UNSUSTAINABLE

UNSUSTAINABLE

http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/

When it comes to explaining the problems with our economy, one of the hardest things to do is to get people to understand that we are living in an economic fantasy world that is completely and totally unsustainable.  As a nation we consume far more than we produce, we spend far more than we bring in, our debt is growing much faster than our GDP is, our entitlement programs are growing at an exponential rate, our retirement system is a Ponzi scheme and the Federal Reserve is printing money as if there is no tomorrow in a desperate attempt to paper over all of our problems.  But we have all grown so accustomed to the debt-fueled prosperity that we have been enjoying for so many decades that it actually feels “real” to most of us.  Unfortunately, history has shown us that it is simply not possible to grow your debt faster than your economy indefinitely.  At some point your consumption will drop back to a level more equal to your production.    Sometimes that adjustment can be gradual, but other times it can be extremely painful.  In our case, we have been living way above our means for so long that it would take a major economic miracle just to keep our adjustment to an “exceedingly painful” level.  We are living in the largest debt-fueled prosperity bubble in the history of the world, and our unsustainable economy is going to crash and burn at some point.  Hopefully it will be later rather than sooner, but a crash is most definitely coming.

The following are some of the reasons why the bubble economy that we are living in right now is unsustainable….

The Trade Deficit

Most Americans do not really understand what a “trade deficit” is, but it is at the very core of our economic problems.

Basically, we buy far more stuff from the rest of the world than they buy from us.  We send them huge piles of our money, and they send us oil that we burn in our cars and cheap plastic products that we end up throwing away.  We keep doing this month after month after month, and this is systematically making us poorer as a nation.

In 2012, it is being projected that our trade deficit will fall somewhere between 500 billion and 600 billion dollars.

At this point, the United States has a trade imbalance that is more than 7 times larger than any other nation on earth has.

Overall, the United States has run a trade deficit of more than 8 trillion dollars with the rest of the world since 1975.

Instead of going out of the country, those 8 trillion dollars could have gone to U.S. businesses and U.S. workers.  In turn, taxes would have been paid on those 8 trillion dollars and our debt problems would not be nearly as dramatic today.

But we didn’t do that.

We chose to allow tens of thousands of businesses, millions of jobs and trillions of dollars of our national wealth to leave the country.

Stupid move, eh?

But both political parties have been endlessly pushing the “free trade” agenda.  They have both promised that it would bring us tremendous prosperity.

Well, just take a look at our formerly great manufacturing cities today.  Do they look prosperous to you?

It turns out that Ross Perot was right when he warned about the “giant sucking sound” that would happen if NAFTA was implemented.

When NAFTA was pushed through Congress in 1993, the United States had a trade surplus with Mexico of 1.6 billion dollars.  By 2010, we had a trade deficit with Mexico of 61.6 billion dollars.

That didn’t work out so well, did it?

What about opening up trade with China?

Back in 1985, our trade deficit with China was approximately 6 million dollars (million with a little “m”) for the entire year.

In 2011, our trade deficit with China was 295.4 billion dollars.  That was the largest trade deficit that one nation has had with another nation in the history of the world.

Our trade with China is tremendously unbalanced.  Today, U.S. consumers spend approximately 4 dollars on goods and services from China for every one dollar that Chinese consumers spend on goods and services from the United States.

This is a huge reason why shiny new factories are going up all over China, and our blue collar cities are turning into rotting war zones filled with unemployed people.

If you can believe it, the United States has actually lost more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities since 2001.

Until we fix the trade deficit we are going to continue bleeding factories, jobs and national wealth at an astounding pace.

The National Debt

It is being projected that U.S. GDP will grow at a rate of about 2.2 percent this year.

The problem is that our federal budget deficit will be somewhere around 7 percent of GDP this year.

With each passing day we are losing ground.  No other nation on earth has been able to run up debt like this indefinitely, and neither will we.

Does this chart look like a healthy situation to you?….

Sadly, all of this government debt is just about the only thing holding up our economy at this point.  Since Barack Obama has been in the White House, the U.S. national debt has increased by about 5.5 trillion dollars.  Of course the Obama administration has spent a lot of that money on incredibly stupid stuff, but it still gets into the pockets of average Americans that in turn spend it on food, gas, mortgage payments, etc.

If we could go back in time and suck that 5.5 trillion dollars of extra spending out of the economy we would be in a horrible economic depression right now.

But that does not mean that borrowing and spending all of that money was the right thing to do.  We have stolen it from our children and our grandchildren and we are going to stick them with the bill.

That is highly immoral and it is a national disgrace.

Yet we continue to do it because we can’t help ourselves.  We are ruining the future of this nation in order to make the present more pleasant for ourselves.

As I noted yesterday, the U.S. national debt jumped more on the very first day of fiscal year 2013 than it did from 1776 to 1941 combined.

We are completely addicted to debt and we can’t stop.  We know that we are destroying the future of the United States but we have absolutely no self-discipline.

By the end of Barack Obama’s first term, the U.S. government will have accumulated more debt during those four years than it did from the time that George Washington took office to the time that George W. Bush took office.

But most Americans seem fine with that.

Most Americans don’t even really know why this is happening, and most don’t really seem too concerned about finding out.  They just want the good times to continue to roll.

Sadly, the truth is that our financial system is designed to create government debt.  It is one of the primary purposes of the Federal Reserve system.

At this point, the U.S. national debt is more than 5000 times larger than it was when the Federal Reserve was first created.

So I guess you could say that the Federal Reserve is doing a good job of what it was designed to do.

And until we change the system things are going to continue to get worse until the entire system collapses.

Boston University economist Laurence Kotlikoff is warning that we are basically facing financial armageddon if something is not done.  Kotlikoff speaks of a “fiscal gap” which he defines as “the present value difference between projected future spending and revenue”.  His calculations have led him to the conclusion that the United States is facing a fiscal gap of 222 trillion dollars in the years ahead.

Where in the world are we going to get an extra 222 trillion dollars?

Entitlements

Every society needs a safety net, but we are rapidly getting to the point where there are going to be more Americans on the safety net than there are Americans supporting it.

Back in 1983, less than 30 percent of all Americans lived in a home where at least one person received financial assistance from the federal government.

Today, that number is up to an all-time record of 49 percent.

Many people don’t believe me when I tell them that more than 100 million Americans are enrolled in at least one welfare program run by the federal government right now, and that does not even count Social Security or Medicare.

But it is actually true.

Overall, there are nearly 80 different “means-tested welfare programs” that the federal government is currently running.

But of course the biggest financial burdens are Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security.  All three are on course to become completely and totally unsustainable.

For example, the number of Americans on Medicaid soared from 34 million in 2000 to 54 million in 2011, and it is being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to the Medicaid rolls.

Ouch.

Well, what about Medicare?

Sadly, Medicare is even more frightening.

As I wrote recently, it is being projected that the number of Americans on Medicare will grow from 50.7 million in 2012 to 73.2 million in 2025.

How in the world can we afford that?

At this point, Medicare is facing unfunded liabilities of more than 38 trillion dollars over the next 75 years.  That comes to approximately $328,404 for each and every household in the United States.

Are you ready to contribute your share?

Social Security is in really bad shape as well.

At the moment, approximately 56 million Americans are collecting Social Security benefits.

By 2035, that number is projected to soar to a whopping 91 million.

Overall, the Social Security system is facing a 134 trillion dollar shortfall over the next 75 years.

Where are we going to get that money?

Total Debt

Of course the national debt is not out only debt problem.  All over the country there are state and local governments that are on the verge of insolvency.  Corporations and financial institutions are leveraged like crazy.  And of course consumers have absolutely gorged on debt over the past several decades.

As a result, we are drowning in debt from sea to shining sea.

The good news is that our GDP is more than 12 times larger than it was 40 years ago.

The bad news is that the total amount of debt in our country is more than 30 times larger than it was 40 years ago….

Obviously this is something that cannot go on forever.

We simply cannot keep accumulating debt much faster than our economy is growing.

Nobody knows exactly when the “adjustment” is coming, but it most definitely will arrive at some point.

Money Printing

The Federal Reserve has attempted to monetize many of our economic problems by printing gigantic mountains of money in recent years.

The Federal Reserve is at the very heart of our economic problems, but most Americans don’t realize this.  It was the Federal Reserve that created the conditions for the housing bubble, and it was the Federal Reserve that badly mismanaged the response when that bubble burst.  The Federal Reserve decides how much money will be printed and what our interest rates will be.  The Federal Reserve lends out trillions of dollars to the banks that they like, and other banks they let die.  The Federal Reserve picks winners and losers in our economy, and most of the time that means good things for the big Wall Street banks and bad things for the rest of us.

In a desperate attempt to keep our unsustainable financial system from collapsing, the Federal Reserve has decided to start printing unprecedented amounts of money.  Just look at what this has done to the monetary base….

And QE3 really hasn’t even started to kick in yet.

So how bad will that chart look after QE3 has been adding another 40 billion dollars a month to the financial system for a while?

You know, the Weimar Republic was absolutely convinced that they were doing the right thing by printing lots of money too.

But in the end that didn’t work out very well for them at all….

So should we really be celebrating the fact that the Federal Reserve is going down the same path that the Weimar Republic did?

Demonocracy has released a great new graphic that does a wonderful job of illustrating just how huge the amounts of money involved in QE3 are going to be.  If you have not seen it yet, you can view the graphic right here.

The rest of the world is watching the games that we are playing with our currency.  Right now we think that we are getting away with it, but what we are doing is not sustainable.  At some point the rest of the world will totally lose confidence in the U.S. dollar, and when that happens the U.S. dollar could easily lose its status as the primary reserve currency of the world.

If that were to happen the coming shift in our standard of living would happen much more rapidly.

Please share this article with as many people as you can.  We need to wake people up and get them to understand how incredibly vulnerable our financial system really is.  We are on a path that is unsustainable any way that you want to look at it, and if something dramatic is not done our economy is going to experience an unprecedented collapse.

So what happens if nothing is done and everything crashes all around us?

Well, I hope that you are prepared because it isn’t going to be pretty.

Will The Election Results Cause

Massive Riots To Erupt All Over

America?

Will the most divisive campaign in modern American history culminate in massive riots in our major cities?  Right now, supporters of Barack Obama and supporters of Mitt Romney are both pinning all of their hopes on a victory on November 6th.  The race for the presidency is extremely tight, and obviously the side that loses is going to be extremely disappointed when the election results are finalized.  But could this actually lead to violence?  Could we actually see rioting in communities all over America?  Well, the conditions are certainly ripe for it.  A whole host of surveys over the past few years have shown that Americans are very angry and very frustrated right now.  In fact, a Pew Research Center poll from late last year found that 86 percent of all Americans are either angry or frustrated with the federal government.  We have seen this frustration manifest in protest movements such as the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street, but right now things are fairly calm as liberals and conservatives both look forward to November 6th.  Many Republicans started the countdown to the next election literally the day after John McCain lost back in 2008.  All of their hopes of getting Obama out of the White House are riding on a Romney victory.  For many Democrats, Barack Obama is a “once in a generation” icon.  Just the thought of Mitt Romney replacing Obama in the White House is enough to push many of them to the brink of insanity.  In recent years we have seen horrible rioting erupt in cities after major sports championship games.  How much worse could the rioting potentially be if this bitterly contested election is decided by a very narrow margin – especially if there are allegations that the election is “stolen”?

The election is nearly four weeks away, and many Obama supporters are already threatening to riot if Obama loses.  The following are some very disturbing messages that were posted on Twitter recently that have been reposted on Twitchy.com….

“If Romney wins I’m Starting a Riot….Who’s WIT ME???”

“I Hope The USA Is Well Aware That If In The Event This Character Romney Wins The Election, The People Will Start A Country Wide Riot! #Power”

“If Romney is elected president, its gon be a riot its gon be a riot.”

“If ROMNEY GETS IN THE WHITE HOUSE …U MIGHT AS WELL KILL ME NOW …..CAUSE ITS GONNA BE A ************ RIOT !!!”

“If Romney became President and took away welfare Downtown Cincinnati would become a riot”

“If Romney takes away food stamps 2 Chainzz in this bit IMMA START A RIOT”

“If Romney wins. (which i highly doubt) THERE WILL BE A RIOT—”

The following are a few more tweets that I found which threaten a potential riot if Obama loses the election….

From @joecools_world….

“Need 2 come up wit a game plan if Romney win…. Riot all thru Newark”

From @killacate….

“I swear on everything I love if Romney wins ima riot. I don’t even care if its just me.”

Romney supporters are not really threatening to riot, but many of them are proclaiming that they may leave the country if Obama wins.  Here are some examples….

From @BrentskiTheBoss….

“If Obama gets reelected I may leave the country”

From @AbbieFickes….

“im sorry but if obama were to win again, i might as well leave the country and live in zimbabwe”

This presidential campaign has been getting increasingly heated, and individuals on both sides have been committing some despicable acts.

