Posts Tagged ‘Wall Street’
The Government Has It Bass-Ackwards: Failing To Prosecute Criminal Fraud by the Big Banks Is Killing – NOT Saving – The Economy
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said today:
I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions [banks] becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy
As we’ve repeatedly noted, this is wholly untrue.
If the big banks were important to the economy, would so many prominent economists, financial experts and bankers be calling for them to be broken up?
If the big banks generated prosperity for the economy, would they have to be virtually 100% subsidized to keep them afloat?
If the big banks were helpful for an economic recovery, would they be prolonging our economic instability?
In fact, failing to prosecute criminal fraud has been destabilizing the economy since at least 2007 … and will cause huge crashes in the future.
After all, the main driver of economic growth is a strong rule of law.
Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz says that we have to prosecute fraud or else the economy won’t recover:
The legal system is supposed to be the codification of our norms and beliefs, things that we need to make our system work. If the legal system is seen as exploitative, then confidence in our whole system starts eroding. And that’s really the problem that’s going on.
I think we ought to go do what we did in the S&L [crisis] and actually put many of these guys in prison. Absolutely. These are not just white-collar crimes or little accidents. There were victims. That’s the point. There were victims all over the world.
Economists focus on the whole notion of incentives. People have an incentive sometimes to behave badly, because they can make more money if they can cheat. If our economic system is going to work then we have to make sure that what they gain when they cheat is offset by a system of penalties.
Nobel prize winning economist George Akerlof has demonstrated that failure to punish white collar criminals – and instead bailing them out- creates incentives for more economic crimes and further destruction of the economy in the future.
(Review of the data on accounting fraud confirms that fraud goes up as criminal prosecutions go down.)
The Director of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s enforcement division told Congress:
Recovery from the fallout of the financial crisis requires important efforts on various fronts, and vigorous enforcement is an essential component, as aggressive and even-handed enforcement will meet the public’s fair expectation that those whose violations of the law caused severe loss and hardship will be held accountable. And vigorous law enforcement efforts will help vindicate the principles that are fundamental to the fair and proper functioning of our markets: that no one should have an unjust advantage in our markets; that investors have a right to disclosure that complies with the federal securities laws; and that there is a level playing field for all investors.
Paul Zak (Professor of Economics and Department Chair, as well as the founding Director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University, Professor of Neurology at Loma Linda University Medical Center, and a senior researcher at UCLA) and Stephen Knack (a Lead Economist in the World Bank’s Research Department and Public Sector Governance Department) wrote a paper called Trust and Growth, showing that enforcing the rule of law – i.e. prosecuting white collar fraud – is necessary for a healthy economy.
One of the leading business schools in America – the Wharton School of Business – published an essay by a psychologist on the causes and solutions to the economic crisis. Wharton points out that restoring trust is the key to recovery, and that trust cannot be restored until wrongdoers are held accountable:
According to David M. Sachs, a training and supervision analyst at the Psychoanalytic Center of Philadelphia, the crisis today is not one of confidence, but one of trust. “Abusive financial practices were unchecked by personal moral controls that prohibit individual criminal behavior, as in the case of [Bernard] Madoff, and by complex financial manipulations, as in the case of AIG.” The public, expecting to be protected from such abuse, has suffered a trauma of loss similar to that after 9/11. “Normal expectations of what is safe and dependable were abruptly shattered,” Sachs noted. “As is typical of post-traumatic states, planning for the future could not be based on old assumptions about what is safe and what is dangerous. A radical reversal of how to be gratified occurred.”
People now feel more gratified saving money than spending it, Sachs suggested. They have trouble trusting promises from the government because they feel the government has let them down.
He framed his argument with a fictional patient named Betty Q. Public, a librarian with two teenage children and a husband, John, who had recently lost his job. “She felt betrayed because she and her husband had invested conservatively and were double-crossed by dishonest, greedy businessmen, and now she distrusted the government that had failed to protect them from corporate dishonesty. Not only that, but she had little trust in things turning around soon enough to enable her and her husband to accomplish their previous goals.
