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20 Signs You Might Be A Typical American Worker

Once upon a time, anyone that was relatively competent and willing to work hard could go out and easily get a job that would enable that person to financially support a family. Unfortunately, that is simply no longer true anymore. Well paying “middle income jobs” are being rapidly replaced with “low income jobs” and part-time jobs. The typical American worker is not as valued as much as he or she used to be, and if current trends continue even more of us will be working part-time jobs or “low income jobs” in the years ahead.

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Once upon a time, anyone that was relatively competent and willing to work hard could go out and easily get a job that would enable that person to financially support a family.  Unfortunately, that is simply no longer true anymore.  Well paying “middle income jobs” are being rapidly replaced with “low income jobs” and part-time jobs.  As the economy crumbles, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the typical American worker to survive from month to month.  The number of companies that provide benefits such as health insurance has fallen steadily over the past ten years, and paychecks have not been keeping up with the rising prices of food and gas.  Average American families are seeing their budgets squeezed like never before, and many of them are going into huge amounts of debt in order to make up the difference.  Sadly, this is a problem that has developed over an extended period of time and that is not going to be reversed overnight.  Over the past four decades, the ratio of wages and salaries to GDP in America has fallen dramatically.  The typical American worker is not as valued as much as he or she used to be, and if current trends continue even more of us will be working part-time jobs or “low income jobs” in the years ahead.

In America today there is a great deal of focus on the unemployed, but there are also millions upon millions of Americans that are working part-time jobs because that is all that they can find.

It can be absolutely soul crushing to go all the way through school getting good grades, spend a ton of money on an education, and then work for 8 bucks an hour doing meaningless work for some predator corporation that simply does not care about how talented you are.

Today, an astounding 48 percent of all Americans are considered to be either “low income” or are living in poverty.

According to the New York Times, approximately 100 million Americans are either living in poverty or in “the fretful zone just above it”.

A lot of those people actually do have jobs.  Unfortunately, a part-time job that pays 8 or 9 dollars an hour just will not get you anywhere close to getting over the poverty line.

This is not the way that the U.S. economy used to work.  Back in the old days, good paying jobs that would allow you to live “the American Dream” were plentiful.

But now millions upon millions of Americans are scrambling for anything that they can get.  According to a recent survey conducted by Gallup, the percentage of Americans that are working part-time jobs but that would like full-time jobs is now higher than it has been at any other time in the last two years.

In this economy, a good paying full-time job is incredibly precious.  If you still have one, you should consider yourself to be very fortunate.

Check out the following chart.  It is a chart that shows the level of wages and salaries as a percentage of GDP in the United States since the late 1940s.  As you can see, the slice of the pie being taken home by American workers has been dropping like a rock since about 1970….

Is that a clear trend or what?

And it is going to continue year after year as long as we continue to pursue the same foolish economic policies.

As our politicians continue to allow millions of American jobs to be shipped overseas, competition for the jobs that remain inside this country is becoming extremely intense.

Back in 1967, 97 percent of all U.S. men with a high school degree between the ages of 30 and 50 had jobs.  Today, that figure is down to 76 percent.

As you read this, there are hordes of hard working American workers sitting at home staring at their televisions as they wonder why nobody will hire them.

Right now, if you gathered together all of the unemployed people in the United States, they would constitute the 68th largest country in the world.

That is absolutely insane.

But even if you do have a job that does not mean that you are in good shape.  The percentage of “low income jobs” just continues to climb.  Back in 1980,less than 30% of all jobs in the United States were low income jobs.  Today,more than 40% of all jobs in the United States are low income jobs.

Many Americans work as hard as they can and still find that they must turn to the government for financial assistance.  According to author Paul Osterman, about 20 percent of all U.S. adults are currently working jobs that pay poverty-level wages.

And that number is just going to keep climbing unless we change what we are doing as a nation.

Perhaps you are working a “low income job” right now.  Most of us have worked a job like that at least once in our lives.  Hopefully you will find the following list amusing.  Yes, I have exaggerated a few things slightly, but I think you will get the point.

The following are 20 signs you might be a typical American worker….

#1 If you are working three jobs and you still don’t have enough money at the end of the month, you might be a typical American worker.

#2 If your job involves asking the question “Would you like fries with that?”, you might be a typical American worker.

#3 If you shop at the dollar store because Wal-Mart is too expensive, you might be a typical American worker.