For example, in a previous article I mentioned that some Romney campaign signs down in Virgina have been smeared with excrement.

Over in Ohio, a huge pile of manure was dumped right in front of Warren County Democratic headquarters early on Tuesday morning….

Volunteers at the Warren County Democratic headquarters, just north of Cincinnati, were shocked and disappointed by a political prank unloaded on them early Tuesday morning – someone dumped a pile of horse manure in the parking lot of the headquarters building on US 42, just north of Lebanon.

It appears that both sides have resorted to literally slinging crap around.

There is so much hate in America today, and this campaign is bringing a lot of it to the surface.  It is even being reported that a bus driver told a 12-year-old boy that he should have been aborted because his family has a Romney campaign sign in their yard….

Belling read a letter from the 12-year-old boy’s mother, detailing the alleged abusive behavior by the bus driver.

Apparently, the Romney-Ryan yard sign bugs the bus driver and she’s been harassing the boy, making rude comments to him related to politics.

When the driver engaged the 12-year-old boy in a political conservation, he responded by saying that Obama is pro-abortion.

The bus driver allegedly said to the child, “Maybe your mom should have chosen abortion for you.”

How sick is that?

You can strongly disagree with someone without being mean and without being hateful.

Right now, the United States is a bubbling cauldron of frustration and anger that could be set off at any moment.  This election could potentially be a “trigger point” which could end up unleashing a lot of that anger and frustration.

Already, there have been allegations that the Republicans have been committing voter registration fraud.  Democrats are furious about this.

Evidence has also emerged that Democrats have been willing to assist voters in registering to vote in two different states.  The following is from a recent article by Mac Slavo….

When undercover reporters visited various locations across the country they received the same response from Obama campaign staffers – that it’s basically okay to vote multiple times if you happen to be registered in two or more states.

In Houston, Texas, for example, the Project Veritas reporter made her intentions known, and rather than being rebuffed for her planned illegal activity, she was provided assistance with obtaining the proper forms to be registered in two states and was told to say “I don’t know” if the double-voting ever became an issue.

Similar situations unfolded at other DNC funded community organizations.

It appears quite probable that whichever side loses this election will accuse the other side of stealing the election.

And if millions of Americans feel that the election has been stolen from them, that will make it much more likely that we will see rioting.

Keep your ears open for phrases such as “voter fraud” and “election fraud” following this election.  People are so angry already that even allegations that someone stole the election could be enough to set the streets of America on fire.

As always, let us hope for the best, but let us also prepare for the worst.

Ratcheting Up The Crisis In Europe

Ratcheting Up The Crisis In Europe

“Crisis in the eurozone” stories are getting boring and this is one two year old soap opera the world would just as soon see disappear. Nevertheless it grinds on; yesterday the German finance minister said it could go on for another two years.  Unfortunately, he’s right.

But while the news from Europe is complicated and inconclusive (they are always threatening to jump off the bridge but so far, no one has), this is still a story one has to watch. And after months and years when the crisis was mostly in the hands of elites — heads of government, central bankers and the like — in the last couple of weeks the public has been getting involved, and that makes the crisis more dangerous and harder to solve.

The Greek and French elections were the public’s first real chance to get a word in on how Europe is handling the crisis, and the word from the public is one of those expletives that we don’t allow at Via Meadia. The public not only doesn’t approve of the way Europe is handling its problems; it wants to hang, draw and quarter the people responsible. The Greeks and the French both voted for candidates who wanted to rip up the fragile agreements already negotiated; as more European countries hold elections we must expect that more European politicians will come to power with mandates to change Europe’s direction. Many like the new French President François Hollande will try to manage this artfully, but the Greeks are unlikely to be the only bull in Europe’s china shop by the time this is done.

The other way that public sentiment threatens to blow Europe sky high is swifter, less predictable and far more dramatic. As Greek savers and investors read the writing on the wall, they are pulling their money out of Greek banks. They know that if Greece pulls out of the euro, the government will do something funny to the banks; they aren’t sure what (nobody really is), but there is a strong suspicion that any money left in Greek bank vaults will be converted from euros to drachmas at the stroke of a pen (more likely, by the tap of a keyboard), and those drachmas will soon be worth much, much less than a euro.

Better to have your money in Swiss or German bank than in a Greek one, every sentient vertebrate in Greece has to understand; as a result, hundreds of billions of euros have been moving out of the Greek banking system. At one point last week, television networks were sending camera crews out onto the streets to look for panicky customers standing in line at ATMs or at bank counters; but then they realized that these days you can do it all on the net. We have entered the age of the invisible bank run and are waiting for the first virtual panic.

An invisible bank run is a hard thing to watch; not only is it less telegenic than the old-fashioned kind, one relies on numbers from official government agencies for statistics. How much money left the banking system today? How many banks need emergency liquidity to meet the tide of withdrawals? In the old days, reporters could and did watch lines form outside the banks and watch the armored trucks arrive with cash. These days it is happening anonymously and you only know what they tell you.

They are very unlikely to tell you the truth. Officials lie like rats in times of financial panic; they do it out of a sense of duty. They will insist that a given country will never leave the euro until the moment that it does; they will say that a deposit freeze is unthinkable until they announce that they’ve done it; they will tell you a bank is rock solid until the moment they padlock its doors. This is all for your own good, of course. They don’t want you to panic — and they want to make sure that your money is trapped when they take it away or turn it from gold into straw.

Bank runs, even virtual ones, are the method by which public fear can blow up the eurozone. A bank run, as hundreds of thousands of depositors decide to pull their money out of a bank or a banking system at the same time, is the financial equivalent of a dam break. Banks, even very well run ones, never have all the money that their customers have deposited in their vaults. They lend that money out to other people, and because they charge borrowers a higher rate on their loans than they pay savers on their deposits, they make money.

At least they make money as long as enough of the borrowers can pay back their loans.

When borrowers can’t repay their loans, the bank sooner or later has to “write down” the value of those loans. In bad economic times, when borrowers are going bankrupt and the collateral on their loans loses value, banks can make huge losses. This is how Ireland lost its shirt; the banking system collapsed as the Irish real estate bubble burst, making building contractors and home owners bankrupt all over Ireland, and making the real estate that served as collateral for their loans almost worthless at the same time. The government — to prevent a panic and bank runs — guaranteed the deposits held by Irish banks, and ended up assuming such a massive debt that the Republic of Ireland needed a bailout from Europe.

Since then, European bailouts have been the safety net for all the countries in the eurozone. When investors worry that countries like Spain, Portugal and Italy will have a Greek style financial meltdown and the interest rates on their bonds rise to reflect that risk, the ECB steps in to buy their bonds and the panic goes away — for a while. More, when individual banks are having trouble, the ECB has made huge amounts of money at extremely low interest rates available to them. Spanish banks, for example, can borrow cheap money from the ECB in order to buy Spanish government bonds at high interest rates. They pay one percent interest to the ECB and collect four percent interest from the Spanish government, and use the profit of three percent to offset their losses on their loans to private companies and consumers who are going belly up in Spain’s savage recession.

The success of this little merry-go-round is why Europe calmed down last December. The ECB in effect prints money which it gives to busted banks. The busted banks lend the money to insolvent governments at artificially low rates (but at rates that still allow the banks to make a profit). It was a neat little trick that kept the crisis quiet without forcing the Germans to admit openly that the ECB was in effect using German resources to bail out the rest of the zone.

Bank runs, even virtual bank runs, would blow this fragile arrangements to bits. As the prospect of Greece leaving the euro becomes more likely, savers in Portugal, Spain and Italy have to start wondering if their countries, too, will have to jump ship. Sophisticated investors have been moving their money out of those countries for some time; things may soon reach a pass in which ordinary, unsophisticated investors start to do the same thing. Again, why have your money in some gut-shot Spanish bank when you can transfer it to a German, Austrian or Dutch bank with a mouse click? And if you are worried about the whole eurozone, or that devious financial trolls will find a way to convert all deposits held by Spanish citizens in European banks to pesos when and if the change comes, put the money in Switzerland, the UK or even the US.

If a few thousands or a few tens of thousands do this in Portugal, Italy and Spain, no problem. But if hundreds of thousands or millions of people shift their money out of their home banking systems, then you have a new and very grave bank crisis that blows the December fix out of the water. Either the ECB would start creating trillions of euros to bail out the Club Med banks (and Club Med under some circumstances could stretch as far north as France), or banking systems start exploding like firecrackers across the southern tier. At the same time you would have a new panic on the bond markets; nobody is going to want to own Spanish or Italian debt under those circumstances.

This is one of those cases when what is good for one is bad for all. A good financial investor would probably be suggesting to anybody in Spain or even Italy that it is a good idea to separate the fate of your savings from the fate of your country’s currency or its banking system. The trivial costs of moving money into a safer banking system are well worth the protection you gain.

But if everyone gets and acts on this sound and prudent advice, the whole banking system and perhaps the whole eurozone comes down.

Europe’s stability now rests on the sloth and stupidity of European savers. As long as millions of retail investors think their money is OK, it will be sort of OK for a while. But while governments can and will lie, and while soothing official pronouncements can be printed up almost as fast as the ECB produces euros out of thin air, sooner or later people may start to put two and two together.

Voters are not nearly as scary as depositors right now from the standpoint of Europe. Elections in Greece can’t cause as much trouble as bank runs in Barcelona or Turin.

This isn’t an abstract or imaginary worry; on Thursday rumors of a bank run in Spain led to a fall of thirty percent in the value of Spanish bank shares; the government denied any run was taking place, and, this time, people believed the denials. The panic stopped and the next day the bank shares recovered most of the loss.

Bank panics are contagious; everyone who read last week’s stories about the banking problems in Greece and the rumored problems in Spain is suddenly aware that the safety of their money is something that they need to think about. Invisible runs can spread and spread fast; this is the specter at the feast of the G-8 leaders as they meet at Camp David.

The Government Parasite- For Us To Survive, The West Must Die!

The Hard Working American vs.

The Government Parasite

http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com

Which lifestyle choice produces better results – being a hard working American or being a government parasite?  Actually, when you look at the cold, hard numbers they may just surprise you.  In America today, we deeply penalize hard work and we greatly reward government dependence.  If you live in a very liberal area of the country and you know how to game the system, it is entirely possible to live a comfortable existence without ever working too much at all.  In fact, there are some Americans that have been living off of “government benefits” for decades.  Many of these people actually plan their lives around doing exactly what they need to do to qualify for as many benefits as possible.  America is rapidly turning into a European-style socialist welfare state and it is destroying our nation socially and financially.  Ever since the “war on poverty” began our debt has absolutely exploded and yet now there are more poor people in this country than ever before.  Obviously something is not working.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I deeply believe in having compassion for those that are going through tough times and having a safety net for those that cannot take care of themselves.  We should not have a single person in this nation going without food or sleeping in the streets.

But in America today it is absolutely ridiculous how many people are climbing aboard the “safety net”.  At this point, an astounding 49 percent of all Americans live in a home that receives some form of government benefits.

So who pays for all of this?

The people that drag themselves out of bed and go to work each day pay for it all.

For a few moments, let’s examine how the lifestyle of a typical hard working American compares to the lifestyle of a government parasite.

In America today, the median yearly household income is somewhere around $50,000.  About half of all American households make more than that and about half of all American households make less than that.  When you break it down, it comes to about $4000 a month.

So how far does $4000 go in America today?

Unfortunately, it doesn’t go very far at all.

First of all, a hard working American family will need some place to live.  Unfortunately, the vast majority of the decent jobs are near the big cities, and it is more expensive to live near the big cities.  Let’s assume that an average family of four will spend about $1000 a month on rent or on a mortgage payment.

The government parasite, on the other hand, has a whole host of federal, state and local housing programs to take advantage of.  During the recent economic downturn, more Americans than ever have been turning to the government for help with housing costs.  For example, federal housing assistance outlays increased by a whopping 42 percent between 2006 and 2010.

Once you have a place to live, you have to provide power and heat for it.  For the average hard working American, this is going to probably average about $300 a month, although this can vary greatly depending on where you live.

For the government parasite, there are once again a whole host of government programs to help with this.  For example, LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program) assists low income households in paying their home heating bills.

Most average hard working Americans are also going to need phone and Internet service.  Let’s assume that the hard working family of four in our example is extremely thrifty and only spends $100 a month for these services.

For the government parasite, cell phone service is not a problem.  As I have written about previously, those that “qualify” can receive a free cell phone and free cell phone minutes every single month from the federal government.  In addition, in some areas of the nation low income families can qualify for deeply subsidized home Internet service.

In order to earn money, our hard working family is going to need to get to work.  In most households, both parents have decided to work these days so both of them will need cars.  Let’s assume that the family is very thrifty and that both cars were purchased used and that the car payments only total about $400 a month.

The hard working family will also need auto insurance for the two vehicles.  Let’s assume that both parents have a great driving record and that they only pay a total of about $100 a month for car insurance.

