Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has done it. He has succeeded in creating a new housing bubble. By driving mortgage rates down to the lowest level in 100 years and recklessly printing money with wild abandon, Bernanke has been able to get housing prices to rebound a bit. In fact, in some of the more prosperous areas of the country you would be tempted to think that it is 2005 all over again. If you can believe it, in some areas of the country builders are actually holding lotteries to see who will get the chance to buy their homes. Wow – that sounds great, right? Unfortunately, this “housing recovery” is not based on solid economic fundamentals. As you will see below, this is a recovery that is being led by investors. They are paying cash for cheap properties that they believe will appreciate rapidly in the coming years. Meanwhile, the homeownership rate in the United States continues to decline. It is now the lowest that it has been since 1995. There are a couple of reasons for this. Number one, there has not been a jobs recovery in the United States. The percentage of working age Americans with a job has not rebounded at all and is still about the exact same place where it was at the end of the last recession. Secondly, crippling levels of student loan debt continue to drive down the percentage of young people that are buying homes. So no, this is not a real housing recovery. It is an investor-led recovery that is mostly limited to the more prosperous areas of the country. For example, the median sale price of a home in Washington D.C. just hit a new all-time record high. But this bubble will not last, and when this new housing bubble does burst, will it end as badly as the last one did? (Read More….)
The middle class in the United States is being systematically destroyed, and nobody is doing much of anything to stop it. Our incomes are shrinking, our share of the income pie is at an all-time low, our jobs are being sent overseas, debt burdens have soared to unprecedented heights and millions of formerly middle class Americans have fallen into poverty. America once had the largest and most vibrant middle class that the world has ever seen, but now it is rapidly being shredded. Unfortunately, this is particularly true for younger Americans. Today, families that have a head of household that is under the age of 30 have a poverty rate of 37 percent. That is astounding. The truth is that there are not enough decent jobs for the hordes of young people that are entering the marketplace each year. Once upon a time, a college degree was just about a guaranteed ticket to the middle class, but in 2011 more than half of all college graduates under the age of 25 were either unemployed or underemployed. Sadly, statistics tell us that the younger you are, the less likely you are to have a chance to live “the American Dream”. Nearly half the country already lives in a household that receives direct financial assistance from the federal government, and that percentage grows with each passing day. We are rapidly being transformed from a country of middle class citizens into a country of impoverished government dependents. If dramatic changes are not made, the middle class in America will continue to decline every single year. What would our society look like if the middle class disappeared entirely at some point?
The following are 60 facts that prove that the middle class in America is being wiped out…
#1 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the middle class is taking home a smaller share of the overall income pie than has ever been recorded before.
#2 As the middle class shrinks, more Americans than ever have been forced to become dependent on the federal government. Federal spending on welfare programs has reached nearly a trillion dollars a year, and that does not even count Social Security or Medicare. Welfare spending is now 16 times larger than when the “war on poverty” began.
#3 Median household income in the U.S. has fallen for four consecutive years. Overall, it has declined by over $4000 during that time span.
#4 The U.S. economy continues to trade good paying jobs for low paying jobs. 60 percent of the jobs lost during the last recession were mid-wage jobs, but 58 percent of the jobs created since then have been low wage jobs.
#5 The number of Americans living in poverty has increased by more than 15 million since the turn of the century.
#7 Back in the 1970s, about one out of every 50 Americans was on food stamps. Today, about one out of every 6.5 Americans is on food stamps.
#9 In the United States today, 35 percent of all households live on $35,000 or less each year.
#10 One recent survey discovered that 85 percent of all middle class Americans believe that it is harder to maintain a middle class standard of living today than it was 10 years ago.
#11 62 percent of all middle class Americans say that they have had to reduce household spending over the past year.
#12 According to one survey, 77 percent of all Americans are now living paycheck to paycheck at least part of the time.
#14 Total U.S. household debt grew from just 1.4 trillion dollars in 1980 to a whopping 13.7 trillion dollars in 2007. This played a huge role in the financial crisis of 2008, and the problem has still not been solved.
#15 While debt loads for middle class families are going up, the net worth of those same families is going down. 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“.
#16 The percentage of working age Americans with a job has been below 59 percent for 40 months in a row.
#17 Today there are about 3.25 million Americans that say that they want a job but that have not searched for a job in more than a year because they believe that it is so hopeless.
#18 When you total up all working age Americans that do not have a job in America today, it comes to more than 100 million.
#20 The unemployment rate for Americans in the 18 to 29 year-old age bracket is 11.5 percent overall. For African-Americans in that age group, the unemployment rate is now up to 22.1 percent. Millions of young people believe that the system has totally failed them.
