What Is Wrong With The U.S. Economy? Here Are 10 Economic Charts That Will Blow Your Mind

ilene's picture

What Is Wrong With The U.S. Economy? Here Are 10 Economic Charts That Will Blow Your Mind

Courtesy of Michael Snyder at Economic Collapse

The 10 economic charts that you are about to see are completely and totally shocking. If you know anyone that still does not believe that the United States is in the midst of a long-term economic decline, just show them these charts.  Sometimes you can quote economic statistics to people until you are blue in the face and it won't do any good, but when those same people see charts and pictures suddenly it all sinks in.  What is great about charts is that you can very easily demonstrate what has been happening to the economy over an extended period of time.  As you examine the economic charts below, pay special attention to what has been happening to the U.S. economy over the last 30 or 40 years.  The truth is that what is wrong with the U.S. economy is not a great mystery.  All of the economic problems that we are experiencing now have taken decades to develop.  Hopefully the charts in this article will help people realize just how nightmarish our economic problems have become, because until people start realizing how incredibly bad things have gotten they will never be willing to accept the dramatic solutions that are necessary to fix our financial system.

The sad fact of the matter is that we have been living in the biggest debt bubble in the history of the world over the last 40 years.  All of this debt has purchased a wonderful standard of living for the vast majority of us, but all of this debt has also destroyed the economic future of our children and our grandchildren.  Someday future generations will look back on what we have done in absolute horror.

The 10 economic charts posted below are meant to shock you.  Most Americans today need to be shocked before they will be motivated to take action.  Please share these charts with as many people as you can.  Hopefully we can wake enough people up that something will be done about all of these problems while there is still time.

1 - Government spending is expanding at an exponential rate.  As you can see from the chart below, federal spending is almost 18 times higher than it was back in 1970.  Now Barack Obama has proposed a budget that would increase U.S. government spending to 5.6 trillion dollars in 2021.  Just imagine what the following chart would look like if that happens....

2 - U.S. government debt is absolutely exploding.  The U.S. national debt is currently $14,081,561,324,681.83.  It is more than 14 times larger than it was back in 1980.  Unfortunately, the national debt continues to grow at breathtaking speed.  In fact, the Obama administration is projecting that the federal budget deficit for this year will be an all-time record 1.6 trillion dollars.  Can we afford to continue to accumulate debt at this rate?....

3 - Unless something changes right now, the outlook for U.S. government finances in future years is downright apocalyptic.  The chart posted below is from an official U.S. government report to Congress.  As you can see, it is projected that interest on our exploding national debt is absolutely going to spiral out of control if we continue on the path that we are currently on....

4 - Household debt has soared to almost unbelievable levels over the last 30 years.  The sad truth is that it is not just the U.S. government that has a massive debt problem.  U.S. households have also been accumulating debt at a staggering rate.  Total U.S. household debt did not pass the 2 trillion dollar mark until the mid-1980s, but now total U.S. household debt is well over 13 trillion dollars....

5 - The total of all debt (government, business and consumer) in the United States is now well over 50 trillion dollars.  For the past couple of years this figure has been hovering around a level that is equivalent to approximately 360 percent of GDP.  This is a debt bubble that is absolutely unprecedented in U.S. history....

6 - As tens of thousands of U.S. factories get shut down and as millions of our jobs get shipped overseas, the number of unemployed Americans continues to go up and up and up.  As you can see from the chart below, there has been a long-term trend of increasing unemployment in the United States.  In fact, there are about 3 and a half times as many unemployed workers in the United States today as there were when 1970 began.  These jobs losses are going to continue as long as we allow our corporations to pay slave labor wages to workers on the other side of the globe.  All of the major trends in global trade are very bad for the U.S. middle class.  For example, the U.S. trade deficit with China for 2010 was 27 times larger than it was back in 1990.  How long will our politicians stand by as our nation bleeds jobs?....

7 - The median duration of unemployment in the United States is in unprecedented territory.  For most of the post-World War 2 era, when the median duration of unemployment in America reached 10 weeks that was considered a national crisis.  Well, today competition for jobs is so intense that the median duration of unemployment is now well over 20 weeks....