“By no means a sophisticated economist, she knew … that some people had become fantastically wealthy by misusing other people’s money — hers included,” Sachs said. “In short, John and Betty had done everything right and were being punished, while the dishonest people were going unpunished.”
Helping an individual recover from a traumatic experience provides a useful analogy for understanding how to help the economy recover from its own traumatic experience, Sachs pointed out. The public will need to “hold the perpetrators of the economic disaster responsible and take what actions they can to prevent them from harming the economy again.” In addition, the public will have to see proof that government and business leaders can behave responsibly before they will trust them again, he argued.
Note that Sachs urges “hold[ing] the perpetrators of the economic disaster responsible.” In other words, just “looking forward” and promising to do things differently isn’t enough.
Shiller said the danger of foreclosuregate — the scandal in which it has come to light that the biggest banks have routinely mishandled homeownership documents, putting the legality of foreclosures and related sales in doubt — is a replay of the 1930s, when Americans lost faith that institutions such as business and government were dealing fairly.
Indeed, it is beyond dispute that bank fraud was one of the main causes of the Great Depression.
Economist James K. Galbraith wrote in the introduction to his father, John Kenneth Galbraith’s, definitive study of the Great Depression, The Great Crash, 1929:
The main relevance of The Great Crash, 1929 to the great crisis of 2008 is surely here. In both cases, the government knew what it should do. Both times, it declined to do it. In the summer of 1929 a few stern words from on high, a rise in the discount rate, a tough investigation into the pyramid schemes of the day, and the house of cards on Wall Street would have tumbled before its fall destroyed the whole economy.
In 2004, the FBI warned publicly of “an epidemic of mortgage fraud.” But the government did nothing, and less than nothing, delivering instead low interest rates, deregulation and clear signals that laws would not be enforced. The signals were not subtle: on one occasion the director of the Office of Thrift Supervision came to a conference with copies of the Federal Register and a chainsaw. There followed every manner of scheme to fleece the unsuspecting ….
This was fraud, perpetrated in the first instance by the government on the population, and by the rich on the poor.
The government that permits this to happen is complicit in a vast crime.
Galbraith also says:
There will have to be full-scale investigation and cleaning up of the residue of that, before you can have, I think, a return of confidence in the financial sector. And that’s a process which needs to get underway.
Galbraith recently said that “at the root of the crisis we find the largest financial swindle in world history”, where “counterfeit” mortgages were “laundered” by the banks.
As he has repeatedly noted, the economy will not recover until the perpetrators of the frauds which caused our current economic crisis are held accountable, so that trust can be restored. See this, this and this.
No wonder Galbraith has said economists should move into the background, and “criminologists to the forefront.”
The bottom line is that the government has it exactly backwards. By failing to prosecute criminal fraud, the government is destabilizing the economy … and ensuring future crashes.
You can thank the reckless money printing that the Federal Reserve has been doing for the incredible bull market that we have seen in recent months. When the Federal Reserve does more “quantitative easing”, it is the financial markets that benefit the most. The Dow and the S&P 500 have both hit levels not seen since 2007 this month, and many analysts are projecting that 2013 will be a banner year for stocks. But is a rising stock market really a sign that the overall economy is rapidly improving as many are suggesting? Of course not. Just because the Federal Reserve has inflated another false stock market bubble with a bunch of funny money does not mean that the U.S. economy is in great shape. In fact, the truth is that things just keep getting worse for average Americans. The percentage of working age Americans with a job has fallen from 60.6% to 58.6% while Barack Obama has been president, 40 percent of all American workers are making $20,000 a year or less, median household income has declined forfour years in a row, and poverty in the United States is absolutely exploding. So quantitative easing has definitely not made things better for the middle class. But all of the money printing that the Fed has been doing has worked out wonderfully for Wall Street. Profits are soaring atGoldman Sachs and luxury estates in the Hamptons are selling briskly. Unfortunately, this is how things work in America these days. Our “leaders” seem far more concerned with the welfare of Wall Street than they do about the welfare of the American people. When things get rocky, their first priority always seems to be to do whatever it takes to pump up the financial markets.