#21 Families that have a head of household under the age of 30 have a poverty rate of 37 percent.
#22 Last year, an astounding 53 percent of all U.S. college graduates under the age of 25 were either unemployed or underemployed.
#23 Today, approximately 25 million American adults are living with their parents.
#24 According to the Tax Policy Center, the recent fiscal cliff deal will raise taxes more for those making between $30,000 and $200,000 a year than it will for those making between $200,000 and $500,000 a year.
#25 According to a Gallup survey, only 60 percent of all Americans say that they have enough money to live comfortably.
#26 One recent survey found that 63 percent of all Americans believe that the U.S. economic model is broken.
#27 Each year, the average American must work 107 days just to make enough money to pay local, state and federal taxes.
#28 Consumer debt in America has risen by a whopping 1700 percent since 1971.
#29 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.
#31 According to USA Today, many Americans have actually seen their water bills triple over the past 12 years.
#32 Health insurance costs have risen by 23 percent since Barack Obama became president. 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%.
#34 According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, 46 percent of all American workers have less than $10,000 saved for retirement, and 29 percent of all American workers have less than $1,000 saved for retirement.
#35 The United States has lost an average of approximately 50,000 manufacturing jobs a month since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.
#36 The United States has lost more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities since 2001.
#37 According to the Economic Policy Institute, America is losing half a million jobs to China every single year.
#41 According to Professor Alan Blinder of Princeton University, 40 million more U.S. jobs could be sent offshore over the next two decades if current trends continue.
#42 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.
#43 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.
#44 According to the Pew Research Center, only 23 percent of all American workers believe that they have enough money to get them through retirement.
#45 According to the Economic Policy Institute, the wealthiest one percent of all Americans households on average have 288 times the amount of wealth that the average middle class American family does.
#46 In the United States today, the wealthiest one percent of all Americans have a greater net worth than the bottom 90 percent combined.
#47 According to Forbes, the 400 wealthiest Americans have more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans combined.
#48 The six heirs of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton have a net worth that is roughly equal to the bottom 30 percent of all Americans combined.
#49 At this point, the poorest 50 percent of all Americans collectively own just 2.5% of all the wealth in the United States.
#50 The United States now ranks 93rd in the world in income inequality.
#51 The average CEO now makes approximately 350 times as much as the average American worker makes.
#53 Today, 40 percent of all Americans have $500 or less in savings.
#54 One recent survey found that 28 percent of all Americans do not have a single penny saved for emergencies.
#55 Shockingly, at this point 48 percent of all Americans are either considered to be “low income” or are living in poverty.
#56 According to one calculation, the number of Americans on food stamps now exceeds the combined populations of “Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.”
#57 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.
#58 According to U.S. Census data, 57 percent of all American children live in a home that is either considered to be “poor” or “low income”.
#59 For the first time ever, more than a million public school students in the United States are homeless.
#60 According to a stunning new Gallup survey, 65 percent of all Americans believe that 2013 will be a year of “economic difficulty”.
Every single year, millions of young adults head off to colleges and universities all over America full of hopes and dreams. But what most of those fresh-faced youngsters do not realize is that by taking on student loan debt they are signing up for a life of debt slavery. Student loan debt has become a trillion dollar bubble which has shattered the financial lives of tens of millions of young college graduates. When you are just starting out and you are not making a lot of money, having to make payments on tens of thousands of dollars of student loan debt can be absolutely crippling. The total amount of student loan debt in the United States has now surpassed the total amount of credit card debt, and student loan debt is much harder to get rid of. Many young people view college as a “five year party“, but when the party is over millions of those young people basically end up as modern day serfs as they struggle to pay off all of the debt that they have accumulated during their party years. Bankruptcy laws have been changed to make it incredibly difficult to get rid of student loan debt, so once you have it you are basically faced with two choices: either you are going to pay it or you are going to die with it.
But we don’t warn kids about this before they go to school. We just endlessly preach to them that they need a college degree in order to get a “good job”, and that after they graduate they will easily be able to pay off their student loans with the “good job” that they will certainly be able to find.
Sadly, tens of millions of young Americans have left college in recent years only to find out that they were lied to all along.
As I have written about previously, college has become a giant money making scam and the victims of the scam are our young people.
Back in 1952, a full year of tuition at Harvard was only $600.
Today, it is over $35,000.
Why does college have to cost so much?
At every turn our young people are being ripped off.
Has it suddenly become a lot more expensive to print books?
Of course not.
