Wow – The Holiday Shopping Season Is Off To A Horrible Start

Beverley Center Mall in Beverly HillsAccording to the National Retail Federation, Americans spent an average of 4 percent less over the four day Thanksgiving weekend than they did last year.  Overall, that means that approximately $1.7 billion less was spent at U.S. retailers compared to last year.  It had already been projected that this holiday shopping season would be the worst for retailers since 2009, but if these numbers are any indication it may be even worse than expected.  So why is this happening?  Well, basically the American consumer is tapped out.  The unemployment crisis in this country is actually getting worse, poverty is absolutely exploding and the middle class is being systematically eviscerated.  In other words, you can’t get blood out of a stone.  Many retailers are offering extreme discounts in a desperate attempt to lure more shoppers, but the money simply isn’t there.

According to Yahoo News, the decline in shopping over the four day Thanksgiving weekend was the first decline that we have seen since the last recession…

Shoppers, on average, were expected to spend $407.02 during the four days, down 3.9 percent from last year. That would be the first decline since the 2009 holiday shopping season when the economy was just coming out of the recession.

The survey underscores the challenges stores have faced since the recession began in late 2007. Retailers had to offer deeper discounts to get people to shop during the downturn, but Americans still expect those “70 percent off” signs now during the recovery.

And according to the New York Times, Americans spent a total of 1.7 billion dollars less than they did last year…

Over the course of the weekend, consumers spent about $1.7 billion less on holiday shopping than they did the year before, according to the National Retail Federation, a retail trade organization.

“There are some economic challenges that many Americans still face,” said Matthew Shay, the chief executive of the retail federation. “So in general terms, many are intending to be a little bit more conservative with their budgets.”

But this downturn for retailers did not just begin this past weekend.  There have been signs of trouble for quite a while now.

For example, posted below is a photo that one of my readers sent to me.  This is a photo of the Beverly Center Mall in Beverly Hills, California that was taken in the middle of the day on Tuesday, November 19th.  She said that there “wasn’t a soul in that mall and the employees were all standing, staring into space with nothing to do”…

Beverley Center Mall in Beverly Hills

So where are all of the shoppers?

Why aren’t people out buying stuff?

Sadly, this is just the continuation of a trend that has been developing for more than a decade.  The truth is that Americans are simply not spending money as rapidly as they used to.

Posted below is a chart that shows that the velocity of M2 in the United States is at an all-time low.  In other words, the rate at which money circulates through our economy is frighteningly low and it continues to drop…

Velocity Of Money

As you can see from the chart above, this decline in the velocity of money has been going on since the late 1990s.  This is a sign of a very unhealthy economy.

Most Americans know that the U.S. economy is very heavily dependent on consumer spending.  But consumers have to make money first in order to spend it.  And right now we have a major employment crisis in this country.

At this point, the labor force participation rate in the United States is at a 35 year low, and an all-time record 102 million working age Americans do not have a job.

Meanwhile, the quality of our jobs continues to decline as well.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, median household income in the United States has fallen for five years in a row, and right now the middle class is taking home a smaller share of the overall income pie than has ever been recorded before.

So should it really be such a surprise that consumers are totally tapped out?

The money simply is not there.

After accounting for inflation, 40 percent of all U.S. workers are currently making less than what a full-time minimum wage worker made back in 1968.

A recent CNN article profiled one of these workers.  Carman Iverson is a 28-year-old mother of four that makes minimum wage at McDonald’s.  If it was not for government assistance, her and her four children would not be able to survive…

Iverson said she started working in 2012 at $7.25 an hour, and makes $7.35 an hour now after Missouri adjusted the minimum wage. She makes between $400 and $600 a month. Her rent is $650 a month.

When asked how she could pay her rent on those wages, she said she had a landlord who works with her. “I’m kind of on my last little leg, because I’ve been late on rent. I’m actually behind three months in rent.

“Sometimes I can pay it, sometimes I can’t. I get paid twice a month, and both checks go to rent and the rest of it goes to utilities to the point where I don’t have any money left to buy anything for my kids — to buy them clothes, shoes or anything they need.”

She said she manages to feed her four children on $543 worth of food stamps a month.

But instead of fixing things, Barack Obama continues to pursue policies that will kill millions more good jobs.  It is absolutely amazing that there are any Americans that still support this guy.  For a long list of statistics that show how badly the economy has tanked since Obama entered the White House, please see this article.

You know that things are bad when increasing the number of Americans on food stamps by 15 million is regarded as an “economic accomplishment”.  In fact, a message recently posted on the official White House website says that “SNAP is boosting the economy right now” and that high food stamp enrollment is creating lots of jobs…

“SNAP’s effect extends beyond the food on a family’s table–to the grocery stores, truck drivers, warehouses, processing plants and farmers that helped get it there.”

So why don’t we just enroll all Americans in every welfare program?

Wouldn’t that produce an extreme economic boom?

And actually under Obama we are already well on our way.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 49.2 percent of all Americans are currently receiving benefits from at least one government program, and the federal government has spent an astounding 3.7 trillion dollars on welfare programs over the past five years.

Yes, there will always be poor people that cannot help themselves that will need our assistance.

But most Americans are capable of working if they could just find jobs.

Unfortunately, our jobs are being killed off and wages are going down.  The middle class is being systematically destroyed and U.S. consumer spending is drying up.

The horrible start to this holiday shopping season is just the beginning.

Things are going to get much worse than this.