8 - Since the Federal Reserve was created in 1913, the value of the U.S. dollar has declined by over 95 percent.  One of the reasons given for the existence of the Federal Reserve is that the Fed helps control inflation.  But that is a huge lie.  The truth is that the United States never had consistently rampant inflation until the Federal Reserve took control.  In particular, once the U.S. totally went off the gold standard in the 1970s inflation really started escalating out of control....

9 - Now the Federal Reserve says that the solution to our current economic problems is to print even more money out of thin air.  The games that the Federal Reserve is playing with our money supply are simply inexcusable.  Just look at what the Federal Reserve has done to the monetary base since the beginning of the recession....

10 - All of this new money is creating tremendous inflation.  In particular, the price of oil is now ridiculously high.  A high price for oil is very, very bad for the U.S. economy.  Our entire economic system is based on being able to use massive quantities of very cheap oil.  Unfortunately, that paradigm is starting to break down and the consequences will be very bitter.  Back in mid-2008, the price of oil hit an all-time record of $147 a barrel and subsequently the world financial system imploded a few months later.  Well, the price of oil is on the march again and that is very bad news for the U.S. economy....

Needless to say, if the economic trends documented by the charts above continue the U.S. economy will be totally wiped out.  The U.S. economy as it currently exists is unsustainable by definition.  It is only a matter of time before we slam into an economic brick wall.

We have developed an economy that cannot function without debt, and at this point it seems like almost everyone is drowning in red ink.  The federal government is massively overextended, most of our state and local governments are massively overextended, most of our major corporations are massively overextended and the majority of U.S. consumers are massively overextended.

The only way that the game can continue is for the Federal Reserve to print increasingly larger amounts of paper money out of thin air and for everyone in the economic food chain to go into increasingly larger amounts of debt.

But no debt spiral can go on forever.  At some point this entire house of cards is going to collapse.

When that happens, there is going to be economic pain that is greater than anything that this country has ever seen before.

Someday we will all desperately wish that we could go back to the "good times" of 2011.  A great economic collapse is coming, and all of us had better get ready. 

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shortus cynicus's picture

This fear-mongering in the blogosphere is really going mad.

Something must be done, hmm... where was this red switch?

proLiberty's picture


The scheme of fiat money when coupled with a tax on (nominal) incomes "however defined" by a self-serving and selfish government, is the grandest scheme of theft from citizens in all of human history.  Further, the position the dollar has enjoyed as the world's reserve currency has allowed the Federal Reserve Corporation to steal (by dilution) from the wealth of any holder of dollars no matter where they were located in the world, even if the dollars were buried in someone's back yard.

Such an immoral system cannot stand.  But anyone who rants against "dollar hegemony" is not going themselves any favors if all they want to do is replace dollar hegemony with Euro hegemony. The only answer is to make gold and gold alone as the currency of the US and of the world.


sudzee's picture

Would have been nice to see both private and public sector wage graphs.

falak pema's picture

The communist empire of Stalin was a great Ponzi scheme based on deficit spending by state to the benefit of the military industrial complex which then imploded under competition from USA having no source of wealth creation to match the accelerated race in the 80's. The great Ponzi scheme of Reagonomics, not only fed the imperial military complex beast of America for forty years, since WW2, but also leveraged Wall Street into the Ponzi asset rip-off of the 1990-2000 years. So USA are now suffering from the ongoing double whammy of the chronic military industrial complex deficits, to no effect viz. Iraq/Afghanistan, except to save US surrogates protecting the oil patch in Middle East, PLUS the private sector rip-off which has transferred trillions of dollars of debt from private sector to public sector, on a world wide basis (USA+EU+EM), thanks to the new and massive commodity bubble hitting food sector. And, these US based plutocrats have no intention of stopping this massive joy ride into the bubble economy. We are heading to DOW at 14000 once again, as on 19 July 2007...remember to look back in the mirror to see what's up ahead...As the USA falls just as Soviet Russia did...Brave New world!


grl's picture

Seriously, have any of you had a conversation lately with someone who is still drinking the kool-aid? Well, I have and these charts would not do a thing to get them consider giving up the stuff. Preach to the choir and it will sing but the visitors to the church ain't got a clue and won't until they have a "come to me Jesus" moment. Forget about your friends and family who don't got the religion and prepare thyself. (Wow, had to pull out my calculator for that captcha)

BigDuke6's picture

My god!

