The Real Reason For America’s Looming Retirement Crisis

The Real Reason For America’s Looming Retirement Crisis | Retirement-Crisis | Economy & Business Special Interests

Did you know that approximately 40 percent of all American workers have absolutely nothing saved for retirement? And did you know that pension funds in the United States are currently underfunded by about six trillion dollars? Social Security is supposed to be the underlying safety net for our entire retirement system, but it is essentially just a massive Ponzi scheme that everyone agrees is heading for a major disaster. Now that the Baby Boomers have started to retire, it is becoming clear that our society simply does not have the resources necessary to keep all of the promises that we have made to them. We are facing a retirement crisis of epic proportions, and by the end of this article you will understand the real reason why we have gotten into this mess.

Like so many other industrialized nations, America’s population is rapidly aging. In fact, in some rural areas of the country entire towns are in the process of slowly disappearing as their populations literally die off. The following is an excerpt from an outstanding article that was published by The Atlantic

It can be a pretty depressing proposition to start counting the deaths in this tiny town set among the hills and buttes of central Oregon.

Sherian Asher, 74, began keeping track a few years ago, despite herself, until she realized the tally: four deaths a month, in a town of 450. Then she stopped counting.

Fossil, Asher said, is “just going to die out.”

Businesses are disappearing, too. There used to be four gas stations, three grocery stores, three car dealers, and a lumber mill. Now, there’s just one restaurant in town open at night. The nearest hospital is more than an hour away, the nearest city, Bend, is two-and-a-half.

The Baby Boomers in particular pose a unique challenge for our society, because they represent a massive demographic bubble that has fundamentally altered our culture as they have passed through each stage of life. Now they are retiring in extremely large numbers, and many of them are completely unprepared for retirement.

Of course most of those coming after them are not preparing for retirement either. In fact, the executive director of the National Institute on Retirement Security says that 40 percent of all American workers have nothing saved up for retirement at all

“We have a lot of individuals who have nothing saved for retirement, about 40 percent of the workforce,” said Diane Oakley, executive director of the National Institute on Retirement Security. When her organization used census data to assess whether households were saving enough to retire with eight times their projected income, a very conservative estimate of retirement preparedness, “we found that 60 percent of households weren’t on track.”

Those numbers are absolutely staggering.

What in the world are we going to do once all of those people hit retirement age?

401(k) plans were supposed to revolutionize the way that Americans prepare for retirement, but that simply has not happened. In fact, USA Today is reporting that those that are participating in such plans only “have an average of $14,500 in their retirement accounts”…

The current retirement system in America hinges on the 401(k) plan, which replaced pensions as the go-to source of retirement income. But over the past 35 years that effort has been failing because participants are not contributing enough, asking for withdrawals and not repaying 401(k) loans. More participants are instead treating their 401(k) as a checking account and making very little effort to learn how to manage their investments. The chart below outlines how less than half of Americans now participate in retirement plans and those that do have an average of $14,500 in their retirement accounts, when they will need between 20 and 30 times that amount.

How long will $14,500 last you?

Perhaps if you are very thrifty it might last you six months.

Of course it is quite difficult to find money to put into your retirement account when you are living paycheck to paycheck, and some recent surveys have found that this is the case for about two-thirds of the population.

In the old days, many large companies offered pensions, but once 401(k) plans were introduced that number dropped significantly.

These days it is mostly federal, state and local government workers that are covered by pension plans, but unfortunately many of those pensions are severely underfunded.

This is something that I covered in substantial depth on the Economic Collapse Blog recently. In my piece, I pointed out a Bloomberg article that stated that overall there would be a pension funding gap of somewhere around 6 trillion dollars if honest numbers were being used. And that 6 trillion dollar shortfall would only apply if stock prices stay at current levels. If stock valuations simply returned to normal levels, pension funds would lose trillions upon trillions of dollars and we would very rapidly have a national crisis on our hands.

But if everything else fails, don’t we at least have Social Security?

I wouldn’t be so sure. Everyone knows that Social Security is essentially a Ponzi scheme that is living on borrowed time.

According to Reuters, one recent survey discovered that just 37 percent of all U.S. workers are “very or somewhat confident” that payouts from the system will continue at current levels in the future…

No surprise, then, that only 37 percent of workers are “very or somewhat confident” that Social Security will be able to maintain current benefit levels in the future, according to survey research by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) – although confidence is much higher among older workers and retirees.

From a math standpoint, potential solutions to the problem are straightforward. The cuts can be avoided through increased revenue, benefit reductions or some combination of the two. But the politics are another matter.

Of course there are many reasons why we are in such a mess, but perhaps the biggest reason is because we don’t have nearly enough young people in the workforce paying taxes to support all of the older people that are retiring.

If we had tens of millions more taxpayers, pension funds all across the country would be much more solvent.

If we had tens of millions more taxpayers, the Social Security system would be just fine.

But we don’t have tens of millions more taxpayers, because we killed them.

Since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, we have killed close to 60 million children. Most of those children would be in the workforce today, but since they aren’t we have a major financial nightmare on our hands.

Throughout human history, the next generation has always taken care of the preceding generation once they have gotten too old to work.

But we have forfeited that right, because we committed mass murder. Now an unprecedented retirement crisis is looming, and nobody is going to have much sympathy for us when the whole system comes crashing down.


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Absurd Valuations on Unprofitable Tech Stocks

Absurd Valuations on Unprofitable Tech Stocks | stock-market-economy | Economy & Business Special Interests

The Treasury Secretary chimes in on what any market watcher should know instinctively. Mnuchin talks tech: ‘I don’t understand these valuations’, yet the price on promises and future expectation of earnings has a large amount of the equity speculators and computerized trading in a crisis of sanity. Avoiding the fundamental relationship that a stock value is based upon the ability of a company to turn a profit, has become the hottest investment hoax since Bernard Madoff was pitching his Ponzi scheme. UberSnapchat and Twitter may be high flyers for the smart set, but for rational venture capitalists, plunking down gambles on risky enterprises that only feed on publicity hype is a sure bet on going broke.

