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Thread: The Big Squeeze:

  1. Link to Post #41
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    Default Re: The Big Squeeze:

    Public health services in Greece on the brink of collapse

    defenddemocracy.press Thu, 17 Nov 2016 15:24 UTC


    Greece health crisis

    Employees at Public Hospitals warn: "Greece's Public Health Services are on the brink of collapse" Six years of economic crisis, loan agreements, austerity cuts and freezing of new hiring threaten the primary care health care system. A report published by the Panhellenic Federation of Employees at Public Hospitals (POEDIN) draws a dire picture of the situation and furthermore blames the Health Ministry and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

    "They implement the bailout agreements by the book and dramatically shrink expenditure for the Public Health sector, thus awaiting from us to thank them for the nothing they offer instead of humbly apologize," POEDIN stresses in a statement.

    "Hospitals, medical centers, EKAV [ambulance services] are in a state of dissolution," the statement warns, adding that the premier and Health Ministry officials will "soon have to answer for the destruction of ESY."

    Painting a dire picture, the report notes a fundamental lack of medical equipment (even ambulance stretchers), the shutdown of intensive care units and operating theaters, as well as shortages in doctors and staff at medical units across the country.
    • During their hospitalization patients are required to buy materials they will consume.
    • 200 beds in Intensive Care Units are not in operation due to lack of personnel.
    • Waiting list for surgery is up to a year due to lack of personnel and surgical material.
    • Damaged medical equipment will not be repaired or replaced, "so that patients turn to the private sector."
    • There are no necessary and appropriate radiotherapy machines or they do not work, and cancer patients die because of long waiting list.
    • Hospitals, health centers and ambulances are maintained through fundraising and donations by local bodies. Their arrears exceeded €1.5 billion.
    • The health ministers have reduced the ESY staff by 4,000 people.
    • Vacant posts in hospitals ares 35,000.
    • The Primary Health Care has been dissolved.
    • Citizens pay for medical treatment from their own pockets.
    The situation at the Geniko Kratiko Athinon Gennimatas Hospital is particularly acute as 40 percent of positions across all its medical departments are vacant, while different departments have been merged to allow overworked staff to take a five-day summer vacation.

    According to POEDIN, one of the two CT scanners at the hospital is often out of order for long periods of time, while its two x-ray machines don't work, forcing patients and doctors to pay to use others at private clinics and hospitals.

    The report also warns that the Erythros Stavros Hospital in Athens will be forced to shut down if orthopedic doctors are not hired soon, as most are now about to retire, while 70 percent of administrative positions are vacant.

    The same problems, the report claims, are also impacting other major hospitals in the capital, including the Ippokrateio, the Alexandra and the Thriasio, as well as the Papageorgiou in Thessaloniki and other major medical facilities throughout Greece.

    PS Same problem since 2010: the first sector to be sacrificed in the name of the bailout agreement was the Public Health Sector. That's the famous IMF policy. But it's good to remind the issue every once in a while.

    ================================================

    Coming soon to an area near you?
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    Default Re: The Big Squeeze:

    The UK National Health Service isn't in much better shape. The finances are currently being "water boarded" to extract new pathways towards it becoming something completely different.

    From a top down perspective, National Health Services are only a 'fit' with the agenda if they are cash cows, NOT if they are ways to preserve and improve national health.
    .................................................. my first language is TYPO..............................................

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  5. Link to Post #43
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    Default Re: The Big Squeeze:

    The Trend Continues: Macy’s, Sears, and Kmart Announce over 200 Store Closings and 10,000+ Layoffs Nationwide

    January 6, 2017 | Melissa Dykes | The Daily Sheeple


    Holiday sales for many traditional stores were pretty abysmal this year… Amazon far and away captured the majority of online sales.


    Stores like Macy’s, on the other hand, actually saw a sales decrease during one of the most crucial shopping times of the year.

    Now The New York Times reports the store chain will be closing 100 stores and cutting over 10,000 jobs.
    The company, which now has 730 stores, announced in August that it would close 100 of them. On Wednesday, it identified 68 stores to be closed.

    Some employees may be offered positions at nearby stores, but Macy’s estimated that 3,900 workers would be affected by the closings. It also said it planned to restructure parts of its business, leading to a reduction of an additional 6,200 jobs. Over all, the job cuts represent about 7 percent of its work force.
    Meanwhile, Sears Holdings Co. also announced this week it will close 78 Kmart Stores and another 26 Sears locations this spring.

    The company’s statement read in part:
    “Many of these stores have struggled with their financial performance for years and we have kept them open to maintain local jobs and in the hopes that they would turn around. But in order to meet our objective of returning to profitability, we have to make tough decisions and will continue to do so, which will give our better performing stores a chance at success.”
    They admitted it: the stores were kept open mainly just to maintain local jobs.

    That’s probably true of many major employers the nation over. As automation continues, jobs will continue to be lost. It’s a well-known fact that the majority of low-paying jobs that employ the most adult workers in this country such as cashiers and waiters/waitresses will inevitably be replaced.

    The only question is what does the system plan to do with tens of millions of unemployed workers?
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    Default Re: The Big Squeeze:

    Quote Posted by pueblo (here)
    Saw this somewhere and found it amusing... in a worrying sort of way!

    Take the name Walmart....reverse 'Wal' to 'Law' and expand 'Mart' to 'Martial'...reverse the order to get.....Martial Law
    I like swapping the W and M for Mal -Wart. It literally means an evil growth, blemish, wart.