If these charts are right we're all as fucked as a CBS reporters asshole when she stays out all night with groups of hairy, smelly, egyptian swarthy types.

The Mighty Monarch's picture

"These jobs losses are going to continue as long as we allow our corporations to pay slave labor wages to workers on the other side of the globe."

Oh sure, let's enforce our minimum wage laws, expensive medical benefits, and Social Security contributions on all foreign workers employed by American companies! That'll make American labor competitive again! Sure hope you can afford those $500 tennis shoes at Wal-Mart.

Sorry, I call class warfare bullshit. You want competitive American labor, it means the status quo goes with it. It means the end of the consumer society, the end of cheaply made goods, the end of government entitlements, and a return to free markets, savings, sound money, a strong manufacturing base, and wise investment. I don't think we possess the work ethic nor the brass balls to give up the gadgets and go back to work.


RKDS's picture

You're a fool.  American labor and American products were perfectly competitive 25 years ago and many still are in spite of everything.  What's not sustainable is paying so many warm body pump'n'dumpers millions/billions to offshore R&D and let Twitter do their thinking for them.

So called "experts" are talking out of both sides of their mouthes here.  Waaaaaah American wages are sooooo expensive and make prices so hiiiiiigh.  Duh, higher wages cancel out higher prices.  Keep up the class warfare doubletalk, though, enough Americans can't think that the country will probably fall for it yet again.

goodrich4bk's picture

Honest visualization of exponential growth requires log charts.  I agree with your point, message, Ilene, but not with your method of communicating it. 

mathdock's picture

There was a day when more people than not could read a log chart.  That day is not today.   My students get ilene's charts.  They don't get Jeremy Siegel's (Stocks for the Long haul) with the Siegel line and the collapsing vertical scale on the left.


Matto's picture

Do you have students who understand that banks create debt out of nothing then charge it back against our labour with interest?


Do you have students who understand that money is nothing but debt. That all their financial decisions are based on exchanging pieces of someone elses debt?


Do you have students who understand that debt is a charge on future income and future income is derived from future labour - hence our money supply, being debt & created out of nothing, is a charge against the future labour of the people?


In my mind that's the most important thing that everyone can know now. Finance 101 for tomorrows class!

grl's picture

and your point is? worthless ego shit... you have students, they can't read Jeremy Siegel's charts. I am not sure what I am supposed to get from this mathdock. 

Quaderratic Probing's picture

Higher is better .... right?

andybev01's picture

These days I can't get high enough.

chump666's picture

Irene, great post.

Check out Asia's bond and CDS bubble...there is fear on that one too.


UP4Liberty's picture

What's wrong with the US economy?  According to this WSJ article, the economy is picking up steam - so that means everything should be fine!


It was reported in the news - so it must be true, right?

Move along now - and please don't pay attention to those charts!




You are kidding right's picture

Everyone is trying to figure out what is happeing and why? This is an engineered fiasco, and in my opinion goes back to the days of Bush Sr. when he announced we are heading for a new world order.

If we crash, other economies crash. There will be riots, looting, and I fear mass starvation and kiling.

so great will be the cry, the people will fall over themselves to accept the possibility of relief, even if it is a new government, a one world government.

Our financial masters will come to the table with a new plan, a new one world currency. Next will come the one world government.

How else can a One World government ever hope to take hold? Only a crisis can usher in what has been planned. A crisis so sever, so inclusive of all the people around the world, so devestating, the world will cry out for someone to take control, bring safety back to our communities, and restore peace.

