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Posts Tagged ‘John Robbins’

Financial Crisis

There were at least a three noteworthy events in the financial markets this past week. In the first place there was outgoing European Central Bank (ECB) head Mario Draghi’s announcement of what some are calling QE Infinity (Infinite Quantitative Easing). According to Draghi, the ECB will begin asset purchases at the rate of €20 billon per month for as long as it deems necessary, “to reinforce th accommodative impact of its polity rates.”

Translating all this central bank talk into plain English, Draghi has committed the ECB to counterfeit an absurd about of money on a monthly basis just to make sure the European economy doesn’t collapse. Further, there is no definite stopping point to this program. Draghi’s policy is both sinful and incompetent. It is sinful, because it violates the Bible’s clear teaching that differing weights and measures are an abomination to the Lord It is incompetent, because it fails not only to address the real reasons for the economic problems in the nations that use the Euro currency, but actually makes them worse.


Second was Donald Trump’s calling for the Federal Reserve to lower “interest rates down to ZERO , or less.” This is a remarkable statement by the President, and has left many asking why he made it. The short story is this, the American economy is not as good as what Trump and others have tried to convey and the President is concerned that, if the Fed doesn’t cut interest rates, the stock market will tank and the economy will fall into recession. Neither of these things would be good for his reelection chances.

Of course, neither a Zero Interest Rate Policy (ZIRP) nor a Negative Interest Rate Policy (NIRP) would be good for the country, especially for those who rely on interest income from their savings, but that doesn’t seem to matter to the President.

A third noteworthy item of financial news from last week was the sudden spike in the 10-year US Treasury interest rate. The 10-year US Treasury is considered the benchmark interest rate for the entire bond market. More than that, the 10-year Treasury is the benchmark which goes a long way to determining the price of stocks as well.

When interest rates move sharply upward, this means that the price paid for bonds has gone sharply down. Bond interest rates and bond prices move in opposite directions, much as the ends of a teeter-totter do. If yields are going up, this means that there is a selloff in the bond market.

So bonds are selling off, what does this mean? Peter Schiff and Gregory Mannarino have warned that this could portend a larger bond selloff as holders of US Treasuries become nervous about the financial condition of the US. Mannarino is of the opinion that China may be the major actor here.

Another interpretation is that the Exchange Stabilization Fund (ESF) – the ESF is part of the US Treasury Department – is manipulating the 10-year interest rate to make sure that the yield on the 10-year Treasury stays well above the yield on the 2-year Treasury, thus preventing an inverted yield curve, which is a strong recession indicator.

These moves in the bond market are important, yet most people don’t follow the bond market nearly as much as the stock market. But it’s the bond market that controls what goes on in the stock market, not the other way around. If we ever do get an uncontrolled selloff in the bond market – this would mean sharply higher interest rates, remember when bond prices go down, interest rates go up – you would see a simultaneous crash in all markets that derive their value from debt: stocks, and housing in particular.

Put another way, if the bond market tanks, the whole economy tanks.

One thing all three bits of news above have in common is that they are all related to what I’ve called the Ongoing Financial Crisis of 2008. My contention is that, due to the interventions of governments and central banks, the debt problem that triggered the 2008 global financial crisis not only was not solved, but actually made worse. Calls for QE Infinity, ZIRP, and NIRP together shaky bond markets are all symptoms of this.

In light of the fact that the serious problems with the West’s financial system have never been addresses, and given the foolishness of Western leaders, never will be voluntarily addressed, it seems wise to this author for Christians to take steps to protect themselves from a breakdown in the financial system now.

It is this need to get prepared and stay prepared, together with a conviction that very little has been written for Christians by Christians on this subject, that have prompted me to write this series in the first place.

As part of this series on the financial crisis and on getting prepared for it, I have been examining what the Bible has to say about prepping. As a Scripturalist – a Scripturalist is defined as one who believes that all knowledge is either expressly set forth, or can be derived by good and necessary inference, from the 66 books of the Bible – it is critical to ground all prepping the Word of God.

One question to ask is this, Does the Bible support prepping? The clear answer is, yes it does. This can been seen in the numerous, clear examples in the Scriptures of those took steps to prevent suffering and death, both their own and that of others, by taking preventive measures in the face of oncoming catastrophe. “A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself,” says Proverbs, “but the simple pass on and are punished.”

A second question to ask is, What should Christians do to get prepared? I contend that Christians must answer this question in the same as the first, by looking to the Scriptures. As part of this series, we’ve already looked at two examples, that of Noah and that of Lot. Today, I’d like to turn the reader’s attention to another obvious example from Genesis, the case of Joseph, Prime Minister of Egypt.

