Archive for February, 2011

Economics was the force that determined the course of world history—and continues to be a primary force in the drive toward fulfillment of Bible prophecy.

by Melvin Rhodes

As we transition into a new year, it’s interesting to see developments in the world that are leading toward the fulfillment of biblical end-time prophecies.

Bible students have long speculated on how the current European Union of 27 member countries will lead to the prophesied 10-member Beast power of Revelation 17.

Note verses 12 and 13: “The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast. These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast.”

As the EU grew over the course of five decades from the original six members to 27, many thought that all 27 would form a federation of 10 regions that would ultimately comprise the Beast.

An alternative scenario now seems possible: that the EU, as presently constituted, could collapse and be replaced with a new German-led economic power with fewer member states.

Germany is booming

According to today’s GMT news program on BBC America (Dec. 17, 2010), German exports are up again as the country takes advantage of a weaker euro and increased demand worldwide for the quality engineering products Germany is famous for. As The Economist noted, “Yet the euro zone as a whole has grown at a decent rate for an ageing continent, thanks to oomph from Germany, the fastest-growing big rich economy in 2010” (“Three-Way Split,” Dec. 11, 2010, emphasis added).

But that weaker euro is part of a wider problem. There are serious financial problems throughout the 16-member euro zone (that is, the EU countries that use the euro as their national currency).

When the euro was started, there were strict rules about overspending. Member governments were not to overspend by more than 3 percent, a rule that seems to have been broken more often than kept. The result is that more profligate countries like Greece and Ireland have required bailouts accompanied by strict austerity programs and are struggling to stay in the euro zone. Other countries like Spain and Portugal are in serious trouble and may also need help.

“The euro zone’s political leaders, alas, are a fractious and underwhelming lot. An even bigger mess seems all but certain in 2011,” the same Economist article goes on to say.

Germany is key to helping the weaker members—but this is causing resentment at home, with many calling for the return of the deutsche mark, Germany’s former national currency that was the envy of other nations striving for financial stability.

There’s now speculation that some of the more economically challenged countries may switch back to their former currencies so that they can devalue and gain a trading advantage. In turn, this could lead to a more solid core of nations (10 perhaps?) that, together with Germany, would form the nucleus of an “ever closer union,” the stated intent of the 1957 Treaty of Rome. Keep watching Germany, the fastest growing economy in the world.

Protests in the United Kingdom

Looking back at European history, the metamorphosis from 27 to 10 may not be smooth. There could be violent convulsions ahead.

Conservative columnist Pat Buchanan blogged recently: “For those who have read about or vaguely remember the stolid British tribe of Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain and the Blitz, which held out in its ‘finest hour,’ last week brought a disgusting sight.

“Mobs in Parliament Square set fire to the statue of 19th century statesman Lord Palmerston and urinated on the statue of Winston Churchill. Charlie Gilmour, son of Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour was swinging by a rope from the Cenotaph that memorializes the 700,000 British dead of the Great War.

“At night, hundreds of these anarchists peeled off to appear on Regent Street as the Rolls-Royce carrying the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla Parker-Bowles, entered. The Rolls was pounded with boots, bottles, sticks, fists and paintballs, as the mob howled ‘Tory scum!’ and ‘Off with their heads!’

“A sign was pushed through an open window into Camilla’s side. So precarious was the situation, Charles’ security detail was close to drawing guns to protect the first in line to the throne.

“What was the mob protesting? Tuition increases for students who pay less for college than the parents of American students. In Parliament, the ruling coalition’s 83-vote margin, after defections, was cut by three-fourths on the vote to raise the tuition fees.

“And Europe is only at the beginning of this age of austerity.

“Across the Irish Sea, the 50,000 protesters have departed from the General Post Office where the Rising of 1916 took place. But the government’s budget to meet the demands of the European Union for a bailout of Ireland passed in the Dail [Ireland’s lower parliamentary house] by just five votes, 82-77” (www.buchanan.org, “Can Democracy Cope?”, Dec. 14, 2010).).

Although not an EU member, Russia saw violent protests the same week against immigrants. With rising unemployment and serious economic difficulties, added to which are fears of terrorism, anti-immigrant feeling is only likely to get worse across the European continent.

Democracy itself could once again be in peril, as it was in the 1930s during the Great Depression. “Though the trend hasn’t received much attention, the world is now experiencing a democracy recession,” observed an editorial in The Wall Street Journal (“The Democracy Recession,” Dec. 13, 2010). “What are the reasons?” asks the paper. “Hard economic times can lead to harder politics, and some authoritarians have exploited economic anxiety with populism to extend their political power.” While the nations of the EU have not been affected this way yet, history suggests that could quickly change.

Trends in Asia

The title of the Economist article earlier quoted, “Three-Way Split,” refers to the fact that the world economy is going off in three different directions. While Europe practices austerity, with all its serious possible ramifications to the very future of the EU and of democracy itself, the United States is overspending, and the big emerging markets, mostly in Asia, are booming. The two biggest emerging markets are China and India, two countries that seem destined to form closer economic ties.

