Michael Snyder | The Economic Collapse | Nov. 23, 2017

If the economy is doing just fine, then why is homelessness at levels not seen “since the Great Depression” in major cities all over the country?  If the U.S. economy was actually in good shape, we would expect that the number of people that are homeless would be going down or at least stabilizing.  Instead, we have a growing national crisis on our hands.  In fact, within the past two years “at least 10 cities or municipal regions in California, Oregon and Washington” have declared a state of emergency because the number of homeless is growing so rapidly.

Things are particularly bad in southern California, and this year the Midnight Mission will literally be feeding a small army of people that have nowhere to sleep at night…

Thanksgiving meals will be served to thousands of homeless and near-homeless individuals today on Skid Row and in Pasadena and Canoga Park amid calls for donations and volunteers for the rest of the year.

The Midnight Mission will serve Thanksgiving brunch to nearly 2,500 homeless and near-homeless men, women and children, according to Georgia Berkovich, its director of public affairs.

Overall, the Midnight Mission serves more than a million meals a year, and Berkovich says that homelessness hasn’t been this bad in southern California “since the Great Depression”

Berkovich said the group has been serving nearly 1 million meals a year each year since 2013.

“We haven’t seen numbers like this since the Great Depression,” she said.

And of course the official numbers confirm what Berkovich is claiming.  According to an article published earlier this year, the number of homeless people living in Los Angeles County has never been higher…

The number of homeless people in Los Angeles has jumped to a new record, as city officials grapple with a humanitarian crisis of proportions remarkable for a modern American metropolis.

Municipal leaders said that a recent count over several nights found 55,188 homeless people living in a survey region comprising most of Los Angeles County, up more than 25% from last year.

If the California economy is truly doing well, then why is this happening?

We see the same thing happening when we look at the east coast.  Just check out these numbers from New York City

In recent years the number of homeless people has grown. Whereas rents increased by 18% between 2005 and 2015, incomes rose by 5%. When Rudy Giuliani entered City Hall in 1994, 24,000 people lived in shelters. About 31,000 lived in them when Mike Bloomberg became mayor in 2002. When Bill de Blasio entered City Hall in 2014, 51,500 did. The number of homeless people now in shelters is around 63,000.

For New York, this is the highest that the homeless population has been since the Great Depression, and city leaders are trying to come up with a solution.

Meanwhile, things are so bad in Seattle that “400 unauthorized tent camps” have popped up…

Housing prices are soaring here thanks to the tech industry, but the boom comes with a consequence: A surge in homelessness marked by 400 unauthorized tent camps in parks, under bridges, on freeway medians and along busy sidewalks. The liberal city is trying to figure out what to do.

Are you noticing a theme?

Homelessness is at epidemic levels all over the U.S., and this crisis is getting worse with each passing day.  Some communities are trying to care for their growing homeless populations, but others are simply trying to force them to go somewhere else.  They are doing this by essentially making it illegal to be homeless.  In some cities it is now a crime to engage in “public camping”, to “block a walkway” or to create any sort of “temporary structure for human habitation”.  These laws specifically target the homeless, and they are very cruel.

Many of us tend to picture the homeless as mostly lazy older men that don’t want to work and that instead want to drink or do drugs all day.

But the truth is that women and children make up a significant percentage of the homeless.  In fact, the number of homeless children in our country has increased by about 60 percent since the end of the last recession.

And there are thousands upon thousands of military veterans that are homeless.  For example, a 34-year-old man named Johnny that served in the Marine Corps recently used his last 20 dollars to buy fuel for a woman that had run out of gas and was stranded along I-95 in Miami

Pulled over on the side of I-95, McClure, 27, was approached by a homeless man named Johnny. She was apprehensive at first, but Johnny told her to get back into her car and to lock the doors while he walked to get her help. He went to a nearby gas station, used his last $20 fill a can and brought it back to fill up her car.

Grateful, but without a dollar to repay him, McClure promised she would come back with something.

In the weeks since, she’s returned to the spot along I-95 where Johnny stays with cash, snacks and Wawa gift cards. Each time she’s stopped by with her boyfriend, Mark D’Amico, they’ve learned a bit more about Johnny’s story, and become humbled by his gratitude.

Deciding that they wanted to do even more for Johnny, they started a GoFundMe page for him and have since raised approximately $250,000.

So it looks like there is going to be a happy ending to Johnny’s story, but the truth is that more people are falling into homelessness with each passing day.