The truth is that an entire industry saw an opportunity to gouge students and they went for it.
The amount of money being spent on higher education in this country is absolutely outrageous. One father down in Texas says that he will end up spending about 1.5 million dollars on college expenses for his five daughters before it is all said and done.
Unfortunately, most young adults in America don’t have wealthy fathers so they have to take out large student loans to pay for their educations.
Average student loan debt at graduation is estimated to be about$28,720 right now.
That is a crazy figure and it has absolutely soared in recent years. In fact, student loan debt in America has grown by 511 percent since 1999.
And student loan debt will follow you wherever you go.
If you do not pay your loans when you graduate, you could send up having your wages, your tax refunds and even your Social Security benefits garnished.
In addition, your account could be turned over to the debt collectors and they can be absolutely brutal.
The student loan debt bubble is the best thing to happen to debt collectors in ages. The following is what one professional who works in the industry said in a recent article that he wrote for a debt collection industry publication….
As I wandered around the crowd of NYU students at their rally protesting student debt at the end of February, I couldn’t believe the accumulated wealth they represented – for our industry.
It was lip-smacking.
At my right, to graphically display how she was debt-burdened, was a girl wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the fine sum of $90,000, another with $65,000, a third with $20,000 and over there a really attractive $120,000 was printed on another shirt. Guys were shouldering their share, with t-shirts of $20,000, $15,000, $27,000, $33,000 and $75,000.
There is no way that our young people can afford to take on those kinds of debt loads, and that is one reason why student loan delinquency ratescontinue to surge.
In fact, the student loan default rate in the United States has nearly doubled since 2005.
Today, one out of every six Americans that owes money on a student loan is in default.
One out of every six.
And it is going to get a whole lot worse.
At this point there are about 5.9 million Americans that are at least 12 months behind on their student loan payments.
So could the bursting of the student loan bubble do tremendous damage to our financial system?
Don’t worry – Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is promising that the student loan debt bubble won’t cause a crisis.
And you can trust him, right?
For those living with the burden of unpaid student loan debt, life can be really tough. Some try to avoid the debt collectors, but it is easier said than done. The following is from a recent article in the New York Times….
Hiding from the government is not easy.
“I keep changing my phone number,” said Amanda Cordeiro, 29, from Clermont, Fla., who dropped out of college in 2010 and has fielded as many as seven calls a day from debt collectors trying to recover her $55,000 in overdue loans. “In a year, this is probably my fourth phone number.”
Unlike private lenders, the federal government has extraordinary tools for collection that it has extended to the collection firms. Ms. Cordeiro has already had two tax refunds seized, and other debtors have had their paychecks or Social Security payments garnisheed.
The biggest problem, of course, is that there are not nearly enough jobs for the hordes of college graduates that our system produces each year.
During 2011, 53 percent of all Americans with a bachelor’s degree under the age of 25 were either unemployed or underemployed.
So without a good job, how are those young people supposed to service their student loans?
Once upon a time, a college degree was a guaranteed ticket to the middle class.
Sadly, those days are long gone. Today, millions upon millions of college graduates have taken jobs that do not even require a college education. The following is from a recent CNBC article….
In the last year, they were more likely to be employed as waiters, waitresses, bartenders and food-service helpers than as engineers, physicists, chemists and mathematicians combined (100,000 versus 90,000). There were more working in office-related jobs such as receptionist or payroll clerk than in all computer professional jobs (163,000 versus 100,000). More also were employed as cashiers, retail clerks and customer representatives than engineers (125,000 versus 80,000).
You probably know young people who have experienced the “wake up call” that comes as a result of entering the “real world” in this horrible economic environment.
It is not easy out there.
And this can be extremely disappointing for parents as well. How would you feel if your daughter got very high grades all of the way through college and ended up working as a waitress because she couldn’t find anything else?
Even those that pursue advanced degrees are having an extremely challenging time finding work in this economy.
For example, a Business Insider article from a while back profiled a law school graduate named Erin that is actually on food stamps….
She remains on food stamps so her social life suffers. She can’t afford a car, so she has to rely on the bus to get around Austin, Texas, where she lives. And currently unable to pay back her growing pile of law school debt, Gilmer says she wonders if she will ever be able to pay it back.
“That has been really hard for me,” she says. “I have absolutely no credit anymore. I haven’t been able to pay loans. It’s scary, and it’s a hard thing to think you’re a lawyer but you’re impoverished. People don’t understand that most lawyers actually aren’t making the big money.”
And the really sad thing is that the quality of the education that our young people are receiving is very poor. I spent eight years attending U.S. universities, and most parents would be absolutely shocked at how little our college students are actually learning.
