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Archive for February 2011

“How long until Obama starts writing checks?”

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by Mike Krieger, of KAM LP
Originally posted Feb 24, 2011

SOCIETY IN EVERY STATE IS A BLESSING, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamities are heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer! Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence; the palaces of kings are built on the ruins of the bowers of paradise. For were the impulses of conscience clear, uniform, and irresistibly obeyed, man would need no other lawgiver; but that not being the case, he finds it necessary to surrender up a part of his property to furnish means for the protection of the rest; and this he is induced to do by the same prudence which in every other case advises him out of two evils to choose the least. Wherefore, security being the true design and end of government, it unanswerably follows that whatever form thereof appears most likely to ensure it to us, with the least expense and greatest benefit, is preferable to all others.

Thomas Paine, Common Sense (1776)

Back to the future: The “Stimulus” Act of early 2008

Let’s all take a trip back to February 13th, 2008. Our war mongering 43rd President, George W. Bush, freaked out by the impact of the subprime crisis on the U.S. economy announced the now almost forgotten “Stimulus Act of 2008.” A big part of this typical Keynesian stimulus (remember Keynesianism is not a partisan thing, it is a economic religion handed down by the Fed to both the Republican and Democratic establishment) was simply writing checks to people.

At the time, I criticized it harshly and said it would lead to massive inflation. Guess what? Oil was trading at about $93/b and five months later it topped out at $147/b for a monster gain of 58%. Then all hell broke loose.

George W. Bush should actually be a hero for most of the fake liberals and fake progressives out there that just spout meaningless drivel about how things should be without ever bothering to look into and understand how the global financial system actually works. That would be too much work. It’s much easier to just be ignorant and support “your guy” as they county goes down in flames. The reason the fake liberals and progressives should love W so much is that at least he just wrote checks to average people.

Obama is the biggest puppet of the banking oligarchs in American history. I mean, this guy’s entire administration so far has revolved around printing money and handing it out, but rather than hand it out to the people, he gave it all to the banks that cratered your children’s futures in the first place. Of course, in order to give away trillions to the financial oligarchs that should be in prison as opposed to the petty dealers caught with dime bags that fill the prison, you need to give the money away in secret.

In comes the Federal Reserve. To make matters worse, after the Fed and Obama bailed out the banksters the next way to hand out money was defined in Jackson Hole Wyoming in August of last year where Banana Ben Bernanke laid out his plan for QE2. The unstated yet stated purpose of this policy was to juice the stock market. He has succeeded wildly in this manipulation until now.

Again, it isn’t the 44 million (a new record every time the data is updated) Americans on food stamps that benefit from this policy, it is the financial oligarchs that game the system and push the stock market up until the point that retail investors finally buy the stocks from them and then they are permitted to crash. Don’t play their crooked game, don’t buy stocks, buy physical gold and silver and take this nation back from the sociopathic financial control freaks running it now.

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First peaceful European revolt, as Irish tsunami ends 60 years of Fianna Fail rule following banker bailout fury

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by Tyler Durden
Originally posted Zero Hedge Feb 26, 2011

Angela Merkel is carefully observing what can only be classified as a peaceful revolution in Ireland, where a stunning amount, over 70% by some estimates, of voters turned out to punish the ruling Fianna Fail party for its betrayal of the Irish people and for the latest (and what some say last) broad banker bailout.

The Telegraph reports that “Exit polls and early tallies from Ireland’s general election heralded political annihilation for Fianna Fail (FF), the party which has ruled Ireland for more than 60 years of the Irish Republic’s eight decades of independence.” Bloomberg adds:  “Counting will continue today to fill the 166-seat parliament, with an exit poll giving Fine Gael and the Labour Party a combined 57 percent of the vote. Support for Fianna Fail, which has ruled for the last 14 years, dropped to 15 percent from 42 percent in the 2007 election, the poll showed.”

In other words, the Irish people have voted for a direct confrontation with the EU, and indirectly, for austerity: “Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny, likely to become prime minister, wants to re-negotiate the interest rate on the emergency loans and speed up planned spending cuts to narrow the budget gap. Labour is pushing for more tax increases.” And the reason Merkel is not going to sleep much tonight is that Germany is next.

