The Federal Reserve’s latest quarterly Flow of Funds report revealed the first increase in U.S. household debt since before the financial crisis in the third quarter of 2013.
In short, Americans have stopped paying down debt, and releveraging has officially begun.
Re-leveraging has begun. Yes, after 1/2 – 1 decade of crummy raises, job loss, increased prices for everything, add in a health scare, yeah dummy, Americans are re-leveraging, to pay for food, education, medical bills, and yes, taxes. There’s probably a percentage of new car purchases simply due to the fact the 15 year old civic they were nursing along finally gave up the ghost and they had to buy something, so yeah, there’s a bright spot.
More Americans Rely on Credit Cards for Basics Like Food and Gas
Americans are increasingly dependent on credit cards just to put food on the table and keep the lights on, a new study shows. Although we’re doing a better job overall paying our bills on time these days, many people are relying on more easily attainable credit just to keep their heads above water. With no home equity left to tap, skimpier health insurance coverage and jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed vanishing, even middle class Americans are once again at risk of tumbling down the rabbit hole of debt.
According to “The Plastic Safety Net,” a survey conducted by nonprofit group Demos, 40% of low- and moderate-income families rely on credit cards for what the group categorizes as basic needs: rent or mortgage payments, groceries, utilities, or insurance. Among households with annual incomes of less than $50,000, this increases to 45%.
That 40% is several percentage points higher than Demos found when it conducted this survey prior to the recession in 2005, when roughly a third of respondents reported relying on credit for everyday expenses. Back then credit was a substitute for an emergency savings fund; people dipped into it when unforeseen circumstances arose. Today, those emergency measures have become everyday survival tools.
The “Real” America: Near Record 20% Struggle To Afford Food, Highest Since Crisis Began
More Americans are struggling to afford food — nearly as many as did during the recent recession. The 20.0% who reported in August that they have, at times, lacked enough money to buy the food that they or their families needed during the past year, is up from 17.7% in June, and is the highest percentage recorded since October 2011. The percentage who struggle to afford food now is close to the peak of 20.4% measured in November 2008, as the global economic crisis unfolded.
Home sales tumble, jobless claims at near nine-month high
(Reuters) – U.S. home resales hit a near one-year low in November and new filings for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week, putting a wrinkle in an otherwise brightening economic picture.
The reports on Thursday came a day after the Federal Reserve gave the economy a vote of confidence by announcing that it would reduce its monthly $85 billion bond buying program by $10 billion starting in January.
“Things have not changed. It’s still a marginally rosier outlook in the short-term,” said Jacob Oubina, senior U.S. economist at RBC Capital Markets in New York.
Fed hangover: Is the taper-triggered rally over?
Stocks rallied after the Federal Reserve finally pulled the trigger and announced plans to start tapering. But a day later, the bloom is off the rose and the major indexes have been down most of the day — and, I think, rightly so.
Why? Because the market isn’t convinced that the economy is ready to go it alone.
As the news unfolded, the Fed made it very clear that the taper was a “mini amount” and that interest rates would remain low for longer than expected. Essentially, they said: “We are not going away just yet.”
$2,472,542,000,000: Record Taxation Through August; Deficit Still $755B
(CNSNews.com) – The federal government raked in a record of approximately $2,472,542,000,000 in tax revenues through the first eleven months of fiscal 2013, which ran from Oct. 1, 2012 through the end of August, according to the Monthly Treasury Statement for August.
That is up about $285 billion from the approximately $2,187,527,000,000 in taxes the government took in through August of fiscal 2012.
Despite these record tax revenues, the federal government still accumulated a $755 billion deficit in the first eleven months of fiscal 2013. Total federal spending through the first eleven months of the fiscal year was $3.228 trillion.
The Taper Is On – 8 Ways That This Is Going To Affect You And Your Family
1. Interest Rates Are Going To Go Up
Following the announcement on Wednesday, the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries went up to 2.89% and even CNBC admitted that the taper is a “bad omen for bonds“. Thousands of other interest rates in our economy are directly affected by the 10 year rate, and so if that number climbs above 3 percent and stays there, that is going to be a sign that a significant slowdown of economic activity is ahead.
2. Home Sales Are Likely Going To Go Down
Mortgage rates are heavily influenced by the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries. Because the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries is now substantially higher than it was earlier this year, mortgage rates have also gone up. That is one of the reasons why the number of mortgage applications just hit a new 13 year low. And now if rates go even higher that is going to tighten things up even more. If your job is related to the housing industry in any way, you should be extremely concerned about what is coming in 2014.
3. Your Stocks Are Going To Go Down
Yes, I know that stocks skyrocketed today. The Dow closed at a new all-time record high, and I can’t really provide any rational explanation for why that happened. When the announcement was originally made, stocks initially sold off. But then they rebounded in a huge way and the Dow ended up close to 300 points.