If things are this bad now, how much worse will they become as the economy really starts slowing down?  Already, we have shattered the all-time yearly record for retail store closings, and we still have more than a month to go.  The following is from a CNN article entitled “Is This The Last Black Friday?”

A record number of store closures — 6,735 — have already been announced this year. That’s more than triple the tally for 2016, according to Fung Global Retail and Technology, a retail think tank.

And there have been 620 bankruptcies in the sector so far this year, according to BankruptcyData.com, up 31% from the same period last year. Prominent names such as Toys R Us, Gymboree, Payless Shoes and RadioShack have all filed this year, and Sears Holdings (SHLD), which owns both the iconic Sears and Kmart chains, has warned there is “substantial doubt” it can remain in business.

Sadly, analysts are projecting that the number of store closings could be as high as 9,000 next year.

Yes, there are some areas of the country that are doing well right now, but there are many others that are not.

Let us always remember to have compassion on those that are struggling, because someday we may be the ones that end up needing some help.


Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.


SHARE:

L. Steele | America Uncensored | Nov. 14, 2017

While big corporations like Walmart put on a PR front teaming up with Feeding America, behind the scenes is another story.

Mainstream media pushes the publicity for companies like Walmart, so that you can feel better about spending your hard earned money with the evil empire. Meanwhile, citizens take it upon themselves to tell the real story. Showing us what real journalism should be.

A Walmart in Celina, Ohio was caught throwing away very large amounts of good food. 2 to 3 truckloads of good, unexpired food. The video shows lines of shopping carts full of hams, roasts, hot dogs and other meats. Packaged food, canned foods, milk and even butter filling carts and dumpsters.

After seeing this video, a person should feel ashamed for shopping at Walmart. They prove to have no idea of what “live better” even means. This is no doubt a disgusting truth to swallow.

It is reported that 1 in 5 children in America are going hungry. Absolutely unacceptable! In Ohio, where the video was taken, over 653,000 children are going hungry.

As reported at Deprogram Yourself:

Nearly one in four Ohio children lacks consistent access to adequate food—that’s 653,410 Ohio children of all ages in every corner of the state.

Children are the future of our world, yet we are barely able to feed them. Hunger is a widespread problem, not just in the poor nations of the world, but also in ‘rich’ countries like America. It must not be tolerated and we need to act now.

Wake up America! These starving children need our help. What can you do to help? For starters, you could stop shopping at places like Walmart.

Between the worlds elite, filthy rich corporations, corrupt politicians and Hollywood scum, we could end world hunger by the end of the day. What is stopping us? All those that pretend to care, really don’t.

This subject is more proof that it is not race that divides us, but wealth.


SHARE:

What Does the Sale of Venezuelan Oil in Currencies Other Than the US Dollar Mean?

The Venezuelan oil market now has the chance of trading future oil contracts offered by China, denominated in yuan.

Source: venezuenalaysis | September 29, 2017

 

The petrodollar is more important for US global domination than either arms exports or Hollywood culture, because it allows the US to be the biggest exporter of the dollar bills the rest of the world, which needs to be able to buy oil. Venezuela has decided to start de-dollarizing its economy. To understand what this means, it’s necessary to look at the geopolitical context in which the move takes place.

After President Nicolas Maduro announced last Thursday that every business signing contracts with the Venezuelan State should do so in a foreign currency other than the US dollar, Vice President Tareck El Aissami sought to ensure the country’s productive sector gets the necessary mechanisms via public and private banks to be able to migrate to a new basket of foreign currencies.

In a working meeting with business people on the Constituent Plan for Peace and Economic Prosperity, Aissami said, “We have to throw off the yoke of the dollar”, arguing that anyone wanting to bid in auctions of the Floating Exchange Rate System (DICOM) should switch their bank accounts to another currency. Aissami added, “We’re doing no more auctions in dollars, those auctions are over”. He emphasized that these measures are meant to counteract economic sanctions imposed by the US.

Aissami also said that Venezuelan citizens promoting the sanctions would face trial, adding that Venezuela is closing existing bank accounts and migrating them to other banks around the world, whom he thanked for their assistance. He reported that, “In the public banking system we already have partner banks in all those countries” (Russia, China, India, Europe).

Why does the petrodollar rule?

The US dollar became the predominant currency for international payments because, until the middle of the 20th Century, the gold standard was the dominant monetary system. This system was based on the fixed quantity of gold reserves stored in national banks, which set a limit on possible credit. At that historical moment the US government managed to appropriate 70% of the world’s gold (except that of the Soviet Union), thus weakening Britain and bypassing the Bretton Woods financial system set up in 1944.