When QE3 was announced, it was heralded as the grand solution to all of our economic problems. But the truth is that those running things knew exactly what it would do. Quantitative easing always pumps up the financial markets, and that overwhelmingly benefits those that are wealthy. In fact, a while back a CNBC article discussed a very interesting study from the Bank of England which showed a clear correlation between quantitative easing and rising stock prices…
It said that the Bank of England’s policies of quantitative easing – similar to the Fed’s – had benefited mainly the wealthy.
Specifically, it said that its QE program had boosted the value of stocks and bonds by 26 percent, or about $970 billion. It said that about 40 percent of those gains went to the richest 5 percent of British households.
Many said the BOE’s easing added to social anger and unrest. Dhaval Joshi, of BCA Research wrote that “QE cash ends up overwhelmingly in profits, thereby exacerbating already extreme income inequality and the consequent social tensions that arise from it.”
So should we be surprised that stocks are now the highest that they have been in more than 5 years?
Of course not.
And who benefits from this?
The wealthy do. In fact, 82 percent of all individually held stocks are owned by the wealthiest 5 percent of all Americans.
Unfortunately, all of this reckless money printing has a very negative impact on all the rest of us. When the Fed floods the financial system with money, that causes inflation. That means that the cost of living has gone up even though your paycheck may not have.
If you go to the supermarket frequently, you know exactly what I am talking about. The new “sale prices” are what the old “regular prices” used to be. They keep shrinking many of the package sizes in order to try to hide the inflation, but I don’t think many people are fooled. Our food dollars are not stretching nearly as far as they used to, and we can blame the Federal Reserve for that.
For much more on rising prices in America, please see this article: “Somebody Should Start The ‘Stuff Costs Too Much’ Party“.
Sadly, this is what the Federal Reserve does. The system was designed to create inflation. Before the Federal Reserve came into existence, the United States never had an ongoing problem with inflation. But since the Fed was created, the United States has endured constant inflation. In fact, we have come to accept it as “normal”. Just check out the amazing chart in the video posted below…
The chart in that video kind of reminds me of a chart that I shared in aprevious article…
Not that I expect the United States to enter a period of hyperinflation in the near future.
Actually, despite all of the reckless money printing that the Fed has been doing, I expect that at some point we are going to see another wave of panic hit the financial markets like we saw back in 2008. The false stock market bubble will burst, major banks will fail and the financial system will implode. It could unfold something like this…
1 – A derivatives panic hits the “too big to fail” banks.
2 – Financial markets all over the globe crash.
3 – The credit markets freeze up.
4 – Economic activity in the United States starts to grind to a halt.
5 – Unemployment rises above 20 percent and mortgage defaults soar to unprecedented levels.
6 – Tax revenues fall dramatically and austerity measures are implemented by the federal government, state governments and local governments.
7 – The rest of the globe rapidly loses confidence in the U.S. financial system and begins to dump U.S. debt and U.S. dollars.
I write about derivatives a lot, because they are one of the greatest threats that the global financial system is facing. In fact, right now a derivatives scandal is threatening to take down the oldest bank in the world…
Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, the world’s oldest bank, was making loans when Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci were young men and before Columbus sailed to the New World. The bank survived the Italian War, which saw Siena’s surrender to Spain in 1555, the Napoleonic campaign, the Second World War and assorted bouts of plague and poverty.
But MPS may not survive the twin threats of a gruesomely expensive takeover gone bad and a derivatives scandal that may result in legal action against the bank’s former executives. After five centuries of independence, MPS may have to be nationalized as its losses soar and its value sinks.
So when you hear the word “derivatives” in the news, pay close attention. The bankers have turned our financial system into a giant casino, and at some point the entire house of cards is going to come crashing down.
In response to the coming financial crisis, I believe that our “leaders” will eventually resort to money printing unlike anything we have ever seen before in a desperate attempt to resuscitate the system. When that happens, I believe that we will see the kind of rampant inflation that so many people have been warning about.