The cars will also need to be filled up with gasoline.  The average U. S. household spent $4155 on gasoline during 2011, but let’s assume that our family is very, very careful and that they only spend about $300 on gas each month.

So what about the government parasite?  Well, the government parasite does not need to go to work, so this expense can potentially be eliminated entirely.  But since most other things are paid for by the government or are deeply subsidized, in many instances government parasites are actually able to afford very nice vehicles.

In addition, a new bill (The Low-Income Gasoline Assistance Program Act) has been introduced in Congress that would give “qualifying” households money to help pay for gasoline….

Low-Income Gasoline Assistance Program Act – Directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to make grants to states to establish emergency assistance programs to pay eligible households for the purchase of gasoline.

A hard working American family is also going to need health insurance.  Well, we all know how expensive health insurance has become.  In fact, health insurance costs have risen by 23 percent since Barack Obama became president.  But let’s assume that our hard working family has somehow been able to find an amazing deal where they only pay $500 a month for health insurance for a family of four.

For the government parasite, health insurance is not needed.  If there is an emergency, the government parasite can just go get free medical care at any emergency room.

And of course there is always Medicaid.  Back in 1965, only one out of every 50 Americans was on Medicaid.  Today, one out of every 6 Americans is on Medicaid, and things are about to get a whole lot worse.  It is being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to the Medicaid rolls.

So what about food?

Everyone has to eat, right?

Well, the hard working family in our example is faced with an environment where food prices are constantly rising but paychecks are not keeping up.  Let’s assume that the hard working family in our example clips coupons and cuts corners any way that it can and only spends about $50 for each member of the family on food and supplies each week.  That comes to a total of $800 a month for the entire family.

So what about the government parasite?

Government parasites need to eat too.

Well, that is where food stamps come in.  Right now, there are more than 46 million Americans on food stamps.  Since Barack Obama became president, the number of Americans on food stamps has increased by 14 million.  Food stamps have become so popular that rappers are even making rap videos about using food stamp cards.

Okay, so after all of this where do we stand?

Well, the average hard working family so far has spent $3500 out of the $4000 that they have to spend for the month.

We still need to find money for clothing, for paying off credit card debt, for paying off student loan debt, for dining out, for entertainment, for medications, for pets, for hobbies, for life insurance, for vacations, for car repairs and maintenance, for child care, for gifts and for retirement savings.

But wait.

There is actually no money left at all because we have forgotten one of the biggest expenses of all.

Taxes.

When you total up all federal, state and property taxes, our average hard working family is going to pay at least $1000 a month in taxes.

So that puts our average hard working family in the hole every single month.

Meanwhile, the government parasite does not pay any taxes because he or she does not earn enough money to be taxed.

Are you starting to get the picture?

In many ways, life can be so much easier when you are constantly taking from the government instead of constantly giving to the government.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie recently put it this way….

“We’ll have a bunch of people sitting on a couch waiting for their next government check”

Once again, I am not dumping on those that have been through all kinds of nightmares because of this economy.  As I have written about so frequently, the U.S. economy is simply not producing enough jobs for everyone anymore, and this is creating major problems.

Just about everyone needs a helping hand at some point, and we should always be compassionate to those that are in need.

However, there is also a growing number of Americans that are content to simply give up and live off of the government, and that is fundamentally wrong.

It is not the job of the U.S. government to take care of you from the cradle to the grave.  What the U.S. government is supposed to do is to make sure that we have a well functioning economy that operates in an environment where hard working individuals and small businesses can thrive, and sadly the U.S. government has failed miserably in that regard.

We desperately need the U.S. economy to be fixed, but I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for that to happen.

As economic conditions get even worse in this country, millions more Americans are going to turn to the government for assistance and at some point the safety net is going to break.

What is our country going to look like when that happens?

19 Signs Of Very Serious

Economic Trouble On The Horizon

Most Americans have no idea how much economic trouble is heading our way.  Most of them just assume that everything will eventually “return to normal” just like it always has before and that those running our economy “know what they are doing” and that we should trust them to do their jobs.  Unfortunately, these beliefs are being reinforced by the bubble of false hope that we are experiencing right now.  For example, it is being reported that weekly unemployment claims in the United States have fallen to a four-year low.  That is a very good thing.  Let us hope that unemployment claims go even lower and that the current period of stability lasts for as long as possible.  We should enjoy these last fleeing moments of tremendous prosperity for as long as we can, because when they are gone they won’t be coming back.  As I noted the other day, all of this false prosperity in the United States has been financed by the 15 trillion dollar party that we have been enjoying.  We are adding about 150 million dollars to our debt every single hour so that we can continue to enjoy an inflated standard of living.  Unfortunately, nobody in the history of the world has ever been able to keep a debt spiral going indefinitely, and our debt bubble will burst eventually as well.

Sadly, when you attempt to end (or even slow down) a debt spiral the consequences can be extremely painful.  Just look at what is happening in Greece.  Several waves of austerity measures have been implemented, the Greek economy has been plunged into a full-blown depression and Greek debt is still going up.

The rest of the nations of the eurozone are also now implementing austerity measures, and most of them are also starting to fall into recession.  The economic pain in Europe is just beginning and it will go on for quite a long time.

And eventually the United States is going to join the pain.  Right now the U.S. government can still borrow trillions of dollars at super low interest rates thanks to games being played by the Federal Reserve.  But it is simply not possible for this Ponzi scheme to last too much longer.  When it ends, the pain will be extremely great.

And even in the short-term there are some extremely troubling signs for the U.S. economy.

The following are 19 signs of very serious economic trouble on the horizon….

#1 According to one new survey, approximately one-third of all Americans are not paying their bills on time at this point.

#2 The U.S. housing industry is bracing for another huge wave of foreclosures in 2012.  The following is from a recent Reuters article….

“We are right back where we were two years ago. I would put money on 2012 being a bigger year for foreclosures than 2010,” said Mark Seifert, executive director of Empowering & Strengthening Ohio’s People (ESOP), a counseling group with 10 offices in Ohio.

#3 The Citigroup Economic Surprise Index, a key indicator watched by many economists, is on the verge of heading into negative territory.

#4 We are supposed to be in the middle of an economic recovery in the United States, but bad news just keeps pouring in from major companies.  For example, Yahoo is firing thousands of workers and Best Buy is closing dozens of stores.

#5 Richard Russell says that the “big money” is starting to quietly exit from the financial markets….

“My guess is that this is the big money that has been holding off as long as it decently can — and then dumping their goods just before the close. I don’t think the big money likes this market, and I think they have been slowly exiting this market, as quietly as they can.”

#6 Goldman Sachs is projecting that the S&P 500 will fall by about 11 percent by the end of 2012.

#7 All over the country, local governments are going into default and we have not even entered the next recession yet.

#8 The U.S. government will add more to the national debt in 2012 than it did from the time that George Washington became president to the time that Ronald Reagan became president.

#9 The Federal Reserve is desperately trying to control interest rates.  The Fed purchased approximately 61 percent of all government debt issued by the U.S. Treasury Department in 2011.  This is the only thing that is keeping interest rates in the United States from soaring dramatically.

#10 German industrial production is falling at a pace that is far faster then expected.

#11 Italy’s debt-to-GDP ratio is now up to 120 percent.

#12 The Spanish government admitted on Tuesday that Spain’s debt-to-GDP ratio will rise by more than 11 percent this year alone.

#13 Yields on Spanish bonds are rising to dangerous levels.

#14 The Spanish government is projecting that the unemployment rate in Spain will exceed 24 percent by the end of the year.

#15 Unemployment in the eurozone as a whole has risen for 10 months in a row and is now at a 15 year high.

#16 In the aftermath of a 77-year-old retiree killing himself in front of the Greek parliament in protest over pension cuts, the economic rioting in Greece has flared back up dramatically.

#17 At this point, Greece is experiencing an economic depression with no end in sight.  Some of the statistics coming out of Greece are really hard to believe.  For example, one port town in Greece now has an unemployment rate of approximately 60 percent.

#18 The IMF is asking the United States to contribute more money for European bailouts.

#19 At this point, even some of our top scientists are projecting economic trouble.  For example, researchers at MIT are projecting a “global economic collapse” by the year 2030 if current trends continue.

But the truth is that we will experience a “global economic collapse” long before 2030 comes rolling around.

Let us hope that we still have at least several more months of economic prosperity in the United States before things really fall apart.

The truth is that the vast majority of Americans need more time to prepare for what is coming.

Sadly, most Americans are not preparing.  Most Americans have blind faith that those in positions of power are going to fix everything and set us on the path to even greater prosperity than ever before.

Unfortunately, all Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Barack Obama have been doing is kicking the can down the road and making our eventual collapse much worse.

As many of us have painfully learned, you can run from debt for a while, but you can’t hide from it forever.  Eventually debt catches up with you, and when it does it can be very cruel.

The 15 trillion dollar party is coming to an end, and the consequences of decades of very foolish decisions are going to fall on this generation.

Read This First Before You Decide That Preppers Are Crazy

Do you believe that preppers are a few cards short of a full deck?  Do you assume that anyone that is “preparing for doomsday” does not have their elevator going all the way to the top floor?  Well, you might want to read this first before you make a final decision that all preppers are crazy.  The information that you are about to read shook me up a bit when I first looked it over.  To be honest, I had no idea how incredibly vulnerable our economic system is to a transportation disruption.  I am continually getting emails and comments on my websites asking “how to prepare” for what is coming, so when I came across this information I knew that I had to share it with all of you.  Hopefully what you are about to read will motivate you to prepare like never before, and hopefully you will share this information with others.

Originally, I was going to write an article about the rising unemployment in Europe today.  Did you know that unemployment in the eurozone is now at a 15 year high?  It has risen for 10 months in a row with no end in sight.

But I have written dozens of articles about the economic crisis in Europe already.  So before starting on that article I started thinking of all the “preparation” questions I have been getting lately and I went over and checked out one of my favorite preparation websites: shtfplan.com.

Well, an article had just been posted over there about a report put out by the American Trucker Associations entitled “When Trucks Stop, America Stops“.

I went and found that original report and I was stunned as I read it.

The truth is that our “just in time” inventory and delivery systems leave us incredibly vulnerable to a nationwide disaster.

You see, it is very expensive to hold and store inventory, so most manufacturers and retailers rely on a continual flow of deliveries that are scheduled to arrive “just in time”, and this significantly reduces their operating expenses.

This is considered to be good business practice for manufacturers and retailers, but it also means that if there was a major nationwide transportation disruption that our economic system would grind to a halt almost immediately.

Once store shelves are picked clean, they would not be able to be replenished until trucks could get back on the road.  In the event of a major nationwide disaster, that could be quite a while.

So what could potentially cause a nationwide transportation shutdown?

Well, it is easy to imagine a lot of potential scenarios – a volcanic eruption, a historic earthquake, an EMP attack, a solar megastorm, a war, a major terror attack, an asteroid strike, a killer pandemic, mass rioting in U.S. cities, or even martial law.

If something caused the trucks to stop running, life in America would immediately start changing.

So exactly what would that look like?

The following is an excerpt from the report mentioned above put out by the American Trucker Associations entitled “When Trucks Stop, America Stops“….

*****

A Timeline Showing the Deterioration of Major Industries Following a Truck Stoppage

The first 24 hours

• Delivery of medical supplies to the affected area will cease.
• Hospitals will run out of basic supplies such as syringes and catheters within hours. Radiopharmaceuticals will deteriorate and become unusable.
• Service stations will begin to run out of fuel.
• Manufacturers using just-in-time manufacturing will develop component shortages.
• U.S. mail and other package delivery will cease.

Within one day

• Food shortages will begin to develop.
• Automobile fuel availability and delivery will dwindle, leading to skyrocketing prices and long lines at the gas pumps.
• Without manufacturing components and trucks for product delivery,
assembly lines will shut down, putting thousands out of work.

Within two to three days

• Food shortages will escalate, especially in the face of hoarding and consumer panic.
• Supplies of essentials—such as bottled water, powdered milk, and
canned meat—at major retailers will disappear.
• ATMs will run out of cash and banks will be unable to process
transactions.
• Service stations will completely run out of fuel for autos and trucks.
• Garbage will start piling up in urban and suburban areas.
• Container ships will sit idle in ports and rail transport will be disrupted, eventually coming to a standstill.

Within a week

• Automobile travel will cease due to the lack of fuel. Without autos and busses, many people will not be able to get to work, shop for groceries, or access medical care.
• Hospitals will begin to exhaust oxygen supplies.

Within two weeks

• The nation’s clean water supply will begin to run dry.

Within four weeks

• The nation will exhaust its clean water supply and water will be safe for drinking only after boiling. As a result gastrointestinal illnesses will increase, further taxing an already weakened health care system.

This timeline presents only the primary effects of a freeze on truck travel. Secondary effects must be considered as well, such as inability to maintain telecommunications service, reduced law enforcement, increased crime, increased illness and injury, higher death rates, and likely, civil unrest.

