Monday, May 16, 2011
Right now, we are witnessing a truly historic collapse of the economy, and yet most Americans do not understand what is going on. One of the biggest reasons why the American people do not understand what is happening to the economy is because our politicians and the mainstream media are not telling the truth. Barack Obama and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke keep repeating the phrase "economic recovery" over and over, and this is really confusing for most Americans because things sure don't seem to be getting much better where they live.
There are millions upon millions of Americans that are sitting at home on their couches right now wondering why they lost their jobs and why nobody will hire them. Millions of others are wondering why the only jobs they can get are jobs that a high school student could do. Families all across America are wondering why it seems like their wages never go up but the price of food and the price of gas continue to skyrocket. We are facing some very serious long-term economic problems in this country, and we need to educate the American people about why the collapse of the economy is happening.
If the American people don't understand why they are losing their jobs, why they are losing their homes and why they are drowning in debt then they are going to keep on doing all of the same things that they have been doing. They will also keep sending the same idiot politicians back to Washington to represent us. There are some fundamental things about the economy that every American should know. The American people need to be shocked out of their entertainment-induced stupor long enough to understand what is really going on and what needs to be done to solve our nightmarish economic problems. If we do not wake up enough Americans in time, the economic collapse that is coming could tear this nation to shreds.
We are about to experience the consequences of decades of really bad decisions.
Hopefully we can get the American people to wake up.
The following are 50 things that every American should know about the collapse of the economy....
#1 Do you remember how much was made of the "Misery Index" during the presidency of Jimmy Carter? At that time, the "Misery Index" was constantly making headlines in newspapers all across the country. Well, according to John Williams of Shadow Government Statistics, if we calculated unemployment and inflation the same way that we did back during the Carter administration, then the Misery Index today would actually be higher than at any point during the presidency of Jimmy Carter.
#2 According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an average of about 5 million Americans were being hired every single month during 2006. Today, an average of about 3.5 million Americans are being hired every single month.
#3 According to the Wall Street Journal, there are 5.5 million Americans that are currently unemployed and yet are not receiving unemployment benefits.
#4 All over America, state and local governments are selling off buildings just to pay the bills. Investors can now buy up government-owned power plants, prisons and municipal buildings from coast to coast. For example, the mayor of Newark, New Jersey recently sold off 16 government buildings (including the police and fire headquarters) just to pay some bills.
#5 When Americans think of "government debt", most of them only think of the federal government, but it is not just the federal government that has a massive debt problem. State and local government debt has reached an all-time high of22 percent of U.S. GDP.
#6 If you can believe it, one out of every seven Americans has at least 10 credit cards.
#7 Credit card usage in the United States is on the increase once again. During the month of March, revolving consumer credit jumped 2.9%. Sadly, it looks like Americans have not learned their lessons about the dangers of credit card debt.
#8 Last year, Social Security ran a deficit for the first time since 1983, and the "Social Security deficits" in future years are projected to be absolutely horrific.
#9 The U.S. government now says that the Medicare trust fund will run outfive years faster than they were projecting just last year.
#10 Right now we are watching what could potentially be the worst Mississippi River flood ever recorded play out right in front of our eyes. One agricultural economist at Mississippi State University believes that this disaster could do 2 billion dollars of damage just to farms alone.
#11 The "tornadoes of 2011" that we just saw in the southeast United States are being called the worst natural disaster that the U.S. has seen since Hurricane Katrina. It has been estimated that up to 25 percent of all of the poultry houses in Alabama were either significantly damaged or destroyed. It is also believed that millions of birds were killed.
#12 The economic effects of the BP oil spill just seem to go on and on and on. The number of very sick fish in the Gulf of Mexico is really starting to alarm scientists. The following is how one local newspaper recently described the situation....
#13 The number of "low income jobs" in the U.S. has risen steadily over the past 30 years and they now account for 41 percent of all jobs in the United States.
