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Thread: Financial Crisis - 2013 - ????

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    Default Re: Financial Crisis - 2013 - ????


    Job Loss Would Quickly Lead to Hardship for Many in U.S.


    April 18, 2014

    Many working Americans would experience financial peril if they lost their current job, putting pressure on them to find a new job quickly. A substantial minority of U.S. workers say they could go just one week (14%) or one month (29%) before experiencing significant financial hardship if they lost their job.



    Gallup's annual Economy and Personal Finance poll, conducted April 3-6, finds 26% of workers saying they could go without a job for up to four months, while about one-third of workers could get by for up to a year or more.

    These perceptions have been fairly stable over time, including before the recent economic downturn.

    One reason many American workers may not be prepared financially for a job loss is they think it is unlikely to happen to them. Sixteen percent of workers say they are "very" (5%) or "fairly" (11%) likely to lose their job in the next 12 months. That percentage is down from a peak of 21% in 2010, a year of high unemployment, but has averaged 14% since Gallup first asked the question in 1975.



    The vast majority of U.S. workers currently say it is either "not too likely" (34%) or "not at all likely" (50%) they will lose their job in the next 12 months.

    Nine Percent of Workers on Financial Brink

    An analysis of these two job-loss questions in combination finds 9% of all U.S. workers highly vulnerable to a job loss -- saying it is very or fairly likely they will lose their job and that they could go up to a week (4%) or a month (5%) without a job before experiencing financial hardship.

    That combined 9% figure represents a majority of the 16% who think it is likely they will lose their job. Thus, of those who think their job is in jeopardy, most say they will be able to financially survive joblessness for just weeks without finding a new job.

    In contrast, of those who think it is unlikely they will lose their job, many more could go longer before experiencing hardship. Half of all U.S. workers think it is unlikely they will lose their job, but say they could go up to four months or longer before their finances suffered if this happened. That compares with 34% of workers who do not expect to lose their job and could go a month or less. Thus, disproportionately more workers who do not feel their job is threatened say they could endure an extended layoff than say they could not.



    Lower-Income, Younger Workers More Vulnerable to Extended Unemployment


    Younger and older workers do not differ in their perceptions that their job is at risk; however, younger workers say they would be subject to financial hardship much more quickly than older workers if they did lose their job. Six in 10 workers younger than 35 could go only one month or less before experiencing hardship, compared with 39% of workers aged 35 to 54 and 25% of workers aged 55 and older. That difference may be attributable to older workers' having had more years to build up savings.



    As would be expected, lower-income workers, those whose annual household incomes are less than $50,000, could get by for a shorter amount of time than higher-income workers if they lost their job. Seven in 10 lower-income workers could last a month or less before experiencing hardship, compared with 30% of higher-income workers. Lower-income workers are also twice as likely as higher-income workers to believe they are vulnerable to losing their job.



    Implications

    With long-term unemployment a serious problem in recent years, many U.S. workers are not in a position financially to go a month, or even a week, without finding a new job if laid off. That underscores the economic hardship that unemployment of any length can bring on U.S. families, particularly for younger and lower-income workers.

    Relatively few workers expect to get laid off, which is probably an accurate reflection of their job security because even in times of high unemployment, at least 90% of Americans in the workforce are employed. Still, layoffs are an economic reality, and many workers who lose their job do not see it coming. Gallup estimates that about 9% of workers are especially vulnerable, in that they think it is at least fairly likely they will be laid off but do not have the financial means to go more than a month without finding new employment.

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    Default Re: Financial Crisis - 2013 - ????

    Quote Originally Posted by American Patriot View Post
    Well, looks like the economic growth stopped. Dead.

    .1%

    Wow.

    Extreme amounts of materials and products hanging on shelves.

    House sells have stopped.

    Obama's policies being questioned now (finally).

    So - I predict war in our immediate future. After all, it has become a mantra to "help the economy, go to war".

    And that was the official number. Wonder what it really was...


    US Economy Slowed To 0.1 Percent Growth Rate In Q1

    April 30, 2014

    The U.S. economy slowed drastically in the first three months of the year as a harsh winter exacted a toll on business activity. The slowdown, while worse than expected, is likely to be temporary as growth rebounds with warmer weather.

    Growth slowed to a barely discernible 0.1 percent annual rate in the January-March quarter, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. That was the weakest pace since the end of 2012 and was down from a 2.6 percent rate in the previous quarter.

    Many economists said the government's first estimate of growth in the January-March quarter was skewed by weak figures early in the quarter. They noted that several sectors — from retail sales to manufacturing output — rebounded in March. That strength should provide momentum for the rest of the year.

    And on Friday, economists expect the government to report a solid 200,000-plus job gain for April.

    "While quarter one was weak, many measures of sentiment and output improved in March and April, suggesting that the quarter ended better than it began," said Dan Greenhaus, chief investment strategist at global financial services firm BTIG.

    Still, the anemic growth last quarter is surely a topic for discussion at the Federal Reserve's latest policy meeting, which ends Wednesday afternoon. No major changes are expected in a statement the Fed will release. But it will likely announce a fourth reduction in its monthly bond purchases because of the gains the economy has been making. The Fed's bond purchases have been intended to keep long-term loan rates low.

    In its report Wednesday, the government said consumer spending grew at a 3 percent annual rate last quarter. But that gain was dominated by a 4.4 percent rise in spending on services, reflecting higher utility bills. Spending on goods barely rose. Also dampening growth were a drop in business investment, a rise in the trade deficit and a fall in housing construction.

    The scant 0.1 percent growth rate in the gross domestic product, the country's total output of goods and services, was well below the 1.1 percent rise economists had predicted. The last time a quarterly growth rate was so slow was in the final three months of 2012, when it was also 0.1 percent.

    Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Marcroeconomics, said he expects the economy's growth to rebound to a 3 percent annual rate in the current April-June quarter. Other economists have made similar forecasts.

    A variety of factors held back first-quarter growth. Business investment fell at a 2.1 percent rate, with spending on equipment plunging at a 5.5 percent annual rate. Residential construction fell at a 5.7 percent rate. Housing was hit by winter weather and by other factors such as higher home prices and a shortage of available houses.

    A widening of the trade deficit, thanks to a sharp fall in exports, shaved growth by 0.8 percentage point in the first quarter. Businesses also slowed their restocking, with a slowdown in inventory rebuilding reducing growth by nearly 0.6 percentage point.

    Also holding back growth: A cutback in spending by state and local governments. That pullback offset a rebound in federal activity after the 16-day partial government shutdown last year.

    Economists say most of the factors that held back growth in the first quarter have already begun to reverse. Most expect a strong rebound in growth in the April-June quarter.

    Analysts say the stronger growth will endure through the rest of the year as the economy derives help from improved job growth, rising consumer spending and a rebound in business investment.

    In fact, many analysts believe 2014 will be the year the recovery from the Great Recession finally achieves the robust growth that's needed to accelerate hiring and reduce still-high unemployment. Many analysts think annual economic growth will remain around 3 percent for the rest of the year.

    If that proves accurate, the economy will have produced the fastest annual expansion in the gross domestic product, the broadest gauge of the economy's health, in nine years. The last time growth was so strong was in 2005, when GDP grew 3.4 percent, two years before the nation fell into the worst recession since the 1930s.

    A group of economists surveyed this month by The Associated Press said they expected unemployment to fall to 6.2 percent by the end of this year from 6.7 percent in March.

    One reason for the optimism is that a drag on growth last year from higher taxes and deep federal spending cuts has been diminishing. A congressional budget truce has also lifted any imminent threat of another government shutdown. As a result, businesses may find it easier to commit to investments to modernize and expand production facilities and boost hiring.

    State and local governments, which have benefited from a rebound in tax revenue, are hiring again as well.

    Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisors, said he expects job growth to average above 200,000 a month for the rest of the year — starting with the April jobs report, which will be released Friday.

    "Those are the types of job gains which will generate incomes and consumer confidence going forward," Naroff said.

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    Default Re: Financial Crisis - 2013 - ????

    Probably closer to .01%.
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    Default Re: Financial Crisis - 2013 - ????

