59.9 Percent? Americans Are Racking Up Huge Credit Card Balances Once Again And Some Of The Interest Rates Are Absolutely Outrageous!

Well, it was nice while it lasted.  One of the really good things that came out of the recent economic downturn was that millions of American families decided to get out of debt.  In particular, we had seen a sustained trend of reduced credit card usage in the United States.  It looked like Americans had finally wised up.  But we should have known that Americans would not be willing to tighten their belts forever.  Unfortunately, it appears that getting out of debt is no longer so “trendy”.  In fact, the month of December was the third month in a row in which consumer credit grew in the United States.  Prior to that, consumer credit in the United States had declined for 20 months in a row.  The American people were doing so, so good.  Why did they have to stop?  It appears that the American people have fallen off the wagon and have gotten a taste for credit card debt once again.  This time, however, the credit card companies are back with interest rates that are higher than ever.  In fact, one national credit card company has hundreds of thousands of customers signed up for a card that charges interest rates of up to 59.9%.

59.9%?

You mean there are people that are stupid enough to actually sign up for a credit card that will charge them 59.9% interest?

Unfortunately the answer is yes.

In fact, the top rate was 79.9% before First Premier Bank lowered it.

These cards are targeted at Americans that have a poor credit history, and these days there are a whole lot of those.

A recent story on the website of CNN described how large numbers of U.S. consumers with poor credit are gobbling up credit cards like these.  Unfortunately, many of these consumers are also not smart enough to realize what they are getting into.  The CNN story contained a quote from a woman who was in complete shock when she discovered that her interest rate was going to go up by 50 percentage points….

“I about had a heart attack when I got a disclosure notice saying that my starting rate of 29.9% was going up to 79.9%.”

First Premier Bank has since lowered the top rate on those cards to 59.9%, but that it still completely outrageous.

Not only are the interest rates on those cards super high, but they also charge a whole bunch of fees on those cards as well.  The following are some of the fees that First Premier Bank charges….

*$45 processing fee to open the account

*Annual fee of $30 for the first year

*$45 fee for every subsequent year

*A monthly servicing fee of $6.25

So you would think that nobody in their right mind would ever sign up for such a card, right?

Wrong.

CNN is reporting that almost 700,000 Americans have signed up for the card.

Ouch.

In fact, CNN says that First Premier Bank gets between 200,000 to 300,000 new applications a month for the card, but that they only open about 50,000 new accounts each month.

Are there really this many Americans that are this gullible?

If Americans would just remember the “DBS” rule they would be so much better off.

DBS = Don’t Be Stupid

Do you know how long it would take to pay off a credit card with a 59.9 percent interest rate?

Just a 20 percent interest rate is bad enough.

According to the credit card repayment calculator, if you owe $6000 on a credit card with a 20 percent interest rate and only pay the minimum payment each time, it will take you 54 years to pay off that credit card.

During that time you will pay $26,168 in interest rate charges in addition to the $6000 in principal that you are required to pay back.

Ouch!

The number one piece of financial advice that most of the “financial gurus” give is that you should get out of credit card debt – particularly credit card debt that has a high interest rate.

Unfortunately, 46% of all Americans carry a credit card balance from month to month today.

According to the United States Census Bureau, there are approximately 1.5 billion credit cards in use in the United States.

Of U.S. households that have credit card debt, the average amount owed on credit cards is $15,788.

This is how the bankers enslave us.

We end up paying them 3, 4 or even 5 times as much as we originally borrowed.

Month after month after month we slave away to make them wealthy.

So how do you stop this vicious cycle?

You quit buying stuff that you can’t afford!

Unfortunately, the vast majority of Americans have never received any formal training on how to manage finances.

Most of us were never taught any of this stuff in school.  Most of us were totally unprepared when the financial predators started preying on us in college.  Most of us got sucked in and spent years and years trapped in credit card debt.

When you carry a balance from month to month you are willingly signing up to become a debt servant to the big banks.  They get rich while you suffer.

The sad thing is that the mainstream media is pointing to increased credit card spending as a sign that the U.S. economy is getting back to normal.

But gigantic mountains of debt is what got us into all of this trouble in the first place.

