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 years. After 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…\n#1 The average interest rate on a 30 year mortgage has risen above 4 percent for the first time in more than a year.\n#2 The decline in the number of mortgage applications last week was the largest drop that we have seen since June 2009.\n#3 Mark Hanson is reporting that “mass layoffs” have occurred at three large mortgage institutions…\n\nThis morning I was made aware that three large private mortgage bankers I follow closely for trends in mortgage finance ALL had mass layoffs last Friday and yesterday to the tune of 25% to 50% of their operations staff (intake, processing, underwriting, document drawing, funding, post-closing).\nThis obviously means that my reports of refi apps being down 65% to 90% in the past 3 weeks are far more accurate than the lagging MBA index, which is likely on its’ way to print multi-year lows in the next month.\n\n#4 It was just announced that average hourly compensation in the United States experienced its largest drop since 2009 during the first quarter of 2013.\n#5 As I wrote about the other day, the Institute for Supply Management manufacturing index declined to 49.0 in May. Any reading below 50 indicates contraction. That was the first contraction in manufacturing activity in the U.S. that we have seen since 2009.\n#6 The inventory to sales ratio has hit a level not seen since 2009. That means that there is a lot of inventory sitting out there that people are not buying.\n#7 According to the Commerce Department, the demand for computers dropped by a stunning 9 percent during the month of April.\n#8 As I noted in a previous article, corporate revenues are falling at Walmart, Proctor and Gamble, Starbucks, AT&T, Safeway, American Express and IBM.\n#9 Job growth at small businesses is now at about half the level it was at the beginning of the year.\n#10 The stock market is starting to understand that all of these numbers indicate that the U.S. economy is really starting to slow down. The Dow was down 216.95 points on Wednesday, and it dropped below 15,000 for the first time since May 6th.\n#11 The S&P 500 has now fallen more than 4 percent since May 22nd. Is this the beginning of a market “correction”, or is this something much bigger than that?\n#12 Japanese stocks are now down about 17 percent from the peak of May 22nd. Japan has the third largest economy on the planet and it is one of the most important trading partners for the United States. A major financial crisis in Japan would have very serious implications for the U.S. economy.\nIf we were going to have an “economic recovery”, it should have happened in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Unfortunately, as a recent Los Angeles Times article detailed, an economic recovery never materialized…\n\nReal GDP growth – the value of goods and services produced after adjusting for inflation – is 15.4% below the 3% growth trend of past recoveries, wrote Edward Leamer, director of the UCLA Anderson Forecast. More robust growth will be necessary to bring this recovery in line with previous ones.\n“It’s not a recovery,” he wrote. “It’s not even normal growth. It’s bad.”\n\nNow we are rapidly approaching another major economic downturn.\nBut poverty in America has continued to experience explosive growth since the end of the last recession and dependence on the federal government is already at an all-time high.\nHow much worse can things get?\nSadly, they are going to get much, much worse.\nWhat the U.S. economy is experiencing right now is not just a cyclical downturn. Rather, we are in the midst of a long-term economic decline that is the result of decades of very foolish decisions by our leaders.\nIt is imperative that we get the American people educated about what is happening. If people do not understand what is happening, they are not going to get prepared for the hard years that are coming.\nIf you have a family member or a friend that does not understand the long-term economic collapse that is unfolding all around us, please show them my article entitled “40 Statistics About The Fall Of The U.S. Economy That Are Almost Too Crazy To Believe“. It goes a good job of pointing out many of the reasons why we are heading for complete and total economic disaster.\nAnd the point is not to fill people with fear. Rather, there is a lot of hope in understanding what is happening and in getting prepared. As we have seen over in Europe, those that get blindsided by economic problems often become totally consumed with despair. Suicide rates have soared in economically-troubled nations such as Greece, Spain and Italy.\nAnd the same thing is going to happen in the United States too. In fact, the suicide rate in the United States has already been rising according to the New York Times…\n\nFrom 1999 to 2010, the suicide rate among Americans ages 35 to 64 rose by nearly 30 percent, to 17.6 deaths per 100,000 people, up from 13.7.\n\nIn fact, today more Americans are killed by suicide than by car accidents.\nIsn’t that crazy?\nUnfortunately, this is only just the beginning. When the system fails, millions of Americans are going to be convinced that their lives are over. A lot of them are going to do some very stupid things. We want to try to prevent as much of that as possible.\nThanks to decades of incredibly foolish decisions by our leaders, an economic collapse is inevitable. This is especially true considering the fact that our leaders in Washington D.C. and elsewhere will not even consider many of the potential solutions which could help start turning our economic problems around.\nSo since there are no solutions on the horizon, we need to explain to people what is happening and help them to get as prepared as possible.\nThe years ahead are going to be very hard, but we have a choice as to how we will respond to the challenges in front of us.\nWe can face those challenges with fear, or we can face them with courage.\nChoose wisely.