DO FORECLOSURES INCREASE DURING A HOUSING RECOVERY?

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Posted on 11th December 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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I’m told by my government keepers the economy is booming, jobs are being added by the millions, home prices are rising, and consumers are spending. Then why did foreclosures in the country jump by 6% over the prior year, marking the first increase in 26 months? This real data doesn’t match the government storyline. RealtyTrac reports the hard truth. And this is just the beginning. The next leg down in housing is upon us.

A total of 55,906 U.S. properties started the foreclosure process in November, a decrease of 1 percent from the previous month but a 6 percent increase from a year ago, the first year-over-year increase following 27 consecutive months of year-over-year decreases. 50,102 U.S. properties were scheduled for foreclosure auction during the month, down 16 percent from an 18-month high in the previous month but up 5 percent from a year ago.

“Foreclosure rates on 2014-originated loans are actually higher than 2013-originated loans nationwide and in many markets, indicating that lenders are open to a slightly higher level of risk than we’ve seen over the past five years of extremely tight lending standards,” Blomquist continued.

Scheduled foreclosure auctions increased from a year ago in 30 states, including Kentucky (up 163 percent), Tennessee (up 159 percent), North Carolina (up 157 percent), New Jersey (up 117 percent), Oregon (up 114 percent), New York (up 76 percent), Texas (up 34 percent), Pennsylvania (up 13 percent), Georgia (up 8 percent), and Washington (up 7 percent).

REOs increased from a year ago in 15 states, including Maryland (up 93 percent), North Carolina (up 66 percent), New York (up 64 percent), Kentucky (up 56 percent), New Jersey (up 54 percent), Iowa (up 29 percent), and Massachusetts (up 29 percent).

Five of the nation’s 20 largest metro areas posted year-over-year increases in foreclosure activity: New York (up 71 percent), Houston (up 70 percent), Philadelphia (up 43 percent), Boston (up 27 percent) and Baltimore (up 22 percent).

Among the nation’s 20 largest metros, those with the five highest foreclosure rates were Miami (one in every 394 housing units with a foreclosure filing), Tampa (one in every 432 housing units), Baltimore (one in every 576 housing units), Philadelphia (one in every 625 housing units), Chicago (one in every 716 housing units) and Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario in Southern California (one in every 725 housing units).

THE FOURTEEN YEAR RECESSION

117 comments

Posted on 24th March 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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 “When a government is dependent upon bankers for money, they and not the leaders of the government control the situation, since the hand that gives is above the hand that takes. Money has no motherland; financiers are without patriotism and without decency; their sole object is gain.”Napoleon Bonaparte

 Click to View

“A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is privately concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men … [W]e have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated, governments in the civilized world—no longer a government by free opinion, no longer a government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a government by the opinion and the duress of small groups of dominant men.”- Woodrow Wilson

When you ponder the implications of allowing a small group of powerful wealthy unaccountable men to control the currency of a nation over the last one hundred years, you understand why our public education system sucks. You understand why the government created Common Core curriculum teaches children that 3 x 4 = 13, as long as you feel good about your answer. George Carlin was right. The owners of this country (bankers, billionaires, corporate titans, politicians) want more for themselves and less for everyone else. They want an educational system that creates ignorant, obedient, vacuous, obese dullards who question nothing, consume mass quantities of corporate processed fast food, gaze at iGadgets, are easily susceptible to media propaganda and compliant to government regulations and directives. They don’t want highly educated, critical thinking, civil minded, well informed, questioning citizens understanding how badly they have been screwed over the last century. I’m sorry to say, your owners are winning in a landslide.

The government controlled public education system has flourished beyond all expectations of your owners. We’ve become a nation of techno-narcissistic, math challenged, reality TV distracted, welfare entitled, materialistic, gluttonous, indebted consumers of Chinese slave labor produced crap. There are more Americans who know the name of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian’s bastard child (North West) than know the name of our Secretary of State (Ketchup Kerry). Americans can generate a text or tweet with blinding speed but couldn’t give you change from a dollar bill if their life depended upon it. They are whizzes at buying crap on Amazon or Ebay with a credit card, but have never balanced their checkbook or figured out the concept of deferred gratification and saving for the future. While the ignorant masses are worked into a frenzy by the media propaganda machine over gay marriage, diversity, abortion, climate change, and never ending wars on poverty, drugs and terror, our owners use their complete capture of the financial, regulatory, political, judicial and economic systems to pillage the remaining national wealth they haven’t already extracted.

The financial illiteracy of the uneducated lower classes and the willful ignorance of the supposedly highly educated classes has never been more evident than when examining the concept of Federal Reserve created currency debasement – also known as inflation. The insidious central banker created monetary inflation is the cause of all the ills in our warped, deformed, rigged financialized economic system. The outright manipulation and falsity of government reported economic data is designed to obscure the truth and keep the populace unaware of the deception being executed by the owners of this country. They have utilized deceit, falsification, propaganda and outright lies to mislead the public about the true picture of the disastrous financial condition in this country. Since most people are already trapped in the mental state of normalcy bias, it is easy for those in control to reinforce that normalcy bias by manipulating economic data to appear normal and using their media mouthpieces to perpetuate the false storyline of recovery and a return to normalcy.

This is how feckless politicians and government apparatchiks are able to add $2.8 billion per day to the national debt; a central bank owned by Too Big To Trust Wall Street banks has been able to create $3.3 trillion out of thin air and pump it into the veins of its owners; and government controlled agencies report a declining unemployment rate, no inflation and a growing economy, without creating an iota of dissent or skepticism from the public. Americans want to be lied to because it allows them to continue living lives of delusion, where spending more than you make, consuming rather than saving, and believing stock market speculation and home price appreciation will make them rich are viable life strategies. Even though 90% of the population owns virtually no stocks, they are convinced record stock market highs are somehow beneficial to their lives. They actually believe Bernanke/Yellen when they bloviate about the dangers of deflation. Who would want to pay less for gasoline, food, rent, or tuition?

Unless you are beholden to the oligarchs, that sense of stress, discomfort, feeling that all in not well, and disturbing everyday visual observations is part of the cognitive dissonance engulfing the nation. Anyone who opens their eyes and honestly assesses their own financial condition, along with the obvious deterioration of our suburban sprawl retail paradise infrastructure, is confronted with information that is inconsistent with what they hear from their bought off politician leaders, highly compensated Ivy League trained economists, and millionaire talking heads in the corporate legacy media. Most people resolve this inconsistency by ignoring the facts, rejecting the obvious and refusing to use their common sense. To acknowledge the truth would require confronting your own part in this Ponzi debt charade disguised as an economic system. It is easier to believe a big lie than think critically and face up to decades of irrational behavior and reckless conduct.

What’s In Your GDP                          

“The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is one of the broader measures of economic activity and is the most widely followed business indicator reported by the U.S. government. Upward growth biases built into GDP modeling since the early 1980s, however, have rendered this important series nearly worthless as an indicator of economic activity.  The popularly followed number in each release is the seasonally adjusted, annualized quarterly growth rate of real (inflation-adjusted) GDP, where the current-dollar number is deflated by the BEA’s estimates of appropriate price changes. It is important to keep in mind that the lower the inflation rate used in the deflation process, the higher will be the resulting inflation-adjusted GDP growth.”John Williams – Shadowstats

GDP is the economic statistic bankers, politicians and media pundits use to convince the masses the economy is growing and their lives are improving. Therefore, it is the statistic most likely to be manipulated, twisted and engineered in order to portray the storyline required by the oligarchs. Two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth usually marks a recession. Those in power do not like to report recessions, so data “massaging” has been required over the last few decades to generate the required result. Prior to 1991 the government reported the broader GNP, which includes the GDP plus the balance of international flows of interest and dividend payments. Once we became a debtor nation, with massive interest payments to foreigners, reporting GNP became inconvenient. It is not reported because it is approximately $900 billion lower than GDP. The creativity of our keepers knows no bounds. In July of 2013 the government decided they had found a more “accurate” method for measuring GDP and simply retroactively increased GDP by $500 billion out of thin air. It’s amazing how every “more accurate” accounting adjustment improves the reported data. The economic growth didn’t change, but GDP was boosted by 3%. These adjustments pale in comparison to the decades long under-reporting of inflation baked into the GDP calculation.

As John Williams pointed out, GDP is adjusted for inflation. The higher inflation factored into the calculation, the lower reported GDP. The deflator used by the BEA in their GDP calculation is even lower than the already bastardized CPI. According to the BEA, there has only been 32% inflation since the year 2000. They have only found 1.4% inflation in the last year and only 7.1% in the last five years. You’d have to be a zombie from the Walking Dead or an Ivy League economist to believe those lies. Anyone living in the real world knows their cost of living has risen at a far greater rate. According to the government, and unquestioningly reported by the compliant co-conspirators in the the corporate media, GDP has grown from $10 trillion in 2000 to $17 trillion today. Even using the ridiculously low inflation BEA adjustment yields an increase from $12.4 trillion to only $15.9 trillion in real terms. That pitiful 28% growth over the last fourteen years is dramatically overstated, as revealed in the graph below. Using a true rate of inflation exposes the grand fraud being committed by those in power. The country has been in a never ending recession since 2000.   

Your normalcy bias is telling you this is impossible. Your government tells you we have only experienced a recession from the third quarter of 2008 through the third quarter of 2009. So despite experiencing two stock market crashes, the greatest housing crash in history, and a worldwide financial system implosion the authorities insist  we’ve had a growing economy 93% of the time over the last fourteen years. That mental anguish you are feeling is the cognitive dissonance of wanting to believe your government, but knowing they are lying. It is a known fact the government, in conspiracy with Greenspan, Congress and academia, have systematically reduced the reported CPI based upon hedonistic quality adjustments, geometric weighting alterations, substitution modifications, and the creation of incomprehensible owner’s equivalent rent calculations. Since the 1700s consumer inflation had been estimated by measuring price changes in a fixed-weight basket of goods, effectively measuring the cost of maintaining a constant standard of living. This began to change in the early 1980s with the Greenspan Commission to “save” Social Security and came to a head with the Boskin Commission in 1995.

Simply stated, the Greenspan/Boskin Commissions’ task was to reduce future Social Security payments to senior citizens by deceitfully reducing CPI and allowing politicians the easy way out. Politicians would lose votes if they ever had to directly address the unsustainability of Social Security. Therefore, they allowed academics to work their magic by understating the CPI and stealing $700 billion from retirees in the ten years ending in 2006. With 10,000 baby boomers per day turning 65 for the next eighteen years, understating CPI will rob them of trillions in payments. This is a cowardly dishonest method of extending the life of Social Security.

If CPI was calculated exactly as it was computed prior to 1983, it would have averaged between 5% and 10% over the last fourteen years. Even computing it based on the 1990 calculation prior to the Boskin Commission adjustments, would have produced annual inflation of 4% to 7%. A glance at an inflation chart from 1872 through today reveals the complete and utter failure of the Federal Reserve in achieving their stated mandate of price stability. They have managed to reduce the purchasing power of your dollar by 95% over the last 100 years. You may also notice the net deflation from 1872 until 1913, when the American economy was growing rapidly. It is almost as if the Federal Reserve’s true mandate has been to create inflation, finance wars, perpetuate the proliferation of debt, artificially create booms and busts, enrich their Wall Street owners, and impoverish the masses. Happy Birthday Federal Reserve!!!

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When you connect the dots you realize the under-reporting of inflation benefits the corporate fascist surveillance state. If the government was reporting the true rate of inflation, mega-corporations would be forced to pay their workers higher wages, reducing profits, reducing corporate bonuses, and sticking a pin in their stock prices. The toady economists at the Federal Reserve would be unable to sustain their ludicrous ZIRP and absurd QEfinity stock market levitation policies. Reporting a true rate of inflation would force long-term interest rates higher. These higher rates, along with higher COLA increases to government entitlements, would blow a hole in the deficit and force our spineless politicians to address our unsustainable economic system. There would be no stock market or debt bubble. If the clueless dupes watching CNBC bimbos and shills on a daily basis were told the economy has been in fourteen year downturn, they might just wake up and demand accountability from their leaders and an overhaul of this corrupt system.          

Mother Should I Trust the Government?

We know the BEA has deflated GDP by only 32% since 2000. We know the BLS reports the CPI has only risen by 37% since 2000. Should I trust the government or trust the facts and my own eyes? The data is available to see if the government figures pass the smell test. If you are reading this, you can remember your life in 2000. Americans know what it cost for food, energy, shelter, healthcare, transportation and entertainment in 2000, but they unquestioningly accept the falsified inflation figures produced by the propaganda machine known as our government. The chart below is a fairly comprehensive list of items most people might need to live in this world. A critical thinking individual might wonder how the government can proclaim inflation of 32% to 37% over the last fourteen years, when the true cost of living has grown by 50% to 100% for most daily living expenses. The huge increases in property taxes, sales taxes, government fees, tolls and income taxes aren’t even factored in the chart. It seems gold has smelled out the currency debasement and the lies of our leaders. This explains the concerted effort by the powers that be to suppress the price of gold by any means necessary.   

Living Expense

Jan-00

Mar-14

% Increase

Gallon of gas

$1.27

$3.51

176.4%

Barrel of oil

$24.11

$100.00

314.8%

Fuel oil per gallon

$1.19

$4.07

242.0%

Electricity per Kwh

$0.084

$0.134

59.5%

Gas per therm

$0.712

$1.078

51.4%

Dozen eggs

$0.97

$2.00

106.2%

Coffee per lb

$3.40

$5.20

52.9%

Ground Beef per lb.

$1.90

$3.73

96.3%

Postage stamp

$0.33

$0.49

48.5%

Movie ticket

$5.25

$10.25

95.2%

New car

$20,300.00

$31,500.00

55.2%

Annual healthcare spending per capita

$4,550.00

$9,300.00

104.4%

Average private college tuition

$22,000.00

$37,000.00

68.2%

Avg home price (Case Shiller)

$161,000.00

$242,000.00

50.3%

Avg monthly rent (Case Shiller)

$635.00

$890.00

40.2%

Ounce of gold

$279.00

$1,334.00

378.1%

Mother, you should not trust the government. There is no doubt they have systematically under-reported inflation based on any impartial assessment of the facts. The reality that we remain stuck in a fourteen year recession is borne out by the continued decline in vehicle miles driven (at 1995 levels) due to declining commercial activity, the millions of shuttered small businesses, and the proliferation of Space Available signs in strip malls and office parks across the land. The fact there are only 8 million more people employed today than were employed in 2000, despite the working age population growing by 35 million, might be a clue that we remain in recession. If that isn’t enough proof for you, than maybe a glimpse at real median household income, retail sales and housing will put the final nail in the coffin of your cognitive dissonance.