Average household debt in the United States has now reached a level of 136% of average household income.

In China that figure is only 17%.

Obviously, we have a massive, massive problem with debt in this country.

Cranking the debt spiral back up is not going to cause the economy to recover.

Well, the profits of the big banks might recover, but the rest of us will suffer.

If you want to be financially free, then it is time to pay off your credit card debt and get off the debt payment treadmill for good.

The entire global economy is on the verge of collapse, so now is a great time to renounce consumerism.  Instead, we need to be preparing ourselves and our families for the hard times that are coming.

So what do you all think about the outrageous interest rates that the credit card companies are charging these days?  Feel free to post your thoughts in the comments section below….

How In The World Did We Get To The Point Where The Federal Reserve Is Printing Money Out Of Thin Air Whenever It Wants?

Ben Bernanke and the rest of the folks over at the Federal Reserve did not just wake up one day and decide that they wanted to start printing hundreds of billions of dollars out of thin air.  The truth is that the economic forces that have brought us to this point have taken decades to develop.  In the post-World War 2 era, when the U.S. economy has fallen into a recession, either the Federal Reserve would lower interest rates or the U.S. government would indulge in even more deficit spending to stimulate the economy.  But now, as you will see below, both of those alternatives have been exhausted.  In addition, we are now rapidly reaching the point where there are simply not enough lenders out there to feed the U.S. government’s voracious appetite for debt.  So now the Federal Reserve is openly printing hundreds of billions of dollars that will enable them to finance U.S. government borrowing, and (they hope) stimulate the U.S. economy at the same time.  Unfortunately, the rest of the world is not amused.  Nations such as China, Japan and many of the oil-exporting nations of the Middle East have accumulated a lot of U.S. dollars and a lot of U.S. Treasuries and they are not pleased that those investments are now being significantly devalued.

So how did we get to this point?  Why is the Federal Reserve printing money out of thin air in a desperate attempt to stimulate the economy?

Well, the Federal Reserve has more or less exhausted all of the other tools that it has traditionally used to help the economy during an economic downturn.  As you can see from the chart below, the Federal Reserve has lowered interest rates during past recessions.  The goal of lowering interest rates is to make it less expensive to borrow money and thus spark more economic activity.  Well, as you can see, the Federal Reserve has no place else to go with interest rates.  Over the past 30 years, rates have consistently been pushed down, down, down and now they are kissing the floor….

Another way that the U.S. economy has been “stimulated” over the past 30 years is through increased government spending.  The theory is that if the government spends more money, that will get more cash into the hands of the people and spark more economic activity.  That was the whole idea behind the “economic stimulus packages” that were pushed through Congress.  However, increased government spending always comes at a very high cost under our current system.  Government debt is now totally out of control.  As you can see below, the U.S. national debt has exploded from about one trillion dollars in 1980 to over 13 trillion dollars today.  Currently, there is very little appetite in Congress for more government spending to stimulate the economy, especially after the results of the November election.

Most Americans don’t realize it, but much of our incredible “prosperity” over the last 30 years has been fueled by the mountains of debt that we have accumulated.  Now U.S. government debt is exploding at an exponential rate….

Sadly, the U.S. government has absolutely no self-control when it comes to spending money.  Our politicians are absolutely addicted to debt.

The truth is that the U.S. government just can’t seem to stop wasting money. One of the most comical news stories of the past few days involved the Recovery Independent Advisory Panel, which is a sub-committee of the larger Recovery Accountability and Transparency board.  This panel will be holding a meeting on November 22nd to discuss how to prevent “fraud, waste, and abuse” of economic stimulus funds.

So where will this meeting be held?

It is going to be held at the ultra-luxurious Ritz Carlton Hotel in Phoenix, Arizona.

Yes, seriously.

You just can’t make this stuff up.

So if the Federal Reserve cannot stimulate the economy through lower interest rates and the U.S. government cannot stimulate the economy by spending even more money, what does that leave us with?

Unfortunately, that leaves us with either doing nothing or with having the Federal Reserve print money out of thin air and shovel it into the economy.

Sadly, even after months of news headlines about quantitative easing, most Americans still do not understand what it is.  The following is a short video that is very humorous but that also does a good job of simply explaining what quantitative easing is and why it is bad for the U.S. economy….

