By Ron Paul | RPI | October 29, 2018

President Trump recently called the Federal Reserve’s interest rate hikes crazy. Leaving aside President Trump’s specific complaint, which is likely motivated by the belief that low rates will help him win reelection, he is right that “crazy” is a good way to describe the Federal Reserve.

When not forced to use a government-created currency, individuals have historically chosen to use a precious metal such as gold or silver as money. The reasons include that precious metals are durable and their value tends to remain relatively stable over time. A stable currency ensures that prices accurately convey the true value of goods and services.

A main value of a precious metal is it accurately conveys the true price of money, which is the Interest rate. If the interest rate reflects the manipulation of central bankers and not true market conditions, individuals will be unable to properly allocate resources between savings and current consumption.

In contrast to market money, government-created fiat currency is anything but stable. Central banks constantly increase and decrease the money supply in an attempt to control the economy by controlling the interest rates. This causes individuals to misread market conditions, leading to a misallocation of resources. This can create an illusion of prosperity. But eventually reality catches up to the Federal Reserve-created fantasies. When that happens, there is a recession or worse, leading the Fed to start the whole boom-and-bust cycle over again.

When central banks create money, those who first get the new money enjoy an increase in purchasing power before the new money causes a real increase in prices. Those who receive the money first are members of the banking and financial elite. By the time the new money reaches the middle class and working class, inflation has set in, so any gain in purchasing power is more than offset by the increase in inflation. Thus, central banking causes income inequality.




Since the Federal Reserve’s creation in 1913, the dollar has lost most of its value. The steady erosion of the dollar’s value punishes savers and rewards those who seek instant gratification even if it requires piling up massive debts. So the Federal Reserve is at least partially to blame for the rise of a culture that devalues thrift.

The very act of creating money and manipulating interest rates distorts the market. Therefore, the Federal Reserve System cannot be fixed with a “rules-based” monetary policy or even with “tying” the Fed-created money supply to the price of gold. It is amazing how many economists who oppose price controls on all other goods support allowing a secretive central bank to control the price of money.

Trusting the Federal Reserve to produce permanent prosperity instead of a boom-and-bust cycle is a textbook example of a popular definition of insanity being repeating the same action in hope of getting different results. The Federal Reserve System is as unworkable and doomed to failure as every other form of central planning.

It is likely that the next Fed-created recession will come sooner rather than later. This could be the major catastrophe that leads to the end of fiat currency. The only way to avoid crisis is to force Congress to end our monetary madness. The first steps are passing the Audit the Fed bill, allowing people to use alternative currencies, and exempting all transactions in precious metals and cryptocurrencies from capital gains taxes and other taxes.


Contributed by Ron Paul of Ron Paul Institute

The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity is a project of Dr. Paul’s Foundation for Rational Economics and Education (F.R.E.E.), founded in the 1970s as an educational organization. The Institute continues and expands Dr. Paul’s lifetime of public advocacy for a peaceful foreign policy and the protection of civil liberties at home.


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By Michael Snyder | Economic Collapse | October 26, 2018

As the middle class disintegrates and poverty grows, more Americans than ever are becoming dependent on the government just to survive.  Today, we live in a country where most workers do not earn enough to support a middle class family, and we are seeing the homelessness crisis spiral out of control in major cities on both coasts.  During this election cycle, many conservatives have been freaking out that an increasing number of Democrats are openly embracing socialism, but the truth is that we are already most of the way to becoming a socialist country.  In fact, as you will see below, more than half of all Americans currently receive more money from the government than they pay in taxes.  We have become absolutely addicted to government money, and this is one of the major trends that is eating away at our nation like cancer.

The government is not supposed to take care of us from the cradle to the grave.

Rather, our founders understood that the proper role of government is to create and protect an environment of liberty and freedom where we would be empowered to take care of ourselves.

Today, most Americans cannot independently take care of themselves, and that makes them dependents.  And when you are a dependent, you aren’t really free.

One of the reasons why I write so much about the decline of the middle class is because it is an existential threat to our way of life.  If you look around the world, or if you go back through history, you will see that tyrannical regimes tend to thrive when populations are poor and cannot stand up for themselves.  If we want our Republic to survive, we need a strong, independent population that is not economically dependent on the government.  That is what we had throughout most of our history, and that is now what we are rapidly losing.