To reach its long desired world dominance, the US government used two main tools: the US dollar and its military power. Some countries developed alternative military alliances and broke with dependency on the US dollar to avoid being subjugated.

In the 1970s, the US dollar suffered a dramatic fall due to the economic growth of Germany and Japan and the reluctance of the US authorities to adjust economic policy to maintain a balance between the US dollar and gold. The US currency was revived with help from oil exporters like Saudi Arabia, who exchanged their oil for US armaments. In 1971, US President Richard Nixon unilaterally cut the convertibility of the US dollar to gold (the so-called Nixon shock) and so oil became the basis of the US dollar system, and for that reason keeping control of oil trading is today a priority of US foreign policy.

So long as the members of OPEC supported this system, world demand for US petrodollars reached historic high and countries were obliged to buy dollars in order to purchase oil on the international markets.

Currently, the US contribution to global GDP is calculated at no more than 22%. But 80% of international payments are made in US dollars, making the dollar overvalued in comparison with other currencies. That is why US consumers can buy imported goods at extremely low prices, giving them a significant financial advantage, while the high demand for dollars in the rest of the world allows the US government to refinance its debt at very low interest rates.

The threat of de-dollarization

Any country fighting against the dollar is considered to be a direct threat to US economic hegemony and its citizens’ high standard of living which means the US elites do whatever it takes to defeat resistance. Libyan leader Muammar al Gaddhafi was overthrown and brutally murdered when he decided to sell oil in euros, and then to replace the euro by introducing a gold dinar currency.

That meant the emergence of a national leader with 150 tons of gold reserves proposing to sell oil in exchange for real gold, which is why then French President Nicolas Sarkozy said, “Libya is putting at risk global financial stability” which is based on an unsupported currency of benefit only to US consumers.

Along with some banks and energy companies operating in their countries, China, Russia and Iran are following a de-dollarization policy to escape US domination. In 2014, the Russian treasury announced a plan to increase the participation of ruble-based contracts while, last May, at the Shanghai Summit, Russia committed to selling China US$400 billion of natural gas over the next 30 years, invoiced in rubles and the yuan. It has been called “the deal of the century”.

During his visit to China last August, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced, “the petrodollar system should be a thing of the past”. Given the Western sanctions policy against his country, he added, “Russia is discussing the use of national currencies in swap agreements with various countries.”

Over the last few months China has signed currency swap agreements with Canada and Qatar, thus making Canada the first offshore center for the Chinese yuan in North America, while doubling or even tripling trade with China by as much as an estimated RMB200 billion. The currency swap between China and Qatar, itself recently the target of sanctions, are equivalent to US$5.7 billion, turning Qatar into a base for the yuan in Middle East markets already suspicious of the US dollar because it exports inflation. It may only be a matter of time before other OPEC countries sign currency swap agreements with China.

China has also promoted establishing a compensation center in Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur to encourage greater use of the yuan in South East Asia. This is within less than a month of Singapore, Asia’s biggest financial center, becoming an exchange center for the yuan via a currency swap for Singapore dollars.

Iran has also recently announced its reluctance to use dollars for foreign trade. Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev, has likewise instructed his country’s national bank to de-dollarize the economy. The United Kingdom plans to issue debt in yuan while the European Central Bank is discussing whether to include the yuan in its official reserves.

While in the real world this tendency grows, along with domestic US inflation, so too does anti-Russian propaganda.

The war is worldwide and self-evidently economic

In terms of resources, whoever has gold or oil underground is be able to decide geopolitical issues or currency hegemony. However, military power is also a determining factor in the readjustment of leadership currently taking place with the collapse of the capitalist system. Many countries are seeking to withdraw their gold reserves held in the vaults of the US Federal Reserve Bank, especially since that bank refused in 2013 to hand over German gold reserves to their respective owners.

Seeing that much of the world no longer needs dollars, the US government opted for regional destabilization so as to weaken any potential rival.

In the meantime, US$20 trillion of US debt is almost as much as the total of the 28 members of the European Union and bigger than US Gross Domestic Product. The message investors take away from the ratio of debt to GDP is that the US might eventually be unable to pay its debts. Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama used up the state’s reserves and plundered Social Security, among other things, to finance the “War on Terror”, and increasing spending in other departments.

Even though Russia, through its Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, has recognized that the US has waged a large scale economic war against it, Russia’s debt is low in comparison with European countries. Russia’s growth before 2011 was greater than that in the United States, Germany, France, Japan and the rest of the G8 countries. President Vladimir Putin paid off almost all of Russia’s debt selling hydrocarbons during the period when prices were high.