*****

Earlier in the report, the reasons why America’s water supply would be in such jeopardy are described in greater detail….

According to the American Water Works Association, Americans drink more than one billion glasses of tap water per day. For safety and security reasons, most water supply plants maintain a larger inventory of supplies than the typical business. However, the amount of chemical storage varies significantly and is site specific. According to the Chlorine Institute, most water treatment facilities receive chlorine in cylinders (150 pounds and one ton cylinders) that are delivered by motor carriers. On average, trucks deliver purification chemicals to water supply plants every seven to 14 days. Without these chemicals, water cannot be purified and made safe for drinking. Without truck deliveries of purification chemicals, water supply plants will run out of drinkable water in 14 to 28 days. Once the water supply is drained, water will be deemed safe for drinking only when boiled. Lack of clean drinking water will lead to increased gastrointestinal and other illnesses, further taxing an already weakened healthcare system.

Can you see why I always recommend that you make sure that you and your family have access to fresh water and a way to purify it?

This report should be very sobering for all of us.

What would you and your family do if you had no food, no clean water and the stores were shut down because their supplies were gone?

An article by Tess Pennington entitled “Emergency Items: What Will Disappear First” contains a list of 100 things that are likely to disappear from store shelves first.  The following are the first 10 things on her list….

1. Generators (Good ones cost dearly. Gas storage, risky. Noisy…target of
thieves; maintenance etc.)
2. Water Filters/Purifiers
3. Portable Toilets
4. Seasoned Firewood. Wood takes about 6 – 12 months to become dried, for home
uses.
5. Lamp Oil, Wicks, Lamps (First Choice: Buy CLEAR oil. If scarce, stockpile
ANY!)
6. Coleman Fuel. Impossible to stockpile too much.
7. Guns, Ammunition, Pepper Spray, Knives, Clubs, Bats & Slingshots.
8. Hand-can openers, & hand egg beaters, whisks.
9. Honey/Syrups/white, brown sugar
10. Rice – Beans – Wheat

You can find the rest of the list right here.

Most Americans just assume that they will always be able to run out to the supermarket or to Wal-Mart and buy anything that they need.

But if the trucks stop running that will change almost overnight.

After reading the information above, does anyone out there still believe that preppers are crazy?

The truth is that there are good, solid reasons why millions of Americans have been storing up food, water filters and other supplies.

Our world is becoming increasingly unstable, and all of us need to get educated about how to prepare for the difficult years that are coming.

One nightmarish event can change everything that we take for granted in a single moment.

Just remember what happened after Hurricane Katrina.  Even though that was only a regional disaster, millions of people had their lives completely turned upside down by that tragedy.

Don’t make the mistake of assuming that just because the U.S. has always known tremendous peace and prosperity since World War II that things will always be that way.

Our lives will only continue to be “normal” as long as the trucks continue running.

When the trucks stop running in America, there will be mass chaos.

Are you prepared for that?

 

The Next Great Depression? Its Coming, if your not ready, your dead.

The Economic Collapse

Are You Prepared For The Coming Economic Collapse And The Next Great Depression?

http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com

Not So Fast On That Whole Economic Recovery Thing

 

Not so fast.  Those that are publicly declaring that an economic recovery has arrived are ignoring a whole host of numbers that indicate that the U.S. economy is in absolutely horrendous shape.  The truth is that the health of an economy should not be measured by how well the stock market is doing.  Rather, the truth health of an economy should be evaluated by looking at numbers for things like jobs, housing, poverty and debt.  Some of the latest economic statistics indicate that unemployment is getting a little bit worse, that the housing market continues to deteriorate, that poverty in America continues to soar and that our debt problem is worse than ever.  If we were truly experiencing the kind of economic recovery that the United States has experienced after every other post-World War II recession we would see a sharp improvement across the board in most of our economic statistics.  But that simply is not happening.  Sadly, this is about as much of an “economic recovery” as we are going to get because soon the economy will be getting much worse.  So enjoy this period of relative stability while you can.

The Obama administration would have us believe that unemployment in the United States has declined, but the truth is that the percentage of working age Americans that are employed has stayed very, very flat for more than two years and now there are some measures of unemployment that are actually getting worse.

For example, according to Gallup the unemployment rate in the United States has risen from 8.5% in December to 8.6% in January to 9.1% in February.  The Obama administration would have us believe that it is actually going the other direction.

Initial unemployment claims are rising again.  For the week ending March 3rd, they increased by 8,000 over the previous week to 362,000.  This is not the kind of good news that people were hoping for.

What the U.S. economy could really use are millions of good jobs.  But those are being shipped out of the country at a staggering pace.

Right now there are millions of Americans in their prime working years that are sitting at home wondering what to do with their lives.  The average duration of unemployment in the United States continues to hover near a record high, and if we were truly experiencing an economic recovery it should have been falling by now.

But a lot of Americans have bought into the propaganda about an economic recovery and they are out running up huge amounts of debt once again.  In January, consumer credit increased by much more than expected.  The following is from a recent Reuters report….

Nonrevolving credit, which includes auto loans as well as student loans made by the government, rose $20.723 billion during the month. That was the biggest increase in dollar terms since November 2001, when credit was surging in the wake of the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington.

Don’t fall into the trap of debt slavery.  During the last recession millions of Americans lost their homes and most of what they owned because they got overextended.

Don’t do it.

The U.S. housing market continues to deeply struggle as well.  If we were really in an economic recovery housing would be bouncing back.  But that is not happening.  Just consider the following facts….

*The number of new homes sold in the United States continues to hover near a record low.

*U.S. home prices in the 4th quarter of 2011 were four percent lower than they were during the 4th quarter of 2010.

*According to CoreLogic, 22.8 percent of all homes with a mortgage in the United States were in negative equity as of the end of the 4th quarter of 2011.  That was an increase from 22.1 percent in the third quarter.

Why are things still getting worse for the U.S housing market?

That is a really good question.

We should have seen some improvement by now.

But it isn’t happening.

Also, poverty in America continues to explode.

For example, the number of Americans on food stamps has increased to 46.5 million – a brand new all-time record.

If we really were in an economic recovery, wouldn’t that number be going down?

We should be thankful that the U.S. economy is not declining as rapidly as it was during 2008 and 2009.  But what we are experiencing right now is not an economic recovery.  It is simply just a bubble of false hope.

The big problem is that our nation is covered in an ocean of constantly expanding debt.

U.S. consumers are drowning in debt, U.S. businesses have pushed debt levels to the red line, and the U.S. financial system is massively overleveraged.

Of course government debt is our biggest debt problem of all.

All over the nation, state and local governments are on the verge of financial ruin.

If we were in the middle of an economic recovery, so many states would not be in crisis mode.  A recent article in the Los Angeles Times declared that “California could run out of cash in March“.  As the economy continues to crumble we are going to hear a lot more of this kind of thing.

A lot of local governments around the nation are on the verge of total financial collapse.  Stockton, California has announced that they will be defaulting on some debt payments, and Suffolk County in New York recently declared a fiscal emergency after discovering that it would rack up more than 500 million dollars of debt between 2011 and 2013.

Keep your eyes open for more news items like this in the months ahead.

Of course the biggest problem of all is the U.S. national debt and it continues to rapidly get worse.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the U.S. government had a budget deficit of 229 billion dollars in the month of February.  That is the worst one month budget deficit in the history of the United States.

The Congressional Budget Office also says that the U.S. government is now borrowing 42 cents of every single dollar that it spends.

Ouch.

The U.S. national debt has gotten more than 59 times larger since 1950.

The U.S. national debt is now more than 22 times larger than it was when Jimmy Carter became president.

Are there any words in the English language that are strong enough to describe how foolish we have been?

Of course we won’t be able to accumulate so much debt indefinitely.  At some point the trillion dollar deficits will stop and our false prosperity will disappear.

If you want to get an idea of what happens then, just take a look at Greece.

But Barack Obama and most members of the U.S. Congress don’t really care about what they are doing to our future.

What they care about is winning the next election so that they can continue living their fabulous lives.

Barack Obama is supposed to be taking care of the American people, but instead he has been very busy taking care of the people who helped him get elected.  Politics in America is all about money.  Just check out the following very short excerpt from a recent article in the Washington Post….

More than half of Obama’s 47 biggest fundraisers, those who collected at least $500,000 for his campaign, have been given administration jobs. Nine more have been appointed to presidential boards and committees.

At least 24 Obama bundlers were given posts as foreign ambassadors, including in Finland, Australia, Portugal and Luxembourg. Among them is Don Beyer, a former Virginia lieutenant governor who serves as ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

Washington D.C. is deeply corrupt and if you are waiting for our politicians to fix our problems you are going to be deeply disappointed.

The federal government is not going to save you.

Our politicians are not going to save you.

You better figure out how you are going to take care of yourself and your family in the years ahead because this is about as good as things are going to get.

This “economic recovery” is about to end and more pain is about to begin.

Greece Has Defaulted – Which Country In Europe Is Next?

Well, it is official.  The restructuring deal between Greece and private investors has been pushed through and the International Swaps and Derivatives Association has ruled that this is a credit event which will trigger credit-default swap contracts.  The ISDA is saying that there are approximately $3.2 billion in credit-default swap contracts on Greek debt outstanding, and most analysts expect that the global financial system will be able to absorb these losses.  But still, 3.2 billion dollars is nothing to scoff at, and some of these financial institutions that wrote a lot of these contracts on Greek debt are going to be hurting.  This deal with private investors may have “rescued” Greece for the moment, but the consequences of this deal are going to be felt for years to come.  For example, now that Greece has gotten a sweet “haircut” from private investors, politicians in Portugal, Italy, Spain and other European nations are going to wonder why they shouldn’t get some “debt forgiveness” too.  Also, private investors are almost certainly going to be less likely to want to loan money to European nations from now on.  If they will be required to take a massive haircuts at some point, then why in the world would they want to lend huge amounts of money to European governments at super low interest rates?  It simply does not make sense.  Now that Greece has defaulted, the whole game is going to change.  This is just the beginning.

The “restructuring deal” was approved by approximately 84 percent of all Greek bondholders, but the key to triggering the payouts on the credit-default swaps was the fact that Greece decided to activate the “collective action clauses” which had been retroactively inserted into these bonds.  These collective action clauses force most of the rest of the bondholders to go along with this restructuring deal.

A recent article by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard explained why so many people were upset about these “collective action clauses”….

The Greek parliament’s retroactive law last month to insert collective action clauses (CACs) into its bonds to coerce creditor hold-outs has added a fresh twist. These CAC’s are likely to be activated over coming days. Use of retroactive laws to change contracts is anathema in credit markets.

If a government can go in and retroactively change the terms of a bond just before it is ready to default, then why should private investors invest in them?

That is a very good question.

But for now the buck has been passed on to those that issued the credit-default swaps.  As mentioned above, the ISDA says that there are approximately $3.2 billion in Greek credit-default swaps that will need to be paid out.

However, that number assumes that a lot of hedges and offsetting swaps cancel each other out.  When you just look at the raw total of swaps outstanding, the number is much, much higher.  The following is from a recent article in The Huffington Post….

If you remove all hedges and offsetting swaps, there’s about $70 billion in default-insurance exposure to Greece out there, which is a little bit bigger pill for the banking system to swallow. Is it possible that some banks won’t be able to pay on their default policies? We’ll find out.

Yes, indeed.  We will find out very soon.

If some counterparties are unable to pay we could soon see some big problems cascade through the financial system.

But even with this new restructuring deal with private investors, Greece is still in really bad shape.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told reporters recently that it “would be a big mistake to think we are out of the woods”.

Even with this new deal, Greek debt is still projected to be only reduced to 120 percent of GDP by the year 2020.  And that number relies on projections that are almost unbelievably optimistic.

In addition, there are still a whole host of very strict conditions that the Greek government must meet in order to continue getting bailout money.

Also, the upcoming Greek elections in just a few weeks could bring this entire process to an end in just a single day.

So the crisis in Greece is a long way from over.

The Greek economy has been in recession for five years in a row and it continues to shrink at a frightening pace.  Greek GDP was 7.5 percent smaller during the 4th quarter of 2011 than it was during the 4th quarter of 2010.

Unemployment in Greece also continues to get worse.

The average unemployment rate in Greece in 2010 was 12.5 percent.  During 2011, the average unemployment rate was 17.3 percent, and in December the unemployment rate in Greece was 21.0 percent.

Young people are getting hit the hardest.  The youth unemployment rate in Greece is up to an all-time record of 51.1 percent.

The suicide rate in Greece is also at an all-time record high.

Unfortunately, there is no light at the end of the tunnel for Greece at this point.  The latest round of austerity measures that are now being implemented will slow the economy down even more.

Sadly, several other countries in Europe are going down the exact same road that Greece has gone.

Investors all over the globe are wondering which one will be the “next Greece”.

