Charles Hugh Smith says the housing market is close to a collapse in demand. The latest expansion is so symmetrical that the markets are now signaling collapse, even as market delusions have kept them attractive…

Have you heard the one about the “economic recovery” in the United States?  It’s quite funny, but it is not actually true. 
Every day, the establishment media points to the fact that global stock markets have soared to unprecedented heights as evidence that the economy is improving.  But just because a bunch of wealthy people have gotten temporarily even richer on paper does not mean that the real economy is in good shape.  In fact, as you will see below, things just continue to get even tougher for the poor and the middle class.  Retail stores are closing at the fastest pace since the fall of Lehman Brothers, the rate of homeownership in this country is the lowest that it has been in 19 years, one out of every five families do not have a single member that is employed, and one out of every five children is living in poverty.  We are working harder, earning less and going into more debt.  With each passing day, the middle class gets a little bit smaller and the ranks of the poor get a little bit larger.  But at least the stock market is doing great, eh?
Nobody that takes an honest look at the numbers can honestly say that the U.S. economy has recovered.
The following are 19 reasons why you can laugh when anyone tells you that the economy is in good shape…

collapseIf you believe that the U.S. economy is heading in the right direction, you really need to read this article.  As we look toward the second half of 2014, there are economic red flags all over the place.  Industrial production is down.  Home sales are way down.  Retail stores are closing at the fastest pace since the collapse of Lehman Brothers.  U.S. household debt is up substantially, and in 20 percent of all U.S. families everyone is unemployed.
In so many ways, what we are witnessing right now is so similar to what we experienced during the build up to the last great financial crisis.  We are making so many of the very same mistakes that we made the last time, and yet our “leaders” seem completely oblivious to what is happening.  But the warning signs are very clear.
All you have to do is open your eyes and look at them.
The following are 27 huge red flags for the U.S. economy…

brokeIs the U.S. consumer tapped out?  If so, how in the world will the U.S. economy possibly improve in 2014?  Most Americans know that the U.S. economy is heavily dependent on consumer spending.  If average Americans are not out there spending money, the economy tends not to do very well.  Unfortunately, retail sales during the holiday season appear to be quite disappointing and the middle class continues to deeply struggle.  And for a whole bunch of reasons things are likely going to be even tougher in 2014.  Families are going to have less money in their pockets to spend thanks to much higher health insurance premiums under Obamacare, a wide variety of tax increases, higher interest rates on debt, and cuts in government welfare programs.  2014 certainly promises to be a very “interesting year” as the short-lived bubble of false prosperity that we have been enjoying for the last couple of years is rapidly coming to an end.

A lot of things that have not happened since the last recession are starting to happen again.  As you read the list below, you will notice that the year “2009” comes up again and again.  There is a reason for that.  Many of the same patterns that we witnessed during the last major economic downturn are starting to repeat themselves.  In fact, many of the things that are happening right now have not happened in quite a few years.  For example, manufacturing activity in the U.S. has contracted for the first time in four years.  The inventory to sales ratio is the highest that it has been in four years.  Average hourly compensation just experienced the largest decline that we have seen in four years.  We also just witnessed the largest decline in the number of mortgage applications that we have seen in four yearsAfter everything that Barack Obama, the U.S. Congress and the Federal Reserve have tried to do, there has been no real economic recovery and now the U.S. economy is suddenly behaving as if it is 2009 all over again.  A whole host of recent surveys indicate that the American people are starting to feel a bit better about the economy, but the underlying economic numbers tell an entirely different story.  The following are 12 clear signals that the U.S. economy is about to really slow down…