Source: Zero Hedge
Sept 1, 2017
For millions of middle- and working-class Americans, the “American Dream” is all but dead. Far from being able to afford their own homes, the Fed’s latest survey on the wellbeing of US households revealed that nearly a quarter of Americans are unable to pay their monthly bills on time, and nearly half have less than $400 in the bank…
But in what’s perhaps the most comprehensive analysis of the financial security of American workers, a study published by HowMuch.net explores the true cost of living for working-class Americans in dozens of US cities.
What they found is hardly surprising. In most areas of the country, the average working-class household would be running a spending deficit. According to HowMuch’s methodology, the best place to live from a financial perspective on an Average Joe’s salary is Fort Worth, Texas, which would leave a working-class family with a $10,447 surplus at the end of the year. On the flip side, that same family would need an additional $91,184 just to break even in New York City.
To arrive at these scores, the researchers used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for income levels, the National Bureau of Economic Research for tax data, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the cost of food.
Newark, NJ, Chesapeake, VA and Jacksonville, FL are the only coastal cities where a worker can adequately support his family without accumulating debt. Notice there are exactly zero affordable cities on the west coast.
Likewise, San Antonio is the only one of the top 10 most populated cities where a working-class family can afford a decent living. Out of the top 50 cities, only a dozen qualify.
HowMuch illustrates its data in the map below. The darker the shade of red, the worse off the typical working-class family is. The darker the shade of green, the better off they would be. The size of the bubble also fits on a sliding scale—large and dark red means the city is totally unaffordable. Bigger dark green bubbles likewise indicate a city where the working class can get by.
And as you can see, the red is much more prominent than the green.
So where are the best places for working-class families to live? Here are the top five cities with the net surplus wokers are left with after living expenses.
1. Fort Worth, TX ($10,447)
2. Newark, NJ (($10,154)
3. Glendale, AZ ($10,120)
4. Gilbert, AZ ($9,760)
5. Mesa, AZ ($7,780)
And here are the five worst cities, with their associated cost-of-living deficits.
1. New York, NY (-$91,184)
2. San Francisco, CA (-$83,272)
3. Boston, MA (-$61,900)
4. Washington, DC (-$50,535)
5. Philadelphia, PA (-$37,850)
Readers can take a more in-depth look at the data using HowMuch’s True Cost of Living tool, which is available here.
The only words that come to mind: Self-serving, self-centered, greedy, self-entitled psychopathic snowflakes that are destroying the fabric of society.
Photo Credit: (Wikimedia Commons / Jericho)
The following is an excerpt from the new book The CEO Pay Machine: How It Trashes America and How to Stop It by Steven Clifford (Blue Rider Press, May 2017), available from Amazon and IndieBound:
In the long term, the indirect effect of the Pay Machine—the increase in income inequality—is economically more injurious than the erosion of company earnings or a stock market downturn.
Income inequality in America has risen sharply since 1976. Economists and pundits point to multiple causes—globalization and competition from low-wage countries; growing educational disparities that particularly affect men and minorities; technological changes that reward the highly skilled; decline of labor unions; changes in corporate culture that place stock price and earnings above employees; free market philosophy and the rise of winner-take-all economics; households with high-income couples; lower rates of marriage and of intact families; high incarceration levels; immigration of low-skilled individuals; income tax and capital gains tax cuts and other conservative economic and tax policies; deregulation; and decreased welfare and antipoverty spending coupled with redistribution programs that disproportionately benefit the elderly.
All of the above may contribute to inequality. However, the proximate cause is quite simple. The jump in inequality is due to a small number of people, mostly business executives, who make huge amounts of money. They are the Mega Rich, the top .1 percent in income, who averaged $6.1 million in income in 2014. The Merely Rich are the rest of the 1 percent. It’s the Mega Rich, not the Merely Rich, who drive inequality. (I’m a member of the Merely Rich, so don’t blame me.)