Some believe that it will be Portugal.  The following is from a recent article in The Telegraph….

“The rule of law has been treated with contempt,” said Marc Ostwald from Monument Securities. “This will lead to litigation for the next ten years. It has become a massive impediment for long-term investors, and people will now be very wary about Portugal.”

Right now, the combination of all public and private debt in Portugal comes to a grand total of 360 percent of GDP.

In Greece, the combined total of all public and private debt is about 100 percentage points less than that.

So yes, Portugal is heading for a world of hurt.  The following is more about Portugal from the recent Telegraph article mentioned above….

Citigroup expects the economy to contract by 5.7pc this year, warning that bondholders may face a 50pc haircut by the end of the year. Portugal’s €78bn loan package from the EU-IMF Troika is already large enough to crowd out private creditors, reducing them to ever more junior status.

So why should anyone invest in Portuguese debt at this point?

Or Italian debt?

Or Spanish debt?

Or any European debt at all?

The truth is that the European financial system is a house of cards that could come crashing down at any time.

German economist Hans-Werner Sinn is even convinced that the European Central Bank itself could collapse.

There is a Der Spiegel article that everyone out there should read.  It is entitled “Euro-Zone Central Bank System Massively Imbalanced“. It is quite technical, but if this German economist is correct, the implications are staggering.

The following is from the first paragraph of the article….

More than a year ago, German economist Hans-Werner Sinn discovered a gigantic risk on the balance sheets of Germany’s central bank. Were the euro zone to collapse, Bundesbank losses could be half a trillion euros — more than one-and-a-half times the size of the country’s annual budget.

So no, the European debt crisis is not over.

It is just getting warmed up.

Get ready for a wild ride.

15 Potentially Massive Threats To The U.S. Economy Over The Next 12 Months

We live in a world that is becoming increasingly unstable, and the potential for an event that could cause “sudden change” to the U.S. economy is greater than ever.  There are dozens of potentially massive threats that could easily push the U.S. economy over the edge during the next 12 months.  A war in the Middle East, a financial collapse in Europe, a major derivatives crisis or a horrific natural disaster could all change our economic situation very rapidly.  Most of the time I write about the long-term economic trends that are slowly but surely ripping the U.S. economy to pieces, but the truth is that just a single really bad “black swan event” over the next 12 months could accelerate our economic problems dramatically.  If oil was cut off from the Middle East or a really bad natural disaster suddenly destroyed a major U.S. city, the U.S. economy would be thrown into a state of chaos.  Considering how bad the U.S. economy is currently performing, it would be easy to see how a major “shock to the system” could push us into the “next Great Depression” very easily.  Let us hope that none of these things actually happen over the next 12 months, but let us also understand that we live in a world that has become extremely chaotic and extremely unstable.

In the list below, you will find some “sudden change” events that are somewhat likely and some that are quite unlikely.  I have tried to include a broad range of potential “black swan events”, but there are certainly dozens more massive threats that could potentially be listed.

The following are 15 potentially massive threats to the U.S. economy over the next 12 months….

#1 War With Syria – U.S. Senator John McCain is now publicly calling for U.S. airstrikes against Syria.  A military conflict with Syria becomes more likely with each passing day.

#2 War With Iran – A war in the Middle East involving Iran could literally erupt at any time.  The following is from a Reuters news report that was issued on Monday….

President Barack Obama appealed to Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday to give sanctions time to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but the Israeli prime minister offered no sign of backing away from possible military action, saying his country must be the “master of its fate.”

#3 A Disorderly Greek Debt Default – Many reporters in Europe seem to think that this is becoming increasingly likely.  So what would a disorderly Greek debt default mean for the global financial system?  A leaked report that was authored by the Institute of International Finance says that a disorderly Greek debt default would have some very serious consequences.  You can read the full text of that leaked report right here.

#4 An Economic Collapse In Spain – Spain has one of the largest economies in Europe and it is rapidly becoming a basket case.  As I have written about previously, the unemployment rate in Spain has hit 19.9 percent, and the unemployment rate for workers under the age of 25 is up to 49.9 percent.  Unfortunately, the situation in Spain continues to deteriorate.  The following is from a recent article by Marc Chandler….

However, the devolution in Spain is particularly troubling. The new fiscal compact had just been signed last week, which includes somewhat more rigorous fiscal rule and enforcement, when Spain’s PM Rajoy revealed that this year’s deficit would come in around 5.8 percent of GDP rather the 4.4 percent target. This of course follows last year’s 8.5 percent overshoot of the 6 percent target.

The problem that for Spain is that the 4.4 percent target was based on forecasts for more than 2 percent growth this year. However, in late February, the EU cuts its forecast to a 1 percent contraction. This still seems optimistic. The IMF forecasts a 1.7 percent contraction, which the Spanish government now accepts.

#5 The Price Of Gasoline – The average price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States has risen for 27 days in a row and is now up to $3.77.  Virtually all forms of economic activity are affected by the price of gasoline, and if the price of gas keeps going up it is eventually going to have dramatic consequences for the U.S. economy.

#6 The Student Loan Debt Bubble – Just like we saw with the housing bubble, the student loan debt bubble just continues to grow and grow and grow.  At some point the nearly 1 trillion dollar bubble is going to burst.  What effect will it have on our financial system when that finally happens?

#7 State And Local Government Debt Crisis – It is being reported that California is running out of cash again and there are cities all over the country that are on the verge of bankruptcy.  Could we see a significant municipal bond crisis in the next 12 months?

#8 The Collapse Of A Major U.S. Bank – A number of top U.S. banks are looking increasingly shaky.  In a recent article, David Trainer explained why he has such serious concerns about Bank of America right now….

In my opinion, there are four actions taken by financial services that signal the company is headed to serious trouble.

1. Management shake-up and major layoffs – lots of layoffs over the past year

2. Exploiting accounting rules to boost earnings – SFAS 159

3. Drawing down reserves to boost earnings: to the tune of $13.3 billion in 2011 and 2012

4. Bilking customers with new fees: tried it before and trying it again

Bank of America has taken all four steps.

#9 A Derivatives Crisis – The International Swaps and Derivatives Association recently ruled that the Greek debt deal will not trigger payouts on credit default swaps.  This is seriously shaking confidence in the global market for derivatives.  But the global financial system simply cannot afford a major derivatives crisis.

Estimates of the notional value of the worldwide derivatives market range from $600 trillion all the way up to $1.5 quadrillion.  The notional value of all derivatives held by Bank of America is approximately $75 trillion.  JPMorgan Chase is holding derivatives with a notional value of approximately $79 trillion.

When the derivatives bubble finally bursts it is going to be a financial horror show unlike anything we have ever seen.

#10 The Fall Of The Japanese Economy – The Japanese economy shrank at a 2.3 percent rate during the fourth quarter of 2011.  Japan has a debt to GDP ratio of over 200 percent and a major debt crisis involving Japan could erupt at any time.

#11 A “Solar Megastorm” – Scientists tell us that there is a “1 in 8 chance” that a “solar megastorm” will hit the earth by 2014.  A recent Daily Mail article detailed what some of the consequences of such an event would be….

‘We live in a cyber cocoon enveloping the Earth. Imagine what the consequences might be,’ Daniel Baker, of the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics told National Geographic when asked about a potential ‘megastorm’.

‘Every time you purchase a gallon of gas with your credit card, that’s a satellite transaction.

‘Imagine large cities without power for a week, a month, or a year. The losses could be $1 to $2 trillion, and the effects could be felt for years.

#12 A Major West Coast Earthquake Or Volcanic Eruption – On Monday, there was a 4.0 earthquake in San Francisco and a 6.1 earthquake in Argentina.  Is the “Ring of Fire” waking up again?

#13 Tornado Damage To Major U.S. Cities – Last year, the U.S. experienced one of the worst tornado seasons of all time.  This year, we have already seen the worst tornado outbreak ever recorded in the United States in the month of March.  A couple of towns in Indiana were completely wiped out by that outbreak.  So what should we expect when we get to the heart of tornado season this year?

#14 Severe Drought In The United States – Last summer was one of the driest summers on record in the United States, and in many areas there is simply not enough water available for farmers this year.  Some are even projecting that we could see “dust bowl conditions” return to some areas of the country eventually.

#15 An Asteroid Strike In 2013 – Although scientists tell us that the probability is extremely low, the truth is that there is a slight chance that a sizeable asteroid could hit the earth in February 2013.  The asteroid is estimated to be between 60 and 100 meters wide, and it is projected to pass by our planet “at a distance of under 27,000 km“.  If it did hit us (and scientists say that the odds of that happening are very low) it would potentially be as serious an event as the Tunguska Event in Siberia in 1908.  Mac Slavo of shtfplan.com recently described how awesome the Tunguska Event really was….

On June 30, 1908 an incoming meteor exploded approximately 5 miles above Siberia. The force of the air burst explosion, estimated at between 15 and 30 megatons, or about 1000 times bigger than the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima, was so powerful that it annihilated everything in an 830 square mile area, and reports suggest that that explosion was heard up to 1000 miles away. Because of the remoteness of the impact zone, the Tunguska Event over Siberia had very little effect on the human population in the region, but the destruction of some 80 million trees in the area shows just how powerful a blast was created.

Of course there are so many other “sudden change” events that could potentially happen – a terror event in a major U.S. city, a deadly pandemic, an EMP attack, cyberterrorism or a major political scandal could all possibly cause a stock market crash and an economic collapse in the United States.

In the world that we are living in today, you just never know what is going to happen.

So what are all of you concerned about over the next 12 months?

Do you see the potential for some “black swan events” to happen?

Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below….

 

Fall Of America Is Coming

The Economic Collapse

Are You Prepared For The Coming Economic Collapse And The Next Great Depression?

America 1950 vs. America 2012

http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/

Would you rather live in the America of 1950 or the America of 2012?  Has the United States changed for the better over the last 62 years?  Many fondly remember the 1950s and the 1960s as the “golden age” of America.  We emerged from World War II as the wealthiest and most powerful nation on the planet.  During that time period, just about anyone that wanted to get a job could find a job and the U.S. middle class expanded rapidly.  Back in 1950, America was still considered to be a “land of opportunity” and the economy was growing like crazy.  There was less crime, there was less divorce, the American people had much less debt and the world seemed a whole lot less crazy.  Most of the rest of the world deeply admired us and wanted to be more like us.  Of course there were a lot of things that were not great about America back in 1950, and there are many things that many of us dearly love that we would have to give up in order to go back and live during that time.  For example, there was no Internet back in 1950.  Instead of being able to go online and read the articles that you want to read, your news would have been almost entirely controlled by the big media companies of the day.  So there are definitely some advantages that we have today that they did not have back in 1950.  But not all of the changes have been for the better.  America is in a constant state of change, and many are deeply concerned about where all of these changes are taking us.

There has never been any society in the history of the world that has been perfect.  America was flawed in 1950 just as America is flawed today.

But that doesn’t mean that we should not reflect on how much things have changed over the past 62 years.

So which version of America would you rather live in?

America 1950 vs. America 2012 – you make the call….

In 1950, a gallon of gasoline cost about 27 cents.

In 2012, a gallon of gasoline costs $3.69.

In 1950, you could buy a first-class stamp for just 3 cents.

In 2012, a first-class stamp will cost you 45 cents.

In 1950, more than 80 percent of all men were employed.

In 2012, less than 65 percent of all men are employed.

In 1950, the average duration of unemployment was about 12 weeks.

In 2012, the average duration of unemployment is about 40 weeks.

In 1950, the average family spent about 22% of its income on housing.

In 2012, the average family spends about 43% of its income on housing.

In 1950, gum chewing and talking in class were some of the major disciplinary problems in our schools.

In 2012, many of our public schools have been equipped with metal detectors because violence has become so bad.

In 1950, mothers decided what their children would eat for lunch.

In 2012, lunches are inspected by government control freaks to make sure that they contain the “correct foods” in many areas of the country.  For example, one 4-year-old girl recently had her lunch confiscated by a “lunch monitor” because it did not meet USDA guidelines….

A preschooler at West Hoke Elementary School ate three chicken nuggets for lunch Jan. 30 because the school told her the lunch her mother packed was not nutritious.

The girl’s turkey and cheese sandwich, banana, potato chips, and apple juice did not meet U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines, according to the interpretation of the person who was inspecting all lunch boxes in the More at Four classroom that day.

The Division of Child Development and Early Education at the Department of Health and Human Services requires all lunches served in pre-kindergarten programs – including in-home day care centers – to meet USDA guidelines. That means lunches must consist of one serving of meat, one serving of milk, one serving of grain, and two servings of fruit or vegetables, even if the lunches are brought from home.

In 1950, the United States was #1 in GDP per capita.

In 2012, the United States is #13 in GDP per capita.

In 1950, redistribution of wealth was considered to be something that “the communists” did.

In 2012, the U.S. government redistributes more wealth than anyone else in the world.

