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From social to economics to politics, to climate and earth changes, the end seems near for centuries of progress...

Corporate American Flag - AdBusters $35

... and for decades of trickle-down, debt-induced delusion.  As we progressed, we sold out, and off-shore. To the banks and mega-corps. Now we daftly agree to disagree, and disagree, and disagree... Meanwhile, leading economic indicators continue to point to one thing: A growing bifurcation between the now-poor middle class, and the corporate elites, who eat our land, and weather, and taxes, and health, and wealth - and play left against right, and so on. And the mega-media likes it this way: Manufacturing consent, and fear, and false flags, and war. Is this what we bargained for?

So - I put together an awkward little compendium of articles relating to the faltering of our drunken journey to OZ, especially as of late - and to come. Pedantic economics, mainly. Let's start with an article from late 2014, when times were simpler, and most people had never heard of Bernie Sanders...

7 facts that show the American dream is dead - SALON
A recent poll showed that more than half of all people in this country don’t believe that the American dream is real. Fifty-nine percent of those polled in June agreed that “the American dream has become impossible for most people to achieve.” More and more Americans believe there is “not much opportunity” to get ahead....The public has reached this conclusion for a very simple reason: It’s true....

Income inequality leads millennials to start families before marriage - Science Daily July 14, 2016
A study led by Johns Hopkins University sociologist Andrew J. Cherlin is the first to trace how the income gap, a large-scale societal trend, is affecting individual personal choices about starting a family. The greater the income inequality in an area, the less likely young men and women are to marry before having a first child, concluded the study, which will be published online July 14 and will appear in the August (2016) issue of the American Sociological Review.

The End Of The American Dream - Half Of US Households Are "Financially Fragile" - Zero Hedge Jun 1, 2016
Are incomes falling?

Alas, yes. A major new analysis of income in America published by Pew earlier this month found that more than 80% of the country’s 229 metropolitan areas have seen real (inflation-adjusted) incomes fall steadily since the start of this century. Some of the steepest declines in median incomes have been seen in cities hit by industrial decline – for example a 27% drop in Springfield, Ohio and 18% in the conurbation that includes Detroit. But, ominously, even fast expanding success stories have seen incomes falling.

The area around Denver, Colorado, has seen its population grow by 600,000 since 1999, but its median income has fallen from $83,500 to less than $76,000. Similarly Raleigh, North Carolina, is a fast-growing city buoyed by a cluster of research universities and biotech firms; the population has shot up from 800,000 to 1.3 million this century. Yet its middle class has shrunk from 55% of the population to 50%, and median incomes have fallen by more than $11,000 to about $74,000.

What about the rest of the world?
In his recent book, Global Inequality, the former World Bank economist Branko Milanovic includes a fascinating chart showing how the real incomes of the world’s population have changed in recent decades according to where they stand on the global income distribution. The vast bulk of the world’s population is better off in real terms.

However, one important group is either poorer or only marginally better off – those between the 75th and the 90th percentile, meaning the lower- and middle-income populations of rich Western countries. What this suggests is that if mainstream policymakers wish to contain the rise of populists such as Donald Trump, they first need to recognise that the populists’ middle-class supporters have reason to be unhappy.

The American Dream "Exposed" In 22 Depressing Datapoints - Zero Hedge Dec 12, 2015

Once upon a time, middle class households took home 62 percent of all income in America. Today, that number has dropped to just 43 percent. This is just one of the absolutely astounding statistics that you will read about in this article. Over the years, the middle class in America has been in steady decline. Our incomes have been going down, our net worth has been going down, the quality of our jobs has been going down, and yet the cost of living just keeps going up. As a result of all of these factors, more Americans are living in poverty today than ever before, and dependence on the government has exploded to unprecedented levels.

But of course it doesn’t take a genius to figure any of this out. In fact, politicians of all stripes are saying the exact same thing during this election season…

Bernie Sanders says it is in the midst of “a 40-year decline.” Jeb Bush says it is “shrinking.” Ted Cruz says it is “headed in the wrong direction.” And Hillary Clinton says the “basic bargain” that hard work could move families into the middle class “has eroded.”

Sadly, when we send these politicians to Washington D.C. they just continue on with business as usual. No matter who resides in the White House and no matter who controls Congress, the game remains the same and the middle class just continues to suffer.

The Looming Financial Crisis Nobody Is Talking About, but Should Be - ANTIMEDIA Aug 1, 2016
The world has been captivated by a continuous stream of disturbing and shocking headlines. Seemingly every other day, different terrorist attacks, police assassinations or political stunts ignite the public into an emotional frenzy. But as fear shuts down critical thinking, banks that control Europe’s financial system are entering a death spiral. Despite what establishment media narratives push, the most dangerous threat to our way of life isn’t a religious ideology or political divide.

