollars a share, and the company continues to lose tremendous amounts of money

For all its other travails, Twitter is unprofitable. It narrowed its loss but still recorded a loss of $79.7 million, or 12 cents a share, compared with a loss of $162.4 million, or 25 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter.

Of course it isn’t just the tech giants that are troubled these days.

On Tuesday we learned that same-store sales for Chipotle declined by a whopping 29.7 percent during the first quarter, and appliance manufacturer Whirlpool has seen sales fall all over the planet

Whirlpool, the world’s biggest appliance manufacturer, has become the poster child for the deep challenges facing multinational companies these days.

– Latin American sales plunged 22%.

– Revenue fell 8% in Europe, Middle East and Africa.

– Asia sales dipped 2%.

When is it finally going to sink in for most people?  The global economy is slowing down significantly, and the next global economic crisis is already here.

Of course the oil companies are feeling more pain than anyone else.  According to CNN, the crash in the price of oil has cost the 40 largest publicly-traded U.S. oil producers 67 billion dollars

American oil companies are drowning in a sea of red ink.

The crash in crude oil prices caused a stunning $67 billion in combined losses by 40 publicly-traded U.S. oil producers last year, according Energy Information Administration research. And the bleeding is expected to continue at least early this year for many.

The losses surpassed $1 billion each from struggling oil companies like EOG Resources (EOG), Devon Energy (DVN) and Linn Energy (LINE) as well as SandRidge Energy (SD), the shale oil driller that recently admitted it’s exploring a bankruptcy filing.

That is an astounding amount of money.

These days we throw around terms like “millions” and “billions” so much that they almost lose their meaning.

But this is real money that we are talking about here.

In recent days, Barack Obama has been running around boasting that he saved the world economy from another Great Depression.  But that isn’t true at all.  Instead, our “leaders” have simply set the stage for a larger and more painful crisis.  I like the way that Doug Casey recently put it

You’ve got to remember that all of these governments and central banks all around the world have driven interest rates not just to zero, but to negative levels in some cases… and they are simultaneously printing up trillions of currency units. And even while they are desperately doing that the economy is falling apart in lots of different ways.

…They’ve created a super-bubble in bonds, a bubble in stocks, and meanwhile commodities have collapsed and are below production costs in many cases.

…The economy is going to be very, very bad… It’s the next stage of what I call the Greater Depression. 

Whether you want to call it a “Great Depression”, a “Greater Depression” or “The Greatest Depression”, the truth is that we are heading into a period of time that will be unlike anything any of us have ever experienced before.

The greatest debt bubble in the history of the planet is starting to implode, and this time the central bankers and the politicians are not going to be able to put the pieces back together again.

But just like in 2008, the vast majority of the population will not recognize the warning signs until it is way too late.

*About the author: Michael Snyder is the founder and publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog. Michael’s controversial new book about Bible prophecy entitled “The Rapture Verdict” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.*

Trump Rallies Reveal Increased Tensions Among Americans As This Nation Plunges Toward Civil Unrest

Anti-Trump Protesters In Chicago - Photo by nathanmac87America is coming apart at the seams, and Trump rallies have become the latest flashpoint for the rising tide of civil unrest that is sweeping the nation.  For years, I have been writing about the increasing levels of anger and frustration in this country, but now they are reaching a fever pitch.  And rather than channeling all of our anger and frustration into solving our problems, we have allowed ourselves to become deeply divided and many Americans seem to be taking glee in fighting with one another.  Instead of learning to hate one another, we should be learning how to love one another.  Unfortunately, America has chosen another path, and 2016 is very rapidly starting to look very much like the chaotic political year of 1968.  No matter how the rest of this election season plays out, it appears that we have entered a time of violence, chaos, civil unrest and greatly increased tension among Americans.

On Friday, thousands of radical leftists showed up at a planned Trump rally at the University of Illinois at Chicago with the express purpose of disrupting it.  Fortunately Donald Trump cancelled the rally, because there was a very real possibility that mass violence could have erupted.  The following description of what happened comes from Wikipedia

On March 11, 2016, the Donald Trump presidential campaign canceled a planned rally at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), in Chicago, Illinois, citing “growing safety concerns” due to the presence of thousands of protesters in and outside of his rally[3]. Thousands of anti-Trump demonstrators responding to civic leaders’ and social media calls to shut the rally down had gathered outside the arena, and several hundred more filled seating areas within the UIC Pavilion, where the rally was to take place. When the Trump campaign announced that the rally would not take place, there was a great deal of shouting and a few small scuffles between Trump supporters and anti-Trump protestors.

The Daily Caller has identified three groups that were heavily involved in organizing the planned disruption of the Trump rally in Chicago.  Those three groups are ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) Chicago, the Illinois Coalition of Immigrant and Rights Reform, and La Raza Chicago.

In addition, MoveOn.org also appears to have been involved in what took place in Chicago.  The following comes from Infowars

“Mr. Trump and the Republican leaders who support him and his hate-filled rhetoric should be on notice after tonight’s events,” the George Soros funded MoveOn web page states. “To all of those who took to the streets of Chicago, we say thank you for standing up and saying enough is enough. To Donald Trump, and the GOP, we say, welcome to the general election.”

