Posts Tagged ‘Insolvency’
Do you want to know when the “economic collapse” is going to happen? Just open up your eyes and take a look. The “economic collapse” is already happening all around us. So many people talk about the coming economic collapse as if it is some massively hyped event that they will be able to point to on the calendar, and a lot of writers spend a lot of time speculating about exactly when it will happen. But as I have written about before, the economic collapse is not a single event. The economic collapse has been happening, it is happening right now, and it will be getting a lot worse. Yes, there will be moments of great crisis. We saw one of those “waves” back in 2008 and another “wave” is rapidly approaching. But all of the waves are part of a process that is continually unfolding. Over the past 40 years, the United States and Europe have piled up the greatest mountain of debt in the history of the world, and now a tremendous amount of pain is heading our way. Economic conditions in the United States and Europe have already deteriorated badly and they are going to continue to deteriorate. Nothing is going to stop what is coming.
But many people are still in denial about our economic decline. Some people still believe that everything is going to be just fine. Way too often I get comments on my site that go something like this….
“I just don’t know what you are talking about. Where I live everything is just fine. The malls are packed, the restaurants are full and everybody I know is going on vacation this summer. Personally, I am doing great. I just bought a 60 inch television and a new boat. Every year all the ‘doom and gloom’ types such as yourself proclaim that an economic collapse is right around the corner but it never happens. And you know what? It is not going to happen. Those in charge know what they are doing and America has the greatest economy on earth. We have overcome challenges before and we will be able to handle whatever comes this time. Your lack of faith in America and in the American people astounds me. Everything is going to be just fine, so why don’t you just *************************************.”
You get the idea.
I definitely understand that most Americans are terribly self-involved these days, but when I read comments like this I am once again amazed at just how delusional some people can be.
Why can’t people just open their eyes and look at the evidence of economic collapse that is all around us?
Yes, there are wealthy enclaves all over the country where things may seem better than ever, but that is not the reality for most Americans.
All over the country, our infrastructure is in shambles.
All over the country, our once proud cities are being transformed into hellholes.
All over the country, formerly middle class families are living in their cars.
There are dozens and dozens of economic statistics that clearly show that we are in the midst of a long-term economic decline. I have listed 65 of them below, but I could have easily doubled or tripled the size of the list.
I simply do not understand how anyone can believe that things are “great” or that the U.S. economy is going to be “just fine”.
We are living through a complete and total economic nightmare, and hopefully we can get more Americans to wake up from their entertainment-induced comas so that they can begin to understand exactly what is happening to this country.
The following are 65 signs that the economic collapse is already happening all around us….
1. Since Barack Obama entered the White House, the number of long-term unemployed Americans has doubled from 2.7 million to 5.4 million.
2. The average duration of unemployment in the United States is nearly three times as long as it was back in the year 2000.
4. Unemployment in the eurozone has hit another brand new record high. It is now sitting at11.2 percent. It has risen for 14 months in a row.
5. The U.S. economy lost more than 220,000 small businesses during the recent recession.
6. The percentage of Americans that are self-employed fell by more than 20 percent between 1991 and 2010.
7. Overall, the number of “new entrepreneurs and business owners” dropped by a staggering 53 percent between 1977 and 2010.
8. The unemployment rate in Spain is now up to 24.6 percent.
9. Morgan Stanley is projecting that the unemployment rate in Greece will exceed 25 percent in 2013.
10. Since Barack Obama became president, the price of a gallon of gasoline has risen from $1.85to $3.49.
12. About three times as many new homes were sold in the United States in 2005 as will be sold in 2012.
13. While Barack Obama has been in the White House, home values in the United States have declined by 12 percent.
14. According to AARP, 600,000 American homeowners that are 50 years of age or older are currently in foreclosure.
15. Right now there are now 20.2 million Americans that spend more than half of their incomes on housing. That represents a 46 percent increase from 2001.
16. According to Gallup, the current level of homeownership in the United States is the lowestthat they have ever measured.
17. Federal housing assistance increased by a whopping 42 percent between 2006 and 2010.
18. In some areas of Detroit, Michigan you can buy a three bedroom home for just $500.
19. All around us our cities are crumbling. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers,2.2 trillion dollars is needed just to repair critical infrastructure in the United States.