While visiting New Delhi, “Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao…. announced $16 billion in deals between Chinese and Indian companies as Beijing tries to make its mark on the economy of its neighbor, long closely connected to the U.S. and other western countries,” wrote Tom Wright in The Wall Street Journal (“Wen Touts China-India Ties,” Dec. 16, 2010). “Mr. Wen on Wednesday made a broad bid to pull India tighter into China’s economic orbit, seeking to draw attention to the burgeoning trade ties between India and China with deals in sectors such as telecom, power and commodities, and holding out the promise of massive investments and of China opening its doors to Indian exports” (ibid.).

Mindful of China’s growing economic, political and military clout, Japan announced two days after Wen’s visit that it is building up its military to counter China’s influence in Asia. This, in turn, is causing concern throughout Asia, since people there are still mindful of Japan’s aggression against its neighbors just 70 years ago.

Of course, the primary reason for the changing face of Asia is the economic decline of the United States.

Prior to World War II, Britain was the dominant power in the region. With the end of the British Empire after World War II, the United States was able to step in and provide security for the region against the advance of communism, at the same time channeling investment into many countries that consequently boomed. Now those nations are among the fastest growing countries on earth and increasingly threaten the United States economically.

The biblical book of Revelation, which presents a number of end-time prophecies, shows that immediately prior to the second coming of the Messiah a great military superpower will exist in the Far East, a nation or group of nations powerful enough to put together a 200-million-man army. This army is set to clash with the prophesied European-centered Beast power. The two military forces will meet at the River Euphrates, the eastern border of the Roman Empire in ancient times.

You can read about this in Revelation 9. “Then the sixth angel sounded: And I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden alter which is before God, saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, ‘Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.’ So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released to kill a third of mankind. Now the number of the army of the horsemen was two hundred million; I heard the number of them” (verses 13-16).

In order to put together a major military force of that size, a nation or group of nations would have to be a powerful economic force. This passage shows that a major economic power will exist in Asia at the same time the Beast power rises in Europe. The two will ultimately clash in the Middle East, another focus of Bible prophecy. Could the region’s oil resources be part of the reason? Could these powers both be there to guarantee their own access to dwindling oil supplies?

Serious economic problems in the United States

“Pending catastrophe is not an easy notion to entertain, much less sustain. Americans moreover have a low tolerance for doom and gloom. We are the nation of optimism, after all. We elect leaders who promise hope and change. We are the shining city on a hill. But what happens when the lights go out?” asks syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker (“U.S. Must Regroup, Fix Its Finances,” Lansing State Journal, Dec. 13, 2010).

She references an article in the Dec. 3 issue of Foreign Affairs, “where Roger Altman, former U.S. deputy treasury secretary, and Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, describe a nearly apocalyptic future—just around the bend—if we do not act yesterday.”

Continuing, Parker writes: “The instability inherent in the world’s biggest economy being the world’s biggest borrower is problematic beyond the obvious. Not only will we be limited in the extent to which we can fight necessary wars, but our financial constraints will affect homeland security, intelligence and foreign aid, according to Haass and Altman. Most important, our global clout will be increasingly diminished. Haass and Altman offer two scenarios: One, our president and Congress get their deficit-reduction act together… Or, two, global capital markets will impose a solution, which likely would be ‘ugly and punitive.'”

The first scenario was even less likely by week’s end when the president and Congress agreed to maintain the tax cuts in place since the Bush administration, continue unemployment benefits and cut the payroll tax, measures expected to raise the deficit by even more billions! Hold your breath for the second option!

On PBS’s McLaughlin Group, Dec. 12, regular contributor Pat Buchanan, quoted earlier here, observed that “this country has never been so close to a default”! A member of the bipartisan commission looking into solving the country’s debt problems, interviewed on BBC America, warned that we may only have weeks to solve the nation’s debt crisis.

This article has only looked at the economic turmoil that continues unabated around the world. But economics determines a great deal when it comes to national domestic politics, geopolitics and military power. Without economic power, military power is almost impossible. Economic trends are a reliable indicator of future political and military developments. And the economic trends we see in the world at this time clearly show that prophecies in your Bible are heading toward fulfillment.

The final sentence in the previously quoted article in The Economist sums up the new year: “A more divided world economy could make 2011 a year of damaging shocks.” WNP

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Bob Jennings preaches a message on Joshua Chapter 23 at the Bentley Grace Bible Camp. This is a powerful sermon from a brother who is dying of pancreatic cancer.

Bob is an elder at http://hwymchapel.org

Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg

PALO ALTO, CA –Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook will be shut down in March. Managing the site has become too stressful.

“Facebook has gotten out of control,” said Zuckerberg in a press conference outside his Palo Alto office, “and the stress of managing this company has ruined my life. I need to put an end to all the madness.”
Zuckerberg went on to explain that starting March 15th, users will no longer be able to access their Facebook accounts.

“After March 15th the whole website shuts down,” said Avrat Humarthi, Vice President of Technical Affairs at Facebook. “So if you ever want to see your pictures again, I recommend you take them off the internet. You won’t be able to get them back once Facebook goes out of business.”

