The Bernanke Speech

When Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke gives a speech about the U.S. economy, it gets a whole lot more attention than when Barack Obama gives a speech about the U.S. economy.  Why is this true?  Well, it is because Bernanke has a whole lot more control over the U.S. economy than Obama does. It is the Federal Reserve that controls monetary policy and interest rates. It is the Federal Reserve that can create money out of thin air. It is the Federal Reserve which is going to have the most influence over whether there will be inflation or deflation. So when Bernanke gives a speech, world financial markets listen. On Friday, news of the Bernanke speech sent gold and silver soaring towards new highs and send the U.S. dollar tumbling once again.  This new Bernanke speech was yet another very strong indication that Helicopter Ben is getting ready to fire up the printing presses in an attempt to get the U.S. economy moving.   

So is it a good thing for an unelected, virtually unaccountable private central bank called the Federal Reserve to have more power over the U.S. economy than the president of the United States?

Of course not.

But that is the way our system works.

So what did Bernanke say during his speech in Boston that was so earth shattering?

Well, you can read a full transcript of what Bernanke said right here.  The following are a few key excerpts from Bernanke’s remarks….

*”Although output growth should be somewhat stronger in 2011 than it has been recently, growth next year seems unlikely to be much above its longer-term trend. If so, then net job creation may not exceed by much the increase in the size of the labor force, implying that the unemployment rate will decline only slowly. That prospect is of central concern to economic policymakers, because high rates of unemployment–especially longer-term unemployment–impose a very heavy burden on the unemployed and their families. More broadly, prolonged high unemployment would pose a risk to consumer spending and hence to the sustainability of the recovery.”

Clearly, Bernanke feels as though unemployment is way, way too high and that lowering unemployment is now the number one policy priority of the Federal Reserve.

So how will this be accomplished?  After all, interest rates are already kissing the floor and that hasn’t brought the U.S. economy back to life.

Well, as most financial analysts are anticipating, the Fed could launch a substantial new round of quantitative easing.

But wouldn’t that cause a rise in the inflation rate?

Well according to Bernanke’s speech, the U.S. economy is supposed to have a certain amount of inflation….

*”Similarly, the mandate-consistent inflation rate–the inflation rate that best promotes our dual objectives in the long run–is not necessarily zero; indeed, Committee participants have generally judged that a modestly positive inflation rate over the longer run is most consistent with the dual mandate.”

Do you understand what Bernanke is saying there? 

He is actually saying that the goal of the Federal Reserve is not to have a zero inflation rate.  Rather, he says that we should expect to always have at least some inflation and that this is normal.

In fact, in his speech Bernanke said that inflation in the United States is currently too low….

*”…inflation is running at rates that are too low relative to the levels that the Committee judges to be most consistent with the Federal Reserve’s dual mandate in the longer run.”

Inflation is too low?

Is he joking?

No, sadly he is not.

Instead, he seems ready to break out the money hoses and start showering dollars from every street corner….

*”Given the Committee’s objectives, there would appear–all else being equal–to be a case for further action.”

“Further action” being code words for the “quantitative easing” that we have all been anticipating.

The funny thing is that in the nearly 4,000 word Bernanke speech there was not a single word about the value of the U.S. dollar.

This month the U.S. dollar has been plummeting like a rock, but apparently it is not an important consideration for Bernanke.

In essence, Bernanke’s message is that the focus is on trying to “fix” the U.S. economy and if it is necessary to jack up the rate of inflation and to radically devalue the U.S. dollar then that is what we are going to do.

Bernanke also did not mention the foreclosure fraud crisis which threatens to throw the entire U.S. mortgage industry into a state of absolute turmoil.

But the rest of the financial world is definitely starting to take notice of this crisis.

All of this uncertainty is already starting to take a huge toll on U.S. bank stocks.  Several of the largest U.S. banks have seen their stock prices significantly decline in recent days.

The truth is that this could be the biggest challenge for big U.S. banks since the 2007 financial collapse.  Just consider the following very troubling signs….

*JPMorgan announced on Wednesday that it has boosted its reserves by a billion dollars in order to cover faulty mortgages that it was obligated to repurchase from Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and private insurers.  In all, JPMorgan has set aside approximately 3 billion dollars for potential mortgage repurchases.

*But a few billion dollars may not be nearly enough for many of these big banks.  According to an estimate by Branch Hill Capital, Bank of America could be forced to repurchase up to $74 billion in mortgages.

*The losses from this crisis could be absolutely staggering.  Analyst Dick Bove is projecting that U.S. banks could lose a combined 80 billion dollars as a result of this foreclosure fraud crisis.

The truth is that it would be hard to understate just how much of a financial mess this foreclosure fraud crisis could possibly become.  A recent article by Nomi Prins did a great job of discussing some of the potential implications of this crisis….

If foreclosed homes couldn’t be sold because of fraudulent paperwork or had to wait for more detailed inspections, you can imagine how difficult selling assets stuffed with faulty loans might be. If it’s tough to find a title for a foreclosed home, think how tough it is to back the related loan out of a pyramid of securities sitting on top of it.

See, the loan that might be analyzed in a foreclosure situation could be part of a chain connecting the underlying home to 20 or 50 different securitized assets, all depending on it for either the interest payments the loan was supposed to provide, or the value of the foreclosure property if those payments stopped (in Wall Street speak, the “recovery value”). If a foreclosed property isn’t selling, it’s not recovering any money back to any asset waiting for it. Think what that can do to the value of toxic assets living at the Fed and the Treasury Department.