Just because you are working does not mean that you are independent.  At this point, most jobs do not pay enough to support a middle class family, and the ranks of the “working poor” continue to explode.  In reality, Americans are working harder than ever in 2018, and yet things continue to deteriorate.

The following are a few numbers that prove that we are rapidly becoming a nation of government dependents…

Over half the country now receives more in government transfer payments than they pay in taxes.

-According to one recent survey, the cost of living is higher than the median income in 42 U.S. states.

-Today, 50 percent of all American workers make less than $30,533 a year.

62 percent of Americans say that their financial situations have not improved since the last presidential election.

And here are six more from my friend Alan Yerushalmi

• According to a FED report, about 40 percent of adults in the U.S. said that if faced with a $400 unexpected expense, they would either not be able to pay it or would do so by selling something or borrowing money

• Almost 1 in 3 U.S. households have challenges paying energy bills

• About 40% of the American middle class face poverty in retirement

1 in 3 Americans have hardly any retirement savings

• Those over 65 have been filing for bankruptcy in droves

• Health spending per capita in the U.S. increased nearly 29 fold in the past 40 years, outpacing the growth of the economy

If things are this bad now, how dreadful will the outlook be once we are deep into the next recession?

History has shown that once national governments begin to expand in size, they usually keep expanding until they ultimately collapse.

Sadly, a large portion of the population has become convinced that the government should be in the business of handing out as much “free stuff” as possible.  Housing, healthcare and college education are now being called “human rights”, and tens of millions of our fellow citizens feel that they are entitled to be given these things by the government.  Needless to say, this has chilling implications for the future of our country, and I really like how Ryan McMaken made this point in his most recent article…

The political implications of this are considerable. As Ludwig von Mises once noted, once we get to the point that a majority of the voting population receives more in benefits than it pays in taxes, then voters will demand more and more wealth be transferred to them through government programs. It will then become politically necessary to extract larger and larger amounts of wealth from a minority in order to subsidize the majority.

Market economics will become less and less popular because the voters will have realized they can — in the words of James Bovard — “vote for a living” instead of work for a living.

Every additional dollar that the federal government spends is an additional dollar that is being stolen from our children and our grandchildren, and we are already more than 21 trillion dollars in debt.

We have been on the greatest debt binge in human history, and that debt binge delayed our day of reckoning, but it did not cancel it.

In fact, one of my contacts just emailed me with some deeply troubling information.  He has a customer that is a Bank of America board member, and that board member told him that they expect things to really start falling apart by late March “at the latest”.  This is word for word what my contact told me…

“I had a customer this past Saturday who was a very high ranking Bank of America board member, and she said in the meetings, they expect late March, at the latest, that things will really start to disintegrate fairly quickly or very quickly. That was AT THE LATEST she said.”

When I say that “dark days are ahead”, I am not using hyperbole.  We really have reached a turning point, and things will never be the same again.

The relentless march of time is inexorable, and eventually the clock runs out for everyone.  America has been living on borrowed time for quite a while, and a perfect storm is looming on the horizon.


Originally published by Michael Snyder of economiccollapseblog.com

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.





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By Michael Snyder | Economic Collapse | October 22, 2018

The middle class in America has been declining for decades, and we continue to get even more evidence of the catastrophic damage that has already been done.  According to the Social Security Administration, the median yearly wage in the United States is just $30,533 at this point.  That means 50 percent of all American workers make at least that much per year, but that also means that 50 percent of all American workers make that much or less per year.  When you divide $30,533 by 12, you get a median monthly wage of just over $2,500.  But of course nobody can provide a middle class standard of living for a family of four for just $2,500 a month, and we will discuss this further below.  So in most households at least two people are working, and in many cases multiple jobs are being taken on by a single individual in a desperate attempt to make ends meet.  The American people are working harder than ever, and yet the middle class just continues to erode.

The deeper we dig into the numbers provided by the Social Security Administration, the more depressing they become.  Here are just a few examples from their official website

-34 percent of all American workers made less than $20,000 last year.