Following the cancelled rally in Chicago, a radical leftist protester named Thomas Dimassimo attempted to storm the stage while Trump was speaking at an event in Dayton, Ohio.  This YouTube video contains footage of that chilling moment…

Thomas Dimassimo has been identified as a Bernie Sanders supporter, and even though his Twitter account has now been erased, this screenshot was taken while it was still up…

Marlon Bando Tweet

There was also another tweet where he said that his goal was “martrydom“.  I have seen some news reports that link Dimassimo to ISIS, but those reports are being disputed.  Either way, the fact that the Secret Service had to intervene to protect Trump from this lunatic is more than just a little bit alarming.

Following the incident in Dayton, a Trump rally in Kansas City was disrupted more than a dozen times by political agitators.  At one point, police actually used pepper spray on some of the protesters.

Scenes such as these are starting to cause many people to make direct comparisons between 2016 and 1968.

And if the chaos is this bad already, what will things look like during the general election?

Candidates on all sides should be calling for peace and calm, but instead they are pointing fingers at one another.

For example, Hillary Clinton is putting the full blame for the unrest on Donald Trump

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton said this weekend that Trump is guilty of “political arson,” adding that “the ugly, divisive rhetoric we are hearing from Donald Trump and the encouragement of violence and aggression is wrong, and it’s dangerous,” The New York Times reported.

And Donald Trump is placing the blame at the feet of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton

“You had professional disruptors, thousands of them, from Sanders and to a smaller extent, Hillary (Clinton),” he said of a Friday night event in Chicago that Trump canceled after chaos broke out there.

Unfortunately, most Americans have absolutely no idea where all of this is leading.

A house that is divided will fall, and America is now more divided than at any other time in my entire lifetime.

If there was a single set of values or principles that united us, it would be possible for us to come together as a nation and solve our problems.  But there isn’t.  We have rejected the values and the principles of our founders, and these days Americans are being pulled in dozens of different directions.  In fact, if you ask 100 different Americans what we need to do to get our country back on the right track you are probably going to get 100 different answers.

The chaos and violence around our political process is going to get a lot worse than this.  And we are going to see more communities erupt just like Ferguson and Baltimore did.

In the end, Americans are going to kill Americans, our cities are going to burn, and we are going to experience a period of governmental shaking unlike anything that we have ever seen before.

All of this could have been avoided if we could have simply learned to love one another.  But instead, we have allowed ourselves to be divided in just about every way imaginable, and the mainstream media is constantly tossing more fuel on the fire.

This isn’t about Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton or any other politician.  Rather, this is about a once great country that is deeply, deeply divided and that is coming apart at the seams right before our very eyes.

May God have mercy on the late, great United States of America.

Thanks To The Republican Civil War, Every Scenario Ends With Hillary Clinton Winning The Election

Hillary Clinton_Testimony_to_House_Select_Committee_on_Benghazi - Public DomainWhat is the worst possible outcome for the presidential election of 2016?  Assuming that an election will actually take place, that is an easy question to answer – Hillary Rodham Clinton as the next president of the United States.  She is truly evil in every sense of the word, and the implications of what four (or eight) years of Hillary would mean for our nation are almost too terrible to imagine.  That is why it is so depressing watching what is happening to the Republican Party right now.  The civil war in the Republican Party is ripping it to shreds, and as a result of all this warfare every plausible scenario for what will happen the rest of the way ends with Hillary Clinton winning the 2016 election.

According to the Associated Press, here is how the Republican delegate count stands as of right now…

Donald Trump: 384

Ted Cruz: 300

Marco Rubio: 151

John Kasich: 37

Ted Cruz looks like he is within shooting distance of Trump, but that is an illusion.  The early part of the schedule was full of states where Cruz was expected to do well, but now the map is going to work very much against him.

At this point, the only candidate that looks like he may be able to accumulate 1,237 delegates before the convention is Trump, and that is far from guaranteed.  So far, Trump has won approximately 44 percent of the delegates during the caucuses and primaries.  By the time it is all said and done, he will need to have slightly more than 60 percent of all the delegates awarded during the caucuses and primaries to guarantee himself the nomination before the Republican convention.  That is because there are hundreds of delegates that are not awarded during the caucuses and the primaries, and almost all of those delegates are members of the Republican establishment.

Trump can still get there by racking up large delegate totals in winner-take-all states such as California, but it will be a challenge.  The entire Republican Party establishment, Fox News, Glenn Beck and a significant number of other prominent conservative voices have all declared war on Trump.  In fact, there are super PACs that are going to spend tens of millions of dollars doing nothing but trying to destroy Trump.

If the Republican Party actually wanted to beat Hillary Clinton in November, they should be rallying around Trump and trying to help him, because he would definitely need a lot of help to win the general election.

According to Real Clear Politics, the latest three polls all have Trump losing to Clinton by at least 5 points.  In key states such as Michigan, the numbers are quite a bit more dismal.  Over the next few months, those numbers are likely to get even worse as Trump is savagely assaulted by the Republican establishment and relentlessly bombarded by tens of millions of dollars of negative attack ads.  Meanwhile, Clinton is cruising along virtually unscathed.

Of course in a just world Hillary Clinton would have already been arrested and put in prison.  There is no possible way that she should be running for president of the United States.  Unfortunately, we live in a deeply corrupt society, and this is the way that things work.