This foreclosure fraud crisis is extremely complicated, but the reality is that this could be the thing that breaks the back of the U.S. financial system.  For much more on the specifics of this crisis, please check out the following articles that I have previously posted….

#1 Foreclosure-Gate

#2 Foreclosure Fraud: 6 Things You Need To Know About The Crisis That Could Potentially Rip The U.S. Economy To Shreds

#3 The Real Horror Story: The U.S. Economic Meltdown

The truth is that the U.S. economy is headed for extreme danger and what Bernanke wants to do is douse it with gasoline and light it on fire.

Once the Federal Reserve starts down the road of trying to “stimulate inflation” in order to get the U.S. economy going, it is going to be really hard to turn back around again.

But the truth is that this is what the U.S. Federal Reserve has always done.  They have always destroyed the value of the U.S. dollar.  The U.S. dollar has lost over 95 percent of its value since the Federal Reserve was created in 1913, and now Bernanke says that we need to actually accelerate the pace of the destruction of the dollar in order to “help” the economy.

In the end, this whole thing is going to fall apart.  In the end, all of the juggling and fancy financial moves by the Fed are going to fail. 

The U.S. financial system is a pyramid of fraud built on a mountain of debt.  By definition it is unsustainable.  At some point it is going to dramatically collapse.  The only real question left to answer is when it will happen.

10 Reasons Why Ordinary Hard-Working Americans Are About To Really Start Feeling The Squeeze

American families better get ready to tighten their belts again.  There is every indication that we are all going to really start feeling the squeeze in the months ahead.  The price of gas is starting to spike again.  The price of food is moving north.  Health insurance premium increases are being announced coast to coast and a whole slate of tax increases is scheduled to go into effect in 2011.  Meanwhile, household incomes are down substantially all over the nation and the U.S. government is indicating that there will not be an increase in Social Security benefits for the upcoming year once again.  So if the cost of most of the basic things in our monthly budgets is going up and our incomes are going down what does that mean?  It means that average American families are about to be squeezed like nothing we have seen in decades.

The reality is that it is getting really hard to make it out there.  Not only do most households have both parents working, but in many cases both parents are getting second or even third jobs.  Things have gotten so bad that millions of Americans have felt forced to turn to the government for assistance just to survive. 

It can be really disheartening to come to the end of the month and realize that despite your best efforts you have less money than you did at the beginning of the month.  But that is where millions upon millions of American families now find themselves. 

The economic despair in the air is almost palpable.  Already hordes of Americans are truly and honestly hurting and things are only going to get worse.

The following are ten reasons why ordinary hard-working Americans are about to really start feeling the squeeze….   

#1 Gas prices are going up again.  AAA says that the average price of a gallon of regular gasoline in the United States was $2.80 on Sunday.  That is 32.6 cents higher than it was during the same time period in 2009.  As oil and gas prices continue to go up, that is also going to have a significant impact on utility bills for American families this winter.

#2 The price of food is poised to rise substantially.  Bloomberg is reporting that the the cost of meat in the United States is going nowhere but up.  But meat is not the only thing that you will soon be paying much more for at the supermarket.  Wheat, corn, soybeans and almost every other major agricultural commodity is absolutely soaring this fall.  As this continues, it is inevitable that ordinary Americans will see much higher food prices at their local grocery stores.

On a previous article, a reader named Erica left a comment in which see detailed the stunning food inflation that she is seeing where she lives….

Food inflation is real, and it is here. Just yesterday I compared my receipt from a grocery run to prices I have from the same exact store from September 15, 2009. Bacon? Up 52% to $13.69 from $8.99 for 4 lbs. Butter? Up 73% to $9.99 from $5.79 for 4 lbs. Pure vanilla extract up 14% to $6.79 from $5.95. Chopped dried onions up a mere 2% but minced garlic (wet) was up 32%.

#3 It looks like those receiving Social Security are not going to be seeing cost-of-living increases again.  The Associated Press is reporting that the  U.S. government is expected to announce some time this week that the tens of millions of Americans that receive Social Security will go through yet another year without an increase in their monthly benefit payments.  You see, Social Security cost-of-living adjustments are tied to the official government inflation numbers, and according to the U.S. government there is basically very little inflation right now.  Of course we all know that is a lie, but it is what it is.

#4 The cost of health care continues to soar into the stratosphere.  Americans already pay more for health care than anyone else in the world, and yet costs continue to spiral out of control.  The cost of health care increased a staggering 9.6% for all U.S. households from 2007 to 2009.  Now, health insurance companies from coast to coast are announcing that they must raise health insurance premiums substantially due to the new health care law that Barack Obama and the Democrats have pushed through.  So in 2011 it looks like the average American family is going to have to carve out an even bigger chunk of the budget for health care.

#5 American families could desperately use a recovery in the housing industry, but that is simply not going to happen.  Foreclosure-Gate is getting worse by the day, and it threatens to bring the U.S. real estate industry to a complete and total standstill.  If it is ultimately proven that the paperwork for millions of mortgages in the United States is seriously deficient, it could push hordes of mortgage lenders into bankruptcy and render mountains of mortgage-backed securities nearly worthless.  Regardless, it is now going to be much more difficult to get a mortgage, much more difficult to buy a home and much more difficult to sell a home.  We could very well be looking at the next stage of the housing crash.  Ordinary Americans could end up losing trillions more in home equity.   

#6 More Americans than ever find themselves unable to pay their bills, and an increasing number of frustrated creditors are actually resorting to wage garnishment.  Yes, you read the correctly.  Creditors are starting to ruthlessly go after the weekly paychecks of debtors.

The following is an excerpt from a recent New York Times article that discussed the rise of wage garnishment as a weapon against debtors….