    ¤=[Post Update]=¤

    Quote Posted by norman (here)
    The UK National Health Service isn't in much better shape. The finances are currently being "water boarded" to extract new pathways towards it becoming something completely different.

    From a top down perspective, National Health Services are only a 'fit' with the agenda if they are cash cows, NOT if they are ways to preserve and improve national health.
    Universal health care in Canada isn't living up to it's name either. Still much better than the U.S but the demographics, lazy ass bureaucrats and arrogant arrogant AND lazy specialists have conspired to create a perfect storm of "we don't give a sh**!"

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    Default Re: The Big Squeeze:

    I think we are heading into a global depression. We never really recovered from the last recession. The U.S is going through it's own version of Perestroika and it's NOT going to be pretty. And Canada, OMG. We are reliant on exports and our biggest trading partner is the U.S, ..... and in protectionist times! Help!

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  11. Link to Post #46
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    Default Re: The Big Squeeze:

    The retail apocalypse gains momentum as debt ceiling holiday approaches

    Michael Snyder
    The Economic Collapse
    Sun, 26 Feb 2017 15:44 UTC


    © Seph Lawless

    J.C. Penney and Family Christian Stores are the latest retail giants to announce widespread store closings. As you will see below, J.C. Penney plans to close between 130 and 140 stores, and Family Christian is closing all of their 240 stores. In recent months the stock market has been absolutely soaring, and so most people have simply assumed that the "real economy" must be doing well. But that is not the case at all. In fact, the retail apocalypse that I have been documenting for quite some time appears to be gaining momentum.

    J.C. Penney is not in as rough shape as Sears is just yet, but it is definitely on a similar trajectory. In the end, they are both headed for bankruptcy. That is why it wasn't too much of a surprise when J.C. Penney announced that they are getting rid of about 6,000 workers and closing at least 130 stores...
    J.C. Penney (JCP) plans to close 130 to 140 stores and offer buyouts to 6,000 workers as the department-store industry sags in competition with online sellers and nimble niche retailers.

    The company said Friday that it would shutter 13% to 14% of its locations and introduce new goods and services aimed at the shifting preferences of its customer base.
    Meanwhile, many observers were quite surprised when Family Christian Stores decided to fold up shop for good. They were known as the largest Christian retailer on the entire planet, but now after 85 years they are going out of business forever...
    Family Christian, which bills itself as the "world's largest retailer of Christian-themed merchandise," announced Thursday it is closing after 85 years.

    The non-profit company, employing more than 3,000 people in 240 stores in 36 states, said in a brief statement that the retailer had been facing declining sales since filing for bankruptcy protection in 2015 and had no choice but to shut down.
    These two announcements are part of larger trend that we have been witnessing all over the country. As I have documented previously, Macy's announced that it would be closing 100 stores earlier this year, and about the same time Sears said that it would be closing another 150 stores.

    Back in 2010, Sears had a staggering 3,555 stores.

    Before their recent announcement, Sears was down to 1,503 stores, and now this latest round of cuts will leave them with somewhere around 1,350.

    Of course it won't be too long before Sears has zero stores, and my regular readers know that I have been talking about the demise of Sears for a very long time.

    The cold, hard truth of the matter is that the "real economy" is a total mess, and that is one of the primary reasons why these ridiculous stock market valuations that we are seeing right now are not sustainable.

    One expert that agrees with my assessment is former Reagan Administration White House Budget Director David Stockman. In a recent interview, he explained why he believes that "everything will grind to a halt" after March 15th...
    Stockman, who wrote a book titled "Trumped" predicting a Trump victory in 2016, says, "I don't think there is a snowball's chance in the hot place that's going to happen. This is delusional. This is the greatest suckers' rally of all time. It is based on pure hopium and not any analysis at all as what it will take to push through a big tax cut. Donald Trump is in a trap. Today the debt is $20 trillion. It's 106% of GDP. . . .Trump is inheriting a built-in deficit of $10 trillion over the next decade under current policies that are built in. Yet, he wants more defense spending, not less. He wants drastic sweeping tax cuts for corporations and individuals. He wants to spend more money on border security and law enforcement. He's going to do more for the veterans. He wants this big trillion dollar infrastructure program. You put all that together and it's madness. It doesn't even begin to add up, and it won't happen when you are struggling with the $10 trillion of debt that's coming down the pike and the $20 trillion that's already on the books."

    Then, Stockman drops this bomb and says:

    "I think what people are missing is this date, March 15th2017. That's the day that this debt ceiling holiday that Obama and Boehner put together right before the last election in October of 2015. That holiday expires. The debt ceiling will freeze in at $20 trillion. It will then be law. It will be a hard stop. The Treasury will have roughly $200 billion in cash. We are burning cash at a $75 billion a month rate. By summer, they will be out of cash. Then we will be in the mother of all debt ceiling crises. Everything will grind to a halt. I think we will have a government shutdown. There will not be Obama Care repeal and replace. There will be no tax cut. There will be no infrastructure stimulus. There will be just one giant fiscal bloodbath over a debt ceiling that has to be increased and no one wants to vote for."
    In that same interview, Stockman also predicted that "markets will easily correct by 20% and probably a lot more", and he noted the glaring disconnect between current stock prices and how the U.S. economy is actually performing...
    "The S&P 500 has been trading at 26 times earnings while earnings have been dropping for the past six or seven quarters. There is no booming recovery coming. There is going to be a recession and there will be no stimulus baton to bail it out. That is the new fact that neither Trump nor the Wall Street gamblers remotely understand."
    It is very difficult to argue with Stockman on this.