The government and their media mouthpieces expect the ignorant masses to believe they have advanced their standard of living, with median household income growing from $40,800 to $52,500 since 2000. But, even using the badly flawed CPI to adjust these figures into real terms reveals real median household income to be 7.3% below the level of 2000. Using a true inflation figure would cause a CNBC talking head to have an epileptic seizure.        

Click to View

The picture is even bleaker when broken down into the age of households, with younger households suffering devastating real declines in household income since 2000. I guess all those retail clerk, cashier, waitress, waiter, food prep, and housekeeper jobs created over the last few years aren’t cutting the mustard. Maybe that explains the 30 million increase (175% increase) in food stamp recipients since 2000, encompassing 19% of all households in the U.S. Luckily the banking oligarchs were able to convince the pliable masses to increase their credit card, auto and student loan debt from $1.5 trillion to $3.1 trillion over the fourteen year descent into delusion.

When you get your head around this unprecedented decline in household income over the last fourteen years, along with the 50% to 100% rise in costs to live in the real world, as opposed to the theoretical world of the Federal Reserve and BLS, you will understand the long term decline in retail sales reflected in the following chart. When you adjust monthly retail sales for gasoline (an additional tax), inflation (understated), and population growth, you understand why retailers are closing thousands of stores and hurdling towards inevitable bankruptcy. Retail sales are 6.9% below the June 2005 peak and 4% below levels reached in 2000. And this is with millions of retail square feet added over this time frame. We know the dramatic surge from the 2009 lows was not prompted by an increase in household income. So how did the 11% proliferation of spending happen?

Click to View

The up swell in retail spending began to accelerate in late 2010. Considering credit card debt outstanding is at exactly where it was in October 2010, it seems consumers playing with their own money turned off the spigot of speculation. It has been non-revolving debt that has skyrocketed from $1.63 trillion in February 2010 to $2.26 trillion today. This unprecedented 39% rise in four years has been engineered by the government, using your tax dollars and the tax dollars of unborn generations. The Federal government has complete control of the student loan market and with their 85% ownership of Ally Financial, the largest auto financing company, a dominant position in the auto loan market. The peddling of $400 billion of subprime student loan debt and $200 billion of subprime auto loan debt has created the illusion of a retail recovery. The student loan debt has been utilized by University of Phoenix MBA wannabes  to buy iGadgets, the latest PS3 version of Grand Theft Auto and the latest glazed donut breakfast sandwich on the market. It’s nothing but another debt financed bubble that will end in tears for the American taxpayer, as hundreds of billions will be written off.

The fake retail recovery pales in comparison to the wolves of Wall Street produced housing recovery sham. They deserve an Academy Award for best fantasy production. The Federal Reserve fed Wall Street hedge fund purchase of millions of foreclosed shanties across the nation has produced media proclaimed home price increases of 10% to 30% in cities across the country. Withholding foreclosures from the market and creating artificial demand with free money provided by the Federal Reserve has temporarily added $4 trillion of housing net worth and reduced the number of underwater mortgages on the books of the Too Big To Trust Wall Street banks. The percentage of investor purchases and cash purchases is at all-time highs, while the percentage of first time buyers is at all-time lows. Anyone with an ounce of common sense can look at the long-term chart of mortgage applications and realize we are still in a recession. Applications are 35% below levels at the depths of the 2008/2009 recession. Applications are 65% below levels at the housing market peak in 2005. They are even 35% below 2000 levels. There is no real housing recovery, despite the propaganda peddled by the NAR, CNBC, and Wall Street. It’s a fraud.   

It is the pinnacle of arrogance and hubris that a few Ivy League educated economists sitting in the Marriner Eccles Building in the swamps of Washington D.C., who have never worked a day in their lives at a real job, think they can create wealth and pull the levers of money creation to control the American and global financial systems. All they have done is perfect the art of bubble finance in order to enrich their owners at the expense of the rest of us. Their policies have induced unwarranted hope and speculation on a grand scale. Greenspan and Bernanke have provoked multiple bouts of extreme speculation in stocks and housing over the last 15 years, with the subsequent inevitable collapses. Fed encouraged gambling does not create wealth it just redistributes it from the peasants to the aristocracy. The Fed has again produced an epic bubble in stock and bond valuations which will result in another collapse. Normalcy bias keeps the majority from seeing the cliff straight ahead. Federal Reserve monetary policies have distorted financial markets, created extreme imbalances, encouraged excessive risk taking, and ruined the lives of working class people. Take a long hard look at the chart below and answer one question. Was QE designed to benefit Main Street or Wall Street?  

The average American has experienced a fourteen year recession caused by the monetary policies of the Federal Reserve. Our leaders could have learned the lesson of two Fed induced collapses in the space of eight years and voluntarily abandoned the policies of reckless credit expansion, instead embracing policies encouraging saving, capital investment and balanced budgets. They have chosen the same cure as the disease, which will lead to crisis, catastrophe and collapse.  

“There is no means of avoiding the final collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion. The alternative is only whether the crisis should come sooner as the result of voluntary abandonment of further credit expansion, or later as a final and total catastrophe of the currency system involved.” – Ludwig von Mises

 



COMFORTABLY NUMB (Oldie but Goodie)

180 comments

Posted on 16th November 2013 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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Originally published in November 2011.

Hello?
Is there anybody in there?
Just nod if you can hear me.
Is there anyone at home?
Come on, now,
I hear you’re feeling down.
Well I can ease your pain
And get you on your feet again.
Relax.
I need some information first.
Just the basic facts
Can you show me where it hurts?

Pink Floyd – Comfortably Numb

As I observe the zombie like reactions of Americans to our catastrophic economic highway to collapse, the continued plundering and pillaging of the national treasury by criminal Wall Street bankers, non-enforcement of existing laws against those who committed the largest crime in history, and reaction to young people across the country getting beaten, bludgeoned, shot with tear gas and pepper sprayed by police, I can’t help but wonder whether there is anyone home. Why are most Americans so passively accepting of these calamitous conditions? How did we become so comfortably numb? I’ve concluded Americans have chosen willful ignorance over thoughtful critical thinking due to their own intellectual laziness and overpowering mind manipulation by the elite through their propaganda emitting media machines. Some people are awaking from their trance, but the vast majority is still slumbering or fuming at erroneous perpetrators.

Both the Tea Party movement and the Occupy Wall Street movement are a reflection of the mood change in the country, which is a result of government overreach, political corruption, dysfunctional economic policies, and a financial system designed to enrich the few while defrauding the many. The common theme is anger, frustration and disillusionment with a system so badly broken it appears unfixable through the existing supposedly democratic methods. The system has been captured by an oligarchy of moneyed interests from the financial industry, mega-corporations, and military industrial complex, protected by their captured puppets in Washington DC and sustained by the propaganda peddling corporate media. The differences in political parties are meaningless as they each advocate big government solutions to all social, economic, foreign relations, and monetary issues.

There is confusion and misunderstanding regarding the culprits in this drama. It was plain to me last week when I read about a small group of concerned citizens in the next town over who decided to support the Occupy movement by holding a nightly peaceful march to protest the criminal syndicate that is Wall Street and a political system designed to protect them. My local paper asked for people’s reaction to this Constitutional exercising of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. Here is a sampling of the comments:

“What are those Occupy people thinking?! The whole concept is foreign to me. There are always going to be the haves and the have nots. Get over it. Blame yourself for not paying more attention in school or not working hard enough. Just wish people would take responsibility.”

“If they worked half as hard actually working as they do being a pain in everyone else’s ass, they’d be rich! Being born does not guarantee success or wealth. Only hard work does. Maybe we should let them all occupy a jail cell or two.”

“If the goal is to irritate hardworking suburban commuters on their way home, that sounds like the perfect time and location.”

“Let’s hope they don’t pitch tents and trash Lansdale. They need to look for a job, not occupy the streets.”

“I work, and even if I wasn’t working I wouldn’t (march); I would be out looking for a JOB!”

I was dumbfounded at the rage directed towards mostly young people who haven’t even begun their working careers and have played no part in the destruction of our economic system underway for the last 30 years. The people making these statements are middle aged, middle class suburbanites. They seem to be just as livid as the OWS protestors, but their ire is being directed towards the only people who have taken a stand against Wall Street greed and Washington D.C. malfeasance. I’m left scratching my head trying to understand their animosity towards people drawing attention to the enormous debt based ponzi scheme that is our country, versus their silent acquiescence to the transfer of trillions in taxpayer dollars to the criminal bankers that have destroyed the worldwide financial system. I can only come to the conclusion the average American has become so apathetic, willfully ignorant of facts and reality, distracted by the techno-gadgets that run their lives, uninterested in anything beyond next week’s episode of Dancing with the Stars or Jersey Shore, and willing to let the corporate media moguls form their opinions for them through relentless propaganda, the only thing that will get their attention is an absolute collapse of our economic scheme. Uninformed, unconcerned, intellectually vacant Americans will get exactly that in the not too distant future.

Greater Depression Hidden from View

“Look at the orators in our republics; as long as they are poor, both state and people can only praise their uprightness; but once they are fattened on the public funds, they conceive a hatred for justice, plan intrigues against the people and attack the democracy.”Aristophanes, Plutus

 

The anger and vitriol directed at OWS protestors by middle class Americans is a misdirected reaction to a quandary they can’t quite comprehend. They know their lives are getting more difficult but aren’t sure why. They are paying more for energy, food, tuition, and real estate taxes, while the price of their houses decline and their wages stagnate. More than a quarter of all homeowners are underwater on their mortgage and many are drowning in credit card and student loan debt. At the same time, government drones tell them the economy is in its second year of recovery and corporate profits are at all-time highs. Government statistics, false storylines, and entitlement programs are designed to confuse the public and obscure the fact we are in the midst of another Depression. Everyone has seen the pictures of the Great Depression breadlines, farmers forced off their land during the dustbowl, and downtrodden Americans in soup kitchens. The economic conditions today are as bad as or worse than the Great Depression. This Depression is hidden from plain view because there are no unemployment lines, bread lines, or soup lines. We are experiencing an electronic Great Depression, as food stamps, unemployment compensation, Social security payments and welfare benefits are electronically delivered to millions of recipients.

There have been over 12 million foreclosure actions since 2007, with millions of Americans losing their homes. Another 16 million homeowners are underwater on their mortgages as home prices continue to fall and the economy sinks further by the day. The value of household real estate has fallen from $22.7 trillion in 2006 to $16.2 trillion today, a loss of $6.5 trillion concentrated among the middle class. In contrast, mortgage debt has only decreased by $600 billion mostly due to write-offs by the banks that created fraudulent mortgage products to lure Americans into debt.

The unemployment rate in the United States reached 25% during the Great Depression. The government manipulated fictional unemployment rate reported to the public by drones at the BLS is currently 9.0%. They conveniently ignore the millions of people who have given up looking for work and those who have taken jobs as part-time pickle ploppers at McDonalds, when they previously assembled automobiles at GM. The true number of unemployed/underemployed is 23%.

Since 2007, unemployment has officially gone up by 7 million. In reality, the same percentage of the working age population should be employed today as in 2007 (63%). Since only 58.4% of the working age population is employed today (lowest since 1983), another 4 million needs to be added to the official unemployment tally. The fact is there are 240 million working age Americans and only 140 million are employed. This means there are 100 million working age Americans not working, but our government only classifies 14 million of them as unemployed. There is certainly millions of stay at home moms, students, and legitimately disabled among the 86 million people classified as not in the labor force, but you can’t tell me that another 20 to 30 million of these people couldn’t or wouldn’t work if given the opportunity.

The deception in government reported figures is borne out by the most successful government program of the Obama administration, which has been adding participants at an astounding rate. The Food Stamp program has been a smashing success as we’ve added 13.8 million Americans to this fine program since Obama’s inauguration, a mere 43% increase in less than three years. There are now 45.8 million Americans dependent upon food stamps for survival, 14.7% of the U.S. population. This program began in 1969 and enrollment always surges during recessions and declines during recoveries. But a funny thing happened during our current “recovery”. The government reported our recession over in December 2009. It was certainly over for the Wall Street psychopaths as they rewarded themselves with $43 billion of bonuses in 2009/2010. The number of Americans on food stamps has risen by 6.8 million during this government sponsored “recovery”. You’ll be happy to know that Obama’s good buddy – Jamie Dimon – and his well run machine at JP Morgan earns hundreds of millions administering the SNAP program.

Since 2007, Federal government transfer payments have increased from $1.7 trillion annually to $2.3 trillion, a 35% increase in four years. This is surely a sign of a recovering economy. Bernanke’s zero interest rate policy has stolen $400 billion per year from senior citizens and savers and handed it to the very bankers who caused the pain and suffering of millions. Personal interest income has declined from $1.4 trillion to $1.0 trillion, while Wall Street faux profits have soared. The game plan of the oligarchy has been to transfer hundreds of billions from taxpayers to bankers, report profits through accounting entries reducing loan loss reserves, pump up their stock prices and convince clueless lemming investors to buy newly issued shares at inflated valuations. The plan has failed. The zero interest rate policy’s unintended consequences have caused revolutions throughout the Middle East and massive food inflation across the developing world.

The single biggest reason the middle class feel frustrated, angry and like they are falling behind is due to the Federal Reserve and the relentless never ending inflation they produce in order to support their masters on Wall Street and provide cover for the trillions in debt spending by politicians in Washington DC. It is no surprise that beginning in 1980 when government spending began to accelerate much more rapidly than government revenues, the government decided to “tweak” how it measured inflation. The government reports inflation at 3.5% today. The truth is inflation is running in excess of 10% if measured exactly as it was in 1980. That’s right, we have a recession and we have inflation in double digits. No wonder the masses are restless.

The reason middle class Americans are being methodically exterminated and driven into poverty is the monetary policies of the Federal Reserve. Since 1971, when Nixon extinguished the last vestiges of the gold standard and unleashed politicians to spend borrowed money without immediate consequence, the U.S. dollar has lost 82% of its purchasing power using the government manipulated CPI. In reality, it has lost over 90% of its purchasing power. The average American, after decades of being dumbed down by government sanctioned education, is incapable of understanding the impact of inflation on their lives. As their wages rise 2% to 3% per year and inflation rises 5% to 10% per year, they get poorer day by day. The Wall Street banks, who own the Federal Reserve, step in and convince the average American to substitute debt for real wealth in order to keep living the modern techno-lifestyle sold to them by mainstream corporate media.

The oligarchy of moneyed interests have done a spectacular job convincing the working middle class they should be angry at 20 year old OWS protestors, illegal immigrants and the inner city welfare class, rather than the true culprits – the Federal Reserve, Wall Street banks and mega-corporations. This is a testament to the power of propaganda and the intellectual slothfulness of the average American. U.S. based mega-corporations fired 864,000 higher wage American workers between 2000 and 2010, while hiring almost 3 million workers in low wage foreign countries, using their billions in cash to buy back their own stocks, and paying corporate executives shamefully excessive compensation. The corporate mainstream media treats corporate CEO’s like rock stars as if they deserve to be compensated at a level 243 times the average worker. The S&P 500 consists of the 500 biggest companies in America and while the executives of these companies have reaped millions in compensation, the stock index for these companies is at the exact level it was on July 9, 1998. Over the last thirteen years workers were fired by the thousands, shareholders earned 0% (negative 39% on an inflation adjusted basis), and executives got fabulously rich.