If by some miracle he does survive to become the nominee, a significantly weakened Trump would then have to face the full power of the Clinton political machine.  It is estimated that a billion dollars could be spent on the Democratic side this time around, and Trump does not have the resources to match that.  Normally big Republican donors rally around the nominee, but in this case the big money is fighting like crazy to defeat Trump.  In a general election matchup, it really would be David vs. Goliath, and Trump would not be Goliath.

If Donald Trump does not accumulate 1,237 delegates before the convention, then we would be headed for what is known as a “brokered convention“.  The rules are very complicated, but the key thing to remember is that the delegates are only bound for the first vote.  After that, they can vote for whoever they want.

And it is very important to note that the campaigns don’t pick their delegates.  Becoming a delegate is a long and tedious process in most states, and most of them are party loyalists.

In the end, a “brokered convention” would almost certainly result in an establishment candidate being chosen as the nominee.  Needless to say, the names “Trump” and “Cruz” would not be on that list.

Have you noticed that Mitt Romney has started to put himself out there lately?  His verbal attacks on Trump have been absolutely scathing, and he told Fox News that he would not say no if he was “drafted” to become the nominee at the Republican convention…

Romney, a former Massachusetts governor and the Republicans’ 2012 presidential nominee, repeated remarks from last week, telling “Fox News Sunday” that he wouldn’t launch an eleventh-hour campaign for president. But he declined to reject being “drafted” at the GOP convention in July to be the party’s general election candidate.

It would be absurd to say that if I were drafted I’d say no,” Romney said.

Behind the scenes, much more is going on.  In fact, CNN is reporting that Romney’s team is actively working on a plan to steal the nomination from Trump at the convention…

Mitt Romney has instructed his closest advisers to explore the possibility of stopping Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention, a source close to Romney’s inner circle says.

The 2012 GOP nominee’s advisers are examining what a fight at the convention might look like and what rules might need revising.

It sounds like the plan is to lock the convention,” said the source.

If Romney does emerge as the nominee, does anyone actually believe that he will defeat Clinton?

Of course not.  Trump’s millions of supporters will be absolutely infuriated, and many of them would absolutely refuse to cast a vote for Romney in the general election.

In the end, it would be the same result – a victory for Hillary Clinton.

The next few weeks are going to be very interesting.  If Trump wins Florida and Ohio, there is going to be a lot of pressure on Marco Rubio and John Kasich to get out of the race, and the path to 1,237 delegates would appear to be clear.

However, Mitt Romney could attempt to derail the Trump bandwagon by jumping in the race after March 15th.  Romney’s goal would be to capture enough delegates in winner-take-all states such as California to keep Trump from getting to the magic number of 1,237.  If Romney could do that, he knows that he would likely come out of a brokered convention as the nominee.

But no matter what happens on the Republican side from this point forward, it is going to take a miracle of epic proportions to keep Hillary Clinton from winning the presidency.  Every plausible scenario ends with her in the White House, and that is a truly horrible thing to imagine.

Dot-Com Bubble 2.0 Is Bursting: Tech Stocks Are Already Down Half A Trillion Dollars Since Mid-2015

Tech Bubble 2.0Do you remember how much stocks went down when the first dot-com bubble burst?  Well, it is happening again, and tech stocks are already down more than half a trillion dollars since the middle of 2015.  On Friday, the tech-heavy Nasdaq dropped to its lowest level in more than 15 months, and it has now fallen more than 16 percent from the peak of the market.  But of course some of the biggest names have fallen much more than that.  Netflix is down 37 percent, Yahoo is down 39 percent, LinkedIn is down 60 percent, and Twitter is down more than 70 percent.  If you go back through my previous articles, you will find that I specifically warned about Twitter again and again.  Irrational financial bubbles like this always burst eventually, and many investors that got in at the very top are now losing extraordinary amounts of money.

On Friday, tech stocks got absolutely slammed as the bursting of dot-com bubble 2.0 accelerated once again.  The following is how CNBC summarized the carnage…

The Nasdaq composite fell 3.25 percent, as Apple and the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB) dropped 2.67 percent and 3.19 percent, respectively.

Also weighing on the index were Amazon and Facebook, which closed down 6.36 percent and 5.81 percent, respectively.

LinkedIn shares also tanked 43.63 percent after posting weak guidance on their quarterly results.

Overall, LinkedIn is now down a total of 60 percent from the peak of the market.  But they are far from the only ones that have already seen their bubble burst.

Many of the biggest names in the tech world have gotten mercilessly hammered over the past six months of so.  Just look at some of the famous brands that have already lost between 20 and 40 percent of their market caps…

Yahoo (YHOO) shares are off 39%, and Netflix (NFLX), the best-performing stock in the S&P 500 last year, is now off by 37% from its 52-week high.

Likewise, Priceline.com (PCLN) is off 31% and eBay (EBAY), 22%.

But there are other very big tech companies that have seen stock collapses that completely dwarf those numbers.  Here are some more absolutely stunning statistics from USA Today

Twitter and Groupon are the biggest dogs of this boom, both off 70% from 52-week highs and well below their IPO prices.

FitBit shares have collapsed 70%, while Yelp’s valuation has shrunk by two-thirds.

Box, which has the distinction of posting quarterly net losses in excess of revenue, is down by half.

Match.com, the holding company for dating sites owned by parent Interactive Corp. that went public late last year, is down 39% from its high.

When your stock loses 70 percent of its value, that is a complete and utter collapse.