Will “they” ever be prosecuted? You know “they”. “They” created the derivatives monster that threatens to destroy our economy. ”They” got their profits, while sticking “us” with the bill for bailing them out when their bets went South. Some of “they” have merely a year left to wait out the statute of limitations that would free them from the possibility of future prosecution for their role in the economic collapse. Will “they” all escape justice entirely?
In this 25 minute video, People & Power: Prosecuting Wall St., this question is explored in detail, as Bob Abeshouse of AlJazeera explains:
Americans across the political spectrum believe that financial executives should have gone to jail for the practices that led to the collapse, but there have been no significant prosecutions. People & Power investigates why Wall Street has not been held accountable for crimes connected to the deepest recession since the Great Depression.
Abeshouse further explains:
Sheila Krumholz of the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks campaign expenditures and lobbying expenditures, says it is hard not to associate “the incredible clout that Goldman Sachs wields in Washington with decisions that favour their interests”.
Krumholz says it is both the money and the connections – the financial industry has spent more than $5bn on lobbying and campaign contributions to both Democrats and Republicans in the last decade. And the revolving door means that government officials find it difficult to view the leaders of companies where they have worked or have friends “as being capable of criminal acts”.
Former Securities and Exchange Commission investigator Gary Aguirre argues that the main reason there have been no prosecutions is because of the revolving door.
Regulators are reluctant to pursue cases that could cost them a private sector job with a starting salary of $2m – 10 times their salary with the government.
“If you are a team player and these cases don’t get brought,” he says, “then maybe there’ll be room for you at one of the big law firms or Goldman, or one of the big banks.”
This “revolving door” is at the core of the problem with our financial system and associated regulatory apparatus, and is facilitating the pillaging and plundering of the American treasury, as well as enabling it to continue at an ever-accelerating rate.
We will not have justice under this system, until this revolving door is closed forever, then the regulators will start regulating again.
Actually that title was misleading: there will be no disclosure of “how“, because we don’t know. What we do know is that thanks to the magic of JPM’s definition of “Mark-To-Market” accounting, a $5 million prop trading loss (and thus forbidden by the Volcker Rule) funded by depositor cash as it took place in the infamous CIO unit whose job was to manage “excess deposits” in a prudent manner, became a $400 million prop trading loss in the span of 88 minutes. But not during trading – the market was long closed. The adjustment was purely on paper.
April 10 was the first trading day in London after the “London Whale” articles were published. When the U.S. markets opened (i.e., towards the middle of the London trading day), one of the traders informed another that he was estimating a loss of approximately $700 million for the day. The latter reported this information to a more senior team member, who became angry and accused the third trader of undermining his credibility at JPMorgan.At 7:02 p.m. GMT on April 10, the trader with responsibility for the P&L Predict circulated a P&L Predict indicating a $5 million loss for the day; according to one of the traders, the trader who circulated this P&L Predict did so at the direction of another trader. After a confrontation between the other two traders, the same trader sent an updated P&L Predict at 8:30 p.m. GMT the same day, this time showing an estimated loss of approximately $400 million. He explained to one of the other traders that the market had improved and that the $400 million figure was an accurate reflection of mark-to-market losses for the day.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how “mark-to-market” is implemented in the current commercial bank prop trading units – through a “confrontation between traders.”
We learn all this in the Task Force report. What we don’t learn is why there was a confrontation, what was the basis for the mismarking, and most importantly, how it is possible that in JPM’s wacky Schrodinger world, a Marked to Market loss can be $5 Million and $400 Million at the same time, depending on who a “confrontation” takes place between. Perhaps in JPM, Mark to Muscleis a more appropriate estimation of what is going on.
Why should readers care? Because this 80-fold delta in potential losses is funded, and thus impacts, something dear to all those who have savings at JPM. Their money. Money, which should not be used to speculate in fashion that means an a full wipe out of capital is purely in the eye of the beholder.