Man made inflation has stealthily devastated millions of lives over the last four decades. When the weekly wages of the average worker are adjusted for inflation, they are making 12% less than they did in 1971. Using a real non-manipulated measure of inflation, the average worker is making 30% less than they did in 1971. Sadly, our math challenged populace only comprehend their wages have doubled in the last forty years, without understanding the true impact of inflation. Thankfully, the Wall Street debt dealers with a helping hand from Madison Avenue propaganda peddlers stepped up to the plate and imprisoned the middle class with the shackles of $2.5 trillion in consumer debt. So, while real wages have fallen 30% since 1971, consumer debt has increased by 1,700%.

Americans have been snookered into renouncing their citizenship and converting to being mindless consumers. Citizenship requires a person to be actively engaged in the community with obligations to fellow citizens and future generations. Consumerism requires people to love things, embrace debt, worry about what others have, and become driven by the accumulation of possessions and the appearance of wealth. The disgusting exhibition that Madison Avenue maggots have coined Black Friday is the ultimate display of consumerism. In a nauseating display of senseless spending driven by retail conglomerates, Americans act like Pavlov’s salivating dogs by lining up for hours to stampede over and pepper spray other consumers to get the ultimate deal on that Chinese made toaster oven, Vietnamese made laptop, Korean made HDTV, or Mexican made tortilla maker. They don’t seem to grasp the irony of going deeper into debt buying cheap crap made in foreign countries by the workers who took their jobs. The mainstream media proclaims a hugely successful Black Friday as millions bought crap they didn’t need with money they don’t have, while millions more ate their Thanksgiving meals in food shelters – unreported by the media.This repulsive manifestation of consumerism is applauded and encouraged by our government, as described by George Monbiot:

“Governments are deemed to succeed or fail by how well they make money go round, regardless of whether it serves any useful purpose. They regard it as a sacred duty to encourage the country’s most revolting spectacle: the annual feeding frenzy in which shoppers queue all night, then stampede into the shops, elbow, trample and sometimes fight to be the first to carry off some designer junk which will go into landfill before the sales next year. The madder the orgy, the greater the triumph of economic management.”

The masses have been brainwashed by those in power into thinking consumer spending utilizing debt is essential for a strong economy, when the exact opposite is the truth. Saving and investment are the essential ingredients to a strong economy. Debt based spending only benefits bankers, mega-corporations, and politicians.

Mass Manipulation through Propaganda

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. …We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.” – Edward Bernays, Propaganda, 1928 

Edward Bernays, the father of propaganda to control the masses, would be so proud of his disciples running our country today. He clearly believed only an elite few were intellectually capable of running the show. Essentially, he hit upon the concept of the 1% telling the 99% what they should think and believe over eighty years ago. The mechanisms for controlling the thoughts, beliefs, and actions of the population are so much more efficient today. The conditioning begins when we are children, as every child will be bombarded with at least 30,000 hours of propaganda broadcast by media corporations by the time they reach adulthood. Their minds are molded and they are instructed what to believe and what to value. Those in control of society want to keep the masses entertained at an infantile level, with instant gratification and satisfying desires as their only considerations. The elite have achieved their Alpha status through intellectual superiority, control of the money system, and control of the political process. Their power emanates from eliminating choices, while giving the illusion of choice to the masses. People think they are free, when in reality they are slaves to a two party political system, a few Wall Street banks, and whatever our TVs tell us to buy.

Our entire system is designed to control the thoughts and actions of the masses. In many ways it is done subtly, while recently it has become more bold and blatant. It is essential for the ruling elite to keep control of our minds through media messages and the educational system. It is not a surprise that our public education system has methodically deteriorated over the last four decades. The government gained control over education and purposely teaches our children selected historical myths, social engineering gibberish and only the bare essentials of math and science. The government creates the standardized tests and approves the textbooks. We are left with millions of functionally illiterate children that grow into non-critical thinking adults. This is the exact result desired by the 1%. If too many of the 99% were able to ignore the media propaganda and think for themselves, revolution would result. This is why the moneyed interests have circled the wagons, invoked police state thug tactics, and used all the powers of their media machine to squash the OWS movement. It threatens their power and control.

“Experience has shown that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.” – Thomas Jefferson

A highly educated engaged citizenry would be a danger to the existing social order. The 1%, educated at our finest universities, does not want average Americans to obtain a great education for a reasonable price. They want them to get a worthless diploma at an excessively high price tag and become debt slaves to the Wall Street 1%. They want uneducated, indebted consumers, not educated productive citizens. Our republic has been slowly perverted since the time of its inception. The insidious process had been slow and methodical until 1913. The establishment of the Federal Reserve by an elite group of bankers and their politician friends and the establishment of a personal income tax created the conditions that have allowed a small cabal of powerful men to dictate the course of our economic, political, social, and military policies for the last 98 years. Anyone that chooses to open their eyes and awake from the propaganda induced stupor can see the result of allowing a small group of corrupt authoritarian men using their power to pervert our government into tyranny. The majority remains oppressed, buried under trillions of debt, while the shysters reap obscene profits, poison the worldwide economic system, and walk away unscathed in the aftermath of their crimes.

The ruling oligarchy has become so brazen in the last few years that it has attracted the attention of the critical thinking minority. The advent of the internet has allowed these critical thinking few to analyze the un-sanitized facts, discuss the issues, and provide truth amidst a blizzard of lies. The proliferation of truth telling websites (Zero Hedge, Mish, Financial Sense, Naked Capitalism) has allowed truth seekers to bypass the government sanctioned corporate media. The pillaging of society by the politically powerful, corrupt 1% is plain to see in the graphs below.

The divergence in household income was not the result of hard work, superior intellectual firepower, or the media touted entrepreneurial spirit of the rich. It was the result of the 1% capturing the economic and political system of the United States and using it to ransack the wealth of the formerly working middle class. The fatal flaw which will ultimately result in a fitting end for the powerful elitists is their egos. They are psychopaths, unable to feel empathy for their fellow man. Enough is never enough. They always want more. Life is a game to them. They truly believe they can pull the right strings and continue to accumulate more riches. But they are wrong. They are blinded by their hubris. There are limits to growth based solely on debt and we’ve reached that limit. The world is crumbling under the weight of crippling debt created by these Wall Street psychopaths, while the corrupted bought off politicians try to shift the losses from the bankers who incurred them to the citizens who have already been fleeced. Nomi Prins captures the essence of our current situation:

“Today, the stock prices of the largest US banks are about as low as they were in the early part of 2009, not because of euro-contagion or Super-committee super-incompetence (a useless distraction anyway) but because of the ongoing transparency void surrounding the biggest banks amidst their central-bank-covered risks, and the political hot potato of how many emergency loans are required to keep them afloat at any given moment.  Because investors don’t know their true exposures, any more than in early 2009. Because US banks catalyzed the global crisis that is currently manifesting itself in Europe. Because there never was a separate US housing crisis and European debt crisis. Instead, there is a worldwide, systemic, unregulated, uncontained, rapacious need for the most powerful banks and financial institutions to leverage whatever could be leveraged in whatever forms it could be leveraged in. So, now we’re just barely in the second quarter of the game of thrones, where the big banks are the kings, the ECB, IMF and the Fed are the money supply, and the populations are the powerless serfs. Yeah, let’s play the ECB inflation game, while the world crumbles.”

Those in power are beginning to lose control. You can sense their desperation. Their propaganda is losing its impact as the pain for millions of Americans has become acute. The outrage and anger flaring across the country on a daily basis, reflected in the OWS movement, is just the beginning of a revolutionary period descending upon this nation. The existing social order will be swept away, but they will not go without a fight. They will use their control of the police, military and media to try and crush the coming rebellion.

 The Dream is Gone

“The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws.” – Tacitus, The Annals of Imperial Rome

In addition to controlling the monetary system and brainwashing the inhabitants with relentless propaganda, the ruling class has used their control of the political process to impose thousands of laws, statutes, rules, and regulations upon the citizens. Again, an apathetic, distracted, trusting populace has been easily convinced that more laws will make them safe and secure. They have willingly sacrificed liberty, freedom and self reliance for the façade of safety, security and protection. The overwhelming number of government rules and regulations are designed to control you and insure your compliance and obedience to those in power. In a non-corrupt society inhabited by citizens willing to honor their obligations, government’s function is to insure property rights and defend the country from foreign invaders. Citizens don’t need to be herded like sheep with threats of imprisonment to do what is right. We don’t need 90,000 pages of regulations telling us the difference between right and wrong.

There were 400 pages of Federal Tax rules when the 1% personal income tax was implemented in 1913. Did the 18,000% increase in tax rules since 1913 benefit the average American or did they benefit the 1% who hires the lobbyists to write the rules which are passed into law by the politicians who receive their campaign contributions from the 1%? Do you ever wonder why you pay more taxes than a billionaire Wall Street hedge fund manager? Do you think our tax system is designed to benefit billionaires and mega-corporations when corporations with billions of income pay little or no taxes? Complexity and confusion benefits those who can create and take advantage of the complexity and confusion. Corporations and special interests have used their wealth to bribe politicians to design loopholes, credits, and exemptions that benefit their interests. The corruption of the system is terminal.

“The mistake you make, don’t you see, is in thinking one can live in a corrupt society without being corrupt oneself. After all, what do you achieve by refusing to make money? You’re trying to behave as though one could stand right outside our economic system. But one can’t. One’s got to change the system, or one changes nothing. One can’t put things right in a hole-and-corner way, if you take my meaning.”George Orwell

The American people are paying the price for allowing a few evil men to gain control of our government. The American people cowered in fear as the 342 page Patriot Act was somehow written in a few weeks after 9/11, introduced in Congress on October 23, passed the House on October 24 with no debate, passed the Senate on October 25 with no debate, and signed into law on October 26 by George Bush. A law passed by the ruling elite that stripped Americans of their freedoms and liberties was passed using fear mongering false patriotism propaganda to squelch dissent and the American people had no say in the matter. The government has used fear to keep the American people under control. We now unquestioningly accept being molested in airports. We shrug as our intelligence agencies eavesdrop on our telephone conversations and emails without the need for a court order. It is now taken for granted that we imprison people without charging them with a crime and assassinate suspected terrorists in foreign countries with predator drones. Invading countries and going to war no longer requires a declaration of war by Congress as required by the Constitution. The State grows ever more powerful.

Therefore, it is no surprise that Americans sit idly by, watching their 52 inch HDTVs,  as young people across the country are beaten, pepper sprayed, shot with rubber bullets and tear gas, and scorned and ridiculed by corporate media pundits for exercising their free speech rights to peacefully protest our corrupt system. The American tradition of civil disobedience is considered domestic terrorism by those in authority. Our beloved protectors in the Orwellian named Department of Homeland Security write reports classifying Ron Paul supporters and returning Iraq veterans as potential terrorists. If the powers that be get their way, the internet will be locked down and controlled, as it poses a huge threat to their thought control endeavors. Freedom to think, learn, question and organize resistance is unacceptable in the eyes of the elite. The country has reached a tipping point. Will enough right thinking Americans stand up and fight to bring down this corrupt system, or will we be herded silently to slaughter. The truth is there is something terribly wrong in this country. We are facing a myriad of problems that will require courage and common sense to overcome. We need only look in the mirror to find the guilty party. It is time to stop letting fear dictate our actions. Conflict is coming to this country due to the evil sanctioned by our corrupt leaders and the upright men and women who will bear the burden of destroying that evil.

Our civilization has adopted the worst aspects of the two most famous dystopian novels in history – Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New World. The question is whether the population of this country is too far gone to recover. The answer to that question will determine whether the country chooses authoritarian dictatorship or a renewal of our founding principles. Aldous Huxley understood the three pillars of Western civilization fifty years ago and that their destruction would result in a collapse of our economic system:

“Armaments, universal debt, and planned obsolescence – those are the three pillars of Western prosperity. If war, waste, and moneylenders were abolished, you’d collapse. And while you people are over-consuming the rest of the world sinks more and more deeply into chronic disaster.”

The three pillars sustaining the American empire edifice of never ending war, ever accumulating debt and excessive consumerism are crumbling. The growing corruption and weight of un-payable debt have weakened the very foundation of our grand experiment. The existing structure will surely collapse. My entire adult life has tracked the decline of the American empire. I had become comfortably numb. I came to my senses and began to question all the Federal government/Wall Street/Corporate Media sponsored truths about eight years ago. Many others have also awoken and begun to challenge the false storylines dictated by those in power.

The young people leading the protests across this land are showing tremendous courage and a tenacity of spirit that has been dormant for decades among the lethargic, distracted, over-medicated public. Despite being subjected to government education conditioning, these young people have zeroed in on the enemy. They may not have all the solutions, but they have correctly identified the corrupt banking system as the central nervous system of this vampire squid sucking the life out of our nation. I will support any effort to shine a light on our crooked system. My three young sons deserve a chance at a better life than they will get under the thumb of this oligarchic criminal enterprise. As a child I caught a fleeting glimpse of the American Dream. I turned to look, but it was gone. I choose not to become comfortably numb. I choose to do whatever it will take to renew the opportunity for my sons to achieve the American Dream.

When I was a child
I caught a fleeting glimpse
Out of the corner of my eye
I turned to look but it was gone
I cannot put my finger on it now
The child is grown,
The dream is gone.
I have become comfortably numb.

Pink Floyd – Comfortably Numb

IT’S ALWAYS THE BEST TIME TO BUY

121 comments

Posted on 25th February 2013 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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“The continuing shortages of housing inventory are driving the price gains. There is no evidence of bubbles popping.”David Lereah, NAR mouthpiece/economist – August 2005

“The steady improvement in home sales will support price appreciation despite all the wild projections by academics, Wall Street analysts, and others in the media.” David Lereah, NAR mouthpiece/economist – January 10, 2007

“Buyer traffic is continuing to pick up, while seller traffic is holding steady. In fact, buyer traffic is 40 percent above a year ago, so there is plenty of demand but insufficient inventory to improve sales more strongly. We’ve transitioned into a seller’s market in much of the country. We expect a seasonal rise of inventory this spring, but it may be insufficient to avoid more frequent incidences of multiple bidding and faster-than-normal price growth.” – Lawrence Yun – NAR mouthpiece/economist – February 21, 2013

I really need to stop being so pessimistic. I’m getting richer by the day. My home value is rising at a rate of 1% per month according to the National Association of Realtors. At that rate, my house will be worth $1 million in less than 10 years. My underwater condo (figuratively – not literally) in Wildwood will resurface and make me rich beyond my wildest dreams. Larry Yun, the brilliant economic genius employed by the upstanding and truth telling NAR, reported that median home prices soared by 12.3% in January (down 3.7% from December) over the prior year and there is virtually no inventory left to sell – with a mere 1.75 million homes in inventory – the lowest level since 1999. The median sales price of $173,600 is up “dramatically” from last year’s $154,500 level. I’m sure the NAR meant to mention that home prices are still down 25% from the 2005 high of $230,000. Every mainstream media newspaper, magazine, and news channel is telling me the “strong” housing recovery is propelling the economy and creating millions of new jobs. Keynesian economists, Wall Street bankers, government apparatchiks and housing trade organizations are all in agreement that the wealth effect from rising home prices will be the jumpstart our economy needs to get back to the glory days of 2005. Who am I to argue with such honorable men with degrees from Ivy League schools and a track record of unquestioned accuracy as we can see in the chart below? 