In the past, I have specifically singled out Twitter, Yelp and LinkedIn as tech stocks that were irrationally priced.

Hopefully people listened to those warnings and got out while the getting was good.

At the top of this article, I mentioned that tech stocks have already fallen in value by more than 500 billion dollars.  The financial crisis that began in the middle of last year is now greatly accelerating, and Wall Street is starting to panic.

As stocks crash, many hedge funds are being absolutely pummeled.  The following are just a few of the high profile names that are experiencing massive losses right now

Some of the biggest names to get trounced include:

►Pershing Square Capital Management, the publicly traded investment vehicle of billionaire hedgie Bill Ackman, fell 11% last month following a 20% decline last year, data from the web site shows.

►Larry Robbins’ Glenview Capital, famous for picking stocks that could benefit from Obamacare, dropped 13.65% in January following a decline of 18% last year, according to data from HSBC’s Hedge Weekly report, a copy of which was obtained by USA TODAY.

►Marcato International, a well-known activist fund run by Ackman protege Mick McGuire, fell 12.1% last month following a 9% loss last year, according to HSBC.

When you lose more than 10 percent of your money in a single month, that is not good.

And if I am right, this is just the beginning of our troubles.

And of course I am far from the only one warning that big problems are on the horizon.  In fact, analysts at Citigroup just made international headlines by warning that the global economy was now trapped in a “death spiral”

Some analysts — including those at Citi — have turned bearish on the world economy this year, following an equity rout in January and weaker economic data out of China and the U.S.

The world appears to be trapped in a circular reference death spiral,” Citi strategists led by Jonathan Stubbs said in a report on Thursday.

Stronger U.S. dollar, weaker oil/commodity prices, weaker world trade/petrodollar liquidity, weaker EM (and global growth)… and repeat. Ad infinitum, this would lead to Oilmageddon, a ‘significant and synchronized’ global recession and a proper modern-day equity bear market.”

Signs of a significant economic downturn are all around us, and so many of the exact same patterns that played out during the last two stock market crashes are happening again, and yet most people continue to refuse to acknowledge what is taking place.

If you are waiting for this new dot-com bubble to crash, you can stop waiting, because it has already happened.

When your stock falls by 50, 60 or 70 percent, the game is already over.

But just like 2001 and 2008, many people out there will end up being paralyzed by indecision.  Once again the mainstream media is insisting that there is no reason for panic and that everything will be just fine, and once again millions upon millions of ordinary Americans will be wiped out as the financial markets implode.

This is now the third time this has happened since the turn of the century.

How clueless have we become?  The exact same thing keeps happening to us over and over and yet we still don’t get it.

Only this time around there isn’t going to be any sort of a “recovery” afterwards.

This is essentially our “third strike”, and the years ahead are going to be extremely bitter and painful for most people.

But if you want to believe that one of these politicians is going to come along and save America, you go ahead and keep on believing that.

Most people believe what they want to believe, and the capacity that many Americans have demonstrated for self-delusion is absolutely remarkable.

22 Signs That The Global Economic Turmoil We Have Seen So Far In 2016 Is Just The Beginning

Skyline Globe Clock Gears - Public DomainAs bad as the month of January was for the global economy, the truth is that the rest of 2016 promises to be much worse.  Layoffs are increasing at a pace that we haven’t seen since the last recession, major retailers are shutting down hundreds of locations, corporate profit margins are plunging, global trade is slowing down dramatically, and several major European banks are in the process of completely imploding.  I am about to share some numbers with you that are truly eye-popping.  Each one by itself would be reason for concern, but when you put all of the pieces together it creates a picture that is hard to deny.  The global economy is in crisis, and this is going to have very serious implications for the financial markets moving forward.  U.S. stocks just had their worst January in seven years, and if I am right much worse is still yet to come this year.  The following are 22 signs that the global economic turmoil that we have seen so far in 2016 is just the beginning…

1. The number of job cuts in the United States skyrocketed 218 percent during the month of January according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

2. The Baltic Dry Index just hit yet another brand new all-time record low.  As I write this article, it is sitting at 303.

3. U.S. factory orders have now dropped for 14 months in a row.

4. In the U.S., the Restaurant Performance Index just fell to the lowest level that we have seen since 2008.

5. In January, orders for class 8 trucks (the big trucks that you see shipping stuff around the country on our highways) declined a whopping 48 percent from a year ago.

6. Rail traffic is also slowing down substantially.  In Colorado, there are hundreds of train engines that are just sitting on the tracks with nothing to do.

7. Corporate profit margins peaked during the third quarter of 2014 and have been declining steadily since then.  This usually happens when we are heading into a recession.