Quantitative Easing Explained

For much more on why quantitative easing is so destructive, please see an article that I previously authored entitled “9 Reasons Why Quantitative Easing Is Bad For The U.S. Economy“.  The truth is that in an all-out effort to give the U.S. economy a short-term boost, the Federal Reserve is putting the entire world financial system in peril.

One group of prominent economists was so alarmed by this new round of quantitative easing that they recently wrote an open letter to Ben Bernanke warning of the dangers that flooding the economy with new money could create.  The following is an excerpt from the text of that open letter which was also posted on the website of the Wall Street Journal…..

We believe the Federal Reserve’s large-scale asset purchase plan (so-called “quantitative easing”) should be reconsidered and discontinued.  We do not believe such a plan is necessary or advisable under current circumstances.  The planned asset purchases risk currency debasement and inflation, and we do not think they will achieve the Fed’s objective of promoting employment.

We subscribe to your statement in the Washington Post on November 4 that “the Federal Reserve cannot solve all the economy’s problems on its own.”  In this case, we think improvements in tax, spending and regulatory policies must take precedence in a national growth program, not further monetary stimulus.

We disagree with the view that inflation needs to be pushed higher, and worry that another round of asset purchases, with interest rates still near zero over a year into the recovery, will distort financial markets and greatly complicate future Fed efforts to normalize monetary policy.

The Fed’s purchase program has also met broad opposition from other central banks and we share their concerns that quantitative easing by the Fed is neither warranted nor helpful in addressing either U.S. or global economic problems.

But it isn’t just a few prominent economists that are expressing disapproval for this new round of quantitative easing.  The truth is that almost every major industrialized nation has spoken out against all of this money printing by the Fed.  Meanwhile, Barack Obama continues to publicly defend Ben Bernanke and this new round of quantitative easing at every opportunity.

That is some “change you can believe in”, eh?

Unfortunately, the danger that quantitative easing poses to our financial system is much greater than most Americans realize.

In order for the world financial system to operate smoothly, the rest of the world much have a great deal of faith in the U.S. dollar and in U.S. Treasuries.  Ben Bernanke had promised Congress (and the rest of the globe) that the Federal Reserve would not monetize U.S. government debt and that he was going to keep the U.S. dollar strong.  But now Bernanke has broken his promises once again.  At this point Bernanke has lost a ton of credibility.  Unfortunately, Barack Obama and many of the key members of Congress continue to express unwavering support for him.

The rest of the world can see what is going on.  They are not stupid.  They are not going to keep pouring hundreds of billions into U.S. Treasuries if the Federal Reserve is going to “cheat” whenever economic conditions get a little tough.

If the day arrives when the rest of the globe completely loses faith in the U.S. dollar and in U.S. Treasuries, it is going to create a complete and total financial disaster – especially for the United States.

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….

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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….

The Proof Is In The Numbers: America Is Getting Poorer

How in the world can anyone claim that things are getting better?  Sometimes the numbers are so clear that they simply cannot be denied.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, median household income in the United States fell from $51,726 in 2008 to $50,221 in 2009.  That was the second yearly decline in median household income in a row.  In other words, America is getting poorer.  Just let that statistic above sink in for a little bit.  In 2009, American families had roughly $1,500 less coming in than the year before.  Not that the cost of living has gone down either.  Have you been to the supermarket lately?  Things are getting ridiculous out there.  In fact, middle class American families are being squeezed as never before.  More mothers and fathers are scrambling to find second and third jobs just to pay the mortgage and to keep the lights on and to put food on the table.  This is not a time of prosperity in America.  We are in a state of serious decline and it is time to wake up and admit it.

When you stop and analyze the new Census data, something jumps out at you right away.  You quickly realize that these income declines are not limited to just a few regions of the country – they are literally happening from coast to coast.

The U.S. economy is in deep, deep trouble and the proof is in the numbers.  The following are 12 statistics that reveal just how far the standard of living in America is declining….

1According to the Census Bureau, median household income dropped in 34 U.S. states in 2009, and the only state where median household income actually increased was in North Dakota.

