Nov 26 2017

Largest employer in each U.S. state:  In 22 states Walmart is the largest employer.

With the holiday season comes the usual mindless shopping and stampedes of people looking for that blowout sale.  If you have any doubt about how far we have slid into a low wage nation just look at the largest employer data for each state.  Walmart is the largest employer in 22 states.  Instead of the majority creating things we now have the majority consuming things in mass.  This is also one part of the complicated calculus that has hollowed out our middle class and has exported our savings out of this country and across the world to other places where manufacturing is occurring.  Now this data might be known by some but watching the mainstream press you realize that people are really out of touch with how most Americans are living.  People are living paycheck to paycheck and the standard of living is slowly being chipped away.  Welcome to Walmart Nation.

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Nov 11 2017

A new record yet again:  95,385,000 Americans not in labor force.  The army of non-working Americans continues to grow.

We continue to live in a country with two very different stories to tell.  In one of the stories, we have a country with a very low unemployment rate and a record in the stock market.  In the other story we live in a place where 95,385,000 Americans are not in the labor force.  This new record was reached in the latest set of data released by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS).  This is a bigger issue than most would like to admit.  Many older Americans are drawing substantially from the government and we now have a younger American population working in low wage positions.  This is a new record that isn’t something to be proud about.

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Oct 27 2017

The secret to the current recovery is that American households are up to their eyeballs in debt once again!  Consumer credit hits a record $3.7 trillion.

Do you notice more credit card offers hitting your mailbox?  Are you noticing more “easy financing” for purchasing a new car?  Welcome to the new recovery where spending is being fueled by consumer credit.  Once again people are spending beyond their means.  In an economy driven by consumption you need to keep people spending and splurging to keep the machine moving.  Yet this recovery is being driven by massive consumer debt.  We now have record credit card debt, record student debt, and record auto debt.  None of these sources of debt really builds wealth in the long run.  And banks are once again going into the subprime trenches just to find consumers to lend to.  The Great Recession was really the Great Credit Crisis and here we are going deep into debt again.

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Oct 10 2017

5 charts highlighting the epic housing crisis for Millennials – one third of young adults living at home with parents.

Millennials are starting to realize that living at home may be a longer-term proposition.  Moving back home is being motivated by heavy levels of student debt and jobs that simply pay a lower wage.  These trends run directly into the current reality that rental prices are soaring and home values are once again near peak levels.  So you are left with a situation where young adults who try to venture out on their own are finding a market that they cannot afford.  So naturally, this has had an impact on marriage and when people plan on starting families.  It has also created a big impact in terms of younger adults saving for retirement (most are not saving).  What are the implications of this housing crisis for Millennials?

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Sep 24 2017

Comparing the cost of living between 1975 and 2017:  Inflation continues to eat away at purchasing power in housing and other big ticket items.

For the most part people widely misunderstand inflation.  It is a complicated topic.  If you ask the man and woman on the street they would respond that inflation is the price of goods going up.  This is true in some respect but what people see is merely the outcome of larger forces at work like monetary decisions made by the Federal Reserve.  Generally speaking central banks want to limit inflation (but have some) and avoid deflation.  Today we have seen purchasing power decrease because of the way we have allowed debt to infiltrate every aspect of our lives.  Items like homes, cars, and education are all largely funded by debt.  Let us see how things have changed since 1975 to 2017 by comparing the cost of living in this time span.

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