8. A series of extremely disappointing corporate quarterly reports is sending stock after stock plummeting.  Here is a summary from Zero Hedge of a few examples that we have just witnessed…

  • SHARES OF LIONS GATE ENTERTAINMENT FALL 5 PCT IN EXTENDED TRADE AFTER QUARTERLY RESULTS – RTRS
  • TABLEAU SOFTWARE SHARES TUMBLE 40 PCT IN AFTER HOURS TRADING – RTRS
  • YRC WORLDWIDE SHARES DOWN 16.4 PCT AFTER THE BALL FOLLOWING RESULTS – RTRS
  • SPLUNK INC SHARES DOWN 7.6 PCT IN AFTER HOURS TRADING – RTRS
  • LINKEDIN SHARES EXTEND DECLINE, DOWN 24 PCT AFTER RESULTS, GUIDANCE – RTRS
  • HANESBRANDS SHARES FURTHER ADD TO LOSSES IN EXTENDED TRADE, LAST DOWN 14.9 PCT – RTRS
  • OUTERWALL SHARES FALL 11 PCT IN EXTENDED TRADING AFTER QUARTERLY RESULTS – RTRS
  • GENWORTH SHARES DOWN 16.5 PCT AFTER THE BELL FOLLOWING RESULTS, RESTRUCTURING PLAN

9. Junk bonds continue to crash on Wall Street.  On Monday, JNK was down to 32.60 and HYG was down to 77.99.

10. On Thursday, a major British news source publicly named five large European banks that are considered to be in very serious danger…

Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, Santander, Barclays and RBS are among the stocks that are falling sharply sending shockwaves through the financial world, according to former hedge fund manager and ex Goldman Sachs employee Raoul Pal.

11. Deutsche Bank is the biggest bank in Germany and it has more exposure to derivatives than any other bank in the world.  Unfortunately, Deutsche Bank credit default swaps are now telling us that there is deep turmoil at the bank and that a complete implosion may be imminent.

12. Last week, we learned that Deutsche Bank had lost a staggering 6.8 billion euros in 2015.  If you will recall, I warned about massive problems at Deutsche Bank all the way back in September.  The most important bank in Germany is exceedingly troubled, and it could end up being for the EU what Lehman Brothers was for the United States.

13. Credit Suisse just announced that it will be eliminating 4,000 jobs.

14. Royal Dutch Shell has announced that it is going to be eliminating 10,000 jobs.

15. Caterpillar has announced that it will be closing 5 plants and getting rid of 670 workers.

16. Yahoo has announced that it is going to be getting rid of 15 percent of its total workforce.

17. Johnson & Johnson has announced that it is slashing its workforce by 3,000 jobs.

18. Sprint just laid off 8 percent of its workforce and GoPro is letting go 7 percent of its workers.

19. All over America, retail stores are shutting down at a staggering pace.  The following list comes from one of my previous articles

-Wal-Mart is closing 269 stores, including 154 inside the United States.

-K-Mart is closing down more than two dozen stores over the next several months.

-J.C. Penney will be permanently shutting down 47 more stores after closing a total of 40 stores in 2015.

-Macy’s has decided that it needs to shutter 36 stores and lay off approximately 2,500 employees.

-The Gap is in the process of closing 175 stores in North America.

-Aeropostale is in the process of closing 84 stores all across America.

-Finish Line has announced that 150 stores will be shutting down over the next few years.

-Sears has shut down about 600 stores over the past year or so, but sales at the stores that remain open continue to fall precipitously.

20. According to the New York Times, the Chinese economy is facing a mountain of bad loans that “could exceed $5 trillion“.

21. Japan has implemented a negative interest rate program in a desperate attempt to try to get banks to make more loans.

22. The global economy desperately needs the price of oil to go back up, but Morgan Stanley says that we will not see $80 oil again until 2018.

It is not difficult to see where the numbers are trending.

Last week, I told my wife that I thought that Marco Rubio was going to do better than expected in Iowa.

How did I come to that conclusion?

It was simply based on how his poll numbers were trending.

And when you look at where global economic numbers are trending, they tell us that 2016 is going to be a year that is going to get progressively worse as it goes along.

So many of the exact same things that we saw happen in 2008 are happening again right now, and you would have to be blind not to see it.

Hopefully I am wrong about what is coming in our immediate future, because millions upon millions of Americans are not prepared for what is ahead, and most of them are going to get absolutely blindsided by the coming crisis.

Americans Really, Really Hate The Government

Anger - Public DomainIf there is one thing that Americans can agree on these days, it is the fact that most of us don’t like the government.  CBS News has just released an article entitled “Americans hate the U.S. government more than ever“, and an average of recent surveys calculated by Real Clear Politics found that 63 percent of all Americans believe the country is heading in the wrong direction and only 28 percent of all Americans believe that the country is heading in the right direction.  In just a few days the first real ballots of the 2016 election will be cast in Iowa, and up to this point the big story of this cycle has been the rise of “outsider” candidates that many of the pundits had assumed would never have a legitimate chance.  Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders have all been beneficiaries of the overwhelming disgust that the American people feel regarding what has been going on in Washington.

And it isn’t just Barack Obama or members of Congress that Americans are disgusted with.  According to the CBS News article that I referenced above, our satisfaction with various federal agencies has fallen to an eight year low…

A handful of industries are those “love to hate” types of businesses, such as cable-television companies and Internet service providers.

The federal government has joined the ranks of the bottom-of-the-barrel industries, according to a new survey from the American Customer Satisfaction Index. Americans’ satisfaction level in dealing with federal agencies –everything from Treasury to Homeland Security — has fallen for a third consecutive year, reaching an eight-year low.

So if we are all so fed up with the way that things are running, it should be easy to fix right?

Unfortunately, things are not so simple.

In America today, we are more divided as a nation than ever.  If you ask 100 different people how we should fix this country, you are going to get 100 very different answers.  We no longer have a single shared set of values or principles that unites us, and therefore it is going to be nearly impossible for us to come together on specific solutions.

