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55 Interesting Facts About The U.S. Economy In 2012

How is the U.S. economy doing in 2012? Unfortunately, it is not doing nearly as well as the mainstream media would have you believe. Yes, things have stabilized for the moment but this bubble of false hope will not last for long. The long-term trends that are ripping our economy and our financial system to shreds continue unabated. The following are 55 interesting facts about the U.S. economy in 2012….

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How is the U.S. economy doing in 2012?  Unfortunately, it is not doing nearly as well as the mainstream media would have you believe.  Yes, things have stabilized for the moment but this bubble of false hope will not last for long.  The long-term trends that are ripping our economy and our financial system to shreds continue unabated.  When you step back and look at the broader picture, it is hard to deny that we are in really bad shape and that things are rapidly getting worse.  Later on in this article you will find a list of interesting facts that show the true state of the U.S. economy.  Hopefully many of you will find this list to be a useful tool that you can share with your family and friends.  Each day the foundations of our economy crumble a little bit more, and we need to wake up as many Americans as we can to what is really going on while there is still time.  We have accumulated way too much debt, we consume far more wealth than we produce, millions of our jobs are being shipped overseas, our big cities are decaying, family budgets are being squeezed more than ever, poverty is rampant and we have raised several generations of Americans that expect the government to fix all of their problems.  The U.S. economy is at a crossroads, and the decisions that the American people make in 2012 are going to be incredibly important.

The statistics listed below are presented without much commentary.  They pretty much speak for themselves.

After reading this list, it will be hard for anyone to argue that we are on the right track.

The following are 55 interesting facts about the U.S. economy in 2012….

#1 As you read this, there are more than 6 million mortgages in the United States that are overdue.

#2 In January, U.S. home prices were the lowest that they have been in more than a decade.

#3 In Florida right now, some drivers are paying nearly 6 dollars for a gallon of gas.

#4 On average, you could buy about 10 gallons of gas for an hour of work back in the mid-90s.  Today, the average hour of work will get you less than 6 gallons of gas.

#5 Sadly, 43 percent of all American families spend more than they earn each year.

#6 According to Gallup, the unemployment rate was at 8.3% in mid-January but rose to 9.0% in mid-February.

#7 The percentage of working age Americans that have jobs is not increasing.  The employment to population ratio has stayed very steady (hovering between 58% and 59%) since the beginning of 2010.

#8 If you gathered together all of the workers that are “officially” unemployed in the United States into one nation, they would constitute the 68th largest country in the entire world.

#9 When Barack Obama first took office, the number of “long-term unemployed workers” in the United States was approximately 2.6 million.  Today, that number is sitting at 5.6 million.

#10 The average duration of unemployment in the United States is hovering close to an all-time record high.

#11 According to Reuters, approximately 23.7 million American workers are either unemployed or underemployed right now.

#12 There are about 88 million working age Americans that are not employed and that are not looking for employment.  That is an all-time record high.

#13 According to CareerBuilder, only 23 percent of American companies plan to hire more employees in 2012.

#14 Back in the year 2000, about 20 percent of all jobs in America were manufacturing jobs.  Today, about 5 percent of all jobs in America are manufacturing jobs.

#15 The United States has lost an average of approximately 50,000 manufacturing jobs a month since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.

#16 Amazingly, more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities in the United States have been shut down since 2001.

#17 According to author Paul Osterman, about 20 percent of all U.S. adults are currently working jobs that pay poverty-level wages.

#18 During the Obama administration, worker health insurance costs have risen by 23 percent.

#19 An all-time record 49.9 million Americans do not have any health insurance at all at this point, and the percentage of Americans covered by employer-based health plans has fallen for 11 years in a row.

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

#21 In the United States today, corporate profits are at an all-time high.  The percentage of Americans that are living in “extreme poverty” is also at an all-time high according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

#22 In the United States today, the wealthiest one percent of all Americans have a greater net worth than the bottom 90 percent combined.

#23 The poorest 50 percent of all Americans now collectively own just 2.5% of all the wealth in the United States.

#24 The number of children living in poverty in the state of California has increased by 30 percent since 2007.

#25 According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, 36.4% of all children that live in Philadelphia are living in poverty, 40.1% of all children that live in Atlanta are living in poverty, 52.6% of all children that live in Cleveland are living in poverty and 53.6% of all children that live in Detroit are living in poverty.