After winning, creditors can secure a court order to seize part of the debtor’s paycheck or the funds in a bank account, a procedure called garnishment. No national statistics are kept, but the pay seizures are rising fast in some areas — up 121 percent in the Phoenix area since 2005, and 55 percent in the Atlanta area since 2004. In Cleveland, garnishments jumped 30 percent between 2008 and 2009 alone.

So if you are getting behind on your debt, you better watch out – your creditors may soon decide to garnish your wages.

#7 Americans now owe more on student loans than they do on credit cards.  As hard as that is to believe, that is actually true.  Americans now owe more than $849 billion on student loans, which is a new all-time record. 

Student loan payments can be absolutely crippling to a household budget.  This is especially true for young Americans that have just gotten out of school.  Sadly, student loan debt is nearly impossible to get rid of.  Once you are committed, it will follow you around for the rest of your life. 

#8 Even as expenses rise, incomes are down from coast to coast.  Median household income in the U.S. declined from $51,726 in 2008 to $50,221 in 2009.  There are very few areas that have not been affected.  In fact, of the 52 largest metro areas in the United States, only the city of San Antonio did not see a decline in median household income during 2009.

#9 If all of this was not bad enough, now there are rumblings that the U.S. Federal Reserve is actually thinking that we need more inflation.  A number of top Federal Reserve officials have come out recently and have publicly supported the notion that the Fed needs to purposely create more inflation in order to stimulate the economy.  Of course what they don’t tell the American people is that inflation is a hidden tax on every single dollar in our wallets and in our bank accounts.  More inflation would be really bad news for ordinary Americans, because they are already having a tough time getting their dollars to stretch far enough. 

#10 Apparently the U.S. government (and many state and local governments) think that this is a great time to stick it to the American people by hitting them with a slew of new taxes.  There are so many tax increases scheduled to go into effect in 2011 that it is hard to keep track of them all.  In fact, there are many (myself included) that are calling 2011 “the year of the tax increase“.  But the Americans that are going to get it the worst of all are those that are going to get hit with the Alternative Minimum Tax.  One out of every six American households is going to be hit with a tax increase averaging $3,900 (thanks to the AMT) and most of them don’t even know that it is coming.

So did you think that 2010 was bad?

Well, you haven’t seen anything yet.

2010 was a Sunday picnic compared to what is coming.

Get ready to get squeezed.

Get ready for higher food prices, higher gas prices, higher health insurance premiums and higher taxes.

Get ready to try to do a lot more with a lot less.

Inflation is already here, but it is going to get a whole lot worse.  Meanwhile, the U.S. government (along with state and local governments) is going to continue to have a voracious appetite for more revenue. 

Average Americans are going to be squeezed until they have nothing left to give.  Then they are going to be squeezed just a little bit more.  

Are you ready?

Federal Reserve Officials: Americans Are Saving Too Much Money So We Need To Purposely Generate More Inflation To Get Them Spending Again

Some top Federal Reserve officials have come up with a really bizarre proposal for stimulating the U.S. economy.  As unbelievable as it sounds, what they actually propose to do is to purposely raise the rate of inflation so that Americans will stop saving so much money and will start spending wildly again.  The idea behind it is that if inflation rises a couple of percentage points, but consumers are only earning half a percent (or less) on their savings accounts, then there will be an incentive for consumers to spend that money as the value of it deteriorates sitting in the bank.  Yes, that is how bizarre things have gotten.  It is not as if U.S. consumers are even saving that much money.  Several decades ago, Americans typically saved between 8 and 12 percent of their incomes, but over this past decade the personal saving rate got down near zero a number of times as Americans were living far beyond their means.  Once the recession hit, Americans very wisely started saving more money, and so now the personal saving rate has been hovering around the 5 to 7 percent range.  This is well below historical levels, but the folks at the Fed apparently are eager for Americans to pull that money out and start spending it again.

In an article entitled “Fed Officials Mull Inflation as a Fix“, Wall Street Journal columnist Sudeep Reddy described this bizarre new economic approach that some over at the Federal Reserve are now advocating….   

“But as the U.S. economy struggles and flirts with the prospect of deflation, some central bank officials are publicly broaching a controversial idea: lifting inflation above the Fed’s informal target.”

Does increasing inflation as a way to stimulate the economy sound like a good idea to any of you?

These are supposed to be some of the brightest economic minds that our nation has produced.

Unfortunately, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the folks running the Federal Reserve do not have a clue about sound economic policy.

Anyone who lived through the “stagflation” days of the 1970s should know that inflation does not spur economic growth.

But now some of the most prominent Fed officials are publicly proposing that we should purposely generate more inflation so that “real interest rates” (interest rates with inflation factored in) will go down.

For example, during a recent interview the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Charles Evans, made the following statement….

“It seems to me if we could somehow get lower real interest rates so that the amount of excess savings that is taking place relative to investment needs is lowered, that would be one channel for stimulating the economy.”

If you truly grasp what Evans is proposing here, your jaw should be dropping.

He is basically coming right out and saying, “Hey, let’s go out and crank up the inflation rate so that American consumers will start recklessly spending their money again.”

So are Americans really saving too much money?

Of course not.

Just take a look at the chart below.

Americans are actually still saving far, far less than they used to.  As you can see from the chart, in the 1960s and 1970s Americans would usually save somewhere between 8 to 12 percent of their incomes.

Today, we are still well below that level.  But we have made some progress from the reckless days of five to ten years ago when Americans were living far, far, far beyond their means and basically saving next to nothing….

So now some top Fed officials want to undo all that.  They apparently want Americans to grab their credit cards and to run out to the stores and spend wildly like they did a few years ago.