-48 percent of all American workers made less than $30,000 last year.

-59 percent of all American workers made less than $40,000 last year.

-68 percent of all American workers made less than $50,000 last year.




At this moment, the federal poverty level for a family of five is $29,420, and yet about half the workers in the entire country don’t even make that much on a yearly basis.

So can someone please explain to me again why people are saying that the economy is “doing well”?

Many will point to how well the stock market has been doing, but the stock market has not been an accurate barometer for the overall economy in a very, very long time.

And the stock market has already fallen nearly 1,500 points since the beginning of the month.  The bull market appears to be over and the bears are licking their chops.

No matter who has been in the White House, and no matter which political party has controlled Congress, the U.S. middle class has been systematically eviscerated year after year.  Many that used to be thriving may still even call themselves “middle class”, but that doesn’t make it true.

You would think that someone making “the median income” in a country as wealthy as the United States would be doing quite well.  But the truth is that $2,500 a month won’t get you very far these days.

First of all, your family is going to need somewhere to live.  Especially on the east and west coasts, it is really hard to find something habitable for under $1,000 a month in 2018.  If you live in the middle of the country or in a rural area, housing prices are significantly cheaper.  But for the vast majority of us, let’s assume a minimum of $1,000 a month for housing costs.

Secondly, you will also need to pay your utility bills and other home-related expenses.  These costs include power, water, phone, television, Internet, etc.  I will be extremely conservative and estimate that this total will be about $300 a month.

Thirdly, each income earner will need a vehicle in order to get to work.  In this example we will assume one income earner and a car payment of just $200 a month.

So now we are already up to $1,500 a month.  The money is running out fast.

Next, insurance bills will have to be paid.  Health insurance premiums have gotten ridiculously expensive in recent years, and many family plans are now well over $1,000 a month.  But for this example let’s assume a health insurance payment of just $450 a month and a car insurance payment of just $50 a month.

Of course your family will have to eat, and I don’t know anyone that can feed a family of four for just $500 a month, but let’s go with that number.

So now we have already spent the entire $2,500, and we don’t have a single penny left over for anything else.

But wait, we didn’t even account for taxes yet.  When you deduct taxes, our fictional family of four is well into the red every month and will need plenty of government assistance.

This is life in America today, and it isn’t pretty.

In his most recent article, Charles Hugh Smith estimated that an income of at least $106,000 is required to maintain a middle class lifestyle in America today.  That estimate may be a bit high, but not by too much.

Yes, there is a very limited sliver of the population that has been doing well in recent years, but most of the country continues to barely scrape by from month to month.  Out in California, Silicon Valley has generated quite a few millionaires, but the state also has the highest poverty in the entire nation.  For every Silicon Valley millionaire, there are thousands upon thousands of poor people living in towns such as Huron, California

Nearly 40 percent of Huron residents — and almost half of all children — live below the poverty line, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s more than double the statewide rate of 19 percent reported last month, which is the highest in the U.S. The national average is 12.3 percent.

“We’re in the Appalachians of the West,” Mayor Rey Leon said. “I don’t think enough urgency is being taken to resolve a problem that has existed for way too long.”

Multiple families and boarders pack rundown homes, only about a quarter of residents have high school diplomas and most lack adequate health care in an area plagued with diabetes and high asthma rates in one the nation’s most polluted air basins.

One recent study found that the gap between the wealthy and the poor is the largest that it has been since the 1920s, and America’s once thriving middle class is evaporating right in front of our eyes.

We could have made much different choices as a society, but we didn’t, and now we are going to have a great price to pay for our foolishness…


Originally published at theeconomiccollapseblog.com

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.


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By Isaac Davis | Waking Times | Sept. 26, 2018

The financial enslavement of the American people (and the rest of the world) is nearly complete. Not only are private banks, the Federal Reserve, and top-tier investing corporations given free rein to plunder public coffers, but the government itself spends uncontrollably, and some $21 trillion in tax money is now ‘missing.’ Not only is this unsustainable, it is outright criminal.

The middle class appears to be the target of economic hitmen, and to make matters worse, we now see that ordinary Americans are spending almost twice as much on taxes as they are on food and clothing combined.