20. The unemployment rate in New York City is now back up to 10 percent. That equals the peak unemployment rate in New York City during the last recession.
22. The U.S. Postal Service is about to default on a 5.5 billion dollar payment for future retiree health benefits.
23. According to Graham Summers, “when we account for all the backdoor schemes Germany has engaged in to prop up the EU, Germany’s REAL Debt to GDP is closer to 300%.”
24. According to the Federal Reserve, the median net worth of families in the United States declined “from $126,400 in 2007 to $77,300 in 2010“.
25. The U.S. trade deficit with China during 2011 was 28 times larger than it was back in 1990.
26. The United States has lost more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities since 2001.
27. During 2010 alone, an average of 23 manufacturing facilities permanently shut down in the United States every single day.
28. The U.S. government says that the number of Americans “not in the labor force” rose by17.9 million between 2000 and 2011. During the entire decade of the 1980s, the number of Americans “not in the labor force” rose by only 1.7 million.
29. Eight million Americans have “left the labor force” since the recession supposedly ended. If those Americans were added back into the unemployment figures, the unemployment rate would be somewhere up around 12 percent.
31. At this point, one out of every four American workers has a job that pays $10 an hour or less. If that sounds like a high figure, that is because it is. Today, the United States actually has a higher percentage of workers doing low wage work than any other major industrialized nation does.
33. According to one study, between 1969 and 2009 the median wages earned by American men between the ages of 30 and 50 declined by 27 percent after you account for inflation.
34. In 2007, the unemployment rate for the 20 to 29 age bracket was about 6.5 percent. Today, the unemployment rate for that same age group is about 13 percent.
35. 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%.
36. Medicare spending increased by 138 percent between 1999 and 2010.
37. Over the next 75 years, Medicare is facing unfunded liabilities of more than 38 trillion dollars. That comes to $328,404 for each and every household in the United States.
39. Back in 1965, only one out of every 50 Americans was on Medicaid. Today, one out of every 6 Americans is on Medicaid, and things are about to get a whole lot worse. It is being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to the Medicaid rolls.
41. Since Barack Obama entered the White House, the number of Americans living in poverty has risen by 6.4 million.
42. The number of Americans on food stamps has risen from 32 million to 46 million since Barack Obama became president.
44. The number of children living in poverty in the state of California has increased by 30 percent since 2007.
45. Child homelessness in the United States has risen by 33 percent since 2007.
46. According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, 36.4 percent of all children that live in Philadelphia are living in poverty, 40.1 percent of all children that live in Atlanta are living in poverty, 52.6 percent of all children that live in Cleveland are living in poverty and 53.6 percent of all children that live in Detroit are living in poverty.
47. Approximately 57 percent of all children in the United States are living in homes that are either considered to be either “low income” or impoverished.
48. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the percentage of Americans living in “extreme poverty” is now sitting at an all-time high.
49. In the United States today, somewhere around 100 million Americans are considered to be either “poor” or “near poor”.
50. It is now being projected that about half of all American adults will spend at least some time living below the poverty line before they turn 65.
51. Total home mortgage debt in the United States is now about 5 times larger than it was just 20 years ago.
52. Total consumer debt in the United States has risen by 1700 percent since 1971.
53. Recently it was announced that total student loan debt in the United States has passed the one trillion dollar mark.
54. According to one recent survey, approximately one-third of all Americans are not paying their bills on time at this point.
55. In 1983, the bottom 95 percent of all income earners in the United States had 62 cents of debt for ever dollar that they earned. Today, the bottom 95 percent of all income earners in the United States have $1.48 of debt for every dollar that they earn.
56. The United States was once ranked #1 in the world in GDP per capita. Today we have slipped to #12.
57. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 49 percent of all Americans live in a home where at least one person receives benefits from the federal government. Back in 1983, that number was below 30 percent.
58. Incredibly, 37 percent of all U.S. households that are led by someone under the age of 35 have a net worth of zero or less than zero.