The UN is in place, and now the entire world can be governed locally, and ruled internationally from the ashes of past governments.


I only hope I am wrong. But if I am not, I hope the American people will be smart enough to see it for what it is, and fight back with every fiber of their being. Bring the Fed, and all the players financially and politicians before the people to answer for their work.

Shed Boy's picture

Thanks ilene! Good stuff! Think I'll send a link to this to a few friends with severe normalcy bias... the phone will be ringing in minutes.

Bob's picture

Open class war has begun.  30,000 people demonstrating today in Madison, WI, probably at least twice that tomorrow. 

We'll be forgetting about Egypt before long.  It's on like donkey kong, coming soon to a city near you. 

flattrader's picture


So, the asshole Governor manufactured a budget crisis by giving tax cuts to corps.

Yep, class warfare is right.  Rep. Scott Walker just manufactured a false flag operation.


The shit has really hit the fan with this---


Wisconsin's new Republican governor has framed his assault on public worker's collective bargaining rights as a needed measure of fiscal austerity during tough times.


The reality is radically different. Unlike true austerity measures -- service rollbacks, furloughs, and other temporary measures that cause pain but save money -- rolling back worker's bargaining rights by itself saves almost nothing on its own. But Walker's doing it anyhow, to knock down a barrier and allow him to cut state employee benefits immediately.


Furthermore, this broadside comes less than a month after the state's fiscal bureau -- the Wisconsin equivalent of the Congressional Budget Office -- concluded that Wisconsin isn't even in need of austerity measures, and could conclude the fiscal year with a surplus. In fact, they say that the current budget shortfall is a direct result of tax cut policies Walker enacted in his first days in office.


"Walker was not forced into a budget repair bill by circumstances beyond he control," says Jack Norman, research director at the Institute for Wisconsin Future -- a public interest think tank. "He wanted a budget repair bill and forced it by pushing through tax cuts... so he could rush through these other changes."


"The state of Wisconsin has not reached the point at which austerity measures are needed," Norman adds.


In a Wednesday op-ed, the Capitol Times of Madison picked up on this theme.

In its Jan. 31 memo to legislators on the condition of the state's budget, the Fiscal Bureau determined that the state will end the year with a balance of $121.4 million.

To the extent that there is an imbalance -- Walker claims there is a $137 million deficit -- it is not because of a drop in revenues or increases in the cost of state employee contracts, benefits or pensions. It is because Walker and his allies pushed through $140 million in new spending for special-interest groups in January.


RKDS's picture

Stripping people of the right to associate and assemble peacably is unconstitutional.  The "corporations are people but only when only it's convenient for them" crowd is on board with it though.

colonial's picture

hey michael and tyler...

you're preaching to the choir here...the real question is how is this being accomplished?  There's over $1T, at least, in hot spec money.  In addition there are sovereign funds and a few institutions who aren't all drinking koolaid. 

Is it all just a function of playing the trend until the trade suddenly stops working and everyone runs for the door at the same time? 

No one can say this hasn't been discussed.  Santelli is the darling of the Tea Party.  You can't blame it on CNBS alone as we now have Bloomberg on many cable systems. 

So how come oil isn't higher?  How come commodities aren't higher?  How come there havent been more riots?  What's holding the longs together? 

We don't even have a glimmer of volatility...the shorts are getting killed...sophisticated hedge funds are closing because they can't make money. 

Rather than talking about problems we already know about...and agree with...how about understanding how Ben alone can pull this off.  Or put another way, if he can, if our central bank can engineer a massive scheme in plain sight, what does that say about the larger system? 