In an article entitled Americans Spent More on Taxes Than on Food, Clothing Combined in 2017, CNS News reports on this astounding fact of modern life in the ‘freest country in the world:

“Americans on average spent more on taxes than on food and clothing combined in 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s new data on consumer expenditures, which was released this month.

“Consumer units” (which include families, financially independent individuals, and people living in a single household who share expenses) spent an average of $9,562 on food and clothing in 2017, according to BLS.

But they spent $16,749 on federal, state and local taxes.” [Source]




CNS goes onto to break down the tax burden of the average American:

“Even though Americans spent more on taxes in 2017 than on food and clothing combined, the average 2017 overall tax bill of $16,749 was still lower than the average 2016 overall tax bill of $17,153.

In 2016, according to the BLS, the average American consumer unit spent $8,367 on federal income taxes; $2,046 on local income taxes; and $75 on other taxes—which the BLS rounded to a subtotal of $10,489.

The average 2016 tax bill also included $4,695 in Social Security taxes and $1,969 for property taxes—bringing the total average tax bill for the year to $17,153.

Also in 2017, Americans spent on average $7,203 on food and $1,803 on apparel and services—for a combined $9,006 on food and clothing.” [Source]

Many activists and freedom fighters in America have been working to expose the corruption inherent in the federal income tax, noting that a tax on labor is unconstitutional and serves as a defacto form of indentured servitude. In his paradigm-shifting 2006 film, America: Freedom to Fascism, director Aaron Russo actually went to the IRS and spoke to the head of this monolithic agency, attempting to hold him accountable to the American people and the Constitution. Here’s what happened:

Final Thoughts

This is all happening at a time when the economy is supposedly doing fantastic, but wealth inequality is reaching astronomical proportions. It is even estimated that the world’s richest one percent will own two-thirds of all the wealth in the world by the end of next decade. This is a class of people who have the means to organize their financial lives in such a way that helps them to avoid paying taxes, demonstrating that taxes are a really great way to bilk the middle class and force them into supporting a corrupt political class and all the organs of big government.

Meanwhile, the American people have allowed themselves to be led into dangerous societal division by a corporate news media that ignores real issues, such as the corrupt taxing system, and directs their attention onto superficial political issues and sensational nonsense.


Contributed by Isaac Davis of WakingTimes.com

Isaac Davis is a staff writer for WakingTimes.com and OffgridOutpost.com Survival Tips blog. He is an outspoken advocate of liberty and of a voluntary society. He is an avid reader of history and passionate about becoming self-sufficient to break free of the control matrix. Follow him on Facebook, here.


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By Michael Snyder | The Economic Collapse | Sept. 21, 2018

The primary reason why stock prices have been soaring in recent months is because corporations have been buying back their own stock at an unprecedented pace.  In fact, the pace of stock buybacks is nearly double what it was at this time last year.  According to Goldman Sachs, S&P 500 companies spent 384 billion dollars buying back stock during the first half of 2018.  That is an absolutely astounding number.  And in many cases, corporations are going deep into debt in order to do this.  Of course this is going to push up stock prices, but corporate America will not be able to inflate this bubble indefinitely.  At some point a credit crunch will come, and the pace of stock buybacks will fall precipitously.

Prior to 1982, corporations were not permitted to go into the market and buy back stock.

The reason for this is obvious – stock buybacks are a really easy way for corporations to manipulate stock prices.

But these days it is expected that most large corporations will engage in this practice.  Large stockholders love to see the price of the stock go up, and they are never going to complain when smaller shareholders are bought out and their share of the company is increased.  And corporate executives love buybacks because so much of their compensation often involves stock options or bonuses related to key metrics such as earnings per share.

So in the end, stock buybacks are often all about greed.  It is a way to funnel money to those at the very top of the pyramid, and those stock market gains are taxed at capital gains rates which are much lower than the rates on normal income.

Normally, you would expect successful companies to invest most of their available cash back into operations so that they can make even more money in the future.  And for 19 of the past 20 years, corporations have spent more on capital investments than anything else.  But now, share buybacks have actually surpassed capital spending.  The following comes from CNN

But that doesn’t mean companies aren’t spending on job-creating investments, like new equipment, research projects and factories. Business spending is up 19% — it’s just that buybacks are growing much faster.