 

Mr. Lereah added to his sterling reputation with his insightful prescient book Why the Real Estate Boom Will Not Bust—And How You Can Profit from It, which was published in February 2006. I understand Ben Bernanke has a signed copy on his nightstand. According to David, he voluntarily decided to leave the NAR in mid-2007 as home prices began their 40% plunge over the next four years. He then admitted in an interview with Money Magazine in 2009 that he was nothing but a shill for the real estate industry, no different than a whore doing tricks for $20. Except he was whoring himself for millions of dollars and contributing to the biggest financial fraud in world history:

“I was pressured by executives to issue optimistic forecasts — then was left to shoulder the blame when things went sour. I was there for seven years doing everything they wanted me to. I worked for an association promoting housing, and it was my job to represent their interests. If you look at my actual forecasts, the numbers were right in line with most forecasts. The difference was that I put a positive spin on it. It was easy to do during boom times, harder when times weren’t good. I never thought the whole national real estate market would burst.”

After Mr. Lereah slithered away from his post he was replaced by the next snake – Lawrence Yun. He proceeded to put the best face possible on the greatest housing collapse in recorded history, assuring the public it was the best time to buy during the entire slide. Five million foreclosures later he’s still telling us it’s the best time to buy. Why shouldn’t we believe the National Association of Realtors and the mainstream media that report their propaganda as indisputable fact? These noble realtooors only have the best interests of their clients at heart. Remember when they warned people about the dangers of liar loans, negative amortization loans, appraisal fraud, nefarious mortgage brokers, criminal bankers, corrupt ratings agencies and the fact that home prices had reached a high two standard deviations above the normal trend? Oh yeah. They didn’t make a peep. They disputed and ridiculed Robert Shiller and anyone else who dared question the healthy “strong” housing market storyline. In late 2011 this superb, above board, truth telling organization admitted what many financial analysts and “crazy” bloggers had been pointing out for years. They were lying about home sales. Their data was false. Between 2007 and 2010, the NAR reported 2.95 million more home sales than had actually occurred. This was not a rounding error. This was not a flaw in their methodology, as they claimed. It was an outright fraudulent attempt to convince the public that the housing market was not in free fall. These guys make the BLS look accurate and above board.   

  

We are now expected to believe their monthly reports as if they are gospel. The mainstream media continues to report their drivel about the lowest inventory level in 14 years without the slightest hint of skepticism.

The Incredible Shrinking Inventory

We are told by good old Larry Yun that there are only 1.74 million homes left for sale in this country and at current sales rates we’ll run out of inventory in 4.2 months. Oh the horror. You better buy now, before it’s too late. We must be running out of houses. Someone call Bob Toll. We need more houses built ASAP, before this becomes a crisis. But there seems to be problem with this storyline. Existing home sales are falling. Even using the NAR seasonally manipulated numbers, sales in January were lower than in November. In a country with 133 million housing units, there were 291,000 existing home sales in January. If there is an inventory shortage, why have new home sales fallen every month since May of 2012? There were a total of 10,000 completed new homes sold in December in the entire country. Housing starts plunged by 8.5% in January. Does this happen when you have a strong housing market? Do you believe the NAR inventory figure of 1.74 million homes for sale? The last time the months of supply was this low was early 2005 – during the good old days.

 

Let’s examine a few facts to determine the true nature of this shocking inventory shortage. According to the U.S. Census Bureau:

  • There are 133 million housing units in the United States
  • There are 115 million occupied housing units in the country, with 75 million owner occupied and 40 million renter occupied.
  • For the math challenged this means that 13.5%, or 18 million housing units, are vacant.
  • Only 4.3 million are considered summer homes, and 3.9 million are available for rent. That leaves 9.8 million homes completely vacant.
  • The Census Bureau specifically identifies 1.6 million of these vacant housing units as up for sale.

So, with 9.8 million vacant housing units in the country and 1.6 million of these identified as for sale, the NAR and media mouthpieces have the balls to report only 1.74 million homes for sale in the entire U.S. This doesn’t even take into account the massive shadow inventory stuck in the foreclosure pipeline. Of the 75 million owner-occupied housing units in the country, 50 million have a mortgage. Of these houses, a full 10.9% are either delinquent or in the foreclosure process. This totals 5.4 million households, with 1.9 million of these households already in the foreclosure process. The number of distressed households is still double the long-term average, even with historically low mortgage rates, multiple government mortgage relief programs (HARP), and Fannie, Freddie and the FHA guaranteeing 90% of all mortgages. Do you think the NAR is including any of these 5.4 million distressed houses in their inventory numbers?

 

Then we have the little matter of a few home occupiers still underwater on their mortgages. After this fabulous two year housing recovery touted by shills and shysters, only 27.5% of ALL mortgage holders are underwater on their mortgage. This means 13.8 million households are in a negative equity position. Those with 5% or less equity are effectively underwater since closing costs usually exceed 6% of the house’s value. That adds another 2.2 million households to the negative equity bucket. Do you think any of these 16 million households would be selling if they could?  

U.S. homeowners with a mortgage are slowly gaining equity back in their homes. 

The negative equity position of millions of homeowners gets at the gist of the effort to re-inflate the housing bubble. By artificially pumping up home prices, the Wall Street titans and their co-conspirators at the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department are attempting to repair insolvent Wall Street bank balance sheets, lure unsuspecting dupes back into the housing market, reignite the economy through the old stand-by wealth effect, and of course enrich themselves and their crony capitalist friends. The artificial suppression of home inventory has been working wonders, as 2 million homeowners were freed from negative equity in 2012. If they can only lure enough suckers back into the pool, all will be well. Phoenix must have an inordinate number of chumps with home prices rising by 22.5% in 2012 as investors and flippers poured into the market with cheap debt and big dreams. Of course everything is relative, as prices are still down 44% from the peak and 40% of mortgages remain underwater. I strongly urge everyone without a functioning brain to pour their life savings into the Phoenix housing market. Larry Yun says it’s a can’t miss path to riches.  

Despite the propaganda, hyperbole, and cheerleading from the corporate media, the fact remains that national homeowner’s equity is barely above its all-time low of 38%, down from 62% in 2000 and 70% in 1980. The NAR shills, Federal Reserve drug pushers, Wall Street shysters, and pliant media lured the middle class into the false belief that housing was an asset class that could make you rich. Homes became the major portion of middle class net worth. As prices were driven higher from 2000 through 2006, the middle class took the bait hook line and sinker and borrowed billions against their ever increasing faux housing wealth. This set up the impending collapse of middle class net worth, created by the 1%ers on Wall Street, in Washington DC, and in corporate executive suites across the land.  The median American household lost 47% of its wealth between 2007 and 2010. Average household wealth, which is skewed dramatically by the richest Americans, declined by only 18%. Real estate only accounts for 30% of the net worth of the rich. For the middle 60%, housing has risen from 62% to 67% of total wealth since 1983. Middle class families’ saw their cash cushion fall from 21% in 1983 to 8% before the crash. They were convinced that living on Wall Street peddled debt was the path to prosperity. After the crash, the middle class has been left with no cash, underwater mortgages, declining real wages, less jobs, and a mountain of credit card debt. Delusions have been crushed. But an on-line degree from the University of Phoenix funded by a Federal student loan of $20,000 will surely revive the fortunes of the average unemployed middle class worker.  

 

Despite the destruction of middle class hopes, dreams, and net worth, the ruling plutocracy has decided the best way to revive their fortunes is to lure the ignorant masses into more student loan debt, auto debt and mortgage debt.

Don’t Look Behind the Curtain

“The real hopeless victims of mental illness are to be found among those who appear to be most normal. Many of them are normal because they are so well adjusted to our mode of existence, because their human voice has been silenced so early in their lives that they do not even struggle or suffer or develop symptoms as the neurotic does. They are normal not in what may be called the absolute sense of the word; they are normal only in relation to a profoundly abnormal society. Their perfect adjustment to that abnormal society is a measure of their mental sickness. These millions of abnormally normal people, living without fuss in a society to which, if they were fully human beings, they ought not to be adjusted.” Aldous Huxley – Brave New World Revisited

 

What is normal in a profoundly abnormal, manipulated, propaganda driven society? The NAR and Federal government issue their public relations announcements every month and attempt to spin straw into gold. The media then fulfill their assigned role by touting the results as unequivocal proof of an economic recovery. This is all designed to revive the animal spirits of the clueless public. Statistics in the hands of those who have no regard for the truth can be manipulated to portray any storyline that serves their corrupt purposes. When I see a story about the housing market referencing a percentage increase as proof of a recovery I know it’s time to check the charts. You see, even a fractional increase from an all-time low will generate an impressive percentage increase. So let’s go to the charts in search of this blossoming housing recovery.

The media, NAHB, and certain bloggers look at this chart and declare that new home sales are up 20% from 2011 levels. Sounds awesome. I look at this chart and note that 2011 was the lowest number of new home sales in U.S. history. I look at this chart and note that new home sales are 75% below the peak in 2005. I look at this chart and note that new home sales are lower today than at the bottom of every recession over the last fifty years. I look at this chart and note that new home sales are lower today than they were in 1963, when the population of the United States was a mere 189 million, 40% less than today’s population. Do you see any signs of a strong housing recovery in this chart?    

 

The housing cheerleaders look at the chart below and crow about a 75% increase in housing starts. I look at this chart and note that housing starts in 2009 were the lowest in recorded U.S. history. I look at this chart and note that total housing starts are down 60% and single family starts are down 70% from 2006 highs. I look at this chart and note the “surge” in housing starts is completely being driven by apartment construction, because the student loan indebted youth can’t afford to buy houses. I look at this chart and note that housing starts are 40% below 1968 levels. Do you see any signs of a strong housing recovery in this chart?   

 

Those trying to lure the gullible non-thinking masses into paying inflated prices for the “few” houses available for sale declare that existing home sales are up 50% in the last two years. Of course, the 3.3 million low in 2010 was the lowest level in decades. Existing home sales are still 30% below the 2005 high of 7.2 million and the abnormal structure of these home sales is dramatically different than the normal sales of yesteryear.

 

The wizards behind the curtain don’t want you to understand how the 50% increase in existing home sales has been achieved. They just want you to be convinced that a return to normalcy has happened and it’s the best time to buy. The NAR wizards and the media wizards don’t publicize the composition of these skyrocketing sales. At the end of the NAR “buy a home before it’s too late” monthly press release you find out that distressed homes (foreclosed & short sales) now make up 23% of all home sales and have accounted for well over 30% of all home sales since 2010. Another 28% of home sales are all-cash sales to investors looking to turn them into rental units or flip them for a quick buck. Lastly, 30% of homes are being bought by first time home buyer pansies who have been lured into the market by 3.5% down payment loans through the FHA, with the future losses born by middle class taxpayers who had no say in the matter. Prior to the housing crash, normal buyers who just wanted a place to live, accounted for 90% of all home purchases. Today they make up less than 30% of home buyers. Does this chart portray a normal market or a profoundly abnormal market? Does it portray a healthy housing recovery based upon sound economic fundamentals?      

 all cash buyers

The answer is NO. The contrived elevation of home sales and home prices has been engineered by the very same culprits who crashed our financial system in the first place. This has been planned, coordinated and implemented by a conspiracy of the ruling oligarchy – the Federal Reserve, Wall Street, U.S. Treasury, NAR, and the corporate media conglomerates. Ben’s job was to screw senior citizens and drive interest rates low enough that everyone in the country could refinance, attract investors & flippers into the market, and propel home prices higher. Wall Street has been the linchpin to the whole sordid plan. They were tasked with drastically limiting the foreclosure pipeline, therefore creating a fake shortage of inventory. Next, JP Morgan, Blackrock, Citi, Bank of America, and dozens of other private equity firms have partnered with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, using free money provided by Ben Bernanke, to create investment funds to buy up millions of distressed properties and convert them into rental properties, further reducing the inventory of homes for sale and driving prices higher. Only the connected crony capitalists on Wall Street are getting a piece of this action. The Wall Street big hanging dicks have screwed the American middle class coming and going. The NAR and media are tasked with what they do best – spew propaganda, misinform, lie, cheerlead and attempt to create a buying frenzy among the willfully ignorant masses. The chart below reveals the truth about the strong sustainable housing recovery. It doesn’t exist. Mortgage applications by real people who want to live in a home are no higher than they were in 2010 when home sales were 33% lower than today. Mortgage applications are lower than they were in 1997 when 4 million existing homes were sold versus the 5 million pace today. The housing recovery is just another Wall Street scam designed to bilk the American middle class of what remains of their net worth.

 

The multi-faceted plan to keep this teetering edifice from collapsing is being executed according to the mandates of the financial class:

  • Distribute hundreds of billions in student loans to artificially suppress the unemployment rate, while the BLS adjusts millions more out of the labor force – CHECK
  • Have Ally Financial (80% owned by Obama) and Wall Street banks dole out subprime auto loans to millions and offer 7 year financing at 0%, while GM (Government Motors) channel stuffs its dealers, to create the appearance of an auto recovery – CHECK
  • Drive mortgage rates down, restrict home supply through foreclosure market manipulation, shift the risk of losses to the taxpayer, and allow Wall Street to control the housing market – CHECK
  • Have the corporate mainstream media continuously spout optimistic, positive puff pieces designed to convince an ignorant, apathetic public that the economy is improving, jobs are being created, and housing has recovered – CHECK

Free money, government subsidies, no regulation, Wall Street hubris, get rich quick schemes, media propaganda, and an ignorant public – what could possibly go wrong?   

Here is what could and will go wrong. Everyone in the country that could refinance to a mortgage rate of 4% or lower has done so. Contrary to Bernanke’s rhetoric that “QE to Infinity” would lower mortgage rates, they have just risen to a six month high as the 10 Year Treasury rose 60 basis points from its 2012 low. If mortgage rates just rose to a modest 5% the housing market would come to a grinding halt as no one would trade a 3.5% mortgage for a 5% mortgage. As I’ve detailed earlier, there are 3.9 vacant housing units available for rent. Almost half of the new housing units under construction are apartments. The Wall Street shysters are converting millions of foreclosed homes into rental units. This avalanche of rental properties will depress rents and destroy the modeled ROI calculations of the brilliant Wall Street Ivy league MBAs. These lemmings will all attempt to exit their “investments” at the same time. The FHA is already broke. The mounting losses from their 3.5% down payment to future deadbeats program will force them to curtail this taxpayer financed debacle. There will be few first time home buyers, as young people saddled with a trillion dollars of student loan debt are incapable of buying a home.