But spending recklessly is not going to repair our economy.  In order to have a healthy, balanced economy you need to have a healthy personal saving rate.  Encouraging Americans to spend every last nickel they have may boost economic figures in the short-term, but it will make our long-term problems even worse.

But it is not just Federal Reserve officials that are advocating this kind of nonsense.  Just a few months ago, IMF chief economist Olivier Blanchard suggested that it might be a good thing if western nations doubled their inflation targets from two percent to four percent. 

It seems like almost everyone is in an inflationary mood these days.

The Federal Reserve keep dropping hints that it is ready to print lots more money and unleash another huge round of quantitative easing.

Just this past week, the Bank of Japan shocked world financial markets by cutting interest rates even closer to zero and by setting up a 5 trillion yen quantitative easing fund.

In fact, nations all over the world have become increasingly eager to devalue their national currencies in an attempt to gain an edge in international trade.

So after years of relatively low inflation, it looks like our leaders are almost eager to tangle with the inflation tiger once again.

But it might not be so easy to tame the next time.

Once a really bad inflation spiral gets going it is really hard to stop.

But in the end, it is not going to be Barack Obama or the U.S. Congress that is going to decide if we pursue these inflationary policies or not. 

Ultimately, these decisions are in the hands of the unelected, unaccountable Federal Reserve.

If you don’t like it, too bad.  When was the last time a U.S. president or the U.S. Congress really stood up to the Federal Reserve?  It just doesn’t seem to happen.

The Federal Reserve is going to do what the Federal Reserve wants to do, and the rest of us are going to have to live with it.

Of course we could all try to elect candidates who would demand more accountability from the Federal Reserve this fall, but unfortunately those kind of candidates are few and far between.

The sad reality is that at this point, the Federal Reserve is pretty much completely and totally out of control.  The U.S. dollar has already lost over 95 percent of its value since 1913, and now the Federal Reserve is giving every indication that inflation is going to get even worse in the years to come.

But flooding the system with more paper money is not going to solve anything.  Instead, it is just going to make it even harder for average American families to buy milk and bread and to put gas in the car.

Inflation is a hidden tax on every single dollar that we already own.  It is a destroyer of wealth and a wrecker of currencies. 

But now some of the top officials at the Fed see inflation as a key tool in creating “economic growth”. 

With such a clueless collection of idiots running our economy (and the Federal Reserve does run our economy) do any of you actually believe that there is hope for the U.S. economic system in the long run?

Rampant Inflation In 2011? The Monetary Base Is Exploding, Commodity Prices Are Skyrocketing And The Fed Wants To Print Lots More Money

Are you ready for rampant inflation?  Well, unfortunately it looks like it might be headed our way.  The U.S. monetary base has absolutely exploded over the last couple of years, and all that money is starting to filter through into the hands of consumers.  Commodity prices are absolutely skyrocketing, and it is inevitable that those price increases will show up in our stores at some point soon.  The U.S. dollar has already been slipping substantially, and now there is every indication that the Fed is hungry to start printing even more money.  All of these things are going to cause a rise in inflation.  Not that we aren’t already seeing inflation in many sectors of the economy.  Airline fares for the holiday season are up 20 to 30 percent above last year’s rates.  Double-digit increases in health insurance premiums are being reported from coast to coast.  The price of food has been quietly sneaking up even at places like Wal-Mart.   Meanwhile the U.S. government insists that the rate of inflation is close to zero.  Anyone who actually believes the government inflation numbers is living in a fantasy world.  The U.S. government has been openly manipulating official inflation numbers for several decades now.  But we really haven’t seen anything yet.  As increasingly larger amounts of paper money are dumped into the economy, we are eventually going to see the worst inflation in American history.  The only real question is how far down the road are we going to get before it happens.  

Take a few moments and digest the chart below.  It shows just how dramatically the U.S. monetary base has been expanded recently….

Photobucket 

Up to this point this dramatic expansion of the U.S. monetary base has not caused that much inflation because U.S. government borrowing has soaked most of it up and U.S. banks have been hoarding cash and have been building up their reserves.

However, this situation will not last forever.  Eventually all this cash will make its way through the food chain and into the hands of U.S. consumers. 

But what is even more troubling is the dramatic spike in commodity prices that we have seen in 2010. 

Wheat futures have surged 63 percent since the month of June.  Wheat has recently been selling well above 7 dollars a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade.

But wheat is far from alone.  In his recent column entitled “An Inflationary Cocktail In The Making“, Richard Benson listed many of the other commodities that have seen extraordinary price increases over the past year….

*Agricultural Raw Materials: 24%

*Industrial Inputs Index: 25%

*Metals Price Index: 26%

*Coffee: 45%

*Barley: 32%

*Oranges: 35%

*Beef: 23%

*Pork: 68%

*Salmon: 30%

*Sugar: 24%

*Wool: 20%

*Cotton: 40%

*Palm Oil: 26%

*Hides: 25%

*Rubber: 62%

*Iron Ore: 103%

Now, as those price increases enter the chain of production do you think that there is any chance that they will not cause inflation?

Do you think there is any chance at all that producers and retailers will not pass those costs on to consumers?

It is time to face facts.

Those cost increases are going to filter all the way through the system and your paycheck is soon not going to stretch nearly as far.

Inflation is coming.

Many savvy investors understand what is going on right now.  That is one reason why gold and silver are absolutely soaring at the moment.

The price of gold set another record high on Friday for the sixth straight day.   

Silver has also experienced extraordinary gains recently, and the U.S. Mint has officially raised their wholesale pricing above spot on American Silver Eagles from $1.50 to $2.00.