15 Signs That We Are Near The Peak Of An Absolutely Massive Stock Market Bubble

Bubble - Photo by Jeff KubinaOne of the men that won the Nobel Prize for economics this year says that “bubbles look like this” and that he is “most worried about the boom in the U.S. stock market.”  But you don’t have to be a Nobel Prize winner to see what is happening.  It should be glaringly apparent to anyone with half a brain.  The financial markets have been soaring while the overall economy has been stagnating.  Reckless injections of liquidity into the financial system by the Federal Reserve have pumped up stock prices to ridiculous extremes, and people are becoming concerned.  In fact, Google searches for the term “stock bubble” are now at the highest level that we have seen since November 2007.  Despite assurances from the mainstream media and the Federal Reserve that everything is just fine, many Americans are beginning to realize that we have seen this movie before.  We saw it during the dotcom bubble, and we saw it during the lead up to the horrible financial crisis of 2008.  So precisely when will the bubble burst this time?  Nobody knows for sure, but without a doubt this irrational financial bubble will burst at some point.  Remember, a bubble is always the biggest right before it bursts, and the following are 15 signs that we are near the peak of an absolutely massive stock market bubble…

#1 Bob Shiller, one of the winners of this year’s Nobel Prize for economics, says that “bubbles look like this” and that he is “most worried about the boom in the U.S. stock market.”

#2 The total amount of margin debt has risen by 50 percent since January 2012 and it is now at the highest level ever recorded.  The last two times that margin debt skyrocketed like this were just before the bursting of the dotcom bubble in 2000 and just before the financial crisis of 2008.  When this house of cards comes crashing down, things are going to get very messy

“When the tablecloth gets pulled out from under the place settings, you’re going to have a lot of them crash and smash on the floor,” said Uri Landesman, president of Platinum Partners hedge fund. “That margin’s going to get pulled and everyone’s going to have to cover. That’s when you get really serious corrections.”

#3 Since the bottom of the market in 2009, the Dow has jumped 143 percent, the S&P 500 is up 165 percent and the Nasdaq has risen an astounding 213 percent.  This does not reflect economic reality in any way, shape or form.

#4 Market research firm TrimTabs says that the S&P 500 is “very overpriced” right now.

#5 Marc Faber recently told CNBC that “we are in a gigantic speculative bubble”.

#6 In the United States, Google searches for the term “stock bubble” are at the highest level that we have seen since November 2007 – just before the last stock market crash.

#7 Price to earnings ratios are very high right now…

The Dow was trading at 17.8 times the past four quarters of earnings of its 30 components, according to The Wall Street Journal on Friday. That was up from 13.7 times its earnings a year ago. The S&P 500 is trading at 18.7 times earnings. The Nasdaq-100 Index is trading at 21.5 times earnings. At the very least, the ratios are signaling that stock prices are rich.

#8 According to CNBC, Pinterest is currently valued at more than 3 billion dollars even though it has never earned a profit.

#9 Twitter is a seven-year-old company that has never made a profit.  It actually lost 64.6 million dollars last quarter.  But according to the financial markets it is currently worth about 22 billion dollars.

#10 Right now, Facebook is trading at a valuation that is equivalent to approximately 100 years of earnings, and it is currently supposedly worth about 115 billion dollars.

#11 Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital recently stated that he believes that “markets are riskier than at any time since the depths of the 2008/9 crisis”.

#12 As Graham Summers recently noted, retail investors are buying stocks at a level not seen since the peak of the dotcom bubble back in 2000.

#13 David Stockman, a former director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan, believes that this financial bubble is going to end very badly

“We have a massive bubble everywhere, from Japan, to China, Europe, to the UK.  As a result of this, I think world financial markets are extremely dangerous, unstable, and subject to serious trouble and dislocation in the future.”

#14 Bob Janjuah of Nomura Securities believes that there “could be a 25% to 50% sell off in global stock markets” over the next couple of years.

#15 According to Tyler Durden of Zero Hedge, the U.S. stock market is repeating a pattern that we have seen many times before.  According to him, we are experiencing “a well-defined syndrome of ‘overvalued, overbought, overbullish, rising-yield’ conditions that has appeared exclusively at speculative market peaks – including (exhaustively) 1929, 1972, 1987, 2000, 2007, 2011 (before a market loss of nearly 20% that was truncated by investor faith in a new round of monetary easing), and at three points in 2013: February, May, and today.”

As I mentioned at the top of this article, this stock market bubble has been fueled by quantitative easing.  Easy money from the Fed has been artificially inflating stock prices, and this has greatly benefited a very small percentage of the U.S. population.  In fact, 82 percent of all individually held stocks are owned by the wealthiest 5 percent of all Americans.

When this stock market bubble does burst, those wealthy Americans are going to be in for a tremendous amount of pain.

But there are some people out there that argue that what we are witnessing is not a stock market bubble at all.  That includes Janet Yellen, the new head of the Federal Reserve.  Recently, she insisted that there is absolutely nothing to be worried about…

“Stock prices have risen pretty robustly,” Yellen said. “But I think that if you look at traditional valuation measures, you would not see stock prices in territory that suggests bubble-like conditions.”

We shall see who was right and who was wrong.  Let’s all file that one away and come back to it in a few years.

So where are stocks going next?

If you had the answer to that question, you could probably make a lot of money.

Yes, the current bubble could burst at any moment, or stocks could continue going up for a little while longer.

After all, the S&P 500 has risen in December about 80 percent of the time over the past thirty years.

Perhaps that will be the case this December as well.

Perhaps not.

Do you feel lucky?

Fake Employment Numbers – And 5 More Massive Economic Lies The Government Is Telling You

Lies - Photo by Rob KosterAccording to a whistleblower that has recently come forward, Census employees have been faking and manipulating U.S. employment numbers for years.  In fact, it is being alleged that this manipulation was a significant reason for why the official unemployment rate dipped sharply just before the last presidential election.  What you are about to read is incredibly disturbing.  The numbers that the American people depend upon to make important decisions are being faked.  But should we be surprised by this?  After all, Barack Obama has been caught telling dozens of major lies over the past five years.  At this point it is incredible that there are any Americans that still trust anything that comes out of his mouth.  And of course it is not just Obama that has been lying to us.  Corruption and deception are rampant throughout the entire federal government, and this has been the case for years.  Now that some light is being shed on this, hopefully the American people will respond with overwhelming outrage and disgust.

