“U.S. foes gloat over financial crisis” (Associated Press)
“Iran hails world financial crisis as ‘end of capitalism'” (Agence France Presse)
“We are witnessing the collapse of the American Empire.” – Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh
“We are happy that the U.S. economy is in anarchy and the anarchy is reaching Europe. They are seeing the result of their own ugly doings and God is punishing them.” – top Iranian cleric
(Washington, D.C., October 16, 2008)– The U.S. is experiencing the most serious financial crisis since the Great Depression. Our enemies know it. They smell blood in the water. Consider the latest developments:
* “Wall Street stocks plunged Wednesday in the second biggest single day point loss in history and their worst percentage fall in two decades, ravaged by fears the world’s biggest economy is slipping into recession. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 733.08 points (7.87 percent) to close at 8,577.91 in the worst one-day point loss since last month’s record 777-point decline and the steepest percentage drop since 1987. In an even more brutal decline, the broad-market Standard & Poor’s index plunged 90.17 points (9.03 percent) to 907.84.” (AFP)
* “We are living through financial history of the tragic kind. As of Friday’s close, America’s stock market had declined in value by well over 40 per cent compared with its peak a year ago. Already, this ranks as the fifth biggest stock market decline since the 1920s.” (U.K. Independent)
* “U.S. stocks [in recent days have] plunged the most since the crash of 1987, hammered by the biggest drop in retail sales in three years and growing doubt that plans to bail out banks will keep the economic slump from deepening….The S&P 500 has tumbled 38 percent in 2008 as losses and writedowns from mortgage-related investments at financial firms worldwide topped $640 billion….The S&P 500 has tumbled 42 percent from its Oct. 9, 2007, record and the Dow has lost 39 percent from its peak the same day.” (Bloomberg News)
* “Japan’s key stock index plummeted more than 11 percent, South Korean shares shed 9.25 percent, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was down 4.8 percent. Floowing Asia’s lead, benchmarks in Britain, Germany and France slipped about 3 percent. Russia’s RTS also fell.” (AP)
* “U.S. Forces Nine Major Banks To Accept Partial Nationalization” – Washington Post
* “The White House said G8 leaders were expected to meet this year on the worst financial crisis since the 1930s Great Depression. Governments around the world have pledged $3.2 trillion in emergency measures – roughly an equivalent to the economic output of Germany or China – including taking stakes in banks to help them stabilize, rallying world markets on Monday and Tuesday. But optimism quickly gave way to fears that government intervention would not save major economies from recession.” (Reuters)
This is not a temporary glitch in the global financial software. The problems are real, deep and systemic. The best explanations and analysis I have seen have come from Steve Forbes, editor-in-chief of Forbes magazine, the nation’s foremost business magazine (see Steve’s recent columns).
The big question now: What does it all mean and where do we go from here? A few thoughts on the implications of this financial apocalypse:
1. First things first: our national security is inextricably tied to our economic security. Economic weakness is an invitation to radical Islamic terrorists to hit us again. It’s also an invitation to other rogue nations to pursue their evil plans while thinking we are unable or unwilling to stop them. The U.S. cannot lead the world in defeating tyrants and terrorists and creating an environment of peace and prosperity if we are collapsing at home. Stabilizing our economy, reforming our financial institutions, punishing and imprisoning those who have criminally undermined our economy, and getting us back on the road to free market growth and entrepreneurial health and vitality must be the top priority of the next Commander-in-Chief.
2. I don’t believe one U.S. political party or the other is specifically to blame for our own financial crisis. There is plenty of blame to go around and the problems have been developing for years. That said, it is becoming increasingly clear to me that the U.S. stock markets are tanking especially hard right now in part because investors believe Sen. Barack Obama is going to win on November 4th. As polls for Obama and Congressional Democrats have risen – and Americans have begun to sense that Obama’s election as president and expanded control of Congress by Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Harry Reid and their liberal allies is inevitable – investors’ fears have not been calmed. They have been exacerbated. True, investors don’t see a complete and convincing economic rescue plan from Sen. McCain. But they see disaster in Obama’s plan and the likelihood of full control of the U.S. government by the Democrats. The Obama-Pelosi-Reid prescription, after all, is the worst possible medicine for the economy – $1.3 trillion in new federal spending, dramatic tax increases on small businesses, dramatic tax increases on big businesses, dramatic tax increases on those who create wealth, a major new tax on energy producers, as well as nationalized health care system. We are not simply on the brink of a serious recession; we are on the brink of another Great Depression. How, then, will massive tax increases and massive government spending help us fight our way out of this crisis? Answer: it won’t. And Main Street and Wall Street know it. Just ask Joe the Plumber.
3. Are there prophetic implications of this financial crisis? It is hard to be definitive. The U.S. does not show up specifically in any end times Bible prophecies. But this fact alone raises a sobering question: If we are really in what the Bible describes as “the last days” before the return of Jesus Christ, then how is it possible that the United States of America – the wealthiest and most powerful nation on the face of the planet in the history of mankind – does not play a significant, notable role in Biblical end times events?
The honest answer: I don’t know for certain. But here’s what I wrote in Dead Heat (p. 154): “What Bennett had never really considered carefully until now was the possibility that something else might devastate the American people, rendering them ineffective heading into the last of the last days. A financial downturn on Wall Street. The sudden collapse of the dollar. The beginning of another Great Depression. A series of devastating earthquakes. Or hurricanes. Or other natural disasters, like a tsunami. [Or ] the most cataclysmic terrorist attack of all time – five nuclear warheads. And there might be more to come. None of it was clearly prophesied in the Scriptures. Not that he could find. But perhaps he should have foreseen the neutralization of America by more carefully reading between the lines. If so, what else was he missing? What exactly was coming next?”
4. Finally, let us consider the possibility that the Lord is allowing this economic meltdown in part to shake our confidence in anything but a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Is it possible that God is trying to shake us loose from trusting in our wealth, from trusting in our political leaders, from trusting in our own ingenuity and our own hard work? Is it possible that He is trying to get us to shift our focus from worldly, materialistic things to how much He loves us, and the truth that the only person we can truly trust in life to never leave us or forsake us is Jesus Christ? Is it possible that He is trying to get us to read the Bible more, and the stock tickers less? To pray more, and to worry less? To store up our treasures in heaven, and not concentrate so much on our treasures on earth?
Anyone who is feeling fearful during this turbulent economic times would do well to meditate on the words Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 6:19-33 —
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also….No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other You cannot serve God and wealth. For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
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