59. Today there are approximately 25 million American adults that are living with their parents.
61. During the Obama administration, the U.S. government has accumulated more debt than it did from the time that George Washington took office to the time that Bill Clinton took office.
62. Overall, the U.S. national debt has grown by nearly 10 trillion dollars over the past decade.
63. The U.S. national debt is now more than 22 times larger than it was when Jimmy Carter became president.
65. As Financial Armageddon recently point out, so many homeless people are pooping on the escalators at San Francisco’s Civic Center Station at night that the escalators are breaking down and repair teams have been called in to clean up the mess. As the economy gets even worse, will scenes like this start playing out in all of our cities?
The cracks in the ice are getting bigger. At this point it is really hard to have much confidence in the global financial system at all. They told us that MF Global was an isolated incident. Well, the horrific financial scandal over at PFGBest is essentially MF Global all over again. They told us that we would not see a huge wave of municipal bankruptcies in the United States. Well, three California cities have declared bankruptcy in less than a month. They told us that we could have faith in the integrity of the global financial system. Well, now we are finding out that global interest rates have been fixed by insiders for years. They told us that Greece was an isolated problem and that none of the larger European nations would experience anything remotely similar. Well, what is happening in Spain right now looks like an instant replay of exactly what happened in Greece. So who are we supposed to believe? Why does it seem like nearly everything that “the authorities” tell us turns out to be a lie? What else haven’t they been telling us?
The following are four reasons to be even less optimistic about the global financial system than you were last month….
#1 PFGBest Is MF Global All Over Again
Do you remember that whole MF Global thing?
Do you remember how hundreds of millions of dollars of customer funds were “missing” due to “accounting irregularities”?
Well, it is happening again.
PFGBest is a brokerage firm in Cedar Falls, Iowa that mostly handles agricultural futures.
All hell broke loose when the National Futures Association discovered that a bank account that was supposed to be holding 225 million dollars of customer funds was only holding about 5 million dollars instead.
So where is the other 220 million dollars?
That is a very good question.
Of course it is not a promising sign that the head of PFGBest tried to commit suicide when this news came out.
A lot of PFGBest clients are going to be absolutely devastated by this scandal. The following is from a recent Reuters article….
Farmers on Tuesday fumed at the prospect of financial losses, or at a minimum a lengthy wait for the return of frozen funds, due to alleged mismanagement at brokerage PFGBest, and some said they had been burned for the last time.
The U.S. futures industry reeled as regulators accused Iowa-based PFGBest of misappropriating more than $200 million in customer funds for more than two years, a new blow to trader trust just months after MF Global’s collapse.
Centered in the heart of farm belt, the firm handled agricultural futures accounts for a number of clients who grow corn, soybeans and cotton.
But it is not just PFGBest clients that are going to feel the pain of this scandal.
The truth is that this is going to deeply shake confidence in the entire global financial system.
Many dismissed what happened at MF Global as an “isolated incident”.
But now it is happening again.
Fool me once, shame on you.
Fool me twice, shame on me.
#2 A Third California City Goes Bankrupt In Less Than A Month
First it was Stockton.
Then it was Mammoth Lakes.
Now it is San Bernardino’s turn.
On Tuesday, the city council of San Bernardino, California voted to file for bankruptcy.
An article in the Los Angeles Times detailed the issues at the heart of San Bernardino’s financial problems….
The city’s fiscal crisis has been years in the making, compounded by the nation’s crushing recession and exacerbated by escalating pension costs, lucrative labor agreements, Sacramento’s raid on redevelopment funds and a city reserve that is tapped out, officials said.
While it would be easy to dump on the state of California (and that is something I have done quite often), the truth is that we are seeing municipal debt problems erupting all over the United States.
For example, the city of Scranton, Pennsylvania has such severe financial problems that the mayor of Scranton has ordered that all city employees be paid minimum wage until a solution to the crisis is found.
If this was television, Dwight Schrute would find a way to save the day for Scranton.
Unfortunately, this is real life and Dwight Schrute does not exist in real life.
#3 The Liborgate Scandal Keeps Getting Worse
We have been taught that we should all have faith in the integrity of the global financial system.
