According to the latest statistics, life expectancy in the United States dropped precipitously in 2020 and 2021. In 2019, the average life span of Americans of all ethnicities was nearly 79 years. By the end of 2021, life expectancy had dropped to 76 — a loss of nearly three years
Across the world, excess mortality has dramatically risen since the start of the pandemic, and barely a day now goes by without a healthy adult suddenly dropping dead with no apparent cause. People have died during live broadcasts, in the middle of speeches, and during dinner.
Between January 2021 and August 2022 (a period of 19 months), at least 1,249 athletes suffered cardiac arrest or collapse after COVID injection, and at least 847 died,8 with more being recorded as reports come in. Historically, the annual average of sudden death in athletes has been between 299and 69,10 so this is clearly nowhere near normal, regardless of what the “fact checkers” say.Campbell goes on to review a paper in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology,11,12 which notes that 80% of athletes who die suddenly have no symptoms of family history of heart disease.
Life insurance data tell an even more horrifying story. In January 2022, OneAmerica, a mutual life insurance company based in Indianapolis, reported that the death rate of working-age Americans (18 to 64), in the third quarter of 2021, was 40% higher than prepandemic levels — and these deaths were not attributed to COVID. They also had an uptick in long-term disability claims. According to CEO Scott Davidson:14“We are seeing, right now, the highest death rates we have seen in the history of this business — not just at OneAmerica. The data is consistent across every player in that business.
According to the latest statistics, life expectancy in the United States dropped precipitously in 2020 and 2021. In 2019, the average life span of Americans of all ethnicities was nearly 79 years. By the end of 2021, life expectancy had dropped to 76 — a loss of nearly three years
Even small declines in life expectancy of a tenth or two-tenths of a year mean that on a population level, a lot more people are dying prematurely than they really should be
Native Americans and Alaska Natives have the highest rate of diabetes out of any ethnic groups — 1 in 7 — and obesity is also common. Both of these conditions have been identified as comorbidities that make you more susceptible to serious COVID-19 infection
Aside from COVID, causes of death listed as contributors to this loss of life expectancy include accidental deaths, drug overdoses, heart disease, chronic liver disease, and cirrhosis. However, excess deaths from all causes are wildly elevated, across age groups
That life expectancy has dropped by three years since the start of the pandemic can be explained by the simple fact that the primary “remedy” for COVID — the experimental mRNA COVID jabs — are the most lethal drugs in medical history
According to the latest statistics reported by The New York Times1 August 31, 2022, life expectancy in the United States dropped precipitously in 2020 and 2021.
In 2019, the average life span of Americans of all ethnicities was nearly 79 years. By the end of 2021, two years into the COVID pandemic and one full year into the mass inoculation campaign, life expectancy had dropped to 76 — a loss of nearly three years.
Even small declines in life expectancy of a tenth or two-tenths of a year mean that on a population level, a lot more people are dying prematurely than they really should be. And this was nearly THREE years or 35 times more.
What Has Caused Drop in Life Expectancy?
According to The New York Times, Native Americans and Alaska Natives have the highest rate of diabetes out of any ethnic groups — 1 in 7 — and obesity is also common. Both of these conditions have been identified as comorbidities that make you more susceptible to serious COVID-19 infection, which could help explain why life expectancy among Native Americans and Alaska Natives dropped by four years in 2020.
They do not necessarily explain the continued drop in life expectancy in 2021, however. According to Minnesota Chippewa tribe member Dr. Ann Bullock, former director of diabetes treatment and prevention at the federal Indian Health Service agency, the COVID jab campaign was very successful among Native Americans and Alaska Natives, which made the continued drop during 2021 “all the more upsetting.”
Bullock told The New York Times,2 “The Native American population did quite well in the vaccination efforts, and that made us feel that 2021 would not be as devastating as 2020.”
Aside from COVID, causes of death listed as contributors to this loss of life expectancy include accidental deaths, drug overdoses, heart disease, chronic liver disease, and cirrhosis. As you might expect, the idea that the COVID shots might have something to do with it is completely dismissed, even though it’s the proverbial elephant in the room.
Lethal Traffic Accidents Are at 20-Year High
The increase in “accidental deaths” seem particularly odd, considering the many lockdowns, but it’s possible the COVID jabs might have something to do with this as well. According to the U.S. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), lethal traffic accidents have steadily risen between 2021 and 2022,3 reaching a 20-year high in the first quarter of 2022.
Some have started referring to these accidents as “vaccindents,” caused when jabbed individuals suddenly experience a stroke, heart attack, or temporary black-out while driving.
It cannot be proven that side effects from the jab are causing these accidents, but it’s still something worth considering. The jabs are also known to cause mental fog, disorientation, and confusion, which could contribute to any number of accidents, on and off the road.
‘Sudden Death Syndrome’ May Be Driving Down Life Expectancy
Excess mortality, a statistic that is related to but separate from life expectancy, certainly plays a role. Excess mortality refers to the difference between the observed numbers of deaths (from all causes) during a given time period, compared to the expected number of deaths based on historical norms, such as the previous five-year average. (Formula: reported deaths – expected deaths = excess deaths.)
Across the world, excess mortality has dramatically risen since the start of the pandemic, and barely a day now goes by without a healthy adult suddenly dropping dead with no apparent cause. People have died during live broadcasts, in the middle of speeches, and during dinner.
Clearly, they were feeling well enough to go to work, to an event or a restaurant, and something caused them to instantaneously die without warning. These are the people making up these excess death statistics. They shouldn’t be dead, yet something took them out.
While COVID-positive deaths were part of the equation in 2020, excess deaths really took off after the rollout of the COVID jabs, and in 2021 far exceeded deaths labeled as COVID deaths.4
In the video above, John Campbell, retired nurse teacher, reviews excess death data in Scotland, where excess mortality is now so high across all age groups that the government has launched a formal inquiry to determine the cause.5 Data show excess deaths are 11% above the five-year average, and has remained above average for the past 26 weeks.
Healthy Athletes Dropping Dead at Record Numbers
Campbell also reviews the individual case of Rob Wardell, a 37-year-old champion mountain biker who died in his sleep mere days after winning the Scottish MTB XC championship.6 His partner, Katie Archibald tweeted:7
“I still don’t understand what’s happened; if this is real; why he’d be taken now — so healthy and happy. He went into cardiac arrest while we were lying in bed. I tried and tried, and the paramedics arrived within minutes, but his heart stopped and they couldn’t bring him back.”
Wardell is just one of several hundred athletes who have suddenly dropped dead, worldwide, and the one common denominator is that they all had one or more COVID jabs.
Between January 2021 and August 2022 (a period of 19 months), at least 1,249 athletes suffered cardiac arrest or collapse after COVID injection, and at least 847 died,8 with more being recorded as reports come in. Historically, the annual average of sudden death in athletes has been between 299and 69,10 so this is clearly nowhere near normal, regardless of what the “fact checkers” say.
Campbell goes on to review a paper in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology,11,12 which notes that 80% of athletes who die suddenly have no symptoms of family history of heart disease.