PulauHantu29's picture

Yes, but Wall Street is expecting record bonuses this year. So what is the problem? Even Obama has changed his "no more bonuses" cry. Now he is all for more QE2 + QE3 an dso on adding to the massive Bank Bailout Program started by Goldman's Main Man, Hank Paulson.

sellstop's picture

I've got a problem with that statement about the "US needs massive quantities of cheap oil". The cost in dollars of oil does not matter. A barrel of oil is a barrel of oil. Just "printing" money does not cause the cost of oil to go up. If printing of money causes the price of a barrel of oil to go up, it is because the money is being used to buy the oil. Does the "printed" money stimulate demand for oil? If so, then the economy must be picking up pace. If it is speculation that caused the price to go up, then the speculators must speculate there to be increased demand in the future. If the demand is not there, the price will come back down. Unless the price is simply due to a devalued currency. But the COST of energy is related to supply and demand. "Price" is related to currency.There is a difference between "price" and "cost".

Maybe we need to get over our need for massive quantities, and spend our money on something else. We are addicted to a luxurious lifestyle and the thought of a return to the basics of an enriching lifestyle scares us, and our bankers.

gwar5's picture

Stiff the Fed, then tell them to get lost.

Print our own money backed by gold

Get the gold away from the FRBNY pronto

Audit the gold, they can keep the tungsten


Matto's picture

Exactly. If we can get in first, get every FRN and bank credit digit replaced by straight up non credit money. Ban banks from lending unless that money is secured in an account to allow lending - ie one that goes down when the money is lent out. Go on the gold standard. Ban derivatives and futures participants from being able to trade unless they operate/represent a genuine business in that field.


Or nationalise all banks so that if our society is going to be a funnel for debt then at least it can go to the state who we can vote for.


The national debt to the fed can be cancelled outright.


Unfortunately nothing will be done until the crash occurs so get educated and try to educate those arround you so that when the time comes we don't all remain good debt slaves and reinstall the same system.

iatrosgk's picture

Brent oil chart should be used instead. WTI is blatantly manipulated.

t0mmyBerg's picture

brent is also manipulated.  they basically say the same thing though.  it is the trend that matters.

twotraps's picture

yes yes a collapse is coming.  then what?  I mean what are even some of the more Remote outcomes of that....of course we all agree we are in the shit, but what can happen?  this is where the Sublime and the Ridiculous live...some advocate another mortgage to hedge against inflation, well done, agreed.   The other end of the spectrum is just guns and canned food.  Honestly, what are some outcomes here cause thats all anyone gives a shit about.

Can we have a bank holdiay/devaluation weekend?

Massive debt forgiveness for all who qualify?


All the good financial shit has not been thought up yet, once upon a time there were no stock options to manipulate, no CDO's to sell and if you were any kind of trader at all in Chicago you traded beans.....In the Pit.  So.  Here we are, before the next wave of financial shit to come about.  What can it be and how can we profit from it or at least protect assets during the process.  Most people are looking at todays issue with yesterdays tools and just can't believe it because none of it makes sense....fine, i agree its sick and criminal but I'm more concerned with what we can do about it.



alien-IQ's picture

As far as what we can do...Avoid debt...AT ALL COSTS! Debt is slavery. And debt is the engine that drives and manipulates this fraud. By avoiding debt you also starve the beast.

If you ow a little. Pay it off. If you owe more than you can pay back, file BK, tell them all to go fuck themselves and use the seven years of no credit to your advantage. Start with a clean slate and reeducate yourself.

I realize this will be hard for many...after all, we live in a society where it is quite Chic to buy shit you don't need with money you ain't got... people have become obsessed with consumerism...they define themselves by their possessions. We must accept the reality that this can not continue.

Or as a fictional anarchist once proclaimed:
"I see in Fight Club the strongest and smartest men who've ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see it squandered. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables – slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our great war is a spiritual war. Our great depression is our lives. We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars, but we won't. We're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off."

lieto's picture


I sometimes think this is a plan cooked up by the creditor class.

Even now with the insanity increasing exponentially you might think the mess was created on purpose.

BUT, who is screwed if debtors can pay debts with worthless paper.

The creditor class who basically created the fed.

So then I come back to thinking that they let this get out of hand and are despately trying to wind it down withhout an implosion.

It ain't gonna happen, it's too far gone.

They can't get the mess cleaned up after 40 years of increasingly misguided policies.

The gold standard will be back sooner rather than later IMHO.