Zuckerberg said that the decision to shut down Facebook was difficult, but that he does not think people will be upset. “I personally don’t think it’s a big deal,” he said in a private phone interview. “And to be honest, I think it’s for the better. Without Facebook, people will have to go outside and make real friends. That’s always a good thing.”

Some Facebook users were furious upon hearing the shocking news. “What am I going to do without Facebook?” said Denise Bradshaw, a high school student from Indiana. “My life revolves around it. I’m on Facebook at least 10 hours a day. Now what am I going to do with all that free time?” However, parents across the country have been experiencing a long anticipated sense of relief. “I’m glad the Facebook nightmare is over,” said Jon Guttari, a single parent from Detroit. “Now my teenager’s face won’t be glued to a computer screen all day. Maybe I can even have a conversation with her.” Those in the financial circuit are criticizing Zuckerberg for walking away from a multibillion dollar franchise. Facebook is currently ranked as one of the wealthiest businesses in the world, with economists estimating its value at around 7.9 billion.

But Zuckerberg remains unruffled by these accusations. He says he will stand by his decision to give Facebook the axe. “I don’t care about the money,” said Zuckerberg. “I just want my old life back.” The Facebook Corporation suggests that users remove all of their personal information from the website before March 15th. After that date, all photos, notes, links, and videos will be permanently erased.

Rebuttal of this report:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1345814/Facebook-denies-shutdown-rumors-thousands-mourn-loss-social-network-site.html

Financial crooks brought down the world’s economy — but the feds are doing more to protect them than to prosecute them

Greedy Bankers

Greedy Bankers

By Matt Taibbi
FEBRUARY 16, 2011 9:00 AM ET

Over drinks at a bar on a dreary, snowy night in Washington this past month, a former Senate investigator laughed as he polished off his beer.

“Everything’s fucked up, and nobody goes to jail,” he said. “That’s your whole story right there. Hell, you don’t even have to write the rest of it. Just write that.”

I put down my notebook. “Just that?”

“That’s right,” he said, signaling to the waitress for the check. “Everything’s fucked up, and nobody goes to jail. You can end the piece right there.”

Nobody goes to jail. This is the mantra of the financial-crisis era, one that saw virtually every major bank and financial company on Wall Street embroiled in obscene criminal scandals that impoverished millions and collectively destroyed hundreds of billions, in fact, trillions of dollars of the world’s wealth — and nobody went to jail. Nobody, that is, except Bernie Madoff, a flamboyant and pathological celebrity con artist, whose victims happened to be other rich and famous people.

This article appears in the March 3, 2011 issue of Rolling Stone. The issue is available now on newsstands and will appear in the online archive February 18.

The rest of them, all of them, got off. Not a single executive who ran the companies that cooked up and cashed in on the phony financial boom — an industrywide scam that involved the mass sale of mismarked, fraudulent mortgage-backed securities — has ever been convicted. Their names by now are familiar to even the most casual Middle American news consumer: companies like AIG, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley. Most of these firms were directly involved in elaborate fraud and theft. Lehman Brothers hid billions in loans from its investors. Bank of America lied about billions in bonuses. Goldman Sachs failed to tell clients how it put together the born-to-lose toxic mortgage deals it was selling. What’s more, many of these companies had corporate chieftains whose actions cost investors billions — from AIG derivatives chief Joe Cassano, who assured investors they would not lose even “one dollar” just months before his unit imploded, to the $263 million in compensation that former Lehman chief Dick “The Gorilla” Fuld conveniently failed to disclose. Yet not one of them has faced time behind bars.

Invasion of the Home Snatchers

Instead, federal regulators and prosecutors have let the banks and finance companies that tried to burn the world economy to the ground get off with carefully orchestrated settlements — whitewash jobs that involve the firms paying pathetically small fines without even being required to admit wrongdoing. To add insult to injury, the people who actually committed the crimes almost never pay the fines themselves; banks caught defrauding their shareholders often use shareholder money to foot the tab of justice. “If the allegations in these settlements are true,” says Jed Rakoff, a federal judge in the Southern District of New York, “it’s management buying its way off cheap, from the pockets of their victims.”

Taibblog: Commentary on politics and the economy by Matt Taibbi

To understand the significance of this, one has to think carefully about the efficacy of fines as a punishment for a defendant pool that includes the richest people on earth — people who simply get their companies to pay their fines for them. Conversely, one has to consider the powerful deterrent to further wrongdoing that the state is missing by not introducing this particular class of people to the experience of incarceration. “You put Lloyd Blankfein in pound-me-in-the-ass prison for one six-month term, and all this bullshit would stop, all over Wall Street,” says a former congressional aide. “That’s all it would take. Just once.”

But that hasn’t happened. Because the entire system set up to monitor and regulate Wall Street is fucked up.

Just ask the people who tried to do the right thing.

 

Ravi Zacharias

Ravi Zacharias

For two evenings, Ravi Zacharias answers hard-hitting questions from a student-packed auditorium at University of Illinois.

 

 

The Dollar Bubble starring Peter Schiff, Ron Paul, Marc Faber, Gerald Celente, Jim Rogers, and others.  The world is preparing for a new global currency. Prepare now for the U.S. Dollar collapse