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By the numbers

From The Economic Collapse blog:

#1 Approximately 45 million Americans were living in poverty in 2009.

#2 According to the Associated Press, experts believe that 2009 saw the largest single year increase in the U.S. poverty rate since the U.S. government began calculating poverty figures back in 1959.

#3 The U.S. poverty rate is now the third worst among the developed nations tracked by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

#4 According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, on a year-over-year basis, household participation in the food stamp program has increased 20.28%.

#5 The number of Americans on food stamps surpassed 41 million for the first time ever in June.

#6 As of June, the number of Americans on food stamps had set a new all-time record for 19 consecutive months.

#7 One out of every six Americans is now being served by at least one government anti-poverty program.

#8 More than 50 million Americans are now on Medicaid, the U.S. government health care program designed principally to help the poor.

#9 One out of every seven mortgages in the United States was either delinquent or in foreclosure during the first quarter of 2010.

#10 Nearly 10 million Americans now receive unemployment insurance, which is almost four times as many as were receiving it in 2007.

#11 The number of Americans receiving long-term unemployment benefits has risen over 60 percent in just the past year.

#12 According to one recent survey, 28% of all U.S. households have at least one member that is looking for a full-time job.

#13 Nationwide, bankruptcy filings rose 20 percent in the 12 month period ending June 30th.

#14 More than 25 percent of all Americans now have a credit score below 599.

#15 One out of every five children in the United States is now living in poverty.

Bugs? Or features?

I think, for our elites, these are desired policy outcomes. "Human resources" in America are too damn expensive.

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Submitted by Hugh on

Deutsche Bank came out with a forecast in August 2009 that 48% of mortgages would be underwater by 2011. Elizabeth Warren said much the same thing about commercial real estate in March of this year.

There is also the wealth inequality that I stress with 10% owning 2/3 of the country. That is the real source of poverty in this country.

And let us not forget, of course, the high unemployment rate and the BLS' undercounting of it.

Submitted by Hugh on

After the next crash. It looks like the board is set and the pieces are moving on that. Keynes said that markets could stay irrational longer than you could remain solvent. Still I think things will hit the fan next year, although they really could go anytime. The economy is fundamentally unsound. But the Fed could begin a new round of QE and that might continue the extend and pretend. OTOH I look at both economics and politics. The stimulus has shot its bolt. We already have ZIRP. The fundamentals, jobs, housing, state budgets, poverty are all deteriorating. The next Congress will be even more useless than the present one. Both parties are completly corporatist. The level of economic knowledge which is already abysmal to the point of being extremely scary will be even lower in the next Congress.

The current elites and their looting are clearly unsustainable. Things will fall apart. Among most liberal economists, I think the thought is they will fall apart slowly, leading to stagnation and Japanification. I think things are a lot more unstable, our elites are too crooked, too greedy, too stupid, and too unreformable, so I'm looking at a crash and collapse into severe depression.

Submitted by lambert on

... to distinguish between a fast- and slow-collapsing system. I mean, how to we compare crookedness, greediness, stupidity and inability to reform across political systems.

This post had the hidden agenda of arguing that the totalitarian precedent is not Nazi Germany but the USSR. We are not, therefore, in Weimar, but more like in the samizdat period, say. Or not.

And ultimately we get to the point where the oligarchs, aided by neo-liberal academics, take all the pieces off the board, discover they need a government after all, and accept Putin.

Submitted by Hugh on

I think a lot of the standard liberal economists like Baker, Galbraith, Stiglitz, etc. see Japanification in our future. Japanification is not a collapse. It's a muddle. This idea is predicated on the notion that the government and Fed will intervene to keep things from falling totally apart.

My view is that the deteriorating fundamentals we are seeing are the slow crash. I expect the PTB will intervene, but I do not think their interventions will be effective. We have seen this all before, both in 1929 and in the year between the housing bubble burst and the meltdown. At the end of his book The Great Crash 1929, John Kenneth Galbraith said something very profound: that crashes will continue to occur as long as those in positions of authority act as if the economy is sound, when they know it is not. We are currently seeing this scenario play out yet again.

The deteriorating fundamentals give us all kinds of metrics. This is what I think the standard liberal economists are looking at. But the key, as John Kenneth Galbraith noted, is the failure of our elites. That is really not quantifiable but it does render a crash and depression inevitable. Nor do crashes happen out of the blue. There is a long trail of disregarded signs leading up to them, burps, hiccoughs, corrections, even mini-crashes and failures at the margins, increased market volatility. As the number of these increase and the interval between them decreases, we can tell we are entering the final phase but the precise moment is not determinable because it is based on psychology. It occurs when a greater fool can not be found and the realization finally hits that a greater fool can not be found.

Submitted by lambert on

And as you say:

1. Decreasing mean time between FAIL: 2000 crash, 2008 crash

2. Disregarded signs....

That one, I think, could be broken down some more. I don't know a good metric for disconnect between the signifier and the signified... But I bet there is one. In the same way that ammonia shipments are signs of industrial activity, I'm sure there are "signs" of in "the news" -- which is, after all, just another commodity and hence an industrial activity (and also all about managing and creating psychology.... I guess when the elites are consuming the functional equivalent pf prole food, too, we're done... Where did I read that the elites weren't even capable of learning from history any more, hence the double downs? Ian's?)
That said, yes, precise timing is not possible.

Submitted by jawbone on

from the poor to be able to do anything about the problems in that country. Well, "not able" is not quite the right wording -- they think they can keep themselves protected enough to not have their kids or wives kidnapped....

Seems to be an attitude which happens more when the rich are Uberwealthy rich and feel they can control, oh, things like climate change enough for their own good outcome -- and screw the peasants.

Banksters, and now it seems, DC pols are acting the same way.

I think a US-style Japanification will not be quite like Japan's Japanification. They have defined pensions and health care -- US people for the most patr, if they're without a job, don't.

Gonna be a whole different trip down hill for us her in the US.