The authors suggest using genetic testing to identify athletes at risk of sudden cardiac death. Still, with the dramatic uptick in athletes suddenly dying, it seems beyond unreasonable to attribute such deaths to undiagnosed preexisting heart disease.
Excess Death Trend in the US
A National Institutes of Health preprint13 published mid-May 2022, reviewed excess all-cause mortality across 3,127 counties in the U.S. between March 2020 and December 2021. According to this paper:
“An estimated 936,911 excess deaths occurred during 2020 and 2021, of which 171,168 (18.3%) were not assigned to COVID-19 on death certificates as an underlying cause of death …
The proportion of excess deaths assigned to COVID-19 was lower in 2020 (76.3%) than in 2021 (87.0%), suggesting that a larger fraction of excess deaths was assigned to COVID-19 later in the pandemic. However, in rural areas and in the Southeast and Southwest a large share of excess deaths was still not assigned to COVID-19 during 2021 …
Excess death rates were highest in Mississippi (301 deaths per 100,000 residents) followed by Arizona (246 deaths per 100,000 residents) in 2020 and in West Virginia (298 deaths per 100,000 residents) followed by Mississippi (271 deaths per 100,000 residents) in 2021.”
Again, while a majority of the excess deaths were attributed to COVID (which we know simply means they had a positive PCR test at the time of death, or within a certain time period of death), 171,168 excess deaths were not attributable to COVID. So, why did so many people die that “shouldn’t” have?
Working Age Adults Dying in Record Numbers
Life insurance data tell an even more horrifying story. In January 2022, OneAmerica, a mutual life insurance company based in Indianapolis, reported that the death rate of working-age Americans (18 to 64), in the third quarter of 2021, was 40% higher than prepandemic levels — and these deaths were not attributed to COVID. They also had an uptick in long-term disability claims. According to CEO Scott Davidson:14
“We are seeing, right now, the highest death rates we have seen in the history of this business — not just at OneAmerica. The data is consistent across every player in that business.
And what we saw just in third quarter, we’re seeing it continue into fourth quarter, is that death rates are up 40% over what they were pre-pandemic. Just to give you an idea of how bad that is, a three-sigma or a one-in-200-year catastrophe would be 10% increase over pre-pandemic. So, 40% is just unheard of.”
Dr. Robert Malone addressed OneAmerica’s finding in a Substack article, stating:15
“AT A MINIMUM, based on my reading, one has to conclude that if this report holds and is confirmed by others in the dry world of life insurance actuaries, we have both a huge human tragedy and a profound public policy failure of the U.S. Government and U.S. HHS system to serve and protect the citizens that pay for this ‘service.’
IF this holds true, then the genetic vaccines so aggressively promoted have failed, and the clear federal campaign to prevent early treatment with lifesaving drugs has contributed to a massive, avoidable loss of life.
AT WORST, this report implies that the federal workplace vaccine mandates have driven what appears to be a true crime against humanity. Massive loss of life in (presumably) workers that have been forced to accept a toxic vaccine at higher frequency relative to the general population …”
Excess Death Trends in England and Wales
Excess deaths are also soaring in England and Wales.16 As reported by The Telegraph17 August 18, 2022, for 14 out of the past 15 weeks, England and Wales have averaged an extra 1,000 non-COVID deaths per week above the seven-year average, and the percentage of people dying at home is disproportionally higher than expected (28.1% higher than statistical norm).
According to The Telegraph, the spike in excess deaths became very noticeable around the end of April 2022, and if this trajectory continues, the number of non-COVID excess deaths will outpace COVID deaths in 2022. The top three causes of non-COVID deaths in England and Wales are currently cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and cancers.18
Excess Deaths Should Be BELOW Average in 2022
Campbell also reviews data19 from the British Office for National Statistics that highlight an important point. People who under normal circumstances would have died in 2022 from old age and natural causes, already died from COVID, either in 2020 or 2021.
COVID (and state-enforced mistreatment of patients) caused the premature death of many, even if only by some months or a couple of years. And, since so many elderly had already died who statistically should have died this year, the excess death rate in 2022 should actually be BELOW average. But it’s not. It’s way higher so, clearly, something is very wrong.
People who should have decades of life expectancy left are the ones dying. As just one example, “an unprecedented series of sudden deaths among healthy children and adolescents” is being reported in Greece,20 and “forensic experts are unable to provide any clear explanation for this.” Between January 2020 and June 2022, unexplained deaths among children under the age of 19 rose from 70 to 138.
What’s Killing Younger Healthy People?
Since COVID-19 isn’t killing younger, healthy people, what is? What changed in 2021 that might have such a devastating effect on people’s health? Well, the most obvious change is that 67.7% of the global population has received at least one dose of the experimental COVID shots,21 and doctors and scientists have elucidated several mechanisms by which these gene transfer technologies might injure or kill. As reported by vaccine safety blogger Steve Kirsch:22
“Normally death rates don’t change at all. They are very stable. It would take something REALLY BIG to have an effect this big. The effect size is 12-sigma.23 That is an event that would only happen by pure chance every 2.832 billion years. That’s very rare. It’s basically never.
The universe is only 14 billion years old which is 1.413. In other words, the event that happened is not a statistical ‘fluke.’ Something caused a very big change … Whatever it is that is causing this, it is bigger and deadlier than COVID and it’s affecting nearly everyone.”
Kirsch lists 14 clues as to what this deadly “something” might be, including the following:24
In conclusion, that life expectancy has dropped by three years since the start of the pandemic can be explained by the simple fact that the primary “remedy” for COVID — the experimental mRNA COVID jabs — are the most lethal drugs in medical history.
In a little-known Reuters story that garnered almost no attention in the corporate media, Dutch insurer Aegon revealed its third quarter, 2021 life insurance payouts skyrocketed 258% compared to third quarter, 2020 payouts. The difference, of course, is found in covid vaccines. In 2020, vaccines weren’t yet available, so payouts for Aegon only reached $31 million. But after three quarters of aggressive vaccinations throughout 2021, the death benefit payouts hit $111 million, an increase of 258%.
Dutch insurer Aegon, which does two-thirds of its business in the United States, said its claims in the Americas in the third quarter were $111 million, up from $31 million a year earlier. U.S. insurers MetLife and Prudential Financial also said life insurance claims rose. South Africa’s Old Mutual used up more of its pandemic provisions to pay claims and reinsurer Munich Re raised its 2021 estimate of COVID-19 life and health claims to 600 million euros from 400 million.
Insurance companies are slowly coming to realize the truth about covid vaccines, even as the complicit, murderous mainstream tries to cover up the accelerating deaths. The death signals now emerging in the finances of insurance companies can’t simply be swept under the rug, and given that a 258% increase was recorded for Q3, 2021, it begs the obvious question: How much worse will this be for Q4, 2021? Or Q1, 2022?
On any “normal” (pre-covid) day in America, about 7,700 people die. If those deaths rise by 100%, that means an extra 7,700 people are dying each day. Multiply that over one year, and it’s an additional 2.8 million deaths. Note this is for merely a 100% increase in deaths.