What a bunch of baloney that turned out to be.
It turns out that banksters have been colluding to fix global interest rates for years.
“Liborgate” is being called the biggest financial scandal in history. Libor is important because it is one of the key benchmarks used to set prices for hundreds of trillions of dollars of loans, securities and derivatives.
British banking giant Barclays has already admitted that they were involved in manipulating Libor.
Barclays has already agreed to pay $453 million in fines to British and U.S. authorities.
But the truth is that it would have been totally impossible for Barclays to have manipulated Libor by themselves.
So who else was involved?
That was a question that was discussed in a recent article in The Economist….
Over the past week damning evidence has emerged, in documents detailing a settlement between Barclays and regulators in America and Britain, that employees at the bank and at several other unnamed banks tried to rig the number time and again over a period of at least five years. And worse is likely to emerge. Investigations by regulators in several countries, including Canada, America, Japan, the EU, Switzerland and Britain, are looking into allegations that LIBOR and similar rates were rigged by large numbers of banks. Corporations and lawyers, too, are examining whether they can sue Barclays or other banks for harm they have suffered. That could cost the banking industry tens of billions of dollars. “This is the banking industry’s tobacco moment,” says the chief executive of a multinational bank, referring to the lawsuits and settlements that cost America’s tobacco industry more than $200 billion in 1998. “It’s that big,” he says.
As many as 20 big banks have been named in various investigations or lawsuits alleging that LIBOR was rigged. The scandal also corrodes further what little remains of public trust in banks and those who run them.
So what does all of this mean?
The Wall Street Journal says that the credibility of the entire global financial system is at stake….
At stake is both the integrity of the world’s financial system and the credibility of the U.K. authorities to police it. Long before the current scandal, many European policy makers had concluded that London during the boom was the Wild West, whose loose standards are a threat to European financial stability. The Libor scandal suggests U.S. regulators have reached similar conclusions. The Commodities Futures Trading Commission, the U.S. regulatory body that first started investigating rate-fixing, left little doubt how seriously it regards the abuses it uncovered.
Once faith is shattered, it is incredibly difficult to rebuild.
And right now it is really hard to come up with a decent argument why anyone should trust their money to such a corrupt system.
#4 Spain Is Turning Into Greece
A central government drowning in debt?
A banking system on the verge of collapse?
Politicians pushing a forced austerity program that includes much higher taxes, much lower government spending and greatly reduced pay for government workers?
Wild rioting in the streets by protesters?
Let’s see….where have we seen this before?
Can anyone still possibly deny that Spain is going down the exact same road that Greece has gone?
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is proposing a huge slate of tough austerity measures including a 3 point increase in the Value Added Tax on goods and services. If that 3 point hike is implemented, the Value Added Tax will rise to 21 percent.
Could you imagine going to the store and paying a 21 percent sales tax?
Rajoy is promising that these measures will get Spain back on the right track.
Of course we have already seen how well such austerity measures have worked in Greece.
The unemployment rate in Spain is already up to 24.4 percent, and now these austerity measures will slow the economy down even more.
No wonder there is rioting in the streets. You can see high quality footage of the rioting that has been going on in Spain this week right here. At one point police were seen firing rubber bullets at the protesters.
But of course the citizens of Spain could not live way above their means forever. At some point every debt bubble ends, and when that happens the results are often incredibly painful.
This is a lesson that the United States has not learned either. When we stop racking up more than a trillion dollars of additional government debt every year our “adjustment” will be exceedingly painful as well.
A little over a week ago, I wrote an article entitled “17 Reasons To Be EXTREMELY Concerned About The Second Half Of 2012“. I never imagined that things would get so much worse in just a week.
Everything seems to be accelerating these days.
That includes the decay that is happening in society. A few days ago I made a list of 25 signs that society is falling apart, but then another story came along after I had finished my article that topped all of the examples in my list. The following is how one man in West Virginia has been treating his wife….
During the conversation, according to the criminal complaint, Lizon’s wife told the woman that her husband had kept her chained up with metal padlocks and chains for about 10 years. The woman noticed scar tissue on the victim’s hands and ankles. Lizon’s wife told the woman that the scars were from the chains tearing into her skin.