You would think that the principles enshrined in the U.S. Constitution should be able to unite us, but sadly those days are long gone.  In fact, the word “constitutionalist” has become almost synonymous with “terrorist” in our nation.  If you go around calling yourself a “constitutionalist” in America today, there is a good chance that you will be dismissed as a radical right-wing wacko that probably needs to be locked up.

The increasing division in our nation can be seen very clearly during this election season.  On the left, an admitted socialist is generating the most enthusiasm of any of the candidates.  Among many Democrats today, Hillary Clinton is simply “not liberal enough” and no longer represents their values.

On the other end of the spectrum, a lot of Republican voters are gravitating toward either Donald Trump or Ted Cruz.  Both of those candidates represent a complete break from how establishment Republicans have been doing things in recent years.

Now don’t get me wrong – I am certainly not suggesting that we need to meet in the middle.  My point is that there is absolutely no national consensus about what we should do.  On the far left, they want to take us into full-blown socialism.  Those that support Donald Trump or Ted Cruz want to take us in a more conservative direction.  But even among Republicans there are vast disagreements about how to fix this country.  Establishment Republicans greatly dislike both Trump and Cruz, and they are quite determined to do whatever it takes to keep either of them from getting the nomination.  The elite have grown very accustomed to anointing the nominee from each party every four years, and so the popularity of Trump and Cruz is making them quite uneasy this time around.  The following comes from the New York Times

The members of the party establishment are growing impatient as they watch Mr. Trump and Mr. Cruz dominate the field heading into the Iowa caucuses next Monday and the New Hampshire primary about a week later.

The party elders had hoped that one of their preferred candidates, such as Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, would be rising above the others by now and becoming a contender to rally around.

The global elite gathered in Davos, Switzerland are also greatly displeased with Trump.  Just check out some of the words that they are using to describe him

Unbelievable“, “embarrassing” even “dangerous” are some of the words the financial elite gathered at the World Economic Forum conference in the Swiss resort of Davos have been using to describe U.S. Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump.

Although some said they still expected his campaign to founder before his party picks its nominee for the November election many said it was no longer unthinkable that he could be the Republican candidate.

The truth is that the Republican Party represents somewhere less than half the population in the United States, and today it is at war with itself.  Supporters of Trump have a significantly different vision of the future than supporters of Cruz, and the establishment wing wants nothing to do with either candidate.

A lot of people seem to assume that since Trump is leading in the polls that he will almost certainly get the nomination.

That is not exactly a safe bet.

It is my contention that the establishment will pull out every trick in the book to keep either him or Cruz from getting the nomination.  And in order to lock up the nomination before the Republican convention, a candidate will need to have secured slightly more than 60 percent of all of the delegates during the caucuses and the primaries.

The following is an excerpt from one of my previous articles in which I discussed the difficult delegate math that the Republican candidates are facing this time around…

It is going to be much more difficult for Donald Trump to win the Republican nomination than most people think.  In order to win the nomination, a candidate must secure at least 1,237 of the 2,472 delegates that are up for grabs.  But not all of them will be won during the state-by-state series of caucuses and primaries that will take place during the first half of 2016.  Of the total of 2,472 Republican delegates, 437 of them are unpledged delegates – and 168 of those are members of the Republican National Committee.  And unless you have been hiding under a rock somewhere, you already know that the Republican National Committee is not a fan of Donald Trump.  In order to win the Republican nomination without any of the unpledged delegates, Trump would need to win 60.78 percent of the delegates that are up for grabs during the caucuses and primaries.  And considering that his poll support is hovering around 30 percent right now, that is a very tall order.

In the past, it was easier for a front-runner to pile up delegates in “winner take all” states, but for this election cycle the Republicans have changed quite a few things.  In 2016, all states that hold caucuses or primaries before March 15th must award their delegates proportionally.  So when Trump wins any of those early states, he won’t receive all of the delegates.  Instead, he will just get a portion of them based on the percentage of the vote that he received.

In 2016, more delegates will be allocated on a proportional basis by the Republicans than ever before, and with such a crowded field that makes it quite likely that no candidate will have secured enough delegates for the nomination by the time the Republican convention rolls around.

If no candidate has more than 60 percent of the delegates by the end of the process, then it is quite likely that we will see the first true “brokered convention” in decades.

If we do see a “brokered convention”, that would almost surely result in an establishment candidate coming away with the nomination.  That list of names would include Bush, Rubio, Christie and Kasich.

And if by some incredible miracle either Trump or Cruz does get the nomination, the elite will move heaven and earth to make sure that Hillary Clinton ends up in the White House.

For decades, it has seemed like nothing ever really changes no matter which political party is in power, and that is exactly how the elite like it.

Our two major political parties are really just two sides of the same coin, and they are both leading this nation right down the toilet.

2016 Market Meltdown: We Have Never Seen A Year Start Quite Like This…

Time Abstract - Public DomainWe are about three weeks into 2016, and we are witnessing things that we have never seen before.  There were two emergency market shutdowns in China within the first four trading days of this year, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has never lost this many points within the first three weeks, and just yesterday we learned that global stocks had officially entered bear market territory.  Overall, more than 15 trillion dollars of global stock market wealth has been wiped out since last June.  And of course the markets are simply playing catch up with global economic reality.  The Baltic Dry Index just hit another new all-time record low today, Wal-Mart has announced that they are shutting down 269 stores, and initial jobless claims in the U.S. just surged to their highest level in six months.  So if things are this bad already, what will the rest of 2016 bring?