As shown in the graph [that follows]… between 1980 and 2014 the average real income of the Mega Rich has nearly quadrupled, increasing by 381 percent. Over the same period, the Merely Rich doubled their income while the bottom 90 percent lost ground, suffering a 3 percent decline.
Data from Facundo Alvaredo, Anthony B. Atkinson, Thomas Pikkety, Emmanuel Saez, and Gabriel Zucman, The World Wealth and Income Database, April 5, 2016.
The Mega Rich captured most of the national income gains during the last four decades as their share of income increased from 3.4 percent in 1980 to 10.3 percent in 2014. The share of the Merely Rich rose from 6.6 percent to 11.0 percent over the same period. Thus the Mega Rich snared over three-fifths of the income growth of the 1 percent and nearly 40 percent of all income growth. In the tepid recovery from 2010 to 2012, the 1 percent took virtually all of the income gains. The Mega Rich again got the lion’s share: their average income increased 49 percent in this three-year period.
The Mega Rich are getting mega richer. Their average household made 113 times as much as the typical American household in 2014. In 1980, this number was 47. In 2014, the 115,000 Mega Rich households had as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. They now hold 22 percent of the nation’s wealth, nearly double their 1995 share.
Since Fortune 500 CEOs can account for only 500 of the 115,000 Mega Rich, you might be surprised to learn that the majority of the Mega Rich are business executives. CEOs and other business executives constitute the largest high-income group in America. Not the old families with their inherited wealth. Not the sports heroes with their jaw-dropping contracts. Not the movie stars at $20 million per blockbuster movie. Executives, managers, supervisors, and financial professionals constitute three-fifths of the top 0.1 percent. Moreover, they accounted for about 70 percent of the increase in income going to the top 0.1 percent from 1979 to 2005. As Nobel Prize–winning economist Paul Krugman puts it, “Basically, the top 0.1 percent is the corporate suits, with a few token sports and film stars thrown in.”
In Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Thomas Piketty, after analyzing enormous amounts of data, wrote:
The vast majority (60 to 70%, depending on what definitions one chooses) of the top 0.1% of the income hierarchy in 2000–2010 consists of top managers. By comparison, athletes, actors, and artists of all kinds make up less than 5% of this group. In this sense, the new US inequality has much more to do with the advent of “supermanagers” than with “superstars.”
Piketty asserts that increasing income inequality is caused not by investment income but by high wages driven by “the emergence of extremely high remunerations at the summit of the wage hierarchy, particularly among top managers of large firms.”
Furthermore, “CEOs use their own power not only to increase their own salaries, but also those of their subordinates,” one study determined. As a result, the majority of “supermanagers” are either CEOs or executives whose compensation is heavily influenced by their pay—private company CEOs, other senior corporate executives, and the professionals who advise them. There are more than 5,000 publicly traded companies and 5.7 million private companies with employees.
The graph… [that follows] shows that the annual income of the Mega Rich and the ratio of CEO to average worker pay are highly correlated—the two lines look almost identical. While correlation does not prove causation, I find it easier to believe that runaway CEO pay caused the income of the Mega Rich to skyrocket rather than the other way around.
Average Income Data from Facundo Alvaredo, Anthony B. Atkinson, Thomas Pikkety, Emmanuel Saez, and Gabriel Zucman, The World Wealth and Income Database, April 5, 2016. Compensation Ratio Data from Mishel, Lawrence, and Alyssa Davis. “Top CEOs Make 300 Times More than Typical Workers: Pay Growth Surpasses Stock Gains and Wage Growth of Top 0.1 Percent.” Economic Policy Institute. June 21, 2015. Accessed May 16, 2016.
Keep this graph in mind as we analyze how growing inequality curbs economic growth. Every time you see the phrase “increasing inequality” or “income inequality,” you could substitute “rising CEO pay.”
“There’s been class warfare going on for the last twenty years,” said Warren Buffett, “and my class has won.” Some celebrate this result in the belief that free markets have justly rewarded talent, hard work, and initiative. Others bemoan the division of America into the Mega Rich who pluck the fruits of economic growth and the 99 percent who stagnate.