In fact, Goldman Sachs said that buybacks are garnering the largest share of cash spending by S&P 500 firms. It’s a milestone because capital spending had represented the single largest use of cash by corporations in 19 of the past 20 years.

And this trend seems to be accelerating during the second half of 2018.  It is being projected that firms will spend more than 600 billion dollars on stock buybacks during the second half of this year, and that will bring the grand total for 2018 to more than a trillion dollars

And the trend may not be done yet. Goldman Sachs predicted that share buyback authorizations among all US companies in all of 2018 will surpass $1 trillion for the first time ever.

Wow.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we had more than a trillion dollars that we could put toward reducing the national debt?

This is the reason why stocks hit another new all-time record high this week.  Stock buybacks have reached absolutely insane levels, and what we are witnessing is essentially a giant orgy of greed.

To give you some perspective, the previous annual record for stock buybacks was just 589 billion dollars in 2007.

This year, we may come close to doubling the previous record.

And let us not forget that the year after 2007 was the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

So what corporations are the worst offenders?  Here is more from CNN

Apple (AAPL) alone spent a whopping $45 billion on buybacks during the first half of 2018, triple what it did during the same time period last year, the firm said. That included a record-shattering sum during the first quarter.

Amgen (AMGN), Cisco (CSCO), AbbVie (ABBV) and Oracle (ORCL) have also showered investors with big boosts to their buyback programs.

As I noted earlier, corporate insiders greatly benefit from stock buybacks, and they took advantage of massively inflated stock prices by selling off $10.3 billion worth of their shares during the month of August.

Inflating your stock price by cannibalizing your own shares is not a good long-term strategy for any corporation, but without a doubt it is making a lot of people very wealthy.

But in the process, the size of the stock market as a whole has been steadily shrinking.  In fact, the number of shares on the S&P 500 has fallen by almost 8 percent since the beginning of 2011…

According to Ed Yardeni, the number of S&P 500 shares has shrunk by 7.7% since the start of 2011. This tends to increase the earnings per remaining share and the dividends available per remaining share.

This is yet another example that shows why the stock market has become completely disconnected from economic reality.  Wall Street is inhabited by con men that are promoting Ponzi scheme after Ponzi scheme, and it is only a matter of time before the entire system collapses under its own weight.

But for now, the euphoria on Wall Street continues as stock prices continue to march higher.  Meanwhile, we continue to get more signs of trouble from the real economy.  For instance, this week we learned that the third largest bank in the entire country is going to lay off thousands of workers

Wells Fargo, the third-biggest U.S. bank, plans to lower its employee headcount by 5 percent to 10 percent in the next three years as part of its ongoing turnaround plan, the company announced Thursday.

The bank has 265,000 employees, meaning the reduction would result in a loss of between 13,250 and 26,500 jobs.

Why would they do that if the economy was in good shape?

And globally, the emerging market currency crisis has continued to escalate.  According to one source, more than 80 percent of all global currencies have fallen in value so far this year…

A review of the values of 143 global currencies indicates that so far this year, more than 80 percent have fallen in value.

Another eleven appear to be pegged to the dollar and 13 have risen in value. Of the 13 that have increased in value, only six are up more than 1 percent versus the dollar.

There have been outsized declines in countries like Venezuela (down 99 percent), Argentina (53 percent) and Turkey (38 percent). However, Brazil is down 20 percent, Russia 15 percent, India 11 percent, Sweden 10 percent, and the Philippines 8 percent. Big economies like China are experiencing a 5 percent currency value decline while the Euro is off by 3 percent.

I applaud those that have made lots of money in the stock market, but the party will not last forever.

In 2007 corporations were pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into stock buybacks, and it propped up the market for a time.  But eventually the bubble burst and the crisis of 2008 was so dramatic that it will be remembered forever.

Now we are facing a similar scenario, and it is just a matter of time before this bubble bursts as well.


Contributed by Michael Snyder of TheEconomicCollapseBlog

Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.


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