    The Meat Crisis Is Here: Price Of Shrimp Up 61% – 7 Million Pigs Dead – Beef At All-Time High

    16 Friday May 2014
    Posted by Mary W. in Agriculture, Economic Collapse, Economic Crisis, Food/Cooking, Money, Survival
    1 Comment

    Tags
    American Families, Beef, Beef Prices, Disease, Drought, food, Luxury, Meat, Meat Prices, Pigs, Price Of Pork, Shrimp, Shrimp Prices, survival, U.S. Cattle Herd

    As the price of meat continues to skyrocket, will it soon be considered a “luxury item” for most American families? This week we learned that the price of meat in the United States rose at the fastest pace in more than 10 years last month. Leading the way is the price of shrimp. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the price of shrimp has jumped an astounding 61 percent compared to a year ago. The price of pork is also moving upward aggressively thanks to a disease which has already killed about 10 percent of all of the pigs in the entire country. And the endless drought in the western half of the country has caused the size of the U.S. cattle herd to shrink to a 63 year low and has pushed the price of beef to an all-time high. This is really bad news if you like to eat meat. The truth is that the coming “meat crisis” is already here, and it looks like it is going to get a lot worse in the months ahead.
    A devastating bacterial disease called “early mortality syndrome” is crippling the shrimping industry all over Asia right now. According to Bloomberg, this has pushed the price of shrimp up 61 percent over the past 12 months…
    In March, shrimp prices jumped 61 percent from a year earlier, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The climb is mainly due to a bacterial disease known as early mortality syndrome. While the ailment has no effect on humans, it’s wreaking havoc on young shrimp farmed in Southeast Asia, shrinking supplies.
    This disease has an extremely high mortality rate. In fact, according to the article that I just quoted, it kills approximately nine out of every ten shrimp that it infects…
    Cases of early mortality syndrome, which destroys the digestive systems of young shrimp, were first reported in China in 2009, said Donald Lightner, a professor of animal and comparative biomedical sciences at University of Arizona in Tucson.
    The disease, which kills about 90 percent of the shrimp it infects, traveled from China to Vietnam to Malaysia and then to Thailand, he said. Cases also were reported in Mexico last year, Lightner said.
    A different disease is driving up the price of pork in the United States. It is known as the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, and in less than a year it has spread to 30 states and has killed approximately 7 million pigs.
    The price of bacon is already up 13.1 percent over the past year, but this is just the beginning.
    It is being projected that U.S. pork production could be down by as much as 10 percent this year, and Americans could end up paying up to 20 percent more for pork by the end of 2014.
    The price of beef has also moved to unprecedented heights. Thanks to the crippling drought that never seems to end in the western half of the nation, the size of the U.S. cattle herd has been declining for seven years in a row, and it is now the smallest that is has been since 1951.
    Over the past year, the price of ground chuck beef is up 5.9 percent. It would have been worse, but ranchers have been slaughtering lots of cattle in order to thin their herds in a desperate attempt to get through this drought. If this drought does not end soon, the price of beef is going to go much, much higher.
    As prices for shrimp, pork and beef have risen, many consumers have been eating more chicken. But the price of chicken is rising rapidly as well.
    In fact, the price of chicken breast is up 12.4 percent over the past 12 months.
    Unfortunately, this could just be the very beginning of this meat crisis. As I wrote about recently, some scientists are warning that we could potentially be facing “a century-long megadrought“.
    And right now, there are no signs that the drought out west is letting up. Just check out the map posted below. It comes from the U.S. Drought Monitor, and it shows how the drought in California has significantly intensified since the beginning of the year…
    And considering how much the rest of the nation relies on the agricultural production coming out of California, it is very alarming to see that the drought is getting even worse.
    Read more at The Economic Collapse
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    Default Re: Financial Crisis - 2013 - ????

    Russia Dumps 20% Of Its Treasury Holdings As Mystery "Belgium" Buyer Adds Another Whopping $40 Billion


    Submitted by Tyler Durden on 05/15/2014 13:23 -0400






    inShare81



    Back in mid-March, there was a brief scare after the start of the Ukraine conflict, when Fed custody holdings plunged by a record $104.5 billion (if promptly bouncing back the following week), leading many to believe that Russia may have dumped its Treasurys, or at least change its bond custodian. We noted that we wouldn't have a definitive answer until the May TIC number came out to know for sure how much Russia had sold, or if indeed, anything. Moments ago the May TIC numbers did come out, and as expected, Russia indeed dumped a record $26 billion, or some 20% of all of its holdings, bringing its post-March total to just over $100 billion - the lowest since the Lehman crisis.



    But as shocking as this largely pre-telegraphed dump was, it pales in comparison with what Zero Hedge first observed, is the country that has quietly and quite rapidly become the third largest holder of US paper: Belgium. Or rather, "Belgium" because it is quite clear that it is not the country of Begium who is engaging in this unprecedented buying spree of US paper, but some account acting through Belgian custody.
    This is how we explained it last month:


    ... to clarify for our trigger-happy Belgian (non) readers: it is quite clear that Belgium itself is not the buyer. What is not clear is who the mysterious buyer using Belgium as a front is. Because that same "buyer", who to further explain is not China, just bought another whopping $31 billion in Treasurys in February, bringing the "Belgian" total to a record $341.2 billion, cementing "it", or rather whoever the mysterious name behind the Euroclear buying rampage is, as the third largest holder of US Treasurys, well above the hedge fund buying community, also known as Caribbean Banking Centers, which held $300 billion in March.

    In summary: someone, unclear who, operating through Belgium and most likely the Euroclear service (possible but unconfirmed), has added a record $141 billion in Treasurys since December, or the month in which Bernanke announced the start of the Taper, bringing the host's total to an unprecedented $341 billion!
    Make that an unprecedented $381 billion because as we just learned "Belgium" bought another $40 billion in March!

    Curiously, this happened as Japan sold $10 billion in TSYs, and as China remained unchanged. Further, foreign official accounts actually declined from $4.069 trillion to $4.054 trillion, which means this is what the US Treasury would classify as a "Private" buyer.
    So to summarize, of the total $60 billion increase in foreign Treasury holdings, which rose from $5.89 trillion to $5.95 trillion, "Belgium" accounted for two thirds, most likely doing the purchases under the guise of a "private", unofficial account!

    And once again, it is Belgium in "", because whoever is buying through the tiny European country, whose GDP is just double its reported total TSY holdings, is neither its government nor its people.
    The question remains: who? Who has bought a whopping $200 billion in Treasurys using Belgium as a proxy since October?
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    Default Re: Financial Crisis - 2013 - ????

    Russia Holds "De-Dollarization Meeting": China, Iran Willing To Drop USD From Bilateral Trade


    Submitted by Tyler Durden on 05/14/2014 10:47 -0400

    That Russia has been pushing for trade arrangements that minimize the participation (and influence) of the US dollar ever since the onset of the Ukraine crisis (and before) is no secret: this has been covered extensively on these pages before (see Gazprom Prepares "Symbolic" Bond Issue In Chinese Yuan; Petrodollar Alert: Putin Prepares To Announce "Holy Grail" Gas Deal With China; Russia And China About To Sign "Holy Grail" Gas Deal; 40 Central Banks Are Betting This Will Be The Next Reserve Currency; From the Petrodollar to the Gas-o-yuan and so on).
    But until now much of this was in the realm of hearsay and general wishful thinking. After all, surely it is "ridiculous" that a country can seriously contemplate to exist outside the ideological and religious confines of the Petrodollar... because if one can do it, all can do it, and next thing you know the US has hyperinflation, social collapse, civil war and all those other features prominently featured in other socialist banana republics like Venezuela which alas do not have a global reserve currency to kick around.
    Or so the Keynesian economists, aka tenured priests of said Petrodollar religion, would demand that the world believe.
    However, as much as it may trouble the statists to read, Russia is actively pushing on with plans to put the US dollar in the rearview mirror and replace it with a dollar-free system. Or, as it is called in Russia, a "de-dollarized" world.
    Voice of Russia reports citing Russian press sources that the country's Ministry of Finance is ready to greenlight a plan to radically increase the role of the Russian ruble in export operations while reducing the share of dollar-denominated transactions. Governmental sources believe that the Russian banking sector is "ready to handle the increased number of ruble-denominated transactions".
    According to the Prime news agency, on April 24th the government organized a special meeting dedicated to finding a solution for getting rid of the US dollar in Russian export operations. Top level experts from the energy sector, banks and governmental agencies were summoned and a number of measures were proposed as a response for American sanctions against Russia.
    Well, if the west wanted Russia's response to ever escalating sanctions against the country, it is about to get it.


    The "de-dollarization meeting” was chaired by First Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Igor Shuvalov, proving that Moscow is very serious in its intention to stop using the dollar. A subsequent meeting was chaired by Deputy Finance Minister Alexey Moiseev who later told the Rossia 24 channel that "the amount of ruble-denominated contracts will be increased”, adding that none of the polled experts and bank representatives found any problems with the government's plan to increase the share of ruble payments.
    For the benefit of our Russian-speaking readers, the interview with Moiseev is below and the transcript can be found here:

    Further, if you thought that only Obama can reign supreme by executive order alone, you were wrong - the Russians can do it just as effectively. Enter the "currency switch executive order":


    It is interesting that in his interview, Moiseev mentioned a legal mechanism that can be described as "currency switch executive order”, telling that the government has the legal power to force Russian companies to trade a percentage of certain goods in rubles. Referring to the case when this level may be set to 100%, the Russian official said that "it's an extreme option and it is hard for me to tell right now how the government will use these powers".
    Well, as long as the options exists.
    But more importantly, none of what Russia is contemplating would have any practical chance of implementation if it weren't for other nations who would engage in USD-free bilateral trade relations. Such countries, however, do exist and it should come as a surprise to nobody that the two which have already stepped up are none other than China and Iran.