These are the facts. But why trust facts when you can believe Baghdad Ben and the NAR? It’s always the best time to buy.

    08-08-12c_baghdad_bob.jpg

“All that said, given the fundamental factors in place that should support the demand for housing, we believe the effect of the troubles in the subprime sector on the broader housing market will likely be limited, and we do not expect significant spillovers from the subprime market to the rest of the economy or to the financial system.  The vast majority of mortgages, including even subprime mortgages, continue to perform well.  Past gains in house prices have left most homeowners with significant amounts of home equity, and growth in jobs and incomes should help keep the financial obligations of most households manageable.” – Ben Bernanke – May 17, 2007

 

ALL IS WELL!!!

129 comments

Posted on 6th February 2013 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” Aldous Huxley

 

I woke up this past Saturday morning and opened my local paper to find out that all was well. An Associated Press article declared a healthy jobs market, fantastic auto sales, a surging housing market, and a stock market rocketing to new all-time highs. What’s not to love? If the mainstream media says the economy is as good as new, it must be so. Why should we let facts get in the way of a good storyline? The stock market has surged to 2007 highs, so the country’s employment situation must be strong.

 

The chart above tells a slightly different story. The S&P 500 has regained almost all its losses since October 2007 as Bernanke and Washington politicians chose to save Wall Street and screw over Main Street. The working age population has risen by 12.8 million since 2007 and there are 4 million less Americans employed. The December Household Survey from the BLS being touted by the mainstream media as proof of a jobs recovery told a slightly different story:  

  • The number of unemployed Americans went up by 126,000 in one month
  • Another 169,000 Americans left the workforce evidently because their stock market gains made them wealthy.
  • There are 250,000 more Americans unemployed than there were in September 2012.
  • There are 6,000 less Americans employed than there were in October 2012.
  • The unemployment rate reported to the masses went up to 7.9% (the true rate reached 23%).

This is just the picture over the last few months. The picture since 2007 is beyond horrific, as more than 10 million Americans have left the workforce. Everyone knows people willingly leave the labor force when the economy crashes and their net worth is reduced by 30%. Who needs a paying job then? Just because there are 101 million working age Americans not working and the labor participation rate of 63.6% is at a three decade low, certainly doesn’t mean we aren’t experiencing a tremendous jobs recovery, according to the mainstream media.   

 

The deep thinkers at CNBC, Fox, CNN and the rest of the captured corporate status quo mouthpieces, propagate the false storyline that the reason for Americans leaving the workforce is Baby Boomers retiring. Considering the average Boomer has $90,000 of total savings and 28% of them have less than $1,000 saved, I suspect there are few willingly leaving the workforce. The Boomers have taken on 4 million additional jobs since the low point in 2009, while the 16 to 54 year olds have lost an additional 2.9 million jobs. Does this reflect a strengthening jobs market? Does the fact that real hourly wages have fallen for the last two years reflect an improving labor market?  

 

Inquiring minds might wonder how auto sales could be booming when there are 4 million less employed Americans and real wages are falling. Of course, mainstream media faux journalists aren’t paid to inquire, think critically, or even think at all. They are paid to regurgitate propaganda designed to keep the masses sedated and ignorant. The “fabulous” rebound in auto sales has been buoyed by the return of easy money lending, even to deadbeat borrowers with lousy credit histories. There is a reason the Federal government hasn’t attempted to spin off their 80% control of Ally Financial (aka GMAC, Ditech, Rescap). The Feds are attempting to manufacture a recovery by doling out subprime auto loans to anyone who can scratch an X on a loan document and offering 0% loans over 7 years to good credits. How exactly does a finance company generate a profit by making 0% loans for seven years and approving loans to people with no means of paying them back? Experian recently noted that 44% of ALL auto loans have been to subprime borrowers over the last year. When a financing company doesn’t have to worry about profits or loan losses, everyone gets a Cadillac Escalade. The losses on these subprime loans will be in the billions when the next leg down in this Crisis hits. The taxpayer will unknowingly pick up the tab, just as they have been doing for the last five years. The trend in this chart is nothing but a Federal government induced fraud.

 

PhD in Stupidity

The Federal government induced sham auto recovery is small peanuts compared to the bubble they are blowing in the higher education realm. Since the Federal government took over 85% of the student loan market in 2009, the debt outstanding has surged to over $1 trillion from below $600 billion. The Feds don’t care about credit risk or loan losses. You’re on the hook for the losses. The purpose for doubling the amount of student loans was to artificially lower the unemployment rate by removing as many people from the labor force as possible. The 600,000 University of Phoenix enrollees getting their on-line master’s degrees in basket weaving while sitting in their mother’s basement, subsidized with $20,000 loans from the taxpayer, didn’t count as unemployed.

Enrollment in these diploma mills has begun to plunge, as the scam has been revealed. The New York Times reported that:

“Enrollments at the University of Phoenix and in the for-profit sector over all have been declining in the last two years, partly because of growing competition from other online providers, including nonprofit and public universities, and a steady drumroll of negative publicity about the sector’s recruiting abuses, low graduation rates and high default rates … including many charges that the schools enrolled students who had almost no chance of succeeding, to get their federal student aid.”

Enrolling students who have no chance of graduating is exactly what the Obama Administration and the status quo want.

 

Based upon the chart below you would think the United States is producing the brightest bunch of young people in U.S. history. Nothing could be further from the truth. Only 43% of the 1.66 million private and public school students who took the college-entrance exam posted scores showing they are prepared to do well in college, according to data released by the College Board, the nonprofit group that administers the SAT. The SAT data mirror scores from the ACT college-entrance exam which showed about 75% of students failed to meet college-readiness standards. If SAT scores are at decade lows, how could college enrollment be at record highs? Our government controlled public school system is graduating functionally illiterate dullards and the government is then subsidizing these subprime students as they matriculate into substandard colleges across the land.  Approximately 3.4 million seniors are graduating from our high schools every year. The 1.66 million seniors who took the SAT exam are the cream of the crop. If the 50% of students who took the SAT exam could score so pitifully, imagine how dimwitted the 50% of students who didn’t even take the exam must be.  The upshot of these tests are that only 700,000 of all the graduating high school seniors (21%) are capable of getting a B minus or above in college.

college enrollment rates 

Think about that for one second. Only 21% of all graduating high school seniors are intelligent enough to get a B minus in college, but 70% of them are enrolling in college. Of course enrolling in college and graduating college are two different things. Only 30% actually graduate college. The other 40% get drunk, fornicate, sleep late, fail, rack up gobs of debt, and then drop out. There are approximately 13 million 18 to 24 year olds enrolled in college today and at least 6 million of them have little to no chance of graduating. If the Federal government was not subsidizing them with loans, they would rightfully be looking for jobs geared to their intellectual capabilities. Would tuition rates be soaring if there were 6 million less drones matriculating into one of the 4,000 mostly mediocre higher learning institutions in this country?

 

The Federal government bureaucrats who think they can control the levers of finance to steer our economy to greater heights are creating a new subprime bubble. The absolute implosion of the for profit diploma mills, that have fed like bloated pigs at the Federal loan trough, is the Bear Stearns moment for the massive student loan losses that will be foisted on the shoulders of the American taxpayer. The deceptive schemes, fraud, and financial aid manipulation practices of the publicly traded diploma mills – Corinthian Colleges (down 90%), ITT (down 90%), Apollo Group (down 80%) and DeVry (down 60%) have been revealed, as their ill- gotten profits have evaporated and their stock prices have crashed. Enrollment at the king of worthless online degrees, the University of Phoenix, has plunged from 600,000 to 400,000 and they are closing 115 of their 227 campuses. The proof that much of the student loan bubble has been created by these for-profit shysters can be seen by the fact that 60% of all student loans are owed by people over 30 years old, with 33% owed by people over 40 years old. These people bought into the re-training fallacy perpetuated by government drones and mainstream media mouthpieces.

StudentLoans1 

But still the Federal government continues to blow the bubble bigger and bigger as non-revolving consumer debt has reached all-time highs. Peter Thiel recently compared this bubble to the housing bubble we are still dealing with:

“We have a bubble in education, like we had a bubble in housing…everybody believed you had to have a house, they’d pay whatever it took. Today, everybody believes that we need to go to college, and people will pay– whatever it takes. There are all sorts of vocational careers that pay extremely well today, so the average plumber makes as much as the average doctor. I did not realize how screwed up the education system is. We now have $1 trillion in student debt in the U.S. Cynically you can say it’s paid for $1 trillion of lies about how good education is.”

Delinquency rates have already begun to skyrocket as the diploma mill scam implodes, dropouts can’t make loan payments with their EBT cards and even graduates from legitimate colleges are stuck waitressing at TGI Fridays and can’t make their payments. Millions of millenials are ensnared in the chains of debt servitude, with no chance of escape. 

 

Delinquency rates on student loans made in the past two years stand at 15%, according to FICO, versus 12.4% for loans made from 2005 to 2007. This is proof that loans doled out since the Federal government took control of the market have been distributed willy-nilly in a frantic effort to artificially reduce the unemployment rate. Average student- loan debt last year rose to $27,253 from $17,233 in 2005, with almost 605 of bank managers surveyed in December expecting delinquencies to worsen in six months, according to FICO. Andrew Jennings, chief analytics officer of Fair Issac, said in a statement:

“This situation is simply unsustainable and we’re already suffering the consequences. When wage growth is slow and jobs are not as plentiful as they once were, it is impossible for individuals to continue taking out ever-larger student loans without greatly increasing the risk of default.”

When subprime mortgages blew up, at least there was collateral to alleviate some of the losses. When the subprime auto loans blow up, at least there will be vehicles to repossess. Student loan debts are the ultimate in subprime, with no collateral and millions of jobless debtors. The situation is much worse than the delinquency numbers reveal. More than half of the student loans are in deferment, grace periods, or forbearance, meaning they are not currently requiring repayment. This means the true delinquency rates are twice as high as the reported figure of 15%. What happens next can be succinctly summed up by the esteemed economist John Kenneth Galbraith:

 “Then the shit hit the fan.”John Kenneth Galbraith

The involuntary taxpayer bailout for this Federal Government created disaster will exceed $200 billion after the shit is done hitting the fan.

Do You Want Pepperoni on that Housing Recovery?

 

Everywhere I turn I’m hearing about the strong housing recovery that is propelling our economy, generating jobs and spurring a resurgence in retail spending by the millions of deleveraged consumers. Wall Street paid economists on CNBC, NYT economic “journalists”, and even the Fox News blond bimbo brigade all assure me the housing market is in a strong recovery and it’s the best time to buy. There are just two small problems with the story. None of the propaganda spouted by the mouthpieces of the kleptocracy is supported by the facts. And what little uptick in sales and prices that has occurred is due to collusion, fraud and manipulation by Wall Street, the Federal Reserve, the Treasury Department, and connected crony corporate interests.

I challenge anyone to show me the tremendous housing recovery on the new home sales chart below. New homes sales have “surged” to an annual pace of 369,000, only 74% below the 2006 peak and about 50% below the long term average. New home sales fell in December at the fastest rate since February 2011. Existing home sales also fell in December, are pacing at 1999 levels, and are still 30% below 2006 levels. In a country of 115 million households, with mortgage rates at all-time lows, there were a total of 26,000 new homes sold in December, and only 10,000 of them were actually built. For some perspective, new home sales are at the same level as they were in 1967 when the U.S. population was 200 million.  

 

The kleptocrats’ master plan has multiple dimensions designed to lure unsuspecting dupes back into the market. The Federal Reserve has bought over $1 trillion of toxic mortgage debt, freeing the criminal Wall Street banks to start raping the American public again. Bernanke has driven mortgage rates to near all-time lows by tripling his balance sheet, with promises to quadruple it before the end of the year. By driving real interest rates below zero Bernanke has the dual purpose of driving people into the stock market for a positive return and luring “investors” into the housing market.

The Wall Street part of this grand scheme has been to delay the foreclosure process on millions of homes, thereby restricting the amount of inventory on the market. By artificially creating an inventory “shortage”, they have been able to drive prices higher, with the purpose of trying to get the 25% of underwater homeowners back to breakeven. The Treasury Department, through their captured entities (Fannie, Freddie, FHA) are guaranteeing 95% of all mortgages, with the FHA requiring only 3.5% down payments, with the hundreds of billions in  present and future losses being incurred by the American taxpayer. You’ve heard of the cycle of life. This is the government cycle of fraud.

The last part of the plan has been to lure investors into the market. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have sold huge blocks of foreclosed homes to connected friends of Wall Street at below market rates so they could convert them to rental properties. This has further artificially reduced inventory available for sale, and jacked up prices by as much as 20% in the former bubble markets of Phoenix, Las Vegas and California. Investors and flippers account for 30% of all home sales, with another 24% of home sales listed as distressed sales. Sure sounds like a healthy market to me. With this full court press by the powers that be to produce a housing recovery, the chart below reveals the utter ineptitude of their effort. Real home prices, even using the fake government manipulated CPI, have barely budged from their lows and sit at 1990 levels. Real home prices are still down 40% from their 2006 highs.     

If a true housing recovery was underway how could mortgage purchase applications be at 1997 levels? If housing was recovering there would be more mortgage applications. It really is that simple. Do supposed journalists have any critical thinking skills or are they just playing their assigned role in this kleptocracy?

 

Essentially, the kleptocrats’ primary purpose has been to protect and enhance the wealth of the oligarchs that control Wall Street, Washington DC, and corporate America. They have achieved their goal, while destroying the middle class and sentencing unborn generations to a life sentence of debt servitude.

If we have been experiencing a solid jobs recovery, strong automobile sales, a resurgence of consumer spending, and rising home sales and home prices, how could GDP be negative in the 4th quarter? The mainstream media immediately declared it the best negative GDP of all-time. They pompously declared that GDP would have been positive if government defense spending hadn’t plummeted. These disgraceful excuses for journalists failed to mention the huge surge in government and defense spending in the 3rd quarter just prior to the presidential election that accounted for a 3.1% GDP and helped get Obama re-elected. A less trusting person than myself might question why the surge in government spending prior to the election.

Did the mainstream media government mouthpieces question the absolutely laughable 0.60% inflation rate used to calculate the 4th quarter GDP? No they didn’t. That wouldn’t support their storyline of recovery. Using even the bastardized CPI figure of 2.0% would have produced a -1.5% GDP figure. Using real inflation figures over time reveals what every middle class family in America knows in their bones – the economy has essentially been in recession since the early 2000s. The massive dose of debt issued by the government has masked the true nature of our economic decline.   