In 1950, about 13 million Americans had manufacturing jobs.

In 2012, less than 12 million Americans have manufacturing jobs even though our population has more than doubled since 1950.

In 1950, the entire U.S. military was mobilized to protect the borders of South Korea.

In 2012, the U.S. borders with Mexico and Canada are wide open and now there are 1.4 million gang members living inside the United States.

In 1950, there were about 2 million people living in Detroit and it was one of the greatest cities on earth.

In 2012, there are about 700,000 people living in Detroit and it has become a symbol of what is wrong with the U.S. economy.

In 1950, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was slightly over the 200 mark.

In 2012, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is threatening to soar over the 13,000 mark.

In 1950, corporate taxes accounted for about 30 percent of all federal revenue.

In 2012, corporate taxes will account for less than 7 percent of all federal revenue.

In 1950, the median age at first marriage was about 22 for men and about 20 for women.

In 2012, the median age at first marriage is about 28 for men and about 26 for women.

In 1950, many Americans dressed up in suits and dresses before getting on an airplane.

In 2012, security goons look at the exposed forms of our women and our children before they are allowed to get on to an airplane.

In 1950, each retiree’s Social Security benefit was paid for by 16 workers.

In 2012, each retiree’s Social Security benefit is paid for by approximately 3.3 workers.

In 1950, many Americans regularly left their cars and the front doors of their homes unlocked.

In 2012, many Americans live with steel bars on their windows and gun sales are at record highs.

In 1950, the American people had a great love for the U.S. Constitution.

In 2012, if you are “reverent of individual liberty“, you may get labeled as a potential terrorist by the U.S. government.

In 1950, the United States loaned more money to the rest of the world than anybody else.

In 2012, the United States owes more money to the rest of the world than anybody else.

In 1950, the U.S. national debt was about 257 billion dollars.

In 2012, the U.S. national debt is 59 times larger.  It is currently sitting at a grand total of $15,435,694,556,033.29.  Surely our children and our grandchildren will thank us for that.

One of the only things that is constant in life is change.

Whether we like it or not, America is going to continue to change.

Back in the 1950s and 1960s, about 70 percent of all American adults were married.

Today, only about 50 percent of all American adults are married.

We are more independent, less religious, more addicted to entertainment and more doped up on prescription drugs than Americans used to be.

We have a higher standard of living than Americans in 1950 did, but we are also drowning in an ocean of debt unlike anything the world has ever seen.

For a lot more on how the U.S. economy is doing in 2012, just check out this list of interesting facts.

So is America 2012 a better version than America 1950 was?

Have we made progress since then or are we going backwards?

Please feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts below….

20 Signs That Dust Bowl Conditions Will Soon Return To The Heartland Of America

http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/

For decades, the heartland of America has been the breadbasket of the world.  Unfortunately, those days will shortly come to an end.  The central United States is rapidly drying up and dust bowl conditions will soon return.  There are a couple of major reasons for this.  Number one, the Ogallala Aquifer is being depleted at an astounding pace.  The Ogallala Aquifer is one of the largest bodies of fresh water in the entire world, and water from it currently irrigates more than 15 million acres of crops.  When that water is gone we will be in a world of hurt.  Secondly, drought conditions have become the “new normal” in many areas of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and other states in the middle part of the country.  Scientists tell us that the wet conditions that we enjoyed for several decades after World War II were actually the exception to the rule and that most of time time the interior west is incredibly dry.  They also tell us that when dust bowl conditions return to the area, they might stay with us a lot longer than a decade like they did during the 1930s.  Unfortunately, without water you cannot grow food, and with global food supplies as tight as they are right now we cannot afford to have a significant decrease in agricultural production.  But it is not just the central United States that is experiencing the early stages of a major water crisis.  Already many other areas around the nation are rapidly developing their own water problems.  As supplies of fresh water get tighter and tighter, some really tough decisions are going to have to be made.  Fresh water is absolutely essential to life, and it is going to become increasingly precious in the years ahead.

Most Americans have never even heard of the Ogallala Aquifer, but the truth is that it is one of the most important bodies of water on the globe.  It covers well over 100,000 square miles and it sits underneath the states of Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming and South Dakota.

Water drawn from the Ogallala Aquifer is used to water more than 15 million acres of crops.  Without this source of water, the United States would not be the breadbasket of the world.

That is why what is happening right now is so alarming.

The following are 20 signs that dust bowl conditions will soon return to the heartland of America….

#1 The Ogallala Aquifer is being drained at a rate of approximately 800 gallons per minute.

#2 According to the U.S. Geological Survey, since 1940 “a volume equivalent to two-thirds of the water in Lake Erie” has been permanently lost from the Ogallala Aquifer.

#3 Decades ago, the Ogallala Aquifer had an average depth of approximately 240 feet, but today the average depth is just 80 feet.  In some areas of Texas, the water is gone completely.

#4 Scientists are warning that nothing can be done to stop the depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer.  The ominous words of David Brauer of the Ogallala Research Service should alarm us all….

“Our goal now is to engineer a soft landing. That’s all we can do.”

#5 According to a recent National Geographic article, the average depletion rate of the Ogallala Aquifer is picking up speed….

Even more worrisome, the draining of the High Plains water account has picked up speed. The average annual depletion rate between 2000 and 2007 was more than twice that during the previous fifty years. The depletion is most severe in the southern portion of the aquifer, especially in Texas, where the water table beneath sizeable areas has dropped 100-150 feet; in smaller pockets, it has dropped more than 150 feet.

#6 According to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the U.S. interior west is now the driest that it has been in 500 years.

#7 It seems like the middle part of the United States experiences a major drought almost every single year now.  Last year, “the drought of 2011” virtually brought Texas agriculture to a standstill.  More than 80 percent of the state of Texas experienced “exceptional drought” conditions at some point, and it was estimated that about 30 percent of the wheat fields in Texas were lost.  Agricultural losses from the drought were estimated to be $3 billion in the state of Texas alone.

#8 Wildfires have burned millions of acres of vegetation in the central part of the United States in recent years.  For example, wildfires burned an astounding 3.6 million acres in the state of Texas alone during 2011.  This helps set the stage for huge dust storms in the future.

#9 Texas is not the only state that has been experiencing extremely dry conditions.  Oklahoma only got about 30 percent of the rainfall that it normally gets last summer.

#10 In some areas of the southwest United States we are already seeing huge dust storms come rolling through major cities.  You can view video of a giant dust storm rolling through Phoenix, Arizona right here.

#11 Unfortunately, scientists tell us that it would be normal for dust bowl conditions to persist in parts of North America for decades.  The following is from an article in the Vancouver Sun….

But University of Regina paleoclimatologist Jeannine-Marie St. Jacques says that decade-long drought is nowhere near as bad as it can get.

St. Jacques and her colleagues have been studying tree ring data and, at the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Vancouver over the weekend, she explained the reality of droughts.

“What we’re seeing in the climate records is these megadroughts, and they don’t last a decade—they last 20 years, 30 years, maybe 60 years, and they’ll be semi-continental in expanse,” she told the Regina Leader-Post by phone from Vancouver.

“So it’s like what we saw in the Dirty Thirties, but imagine the Dirty Thirties going on for 30 years. That’s what scares those of us who are in the community studying this data pool.”

#12 Experts tell us that U.S. water bills are likely to soar in the coming years.  It is being projected that repairing and expanding our decaying drinking water infrastructure will cost more than one trillion dollars over the next 25 years, and as a result our water bills will likely approximately triple over that time period.

#13 Right now, the United States uses approximately 148 trillion gallons of fresh water a year, and there is no way that is sustainable in the long run.

#14 According to a U.S. government report, 36 states are already facing water shortages or will be facing water shortages within the next few years.

#15 Lake Mead supplies about 85 percent of the water to Las Vegas, and since 1998 the level of water in Lake Mead has dropped by about 5.6 trillion gallons.

#16 A federal judge has ruled that the state of Georgia has very few legal rights to Lake Lanier, and since Lake Lanier is the main water source for the city of Atlanta that presents quite a problem.

#17 It has been estimated that the state of California only has a 20 year supply of fresh water left.

#18 It has been estimated that the state of New Mexico only has a 10 year supply of fresh water left.

#19 Approximately 40 percent of all rivers in the United States and approximately 46 percent of all lakes in the United States have become so polluted that they are are no longer fit for human use.

#20 Eight states in the Great Lakes region have signed a pact banning the export of water from the Great Lakes to outsiders – even to other U.S. states.

Unfortunately, it is not just the United States that is facing a shortage of fresh water in the near future.  The reality is that most of the rest of the world is in far worse shape than we are.  Just consider the following stats….

-According to the United Nations, the world is going to need at least 30 percent more fresh water by the year 2030.

-Global demand for fresh water tripled during the last century, and is now increasing faster than ever before.

-According to USAID, one-third of the people on earth will be facing severe or chronic water shortages by the year 2025.

-Of the 60 million people added to the cities of the world each year, the vast majority of them live in deeply impoverished areas that have no sanitation facilities whatsoever.

-It has been estimated that 75 percent of all surface water in India has been heavily contaminated by human or agricultural waste.

-Sadly, according to one UN study on sanitation, far more people in India have access to a cell phone than to a toilet.

-Every 8 seconds, somewhere in the world a child dies from drinking dirty water.

Due to a lack of water, Saudi Arabia has given up on trying to grow wheat and will be 100 percent dependent on wheat imports by the year 2016.

-Each year in northern China, the water table drops by an average of about one meter due to severe drought and overpumping, and the size of the desert increases by an area equivalent to the state of Rhode Island.

-In China, 80 percent of the major rivers have become so horribly polluted that they do not support any aquatic life at all at this point.

-In sub-Saharan Africa, drought has become a way of life.  Collectively, the women of South Africa walk the equivalent of the distance to the moon and back 16 times a day just to get water.

It has been said that “water is the new gold”, and unfortunately we are getting close to a time when that may actually be true.

Without water, none of us could survive for long.  Just try not using water for anything for 12 hours some time.  It is a lot harder than you may think.

We can’t grow our food in a pile of dust.  Unfortunately, many areas of the heartland of America are slowly but surely heading in that direction.

History tells us that it is only a matter of time before dust bowl conditions return to the central United States.  We have used irrigation and other technologies to delay the inevitable, but in the end it cannot be stopped.

Let us hope that the return of dust bowl conditions can be put off for as long as possible, but let us also prepare diligently for the worst.

20 Economic Statistics To Use To Wake Sheeple Up From Their Entertainment-Induced Comas

http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/

The Dow has closed above 13,000 for the first time since 2008, and the mainstream media is declaring that a strong economic recovery is underway.  Barack Obama is telling anyone who will listen that his economic policies are a huge success, and U.S. consumers are piling up astounding amounts of new debt.  Unfortunately, this euphoria about the economy will be short-lived.  None of the long-term problems that are destroying the U.S. economy have been solved.  In fact, there are dozens of statistics that can be quoted that prove that the U.S. economy is in far worse shape than it was when the recession supposedly ended.  If dramatic changes are not made very rapidly, our nation is going to smash directly into an economic brick wall.  Sadly, most Americans are so addicted to entertainment that they have no idea what is about to happen.  Most of them are “sheeple” that are content to trust that the “experts” know exactly how to fix our problems as they continue to enjoy their entertainment-induced comas.  After all, it is much easier to turn on “American Idol” or “Dancing With The Stars” than it is to think about debt ratios and monetary policy.  But that doesn’t mean that we should not try to wake the sheeple up.  It just means that it will not be easy.

If you went to the doctor tomorrow and he told you to take some little blue pills without telling you anything else, would you take them?

Of course not.

You would want to know what the little blue pills are for.

But if your doctor told you that you have a deadly incurable disease that is about to kill you, and that the little blue pills are the only cure, then you would definitely be interested in taking them.

Well, it is the same way with the American people.  Until they understand just how sick the economy is, they will not be interested in fighting for a solution.

We need to show all the sheeple out there that the U.S. economy has terminal cancer and is headed for death.

We need to show them that the future of our children and our grandchildren is literally being destroyed.

Way too many Americans are sitting around waiting for the government to save them.

It isn’t going to happen.

It is up to those of us that are awake to wake up those that are asleep.

And there are many out there that think that they are awake that are only partially awake.

One very famous author once wrote that “people are destroyed for lack of knowledge”, and that is exactly what is happening in America today.  Most Americans simply don’t understand what is happening economically, politically, socially, morally or financially in this nation.

Please help me wake the sheeple up.

The following are 20 economic statistics to use to wake sheeple up from their entertainment-induced comas….

#1 The United States has more government debt per capita than Greece, Portugal, Italy, Ireland or Spain.

#2 The European Commission has formally declared that Europe has now entered another recession.  German banks are leveraged 32 to 1 and the European financial system is rapidly approaching a nightmare.  Lehman Brothers was only leveraged 30 to 1 when it finally collapsed.