    There are some people out there that seem to think that Donald Trump can miraculously turn the U.S. economy around just because he is Donald Trump.

    It doesn't work that way.

    We are 20 trillion dollars in debt, and we are currently adding about a trillion dollars a year to that total. There is no possible way that Trump can cut taxes, increase military spending, build a border wall, spend much more on veterans and spend an extra trillion dollars on rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure.

    We are flat broke as a nation and there simply is not money available to do everything that Donald Trump wants to do.

    So we shall see what happens after March 15th. Unfortunately, I happen to agree with Stockman that economic reality is about to come knocking and Trump and his supporters are about to get a very rude wake up call.
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    Default Re: The Big Squeeze:

    Retail cataclysm: Sears warns on the verge of collapse, Payless Inc. headed for bankruptcy

    Michael Snyder The Economic Colllapse Blog
    Thu, 23 Mar 2017 16:18 UTC


    © theeconomiccollapseblog

    More than 3,500 retail stores are going to close all across America over the next few months as the worst retail downturn in U.S. history gets even deeper. Earlier this week, Sears shocked the world when it announced that there is "substantial doubt" that the company will be able to "continue as a going concern" much longer. In other words, Sears has announced that it is on the verge of imminent collapse.

    Meanwhile, Payless stunned the retail industry when it came out that they are preparing to file for bankruptcy. The "retail apocalypse" that I have been warning about is greatly accelerating, and many believe that this is one of the early warning signs that the economic collapse that is already going on in other parts of the globe will soon reach U.S. shores.

    I have repeatedly warned my readers that "Sears is going to zero", and now Sears is officially saying that it might actually happen. When you file official paperwork with the government that says there is "substantial doubt" that the company will survive, that means that the end is very near:
    The company that operates Sears, the department store chain that dominated retail for decades, warned Tuesday that it faces "substantial doubt" about its ability to stay in business unless it can borrow more and tap cash from more of its assets.

    "Our historical operating results indicate substantial doubt exists related to the company's ability to continue as a going concern," Sears Holdings said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Sears Holdings operates both Sears and Kmart stores.

    In the wake of that statement, the price of Sears stock dipped 13.69% to $7.85 a share.
    Personally, I am going to miss Sears very much. But of course the truth is that they simply cannot continue operating as they have been.

    For the quarter that ended on January 28th, Sears lost an astounding 607 million dollars:
    The company said it lost $607million, or $5.67 per diluted share, during the quarter that ended on Jan. 28. That compared with a loss of $580 million, or $5.44 per diluted share, a year earlier. It has posted a loss in all but two of the last 24 quarters, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.
    How in the world is it possible for a retailer to lose that amount of money in just three months?

    As I have said before, if they had employees flushing dollar bills down the toilet 24 hours a day they still shouldn't have losses that big.

    This week we also learned that Payless is heading for bankruptcy. According to Bloomberg, the chain is planning to imminently close at least 400 stores:
    Payless Inc., the struggling discount shoe chain, is preparing to file for bankruptcy as soon as next week, according to people familiar with the matter.

    The company is initially planning to close 400 to 500 stores as it reorganizes operations, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations aren't public. Payless had originally looked to shutter as many as 1,000 locations, and the number may still be in flux, according to one of the people.
    Of course these are just two examples of a much broader phenomenon.

    Never before in U.S. history have we seen such a dramatic wave of store closures. According to Business Insider, over 3,500 retail locations "are expected to close in the next couple of months":
    Thousands of mall-based stores are shutting down in what's fast becoming one of the biggest waves of retail closures in decades.

    More than 3,500 stores are expected to close in the next couple of months.
    Once thriving shopping malls are rapidly being transformed into ghost towns. As I wrote about just recently, "you might be tempted to think that 'Space Available' was the hottest new retail chain in the entire country."

    The demise of Sears is going to be an absolute nightmare for many mall owners. Once "anchor stores" start closing, it is usually only a matter of time before smaller stores start bailing out:
    When an anchor store like Sears or Macy's closes, it often triggers a downward spiral in performance for shopping malls.

    Not only do the malls lose the income and shopper traffic from that store's business, but the closure often triggers "co-tenancy clauses" that allow the other mall tenants to terminate their leases or renegotiate the terms, typically with a period of lower rents, until another retailer moves into the anchor space.
    Years ago I wrote of a time when we would see boarded-up storefronts all across America, and now it is happening. Instead of asking which retailers are going to close, perhaps we should be asking which ones are going to survive this retail cataclysm.

    In the past, you could always count on middle class U.S. consumers to save the day, but today the middle class is steadily shrinking and U.S. consumers are increasingly tapped out.

    For instance, just look at what is happening to delinquency rates on auto loans:
    US auto loan and lease credit loss rates weakened in the second half of 2016, according to a new report from Fitch Ratings, which said they will continue to deteriorate.

    "Subprime credit losses are accelerating faster than the prime segment, and this trend is likely to continue as a result of looser underwriting standards by lenders in recent years," said Michael Taiano, a director at Fitch.
    The last time so many Americans got behind on subprime auto loans was during the last financial crisis.

    We are seeing so many similarities to what happened just prior to the last recession, and yet most Americans still seem to think that the U.S. economy is going to be just fine in 2017.

    Unfortunately, major red flags are popping up in the hard economic numbers and in the financial markets.