I side with the bemoaners, but others have examined the moral and social reasons why income inequality is bad far better than I can. I will examine the economic damage. Americans may differ about politics, religion, and sports teams, but all applaud economic growth. They may argue how to best divide the pie, but they agree that a bigger pie beats a smaller one and that economic growth is preferable to its alternative—a recession. Whether increasing inequality helps or hurts the economy is the wrong question. The right question (and an easier one) is, “Given where America is today, will greater or lesser income inequality spur economic growth?”
From 1949 to 1979, while the ratio of CEO‑to‑average-worker pay was relatively constant, the US economy grew 2.56 percent annually. When this ratio surged from 1981 to 2014, economic growth dropped to 1.71 percent a year. The difference may sound small, but over half a century, the higher growth rate results in an economy that is 50 percent larger. That’s a big difference.
This correlation doesn’t prove that income inequality slowed economic growth, but it suggests that overpaying CEOs has not done much to help. Economist Richard Freeman draws an inequality curve in the form of an inverted U as shown [below]… The vertical axis shows the level of inequality. The horizontal axis depicts total economic output or GDP. At Point A on the left, there is perfect equality; everyone gets the same amount of money regardless of talent and effort. Therefore, no one has a financial incentive to work and economic output is zero. From this point, increases in inequality are good for the economy, for a while. At some point, more inequality begins to stifle growth. At the right end of the curve, one person gets all the money, and again, no one has an incentive to work. At the top of this curve, between total equality and total inequality, economic output is maximized at Point I.
Plotting the curve from evidence is difficult, but we were almost certainly nearer the optimum output point (I) between 1949 and 1979 than we are today.
Leading economists who argue that increasing income inequality hampers economic growth include Nobel laureates Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz, Piketty, Alan Krueger (former chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers), and Raghuram Rajan (former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund).
In a 2014 report, the ratings agency Standard & Poor’s says that current inequality levels are hindering US economic growth and the firm has cut its growth forecast. Its report states, “We’ve reduced our 10‑year U.S. growth forecast to a 2.5 percent rate. We expected 2.8 percent five years ago.”
Excerpted from the new book The CEO Pay Machine: How It Trashes America and How to Stop It by Steven Clifford (Blue Rider Press, May 2017), available from Amazon and IndieBound.
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Source: Michael Snyder, Guest Post
Have you lost your spot in the middle class yet? For years I have been documenting all of the numbers that show that the middle class in America has been steadily shrinking, and we just got another one. According to a report that was produced by researchers at Harvard University, the number of Americans that spend more than 30 percent of their incomes on housing has more than doubled. In 2001, nearly 16 million Americans couldn’t afford the homes that they were currently living in, but by 2015 that figure had jumped to 38 million.When I write about “economic collapse”, I am writing about a process that has been unfolding for decades in this country. Back in the early 1970s, well over 60 percent of all Americans were considered to be “middle class”, but now that number has fallen below 50 percent. Never before in our history has the middle class been a minority of the population, but that is where we are at now, and the middle class continues to get even smaller with each passing day.
So these new numbers saddened me, but they didn’t exactly surprise me. The following comes from NBC News…
Over 38 million American households can’t afford their housing, an increase of 146 percent in the past 16 years, according to a recent Harvard housing report.
Under federal guidelines, households that spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing costs are considered “cost burdened” and will have difficulty affording basic necessities like food, clothing, transportation and medical care.
But the number of Americans struggling with their housing costs has risen from almost 16 million in 2001 to 38 million in 2015, according to the Census data crunched in the report. That’s more than double.
Sometimes people try to convince me that the economy is doing “well”, but when I ask them how they are doing personally the news is almost always dreary. I know so many people that are working for close to minimum wage that used to be solidly in the middle class.
One of the biggest reasons why the middle class is shrinking is because paychecks are staying about the same while the cost of living continues to rise steadily. Of course one of the biggest factors in the rise of the cost of living is health insurance.