 

All is not well. Any awake and aware citizen knows the economic, financial, societal and social fabric of this country is in tatters, and is getting progressively worse by the day. Since this supposed economic recovery began in mid-2009, the country has added 4 million jobs, more than 100% of which went to workers over the age of 55, forced into the workforce by Bernanke’s zero interest rate policy. Over this same time frame of economic recovery, 16 million Americans went on food stamps. How could this possibly happen if the economy has been recovering? Either the government and mainstream media are lying about the economic recovery or the Obama administration has been fraudulently encouraging people to go on food stamps to win votes in elections. Which of these truths is more palatable to your sensibilities?     

 

It comes down to this. The monied interests, high financiers, corporate interests, captured politicians, government apparatchiks, and corporate media have a vested interest in maintaining the corrupt and destructive status quo. They have become rich and powerful through their manipulation of the currency, ravenous sacking of the national wealth, destruction of the working middle class, and ability to use mass media propaganda to convince the willfully ignorant masses to learn to love their debt servitude. Our once proud, liberty minded, self-sufficient nation of freedom loving individuals has devolved into a kleptocracy,  where a small cadre of powerful men run the show solely to increase the personal wealth and political power of officials and the ruling class at the expense of the wider population. They are essentially running a state sponsored embezzlement and Ponzi scheme to pillage the wealth of the dumbed down, sedated, technologically distracted masses. Our entire system has been captured and we are entering the final stages of decay and ultimately a day of reckoning where the guilty and innocent alike will suffer the awful consequences of currency collapse, death and destruction on a wide scale, and likely civil and world war.

 “The Fed is now engaged in a control fraud, and what appears to be racketeering in conjunction with a few big investment banks. They may have entered into it with good intentions, but they seem to have been turned towards deceit and corruption. This is not an historical event, but an ongoing theft in conjunction with a number of Wall Street banks, and politicians whom they have paid off through a corrupt system of campaign financing and influence peddling. This is nothing new in history if one reads the un-sanitized version. But people never think it can happen today, that somehow yesterday things were different, as if one is looking at some distant, foreign land. This is a facet of the illusion of general progress.

We are now in the cover-up stage of a scandal, similar to Watergate when the White House was stone-walling. The difference is that the corruption and capture of the government is much more pervasive now, and includes a significant portion of the mainstream media, so meaningful reform is difficult. Most of what has transpired so far has been designed to distract and placate the people in their righteous anger. The Fed deceives the Congress and the public, turns a blind eye to glaring conflicts of interest, and is essentially debasing the currency while transferring the wealth of the nation to their cronies. And still the regulators do not enforce the laws they have, and Washington drags its feet while accepting buckets of cash from the perpetrators.”Jesse

The entire system is corrupt to its core. Both political parties, regulatory agencies, Wall Street, the Federal Reserve, and mainstream media are participants in this enormous fraud. They grow more desperate and bold by the day. The lies, misinformation and propaganda being spewed on a daily basis become more outrageous and audacious. They are using the Big Lie method on a grand scale. They frantically need to lure the muppets into the stock market and the housing market to keep the game going a little longer. You can sense we are reaching a tipping point. The system they have created is mathematically unsustainable. Therefore, it will not be sustained. The world is going mad. Governments across the globe are all trying to out debase each other. Austerity and inflation for the peasants and caviar and champagne for the Davos class is the chosen path. All is not well. Ben Bernanke and the oligarchs running the show will be immortalized in history books forever when this farce comes to a spectacular conclusion.   

 “If all else fails, immortality can always be assured by spectacular error.”John Kenneth Galbraith   

survival seed vault

THE QUIET TITLE WORKBOOK

4 comments

Posted on 8th October 2012 by in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

John Stuart is an expert on Quiet Title Action, a legal tactic many readers of the Who’s Your Lender? thread are interested in pursuing. He volunteers much of his time to educate homeowners. This is a real how-to file Quiet Title Workbook that homeowners can use to guide their attorneys or follow the steps outlined themselves.

Either way, it’s a great way to clear your property title through the state courts and restore the rule of law.

Well worth the $99 price tag.

Anti Foreclosure Network

PRESS RELEASE

Date: October 8, 2012 Contact: John Stuart

For Immediate Release                                                                                                                         [email protected]

ShowMeTheLoan . net presents “THE QUIET TITLE WORKBOOK”

The newly revised fifth edition of THE QUIET TITLE WORKBOOK is now available for $99.99 at: www . showmetheloan . net

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THE QUIET TITLE WORKBOOK is a compilation of 5 years of research by the author and dozens of researchers, attorneys and laymen alike; an education obtained through fighting hundreds of court cases and dozens of creditors.

THE QUIET TITLE WORKBOOK is 417 pages, with 30 chapters and over 20 legal pleadings, motions and letters you can cut and paste with your personal information to fight the banks and other “creditors” in or out of court. Many of these templates have been used repeatedly and have been successful numerous times. Most of the information is based on discoveries by the author and is currently being used around the country by attorneys, paralegals, legal groups and laymen. Some of these discoveries are so ground breaking that most attorneys never learned them in law school. An action to Quiet Title is the simplest and by far most effective way to beat the banks and prevent them from unlawfully and/or fraudulently foreclosing on your home.

THE QUIET TITLE WORKBOOK is the education and the ammunition you need to successfully beat the banks when they violate law and/or procedures to steal the home that is lawfully yours.

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WHO DESTROYED THE MIDDLE CLASS – PART 2

77 comments

Posted on 22nd June 2012 by Administrator in Economy

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In Part 1 of this three part series I addressed where and how the net worth of the middle class was stolen. In Part 2, I will tackle who stole your net worth and in Part 3, why they stole your net worth. Now let’s zero in on the culprits of this crime.

Dude, Who Stole My Net Worth?

“Thus far, both political parties have been remarkably clever and effective in concealing this new reality. In fact, the two parties have formed an innovative kind of cartel—an arrangement I have termed America’s political duopoly. Both parties lie about the fact that they have each sold out to the financial sector and the wealthy. So far both have largely gotten away with the lie, helped in part by the enormous amount of money now spent on deceptive, manipulative political advertising.” Charles FergusonPredator Nation

When you dig into the charts and data supplied by the Federal Reserve generated report, the data which goes back to 2001 tells a story not addressed by the deceptive, manipulative, political propaganda that passes for investigative reporting by the captured mainstream media. The chart below compares the median versus mean income growth from the last three Fed consumer surveys. Overall, it reveals a lost decade of negative income growth for the average middle class family. In the early part of the decade the average middle class family made some progress as jobs were relatively plentiful and the internet crash mostly impacted the rich, who own most of the stocks in the country. This is why the median income rose while the average income fell. The wealthy have a large impact on the average because they own the vast majority of assets in this country. The stock market debacle was unacceptable to the oligarchs and their money printing puppet Greenspan.

Both the liberal and conservative wings of the ruling oligarchy were in complete agreement. A new bubble needed to be blown in order to refill the coffers of the ruling class. Paul Krugman spoke for the liberal wing:

“To fight this recession the Fed needs more than a snapback; it needs soaring household spending to offset moribund business investment. And to do that, as Paul McCulley of Pimco put it, Alan Greenspan needs to create a housing bubble to replace the Nasdaq bubble.”

Greenspan and his handpicked successor Bernanke represented the conservative wing by reducing interest rates to ridiculously low levels, failing to carry out their regulatory obligations, encouraging recklessness, and purposefully failing to acknowledge and deflate the greatest housing bubble in world history:

“American consumers might benefit if lenders provided greater mortgage product alternatives to the traditional fixed-rate mortgage.” Alan Greenspan – February 2004

“House prices have risen by nearly 25 percent over the past two years. Although speculative activity has increased in some areas, at a national level these price increases largely reflect strong economic fundamentals.” – Ben Bernanke – October 2005

“With respect to their safety, derivatives, for the most part, are traded among very sophisticated financial institutions and individuals who have considerable incentive to understand them and to use them properly.” – Ben Bernanke – November 2005

The master plan worked like a charm from 2004 through 2007 as you can see by the tremendous surge in average income. The stock market rocketed by 75% between 2003 and 2007 and national home prices shot up by 50%. Wall Street creatively invented no doc, negative amortization, interest only, subprime mortgages and generated a frenzy of demand from anyone that could scratch an X on a loan document, just as Greenspan had demanded. Being “sophisticated” financial institutions, they were able to assemble thousands of shit loans that were certain to default into one big derivative package of shit and their captured lackeys at the “sophisticated” rating agencies stamped a AAA rating on the smelly pile of feces. Always looking out for the best interests of their clients (aka muppets), the upstanding Wall Street firms sold the derivative piles of shit to them as can’t miss investments. Wall Street profits went off the charts. Billions in bonuses flowed to the rich and powerful Wall Street titans. Mega-corporations generated record profits as consumers utilized the Fed induced tsunami of easy debt to buy BMWs, 72 inch HDTVs, home theaters, stainless steel appliances, granite counter-tops, Caribbean cruises, Jimmy Choo shoes, and Rolex watches in a mad frenzy of consumer delusion.

What you might also notice in the chart above is that median household income somehow declined during this decadent orgy of corporate fascist pleasure. How could this be? Table 2 from the Fed report makes it clear. The vast majority of households in this country generate 75% to 81% of their income from wages. Virtually none of the income generated in 85 million households (the bottom 75%) comes from interest, dividends or capital gains. You need money to make money. The top 10% only generated 46% of their income from wages. The report does not provide details on the top 1%, but wages most certainly account for less than 20% of their income. Interest, dividends and capital gains represented 22.2% of the income for the top 10%, while it represented less than 1% of income for the bottom 75%. This data is the smoking gun that proves that Federal Reserve policy and control fraud on a grand scale by the titans of Wall Street was designed and executed to benefit only the wealthy elite billionaire class and their co-conspirators. All the income gains during this time accrued to the psychopathic amoral financial oligarchy. The average family saw their real wages decline and anyone lured into the housing market during this time frame by the “sophisticated” financial experts at Citicorp, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Merrill Lynch, Countrywide, Washington Mutual, Wachovia, Bear Stearns, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, and the other members of the Too Big To Fail criminal syndicate was set up for epic loses.

Source of Household Income By Percentile of Net Worth

As expected, the psychopathic banker class could not be satisfied with the results of their looting. Their gluttonous voracious greed culminated in a historic collapse of the worldwide financial system resulting in a housing implosion, stock market crash and 8 million middle class Americans losing their jobs.  The Fed report does show that average household income declined more than median household income after this historic financial oligarchy created collapse. One look at Table 6 from the Fed report will explain why. Only 15% of families own stocks and only 50% have retirement accounts. Approximately 50 million households in the country have virtually no stocks and less than 30% have retirement accounts. The top 10% wealthiest households, with a median household net worth of $1.2 million, proportionately own 3 times as much stock as the average family and 90% have retirement accounts. Therefore, the 57% crash in stocks impacted the top 10% to a greater extent, while the average family was most impacted by the 28% drop in home prices.

9 out of 10 Young People Don't Invest in Stocks

Despite the fact that the median net worth of the top 10% actual rose from $1.17 million in 2007 to $1.19 million in 2010 (while the bottom 80% saw their net worth decline by 36%) the losses in the stock market were intolerable to the banker predators and their captured government parasite politicians. All the “solutions” to the Wall Street induced financial debacle have been designed to benefit those who committed the crime and should have done the time. The singular design of those pulling the strings was to replenish the treasure chests on Wall Street, engineer a stock market rally to pump up the net worth and capital gain income for the 1%, and protect the vested interests of the financial elite. All the obscene criminally generated profits created during the boom were privatized into the grubby hands of the financial predators, while the subsequent gargantuan losses were socialized onto the backs of the American middle class taxpayers and future unborn generations.

TARP was rammed through the captured Congress by the oligarchs despite a 300 to 1 opposition from the public in order to protect obscenely wealthy bankers, stockholders and bondholders. The $800 billion of debt financed political pork, disguised as stimulus, was doled out to corporate contributors, union thugs, and a myriad of other special interests. Zero interest rates are specifically geared to generate billions of risk free profits for Wall Street and to force retirees to gamble their dwindling retirement funds in the rigged stock market. Bernanke and Paulson threatened the limp wristed pocket protector CPAs at the FASB into allowing Wall Street banks to make up the value of their loan portfolios in order to mislead the public regarding their insolvency. The tripling of the Federal Reserve balance sheet from $950 billion in September 2008 to $2.9 trillion today was done to remove the toxic assets from the balance sheets of the Too Big To Fail Wall Street cabal at 100 cents on the dollar.  QE1, QE2, and Operation Twist have had the sole purpose of providing the “sophisticated” financial elite with the funds to pump into the stock market using their high frequency trading super computers.

The subsequent Federal Reserve contrived 100% increase in the S&P 500 has repaired the damaged balance sheets of the moneyed interests, while the average middle class family has sunk further into debt and despair. The powerful entrenched sociopathic marauder class cares not for the average middle class American. They can barely conceal their contempt and disgust for the masses as they blatantly flaunt their hegemony and supremacy over our decrepit decaying corrupted economic system. M. Ramsey King described the disgusting display last week:

“Jamie Dimon’s appearance before the Senate Banking Committee was a sickening display that clearly demonstrated that Congress has been thoroughly corrupted by Wall Street. Instead of grilling Dimon, Senators acted like overly affectionate puppies fighting each other for an opening to smooch their master.”

The destruction of the middle class has been methodical and systematic. The top 10% of earners had a median net worth of $1.19 million, or 192 times as much as the median wealth of $6,200 of those in the bottom 20% in 2010. In 2007, the top 10% had 138 times as much wealth as the bottom 20%. In 2001, it was 106 times as much. With the continued rise in the stock market, declining real wages for the middle class, and further home price declines, the gap between the top 10% and the bottom 20% has continued to widen. The level of pain being experienced by the middle class has reached an unprecedented extreme. A few data points from David Rosenberg make that clear:

  • Forty-six million Americans (one in seven) are on food stamps.
  • One in seven is unemployed or underemployed.
  • The percentage of those out of work defined as long-term unemployed is the highest (42%) since the Great Depression.
  • 54% of college graduates younger than 25 are unemployed or underemployed.
  • 47% of Americans receive some form of government assistance.
  • Employment-to-population ratio for 25- to 54-year-olds is now 75.7%, lower than when the recession “ended” in June 2009.
  • There are 7.7 million fewer full-time workers now than before the recession, and 3.3 million more part-time workers.
  • Eight million people have left the labor force since the recession “ended” — adding those back in would put the unemployment rate at 12% instead of 8.2%.
  • The number of unemployed looking for work for at least 27 weeks jumped 310,000 in May, the sharpest increase in a year.