    Of course, the success of Moscow's campaign to switch its trading to rubles or other regional currencies will depend on the willingness of its trading partners to get rid of the dollar. Sources cited by Politonline.ru mentioned two countries who would be willing to support Russia: Iran and China. Given that Vladimir Putin will visit Beijing on May 20, it can be speculated that the gas and oil contracts that are going to be signed between Russia and China will be denominated in rubles and yuan, not dollars.
    In other words, in one week's time look for not only the announcement of the Russia-China "holy grail" gas agreement described previously here, but its financial terms, which now appears virtually certain will be settled exclusively in RUB and CNY. Not USD.
    And as we have explained repeatedly in the past, the further the west antagonizes Russia, and the more economic sanctions it lobs at it, the more Russia will be forced away from a USD-denominated trading system and into one which faces China and India. Which is why next week's announcement, as groundbreaking as it most certainly will be, is just the beginning.
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    Default Re: Financial Crisis - 2013 - ????


    USDA Warns Of Sticker Shock On U.S. Beef As Grilling Season Starts

    May 23, 2014

    The Department of Agriculture has warned of sticker shock facing home chefs on the eve of the Memorial Day holiday weekend, the unofficial start of the U.S. summer grilling season.

    The agency said conditions in California could have "large and lasting effects on U.S. fruit, vegetable, dairy and egg prices," as the most populous U.S. state struggles through what officials are calling a catastrophic drought.

    The consumer price index (CPI) for U.S. beef and veal is up almost 10 percent so far in 2014, reflecting the fastest increase in retail beef prices since the end of 2003. Prices, even after adjusting for inflation, are at record highs.

    "The drought in Texas and Oklahoma has worsened somewhat in the last month, providing further complications to the beef production industry," USDA said.

    Beef and veal prices for the whole of 2014 are now forecast to increase by 5.5 percent to 6.5 percent, a sharp advance from last month's forecast for a 3 to 4 percent rise. Pork prices are set to rise by 3 percent to 4 percent, up from a 2 to 3 percent advance expected a month ago.

    The USDA said overall U.S. food price inflation for 2014, including food bought at grocery stores and food bought at restaurants, would rise by 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent in 2014.

    That is up from 2013, when retail food prices were almost flat, but in line with historical norms and unchanged from April's forecast.

    "The food-at-home CPI has already increased more in the first four months of 2014 then it did in all of 2013," USDA noted. At-home spending accounts for about 60 percent of the U.S. food CPI.

    A major factor for rising pork prices is the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDv), responsible for more than 7 million U.S. piglet deaths in the past year.

    Egg prices are also climbing - up 15 percent in April alone - and are expected to rise by 5 to 6 percent on the year, and higher milk prices are feeding through to other products in the dairy case, particularly cheese.

    Sweet lovers and caffeine addicts will see some relief, however, since global prices for sugar and coffee remain low, USDA said.

    The agency forecast prices of sugar and sweets to rise by 1 percent to 2 percent in 2014 and prices for non-alcoholic beverages to rise by 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent. Both forecasts were lowered this month.

    "It appears supermarkets are maintaining minimal price inflation on packaged food products, possibly in an effort to keep prices competitive in light of rising cost pressures for most perishable items," USDA said.

    So far the severe California drought has not had a discernible impact on national fruits or vegetable prices, USDA said, while warning that the effects are still to come.

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    Default Re: Financial Crisis - 2013 - ????


    US Economy Shrinks In First Quarter

    May 29, 2014

    The US economy shrunk at a worse than expected annualised pace of 1 per cent in the first quarter of 2014 but the fall says little about its ongoing health.

    In its second estimate, the Bureau of Economic Analysis revised its estimate down from growth of 0.1 per cent to a contraction of 1 per cent. But while the initial weakness was due to bad weather, the revision was almost entirely falling inventories.

    The bad weather has not continued into the second quarter, and inventories can only fall so far, so most economists expect growth to rally towards a pace closer to 3 per cent for the rest of the year.

    Whereas inventory adjustments knocked 0.6 percentage points off growth in the initial release, that was revised up to 1.6 percentage points, accounting for almost all of the downward revision. Small downward revisions to net trade and government spending accounted for the rest.

    Paul Ashworth at Capital Economics in Toronto said the decline was “nothing to worry about”.

    “For a start, the downward revision is almost entirely because inventories were a much bigger drag on growth than previously thought,” he said. “But that bigger first-quarter drag means that we are likely to see a bigger bounce back in the second quarter.”

    The figures reflect a gloomy first quarter. It was marked by freezing weather across the Midwestern US, which closed shops, factories and construction sites. In gross domestic product, that showed up as falling exports and investment, which left growth close to zero.



    Apart from the inventory adjustment, most other categories were little changed, and a few of the revisions were encouraging. Growth in consumption – a much better indicator of the underlying health of the economy – was revised up slightly from growth of 3.1 per cent to 3.2 per cent.

    Business fixed investment was revised from an annualised fall of 2.8 per cent to 2.3 per cent; housing investment was revised from an annualised fall of 5.7 per cent to 5 per cent.

    “Overall this report underscores the setback to the recovery from the unseasonably cold winter weather in Q1,” said Millan Mulraine at TD Securities in New York. “However, with economic momentum beginning to pick up, we are looking for a blockbuster Q2 growth performance, with GDP growth in excess of 4.0 per cent.”

    Markets shrugged off the report. Long-dated Treasury yields were at new lows for the year and US equities closed at a fresh record high in New York, with the S&P 500 rising 0.54 per cent to 1,920.03.

    In addition, a separate government report released Thursday showed applications for unemployment benefits, a proxy for layoffs, fell by 27,000 last week to 300,000. The result is nearly a seven-year low.

    Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said that the big drop in unemployment benefit applications was more significant than the latest GDP figure because “it strongly supports the idea that the labour market conditions are improving markedly, despite the weak headline growth during the winter.”

    Other analysts noted that consumer spending, which accounts for 70 per cent of economic activity, was very strong in the first quarter, growing at an upwardly revised 3.1 per cent annual rate.


    Yep, all the weather's fault...

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    Default Re: Financial Crisis - 2013 - ????


    The Retail Death Rattle Grows Louder

    May 26, 2014

    The definition of death rattle is a sound often produced by someone who is near death when fluids such as saliva and bronchial secretions accumulate in the throat and upper chest. The person can’t swallow and emits a deepening wheezing sound as they gasp for breath. This can go on for two or three days before death relieves them of their misery. The American retail industry is emitting an unmistakable wheezing sound as a long slow painful death approaches.

    It was exactly four months ago when I wrote THE RETAIL DEATH RATTLE. Here are a few terse anecdotes from that article:


    The absolute collapse in retail visitor counts is the warning siren that this country is about to collide with the reality Americans have run out of time, money, jobs, and illusions. The exponential growth model, built upon a never ending flow of consumer credit and an endless supply of cheap fuel, has reached its limit of growth. The titans of Wall Street and their puppets in Washington D.C. have wrung every drop of faux wealth from the dying middle class. There are nothing left but withering carcasses and bleached bones.

    Once the Wall Street created fraud collapsed and the waves of delusion subsided, retailers have been revealed to be swimming naked. Their relentless expansion, based on exponential growth, cannibalized itself, new store construction ground to a halt, sales and profits have declined, and the inevitable closing of thousands of stores has begun.

    The implications of this long and winding road to ruin are far reaching. Store closings so far have only been a ripple compared to the tsunami coming to right size the industry for a future of declining spending. Over the next five to ten years, tens of thousands of stores will be shuttered. Companies like JC Penney, Sears and Radio Shack will go bankrupt and become historical footnotes. Considering retail employment is lower today than it was in 2002 before the massive retail expansion, the future will see in excess of 1 million retail workers lose their jobs. Bernanke and the Feds have allowed real estate mall owners to roll over non-performing loans and pretend they are generating enough rental income to cover their loan obligations. As more stores go dark, this little game of extend and pretend will come to an end.



    Retail store results for the 1st quarter of 2014 have been rolling in over the last week. It seems the hideous government reported retail sales results over the last six months are being confirmed by the dying bricks and mortar mega-chains. In case you missed the corporate mainstream media not reporting the facts and doing their usual positive spin, here are the absolutely dreadful headlines:


    Wal-Mart Profit Plunges By $220 Million as US Store Traffic Declines by 1.4%

    Target Profit Plunges by $80 Million, 16% Lower Than 2013, as Store Traffic Declines by 2.3%

    Sears Loses $358 Million in First Quarter as Comparable Store Sales at Sears Plunge by 7.8% and Sales at Kmart Plunge by 5.1%

    JC Penney Thrilled With Loss of Only $358 Million For the Quarter

    Kohl’s Operating Income Plunges by 17% as Comparable Sales Decline by 3.4%

    Costco Profit Declines by $84 Million as Comp Store Sales Only Increase by 2%

    Staples Profit Plunges by 44% as Sales Collapse and Closing Hundreds of Stores

    Gap Income Drops 22% as Same Store Sales Fall

    American Eagle Profits Tumble 86%, Will Close 150 Stores

    Aeropostale Losses $77 Million as Sales Collapse by 12%

    Best Buy Sales Decline by $300 Million as Margins Decline and Comparable Store Sales Decline by 1.3%

    Macy’s Profit Flat as Comparable Store Sales decline by 1.4%

    Dollar General Profit Plummets by 40% as Comp Store Sales Decline by 3.8%

    Urban Outfitters Earnings Collapse by 20% as Sales Stagnate

    McDonalds Earnings Fall by $66 Million as US Comp Sales Fall by 1.7%

    Darden Profit Collapses by 30% as Same Restaurant Sales Plunge by 5.6% and Company Selling Red Lobster

    TJX Misses Earnings Expectations as Sales & Earnings Flat

    Dick’s Misses Earnings Expectations as Golf Store Sales Plummet

    Home Depot Misses Earnings Expectations as Customer Traffic Only Rises by 2.2%

    Lowes Misses Earnings Expectations as Customer Traffic was Flat



    Of course, those headlines were never reported. I went to each earnings report and gathered the info that should have been reported by the CNBC bimbos and hacks. Anything you heard surely had a Wall Street spin attached, like the standard BETTER THAN EXPECTED. I love that one. At the start of the quarter the Wall Street shysters post earnings expectations. As the quarter progresses, the company whispers the bad news to Wall Street and the earnings expectations are lowered. Then the company beats the lowered earnings expectation by a penny and the Wall Street scum hail it as a great achievement. The muppets must be sacrificed to sustain the Wall Street bonus pool. Wall Street investment bank geniuses rated JC Penney a buy from $85 per share in 2007 all the way down to $5 a share in 2013. No more needs to be said about Wall Street “analysis”.