What it also means for all other “mark to market” estimates of JPM, and all other banks’ profitability, we leave to readers to infer.
Finally, some much more deserved criticism of the JPM’s Task Force “report” comes from Bloomberg’s Jon Weil:
[H]ow did JPMorgan’s chief investment office, which manages deposits that the bank hasn’t lent, go from being a conservatively run risk manager to a profit center speculating on higher-yielding assets such as credit derivatives? The company’s report, conveniently, said this pivotal question was outside the inquiry’s scope. It’s worth noting that it was Dimon who pushed for the transformation several years ago, as Bloomberg News reported last spring.
“Although the task force has reviewed certain general background information on the origin of the synthetic credit portfolio and its development over time, the task force’s focus was on the events at the end of 2011 and the first several months of 2012 when the losses occurred,” the report said.
The head of the task force that produced the report, Michael Cavanagh, is the co-CEO of JPMorgan’s corporate and investment bank. So it isn’t as if there was a pretense that this was some sort of independent review. The company didn’t disclose the task force’s other members.
The report dodged important disclosure issues. The facts in the report suggest there were serious shortcomings before 2012 in the internal controls over JPMorgan’s valuation processes. Some employees manipulated the numbers to make the trading losses look smaller. And when JPMorgan restated its first- quarter 2012 results last summer, the company acknowledged it had a material weakness in its controls as of March 31. Yet the bank hasn’t amended past disclosures to show control weaknesses in any earlier periods. Why not? This week’s report didn’t address the question.
Another example: During an April 13 call with analysts, about a month before JPMorgan began acknowledging the magnitude of its losses, Douglas Braunstein, JPMorgan’s since-demoted chief financial officer, said “those positions are fully transparent to the regulators” and that the bank’s regulators “get the information on those positions on a regular and recurring basis as part of our normalized reporting.” The statement wasn’t credible then. There’s no reason to believe he had any basis for the remark. Yet the task force’s report didn’t touch it.
The report also included this bizarre disclaimer: “This report sets out the facts that the task force believes are most relevant to understanding the causes of the losses. It reflects the task force’s view of the facts. Others (including regulators conducting their own investigations) may have a different view of the facts, or may focus on facts not described in this report, and may also draw different conclusions regarding the facts and issues.” In other words, we haven’t been told the whole story.
And this is the opacity that one gets when a firm sets off to expose what should otherwise be perfectly public information in the first place. One does start to wonder: if America’s banks go to such great lengths to mask how ugly the behind the scenes truth really is, is the true undercapitalization of the US banking sector in the trillions… Or tens of trillions?
As stocks have risen in recent years, the big hedge funds and the “too big to fail” banks have used borrowed money to make absolutely enormous profits. But when you use debt to potentially multiply your profits, you also create the possibility that your losses will be multiplied if the markets turn against you. When the next stock market crash happens, and the gigantic pyramid of risk, debt and leverage on Wall Street comes tumbling down, will highly leveraged banks such as Goldman Sachs ask the federal government to bail them out? The use of leverage is one of the greatest threats to our financial system, and yet most Americans do not even really understand what it is. The following is a basic definition of leverage fromInvestopedia: “The use of various financial instruments or borrowed capital, such as margin, to increase the potential return of an investment.” Leverage allows firms to make much larger bets in the financial markets than they otherwise would be able to, and at this point Goldman Sachs and the big hedge funds are pushing leverage to ridiculous extremes. When the financial markets go up and they win on those bets, they can win very big. For example, revenues at Goldman Sachs increased by about 30 percent in 2012 and Goldman stock has soared by more than 40 percent over the past 12 months. Those are eye-popping numbers. But leverage is a double-edged sword. When the markets turn, Goldman Sachs and many of these large hedge funds could be facing astronomical losses.
Sadly, it appears that Wall Street did not learn any lessons from the financial crisis of 2008. Hedge funds have ramped up leverage to levels not seen since before the last stock market crash. The following comes from a recent Bloomberg article entitled “Hedge-Fund Leverage Rises to Most Since 2004 in New Year“…
Hedge funds are borrowing more to buy equities just as loans by New York Stock Exchange brokers reach the highest in four years, signs of increasing confidence after professional investors trailed the market since 2008.