The country, where the CDU saw a comparable annihilation in a recent Hamburg vote, faces several regional elections as early as a few weeks from now, and the political scene is expected to change drastically, as a warning to anyone who feels like putting the banking kleptocracy (again) over the interests of the taxpaying majority. But what is most troublesome for all those who think that the EURUSD at 1.38 is remotely credible, is that the European Nash Equilibrium is now completely destroyed, and the game theory defections are about to start in earnest: “Declan Ganley, the Irish businessman who led the 2008 No vote to the Lisbon Treaty, said Ireland must “have the balls” to threaten debt default and withdrawal from the single currency. We have a hostage, it is called the euro,” he said. “The euro is insolvent. The only question is whether Ireland should be sacrificed to keep the Ponzi scheme going. We have to have a Plan B to the misnamed bailout, which is to go back to the Irish Punt.”

Funny  nobody even pretends that modern economics is even a remotely viable concept. Also, the Fed’s plan of keeping the USD artificially low against most currencies is about to crash and burn mercilessly.

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189 German academics support EU Sovereign default plan

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by Mike “Mish” Shedlock
Originally posted 26 Feb 2011

Unlike the Keynesian and Monetarist academic clowns that rule US academia, German academics push for EU sovereign default plan

ALMOST 200 GERMAN ECONOMICS PROFESSORS have signed a declaration rejecting current proposals to resolve the eurozone debt crisis, instead calling for a way for distressed countries to declare bankruptcy.

More than 200 professors were invited to sign the document, and 189 did so, including prominent figures such as Manfred Neumann of the University of Bonn and Justus Haucap of the University of Duesseldorf, both in western Germany.

Instead of the collective support mechanism set up last year that could be made permanent in a modified form from 2013, the economists argued it would be better to let countries restructure their debts.

“Restructuring allows the countries concerned to reduce their debt and start over,” said the economists. The solution being mulled at present and likely to be approved by European leaders next month would amount to “a permanent guarantee” of some countries’ debt, with “very serious consequences,” they added.

The signatories also doubted the effectiveness of measures to reinforce the competitiveness of weaker eurozone countries and control members’ public finances owing to the European Union’s “limited firepower.”

The document was published as lawmakers from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition sent her a clear message ahead of negotiations on a permanent EU rescue plan to take place in Brussels.

The German deputies said the future European Stability Mechanism should not be allowed to buy eurozone government debt, as the European Commission and European Central Bank would like.

Those 189 academics simply want the ECB to admit that the debt owed by Greece, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, cannot possibly be paid back. What cannot be paid back, won’t, and pretending that it will just makes problems worse. It is refreshing to see a large group of academics on the right side of an economic issue.

Axel Weber, once heir apparent to ECB presidency to replace Jean-Claude Trichet, resigned as president of the German central bank over the issue of the ECB buying sovereign debt. He did not want the ECB to buy debt, most of the rest of the ECB did.

Academics in Germany are disregarded even though they make economic sense. Keynesian and Monetarist academics in the US make no sense but are revered.

Become a teacher? 10 Examples that show why becoming a teacher is a dead end in this economy

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from The Economic Collapse
Originally posted February 25th, 2011


Today budget cutters are on the rampage from coast to coast and often one of their first targets is public school teachers. What we have witnessed recently in Wisconsin is just one example of this. The truth is that you do not want to become a teacher if you want to have financial security in America today.

TEACHER SALARIES ARE BEING SLASHED FROM SEA TO SHINING SEA. But to a certain extent the teachers that are having their wages cut are the fortunate ones. There are thousands upon thousands of teachers that have already been laid off, and there are tens of thousands more that are about to be laid off. It is absolutely brutal out there right now. So if you are thinking about becoming a teacher you might want to think twice. Not that there are a whole lot of other jobs that are more secure right now. The truth is that there is no such thing as a “safe job” in America today.

It is very unfortunate that what is going on right now is going to scare so many young people away from becoming a teacher because the next generation could definitely use some quality teachers.

But the truth is that it is getting really hard to honestly recommend that anyone become a teacher at this point. Just consider some of the following news stories that we have seen around the nation recently…

#1 In Providence, Rhode Island the school district plans to send out dismissal notices to every single one of its 1,926 teachers.

#2 Michigan has just approved a plan to shut down nearly half of the public schools in Detroit.  Under the plan, 70 schools will be closed and 72 will continue operating.