A few months ago, when Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke just hinted that a taper might be coming soon, stocks fell like a rock. I have a feeling that the Fed orchestrated things this time around to make sure that the stock market would have a positive reaction to their news. But of course I absolutely cannot prove this at all. I hope someday we learn the truth about what actually happened on Wednesday afternoon. I have a feeling that there was some direct intervention in the markets shortly after the announcement was made and then the momentum algorithms took over from there.
Of course QE3 is not being ended, but this tapering sends a signal to investors that the days of “easy money” are over and that we have reached the peak of the market.
And if you are at the peak of the market, what is the logical thing to do?
Sell, sell, sell.
But in order to sell, you are going to need to have buyers.
And who is going to want to buy stocks when there is no upside left?
4. The Money In Your Bank Account Is Constantly Being Devalued
When a new dollar is created, the value of each existing dollar that you hold goes down. And thanks to the Federal Reserve, the pace of money creation in this country has gone exponential in recent years. Just check out what has been happening to M1. It has nearly doubled since the financial crisis of 2008…
The Federal Reserve has been behaving like the Weimar Republic, and this tapering does not change that very much. Even with this tapering, the Fed is still going to be creating money out of thin air at an absolutely insane rate.
And for those that insist that what the Federal Reserve is doing is “working”, it is important to remember that the crazy money printing that the Weimar Republic did worked for them for a little while too before ending in complete and utter disaster.
5. Quantitative Easing Has Been Causing The Cost Of Living To Rise
The Federal Reserve insists that we are in a time of “low inflation”, but anyone that goes to the grocery store or that pays bills on a regular basis knows what a lie that is. The truth is that if the inflation rate was still calculated the same way that it was back when Jimmy Carter was president, the official rate of inflation would be somewhere between 8 and 10 percent today.
Most of the new money created by quantitative easing has ended up in the hands of the very wealthy, and it is in the things that the very wealthy buy that we are seeing the most inflation. As one CNBC article recently stated, we are seeing absolutely rampant inflation in “stocks and bonds and art and Ferraris and farmland“.
6. Quantitative Easing Did Not Reduce Unemployment And Tapering Won’t Either
The Federal Reserve actually first began engaging in quantitative easing back in late 2008. As you can see from the chart below, the percentage of Americans that are actually working is lower today than it was back then…
The mainstream media continues to insist that quantitative easing was all about “stimulating the economy” and that it is now okay to cut back on quantitative easing because “unemployment has gone down”. Hopefully you can see that what the mainstream media has been telling you has been a massive lie. According to the government’s own numbers, the percentage of Americans with a job has stayed at a remarkably depressed level since the end of 2010. Anyone that tries to tell you that we have had an “employment recovery” is either very ignorant or is flat out lying to you.
7. The Rest Of The World Is Going To Continue To Lose Faith In Our Financial System
Everyone else around the world has been watching the Federal Reserve recklessly create hundreds of billions of dollars out of thin air and use it to monetize staggering amounts of government debt. They have been warning us to stop doing this, but the Fed has been slow to listen.
The greatest damage that quantitative easing has been causing to our economy does not involve the short-term effects that most people focus on. Rather, the greatest damage that quantitative easing has been causing to our economy is the fact that it is destroying worldwide faith in the U.S. dollar and in U.S. debt.
Right now, far more U.S. dollars are used outside the country than inside the country. The rest of the world uses U.S. dollars to trade with one another, and major exporting nations stockpile massive amounts of our dollars and our debt.
We desperately need the rest of the world to keep playing our game, because we have become very dependent on getting super cheap exports from them and we have become very dependent on them lending us trillions of our own dollars back to us.
If the rest of the world decides to move away from the U.S. dollar and U.S. debt because of the incredibly reckless behavior of the Federal Reserve, we are going to be in a massive amount of trouble. Our current economic prosperity greatly depends upon everyone else using our dollars as the reserve currency of the world and lending trillions of dollars back to us at ultra-low interest rates.
And there are signs that this is already starting to happen. In fact, China recently announced that they are going to quit stockpiling more U.S. dollars. This is one of the reasons why the Fed felt forced to do something on Wednesday.
But what the Fed did was not nearly enough. It is still going to be creating $75 billion out of thin air every single month, and the rest of the world is going to continue to lose more faith in our system the longer this continues.
8. The Economy As A Whole Is Going To Continue To Get Even Worse
Despite more than four years of unprecedented money printing by the Federal Reserve, the overall U.S. economy has continued to decline. If you doubt this, please see my previous article entitled “37 Reasons Why ‘The Economic Recovery Of 2013′ Is A Giant Lie“.
And no matter what the Fed does now, our decline will continue. The tragic downfall of small cities such as Salisbury, North Carolina are perfect examples of what is happening to our country as a whole…
During the three-year period ending in 2009, Salisbury’s poverty rate of 16% was about 3% higher than the national rate. In the following three-year period between 2010 and 2012, the city’s poverty rate was approaching 30%. Salisbury has traditionally relied heavily on the manufacturing sector, particularly textiles and fabrics. In recent decades, however, manufacturing activity has declined significantly and continues to do so. Between 2010 and 2012, manufacturing jobs in Salisbury — as a percent of the workforce — shrank from 15.5% to 8.3%.