Leverage among managers who speculate on rising and falling shares climbed to the highest level to start any year since at least 2004, according to data compiled by Morgan Stanley. Margin debt at NYSE firms rose in November to the most since February 2008, data from NYSE Euronext show.
So why is this so important?
Well, as a recent Zero Hedge article explained, even a relatively small drop in stock prices could potentially absolutely devastate many hedge funds…
What near record leverage means is that hedge funds have absolutely zero tolerance for even the smallest drop in prices, which are priced to absolute and endless central bank-intervention perfection - sorry, fundamentals in a time when global GDP growth is declining, when Europe and Japan are in a double dip recession, when the US is expected to report its first sub 1% GDP quarter in years, when corporate revenues and EPS are declining just don’t lead to soaring stock prices.
It also means that with virtually all hedge funds in such hedge fund hotel names as AAPL (the stock held by more hedge funds – over 230 – than any other), any major drop in the price would likely lead to a wipe out of the equity tranche at the bulk of AAPL “investors”, sending them scrambling to beg for either more LP generosity, or to have their prime broker repo desk offer them even more debt. And while the former is a non-starter, the latter has so far worked, which means that most hedge funds have been masking losses with more debt, which then suffers even more losses, and so on.
But hedge funds are not the only ones flirting with disaster. In a previous article about the derivatives bubble, I pointed out the ridiculous amount of derivatives exposure that some of these “too big to fail” banks have relative to their total assets…
According to the Comptroller of the Currency, four of the largest U.S. banks are walking a tightrope of risk, leverage and debt when it comes to derivatives. Just check out how exposed they are…
Total Assets: $1,812,837,000,000 (just over 1.8 trillion dollars)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $69,238,349,000,000 (more than 69 trillion dollars)
Total Assets: $1,347,841,000,000 (a bit more than 1.3 trillion dollars)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $52,150,970,000,000 (more than 52 trillion dollars)
Bank Of America
Total Assets: $1,445,093,000,000 (a bit more than 1.4 trillion dollars)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $44,405,372,000,000 (more than 44 trillion dollars)
Total Assets: $114,693,000,000 (a bit more than 114 billion dollars – yes, you read that correctly)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $41,580,395,000,000 (more than 41 trillion dollars)
Take another look at those figures for Goldman Sachs. If you do the math, Goldman Sachs has total exposure to derivatives contracts that ismore than 362 times greater than their total assets.
That is utter insanity, but we haven’t had a derivatives crash yet so everyone just keeps pretending that the emperor actually has clothes on.
When the derivatives crisis happens, things in the financial markets are going to fall apart at lightning speed. A recent article posted on goldsilverworlds.com explained what a derivatives crash may look like…
When one big bank faces some kind of trouble and fails, the banks with the largest exposure to derivates (think JP Morgan, Citygroup, Goldman Sachs) will realize that the bank on the other side of the derivatives trade (the counterparty) is no longer good for their obligation. All of a sudden the hedged position becomes a naked position. The net position becomes a gross position. The risk explodes instantaneously. Markets realize that their hedged positions are in reality not hedged anymore, and all market participants start bailing almost simultaneously. The whole banking and financial system freezes up. It might start in Asia or Europe, in which case Americans will wake up in the morning to find out that their markets are not functioning anymore; stock markets remain closed, money at the banks become inaccessible, etc.
But for now, the party continues. Goldman Sachs and many of the big hedge funds are making enormous piles of money.
In fact, according to the Wall Street Journal, Goldman Sachs recently gave some of their top executives 65 million dollars worth of restricted stock…
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. GS -0.76% handed insiders including Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein and his top lieutenants a total of $65 million in restricted stock just hours before this year’s higher tax rates took effect.
The New York securities firm gave 10 of its directors and executives early vesting on 508,104 shares previously awarded as part of prior years’ compensation, according to a series of filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission late Monday.
