Illinois Experiences ‘Summer Of The Pink Slip’

On the heels of recent Survival And Prosperity posts (August 18 and 19) about Illinois not being as business-friendly as it could be comes this doozy from the Chicago Tribune website Saturday morning. Complete with headline:

Layoffs could spell more trouble for Illinois

This may be remembered as the Summer of the Pink Slip in Illinois, which already lags behind its Midwestern neighbors when it comes to job growth.

Thousands of layoffs across the Chicago area range from factory jobs at the Mondelez plant on Chicago’s Southwest Side to white-collar jobs at Walgreens’ Deerfield headquarters. The Mondelez layoffs reflect its efforts to cut costs by shifting positions to more efficient operations in Mexico, but most of the recent cuts have resulted from the elimination of redundant jobs following mergers.

It’s a boom year for mergers and acquisitions activity, commonly referred to as M&A, and the job cuts tend to benefit shareholders of the acquired companies. But the silver lining is harder to find for Illinois, which has been grappling with its own enormous fiscal problems…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“Summer of the Pink Slip.” Nice.

Greg Trotter went on to talk more about the relationship between layoffs and M&A activity in the state, as well as Illinois appearing to have the worst job growth performance of any Midwest state (Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago). You can read the entire piece on the Tribune website here (registration required to access).

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Monday, August 31st, 2015 Business, Employment No Comments

The Survival Podcast’s Jack Spirko Thinks Coming Recession Is Not The ‘Big One’

I recently listened to an episode of The Survival Podcast (named a “Resource Of The Week” back in March 2011) that really caught my attention. Modern survivalist and host Jack Spirko wrote in the intro to episode 1608 (July 21, 2015), “The Next Recession or the One that Never Went Away?” on The Survival Podcast website:

Officially the recession of 08-09 ended in late 09, or 6 years ago, well, typically we never make it 10 years in the best of times with out at least a minor recession. The questions at this point are not is a recession coming and will it effect us, they are when will it get here and how badly will it effect us…

The big question for most preppers is, “Is this the big one”. My gut is no. Keep in mind I said “the big one would be after after a false recovery, a marked drop in unemployment and likely to occur in late 2015 to mid 2016″, as long ago as 2009 when many were claiming that recession was “the big one”. So why do I now disagree with myself, tune in today to find out, and to find out why not the big one, doesn’t really mean, “not so bad”.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Actually, Spirko has suspected the next recession wouldn’t be the “big one” for some time now. I blogged about episode 1127 (May 9, 2013), “Risk Assessments and Readiness Audits,” back on May 22, 2013, where the modern survivalist said:

And sooner or later we are going to get to a point where inflation, the devaluation of money, the ridiculous level of debt and the interest there on it, do their full-scale, whole cancer-style damage, eat the patient from the inside, and we wake up to terminal financial illness as a nation.

But that’s not happening tomorrow. That’s not happening next year. That’s not even happening in the next 5 years. There could be recessions and things in the middle. But that day is probably at this point 10 years into the future or more.

And I don’t claim to be Nostradamus. I don’t know the exact timeline. I can just do math and can say with mathematical certainty this system at some point must fail.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Spirko laid out what needs to be done now in his July 21 show. He advised:

We need to, I think at this point, assess our preps for hard financial times, more than anything else right now. I’m not talking about economic collapse, I’m talking about economic struggle. Everybody’s waiting for economic collapse, no one understands we’re standing in the middle of it. We’re standing in the middle of it…

Buck up your preps guys. Get ready for tougher times ahead…

The United States economy does not have to collapse for your personal economy to collapse. Nine million people found that out the hard way last time. Be prepared this time. Be prepared. Prepare to feed yourself, clothe yourself, take care of yourself, provide for your own security. Start thinking about the efficiencies of your energy usage, and get very, very diverse with your skill set, your knowledge, your ability to earn income. That’s how you prepare for what’s coming.

Somber stuff. You can listen to episode 1608 via The Survival Podcast website here.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s note: I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein)

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Chicago’s Financial, Job Woes Highlighted In Huffington Post Piece

Chicago-area readers are probably getting sick of my negative posts about Chicago, Cook County, and Illinois. I don’t like blogging about all the bad news either. However, I feel compelled to point out the massive challenges facing the city, county, and state I was born in and continue to love in an attempt to help turn them around (unlikely at this point), or at least assist residents survive these entities slamming into that proverbial brick wall (much more probable).