The real risk is a contagion that is undermining the core of the financial system, and the interconnectedness of the globalized economy we live in makes containing the problem nearly impossible. Concerns that used to be isolated to the failing state of Greece have now engulfed the rest of the PIIGS nations. If these dominos continue to fall in Europe, the momentum could carry the destruction to every corner of the globe.

Peter Schiff Warns of the “Worst Economic Downturn Includingthe Great Depression” - AIM

Schiff, who publicly warned about the Great Recession before it actually occurred, said “…the problems I see now are basically the same problems I saw then. …we never really had a solution, we never let the markets fix the mistakes that underlie the economy because it was short circuited by more bad monetary policy. So now we’re in even worse shape than we were going into the financial crisis. But it’s the same bad monetary policy that’s caused the problems …”

Peter Schiff: Time Is Running Out, "Crisis Worse Than 2008 Coming" - Zero Hedge Aug 2, 2016
HERE IS THE REALITY: The world has caught on, and the gig is up. Under Obama’s stewardship, the U.S. national debt has gone from $10 Trillion, to what will be $20 Trillion by the time he leaves office, with nothing more than 100 MILLION Americans out of work, and 50 MILLION in poverty and on food stamps. That’s what cheap money bought for us. It was all “borrowed” cheap money too, making it infinitely worse, and the world is tired of lending.

Note: Peter Schiff is considered by many to be a loose-canon sort of economist. I believe he is banned from some media - and his father was imprisoned due to tax resistance. Despite all this, he has a lot of worthwhile things to say. He predicted the crash of 2008, etc. The mainstream media is never going to seriously entertain economic thoughts which are not where their bread is buttered. The status quo is a positive feedback loop - we all know this. One major thought that Schiff has is that current economic conditions, such as the currency war, government debt, and QE "money-printing" by the Fed, will lead to inflation, a collapse of the bond market, and so to a collapse of the dollar.

Another radical economist, who once played the Wall Street game, is Harry Dent, who is of a contrary opinion. Dent believes that the USA bonds and dollar are still, "the best house on na bad block." And so, as the global economy gets worse, then foreign investors will increase their investments in these instruments, keeping the value of the dollar high, compared to, e.g., the falling pound. There has been evidence, in my opinion, that Dent has been generally right, so far. However, I cannot see the global house of cards standing stacked this way forever, and there will come a time when the dollar really will take a dive. Yes, many people have been predicting a dollar collapse for a few years now. But there have been many unexpected forces and successes in the economy serving to prop the dollar up. I could try to get into a discussion of all this, but I am so damned tired, and this post is already way to long. Be sure to keep an eye on my journal, or other communities like o_c_c_u_p_y; the_recession; bernie2016; liberal_plus; so_very_doomed, and economic_sanity

Harry Dent
Max Kaiser
International Forcaster
Corbett Report
Golden Jackass
James Turk
John Williams

Note: There is a series called, "The End is Near", at DollarCollapse.com, which discusses various aspects of what it sees as the coming mega-collapse. Part One discusses an issue important to "progressive" far-righties, but really should be something considered by everyone: The “War On Cash” (April 26, 2015). Digital technology is allowing banks and societies to wean themselves from physical cash. US paper notes have been fiat IOU's in the first place - now even these could be replaced by numbers. This would allow banks and corporatist government to control personal exchanges, and modulate holdings. It could use it as a form of government. It could deduct savings for it's own use, should it declare the need for an across-the-board "bail-in." It would be easier to extend capital controls. Taxation. Fees.

Banks would be able to charge negative interest rates, with people having no choice but to let it happen. In other words, it would make our wealth THEIR wealth. But the impact that negative interest rates would have on the overall economy, such as on the bond market, would soon be devastating.

As the world now currently spirals in a currency war, the least of many evils is to invest in bonds and the US dollar. What happens when even this safe haven goes negative? Ultimately, world debt will have choked away the ability to invest into any concerted future. Failures, bankruptcies, bursting bubbles. A cascade of collapse would eventually render dollars-now-numbers to be a lie, and that sets up inevitable social revolution. At least, that's how I see it going. To have a cashless society, there must be complete, and fascist, control, from the top, globally, in order for it to continue.

In a way, even with any automatic universal salary, (after the jobs have gone to China and robots), the control needed to operate a cashless society from the top, would be the opposite of Keynesianism-at-the-grassroots. (Today, we do not have Keynesianism - we have gifts and protections for the rich, mega-corporations, banks, and derivatives hyper-investors, all funded by DEBT and future taxpayers. There are also socio-psychological reasons why a cashless society wouldn't work, (literally), in my own estimation. And, according to the American Dream, "Cash is King".