Aegon is reporting a 258% increase in payouts on life insurance policies. Although Aegon doesn’t insure the entire country, obviously, this data point should be raising alarms among those people paying attention. If we start to consistently see something like a 200% increase in all-cause mortality, that would mean an extra 15,000+ people are dying each day in America. That’s a vaccine holocaust playing out in real time.
Truth be told, we’re probably at that point right now. The data sets just haven’t caught up yet with the reality of what’s happening in February, 2022. Cancer death rates have almost certainly doubled in 2021 and are headed for even higher numbers in 2022, but the cancer industry — dominated by pharma interests — will of course bury the numbers as long as possible to avoid anyone asking questions of why so many people are dying from cancer all of a sudden.
(The answer is obvious: It’s the mRNA vaccines.)
The vaccine holocaust is real and accelerating… MILLIONS will die in America
So not only do we have an actual vaccine holocaust taking place in America right now, we have a holocaust cover-up being run by all the complicit, murderous parties, including Big Pharma, Big Tech, Big Media and Big Government. They’re all in on it. They’re all mass murderers, and they’re all working to cover this up as long as possible so they can coerce even more people into committing vaccine suicide before the body count becomes undeniable.
That’s the level of evil we’re dealing with in society right now, and it’s all being run under the banner of “science.”
Under this dangerous death cult of “science,” the whole world is supposed to pretend that covid vaccines are halting infectious, transmission and hospitalizations, all while looking the other way when so many vaccinated people prematurely die. Israel, at a 96.2% vaccination rate across the population, is now leading the world in covid cases per capita. This proves the vaccine has the opposite effect that we were promised in the name of “science.” In fact, the more a country vaccinates its people, the higher covid cases rise.
That’s because, of course, the vaccine is the pandemic. Covid would be over by now if not for the vaccines continuing to inject people with spike protein bioweapons that cause organ failure and death. It’s no coincidence that vaccine injury symptoms are then categorized as “covid” by the corrupt, murderous medical establishment that receives financial kickbacks from the government for killing people with ventilators and remdesivir.
Hershey company goes all in with Satan, rejects employees of faith
The Hershey company, meanwhile, is firing all its unvaccinated employees, confirming that it is an evil corporation that denies faith-based exemptions from deadly vaccines. As The Epoch Times reports:
“I really thought I’d be OK,” Kim Durham, a payment analyst and sourcing buyer, told The Epoch Times. “I thought, you cannot question my faith. Nobody can question that.”
Durham asked for a religious accommodation in August and assumed she would get it.
“I thought this was behind me until September when I met with an HR representative. It was an interrogation on your religious beliefs. They twisted your words and tried to put words in your mouth. It was terrible. I was asked such personal questions that had nothing to do with religion.”
She was shocked when, in November, she received word that her request for religious accommodation had been denied.
Everyone interviewed mentioned being troubled by similar questions during the meetings, usually held with an immediate supervisor and someone from HR, such as:
Have you ever been vaccinated? Are your children vaccinated? How do you protect yourself when you leave your home? How often do you go to church? Do you take Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Tums, or Midol?
So the Hershey company, which sells low-grade processed, sugar-filled candy bars that promote diabetes and obesity, is interrogating employees over whether they take Tums? And if they take Tums, they’re not allowed to object to spike protein mRNA injections?
Something tells me the Hershey company is now run by God-hating demons, just like most other large corporations in America and around the world.
There has never been a time in our history when more Americans have been on drugs. According to the most recent government numbers, 24.6 million Americans have used an illegal drug within the last 30 days. Of course the number of Americans taking legal drugs is actually far, far higher. According to Bloomberg, 46 percent of all Americans have taken at least one legal pharmaceutical drug within the last 30 days. In most instances, those legal drugs have been prescribed by doctors with the intention of helping people, but sometimes legal drugs are even more addictive than illegal drugs are. In particular, opioids have destroyed countless American lives over the past decade, and in so many cases those that got addicted originally got them legally. Today, Americans consume approximately 80 percent of the total global supply of opioids, and it is a major national crisis. But even if we were able to get rid of all the opioids, we would still be the most drugged up nation on the entire planet. We have become a nation of addicts, and the self-destructive path that we are on does not have a positive ending.
Whenever I come across a story about a really crazy crime that someone has committed, it almost always involves drugs. For example, just check out this doozy from West Virginia…
A stripper has been convicted of beheading her boyfriend’s disabled Star Wars-obsessed son after having sex with him. Roena Cheryl Mills, 43, was last Thursday found guilty of the first-degree murder of 29 year-old Bo White at a house in Lerona, West Virginia, in April 2018. Mills – who has the phrase ‘special kinda crazy’ tattooed across her chest – reportedly targeted Bo after having sex with him in return for drugs.
The stronger the addiction, the more desperate addicts become to get their next fix.
And very desperate people do very desperate things.
One of the first things that you will notice when drugs start taking over an area is that crime goes way up. Addicts are always looking for a way to fund their lifestyles, and retailers all over the nation are being hit particularly hard right now.
In fact, Home Depot is specifically blaming “the opioid crisis” for the epidemic of theft that they have been witnessing…
The company said organized criminals are stealing millions of dollars’ worth of goods from it and other retailers and storing the merchandise in warehouses. The theft, which retailers call shrink, has gotten so bad that it will narrow Home Depot’s operating profit margins next year, executives said during a meeting with analysts and investors.
“This is happening everywhere in retail,” Chief Executive Officer Craig Menear said. “We think this ties to the opioid crisis, but we’re not positive about that.”
More than 61,300 people in the U.S. died from drug overdoses in 2017, up from the previous year’s record of 54,800. (See the graphic.) That’s more than the number of Americans who died in the Vietnam War. And it’s happening every year.
Opioids are directly or indirectly responsible for about 70 percent of those overdose deaths.
If you can believe it, the number of Americans dying from drug overdoses has actually more than doubled since 2010.
So many people never would have imagined that their doctors would prescribe them something that is highly addictive and highly dangerous, and once you are hooked it can be exceedingly difficult to escape.
Meth producers in Mexico are cranking up the speed of production, and the drug is making a big comeback in the U.S.
“Across the country, it’s probably still the largest problem we have in America,” Derek Maltz, former head of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Special Operations Division, told Yahoo Finance. ”The Mexican cartels… they make it at levels that we’ve never seen before. So business is booming, the country’s addicted, and it’s really, really out of control.”
“We’re talking super labs,” another former DEA agent, Kevin Hartmann, told a local TV station in Texas. “Super labs that can produce multi hundred kilograms of methamphetamine.”
Meth is insanely addictive, and it will literally take over your life once you open the door.
“It’s like God tells you that if you take another breath, your children will die,” she said, shaking her head and trying to hold back tears. “You do everything you can not to take a breath. But eventually you do. That’s what it’s like. Your brain just screams at you.”
Thanks to decades of border security neglect, the big Mexican drug cartels are able to pump drugs into this country at a staggering rate.