There are many people out there that have seen their health insurance premiums double since Obamacare went into effect. And one health insurance company actually tried to do this to me and my family too, and so at that time I immediately switched carriers.
But even though virtually every single Republican in Congress campaigned on repealing Obamacare, it doesn’t look like it is going to happen. In fact, on Sunday Senator John McCain told Face the Nation that the effort to repeal Obamacare is “probably going to be dead”…
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said Sunday the Republican bill to repeal and replace Obamacare is “probably going to be dead.”
“My view is that it’s probably going to be dead,” he said on CBS’s Face the Nation.
Support for the bill has been eroding over the July 4th recess, and McCain said he believes Republicans should work with Democrats to craft health care legislation.
As a voter, this greatly frustrates me. The Republicans got a bill to repeal Obamacare through the House and through the Senate and on to Barack Obama’s desk in early 2016. So why can’t they get that exact same bill to Donald Trump’s desk now?
We worked really hard to give the Republicans control of the White House, the Senate and the House, and now they are stabbing us in the back once again.
This is just one example of why I intend to be a “wrecking ball” if I get the chance to go to Washington.
We have got to lower health care costs on the middle class. There is no other option. Millions of families all over the country are being absolutely suffocated by rising health insurance premiums. Sometimes I get so frustrated with these RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) that I want to scream.
So many families are living on the edge right now. Various surveys have discovered that somewhere around two-thirds of the entire nation is living paycheck to paycheck at least part of the time, and one study found that 69 percent of all Americans do not have an adequate emergency fund.
But when you are living on the edge, there is always a danger that you could go over.
Every month, more Americans fall out of the middle class and into poverty. Even during this so-called “economic recovery”, we are seeing alarming spikes in poverty all over the nation. For example, the number of homeless people living on the street in New York City has increased by 39 percent over the past year…
Street homelessness in New York increased by 39 percent in 2017, according to the latest annual survey by the Department of Homeless Services.
There were 3,892 homeless and unsheltered people on the night of February 6, 2017, up from 2,794 people at the same time last year, said the report, which is conducted on one night of the year. This is the highest increase since 2005, when Michael Bloomberg was mayor.
And bankruptcies continue to rise as well. Consumer bankruptcies were up once again last month, and commercial bankruptcies continue their very disturbing climb…
Commercial Chapter 11 bankruptcies – an effort to restructure the business, rather than liquidating it – jumped 16% year-over-year in June to 581 filings across the US. Total commercial bankruptcies of all types, by large corporations to tiny sole proprietorships, rose 2% year-over-year to 3,385 filings, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute. This was up 39% from June 2015 and up 18% from June 2014.
Since the end of the last recession, the middle class has continued to get smaller and smaller in this country, and now it appears that another economic downturn is upon us.
Are we just going to stand aside and do nothing as the middle class in America dies?
The Democrats don’t seem to care.
The Republicans don’t seem to care.
If we continue to do the same things that we have been doing, we are going to continue to get the same results.
In other words, unless we start doing things differently the middle class in America is going to continue to be systematically eviscerated.
Wake up America. The middle class is dying and if we want to save it we have to take action now.
With permission from Michael at
The middle class in America has been shrinking for decades, and our leaders seem powerless to do anything about it. Two years ago, the middle class became a minority in this country for the first time ever. In other words, the middle class now accounts for less than 50 percent of the population. But back in the early 1970s, the middle class made up more than 60 percent of the population. I have often compared being in the middle class to playing a really bizarre game of musical chairs. When the music stops playing each month, more chairs are being pulled out of the middle class, and most of us are just hoping that we will still have a chair for the next go around.
Earlier today, I came across a USA Today article that discussed some of the factors that are slowly but surely eviscerating the middle class. I am going to share four of those factors with you, and at the end I am going to add one extra one. First of all, the article pointed to a decline in manufacturing and the rise of “service jobs” as one of the key trends that is changing the nature of work in America…
‘Once dominant industries, like manufacturing — which paid well even without a college degree — have been overtaken by service sector jobs, most of which are low-paying, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.’