There are other topics in the "The End is Near" series, at DollarCollapse.com:  - Part 6: Individual Investors Rediscover Individual Stocks. - Part 7: Governments Become (Really Bad) Money Managers. - Part 8: Apple's Revenue Growth "Falls Off A Cliff".   I found Part Three particularly relevant.  It discusses the problem mega-corporations are having, which is similar to that of the government(s), wherein they don't have a solid place to put their surfeit capital, (aside from CEO pay raises), because the economy has become just too dysfunctional.  So, what do they do?  They buy back some of their own stock, just to look good.  This is kind of like the government "investing" in Quantitative Easing, using debt and ultimately taxes to buy up crappy derivatives, etc.  It is also like all that surfeit money, thanks to bank deregulation, which goes into the vapid, insane instruments called derivatives.  And, it is like vulture hedge-fund raiders and bankrupters, making money so easilly - at the expense of everyone - that they may as well be pulling it out of thin air, for all the good it does...

The End Is Near, Part 3: Corporations Are The Ultimate Dumb Money - Dollar Collapse May 4, 2015

David Stockman just published a chart so compelling that he didn’t feel the need to add any commentary.

But there are a few things to be said about the tendency of public companies to repurchase their shares at the very top:

“Peak buyback” is a sign that executives are seeing fewer opportunities to generate positive returns by building new factories or hiring new people, and so choose to give their free cash back to investors. This is NOT a good thing for the future of the business.

Low interest rates turbo-charge this process by making it profitable to buy back shares with cheap borrowed money. The result is soaring debt for the companies with the biggest repurchase programs...

BofA: "45% Of The Global Bond Market Is Now Compromised By Central Bank Buying" - Zero Hedge Aug 6, 2016
The market’s attention this week was focused on the Bank of England’s decision to purchase £10 billion in corporate bonds over the next 18 months. By doing so Mark Carney, like Draghi, has opened up a Pandora's box, since ultimately corporate debt is nothing more than post-petition equity, and all it would take to make the BOE (or ECB) an activist stakeholder in an legal process is for the obligor to go bankrupt. Consider the following scenarios.

  1. The Bank of England purchases a corporate bond of XYZ British Corporation and 2 years later, the company goes bankrupt. What will the BoE do? Will it sit in the bankruptcy table and negotiate with other creditors? Does it even have the legal authority to do so? Essentially they are gambling with the taxpayer's money.

  2. If a large foreign company wants to take over a British corporation and the BoE happens to own their debt, how will the act? Can they sell the debt into a market that is already pricing a corporate event? Will the act as an activist investor, lobbying for one outcome?

  3. What possible connection is there between economic growth and corporate purchases?

And while we can't wait to see Draghi or Carney spearheading an unsecured creditor committee (while the SNB is engaged in a valuation fight as the head of the equity committee), it is point 3 is most worrisome. No matter who the talking head with a PhD is or what they are trying to dissuade you, there is no guarantee that simply buying bonds (especially corporate debt) will lead to controlled inflation or unemployment? If, for one moment, purchasing debt was the solution to our troubles, shouldn’t asset managers (hedge funds, mutual funds, pension funds, insurance companies) be the economy’s best friend? If all Britain needed post-Brexit was an additional £10 billion, why not have the private sector raise that money and corner the market? At least they would be risking private and not public capital?

Central banks are taking us to a place with no precedent, which is becoming more dangerous by the day: not a single "expert" dares to refute any more that the only reason the S&P500 is at record high is because global central bank QE has hit a record $180 billion per month...

Debt-ridden Puerto Rico a ‘corporate welfare paradise’ for GMO companies - INTELLIHUB July 28, 2016

“We have moved from foreign manufacturing enterprises to petrochemical industries, from the petrochemical industries to the pharmaceutical industries, from the pharmaceutical to biotechnology,” observed an economics professor at the University of Puerto Rico.

An investigation by local journalist Eliván Martínez Mercado reveals that Puerto Rico has handed over hundreds of millions of dollars in public funds to multinational biotech corporations, such as Monsanto and Pioneer Hi Bred (now Dupont), even as the colonial territory’s decade-long debt crisis forced the closure of public schools.

“It is the philosophy that we have to give our soul away. It is a model of dependency.
                                                                —Argeo Quiñones, University of Puerto Rico

Panama Papers: Joseph Stiglitz quits as government adviser - BBC 5 August 2016
"We can only infer that the government is facing pressure from those who are making profits from the current non-transparent financial system in Panama," Mr Stiglitz said.

