U.S. Econcomy ALL IS WELL! PhD in StupidityEconomics / US Economy Feb 07, 2013 - 12:38 PM GMT
“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” – Aldous Huxley
I woke up this past Saturday morning and opened my local paper to find out that all was well. An Associated Press article declared a healthy jobs market, fantastic auto sales, a surging housing market, and a stock market rocketing to new all-time highs. What’s not to love? If the mainstream media says the economy is as good as new, it must be so. Why should we let facts get in the way of a good storyline? The stock market has surged to 2007 highs, so the country’s employment situation must be strong.
The chart above tells a slightly different story. The S&P 500 has regained almost all its losses since October 2007 as Bernanke and Washington politicians chose to save Wall Street and screw over Main Street. The working age population has risen by 12.8 million since 2007 and there are 4 million less Americans employed. The December Household Survey from the BLS being touted by the mainstream media as proof of a jobs recovery told a slightly different story:
- The number of unemployed Americans went up by 126,000 in one month
- Another 169,000 Americans left the workforce evidently because their stock market gains made them wealthy.
- There are 250,000 more Americans unemployed than there were in September 2012.
- There are 6,000 less Americans employed than there were in October 2012.
- The unemployment rate reported to the masses went up to 7.9% (the true rate reached 23%).
This is just the picture over the last few months. The picture since 2007 is beyond horrific, as more than 10 million Americans have left the workforce. Everyone knows people willingly leave the labor force when the economy crashes and their net worth is reduced by 30%. Who needs a paying job then? Just because there are 101 million working age Americans not working and the labor participation rate of 63.6% is at a three decade low, certainly doesn’t mean we aren’t experiencing a tremendous jobs recovery, according to the mainstream media.
The deep thinkers at CNBC, Fox, CNN and the rest of the captured corporate status quo mouthpieces, propagate the false storyline that the reason for Americans leaving the workforce is Baby Boomers retiring. Considering the average Boomer has $90,000 of total savings and 28% of them have less than $1,000 saved, I suspect there are few willingly leaving the workforce. The Boomers have taken on 4 million additional jobs since the low point in 2009, while the 16 to 54 year olds have lost an additional 2.9 million jobs. Does this reflect a strengthening jobs market? Does the fact that real hourly wages have fallen for the last two years reflect an improving labor market?
Inquiring minds might wonder how auto sales could be booming when there are 4 million less employed Americans and real wages are falling. Of course, mainstream media faux journalists aren’t paid to inquire, think critically, or even think at all. They are paid to regurgitate propaganda designed to keep the masses sedated and ignorant. The “fabulous” rebound in auto sales has been buoyed by the return of easy money lending, even to deadbeat borrowers with lousy credit histories. There is a reason the Federal government hasn’t attempted to spin off their 80% control of Ally Financial (aka GMAC, Ditech, Rescap). The Feds are attempting to manufacture a recovery by doling out subprime auto loans to anyone who can scratch an X on a loan document and offering 0% loans over 7 years to good credits. How exactly does a finance company generate a profit by making 0% loans for seven years and approving loans to people with no means of paying them back? Experian recently noted that 44% of ALL auto loans have been to subprime borrowers over the last year. When a financing company doesn’t have to worry about profits or loan losses, everyone gets a Cadillac Escalade. The losses on these subprime loans will be in the billions when the next leg down in this Crisis hits. The taxpayer will unknowingly pick up the tab, just as they have been doing for the last five years. The trend in this chart is nothing but a Federal government induced fraud.
PhD in Stupidity
The Federal government induced sham auto recovery is small peanuts compared to the bubble they are blowing in the higher education realm. Since the Federal government took over 85% of the student loan market in 2009, the debt outstanding has surged to over $1 trillion from below $600 billion. The Feds don’t care about credit risk or loan losses. You’re on the hook for the losses. The purpose for doubling the amount of student loans was to artificially lower the unemployment rate by removing as many people from the labor force as possible. The 600,000 University of Phoenix enrollees getting their on-line master’s degrees in basket weaving while sitting in their mother’s basement, subsidized with $20,000 loans from the taxpayer, didn’t count as unemployed.
Enrollment in these diploma mills has begun to plunge, as the scam has been revealed. The New York Times reported that:
"Enrollments at the University of Phoenix and in the for-profit sector over all have been declining in the last two years, partly because of growing competition from other online providers, including nonprofit and public universities, and a steady drumroll of negative publicity about the sector’s recruiting abuses, low graduation rates and high default rates ... including many charges that the schools enrolled students who had almost no chance of succeeding, to get their federal student aid."