In the old days, even if you didn’t have any higher education you could support a middle class family by working in manufacturing. We were the greatest manufacturing society that the world had ever seen, and Detroit had the highest per capita income in the entire country. But after decades of sending manufacturing jobs overseas, manufacturing’s share of the U.S. economy is at an all-time low and formerly great manufacturing cities such as Detroit have become rotting, decaying hellholes.
Secondly, the USA Today article pointed to the rising cost of a college education…
‘The cost of getting a college degree is up more than 1,000% since 1978, according to Bloomberg.’
This is a particular pet peeve of mine, because I am still paying off my old law school loans. We encourage our students to get as much education as possible and to not worry about all the debt, but then millions of them find themselves financially crippled and without good jobs once they graduate. This makes it extremely difficult for a lot of our young people to enter the middle class.
Thirdly, the USA Today article brought up stagnant wages and the rising cost of living…
‘Decades of stagnant wages mean both parents must often work to make ends meet, creating a need for child care and elder care that didn’t exist in 1950, for example, when two-thirds of women were full-time “homemakers” aka caregivers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.’
Once upon a time, a single income could easily provide for a large middle class family in America. But today so many families have both parents working, and yet many of them still find it very difficult to pay the bills each month. In fact, surveys have found that somewhere around two-thirds of the entire country is living paycheck to paycheck.
Fourthly, the USA Today article mentioned “the gig economy” as a major issue…
‘The gig economy (Uber, Airbnb) has exploded, giving workers more control and flexibility, but fewer benefits or legal protections.’
Independent work and contract work have become major societal trends, and this isn’t going away any time soon. These types of jobs do not typically come with health insurance, retirement benefits, etc. and so this is something that our nation is going to have to wrestle with.
Fifthly, I would like to throw in the decline of small business and entrepreneurship in America. Working for yourself or starting a business have always been ways to lift yourself up into the middle class in this country, but today it is harder than ever to become independent. The government is absolutely killing small businesses and entrepreneurs with rules, regulations, red tape and high taxes, and little relief appears to be coming our way any time soon.
At this point, the percentage of Americans that are self-employed is hovering near the all-time record low, and if we hope to have a thriving middle class ever again we need to get this fixed.
We also need to train our young people for the jobs of the 21st century. At one time we had one of the best education systems on the entire planet, but today our system of public education has become a global joke.
And I am not exaggerating one bit when I say that.
To give you an idea of how badly the quality of our workforce has declined, I want to share with you something that the owner of a small manufacturing company posted in an Internet discussion forum…
I own a small manufacturing company. Most of the assembly work is done at a bench, with hand tools. The work is not difficult, but quality and consistency is paramount.
We are entering into our busiest time of year, and steady growth combined with losing one of our senior bench techs has caused me to run some ads (after spreading the word around to friends and associates).
I have been involved in the manufacturing business for about 30 years, and have seen thousands of resumes.
The last couple weeks I have been reviewing a couple dozen resumes a day. What I am seeing now, is stunning and disappointing. When did people stop learning how to compose a sentence? When did they decide that a resume composed of two sentences is somehow complete? The poor level of spelling, grammar, and frankly effort has me perplexed and perpetually face-palming.
So far, I have two resumes that were not immediately round-filed. Just two.
If this is the current state of our potential work force, we are in trouble.
That really resonated with me, because I have heard pretty much the same thing from so many business owners over the years.
Decades of following the “progressive agenda”, and I am talking about both Democrats and Republicans, has been absolutely disastrous for our society.
We desperately need a complete and total cultural revolution, and that means returning to the values and the principles that this nation was founded upon.
If we continue on the same path that we are currently on, the middle class will continue to deteriorate, and our nation as a whole will continue to decline.
We can do better, and we must do better.
“This is absolutely symptomatic of a deteriorating middle class, or at least what we used to consider to be the middle class in America,”
June 7th, 2017
A lot of people were probably thrilled today about Amazon’s latest announcement. The online retail giant has revealed that they are going to reduce the cost of Prime membership, which provides free shipping for more orders and unlimited streaming for many shows and movies. But it’s not just for anyone. The reduced rate will be reserved for low income households.