    The last recession probably should have started back in late 2015, but thanks to manipulation by the Fed and an unprecedented debt binge by the Obama administration, official U.S. GDP growth has been able to stay barely above zero for the last year and a half.

    But just because something is delayed does not mean that it is canceled.

    All along, our long-term economic imbalances have continued to get even worse, and a date with destiny is rapidly approaching for the U.S. economy.


    From Business Insider:


    © Company Data: Business Insider/Mike Nudelman
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    Default Re: The Big Squeeze:

    Independent stores are vanishing from New York City

    Arthur Chi'en Fox5
    Thu, 25 Jan 2018 19:57 UTC



    Part of the East Village was once considered Ukrainian-town. Chain brands started dyeing its ethnic roots slowly at first.

    But Tom Birchard, whose family owns Veselka -- the 24-hour Ukrainian diner on the corner of 2nd avenue at 9th street, says things seem to be disappearing an increasing pace. Three generations of Birchards have kept Veselka alive, but Tom says a small piece of his heart breaks each time he sees a local business get pushed out by a corporate brand. And it has been breaking a lot.

    Perhaps no one has done as much to document the cultural, if not historic bleaching of New York neighborhoods than Jeremiah Moss, the man behind Vanishing New York, a blog that passionately gives voices to institutions that may not have landmark status, but are crucial strands in the cultural fabric of our lives. Strands he feels are being torn out at an alarming pace.

    Jeremiah says it is almost like a mass extinction event in which different species are just dropping like flies.

    Species like Lincoln Plaza Cinema, a bastion for independent and international movies otherwise not available on a large screen, and Cafe Edison, a stylish Theatre District sandwich shop that is now a hotel.

    Some are forced out without a replacement. Along a span of two blocks on Bleecker Street in the west village, storefront after storefront after storefront are vacant. Many of these establishments have been closed for several years. Jeremiah calls it a "form of urban blight" because empty storefronts look terrible and create a bad feeling when you walk down the street.

    One of the reasons behind Jeremiah's Vanishing New York is to preserve history, but the other is to motivate us to do something. For example, New Yorkers could promote policies that help small businesses-and not just on the ground floor but also about who owns property in New York.

    Tom of Veselka says that smaller landlords can be more flexible and humane whereas the larger corporate landlords can keep spaces vacant for a long time without suffering that much financially.

    And Jeremiah says he talks to younger people who come to New York and ask, "What happened to the city?" He says for a century the city was the center of rebelliousness, creativity, excitement.
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    Default Re: The Big Squeeze:

    Former US retail giant Sears files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

    Tracy Rucinski, Tom Hals Reuters
    Mon, 15 Oct 2018 10:29 UTC


    A store closing sale sign is posted next to a Sears logo in New Hyde Park, New York, U.S., October 10, 2018. © REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

    Sears Holdings Corp filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Monday with a plan to close 142 more stores, throwing into doubt the future of the century-old retailer that once dominated U.S. malls but has withered in the age of internet shopping.

    The Chapter 11 filing to reorganize debts of the parent of Sears, Roebuck and Co and Kmart Corp follows a decade of revenue declines, hundreds of store closures, and years of deals by billionaire Chief Executive Officer Eddie Lampert in an attempt to turn around the company he bought in 2004.

    Lampert had pledged to restore Sears to its glory days, when it owned the tallest building in the world and companies that included a radio station and Allstate insurance.

    But the company has not turned a profit since 2011, and critics say Lampert let the stores deteriorate over the years, even as he bought the company's stock and lent it money. It has sold off the legendary Craftsman brand and is considering an offer from Lampert for the Kenmore appliance name. For a graphic, click tmsnrt.rs/2A3giRQ

    The company listed $6.9 billion in assets and $11.3 billion in liabilities in documents filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of New York.

    The bankruptcy filing was sparked by a standoff between Lampert, the company's biggest shareholder and lender, and a special board committee, over a rescue plan proposed by Lampert.

    Under the bankruptcy plan, Lampert's executive role will be replaced by a three-person committee, though he will remain as chairman of the board. Mohsin Meghji, a managing director of the M-III Partners corporate advisory firm, was appointed chief restructuring officer.

    Shareholders generally lose their investment when a company files for bankruptcy, and the fate of Sears itself will depend on the willingness of creditors and suppliers to keep the company afloat.

    The largest U.S. toy retailer, Toys 'R' Us, tried to emerge from its 2017 bankruptcy filing but was forced to liquidate six months later after creditors lost confidence in its turnaround plan.

    Store Closures, Asset sales
    Sears said it will sell assets and begin closing 142 unprofitable stores by year-end with the aim of reorganizing around a smaller platform of around 700 of its best stores.

    It is also weighing the sale of "a large portion" of its stores and said they could be bought by Lampert's hedge fund in a bankruptcy auction.

    Meanwhile, Sears and Kmart stores are open for business. The company said it is continuing to pay employees' wages and benefits and is working with its vendors to ensure its shelves remain stocked.

    "The company believes that a successful reorganization will save the company and the jobs of tens of thousands of store associates," Sears said in a statement.

    The retailer employed about 89,000 workers in the United States as of February, compared with 246,000 people five years ago.

    Sears said it has received a $300 million financing package to fund its operations during the bankruptcy proceedings and was negotiating an additional $300 million.

    Sources told Reuters over the weekend that Lampert was expected to contribute towards a financing package of between $500 million and $600 million.

