Heading into the Christmas shopping season, manufacturing and transportation numbers should be much better than they are. 

Last week, following years of losses as the global economy has slowed, South Korean shipping giant Hanjin declared bankruptcy. More bankruptcies are likely on the horizon.

OPEC was producing crude oil at top rates to force the U.S. oil shale industry to back off. But oil prices have dropped, and Saudis are now in a financial bind.

California’s pension plans are reporting dismal results, and the fund is now about $100 billion short of meeting its future obligations.

There is a positive in all of the underfinanced public retirement plans: Massive implosions of pension plans will force beneficiaries to become more self-reliant and less dependent upon governments' and politicians' promises.

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