Customers normally pay $10.99 per month or $99 per year for Prime subscriptions, which offers free two-day shipping on many products as well as access to streaming video and music services.
Now anyone with a state-issued debit card for government benefits can get Prime for $5.99 a month.
The aim is to make “savings more accessible” to everyone, according to spokeswoman Julie Law. She adds that delivery could make life easier for customers who may not have reliable access to transportation, and that Prime gives members discounts on essentials like diapers.
Amazon(Tech30) already has a well-heeled customer base, according to analysts. With this program, it hopes to pull in more low-income shoppers.,
It sounds like good news, but it’s really not. Not when you look at the bigger picture. Consider the fact that Amazon Prime memberships were originally targeted at high income earners. In fact, 70% of households that earn more than $112,000 per year have Amazon Prime memberships, compared to just over 40% of lower middle class households. It’s less than 25% among households that take in less than $25,000 a year.
If you haven’t guessed what I’m getting at, consider what Walmart is doing. The retail giant and chief rival of Amazon, has long been considered the shopping outlet of choice for low income families. But recently, Walmart purchased another Amazon rival known as Jet.com, which markets to high income earners.
So, whatever happened to the middle class? Why aren’t these massive companies focusing on attracting middle income earners? Isn’t the middle class the perfect demographic for retail outlets? Though they aren’t rich, they still have a decent amount of disposable income, and there are so many people in the middle class that surely their collective disposable income outweighs both the rich and the poor right?
Unfortunately that’s not the case. That’s why the recent moves made by Amazon and Walmart aren’t in fact, good news. It’s a sign that the middle class just isn’t what it used to be. It’s been hollowed out by decades of economic malaise.
The two retailers’ strategies of aiming at the furthest ends of the income spectrum highlight the widening gap between wealthy and poor Americans and the disappearance of what was once the most sought-after class of income-earners in the country.
“This is absolutely symptomatic of a deteriorating middle class, or at least what we used to consider to be the middle class in America,” Stephens told Business Insider.
When Walmart was founded in 1962, the middle class in America was thriving.
“From postwar to about the late 1970s, you wanted to be in the mid-tier of retail. That is where everybody was making a fortune, including Walmart,” Stephens said. “Then from 1980 onward, you wanted to pick a side, because it started to become clear that the middle class was evaporating.”
Walmart and Amazon know the terrible truth about our economy and our standard of living. The middle class is dying. It makes more sense for big companies to cater to the rich and the poor, because there aren’t as many people in the middle class as there used to be. It’s more profitable to make a few bucks off each poor person, because their are millions of poor people, and it’s more profitable to make millions of dollars off of a handful of rich people.
But people in the middle? Sure, they have some disposable income, but they’re a dying breed.
“Three-quarters of Americans (75 percent) are living paycheck-to-paycheck to make ends meet, according to a survey from CareerBuilder. Thirty-eight percent of employees said they sometimes live paycheck-to-paycheck, 15 percent said they usually do and 23 percent said they always do.”
The evidence that the middle class in America is dying continues to mount. As you will see below, nearly half the country would be unable “to cover an unexpected $400 expense”, and about two-thirds of the population lives paycheck to paycheck at least part of the time. Of course the economy has not been doing that well overall in recent years. Barack Obama was the only president in all of U.S. history not to have a single year when the economy grew by at least 3 percent, and U.S. GDP growth during the first quarter of 2017 was an anemic 0.7 percent. During the Obama era, it is true that wealthy enclaves in New York, northern California and Washington D.C. did thrive, but meanwhile most of the rest of the country has been left behind.