Enrolling students who have no chance of graduating is exactly what the Obama Administration and the status quo want.
Based upon the chart below you would think the United States is producing the brightest bunch of young people in U.S. history. Nothing could be further from the truth. Only 43% of the 1.66 million private and public school students who took the college-entrance exam posted scores showing they are prepared to do well in college, according to data released by the College Board, the nonprofit group that administers the SAT. The SAT data mirror scores from the ACT college-entrance exam which showed about 75% of students failed to meet college-readiness standards. If SAT scores are at decade lows, how could college enrollment be at record highs? Our government controlled public school system is graduating functionally illiterate dullards and the government is then subsidizing these subprime students as they matriculate into substandard colleges across the land. Approximately 3.4 million seniors are graduating from our high schools every year. The 1.66 million seniors who took the SAT exam are the cream of the crop. If the 50% of students who took the SAT exam could score so pitifully, imagine how dimwitted the 50% of students who didn’t even take the exam must be. The upshot of these tests are that only 700,000 of all the graduating high school seniors (21%) are capable of getting a B minus or above in college.
Think about that for one second. Only 21% of all graduating high school seniors are intelligent enough to get a B minus in college, but 70% of them are enrolling in college. Of course enrolling in college and graduating college are two different things. Only 30% actually graduate college. The other 40% get drunk, fornicate, sleep late, fail, rack up gobs of debt, and then drop out. There are approximately 13 million 18 to 24 year olds enrolled in college today and at least 6 million of them have little to no chance of graduating. If the Federal government was not subsidizing them with loans, they would rightfully be looking for jobs geared to their intellectual capabilities. Would tuition rates be soaring if there were 6 million less drones matriculating into one of the 4,000 mostly mediocre higher learning institutions in this country?
The Federal government bureaucrats who think they can control the levers of finance to steer our economy to greater heights are creating a new subprime bubble. The absolute implosion of the for profit diploma mills, that have fed like bloated pigs at the Federal loan trough, is the Bear Stearns moment for the massive student loan losses that will be foisted on the shoulders of the American taxpayer. The deceptive schemes, fraud, and financial aid manipulation practices of the publicly traded diploma mills - Corinthian Colleges (down 90%), ITT (down 90%), Apollo Group (down 80%) and DeVry (down 60%) have been revealed, as their ill- gotten profits have evaporated and their stock prices have crashed. Enrollment at the king of worthless online degrees, the University of Phoenix, has plunged from 600,000 to 400,000 and they are closing 115 of their 227 campuses. The proof that much of the student loan bubble has been created by these for-profit shysters can be seen by the fact that 60% of all student loans are owed by people over 30 years old, with 33% owed by people over 40 years old. These people bought into the re-training fallacy perpetuated by government drones and mainstream media mouthpieces.
But still the Federal government continues to blow the bubble bigger and bigger as non-revolving consumer debt has reached all-time highs. Peter Thiel recently compared this bubble to the housing bubble we are still dealing with:
“We have a bubble in education, like we had a bubble in housing...everybody believed you had to have a house, they'd pay whatever it took. Today, everybody believes that we need to go to college, and people will pay-- whatever it takes. There are all sorts of vocational careers that pay extremely well today, so the average plumber makes as much as the average doctor. I did not realize how screwed up the education system is. We now have $1 trillion in student debt in the U.S. Cynically you can say it's paid for $1 trillion of lies about how good education is.”
Delinquency rates have already begun to skyrocket as the diploma mill scam implodes, dropouts can’t make loan payments with their EBT cards and even graduates from legitimate colleges are stuck waitressing at TGI Fridays and can’t make their payments. Millions of millenials are ensnared in the chains of debt servitude, with no chance of escape.
Delinquency rates on student loans made in the past two years stand at 15%, according to FICO, versus 12.4% for loans made from 2005 to 2007. This is proof that loans doled out since the Federal government took control of the market have been distributed willy-nilly in a frantic effort to artificially reduce the unemployment rate. Average student- loan debt last year rose to $27,253 from $17,233 in 2005, with almost 605 of bank managers surveyed in December expecting delinquencies to worsen in six months, according to FICO. Andrew Jennings, chief analytics officer of Fair Issac, said in a statement:
“This situation is simply unsustainable and we’re already suffering the consequences. When wage growth is slow and jobs are not as plentiful as they once were, it is impossible for individuals to continue taking out ever-larger student loans without greatly increasing the risk of default.”