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Abortion_AL

Pro-choice supporters protest in front of the Alabama State House in Montgomery on May 14, 2019.
REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry

“What angers me about the GOP’s attempts to turn the United States into a far-right Christian theocracy is how dishonest they are about it. At least be forthright about your desire to subvert and dismantle our democracy into a creepy theological order led by a mad king.”

    – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, (D) New York, Twitter, 5/17/19

It seems as if America is on course for an abortion show down. A sort of Roe v. Wade version of pistols at noon.

In January of this year, the first shot in the latest iteration of the ongoing abortion war fired by the New York State Legislature when it passed the Reproductive Health Act (RHA). If ever a bill was fast tracked, this one certainly was. According to Wikipedia, the bill was introduced into the New York State Legislature on January 9, 2019, passed by both houses on January 22, and signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo that same evening.

The RHA, widely considered the nation’s most liberal abortion law, changed New York’s abortion laws in the following ways:

  • Removed abortion from the state’s criminal code
  • Allows medical professionals who are not doctors to perform abortions
  • To the states statue allowing abortion in the third trimester if the mother’s health is threatened, the bill adds language permitting abortion in the third trimester if the fetus in not viable

In Virginia, a bill was introduced earlier this year that would have greatly liberalized abortion in that state. When asked in a radio interview about the whether the bill would allow a fetus surviving abortion to be killed, Governor Ralph Northam created a major controversy with his answer that lent support to allowing such an infant to die.

In sharp contrast to New York and Governor Northam, just this week the Alabama State Legislature passed, and the governor signed, what is viewed as the nation’s most restrictive abortion law. The Alabama law makes it a felony offense for doctors to perform or attempt to perform an abortion, allows no exceptions for rape of incest, but does permit abortions in the event the mother’s life is at risk.

But while Alabama’s law is the most restrictive state-level abortion statute, other states have recently enacted legislation that will have the effect of significantly reducing abortions. In 2019 five states – Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi and Ohio – have passed heartbeat bills, legislation designed to prohibit abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. Utah and Arkansas voted to limit abortions to the middle of the second trimester. Together with Alabama, this makes eight states in 2019 that have taken legislative action to restrict abortion.

Very clearly, when it comes to abortion America is a deeply divided nation.

With a majority conservative Supreme Court, it may well be, as several legal commentators have suggested, that state-level Republican legislators and governors have passed and signed into law these bills with an eye to challenging Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision legalizing abortion in all fifty states.

If these laws are challenged in court, as they surely will be, it is entirely possible that the challenges could begin working their way through the federal court system just as the 2020 presidential election is coming to a head. If that happens, abortion could become the lightening rod of the 2020 presidential election.

Below are a few of my observations on brewing conflict.

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FP-Monroe Doctrine

1896 political cartoon depicting the Monroe Doctrine.

“In this administration, we’re not afraid to use the phrase ‘Monroe Doctrine.’ This [Venezuela] is a country in our hemisphere; it’s been the objective of presidents going back to Ronald Reagan to have a completely democratic hemisphere.”

    – White House national security adviser John Bolton

In at appearance earlier this month on CNN, national security adviser John Bolton expressed to host Jake Tapper the policy justification behind the Trump administration’s open attempt to overthrow Nicholas Maduro, the elected president of Venezuela, whom Bolton had earlier referred to in a Tweet as a “dictator.” Bolton based the argument for his and the administration’s stance on Maduro on the Monroe Doctrine, a historic foreign policy tenet of the United States dating back to the 1820’s.

Many Americans have a vague sense of the Monroe Doctrine, that it has something to do with the US keeping overseas powers out of the Western Hemisphere. There’s truth to this, of course. But is that all the Monroe Doctrine is about? Many think so. Interestingly, Bolton did not assert this aspect of the Monroe Doctrine, instead arguing that the Monroe Doctrine was about US presidents, going back to Ronald Reagan, ensuring that all nations in the Western Hemisphere have democratic governments.

On Friday, Bolton issued a statement concerning Russian military personnel in Venezuela that sounded more like a traditional understanding of the Monroe Doctrine. As Reuters reports, Bolton warned Russia about its military presence in Venezuela, saying the US would consider as a “direct threat” any attempt by Russia to establish or expand its military activities in that country.

No doubt, Russia’s military presence in Venezuela ups the ante in an already tense situation. Further, a European power’s entry into oil-rich, and therefore strategic, Venezuela certainly seems to be a challenge to Washington’s ability to enforce the Monroe Doctrine.

With this in mind, let’s take a closer look at the Monroe Doctrine to see if its current use by the Administration is in keeping with its actual terms.

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