That being said, this past weekend I came across an interesting article about a number of Chicago’s woes by local journalist Hilary Gowins. While there’s plenty of dreadful material being written about the “Windy City” these days, what made Gowins’ piece particularly “interesting” is where it can be found- on The Huffington Post website. From the often left-leaning (in my opinion) online news aggregator and blog:

Behind a veneer of affluence, gilded by the prosperity and staying power of neighborhoods such as the Gold Coast, River North and Lincoln Park, the city’s foundation is crumbling beneath the weight of perilous debt. Chicago and its sister governments are officially on the hook for more than $32 billion in unfunded pension debt. With just over a million households in the city, that staggering figure means each Chicago household is on the hook for $32,000 to cover these liabilities. Chicago’s pension debt exceeds the state’s total proposed operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

At the same time the city’s obligations are skyrocketing, its population is growing at a snail’s pace, gaining just 6,000 residents in 2013 after a decade of population decline. With 2.7 million residents as of 2013, Chicago’s population is the same as it was in 1920

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Gowins added this as well:

But today, despite activity on the tech front, job opportunities are scarce. The Chicago area has 46,000 fewer people working compared to before the Great Recession, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

There’s plenty of people around these parts who would be quick to blow smoke up your behind and tell you the economy in Chicagoland area and beyond is in full-blown recovery, and quit worrying about the larger financial picture.

Sorry, but the numbers (such as the above) show otherwise.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)


Gowins, Hilary. “Chicago’s Problems Run Much Deeper Than a 76-foot Hole.” The Huffington Post. 1 May 2015. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/hilary-gowins/chicagos-problems-run-muc_b_7131348.html?ncid=txtlnkusaolp00000592). 5 May 2015.

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Chicago Should Prepare For Baltimore-Style Civil Unrest

Have any readers been following what’s been going on in Baltimore as it concerns the protests and riots over the death of Freddie Gray?

Do Chicago-area readers think such civil strife could happen here someday?

It’s happened before. And considering the potential flash points that currently exist (ongoing racial tension, limited economic opportunities in lower class neighborhoods, growing divide between the economic/political elite and everyone else) which could be sparked by intense financial pain as the business cycle inevitably turns down and/or some crisis, I think it could definitely happen again. I’m not the only one. Early Tuesday I was watching the WGN morning news when Corey Brooks, Senior Pastor at New Beginnings Church of Chicago, came on. The South Side reverend advised:

I’m hoping and praying that it never happens in Chicago. But it would be best if we would prepare.

“But it would be best if we would prepare”

Amen to that.

“Chicago Pastor Corey Brooks headed to Baltimore to help stand against violence”
WGN News Video

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Thinking Of Illinois’ Financial Woes While In Wisconsin

Saturday morning while working on projects around my family’s place in Wisconsin, something I read earlier in the week came to mind. Steven Malanga wrote on The Fiscal Times website on March 30:

Illinois officials… are awaiting a ruling from the state’s Supreme Court on a suit by workers seeking to overturn the legislature’s 2013 pension reforms. If the court, which has previously refused to allow any changes to retirement plans for retirees or current workers, throws out the reforms, Illinois will face $145 billion in higher taxes over the next three decades just to pay off the debt, according to a report by the Civic Committee of Chicago.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“Illinois will face $145 billion in higher taxes…”

I don’t recall hearing/seeing that figure being used before, so I decided to track it back to the source. From an October 9, 2014, press release from the Civic Committee:

The “What If?” initiative identifies some of the consequences that could result from an overturn of the pension law, including:

$145 billion in higher taxes and service cuts over 30 years
• Highest property taxes in the nation
• 41¢ of Big Three state tax dollars devoted to pensions, up from 8¢ in 2007
• A possible $2,500 tuition spike at the University of Illinois
• Severe cuts to K-12 education, leading to as many as 13,000 teacher layoffs
• Critical meltdown of social services, including the end of child care for 41,000 kids and 21,000 seniors losing in-home care

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

That’s a pretty scary picture being painted. The accompanying “What If?” brochure does a good job at accomplishing that. Consider some of these additional forecasts being made:

• 64,000 jobs lost
• $375 average property tax increase
• $3,000-plus in state taxes per household

The brochure didn’t indicate how all this was computed.

However, if conditions in the “Land of Lincoln” deteriorate to such a point, Wisconsin is where I’ll likely stay for good. Regular readers might recall that I’ve mentioned my permanent address being a Wisconsin one in the future.

You can read that entire press release/learn more about their “What If?” initiative on the Civic Committee website here.

While I support public pension reform in Illinois, I’m just not convinced what’s been put into play (passed into law) is the best way of going about it.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)


Malanga, Steven. “Outrageous public pensions could bankrupt these states.” The Fiscal Times. 30 Mar. 2015. (http://finance.yahoo.com/news/outrageous-public-pensions-could-bankrupt-172700274.html). 5 Apr. 2015.