2 – The Census Bureau data also revealed that of the 52 largest metro areas in America, only the city of San Antonio did not see a decline in median household income in 2009.

3 – 35 percent of all U.S. households now live on $35,000 or less.

4 – According to the Census Bureau, the percentage of Americans living below the poverty line is the highest it has been in 15 years.

5 – The number of Americans enrolled in the food stamp program passed the 41 million mark for the first time ever in June.

6 – The number of Americans in the food stamp program increased a staggering 55 percent from December 2007 to June 2010.

7One out of every six Americans is now enrolled in at least one anti-poverty program run by the federal government.

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

9 – In 2009, U.S. consumer spending experienced the biggest decline since 1942.

10 – As millions of young Americans struggled just to survive, marriages fell to a record low in 2009.  Today, only 52% of Americans 18 years or older are married. 

11 – The only group that saw their household income increase in 2009 was those making $180,000 or more.

12– According to the Huffington Post, the gap between the richest and poorest Americans grew in 2009 to its largest margin ever….

The top-earning 20 percent of Americans – those making more than $100,000 each year – received 49.4 percent of all income generated in the U.S., compared with the 3.4 percent made by the bottom 20 percent of earners, those who fell below the poverty line, according to the new figures. That ratio of 14.5-to-1 was an increase from 13.6 in 2008 and nearly double a low of 7.69 in 1968.

Not that it is a bad thing to make money. 

Contrary to what our socialist friends may think, it is actually a very good thing to work hard and make money.

The point is that the game is rigged and the bottom 80 percent of us are being left behind.

The middle class is being systematically destroyed.  At the rate we are going, we will eventually have a very small group of ultra-wealthy Americans and a gigantic mountain of very poor Americans that are barely able to survive.

The answer to this is not a “redistribution of wealth”. 

What middle class Americans actually need are good jobs with good benefits.

You know, the kind of jobs that the U.S. economy used to produce.

For the vast majority of Americans, all they have to offer in the marketplace is their labor.  If they cannot get someone to hire them for a wage that will enable them to take care of their families then they simply cannot make it without government assistance.

But what our leaders have done in the name of “globalism” is that they have essentially merged our economy with the economies of nations such as China where blue collar workers are paid about a dollar an hour to do the same jobs that American workers get paid 15 to 20 dollars an hour to do.

As a result, jobs and factories are fleeing the United States so rapidly it is hard to even describe.  The deindustrialization of America is happening right in front of our eyes, but the American people have become so dumbed down that most of them don’t even seem to have the capacity to understand what is going on. 

Quite a few advocates of “free trade” (which is not “free” or “fair” at all under our current system) have left comments on my columns telling me that the American people better just suck it up because this is how it is now and the world isn’t going back.  These advocates of the globalist system say that the American people just need to toughen up and learn to compete and need to just accept that the standard of living for workers across the globe is going to be equalized and that is all there is to it.

So are you ready to have the same standard of living as a Chinese sweatshop worker who works 12 hours a day for one dollar an hour?

That is where we are headed.

But things did not have to be this way.  We did not have to merge our economy with communist China and allow them to keep their currency devalued 40 percent lower than it should be so that they could dump massive amounts of cheap goods on our shores.  We did not have to elect politicians that believe that “globalism” is the answer to all of our problems.  We did not have to sign on to the WTO, NAFTA and all the other “free trade” agreements that are destroying the American middle class.

Labor is now a global commodity.  American workers are now part of the global labor force.  The bargaining power of the average American worker has dropped through the floor.  Now the monolithic predator corporations that dominate our economy don’t even have to deal with American workers if they don’t want to.

Very few of our politicians admitted that merging us into a one world economy would mean a dramatic decline in the standard of living of middle class Americans.

But that is exactly what is happening.

Meanwhile, the federal government, our state governments and our local governments keep going into massive amounts of new debt in an effort to keep paying the bills. 

There are some state governments, like Illinois, that are basically flat broke.  In fact, Illinois doesn’t even bother to pay many of their bills anymore.

Of course the federal government is the worst offender of them all.  The U.S. national debt is rapidly approaching 14 trillion dollars, and most of us have gotten so accustomed to it that we don’t even talk about it much anymore.