Primarily imported from Mexico by major drug traffickers, “meth 2.0” is stronger, cheaper and far more plentiful than the old home-cooked variety. And with historic levels of funding from the federal government focused exclusively on fighting opioid addiction, states and counties are scrambling to find resources to combat this most recent drug plague.
Law enforcement officials are doing the best that they can to fight back, but without sufficient border security it is often a losing battle.
In South Dakota, they recently came up with a new slogan to show that they are trying to fight back: “Meth. We’re on it.”
A lot of people got a good laugh out of that, but unfortunately that slogan accurately describes what is happening in community after community all across the United States.
The ancient Greeks used the word “pharmakeia” to describe the mystical pull that these sorts of drugs can have on people. This is a crisis that just seems to get bigger with each passing year, and it is one of the primary causes for the social decay that we see all around us.
Those that have been snared by these drugs need our love and compassion, because they are truly victims of a relentless war against our nation. So many lives have already been destroyed, and we desperately need our politicians on the national level to start taking this threat a whole lot more seriously.
About the Author: I am a voice crying out for change in a society that generally seems content to stay asleep. My name is Michael Snyder and I am the publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News, and the articles that I publish on those sites are republished on dozens of other prominent websites all over the globe. I have written four books that are available on Amazon.com including The Beginning Of The End, Get Prepared Now, and Living A Life That Really Matters. (#CommissionsEarned) By purchasing those books you help to support my work. I always freely and happily allow others to republish my articles on their own websites, but due to government regulations I need those that republish my articles to include this “About the Author” section with each article. In order to comply with those government regulations, I need to tell you that the controversial opinions in this article are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the websites where my work is republished. This article may contain opinions on political matters, but it is not intended to promote the candidacy of any particular political candidate. The material contained in this article is for general information purposes only, and readers should consult licensed professionals before making any legal, business, financial or health decisions. Those responding to this article by making comments are solely responsible for their viewpoints, and those viewpoints do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of Michael Snyder or the operators of the websites where my work is republished. I encourage you to follow me on social media on Facebook and Twitter, and any way that you can share these articles with others is a great help.
Fast food and takeout are anathema to the ‘clean eating’ lifestyle trend that has swept the US – and much of the developed world – over the past 10 years. But while spending on gym memberships and boutique fitness classes has risen significantly over the past ten years, recent studies show that over-spending on takeout was the biggest financial mistake made by younger Americans in 2018, according to a MarketWatch report that cited data from a recent study published by Principal.
According to the data, nearly one in three Americans – 29%, up from 26% in 2018 – said dining out was this year’s top budget buster for them, followed closely by spending on groceries (which is ironic given the proliferation of low-cost grocers like Aldi that have sprouted up in recent years).
But that’s not all: In a separate study, Fidelity found that the No. 1 small financial mistake that most Americans admit to is dining out too much, something that 36% of respondents said they’d done in the past year.
Americans spent roughly $3,500 a year on dining out in 2018, according to government data. That’s a new record high, and a 2.8% improvement from the prior year. Sales are projected to hit a record high of $863 billion this year, according to the National Restaurant Association.
Since February 2010, there have been just 5 months out of 117 where the number of waiters and bartenders in the US has posted a monthly decline. November was no different.
What’s worse: The cost of getting takeout or going out to eat is rising much more quickly than the price of buying groceries, but that hasn’t had much of an impact on the spending habits of young people. And if the latest Gallup poll (a different poll than the ones cited above) shows, Americans eat out often: Six in 10 ate out at least once in the past week. And 16%
“Dining rooms and kitchens across the U.S. are getting a little less use than they used to,” said research firm Nielsen in a recent report. “That’s because Americans have embraced the experience of eating out.”
Eating out is hammering Americans’ savings, but that’s not the only impact it’s having on their general sense of well-being: It’s also probably the biggest contributor to the expanding waistlines of millions of Americans. When Americans eat out, they chow down on an extra 200 calories more than on a normal day.
Furthermore, government research has shown that “when eating out, people either eat more or eat higher calorie foods – or both – and that this tendency appears to be increasing.”
Meanwhile, a staggering 75% of Americans are either overweight or obese, according to the CBC. And over time, the costs in the form of deteriorating health associated with obesity will will continue to climb. According to the CDC, obese patients often shoulder costs that are $1,429 higher on average than patients of a normal weight.
There’s no foreign invasion. No war within its borders. No one to blame but ourselves. How then, is America killing Americans?
Most reports point to three things: drugs and alcohol, guns, and despair.
There is also fat. Statistically, it is more important, but oddly, it is not often included in discussions about the decline in life expectancy.
This last decline is from 78.7 years of life to 78.6. That does not sound terribly frightening. One-tenth of a year. One month and one week less to live. However, it has gone down for three years in a row, which has not happened in more than 100 years. The last time life expectancy went down was during World War I, when apart from deaths at the front, the US suffered an influenza epidemic that killed 675,000 people.
Is it just the US?
An article published on BMJ (previously the British Medical Journal) looked at 18 high-income countries: Japan, Switzerland, Spain, Australia, Italy, Norway, Sweden, France, Canada, Netherlands, Finland, Austria, Portugal, the UK, Belgium, Denmark, Germany and the US.
Over the last quarter of a century, the lifespans in all of those countries have gone up. People are living four to five years longer, except in the US, where it has only increased by 3.7 years. Actually, the US fell into last place in life expectancy in 2001 and the gap has been growing since. The Germans, the next lowest on the list, get to live almost two years longer than the Americans. The Japanese make it to 84 – or almost six more years.
Guns killed nearly 40,000 Americans in 2017, according to official statistics, which only counts cases if guns were “the principal cause” of death but not if they only “contributed” to it; that is 4.43 deaths per 100,000. By contrast, the death rate from gun violence in Japan and the United Kingdom is 0.04 and 0.06 respectively.
About two-thirds of all gun deaths in the US are suicides. This tells us there is plenty of despair. It has gone up by 33 percent in the last two decades while the global suicide rate has declined by 30 percent in roughly the same period.
Then there is fat.
The US is one of the most obese nations in the world, second only to island nations and Kuwait. It is listed as having an obesity rate of 36.2 percent. Most of the Western European countries have a rate of 20 to 25 percent.
Obesity is a relatively new problem and studies of it are even newer. The statistics are rapidly changing and becoming more dire. It started with saying that only severe obesity mattered and that it could shorten a lifespan by about 10 years. Moderate obesity was supposed to be OK, probably, but newer studies have said that it can take up to three years on average from someone’s life.
Do these four elements have anything in common?
Yes. Free market theology is at the root of it all.
America has a profit-driven health care system. Not only is it more expensive than any other system in the world, but it creates special inefficiencies and distortions. Its goal is always to sell an item, usually a drug or a service. How, then, can it address the obvious causes of the obesity epidemic – bad diet, lack of exercise, and a sedentary lifestyle? For the most part, it cannot and it does not.
The more insidious contributor to the American wideness and wallow is the food industry which uses excessive levels of sugar, fat and salt to ensure food is addictive.
The pharmaceutical industry also plays a major role in this. Its protected status allows it to spread addiction to various medications, causing more damage than the Mafia, the Colombian cartels and the Mexicans that Donald Trump accuses of bringing drugs over the border, combined.