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Lord Rothschild Warns ‘Geopolitical Situation Perhaps As Dangerous As Any We Have Faced Since World War II’

Jacob Rothschild, or 4th Baron Rothschild Bt, OM, GBE, FBA, as he’s known across “the pond,” has issued a warning to investors in RIT Capital Partners, an investment trust chaired by the 78-year-old banker. Lord Rothschild wrote in the £2.3 billion trust’s 2014 annual report (Report & Accounts for the year ended 31 December 2014) under “Chairman’s Statement”:

Our policy has been clearly expressed over the years. Simply put, it is to deliver long-term capital growth while preserving shareholders’ capital; the realization of this policy comes at a time of heightened risk, complexity and uncertainty. The economic and geopolitical environment therefore becomes increasingly difficult to predict.

The world economy grew at a disappointing and uneven rate in 2014 after six years of monetary stimulus and extraordinarily low interest rates. Stock market valuations however, are near an all-time high with equities benefiting from quantitative easing. Not surprisingly, the value of paper money has been debased as countries have sought to compete and generate growth by lowering the value of their currencies – the Euro and the Yen depreciated by over 12% against the US Dollar during the course of the year and Sterling by 5.9%. The unintended consequences of monetary experiments on such a scale are impossible to predict.

In addition to this difficult economic background, we are confronted by a geopolitical situation perhaps as dangerous as any we have faced since World War II: chaos and extremism in the Middle East, Russian aggression and expansion, and a weakened Europe threatened by horrendous unemployment, in no small measure caused by a failure to tackle structural reforms in many of the countries which form part of the European Union.

However, in a world of zero or even negative bond yields, equities may well remain the destination of choice for investors. Furthermore, the majority of companies are reporting profits exceeding forecasts together with steady earnings growth. In Europe, the combination of a more competitive Euro, an aggressive programme of quantitative easing and the yields available on equities, may well lead to even higher valuations…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

In 2012, it was reported the elder member of the Rothschild banking family took a $200 million position against the euro.

You can read the entire report on RIT Capital Partners website here (.pdf format).

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s note: I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein)

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Obama Taunts Republicans On Economy: ‘The Sky Hasn’t Fallen, Chicken Little Is Quiet’

Back when I was running this blog’s predecessor, Boom2Bust.com, “The Most Hated Blog On Wall Street,” I remember coming across a number of infamous statements made prior to and during the Great Depression by leaders in government, finance, and industry of the day. For example, as Fox News cataloged back on October 26, 2009:

“We will not have any more crashes in our time.” – John Maynard Keynes (1927)

“There is no cause to worry. The high tide of prosperity will continue.” – Andrew W. Mellon, Secretary of the Treasury. (September 1929)

“There may be a recession in stock prices, but not anything in the nature of a crash.” – Irving Fisher, Leading U.S. Economist, New York Times (Sept. 5, 1929)

“This crash is not going to have much effect on business.” – Arthur Reynolds, Chairman of Continental Illinois Bank of Chicago (October 24, 1929)

October 24, 1929, eventually became known in the history books as “Black Thursday,” when “the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 11% at the open in very heavy volume, precipitating the Wall Street crash of 1929 and the subsequent Great Depression of the 1930s,” according to Investopedia.com.

Right before the weekend, the White House published a press release on their website containing a transcript of U.S. President Barack Obama’s remarks Friday at the Democratic National Committee’s Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C. From that document:

I just want everybody to remember that at every step as we made policies, as we made this progress, we were told by our good friends, the Republicans, that our actions would crush jobs, and explode deficits, and destroy the country. I mean, I want everybody to do a fact-check — (laughter) — and go back to 2009, 2010, ’11, ’12, ’13 — just go back and look at the statements that were made each year by these folks about all these policies. Because apparently they don’t remember. (Laughter.)

And now that their grand predictions of doom and gloom, and death panels and Armageddon haven’t come true — (laughter) — the sky hasn’t fallen, Chicken Little is quiet — (laughter)

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Something tells me this remark- akin to calling the outcome of a baseball game while it’s still in the early innings- will end up in the U.S. history books as well down the road, under that section entitled “Second Great Depression.”

“Let’s play two!” No thanks, Mr. Banks.

To be fair, President Obama isn’t entirely responsible for the coming financial crash. The actions of both sides of the political aisle through the decades have made the approaching “financial reckoning day” possible- and likely- in America.