#3 In New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie has laid off thousands of teachers and he cut a billion dollars from the state education budget.

#4 Bills in Wisconsin, Ohio, Tennessee, Indiana and Idaho would either significantly alter or completely take away the collective bargaining rights of public school teachers.

#5 The eyes of the whole country are on Wisconsin right now. Teachers there are very alarmed about the $900 million in cuts to school funding over the next two years that are being proposed.

#6 Clay Robison, a spokesman for the Texas State Teachers Association, recently said that his organization is projecting that 100,000 school employees in the state of Texas could lose their jobs.

#7 The current plan is for more than 4,500 New York City school teachers to be laid off after this current school years ends. This will be the most significant teacher layoffs in New York since the 1970s.

#8 In Los Angeles, more than 5,000 teachers will be receiving preliminary layoff notices due to budget cuts.

#9 Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval is being deeply criticized for the teacher pay cuts that he is proposing.

#10 StudentsFirst.org is projecting that 161,000 teachers across the United States are in danger of losing their jobs this year alone.

So in light of the facts above, should we advise any of our young people to try to become a teacher?

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Gresham’s Law Squared – Gearing up for game over

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by Paul Mylchreest
Thunderroad Report
Originally posted Feb 24, 2011

It’s getting serious, Gresham’s Law is kicking in and this isn’t any “run-of-the-mill” Gresham’s Law either – it’s “Gresham’s Law Squared”. Not only is there huge hoarding of gold and silver, but it is being compounded by the simultaneous transformation of the gold and silver markets themselves. Having been dominated by paper claims to bullion, all that matters now is ownership of the physical metal itself.

The price of gold and silver on your Bloomberg screen is actually a HYBRID price of physical bullion and a larger amount of “paper” bullion, e.g. unallocated gold and silver, exchange traded futures, OTC derivatives and some ETFs. The paper bullion price and the metal price are still the same, but this market structure (which had successfully channelled much of the demand away from physical metal) is now breaking down.

When the screen price accurately reflects the prices of physical gold and silver per se, they will need to be FAR higher than you see today. Right now, the frontline in the battle between “real” money and paper currency is in the silver market, but most remain blissfully unaware of the significance of what is taking place. The world’s financial system, as currently configured, is falling apart. The vast majority, including bankers and brokers (who should know better), don’t appreciate it – a sort of tragi-comedy really. The bubble this time is in the money, so nobody will be spared. Buying gold and silver is the fear AND greed trade!

So here we are, waiting for the “event” which triggers a loss of confidence across the system. Will it be a sovereign, a US state, a bank, QE3 or QE5, the oil price, Chinese fixed investment, a false flag event (a convenient distraction/excuse) or a revolution? When it happens, the speed at which capital will move in today’s over-liquefied world will take people’s breath away. Where will it go? This is the global end of normal (baby) so that, first and foremost, it will go into the strategic assets: gold/silver, energy, food/agriculture, rare earths, etc, (as well as the equities of the financially strongest economies).

Bernanke’s QE2 is nothing short of economic warfare, in the form of a wave of inflation, directed at the rest of the world and even his own population (at least anybody without a large stock market, commodities or precious metals portfolio). This inflation is not temporary, as per the false reassurances, it’s baked in. Here is Martin Armstrong recently talking about the US budget deficit:

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Middle East chaos: What to learn and what to expect

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by Giordano Bruno
Neithercorp Press
Originally posted Feb 24, 2011

There are many different kinds of revolution; some more effective than others. Telling the difference between a successful revolution and a failed revolution can be tricky. Often, on the surface, they look exactly the same. The secret is to set aside what we would “like” to see, and be brutally honest about what was actually accomplished in the course of the dissenting action.

HAS POWER BEEN FULLY RESCINDED BY THE OFFENDING GOVERNMENT or regime to the people, or, to yet another corrupt bureaucracy with a slightly different face? Have the puppet strings of corporate globalists been severed from your country, or do they remain strong as ever? Has ANY corrupt official actually been punished for the crimes that led to the insurgency in the first place, or, did they fly off scot-free to their million dollar villas in Ecuador, drinking mojitos in wicker recliners and watching the disaster they created unfold on CNN? Who ultimately benefited from the event?