#14 All over America, hospitals that care for the poor and needy are so overwhelmed and are so broke that they are being forced to shut down. Recently, a local newspaper in Florida ran an article about two prominent charity hospitals in Illinois that have served the poor for more than 100 years but are now asking for permission to shut down....
#15 The U.S. dollar is in such bad shape that now even Steve Forbes is predicting that the U.S. is "likely" to go back to a gold standard within the next five years.
#16 Most Americans don't realize how much the U.S. dollar has been devalued over the years. An item that cost $20.00 in 1970 would cost you $115.93today. An item that cost $20.00 in 1913 would cost you $454.36 today.
#17 Over the past 12 months the average price of gasoline in the United States has gone up by about 30%.
#18 U.S. oil companies will bring in about $200 billion in pre-tax profits this year. They will also receive about $4.4 billion in specialized tax breaks from the U.S. government.
#19 It is being projected that for the first time ever, the OPEC nations are going to bring in over a trillion dollars from exporting oil this year. Their biggest customer is the United States.
#20 According to the Pentagon, there are minerals worth over a trillion dollars under the ground in Afghanistan. Now, J.P. Morgan is starting to tap those riches with the help of the U.S. military.
#21 Speaking of J.P. Morgan, most Americans don't realize that they are actually the largest processor of food stamp benefits in the United States. In fact, the more Americans that go on food stamps the more money that J.P. Morgan makes.
#22 When 2007 began, there were about 26 million Americans on food stamps. Today, there are over 44 million on food stamps, and one out of every four American children is on food stamps.
#23 Back in 1965, only one out of every 50 Americans was on Medicaid. Today, one out of every 6 Americans is on Medicaid.
#24 Only 66.8% of American men had a job last year. That was the lowest level that has ever been recorded in all of U.S. history.
#25 The financial system is more vulnerable today than it was back in 2008 before the financial panic. Today, the world financial system has been turned into a giant financial casino where bets are made on just about anything you can possibly imagine, and the major Wall Street banks make a ton of money from this betting system. The system is largely unregulated (the new "Wall Street reform" law has only changed this slightly) and it is totally dominated by the big international banks. The danger from derivatives is so great that Warren Buffet once called them "financial weapons of mass destruction". It is estimated that the "derivatives bubble" is somewhere in the neighborhood of a quadrillion dollars, and once it pops there isn't going to be enough money in the entire world to bail everyone out.
#26 Between December 2000 and December 2010, the United States ran a total trade deficit of 6.1 trillion dollars with the rest of the world, and the U.S. has had a negative trade balance every single year since 1976.
#27 The United States has lost an average of 50,000 manufacturing jobsper month since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, and the U.S. trade deficit with China is now 27 times larger than it was back in 1990.
#28 In 2010, the number one U.S. export to China was "scrap and trash".
#29 All over the United States, many of our once great manufacturing cities are being transformed into hellholes. In the city of Detroit today, there are over 33,000 abandoned houses, 70 schools are being permanently closed down, the mayor wants to bulldoze one-fourth of the city and you can literally buy a house for one dollar in the worst areas.
#30 During the first three months of this year, less new homes were sold in the U.S. than in any three month period ever recorded.
#31 New home sales in the United States are now down 80% from the peak in July 2005.
#32 America's real estate crisis just seems to get worse and worse. U.S. home prices have now fallen a whopping 33% from where they were at during the peak of the housing bubble.
#33 According to a new report from the AFL-CIO, the average CEO made 343 times more money than the average American did last year.
#34 The European debt crisis could cause a global financial collapse like the one that we saw in 2008 at any time. The world economy is incredibly interconnected today, and the United States would not be immune. A recent IMF report stated the following about the growing sovereign debt crisis in Europe....
#35 According to one study, the 50 U.S. state governments are collectively 3.2 trillion dollars short of what they need to meet their pension obligations.