You can read the complete transcript of President Obama’s speech on the White House website here.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)


“False Hope: Famous Quotes During the Great Depression.” FoxNews.com. 26 Oct. 2009. (http://www.foxnews.com/story/2009/10/26/false-hope-famous-quotes-during-great-depression/). 22 Feb. 2015.

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Robert Kiyosaki: 2002 Prediction Of Huge Stock Market Crash Next Year ‘Holding Course’

“‘Rich Dad’s Prophecy’- [Robert Kiyosaki’s] most recent book- predicts that the market will crash around 2016 when the oldest Baby Boomers start cashing out their 401(k) plans. Individuals whose savings are locked into 401(k) plans will suffer because these retirement plans, aren’t flexible and don’t do well in a bear market…”

-CNN.com, October 30, 2002

How many readers out there know who Robert Kiyosaki is? The American entrepreneur, educator, and investor was quite popular back in the early 2000s. I first encountered him while watching public television around that time, sharing financial and investment strategies taught to him by his rich “Dad” and found in his 2000 New York Times best-selling book Rich Dad Poor Dad. Kiyosaki went on to write a number of books, including Rich Dad’s Prophecy in 2002.

Last Tuesday, Robert Kiyosaki appeared on the Alex Jones Show. Kiyosaki talked about his new book, Second Chance, and other subjects, including a certain prediction made about the U.S. stock market next year. From their exchange:

JONES: The world is just crazy at this point. Give us your prognosis for the planet. There’s obviously opportunities for those of us that are studying it. I mean, I going to do better probably than ever as things get worse. But I’m not happy about that, because I know it’s hurting the average person.
KIYOSAKI: Amen. Alex, I would say exactly the same thing. It doesn’t make me happy that I’m getting richer and richer, and I see my friends getting poorer and poorer. I’m very concerned right now about my generation- the Baby Boom generation, the biggest generation in history. And they bought that program of put all your money in a 401(k) and invest for the long term. Now, I wrote a book called Rich Dad’s Prophecy back in 2002. That was 13 years ago. And I said the biggest stock market crash in the history of the world was coming in 2016. I was kind of guessing. But unfortunately, I didn’t write it to be right. I wrote it out of concern. If I’m correct that in 2002 what I said the biggest market crash was coming in 2016, that means millions and millions of Baby Boomers, their kids, their grandkids, will feel the effect of that when their retirement savings are wiped out. I hope I’m wrong. But so far, my numbers look accurate and it’s holding course right now. So I don’t write because I want to be rich or poke fun or want to be righteous. I am rather concerned about my fellow citizens.

“But so far, my numbers look accurate and it’s holding course right now.”

Disturbing. Kiyosaki added later on in the interview:

I’m just concerned about this possible- I hope it doesn’t happen- but if my “rich Dad” was correct, again, published in 2002 Rich Dad’s Prophecy predicted the biggest crash in the history of the world was coming in 2016. And that’s why I wrote Rich Dad Poor Dad, that’s why I speak, that’s why I write, that’s why I take on the media. But I’m very concerned for my [fellow] citizens. Look, Alex, what happens? Let’s say I’m right- hopefully I’m not. And millions of Baby Boomers lose their pensions, their homes, their jobs- they lose everything. What is the ripple effect throughout the world going to mean to that? We’ve never been here before. Never before has the U.S. dollar, one currency, been the reserve currency of the world- and we’re printing it. The Europeans are printing, Japanese are printing. And you’ve got to look at this and go, “This is not good.” So that’s my concern right now.

“Great Economic Collapse & Currency Meltdown Is Coming
Says Financier Robert Kiyosaki”
YouTube Video

So how is Robert Kiyosaki going to fend off the crisis he still sees coming? While taking phone calls from listeners, Kiyosaki revealed:

I like silver personally. I love gold. I have a lot of gold and silver.

Further insight was provided right before the holidays, when Eve Fisher of The Sydney Morning Herald reported:

“The world is in very serious trouble and the next 20 years will not be like the past two decades,” says Kiyosaki, who predicted the downfall of Lehman Brothers investment bank in 2008 and the ensuing GFC.

“I foresee a global currency crash, like the one that ruined Germany in the 1920s, which will wipe out the poor and the middle class – as the rich get richer.

“People will see that money and shares are not real wealth, just paper, and the way to survive is by acquiring assets – like property, resources, gold and other precious metals.”

Farmers will benefit as land and food become highly valued commodities, he says…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s note: I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein)


Fisher, Eve. “Robert Kiyosaki says to prepare for the worst.” The Sydney Morning Herald. 10 Nov. 2014. (http://www.smh.com.au/business/robert-kiyosaki-says-to-prepare-for-the-worst-20141111-11jyhr.html). 21 Feb. 2015.