Bad Economy is Why Trump is the GOP Nominee - John Williams - USAWatchdog.com - 08/7/2016
Economist John Williams says don’t believe the hype about the U.S. economy being good—it’s not. Williams explains, “I love America, but we are in a deepening recession.  The economy collapsed into 2009 . . . we never really recovered from that.  We had a few bounces higher, but generally, we went into low level stagnation, and now it’s turning down again.  We just had a revision to the benchmark GDP (1.2%) and the numbers are nonsense.  The numbers are a lot weaker than they appear. There’s no question we are in a recession.”

Donald Trump Warns Americans To Get Out Of Stock Market As Dow Falls For 7th Day In A Row - Econ Collapse, Aug 2, 2016
What Trump told Fox Business earlier today was actually right on the money. Our financial markets have been artificially inflated by the Federal Reserve, and all artificial bubbles of this nature eventually burst.

Hillary Supports TPP Despite Campaigning Against It, Says Advisor - Infowars Aug 1, 2016
Donald Trump has warned Bernie Sanders supporters that, if elected, Hillary Clinton will betray them by supporting the Trans-Pacific Partnership after Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe said she will ultimately flip-flop on the trade deal.

Recommended: Why Say No to the TPP? Corporations Already Have Too Much Power - CommonDreams Aug 04, 2016 - from Yes!
Our hope lies in shifting power to communities and regions that prioritize safety, clean air, children’s health, and locally rooted livelihoods. - by Sarah van Gelder

End Of The American Dream - The American Dream Is Becoming A Nightmare And Life As We Know It Is About To Change

Pithy - or PC denial? - It's Time to Call the "American Dream" What It Is: A Commodified Myth - Truthout 05 May 2016
To promise to restore "the American Dream" is disingenuous. The phrase may be tantalizing to many in economic need; it is aimed at making "economic opportunity" appear inexhaustible. Yet in reality, it is nothing more than an advertising slogan to sustain the oligarchy and elect opportunistic politicians.

Pope Francis: Capitalism is 'Terrorism Against All of Humanity' - CommonDreams Aug 02, 2016
"Terrorism grows when there is no other option, and as long as the world economy has at its center the god of money and not the person," the pope told reporters, according to the Wall Street Journal. "This is fundamental terrorism, against all humanity."

Will greed doom us all? Stephen Hawking warns our current view of wealth could ultimately cause human race to perish - Daily Mail

... physicist Stephen Hawking now fears greed could be the undoing of the human race.

The University of Cambridge professor has warned that the unequal divide of wealth between individuals and countries is one of the most divisive issues of our time.

He claims envy and isolationism is being bred by the way money is currently shared and this may have contributed to the result of the European Union Brexit referendum result in Britain.

Prior to the vote, Professor Hawking had campaigned against leaving the EU due to the impact he believes it will have on access to funding for British scientists.

But writing for the Guardian, Professor Hawking said the Brexit result was driving by a sense of inequality among those that voted to leave the EU.

He added that humanity needs to collaborate and change our assumptions of wealth and possessions if it is to tackle challenges like climate change, disease, food production and overpopulation.

Note: I am very interested in the connections between natural phenomena and economics, both as causes and as consequences. I try to explore these a little over at my own journal, madman101 - (see my economy and economic tags). I am also intrigued with how people perceive and process these dynamics - as when they blame gays in New Orleans for Hurricane Katrina, for one clear example. Anyway, I do see connections between global warming and the economy. There are other earth changes which may or may not be implicated. I am certainly not an Apocalyptic sort, but we live in a dynamic universe, and there is more going on than any one of us is capable of comprehending. (Again, see my jnl for such mullings). So, I am including Earth Changes in this post. It is all about THE END, after all. You can find a section devoted to earth changes in The End of the American Dream, although they probably don't sincerely believe in global warming over there. I do encourage you to consider joining my erstwhile LJ community devoted to climate change: w_a_r_m_i_n_g! Lots of useful facts and leads over there.

Timeline: Earth's Precarious Future - [As predicted in 2008 - Jan 11] - Live Science

Timeline: Earth's Precarious Future

Back to the micro scale: It's as If They're Trying to Lose: Democrats' Optimism Ignores the Struggles of Millions - CommonDreams Aug 01, 2016
Corporate Democrats simply have nothing to offer the working class. So instead, they put forward a largely rose-tinted view of the American economy, downplay material struggles, defend the status quo, and offer tepid reforms in the place of solutions that would challenge corporate power.

What the Democrats Don't Get (And Why It Could Cost Them the Election)

Note: I have less or worse to say about the Status-Quo Republicans.

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