Lizon’s wife told the woman that she and her husband were originally from Czechoslovakia, and that they live in Leroy, W.Va.
According to the complaint, the woman told investigators that the feet of Lizon’s wife were “mutilated and swollen,” one of which was missing a considerable amount of skin. Lizon’s wife told the woman that her husband smashed her foot with a bucket or scoop attachment of a farm tractor.
Lizon’s wife also told the woman Lizon called her his “slave,” and that whenever her husband entered the room she had to kneel down before him, according to the complaint.
Can you imagine anyone doing that?
Can you imagine any husband chaining his wife up for 10 years?
That is so sick that it is beyond words to describe it.
Unfortunately, that is not just one isolated incident of depravity in a world filled with goodness.
The truth is that the entire world system is saturated with depravity and corruption.
If anyone is willing to stand up for “the integrity of the global financial system”, I challenge you to leave a comment below explaining to the rest of us why we should still have blind faith in the system after everything that has happened.
I don’t imagine that too many people will even attempt to take me up on that challenge.
Dissolving Governments in Michigan
New measures passed in Michigan will allow the state to dissolve governments, void union contracts, toss aside elected school-board members, close schools and authorize charter schools. Thankfully, those measures are being put to good use.
In what is likely to be just the first of several dissolutions of democratically elected city governments and school boards in Michigan, the Emergency Financial Manager of Benton Harbor, Joseph Harris, just took away all authority from the city’s elected government.
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED AS FOLLOWS:
1. Absent prior express written authorization and approval by the Emergency Manager, no City Board, Commission or Authority shall take any action for or on behalf of the City whatsoever other than:
i) Call a meeting to order.
ii) Approve of meeting minutes.
iii) Adjourn a meeting.
2. That all prior resolutions, or acts of any kind of the City in conflict herewith are and the same shall be, to the extent of such conflict, rescinded.
3. This order shall be effective immediately.
The author of that blog sees it differently than I do. “EmptyWheel” complains. I cheer.
When you are bankrupt you lose authority to a bankruptcy board. That bankruptcy board gets to make actions. As part of those actions, city officials who could not or did not do their job, lose their rights to govern.
How can that possibly be wrong?
In many instances elected officials cannot possibly do their jobs because of poor decisions made by their predecessors. For examples, many cities are cash-strapped because of untenable agreements on wages and benefits given to public unions.
Public unions typically will not negotiate, being the foolish entities they are. So bankruptcy and takeover is the solution.
Detroit Moves Against Public Unions
Benton Harbor is small-potatoes. Detroit is big-time. Moreover, Detroit is bankrupt and public unions are part of the reason. Thus, I am pleased to report Detroit Moves Against Unions
A new state law has emboldened the Detroit mayor and schools chief to take a more aggressive stance toward public unions as the city leaders try to mop up hundreds of millions of dollars in red ink.
Robert Bobb, the head of the Detroit Public Schools, late last week sent layoff notices to the district’s 5,466 salaried employees, including all of its teachers, a preliminary step in seeking broad work-force cuts to deal with lower enrollment.
Mr. Bobb, already an emergency financial manager for the struggling and shrinking public school system, is getting further authority under a measure signed into law March 17 that broadens state powers to intervene in the finances and governance of struggling municipalities and school districts. This could enable Mr. Bobb to void union contracts, sideline elected school-board members, close schools and authorize charter schools.
Mr. Bobb, appointed in 2009 by Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm and retained by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, pledged last week to use those powers to deal decisively with the district’s $327 million shortfall and its educational deficiencies. Mr. Bobb raised the possibility of making unilateral changes to the collective-bargaining agreements signed with teachers less than two years ago.
He is also expected to target seniority rights that protect longtime teachers from layoffs and give them the ability to reject certain school placements.
Detroit Federation of Teachers officials called the initiative a poor idea, in part because nine of the schools slated for conversion to charter designation or closure were recently given new dispensation to relax work rules and haven’t had enough time to demonstrate their progress, they said.