Meanwhile, money from the gun industry and the NRA – a profit-seeking enterprise – keep Americans shooting themselves and each other.
Maps of suicide and addiction rates are maps of despair. They largely match the disappearance of American manufacturing. We can date that decline to President Ronald Reagan’s economic policies of the 1980s. They gutted the industrial midlands, destroyed the unions, leaving the traditional working-class poor and powerless. A certain portion of them turned to alcoholism, addiction and suicide.
There are other things that the American health care system cannot address, and that free market theology considers non-existent: self-esteem, supportive communities, positive expectation for the future, especially for children, which clearly affect healthy lifestyles and life expectancy.
Free market theology insists that what we pay for things is the best and only true measure of their value. The higher inequality rises, the more we have the feeling that this must be true.
Teaching was once a highly regarded, even revered profession. Teachers were doing a public service. They had college and advanced degrees. But now their pay has become closer to the poverty line than to the middle class. How valuable can they be?
As the 1 percent continue to amass wealth, we are getting to the point where they are literally sucking the life out of the 99 percent.
That is how America kills Americans.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.
Following decades of increased life expectancy rates, Americans have been dying earlier for three consecutive years since 2014, turning the elusive quest for the ‘American Dream’ into a real-life nightmare for many. Corporate America must accept some portion of the blame for the looming disaster.
Something is killing Americans and researchers have yet to find the culprit. But we can risk some intuitive guesses.
According to researchers from the Center on Society and Health, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, American life expectancy has not kept pace with that of other wealthy countries and is now in fact decreasing.
The National Center for Health Statistics reported that life expectancy in the United States peaked (78.9 years) in 2014 and subsequently dropped for 3 consecutive years, hitting 78.6 years in 2017. The decrease was most significant among men (0.4 years) than women (0.2 years) and happened across racial-ethnic lines: between 2014 and 2016, life expectancy decreased among non-Hispanic white populations (from 78.8 to 78.5 years), non-Hispanic black populations (from 75.3 years to 74.8 years), and Hispanic populations (82.1 to 81.8 years).
“By 2014, midlife mortality was increasing across all racial groups, caused by drug overdoses, alcohol abuse, suicides, and a diverse list of organ system diseases,” wrote researchers Steven H. Woolf and Heidi Schoomaker in a study that appears in the latest issue of the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association.
At the very beginning of the report, Woolf and Schoomaker reveal that the geographical area with the largest relative increases occurred “in the Ohio Valley and New England.”
“The implications for public health and the economy are substantial,” they added, “making it vital to understand the underlying causes.”
Incidentally, it would be difficult for any observer of the U.S. political scene to read that passage without immediately connecting it to the 2016 presidential election between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Taking advantage of the deep industrial decline that has long plagued the Ohio Valley, made up of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Kentucky, Trump successfully tapped into a very real social illness, at least partially connected to economic stagnation, which helped propel him into the White House.
Significantly, thirty-seven states witnessed significant jumps in midlife mortality in the years leading up to 2017. As the researchers pointed out, however, the trend was concentrated in certain states, many of which, for example in New England, did not support Trump in 2016.
“Between 2010 and 2017, the largest relative increases in mortality occurred in New England (New Hampshire, 23.3%; Maine, 20.7%; Vermont, 19.9%, Massachusetts 12.1%) and the Ohio Valley (West Virginia, 23.0%; Ohio, 21.6%; Indiana, 14.8%; Kentucky, 14.7%), as well as in New Mexico (17.5%), South Dakota (15.5%), Pennsylvania (14.4%), North Dakota (12.7%), Alaska (12.0%), and Maryland (11.0%). In contrast, the nation’s most populous states (California, Texas, and New York) experienced relatively small increases in midlife mortality.
Eight of the 10 states with the highest number of excess deaths were in the industrial Midwest or Appalachia, whereas rural US counties experienced greater increases in midlife mortality than did urban counties.
A tragic irony of the study suggests that greater access to healthcare, notably among the more affluent white population, actually correlates to an increase in higher mortality rates. The reason is connected to the out-of-control prescription of opioid drugs to combat pain and depression.
“The sharp increase in overdose deaths that began in the 1990s primarily affected white populations and came in 3 waves,” the report explained: (1) the introduction of OxyContin in 1996 and overuse of prescription opioids, followed by (2) increased heroin use, often by patients who had become addicted to prescription opioids, and (3) the subsequent emergence of potent synthetic opioids (eg, fentanyl analogues)—the latter triggering a large post-2013 increase in overdose deaths.
“That white populations first experienced a larger increase in overdose deaths than nonwhite populations may reflect their greater access to health care (and thus prescription drugs).”
In September, Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin, reached a tentative settlement with 23 states and more than 2,000 cities and counties that sued the company, owned by the Sackler family, over its role in the opioid crisis
Other factors also helped to drive up the U.S. mortality rate, including alcoholic liver disease and suicides, 85% of which occurred with a firearm or other method.
The United States spends more on health care than any other country, yet its overall health report card fares worse than those of other wealthy countries. Americans experience higher rates of illness and injury and die earlier than people in other high-income nations.
Researchers were perplexed but not surprised by the data as there existed clear signs back in the 1980s that the United States was heading for a cliff as far as longevity rates go.
So what is it that’s claiming the life of Americans, many at the prime of their life, at a faster pace than in the past? The reality is that it is likely to be an accumulation of negative factors that are finally beginning to take a toll. For example, apart from the opioid crisis, there has also been an almost total collapse of union representation across Corporate America, which has essentially crushed any form of workplace democracy. This author, a former member of three worker unions, witnessed this egregious abuse of corporate power firsthand, which is apparent by the total stagnation of wages for many decades.
Today’s real average wage – that is, after accounting for inflation – has about the same purchasing power it did about half a century ago. Meanwhile, in the majority of cases, increases in salary have a marked tendency to go to the highest-paid tier of executives.
In a report by Pew Research, “real terms average hourly earnings peaked more than 45 years ago: The $4.03-an-hour rate recorded in January 1973 had the same purchasing power that $23.68 would today.”
One needs only consider the growing mountain of tuition debt now consuming the paychecks of many university graduates, many of whom have yet to land their dream 6-figure job from their relatively worthless liberal education, to better understand the quiet desperation that exists across the country.
At the same time, the exponential rise in the use of social media, which has been proven to trigger depression and loneliness in users, also deserves serious consideration. What society is experiencing with its massive online presence is a total overhaul as to the way human beings relate to each other. Presently, it would be very difficult to argue that the changes have been positive; in fact, they seem to be contributing to the early demise of millions of Americans in the prime of life.
Taken together, abusive labor practices that ignores workplace democracy, the epidemic of opioid usage, compounded by the anti-social features of ‘social media’ suggests a perfect storm of factors precipitating the rise of early deaths in the United States. Since all of these areas fall in one way or another under the control of corporate power, this powerful agency must find ways to help address the problem. The future success of America depends upon it.
US life expectancy continued to decline for the third year in a row, while midlife mortality rates increased for all population groups, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reported on Tuesday.