While angel funding, seed investment and incubation have a nice ring to their functions, what they all have in common is gaining a piece of the equity action before any IPO is sold to the investment insiders, much less the general public. What is often lost is that any new startup enterprise must develop cash flow well before any earnings can be achieved.

Defying common sense, many of this new generation of cutting edge technology companies are pitching a dream that often turns into a nightmare for the imprudent investor. At least Apple sells, admittedly very overpriced phones, a product that has a functional and utilitarian purpose. But what possible claim of intrinsic worth does a trendy app have when duplication of utility is achieved by a tech giant as Facebook?

Even the most bombastic huckster, Elon Reeve Musk finds himself reliant on the intrepid waters of government subsidies to keep his bubble run on solar cells, alive. Yet his stock price keeps inflating with little financial connection to turning a profit, even when Sparks fly on Wall Street over Tesla’s current valuation.

“For now, Musk and his team have built up enough investor goodwill to buy him time to follow through his vision. Tesla narrowly missed its target of delivering 80,000 vehicles last year and has only reported two profitable quarters in its brief history. Nonetheless, its rapid rise could see it accelerate past Honda and move into the top five most valuable carmakers in the world.

This comes as the finances of Ford and GM are in rude health. GM is expected to earn more than $9bn this year and Ford to rake in profits of $6.3bn; Tesla is expected to lose more than $950m.”

Come on folks, in what mystical world of consumer sales indifference does one accept that in the immediate future buyers will jump from the torque of a four wheel drive F-150 V-8 into the restriction of a Tesla electric cord? In order to make this fantasy work Road and Track contends, The Case for a Tesla-GM Merger. The argument simply comes down to “You put together a carmaker with mojo and a carmaker with capacity.”

“We live in an era where brick-and-mortar companies frequently play second fiddle to apps and platforms and clouds and other entirely ephemeral ideas. It suits the stock market just fine, because the stock market is much like the baseball-card market, or the art market, in that it serves more as a reflection of prevailing views than as any truly prescient or even intelligent verdict regarding a company’s merit. It’s an illusion. Of course, it is an illusion with the power to build fortunes and destroy lives in a millisecond.”

When government motors was bailed out by the Obama administration to save the unions while wiping out the bond holders, GM was given a second chance at the taxpayer expense. Now we are suppose to accept another rescue of Tesla debt to keep the illusion that the future belongs to the driverless “green” vehicle. Hey, why not just go all the way; ban humans from using gas guzzlers on the highways, while taxing a per mile user fee to replace the gas tax? Just keep diesel commercial trucks to navigate the steep grades to fix all the infrastructure that driverless vehicles will use.

The absurdity of this brave new world is as obscene as the stock prices of the technocratic anti-human robot society that is facing an expendable population. Nonetheless, do not take our analysis for the last word. Look to the essay in The Street, From the Absurd to the Ridiculous: When Fundamentals Don’t Matter, where the example of Yahoo is reviewed.

“Yahoo! (YHOO) , which was a highly valued company during the dot-com era.

When looking at Yahoo!’s price and P/E ratio, the fundamentals didn’t really reflect the stock price. Yahoo! was trading at nearly 3,500 times its P/E ratio at one point, which may have been unjustified.

Following that, the markets were quick to realize that the company wasn’t that valuable, and it began to tank once the bubble popped.

Take a look at how Yahoo!’s market capitalization evolved over time. Prior to the dot-com bubble, Yahoo! had a market cap of less than $1 billion.

However, during the bubble, Yahoo!’s market cap rose to more than $100 billion at its peak. Thereafter, its market cap and share price fell significantly, with the former falling to between $5 billion and $10 billion.”

If such a stable of the computer age as Yahoo could be reduced to the humiliation of a hostile takeover by Verizon at a price not much more than an unknown startup as Team Chat provider Slack with a valuation of about $3.8 billion, what true value does any of these high tech ventures provide over time? Anyone remember one of the scores of services from Yahoo called Messenger? Do the math, plunging down your bucks on such moving targets as superficial fads is most risky.

Google search beat out Yahoo, but will Alphabet retain the preeminent crown of dominance with their imposition of censorship and filtering out of free speech? Stock values are never guaranteed and especially with tech companies, you are only safe if competition is eliminated.


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The Military Complex Has Taken Control Of The White House (VIDEO)

The Military Complex Has Taken Control Of The White House (VIDEO) | The-Military-Complex-Has-Taken-Control-Of-The-White-House | Collapse Economy & Business Government Government Control Military Sleuth Journal Special Interests Trump

“The astonishing reinvention of Donald Trump:”  Washingtonians are still puzzling at the speed with which the man who promised to “drain the swamp” has come to bask in its approval. In the past 10 days, Mr Trump has belied many of the city’s worst fears. Having promised to launch a trade war with China, Mr Trump is rapidly abandoning his protectionist rhetoric. Likewise, having vowed to avoid foreign wars, he has acquired a sudden taste for Levantine missile launches. And having dismissed Nato as obsolete, Mr Trump is now singing the alliance’s praises. – Financial Times, April 13, 2017

It was just a matter of time before the Deep State got its meat-hooks into Trump. The move to remove Steve Bannon from the National Security Council and replace him with two Deep State operatives who had been formerly removed from NSC was our signal that the Deep State had restored its control of the Oval Office. Shortly after that power swap was accomplished, missiles started flying in Syria in response to false flag “gas” attack and the world’s largest non-nuclear bomb was dropped on CIA-built underground tunnels in Afghanistan.

Trump has back-pedaled on every single “plank” in his campaign platform – about as quickly as Obama did after he was inaugurated. Trump’s geopolitical policies now resemble the same policies endorsed by Hillary Clinton, who is a neocon dressed in drag.

When all else fails, start a war. The opinion ratings on Trump are plunging, along with the major portions of the economy. Auto sales are down 10% since the beginning to 2017 and JP Morgan, despite “beating” earnings estimates, disclosed a troubling spike in credit card write-offs, which rose to nearly $1 billion in Q1. Retail sales have now declined two months in a row. It’s no coincidence that the dismal sales report was released on Good Friday when the market was closed. The original .1% gain reported for February was revised down significantly to a decline of .3%. Restaurant industry sales have declined for 11 of the last 12 months in a row on a year over year monthly basis.