The Dow was up just a little bit on Thursday thankfully, but even with that gain we are still in unprecedented territory.  According to CNBC, we have never seen a tougher start to the year for the Dow than we have in 2016…

The Dow Jones industrial average, which was created in 1896, has never begun a year with 12 worse trading days. Through Wednesday’s close, the Dow has fallen 9.5 percent. Even including the 1.3 percent gains as of noon Thursday, the Dow is still down nearly 8 percent in 2016.

But even with the carnage that we have seen so far, stocks are still wildly overpriced compared to historical averages.  In order for stocks to no longer be in a “bubble”, they will still need to decline by about another one-third.  The following comes from MarketWatch

Data from the U.S. Federal Reserve, meanwhile, say U.S. nonfinancial corporate stocks are now valued at about 90% of the replacement cost of company assets, a metric known as “Tobin’s Q.” But the historic average, going back a century, is in the region of 60% of replacement costs. By this measure, stocks could fall by another third, taking the Dow all the way down toward 10,000. (On Wednesday it closed at 15,767.) Similar calculations could be reached by comparing share prices to average per-share earnings, a measure known as the cyclically adjusted price-to-earnings ratio, commonly known as CAPE, after Yale finance professor Robert Shiller, who made it famous.

Of course the mainstream media doesn’t seem to understand any of this.  They seem to be under the impression that the bubble should have lasted forever, and this latest meltdown has taken them totally by surprise.

Ultimately, what is happening should not be a surprise to any of us.  The financial markets always catch up with economic reality eventually, and right now evidence continues to mount that economic activity is significantly slowing down.  Here is some analysis from Brandon Smith

Trucking freight in the U.S. is in steep decline, with freight companies pointing to a “glut in inventories” and a fall in demand as the culprit.

Morgan Stanley’s freight transportation update indicates a collapse in freight demand worse than that seen during 2009.

The Baltic Dry Index, a measure of global freight rates and thus a measure of global demand for shipping of raw materials, has collapsed to even more dismal historic lows. Hucksters in the mainstream continue to push the lie that the fall in the BDI is due to an “overabundance of new ships.” However, the CEO of A.P. Moeller-Maersk, the world’s largest shipping line, put that nonsense to rest when he admitted in November that “global growth is slowing down” and “[t]rade is currently significantly weaker than it normally would be under the growth forecasts we see.”

In addition, another very troubling sign is the fact that initial jobless claims are starting to surge once again

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits in mid-January reached seven-month highs, perhaps a sign that the rate of layoffs in the U.S. has risen slightly from record lows.

Initial jobless claims climbed a seasonally adjusted 10,000 to 293,000 in the seven days stretching from Jan. 10 to Jan 16, the government said Thursday. That’s the highest level since last July.

Since the last recession, the primary engine for the creation of good jobs in this country has been the energy industry.

Unfortunately, the “oil boomtowns” are now going bust, and workers are being laid off in droves.  As I mentioned the other day42 North American oil companies have filed for bankruptcy and 130,000 good paying energy jobs have been lost in this country since the start of 2015.  And as long as the price of oil stays in this neighborhood, the worse things are going to get.

A lot of people out there still seem to think that this is just going to be a temporary downturn.  Many are convinced that we will just go through another tough recession and then we will come out okay on the other side.  What they don’t realize is that a number of long-term trends are now reaching a crescendo.

For decades, we have been living wildly beyond our means.  The federal government, state and local governments, corporations and consumers have all been going into debt far faster than our economy has been growing.  Of course this was never going to be sustainable in the long run, but we had been doing it for so long that many of us had come to believe that our exceedingly reckless debt-fueled prosperity was somehow “normal”.

Unfortunately, the truth is that you can’t consume far more than you produce forever.  Eventually reality catches up with you.  This is a point that Simon Black made extremely well in one of his recent articles…

Economics isn’t complicated. The Universal Law of Prosperity is very simple: produce more than you consume.

Governments, corporations, and individuals all have to abide by it. Those who do will thrive. Those who don’t will fail, sooner or later.

When the entire financial system ignores this fundamental rule, it puts us all at risk.

And if you can understand that, you can take simple, sensible steps to prevent the consequences.

Sadly, the time for avoiding the consequences of our actions is now past.

We are now starting to pay the price for decades of incredibly bone-headed decisions, and anyone that is looking to Barack Obama, the Federal Reserve or anyone else in Washington D.C. to be our savior is going to be bitterly disappointed.

And as bad as things have been so far, just wait until you see what happens next.

2016 is the year when everything changes.

20th Largest Bank In The World: 2016 Will Be A ‘Cataclysmic Year’ And ‘Investors Should Be Afraid’

Royal Bank Of ScotlandThe Royal Bank of Scotland is telling clients that 2016 is going to be a “cataclysmic year” and that they should “sell everything”.  This sounds like something that you might hear from The Economic Collapse Blog, but up until just recently you would have never expected to get this kind of message from one of the twenty largest banks on the entire planet.  Unfortunately, this is just another indication that a major global financial crisis has begun and that we are now entering a bear market.  The collective market value of companies listed on the S&P 500 has dropped by about a trillion dollars since the start of 2016, and panic is spreading like wildfire all over the globe.  And of course when the Royal Bank of Scotland comes out and openly says that “investors should be afraid” that certainly is not going to help matters.