According to JAMA, midlife mortality, which is defined as mortality for individuals between the ages of 25 and 64, had increased “across all racial groups” and was caused by “drug overdoses, alcohol abuse, suicides, and a diverse list of organ system diseases.”
The increase in midlife mortality occurred from 2014 to 2017, which was the last year examined in the study.
“US life expectancy increased for most of the past 60 years, but the rate of increase slowed over time and life expectancy decreased after 2014,” the study concludes. “The implications for public health and the economy are substantial.”
The Ohio Valley, which includes parts of West Virginia, Kentucky, and Indiana, and northern New England were listed as being among the hardest-hit geographic areas, as they have seen a loss of manufacturing jobs in recent years, and Ohio and West Virginia have been particularly affected by the opioid-addiction epidemic.
Meanwhile, the National Center for Health Statistics said on Wednesday that the US fertility rate declined in 2018 for the fourth straight year. The 2018 fertility rate was 59.1 births for every 1,000 women of childbearing age, a record low. The decline has been ongoing since the 2008 financial crisis, with a slight uptick in 2014. Fertility rates tend to decline in periods of economic distress, but in this instance, the fertility rate has not rebounded even as the economy has recovered.
“It is hard for me to believe that the birthrate just keeps going down,” University of New Hampshire demographer Kenneth Johnson told the New York Times.
In this piece, I’d like to cover the in-depth reports outlining 2017, and then we will get into the overview for 2018 in the next piece. Three reports from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that in 2017, it was the longest decline in U.S. life expectancy at birth since World War I. Sadly, the dismal reports show that rising suicide and drug overdose rates were among the main contributors to the decline.
Between 1915 and 1918, WWI and a flu pandemic killed 675,000 people in the U.S. and an estimated 50 million people worldwide. That was the last time there was such a startling drop in the number of years Americans could expect to live. In most developed nations, life expectancy has continued to climb over the decades.
The reports suggest that American society is quite sick.
Dr. Robert Redfield, CDC director, said: 
“Life expectancy gives us a snapshot of the Nation’s overall health and these sobering statistics are a wakeup call that we are losing too many Americans, too early and too often, to conditions that are preventable.”
Joshua M. Sharfstein, vice dean for public health practice and community engagement at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said: 
“I think this is a very dismal picture of health in the United States. Life expectancy is improving in many places in the world. It shouldn’t be declining in the United States.”
S.V. Subramanian, a professor of population health and geography at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, asked:
“After 3 years of stagnation and decline, what do we do now? Do we say this is the new normal? Or can we say this is a tractable problem?”
An American born in 2017 can expect to live 78.6 years at birth, down 1/10 of a year from 2016, according to the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. Men can expect to live 76.1 years, down 1/10 of a year from 2016. Life expectancy for women remains unchanged from 2016, at 81.1 years.
Drugs are Still Doing Americans In
The overall number of fatal drug overdoses rose from 63,632 in 2016 to 70,237 in 2017 – an annual record. Opioids sold on the street caused 47,600 overdoses in 2017 – another record, driven largely by an increase in fentanyl deaths. President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a national emergency in August, 2017 
The number of fatal drug overdoses has more than quadrupled since 1999. Deaths from opioids were nearly 6 times greater in 2017 than they were in 1999.
There was no increase in overdose deaths from legal painkillers in 2017. As well, heroin overdoses did not rise. Robert Anderson, chief of the mortality statistics branch at the Center for Health Statistics, said that efforts to keep legal painkillers off the streets and out of the hands of drug dealers, as well as prescription drug monitoring programs, may have contributed to the steady numbers.
Authorities have been cracking down on so-called “pill mills,” unscrupulous doctors, and states have been going after drug companies that belched out suspicious amounts of pills to states hardest hit by the opioid epidemic.
Anderson also credits the wider availability of the opioid antidote naloxone, efforts to educate substance abusers as they leave jail, more treatment programs, and expanded Medicaid programs for the lack of an increase in legal opioid and heroin overdoses.
As 2018 draws to a close, provisional data for the first 4 months of the year hints at a plateau in overdoses and possibly a slight decline.
But the plateau in heroin deaths doesn’t necessarily mean fewer people are dying from hard drugs. According to Sharfstein, it reflects the fact that fentanyl has overtaken heroin on the illicit drug market.
In fact, the reports show that fentanyl-related deaths climbed from 19,413 in 2016 to 28,466 in 2017.
West Virginia continues to lead the nation in overdose deaths, followed by Ohio, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia, the data show. The state least affected by drug overdoses was Nebraska, where there were just 8.1 drug overdose deaths per 100,000 residents. By comparison, West Virginia had 57.8 overdose deaths per 100,000 residents.
Life Expectancy Cut Short … on Purpose
As doctors and researchers work to find ways to expand Americans’ life expectancy, it seems that many Americans simply want to “check out” and do so by taking their own life.
Suicide has been the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. for the last decade, increasing from 10 suicides per 100,000 people in 1999 to 14 suicides per 100,000 people in 2017. Female suicides increased more sharply than male suicides, though more men than women die by suicide each year.
Between 1999 and 2017, the male suicide rate increased by 26% – from about 18 suicides per 100,000 to almost 22 per 100,000.
The suicide rate among women during that period rose from 4 suicides per 100,000 to nearly 6 per 100,000, or 53%. Women between the ages of 45 and 64 experienced the highest suicide rates in both 1999 (6 suicides per 100,000) and 2017 (nearly 10 suicides per 100,000).
Suicide rates in rural counties were significantly higher than in urban counties.
“We must all work together to reverse this trend and help ensure that all Americans live longer and healthier.”
He added that the CDC “is committed to putting science into action and to protect U.S. health.”
This news is obviously unfortunate, but hopefully with more awareness being risen around the country, we can collectively take measures improve quality of life across the board.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracks the 10 leading causes of death for Americans at every stage of life. The health agency’s data from 2016 reveals that some of the greatest hazards to our young lives include everyday activities like riding in a car, while deadly cancers and heart conditions become more dangerous as our bodies take on more wear and tear.
The list below describes most common causes of death at every age, from dangerous accidents that pose threats when we’re young to diseases that are likely to take our lives when we’re older.
Here’s a map of what to watch out for from age 0 to 65. Notice that most deaths that occur before age 45 are likely to be caused by accidents.
The single biggest threat to life for people between 1 and 45 is some kind of accident, whether it’s consumption of a toxic chemical or a deadly crash.
But just looking at the leading cause of death for every age group doesn’t tell us the whole story. Suicides are on the rise across the US and have become the second leading cause of death in many age groups.
For that reason, we’ve also included the second leading cause of death for each age group in the categories below.
The biggest risk to newborns’ nascent lives, from birth to their first birthday, is birth defects.
These development issues include critical and potentially deadly malformations of the heart or brain, as well as milder ones like a smaller-than-usual ear or a misshapen foot.
Most birth defects crop up during the first three months of pregnancy, when the organs of a fetus are beginning to form. But some abnormalities can go undetected until months later. Many issues like hearing loss or heart problems can’t be diagnosed until after a baby is born.
