Monday, July 12, 2010

The State of the US Economy: Part 1 of 5

I keep getting odd e-mails or comments (none of which I publish) alleging that I'm a blinkered pessimist about the US economy, refusing to recognize the 'good news' that we're leaving the recession behind us, and focusing relentlessly on the negative while ignoring the positive. I get several of these each week, which seems strange to me, because I publish articles about the economy rather less often than that! I wonder whether I've got somebody's goat about the issue, and he or she is enlisting friends to hammer away at me in the hope I'll see the light?

Be that as it may, I can see the light perfectly well . . . and it's still an oncoming train. This week I'm going to publish five articles about the US economy, all of them reporting cold, hard facts about the situation in which we find ourselves. By the end of the week, if you think I'm wrong in my economic forecasts, I suggest you consult a psychiatrist. You'll need his or her professional help to overcome your mental myopia and intellectual blindness!

To begin our week-long study, courtesy of the COTO Report, here are '50 Statistics about the US Economy that Are Almost too Crazy to Believe'. I've selected only some of their list, because I don't want to violate 'fair use' copyright restrictions; but if I could, I'd publish all of them here. They're that important. I urge you to click on the link and read the full list for yourself. (Note that every point is substantiated by a hot-link to the source of that information.)

#50) In 2010 the U.S. government is projected to issue almost as much new debt as the rest of the governments of the world combined.

. . .

#46) Total U.S. government debt is now up to 90 percent of gross domestic product.

#45) Total credit market debt in the United States, including government, corporate and personal debt, has reached 360 percent of GDP.

#44) U.S. corporate income tax receipts were down 55% (to $138 billion) for the year ending September 30th, 2009.

. . .

#41) In February, there were 5.5 unemployed Americans for every job opening.

#40) According to a Pew Research Center study, approximately 37% of all Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 have either been unemployed or underemployed at some point during the recession.

#39) More than 40% of those employed in the United States are now working in low-wage service jobs.

. . .

#37) Over 1.4 million Americans filed for personal bankruptcy in 2009, which represented a 32 percent increase over 2008. Not only that, more Americans filed for bankruptcy in March 2010 than during any month since U.S. bankruptcy law was tightened in October 2005.

#36) Mortgage purchase applications in the United States are down nearly 40 percent from a month ago to their lowest level since April of 1997.

#35) RealtyTrac has announced that foreclosure filings in the U.S. established an all time record for the second consecutive year in 2009.

#34) According to RealtyTrac, foreclosure filings were reported on 367,056 properties in March 2010, an increase of nearly 19 percent from February, an increase of nearly 8 percent from March 2009 and the highest monthly total since RealtyTrac began issuing its report in January 2005.

. . .

#29) For the first time in U.S. history, banks own a greater share of residential housing net worth in the United States than all individual Americans put together.

#28) More than 24% of all homes with mortgages in the United States were underwater as of the end of 2009.

#27) U.S. commercial property values are down approximately 40 percent since 2007 and currently 18 percent of all office space in the United States is sitting vacant.

. . .

#24) New York state has delayed paying bills totalling $2.5 billion as a short-term way of staying solvent but officials are warning that its cash crunch could soon get even worse.

#23) To make up for a projected 2010 budget shortfall of $280 million, Detroit issued $250 million of 20-year municipal notes in March. The bond issuance followed on the heels of a warning from Detroit officials that if its financial state didn’t improve, it could be forced to declare bankruptcy.

#22) The National League of Cities says that municipal governments will probably come up between $56 billion and $83 billion short between now and 2012.

#21) Half a dozen cash-poor U.S. states have announced that they are delaying their tax refund checks.

#20) Two university professors recently calculated that the combined unfunded pension liability for all 50 U.S. states is 3.2 trillion dollars.

. . .

#17) Paychecks from private business shrank to their smallest share of personal income in U.S. history during the first quarter of 2010.

#16) U.S. government-provided benefits (including Social Security, unemployment insurance, food stamps and other programs) rose to a record high during the first three months of 2010.

#15) 39.68 million Americans are now on food stamps, which represents a new all-time record. But things look like they are going to get even worse. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is forecasting that enrollment in the food stamp program will exceed 43 million Americans in 2011.

. . .

#11) According to an analysis by the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation the health care “reform” bill will generate $409.2 billion in additional taxes on the American people by 2019.

#10) The Dow Jones Industrial Average just experienced the worst May it has seen since 1940.

#9) In 1950, the ratio of the average executive’s paycheck to the average worker’s paycheck was about 30 to 1. Since the year 2000, that ratio has exploded to between 300 to 500 to one.

#8) Approximately 40% of all retail spending currently comes from the 20% of American households that have the highest incomes.

#7) According to economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, two-thirds of income increases in the U.S. between 2002 and 2007 went to the wealthiest 1% of all Americans.

#6) The bottom 40 percent of income earners in the United States now collectively own less than 1 percent of the nation’s wealth.

. . .

#3) According to a National Foundation for Credit Counseling survey, only 58% of those in “Generation Y” pay their monthly bills on time.

#2) During the first quarter of 2010, the total number of loans that are at least three months past due in the United States increased for the 16th consecutive quarter.

#1) According to the Tax Foundation’s Microsimulation Model, to erase the 2010 U.S. budget deficit, the U.S. Congress would have to multiply each tax rate by 2.4. Thus, the 10 percent rate would be 24 percent, the 15 percent rate would be 36 percent, and the 35 percent rate would have to be 85 percent.

There's more at the link. Very highly recommended - and disturbing - reading.

Tomorrow; the 'debt bomb', and why its explosion is just around the corner.



Stranger said...

From a small businessman's perspective, there is almost no good economic news.

Just the thought of another 14.54 percent in federal taxes on top of the 59.2 percent of my profits I already pay to one tax collector or another is enough to make me consider hanging it up.

Add the additional regulations and there is little reason to take a risk - other than the absolute lack of return on investment.

The recent advice to small investors, "Sell everything, buy SPAM," pretty much sums up rational advice to those with less than a few hundred employees.


raven said...

Anybody thinks we are in a "recovery" is either stupid or has not bothered to actually look at the numbers. I call it "ostrich syndrome" The crew in charge have no clue, no vestige of an inklng of an idea how to get this show on the road. Their actions are so dramaticly counter productive I fear thier real strategy is to destroy us deliberately to then install Marxist rule. (see "Cloward-Piven")

Crucis said...

The dems and libs will continue to BLAME BUSH! But, at the end of Bush's last term, the debt was only $130B. Yes, that's a "B" and that was while funding a war. It's now over $1.3Trillion and growing. The debt is calculated to reach $13Trillion within 10 years. Some say we'll reach that amount within 5 years.

In either case, it ain't good!

Tom Stone said...

Nice to see a post like that here. I have been watching the train approach for quite a few years and that headlight is getting real bright. You might take a look at "calculated Risk" Blog or "Naked Capitalism" for coverage. As far as Blaming Obama or Bush,give me a break,this has been bipartisan and has taken decades. The system is broken and corrupt,focus on how to rebuild and start working on it now.