When subprime mortgages blew up, at least there was collateral to alleviate some of the losses. When the subprime auto loans blow up, at least there will be vehicles to repossess. Student loan debts are the ultimate in subprime, with no collateral and millions of jobless debtors. The situation is much worse than the delinquency numbers reveal. More than half of the student loans are in deferment, grace periods, or forbearance, meaning they are not currently requiring repayment. This means the true delinquency rates are twice as high as the reported figure of 15%. What happens next can be succinctly summed up by the esteemed economist John Kenneth Galbraith:
“Then the shit hit the fan.” – John Kenneth Galbraith
The involuntary taxpayer bailout for this Federal Government created disaster will exceed $200 billion after the shit is done hitting the fan.
Do You Want Pepperoni on that Housing Recovery?
Everywhere I turn I’m hearing about the strong housing recovery that is propelling our economy, generating jobs and spurring a resurgence in retail spending by the millions of deleveraged consumers. Wall Street paid economists on CNBC, NYT economic “journalists”, and even the Fox News blond bimbo brigade all assure me the housing market is in a strong recovery and it’s the best time to buy. There are just two small problems with the story. None of the propaganda spouted by the mouthpieces of the kleptocracy is supported by the facts. And what little uptick in sales and prices that has occurred is due to collusion, fraud and manipulation by Wall Street, the Federal Reserve, the Treasury Department, and connected crony corporate interests.
I challenge anyone to show me the tremendous housing recovery on the new home sales chart below. New homes sales have “surged” to an annual pace of 369,000, only 74% below the 2006 peak and about 50% below the long term average. New home sales fell in December at the fastest rate since February 2011. Existing home sales also fell in December, are pacing at 1999 levels, and are still 30% below 2006 levels. In a country of 115 million households, with mortgage rates at all-time lows, there were a total of 26,000 new homes sold in December, and only 10,000 of them were actually built. For some perspective, new home sales are at the same level as they were in 1967 when the U.S. population was 200 million.
The kleptocrats’ master plan has multiple dimensions designed to lure unsuspecting dupes back into the market. The Federal Reserve has bought over $1 trillion of toxic mortgage debt, freeing the criminal Wall Street banks to start raping the American public again. Bernanke has driven mortgage rates to near all-time lows by tripling his balance sheet, with promises to quadruple it before the end of the year. By driving real interest rates below zero Bernanke has the dual purpose of driving people into the stock market for a positive return and luring “investors” into the housing market.
The Wall Street part of this grand scheme has been to delay the foreclosure process on millions of homes, thereby restricting the amount of inventory on the market. By artificially creating an inventory “shortage”, they have been able to drive prices higher, with the purpose of trying to get the 25% of underwater homeowners back to breakeven. The Treasury Department, through their captured entities (Fannie, Freddie, FHA) are guaranteeing 95% of all mortgages, with the FHA requiring only 3.5% down payments, with the hundreds of billions in present and future losses being incurred by the American taxpayer. You’ve heard of the cycle of life. This is the government cycle of fraud.
The last part of the plan has been to lure investors into the market. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have sold huge blocks of foreclosed homes to connected friends of Wall Street at below market rates so they could convert them to rental properties. This has further artificially reduced inventory available for sale, and jacked up prices by as much as 20% in the former bubble markets of Phoenix, Las Vegas and California. Investors and flippers account for 30% of all home sales, with another 24% of home sales listed as distressed sales. Sure sounds like a healthy market to me. With this full court press by the powers that be to produce a housing recovery, the chart below reveals the utter ineptitude of their effort. Real home prices, even using the fake government manipulated CPI, have barely budged from their lows and sit at 1990 levels. Real home prices are still down 40% from their 2006 highs.
If a true housing recovery was underway how could mortgage purchase applications be at 1997 levels? If housing was recovering there would be more mortgage applications. It really is that simple. Do supposed journalists have any critical thinking skills or are they just playing their assigned role in this kleptocracy?
Essentially, the kleptocrats’ primary purpose has been to protect and enhance the wealth of the oligarchs that control Wall Street, Washington DC, and corporate America. They have achieved their goal, while destroying the middle class and sentencing unborn generations to a life sentence of debt servitude.
If we have been experiencing a solid jobs recovery, strong automobile sales, a resurgence of consumer spending, and rising home sales and home prices, how could GDP be negative in the 4th quarter? The mainstream media immediately declared it the best negative GDP of all-time. They pompously declared that GDP would have been positive if government defense spending hadn’t plummeted. These disgraceful excuses for journalists failed to mention the huge surge in government and defense spending in the 3rd quarter just prior to the presidential election that accounted for a 3.1% GDP and helped get Obama re-elected. A less trusting person than myself might question why the surge in government spending prior to the election.