Factors like family history, the health of the mother, use of medications, and consumption of alcohol or drugs can all have some effect on birth defects. But the reasons that some babies are born with potentially devastating or deadly health problems are still not completely understood.
The second leading cause of death for babies from 0 to 1 is premature birth.
From ages 1 to 4, babies, toddlers, and their caregivers should be extra cautious around water.
For the first time ever, China has overtaken America in healthy life expectancy at birth, according to a new report. “Healthy life expectancy” is defined by years lived in good health or without significant illness.
The report, from the World Health Organization (WHO), reveals Chinese newborns could experience 68.7-years of healthy life ahead of them, compared to just 68.5-years for American babies. While the margin between healthy life for both countries is minuscule, the crossover represents the understanding that America is in decline.
Though Americans born in 2018 can still expect a longer life — 78.5-years to be exact, compared to China’s 76.4-years; however, the last ten years of an American’s life is usually plagued with significant health-related problems.
“The lost years of good health that are a factor in calculating healthy life expectancy at birth are lower for China, Japan, Korea and some other high-income Asian countries than for high income ‘Western’ countries,” said WHO spokeswoman Alison Clements-Hunt.
The data also shows that America is one of the only five countries, along with Afghanistan, Georgia, Grenadines, Saint Vincent, and Somalia, where healthy life expectancy at birth is reversing.
Since 2005, the outlook for Singaporean babies has never been better, who can live free of significant health-related issues until 76.2-years, followed by Japan, Spain, and Switzerland.
In overall global life expectancy rankings, America places 40th among all other countries, while China ranks 37th.
China has seen a dramatic improvement in overall life expectancy in recent years. Meanwhile, overall life expectancy in the United States peaked in 2014 at 79-years, which Reuters calculates that China could overtake the United States around 2027.
“Chinese life expectancy has increased substantially and is now higher than for some high-income countries,” said Clements-Hunt.
The WHO’s numbers reflect that something is not quite right in America. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) confirmed in December that the average American life expectancy at birth declined in 2016 for the second consecutive year – the first multiyear decline since 1963, when a flu epidemic led to a rash of deaths as hundreds of thousands of elderly Americans succumbed to the virus.
Clements-Hunt believes drug overdoses and worsening wealth inequality could be some of the trends responsible for declining American life expectancy.
“The increasing rates of drug overdose deaths, mainly from opioids, suicides, and some other major causes among younger middle-aged Americans, particularly in less affluent area,” she said.
While it is no mystery that American Exceptionalism is declining, China, on the other hand, is gradually accelerating with a healthier workforce that will be the needed energy in its economy to dethrone the American Empire in the next decade. Significant changes are coming to the global economy and while today’s data from the WHO does not seem substantial, remember, a critical component of any economy besides robots is the human factor.
“It’s not just how much exercise you do but how you compare yourself with your friends that really determines your fitness: …the researchers discovered something extraordinary. People who thought they weren’t doing as much exercise as their peers died younger than those who thought they did more, even when the actual amount of exercise they did was the same.”
If your New Year’s exercise regime has already failed, try not to focus on all the workouts you should have done. New research has revealed a surprising connection between people’s beliefs and their health: by being too negative about their physical activity, some people may “think themselves unfit”.
Scientists at Stanford University in the US looked at mortality data for 61,000 adults. For 21 years, dozens of measures were taken, including how much people exercised and crucially, how much exercise they thought they did compared with others their age, during which time some of the participants had died from a range of illnesses.
Analysing the various factors that might have contributed to the participants’ health, the researchers discovered something extraordinary. People who thought they weren’t doing as much exercise as their peers died younger than those who thought they did more, even when the actual amount of exercise they did was the same.
This effect remained even when they took into account the participants’ health status and factors such as smoking.
Comparing our fitness to our friends can lead to negative effects (Credit: Getty Images)
Exercise does of course add to your average life expectancy, but this study suggests that perceptions of exercise make a difference too. The study’s author Octavia Zahrt from Stanford University told me that personal experience prompted the research. When she moved to graduate school in California she found herself surrounded by people dressed in their gym kit, who always seemed to be on their way to or from exercising.
Having considered herself a fit person when she lived in London, cycling frequently and attending exercise, in comparison with her new peers, she suddenly felt distinctly unfit.
There are at least three possible reasons why our perceptions of exercise could affect our health
She wondered whether feeling less active than others might affect your health – and she was right. She found that that the mortality risk was up to 71% greater for people who perceive themselves as being less active than their peers, compared with those who thought they did more exercise than everyone else.
Zahrt’s claim might seem extraordinary, but there are at least three possible reasons why our perceptions of exercise could affect our health.
The first is simply that we feel stressed if we think we’re not active enough. Bombarded by health messages and seeing everyone exercising all the time, might cause us to worry a lot and this kind of chronic stress could damage our health.
Or is it down to motivation? Perhaps if you already think you’re active your image of yourself as an athletic person encourages you to do even more exercise to fit in with this image. This idea is backed up by research from 2015 which showed if you believe you are less fit than your friends, you’re less likely to be doing any exercise at all a year later.
US life expectancy fell for the second year in a row in 2016 as drugs, alcohol and suicide contributed to a public health crisis, according to a British medical study.
Americans are more likely to engage in “unhealthy behaviors” like drug abuse, firearm ownership and high caloric intake, based a report released Wednesday by The BMJ, formerly known as the British Medical Journal.
The study said the opioid epidemic is “just the tip of the iceberg” of an even larger public health crisis in the United States. The report is based on data from the World Bank.
“Between 2000 and 2014, the rate of fatal drug overdoses rose by 137 percent, a crisis fueled by the growing use of highly addictive opioid drugs,” the BMJ report said.
“In 2015 alone, more than 64 000 Americans died from drug overdoses, exceeding the number of US casualties in the Vietnam War.”
The study found that US life expectancy fell to 78.6 years in 2016, a decrease of 0.1 years from the year before, a statistically significant drop. Life expectancy in 2017 has not yet been calculated.
The research said suicides and alcohol use have also been growing, with the suicide rate climbing 24 percent between 1999 and 2014 , an increase affecting mainly European Americans, persons with limited education and women.
“The answer [is] likely some combination of factors in American life-must explain why the rise in mortality is greatest in white, middle aged adults and certain rural communities,” the report said.
“Possibilities include the collapse of industries and the local economies they supported, the erosion of social cohesion and greater social isolation, economic hardship, and distress among white workers over losing the security their parents once enjoyed.”
The BMJ report added that although the United States is a rich country, its wealth is “not inclusive” and the “American Dream” is increasingly out of reach.
The study comes after a report in December by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also found that life expectancy for Americans had fallen for the second straight year due to drug overdoses.
A total of 63,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2016, up 21 percent from 2015, the CDC said.
In November, US President Donald Trump declared the US drug crisis a “public health emergency.” He also announced an advertising campaign to combat the epidemic, but did not direct any new federal funding toward the effort.