Today, the entire Middle East is on the verge of complete destabilization and possibly civil war. Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, and other nations are experiencing a shockwave of unrest not seen since the 1970’s. Western media sources are calling it a “people’s revolt”, one which the Obama administration is heartily embracing like an old relative. But are we witnessing the democratization of the cradle of civilization, or something else entirely? How will we be affected by this tide of confusion?

Instead of falling into panic and fear over the growing chaos, what can discerning Americans learn from a social implosion on the other side of the world that will help us to survive a similar occurrence here? Let’s examine some of the distinct moments that have characterized the Middle East debacle, the underlying and corrupt influences that surround them, as well as certain historical facts of the region that globalist engineers would rather we forget…

Molding The Arab World

Are globalist interests involved in the breakdown of the Middle East? Most certainly. However, this much widespread resentment and pent-up collective rage is not something that can be easily fabricated. It is far more likely that anger over the feudal governing tactics of dictators in the Arab world (many of which were installed or supported by U.S. and European interests) is very real, and has been building for quite some time. So then, why are Western governments applauding the overthrow of despots they themselves placed in power?

The Mubarak regime was the second largest recipient of U.S. financial and military aid in the world. One third of ALL publicly reported U.S. foreign aid goes to Egypt and Israel. (1) Without this vast military aid from the U.S., Mubarak would not have been able to maintain his 30 year reign. This is a cold hard fact. So then, why go against a leader you already have firmly in your grasp?

When the Shah of Iran (a violent madman we anointed) was overthrown by popular revolt in 1979, the U.S. government responded with vitriol and saber rattling. When Hosni Mubarak (a violent madman we anointed) was overthrown this past month, the U.S. government responded with cheers and warm regards. What was the difference between the revolution in Iran, and the revolutions all over the Middle East today? Insurance…

Like most puppet leaders and figureheads, Mubarak was an errand boy, a conduit for implementing globalist policies in Egypt. His relinquishment of power was in reality nothing of the kind, because the power was never his to give back. It is important to take note that Mubarak’s cabinet and most of the existing government and military structure remains firmly entrenched. (2)

Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, who leads the ruling military council and has been defense minister for about 20 years, took “temporary” control of Egypt after Mubarak ceded authority. Tantawi retains very strong ties to Washington D.C. and an unerring loyalty to Mubarak’s policies, which is perhaps why Barack Obama seemed so jubilant about Mubarak’s departure. In the recent and controversial Wikileaks release of private diplomatic cables, Tantawi is famously referred to as “Mubarak’s Poodle”. (3)

The key here is that globalist circles support the change in Egypt exactly because nothing will change for the citizenry. The Egyptian people will not gain true influence in the politics of their own country, and they may have even less influence over their own lives if a military infrastructure remains embedded within their government. Their entire rebellion was diluted and redirected, because they naively focused on Mubarak as the source of all their ills, instead of the corrupt system he was a mere front-man for.

What about Libya? Muammar Gaddafi, the crazy bag lady of third world dictators, was the darling of the UN in 2009 when he was nominated the head of the African Union. He was just as much a monster then as he is today, and as far as I know his human rights record has remained dismal, but then again, he was helping the globalists by paying the AU dues of numerous countries with Libyan oil money and luring them towards centralization. (4)

Apparently, Gaddafi has outlived his usefulness as international bodies now fully support the rebellion in Libya.

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The real reasons why oil rose and stocks fell

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by Rick Ackerman
Originally posted February 23, 2011

THE NEWS MEDIA WENT ZERO-FOR-TWO yesterday trying to explain on the one hand why stocks fell, and on the other why oil prices rose. Stocks fell not because of fears over the spread of violence in the Middle East, as the pundits asserted, but because it was time for the Mother of All Bear Rallies, now almost two years old, to keel over and die.

As for the surge in oil prices, although it was blamed on turmoil in Libya, the country exports only a paltry 1.6 million barrels a day. Moreover, our good friends the Saudis promised to make up for any Libyan shortfall by increasing their own output.


Our guess is that oil prices are headed toward $100 a barrel, and then higher, because Saudi Arabian output itself is perceived to be less than absolutely secure. It’s hard to imagine that the anti-government protestors who have rocked the Arab world will not eventually descend on the House of Saud. If so, what would the monarchy do if peaceful demonstrators ask them to step aside? It would be difficult enough for King Abdullah to put down a violent revolt with superior violence. But to refuse the demands of placard-waving thousands, who eventually would grow into placard-waving hundreds of thousands?