The economy is been fueled on money printing and credit creation for the better part of 40 years. That artificial stimulation went parabolic in 2009. The tech and housing bubbles have been reinflated along with every other asset class into an “everything” bubble. Real weekly earnings have declined two months in a row. The consumer is tapped out on two fronts: disposable income and the capacity to take on more debt. Now comes the part where the average household begins to default on the debt it’s taken on over the last 8 years. Hence the big jump in credit write-offs disclosed opaquely by JP Morgan last week.

Today’s Shadow of Truth discusses the role played by the Deep State in ushering in the inevitable economic collapse of the United States which will lead to the implementation of Totalitarianism and a dystopic political system:

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The Dow Falls Another 138 Points As Geopolitical Shaking Forces Investors To Race For The Exits

The Dow Falls Another 138 Points As Geopolitical Shaking Forces Investors To Race For The Exits | Exit-Sign-Abandoned-Public-Domain | Economy & Business Special Interests

Stock prices just keep on falling, and many analysts are now wondering if a full-blown stock market crash is in our near future.  On Thursday, the S&P 500 and the Dow both closed at 2 month lows after Donald Trump dropped “the mother of all bombs” in Afghanistan.  It was the first time that one of these bombs has ever been used in live combat, and it is being reported that each of these bombs weighs 22,000 pounds and costs 16 million dollars to make.  Of course Trump was trying to send a very clear message to the rest of the world by dropping this bomb, and investors interpreted it as a sign that we are getting even closer to war.

The financial markets will be closed on Friday for the long holiday weekend, and with so much uncertainty about what may happen in Syria and in North Korea, many investors wanted to get their money out of the market while they still could.  The historic losing streak for S&P 500 tech stocks extended to 10 days in a row on Thursday, and all of the major stock indexes are now below their 50 day moving averages for the first time since the election.

And the VIX closed above 16 to close the week, which many analysts saw as a sign that more market volatility is on the way

The fear index on Thursday hit 16.22, its highest since Nov. 10, after closing above its 200-day moving average on Monday for the first time since Nov. 8.

“The VIX confirmed a breakout above its 200-day moving average [Tuesday], supporting a pickup in volatility in the days ahead,” BTIG’s chief technical strategist, Katie Stockton, said in a Wednesday note.

On Tuesday, I wrote about how geopolitical instability is causing many investors to seek out safe havens such as gold and silver, and that trend continued on Thursday.  As I write this, the price of gold is sitting at $1289.20, and the price of silver is up to $18.50.  Of course if the French election goes badly for the globalists or we see a full-blown shooting war erupt in either Syria or North Korea, those prices will go far, far higher.

For quite a while I have been very strongly warning that these ridiculously inflated stock prices were not sustainable.  It was inevitable that they would start to decline, because the underlying economic numbers simply did not support them.

And just today we got some more bad news.  According to Zero Hedge, the mortgage business at one of America’s biggest banks has been absolutely crashing…

When we reported Wells Fargo’s Q4 earnings back in January, we drew readers’ attention to one specific line of business, the one we dubbed the bank’s “bread and butter“, namely mortgage lending, and which as we then reported was “the biggest alarm” because “as a result of rising rates, Wells’ residential mortgage applications and pipelines both tumbled, specifically in Q4 Wells’ mortgage applications plunged by $25bn from the prior quarter to $75bn, while the mortgage origination pipeline plunged by nearly half to just $30 billion, and just shy of all time lows recorded in late 2013 and 2014.”

Fast forward one quarter when what was already a troubling situation, just got as bad as it has been since the financial crisis for America’s largest mortgage lender, because buried deep in its presentation accompanying otherwise unremarkable Q1 results (EPS small beat, revenue small miss), Wells just reported that its ‘bread and butter’ is virtually gone, and in Q1 the amount of all-important Mortgage Applications has tumbled by a whopping 23% to just $59 billion, below the lows hit in early 2014, and at fresh lows since the financial crisis.

Unfortunately, what is going on at Wells Fargo is just part of an enormous “loan collapse” that we are witnessing all over the nation.

This is exactly what we would expect to see if a new recession was beginning.  When economic conditions show down, banks and other lending institutions begin to get tighter with their money, and a tightening of credit causes economic activity to slow down even further.

It can be exceedingly difficult to break out of such a cycle once it starts.

But the mainstream media doesn’t seem to understand these things.  Instead, they are pointing the blame at other sources for the emerging economic slowdown.  For example, consider the following excerpt from a CNN article entitled “Americans have become lazy and it’s hurting the economy”

Americans have become lazy, argues economist Tyler Cowen.

They don’t start businesses as much as they once did. They don’t move as often as they used to. And they live in neighborhoods that are about as segregated as they were in the 1960s.

All of this is causing the U.S. to stagnate economically and politically, Cowen says in his new book: “The Complacent Class: The Self-Defeating Quest for the American Dream.” Growth is far slower than it was in the 1960s, 70s and 80s and productivity growth is way down, despite everyone claiming they are working so hard.

No, our economic problems are not the result of Americans being too lazy.

Rather, the truth is that we have accumulated way too much debt as a society, we have been way too greedy, and there has been way too much manipulation by the Federal Reserve and other central banks.

For decades we have been living way above our means.  We have been able to do this by stealing trillions upon trillions of dollars from future generations of Americans, and now a day of reckoning is rapidly approaching.

Unfortunately for Donald Trump, he just happens to be the president at this moment in history, and so much of the blame for what is about to happen will be pinned on him.  The following comes from a recent interview with Peter Schiff

Trump doesn’t want to preside over a major decline in our standard of living, but ultimately that has to happen. Because this is the consequence of all this excess consumption that went on before he was president. You know, we sacrificed our future to indulge our past. The future is now the present. We’re here, and it’s time to pay the piper.

Schiff is precisely correct.