Robert Kiyosaki’s latest book…

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Potential Blowback From Chicago’s Minimum Wage Hike

In case you haven’t heard, the City of Chicago just approved a minimum wage hike for all workers in the city. From the Mayor’s Press Office on December 2:

Mayor Emanuel, City Council Approve Ordinance to Increase Minimum Wage in Chicago to $13 by 2019

City Council today passed an ordinance that will raise the minimum wage for all Chicago workers to $13 per hour by 2019. This measure, sponsored by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Alderman Will Burns, Alderman Pat O’Connor and 31 other aldermen, will increase the earnings for approximately 410,000 Chicago workers, inject $860 million into the local economy, and lift 70,000 workers out of poverty…

On December 1, Mayor Emanuel and a group of Aldermen introduced a substitute ordinance based off of Senator Kimberly Lightford’s bill that gets the City of Chicago to a $10 minimum wage in roughly seven months, an $11 minimum wage by 2017, and to a final minimum wage of $13 by 2019, plus inflation increases after 2019.

Personally, I interpret the hike as merely an election-year ploy to help Rahm Emanuel and the siting aldermen in the upcoming February 24, 2015, Municipal General Election in Chicago. Consider the following from Joseph Erbentraut on the Huffington Post website Tuesday:

The fast-tracked plan, one of three wage-increase proposals considered by city officials this week, is backed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in what some critics say is a political move designed to win favor with left-leaning Chicago voters ahead of the February 2015 mayoral election

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

While it’s nice to think a number of Chicago workers will be getting raises, the potential blowback could be significant. And Chicago residents may be on the receiving end. Back on June 22, 2014, I was reading the latest issue of The Sovereign Society’s weekly electronic publication the Sovereign Digest. Jeff Opdyke and Erika Nolan commented on the nationwide push for minimum wage hikes. They noted:

All over the country, unwise politicians are pushing a misguided “living wage” agenda that’s driving minimum wages higher. Seattle, for instance, just recently approved a $15-per-hour minimum, which is already biting the city in the butt in two ways. First, as I and anyone with two brain cells to rub together rightly pointed out, companies are finding that low-level managers now want pay raises, too, to rightly keep their pay commensurately above the people they’re managing. Doh! And other companies are imposing a “living wage tax” on consumers to cover the rising labor costs. As both of those trends spread — and they will — a form of inflation creeps into the system more broadly.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

As the above relates to the “Windy City”- Chicagoans should be prepared to pay higher prices for certain items/services.

There’s one more way Chicago residents may be impacted directly and adversely by the minimum wage hike. Sparing readers the simple economics involved with Tuesday’s action down at City Hall, a number of Chicago business owners- realizing now or later the disadvantage they’re at compared to competitors outside city limits- will be shuttering their stores shortly or down the road- either by choice or not- as a result of this hike.

Shuttered businesses= lost revenue via fees/taxes for the City

Something else to chew on. The country is just about due for an economic recession (against which the government and Fed have mostly run out of “bullets” due to the economic crisis late last decade). Forcing raises on a number of Chicago businesses still smarting from the so-called “Great Recession” could be a death sentence for them.

As for those workers in the city who will supposedly benefit from the minimum wage hike? Regrettably, pink slips could be a real possibility for a number of them.

In summary, there’s a good chance the City of Chicago, Chicago residents, and minimum wage workers in the city are ultimately going to get stung by Tuesday’s political theater. And the pain could be coming sooner than later. Just don’t expect City Hall and their friends in the mainstream media to publicize the debacle if/when it goes down.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)


Erbentraut, Joseph. “Chicago City Council Approves Plan For $13 Minimum Wage Despite Opposition.” Huffington Post. 2 Dec. 2014. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/02/chicago-minimum-wage_n_6255436.html). 3 Dec. 2014.

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Global Economy Flashes Warning Signals

I’m picking up on a growing number of “bad vibes” about the global economy these days.

First, Rich Miller reported on the Bloomberg website Thursday about the findings of the latest Bloomberg Global Poll of international investors:

The world economy is in its worst shape in two years, with the euro area and emerging markets deteriorating and the danger of deflation rising, according to a Bloomberg Global Poll of international investors.

A plurality of 38 percent of those surveyed this week described the global economy as worsening, more than double the number who said that in the last poll in July and the most since September 2012, when Europe was mired in a recession.