Today, there are approximately 205 million working age Americans, and close to half of them have no financial cushion whatsoever. In fact, a new survey conducted by the Federal Reserve has found that 44 percent of Americans do not even have enough money “to cover an unexpected $400 expense”…
Nearly eight years into an economic recovery, nearly half of Americans didn’t have enough cash available to cover a $400 emergency. Specifically, the survey found that, in line with what the Fed had disclosed in previous years, 44% of respondents said they wouldn’t be able to cover an unexpected $400 expense like a car repair or medical bill, or would have to borrow money or sell something to meet it.
Not only that, the same survey discovered that 23 percent of U.S. adults will not be able to pay their bills this month…
Just as concerning were other findings from the study: just under one-fourth of adults, or 23%, are not able to pay all of their current month’s bills in full while 25% reported skipping medical treatments due to cost in the prior year. Additionally, 28% of adults who haven’t retired yet reported to being grossly unprepared, indicating they had no retirement savings or pension whatsoever.
But just because you can pay your bills does not mean that you are doing well. Tens of millions of Americans barely scrape by from paycheck to paycheck each and every month.
In fact, a survey by CareerBuilder discovered that 75 percent of all Americans live paycheck to paycheck at least some of the time…
Three-quarters of Americans (75 percent) are living paycheck-to-paycheck to make ends meet, according to a survey from CareerBuilder. Thirty-eight percent of employees said they sometimes live paycheck-to-paycheck, 15 percent said they usually do and 23 percent said they always do. While making ends meet is a struggle for many post-recession, those with minimum wage jobs continue to be hit the hardest. Of workers who currently have a minimum wage job or have held one in the past, 66 percent said they couldn’t make ends meet and 50 percent said they had to work more than one job to make it work.
So please don’t be fooled into thinking that the U.S. economy is doing well because the stock market has been hitting new record highs.
The stock market was soaring just before the financial crisis of 2008 too, and we remember how that turned out.
The truth is that the long-term trends that have been eating away at the foundations of the U.S. economy continue to accelerate, and the real economy is in substantially worse shape this year than it was last year.
Just about everywhere you look, businesses are struggling and stores are shutting down. Yes, there are a few wealthy enclaves where everything seems wonderful for the moment, but for most of the country it seems like the last recession never ended.
In a desperate attempt to stay afloat, a lot of families have been turning to debt to make ends meet. U.S. household debt has just hit a brand new all-time record high of 12.7 trillion dollars, but we are starting to see an alarming rise in auto loan defaults and consumer bankruptcies. This is precisely what we would expect to see if the U.S. economy was moving into another major recession.
In fact, we are seeing all sorts of signs that point to a major economic slowdown right now. Just check out the following from Wolf Richter’s latest article…
Over the past five decades, each time commercial and industrial loan balances at US banks shrank or stalled as companies cut back or as banks tightened their lending standards in reaction to the economy they found themselves in, a recession was either already in progress or would start soon. There has been no exception since the 1960s. Last time this happened was during the Financial Crisis.
Now it’s happening again – with a 1990/91 recession twist.
Commercial and industrial loans outstanding fell to $2.095 trillion on May 10, according to the Fed’s Board of Governors weekly report on Friday. That’s down 4.5% from the peak on November 16, 2016. It’s below the level of outstanding C&I loans on October 19. And it marks the 30th week in a row of no growth in C&I loans.
Perhaps we will be very fortunate and break this pattern that has held up all the way back to the 1960s.
But I wouldn’t count on it. Here is what Zero Hedge has to say about this alarming contraction in commercial and industrial loans…
Here’s the bottom line: unless there is a sharp rebound in loan growth in the next 3-6 months – whether due to greater demand or easier supply – this most accurate of leading economic indicators guarantees that a recession is now inevitable.
As Americans, we tend to have such short memories. Every time a new financial bubble starts forming, a lot of people out there start behaving as if it can last indefinitely.
But of course no financial bubble is going to last forever. They all burst eventually, and now the biggest one in U.S. history is about to end in spectacular fashion.
Trump will get a lot of the blame since he is the current occupant of the White House, but the truth is that the conditions for the next crisis have been building up for many years, and the horrors that the U.S. economy is heading for were entirely predictable.