For decades we have just kept sacrificing the future in order to inflate our current standard of living.

But the funny thing about the future is that it always arrives at some point, and now we are going to pay an enormously high price for being so exceedingly reckless all these years.


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Tech Stocks Experience Their Longest Losing Streak In 5 Years As Panic Begins To Grip The Market

Tech Stocks Experience Their Longest Losing Streak In 5 Years As Panic Begins To Grip The Market | Bull-Market-Bear-Market-Public-Domain-700x468 | Economy & Business News Articles

S&P 500 tech stocks have now fallen for 9 days in a row. The last time tech stocks declined for so many days in a row was in 2012, and that was the only other time in history when we have seen such a long losing streak. As I have stated before, the post-election “Trump rally” is officially done, and the market is starting to roll over as investors begin to realize that all of the buying momentum has completely evaporated. Tech stocks tend to be particularly volatile, and so the fact that they are starting to lead the way down should definitely be alarming to many in the investing community.

Of course it isn’t just tech stocks that are falling. The Dow was down another 59 points on Wednesday, and the S&P 500 has closed beneath its 50 day moving average for the very first time since the election. For those that have been waiting for a key technical signal before getting out of the market, there is one for you.

The price of gold was up again, and that is definitely not surprising in this geopolitical environment. The closer we get to war the higher gold and silver prices will go, and if we actually get into a major conflict we will see them blast into the stratosphere.

Another key indicator that I am watching very closely is the VIX. On Wednesday it shot up above 16 for the very first time since the day after Trump’s election victory, and many believe that it could soon go much higher. The following is an excerpt from a CNBC report

The VIX measures the size of the S&P 500’s expected moves over the next 30 days, and consequently tends to run just a bit hotter than volatility over the past 30 days. Yet one-month realized volatility is just 6.7, meaning the VIX is at a roughly 9-point premium, which Chintawongvanich calls “highly unusual.”

That said, he notes that implied volatility was also at a large premium preceding the U.K. referendum to leave the EU and the U.S. presidential election. The obvious conclusion is that the market is now similarly preparing itself for the French presidential election, which is set to be held on April 23. Some fear that a populist candidate could prevail, which may cause more problems for the European Union and thus for economic stability.

As noted in that excerpt, the upcoming French election is absolutely huge. If the election goes “the wrong way” according to the globalists, it could literally mean the end of the European Union as it is configured today.

And of course of even greater concern is the global march toward war. It is being reported that North Korea is on the verge of a major nuclear weapons test, and such an act of defiance could be enough to push Donald Trump into conducting a major military strike.

But if Trump does hit North Korea, it is quite likely that North Korea will hit back. The North Koreans are promising to use nuclear weapons in any conflict with the United States, and if Trump bungles this thing we could easily be looking at a scenario in which millions of people end up dead.

Things also continue to get more tense in the Middle East. The Russians and the Iranians are promising to respond to any additional U.S. strikes “with force”, and on Wednesday Trump declared that our relationship with Russia “may be at an all-time low”.

Of course this came shortly after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson used similar language following his face to face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian President Vladimir Putin held more than two hours of “very frank” talks Wednesday in the Kremlin amid tensions over a U.S. airstrike against a Syria air base blamed for last week’s deadly chemical attack.

In remarks to reporters after the meeting, Tillerson said he told the Russian leader that current relations between the two countries are at a “low point.”

If the Trump administration conducts any more strikes on Syria, it is quite likely that the Russians and Iranians will make good on their threats and will start firing back.

And once U.S. aircraft or U.S. naval vessels come under fire, the calls for war in Washington will become absolutely deafening.

Unfortunately, Trump is not likely to back down any time soon because the recent missile strike in Syria has dramatically boosted his popularity. According to every recent survey, the American people overwhelmingly approve of what Trump did…

A Morning Consult/Politico poll released Wednesday found that 57% of Americans supported airstrikes in Syria, 58% supported establishing a no-fly zone over parts of Syria including strikes against Syria’s air-defense systems, and 63% of Americans thought the US should do more to end the Syrian conflict. Even more, 66% of respondents said they supported the Trump administration’s strike last week specifically.

This mirrored results of another recent poll from CBS News in which 57% of Americans said they approved of the US strike. A Pew Research Center survey from this week showed a similar level of support, with 58% of Americans approving of the strike.

Sadly, this is a time when the majority is dead wrong. Many of those that are supporting military action against Syria now were vehemently against it when Barack Obama was considering it.

Even Donald Trump spoke out very strongly against military intervention in Syria in 2013, and he was quite right to do so, and so what has suddenly changed that now makes it okay?

There is nothing to be gained in Syria, but we could very easily end up in a direct military conflict with Russia, Iran and Hezbollah which could ultimately prove to be the spark that sets off World War III.

And of course a military strike on North Korea could also potentially spark a global war. The first Korean War resulted in a direct military conflict between the United States and China, and the second Korean War could easily result in the exact same thing happening again.

Do the American people really want war with both Russia and China at the same time?

It has been said that you should be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it.


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Subprime Crisis Is Here: 12 Signs Day Of Reckoning Has Arrived For U.S. Auto Industry

Subprime Crisis Is Here: 12 Signs Day Of Reckoning Has Arrived For U.S. Auto Industry | Auto-Industry-Public-Domain | Economy & Business Special Interests

In 2008, subprime mortgages almost single-handedly took down the entire financial system, and now a new subprime crisis is here.  In recent years, the auto industry has been able to boost sales by aggressively pushing people into auto loans that they cannot afford.  In particular, auto loans made to consumers with subprime credit have been accounting for an increasingly larger percentage of the market.  Unfortunately, when you make loans to people that should not be getting them, eventually a lot of those loans are going to start to go bad, and that is precisely what is happening now.  Meanwhile, automakers and dealers are starting to panic as sales have begun to fall and used car prices have started to crash.  If you work in the auto industry, you might remember how horrible the last recession was, and this new downturn could eventually turn out to be even worse.  The following are 12 signs that a day of reckoning has arrived for the U.S. auto industry…

#1 Seven out of the eight largest automakers in the United States fell short of their sales projections in March.