    It seems even the lowered expectation scam hasn’t worked this time. U.S. retailer profits have missed lowered expectations by the most in 13 years. They generally “beat” expectations by 3% when the game is being played properly. They’ve missed expectations in the 1st quarter by 3.2%, the worst miss since the fourth quarter of 2000. If my memory serves me right, I believe the economy entered recession shortly thereafter. The brilliant Ivy League trained Wall Street MBAs, earning high six digit salaries on Wall Street, predicted a 13% increase in retailer profits for the first quarter. A monkey with a magic 8 ball could do a better job than these Wall Street big swinging dicks.

    The highly compensated flunkies who sit in the corner CEO office of the mega-retail chains trotted out the usual drivel about cold and snowy winter weather and looking forward to tremendous success over the remainder of the year. How do these excuse machine CEO’s explain the success of many high end retailers during the first quarter? Doesn’t weather impact stores that cater to the .01%? The continued unrelenting decline in profits of retailers, dependent upon the working class, couldn’t have anything to do with this chart? It seems only the oligarchs have made much progress over the last four decades.



    Retail CEO gurus all think they have a master plan to revive sales. I’ll let you in on a secret. They don’t really have a plan. They have no idea why they experienced tremendous success from 2000 through 2007, and why their businesses have not revived since the 2008 financial collapse. Retail CEOs are not the sharpest tools in the shed. They were born on third base and thought they hit a triple. Now they are stranded there, with no hope of getting home. They should be figuring out how to position themselves for the multi-year contraction in sales, but their egos and hubris will keep them from taking the actions necessary to keep their companies afloat in the next decade. Bankruptcy awaits. The front line workers will be shit canned and the CEO will get a golden parachute. It’s the American way.

    The secret to retail success before 2007 was: create or copy a successful concept; get Wall Street financing and go public ASAP; source all your inventory from Far East slave labor factories; hire thousands of minimum wage level workers to process transactions; build hundreds of new stores every year to cover up the fact the existing stores had deteriorating performance; convince millions of gullible dupes to buy cheap Chinese shit they didn’t need with money they didn’t have; and pretend this didn’t solely rely upon cheap easy debt pumped into the veins of American consumers by the Federal Reserve and their Wall Street bank owners. The financial crisis in 2008 revealed everyone was swimming naked, when the tide of easy credit subsided.

    The pundits, politicians and delusional retail CEOs continue to await the revival of retail sales as if reality doesn’t exist. The 1 million retail stores, 109,000 shopping centers, and nearly 15 billion square feet of retail space for an aging, increasingly impoverished, and savings poor populace might be a tad too much and will require a slight downsizing – say 3 or 4 billion square feet. Considering the debt fueled frenzy from 2000 through 2008 added 2.7 billion square feet to our suburban sprawl concrete landscape, a divestiture of that foolish investment will be the floor. If you think there are a lot of SPACE AVAILABLE signs dotting the countryside, you ain’t seen nothing yet. The mega-chains have already halted all expansion. That was the first step. The weaker players like Radio Shack, Sears, Family Dollar, Coldwater Creek, Staples, Barnes & Noble, Blockbuster and dozens of others are already closing stores by the hundreds. Thousands more will follow.


    This isn’t some doom and gloom prediction based on nothing but my opinion. This is the inevitable result of demographic certainties, unequivocal data, and the consequences of a retailer herd mentality and lemming like behavior of consumers. The open and shut case for further shuttering of 3 to 4 billion square feet of retail is as follows:



    • There is 47 square feet of retail space per person in America. This is 8 times as much as any other country on earth. This is up from 38 square feet in 2005; 30 square feet in 2000; 19 square feet in 1990; and 4 square feet in 1960. If we just revert to 2005 levels, 3 billion square feet would need to go dark. Does that sound outrageous?

    • Annual consumer expenditures by those over 65 years old drop by 40% from their highest spending years from 45 to 54 years old. The number of Americans turning 65 will increase by 10,000 per day for the next 16 years. There were 35 million Americans over 65 in 2000, accounting for 12% of the total population. By 2030 there will be 70 million Americans over 65, accounting for 20% of the total population. Do you think that bodes well for retailers?

    • Half of Americans between the ages of 50 and 64 have no retirement savings. The other half has accumulated $52,000 or less. It seems the debt financed consumer product orgy of the last two decades has left most people nearly penniless. More than 50% of workers aged 25 to 44 report they have less than $10,000 of total savings.

    • The lack of retirement and general savings is reflected in the historically low personal savings rate of a miniscule 3.8%. Before the materialistic frenzy of the last couple decades, rational Americans used to save 10% or more of their personal income. With virtually no savings as they approach their retirement years and an already extremely low savings rate, do retail CEOs really see a spending revival on the horizon?

    • If you thought the savings rate was so low because consumers are flush with cash and so optimistic about their job prospects they are unconcerned about the need to save for a rainy day, you would be wrong. It has been raining for the last 14 years. Real median household income is 7.5% lower today than it was in 2001. Retailers added 2.7 billion square feet of retail space as real household income fell. Sounds rational.

    • This decline in household income may have something to do with the labor participation rate plummeting to the lowest level since 1978. There are 247.4 million working age Americans and only 145.7 million of them employed (19 million part-time; 9 million self-employed; 20 million employed by the government). There are 92 million Americans, who according to the government have willingly left the workforce, up by 13.3 million since 2007 when over 146 million Americans were employed. You’d have to be a brainless twit to believe the unemployment rate is really 6.3% today. Retail sales would be booming if the unemployment rate was really that low.

    • With a 16.5% increase in working age Americans since 2000 and only a 6.5% increase in employed Americans, along with declining real household income, an inquisitive person might wonder how retail sales were able to grow from $3.3 trillion in 2000 to $5.1 trillion in 2013 – a 55% increase. You need to look no further than your friendly Too Big To Trust Wall Street banks for the answer. In the olden days of the 1970s and early 1980s Americans put 10% to 20% down to buy a house and then systematically built up equity by making their monthly payments. The Ivy League financial engineers created “exotic” (toxic) mortgage products requiring no money down, no principal payments, and no proof you could make a payment, in their control fraud scheme to fleece the American sheeple. Their propaganda machine convinced millions more to use their homes as an ATM, because home prices never drop. Just ask Ben Bernanke. Even after the Bernanke/Blackrock fake housing recovery (actual mortgage originations now at 1978 levels) household real estate percent equity is barely above 50%, well below the 70% levels before the Wall Street induced debt debacle. With the housing market about to head south again, the home equity ATM will have an Out of Order sign on it.

    • We hear the endless drivel from disingenuous Keynesian nitwits about government and consumer austerity being the cause of our stagnating economy. My definition of austerity would be an actual reduction in spending and debt accumulation. It seems during this time of austerity total credit market debt has RISEN from $53.5 trillion in 2009 to $59 trillion today. Not exactly austere, as the Federal government adds $2.2 billion PER DAY to the national debt, saddling future generations with the bill for our inability to confront reality. The American consumer has not retrenched, as the CNBC bimbos and bozos would have you believe. Consumer credit reached an all-time high of $3.14 trillion in March, up from $2.52 trillion in 2010. That doesn’t sound too austere to me. Of course, this increase is solely due to Obamanomics and Bernanke’s $3 trillion gift to his Wall Street owners. The doling out of $645 billion to subprime college “students” and subprime auto “buyers” since 2010 accounts for more than 100% of the increase. The losses on these asinine loans will be epic. Credit card debt has actually fallen as people realize it is their last lifeline. They are using credit cards to pay income taxes, real estate taxes, higher energy costs, higher food costs, and the other necessities of life.