I cheer Rick Snyder and anyone else willing to take public unions head on. Those unions are part of the problem (not all of it), and zero part of the solution.
As part of the solution (not all of it), we need national right-to-work laws, the scrapping of Davis-Bacon and all prevailing wage laws, and a complete end to collective bargaining of public unions.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock
Bank of America Corp. (BAC), the biggest U.S. lender by assets, is segregating almost half its 13.9 million mortgages into a “bad” bank comprised of its riskiest and worst-performing “legacy” loans, said Terry Laughlin, who is running the new unit.
So half of what they have is trash? Looks that way.
Oh, and it’s about a trillion in assets too.
The obvious question is “how much are they worth?” Looks like roughly $300 billion of it is on the bank’s balance sheet, and the rest serviced for someone else. These are loans that are either delinquent or likely to become delinquent.
What’s recovery on that portfolio? We have no idea, really. But it’s important, because while the bank has $148 billion in market capitalization it is (like most banks) negative on cash-to-debt, which means the hit on that passel of “assets” is rather critical to forward valuations.
The stock is up big today, almost 4.5%. On this announcement? Well, not entirely. The CEO thinks they’ll have a “normalized” earnings rate that is in the nosebleed territory, but of course “normalized” earnings may be more of a dream than a reality. First, you have to get rid of all those bad loans, and someone has to eat that loss.
For the securitized stuff that they service, they’re not likely to lose much – the servicing contracts pretty much guarantee it. But when it comes to the loans on their actual balance sheet the questions are far more complex. There, it all comes down to recovery value, and if that $300 billion is only worth half that, well……
(Incidentally, didn’t we hear that there were no material impairments remaining on these things to be reserved against, and haven’t all these banks taken down reserves of late as a consequence? I seem to remember that……. but I might be mistaken….)
Just wait, somehow, this new ‘Bad Bank’ will become the taxpayer’s burden. Just wait for the bailout. It’s coming.
On March 26-27, the National Constitution Center will host an interactive, interdisciplinary forum and workshop titled “Can We Talk? A Conversation about Civility and Democracy in America,” in which FedUpUSA.org has been asked to take part.
Below is a response to last week’s question: “What can we learn from the budget showdown in Wisconsin about building the political consensus needed for long-term solutions?”
Unfortunately, this is reality when it comes to the subject of economics. The time to build a consensus ended in 2003 just prior to the massive real estate bubble blown as a result of terrible economic policy. Economics is not a partisan issue, although both sides of the aisle have made it so.
The biggest lesson to be learned from Wisconsin is that when there is no money, there is no money. This is our reality, like it or not. Partisanship has made Wisconsin into an argument over unions. This is not the real issue.
To generate revenue, the nation must be productive, or generate GDP. Because our economy was built on what amounts to a giant Ponzi scheme that relied upon private sector spending on consumer goods (like houses, cars and iPods), which accelerated in 2003, and collapsed in 2007, right now, the majority of our ‘GDP’ comes from deficit spending .
Quite frankly, this is the only thing that is keeping us from recognizing a full-on economic depression. If you raise taxes, you subtract directly from what is left of private spending. Refuse to raise taxes and the government is forced to continue to borrow. For each cut in spending there is a corresponding cut in GDP. The current House spending bill proposes to cut $61 billion from the budget, which would decrease GDP by 1.5 to 2 percentage points in the next quarter according to Goldman Sachs.
As a nation we took in approximately $2 trillion in federal tax revenues (source:IRS 2010). We spent almost $4 trillion. To spend only what was taken in, you would have to decrease government spending by 42%, or $1.7 trillion for calendar 2010. Removing that would result in a decrease in GDP of 50% ! (The definition of a depression is a contraction in GDP of 10% or more year on year.) This is the mathematical fact of our situation and I am not the only one who realizes this. Goldman Sachs came out with a report on February 23, 2010 that says much the same thing.
The United States no longer produces anything but debt. You can’t get out of debt when it is all you produce. We’re stuck in a box that is slowly being crushed. The only thing we need to have a consensus about is the numbers on paper and the reality of our situation.
Stephanie Jasky is the Founder and Director of FedUpUSA.org.