It can make your head spin with all of the different headlines. One financial analyst insists the U.S. economy is teetering on collapse while another says the housing market is the cure-all for an already-improving economy.
There’s no denying the intricacies involved with the careful entanglement of our personal finances with, say, what China is up to this week. The truth is, though, while Americans, by and large, are interested in all of the international goings-on, it’s the U.S. economy we’re most worried about. To be more specific, we want to know our houses aren’t in jeopardy of being foreclosed on (either legally or illegally) and we want to know we can make our car and credit card payments on time.
With all of the always-contradictory breaking news, here’s the latest from what we’ve been able to gather. Remember, you can’t really discern your own finances until you have at least a general idea of how things are unfolding on both a national and international level.
U.S. Economy – Lies and Distortions
Wayne Allyn Root says we’re getting “lies and distortions” about the U.S. economy and compares it to the EU. He comes to the conclusion that Americans, as a whole, are being fed “delusional lies”. He’s not alone, but these days, it would appear there are more folks who are touting this incredible economic brouhaha that we are on the verge of seeing. Ah, but it’s the ones who aren’t so easily swayed that seem to be making, at least in the short term, the more valid arguments.
Well, what can we say? Spain is in trouble with its personal bankruptcies spiraling out of control. The Cyrpus scandal which continues to quietly brew caused more than a few double takes, especially here in the U.S. When accusations that a government is stealing its citizens money are floating around, it becomes serious. Italy’s in trouble with its oil and fuel and in Greece, folks can’t even cover their utility bills and as a result, more than 30,000 each month are going without electricity. And remember those three words that struck fear in the collective American heart? No, not “fiscal cliff looming” – but rather, “triple dip recession”. That’s an entirely likely scenario these days in the UK. When you pull all of these dynamics together, many are realizing they’ve been asking the wrong question. Instead of, “How fast is the economy recovering?”, many are beginning to wonder, “When will the dam break here?”
Stock market climbs and breaks records; naturally, the U.S. economy begins to look bright. The housing market is recovering? Indeed it is. And folks are visiting their dealerships more often? Things must be really good if we’re buying new cars again, right? Even credit card issuances are up again.
Remember the controversial decisions from the Fed in recent months? The $85 billion that’s being printed and pumped into our economy? It’s fake. But it’s creating a sense of security, which apparently is what the politicians need us to be: blindly led. Ah, and then there was the Bernanke declaration late last year that the Fed would be buying up all of those mortgage backed securities in order to keep those interest rates low. And the new car run? Turns out, the federal government is buying new General Motors automobiles by the thousands.
Welfare and Unemployment
Welfare is up, as is the number of folks receiving food stamps. Unemployment payments are continuing for millions and the fact that only 88,000 jobs were added last month pales in comparison when you realize more than half a million simply faded off the records – likely because their unemployment run out. And if you’re wondering – there are close to 90 million Americans who remain unemployed or are “significantly underemployed”. Derek Thompson with The Atlantic reminds us that for men, the unemployment rate is the highest it’s been – ever. The records have been accumulating since 1948 and it’s never been this bad for men.
Meanwhile, news about Obamacare continues to break in with revelations that it could cost a family of four $20,000 a year while two-thirds of Americans say they won’t be a part of Obamacare, mostly because they can’t afford it. For business owners, federal income taxes are through the roof as are payroll taxes. Those deductions so many of us relied on have vanished and next time you head out to the grocery store, you’ll want to practice calm breathing techniques because by the time you get the total at the checkout, you’re going to be ready to faint.
Personal Finance and Credit
And as for our credit, the news is mixed. In some aspects, banks and credit card companies are rethinking their tightened credit standards; however, for those with good credit but who might have struggled to keep ahead during the recession, they can’t get credit. Even when they maintained their payments, they’re finding themselves shut off from these financial products. Even more interesting was a statistic we came across just this week: 8 percent of Americans are unbanked while another 18 percent are underbanked. Those numbers are on the rise, too. And did you know Washington DC is ranked second in the number of un or underbanked consumers? This, according to a new federal government study, highlights some of the problems that finding a solution to has proven difficult.
And there’s another report, which to this writer, in hindsight, seems ominous. In early April, 2013, Fox News reported that IRS audits increased “dramatically” on some business owners. No one made the connection that it could have been conservative business models were the ones being heavily audited. This resulted in higher accountant and legal bills for these business owners, which meant they were not able to hire new employees and many had to lay off or cut back the hours of their current employees.
Just moments ago, we got the latest numbers for manufacturing. They dropped to levels not seen in more than four years. But you should know that investors see that as good news. It means the Fed will continue to artificially inflate the economy with its fake money. So yeah, despite being told that Monopoly money wasn’t “real” money when we were kids, who knew that indeed, someday it would absolutely be real for some folks?
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