Nov 22 2015

The young carry the weight of student debt: Of the more than $1.3 trillion in student debt outstanding over 66 percent is carried by those 39 and younger.

The compounding problems with student debt are getting louder as each year passes by.  Student debt outstanding is now at a whopping $1.3 trillion and most of this is being carried by young Americans.  While college costs have soared for most many recent college graduates are working in jobs were wages are low.  This has had the unwanted impact of causing student loan delinquencies to rise dramatically.  Student debt is now the worst performing sector of loans in our economy.  From the outside and inside this looks like a bubble but it is only continuing because the government and banks continue to guarantee loans.  Yet momentum is going to catch up on this runaway train and delinquencies are the first cracks in the dam.  The young now carry an incredibly heavy burden of debt simply because they went to college at a time when costs are out of control.

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Nov 18 2015

What the heck? U.S. Public Debt up $518 billion in November alone: U.S. debt ceiling made of toilet paper.

You might remember that back in March, we hit our debt ceiling limit.  The amount registering on the U.S. Treasury Department website was stuck at roughly $18.15 trillion.  Of course given our addiction to spending and debt, we simply charged all new spending off the books.  We as a country have a deeply rooted addiction to debt.  The government was using “extraordinary measures” to circumvent the debt ceiling even though we are supposedly in a big recovery.  Eventually late in October, The Treasury decided to unwind this accounting mess and added the debt to “the books” for all to see.  The public is currently overwhelmed with worldly events and the reality TV based election year.  So in one day alone on November 2, total public debt soared by $340 billion.  As a comparison, the GDP of Greece is roughly $242 billion for an entire year.  In fact, since the start of November total public debt has increased by a mind blowing half a trillion dollars.

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Nov 13 2015

100 American CEOs have more retirement wealth than 116 million Americans. The retirement divide grows larger each year.

Most Americans have no retirement strategy.  In fact, the new model of retirement appears to be work until you die.  It isn’t an uncommon model.  In fact, this used to be the status quo for centuries on end.  Some tend to believe that having a middle class is the natural order of things.  That is simply not true.  The middle class needs to have an economic system that favors those that work hard instead of protecting a modern day corporatocracy where politicians simply protect those that pay them off.  This is the new system in place.  So it is no surprise that 100 American CEOs now have as much retirement wealth as 116 million Americans.  It is no surprise then that many older Americans are going to rely on Social Security as their primary source of income into retirement.  As you would expect in older age medical costs go up so the burden on Medicare will also rise.  The retirement divide simply grows larger in this country.

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Nov 8 2015

The 20 small cities struggling the most in the U.S. based on economics, education, quality of life, and affordability: All of the cities are in California.

It is hard to quantify what makes a city great or bad.  Simply having a higher income is not enough to separate an area from another city if the cost of living is outrageous.  There have been attempts to use cost of living adjustments but the attempt to rank cities has been paltry.  Most of the rankings looked at larger areas but failed to look at smaller cities where a large portion of our population lives.  A recent report actually made the effort to rank small cities based on four key metrics.  The first item looks at economics.  The next metric looks at education and health.  The third metric looks at quality of life which includes things like commute time.  Finally, affordability is looked at since housing prices have outpaced income gains in many areas of the U.S.  It should comes as no surprise that 20 of the lowest performing cities that popped up on the list are in California.

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Nov 4 2015

Most Americans are too broke to afford to buy a basic home! The typical family is unable to purchase the standard $221,000 priced home. Home prices up 30% since 2012 while incomes are stagnant.

Most Americans still hold tightly that the American Dream involves owning a home. But that dream has come into deep questioning as banks and large investors crowd out the single family home market driving prices to ludicrous levels. Most Americans are scraping by and many need to do their shopping at dollar stores to get by. Your typical home in the U.S. is now selling for $221,000, a rise of 30 percent just since 2012. How did incomes do? They did what they’ve been doing for a decade and that is nothing. Housing is the biggest single outflow of cash for households. So this is a big deal and is also a reason why many more Americans are renting instead of buying. Young Americans are hit the hardest since many are coming out with monster levels of student debt. Studies do show that student debt is impacting home purchases. In reality, most Americans are unable to afford the standard priced home.

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Oct 30 2015

The dollar store expansion: Number of dollar stores in the US expected to exceed 30,000 in 2016.

Wal-Mart, the mega retailer has over 5,000 stores in the United States.  We tend to think of Wal-Mart as the low price leader crushing prices to their rock bottom level by cutting costs at every corner.  However, there is an even lower cost option and many working class Americans are turning to these stores.  Dollar stores have seen a dramatic rise in numbers thanks to the ongoing effects of the recession.  There are more than 11,500 Dollar General stores in the United States (twice the amount of Wal-Mart locations).  The growth in dollar stores is reflecting the cash crunch many Americans are facing.  We’ve mentioned this in the past but many dollar stores have suddenly become low cost grocery stores as people struggle to get by.  This is a smart strategy to tap into the ever growing number of Americans on food stamps.  It is expected that by 2016 over 30,000 dollar stores will exist in the United States.

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Oct 25 2015

Half of Millennials live at home with parents: The economy still feels like it is in a deep recession for millions of Millennials.

The Great Recession officially ended in the summer of 2009.  That was a long time ago.  Yet somehow along the windy road, Millennials are not feeling the love from this so-called economic recovery.  Millennials continue to graduate with mountains of student loan debt coming out with an average of $30,000 per graduate.  Millennials are struggling to find good paying jobs in a sea of low wage employment that in many cases is a mismatch for their degrees.  You also have a large number of Millennials living at home with their parents unable to move out into a rental or to purchase a new home.  Part of this stems from lower incomes but also the inflated cost of housing brought on by an artificially low rate environment and big investors crowding out regular first time buyers.  In many ways, the recession is still very much here for Millennials and this is the next big cohort to move through the economic system.

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