The whistleblower that I mentioned above has been speaking to John Crudele of the New York Post.  In his new article entitled “Census ‘faked’ 2012 election jobs report“, he says that the huge decline in the unemployment rate in September 2012 was “manipulated”…

In the home stretch of the 2012 presidential campaign, from August to September, the unemployment rate fell sharply — raising eyebrows from Wall Street to Washington.

The decline — from 8.1 percent in August to 7.8 percent in September — might not have been all it seemed. The numbers, according to a reliable source, were manipulated.

Two years earlier, the Census had actually caught an employee “fabricating data”, but according to this whistleblower the corruption at the Census Bureau goes much deeper than that

And a knowledgeable source says the deception went beyond that one employee — that it escalated at the time President Obama was seeking reelection in 2012 and continues today.

“He’s not the only one,” said the source, who asked to remain anonymous for now but is willing to talk with the Labor Department and Congress if asked.

The Census employee caught faking the results is Julius Buckmon, according to confidential Census documents obtained by The Post. Buckmon told me in an interview this past weekend that he was told to make up information by higher-ups at Census.

Well, is it really such a big deal that some of the unemployment numbers were faked?

After all, hasn’t the unemployment rate been consistently going down anyway?

Unfortunately, as you will see below, that is simply not the case.  The following are five massive economic lies that the government has been telling  you…

“The Unemployment Rate Has Been Steadily Going Down”

According to the official government numbers, the U.S. unemployment rate has fallen all the way down to 7.3 percent.

That sounds really good, and it would seem to imply that a higher percentage of the American people are now working.

Sadly, that is not the truth at all.

Posted below is one of my favorite charts.  The employment-population ratio measures the percentage of the working age population that actually has a job.  As you can see, this number fell dramatically during the last recession and since the end of 2009 it has remained remarkably flat.  In fact, it has stayed between 58 and 59 percent for 50 months in a row…

Employment-Population Ratio November 2013

At the moment, the employment-population ratio is just one-tenth of one percent above the lowest level that it has been throughout this entire crisis.

So are we in an “employment recovery”?

Absolutely not, and anyone that tries to tell you that is lying to you.

So how is the government getting the unemployment rate to go down?

Well, they are accomplishing this by pretending that millions upon millions of unemployed Americans have disappeared from the labor force.

According to the government, the percentage of Americans that want to work is now supposedly at a 35 year low…

Labor Force Participation Rate

If the labor force participation rate was still exactly where it was at when Barack Obama was first elected in 2008, the official unemployment rate would be about 11 percent right now.  People would be running around going crazy and wondering when the “economic depression” would finally end.

But when people hear “7.3 percent”, that doesn’t sound so bad.  It makes people feel better.

Of course if you are currently unemployed and looking for a job that doesn’t exactly help you.  At this point there is intense competition even for minimum wage jobs in America.  For example, according to Business Insider you actually have a better statistical chance of getting into Harvard than you do of being hired at a new Wal-Mart that is opening up in the Washington D.C. area…

The store is currently combing through more than 23,000 applications for 600 available positions, reports NBC Washington.

That means that Wal-Mart will be able to hire one person for every 38 applications it receives — i.e., just 2.6% of applicants will walk out with a job.

That’s more difficult than getting into Harvard. The Ivy League university accepts 6.1% of applicants.

“Inflation Is Low”

This is another lie that government officials love to tell.  In particular, the boys and girls over at the Federal Reserve love to try to convince all of us that inflation is super low because it gives them an excuse to recklessly print lots more money.

But anyone that goes to the grocery store or pays bills on a regular basis knows that there is plenty of inflation in the economy.  And if we were being given honest numbers, they would show that.

According to John Williams of shadowstats.com, if the U.S. inflation rate was still calculated the exact same way that it was back when Jimmy Carter was president, the official rate of inflation would be somewhere between 8 and 10 percent today.

But the Federal Reserve certainly doesn’t want everyone running around talking about “Jimmy Carter” and “stagflation” because then people would really start pressuring them to end their wild money printing schemes.

And without a doubt, what the Fed is doing is absolutely insane.  The chart posted below shows that the M1 money supply has nearly doubled since the beginning of 2008…

M1 Money Supply 2013

“Quantitative Easing Is Economic Stimulus”

How many times have you heard the mainstream media tell you something along these lines…

“The Federal Reserve decided today that the economic stimulus must continue.”

There is just one thing wrong with that statement.

As I showed in a previous article, it is a total hoax.

In fact, a former Federal Reserve official that helped manage the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing program during 2009 and 2010 is publicly apologizing to the rest of the country for being involved in “the greatest backdoor Wall Street bailout of all time”…

I can only say: I’m sorry, America. As a former Federal Reserve official, I was responsible for executing the centerpiece program of the Fed’s first plunge into the bond-buying experiment known as quantitative easing. The central bank continues to spin QE as a tool for helping Main Street. But I’ve come to recognize the program for what it really is: the greatest backdoor Wall Street bailout of all time.

Yes, quantitative easing has most certainly helped Wall Street (at least temporarily).

Meanwhile, median household income in the U.S. has fallen for five years in a row.

Meanwhile, the federal government is now spending nearly a trillion dollars a year on welfare.

Meanwhile, 1.2 million students that attend public schools in America are now homeless.  In fact, that number has risen by 72 percent since the start of the last recession.

“Obamacare Is Going To Be Good For Middle Class Americans”

There were three giant promises that were used to sell Obamacare to the American people…

#1 We would all be able to keep our current health insurance plans.

#2 Millions more Americans were going to be covered by health insurance.

#3 Most Americans would be paying lower health insurance premiums.

Well, it turns out that all of them were lies.