#36 A different study has shown that individual Americans are $6.6 trillion short of what they need to retire comfortably.
#37 The cost of college tuition in the United States has gone up by over 900 percent since 1978.
#38 According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, health care costs accounted for just 9.5% of all personal consumption back in 1980. Today they account for approximately 16.3%.
#39 One study found that approximately 41 percent of working age Americans either have medical bill problems or are currently paying off medical debt.
#40 The combined debt of the major GSEs (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Sallie Mae) has increased from 3.2 trillion in 2008 to 6.4 trillion in 2011. Thanks to our politicians, U.S. taxpayers are standing behind that debt.
#41 The U.S. government is over 14 trillion dollars in debt and the budget deficit for this year is projected to be about 1.5 trillion dollars. However, if the U.S. government was forced to use GAAP accounting principles (like all publicly-traded corporations must), the U.S. government budget deficit would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $4 trillion to $5 trillion each and every year.
#42 Most Americans don't understand that the Federal Reserve and the debt-based monetary system that it runs are at the very heart of our economic problems. All of this debt is absolutely crushing us. The U.S. government spentover 413 billion dollars on interest on the national debt during fiscal 2010, and it is being projected that the U.S. government will be shelling out 900 billion dollars just in interest on the national debt by the year 2019.
#43 Standard & Poor’s has altered its outlook on U.S. government debt from "stable" to "negative" and is warning that the U.S. could soon lose its AAA rating.
#44 In 1980, government transfer payments accounted for just 11.7% of all income. Today, government transfer payments account for 18.4% of all income.
#45 U.S. households are now receiving more income from the U.S. government than they are paying to the government in taxes.
#46 59 percent of all Americans now receive money from the federal government in one form or another.
#47 According to Gallup, 41 percent of Americans believed that the economy was "getting better" at this time last year. Today, that number is at just 27 percent.
#48 The wealthiest 1% of all Americans now own more than a third of all the wealth in the United States.
#49 The poorest 50% of all Americans collectively own just 2.5% of all the wealth in the United States.
#50 The percentage of millionaires in Congress is more than 50 times higher than the percentage of millionaires in the general population.
The Economic Collapse
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Swimming through an area of extreme natural beauty, this diver surveys the underwater canyons on his either side.
But this British scuba diver is actually between two tectonic plates.
Alex Mustard, 36, dived 80ft into the crevice between the North American and Eurasian plates near Iceland to capture these spectacular photos.
Mr Mustard snapped away as he and his dive partners swam through fresh water canyons Silfra, Nes and Nikulasargja, which are up to 200ft deep.
He also took photos of the Arnarnes Strytur chimney, which forms a cloudy plume as 80C water is ejected from Earth's crust and hits the cool 4C seawater.
Mr Mustard, from Southampton, said: 'The photos show diving in the unique underwater world of Iceland which, like on land, is formed by the volcanic landscape of the country.
'Many people visit Iceland to see these features on land but they also continue underwater.
'For a scuba diver these are spectacular places to visit - being able to fly through the clear water and explore the fault lines in three dimensions.
'I have dived all around the world and this is almost certainly the clearest water I have ever been in.
'Many people have an experience of vertigo from the sheer walls and clear water.'
Terrorism can be good for bunker builders. An apocalypse can be even better for business.
Danila Andreyev started building “panic rooms” three years ago, when fears of terrorist attacks and commercial disputes turning violent created demand in Russia. Now he’s selling “survival bunkers” for as much as $400,000 each to capitalize on angst over theories the world will end next year.
“I myself am not a believer in doomsday scenarios,” Andreyev, 31, whose Spetsgeoproekt company is completing 15 bunkers at hidden locations across Russia, said at his office in central Moscow. “But when you start hearing clients talking about the end of the world, it gets you thinking.”
While Russia has been a target for terrorists, with 37 people dying in a blast at Moscow’s busiest airport in January, more people are looking to protect themselves from what Andreyev calls a “global cataclysm” in 2012 based on predictions such as interpretations of the ancient Mayan calendar.