Meanwhile, there are even more rumblings that the Fed wants to print lots more money.  On Friday, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, William Dudley, stated that the high unemployment and the low inflation that the United States is experiencing right now are “wholly unacceptable”….

“Further action is likely to be warranted unless the economic outlook evolves in such a way that makes me more confident that we will see better outcomes for both employment and inflation before long.”

During his remarks, Dudley even mentioned what the effect of another $500 billion increase in the Fed’s balance sheet would be.

Now keep in mind, this is not just another “Joe” who is making these remarks.

This is the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York – the most important of all the regional Fed banks.

In recent weeks it is almost as if you can hear Fed officials salivate as they consider the prospect of flooding the economy with even more money. 

Up to this point, very little has worked to stimulate the dying U.S. economy.  The Federal Reserve and the Obama administration are getting nervous as the American people become increasingly frustrated about the economic situation.

So will flooding the economy with even more money and causing even more inflation do the trick?

Well, no, but what inflated GDP figures will do is enable Obama and the Fed to say: “Look the economy is growing again!”

But if a flood of paper money causes the value of goods and services produced in the U.S. to go up by 5 percent but the real inflation rate is 10 percent, are we better off or are we worse off?

It doesn’t take a genius to figure that one out.

So don’t get fooled by “economic growth” numbers.  Just because more money is changing hands doesn’t mean that the U.S. economy is doing better. 

In fact, many American families are going to be financially shredded by the coming inflation tsunami. 

Just think about it.

How far will your paycheck go when a half gallon of milk is 10 dollars and a loaf of bread is 5 dollars?

Already, it is incredibly difficult for the average American family of four to get by on $50,000 a year.

So how much money will we need when rampant inflation starts kicking in?

And do you think that your employers will actually give you pay raises to keep up with all of this inflation?

Not in these economic conditions.

In fact, median household incomes are declining from coast to coast all over the United States.

Earlier this year, Ben Bernanke promised Congress that the Federal Reserve would not “print money” to help the U.S. Congress finance the exploding U.S. national debt.

Did any of you believe him at the time?

Did any of you actually believe that the Federal Reserve would act responsibly and would attempt to keep the money supply and inflation under control?

The reality is that the entire Federal Reserve system is predicated on perpetual inflation and a perpetually expanding national debt. 

Whatever wealth you and your family have been able to scrape together is going to continue to be whittled away month after month after month by the hidden tax of inflation.

And unfortunately, as discussed above, inflation is about to get a whole lot worse.

So is there any room for optimism?  Is there any hope that we will not see horrible inflation in the years ahead?  Please feel free to leave a comment with your opinion below….

15 Economic Statistics That Just Keep Getting Worse

A little over a week ago, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner penned an article for the New York Times entitled “Welcome To The Recovery” in which he touted the great strides that the U.S. economy was making.  But with unemployment still dangerously high and with foreclosures and personal bankruptcies continuing to set all-time records, should we really be talking about a “recovery”?  The truth is that the numbers don’t lie, and statistic after statistic shows that the economic fundamentals continue to get progressively worse.  The U.S. government can continue to try to pump up with economy with more debt, but the reality is that there is not going to be a legitimate “recovery” until consumer spending rebounds.  Consumer spending makes up the vast majority of U.S. GDP.  But without good jobs, consumers are not going to be able to spend money.  Unfortunately, our jobs base continues to be erode as millions upon millions of middle class jobs are shipped over to China, India and dozens of third world nations by the global predator corporations that now dominate the world economy.

The U.S. government cannot create real wealth out of thin air.  It can borrow even more money and flood the economy with even more paper currency, but the short-term “buzz” that creates does absolutely nothing to solve our long-term economic problems.

It is the private sector that actually creates wealth.  But unfortunately, over the last several decades we have allowed that wealth to become highly concentrated.  Now the giant global predator corporations have decided that American workers aren’t really that desirable after all.  They are slowly taking away their factories and their offices and they are moving them to where people are willing to work for one-tenth the pay. 

So where does that leave middle class American “consumers”?

Well, it leaves us in a world of hurt.

The following are 15 key economic statistics that just keep getting worse and which reveal the horrific economic plight in which we now find ourselves…. 

1 – The number of Americans who are receiving food stamps rose to a new all-time record of 40.8 million in May.  The number of Americans receiving food stamps has set a new all-time record for 18 months in a row.  But there is every indication that things are going to get even worse.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that the number of Americans on food stamps will increase to 43 million in 2011. 

2 – The U.S. economy lost 131,000 more jobs during the month of July.  But the truth is that the U.S. economy has been bleeding jobs for a long time.  According to one analysis, the United States has lost 10.5 million jobs since 2007.  Meanwhile, immigrants (both legal and illegal) continue to pour into this nation in unprecedented numbers.

3 – Americans who are out of work are finding it incredibly difficult to get back into the workforce.  In the United States today, the average time needed to find a job has risen to an all-time record of 35.2 weeks.

4 – The U.S. government keeps trying to pump up the economy with debt, and in the process things are getting wildly out of control.  According to a U.S. Treasury Department report to Congress, the U.S. national debt will top $13.6 trillion this year and climb to an estimated $19.6 trillion by 2015.

5 – The interest on all of this debt is becoming increasingly oppressive.  As of July 1st, the U.S. government had spent $355 billion so far in 2010 on interest payments to the holders of the national debt.  The total for 2010 should be somewhere in the neighborhood of $700 billion.  According to Erskine Bowles, one of the heads of Barack Obama’s national debt commission, the U.S. government will be spending $2 trillion just on interest on the national debt by 2020.  Keep in mind that the entire U.S. government budget is less than $4 trillion for the entire year of 2010.

