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Daily Archives: July 22, 2013


Detroit: The dead canary in the debt mine

Zero Hedge has a very pointed article about Detroit’s decline.  In it are listed 25 reasons it’s bankrupt (that, as ZH claims, will leave you shaking your head when you finish).  Here are the first 12:

1) At this point, the city of Detroit owes money to more than 100,000 creditors.

2) Detroit is facing $20 billion in debt and unfunded liabilities.  That breaks down to more than $25,000 per resident.

3) Back in 1960, the city of Detroit actually had the highest per-capita income in the entire nation.

4) In 1950, there were about 296,000 manufacturing jobs in Detroit.  Today, there are less than 27,000.

5) Between December 2000 and December 2010, 48 percent of the manufacturing jobs in the state of Michigan were lost.

6) There are lots of houses available for sale in Detroit right now for $500 or less.

7) At this point, there are approximately 78,000 abandoned homes in the city.

8 ) About one-third of Detroit’s 140 square miles is either vacant or derelict.

I know, you look at that and say, "these have me shaking my head already … there’s more"? Oh, yeah. Read ‘em all. But here’s the important part. It’s not just Detroit:

9) An astounding 47 percent of the residents of the city of Detroit are functionally illiterate.

10) Less than half of the residents of Detroit over the age of 16 are working at this point.

11) If you can believe it, 60 percent of all children in the city of Detroit are living in poverty.

12) Detroit was once the fourth-largest city in the United States, but over the past 60 years the population of Detroit has fallen by 63 percent.

“Oh my”, you’re saying, “I’m already shaking my head.  There’s more”?  Oh, yeah, much more.

But here’s the important part – a part we’ve been talking about for quite some time”

A while back, Meredith Whitney was highly criticized for predicting that there would be a huge wave of municipal defaults in this country.  When it didn’t happen, the critics let her have it mercilessly.

But Meredith Whitney was not wrong.

She was just early.

Detroit is only just the beginning.  When the next major financial crisis strikes, we are going to see a wave of municipal bankruptcies unlike anything we have ever seen before.

And of course the biggest debt problem of all in this country is the U.S. government.  We are going to pay a great price for piling up nearly 17 trillion dollars of debt and over 200 trillion dollars of unfunded liabilities.

All over the nation, our economic infrastructure is being gutted, debt levels are exploding and poverty is spreading.  We are consuming far more wealth than we are producing, and our share of global GDP has been declining dramatically.

We have been living way above our means for so long that we think it is "normal", but an extremely painful "adjustment" is coming and most Americans are not going to know how to handle it.

I agree completely.  As I said in my first post about Detroit it is just the dead canary in the debt mine.  It was simply the worst off of the bunch.  But, remember, we were told this sort of stuff couldn’t happen and to quit worrying about.   That debt wasn’t really that important.  Well, in a microcosm, Detroit is the end state we can expect for any number of governmental units in this country (and others).  It is where everyone is headed, it’s just a matter of the speed in which they get there.

You cannot live as we’ve been living and expect there to be no consequences.  Let me modify that.  You can “expect” whatever you wish, what’s delivered will be delivered by reality, not your expectations.

~McQ

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