Northwest Shelter Systems, a company based in Sandpoint, Idaho, that specializes in nuclear bomb shelters, has seen the number of inquiries from potential customers rise as much as 60 percent since the March tsunami and earthquake in Japan, Allen Thompson, vice president, said by e-mail.
The Vivos Group, a California-based bunker builder with a website that features a meteor striking Earth, said requests for a shelter in one of its facilities jumped by 10 times since the disaster, which left about 25,000 people dead or missing.
“Hundreds of applications” come from Russia and other former Soviet states, Vivos founder Robert Vicino said by e- mail. The nearest Vivos shelter is at an unidentified location in centralEurope, he said. It costs about $25,000 per person.
“Every person has a different belief or sense of what may be ahead for all of us,” Vicino said. “Vivos is not about 2012, but having a life assurance solution for our families for whenever disaster strikes.”
Vivos is building facilities in the U.S. and elsewhere. It said in January it was considering buying a two-story bunker constructed for the U.K. government in 1990 in rural Scotland.
Spetsgeoproekt, which stands for Special Geological Projects, plans to open a showroom in the affluent Moscow neighborhood of Rublevka this year and is expanding into Russia’s regions, Andreyev said.
The company’s bunkers range from 35 to 90 square meters (377 to 969 square feet). Maintaining the unit, including the air system, runs about $2,500 a year, he said.
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The Israel Defense Forces on Sunday accused Iran of orchestrating two waves of fighting along its northern borders, as Palestinian protesters tried to infiltrate from Syria and Lebanon during demonstrations to mark Nakba Day, which commemorates the "catastrophe" of the creation of the State of Israel.
At least eight people were reportedly killed on the two frontiers, when IDF troops opened fire on masses of protesters attempting to infiltrate into Israel. The protests, IDF spokesman Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai said, bore Iran's "fingerprints."
"We are seeing here an Iranian provocation, on both the Syrian and the Lebanese frontiers, to try to exploit the Nakba day commemorations," he said.
The IDF confirmed opening fire as scores of Palestinian refugees spilled into the town of Majdal Shams, which runs along Israel's border with Syria. At least four people, apparently Palestinian refugees, were killedt.
Mordechai also confirmed that the IDF fired at a crowd of Lebanese protesters who approached the border with Israel and began vandalizing the fence. The spokesman had no details on the number of casualties, but Lebanese sources said there had been four fatalities.
Syria is home to 470,000 Palestinian refugees and its leadership, now facing fierce internal unrest, had in previous years prevented protesters from reaching the frontier fence.
"This appears to be a cynical and transparent act by the Syrian leadership to deliberately create a crisis on the border so as to distract attention from the very real problems that
regime is facing at home," said a senior Israeli government official who declined to be named.
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Demonstrations and violence in North likely just the promo for what can be expected in September ahead of Palestinian statehood declaration.
The successful infiltration on Sunday by a group of just under 100 Syrians into the Druse village of Majdal Shams on the Golan is being viewed by the IDF as just the beginning.
As demonstrations like these gain momentum ahead of the planned declaration of statehood by the Palestinians in September, this type of protest could become a common occurrence along Israel’s various borders.
On Sunday, the IDF dealt with four simultaneous fronts – Syria, Lebanon, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. While all expectations were for extreme violence in the West Bank – units that were training on the Golan Heights were transferred as reinforcements to the WestBank last week – it turned out to be the quietest of the four.
The surprise was Syria. While the IDF was aware of the demonstrations that were scheduled for the border area opposite Majdal Shams – known as the “Shouting Hill” since relatives shout to each other across the border – it did not expect it to be any different than in past years.
This was a mistake, since the Northern Command did not take into account the current instability in Syria and embattled President Bashar Assad’s possible interest in turning the spotlight away from his violent crackdown on his own people to Israel.