At this point, approximately 4 million Americans have already had their health insurance plans canceled due to Obamacare, and according to Forbes that number could ultimately reach 93 million.

And so far only about 100,000 Americans have actually signed up for Obamacare, so that means that the number of Americans with health insurance has dropped by about 3.9 million since the beginning of October.

Good job Obama.

Meanwhile, Americans all over the country are being hit with a massive case of sticker shock as they start to realize what Obamacare is going to do to their wallets.

According to one study, health insurance premiums for men are going to go up by an average of 99 percent under Obamacare and health insurance premiums for women are going to go up by an average of 62 percent under Obamacare.

And if you are a young man, you are going to get hit particularly hard.  At this point, it is being projected that health insurance premiums for healthy 30-year-old men will rise by an average of 260 percent.

But you don’t have to be young to pay higher premiums.  As I mentioned the other day, one couple down in Texas was recently hit with a 539 percent rate increase.

“The U.S. National Debt Is Under Control”

The mainstream media would have us believe that the budget deficit is now under control and the U.S. national debt is not a significant problem any longer.

But that is not the truth.

The truth is that we are on pace to accumulate more new debt under the 8 years of the Obama administration than we did under all of the other presidents in all of U.S. history combined.

Every single hour of every single day, our politicians are stealing about $100,000,000 from future generations of Americans.  It is a crime so vast that it is hard to put into words, and it is literally destroying the economic future of this country.

Over the last 13 and a half months, the U.S. national debt has increased by more than 1.12 trillion dollars.

If you were alive when Jesus Christ was born and you had spent a million dollars every single day since then, you still would not have spent that much money by now.

And most Americans don’t realize this, but the U.S. government must borrow far more than a trillion dollars each year.  Trillions more in existing debt must be “rolled over” just to keep the game going.

For example, the U.S. government rolled over more than 7.5 trillion dollars of existing debt in fiscal 2013.

So what is going to happen someday when the rest of the world pulls out and stops lending us trillions of dollars at ridiculously low interest rates that are way below the real rate of inflation?

Our financial system is far more vulnerable than we are being told.  We are in the terminal phase of the greatest debt bubble in the history of the planet, and when this bubble bursts it is going to be an absolutely spectacular disaster.

Please don’t believe the mainstream media or the politicians when they promise you that everything is going to be okay.

Which America Do You Live In? – 21 Hard To Believe Facts About “Wealthy America” And “Poor America”

Luxury YachtsDid you know that 40 percent of all American workers make less than $20,000 a year before taxes?  And 65 percent of all American workers make less than $40,000 a year before taxes.  If you work on Wall Street, or have a cushy job with the federal government, or work for a big tech firm out on the west coast, life is probably pretty good for you right now.  But the truth is that most Americans are not living the high life.  In fact, most Americans are just trying to figure out how to survive from month to month.  For many Americans, making a choice between buying food for your family and paying the light bill is a common occurrence.  But if you don’t live in that America, hearing that people actually live like that may sound very strange to you.  After all, if everyone around you has expensive cars, the latest electronic gadgets and million dollar homes, the notion that America is in the midst of a very serious “economic decline” may seem very bizarre to you.

On Wednesday, the Dow hit a brand new record high, and Wall Street celebrated.  Since the financial crisis of 2008, stocks have been on an unprecedented run.  The top performers in the market have not just made millions of dollars – they have made billions of dollars.  Luxury apartments in Manhattan and beachfront homes in the Hamptons are selling for absolutely astronomical prices, and it seems like life in the good parts of New York City is one gigantic endless party these days.

Meanwhile, life is quite good down in Washington D.C. as well.  The wealth is spread more evenly, but on average the D.C. region actually has the highest standard of living of any major U.S. city.  The reason for this is the obscene growth of the federal government.  Over the past couple of decades, the U.S. government has ballooned in size and so have government salaries.  During one recent year, the average federal employee living in the Washington D.C. area received total compensation worth more than $126,000.

Out in the San Francisco area, Internet money is flowing like wine right now.  As I wrote about yesterday, top employees of companies such as Facebook and Twitter can make millions of dollars a year.  And if you were lucky to get a piece of the ownership of one of those companies at a very early stage, you are essentially set for life.

And with the Twitter IPO coming up, Internet euphoria is once again reaching a fever pitch.  For example, just check out what a 56-year-old administrative assistant said this week about why she is going to buy Twitter stock

“I’m just buying because everybody’s talking about Twitter,” she said. “I’m just gonna take a chance.”

Is that how we should make our investment decisions from now on?

Just buy a stock because everybody’s talking about it?

That is the kind of insanity that is going on in “wealthy America” right now.

Unfortunately, the gap between “wealthy America” and “poor America” is greater than ever before.

If you live in “wealthy America”, what you are about to hear next will probably sound very strange.

CNN recently profiled a 44-year-old overnight prison guard named Delores Gilmore.  She works really hard, but a lot of times she simply does not have enough money to pay all of her bills…

“The first of the month, I pay the rent,” she said. “The next check, I pay my light bills. Sometimes I won’t pay my rent and I pay the light bill from last month — if they cut if it off. Then I pay the rent the end of the month.”

Her life consists of going to work, taking care of her children, going to sleep, and then getting back up and repeating that same cycle once again…

“I’m not fooling anybody,” she told me. “I don’t have any friends. And that’s sad. … I go to work, come home, take them where they gotta go, if they gotta go somewhere, come back home, lay down, go to work.

“That’s what I do. All day, that’s what I do.”

Sadly, the truth is that tens of millions of Americans can identify with what she is going through on a daily basis.  In millions of families, both the husband and the wife work multiple jobs and it is still not enough.

If we truly did have a free market capitalist system, the entire country would be a land of opportunity and things would be getting better for everybody.  Unfortunately, that is not the case at all.  The following are 21 facts about “wealthy America” and “poor America” that are hard to believe…

#1 The lowest earning 23,303,064 Americans combined make 36 percent less than the highest earning 2,915 Americans do.