And the bonuses that employees at Goldman receive are absolutely obscene. A recent Daily Mail article explained that Goldman employees in the UK are expected to receive record-setting bonuses this year…
Britain’s army of bankers will re-ignite public fury over lavish pay rewards as staff at Goldman Sachs are expected to reward themselves £8.3 billion in bonuses on Wednesday.
The American investment bank, which employs 5,500 staff in the UK, will be the first to unveil its telephone number-sized rewards – an average of £250,000 a person – as part of the latest round of bonus updates.
The increase, up from £230,000 last year, comes as British families are still struggling to make ends meet five years after banks brought the economy to the brink of meltdown.
Wouldn’t you like to get a “bonus” like that?
Life is good at these firms while the markets are going up.
But what happens when the party ends?
What happens if the markets crash in 2013?
When you bet big, you either win big or you lose big.
For now, the gigantic bets that Wall Street firms are making with borrowed money are paying off very nicely.
But a day of reckoning is coming. The next stock market crash is going to rip through Wall Street like a chainsaw and the carnage is going to be unprecedented.
Are you sure that the people holding your money will be able to make it through what is ahead? You might want to look into it while you still can.
Have you ever laid in bed awake at night with a knot in your stomach because you didn’t know how your family was possibly going to make it through the next month financially? Have you ever felt the desperation of not being able to provide the basic necessities for your family even though you tried as hard as you could? All over America tonight, there are millions of desperate families that are being ripped apart by this economy. There aren’t nearly enough jobs, and millions of Americans that actually do have jobs aren’t making enough to even provide the basics for their families. When you have tried everything that you can think of and nothing works, it can be absolutely soul crushing. Today, one of my regular readers explained that he was not going to be online for a while because his power had been turned off. He has been out of work for quite a while, and eventually the money runs out. Have you ever been there? If you have ever experienced that moment, you know that it stays with you for the rest of your life. If you are single that is bad enough, but when you have to look into the eyes of your children and explain to them why there won’t be any dinner tonight or why they have to move into a homeless shelter it can feel like someone has driven a stake into your heart. In this article you will find a lot of very shocking economic statistics. But please remember that behind each statistic are the tragic stories of millions of desperately hurting American families.
Over the past decade, things have steadily gotten worse for American families no matter what our politicians have tried. Poverty and government dependence continue to rise. The cost of living continues to go up and incomes continue to go down. It is truly frightening to think about what this country is going to look like if current trends continue.
The following are 37 facts that show how cruel this economy has been to millions of desperate American families…
1. One recent survey discovered that 40 percent of all Americans have $500 or less in savings.
2. A different recent survey found that 28 percent of all Americans do not have asingle penny saved for emergencies.
3. In the United States today, there are close to 10 million households that do not have a single bank account. That number has increased by about a million since 2009.
4. Family homelessness in the Washington D.C. region (one of the wealthiest regions in the entire country) has risen 23 percent since the last recession began.
5. The number of Americans living in poverty has increased by about 6 million over the past four years.
6. Median household income has fallen for four years in a row. Overall, it has declinedby more than $4000 over the past four years.
7. 62 percent of middle class Americans say that they have had to reduce household spending over the past year.
8. According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, 85 percent of middle class Americans say that it is more difficult to maintain a middle class standard of living today than it was 10 years ago.
9. In the United States today, 77 percent of all Americans are living to paycheck to paycheck at least some of the time.
10. In the United States today, more than 41 percent of all working age Americans are not working.
11. Since January 2009, the “labor force” in the United States has increased by 827,000, but “those not in the labor force” has increased by 8,208,000. This is how they have gotten the unemployment numbers to “come down”.
13. Today, about one out of every four workers in the United States brings home wages that are at or below the federal poverty level.
14. Right now, the United States actually has a higher percentage of workers doing low wage work than any other major industrialized nation does.
15. At this point, less than 25 percent of all jobs in the United States are “good jobs”, and that number continues to shrink.
16. 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.