Much of the concern is again focused on the euro area: Almost two-thirds of those polled said its economy was weakening…

Europe isn’t the only source of concern in the global economy, according to the quarterly poll of 510 investors, traders and analysts who are Bloomberg subscribers. More than half of those contacted said conditions in the BRIC economies — Brazil, Russia, India and China — are getting worse, compared with 36 percent who said so in July.

(Editor: Bold added for emphasis)

Granted, it’s just a poll. But there’s also this from British Prime Minister David Cameron in a piece he penned that was published on The Guardian (UK) website Sunday:

Six years on from the financial crash that brought the world to its knees, red warning lights are once again flashing on the dashboard of the global economy.

As I met world leaders at the G20 in Brisbane, the problems were plain to see. The eurozone is teetering on the brink of a possible third recession, with high unemployment, falling growth and the real risk of falling prices too. Emerging markets, which were the driver of growth in the early stages of the recovery, are now slowing down. Despite the progress in Bali, global trade talks have stalled while the epidemic of Ebola, conflict in the Middle East and Russia’s illegal actions in Ukraine are all adding a dangerous backdrop of instability and uncertainty…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Cameron added the following, which I thought was pretty funny (disturbing?):

When we faced similar problems in recent years, too many politicians offered easy answers, thinking we could spend, borrow and tax our way to prosperity. Those were the wrong answers then; they are the wrong answers now. We are not going to repeat the mistakes of the past…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Sound like any country you know?

Finally, exacerbating fears about global economic health was the following “shock” announcement. Mitsuru Obe and Eleanor Warnock reported on The Wall Street Journal website this morning:

Japan Falls Into Recession

Japan’s economy shrank for a second quarter in a row, after a sales-tax increase took the steam out of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ’s bid to turn Japan into a global model of revival.

Mr. Abe, who has sought to revive the world’s third-largest economy after two mostly sluggish decades, is set to announce this week that he will delay plans to raise the nation’s sales tax next year and call elections in December…

“Two mostly sluggish decades”

Some really bright financial-types suspect Japan’s so-called “zombie economy” is what’s ultimately in store for America. While I have no doubt about a coming U.S. economic crash, I remain somewhat more optimistic for the country’s prospects upon emerging from the coming carnage.

Stay tuned…

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)


Cameron, David. “David Cameron: Red lights are flashing on the global economy.” The Guardian. 16 Nov. 2014. (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/nov/16/red-lights-global-economy-david-cameron). 17 Nov. 2014.

Miller, Rich. “World Economy Worst in Two Years, Europe Darkening, Deflation Lurking: Global Investor Poll.” Bloomberg.com. 13 Nov. 2014. (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-11-13/world-outlook-darkening-as-89-in-poll-see-europe-deflation-risk.html). 17 Nov. 2014.

Obe, Mitsuru and Warnock, Eleanor. “Japan Falls Into Recession.” The Wall Street Journal. 17 Nov. 2014. (http://online.wsj.com/articles/japan-falls-into-recession-1416182404). 17 Nov. 2014.

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Illinois State Lawmakers To ‘Fix’ $100 Billion Public Pension Crisis Tuesday?

Tuesday looks to be an important day for the future of Illinois.

State lawmakers may vote on legislation to “fix” a well-publicized $100 billion public pension crisis. Rick Pearson and Bob Secter wrote on the Chicago Tribune website yesterday:

Illinois lawmakers return to Springfield on Tuesday to consider an agreement struck by legislative leaders that aims to fix the state’s massive government worker pension as Senate Democrats have become the focal point for intensive lobbying efforts…

The pension vote is shaping up to be one of the most important votes of lawmakers’ careers, with senators and representatives forced to decide which is better for their political self-interest: Backing up their powerful leaders or siding with the re-election might of public employee unions.

At stake is Illinois’ $100 billion pension shortfall that affects teachers outside Chicago, public university employees and state government workers. The worst-in-the-nation deficit is gobbling up tax money that otherwise could go to education and other programs, and has resulted in Illinois holding the lowest credit rating among the states. Illinois’ pension problem also is being blamed in part for the state’s struggling economy and high unemployment.

The agreement leaders reached the day before Thanksgiving aims at saving the state $160 billon over 30 years to get the pension systems fully funded, largely by limiting annual cost-of-living increases and raising the retirement age while also requiring the state to put its share of money into the system.

Not surprisingly, beneficiaries of the current setup aren’t too happy with these rapidly-unfolding developments. Francine Knowles reported on the Chicago Sun-Times website yesterday:

Details of the pension deal reached by four House and Senate leaders and headed for a vote this week have supporters and critics in full-court press mode.