That is how bizarre things have gotten.

As America keeps getting poorer, and as U.S. taxpayers see their incomes continue to decline, how in the world are U.S. government finances going to turn around?

The truth is that our leaders should be in full blown crisis mode in an attempt to fix this thing.  Pieces of the U.S. economy are literally falling off all around us and our leaders are pushing the debt accelerator to the floor as we head toward a giant cliff.

But instead our politicians are prancing about the countryside telling us that everything is going to be just great as long as we cast our votes for them in the fall.

And the mainstream media keeps telling us that the “recession” is over and that soon the U.S. economy will be better than ever.

Is it any wonder that faith in the mainstream media is now at an all-time low?      

According to a new poll just released by Gallup, the number of Americans that have little to no trust in the mass media (57%) is at an all-time high.

A significant percentage of the American people is starting to wake up.

What about you?

Are you awake yet?

Is The Federal Reserve Out Of Control? Markets Across The Globe Brace For Impact As The Federal Reserve Powers Up The Printing Presses

What in the world is going on over at the Federal Reserve?    Has it gotten to the point where the Federal Reserve is completely and totally out of control?  There is increasing speculation in the financial community that the Federal Reserve is on the verge of unleashing another round of quantitative easing.  In fact, at their September meeting, Federal Reserve officials hinted very strongly that quantitative easing is very much on their minds when they stated that the Federal Open Market Committee “is prepared to provide additional accommodation if needed to support the economic recovery and to return inflation, over time, to levels consistent with its mandate.”  You might want to reread that quote a couple of times just to let it sink in.  Do you see what the Fed is saying there?  The Fed is actually saying that it has a mandate to maintain a certain level of inflation.  Not that this is a secret to anyone that has seriously studied the Federal Reserve.  Since 1913, inflation has constantly gone up, U.S. government debt has increased exponentially and the U.S. dollar has lost over 96 percent of its value.  But for Federal Reserve officials to openly state that a certain amount of inflation is part of their mandate is absolutely stunning.

Even though the U.S. economy is still in pretty decent shape at this point (for the moment at least), the Federal Reserve still seems obsessed with trying to stimulate it.

In the past, the Federal Reserve would just cut interest rates whenever the economy needed a bit of a boost, but at this point the Fed has cut rates to nearly zero.  There just isn’t any more room to cut rates.

So what else can the Federal Reserve do?

Well, it can create money out of thin air and use it to buy U.S. Treasuries, mortgage-backed securities and other assets.  This is known as quantitative easing, and many analysts fear that it is quickly becoming more than just an emergency measure.

Back in March 2009, the Federal Reserve announced that it would purchase $1.7 trillion worth of U.S. Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities over the next 6 to 9 months.  That was the first round of quantitative easing and Fed officials believe that it helped the U.S. economy avoid an even worse downturn.

But now Federal Reserve officials are talking about making quantitative easing a regular thing.  An article in the Wall Street Journal recently described the current thinking inside the Fed…. 

Rather than announce massive bond purchases with a finite end, as they did in 2009 to shock the U.S. financial system back to life, Fed officials are weighing a more open-ended, smaller-scale program that they could adjust as the recovery unfolds.

Quantitative easing that is open-ended?

What kind of insanity is this?

Is quantitative easing going to become a permanent part of our financial system?

And what does “smaller-scale” actually mean?

Well, according to James Bullard, the president of the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank, “small-scale” is actually pretty darn large.  According to the Wall Street Journal, a “small-scale” quantitative easing program would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $100 billion a month….

Under a small-scale approach, Mr. Bullard says, the Fed might announce some still-undecided target for bond buying—say $100 billion or less per month. It would then make a judgment at each meeting whether continued action was needed.

If the Fed injected $100 billion a month into the economy through quantitative easing, that would mean that by the end of the year over 1 trillion dollars would have been created.

That does not sound like “small-scale” to me.

In fact, if the Federal Reserve purchased $1 trillion in U.S. Treasuries next year that would be an amount nearly equal to the total amount of new debt that the U.S. government plans to issue during the year.

Can anyone say Ponzi scheme?