#4 If your job requires you to wear a smock, a brightly colored polo shirt orlots of “flair”, you might be a typical American worker.

#5 If people are constantly asking you where the restroom is while you are at work, you might be a typical American worker.

#6 If your employer hires extra part-time workers in order to avoid giving anyone full-time hours, you might be a typical American worker.

#7 If you are required to watch a mindless “training video” after being hired, you might be a typical American worker.

#8 If the company you work for is owned by someone on the other side of the world, you might be a typical American worker.

#9 If a trained seal could do your job and you feel like your expensive education is going to waste, you might be at typical American worker.

#10 If you don’t have any health insurance at all, you might be a typical American worker.  Only about 25 percent of all part-time workers in the United States receive employee benefits such as health insurance or paid sick leave.

#11 If your car is older than your kids are, you might be a typical American worker.

#12 If you can’t afford to buy the things that you are selling to the public, you might be a typical American worker.

#13 If the balances on your credit cards are larger than your bank accounts are, you might be a typical American worker.

#14 If going to Burger King is your idea of “fine dining”, then you might be a typical American worker.

#15 If it costs more to fill up your car with gas than you will make at your job today, you might be a typical American worker.  The price of gasoline has increased by 83 percent since Barack Obama first took office, and the average cost of a gallon of gas in the United States is now up to $3.52.

#16 If you eat your cereal with a fork so that you can save milk, you might be a typical American worker.

#17 If your electricity bill keeps going up but your paycheck never does, you might be a typical American worker.

#18 If it feels like you are losing an organ every time you pay for health insurance each month, you might be a typical American worker.

#19 If you feel like your employer is constantly tempted to replace you with someone younger and cheaper, then you might be a typical American worker.

#20 If you are so poor that you cannot even afford to pay attention, you might be a typical American worker.

Unfortunately, a lot more Americans are going to be forced into working these kinds of jobs if current trends continue.

Since the year 2000, we have lost 10% of our middle class jobs even though our population has increased by more than 30 million since then.  In the year 2000 there were about 72 million middle class jobs in the United States, but today there are only about 65 million middle class jobs.

The lack of good jobs in America has some very real consequences.  In particular, our young adults are really feeling the pain of not being able to find quality employment.

According to a recent poll conducted by Generation Opportunity, huge numbers of Americans in the 18 to 29 year old age bracket are delaying major life decisions due to the poor economy….

-44% are delaying buying a home

-28% are delaying saving for retirement

-27% are delaying paying off student loans or other debt

-27% are delaying going back to school or getting more education

-23% are delaying starting a family

-18% are delaying getting married

All of those things take a lot of money, and if you simply don’t have the money it makes things really tough.

Sadly, the economy is about to get even worse.

As I have written about previously, what is going on in Greece right now is awarning sign for the rest of the world, and we are on the precipice of another major global financial crisis.

There are an increasing number of voices in the financial world that believe that we are going to see a Greek default in March.  So will this actually happen?  I certainly don’t know.  But what some folks are currently saying about the situation sure does make for interesting reading.

In the old days, you could graduate from college, get a good job, work for the same company for 30 years, save up for retirement and count on a comfortable life in your old age.

That paradigm is now totally shattered.  The entire global economic system is in a state of chaos and things change faster today than they ever have before.

If you have a job today, it may be gone tomorrow.

The financial institution or insurance company that you are working with today may be out of business by next month.

We live in a world that is becoming increasingly unstable.  That is why it is imperative to try to become more self-sufficient and less dependent on the system.

It is tough to plan in such an environment, but one thing is for sure – tough times are coming and things are not going to get any easier than they are now.

— The Economic Collapse Blog

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Today’s Market Looks Like It Did At The Peaks Before Last 13 Bear Markets

The US stock market today looks a lot like it did at the peak before all 13 previous price collapses. That doesn’t mean that a bear market is imminent, but it does amount to a stark warning against complacency.

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h/t ZeroHedge 

The US stock market today looks a lot like it did at the peak before all 13 previous price collapses. That doesn’t mean that a bear market is imminent, but it does amount to a stark warning against complacency.

The U.S. stock market today is characterized by a seemingly unusual combination of very high valuations, following a period of strong earnings growth, and very low volatility.

What do these ostensibly conflicting messages imply about the likelihood that the United States is headed toward a bear market in stocks?