Going to college really has become a ticket to party for four or five or six years with a little bit of “education” thrown in.
But our society has put a very high value on those little pieces of paper called “diplomas” so we all continue to play along with the charade.
Some college students are finding other “creative” ways to pay for their educations other than going into tremendous amounts of debt. For example, an increasing number of young women are seeking out “sugar daddies” who will “sponsor” their educations. The following is from aHuffington Post article about this disturbing trend….
On a Sunday morning in late May, Taylor left her Harlem apartment and boarded a train for Greenwich, Conn. She planned on spending the day with a man she had met online, but not in person.
Taylor, a 22-year-old student at Hunter College, had confided in her roommate about the trip and they agreed to swap text messages during the day to make sure she was safe.
Once in Greenwich, a man who appeared significantly older than his advertised age of 42 greeted Taylor at the train station and then drove her to the largest house she had ever seen. He changed into his swimming trunks, she put on a skimpy bathing suit, and then, by the side of his pool, she rubbed sunscreen into the folds of his sagging back — bracing herself to endure an afternoon of sex with someone she suspected was actually about 30 years her senior.
Of course that young woman will probably deeply regret doing that later on in her life.
Once graduation comes, millions upon millions of our young people are discovering that it is really hard to be financially independent if you are drowning in student loan debt and you can’t find a good job.
So what are they doing?
They are moving back in with Mom and Dad.
One poll discovered that 29 percent of all Americans in the 25 to 34 year old age bracket are still living with their parents.
So what do you think about all of this? Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below….
As the national debt crosses the $16 trillion mark some time in the next few weeks, let’s not forget that this isn’t the whole story as far as public debt is concerned.
The 50 states have a cumulative debt of about $4.2 trillion. California is the worst, naturally, with total outstanding debt of $617 billion. Illinois, whose debt rating was downgraded yesterday by S & P, ranks fifth, with $271 billion in outstanding debt, along with an unfunded public pension liability of $83 billion (though likely much higher, as explained in this post a few days ago). …
One of the amazing things about Illinois is that, like most states, it has a balanced budget requirement, yet has run up a cumulative $44 billion budget deficit over the last five years.
Moody’s downgraded nearly 300 U.S. municipal issuers in the second quarter, the most for any quarter in more than a decade and the latest sign of the potential pressure building in the market where states and local governments raise money.
Local areas across the U.S. have been struggling for several years after the recession sharply undercut revenues, with three cities in California recently filing for bankruptcy in an attempt to alleviate their financial burdens.
Tax receipts have rebounded but not enough to compensate for rising costs, which include healthcare spending, social welfare and labor.
About half of the downgrades in the quarter affected the debt of cities and school districts, such as that of Clark County in Nevada, one of the largest in the U.S., Moody’s said. The school district serves five cities including Las Vegas.
In the quarter, Moody’s also downgraded $6.9bn of rated debt associated with Detroit, Michigan’s biggest city, and cut the ratings for Stockton, California ahead of the city’s bankruptcy filing. The city filed for bankruptcy on June 28. FT
The number of downgrades in the quarter totaled 290 affecting $61.3 billion of debt and the ratio of downgrades to upgrades was 4.4 to 1. On a par amount basis, downgrades exceeded upgrades by 7.2 times, down from 14.2 times in the first quarter, Moody’s said in a report. Reuters
For the first half of 2012, there were 117 upgrades affecting $14.2 billion of debt and 502 downgrades affecting $142 billion of debt, according to the report. That compares with 125 upgrades affecting $13.2 billion of debt and 518 downgrades, affecting $193.5 billion of debt during the same period in 2011. WSJ
Pressure has been particularly acute for redevelopment district authorities (RDA) in California. The rating agency downgraded $11.6bn of tax allocation bonds issued by 90 of the agencies, which were designed to spur growth in troubled areas. NASDAQ
What is the biggest economic problem that the United States is facing? Very simply, our biggest problem is that we have way too much debt. Over the past 30 years, household debt, corporate debt and government debt have all grown much faster than our GDP has. But no nation on earth has ever been able to expand debt much faster than national output indefinitely. All debt bubbles eventually burst. Right now, we are living in the greatest debt bubble in the history of the world. All of this debt has fueled a “false prosperity” which has enabled many Americans to live like kings and queens. But no nation (or household) can pile on more debt forever. At some point the weight of the debt becomes just too great. It is amazing that the United States has been able to pile up as much debt as it has. Over the years, many authors have predicted that U.S. government finances would collapse long before the U.S. national debt ever got to this level. So the mountain of debt that we have accumulated is quite an “achievement” if you want to look at it that way. But the clock is ticking on this debt bubble and when it collapses we will say “bye bye” to our vastly inflated standard of living and we will discover that we have destroyed the economy for all future generations of Americans.
Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. When most Americans think of the “debt problem” in this country, they think of the debt of the federal government.
But that is not the only debt bubble that we are facing.
Thirty years ago, household debt in the United States was approaching the 2 trillion dollar mark. Today, it is sitting at about 13 trillion dollars….
We have been trained to pay for everything with debt.
We pay for our homes with debt, and mortgage debt as a percentage of GDP has more than tripled since 1955.
We pay for our cars with debt, and at this point about 70 percent of all auto purchases in the United States involve an auto loan.
We pay for higher education with debt, and the total amount of student loan debt in America recently surpassed the one trillion dollar mark.
Wherever we go we pay with plastic.
If you want a heated cat bed and a cute little cat sweater for your little kitty just put it on your Visa or Mastercard.
We are absolutely addicted to debt and we do not know how to stop.
State And Local Government Debt
Our state and local governments are also addicted to debt.
30 years ago, state and local government debt was approaching the 400 million dollar mark. Today, state and local government debt is hovering around the 3 trillion dollar mark….
In the United States today, we don’t just have one “government debt problem” – the truth is that we have hundreds of them. All over the country, state and local governments are facing bankruptcy because of too much debt.
Stockton, Calif., is set to declare bankruptcy as early as this week, according to local officials, a move that would make it one of the largest U.S. cities ever to file for reorganization.
On Monday, a state-required mediation with creditors to find a fiscal solution is scheduled to expire. Stockton’s City Council is then slated to meet Tuesday to decide whether to adopt a budget for operating in bankruptcy, a move widely considered the last step before the city formally submits a Chapter 9 petition to federal bankruptcy court.
Federal Government Debt
Of course the biggest offender of all is the federal government. 30 years ago, Ronald Reagan was running around proclaiming what a nightmare it was that the U.S. national debt was reaching the one trillion dollar mark.
Well, now we are about to blast through the 16 trillion dollar mark with no end in sight….
Running up debt at a much faster rate than our GDP is rising is a recipe for national financial suicide. Our politicians continue to steal about 150 million dollars an hour from future generations and everybody just acts like this is perfectly normal.
In fact, we already have more government debt per capita than all of those nations do.
Both political parties have been doing this to us, and it just keeps getting worse and worse.
Incredibly, the national debt has grown more under Obama in less than 4 years than it did under George W. Bush during his entire 8 year term.
Since Barack Obama entered the White House, we have accumulated more than five trillion dollars of additional debt.
We are on the road to national financial oblivion, and most Americans don’t seem to care.
Debt From Sea To Shining Sea
Now let’s add up all the debt in the country. When you total up all household debt, business debt and government debt, it comes to more than 300% of our GDP….
In fact, if current trends continue we will hit 400% of GDP before too long.
As you can see from the chart, there was a little “hiccup” during the last recession, but now the debt bubble is growing again.
So how high can it go before the entire system collapses?
Total credit market debt owed is roughly 10 times larger than it was about 30 years ago.
How in the world did we accumulate 10 times more debt in just 30 years?
If we do that again in the next 30 years, our total debt will be more than 500 trillion dollars in the 2040s.
Unfortunately, that is the way that debt spirals work. They either have to keep expanding or they collapse.
So will the U.S. debt spiral continue to expand?
Or will we soon see a collapse?
Sadly, this exact same thing is happening all over the world. The government debt to GDP ratio in Japan (the third largest economy in the world) blew past the 200% mark quite a while ago, and almost every country in the EU is absolutely drowning in debt.
The world has never faced anything quite like this. There is way, way too much debt in the world, but the only way we can continue to enjoy this level of prosperity under the current system is to pile up a lot more debt.
The western world is like a debt addict in a deep state of denial. Some debt addicts end up with dozens of credit card accounts. They will keep opening more accounts as long as someone will let them. Most debt addicts actually believe that they will be able to get out of the hole at some point, but most never do.
Most Americans still believe that we are experiencing “temporary” economic problems that will eventually go away. Most Americans still believe that even greater prosperity is still ahead.
Sadly, what the mainstream media and the two major political parties are telling them is a bunch of lies.
We have enjoyed the greatest prosperity that we will ever see in the United States, and when the debt bubble bursts there is going to be an immense amount of pain.
That is a very painful truth, but it is better to come to grips with it now than be blindsided by it later.