#2 40 percent of all American workers (39.6 percent to be precise) make less than $20,000 a year.

#3 According to the Pew Research Center, the top 7 percent of all U.S. households own 63 percent of all the wealth in the country.

#4 On average, households in the top 7 percent have 24 times as much wealth as households in the bottom 93 percent.

#5 According to numbers that were just released this week, 49.7 million Americans are living in poverty.  That is a brand new all-time record high.

#6 In the United States today, the wealthiest one percent of all Americans have a greater net worth than the bottom 90 percent combined.

#7 Household incomes have actually been declining for five years in a row and total consumer credit has risen by a whopping 22 percent over the past three years.

#8 According to Forbes, the 400 wealthiest Americans have more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans combined.

#9 The homeownership rate in the United States is at an 18 year low.

#10 The six heirs of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton have as much wealth as the bottom one-third of all Americans combined.

#11 18 percent of all food stamp dollars are spent at Wal-Mart.

#12 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the middle class is taking home a smaller share of the overall income pie than has ever been recorded before.

#13 It is hard to believe, but right now 1.2 million students that attend public schools in America are homeless.  That number has risen by 72 percent since the start of the last recession.

#14 One recent study discovered that nearly half of all public students in the United States come from low income homes.

#15 In 1980, CEOs at S&P 500 companies made 42 times as much as their employees did on average.  Today, CEOs at S&P 500 companies make 354 times as much as their employees do on average.  In fact, there are many CEOs that make more than 1000 times what the average employees in their companies make.

#16 U.S. families that have a head of household that is under the age of 30 have a poverty rate of 37 percent.

#17 At this point, one out of every four American workers has a job that pays $10 an hour or less.

#18 Today, the United States actually has a higher percentage of workers doing low wage work than any other major industrialized nation does.

#19 Approximately one out of every five households in the United States is now on food stamps.

#20 The number of Americans on food stamps has grown from 17 million in the year 2000 to more than 47 million today.

#21 At this point, the poorest 50 percent of all Americans collectively own just 2.5 percent of all the wealth in the United States.

So which America do you live in?  Please feel free to tell us what is going on in your neck of the woods by posting a comment below…

Don’t Worry – The Government Says That The Inflation You See Is Just Your Imagination

Redd Fox HypnotizedIf you believe that there is high inflation in the United States, you are just imagining things.  That is the message that the U.S. government and the Federal Reserve would have us to believe.  You might have noticed that the government announced on Wednesday that the cost of living increase for Social Security beneficiaries will only be 1.5 percent next year.  This is one of the smallest cost of living increases that we have ever seen.  The federal government is able to get away with this because the official numbers say that there is hardly any inflation in the U.S. right now.  Of course anyone that shops for groceries or that pays bills regularly knows what a load of nonsense the official inflation rate is.  The U.S. government has changed the way that inflation is calculated numerous times since 1978, and each time it has been changed the goal has been to make inflation appear to be even lower.  According to John Williams of shadowstats.com, if the inflation rate was still calculated the same way that it was back when Jimmy Carter was president, the official rate of inflation would be somewhere between 8 and 10 percent today.  But if the mainstream news actually reported such a number, everyone would be screaming and yelling about getting inflation under control.  Instead, the super low number that gets put out to the public makes it look like the Federal Reserve has plenty of room to do even more reckless money printing.  It is a giant scam, but most Americans are falling for it.

Meanwhile, the prices of the things that most Americans buy on a regular basis just keep going up.  The following are just a few examples of price inflation that we have seen lately…

-McDonald’s has killed the dollar menu because it is becoming impossible to “make any money selling burgers for $1“.

But don’t worry – the government says that the inflation you see is just your imagination.

-Amazon.com has raised the minimum order size required for free shipping from $25 to $35.

But don’t worry – you can afford to order more stuff thanks to the great new job that you got during this “economic recovery”.

-It is being projected that those using natural gas to heat their homes will see their heating costs rise by 13 percent this winter.

But don’t worry – “global warming” should kick in to high gear any day now.

-The price of chocolate has gone up by 45 percent since 2007, and it is being projected that it will now be increasing at an even faster pace.

But don’t worry – eating chocolate is bad for you anyway.

-Thanks to Obamacare, the health insurance premiums of many American families are absolutely skyrocketing.  As I wrote about the other day, one family down in Texas just got a letter informing them that their health insurance premiums are going up by 539 percent.

But don’t worry – this is just “health care reform” in action.

Meanwhile, things just continue to get tougher for middle class American families.  Household incomes have actually been declining for five years in a row and total consumer credit has risen by a whopping 22 percent over the past three years.

The quality of our jobs continues to go down and our paychecks are not keeping up with inflation.  In fact, 40 percent of all U.S. workers are now making less than what a full-time minimum wage worker made back in 1968 after you account for inflation.

So what do the “authorities” say that the solution to our problems is?

They want even more inflation of course.  According to CNBC, many Federal Reserve officials (including Janet Yellen) believe that what the U.S. economy really needs is a lot more inflation…

Inflation is widely reviled as a kind of tax on modern life, but as Federal Reserve policy makers prepare to meet this week, there is growing concern inside and outside the Fed that inflation is not rising fast enough.

Some economists say more inflation is just what the American economy needs to escape from a half-decade of sluggish growth and high unemployment.

The Fed has worked for decades to suppress inflation, but economists, including Janet Yellen, President Obama’s nominee to lead the Fed starting next year, have long argued that a little inflation is particularly valuable when the economy is weak. Rising prices help companies increase profits; rising wages help borrowers repay debts. Inflation also encourages people and businesses to borrow money and spend it more quickly.

The rest of that article goes on and on about how wonderful inflation is for an economy and about how the U.S. economy desperately needs some more of it.

