Jan 15 2016

What is a middle class income in America? A lot less than you think and Americans are getting poorer by the day.

Questions around being middle class are coming up a lot in the last few years.  This inquiry is coming up because people are grasping at straws trying to maintain a quality of life that reflects a middle class lifestyle but many have incomes that simply do not support their spending.  Americans are set to become poorer this year.  As we penned an article talking about the destruction of the middle class economy, for the first time in a generation the middle class is now a minority.  The economic engine that made us the envy of the world is now rare.  In the US we have a small upper-class that is only getting wealthier while the ranks of the poor and working class is expanding.  What is a middle class income in America?  The answer may surprise you.

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Jan 10 2016

The rise of the part-time and disposable employment army: Record number of people now employed in transient labor positions while good paying jobs remain stuck in the mud.

The headline employment numbers present a glamorous picture of the economy but one that is not based on reality.  After all, you have over 94 million Americans not in the labor force and this growing army of people is helping to keep the unemployment rate low.  And for a growing number of Americans those in the actual workforce, many are being stuck in part-time jobs or are part of the low wage service sector economy.  A large number of young Americans graduating with back breaking levels of debt and degrees are finding jobs such as baristas at Starbucks or working the checkout lines at Target.  The wages earned here are simply not going to go far enough to cover the massive $1.3 trillion in student debt outstanding.  We have traded good paying jobs for bread and circus jobs.  Why bread and circus jobs?  Because the current economy is largely designed to distract people into mindless consumption while the middle class slowly disappears through the fingers of Americans.

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Jan 7 2016

Americans are about to get poorer in 2016 as the wealth effect reverses: 63 percent of Americans have no emergency savings.

The year is off to a tumultuous start.  Markets around the globe are quickly realizing that hot money is going to hit a wall at some point.  Many Americans are coming to the stark realization that the recession that ended in 2009 never really ended for the middle class.  In fact, it might have been the nail in the coffin for the middle class.  Much of the fragile gains really went to a small fraction of Americans and the financial system is predicated on siphoning off wealth from the working class.  Many Americans are still living on the financial edge.  A recent survey found that 63 percent of Americans have no emergency savings.  Forget about having a robust nest egg.  The retirement plan for many Americans is to work until they fall over dead.  While the last few years brought in spending with debt this of course was set to reverse once the market had its first tiny correction since 2009.  Americans are about to feel and become poorer in 2016.

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Jan 2 2016

New Year begins with record number of men not in the labor force: Those not in the labor force increased by 1.9 million last year while the labor force increased by only 1.1 million.

The New Year begins with a record number of men not in the labor force.  Those “not in the labor force” remains at a record level and this cannot be explained away simply by shifting demographics.  Demographics alone is a convenient explanation for this large number but unfortunately only explains part of the large number of Americans not being included in the labor force.  We have many going to college but as it turns out, not all colleges and degrees are created equal although most universities charge premium tuition.  You also have many wanting a job but not being able to find one.  The end result is a large number of Americans floating around in the odd category of not being in the labor force. Roughly 94.5 million Americans are not in the labor force.  Of those, a large number are men.

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Dec 26 2015

The death of the American pension: Shifting the retirement burden from employers to workers has created an enormous financial crisis.

The American pension offered once by many companies was a benefit once afforded to most workers.  That is, until the press started chanting the Wall Street party line and all of a sudden 401ks and mutual funds were all the rage.  Who wants a tiny pension when you can become a millionaire by simply saving a few dollars per month?  Well this experiment started in the early 1980s and here we are, one full generation into the plan and most Americans are entering retirement on the verge of being broke.  And this is with the stock market recovering from the lows of 2009.  Yet somehow, many Americans never had enough left over to invest after the bills were paid.  It is interesting how the pension has been painted as some evil sin while corporate CEOs have ridiculous pay packages that would make Marie Antoinette blush.  That is the environment we currently live in.  Worship the financial gods while everyone that is poor or struggling is somehow a pariah.  Corporate welfare for the connected and painful austerity for the working class.  The pension has undergone a slow and painful death at a time when millions of baby boomers are retiring.

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Dec 20 2015

A recession is imminent: 5 charts signaling an oncoming recession. The market is overheated with debt and the public is anxious about the economy.

A recession is imminent and millions of Americans already live in an economy that feels like it never left the Great Recession.  Low paying jobs seem to dominate this weak recovery.  Younger Americans are realizing that they may not have it as good as the baby boomer generation where good paying jobs were plentiful and wages actually kept up with inflation.  Benefits in the job market today are low to nonexistent and the new retirement model is work until you die.  This might be a good motto if we were living in the Middle Ages.  Instead, we live in a self-imposed modern day Gilded Age where Congress is bought and paid by the wealthy in our country.  It is troubling that the government continues to spend money it doesn’t have yet continues to ask Americans to live a life of austerity.  There are five signs that are starting to point to another recession.

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Dec 15 2015

How inflation is purposely underreported as a justification to maintain low interest rates: Two specific examples with housing and college tuition.

Inflation is largely misunderstood by the public at large.  People for the most part think that inflation is the natural economic order and that prices go up naturally.  Official inflation figures play a much bigger role influencing cost-of-living adjustments for things like Social Security but also serve as cover to maintain low interest rates.  The CPI is largely underreporting inflation.  For many young Americans the cost of college tuition is a big part of their budget yet the CPI allocates a small percentage to college tuition and fees.  Another big problem with the measurement is how it looks at housing costs.  You would think that the biggest expense for Americans would be reflected accurately in the official measurement of inflation but it isn’t.  This is how you end up with the middle class becoming a minority yet in some way, we had continual reports that inflation was nicely controlled.

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