We've been exploring the site of a disaster. The pieces are scattered all over. The survivors are many...but few are without scars and open wounds.
If you measure inflation properly, the damage has been much worse than most people realised. At 10% per year, few US middle class families can keep up. They've lost income... purchasing power... and wealth over the last 20 years.
What caused it? Is it over?
You listen to the financial press and you might think the middle class is getting ready for a major comeback.
Manufacturing is supposed to take off, thanks to lower fuel costs.
Housing - the number one asset of America's households - is said to be in another upswing.
And stocks are set for a major hullaballoo too. This year, they've risen almost without a pause. Yesterday was no exception, with the Dow up 72 points...
As to the housing boom, here is Reuters/Global Post:
'Home prices rose in November, climbing more than five percent from a year ago in the biggest increase since August 2006 when the housing market was starting to collapse.
'Data on consumer confidence on Tuesday was less encouraging, with moods falling to their lowest level in more than a year as Americans became more pessimistic about the economic outlook and their financial prospects in the wake of higher taxes for many.
'In a fresh sign the housing sector is on the mend, the S&P/Case Shiller composite index of 20 metropolitan areas gained 0.6 percent in November on a seasonally adjusted basis, in line with economists' forecasts.
'Prices in the 20 cities rose 5.5 percent year over year, making for the strongest yearly price increase in more than six years when prices were on their way down.
'The housing market became a bright spot for the economy last year as prices rose and inventory tightened, and the sector is expected to contribute to economic growth in 2013.
'"What we're seeing is really a gradual improvement in the overall economy," said Anthony Chan, chief economist for Chase Private Client in New York.
'Rising home prices and recent gains in the stock market should blunt the impact of tax increases for consumers and spending should improve by the second half of the year, said Chan.
And stocks? Yes, investors are coming back to equities, say the pundits.
Why? Because bonds stink. The Fed is buying them to hold down yields (and long interest rates). Why settle for a 2% yield from bonds when you can get 3% from stocks?
And so the middle class is all set. Housing... stocks... jobs - all going up.
But wait. It's not another boom that the middle class is headed for; it's another big rip-off!
Because the middle class is still the primary victim of the world's biggest scam. The feds create more money - more than $1trn per year. The money doesn't go to the middle class. It goes to zombies. Bad companies with good lobbyists. People on food-stamps. Government employees.
The middle class doesn't have any idea what is really going on. But every dollar created by the feds...and distributed to the zombie insiders...costs the outsiders in the middle class 50 cents worth of real wealth.
How could it be otherwise? Double the money supply and you cut the real value of the existing money supply in half. Grosso modo. That includes wages, savings, pensions, investments - anything that doesn't rise as fast as the tide of new money.
Wages stopped growing in the '80s; the middle class turned to debt.
And now, it's counting on the government. The feds have promised more health care... better Social Security benefits...more bail-outs...more stimulus...and a stronger economy with more jobs and higher salaries.
But how can the feds provide these things? By printing more money...and transferring more money from the middle class to the zombie class!
Don't believe it? See tomorrow's rogue economist at work.
for The Daily Reckoning Australia
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- The Middle Class Trap of America
- How the Fed Screws the Middle Class
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- The US Middle Class Gets Scalped
- No Saying “No” to the American Middle Class
About the Author
Best-selling investment author Bill Bonner is the founder and president of Agora Publishing, one of the world's most successful consumer newsletter companies. Owner of both Fleet Street Publications and MoneyWeek magazine in the UK, he is also author of the free daily e-mail The Daily Reckoning.