#2 Overall, U.S. auto sales so far in 2017 have been described as a “disaster” despite record spending on consumer incentives by automakers.

#3 Dealer inventories are now at the highest level that we have seen since the last financial crisis.  Why this is so troubling is because there are a whole lot of unsold vehicles just sitting there doing nothing, and this is becoming a major financial problem for many dealers.

#4 It now takes an average of 74 days before a dealer is able to sell a new vehicle.  This number is also the highest that it has been since the last financial crisis.

#5 Not only is Ford projecting that sales will fall this year, they are also projecting that sales will fall in 2018 as well.

#6 Used vehicle prices are already starting to decline dramatically

The used-vehicle price index from the National Automobile Dealers Association posted a 3.8% decline in February compared to the prior month. NADA also said wholesale prices fell 1.6%.

#7 As I discussed yesterday, Morgan Stanley is projecting that used car prices “could crash by up to 50%” over the next four or five years.

#8 Right now, more than a million Americans are behind on their payments on their auto loans.  This is something that has not happened since the last financial crisis.

#9 In 2017, U.S. consumers are more “underwater” on their auto loans than they have ever been before.

#10 Subprime auto loan losses have soared to their highest level since the last financial crisis, and the delinquency rate on those loans has risen to the highest level that we have seen since the last financial crisis.  By now, I am sure that you are starting to notice a pattern in these data points.

#11 At this moment, approximately $200,000,000,000 has been loaned out by auto lenders to consumers with subprime credit.

#12 Just like with subprime mortgages in the run up to the last financial crisis, subprime auto loans have been bundled together and sold as “securities” to investors.  And just like last time around, this has turned out to be a recipe for disaster

Many auto loans, including those considered subprime, are securitized and sold to investors. But Morgan Stanley recently reported that the share of auto securities tied to “deep subprime” loans – those given to borrowers with a FICO credit score below 550 — has risen from 5.1 percent in 2010 to 32.5 percent today. It said defaults on those bonds have risen significantly in the past five years.

Almost a quarter of the more than $1.1 trillion in U.S. auto loan debt is owed by subprime borrowers, and delinquency rates have hit their highest point in seven years.

In the old days, you could always count on the U.S. auto industry to bounce back eventually because of the economic strength of average U.S. consumers.

Unfortunately, the middle class in America is being systematically hollowed out by long-term economic trends that our leaders in Washington D.C. have consistently ignored.

We have become a nation of economic extremes.  There are more millionaires in this country than ever before, but meanwhile poverty is exploding in communities all over the country.

If you live in a prosperous area, things may be going great where you live for the moment.  But as Gallup has discovered, an all-time record high percentage of Americans are worrying “a great deal” about hunger and homelessness these days…

Over the past two years, an average of 67% of lower-income U.S. adults, up from 51% from 2010-2011, have worried “a great deal” about the problem of hunger and homelessness in the country. Concern has also increased among middle- and upper-income Americans, but they still worry far less than do lower-income Americans.

You may have plenty of money in your bank account, and so for you hunger and homelessness are not very big issues.  But for those that are just scraping by from month to month, having enough food and a place to sleep at night are top priorities.  Here is more from Gallup

Americans at all income levels are expressing greater concern about hunger and homelessness, and it is the top worry among lower-income Americans, who are most likely to struggle to pay for adequate food and housing.

In addition to the woes of the auto industry, the retail industry is going through the worst wave of store closings in modern American history, pension funds are melting down all over the nation, and stocks are primed for a crash of epic proportions.  Things are lining up just right for the kind of scenario that I laid out in The Beginning Of The End, but unfortunately most people are not listening to the warnings.

The same thing happened just before the great financial crisis of 2008.  All of the warning signs were there well in advance, and many of the experts were warning about what was coming as early as 2005.  But because it did not happen immediately, a lot of people greatly mocked the warnings.

But then the fall of 2008 arrived and all of the mockers suddenly went silent.

As you can see from the numbers that I shared above, a new crisis has already arrived.

The only question now is how bad it will ultimately turn out to be.

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


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Amazon is a Destroyer of Jobs and the Merchant Economy

Amazon is a Destroyer of Jobs and the Merchant Economy | Jeff-Bezos-Amazon-Grocery-Store | Economy & Business Special Interests

If this is progress, just how much more can our economy afford? The myth of cheap prices, conveniently seldom factors in the structural costs to society. Building an all inclusive monopoly based upon minimal employees and predatory prices ignores the long anti-trust history that helped create the middle class. The last fifty years has demonstrated the systemic retreat from family prosperity, which has produced a vast disproportionate of wealth among the fewer haves and the growing have-nots. The enormous accumulation of market share that Amazon has steamrolled under the hypnosis of ease in selection of products, placing orders, timely deliveries, and most of all; cheapest pricing has caused the demise of much of traditional retail commerce.

This is not a replacement of horse buggies with a model T car. Henry Ford introduced a dramatic increase in pay for his workers, so they could earn their way to prosperity. No, Amazon is applying the Chinese model of coolie labor practices to stamp out the competition with advanced technology that is based upon eliminating jobs from the work force.

Even that ultimate monopolist John D. Rockefeller, fueled the industrial revolution with Standard Oil. The economy flourished, run on cheap energy. However, with Amazon, the consolidation of online purchases is mostly a discretionary choice. Sadly, by selecting to buy from Amazon, the consumer is putting a dagger in the backs of the main street economy.

Yes, this is the same result that for decades has seen Wal-Mart close down the mom and pop retailer. Now Amazon is bent on fracturing the sales from your friendly greeter in the blue vest. Some may say, it is about time that the Benton Supercenter gets it come-uppins, but the big difference is that all those retail jobs will become just one more statistic in the unemployed reports.

Now some will say that the Seattle behemoth is becoming a major employer. Amazon soars to more than 341K employees — adding more than 110K people in a single yearWal-Mart employs 2.3 million associates around the world, of which 1.5 million in the U.S. alone. Market Watch reported on some most disturbing news, Amazon is going to kill more American jobs than China did.