Did the mainstream media government mouthpieces question the absolutely laughable 0.60% inflation rate used to calculate the 4th quarter GDP? No they didn’t. That wouldn’t support their storyline of recovery. Using even the bastardized CPI figure of 2.0% would have produced a -1.5% GDP figure. Using real inflation figures over time reveals what every middle class family in America knows in their bones – the economy has essentially been in recession since the early 2000s. The massive dose of debt issued by the government has masked the true nature of our economic decline.
All is not well. Any awake and aware citizen knows the economic, financial, societal and social fabric of this country is in tatters, and is getting progressively worse by the day. Since this supposed economic recovery began in mid-2009, the country has added 4 million jobs, more than 100% of which went to workers over the age of 55, forced into the workforce by Bernanke’s zero interest rate policy. Over this same time frame of economic recovery, 16 million Americans went on food stamps. How could this possibly happen if the economy has been recovering? Either the government and mainstream media are lying about the economic recovery or the Obama administration has been fraudulently encouraging people to go on food stamps to win votes in elections. Which of these truths is more palatable to your sensibilities?
It comes down to this. The monied interests, high financiers, corporate interests, captured politicians, government apparatchiks, and corporate media have a vested interest in maintaining the corrupt and destructive status quo. They have become rich and powerful through their manipulation of the currency, ravenous sacking of the national wealth, destruction of the working middle class, and ability to use mass media propaganda to convince the willfully ignorant masses to learn to love their debt servitude. Our once proud, liberty minded, self-sufficient nation of freedom loving individuals has devolved into a kleptocracy, where a small cadre of powerful men run the show solely to increase the personal wealth and political power of officials and the ruling class at the expense of the wider population. They are essentially running a state sponsored embezzlement and Ponzi scheme to pillage the wealth of the dumbed down, sedated, technologically distracted masses. Our entire system has been captured and we are entering the final stages of decay and ultimately a day of reckoning where the guilty and innocent alike will suffer the awful consequences of currency collapse, death and destruction on a wide scale, and likely civil and world war.
“The Fed is now engaged in a control fraud, and what appears to be racketeering in conjunction with a few big investment banks. They may have entered into it with good intentions, but they seem to have been turned towards deceit and corruption. This is not an historical event, but an ongoing theft in conjunction with a number of Wall Street banks, and politicians whom they have paid off through a corrupt system of campaign financing and influence peddling. This is nothing new in history if one reads the un-sanitized version. But people never think it can happen today, that somehow yesterday things were different, as if one is looking at some distant, foreign land. This is a facet of the illusion of general progress.
We are now in the cover-up stage of a scandal, similar to Watergate when the White House was stone-walling. The difference is that the corruption and capture of the government is much more pervasive now, and includes a significant portion of the mainstream media, so meaningful reform is difficult. Most of what has transpired so far has been designed to distract and placate the people in their righteous anger. The Fed deceives the Congress and the public, turns a blind eye to glaring conflicts of interest, and is essentially debasing the currency while transferring the wealth of the nation to their cronies. And still the regulators do not enforce the laws they have, and Washington drags its feet while accepting buckets of cash from the perpetrators.” – Jesse
The entire system is corrupt to its core. Both political parties, regulatory agencies, Wall Street, the Federal Reserve, and mainstream media are participants in this enormous fraud. They grow more desperate and bold by the day. The lies, misinformation and propaganda being spewed on a daily basis become more outrageous and audacious. They are using the Big Lie method on a grand scale. They frantically need to lure the muppets into the stock market and the housing market to keep the game going a little longer. You can sense we are reaching a tipping point. The system they have created is mathematically unsustainable. Therefore, it will not be sustained. The world is going mad. Governments across the globe are all trying to out debase each other. Austerity and inflation for the peasants and caviar and champagne for the Davos class is the chosen path. All is not well. Ben Bernanke and the oligarchs running the show will be immortalized in history books forever when this farce comes to a spectacular conclusion.
“If all else fails, immortality can always be assured by spectacular error.” – John Kenneth Galbraith
Join me at www.TheBurningPlatform.com to discuss truth and the future of our country.
By James Quinn
James Quinn is a senior director of strategic planning for a major university. James has held financial positions with a retailer, homebuilder and university in his 22-year career. Those positions included treasurer, controller, and head of strategic planning. He is married with three boys and is writing these articles because he cares about their future. He earned a BS in accounting from Drexel University and an MBA from Villanova University. He is a certified public accountant and a certified cash manager.
These articles reflect the personal views of James Quinn. They do not necessarily represent the views of his employer, and are not sponsored or endorsed by his employer.
© 2013 Copyright James Quinn - All Rights Reserved
Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.
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