    Shares in Illinois-based Sears closed at about 41 cents on Friday, down from over $100 in the years after hedge-fund star Lampert, once hailed as another Warren Buffett, merged it with discount store Kmart in a $11 billion deal in 2005.

    Sears dates back to the late 1880s and its mail-order catalogues with merchandise from toys, medicine and gramophones to automobiles, kit houses and tombstones made it the Amazon.com Inc of its time.

    Chicago's Sears Tower was the world's tallest building when it was completed in 1973, but in the following decades consumers increasingly turned to e-commerce and brick-and-mortar rivals such as Walmart Inc and Target Corp.

    Lampert and his hedge fund ESL Investments Inc own just shy of 50 percent of Sears' shares and are its biggest creditor, with about $2.5 billion owed to the executive and funds he controls.

    Lampert's Investments
    One of the lingering questions for investors has revolved around the value of Sears' assets, which include prime real estate.

    The company sold 235 of its best stores for $2.7 billion to a Lampert-created company, Seritage Growth Properties. Lampert also became Land's End Inc's biggest shareholder when the clothing manufacturer was spun out of Sears in 2014.

    Those deals could be subjected to new scrutiny by Sears' creditors in bankruptcy court.

    "When you go into a bankruptcy, you're living in a fish bowl and every transaction will be looked at and examined," said Corali Lopez-Castro, Managing Partner at law firm Kozyak Tropin & Throckmorton.

    In an earlier attempt to avoid bankruptcy, Sears last year sold its Craftsman tool brand to power tool maker Stanley Black & Decker for $900 million. It also signed a deal to sell Kenmore appliances on Amazon.com.


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    Default Re: The Big Squeeze:

    One thing that is true about 1880s Sears is the "kit houses", which were framed wood houses like a site-built. This was significant in settlement across the midwest, when land was almost free, you could set up a new place quickly and easily. I can't do that with Amazon. This was also a time when land was mostly owned by people and not mortgages and deals were handled in lawful money. Because of this, I believe Sears pretty clearly shows what used to be "right" in the U. S., followed by changes that set all these downhill trends and eleven billion in debt, or, eleven billion of legal tender anyway.

    The people that bought these houses categorically hated banks. I am not really sure what happened to their voice, or the Constitution, which from around 1900-1920 went from hero to zero. But Sears is either unique, or at least major, in serving housing to this population. Its fate is exactly what they were grousing about. So actually it's probably about the best company to tell us this story.

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    Default Re: The Big Squeeze:

    Quote Posted by Hervé (here)
    The retail apocalypse gains momentum as debt ceiling holiday approaches

    Michael Snyder
    The Economic Collapse
    Sun, 26 Feb 2017 15:44 UTC


    © Seph Lawless

    J.C. Penney and Family Christian Stores are the latest retail giants to announce widespread store closings. As you will see below, J.C. Penney plans to close between 130 and 140 stores, and Family Christian is closing all of their 240 stores. In recent months the stock market has been absolutely soaring, and so most people have simply assumed that the "real economy" must be doing well. But that is not the case at all. In fact, the retail apocalypse that I have been documenting for quite some time appears to be gaining momentum.

    J.C. Penney is not in as rough shape as Sears is just yet, but it is definitely on a similar trajectory. In the end, they are both headed for bankruptcy. That is why it wasn't too much of a surprise when J.C. Penney announced that they are getting rid of about 6,000 workers and closing at least 130 stores...
    J.C. Penney (JCP) plans to close 130 to 140 stores and offer buyouts to 6,000 workers as the department-store industry sags in competition with online sellers and nimble niche retailers.

    The company said Friday that it would shutter 13% to 14% of its locations and introduce new goods and services aimed at the shifting preferences of its customer base.
    Meanwhile, many observers were quite surprised when Family Christian Stores decided to fold up shop for good. They were known as the largest Christian retailer on the entire planet, but now after 85 years they are going out of business forever...
    Family Christian, which bills itself as the "world's largest retailer of Christian-themed merchandise," announced Thursday it is closing after 85 years.

    The non-profit company, employing more than 3,000 people in 240 stores in 36 states, said in a brief statement that the retailer had been facing declining sales since filing for bankruptcy protection in 2015 and had no choice but to shut down.
    These two announcements are part of larger trend that we have been witnessing all over the country. As I have documented previously, Macy's announced that it would be closing 100 stores earlier this year, and about the same time Sears said that it would be closing another 150 stores.

    Back in 2010, Sears had a staggering 3,555 stores.

    Before their recent announcement, Sears was down to 1,503 stores, and now this latest round of cuts will leave them with somewhere around 1,350.

    Of course it won't be too long before Sears has zero stores, and my regular readers know that I have been talking about the demise of Sears for a very long time.

    The cold, hard truth of the matter is that the "real economy" is a total mess, and that is one of the primary reasons why these ridiculous stock market valuations that we are seeing right now are not sustainable.

    One expert that agrees with my assessment is former Reagan Administration White House Budget Director David Stockman. In a recent interview, he explained why he believes that "everything will grind to a halt" after March 15th...
    Stockman, who wrote a book titled "Trumped" predicting a Trump victory in 2016, says, "I don't think there is a snowball's chance in the hot place that's going to happen. This is delusional. This is the greatest suckers' rally of all time. It is based on pure hopium and not any analysis at all as what it will take to push through a big tax cut. Donald Trump is in a trap. Today the debt is $20 trillion. It's 106% of GDP. . . .Trump is inheriting a built-in deficit of $10 trillion over the next decade under current policies that are built in. Yet, he wants more defense spending, not less. He wants drastic sweeping tax cuts for corporations and individuals. He wants to spend more money on border security and law enforcement. He's going to do more for the veterans. He wants this big trillion dollar infrastructure program. You put all that together and it's madness. It doesn't even begin to add up, and it won't happen when you are struggling with the $10 trillion of debt that's coming down the pike and the $20 trillion that's already on the books."