It amazes me that the Royal Bank of Scotland is essentially saying the exact same thing that I have been saying for months.  Just like I have been telling my readers, RBS has observed that global markets “are flashing the same stress alerts as they did before the Lehman crisis in 2008″

RBS has advised clients to brace for a “cataclysmic year” and a global deflationary crisis, warning that the major stock markets could fall by a fifth and oil may reach US$16 a barrel.

The bank’s credit team said markets are flashing the same stress alerts as they did before the Lehman crisis in 2008.

So what should our response be to these warning signs?

According to RBS, the logical thing to do is to “sell everything” excerpt for high quality bonds…

“Sell everything except high quality bonds,” warned Andrew Roberts in a note this week.

He said the bank’s red flags for 2016 — falling oil, volatility in China, shrinking world trade, rising debt, weak corporate loans and deflation — had all been seen in just the first week of trading.

We think investors should be afraid,” he said.

And of course RBS is not the only big bank issuing these kinds of ominous warnings.

The biggest bank in America, J.P. Morgan Chase, is “urging investors to sell stocks on any bounce”

J.P. Morgan Chase has turned its back on the stock market: For the first time in seven years, the investment bank is urging investors to sell stocks on any bounce.

“Our view is that the risk-reward for equities has worsened materially. In contrast to the past seven years, when we advocated using the dips as buying opportunities, we believe the regime has transitioned to one of selling any rally,” Mislav Matejka, an equity strategist at J.P. Morgan, said in a report.

Aside from technical indicators, expectations of anemic corporate earnings combined with the downward trajectory in U.S. manufacturing activity and a continued weakness in commodities are raising red flags.

Major banks have not talked like this since the great financial crisis of 2008/2009.  Clearly something really big is going on.  Trillions of dollars of financial wealth were wiped out around the world during the last six months of 2015, and trillions more dollars have been wiped out during the first 12 days of 2016.  As I noted above, the collective market value of the S&P 500 is down by about a trillion dollars all by itself.

One of the big things driving all of this panic is the stunning collapse in the price of oil.  U.S. oil was trading as low as $29.93 a barrel on Tuesday, and this was the first time that oil has traded under 30 dollars a barrel since December 2003.

Needless to say, this collapse is absolutely killing energy companies.  The following comes from USA Today

There aren’t many people who feel bad for oil companies. But the implosion in oil prices is causing a profit decline that almost invokes pity.

The companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 energy sector are expected to lose a collective $28.8 billion this calendar year, down from $95.4 billion in net income earned during the industry’s bonanza year of 2008, according to a USA TODAY analysis of data from S&P Capital IQ. That’s a $124 billion swing against energy companies – and one you’re probably enjoying at the pump. The analysis includes only the 36 S&P 500 energy companies that reported net income in 2008.

If we are to avoid a major global deflationary crisis, we desperately need the price of oil to get back above 50 dollars a barrel.  Unfortunately, that does not appear to be likely to happen any time soon.  In fact, Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan says that the price of oil is probably going to stay very low for years to come

You’d expect at least some artificial optimism when the president of the Dallas Fed talks about oil. You’d expect some droplets of hope for that crucial industry in Texas. But when Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan spoke on Monday, there was none, not for 2016, and most likely not for 2017 either, and maybe not even for 2018.

The wide-ranging speech included a blunt section on oil, the dismal future of the price of oil, the global and US causes for its continued collapse, and what it might mean for the Texas oil industry: “more bankruptcies, mergers and restructurings….”

The oil price plunge since mid-2014, with its vicious ups and downs, was bad enough. But since the OPEC meeting in December, he said, “the overall tone in the oil and gas sector has soured, as expectations have decidedly shifted to an ‘even lower for even longer’ price outlook.”

In recent articles I have discussed so many of the other signs that indicate that there is big trouble ahead, but today I just want to quickly mention another one that has just popped up in the news.

The amount of stuff being shipped across the U.S. by rail has been dropping dramatically.  The only times when we have seen similar large drops has been during previous recessions.  The following comes from Bloomberg

Railroad cargo in the U.S. dropped the most in six years in 2015, and things aren’t looking good for the new year.

“We believe rail data may be signaling a warning for the broader economy,” the recent note from Bank of America says. “Carloads have declined more than 5 percent in each of the past 11 weeks on a year-over-year basis. While one-off volume declines occur occasionally, they are generally followed by a recovery shortly thereafter. The current period of substantial and sustained weakness, including last week’s -10.1 percent decline, has not occurred since 2009.”

BofA analysts led by Ken Hoexter look at the past 30 years to see what this type of steep decline usually means for the U.S. economy. What they found wasn’t particularly encouraging: All such drops in rail carloads preceded, or were accompanied by, an economic slowdown (Note: They excluded 1996 due to an extremely harsh winter).

The “next economic downturn” is already here, and it is starting to accelerate.

Yes, the financial markets are starting to catch up with economic reality, but they still have a long, long way to go.  It is going to take another 30 percent drop or so just for them to get to levels that are considered to be “normal” or “average” by historical standards.

And the markets are so fragile at this point that any sort of a major “trigger event” could cause a sudden market implosion unlike anything that we have ever seen before.

So let us hope for the best, but let us also heed the advice of RBS and get prepared for a “cataclysmic” year.

The Economic Collapse