Have profit margins risen to a permanently higher plateau? Are average Americans better off than they were a generation ago?I had the opportunity to discuss those questions, which are centrally important to investing and economic policy, with Jeremy Grantham a couple of weeks ago.
The discussion took place as part of a larger interview about climate-change investing. Grantham is the co-founder and chief investment strategist of Boston-based Grantham Mayo Van Otterloo (GMO).
It’s been widely reported that over the last 20 years the number of publicly traded companies has decreased by about 50%. The common explanations center on the fact that the number of de-listings, mergers, acquisitions and bankruptcies have outstripped the initial public offerings (IPOs).
But I wanted to know if there was a deeper explanation related to the fact that corporate profit margins are at historical highs. Over the last dozen years, with the exception of the financial crisis, profit margins have been between 9% and 11% of GDP. Prior to that, the last time they were above 9% was in 1951.
The U.S. economy has become more concentrated in the service and technology sectors, which are inherently more profitable than the manufacturing businesses that dominated 50 years ago. Those business, like Amazon, Apple and Google have built incredibly strong, near-monopolistic franchises that should translate to higher margins.
If the market has become dominated with highly profitable, monopolistic franchises, then maybe that is why there are fewer companies and profit margins are no longer “the most mean-reverting series in finance,” as Grantham once claimed.
GMO has looked at this issue extensively. As Grantham noted, “profit margins and return on sales will vary much depending on whether you are in the supermarket business or whether you are in some software company. There is no average to which it moves.”
But that doesn’t necessarily mean that returns for equities will be greater going forward. As Grantham explained, higher margins will attract more capital and reduce the returns relative to other asset classes. “If your capital is returning more in this area than the other area then capital will flow and balance it out,” he said.
Higher margins have been offered as an explanation, by Grantham and others, for why the cyclically adjusted price-earnings (CAPE) ratio is higher than its historical average. But CAPE ratios depend on other factors, such as real interest rates, so margins only tell part of the story.
Grantham said that the monopoly factor has increased margins “a bit.”+
“Corporate power as exercised through Congress, particularly in the U.S., has clearly increased the total domination of regulatory boards by the industries. Regulations have gone from being concerning to laughable, and totally run by those guys for their own interests,” he said.
Grantham is far more concerned about the societal impacts of unchecked capitalism than he is with its effect on margins.
“We are seeing a flowering of corporatism where government is designed to maximize the opportunities of giant influential companies and industries that spend a lot of money lobbying,” he said. “We continue down that primrose path today with yet another cycle of deregulating designed to help corporations.”
Grantham spoke about the “punishing consequences” that tax cuts and deregulation will have on the general public. +
He said that “maximizing the returns and the share of the pie going to corporations and the superrich is deplorable and has terrible effects on the economy in the long run. The average person in the street doesn’t have the buying power increments that they used to have.”
But is the average American really losing buying power? On this point, Grantham and I disagreed. Whether you go back 10, 20 or 40 years, I contend the standard of living for Americans has increased enormously.
Grantham, however, said that in terms of general well-being and happiness, Americans are worse off.`
“If you do your best to control for everything and measure happiness, this is not a particularly happy country,” Grantham said. “It is not entirely dependent on income by any means, and we have not improved.”
He acknowledged a couple areas where Americans are better off – entertainment, such as high-tech computer games, and medicine, where he said progress in drugs and technology are keeping people alive longer. To those I would add food, in light of the advances in the quality and variety of choices in cuisine, and transportation, considering the speed and safety at which we can travel by car, plane and other means.
But Grantham said that the average worker has not been paid more since 1974 for an hour’s work. “Does he feel more content, or does he feel extremely frustrated by his relative lack of progress compared to others?” he asked, rhetorically. “There is no doubt that he is more frustrated. The suicide rate in that group has gone way up. The drug addiction has gone way up.”
Indeed, he said there are all the indications of a “thoroughly miserable middle America.”
That is obvious from the suicide rate and the addiction rate, according to Grantham. He sympathizes with those who came from a world where one’s parents increased their annual wages by 3% or 4% real per year. Inflation-adjusted salaries have gone “dead flat” since the early 1970s, he said.
“This has been a bitter disappointment,” Grantham said.
I asked whether this could be the result of rhetoric from politicians and commentators who seek to amplify the fears of disadvantaged Americans. Grantham agreed that there has been a political background that encouraged – or even whipped up – disappointment.
“But it is also clear that the reasons for being frustrated have not come out of thin air,” he said. “This is not the postwar boom where blue-collar workers make enough money to feel very pleased with themselves, and have their kids one way or the other go to college. This is not by any means as successful a society.”
He pointed to some statistics that illustrate the lack of progress among Americans relative to other developed countries – more children are born to 16-year old girls, a higher murder rate, more people in prison (by a factor of three or four, he said), a higher rate of gun violence and lower life expectancies.
But the data on life expectancy is not conclusive. Life expectancy at birth is less for Americans than for most developed countries, but after approximately age 35, U.S. life expectancy is indistinguishable from the others. The reason is that the murder rate in the U.S. is so high and most victims are younger than 35.
Grantham countered that our infant mortality is 19th or 20th out of 20 developed counties and mothers who die in childbirth are very high compared to the others. He said that those rates have improved steadily, but that America pays the most for health care as a percentage of GDP, and we have worse outcomes than everyone except a couple of countries.
But you can’t use life expectancy to claim that medical outcomes in the U.S. are worse than for other countries, unless you carefully adjust for our murder rate.
I acknowledged that Americans pay more for medical care, but I contended that a better question to ask is whether all health-related government spending, including social services, is greater in the U.S. than for other developed countries. Those social services, including welfare, food stamps, and subsidized housing, contribute to better health outcomes in the same way as does healthcare. When you look at all health-related spending, the data for the U.S. is not that different than our peers (The major OECD countries on average spend about $1.70 on social services for each $1 on health services. But the US spends just 56 cents per health dollar – see here).
The question of whether Americans get better outcomes for our healthcare dollars is significant, yet for most of us its relevance will be limited to cocktail-party conversations. But the larger question of how fast our standard of living is advancing has profound implications for economic policymakers. If our standard of living is improving faster than the published data indicates, then it means that inflation has been overstated. If inflation is overstated, then real growth rates and productivity are understated.
Most importantly, this runs contrary to the claims by politicians and others about stagnating real wages.
This is where Grantham and I had the sharpest difference. He said, “There is no question that GDP growth has slowed way down. Productivity has slowed way down and we have entered a low-growth world.” In his view, this has led to extreme income inequality and favoring of corporations.
“Where it goes and how long it lasts, nobody knows. You would hope for a swinging back of the pendulum, and I would certainly hope, and to some extent I expect that that will occur in the not too distant future.”
I agree that that income inequality has risen and corporations are more favored by government policy. But I am not persuaded that real growth rates in the U.S. are as low as Grantham fears, nor am I convinced that Americans are as bad off as he claims.
“Our citizens should know the urgent facts…but they don’t because our media serves imperial, not popular interests. They lie, deceive, connive and suppress what everyone needs to know, substituting managed news misinformation and rubbish for hard truths…”—Oliver Stone