When we get to the point where the Federal Reserve is “buying” a large percentage of new U.S. debt with money that is created out of thin air there is simply no denying the fact that the Fed is running a massive Ponzi scheme. 

But the truth is that the U.S. government is in so much debt and the U.S. economy is in so much trouble that something must be done.  It is really tempting to “inflate away” the debt and to pump up GDP figures with a flood of paper money, and Helicopter Ben Bernanke has certainly shown that he is not shy about pulling the trigger.

Of course more debt, more paper money and more inflation will only make our long-term economic problems even worse.

But right now Federal Reserve officials appear to be absolutely obsessed with the short-term.

And without a doubt world financial markets are certainly expecting a new round of quantitative easing to begin soon.

CNBC recently polled 67 economists, strategists and fund managers about what they think is going to happen.  The following is a summary of what CNBC found…. 

The Federal Reserve will boost its balance sheet by about half a trillion dollars over a six-month period beginning in November and keep it inflated for up to a year, according to a survey of leading markets participants by CNBC.

But many analysts believe that the Fed will take even more substantial action than that.  According to the Wall Street Journal, economists at Goldman Sachs are projecting that the Federal Reserve will end up buying at least another $1 trillion in assets during this next round of quantitative easing.

Stephen Stanley of Pierpont Securities in convinced that it will be even worse than that.  Stanley believes that the Fed will add another $3 trillion to its balance sheet by next August.  The following is what he recently told CNBC….

“If the Fed pulls the trigger, they will go big.”

In an interview with the Economic Times of India, Marc Faber painted an even bleaker picture….

“I believe that if the S&P in the US drops 15-20% to around 900-950, the Fed would come out not with this quantitative easing No. 2, but with quantitative easing No. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 until the asset markets go up again. They are going to print and print and print.”

It seems like almost everyone is anticipating that the Federal Reserve is going to fire up the printing presses.

Now, even some of the Federal Reserve’s staunchest defenders are now abandoning them.

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, perhaps the most respected financial columnist in the U.K., recently penned an article entitled “Shut Down the Fed (Part II)” in which he absolutely lambasted Bernanke and other Federal Reserve officials for considering another round of quantitative easing….

I apologise to readers around the world for having defended the emergency stimulus policies of the US Federal Reserve, and for arguing like an imbecile naif that the Fed would not succumb to drug addiction, political abuse, and mad intoxicated debauchery, once it began taking its first shots of quantitative easing.

In fact, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard is now openly accusing the Federal Reserve of being out of control….

So all those hillsmen in Idaho, with their Colt 45s and boxes of krugerrands, who sent furious emails to the Telegraph accusing me of defending a hyperinflating establishment cabal were right all along. The Fed is indeed out of control.

On behalf of those who believe that the Federal Reserve is “a hyperinflating establishment cabal”, I accept Ambrose Evans-Pritchard’s apology.

The truth is that the Federal Reserve is out of control.

The Federal Reserve system was designed to get the U.S. government into a perpetually expanding spiral of debt.  Wealth is slowly but surely transferred from the American people to the U.S. government (when we pay taxes) and ultimately into the hands of those who own U.S. government debt.

As long as the Federal Reserve system exists, U.S. government debt will keep going up, the value of the U.S. dollar will keep going down and wealth will be slowly transferred into the hands of the ultra-wealthy.

And why in the world would the American people allow an unelected, privately-owned central bank to run the U.S. economy, control the money supply, set interest rates and print all U.S. currency?

It simply does not make any sense.

The Federal Reserve has not been shy about declaring that it is “not an agency” of the U.S. government and not directly accountable to the American people.

So why do the American people put up with this kind of nonsense?

The truth is that the Federal Reserve has become far too powerful.  U.S. Representative Ron Paul recently told MSNBC that he believes that the Federal Reserve is actually more powerful than Congress…..

“The regulations should be on the Federal Reserve. We should have transparency of the Federal Reserve. They can create trillions of dollars to bail out their friends, and we don’t even have any transparency of this. They’re more powerful than the Congress.”

The truth is that the U.S. economy will never be fundamentally “fixed” simply by electing another “Bush” or another “Obama”.  Something needs to be done about the Federal Reserve system, but right now our politicians in Washington can’t even muster enough support to pass a bill to audit the Fed. 

