The first five parts of this series contain more than 115 facts on economic and social conditions at home and abroad and can be found at the end of this article. This article provides more than 30 facts and focuses mostly, but not entirely, on the U.S. Some facts are important updates of already-reported facts and some are brand new facts.
“The Dow [Jones] is on its longest weekly losing streak since 1923.”
“The US gross national debt has now reached $30.4 trillion, having spiked by $7.0 trillion since March 2020.”
“GDP decreased at an annual rate of 1.5% in the first quarter of this year, a drop from the previously expected decrease of 1.4% in the advanced estimate, according to the BEA [Bureau of Economic Analysis].”
“Unsold inventory of new houses spiked in a historic month-to-month leap of 34,000 houses, and by 127,000 houses from April last year, to 444,000 unsold houses, seasonally adjusted, the highest since May 2008.”
“The share of home sellers who dropped their asking price shot up to a six-month-high of 15% for the four weeks ending May 1, up from 9% a year earlier. The 5.9% increase is the largest annual gain on record in Redfin’s weekly housing data back through 2015. For homebuyers, the typical monthly mortgage payment skyrocketed a record 42% to a new high during the same period.”
“The average age of a car in the US is up to 12.2 years, a new record.”
“More than 70 Sears stores to close across country.”
Once the Kmart store in Avenel, New Jersey closes [in April 2022], “the number of Kmarts in the U.S. – once well over 2,000 –will be down to three in the continental U.S. and a handful of stores elsewhere.”
“Two years after New York’s first indoor dining shutdown, restaurants and bars continue to close their doors. More than 1,000 have closed since March 2020 due to the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic.” The real figure is higher.
“CEO pay rose 17% in 2021 as profits soared up to a median of $14.5 million; workers trailed.”
“US savings rate crashes to lowest since Lehman .”
“Microsoft is the latest tech giant to slow hiring.” Dozens of other big businesses are doing the same.
“We could see a million layoffs or more – here comes the job market shock.”
“Apple Store workers in Georgia call off union vote over intimidation claims.”
“Baby formula crisis: Products from closed plant won’t hit shelves until at least mid-July, Abbott says.”
“Surging meat prices push summer grillers to order pizza instead.”
“US truckers talk ‘unprecedented’ diesel price surge. The price of diesel has been hitting all-time highs.”
“Delta to ‘strategically decrease’ flights this summer.”
“2 in 3 adults avoid social events — because they’re embarrassed about their financial struggles.”
“In June 2020, 74.9% of people aged 18–24 reported at least one mental health or substance use concern. Eight in 10 (83%) college students reported feelings of significant anxiety or stress after the start of the fall 2021 semester, according to the National Alliance for Mental Illness.”
“Every 30 hours, world gets a new billionaire, a million new poor.”
“Oil prices are set to surge even higher this summer.”
“Brazil kicks off $7.4 billion Eletrobras privatization.” Eletrobras is Brazil’s state-controlled power utility.
“Azerbaijan to hold new privatization auction.”
“People in US and UK face huge financial hit if fossil fuels lose value, study shows.”
“In 2021 half of Britain’s energy suppliers went bankrupt as gas prices soared by 250%.”
“Paris [France] reduces trash pick-up days.”
“Spain passes decree limiting use of air conditioning in public buildings to conserve energy.”
“The tech company layoffs have hit Europe. Several of Europe’s best-known startups have made drastic cuts to their teams in order to cut costs and preserve their cash runway as the global economy takes a downturn.”
“’Negative trajectory’ in consumer confidence shows Canadians increasingly anxious about economy.”
“Toyota just cut production for the second time this week. The supply chain crunch isn’t easing up for the world’s top-selling automaker — or anyone, for that matter.”
“Syria’s economy so bad many people don’t have one meal a day, nun says.”
“Doctors, bakers and truckers protest as Lebanon’s currency plunges after election.”
“Zimbabwe’s inflation soars to 131.7%.”
While a fragmented chaotic economy devoid of conscious human intervention has been the norm for decades, it can be seen from the economic and social catastrophe unfolding globally that such an anachronistic economy is further disintegrating and wreaking more havoc on the peoples of the world. It is out of control and some have even called it a death spiral.
It is in this chaotic, alienating, and violent context that “27 school shootings have taken place so far this year ” in the U.S. The most recent shooting was at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, that left 19 children and two adults dead on May 24, 2022. This carnage took place only 10 days after 10 people were massacred at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York. Many are concerned that these horrific tragedies will be used by the establishment as a pretext to escalate police-state arrangements in the name of “promoting safety,” “fighting hate,” and “preventing shootings.” New York State, for example, wasted no time setting up a State Police unit to surveil people online. Many other units exist in and beyond New York State.
The rich and their political and media representatives are becoming more irresponsible, incompetent, and ineffective with each passing day. Not a single major problem has been solved in decades and every day there is more traumatizing news about economic and social conditions around the world. People everywhere are fed-up, exhausted, and overwhelmed, including many “middle class” people. Only the wealthy few can escape the pain affecting the vast majority.
In this context, recent media chatter about whether there will be a recession this year is diversionary because we have been in a long depression since 2008. Most countries have been running on gas fumes since then, and everything the financial oligarchy has done since 2008 has intensified the all-sided crisis. The fact is that “people don’t need the [neoliberal] government to tell them we are in a recession to start feeling like we are in a recession,” said David Haggith, publisher of The Great Recession Blog.
On top of all this, the rich and their entourage nonchalantly talk and act like lurching from crisis to crisis is somehow inevitable and unpreventable. The notion that the economic collapse confronting humanity is mysterious, incomprehensible, or hard to fix is irrational and self-serving to the extreme. The economy is not a mystery and can be directed quickly and properly to serve a pro-social aim. Everything needed to advance pro-social aims already exists. Workers already run everything and many people with valuable expertise in many fields can be brought together to advance a pro-social direction. Many serious chronic problems can be solved quickly with working people in charge of the wealth they collectively produce. Without political authority and power, however, pro-social changes will remain piece-meal and inadequate. Living and working standards will remain subpar for millions. Working people, youth, students, senior citizens—the polity as a whole—must have sovereign power over economic and political affairs. The aim and direction of the economy must not be set and controlled by big business because that leads only to more disasters.
Smash the silence on economic and social conditions. Discuss these worsening conditions with everyone. Share and disseminate information that combats the disinformation and propaganda of the rich. Speak up in your own name and strive to organize each other for pro-social aims. Put these serious matters on the agenda, reject unprincipled divisions and diversions, and work together to develop collective solutions. History and the will-to-be demand it. It is all do-able.
• Part one of this series appeared on April 10, 2022, part two appeared on April 25, 2022, part three appeared on May 10, 2022, part four appeared on May 16, 2022, and part five appeared on May 22, 2022.“Booming” Economy Leaves Millions Behind: Part Six first appeared on Dissident Voice.
This content originally appeared on Dissident Voice and was authored by Shawgi Tell.