I would add a few more data points to David’s list of woe:

  • Over 7.5 million homes have been foreclosed upon by the Wall Street bankers since 2008.
  • The National Debt has increased by $5.7 trillion (57% increase) since September 2008, while real GDP has risen by $305 billion (2.3% increase) since the 3rd quarter of 2008.
  • Interest income paid to senior citizens and savers has declined by $400 billion (29% decline) since September of 2008 due to Ben Bernanke’s ZIRP.
  • Government transfer payments have risen by $500 billion (32% increase) since September 2008, while private industry wages have risen by $200 billion (4.7% increase).
  • The price of a gallon of gas has risen from $1.70 in December 2008 to $3.53 today.
  • Food prices have risen by 7% to 10% since late 2008, even using the falsified BLS data. A true assessment by anyone who actually goes to a grocery store (not Bernanke – his maid does the shopping) would be a 10% to 20% increase.

The middle class has a gut feeling they are being screwed by somebody, they just can’t figure out who to blame. The ultra-wealthy elite keep up an endless cacophony of propaganda and misinformation designed to confuse an increasingly uneducated and willfully ignorant public while blurring the facts for those educated few capable of understanding the truth. They have been able to keep the masses dumbed down through government run education; distracted by sports, reality TV, Facebook, internet porn, and igadgets; lured by mass media messages of materialism; and shackled with the chains of debt used to acquire the goods sold by mega-corporations. We’ve become a society oppressed by a small faction of ultra-wealthy masters served by millions of impoverished, uneducated, sedated slaves. But the slaves are getting restless and angry. The illegally generated wealth disparity chasm is growing so large that even the ideologue talking head representatives of the elite are having difficulty spinning it. Even uneducated rubes understand when they are getting pissed on.

“Senator, don’t piss down my back and tell me it’s raining” – Fletcher – Outlaw Josey Wales

The situation is growing increasingly unstable and has left the country susceptible to an extreme outcome when this teetering tower of debt topples.

The moneyed interests have brilliantly pitted the middle class against the lower classes through their control of the media, academia, and the political system. They have cleverly blamed the victims for their own plight. They have convinced the general public that millions have lost their homes to foreclosure because they were careless, greedy and stupid. They blame the Community Reinvestment Act. They blame others for taking on too much debt when they were the issuers of the debt. The Wall Street moneyed interests created the fraud inducing mortgage products, employed the thousands of sleazy mortgage brokers, bullied appraisers into fraudulent appraisals, paid off rating agencies, bribed the regulators, bet against the derivatives they had sold to their clients, threatened to burn down the financial system unless Congress handed them $700 billion, and paid themselves billions in bonuses for a job well done. But, according to these greedy immoral bastards, the real problem in this country is the lazy good for nothing parasites on food stamps and collecting unemployment, who need to stop complaining and pick themselves up by their bootstraps and get a damn job. It’s a storyline used against Occupy Wall Street and anyone who questions their right to plunder what is left on the carcass of America. The vilest fraud in the history of man was perpetrated by these evil men and not one executive of these firms has been prosecuted. Obama, the champion of the little people, has proven to be nothing but a figurehead for the powers that be. Proof that the Wall Street syndicate is winning the war couldn’t be any clearer than the fact that the top six criminal banks now have 40% more of the nation’s assets in their vaults than they did before they burned down the economy.

The demonization of the victims continues, while the perpetrators prosper. The sociopaths appear to be winning; just as they seemed to be winning in the later stages of the Roman Empire.

“And we often fall into this bias on the prompting of con men and sociopaths of the predator class who use it to justify their own criminal actions and personal injustice. They are not burdened with empathy for their victims, and even delight in their misfortune. But they must find ways to make their actions more acceptable to society as a whole that normally does have such concerns for equity and justice.”Jesse

 

“Are we like late Rome, infatuated with past glories, ruled by a complacent, greedy elite, and hopelessly powerless to respond to changing conditions?” –  Camille Paglia

I think you know the answer to this question.

If you missed the first part of this series, CLICK HERE to read it.

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CAUSE, EFFECT & THE FALLACY OF A RETURN TO NORMALCY

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Posted on 6th March 2012 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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 “Thousands upon thousands are yearly brought into a state of real poverty by their great anxiety not to be thought of as poor.”Robert Mallett

 

I hear the term de-leveraging relentlessly from the mainstream media. The storyline that the American consumer has been denying themselves and paying down debt is completely 100% false. The proliferation of this Big Lie has been spread by Wall Street and their mouthpieces in the corporate media. The purpose is to convince the ignorant masses they have deprived themselves long enough and deserve to start spending again. The propaganda being spouted by those who depend on Americans to go further into debt is relentless. The “fantastic” automaker recovery is being driven by 0% financing for seven years peddled to subprime (aka deadbeats) borrowers for mammoth SUVs and pickup trucks that get 15 mpg as gas prices surge past $4.00 a gallon. What could possibly go wrong in that scenario? Furniture merchants are offering no interest, no payment deals for four years on their product lines. Of course, the interest rate from your friends at GE Capital reverts retroactively to 29.99% at the end of four years after the average dolt forgot to save enough to pay off the balance. I’m again receiving two to three credit card offers per day in the mail. According to the Wall Street vampire squids that continue to suck the life blood from what’s left of the American economy, this is a return to normalcy.

The definition of normal is: “The usual, average, or typical state or condition”. The fallacy is calling what we’ve had for the last three decades of illusion – Normal. Nothing could be further from the truth. We’ve experienced abnormal psychotic behavior by the citizens of this country, aided and abetted by Wall Street and their sugar daddies at the Federal Reserve. You would have to be mad to believe the debt financed spending frenzy of the last few decades was not abnormal.

The Age of Illusion

“Illusions commend themselves to us because they save us pain and allow us to enjoy pleasure instead. We must therefore accept it without complaint when they sometimes collide with a bit of reality against which they are dashed to pieces.” - Sigmund Freud

In my last article Extend & Pretend Coming to an End, I addressed the commercial real estate debacle coming down the pike. I briefly touched upon the idiocy of retailers who have based their business and expansion plans upon the unsustainable dynamic of an ever expanding level of consumer debt doled out by Wall Street banks. One only has to examine the facts to understand the fallacy of a return to normalcy. We haven’t come close to experiencing normalcy. When retail sales, consumer spending and consumer debt return to a sustainable level of normalcy, the carcasses of thousands of retailers will litter the highways and malls of America. It will be a sight to see. The chart below details the two decade surge in retail sales, with the first ever decline in 2008. Retail sales grew from $2 trillion in 1992 to $4.5 trillion in 2007. The Wall Street created crisis in 2008/2009 resulted in a decline to $4.1 trillion in 2009, but the resilient and still delusional American consumer, with the support of their credit card drug pushers on Wall Street, set a new record in 2011 of $4.7 trillion.

A two decade increase in retail sales of 135% might seem reasonable and normal if wages and household income had grown at an equal or greater rate. But total wages only grew by 125% over this same time frame. Interestingly, the median household income only grew from $30,600 to $49,500, a 62% increase over twenty years. It seems the majority of the benefits accrued to the top 20%, with their aggregate share of the national income exceeding 50% today, versus 47% in 1992 and 43% in the early 1970s. The top 5% are taking home in excess of 21% of the national income versus less than 19% in 1992 and 16% in the early 1970s. It appears the financialization of America, after Nixon closed the gold window and allowed unlimited money printing by the Federal Reserve, has benefitted the few, at the expense of the many. The bottom 80% of households has seen their share of the national income steadily decrease since the early 1970s. There are 119 million households in the United States and 95 million of these households have seen their wages and income stagnate. One might wonder how the 80% were able to fuel a two decade surge in retail sales with such pathetic wage growth.

Your friendly Wall Street banker stepped into the breach and did their part to aid a vast swath of Americans to enslave themselves in debt. As the chart above reveals, the slave owners on Wall Street have been the chief beneficiary of the decades long debt deluge. It seems that charging 18% interest on hundreds of billions in credit card debt can be extremely profitable for the shyster charging the interest. Decades of mailing millions of credit card offers, inundating financially ignorant Americans with propaganda media messages convincing them they needed a bigger house, fancier car, or latest technological gadget and creating complex derivatives that permitted banks to market debt to people guaranteed not to pay them back but not care since they sold the packages of these toxic AAA rated loans to pension funds and little old ladies, has done wonders for earnings per share, stock option awards, executive salaries and bonus pools. It hasn’t done wonders for the net worth of the average American who has been entrapped in the chains of debt, forged link by link over decades of purposeful deception and willful delusion.

The 135% increase in retail sales over two decades may have been slightly enhanced by the 213% increase in consumer credit outstanding. Consumer revolving credit rose from $800 billion to the current level of $2.5 trillion over the last two decades. Those 15 credit cards in our possession were so easy to use that we financed our trips to Dollywood, Sandals, and Euro-Disney, in addition to financing our 72 inch 3D HDTVs, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, decks, pools, recliners with a built in fridges, home theatre rooms, Coach pocketbooks, Jimmy Cho shoes, Rolex watches, yachts, bigger and better boobs, and of course our smokes and beer. Much has been made about the great de-leveraging by the American consumer. There’s just one inconvenient fact – it hasn’t happened – yet.

Total consumer credit outstanding peaked at $2.58 trillion in July 2008. Today it stands at $2.50 trillion. Revolving credit card debt peaked at $972 billion in September 2008 and subsequently declined to $790 billion by April 2011. It now stands at $801 billion, as living well beyond our means has resumed its appeal. Meanwhile, non-revolving credit for automobiles, boats, student loans, and mobile homes peaked at $1.61 trillion in July 2008 and “crashed” all the way down to $1.58 trillion in May 2010. Once Bennie fired up the printing presses, the government car companies decided to make subprime auto loans again and the Federal government started doling out student loans like a pez dispenser, all was well in the non-revolving consumer loan world. The debt outstanding has soared to $1.7 trillion, a full $90 billion above the pre-crash peak. So, after three and a half years of “austerity” and supposed deleveraging, consumer debt outstanding has fallen by 3%.

The Big Lie of austerity and consumer deleveraging is unquestioned by the talking heads in the mainstream media. They are incapable or unwilling to examine the actual data which substantiates the fact that Americans have NOT deleveraged and have NOT taken austerity to heart. The most basic facts fly in the face of consumers even having the wherewithal to pay down their debt. Median household income has declined from $50,300 in 2008 to $49,400 today. There are 5 million less people employed today than employed in 2008. Total wages in the country have only grown from $6.6 trillion in 2008 to $6.8 trillion today. This increase was concentrated among the .01%, who do not carry credit card debt. They profit from credit card debt. Real disposable personal income has fallen by 5% since the peak in 2008 as Bernanke’s Wall Street bailout zero interest rate policy has caused prices for everything except our houses to surge. The people carrying most of the credit card debt are the least able to pay it off. These are the same people who have swelled the food stamp rolls from 28 million in 2008 to 46.5 million today.

A CNBC bubble headed arrogant bimbo might sarcastically ask, “If the American consumer isn’t deleveraging, than how did revolving credit card debt drop by $182 billion over three years?” Rather than do the minimal research needed to find the answer, they would rather parrot the company/government line. The chart below, compiled from Federal Reserve data, provides the answer. The Wall Street banks have written off $193.3 billion of bad debt since 2008. Now for some basic math, that will probably be over the head of most Wall Street analysts and CNBC parrots. If you start with $972 billion of credit card debt and you write-off $200 billion (assuming another $7 billion in the 4th Quarter of 2011) and your ending balance is $801 billion, how much debt did the American consumer pay down? It’s a trick question. The American consumer ADDED $29 billion of credit card debt since 2008 to go along with the $90 billion of auto and student loan debt ADDED onto their aching backs. So much for the deleveraging storyline. It’s comforting to convince ourselves we’ve changed, but we haven’t. And the powers that be need you to keep believing, so they can continue to keep you enslaved and under their thumbs.

Consumer Credit Card Debt and Charge-off Data (in Billions):

Outstanding Revolving Consumer Debt Outstanding Credit Card Debt Quarterly Credit Card Charge-Off Rate Quarterly Credit Card Charge-Off in Dollars
Q3 2011 $793.4 $777.5 5.63% $10.9
Q2 2011 $787.4 $771.7 5.58% $10.8
Q1 2011 $779.6 $764.0 6.96% $13.3
2010 $826.7 $810.2 $75.1
Q4 2010 $825.7 $810.2 7.70% $15.6
Q3 2010 $806.9 $790.8 8.55% $16.9
Q2 2010 $817.4 $801.1 10.97% $22.0
Q1 2010 $828.5 $811.9 10.16% $20.6
2009 $894.0 $876.1 $83.2
Q4 2009 $894.0 $876.1 10.12% $22.2
Q3 2009 $893.5 $875.6 10.1% $22.1
Q2 2009 $905.2 $887.1 9.77% $21.6
Q1 2009 $923.3 $904.8 7.62% $17.2
Q4 2008 $989.1 $969.3

(Source: CardHub.com, Federal Reserve)

Loving Our Servitude

“There will be, in the next generation or so, a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude, and producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak, producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them, but will rather enjoy it, because they will be distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methods. And this seems to be the final revolution.” Aldous Huxley

The American people have come to love their servitude through a combination of self- delusion, corporate mass media propaganda, and an irrational desire to appear successful without making the necessary sacrifices required to become successful. The drug of choice used to corral the masses into their painless concentration camp of debt has been Wall Street peddled financing. Can you think of a better business model than being a Wall Street bank? You hand out 500 million credit cards to 118 million households, even though 60 million of the households make less than $50,000. You then create derivatives where you package billions of subprime credit card debt and convince clueless dupes to buy this toxic debt as if it was AAA credit. When the entire Ponzi scheme implodes, you write-off $200 billion of bad debt and have the American taxpayer pick up the tab by having your Ben puppet at the Federal Reserve seize $450 billion of interest income from senior citizens and re-gift it to you through his zero interest rate policy. You then borrow from the Federal Reserve at 0% and charge an average interest rate of 15% on the $800 billion of credit card debt outstanding, generating $120 billion of interest and charging an additional $22 billion of late fees. Much was made of the closing of credit card accounts after the 2008 financial implosion, but most of the accounts closed were old unused credit lines. Now that the American taxpayer has picked up the tab for the 2008 debacle, the Wall Street banks are again adding new credit card accounts.

With 40% of all credit card users carrying a revolving balance averaging $16,000, they are incurring interest charges of $2,400 per year. Some of the best financial analysts in the blogosphere have been misled by the propaganda spewed by the Wall Street media shills at Bloomberg and CNBC. The following chart, which includes mortgage and home equity debt, gives the false impression households are sensibly deleveraging, as household debt as a percentage of disposable personal income has fallen from 115% in June 2009 to 101% today. As I’ve detailed ad nauseam, $200 billion of the $1.2 trillion of “household deleveraging” was credit card write-offs. The vast majority of the remaining $1 trillion of “deleveraging” could possibly be related to the 5 million completed foreclosures since 2009. Of course, this pales in comparison to the unbelievably foolhardy mortgage equity withdrawal of $3 trillion between 2003 and 2008 by the 1% wannabes.  Bloomberg might be a tad disingenuous by excluding the $1 trillion of student loan from their little chart. If student loan debt is included, household debt outstanding surges to $11.5 trillion.