“But for retail workers, Amazon is a grave threat. Just ask the 10,100 workers who are losing their jobs at Macy’s. Or the 4,000 at The Limited. Or the thousands of workers at Sears and Kmart, which just announced 150 stores will be closing. Or the 125,000 retail workers who’ve been laid off over the past two years.”

A sample of some of the List of Amazon.com products and services does not fully account for the cloud-based products including compute, storage, databases, analytics, networking, mobile, developer tools, management tools, IoT, security and enterprise applications. Jeff Bezos is hardly a job creator when he can find a technocratic method to data mine the remains of the shrinking and often part time work force. His fascination with a Blue Origin Rocket Space Program, while his personal political propaganda and Fake News, Washington Compost publication seeks to explore the final frontier for the uber rich and keepers of the Transhumanist elites.

Why would you become a Prime subscriber using the Echo surveillance system? Millennials may be oblivious to destructive economic consequences from a culture, who values personal immediacy satisfaction over a rational profit floor on business transactions. If the retail game is to see just how low one can sell, only a guarantee price war will result.

The fallout from the deliberate assault of Amazon on the American supply chain is undeniable. Amazon and Walmart are in an all-out price war that is terrifying America’s biggest brands foretells an ominous and intentional destruction of a valid profit centered consumer based retail commerce.

“In some instances, Amazon is willing to lose money for some period of time on a product it feels it has to have. Jeff Bezos’s company knows, after all, that it has to continue to increase its selection in non-perishable grocery goods if it is going to really challenge Walmart in the $800 billion category.

But, more so than in the past, Amazon is ratcheting up the pressure on manufacturers of goods that the online retailer is unable to sell for a profit, executives say. Separate from the algorithm, brands are also facing the realization that their products that are sold profitably in stores may become unprofitable online when shipping costs are factored in.”

When such a street fight drains the life blood from the chain of supply relationships, the risk is that the merchants and providers will not be able to cut their margins and remain in business. Allowing an egomaniac like Bezos to, in effect blackmail, the product mass-producers; highlights the absurd reliance on destroying thousands of companies for the fleeting gratification of pumping the Amazon stock price.

The merchant economy is grounded on hundreds of thousands of product/supplier/retail outlet relationships and billions of consumer selection choices. At each level, a viable margin markup is needed to afford a final profit to remain in operation. Just how long will all those dedicated Amazon consumers be happy when the Bezos crew of greedy buyers are no long able to deliver their favorite items, because the makers or producers have stopped supplying?

There is an old saying in the consumer mass marketing, “selling at a loss is made up by volume”. Amazon is a pillaging predator and should be prosecuted under anti-trust laws. If Standard Oil could be broken up (for the good of the country) Amazon needs to be broken up into hundreds of independent ventures that will dissipate the corporatist power to fix prices and eliminate competition.

Consumers need to buy local and protect the jobs of their regional economies. Globalists like Bezos are not innovators as he wants others to believe. He is a robber baron using cyber algorithms and below-cost pricing to control and corner markets that will only result in ruining the economy.


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The Ticking Time Bomb That Will Wipe Out Virtually Every Pension Fund In America

The Ticking Time Bomb That Will Wipe Out Virtually Every Pension Fund In America | Explode-Public-Domain | Collapse Economy & Business

Are millions of Americans about to see the big, juicy pensions that they were counting on to fund their golden years go up in flames in the biggest financial disaster in U.S. history? When Bloomberg published an editorial entitled “Pension Crisis Too Big for Markets to Ignore“, it simply confirmed what a lot of people already knew to be true.  Pension funds all over America are woefully underfunded, and they have been pouring mind boggling amounts of money into very risky investments such as Internet stocks and commercial mortgages.  Just like with subprime mortgages in 2008, this is a crisis that everyone can see coming well in advance, and yet nothing is being done about it.

On a day to day basis, Americans generally don’t think very much about pensions.  Most of those that have been promised pensions simply have faith that they will be there when they need them.

Unfortunately, the truth is that pension plans all over the country are severely underfunded, and this has already resulted in local fiascos such as the one that we just witnessed in Dallas.

But what happened in Dallas is just the very small tip of a very large iceberg.  According to Bloomberg, unfunded pension obligations on a national basis “have risen to $1.9 trillion from $292 billion since 2007″…

As was the case with the subprime crisis, the writing appears to be on the wall. And yet calamity has yet to strike. How so? Call it the triumvirate of conspirators – the actuaries, accountants and their accomplices in office. Throw in the law of big numbers, very big numbers, and you get to a disaster in a seemingly permanent state of making. Unfunded pension obligations have risen to $1.9 trillion from $292 billion since 2007.

And of course that $1.9 trillion number is not actually the real number.

That same Bloomberg article goes on to admit that if honest math was being used that the real number would actually be closer to 6 trillion dollars…

So why not just flip the switch and require truth and honesty in public pension math? Too many cities and potentially states would buckle under the weight of more realistic assumed rates of return. By some estimates, unfunded liabilities would triple to upwards of $6 trillion if the prevailing yields on Treasuries were used. That would translate into much steeper funding requirements at a time when budgets are already severely constrained. Pockets of the country would face essential public service budgets being slashed to dangerous levels.

So where are all of these pensions eventually going to come up with 6 trillion dollars?

That is a very good question.

Ultimately, even if financial conditions stay as stable as they are right now, a whole lot of people are not going to get the money that they were promised.

But things will get really “interesting” if we see a major downturn in the financial markets.  According to Dave Kranzler, if the stock market were to fall by 10 percent or more and stay there for a number of months, that “would cause every single public pension fund to blow up”.  And Kranzler is also deeply concerned about the tremendous amount of exposure that these pension funds have to commercial mortgages…

Circling back to the mall/REIT ticking time-bomb, while the Fed can keep the stock market propped up as means of preventing an immediate nuclear melt-down in U.S. pensions (all of which are substantially “maxed-out” in their mandated equities allocation), the collapse of commercial mortgage-back securities (CMBS) will have the affect of launching a nuclear sub-missile directly into the side of the U.S. financial system.