Union leaders, who are blasting the agreement, say their members will bombard lawmakers Monday, urging them to kill the proposed bill that could ultimately slash $160 billion from the state’s future pension liabilities and improve Illinois’ damaged creditworthiness.

Opponents of the yet-to-be-seen legislation will argue that it’s unconstitutional, among other things. Pearson and Secter added:

Any final package approved by the legislature and governor faces an almost certain legal challenge. Critics will go into court armed with a provision of the 1970 Illinois Constitution that defines pension benefits as “an enforceable contractual relationship” that “shall not be diminished or impaired.”

I’m not sure what to make of all this yet, except that the present course the State is on concerning public sector pensions is unsustainable (costing taxpayers $5 million a day as I noted back on October 21) and that any legislation passed will probably end up being legally contested.

More Wednesday…


Pearson, Rick and Secter, Bob. “Senate Democrats under the gun on proposed pension fix.” Chicago Tribune. 30 Nov. 2013. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-illinois-pension-reform-met-1201-20131201,0,7850446.story). 1 Dec. 2013.

Knowles, Francine. “Pension deal faces pushback from unions; backers pursue votes.” Chicago Sun-Times. 30 Nov. 2013. (http://www.suntimes.com/24073242-761/pension-deal-faces-pushback-from-unions-backers-pursue-votes.html). 1 Dec. 2013.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Illinois Public Sector ‘Double-Dipping’ Targeted

“Double-dipping.” When public sector public employees draw a public paycheck while at the same time drawing a public pension.

Back when I as a civil servant, not only did I see this taking place, but suspected the arrangement would come under fire one of these days.

As Main Street’s finances eroded significantly after the economic crisis reared its ugly head five years ago, more grumbling was heard over the practice. I blogged back on April 4, 2011:

An employment arrangement I witnessed during my days as a civil servant is coming under increased fire these days. Bloomberg’s David Mildenberg wrote on March 29:

With U.S. unemployment averaging 8.9 percent, so-called double-dipping by tens of thousands of government workers nationwide is drawing increasing scrutiny.

Lawmakers from coast to coast are taking steps to curb the practice as states face combined deficits projected at $112 billion and unfunded pension liabilities of as much as $3 trillion.

Arkansas banned double-dipping by state workers last month, while bills to curb it are pending before lawmakers in Olympia, Washington, and Trenton, New Jersey.

And then there’s Illinois, where double-dipping is still permitted in a state saddled with a nearly $100 billion unfunded public pension liability.

Perhaps for not much longer though.

Enter Illinois State Representative Jack D. Franks (D-Woodstock). Representative Franks has introduced Illinois House Bill 3760, the “Retirement Means Retirement Act,” on November 14. Natasha Korecki reported on the Chicago Sun-Times website today:

[Representative Franks] says the legislation would address anyone — from state lawmakers to school superintendents to those in law enforcement who retire from one public job because they’ve maxed out on their pension, then take another public job as they begin to draw pension benefits.

Franks pointed to school superintendents and police chiefs who retire on a Friday only to return the following Monday with a new title, new salary — and drawing a pension— all while staying in the same office.

“I see a lot of people who retire and just end up in another government job shortly thereafter,” Franks told the Sun-Times. “That’s not what this system was designed for, but it’s a major loophole that they’re able to exploit… We’re going after the abusers — and we know who we’re talking about. Some of these guys make more than the president in retirement.”

Supporters of “double-dipping” argue that someone has to be hired to fill the job opening, so it might as well be the best qualified candidate applying for the position- which in many cases is the new retiree.

Reading over the proposed legislation, “double-dipping” looks to be prohibited only going forward. Illinois public sector retirees who are already participating in such an arrangement appear to be safe.

For now, at least.

You can find out more about Illinois House Bill 3670 on the Illinois General Assembly website here.


Korecki, Natasha. “Public pension and salary ‘double-dippers’ targeted in new bill.” Chicago Sun-Times. 19 Nov. 2013. (http://www.suntimes.com/23845706-761/public-pension-and-salary-double-dippers-targeted-in-new-bill.html). 19 Nov. 2013.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Farewell, Illinois Businesses And Jobs

One topic I particularly “harp on” in Survival And Prosperity is the continued erosion of business-friendly conditions in the state of Illinois.

Whether it be a misguided anti-Constitution, anti-Bill of Rights crusade that drives off gun manufacturers and their workers or a 46 percent corporate income tax hike that was implemented at the beginning of 2011, parochial-minded politicians in control of the state are scaring away prospective and existing businesses and jobs.