Based on the Bloomberg chart you would assume wrongly that American consumers are using their rising incomes to pay down debt. Besides not actually reducing their debts, the disposable personal income figure provided by the government drones at the BEA includes government transfer payments for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment compensation, food stamps, veterans benefits, and the all- encompassing “other”. Disposable personal income in the 2nd quarter of 2008 reached $11.2 trillion. It has risen by $500 billion, to $11.7 trillion by the end of 2011. Coincidentally, government social transfers have risen by $400 billion over this same time frame, a 20% increase. Excluding government transfers, disposable personal income has risen by a dreadful 1.1%. For the benefit of the slow witted in the mainstream media, every penny of the social welfare transfers has been borrowed. Only a government bureaucrat could believe that borrowing money from the Chinese, handing it out to unemployed Americans and calling it personal income is proof of deleveraging and austerity.

Household debt as a percentage of wages in 2008 was 185%. Today, after the banks have written off $1.2 trillion of debt, this figure stands at 169%. Meanwhile, total credit market debt in our entire system now stands at an all-time high of $54 trillion, up $3 trillion from 2007. It stands at 360% of GDP. In 1992, total credit market debt of $15.2 trillion equaled 240% of GDP ($6.3 trillion). Was it a sign of a rational balanced economic system that total credit market debt grew by 355% in the last two decades while GDP grew by only 238%? I think it is pretty clear the last two decades have not been normal or built upon a sustainable foundation. In the three decades prior to 1990 household debt as a percentage of disposable personal income stayed in a steady range between 60% and 80%. The current level of 101% is abnormal. In order to achieve a sustainable normal level of 80% will require an additional $2 trillion of debt destruction. No one is prepared for this inevitable end result. The impact of this “real” deleveraging will devastate our consumer dependent society.

The colossal accumulation of debt in the last two decades was the cause and abnormally large retail sales were the effect. The return to normalcy will not be pleasant for consumers, retailers, mall owners, local governments or bankers.

Demographics are a Bitch

In addition to an unsustainable level of debt, the pig in the python (also known as the Baby Boomer generation) will relentlessly impact the future of consumer spending and the approaching mass retail closures. Baby Boomers range in age from 51 to 68 today. The chart below details the retail spending by age bracket. Almost 50% of all retail spending is done by those between 35 years old and 54 years old. This makes total sense as these are the peak earnings years for most people and the period in their lives when they are forming households, raising kids and accumulating stuff. As you enter your twilight years, income declines, medical expenses rise, the kids are gone, and you’ve bought all the stuff you’ll ever need. Spending drops precipitously as you enter your 60’s. The spending wave that began in 1990 and reached its apex in the mid-2000s has crested and is going to crash down on the heads of hubristic retail CEOs that extrapolated unsustainable debt financed spending to infinity into their store expansion plans. The added kicker for retailers is the fact Boomers haven’t saved enough for their retirements, have experienced a twelve year secular bear market with another five or ten years to go, are in debt up to their eyeballs, and have seen the equity in their homes evaporate into thin air in the last seven years. This is not a recipe for a spending up swell.

Demographics cannot be spun by the corporate media or manipulated by BLS government drones. They are factual and unable to be altered. They are also predictable. The four population by age charts below paint a four decade picture of reality that does not bode well for retailers over the coming decade. The population by age data correlates perfectly with the spending spree over the last two decades.

  • 26% of the population in the prime spending years between 35 and 54 years old.
  • Only 14% of the population over 65 years old indicating reduced spending.

  • 31% of the population in the prime spending years between 35 and 54 years old.
  • Only 13% of the population over 65 years old indicating reduced spending.

  • 28% of the population in the prime spending years between 35 and 54 years old.
  • A rising 14% of the population over 65 years old indicating reduced spending.

  • 24% of the population in the prime spending years between 35 and 54 years old.
  • A rising 17% of the population over 65 years old indicating reduced spending.

The irreversible descent in the percentage of our population in the 35 to 54 year old prime spending age bracket will have and is already having a devastating impact on retail sales. In addition, the young people moving into the 25 to 34 year old bracket are now saddled with $1 trillion of student loan debt and worthless degrees from the University of Phoenix and the other for-profit diploma mills, luring millions with their Federal government easy loan programs. The fact that 40% of all 20 to 24 year olds in the country are not employed and 26% of all 25 to 34 year olds in the country are not working may also play a role in holding back spending, as jobs are somewhat helpful in generating money to buy stuff. Even with Obama as President they will have a tough time getting onto the unemployment rolls without ever having a job. The 55 and over crowd, who have lived above their means for three decades, will be lucky if they have the resources to put Alpo on the table in the coming years. The unholy alliance of debt, demographics and delusion will result in a retail debacle of epic proportions, unseen by retail head honchoes and the linear thinkers in the media and government.

We’re Not in Kansas Anymore Toto

“We tell ourselves we’re in an economic recovery, meaning we expect to return to a prior economic state, namely, a turbo-charged “consumer” economy fueled by easy credit and cheap energy. Fuggeddabowdit. That part of our history is over. We’ve entered a contraction that will seem permanent until we reach an economic re-set point that comports with what the planet can actually provide for us. That re-set point is lower than we would like to imagine. Our reality-based assignment is the intelligent management of contraction. We don’t want this assignment. We’d prefer to think that things are still going in the other direction, the direction of more, more, more. But they’re not. Whether we like it or not, they’re going in the direction of less, less, less. Granted, this is not an easy thing to contend with, but it is the hand that circumstance has dealt us. Nobody else is to blame for it.” – Jim Kunstler

 

The brilliant retail CEOs who doubled and tripled their store counts in the last twenty years and assumed they were geniuses as sales soared are getting a cold hard dose of reality today. What they don’t see is an abrupt end to their dreams of ever expanding profits and the million dollar bonuses they have gotten used to. I’m pretty sure their little financial models are not telling them they will need to close 20% of their stores over the next five years. They will be clubbed over the head like a baby seal by reality as consumers are compelled to stop consuming. As we’ve seen, just a moderation in spending has resulted in a collapse in store profitability. Retail CEOs have failed to grasp that it wasn’t their brilliance that led to the sales growth, but it was the men behind the curtain at the Federal Reserve. The historic spending spree of the last two decades was simply the result of easy to access debt peddled by Wall Street and propagated by the easy money policies of Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke. The chickens came home to roost in 2008, but the Wizard of Debt – Bernanke – has attempted to keep the flying monkeys at bay with his QE1, QE2, Operation Twist, and ZIRP. As the economy goes down for the count again in 2012, he will be revealed as a doddering old fool behind the curtain.

There are 1.1 million retail establishments in the United States, but the top 25 mega-store national chains account for 25% of all the retail sales in the country. The top 100 retailers operate 243,000 stores and account for approximately $1.6 trillion in sales, or 36% of all the retail sales in the country. They are led by the retail behemoth Wal-Mart and they dot the suburban landscape from Maine to Florida and New York to California. These super stores anchor every major mall in America. There are power centers with only these household names jammed in one place (example near my home: Best Buy, Target, Petsmart, Dicks, Barnes & Noble, Staples). These national chains had already wiped out the small town local retailers by the early 2000s as they sourced their goods from China and dramatically underpriced the small guys. The remaining local retailers have been closing up shop in record numbers in the last few years as the ability to obtain financing evaporated and customers disappeared. The national chains have more staying power, but their blind hubris and inability to comprehend the future landscape will be their downfall.

Having worked for one of the top 100 retailers for 14 years, I understand every aspect of how these mega-chains operate. They all approach retailing from a very scientific manner. They have regression models to project sales based upon demographics, drive times, education, average income, and the size of the market. They will build any store that achieves a certain ROI, based on their models. The scientific method works well when you don’t make ridiculous growth assumptions and properly take into account what your competitors are doing and how the economy will realistically perform in the future years. This is where it goes wrong as these retail chains get bigger, start believing their press clippings and begin ignoring the warnings of sober realists within their organizations. When the models show that cannibalization of sales from putting stores too close together will result in a decline in profits, the CEO will tweak the model to show greater same store growth and a larger increase in the available market due to higher economic growth. They assume margins will increase based upon nothing. At the same time, they will ignore the fact their competitor is building a store 2 miles away. Eventually, using foolhardy assumptions and ignoring facts leads to declining sales and profitability.

There is no better example of this than Best Buy. They increased their U.S. store count from 500 in 2002 to 1,300 today. That is a 160% increase in store count. For some perspective, national retail sales grew by 42% over this same time frame. Their strategy wiped out thousands of mom and pop stores and drove their chief competitor – Circuit City – into liquidation. But their hubris caught up to them. There sales per store has plummeted from $36 million per store in 2007 to less than $28 million per store today, a 24% decline in just five years. They have cannibalized themselves and have seen a $6 billion increase in revenue lead to $100 million LESS in profits. It appears the 444 stores they have built since 2007 have a net negative ROI. Top management is now in full scramble mode as they refuse to admit their strategic errors. Instead they cut staff and use upselling gimmicks like service plans, technical support and deferred financing to try and regain profitability. They will not admit they have far too many stores until it is too late. They will follow the advice of an earnings per share driven Wall Street crowd and waste their cash buying back stock. We’ve seen this story before and it ends in tears. I was in a Best Buy last week at 6:00 pm and there were at least 50 employees servicing about 10 customers. Tick Tock.

Best Buy - Annual Store Count Growth

Best Buy - Annual Sales per Store

You would have to be blind to not have noticed the decade long battles between the two biggest drug store chains and the two biggest office supply chains. Walgreens and CVS have been in a death struggle as they have each increased their store counts by 80% to 90% in the last 10 years. Both chains have been able to mask poor existing store growth by opening new stores. They are about to hit the wall. I now have six drug stores within five miles of my house all selling the exact same products. Every Wal-Mart and Target has their own pharmacy. At 2:00 pm on a Sunday afternoon I walked into the Walgreens near my house and there were six employees, a pharmacist and myself in the store. This is a common occurrence in this one year old store. It will not reach its 3rd birthday.

Walgreens - Annual Store Count Growth

CVS - Annual Retail Store Growth

Further along on the downward death spiral are Staples and Office Depot. They both increased their store counts by 50% to 60% in the last decade. Despite adding almost 200 stores since 2007, Staples has managed to reduce their profits. Sales per store have declined by 20% since 2006. Office Depot has succeeded in losing almost $2 billion in the last five years. These fools are actually opening new stores again despite overseeing a 36% decrease in sales per store over the last decade. These stores sell paper clips, paper, pens, and generic crap you can purchase at 100,000 other stores across the land or with a click of you mouse. Their business concept is dying and they don’t know it or refuse to acknowledge it.

Staples - Annual Store Count Growth

Office Depot - Annual Store Count Growth

Even well run retailers such as Kohl’s and Bed Bath & Beyond have hit the proverbial wall. Remember that total retail sales have only grown by 42% in the last ten years while Kohl’s has increased their store count by 180% and Bed Bath & Beyond has increased their store count by 175%. Despite opening 200 new stores since 2007, Kohl’s profits are virtually flat. Sales per store have deflated by 26% over the last decade as over-cannibalization has worked its magic. Bed Bath & Beyond has managed to keep profits growing as they drove Linens & Things into bankruptcy, but they risk falling into the Best Buy trap as they continue to open new stores. Their sales per store are well below the levels of 2002. Again, there is very little differentiation between these retailers as they all sell cheap crap from Asia, sold at thousands of other stores across the country. With home formation stagnant, where will the growth come from? Answer: It won’t come at all.

Kohl's - Annual Store Count Growth

Bed Bath & Beyond - Annual Store Count Growth

The stories above can be repeated over and over when analyzing the other mega-retailers that dominate our consumer crazed society. Same store sales growth is stagnant. The major chains have over cannibalized themselves. Their growth plans were based upon a foundation of ever increasing consumer debt and ever more delusional Americans spending money they don’t have. None of these retailers has factored a contraction in consumer spending into their little models. But that is what is headed their way. They saw the tide go out in 2009 but they’ve ventured back out into the surf looking for some trinkets, not realizing a tsunami is on the way. The great contraction began in 2008 and has been proceeding in fits and starts for the last four years. The increase in retail sales over the last two years has been driven by inflation, not increased demand. The efforts of the Federal Reserve and Wall Street to reignite our consumer society by pushing subprime debt once more will ultimately fail – again. The mega-retailers will be forced to come to the realization they have far too many stores to meet a diminishing demand.

The top 100 mega-retailers operate 243,000 stores. Will our contracting civilization really need or be able to sustain 14,000 McDonalds, 17,000 Taco Bells & KFCs, 24,000 Subways, 9,000 Wendys, 7,000 7-11s, 8,000 Walgreens, 7,000 CVS’, 4,000 Sears & Kmarts, 11,000 Starbucks, 4,000 Wal-Marts, 1,700 Lowes and 1,800 Targets in five years?  As our economy contracts and more of our dwindling disposable income is directed towards rising energy and food costs, retailers across the land will shut their doors. Try to picture the impact on this country as these retailers are forced to close 50,000 stores. Where will recent college graduates and broke Baby Boomers work? The most profitable business of the future will be producing Space Available and For Lease signs. Betting on the intelligence of the American consumer has been a losing bet for decades. They will continue to swipe that credit card at the local 7-11 to buy those Funions, jalapeno cheese stuffed pretzels with a side of cheese dipping sauce, cartons of smokes, and 32 ounce Big Gulps of Mountain Dew until the message on the credit card machine comes back DENIED.

There will be crescendo of consequences as these stores are closed down. The rotting hulks of thousands of Sears and Kmarts will slowly decay; blighting the suburban landscape and beckoning criminals and the homeless. Retailers will be forced to lay-off hundreds of thousands of workers. Property taxes paid to local governments will dry up, resulting in worsening budget deficits. Sales taxes paid to state governments will plummet, forcing more government cutbacks and higher taxes. Mall owners and real estate developers will see their rental income dissipate. They will then proceed to default on their loans. Bankers will be stuck with billions in loan losses, at least until they are able to shift them to the American taxpayer – again. No politician, media pundit, Federal Reserve banker, retail CEO, or willfully ignorant mindless consumer wants to admit the truth that the last three decades of debt delusion are coming to a tragic bitter end. The smarmy acolytes of Edward Bernays on Wall Street and in corporate America have successfully used propaganda and misinformation to lure generations of weak minded people into debt servitude. But, at the end of the day, you need cash to service the debt. Mind control doesn’t pay the bills.  We will eventually return to normal, just not the normal many had in mind.

“If we understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind, it is now possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without them knowing it.” – Edward Bernays