#3 There are clear signs that economic activity is also significantly slowing down in the United States.  For example, new orders for goods manufactured in the United States experienced the biggest drop in three years in January.

#4 U.S. consumers are busy racking up staggering amounts of debt once again.  Total consumer debt rose at an annual rate of 9.3 percent in December.  It is now sitting at a grand total of 2.498 trillion dollars.

#5 The U.S. Postal Service has announced plans to eliminate 35,000 more jobs.

#6 There are more unemployed Americans than there are people living in the entire nation of Greece.

#7 The percentage of American men that have jobs is near an all-time record low.

#8 Right now, there are 88 million working age Americans that do not have jobs and that the government says are not looking for jobs.

#9 The average duration of unemployment in the United States is nearly three times as long as it was back in the year 2000.

#10 In January 2009, there were 2.6 million “long-term unemployed workers” according to the federal government.  Today, there are 5.6 million.

#11 The average price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States has risen by 14 cents in just the past week, and the average price of a gallon of gasoline in the state of California is now an astounding $4.29.  Sadly, the price of gas is expected to continue rising over the next few months.

#12 The U.S. housing market continues to struggle deeply.  Home prices in the 4th quarter of 2011 were four percent lower than they were during the 4th quarter of 2010.  Overall, U.S. home prices are 34 percent lower than they were back at the peak of the housing bubble.

#13 Large numbers of Americans are putting off basic health procedures due to the declining economy.  Just consider the following example from a recent Huffington Post article….

Americans between the ages of 50 to 64 got 500,000 fewer colonoscopies, or screenings aimed at detecting colon cancer, during the recession, compared to the two years before, according to a recent study from researchers at the University of North Carolina’s medical school.

#14 The number of Americans on food stamps has increased by almost 50 percent since Barack Obama first took office.

#15 Right now, 48 percent of all Americans are considered to be either “low income” or “living in poverty”.

#16 The U.S. government is stealing about 150 million dollars from our children and our grandchildren every single hour of every single day.

#17 If Bill Gates gave all of his money to the U.S. government, it would only cover the U.S. budget deficit for about 15 days.

#18 Since the Federal Reserve was created, the U.S. dollar has declined in value by more than 95 percent and the U.S. national debt has gotten more than 5000 times larger.

#19 Approximately 25 million American adults are living with their parents.  Most of them are doing it for economic reasons.

#20 According to a new Politico poll, only 30 percent of all Americans believe that the next generation will be “better off economically” than the previous generation.

For many more current statistics about the U.S. economy, check out the interesting facts which I documented in this previous article.

Thankfully, there are others out there such as trends researcher Gerald Celente that are tirelessly working to sound the alarm.  Celente is convinced that the U.S. financial system is rapidly heading for a disaster.  Just consider the following quotes from Celente in a recent USA Today article….

“2012 is when many of the long-simmering socioeconomic and political trends that we have been forecasting and tracking will climax,” Celente noted in his Top 12 Trends 2012 newsletter. In an interview he added: “When money stops flowing to the man on the street, blood starts flowing in the street.”

Even some politicians on the state level are deeply concerned about the possibility of a massive financial meltdown.

For example, a bill has been introduced in Wyoming that would set up “a state-run government continuity task force” which would develop plans for how Wyoming would deal with potential disasters such as a “complete meltdown of the federal government”, an economic collapse or a major disruption in food and energy supplies….

State Rep. David Miller, R-Riverton, has seen the national debt rise above $15 trillion and protest movements grow around the country. Wealthy Americans are fleeing the country, he says, and confidence in the dollar has taken a hit around the world.

If America’s economic and social problems continue to escalate and spiral out of control, Miller said, Wyoming needs to be ready. So, he’s introduced legislation to create a state-run government continuity task force, which would study and prepare Wyoming for potential catastrophes, from disruptions in food and energy supplies to a complete meltdown of the federal government.

It would even look at the feasibility of quickly providing an alternative currency in Wyoming should the U.S. dollar collapse entirely.

But for many Americans, the “meltdown” has already happened on a personal level.

Many are going to extreme lengths in an attempt to survive in this economy.

For example, one ex-police officer in Ohio got so desperate that he decided that it would be better to get arrested for bank robbery and be thrown in prison than to be homeless and living in the streets….

Former Columbus police officer Edward Pascucci had been jobless for more than a year and was facing homelessness last summer when he decided to rob a local bank. Making off with stacks of cash, however, never was his intention.

Pascucci told a federal judge on Thursday he’d run out of options, was facing “severe health problems” and opted to avail himself of the services offered by the federal penal system rather than live on the street.

Can you imagine that?

Can you imagine getting arrested just so that you could get free health care and wouldn’t have to sleep in the streets?

Meanwhile, the Obamas are living the high life and seem to have developed a “let them eat cake” mentality.  The following is from a recent article in The Daily Mail….

The Obama family just finished a luxury ski vacation in Aspen, Colorado. This comes on the heels of a Hawaiian Christmas vacation for the family that lasted a few weeks. The 2011 Hawaiian vacation cost the American taxpayers $4 million and a big increase from the 2010 bill sent to the American people for $2.5 million, according to the Huffington Post.

Over the past three summers, the Obama’s have vacationed in the exclusive Blue Heron Farm in Chilmark, Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. President Obama has a reputation for hitting every golf course on this island vacation spot for the rich and famous.

There is nothing wrong with a President taking a modest vacation, but there is a problem when the political leader of America is taking frequent swanky vacations when average Americans are experiencing economic pain.

Shouldn’t the Obamas be setting an example for the rest of us during these hard economic times?

Unfortunately, Barack Obama seems to believe that the worst of our economic troubles is now behind us.

If only that were true.

During this short-lived bubble of false hope, we should all be working hard to prepare for what is ahead.

A menacing storm is on the horizon and it will be here way too soon.

Let us wake up as many of the sheeple as we can while there is still time.

Barnhardt: On Money, Banking, And Men

Barnhardt: On Money, Banking, And Men


From Ann Barnhardt:

ON MONEY, BANKING AND MEN (1 OF 3)
POSTED BY ANN BARNHARDT – FEBRUARY 29, AD 2012 11:22 PM MST

If you know how bad the situation is and don’t feel the need to subject yourself to any more of my patented Barnhardt Phillipic and Funeral Dirge for Civilization, take your leave now, because I honestly think that this is the the saddest, most profoundly depressing post I have yet written.

And I’ve written a few.

A few thousand.

The topic is the US Dollar, and currency in general. The Federal Reserve has been willfully and systematically debasing the US dollar for a century by claiming that 2% inflation is the benchmark of a healthy economy. Since the universities and media have been overrun by Marxists, there is hardly anyone alive who A.) is in possession of the capacity to independently think and reason their way through such a question and B.) anyone who cares in the first place.

In addition to the slow grinding debasement by the Fed, the Marxists have finally fully usurped and overthrown the government of the United States, and thus have now executed the coup de grace: wild, flagrant money “printing”, and by “printing”, please understand that we are not talking about the fabrication of paper bills. We are talking about computerized entries into the Federal Reserve’s ledger. The Fed literally types in an addition of x billion or y trillion dollars into its balance sheet – creating dollars out of thin air that exist as zeroes and ones on a computer server – and then use those new dollars to purchase US Treasury bonds. In this way, the Obama regime and its puppetmasters have debased the US dollar by roughly one half the total GDP in less than four years. This iteration of both the United States and the US Dollar are over. There is no way to walk back the damage that the Obama regime has done. They have accomplished their mission, no matter what happens from this day forward.

After reading and reviewing my texts on monetary theory from Mises, Hayek, Friedman and contemporary economists including Denninger, I have come to a profound realization about money and the fiat vs commodity money (i.e. gold-backed currency) debate – and it bodes very, very poorly for us.

First, a few preliminary points.

1. Going to a gold standard will solve nothing. This is not to say that I don’t think that gold and silver are good wealth storage vehicles in this situation. To the contrary, I think they are excellent for these times. BUT, simply reverting to the gold standard, in and of itself, will not turn us around. We will, at some point, be FORCED to revert to the primordial commodity currency paradigm simply because our government and society will collapse, and thus our currency with it. If and when our culture rebuilds itself, if we remain as we are, the exact same problems that have arisen under the fiat money system will emerge again, even under a gold-backed currency.

So why has civilization, up until just within the last few decades, operated on commodity money systems, and why is it plausible to think that any fiat currency could ever have any legitimacy? The reason why civilization has used commodity money, namely gold and silver, up until just recently is because up until just recently, there was no way to instantly verify money held on deposit, or the existence of a line of credit. With computers and the internet, such instant checks are as common as breathing, blinking and walking. We don’t even think about it anymore. We go to the sandwich shop, get our sandwich, and in less than three seconds, the vendor has confirmed that we have funds, and then transferred those funds into his account. In the centuries and millennia past, people would load chests filled with gold coinage and jewels onto sailing ships and set out for distant lands. Why did they take their gold and jewels with them and risk losing that money to shipwreck or piracy? Because they had to take it with them. The only way to confirm your wealth to others was to physically possess it. Physical possession and spot exchange was also the only way to execute mercantile transactions. If we lose telecommunications and computing ability due to the successful detonation of an Electromagnetic Pulse weapon, or simply due to the total breakdown of society and the ability to maintain and power such systems, then indeed, this argument will become moot. BUT, so long as there is near-instant data transmission, commodity money will be theoretically optional (*with a qualifier to be addressed later in Part 3).

While we are looking at history, it bears mentioning that metals-backed currencies have not prevented other economic calamities. Just in the United States, the Great Depression of the 1930’s and the post-Civil War depression of 1873-1879, now called the Long Depression, which was actually caused by the manipulation of silver demand by the German Empire, were not magically prevented by metals-backed currency. Returning to a gold standard would not prevent recessions from happening. In fact, recessions are a necessary fact of economies, and serve to deflate bubbles and restore equilibrium. The only people who promise to eliminate economic recessions are Marxists, and that is because Marxists are liars. Just as all respiring beings on earth must both inhale and exhale, so too must economies. A person who perpetually inhaled would eventually burst their lungs and die. Conversely, a person who could only exhale would asphyxiate and die. But both actions, in a balanced, moderate cycle, are the definition of health. It is the same with economies: periods of expansion followed by a healthy, normal contraction that deflated any bubbles and restored equilibrium, thus setting up the next expansion phase.

2. Metals-backed currencies can be corrupted, too. There are two ways to corrupt a metals-backed currency, and it has happened many, many times throughout history. The first means pertains to coinage, and is to corrupt the metal itself with cheaper metals, such as zinc. The Roman denarius was debased from 4.5 grams of pure silver to less than one tenth of a gram of silver. Hyperinflation was the inevitable result, and the currency had to eventually be totally replaced.

The second means, which pertains to paper and electronic currency, is for the government to lie about the reserve quantity. This could either be done by explicitly lying about the number of ounces in storage, OR could be done by clandestinely issuing dollars to cronies of the oligarchy, which were NOT actually backed by any metal, and thus would be a de facto lie as to the supply. Since the people would be unable to demand a daily audit and reconciliation, the ability to police and reconcile the supply of metal and dollars would be impossible, and exactly the same things that are going on today, namely government looting of the Treasury and debasement of the currency, would continue apace.

ON MONEY, BANKING AND MEN (2 OF 3)
POSTED BY ANN BARNHARDT – FEBRUARY 29, AD 2012 11:20 PM MST

The problem lies in our overtly criminal government, obviously, but also in the banking paradigm itself. Fractional reserve banking with unsecured lending has got to go. In the current banking paradigm, banks are required to keep from zero percent to ten percent (yes, that’s right, ZERO PERCENT) of customer deposits on hand as reserves, and loan the rest of the money out. If a customer deposits $100 in Bank A, $90 is lent out and $10 remains as reserve (and this is the CONSERVATIVE version). Whoever borrowed the $90 then deposits it in Bank B. Bank B then lends out $81 and keeps $9 in reserve. And so on, and so on. If you go through ten cycles this way, you end up with the original $100 being leveraged into $686.19 of deposits backed by only the original $100. This is what they call “money creation.” For you math buffs, this is a limit function. With a 10% reserve requirement on a $100 initial deposit sum, the limit terminates at $1000. With a 5% reserve requirement on $100, the limit terminates at $2000. With a zero percent reserve requirement, the limit is obviously infinite.
A reasonable, non-zero reserve ratio is workable, but only so long as banks are required to carry one dollar of reserves for every one dollar they lend out. These reserves can be either in the form of the bank’s own capital, OR in the form of FAIRLY VALUED booking of the assets purchased with the loan. All unsecured lending must stop. This means that all home mortgages must be marked-to-market every single day, and if the home is worth less than the loan outstanding, the bank must post its own capital against the shortfall. This also means that credit cards, which are totally unsecured because they are used to purchase mostly non-assets, such as meals, gasoline, vacations and pure service commodities, must be backed by bank capital dollar-for-dollar. The bank could sell bonds to raise capital if it wants to make unsecured loans and then would be arbitraging the spread between the interest rate it must pay on the bonds and the interest rate plus default risk on the credit cards. In this way, the worst that could possibly happen, namely every unsecured credit line totally defaulting, would result in the bank owners and investors losing their money – but the customer deposits would be safe because all of the loans against hard assets, which would be properly valued and marked-to-market, could be sold to other banks in the market, and that revenue would fully cover all customer deposits.