    The entire engineered “recovery” since 2009 has been nothing but a Federal Reserve/U.S. Treasury conceived, debt manufactured scam. These highly educated lackeys for the establishment have been tasked with keeping the U.S. Titanic afloat until the oligarchs can safely depart on the lifeboats with all the ship’s jewels safely stowed in their pockets. There has been no housing recovery. There has been no jobs recovery. There has been no auto sales recovery. Giving a vehicle to someone with a 580 credit score with a 0% seven year loan is not a sale. It’s a repossession in waiting. The government supplied student loans are going to functional illiterates who are majoring in texting, facebooking and twittering. Do you think these indebted University of Phoenix dropouts living in their parents’ basements are going to spur a housing and retail sales recovery? This Keynesian “solution” was designed to produce the appearance of recovery, convince the masses to resume their debt based consumption, and add more treasure into the vaults of the Wall Street banks.

    The master plan has failed miserably in reviving the economy. Savings, capital investment, and debt reduction are the necessary ingredients for a sustained healthy economic system. Debt based personal consumption of cheap foreign produced baubles & gadgets, $1 trillion government deficits to sustain the warfare/welfare state, along with a corrupt political and rigged financial system are the explosive concoction which will blow our economic system sky high. Facts can be ignored. Media propaganda can convince the willfully ignorant to remain so. The Federal Reserve can buy every Treasury bond issued to fund an out of control government. But eventually reality will shatter the delusions of millions as the debt based Ponzi scheme will run out of dupes and collapse in a flaming heap.

    The inevitable shuttering of at least 3 billion square feet of retail space is a certainty. The aging demographics of the U.S. population, dire economic situation of both young and old, and sheer lunacy of the retail expansion since 2000, guarantee a future of ghost malls, decaying weed infested empty parking lots, retailer bankruptcies, real estate developer bankruptcies, massive loan losses for the banking industry, and the loss of millions of retail jobs. Since I always look for a silver lining in a black cloud, I predict a bright future for the SPACE AVAILABLE and GOING OUT OF BUSINESS sign making companies.

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    Default Re: Financial Crisis - 2013 - ????

    I don't think the last one ever ended.

    Has The Next Recession Already Begun For America's Middle Class?

    May 30, 2014

    Submitted by Michael Snyder of The Economic Collapse blog,

    Has the next major economic downturn already started? The way that you would answer that question would probably depend on where you live. If you live in New York City, or the suburbs of Washington D.C., or you work for one of the big tech firms in the San Francisco area, you would probably respond to such a question by saying of course not. In those areas, the economy is doing great and prices for high end homes are still booming. But in most of the rest of the nation, evidence continues to mount that the next recession has already begun for the poor and the middle class. As you will read about below, major retailers had an absolutely dreadful start to 2014 and home sales are declining just as they did back in 2007 before the last financial crisis. Meanwhile, the U.S. economy continues to lose more good jobs and 20 percent of all U.S. families do not have a single member that is employed at this point. 2014 is turning out to be eerily similar to 2007 in so many ways, but most people are not paying attention.

    During the first quarter of 2014, earnings by major U.S. retailers missed estimates by the biggest margin in 13 years. The "retail apocalypse" continues to escalate, and the biggest reason for this is the fact that middle class consumers in the U.S. are tapped out. And this is not just happening to a few retailers - this is something that is happening across the board. The following is a summary of how major U.S. retailers performed in the first quarter of 2014 that was put together by Jim Quinn...

    Wal-Mart Profit Plunges By $220 Million as US Store Traffic Declines by 1.4%

    Target Profit Plunges by $80 Million, 16% Lower Than 2013, as Store Traffic Declines by 2.3%

    Sears Loses $358 Million in First Quarter as Comparable Store Sales at Sears Plunge by 7.8% and Sales at Kmart Plunge by 5.1%

    JC Penney Thrilled With Loss of Only $358 Million For the Quarter

    Kohl’s Operating Income Plunges by 17% as Comparable Sales Decline by 3.4%

    Costco Profit Declines by $84 Million as Comp Store Sales Only Increase by 2%

    Staples Profit Plunges by 44% as Sales Collapse and Closing Hundreds of Stores

    Gap Income Drops 22% as Same Store Sales Fall

    American Eagle Profits Tumble 86%, Will Close 150 Stores

    Aeropostale Losses $77 Million as Sales Collapse by 12%

    Best Buy Sales Decline by $300 Million as Margins Decline and Comparable Store Sales Decline by 1.3%

    Macy’s Profit Flat as Comparable Store Sales decline by 1.4%

    Dollar General Profit Plummets by 40% as Comp Store Sales Decline by 3.8%

    Urban Outfitters Earnings Collapse by 20% as Sales Stagnate

    McDonalds Earnings Fall by $66 Million as US Comp Sales Fall by 1.7%

    Darden Profit Collapses by 30% as Same Restaurant Sales Plunge by 5.6% and Company Selling Red Lobster

    TJX Misses Earnings Expectations as Sales & Earnings Flat

    Dick’s Misses Earnings Expectations as Golf Store Sales Plummet

    Home Depot Misses Earnings Expectations as Customer Traffic Only Rises by 2.2%

    Lowes Misses Earnings Expectations as Customer Traffic was Flat

    That is quite a startling list.

    But plummeting retail sales are not the only sign that the U.S. middle class is really struggling right now. Home sales have also been extremely disappointing for quite a few months. This is how Wolf Richter described what we have been witnessing...

    This is precisely what shouldn’t have happened but was destined to happen: Sales of existing homes have gotten clobbered since last fall. At first, the Fiscal Cliff and the threat of a US government default – remember those zany times? – were blamed, then polar vortices were blamed even while home sales in California, where the weather had been gorgeous all winter, plunged more than elsewhere.

    Then it spread to new-home sales: in April, they dropped 4.7% from a year ago, after March's year-over-year decline of 4.9%, and February's 2.8%. Not a good sign: the April hit was worse than February's, when it was the weather’s fault. Yet April should be the busiest month of the year (excellent brief video by Lee Adler on this debacle).

    We have already seen that in some markets, in California for example, sales have collapsed at the lower two-thirds of the price range, with the upper third thriving. People who earn median incomes are increasingly priced out of the market, and many potential first-time buyers have little chance of getting in. In San Diego, for example, sales of homes below $200,000 plunged 46% while the upper end is doing just fine.

    As Richter noted, sales of upper end homes are still doing fine in many areas.

    But how long will that be able to continue if things continue to get even worse for the poor and the middle class? Traditionally, the U.S. economy has greatly depended upon consumer spending by the middle class. If that continues to dry up, how long can we avoid falling into a recession? For even more numbers that seem to indicate economic trouble for the middle class, please see my previous article entitled "27 Huge Red Flags For The U.S. Economy".

    Other analysts are expressing similar concerns. For example, check out what John Williams of shadowstats.com had to say during one recent interview...

    We’re turning down anew
    . The first quarter should revise into negative territory… and I believe the second quarter will report negative as well.

    That will all happen by July 30 when you have the annual revisions to the GDP. In reality the economy is much weaker than that. Economic growth is overstated with the GDP because they understate inflation, which is used in deflating the number…

    What we’re seeing now is just… we’ve been barely stagnant and bottomed out… but we’re turning down again.

    The reason for this is that the consumer is strapped… doesn’t have the liquidity to fuel the growth in consumption.

    Income… the median household income, net of inflation, is as low as it was in 1967. The average guy is not staying ahead of inflation…

    This has been a problem now for decades… You were able to buy consumption from the future by borrowing more money, expanding your debt. Greenspan saw the problem was income, so he encouraged debt expansion.

    That all blew apart in 2007/2008… the income problems have continued, but now you don’t have the ability to borrow money the way you used to. Without that and the income problems remaining, there’s no way that consumption can grow faster than inflation if income isn’t.

    As a result – personal consumption is more than two thirds of the economy – there’s no way you can have positive sustainable growth in the U.S. economy without the consumer being healthy.
    The key to the health of the middle class is having plenty of good jobs.

    But the U.S. economy continues to lose more good paying jobs.

    For example, Hewlett-Packard has just announced that it plans to eliminate 16,000 more jobs in addition to the 34,000 job cuts that have already been announced.

    Today, there are 27 million more working age Americans that do not have a job than there were in 2000, and the quality of our jobs continues to decline.

    This is absolutely destroying the middle class. Unless the employment situation in this country starts to turn around, there does not seem to be much hope that the middle class will recover any time soon.

    Meanwhile, there are emerging signs of trouble for the wealthy as well.

    For instance, just like we witnessed back in 2007, things are starting to look a bit shaky at the "too big to fail" banks. The following is an excerpt from a recent CNBC report...

    Citigroup has joined the ranks of those with trading troubles, as a high-ranking official told the Deutsche Bank 2014 Global Financial Services Investor Conference Tuesday that adjusted trading revenue probably will decline 20 percent to 25 percent in the second quarter on an annualized basis.

    "People are uncertain," Chief Financial Officer John Gerspach said of investor behavior, according to an account from the Wall Street Journal. "There just isn't a lot of movement."

    In recent weeks, officials at JPMorgan Chase and Barclays also both reported likely drops in trading revenue. JPMorgan said it expected a decline of 20 percent of the quarter, while Barclays anticipates a 41 percent drop, prompting it to announce mass layoffs that will pare 19,000 jobs by the end of 2016.

    Remember, very few people expected a recession the last time around either. In fact, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke repeatedly promised us that we would not have a recession and then we went on to experience the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

    It will be the same this time as well. Just like in 2007, we will continue to get an endless supply of "hopetimism" from our politicians and the mainstream media, and they will continue to fill our heads with visions of rainbows, unicorns and economic prosperity for as far as the eyes can see.