So what do you think about the Federal Reserve?  Please feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts….

Another Way That The Federal Reserve Makes Massive Gobs Of Money For The Big Banks

When most people discuss how the Federal Reserve benefits the big banks, they usually only focus on the ways that the Federal Reserve directly brings in income.  But there is so much more to it than that.  The truth is that the Federal Reserve is used in a whole variety of ways to indirectly assist the big banks in making huge gobs of money.  One of the ways this is currently being accomplished is through the U.S. Treasury carry trade.

So how does this carry trade work?

Well, it basically has three steps and it works something like this….

#1) Mr. Big Bank goes over to the Federal Reserve and says, “Hey Mr. Federal Reserve – please loan me a big bag of cash for next to nothing.”  Of course, the Federal Reserve is more than happy to loan it to him.

#2) Mr. Big Bank then invests the same big bag of cash into U.S. Tresuries which have a much higher interest rate than what Mr. Big Bank just borrowed at.  To give  you an idea, 10-year U.S. Treasuries are earning around 3 and a half percent right now.

#3) Mr. Big Bank sits back and enjoys the huge amount of risk-free cash which comes pouring in.

This little three step procedure helped enable four of the biggest U.S. banks (Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Citigroup) to have a “perfect quarter” during the first quarter of 2010.  What that means is that these four banks had zero days of trading losses in the first quarter.

Wouldn’t you like to have a perfect batting average?

Don’t you wish you could pitch a perfect game every time?

Well, it certainly helps when you are being subsidized by the Federal Reserve as Bloomberg recently explained….

The trading results, which helped the banks report higher quarterly profit than analysts estimated even as unemployment stagnated at a 27-year high, came with a big assist from the Federal Reserve. The U.S. central bank helped lenders by holding short-term borrowing costs near zero, giving them a chance to profit by carrying even 10-year government notes that yielded an average of 3.70 percent last quarter.

Doesn’t it just seem like whenever we turn around the Federal Reserve is doing something new to “help out” the big banks?

This is just getting ridiculous.

Remember all of that talk about how the U.S. government had to help out Wall Street so that they could help out Main Street?

Well, a ton of money did get injected into the banking system.

In fact, the Federal Reserve pumped hundreds upon hundreds of billions of dollars into the banking system since the beginning of the financial crisis.  This has caused the U.S. monetary base to explode….

So did the big banks use all of that money to help out Main Street?

No.

In fact, business lending by the big banks has been falling precipitously.

So what have the big banks been doing with all of that money?

Buying U.S. government debt of course….

So instead of making loans to American businesses who desperately needed it, most of this new money has gone to pump up yet another bubble.  This time the bubble is in U.S. Treasuries.  Asia Times recently described how this trillion-dollar carry trade in U.S. government securities is setting up a very dangerous situation….

Remarkably, the most aggressive buyers of US government debt during the past several months have been global banks domiciled in London and the Cayman Islands. They borrow at 20 basis points (a fifth of a percentage point) and buy Treasury securities paying 1% to 3%, depending on maturity.

This is the famous “carry trade”, by which banks or hedge funds borrow short-term at a very low rate and lend medium- or long-term at a higher rate. This works as long as short-term rates remain extremely low. The moment that borrowing costs begin to rise, the trillion-dollar carry trade in US government securities will collapse.

But as long as the gravy train of the U.S. Treasury carry trade continues, why should the big banks make risky loans to American businesses and consumers when increasing numbers of them are turning out to be deadbeats anyway?

That is a good question.

Meanwhile, we have this sick situation where the Federal Reserve subsidizes the big banks and enables them to buy up a big chunk of the debt the U.S. government is constantly churning out.

Our national banking resources are increasingly being turned away from building up our once great system of free enterprise, and instead are being devoted to servicing the never ending spiral of government debt and funny money that we have created.

But a bunch of folks down on Wall Street are getting exceedingly rich from this little game, so they certainly aren’t going to complain about it.  And as long as the vast majority of Americans continue to stay in the dark about all of this, the bouncing ball will just continue to keep rolling.

The Economic Collapse