The commercial mortgage market is about $3 trillion, of which about $1 trillion has been packaged into asset-backed securities and stuffed into yield-starved pension funds. Without a doubt, the same degree of fraud of has been used to concoct the various tranches in these CMBS trusts that was employed during the mid-2000’s mortgage/housing bubble, with full cooperation of the ratings agencies then and now. Just like in 2008, with the derivatives that have been layered into the mix, the embedded leverage in the commercial mortgage/CMBS/REIT model is the financial equivalent of the Fukushima nuclear power plant collapse.

I have previously talked about the ongoing retail apocalypse in the United States which threatens to make so many of these commercial mortgage securities go bad.  It is being projected that somewhere around 3,500 stores will close in the months ahead, and this is going to absolutely devastate mall owners.  In turn, it is inevitable that a lot of their debts will start to go bad, and pension funds will be hit extremely hard by this.

But the coming stock market crash is going to hit pension funds even harder.  Stocks are ridiculously overvalued right now, and if they simply return to “normal valuations”, pension funds are going to lose trillions of dollars.

We are talking about a financial tsunami that will be absolutely unprecedented in our history, and yet investors continue to act like the party can last forever.  In fact, we just learned that margin debt on Wall Street has just hit another brand new record high

The latest data from the New York Stock Exchange show margin debt, or cash borrowed to buy shares, hit a record $528.2 billion in February, up from its prior high of $513.3 billion in January.

Of course my regular readers already know that margin debt also shot up to dramatic peaks just before the last two stock market crashes as well

Prior periods when margin debt hit records occurred around stock market peaks, including 2000 when the dot-com stock boom went bust, and 2007 when stocks began to crater amid early signs of trouble in the housing market ahead of the 2008 financial crisis.

Margin debt jumped 22% from the end of 1999 before peaking in March 2000 at $278.5 billion, the same month stocks peaked. In 2007, margin debt shot up to $381.4 billion in July, three months before stocks topped.

We are perfectly primed for the greatest financial disaster in American history, and yet very few people are sounding the alarm.

This massive financial bubble is a ticking time bomb, and when it finally goes off it is going to wipe out virtually every pension fund in the United States.


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Member Of Congress Warns Of A 1,000 Point Stock Market Crash If Obamacare Lite Does Not Pass

Member Of Congress Warns Of A 1,000 Point Stock Market Crash If Obamacare Lite Does Not Pass | Obamacare-Lite | Economy & Business Medical & Health Politics

Are we going to see a dramatic stock market plunge if the effort to get “Obamacare Lite” through the U.S. House of Representatives ultimately fails?  On Thursday, a vote on the Republican healthcare bill was postponed once it became clear that there would not be enough votes for it to pass.  House Republican leaders are still optimistic that there will still be a vote on Friday, but that is far from certain.  Many strong conservatives in the House are balking at supporting this bill because while it does eliminate a few of the most troublesome provisions of Obamacare, it keeps many of the elements of Obama’s signature healthcare law that have proven to be popular with the American people.  In other words, this bill is much more about “tweaking” Obamacare than “repealing” it.

This is the first major legislative test for President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan, and so far they are failing.  House Republican leaders have gone into panic mode, because a “no” vote could have some very serious implications outside of Washington.  In fact, one member of Congress is warning that if this bill does not pass that we could see the Dow drop 1,000 points in a single day

It happened in real life on Sept. 29, 2008, when the House first voted on a Wall Street bailout intended to stem the financial crisis. In a swirl of uncertainty, Republican members stampeded to “no,” defeated the measure and watched the Dow tumble by more than 700 points. The same thing could happen on the GOP health bill, a veteran member told CNBC on Thursday — only bigger.

“If this goes down, we could take a 1,000-point market hit,” the member said. To be sure, traders and investors tell CNBC the market likely will go lower if there is no compromise Thursday, but the decline won’t likely come near a 1,000-point drop. That would represent a nearly 5 percent drop in the Dow, a bit less than the 7 percent decline when the index fell 777 points in September 2008.

And even if this bill does pass, we are probably headed for some sort of significant downturn anyway.  Sven Henrich has just told CNBC that he believes that “the market could see a 5 to 10 percent drop in the near term”…

The market has enjoyed a stellar bull run, but a correction is likely looming, according to Sven Henrich, also known as the “Northman Trader.”

A very long-term analysis of the S&P 500, in conjunction with a look at the CBOE Volatility Index, leads Henrich to believe the market could see a 5 to 10 percent drop in the near term.

But fixing our failing healthcare system is far more important than trying to prop up the financial markets, and so the strong conservatives in the House are quite right to stand by their principles.

Simply “tweaking” Obamacare is not going to fix anything, and it is extremely disappointing that President Trump and Paul Ryan are advocating such an approach.

Thankfully, there are a number of strong conservatives in Congress that are willing to take a stand for what is right even if it means standing up against their own party.  One of those principled conservatives is Senator Rand Paul, and he says that right now there are at least 35 Republican “no” votes in the House, and that would be enough to kill the bill…

I think there’s easily 35 no votes right now so unless something happens in the next 24 hours, I would predict they pull the bill and start over. I think if conservatives stick together, they will have earned a seat at the table where real negotiation to make this bill an acceptable bill will happen. But it’s interesting what conservatives are doing to change the debate. We went from keeping the Obamacare taxes for a year—hundreds of billions of dollars—but they’re coming towards us because we’re standing firm. So we have to stick together, and if we do stick together there will be a real negotiation on this. The main goal I have is not to pass something that does not fix the situation. If a year from now, insurance rates and premiums are still going through the roof and it’s now a Republican plan it will be a disservice to the president and all of us if we pass something that doesn’t work.

If this bill is ultimately defeated, I have an idea that might work.

Why don’t we get the government out of the healthcare business entirely?

Once upon a time when we actually let the free market determine the allocation of healthcare resources, we had the best healthcare system in the entire world.

But after decades of experimenting with socialist principles and adding mountains of rules, regulations and red tape to the system, we have a giant mess on our hands.