    But then the next recession will strike and most Americans will be completely blindsided by it.

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    Media Outlets Work Overtime To Spin Bad Economic Data

    May 30, 2014



    The big news Thursday was that America's economy shrank during the first quarter of 2014, its worst performance in three years -- but reporting that news apparently didn't sit well with several major media outlets.

    “U.S. economy shrinks, but it's not a big deal,” read a headline on CNNMoney.com.

    “Blame Old Man Winter: economy contracts for first time in three years,” NBC News tweeted.

    The U.S. Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis revised the numbers downward from prior estimates to show the nation’s GDP contracted at an annual rate of negative 1 percent. It was the first negative quarter since 2011, and one more three-month stretch in the red would put the U.S. is back in recession. But nightly newscasts sought to present the data as a blip, blaming it on the weather — if they mentioned it at all.

    “All that snow and ice froze business, but most economists believe it sets the economy up for rebound this quarter and there are some encouraging signs in the numbers,” CBS News’ Anthony Mason reported.

    Neither ABC nor NBC reported the disappointing numbers at all. The preliminary quarterly estimate from the U.S. Department of Commerce had been that the economy grew at a modest 0.1 percent rate.

    Economists, including those at the Federal Reserve, generally agree that unusually brutal weather played a role in the economy contracting by a full percent for the first three months of the year. Some say President Obama’s economic policies didn’t help, either. But while that kind of analysis has a place in fair and balanced reporting, such rosy spin rarely found its way into headlines during the economic doldrums of the Bush administration.

    "When the media aren't ignoring bad economic news to protect Obama, they're spinning it into good news,” Media Research Center's Brent Baker, who drew attention to the apparent double standard on the MRC's NewsBusters site, told FoxNews.com. “That sure wasn't a favor the press corps ever provided George W. Bush."

    The New York Times used the double entendre "Frigid First Quarter" to characterize both the lack of economic growth and the reason for it, while media outlets more versed in economics, such as Forbes, simply stated the facts up front and allowed informed sources to provide commentary below.


    Economist Kevin Hassett, a former advisor to Mitt Romney and now an analyst at the American Enterprise Institute, said the weather was indeed a major drag on the economy.

    “I think Obama's policies have absolutely put us on a lower growth trajectory, but I also think that the weather was 99 percent of the story in Q1,” said Hassett, who has written extensively about media bias. “Now, this is, in part, a testable thing. If Q2 includes a major bounce back, of say, 4 percent instead of 2, then the weather story gets more credibility.”

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    Contracting GDP Is Rare Outside of Recessions

    May 29, 2014



    The U.S. economy contracted at a 1% seasonally adjusted annual pace in the first three months of the year, the Commerce Department said Thursday, marking only the second time since the recession that output declined during a quarter.

    That doesn’t mean the U.S. is in a new recession, at least according to the economists who make that determination.

    “Nobody thinks that there’s any significance to the first quarter being negative,” said Northwestern University economist Robert Gordon, a longtime member of the National Bureau of Economic Research’s business cycle dating committee, which is the nation’s semi-official arbiter of U.S. recessions.

    The U.S. economy has only contracted a handful of times since 1947 in any quarter outside of a recession, according to the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, the agency that tracks GDP figures. Average two consecutive quarters together and there have been no declines when the economy wasn’t in a recession.

    Many economists blame an unusually cold weather for the first quarter’s decline, as storms and chilly temperatures kept shoppers indoors, transportation hubs closed and construction sites shuttered. But economic activity since March seems to have picked up. Macroeconomic Advisers before Thursday was forecasting a 3.8% growth rate for the second quarter this year. That would put GDP growth for the first half of 2014 well into positive territory, diminishing any concerns of a recession right now.

    Mr. Gordon — who recalls a childhood discussing such matters over the breakfast table with his father, also an economics professor who specialized in business cycles – explained other bouts of one-quarter declines over the last seven decades outside of recessions:


    • The U.S. was still demobilizing from World War II in 1947, and significant draw-downs in defense and other government spending led to natural growth declines as the nation transitioned to peacetime activity. “Everybody was amazed the economy didn’t collapse,” Mr. Gordon said. The economy contracted in the second and third quarters that year, before expanding at a 6.5% pace in the final three months of 1947.
    • In 1955, the three big automakers at the time – Ford, Chevrolet and Plymouth – all released radically restyled models that led to a huge spike in auto sales. That in turn meant sales the following year dropped from those unsustainable levels and dragged down economic growth in the first and third quarters of 1956.
    • A steel strike pulled down economic growth in the third quarter of 1959.
    • Negative three-month periods in the third quarter of 1973 and the second quarter of 1981 immediately preceded recessions, as defined by NBER.
    • The start of 2011 was months before the deficit battles would grind Washington to a halt, and Mr. Gordon suggests that period – similar to the beginning of this year – was “just insignificant.”


    The latest quarter, from January through March, reflected an economy simply plodding along and offering no hope of kicking off a strong year, Mr. Gordon said. “We need solid growth above 3% for the third and fourth quarters to provide convincing evidence that we have broken out of the sluggish pace of the recovery.”

    Stanford economist Robert Hall, who chairs the NBER committee, put the first quarter’s decline this way: “There’s a fair amount of randomness in GDP growth. Weather is a factor that I believe will be important for Q1 this year.”

    “The probability of going negative,” he said, “is much higher when the economy is growing slowly and the growth rate is close to zero even before the hiccup.”

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    1 in 6 American Men Between Ages 25-54 Are Not Working

    May 30, 2014

    Startling charts from the Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee about male participation in the labor force, particularly men between the ages of 25-54:



    "There are currently 61.1 million American men in their prime working years, age 25–54. A staggering 1 in 8 such men are not in the labor force at all, meaning they are neither working nor looking for work. This is an all-time high dating back to when records were first kept in 1955. An additional 2.9 million men are in the labor force but not employed (i.e., they would work if they could find a job). A total of 10.2 million individuals in this cohort, therefore, are not holding jobs in the U.S. economy today. There are also nearly 3 million more men in this age group not working today than there were before the recession began," the Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee claim.



    "Although defenders of the current economy attribute shrinking labor force participation to the increasing pace of retirement of the Baby Boomer generation, these new statistics above confirm a trend that Barron’s recently diagnosed: 'The ratio of those over 55 in the workforce actually ticked up'—in other words, older Americans are being forced to return to work in a poor economy to make ends meet while many younger Americans simply aren’t working at all. In short, there is an unprecedented supply of working-age Americans who do not hold jobs."


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    A Third Of America's 18- To 34-Years-Olds Live With Their Parents

    June 2, 2014

    Increasing numbers of young Americans are heading to college, where they're racking up debt to pay for rapidly increasing tuition costs.

    Those graduating are being confronted by a challenging job market, which eventually leads many to just drop out of the labor force altogether.

    This in turn has led to an increasing delinquency rate for student-loan borrowers.

    So it's no surprise that young people are increasingly opting, perhaps out of necessity, to live at home with their parents.

    In his latest monthly chart book, Deutsche Bank's Torsten Slok tracks the rise of 18- to 34-years-olds currently in this position.

    And there are a lot.

    Slok sees this as a bullish force to come in the housing market, characterized by a homeownership rate at a 19-year low.


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    As Goes Walmart, So Goes America: “Major Holes Are Starting to Form In Its Business”

    May 23, 2014

    If there’s one indicator of the state of the global economy it’s consumer purchasing on the retail level. And if there’s one retail company to watch as a prelude to what comes next it’s always been Walmart. Known for low prices, low wages, and multi-billion dollar profits, the world’s largest retailer is struggling.

    According to a recent report from Motley Fool, the behemoth’s same stores sales in the U.S. have dropped precipitously and internationally they have outright collapsed, signalling serious trouble ahead.

    Wal-Mart has begun to lose its cache with consumers and major holes are starting to form in its business.

    Interestingly, Wal-Mart has hidden its financial problems from the headlines because challenges are different around the world, masking themselves in the overall picture.

    But when you dig between the headlines you can see a company in serious trouble and could be the latest in a long line of leading retailers to go from boom to bust in the blink of an eye.



    The problem for Wal-Mart goes far further than just cyclical swings in retail or a weak economy. Wal-Mart has long been able to lure customers with one-stop shopping and low prices, but consumer trends are now working against that core strategy. For cost conscious shoppers, lower prices can often be found online and more affluent consumers are choosing style and quality products over one-stop shopping.



    Here’s where Wal-Mart’s story gets really interesting. Sales in the U.S. are beginning to struggle, but overseas the company’s profitability is in downright freefall.

    In an earlier report we noted that economist John Williams says a deep recession will likely become official by Summer of this year, when the government releases it latest economic growth numbers.

    According to Williams, consumers in America are strapped because of stagnant incomes and rising costs for food, energy and health care, leaving little money in consumers’ pockets for other purchases. “The consumer doesn’t have the liquidity to fuel the growth in consumption,” Williams says, a serious implication that is a key reason for why Walmart is seeing same store sales collapse and return on investment shrink across the board.