#26 Since Barack Obama entered the White House, the number of Americans on food stamps has increased from 32 million to 46 million.

#27 As the economy has slowed down, so has the number of marriages.  According to a Pew Research Center analysis, only 51 percent of all Americans that are at least 18 years old are currently married.  Back in 1960, 72 percent of all U.S. adults were married.

#28 In 1984, the median net worth of households led by someone 65 or older was 10 times larger than the median net worth of households led by someone 35 or younger.  Today, the median net worth of households led by someone 65 or older is 47 times larger than the median net worth of households led by someone 35 or younger.

#29 If you can believe it, 37 percent of all U.S. households that are led by someone under the age of 35 have a net worth of zero or less than zero.

#30 After adjusting for inflation, U.S. college students are borrowing about twice as much money as they did a decade ago.

#31 According to the Student Loan Debt Clock, total student loan debt in the United States will surpass the 1 trillion dollar mark at some point in 2012.  If you went out right now and starting spending one dollar every single second, it would take you more than 31,000 years to spend one trillion dollars.

#32 Today, 46% of all Americans carry a credit card balance from month to month.

#33 Incredibly, one out of every seven Americans has at least 10 credit cards.

#34 The average interest rate on a credit card that is carrying a balance is now up to 13.10 percent.

#35 Of the U.S. households that do have credit card debt, the average amount of credit card debt is an astounding $15,799.

#36 Overall, Americans are carrying a grand total of $798 billion in credit card debt.  If you were alive when Jesus was born and you spent a million dollars every single day since then, you still would not have spent $798 billion by now.

#37 It may be hard to believe, but the truth is that consumer debt in America has increased by a whopping 1700% since 1971.

#38 At this point, about 70 percent of all auto purchases in the United States involve an auto loan.

#39 In the United States today, 45 percent of all auto loans are made to subprime borrowers.

#40 Mortgage debt as a percentage of GDP has more than tripled since 1955.

#41 According to a recent study conducted by the BlackRock Investment Institute, the ratio of household debt to personal income in the United States is now 154 percent.

#42 To get the same purchasing power that you got out of $20.00 back in 1970 you would have to have more than $116 today.

#43 When Barack Obama first took office, an ounce of gold was going for about $850.  Today an ounce of gold costs more than $1700 an ounce.

#44 The number of Americans that are not paying federal incomes taxes is at an all-time high.

#45 A staggering 48.5% of all Americans live in a household that receives some form of government benefits.  Back in 1983, that number was below 30 percent.

#46 The amount of money that the federal government gives directly to Americans has increased by 32 percent since Barack Obama entered the White House.

#47 During 2012, the U.S. government must roll over nearly 3 trillion dollars of old debt.

#48 The U.S. debt to GDP ratio has now reached 101 percent.

#49 At the moment, the U.S. national debt is sitting at a grand total of $15,419,800,222,325.15.

#50 The U.S. national debt is now more than 22 times larger than it was when Jimmy Carter became president.

#51 During the Obama administration, the U.S. government has accumulated more debt than it did from the time that George Washington took office to the time that Bill Clinton took office.

#52 If the federal government began right at this moment to repay the U.S. national debt at a rate of one dollar per second, it would take over 440,000 years to pay off the national debt.

#53 If Bill Gates gave every single penny of his fortune to the U.S. government, it would only cover the U.S. budget deficit for about 15 days.

#54 Right now, the U.S. national debt is increasing by about 150 million dollars every single hour.

#55 Spending by the federal government accounted for about 2 percent of GDP back in 1800.  It accounted for 23.8 percent in 2011, and according to former U.S. Comptroller General David M. Walker, it will account for 36.8 percent of GDP by 2040.

Bad news, eh?

But it isn’t just our economy that is decaying.

We are witnessing a tremendous amount of social decay as well.  As I wrote about the other day, America is rapidly decomposing right in front of our eyes.

When the water level of a river drops far enough, it will reveal rocks that have been hidden from view for a very long time.  Well, a similar thing is happening in America right now.  For decades, our debt-fueled prosperity has masked a lot of the social decay that has been going on.

But now that our prosperity is evaporating, a lot of frightening stuff is being revealed.

Unfortunately, another major financial crisis is rapidly approaching and economic conditions in the United States are going to get a lot worse.

So what is our country going to look like when that happens?

That is a very good question.

— 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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