The established mechanisms of global power wrecked relations between the US and Russia via intrigues and offensives ending up with a battery of sanctions against the Russian people. Furthermore, despite the blockades NATO has contrived against Russian natural gas via conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, Vladimir Putin’s government has finessed them via the South Stream project with Turkey and the imminent defeat of the Islamic State in Syria.

De.dollarization by the European Union would throw the West into crisis, especially when Europe is wracked by a banking crisis and the US Senate has decided to raise the US government debt ceiling temporarily to allow the US authorities to assign US$15 billion to help victims of Hurricane Harvey.

“Futures” on the horizon

The Venezuelan oil market now has the chance of trading so called future oil contracts offered by China denominated in yuan. Under this type of contract, the parties agree to buy or sell an asset at a price fixed beforehand. This could become the new template for people trading financial instruments in commodities markets and could well become a new standard reference point for traders, since China is the world’s biggest oil importer. Also, according to Venezuela’s vice president, China has expressed interest in paying for Venezuela’s oil in yuan.

Currently, only contracts in the West Texas Intermediate and Brent oil benchmarks are traded in global futures markets and both are traded in US dollars. But oil and gas exporters like Russia, Iran, Qatar and Venezuela could avoid dollar trades if their buyers could pay for oil in yuan or even in gold after converting their yuan into gold ounces.

According to Michael Snyder in his blog The Economic Collapse, in economic and financial terms China’s government has been playing chess while the West has been playing checkers. Unfortunately for the US, play has now reached a stage where check mate is within view. Venezuela is positioning itself to preserve its peaceful sovereignty and self determination at a moment of geopolitical reconfiguration that will decide the world’s economic course for decades to come.

Military-Industrial Complex Gets Rich off Trump’s Record Saudi Arms Deal

Anti-Media | May 22, 2017

 

(ANTIMEDIA) In news that should surprise no one, the stock prices of top defense contractors soared on Monday after Donald Trump signed the largest arms deal in United States history with Saudi Arabia over the weekend.

That deal, hailed by the White House as a “significant expansion of…(the) security relationship” between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, is worth $350 billion over the next ten years. However, $110 billion of it will take effect immediately.

Much like with East Asia, where the United States government cites the North Korean nuclear weapons program as justification for its military buildup in the region, Washington, D.C. claims the “Iranian threat” and continuing hostilities in the Middle East are the reasons behind the unprecedented deal.

“This package of defense equipment and services support[s] the long-term security of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region in the face of Iranian threats,” the White House said in a statement, “while also bolstering the kingdom’s ability to contribute to counter terrorism operations across the region, reducing the burden on the U.S. military to conduct those operations.”

News of the deal certainly “bolstered” the market value of stock prices for companies within the military-industrial complex. From CNBC:

“Shortly after market open, Lockheed Martin was up about 2 percent, Raytheon was up more than 1.4 percent, Northrop Grumman climbed 1 percent and General Dynamics was up about half a percent. All four stocks reached new highs.”

But the defense sector wasn’t the only winner in the U.S. leader’s trip to Saudi Arabia. While the president and his family were quite literally being given the red carpet treatment over the weekend, it was reported that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will donate $100 million to a World Bank fund that was “the brainchild” of Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka.

It’s also worth noting that after the Trump administration waged airstrikes on Syria following a chemical attack in the country in April, stocks in military companies also spiked.




Zero Hedge

The improvements in well-being as reported by the survey respondents were concentrated among high-income adults, with at least some college education, and prompted the WSJ to write that “U.S Household financial health improved in recent years.” Even so, most of the changes reported in the survey were relatively modest, “reflecting a slowly improving economy and an unemployment level at or below 5% throughout 2016.”

Now, the not so good news.

Nearly eight years into an economic recovery, nearly half of Americans didn’t have enough cash available to cover a $400 emergency. Specifically, the survey found that, in line with what the Fed had disclosed in previous years, 44% of respondents said they wouldn’t be able to cover an unexpected $400 expense like a car repair or medical bill, or would have to borrow money or sell something to meet it. Troubling as this statistic remains, the overall share of adults who would struggle to come up with $400 in a pinch has declined by 2% from the last survey conducted in 2015, and down 6% since 2013.

Of the group that could not pay in cash, 45% said they would go further in debt and use a credit card to pay off the expense over time. while a quarter would borrow from friends of family, and another 27% just couldn’t pay the expense. Others would turn to selling items or using a payday loan.

Read More