Well, if that was actually true, then the Weimar Republic should have had one of the best economies in the history of mankind.

But this inevitably happens when a nation starts producing fiat currency that is backed by absolutely nothing.  There is always a temptation to just print a little bit more.

In the end, we are going to be destroyed by our own foolishness.  We have the de facto reserve currency of the planet, and the rest of the world has trusted it for decades.  But now we are systematically destroying our currency, and the rest of the globe is looking on in horror.

If you want to see a very good example of the impact that inflation has had on our economy in recent years, just check out this amazing chart which shows what the Federal Reserve’s reckless policies have done to the prices of commodities.

Ultimately, the U.S. dollar will be destroyed, and we will have done it to ourselves.

Many people are attempting to protect themselves against this inevitability by putting a lot of their money into hard assets such as gold and silver, but before you do that you might want to make sure that you don’t have a vengeful spouse that will toss it all into a dumpster someday.  The following is from a recent New York Post article

A Colorado man was so angry at his ex-wife for divorcing him that he had the couple’s life savings of $500,000 converted to gold — then tossed it in a dumpster so she couldn’t have any of it, the Colorado Springs Gazette reports.

In June, Earl Ray Jones, 52, of Divide, Colorado, was ordered by a judge to pay $3,000 a month to the woman he’d been married to for 25 years, so he pillaged the couple’s retirement account and had it converted into 22 pounds worth of gold and silver bars,  the paper reports.

Jones claims he then tossed the modern-day treasure into a dumpster behind a motel, where he had been living temporarily, later telling the judge he had no money to give his ex-wife, according to the paper.

Did that story make you smile?  It sure did the trick for me.

But that story is also a picture of what the Federal Reserve is doing with our dollar.

Our currency has been used for decades by almost everyone else around the planet.  In fact, more U.S. dollars are used outside of our country than inside of it.

But now the Federal Reserve is systematically trashing the dollar and the rest of the globe is starting to lose faith in it.

Instead of realizing their mistakes, Fed officials say that we need to create even more inflation and they just keep on wildly printing more money.

In the end, we will all pay a great price for their foolishness.

10 Signs That Obamacare Is Going To Wreck The U.S. Economy

Obamacare LineIt is hard to find the words to adequately describe how much of a disaster Obamacare is turning out to be.  The debut of Healthcare.gov has been probably the worst launch of a major website in history, millions of Americans are having their current health insurance policies canceled, millions of others are seeing the size of their health insurance premiums absolutely explode, and this new law is going to result in massive numbers of jobs being lost.  It is almost as if Obamacare was specifically designed to wreck the U.S. economy.  Not that what we had before Obamacare was great.  In fact, I have long argued that the U.S. health care system is a complete and total train wreck.  But now Obamacare is making everything that was bad about our system much, much worse.  Americans are going to pay far more for health care, the quality of that care is going to go down, they are going to have to deal with far more medical red tape, and thousands upon thousands of U.S. employers are considering getting rid of the health plans that they offer to employees altogether due to Obamacare.  If the U.S. health care system was a separate nation, it would be the 6th largest economy on the entire planet, and now Obamacare is going to absolutely cripple it.  To say that Obamacare is an “economic catastrophe” would be a massive understatement.

Of course we were assured that it wouldn’t turn out this way.  We were promised over and over that we were going to pay less for health care, get better coverage, and be able to keep our current health plans if we were pleased with them.  The following is what Obama said at a rally in 2009

“First of all, if you’ve got health insurance, you like your doctors, you like your plan, you can keep your doctor, you can keep your plan. Nobody is talking about taking that away from you.”

Oh really?

That was such a dramatic lie that even NBC News is turning on him.  They discovered that Obama has known for three years that most people that rely on individual health insurance policies would not be able to keep them…

Buried in Obamacare regulations from July 2010 is an estimate that because of normal turnover in the individual insurance market, “40 to 67 percent” of customers will not be able to keep their policy. And because many policies will have been changed since the key date, “the percentage of individual market policies losing grandfather status in a given year exceeds the 40 to 67 percent range.”

That means the administration knew that more than 40 to 67 percent of those in the individual market would not be able to keep their plans, even if they liked them.

Pretty much everything that Obama told us when he was selling us on his plan has turned out to be a lie.

So what can we expect from Obamacare moving forward?  The following are 10 signs that Obamacare is going to wreck the U.S. economy…

#1 It is being projected that millions upon millions of Americans are going to lose their current health insurance plans thanks to Obamacare.  Most will be faced with the choice of either purchasing much more expensive health insurance or going uninsured.  This will put even more stress on a middle class that is already disintegrating rapidly.  The following is from the recent NBC News investigation mentioned above…

Four sources deeply involved in the Affordable Care Act tell NBC News that 50 to 75 percent of the 14 million consumers who buy their insurance individually can expect to receive a “cancellation” letter or the equivalent over the next year because their existing policies don’t meet the standards mandated by the new health care law. One expert predicts that number could reach as high as 80 percent. And all say that many of those forced to buy pricier new policies will experience “sticker shock.”

#2 The health insurance premium increases that some families are experiencing are absolutely mind boggling.  According to Mike Adams of Natural News, one family in Texas just got hit with a 539% rate increase…

Obamacare is named the “Affordable Care Act,” after all, and the President promised the rates would be “as low as a phone bill.” But I just received a confirmed letter from a friend in Texas showing a 539% rate increase on an existing policy that’s been in good standing for years.

As the letter reveals (see below), the cost for this couple’s policy under Humana is increasing from $212.10 per month to $1,356.60 per month. This is for a couple in good health whose combined income is less than $70K — a middle-class family, in other words.