    Then, Stockman drops this bomb and says:

    "I think what people are missing is this date, March 15th2017. That's the day that this debt ceiling holiday that Obama and Boehner put together right before the last election in October of 2015. That holiday expires. The debt ceiling will freeze in at $20 trillion. It will then be law. It will be a hard stop. The Treasury will have roughly $200 billion in cash. We are burning cash at a $75 billion a month rate. By summer, they will be out of cash. Then we will be in the mother of all debt ceiling crises. Everything will grind to a halt. I think we will have a government shutdown. There will not be Obama Care repeal and replace. There will be no tax cut. There will be no infrastructure stimulus. There will be just one giant fiscal bloodbath over a debt ceiling that has to be increased and no one wants to vote for."
    In that same interview, Stockman also predicted that "markets will easily correct by 20% and probably a lot more", and he noted the glaring disconnect between current stock prices and how the U.S. economy is actually performing...
    "The S&P 500 has been trading at 26 times earnings while earnings have been dropping for the past six or seven quarters. There is no booming recovery coming. There is going to be a recession and there will be no stimulus baton to bail it out. That is the new fact that neither Trump nor the Wall Street gamblers remotely understand."
    It is very difficult to argue with Stockman on this.

    There are some people out there that seem to think that Donald Trump can miraculously turn the U.S. economy around just because he is Donald Trump.

    It doesn't work that way.

    We are 20 trillion dollars in debt, and we are currently adding about a trillion dollars a year to that total. There is no possible way that Trump can cut taxes, increase military spending, build a border wall, spend much more on veterans and spend an extra trillion dollars on rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure.

    We are flat broke as a nation and there simply is not money available to do everything that Donald Trump wants to do.

    So we shall see what happens after March 15th. Unfortunately, I happen to agree with Stockman that economic reality is about to come knocking and Trump and his supporters are about to get a very rude wake up call.
    Some people I know are taking out their money from the US market and reinvesting it in the Canadian market, saying it is much more stable.

    I have no idea what impact it has and how pertinent it is to this thread, I am zero financial savvy (or about zero)

    This is just some info I had yesterday.

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    Default Re: The Big Squeeze:

    India's farmers plan mass march to national parliament to call attention to neo-liberal-caused agrarian crisis reaching 'civilizational proportions', suicide of over 300,000

    Colin Todhunter Dissident Voice
    Tue, 30 Oct 2018 00:00 UTC


    With over 800 million people, rural India is arguably the most interesting and complex place on the planet. And yet it is also one of the most neglected in terms of both investment and media coverage. Veteran journalist and founder of the People's Archive of Rural India P. Sainath argues that the majority of Indians do not count to the nation's media, which renders up to 75 percent of the population 'extinct'.

    According to the Centre for Media Studies in Delhi, the five-year average of agriculture reporting in an Indian national daily newspaper equals 0.61 percent of news coverage, while village-level stories account for 0.17 percent. For much of the media, whether print or TV, celebrity, IT, movements on the stock exchange and the daily concerns of elite and urban middle class dwellers are what count.

    Unlike the corporate media, the digital journalism platform the People's Archive of Rural India has not only documented the complexity and beauty of rural India but also its hardships and the all too often heartbreaking personal stories that describe the impacts of government policies which have devastated lives, livelihoods and communities.

    Rural India is plagued by farmer suicides, child malnourishment, growing unemployment, increased informalisation, indebtedness and an overall collapse of agriculture. Those involved in farming and related activities are being driven to migrate to cities to become cycle rickshaw drivers, domestic servants, daily wage labourers and suchlike.

    Hundreds of thousands of farmers in India have taken their lives since 1997 and many more are experiencing economic distress or have left farming as a result of debt, a shift to (GM) cash crops and economic liberalisation. According to this report, the number of cultivators in India declined from 166 million to 146 million between 2004 and 2011. Some 6,700 left farming each day. Between 2015 and 2022 the number of cultivators is likely to decrease to around 127 million.

    The core problems affecting agriculture centre upon the running down of the sector for decades, the impact of deregulated markets and profiteering corporations (Monsanto and its Bt cotton seeds being just one case in point), increasing debt and lack of proper credit facilities, the withdrawal of government support, spiralling input costs and the effects of cheap, subsidised imports which depress farmers' incomes.

    The root causes of India's agrarian crisis have been well documented, not least by policy analyst Devinder Sharma, who says:
    "India is on fast track to bring agriculture under corporate control. Amending the existing laws on land acquisition, water resources, seed, fertilizer, pesticides and food processing, the government is in an overdrive to usher in contract farming and encourage organized retail. This is exactly as per the advice of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund as well as the international financial institutes."
    From the geopolitical lending strategies of institutions like the World Bank to the opening up of food and agriculture to foreign corporations via WTO rules and the US-India Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture, there is an ongoing strategy to displace the existing system of smallholder cultivation and village-based food production with one suited to the interests of global seed, pesticide, food processing and retail corporations like Monsanto-Bayer, Cargill and Walmart.