That would pose quite a dilemma, since the country’s rulers could hardly tell the crowds to go home, get a good night’s sleep and see how they felt in the morning. If and when the demonstrators’ elected representatives wrest power from their desert princes, it seems unlikely that a nominally democratic Saudi Arabia would be so favorably disposed as King Abdullah on the matter of selling practically limitless quantities of oil to the benefit of Great Satan.

A Laughable Explanation

Concerning the stock market’s decline on Tuesday, the biggest drop of 2011, it is laughable to attribute this drop to fears of anything. For nearly two years, the stock market has acted like a rabid animal that feared nothing. Are we now to believe that the rise of protests across the Middle East has given investors pause?

Actually, it is not even investors who have been buying stocks, but machines programmed to buy from each other, senselessly driving the averages higher in what even the clueless twits who bring us the news each day have hesitated to call a virtuous cycle.

As such, we are strongly inclined to believe the weakness is purely technical – albeit potentially fatal, since the stock market has been in inflate-or-die mode all along. If stocks are indeed finally going down for the count, so is the Grand Folly of an economic recovery that happened only in the minds of a few dull-witted economists and in the talking points of various White House spokespersons, cabinet-level poo-bahs and, of course, the ‘Nank.

America is Broke

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by Greg Hunter
Originally posted USAWatchdog.com
February 21, 2011

Saturday, the House of Representatives passed legislation with more than $60 billion of budget cuts.  It is the proverbial “drop in the bucket” when compared to the $14.1 trillion (and counting) outstanding federal debt.  Soon, this ever increasing national debt will eclipse the Gross Domestic Product (GDP.)  That means America will owe more than all the goods and services it produces in one year. When you owe more than you make, isn’t that a sign you need to change course?

The new Speaker of the House, John Boehner, said this just after the budget cut vote, “We will not stop here in our efforts to cut spending, not when we’re broke and Washington’s spending binge is making it harder to create jobs.” I think it is ironic Congress wants to cut $60 billion today and then turn around and consider raising the debt ceiling $1 trillion tomorrow. This is crazy, but that is exactly what’s going to happen because if we don’t, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner says it could cause “catastrophic damage to the economy.”

I don’t think most people grasp just how serious America’s budget problem really is. When Mr. Boehner says, “we’re broke,” he’s not kidding. America is broke. The only reason this has gotten so out of control is the U.S. dollar is the world’s reserve currency, and the government can just print money whenever it needs funds. Right now, the Fed is creating $75 billion a month to help finance government operations. This is met with a shrug, like it is no big deal.  But, it is a big deal, and it comes with a significant downside – inflation. Sure, there is deflation in housing, but everything else is going up in price.

It is not just the federal government that’s swimming in red ink, but more than 40 states in the union are also tens of billions of dollars underwater in deficits, pensions and health-care obligations.  The union protests in Wisconsin are just the tip of the iceberg. Contrary to what left wing commentator Rachael Maddow says, the $137 million deficit problem in Wisconsin was not caused by Governor Walker’s tax-cut bills approved in January. Here’s how The Wisconsin Journal Sentinel summed up the false story, “There is fierce debate over the approach Walker took to address the short-term budget deficit. But there should be no debate on whether or not there is a shortfall. While not historically large, the shortfall in the current budget needed to be addressed in some fashion.”

I was a guest on the nationwide radio show Coast to Coast AM last week. I was there to talk about the protests in Wisconsin and elsewhere. I said this was only the beginning because many states were billions of dollars in the hole.  The states cannot print money, so unions will have to take cuts to pay and benefits. I got some very foul and angry emails from listeners. One wrote, “F*** YOU!  Unions are the only reason we had good wages and decent places to work in the USA. It’s greed by companies that have destroyed this country.”

Another anonymous email said, “You don’t have any idea of what is going on. Now you think the Gov’t workers should get screwed. You subservient dick.I wrote back and said, “What you are angry about is something we all face.  The nation is broke, and we are headed for a crash. In the end, we are all screwed, government workers are just first.” But that really is not correct. I should have said, “It is now the government workers’ turn to feel the pain the rest of America has been feeling.” These emails are examples of how Americans will just not accept that we are out of money. The sovereign debt problem is here today staring us all in the face.

