The Wall Street Journal reports that bankruptcy filings are up 32% from 2008.

Mr. Mann (a law Professor at Columbia University) said he believes bankruptcies reached their peak sometime last year, but bankruptcy attorneys from across the country said there was no sign that business was slowing. The 113,274 filings in December alone were a third higher than the same month a year earlier.

As I reported before, we have been hearing that we are in a recovery phase for over a year now, but the news just keeps getting worse. The unemployment figures for December will be released this friday, I believe. Will those figures show an increase in the ranks of the nearly 15.5 million unemployed?

My favorite attempt at spin is this story. The math is intended to confuse you, so let me see if we can work it out:

Retail sales rose 3.6% from Nov. 1 through Dec. 24, compared with a 2.3% drop in the same period a year ago, according to figures from SpendingPulse, which tracks all forms of payments, including cash. Adjusting for an extra shopping day between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the number was closer to a 1% gain. Last year, the economy was in “critical condition,” said Michael Macnamara, vice president at MasterCard Advisors’ SpendingPulse. “This year, it’s in stable condition.”

So lets start by setting sales in the Christmas season of 2007 as “normal,” or $1000. Now 2009 saw a 2.3% drop, meaning sales dropped during that period to $977. Now adjusting sales figures to account for the fact that the 2009 season has one fewer shopping day increases our sales by 1% to 987. That figure is still 1.3% lower that 2007. In fact, if those figures are adjusted for the inflation we saw in 2008, the sales figure would be closer to $946.

In other words, the increase in sales over the normal of two years ago is less than the rate of inflation. Sales figures for this Christmas season are more than 5% lower than pre-financial crisis levels. I am tired of being told that things are better, I am tired of being lied to. When all of this started, I listened to the talking heads who told me to keep my money invested where it was and take the “long view.” They said the smart thing to do was wait it out, and that we would improve.

I lost over half of my life savings. My home value dropped to less than half of what I owed on it. My mother has had to come out of retirement, as the nest egg she built with my late father becomes depleted. I am sitting on my money. I am buying the one thing that has not lost real buying power- gold and silver. I am getting rid of this boat anchor of a house. I will buy another at half price, and hope for the best.

Above all, I am no longer listening to the supposed experts that got us all into this mess in the first place.

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