According to NBC News, an elderly couple in North Carolina was hit with a similar rate increase…

George Schwab, 62, of North Carolina, said he was “perfectly happy” with his plan from Blue Cross Blue Shield, which also insured his wife for a $228 monthly premium. But this past September, he was surprised to receive a letter saying his policy was no longer available. The “comparable” plan the insurance company offered him carried a $1,208 monthly premium and a $5,500 deductible.

Many Americans that were formerly in favor of Obamacare are now against it after they have seen what it is going to do to their budgets.  The following is one example of this from a recent Los Angeles Times article

Pam Kehaly, president of Anthem Blue Cross in California, said she received a recent letter from a young woman complaining about a 50% rate hike related to the healthcare law.

“She said, ‘I was all for Obamacare until I found out I was paying for it,'” Kehaly said.

#3 Obamacare actually includes incentives for people to work less and make less money.  The following is one example from a recent article by Sean Davis

In California, a couple earning $64,000 a year would not qualify for health care subsidies. A bronze plan for them through Kaiser would cost them about $1,300 each month, or $15,600 a year. But if that same family earned just $2,000 less, it would qualify for over $14,000 in annual health care subsidies, dropping their premiums for that same Kaiser plan to less than $100 per month.

#4 Thankfully the employer mandate in Obamacare was delayed for a little while, but it will ultimately result in widespread job losses all over the country.  In fact, we are already starting to see this happen.  The following is from a recent article in the Economist

BEFORE the recession, Richard Clark’s cleaning company in Florida had 200 employees, about half of them working full time. These days it has about 150, with 80% part-time. The downturn explains some of this. But Mr Clark also blames Barack Obama’s health reform. When it comes into effect in January 2015, Obamacare will require firms with 50 or more full-time employees to offer them affordable health insurance or pay a fine of $2,000-3,000 per worker. That is a daunting prospect for firms that do not already offer coverage. But for many, there is a way round the law.

Mr Clark says he is “very careful with the threshold”. To keep his full-time workforce below the magic number of 50, he is relying more on part-timers. He is not alone. More than one in ten firms surveyed by Mercer, a consultancy—and one in five retail and hospitality companies—say they will cut workers’ hours because of Obamacare. A hundred part-timers can flip as many burgers as 50 full-timers, and the former will soon be much cheaper.

You can find a very long list of some of the employers that have either eliminated jobs or cut hours because of Obamacare right here.

#5 Even if you are able to keep your job, there is no guarantee that your employer will continue to offer health insurance as an employee benefit.  In fact, it is being reported that large numbers of employers have already decided to no longer offer health insurance to their employees because of Obamacare.

#6 According to CBS News, so far the number of people that have had their health insurance policies canceled is more than three times greater than the number of people that have signed up for new policies under Obamacare…

CBS News has learned more than two million Americans have been told they cannot renew their current insurance policies — more than triple the number of people said to be buying insurance under the new Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.

#7 If what is going on in New York is any indication, those that are signing up for health insurance under Obamacare are going to have a really, really hard time finding a doctor

New York doctors are treating ObamaCare like the plague, a new survey reveals.

A poll conducted by the New York State Medical Society finds that 44 percent of MDs said they are not participating in the nation’s new health-care plan.

Another 33 percent say they’re still not sure whether to become ObamaCare providers.

Only 23 percent of the 409 physicians queried said they’re taking patients who signed up through health exchanges.

#8 Obamacare is turning out to be a gold mine for hackers and identity thieves.  The personal information of millions of Americans could potentially end up being compromised.  According to CNN, Healthcare.gov was found to be teeming with security holes…

The Obamacare website has more than annoying bugs. A cybersecurity expert found a way to hack into users’ accounts.

Until the Department of Health fixed the security hole last week, anyone could easily reset your Healthcare.gov password without your knowledge and potentially hijack your account.

And according to the New York Post, Healthcare.gov has been designed so badly from a security standpoint that it might have to be “rebuilt from scratch”…

The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said ObamaCare’s website, already a tangled mess, might need to be rebuilt from scratch to to protect against cyber-thieves because he fears it’s not a safe place right now for health-care consumers to deposit their personal information.

“I know that they’ve called in another private entity to try to help with the security of it. The problem is, they may have to redesign the entire system,” Rep. Mike Rogers said on Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” political talk show. “The way the system is designed, it is not secure.”

#9 As I noted in a previous article, approximately 60 percent of all personal bankruptcies in the United States are related to medical bills.  Because millions of Americans are now losing their health insurance policies and millions of others will choose to pay the fine rather than sign up for Obamacare, more Americans than ever will find themselves overwhelmed with medical bills when they get seriously sick.  This will result in even more personal bankruptcies.

#10 In the end, the burden for paying for the subsidies that Obamacare offers is going to overwhelmingly fall on the taxpayers.  This is going to cause our nightmarish national debt to get even worse.  Peter Schiff recently explained why this is going to happen…

It is also ironic that high-deductible, catastrophic plans are precisely what young people should be buying in the first place. They are inexpensive because they provide coverage for unlikely, but expensive, events. Routine care is best paid for out-of-pocket by value conscious consumers. But Obamacare outlaws these plans, in favor of what amounts to prepaid medical treatment that shifts the cost of services to taxpayers. In such a system, patients have no incentive to contain costs. Since the biggest factor driving health care costs higher in the first place has been the over use of insurance that results from government-provided tax incentives, and the lack of cost accountability that results from a third-party payer system, Obamacare will bend the cost curve even higher. The fact that Obamacare does nothing to rein in costs while providing an open-ended insurance subsidy may be good news for hospitals and insurance companies, but it’s bad news for taxpayers, on whom this increased burden will ultimately fall.

So what do you think of Obamacare?

Has it directly affected your life yet?