To answer that question, we must look to past bear markets. And that requires us to define precisely what a bear market entails. The media nowadays delineate a “classic” or “traditional” bear market as a 20% decline in stock prices.

That definition does not appear in any media outlet before the 1990s, and there has been no indication of who established it. It may be rooted in the experience of Oct. 19, 1987, when the stock market dropped by just over 20% in a single day. Attempts to tie the term to the “Black Monday” story may have resulted in the 20% definition, which journalists and editors probably simply copied from one another.

Origin of the ‘20%’ figure

In any case, that 20% figure is now widely accepted as an indicator of a bear market. Where there seems to be less overt consensus is on the time period for that decline. Indeed, those past newspaper reports often didn’t mention any time period at all in their definitions of a bear market. Journalists writing on the subject apparently did not think it necessary to be precise.

In assessing America’s past experience with bear markets, I used that traditional 20% figure, and added my own timing rubric. The peak before a bear market, per my definition, was the most recent 12-month high, and there should be some month in the subsequent year that is 20% lower. Whenever there was a contiguous sequence of peak months, I took the last one.

Referring to my compilation of monthly S&P Composite and related data, I found that there have been just 13 bear markets in the U.S. since 1871. The peak months before the bear markets occurred in 1892, 1895, 1902, 1906, 1916, 1929, 1934, 1937, 1946, 1961, 1987, 2000 and 2007. A couple of notorious stock-market collapses — in 1968-70 and in 1973-74 — are not on the list, because they were more protracted and gradual.

CAPE ratio

Once the past bear markets were identified, it was time to assess stock valuations prior to them, using an indicator that my Harvard colleague John Y. Campbell and I developed in 1988 to predict long-term stock-market returns. The cyclically adjusted price-to-earnings (CAPE) ratio is found by dividing the real (inflation-adjusted) stock index by the average of 10 years of earnings, with higher-than-average ratios implying lower-than-average returns. Our research showed that the CAPE ratio is somewhat effective at predicting real returns over a 10-year period, though we did not report how well that ratio predicts bear markets.

This month, the CAPE ratio in the U.S. is just above 30. That is a high ratio. Indeed, between 1881 and today, the average CAPE ratio has stood at just 16.8. Moreover, it has exceeded 30 only twice during that period: in 1929 and in 1997-2002.

But that does not mean that high CAPE ratios aren’t associated with bear markets. On the contrary, in the peak months before past bear markets, the average CAPE ratio was higher than average, at 22.1, suggesting that the CAPE does tend to rise before a bear market.

Moreover, the three times when there was a bear market with a below-average CAPE ratio were after 1916 (during World War I), 1934 (during the Great Depression) and 1946 (during the post-World War II recession). A high CAPE ratio thus implies potential vulnerability to a bear market, though it is by no means a perfect predictor.

Earnings to the rescue?

To be sure, there does seem to be some promising news. According to my data, real S&P Composite stock earnings have grown 1.8% per year, on average, since 1881. From the second quarter of 2016 to the second quarter of 2017, by contrast, real earnings growth was 13.2%, well above the historical annual rate.

But this high growth does not reduce the likelihood of a bear market. In fact, peak months before past bear markets also tended to show high real earnings growth: 13.3% per year, on average, for all 13 episodes. Moreover, at the market peak just before the biggest ever stock-market drop, in 1929-32, 12-month real earnings growth stood at 18.3%.

Another piece of ostensibly good news is that average stock-price volatility — measured by finding the standard deviation of monthly percentage changes in real stock prices for the preceding year — is an extremely low 1.2%. Between 1872 and 2017, volatility was nearly three times as high, at 3.5%.

Low volatility

Yet, again, this does not mean that a bear market isn’t approaching. In fact, stock-price volatility was lower than average in the year leading up to the peak month preceding the 13 previous U.S. bear markets, though today’s level is lower than the 3.1% average for those periods. At the peak month for the stock market before the 1929 crash, volatility was only 2.8%.

In short, the U.S. stock market today looks a lot like it did at the peaks before most of the country’s 13 previous bear markets. This is not to say that a bear market is guaranteed: Such episodes are difficult to anticipate, and the next one may still be a long way off. And even if a bear market does arrive, for anyone who does not buy at the market’s peak and sell at the trough, losses tend to be less than 20%.