    In outlining the nature of the agrarian crisis, P. Sainath encapsulates the drive towards corporate farming in five words: "Predatory commercialization of the countryside." He uses another five words for the outcome (referring to the mass migration from rural India): "The biggest displacement in history."

    By deliberately making agriculture economically non-viable for smallholder farmers (who form the backbone of food production in the country) the aim is to lay the groundwork to fully incorporate India into a fundamentally flawed and wholly exploitative global food regime that is undermining the country's food security and food sovereignty as well as its health, soils, water supply and rural communities.

    Rural India is in crisis. And with hundreds of millions destined to be forced to migrate to cities if current policies persist, the suffering will continue because the urban centres are not generating anything near the required levels of employment to soak up those whose livelihoods are being eradicated in the countryside. Jobless 'growth' haunts India, which is not helped by a global trend towards increasing automation and the impacts of artificial intelligence.

    There are growing calls for liberating farmers from debt and guaranteeing prices/levels of profit above the costs of production. And it is not as though these actions are not possible. It is a question of priorities: the total farm debt is equal to the loans provided to just five large corporations in India.

    Where have those loans gone? A good case has been put forward for arguing that the 2016 'demonetisation' policy was in effect a bail-out for the banks and the corporates, which farmers and other ordinary folk paid the price for. It was a symptom of a country whose GDP growth has been based on a debt-inflated economy (the backbone of neoliberalism across the world). While farmers commit suicide and are heavily indebted, a handful of billionaires get access to cheap money with no pressure to pay it back and with little or no 'added value' for society as a whole.

    The trigger point of the Mandasur farmer's uprising in Central India in 2016, in which six farmers were shot dead was the demonetisation action. It meant that farmers faced a severe crash-crunch on top of all the other misery they faced. This was the last straw. That incident epitomised the fact that agriculture has been starved of investment while corporations have secured handouts. Farmers have been sacrificed on the altar of neoliberal dogma: food has been kept cheap, thereby boosting the disposable income and consumer spending of the urban middle classes, helping to provide the illusion of GDP 'growth' (corporate profit).

    But both urban and rural Indians are increasingly coming together to help place farmers' demands on the national political (and media) agenda. For instance, a volunteer group called Nation for Farmers, comprising people from all walks of life, is in the process of helping to mobilise citizens in support of the All India Kisan Sangharsh Co-ordination Committee's (AIKSCC) march to parliament that is planned for the end of November.

    The AIKSCC is an umbrella group of over 200 farmers' organisations, which is calling for a march to Delhi by farmers, agricultural labourers and other distressed rural Indians from all over the country. The aim is to mobilise up to one million people. A similar march took place early in 2018 from Nashik to Mumbai. This time, however, the aim is to place the issues on the agenda of the nation's parliament.

    On behalf of the AIKSCC, two bills - The Farmers' Freedom from Indebtedness Bill (2018) and The Farmers' Right to Guaranteed Remunerative Minimum Support Prices for Agricultural Commodities Bill (2018) - have already been placed before parliament and are awaiting discussion. While the AIKSCC has focused on ensuring proper minimum support prices for farmers, there is now also the demand for a special 21-day joint session of parliament where the AIKSCC's concerns can be heard.

    To this end, the organisers of the march have written to the President of India Ram Nath Kovind. In their letter, they say that the agrarian crisis has now reached "civilizational proportions".

    They argue:
    ... successive governments have witnessed the destruction of the countryside and the unchecked destitution of farmers and yet little has been done to alleviate their misery. They have witnessed the deepening misery of the dispossessed, including the death by suicide of well over 300,000 farmers these past 20 years.
    The letter makes clear to the president that the AIKSCC is fighting to save the livelihoods of tens of millions of rural Indians and has organised a 'Kisan Mukti March' to Delhi for three days from 28 to 30 November. The president is urged to pay heed to the demand for a special, 21-day joint session of parliament, dedicated entirely to discussing the agrarian crisis and related issues.

    The letter states:
    We request your intervention as the President of the Republic of India and the Constitutional head to ensure that a crisis of this scale that renders 70 percent of Indian citizens vulnerable is addressed by a joint session of the Parliament of this country... Surely the precariousness of the lives of millions of citizens merits the undivided attention of Parliament and thereby its commitment to find enduring solutions.
    A special parliamentary session is called for because - after numerous protests, petitions, pleadings by distressed farmers, labourers, forest communities, fisher folk and the foot soldiers of India's literacy and health care programmes - have failed to garner the attention of successive governments to the agrarian crisis.

    The aim is that any special session on the crisis will be rooted in the testimonies of its victims, who need to be heard from both outside and inside the parliament. The session would enable them to address their fellow citizens and representatives from the floor of the parliament and explain the impact of devastating farming policies, the lack of rural credit and fair prices, and the unbearable violence of privatising water, healthcare and education.

    We can only hope that the media and its well-paid journalists might be galvanised into action too!

    ===========================================

    Once the world's "agriculture" is under the control of multinational corporations... what could possibly go "wrong"?
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    Default Re: The Big Squeeze:

    GM Reportedly Plans to Close Its Factory in Oshawa, Canada, Leaving 2500 Jobless

    Sputnik Business

    13:59 26.11.2018
    (updated 14:38 26.11.2018)



    GM’s operations are a significant part of economic growth and jobs in the city, long considered to be Canada’s motor city.