6 – If the U.S. government was forced to use GAAP accounting principles (like all publicly-traded corporations must), the annual U.S. government budget deficit would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $4 trillion to $5 trillion.

7 – Social Security will pay out more in benefits in 2010 than it receives in payroll taxes.  This was not supposed to happen until at least 2015.  In the years ahead, these new “Social Security deficits” are projected to be absolutely catastrophic

8 – There are simply far too many retirees and not nearly enough workers to support them.  Back in 1950 each retiree’s Social Security benefit was paid for by 16 workers.  Today, each retiree’s Social Security benefit is paid for by approximately 3.3 workers.  By 2025 it is projected that there will be approximately two workers for each retiree.

9 – Wealth continues to become highly concentrated at the top.  Since 1973, the average CEO’s salary has increased from 26 times the median income to over 300 times the median income.

10According to a poll taken in 2009, 61 percent of Americans “always or usually” live paycheck to paycheck.  That was up significantly from 49 percent in 2008 and 43 percent in 2007.

11 – The Mortgage Bankers Association recently announced that more than 10% of all U.S. homeowners with a mortgage had missed at least one mortgage payment during the January to March time period.  That was a new all-time record and represented an increase from 9.1 percent a year ago.

12 – A recent survey of last year’s college graduates found that 80 percent moved right back home with their parents after graduation.  That was up substantially from 63 percent in 2006.

13 – During the first quarter of 2010, the total number of loans that are at least three months past due in the United States increased for the 16th consecutive quarter.

14 – The total number of U.S. bank failures passed the 100 mark in July of this year.  In 2009, the total number of U.S. bank failures did not pass the century barrier until October.

15 – The U.S. dollar continues to rapidly decline in value.  An item that cost $20.00 in 1970 would cost you $112.35 today.  An item that cost $20.00 in 1913 would cost you $440.33 today.

Any rational observer (and clearly U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner does not qualify) can see that the foundations of the U.S. economy are coming apart.  The rapidly accumulating mountain of debt that has fueled our “prosperity” is impossible to repay and is going to progressively choke the life out of our economic system.  The good jobs that we have allowed to be shipped out of our country are never coming back.  Every single day, more wealth flows out of this country than flows into it.

Anyone who claims that things are getting “better” is either ignorant, completely deluded or is purposely lying. 

The U.S. economy is not getting “better”.

The U.S. economy is dying.

You should adjust your plans accordingly.

Paupers In The Land Our Forefathers Conquered

A long time ago, in an America now far, far away, the majority of the American people owned the land that they live on.  The term “my land” actually meant something back then.  But today that has fundamentally changed.  Now the majority of the American people owe on the land that they live on.  In fact, most of them owe big money to the giant corporate banking interests that control the mortgage industry.  So how did the American people come to be debtors and paupers in the land that our forefathers conquered?  Today when someone says that they “bought a house” what they really mean is that they have signed up for 30 years (or more) of bloated mortgage payments which they care barely afford.  As you will see below, the percentage of residential mortgage debt to total home equity (housing net worth) in the United States continues to rise at a staggering pace.  In fact, thanks to the housing crash, for the first time in American history residential mortgage debt far surpasses the total home equity owned by all Americans.  So what does that mean?  It means that the big corporate banks have more of an interest in America’s homes than we do now.

So how are we getting our land taken from us?

Well, you can thank rampant inflation and the housing bubble.

Back in 1980, the United States was pushing up towards a total of $1 billion in total residential mortgage debt.  It took us over 200 years to get to that point as a nation.

By 1990, the United States approximately doubled that amount and was sitting at about $2 trillion  in total residential mortgage debt.

By the year 2000, the United States had just about $5 trillion in total residential mortgage debt.

By 2008, the United States had over $10 trillion in total residential mortgage debt.

Do you notice a trend?

In just the past 30 years the amount of residential mortgage debt in the United States has increased tenfold.

Meanwhile, thanks to the housing crash, home equity has taken a nosedive.  As you can see from the chart below, total residential mortgage debt in the U.S. now far exceeds total home equity….

So what does this mean?  It means that the banks have more of a financial interest in America’s homes than we do.  It means that we are quickly becoming paupers and debt slaves.

As you can see from the chart below, back in 1945 total home equity as a percentage of home value was extremely high (80%).  Home equity exceeded total residential mortgage debt by about a 4 to 1 margin.  But today total residential mortgage debt exceeds home equity and the situation is rapidly becoming worse….

We were all told to buy into the system and we could live the American Dream.  We were told to get a “good job” with one of the big global corporations and we were told to get a mortgage so that we could build up equity.  Well, that has turned out great for most of us, hasn’t it?

The reality is that the system so many of us trusted is dying.  We are now at the point where the system cannot provide jobs for millions of us anymore.  If unemployment continues to soar as it has, millions more of us will find ourselves destitute and homeless on the continent our forefathers conquered….

So how did all of this happen?

Back in 1913, the U.S. Congress gave control over U.S. currency to the Federal Reserve.  Since that time, the value of the U.S. dollar has slowly been eroded.  $1.00 in 1914 (the year after the Federal Reserve was established) had about the same buying power as $21.59 in 2010.  That means that the U.S. dollar has lost over 95 percent of its purchasing power since then.

So the accumulated wealth that our parents and grandparents hand down to us is being constantly devalued.  The only way to keep up with rising prices on land and on everything else is to go out into the system to get more of the “currency” that is controlled and manipulated by the Federal Reserve and the big corporate banks.  But what most of us don’t realize is that the game is rigged to slowly transfer the wealth of the nation over to them.