    In June of 2009 trend forecaster Gerald Celente, in an interview on ******** with A*** J****, discussed the parallels between Walmart and the United States of America, suggesting that as goes Walmart, so goes America.

    When you hear these advertisements where Walmart brags about everyday low prices, well sure, we’re turning into a Walmart economy.

    With everyday low prices comes everyday low paying jobs. With everyday low paying jobs, comes everyday low quality. So every day America is sinking lower and lower.

    Since then we’ve learned that a large percentage of Walmart employees make so little money that they have to depend on the government for nutritional assistance, joining nearly 48 million other Americans in the process. Morale at the company has always been low, as evidenced by the often sullen faces seen when being “greeted” upon entering a local store. This mirrors the general sentiment in many parts of America as the financial and economic destruction of the last five years takes it toll.

    For many, Walmart has become the soup kitchen of the modern day bread line. One could even argue that the only reason Walmart hasn’t yet gone bankrupt is because of the surge of monthly customers who receive Electronic Benefits Transfers from the government and head straight to the low-cost retailer to spend their taxpayer subsidized income on food, clothing and other knick-knacks they offer.

    Just as Walmart has been sinking over the last several years, so too has America.

    Our national debt has skyrocketed, Americans dependent on monthly disbursements just to survive have hit historic highs, and there are more people out of the labor force today than there are working.

    Taken in this context Walmart’s success or failure certainly seems to mirror that of the United States as a whole.

    Like Walmert, iconic retailers Montgomery Ward, Sears, and K-Mart were once believed to be immune from the busts normally associated with economic downturns and new competition. The United States, another super power in its sphere of influence, also seems indestructible for these reasons.

    Reality is catching up with both of them.

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    37.2%: Percentage Not in Labor Force Remains at 36-Year High

    June 6, 2014

    The percentage of American civilians 16 or older who do not have a job and are not actively seeking one remained at a 36-year high in May, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    In December, April, and now May, the labor force participation rate has been 62.8 percent. That means that 37.2 percent were not participating in the labor force during those months.

    Before December, the last time the labor force participation rate sunk as low as 62.8 percent was February 1978, when it was also 62.8 percent. At that time, Jimmy Carter was president.

    In April, the number of those not in the labor force hit a record high of 92,018,000. In May, that number declined by 9,000 to 92,009,000. Yet, the participation rate remained the same from April to May at 62.8 percent.

    The labor force, according to BLS, is that part of the civilian noninstitutional population that either has a job or has actively sought one in the last four weeks. The civilian noninstitutional population consists of people 16 or older, who are not on active duty in the military or in an institution such as a prison, nursing home, or mental hospital.



    In May, according to BLS, the nation’s civilian noninstitutional population, consisting of all people 16 or older who were not in the military or an institution, hit 247,622,000. Of those, 155,613,000 participated in the labor force by either holding a job or actively seeking one.

    The 155,613,000 who participated in the labor force equaled only 62.8 percent of the 247,622,000 civilian noninstitutional population, matching (along with the 62.8 percent rate in May) the lowest labor force participation rate in 36 years.

    At no time during the presidencies of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton or George W. Bush, did such a small percentage of the civilian non-institutional population either hold a job or at least actively seek one.

    When President Barack Obama took office in January 2009, the labor force participation rate was 65.7 percent. By the beginning of 2013, the start of Obama’s second term, it had dropped to 63.6 percent. Since January 2014, when the participation rate was 63.0,it has continued to decline, hitting a 36-year low of 62.8 percent in May.

    People in the civilian noninstitutional population who did not have a job and did not actively seek one in the last four weeks are considered “not in the labor force.” The number of Americans not in the labor force has climbed by 11,480,000 since Obama took office, rising from 80,529,000 in January 2009 to 92,009,000 in May 2014.

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    Default Re: Financial Crisis - 2013 - ????


    Sessions: 7 Million Have Left Workforce Since Obama Took Office

    June 6, 2014

    Senator Jeff Sessions has released a statement that says, "7 Million People Have Left The Workforce Since The President Took Office." The statement is in response to today's jobs numbers.

    "Today’s jobs numbers are only enough to tread even with population growth, maintaining unemployment at 6.3 percent. When you include discouraged workers, the unemployment rate doubles to an alarming 12.2 percent. There are still 3.2 million fewer full-time employed persons than there were in 2007," says Sessions.

    "Since President Obama came into office in 2009, 7.2 million people have left the workforce entirely. One out of every six men aged 25–54 is not working. Employment in this group fell by 72,000 last month, while the number of employed women aged 25–54 fell by 37,000. Meanwhile, the workforce participation rate for women is at its lowest level in 23 years. Median household income is down almost $2,300 from what it was when the President took office. Real wages are lower than they were in 1999. Growth in the first quarter of this year was negative.

    "These numbers are grim and make clear that this economy is nowhere close to performing at an acceptable level."

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    Default Re: Financial Crisis - 2013 - ????


    Half The Country Makes Less Than $27,520 A Year And 15 Other Signs The Middle Class Is Dying

    June 5, 2014

    If you make more than $27,520 a year at your job, you are doing better than half the country is. But you don't have to take my word for it, you can check out the latest wage statistics from the Social Security administration right here. But of course $27,520 a year will not allow you to live "the American Dream" in this day and age. After taxes, that breaks down to a good bit less than $2,000 a month. You can't realistically pay a mortgage, make a car payment, afford health insurance and provide food, clothing and everything else your family needs for that much money. That is one of the reasons why both parents are working in most families today. In fact, sometimes both parents are working multiple jobs in a desperate attempt to make ends meet. Over the years, the cost of living has risen steadily but our paychecks have not. This has resulted in a steady erosion of the middle class. Once upon a time, most American families could afford a nice home, a couple of cars and a nice vacation every year. When I was growing up, it seemed like almost everyone was middle class. But now "the American Dream" is out of reach for more Americans than ever, and the middle class is dying right in front of our eyes.

    One of the things that was great about America in the post-World War II era was that we developed a large, thriving middle class. Until recent times, it always seemed like there were plenty of good jobs for people that were willing to be responsible and work hard. That was one of the big reasons why people wanted to come here from all over the world. They wanted to have a chance to live "the American Dream" too.

    But now the American Dream is becoming a mirage for most people. No matter how hard they try, they just can't seem to achieve it.

    And here are some hard numbers to back that assertion up. The following are 15 more signs that the middle class is dying...

    #1
    According to a brand new CNN poll, 59 percent of Americans believe that it has become impossible for most people to achieve the American Dream...

    The American Dream is impossible to achieve in this country.

    So say nearly 6 in 10 people who responded to CNNMoney's American Dream Poll, conducted by ORC International. They feel the dream -- however they define it -- is out of reach.

    Young adults, age 18 to 34, are most likely to feel the dream is unattainable, with 63% saying it's impossible. This age group has suffered in the wake of the Great Recession, finding it hard to get good jobs.

    #2
    More Americans than ever believe that homeownership is not a key to long-term wealth and prosperity...

    The great American Dream is dying. Even though many Americans still desire to own a home, they are losing faith in homeownership as a key to prosperity.

    Nearly two-thirds of Americans, or 64%, believe they are less likely to build wealth by buying a home today than they were 20 or 30 years ago, according to a survey sponsored by non-profit MacArthur Foundation. And nearly 43% said buying a home is no longer a good long-term investment.

    #3
    Overall, the rate of homeownership in the United States has fallen for eight years in a row, and it has now dropped to the lowest level in 19 years.

    #4 52 percent of Americans cannot even afford the house that they are living in right now...

    "Over half of Americans (52%) have had to make at least one major sacrifice in order to cover their rent or mortgage over the last three years, according to the “How Housing Matters Survey,” which was commissioned by the nonprofit John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and carried out by Hart Research Associates. These sacrifices include getting a second job, deferring saving for retirement, cutting back on health care, running up credit card debt, or even moving to a less safe neighborhood or one with worse schools."

    #5
    According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 36 percent of Americans under the age of 35 own a home. That is the lowest level that has ever been measured.

    #6 Right now, approximately one out of every six men in the United States that are in their prime working years (25 to 54) do not have a job.

    #7 The labor force participation rate for Americans from the age of 25 to the age of 29 has fallen to an all-time record low.

    #8 The number of working age Americans that are not employed has increased by 27 million since the year 2000.

    #9 According to the government's own numbers, about 20 percent of the families in the entire country do not have a single member that is employed at this point.

    #10 This may sound crazy, but 25 percent of all American adults do not even have a single penny saved up for retirement.

    #11 As I noted in one recent article, total consumer credit in the United States has increased by 22 percent over the past three years, and 56 percent of all Americans have "subprime credit" at this point.

    #12 Major retailers are shutting down stores at the fastest pace that we have seen since the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

    #13 It is hard to believe, but more than one out of every five children in the United States is living in poverty in 2014.

    #14 According to one recent report, there are 49 million Americans that are dealing with food insecurity right now.

    #15 Overall, the U.S. poverty rate is up more than 30 percent since 1966. It looks like LBJ's war on poverty didn't work out too well after all.

    Sadly, it does not appear that there is much hope on the horizon for the middle class. More good jobs are being shipped out of the country and are being lost to technology every single day, and our politicians seem convinced that "business as usual" is the right course of action for our nation.