According to senior IDF officers, Assad’s regime quietly encouraged the demonstrators to infiltrate Israel, possibly with the hope that the IDF would shoot indiscriminately, kill dozens of people and shift the world’s and the Syrian people’s focus from his ruthlessness to Israel.
“Thankfully, this did not happen, thanks to responsible action by commanders on the ground,” one senior IDF officer said.
There is also concern in the IDF that global Jihad groups which operate in Syria will takeadvantage of the lawlessness on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights – made clear by the demonstrators’ ability to cross into Israel without being stopped by the Syrian military – to attack Israel. Some of these groups are believed to have an arsenal of short-rangeKatyusha rockets that could be used to fire into Israel.
The protesters who rammed the border appeared to have mostly been Palestinian refugees who live in camps near Damascus. It is difficult to imagine that they could have traveled to the border in such numbers without the regime either approving the demonstration or at the very least turning a blind eye to it.
In the short term, the IDF will need to launch a probe to discover where it went wrong, not just in its assessments but mostly operationally to determine how 100 or so foreign nationals succeeded in breaching a border and entering sovereign Israeli territory. In the long term, the concern within the IDF is that these types of civil disturbances and so-called border protests will become routine.
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Gold, which reached a record $1,577.57 an ounce on May 2, may surge a further 30 percent by January as investors seek to protect themselves from “economic uncertainty,” according to Deutsche Bank AG.
“I’m bullish on gold despite its current levels,” Hal Lehr, Deutsche Bank’s managing director for cross-commodity trading, said in an interview in Buenos Aires. “It could reach $2,000 dollar an ounce in the next eight months.”
Investors including George Soros and John Paulson invested in gold as the metal surged over the past year amid a sovereign debt crisis in Europe, economic turmoil in the U.S. and civil unrest in the Middle East. This month‘s record was a sixfold gain since the precious metal’s low in August 1999.
Gold fell 1.6 percent on May 4 after the Wall Street Journal reported that Soros Fund Management LLC sold precious-metal assets. Soros’ fund held shares in the SPDR Gold Trust, the biggest exchange-traded product backed by gold, and the iShares Gold Trust at the end of 2010, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings show.
Gold rose for a third day in New York today as concern about Europe’s debt woes spurred demand for precious metals as a protection of wealth. Standard & Poor’s yesterday downgraded Greece’s credit rating for the fourth time since April 2010. Gold for June delivery rose $6.10, or 0.41 percent, to $1,509.3 an ounce at 9:03 a.m. on the Comex in New York.
Bullion rose for six consecutive weeks through April 29 as the metal is seen as a hedge against inflation around the globe. Central banks in China, India and the European Union, among others, have increased interest rates in recent weeks as policymakers seek to control consumer prices with tighter monetary policy.
The U.S. Federal Reserve has kept the benchmark rate between zero percent and 0.25 percent since December 2008 and pledged to purchase $600 billion in Treasuries through June to stimulate the economy. Standard & Poor’s earlier last month revised its debt outlook for the U.S. to negative from stable.
The U.S. Treasury Department projects the government could reach its debt ceiling limit of $14.3 trillion as soon as mid- May and run out of options for avoiding default by early July.
Lehr’s so-called cross-commodity team was created by Deutsche last year to handle large investments in commodities without distorting prices with sudden inflows of cash, he said. The team focuses on investment opportunities in a portfolio of commodities, as opposed to looking at individual commodities.
Lehr declined to offer a breakdown of all the commodities that form his portfolio, though he said he’s also bullish on corn, which has risen 92 percent in the past 12 months.
“I believe that over the next two to three years we will continue to see price levels in the $700 range although I believe the prices for this July crop will rise to over $800,” he said. “Corn crops are obviously very weather dependent and now that ethanol and biodiesel have become so important, we see strong price support for corn from bio-diesel and ethanol.”
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