The house always wins in the end.

Thanks to the greed and stupidity of the American people, we have accumulated the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the world.  It was a fun party while we were piling up all the debt, but now the bankers have us where they want us.

If only we had listened to those among our founding fathers who warned us about this trap.

For example, the words of Thomas Jefferson in a letter to John Taylor dated May 28th, 1816 ring more true today than they ever have….

And I sincerely believe, with you, that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies; and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.

The truth is that the American people are being swindled and most of them don’t even realize it.  The wealth of America is slowly being transferred to the big banks.  All of the interest that we pay month after month after month makes them rich.

The financial system of the United States is broken.  But until the U.S. economy totally collapses most Americans will not realize it.  By then it will be far too late.

FINCA BAYANO

$4.00 A Gallon Gasoline By The End Of 2010? How In The World Are Average Americans Going To Make Ends Meet If This Keeps Up?

Gas prices are on the rise again.  In many areas of the U.S. gas prices are already hovering around $3.00 a gallon.  In fact there are some areas where people are paying as much as $3.50 a gallon, and many experts are predicting that gasoline could hit $4.00 a gallon by the end of 2010.  If this nonsense keeps up, how in the world is the average American family supposed to make ends meet?  Not only is filling up our tanks going to cost a lot more, but the price of gasoline factors into so many other things.  The U.S. economy just cannot handle a major increase in transportation costs at this point.  These increasing gasoline prices come at a time when U.S. consumers are already stretched to the max.

But it isn’t just gasoline prices that are going up.  The price of food is really starting to rise as well.  Rising demand and reduced supply drove supermarket prices for 16 basic foods up 6.2% in the first quarter of 2010.

Now, for those Americans who are independently wealthy, a large increase in gasoline and food prices might not mean much.

But for the rest of us who are trying to get our incomes to stretch as far as possible each month, it means a whole lot.

In fact, a record number of working Americans are finding that their paychecks are just not making it and are turning to government assistance programs such as food stamps just to make it.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, approximately 39.4 million Americans, a new all-time record, received food stamps in January.  This was up 22% from a year earlier.  In fact, the number of Americans on food stamps has hit all-time records for 14 consecutive months.

New all-time records for 14 months in a row?

How in the world can anyone claim that the U.S. economy is in good shape?

And it is just not people who are out of work or who are lazy who are applying for food stamps.  The truth is that a lot of hard working Americans who are doing everything they can to better themselves find themselves out of alternatives these days.

Some of those hard working Americans are readers of this site.  One of them recently left a comment that is very timely….

There are people on food stamps now, that you would never think they were. For example myself, I just went on food stamps last month. I am not a welfare mom, unemployed or declaring bankruptcy, I am educated and working as hard as I can to make ends meet.

I hold a Masters degree, and a part time job. I make minimum wage and if I were scheduled 40 hours a week my pay would just cover my expenses. Problem is, with retail the number of hours changes from week to week, and it hasn’t been near 40 since Christmas. Luckily I planned ahead and put money aside if I couldn’t find a job right out of school, or if I found one and lost it with today’s economy. I have been able to cover the bills my paycheck doesn’t, but the thing is, my savings has gotten low to that.

I honestly really didn’t want to go on food stamps, I just can’t find another job. Let that be a full time position, or even another part time one. I’m applying to everything I’m qualified for, remotely qualified for, and even over qualified for. But there really are that few of jobs out there.

I haven’t really told anyone I’m on food stamps, a good portion of my old friends are still in school and don’t understand why I can’t find a “real” job. Luckily at my new job there’s a whole store of people who know exactly what I’m going through and would never think of judging me for how much I make or where I live.

There are other people too. Once at work a mother with three kids came in, she had never used food stamps before and had no idea what to do at the register. She almost came to tears trying to explain she really didn’t want to use them, but her husband lost his job, and all that was left for the family was her part time job, and she was so ashamed they had them.

People really have no idea how many of their neighbors are on food stamps.

—-

Millions of Americans have done everything that the system has told them to do, and now the system is letting them down.

Why?

Because the system is failing.

The middle class is slowly being squeezed out of existence, and the years ahead are going to be very painful.

Already, it is getting extremely hard to live a middle class lifestyle.

If you haven’t read “It’s Impossible to Get By In the US” by Graham Summers of Phoenix Capital Research, you really need to.  In his article, Summers analyzes the expenses of a typical family making the median U.S. household income of $50,300 (he was using 2008 figures).  According to Summers, if a family making that much did everything right financially, they would maybe have a couple hundred bucks at the end of the month for discretionary spending.  But if they overpaid for their house or had any consumer debt then according to his calculations the typical American family would be operating in the red.

The truth is that the day is fast approaching when it will not be possible for the average American family to make it from month to month.

Even now record numbers of American families are failing financially.

In March 2010, there were 158,000 bankruptcy filings.  That was up 19% from March 2009’s number, and it was also up 35% from February 2010’s number.

Things are getting scary out there.

But if all of that wasn’t bad enough, now state and local governments across the United States are either implementing or are considering substantial tax increases.  State and local governments all over the U.S. are facing unprecedented shortfalls, and they are looking for new sources of revenue.  But you just can’t get blood out of a stone.  Unfortunately, they are likely to keep finding ways to impose new taxes on us anyway.

So is there any good news?

No, not really.

The United States is heading for a complete economic collapse and everyone is going to feel the pain one way or another.

Just make sure that you and your family are as prepared as possible for the years ahead.