17. According to USA Today, many Americans have actually seen their water bills triple over the past 12 years.
18. Electricity bills in the United States have risen faster than the overall rate of inflationfor five years in a row.
21. According to one recent survey, approximately 10 percent of all employers in the United States plan to drop health coverage when key provisions of the new health care law kick in less than two years from now.
22. Back in 1983, the bottom 95 percent of all income earners had 62 cents of debt for every dollar that they earned. By 2007, that figure had soared to $1.48.
23. Total home mortgage debt in the United States is now about 5 times larger than it was just 20 years ago.
24. Total consumer debt in the United States has risen by 1700 percent since 1971.
25. Recently it was announced that total student loan debt in the United States has passed the one trillion dollar mark.
26. According to one recent survey, approximately one-third of all Americans are not paying their bills on time at this point.
27. Right now, approximately 25 million American adults are living at home with their parents.
28. The percentage of Americans that find that they are able to retire when they reach retirement age continues to decline. According to one new survey, 70 percent of middle class Americans plan to work during retirement and 30 percent plan to work until they are at least 80 years old.
29. The U.S. economy lost more than 220,000 small businesses during the recent recession.
30. In 2010, the number of jobs created at new businesses in the United States wasless than half of what it was back in the year 2000.
32. 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.
33. In the United States today, somewhere around 100 million Americans are considered to be either “poor” or “near poor”.
34. In October 2008, 30.8 million Americans were on food stamps. Today, 46.7 million Americans are on food stamps.
35. Approximately one-fourth of all children in the United States are enrolled in the food stamp program.
36. Right now, more than 100 million Americans are enrolled in at least one welfare program run by the federal government. And that does not even count Social Security or Medicare.
37. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, an all-time record 49 percent of all Americans live in a home where at least one person receives financial assistance from the federal government. Back in 1983, that number was less than 30 percent.
What makes all of this even more frightening is that many homeless shelters and food banks around the nation are so overloaded at this point that they are already over capacity. Just consider this example…
When Janice Coe, a homeless advocate in Loudoun County, learned through her prayer group that a young woman was sleeping in the New Carrollton Metro station with a toddler and a 2-month-old, she sprang into action.
Coe contacted the young woman and arranged for her to take the train to Virginia, where she put the little family up in a Comfort Suites hotel. Then Coe began calling shelters to see who could take them.
Despite several phone calls, she came up empty. Coe was shocked to learn that many of the local shelters that cater to families were full, including Good Shepherd Alliance, where Coe was once director of social services.
“I don’t know why nobody will take this girl in,” Coe said. “The baby still had a hospital bracelet on her wrist.”
Keep in mind that Loudoun Country is smack dab in the middle of one of the wealthiest areas of Virginia.
So if things are that bad in the wealthy areas, exactly how bad are things getting in many of the poorer areas?
Unfortunately, things continue to get worse for this economy. DuPont has just announced plans to eliminate 1,500 jobs. There are more major layoff announcements almost every single day. So how bad will things get when ourcrumbling economic system finally collapses? When kind of chaos will be unleashed all over the nation when millions upon millions of Americans finally lose all hope?
In the introduction to this article, I mentioned that one of my regular readers has had his lights turned off. The following is how he described his situation…
No gas, no water, no electricity at my house. Couldn’t pay the bills. I’m broke. Desperately searching for any means of income, or at least enough cash to get the juice (electricity) restored.
Typing this missive in a dark house using the battery on my laptop. Feels like I’m camping out at home. Hope to get this situation fixed tomorrow… somehow. Needless to say, I *…. hate this.
I was ready for this, but it is still a major league inconvenience. For those of you who DO have power, etc. – and are not ready… oh brother. You need to get ready. Seriously, you do. Because what I’m going through is just an inconvenience. It may someday be a normal occurence. Ugh. (expletives deleted)
Hopefully a way can be found to get his situation turned around, but the truth is that there are tens of millions of other similar stories out there in America today.
What about you? What are things like in your neck of the woods? Please feel free to share your thoughts below…