In not posting capital against unsecured loans, the banks are indeed naked short selling our currency – and it matters not whether that currency is gold-backed or not. The credit card customer is promising to pay back (deliver) a loan with money that they do not have and does not exist, and they won’t be able to borrow. So, the bank and the customer together are colluding in the naked short sale. The long on the other side is the citizen and taxpayer who will subsidize the inevitable “need” to print more dollars to “bail out” both the bank and the customer. Taxes will be raised and the currency will be further debased, causing price inflation – a one-two punch to the citizen. This is EXACTLY what is happening to us today.

Well, the reality today is that banks are both writing massive quantities of unsecured loans and doing nothing on their side to balance the ledger, AND they are failing to honestly and realistically book the values of their hard-asset loans. The big banks are still booking home values at their original purchase price – not the fair market value today. Given the housing bubble, most mortgages today are underwater and are worth far, far less than the principal balance to say nothing of interest. This is why I say, echoing others, that the major banks in this country are not just totally insolvent, they are insolvent multiple times over. If the government wasn’t criminal and the favored banks of the oligarchs actually had to comply with Sarbanes-Oxley, the entire system would implode into a singularity tomorrow.

For more info and a much better explanation of the concepts covered to this point, do purchase “Leverage” by Karl Denninger – a very easy-to-grasp, detailed explanation of the whole, stinking mess.

CLICK HERE TO BUY “LEVERAGE”.

ON MONEY, BANKING AND MEN (3 OF 3)
POSTED BY ANN BARNHARDT – FEBRUARY 29, AD 2012 11:14 PM MST

And that brings us to the conclusion and actual point.

All of the stuff outlined above is all well and good to talk about, but as I was reading, including opposing thoughts from other schools, including the Austrian School which advocates full-reserve banking in some instances, namely demand deposits – a possibility to which I am not entirely opposed – I kept running into the 400 pound gorilla, which is silently acknowledged, but never really discussed, because the discussion would inevitably lead to talk of morality and thus . . . religion.
At the end of the day, any currency is backed not by physical commodities or a collective abstraction called “a government”. No. A currency is backed by the character and integrity of men that constitute the issuing nation or body. In short, WE ARE THE GOLD. We are the bearers of the “full faith and credit” which backs our Federal Reserve notes today. And that, dear readers, is why this country is not going to turn itself around anytime soon, and is almost certainly doomed in the short-run.

Every text I read over the last few days always included a very brief caveat that all of the preceding theory was, of course, contingent on a moral society with a functioning rule of law, honest regulation and a populace that was mostly honorable and trustworthy. This caveat was phrased differently in each instance, but it was always there, hanging over everything else like a fine mist. If you have a nation of moral degenerates, all bets are off. If the people are more dishonest than honest, and the government is nothing more than a mafia, then all economic systems and all postulations fly apart at the seams. If there is no rule of law, and if theft, graft and looting are the prevalent systems of economic activity, then no matter what your banking system, no matter what your currency – fiat or commodity-backed, your system and your economy will absolutely, positively fail eventually.

Sadly, that is where we are in this country. Sure, there are still good people, but as a percentage it isn’t even remotely enough to bear the burden of the massive moral degeneracy of the others. Even among those people who would never steal or loot, there is a decided lack of courage to stand up to those who do steal and loot. The MF Global confiscation proves this. People have mostly rolled over and taken having their money stolen, shrugging their shoulders and telling themselves that there is nothing they can do – and then going back for more, continuing to patronize the very exchange that facilitated the theft and fraud. To my knowledge, only one broker has exited the field on purely moral grounds in a pre-emptive action to protect clients, and as a protest to the injustice of the system itself.

Our government is saturated with corruption, looting and outright treason and criminality, and yet most people simply cannot be bothered to care, much less to act, and are thus passively complicit. A non-trivial percentage of the population are planning and maneuvering to best “benefit” or profiteer from the criminality and fundamental dishonesty of the paradigm. Others are attempting to enter the oligarch class themselves under the guise of running for political office – and make no mistake, this encompasses both the so-called left and the so-called right on the political spectrum. The degeneracy is everywhere.

The fall of a society can happen very quickly. Our society has taken roughly 50 years to topple. If the previous example of the Russian culture is any example, we can expect it to take many multiples of 50 years to undo this damage, if and only if the pendulum has reached its maximum amplitude and now begins to swing back, which I fear has not yet happened. Morality cannot be legislated. Cultures cannot be purged of evil, selfishness and sloth overnight – even with a war. I cannot lie to you and tell you that short of Divine Intervention, this situation will resolve itself in any of our lifetimes. We had “it.” We had “it”, and we squandered “it”, and now “it” is gone, and no governmental, economic or monetary policy will get “it” back. “It” can only come from God, dwelling in the hearts of men, and God only comes to men if they specifically ask Him.

We, the people, always have been and always will be the ultimate backing commodity of our currency, because at its core, money is merely the representative device for a man’s capacity to produce and create. Dishonest men do not create or produce. They steal. Thus, the currency of a morally degenerated society is by definition degenerate itself. The currency of a degenerate society is the proxy not for a man’s ability to work and think, but rather a proxy for a man’s capacity to steal and evade work.

We used to be like gold – beautiful and warm. Now we are like pig iron – cold, brittle and good-for-nothing. And THAT is what constitutes the “full faith and credit” that backs the U.S. Dollar. So long as our culture remains degenerate, our currency can never be anything but spiraling, worthless trash.

Warning Signs That We Should Prepare For The Worst

Warning Signs That We Should Prepare For The Worst

http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/warning-signs-that-we-should-prepare-for-the-worst

The warning signs are all around us.  All we have to do is open up our eyes and look at them.  Almost every single day there are more prominent voices in the financial world telling us that a massive economic crisis is coming and that we need to prepare for the worst.  On Wednesday, it was the World Bank itself that issued a very chilling warning.  In an absolutely startling report, the World Bank revised GDP growth estimates for 2012 downward very sharply, warned that Europe could be on the verge of a devastating financial crisis, and declared that the rest of the world better “prepare for the worst.”  You would expect to hear this kind of thing on The Economic Collapse Blog, but this is not the kind of language that you would normally expect to hear from the stuffed suits at the World Bank.  Obviously things have gotten bad enough that nobody is even really trying to deny it anymore.  Andrew Burns, the lead author of the report, said that if the sovereign debt crisis gets even worse we could be looking at an economic crisis that could be even worse than the last one: “An escalation of the crisis would spare no-one. Developed- and developing-country growth rates could fall by as much or more than in 2008/09.”  Burns also stated that the “importance of contingency planning cannot be stressed enough.”  In other words, Burns is saying that it is time to prepare for the worst.  So are you ready?

But of course it isn’t just the World Bank that is warning about these things.  The chorus of voices that is warning about the next great financial crisis just seems to grow by the day.

Some of these voices were profiled in a Bloomberg article the other day entitled “Apocalypse How? Dire ’12 Forecasts“.  The following is just a sampling of quotes from that article….

-John Mauldin, president of Millennium Wave Advisors: “We’ve got a cancer. That cancer is debt”

-Mark Spitznagel of Universa Investments: “Too much malinvestment has been kept alive, and history shows an inevitable wipeout, which started in 2000.”

-Michael Panzner of Financial Armageddon: “The fundamental outlook is even worse now than it was a few weeks ago, given (the lack of positive) developments in Europe and growing evidence that the economies of major countries around the world are deteriorating fast.”

If you have time, you should go check out the rest of that article.  It really is fascinating.

When this crisis is over, all sorts of people are going to be running around claiming that they predicted it.  But it does not take a genius to see what is coming.  All you have to do is open up your eyes and look at the flashing red warning signs.

So what should we all be looking for next?

March 20th is a key date to keep your eye on.  That is the day when Greece will either makes its 14.5 billion euro bond payment or it will default.

Greece does not have a prayer of making that payment without help.  If Greece can convince the EU and the IMF to release the next scheduled bailout payment and if Greece can reach a satisfactory deal with private bondholders, then the coming Greek default might be “orderly”.  But if something goes wrong, the coming Greek default might be quite “disorderly”.

At this point, almost everyone in the financial world is anticipating a Greek default of one form or another….

-Edward Parker, the managing director for Fitch’s sovereign and supranational group in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, recently declared that a Greek default is inevitable….

“It is going to happen. Greece is insolvent so it will default.”

-Moritz Kraemer, the head of S&P’s European sovereign ratings unit, made the following statement on Bloomberg Television on Monday:

“Greece will default very shortly. Whether there will be a solution at the end of the current rocky negotiations I cannot say.”

-Richard McGuire, a strategist at Dutch bank Rabobank, was recently quoted by CNBC as saying the following….

“People often ask if Greece is going to default which … is a misnomer because Greece is (already) defaulting”

-Diane Swonk, the chief economist at Mesirow Financial in Chicago, says that the default by Greece will probably be an “orderly” one but that the situation could change at any moment….

“It appears at the moment that the market is accepting a Greek default as inevitable, and it will be an orderly default. But that can change on a dime.”

But whether there is a default or not, the reality is that Greece is already experiencing a full-blown economic depression.  In Greece, 20 percent of all retail stores have already shut down.  The unemployment rate for those under the age of 24 is now at 39 percent.  Large numbers of Greeks are trying to get themselves and their money out of the country while they still can.

Pessimism regarding Greece is at an all-time high.  Michael Fuchs, the deputy leader of Angela Merkel’s political party, recently made the following statement….

“I don’t think that Greece, in its current condition, can be saved.”

But of course Greece is not the only declining economy in Europe by a long shot.

Italy has a much larger economy, and if Italy totally collapses it will be an absolute nightmare for the entire globe.

Right now, the Bank of Italy is forecasting a significant recession for the Italian economy in 2012.  The following is from a statement that Bank of Italy has just released….

“The uncertainty that surrounds the medium-term perspectives of the Italian economy … are extraordinarily high and are directly linked to the evolution of the eurozone debt crisis”

Italy’s youth unemployment rate has hit the highest level ever, and nearly all sectors of the Italian economy are showing signs of slowing down.

Plus there is the looming problem of Italian debt.  As I wrote about yesterday, when you add the maturing debt that the Italian government must roll over in 2012 to their projected budget deficit, it comes to 23.1 percent of Italy’s GDP.

Originally it was hoped that the economic problems in Europe could be contained to just a few countries.  But now it has become clear that is just not going to happen.

Trends forecaster Gerald Celente recently explained to ABC Australia that much of Europe is already essentially experiencing an economic depression….

“If you live in Greece, you’re in a depression; if you live in Spain, you’re in a depression; if you live in Portugal or Ireland, you’re in a depression,” Celente said. “If you live in Lithuania, you’re running to the bank to get your money out of the bank as the bank runs go on. It’s a depression. Hungary, there’s a depression, and much of Eastern Europe, Romania, Bulgaria. And there are a lot of depressions going on [already].”

The troubling news out of Europe just seems to keep coming in waves.  Here are some more recent examples….

-Manufacturing activity in the euro zone has fallen for five months in a row.

-Germany’s economy actually contracted during the 4th quarter of 2011.

-It is being reported that the Spanish economy contracted during the 4th quarter of 2011.

-Bad loans in Spain recently hit a 17-year high and the unemployment rate is at a 15-year high.

So will all of this economic trouble eventually spread to the United States?

Of course it will.

The global economy is more interconnected today than ever.  Back in 2008 the financial crisis that started on Wall Street ended up devastating economies all over the planet.  The same thing will happen during this next great financial crisis.

Only this time the U.S. is in a much weaker position.  The U.S. debt problem has gotten much worse since the last crisis.

During 2008, our national debt crossed the 10 trillion dollar mark.  Less than 4 years later, we have crossed the 15 trillion dollar mark.

So what are we going to do the next time large numbers of banks fail and unemployment skyrockets?

Where are we going to get the money to bail out all of those banks and to take care of all of those newly unemployed people?

Some people say that socialism is the answer, but the truth is that we are already a socialist welfare state.  If you can believe it, nearly half of all Americans live in a household that receives some form of financial benefits from the U.S. government.

During the next great crisis, the number of people that are dependent on the government will go even higher.

If you don’t want to end up dependent on the government, you should heed the warning signs and you should use this time to prepare for the hard times that are coming.

When even the World Bank tells us to hope for the best but to prepare for the worst, you know that it is late in the game.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of people out there only believe what they want to believe.  They don’t want to believe that a great economic crisis is coming, and so when it does happen they are going to be absolutely blindsided by it.