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California is Collapsing

by Martin D. Weiss, Ph.D.

Washington and Wall Street seem to be treating California as if it were a sideshow in the financial circus of these turbulent times.

It’s not.

California is home to the largest manufacturing belt in the United States and to Silicon Valley, the nation’s largest high-tech center.

California is America’s most populous state with 38 million people. Its GDP of $1.8 trillion is the largest in the U.S. Its economy is bigger than those of Russia, Brazil, Canada, or India.

And it’s collapsing.

Major California counties are ground zero in the continuing mortgage meltdown:

Los Angeles County with 5.32 percent of mortgages 90 days past due … Monterrey County, 8.02 percent … Imperial, 8.13 … San Bernadino, 8.66 … Madeira, 9.21 … San Joaquin, 9.53 … Riverside, 10.2 … Merced, 10.57 … and more!

California’s inventory of foreclosed homes is skyrocketing. Home prices are plunging. And the impact of surging unemployment is just beginning to show up in the data …

Worst Unemployment in 64 Years

The state’s unemployment rate has surged to 11.5 percent, the worst since World War II.

Last month, California lost 68,900 jobs. And since July 2007, it has lost 859,000 jobs, including 739,500 just in the past 12 months.

Even if the economy recovers, an unlikely scenario in my view, economists agree that California will continue to be slammed by layoffs, at least through the end of this year and probably well into 2010.

And even assuming a national recovery, UCLA’s Anderson Forecast projects an average unemployment rate of 12.1 percent from this fall through next spring.

What about without a national recovery? California’s jobless could go beyond 15 percent.

Worse, if you include part-time workers seeking full-time work plus workers who have given up looking entirely, it could reach 25 percent, exceeding the worst national unemployment levels of the Great Depression.

“Our wallet is empty.
Our bank is closed. And
our credit is dried up.”

These are not the words of a Dr. Doom in New York or a forlorn banker in Georgia. They represent the confession of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger before a rare joint session of the California legislature … and with no exaggeration!

The state faces a stunning $24.3 billion budget deficit, even assuming no significant deterioration in the economy from this point onward. And the state has lost virtually all hope of President Obama declaring, “California is too big to fail.”

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