Either we need to go back to a true free market system, or we might as well go ahead and just socialize the entire thing.

Right now, hard working families have to pay for their own healthcare and also pay for the socialized healthcare that more than 125 million other Americans are receiving.

Yes, when you add up all of the Americans that are on Medicaid, CHIP, Medicare and other government programs, it comes to more than 125 million people.

So a lot of hard working families are scared to ever go to the hospital because their insurance deductibles are so high, and yet their taxes go to pay for all of the free healthcare that people on government assistance are receiving.

If the government is going to pay for the healthcare for nearly half the country, why should the rest of us have to pay for ours?

What we have now is such a ridiculous system, and what President Trump and Paul Ryan are proposing is not “free market” in any way, shape or form.

So I say let this horrible bill fail even if it means that financial markets will freak out for a little while.

Hopefully what transpires over the coming days will cause Republican leadership to go back to the drawing board, and a clean repeal of Obamacare would be a really good place to start.


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Worst Retail Cataclysm Ever: Sears Warns It Is On The Verge Of Collapse As Payless Prepares To File For Bankruptcy

Worst Retail Cataclysm Ever: Sears Warns It Is On The Verge Of Collapse As Payless Prepares To File For Bankruptcy | Alarm-Clock-Abstract-Public-Domain-460x345 | Economy & Business Special Interests

More than 3,500 retail stores are going to close all across America over the next few months as the worst retail downturn in U.S. history gets even deeper.  Earlier this week, Sears shocked the world when it announced that there is “substantial doubt” that the company will be able to “continue as a going concern” much longer.  In other words, Sears has announced that it is on the verge of imminent collapse.  Meanwhile, Payless stunned the retail industry when it came out that they are preparing to file for bankruptcy.  The “retail apocalypse” that I have been warning about is greatly accelerating, and many believe that this is one of the early warning signs that the economic collapse that is already going on in other parts of the globe will soon reach U.S. shores.

I have repeatedly warned my readers that “Sears is going to zero“, and now Sears is officially saying that it might actually happen.  When you file official paperwork with the government that says there is “substantial doubt” that the company will survive, that means that the end is very near

The company that operates Sears, the department store chain that dominated retail for decades, warned Tuesday that it faces “substantial doubt” about its ability to stay in business unless it can borrow more and tap cash from more of its assets.

“Our historical operating results indicate substantial doubt exists related to the company’s ability to continue as a going concern,” Sears Holdings said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Sears Holdings operates both Sears and Kmart stores.

In the wake of that statement, the price of Sears stock dipped 13.69% to $7.85 a share.

Personally, I am going to miss Sears very much.  But of course the truth is that they simply cannot continue operating as they have been.

For the quarter that ended on January 28th, Sears lost an astounding 607 million dollars

The company said it lost $607 million, or $5.67 per diluted share, during the quarter that ended on Jan. 28. That compared with a loss of $580 million, or $5.44 per diluted share, a year earlier. It has posted a loss in all but two of the last 24 quarters, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.

How in the world is it possible for a retailer to lose that amount of money in just three months?

As I have said before, if they had employees flushing dollar bills down the toilet 24 hours a day they still shouldn’t have losses that big.

This week we also learned that Payless is heading for bankruptcy.  According to Bloomberg, the chain is planning to imminently close at least 400 stores…

Payless Inc., the struggling discount shoe chain, is preparing to file for bankruptcy as soon as next week, according to people familiar with the matter.

The company is initially planning to close 400 to 500 stores as it reorganizes operations, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations aren’t public. Payless had originally looked to shutter as many as 1,000 locations, and the number may still be in flux, according to one of the people.

Of course these are just two examples of a much broader phenomenon.

Never before in U.S. history have we seen such a dramatic wave of store closures.  According to Business Insider, over 3,500 retail locations “are expected to close in the next couple of months”…

Thousands of mall-based stores are shutting down in what’s fast becoming one of the biggest waves of retail closures in decades.

More than 3,500 stores are expected to close in the next couple of months.

Once thriving shopping malls are rapidly being transformed into ghost towns.  As I wrote about just recently, “you might be tempted to think that ‘Space Available’ was the hottest new retail chain in the entire country.”

The demise of Sears is going to be an absolute nightmare for many mall owners.  Once “anchor stores” start closing, it is usually only a matter of time before smaller stores start bailing out

When an anchor store like Sears or Macy’s closes, it often triggers a downward spiral in performance for shopping malls.

Not only do the malls lose the income and shopper traffic from that store’s business, but the closure often triggers “co-tenancy clauses” that allow the other mall tenants to terminate their leases or renegotiate the terms, typically with a period of lower rents, until another retailer moves into the anchor space.

Years ago I wrote of a time when we would see boarded-up storefronts all across America, and now it is happening.

Instead of asking which retailers are going to close, perhaps we should be asking which ones are going to survive this retail cataclysm.

In the past, you could always count on middle class U.S. consumers to save the day, but today the middle class is steadily shrinking and U.S. consumers are increasingly tapped out.

For instance, just look at what is happening to delinquency rates on auto loans

US auto loan and lease credit loss rates weakened in the second half of 2016, according to a new report from Fitch Ratings, which said they will continue to deteriorate.

“Subprime credit losses are accelerating faster than the prime segment, and this trend is likely to continue as a result of looser underwriting standards by lenders in recent years,” said Michael Taiano, a director at Fitch.

The last time so many Americans got behind on subprime auto loans was during the last financial crisis.

We are seeing so many similarities to what happened just prior to the last recession, and yet most Americans still seem to think that the U.S. economy is going to be just fine in 2017.

Unfortunately, major red flags are popping up in the hard economic numbers and in the financial markets.

The last recession probably should have started back in late 2015, but thanks to manipulation by the Fed and an unprecedented debt binge by the Obama administration, official U.S. GDP growth has been able to stay barely above zero for the last year and a half.

But just because something is delayed does not mean that it is canceled.

All along, our long-term economic imbalances have continued to get even worse, and a date with destiny is rapidly approaching for the U.S. economy.


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