    General Motors Canada will be announcing the closure of all operations in Oshawa, Canada on 26 November, multiple anonymous sources told CTV News Toronto. If the report is true, the move will affect at least some 2,500 workers, plus others in related spheres, such as auto parts productions.

    Unifor, a union, which represents workers at the GM plant, said in a statement that it received a notification from GM about an upcoming major announcement regarding the Oshawa plant, which is to take place on 26 November. Unifor doesn't know the details of the announcement, but noted that no product production has been planned at the plant beyond December 2019. The union promised to comment further on the matter, once it obtains all the details during the meeting with GM representatives, planned on the same day as the announcement.


    © REUTERS / Rebecca Cook

    Oshawa's Mayor, John Henry, expressed hope that the report about a looming plant closure is 'just a rumour' and noted that there had been no 'heads up' for the city or the region regarding GM's move.

    One of Oshawa's MPs, Jennifer French called the report 'gravely concerning' and urged the provincial government to fight to save the over 100-year-old plant. She was joined by Colin Carrie, Canadian member of parliament, who said the report was 'very concerning' and noted that the alleged move could affect the 'economic wellbeing' of Oshawa's residents.

    A spokesperson for GM has declined to comment on the report.

    Many netizens were infuriated by the report, which has yet to be confirmed. They recalled how the Ontario government had helped GM Canada out with bailout money almost 10 years ago…

    … and that by 2017 the company still hadn't paid back all the loans.

    Some social media users urged to boycott GM's cars in response.

    Still, several Twitterians suggested that GM was not the only one to be blamed and noted that the government could do more to save the plant.

    Others suggested though, that the closed plant could be refitted for another business that recently received a boost in the country due to new legislation.

    The plant of General Motors Canada has long been the key employer and economic driver of Oshawa. With plant's history goes back to 1876, when it was known as the McLaughlin Carriage Company, the automobile industry became the Canadian city's calling card much like that of Detroit in the US. To this day, a significant part of jobs and economic growth in the city are tied to GM's operations.


    Related:
    General Motors Dumps India for Chinese, Southern American Markets


    Trump's 'Make America Great Again' Takes a Hit as GM Decreases US Manufacturing


    General Motors Targets 2019 for Launch of Sales of Self-Driving Cars in US
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    Default Re: The Big Squeeze:

    Trucking recession: heavy-duty truck orders collapse, production slashed, cancellation orders soar

    Tyler Durden ZeroHedge
    Sat, 07 Sep 2019 08:45 UTC


    New reports from the trucking industry show the transportation recession continues to gain momentum through the end of summer, likely to continue through 2019 into 2020.

    The US trucking industry had a blockbuster year in 2018, as high demand for freight allowed transportation companies to expand fleets. But since freight demand was artificial, sparked by importers pulling forward to get ahead of tariffs, the good times were destined to end and end rather sharply.

    The Institute for Supply Management's purchasing managers index plunged to 49.1 in August, the first time a contraction has been seen since 2016. Prints below 50 suggest the manufacturing economy is shrinking. Data also showed new orders dropped to a seven-year low, while the production index hit 2015 lows.

    A transportation/manufacturing recession is developing, but it didn't start overnight. The first signs of a slowdown began last summer when freight rates peaked last June, and have since collapsed 20% through this year, reported The Wall Street Journal.
    "There are more trucks than there are loads now," said Kyle Kottke, general manager for Kottke Trucking Inc. in Buffalo Lake, Minn.
    Production for new trucks is still elevated, as manufacturers fulfill orders placed last year, but new purchases and production volumes are starting to weaken.

    According to ACT Research, heavy-duty truck orders from the four largest truck makers in North America (Daimler Trucks North America, Paccar, Volvo Trucks USA, and Navistar International) collapsed 80% in July YoY. Orders in June plunged 69% from a year earlier.



    As heavy-duty truck orders collapse, suppliers, such as ones who produce transmissions have predicted that the outlook for sales this year will be horrible.

    XL Specialized Trailers, a manufacturer of specialized trailers for hauling heavy things, has warned that in the last three months, orders have plummeted.
    "We are planning for 2020 that is not going to be as good," said Stuart Sleper, president of XL Specialized Trailers.
    ACT Research stressed that last year's surge in trucking demand has led to overcapacity for the industry, could depress freight rates for the next several years. About 6% more capacity was brought online last year, or about 90,000 heavy-duty trucks. Production of heavy-duty trucks could reach 350,000 vehicles this year, the second-highest level since 2006.

    ACT Research expects heavy-duty trucks to decline to about 238,000 vehicles next year, a production level that is more in line normal years.
    "It would not take much of a weaker [gross domestic product] to send the truck industry down more," said Don Ake, vice president of commercial vehicles at transportation-equipment research group FTR.
    Ake said that manufacturers have already notified suppliers about future production cuts beginning this quarter. He expects other truck manufacturers to start slashing production by 20% by the end of the fourth quarter from current levels.



    Order cancellations have already started to surge as freight companies are beginning to realize the overcapacity crisis.

    Dave de Poincy, president of East Manufacturing, said the company's trailer cancellation rate jumped to 8% in late summer, compared with an average of around 1%. He expects production of trailers to drop 20% later this year.
    "They don't need any more trailers right now," he said. "The flatbed industry is a real indicator of economic health."
    What's new in this report is that production cuts of heavy-duty trucks and trailers are starting as cancellation requests soar — couple this with a transportation/manufacturing recession, and the increasing possibilities of a full-blown recession could be as early as next year.


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