    Unless something dramatic happens, it is going to become increasingly difficult to eke out a middle class existence as a "worker bee" in American society. The truth is that most big companies these days do not have any loyalty to their workers and really do not care what ends up happening to them.

    To thrive in this kind of environment, new and different thinking is required. The paradigm of "go to college, get a job, stay loyal and retire after 30 years" has been shattered. The business world is more unstable now than it has been during any point in the post-World War II era, and we are all going to have to adjust.

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    Default Re: Financial Crisis - 2013 - ????


    Two Thirds Of Gen X Households Have Less Wealth Than Their Parents Did At The Same Age

    June 10, 2014

    While the endless propaganda regurgitated from every media outlet will have the average American believe (inbetween trips to collect and cash unemployment checks) that in the first quarter the economy crashed due to weather, or that millions of Americans are bailing on the labor force - oddly enough, most of those Americans are in in the 16-19 age group: retiring early, right?...



    ... the reality is far, far simpler: the myth of the US economic recovery is nothing more than a lie of mythic proportions.

    Take Generation X: those millions of Americans born between 1960 and 1980 who in a truly recovering and thriving economy would be at the forefront of career opportunities and of wealth creation. Instead, as an extended Bloomberg profile of Gen X shows, there has hardly been a generation in worse shape than Americans between their mid-30s and mid-40s... perhaps with the exception of Gen Y, and the Millennials of course.

    So propaganda aside, what is life really like for a group of people that in a parallel universe, one with a truly vibrant, growing economy, should have never been better? Sadly, "life" as it is lived and not shown on TV makes one wonder if X stands for Exterminate.

    Take Vera Johnson from Seattle. Vera, one of the several Gen-Xers profiled by BBG, "is barely making do, let alone saving for retirement."

    “I try to remain in the present moment and not live in fear of the future,” said Johnson, who has neither retirement savings nor a college fund for her two children. “My property is underwater, the properties around me are underwater, I’m not building equity in my home.”

    The 45-year-old almost lost her home to foreclosure in 2010 after the housing-market collapse in the worst recession since World War II. She embodies the financial challenges facing America’s Generation X, those born between the mid-1960s and 1980, which lags behind other generations in building assets.

    When their working years end, Gen-Xers might have to live on just half of their pre-retirement income, compared with 60 percent for the Baby Boom generation, Pew said last year.

    “Generation X is at this really critical historical spot,” said Diana Elliott, a research officer in financial security and mobility at Pew, a non-profit global research and public policy organization in Washington. “They are not doing well relative to the last generation. It should give us concern as a country.”

    Just how badly are they doing? Bad enough to turn around the entire concept of middle-class prosperity in America - one where every next generation should do better than the preceding one - on its head.

    Only one-third of Generation X households had more wealth than their parents held at the same age, even though most earn more, The Pew Charitable Trusts found.

    And there, in a nutshell, is your so-called recovery: two thirds of an entire generation - one which is in its prime working years - doing worse than their parents!

    The rest is just a story of sad anecdotes confirming that not only is there no recovery in America for the average person (the average billionaire... well that's a different story entirely), but that things are, in fact, going from bad to even worse.

    First, it is the overall collapse in wealth:

    Gen-Xers lost about half of their wealth between 2007 and 2010, according to a Pew Economic Mobility analysis last year. Even before the housing collapse, they were having trouble keeping up with their parents in building assets, according to Pew, which defines Generation X as people born between 1966 and 1975.

    “Gen-Xers are the least financially secure and the most likely to experience downward mobility in retirement,” the Pew analysis found last year.

    The bursting of the dot-com bubble, which culminated in a 67 percent drop in the Nasdaq Composite Index (CCMP) from 2000 to 2002, was a particularly severe blow to Gen-Xers just starting their careers. While most didn’t directly own stocks, the economy slipped into recession and unemployment for 25- to 34-year-olds in 2003 hit its highest level in almost a decade.

    Then it is the impact of record amounts of student loans pushing Gen-Xers even further down:

    Student loans also slowed asset-building, said Signe-Mary McKernan, an economist at the Washington-based Urban Institute.

    Under the impact of successive booms and busts, many Xers have struggled to afford a family or keep their home, much less do better than their parents,” Neil Howe, co-author with William Strauss of books on generations in American history, said at a May 8 research symposium in St. Louis. “Then came the Great Recession, which hit Xers much harder.”

    The median income for 35- to 44-year-olds dropped 9.1 percent in the three years ended in 2010, according to the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances. Incomes of those age 35 or less, including the youngest Gen-Xers and Millennials, fell 10.5 percent.

    While incomes of 35- to 44-year-olds deteriorated less than those of younger Americans, their net worth slumped by 54 percent, the most for any age group, as the value of stock holdings and properties declined. The median net worth of those younger than 35 declined 25 percent.

    Then, it was pure greed: everyone rushed during the last housing bubble to buy up McMansions and everyone knows how that ended (hint: the same way the current bubble will end). Greed that destroyed everyone who succumbed to temptation and did not get a government bailout:

    The group aged 35 to 44 fared badly in part because its members had taken on debt to buy real estate at just the wrong moment, said William Emmons, senior economic adviser at the St. Louis Fed’s Center for Household Financial Stability. Those born from 1978 to 1983, straddling the line between Gen-Xers and Millennials, are at “ground zero” as the age group hurt most severely by the housing crisis, he said.

    Generation X was hit the hardest,” Emmons said. “For those families themselves, there’s limited time to make up some of those losses. For the economy overall, families that are struggling pretty hard to make up their savings aren’t spending as much, so that’s a drag.”

    The median value of mortgages and home-equity loans held by 35- to 44-year-olds climbed to $131,000 in 2007 from $85,000 in 1995, based on Survey of Consumer Finances data.

    Then it was tumbling real estate valuations, and the switch from owning to renting:

    Property values tumbled during the real-estate crash. For 35- to 44-year-old homeowners, the median value of a primary residence dropped 21 percent to $170,000 in 2010 from $215,000 three years earlier.

    As more decided to rent rather than own after the downturn, they’ve missed the subsequent rebound in home prices. About 60.7 percent of 35- to 44-year-olds owned a home in the first quarter 2014, down from 68.3 percent in the first quarter 2007, according to Census data.

    Gen-Xers were also slammed by the slump in stocks. The 35-to 44-year-old age group’s median value of financial assets, including stocks and bonds, dropped 47 percent to $14,500 in 2010 from 2007. The hit to their portfolios was more than 5 percentage points bigger than for any other age group.

    The value of the group’s directly held stock portfolios lost 36 percent, Fed data show. While those who stayed invested in stocks may have recouped losses as the S&P 500 Index (SPX) has rallied to new highs, only 12 percent directly held equities in 2010, compared with a 17 percent share three years earlier.

    Most importantly, it is the job market: which as everyone who is actually in it, knows is nowhere near as rosy the unicorns and rainbows the BLS and the US department of truth would like to make it seem.

    What’s more, limited improvement in the labor market is making it more difficult to rebuild assets. “It looks pretty bad,” said Amir Sufi, an economist at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. “If you don’t have income, you can’t build wealth.”

    As of May, unemployment for 35- to 44-year-olds was 1.8 percentage point higher than in the same month in 2007.

    The plight of Gen-Xers also means less support for the economy as they limit spending and concentrate on building up nest eggs, Emmons said.

    Matthew Kraft, out of work for about a year, is watching fewer movies at the theater and dining out less. The 39-year-old former public relations manager in New York has filled out more than 110 applications to find something other than entry-level work.

    “If this keeps going on for another four or five months, it’s going to start to hurt,” said Kraft, whose wife works at a hedge fund. “We have been living off of her income and dipping into our savings.”

    But the scariest part will be when Gen-X starts retiring for one simple reason: nobody has anywhere near the funds they will need for provide for retirement, even if one assumes that the US welfare system is still solvent in a decade or so.

    Generation X has already forfeited valuable years of interest compounding by failing to accrue savings early, said Alicia Munnell, the director of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College and former research director at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

    “Gen-Xers are going to live longer than the current generation of retirees, and the major source of retirement income is going to be smaller,” Munnell said. After 40, if “you’ve put this off, you really have to save at a mind-boggling rate to accumulate enough to retire.”

    As for Johnson, a mother of a 17-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old son, she’s more concerned about day-to-day living than about preparing for retirement.

    That's ok Mrs. Johnson, you are in the same boat as all "developed" nations: the only concern is how to keep the lie of solvency going day-to-day rather than addressing, let alone tackling, the reality of the terminal dilemma: a systemic collapse, or hyperinflation, that is just beyond the horizon.

    And now, buy stawks because... the recovery!

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    Default Re: Financial Crisis - 2013 - ????

    Went shopping today...

    Picked up some paper towels and toilet paper from Sam's. I get POM brand for both.

    The stealth inflation continues...


    Here is a box of the old POM toilet paper:







    Aaand, the new box:






    Old box of POM paper towels:






    New box:





    I can't recall if the price has increased or remained steady. Regardless, I'm still getting less for my dollar.

    105 sq-ft less toilet paper and 302 sq-ft less paper towels.


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