Job cuts due to companies going bankrupt hit the highest level since 2005 last year.
According to data released by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, 62,136 announced job cuts by US-based employers in 2019 were due to bankruptcy. That represents 10.5% of the 592,556 announced job cuts last year.
There were more signs of a retail apocalypse in the first quarter of this year.
Defaults by retail companies rated by Moody’s hit an all-time high in Q1. There were a total of nine defaults among Moody’s-rated retail corporates. According to Wolf Street, total corporate defaults in Q1 were up 22% from last year, and the nine retailer defaults accounted for nearly 1/3 of them.
As Wolf Street put it, these are not mom-and-pop stores. These are retailers large enough to be rated by Moody’s – “corporations that make up the core of the Brick-and-Mortar Meltdown.”
Could we be on the verge of a retail apocalypse?
February marked the third straight month of declining retail sales. Analysts had not expected another drop, but they got one nonetheless. Sales fell 0.1% in February. Analysts had expected an uptick of 0.3%.
This is not good news for a retail sector that is already teetering on the brink.
Total household debt has climbed to a record $13 trillion. One factor driving overall American indebtedness higher is the ever-increasing burden of student loans, and a policy change being mulled by the Trump administration could cause that student loan bubble to pop.
Student loan debt stands at a staggering $1.4 trillion, owed by some 44.2 million borrowers. The average class of 2016 graduate has $37,172 in student loan debt. That represents a 6% increase from the previous year.
Toys R Us filed for bankruptcy earlier this week, a wicked head-shot to a retail sector that’s been reeling for months.
The TRU filing ranks as the second-largest US retail bankruptcy ever, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.
Toys R Us had $6.6 billion in assets at the time of filing. Only Kmart was bigger. It had $16.3 billion in assets when it went bankrupt in 2002. Crushing debt pulled the giant toy seller under. According to a Bloomberg report, the company has piled up more than $5 billion in debt. Toys R Us reportedly pays more than $400 million a year on debt service alone.
The company says it plans to continue operating and secured a$3.1 billion operating loan to stabilize operations.
Puerto Rico officially plunged into bankruptcy this week. Years of accumulating debt and misguided government policies finally reached their inevitable end.
The bankruptcy means more pain for the people of Puerto Rico, as well as bondholders who have virtually no hope of ever getting their money back. But beyond that, it serves as a giant, flashing warning sign, because the truth is, the financial condition of the the US isn’t fundamentally different than that of her island territory.