“The way to crush the bourgeoisie is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation.”
-Vladimir Lenin

My New Book - The Beginning Of The End

12 Reasons Why Millions Of Americans Are Incredibly Angry About The State Of The U.S. Economy

We have reached a very interesting turning point in American history.  More than at any other point in modern times, Americans are deeply angry about the state of the economy.  In fact, it is no stretch to say that millions of U.S. citizens are hopping mad about the economic situation.  Most of them don’t know exactly what is wrong, and even fewer of them have any idea about how to go about fixing things, but they do know one thing.  They know that they are mad.  As Americans, we were raised with the belief that our overwhelmingly powerful economic machine would always provide good jobs and prosperity for all of us as long as we worked hard.  But we have come to learn that is not true.  We have come to learn that our politicians and our leaders have squandered the great inheritance that our forefathers left for us.  We have come to learn that the financial future of our nation is beyond bleak.  We have come to learn that our government has piled up the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the world.  Now the foolish decisions of the past several decades are catching up with us.  The U.S. economy is experiencing structural failure, and the American people are angry.  They want answers.  They want someone to fix things.  They want things to go back to the way they used to be.

But that isn’t going to happen.  Once the American people truly start realizing that, the anger that will erupt will dwarf what we are seeing now.

Not that they are aren’t already incredibly steamed.  The following are 12 reasons why many Americans are absolutely furious about the state of the U.S. economy….

#1) There simply are not enough jobs for everyone.  The number of unemployed Americans per job opening has started to increase again, hitting 5.5 in February.  Even many of those who are able to get some work find themselves only able to obtain part-time employment.  Gallup’s underemployment measure hit 20.0% on March 15th.  This was up from 19.7% two weeks earlier and 19.5% at the start of the year.

#2) More Americans than ever find themselves having to rely on the U.S. government just to survive.  According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, about 39.4 million Americans, a new all-time record, received food stamps in January.  This was up 22% from a year earlier.  In fact, the number of Americans on food stamps has hit all-time records for 14 consecutive months.

#3) Foreclosures continue to set records across the United States.  RealtyTrac, the California-based authority on property trends and valuations, projects that there will be 4.5 million home foreclosures before the end of this year.  If you figure 4 people per household, that is another 18 million people that will be forced out of their homes.

#4) As unemployment and foreclosures continue to soar, “tent slums” have started popping up all over the United States.  Is this why our founding fathers fought and died?  So we could all live in “tent slums” as the big fat cats on Wall Street roll around in their bailout cash?

#5) But even with all of these economic problems, the price of food is going up.  Rising demand and reduced supply drove supermarket prices for 16 basic foods up 6.2% in the first quarter of 2010.

#6) Due to the exploding government debt, the American people are going to be confronted with some tough choices.  According to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, the United States will soon have to make difficult choices between higher taxes and reduced social spending.  Either alternative will slow down the U.S. economy.

#7) Meanwhile, corruption in the financial system is running rampant.  The CEOs of bailed-out regional banks are actually getting big raises.  The guy who helped bring down AIG is going to get off scott-free and will be able to keep the millions in profits that he made in the process.

#8) But the biggest fraud is being committed by the boys at the top of the food chain.  A whistle blower has come forward with “smoking gun” evidence of price manipulation by major financial institutions in the precious metals markets.  The scope of this fraud is in the trillions of dollars.  The American people can’t stomach much more of this type of thing.

#9) Almost all financial experts agree that the era of super cheap money is over and that interest rates are about to rise significantly.  This is going to make it much more expensive for most Americans to borrow money to buy a home, to buy a car, to buy things with their credit cards or to borrow money for education.  Those who already have adjustable loans are going to find a much larger portion of their income going to pay interest.  Needless to say, this is going to cause the U.S. economy to experience a significant slowdown.

#10) One of the biggest things that the American people are upset about is the “health care reform” bill that was just rammed down their throats.  It turns out that “health care reform” is actually going to be the biggest tax increase in American history.  Not only that, but because of taxes and mandates imposed upon health insurance companies by the legislation, health insurance premiums are also about to increase substantially.  So where will the average American family get the money to pay for these increases?

#11) In addition, the new health care law that was supposed to give all of us much better health care is actually going to force the cancellation of at least 60 doctor-owned hospitals that were scheduled to be opened according to the executive director of Physician Hospitals of America.  Why?  Well, it turns out that the new law singles out physician-owned hospitals, making new physician-owned projects ineligible to receive payments for Medicare and Medicaid patients.

#12) The reality is that Americans are increasingly becoming disenchanted with the lack of leadership in both political parties.  Approval ratings for leaders in both parties are extremely low, and anger at politicians is at an all-time high.  The Tea Party movement is just one symptom of the seething anger many Americans are feeling.  While many Americans are gathering together at large protest rallies to demonstrate against the policies of the government, others are expressing their displeasure on blogs and websites.  There has never been a moment in modern times when Americans have been so disenchanted with their political leadership.

This anger is not going to go away.  It could be soothed a bit if the U.S. economy was fully fixed and things went back to the way they used to be.  But as noted previously, that just is not going to happen.  Harder times are ahead.  Americans are going to get angrier and angrier.

But there is not much that can be done to prevent that anger.  The politicians who are in office when things really hit the fan are going to take the brunt of the anger, but it won’t be their fault.  The truth is that this economic collapse has been building for decades.  The American people are just not going to understand that the financial system cannot be fixed overnight.

Dark times are coming.  It is not going to be pretty.  There is going to be a lot of anger and a lot of hate.  But all of these economic problems could be seen well ahead of time and there have been those who have been screaming and yelling about them for decades.

But very few people wanted to listen.

Austin Coins

The Economic Collapse