But my analysis should serve as a warning against complacency. Investors who allow faulty impressions of history to lead them to assume too much stock-market risk today may be inviting considerable losses.

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You don’t want to miss this new trend

Over the past six years, U.S. stocks have screamed higher…

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Original Link | The Crux


From Ben Morris, Editor, DailyWealth Trader:

Over the past six years, U.S. stocks have screamed higher…

They’ve doubled the performance of stocks around the rest of the world — a 116% gain compared with a 57% gain (*all numbers in this essay are as of Sept. 12).

But recently, that situation reversed…

Over the past four months, non-U.S. stocks have more than doubled the gains in U.S. stocks (8.5% compared with 4.1%). And yesterday, the market gave us a sign that big gains are likely still to come.

If you’ve been reading DailyWealth Trader (DWT), you know we’ve encouraged readers to own foreign stocks for years…

Mostly, this has been because investors around the world suffer from something called “home-country bias.” Nearly all the businesses they buy are based in their home countries… And they either ignore or fear opportunities outside their countries’ borders.

This hasn’t been a problem for U.S.-based investors lately… But now that foreign stocks are outperforming – and now that U.S. stocks are no longer cheap – it’s an even better idea to put some of your money to work in other markets.

Plus, as I noted above, the market just gave us a sign that the gains in non-U.S. stocks will likely continue…

Yesterday, the MSCI World ex USA Index hit a new one-year high. The index is made up of more than 1,000 businesses based in 22 countries. And in the past, new one-year highs were a great sign.

The table below shows how the index has performed after hitting a one-year high. Over the past 33 years, it has happened more than 600 times.

One year later, the index was higher 76.9% of the time… And the median return was 11.5%. (That means you would have made 11.5% or more exactly half of the occurrences.) You can also see the rate of 10%-plus gains and 5%-plus losses…

dwttable919

These are great odds. Based on history, if you were to buy a basket of non-U.S. stocks today, you would have a 54% chance of making 10% or more over the next year… and just a 14% chance of losing 5% or more.

Compare that with the index’s returns after all periods (essentially, buying the index at random). The average and median returns were lower across all time frames. The chances of a positive return were seven to 10 percentage points lower. The frequency of 10%-plus gains after one year was much lower… And the frequency of 5%-plus losses was much higher.

dwttable2919

History presents a clear picture… Buying non-U.S. stocks after new one-year highs is a good idea.

You can see how a handful of foreign stock funds have performed relative to the U.S. benchmark S&P 500 Index over the past year in the chart below…

0912_spx_globalstocks

All but Greek stocks are at or just shy of new highs.

If you prefer to keep it simple, you can also consider buying a fund like the Vanguard FTSE All-World ex-US Fund (VEU). It is the largest exchange-traded fund dedicated to diversified non-U.S. stocks. It holds stocks from 54 different countries, with larger weightings in developed markets and smaller weightings in emerging markets.

VEU just hit a new high, too.

If you’ve been dragging your feet on buying foreign stocks, you’ve missed out on great gains lately… But you haven’t “missed the boat.”

Non-U.S. stocks have underperformed U.S. stocks for years. And that situation has started to change only recently. Now that these stocks are hitting new highs, it’s even more likely than before that we’ll see double-digit gains in the year to come.

I strongly recommend you participate.

Regards,

Ben Morris

Crux note: Ben has recommended a few great ways to safely invest in foreign stocks today. So far, his readers are up on all of them – 19%, 31%, 16%, and 1%, respectively. And his top open recommendation just hit 150% since February. For a limited time, you can access all of Ben’s top ideas with a risk-free trial subscription. Get the details right here.

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Today the music stops

After months of preparing financial markets for this news, the Federal Reserve is widely expected to announce that it will finally begin shrinking its $4.5 trillion balance sheet.

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Today’s the day.

After months of preparing financial markets for this news, the Federal Reserve is widely expected to announce that it will finally begin shrinking its $4.5 trillion balance sheet.

I know, that probably sound reeeeally boring. A bunch of central bankers talking about their balance sheet.

But it’s phenomenally important. And I’ll explain why-

When the Global Financial Crisis started in 2008, the Federal Reserve (along with just about every central bank in the world) took the unprecedented step of conjuring trillions of dollars out of thin air.

In the Fed’s case, it was roughly $3.5 trillion, about 25% of the size of the entire US economy at the time.