Please feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment below…

Crime Is Getting Worse: Violent Crime In America Increased By 15 Percent Last Year

Crime In AmericaIf your neighborhood is not as safe as it used to be, then you have something in common with the rest of the country.  All over America, crime is on the rise.  According to a government survey that was just released, violent crime in the United States increased by 15 percent last year, and property crime was up by 12 percent.  If violent crime keeps increasing at this rate, it will approximately double in just six years.  But as I wrote about the other day, when the next major economic downturn strikes it will probably greatly accelerate the growth of the crime rate in this country.  Desperate people do desperate things, and as you will read about below, there are people out there that are already stealing entire truckloads of food.  In the future, when people are extremely hungry or crazy for their next drug hit, they won’t think twice about invading your home or pulling you out of your vehicle.  The rise in crime that we are witnessing right now is just the beginning.  It is going to get a lot worse than this.

Whenever I do this type of an article, inevitably someone leaves a comment insisting that I am lying because crime rates are going down.

Well, that used to be true.  It is no longer accurate.

As an ABC News article that was just released explains, the crime victimization survey shows that violent crime in America has now increased for two years in a row…

The violent crime rate went up 15 percent last year, and the property crime rate rose 12 percent, the government said Thursday, signs that the nation may be seeing the last of the substantial declines in crime of the past two decades.

Last year marked the second year in a row for increases in the crime victimization survey, a report that is based on household interviews.

This is one of the primary reasons why so many people are moving out of the big cities right now.  In the city of Chicago, police are so overwhelmed with crime that they will no longer respond in person “to 911 calls reporting vehicle theft, garage burglary or simple assault“.

Things have gotten so bad in Chicago that a 14-year-old girl was sexually assaulted as she was walking to a bus stop this week and it barely made a blip on the news.

But we have come to expect this kind of thing in crime-infested cities such as Chicago.  We don’t expect it to happen in “quiet communities” such as Augusta, Georgia

“When we first moved out here three and a half years ago, my wife and I, it was a quiet community, it was a deal that we felt we couldn’t pass up on,” Don McIntee says.

McIntee lives in the Butler Creek Mobile Home Community, but he’s trying to change that. He recently put his home up for sale because he says the crime in his neighborhood is too much to deal with.

“I want to live in a place that I feel is secure and safe for my wife because I’m out of town a lot,” he says.

And it seems like criminals are becoming more brutal than ever.  For example, one thug actually put his gun into the mouth of a 92-year-old World War II veteran in Fresno, California and threatened to kill him during one recent home invasion…

“I was sound asleep at about one or two o’clock in the morning, all the lights were on and a guy shook me with a gun in my face. (I said) Hey what’s going on? (He said) Shut up and he slapped me,” he explained.

While the suspect held him at gunpoint, three others ransacked his house, taking about 200 dollars in cash and jewelry including his 1941 class ring from Woodlake High School in Tulare County.

“They were in there for almost a half hour,” said Fresno County Sheriff Department spokesperson Chris Curtice. “So they had plenty of time to search the house, it was the middle of the night.”

At one point, Joseph said one of the suspects put a gun in his mouth and threatened to kill him. While being ordered into the bedroom closet, he said he hit him in the head with a handgun, causing him to fall to the floor.

Was there any need for that?  That 92-year-old man was certainly no threat to the four home invaders.

But this is what is happening all over the nation now.  Criminals appear to be getting crazier and crazier.

In Houston recently, one team of home invaders decided to storm a house at 8 AM in the morning while people all along the street were leaving their homes to go to work and to school…

It was about 8am — daylight, with people going to work and kids going to school, yet no one apparently saw this coming. The homeowner told me four men, armed with guns, broke in through her garage and forced their way inside her house.

The woman’s daughter and son-in-law were in the home with her, along with two of their daughters, ages four and six. The homeowner says the gunmen pointed guns at all of them — even the children — and demanded money over and over. They ransacked the house and the cars- and eventually got away with some cash, at least one cell phone and the homeowner’s wallet.

Who robs a house at 8 AM in the morning?

That is either incredibly bold or incredibly stupid.

In my article yesterday, I included another example of a crime which is either incredibly bold or incredibly stupid.  One very enterprising carjacker actually decided to try to carjack the police chief of Detroit while he was sitting in a clearly marked police vehicle…

Just four months on the job, Detroit’s new police chief got an early taste of the city’s hardscrabble streets.

While in his patrol car at an intersection on Jefferson two weeks ago, Police Chief James Craig was nearly carjacked, police spokeswoman Kelly Miner confirmed today.

Craig said he was in a marked police car with mounted lights when a man quickly tried to approach the side of his car. Craig, who became police chief in June, retold the story Monday during a program designed to crack down on carjackings.

So what is going on here?

Are criminals becoming bolder or are they just becoming stupider?

I don’t have an answer for that question, but one thing seems certain – crime is definitely getting worse.

As I mentioned at the top of this article, some criminals are now actually stealing entire truckloads of food.  A recent CBS News article explained how they are doing this…

To steal huge shipments of valuable cargo, thieves are turning to a deceptively simple tactic: They pose as truckers, load the freight onto their own tractor-trailers and drive away with it.

It’s an increasingly common form of commercial identity theft that has allowed con men to make off each year with millions of dollars in merchandise, often food and beverages. And experts say the practice is growing so rapidly that it will soon become the most common way to steal freight.

And what we are talking about is not just a few isolated incidents.  This is literally happening from coast to coast and the dollar values of some of these thefts are staggering…

News reports from across the country recount just a few of the thefts: 80,000 pounds of walnuts worth $300,000 in California, $200,000 of Muenster cheese in Wisconsin, rib-eye steaks valued at $82,000 in Texas, $25,000 pounds of king crab worth $400,000 in California.

As economic conditions continue to deteriorate, I actually expect that we will start seeing armed guards on food trucks in a few years.

Desperate people do desperate things, and as food prices continue to rise I believe that food trucks will become highly prized targets.

America is rapidly changing, and not for the better.

So what are things like in your area of the country?

Are you noticing an increase in crime?

Please feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment below…

The Economic Collapse