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Wake up, Americans: Your economic dream is a nightmare

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by Jeffrey Simpson
Originally posted February 19, 2011

By 2021, government revenues are predicted to have risen 2.5 times as fast as government spending. How is this to be done? GDP is “projected” to rise from $US 15.1TRILLION to $US 24.6 TRILLION. The surreal nature of watching as this country dissolves into insolvency prompted the Globe and Mail to write the following must read article:

OUR SOUTHERN FRIENDS ARE LIVING THE AMERICAN DREAM these days, a dream that’s removing them from reality. Their federal legislators, including the President, are imagining a brilliant future that cannot be. None of them, it would appear, wants to awaken Americans from this dream. What is the dream? Economic recovery followed by the return of prosperity, built on borrowed money. And not just some borrowed money, but trillions and trillions of borrowed money.

In this scenario, the rest of the world will keep lending to the United States, borrowing costs won’t rise, inflation will be banished, and the punishment that would befall almost any other country that ran such a lopsided budget will not strike the U.S.

Like all dreams, this one has lost touch with reality. In Washington, legislators seem to accept that amassing trillions of dollars of additional debt is a bad idea. Then they argue furiously about a mere 12 per cent of the budget that, even if half of it were to be eliminated, would still leave the government in a deficit position this year.

The discretionary part of the budget contains programs people count on, everything from education to the environment, food inspections to basic research, farm aid and student assistance. The other parts of the budget are debt, the military and the so-called entitlement social programs of health care for the poor and seniors and social security.

Two bipartisan non-governmental commissions have instructed the country in simple arithmetic: namely, that the budget can’t be restored to sanity without cuts to discretionary spending and entitlement programs, and tax increases. In the dreamland of U.S. discourse, however, no one wants to talk about cuts to entitlement programs or tax increases. Worse, just before Christmas, Congress and the President forged a deal that continued the fiscally ruinous tax cuts of George W. Bush, the ones so tilted toward the already wealthy, and pumped even more discretionary spending into the U.S. economy.

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18 Facts which prove that the middle class is not included in this “Economic Recovery”

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by Michael Snyder
The Economic Collapse
Originally posted Feb 20, 2011

HAVE YOU HEARD THE NEWS? THE STOCK MARKET IS ABSOLUTELY SOARING and according to the U.S. government and the Federal Reserve we are in the beginning stages of a robust economic recovery. Yippee!  The S&P 500 is up 6.8 percent so far in 2011, and the stock market recently hit a two and a half year high. So shouldn’t we all be celebrating? Well, if stock market performance was an accurate measure of economic health, then Zimbabwe would have had one of the healthiest economies on the entire globe during the last decade.

But just like Zimbabwe’s stock market was artificially pumped up with “funny money” that was rapidly being devalued, so is ours. All of the “quantitative easing” that the Federal Reserve has been doing is pumping plenty of money into the financial markets and is helping to inflate a false stock market bubble, but it is doing very little to alleviate the suffering of the U.S. middle class.In fact, when you take a closer look at the numbers you quickly find out that the suffering of the middle class is getting even worse.

According to Gallup, the unemployment rate is now over 10%. The number of Americans that have given up looking for work recently set a new all-time record. The number of mortgages in foreclosure tied a record high during the fourth quarter of 2010. Gas and food prices are rising rapidly. The number of Americans on food stamps continues to increase every single month.

Yes, right now the economic situation is not in free fall like it was a couple years ago. We should be thankful for that.  Periods of relative stability such as we are enjoying now will be few and far between in the years ahead. This “bubble” of economic calm is a great opportunity that we should all be taking advantage of.

However, those that are hoping that this is an economic “turning point” and that things will soon be back to “normal” are going to be greatly disappointed. This is about as “normal” as things are going to be ever again.

Even during this time of relative economic stability, the U.S. middle class is still being ripped to shreds. If there are those among your family and friends that are somehow convinced that the U.S. economy is recovering nicely, you might want want to show them the following 18 very sobering facts….

#1 According to Gallup, the U.S. unemployment rate is currently 10.3 percent. When you add in part-time American workers that want full-time employment, that number rises to 20.2 percent.

#2 According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of job openings in the United States declined for a second straight month during December.

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