Thankfully, it’s not just me that recognizes the nonsense that’s going on. From my Sunday paper this morning:

Scott Stantis
Chicago Tribune
Oct 19, 2013

By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Jim Rogers: ‘Possible That Gold Will Go To Between 900 and 1,000’

On September 18, investor, author, and financial commentator Jim Rogers chatted with host Lauren Lyster of Yahoo! Finance’s The Daily Ticker. Gold was one of the topics they discussed. From their exchange:

LYSTER: What about gold? Because you were dead on. You said gold could go to 1,200, gold could go to 1,100, it’s a 12-year bull market, that’s not normal. It did exactly that. It went to about 1,200. Now it’s above 13. Where do you think it goes though? Because you also said that it really needed to shake out all the faithful diehards. That it can go as low as 900- a 50 percent correction wouldn’t bee abnormal. So do you think gold still has a lot lower to go?
ROGERS: Well, I’m delighted you remember. My goodness. Wow, I’m very impressed. Yes, I have not bought gold- yet. I mean, I bought a little bit when it was at 1,200, in case. But, in my view, it’s likely, it’s probable, it’s even, well let’s say, possible that gold will go to between 900 and 1,000. If it does, if it does, I hope I’m smart enough to buy a lot more.

Lyster went on to say:

A lot of the bearish predictions that had people buying gold haven’t played out and don’t seem to be on the horizon anymore.

Regrettably, it sounds like Lyster has been partaking in the Kool-Aid being doled out by the politicians and central bankers.

Based on a waffling “recovery” marked by a federal funds rate still near zero, years of trillion-dollar federal budget deficits, a $16.7 trillion federal borrowing limit being reached, significant part-time as opposed to full-time national job creation, an unemployment rate falling because Americans are giving up looking for work, and the Fed’s refusal to take away the punch bowl just yet and sustain the massive money printing going on, one could argue that gold’s fundamentals not only remain intact, but keep getting stronger.

“Bearish predictions… haven’t played out and don’t seem to be on the horizon anymore.” Hogwash. The threats to our economy and larger financial system that made themselves known during the “Panic of ’08 still linger on 5 years later and have never been resolved- only papered-over for the time being.

“Gold Rallies on Fed’s Taper Delay: Jim Rogers Forecasts a Drop to $900 Ahead”
Yahoo! Finance Video

By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

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Chicago-Area Unemployment Rate Rises To 9.7 Percent In July

There was good and bad news yesterday for the Chicago metro area concerning employment. First, the good. From a Thursday news release on the Illinois Department of Employment Security website concerning jobs and payrolls in July 2013:

Jobs increased in four metros and declined in eight. Largest increases: Champaign-Urbana (+2.4 percent, +2,400), Chicago-Joliet-Naperville (+1.9 percent, +69,800), and Kankakee-Bradley (+0.5 percent, +200). Industry sectors increasing in the most metros: Leisure and Hospitality (eight of 12) and Educational and Health Services (seven of 12).

69,000 more jobs in July for the Chicago area compared to a year ago. Good to hear.

And the bad? Also from that release:

July local unemployment rates fell in seven of 12 metro areas, according to preliminary data released today by the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES). Not seasonally adjusted data compares July 2013 to July 2012. Largest decreases: Metro East ( 1.0 point to 8.6 percent), Lake County (-0.4 to 8.4 percent) and Rockford ( 0.3 to 11.4 percent). Largest increases: Decatur (+1.9 points to 13.2 percent), Peoria (+1.4 to 9.4 percent), Danville (+1.2 to 11.8 percent) and Chicago-Joliet-Naperville (+0.3 to 9.7 percent).

The Chicagoland unemployment rate increased .3 percent last month to 9.7 percent when compared to July 2012. Not so good.

And even though local unemployment rates fell in a number of metro areas across the “Land of Lincoln” last month, when Illinois was matched up against the other 50 states, it had the second highest unemployment rate in the country- 9.2 percent– after Nevada (9.5 percent).

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics website, 8 states had an unemployment rate under 5 percent last month – Iowa (4.8 percent), Utah, Vermont, Wyoming (all 4.6 percent), Hawaii (4.5 percent), Nebraska (4.2 percent), South Dakota (3.9 percent), and North Dakota (3.0 percent)

Neighbors Wisconsin and Indiana came in at numbers 20 (6.8 percent) and 39 (8.4 percent), respectively.

You can read the entire IDES new release on their website here.

You can view the July 2012 unemployment rates for all 50 states on the BLS website here.

By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Friday, August 23rd, 2013 Employment No Comments

Survival And Prosperity
Christopher E. Hill, Editor
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