That’s a lot of money.

And after nearly a decade of this free money policy, there is more money in the financial system than ever before.

Economists have a measure for money supply called “M2”. And M2 is at a record high — nearly $9 trillion higher than at the start of the 2008 crisis.

Now, one might expect that, over time, as the population and economy grow, the amount of money in the system would increase.

But even on a per-capita basis, and relative to the size of US GDP, there is more money in the system than there has ever been, at least in the history of modern central banking.

And that has consequences.

One of those consequences is that asset prices have exploded.

Stocks are at all-time highs. Bonds are at all-time highs. Many property markets are at all-time highs. Even the prices of alternative assets like private equity and artwork are at all-time highs.

But isn’t that a good thing?

Well, let’s look at stocks as an example.

As investors, we trade our hard-earned savings for shares of a [hopefully] successful, well-managed business.

That’s what stocks represent– ownership interests in businesses. So investors are ultimately buying a share of a company’s net assets, profits, and free cash flow.

Here’s where it gets interesting.

Let’s look at Exxon Mobil…

In 2006, the last full year before the Federal Reserve started any monetary shenanigans, Exxon reported $365 billion in revenue, profit (net income) of nearly $40 billion and free cash flow (i.e. the money that’s available to pay out to shareholders) of $33.8 billion.

At the time, the company had $6.6 billion in debt.

Ten years later, Exxon’s full-year 2016 revenue was $226 billion, net income was $7.8 billion, free cash flow was $5.9 billion and the company had an unbelievable debt level of $28.9 billion.

In other words, compared to its performance in 2006, Exxon’s 2016 revenue dropped nearly 40%, due to the decline in oil prices.

Plus its profits and free cash flow collapsed by more than 80%. And debt skyrocketed by over 4x.

So what do you think happened to the stock price over this period?

It must have gone down, right? I mean… if investors are essentially paying for a share of the business’ profits, and those profits are 80% less, then the share of the business should also decline.

Except — that’s not what happened. Exxon’s stock price at the end of 2006 was around $75. By the end of 2016 it was around $90, 20% higher.

And it’s not just Exxon. This same curiosity fits to many of the largest companies in the world.

General Electric reported $13.9 billion in free cash flow in 2006. Last year’s free cash flow was NEGATIVE.

Plus, the company’s book value, i.e. its ‘net worth’, plummeted from $122 billion in 2006 to $77 billion in 2016.

So investors’ share of the free cash flow is essentially worthless, while their share of the net assets has also fallen dramatically.

GE’s stock was actually down slightly in 2016 compared to 2006. But the minor stock decline is nothing compared to the train wreck in the company’s financial statements.

Between 2006 and 2016, McDonalds reported only a tiny increase in revenue. And in terms of bottom line, McDonalds 2016’s profit was about 30% higher than it was in 2006.

McDonalds’ debt soared from $8.4 billion to $25.8. And the company’s book value, according to its own financial statements, dropped from $15.8 billion to NEGATIVE $2 billion.

So over ten years, McDonald’s saw a 30% increase in profits, but took on so much debt that they wiped out shareholders’ book value.

And yet the company’s stock price has TRIPLED.

Coca Cola. IBM. Johnson & Johnson.

Company after company, we can see businesses that are performing marginally better (or in some cases WORSE). They’ve taken on FAR more debt than ever before.

Yet their stock prices are insanely higher.

How is that even possible? Why are investors paying more money for shares of a business that isn’t much better than before?

There’s really only one explanation: there’s way too much money in the system.

All that money the Fed printed over the years has created an enormous bubble, pushing up the prices of assets to record highs even though their fundamental values haven’t really improved.

As the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday, “Financial assets across developed economies are more overvalued than at any other time in recent centuries,” i.e. at least since 1800.

Investors are paying far more than ever for their investments, but receiving only marginally more value in return. And they’re actually excited about it.

This doesn’t make sense. We don’t get excited to pay more and receive less at the grocery store.

But when underperforming assets fetch top dollar, people feel like they’re wealthier. Crazy.

Today the Fed should formally announce that after nearly a decade, it’s going to start vacuuming up a lot of that money it printed in 2008.

Bottom line: they’re going to start cutting the lights and turning off the music.

And given the enormous impact that this policy had on asset prices, it would be foolish to think its reversal will be consequence-free.

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