Getting there is going to suck.

Sean7k's picture

You don't get it. They lose nothing. Their wealth is accumulated in two ways: one, by creating money/credit. This they can lose, because it cost them nothing to accumulate. The other is special: it is the transfer of wealth through interest payments on the debt. This wealth has real value, because it represents real labor, production, rents, etc.This wealth they keep, in gold and real assets. 

The wealthy will lose nothing if they have been good stewards. They will have transferred the wealth of nations into the hands of a few. FRN's? Goodness me, who cares about that.


newworldorder's picture

OK - I agree with you completely but to what end.

Under the current system in a well managed process "the transfer of wealth through interest payments on the debt" would have continued to perpetuity.

Why kill the golden goose right now? What gets achieved with a mass stealing and collapse of the world economy that cannot be achieved with a slow financial bleed?

Can it really be about world population control or have the Banksters all lost their minds?

CustomersMan's picture



      My impression is that the elite's are aware of something else. They know at a certain global population level, and with 'net access, people can become "tuned-in" to a global, "UN-written, UN-spoken", language of the heart, that consciousness and communication, that transcends regular communications capabilities.


       This is why they want to reduce our numbers, like yesterday, before we reach "critical-mass", and then it's not possible to turn back the clock to before it happened.

Sean7k's picture

Trying to divine the strategy of the Elites is very difficult. It is easy to see the obvious, but after that, it is all guessing. 

IMHO, they also desire power and power through debt and the loss of security can lead to enslavement. Is there any better power than the complete control of the system of labor and how you reward that labor?

Two, there are limited resources and wayyyy too many people. They have many wonderful tools: pandemic disease, war, religious war, nuclear terrorism, starvation, climate destruction, etc. They can dumb down the populations (flouride and other toxic chemicals in food and water) to make more docile workers. They can tailor populations on each continent to meet their needs. 

Ask yourself, put your tinfoil hat on, if you had unlimited resources and power of all governments, what kind of world would you build? Keep in mind that it will be ruled by a very select group of Elites with many levels of priviledge below you. Let me know what you come up with.

Remember, they are not like you and me- they are sociopaths, no conscience, no care for their fellow man. They are very intelligent and have thousands of years of experience as members of successive ruling classes. They control all governmental, economic, corporate and media resources. We have so little knowledge of their capabilities- much is just secret. Most is considered conspiracy theory- and thus dismissed. 

Banksters lost their minds? No, hearts and souls- probably.

Bringin It's picture


What gets achieved with a mass stealing and collapse of the world economy that cannot be achieved with a slow financial bleed?

Sometimes, enough damage has been done to the shithouse, so that those who wrecked it can't hold it up any longer.  Hence the blatant looting, the end-game tactics.


Edit - I forgot this.


alien-IQ's picture

100% spot on target Sean! You got it.

Bob's picture

Elegantly simple.  We really make things too complicated as we run around with our technical knowledge trying to devine what they're up to as if they're playing our favorite sport.  They're playing an entirely different game.

Saxxon's picture

The pigmen are human; it got out of control.  The worst element is in power and they are less and less interested in even hiding their tracks.  No men are in charge.  We are headed to techno-slaveship U.S.S.A.  Just get ready.

disabledvet's picture

Is it the wise or foolhardy that view the explosion of the Arab Street as an opportunity?

DavosSherman's picture

Super, a lot of it is actually worse than charted thanks to the BS BLS statistics and off balance sheet debt, - still a fantastic read!

QQQBall's picture

and the OMB assumptions... oofa

max2205's picture

Maybe log charts would make us not worry so much

Amabo Kcarab's picture

I just threw up in my mouth.

alien-IQ's picture

Once again I find myself asking this question: Why would, after 100 years of evidence being provided, anyone think that the Federal Reserve is merely following a "flawed" or otherwise errant economic policy? It is neither a flaw nor an error...IT'S A PLAN FOR FUCK SAKE!

Cursive's picture


The ghost of Nathan Mayer Rothschild is still laughing about the Battle of Waterloo.