Saturday, February 23, 2013

Sequestration, world commerce, and the coming antichrist economy

If there is such a thing as a 'reverse miracle' the global economy these last five years is it. In 2008 when the global crash startled the world and the housing bubble imploded, and jobs went away, it seemed that the house of cards that is world finance and commerce would collapse. It didn't. And all these five years, it hasn't. This defies logic, tradition, and all economic principles. (Above, A crowd gathers at New York City's Federal Hall opposite the Stock Exchange at the news of the crash - 1929 AP / Wide World Photos Time - 75 Years)

Or does it?

What has to change is our perception of what an economic crash is. If you live in America like I do, we have a notion that economic crashes suddenly occur, like the October Wall Street stock market crash of 1929. We often think of the crash happening in October and then immediately of the lines outside banks to get disappearing deposits and right away the Okies traveling away from the Dust bowl states. But it all unfolded much more slowly than that.

Oct 10, 2008, Source
But what most people do not know is that the 1929 crash was similar to the 2008 crash in that it was but one marker of an ailing, upside down economy. Bankers and Brokers didn't realize the depth and extent of the crash and that it would spark a 10-year Depression.

Time Magazine reported on the 1929 October crash, "As the story goes, the opening bell was never heard on Black Tuesday because the shouts of "Sell! Sell! Sell!" drowned it out. In the first thirty minutes, 3 million shares changed hands and with them, another $2 million disappeared into thin air. Phone lines clogged. The volume of Western Union telegrams traveling across the country tripled. The ticker tape ran so far behind the actual transactions that some traders simply let it run out. Trades happened so quickly that although people knew they were losing money, they didn't know how much."

And that is what we remember of the most devastating and terror-ridden moment in America's financial and economic history. But the crash continued-

As a matter of fact, the Market recovered on October 30, regaining 12% of losses. Time reported, "In total, $25 billion — some $319 billion in today's dollars — was lost in the 1929 crash. Stocks continued to fall over subsequent weeks, finally bottoming out on November 13, 1929. The market recovered for a few months and then slid again, gliding swiftly and steadily with the rest of the country into the Great Depression. Companies incurred huge layoffs, unemployment skyrocketed, wages plummeted and the economy went into a tailspin. While World War II helped pull the country out of a Depression by the early 1940s, the stock market wouldn't recover to its pre-crash numbers until 1954."

After the crash of 1929 it wasn't until 1932-1933 that the economy hit rock bottom. This timeline has the facts about why 1933 was the worst year of the Depression for the common man. So you can easily see that the crash was not a one-day event but took years to unfold, rebound and for the stock market to recover..

Like 1929, the 2008 economic crash followed a speculative boom. The era was so speculative and the attitude was so optimistic, that the entire era is called The Roaring Twenties. The era was dynamic, vibrant, creative, and was undergirded by sustained economic prosperity. This attitude was not prevalent just in America, but also Europe. France's name for the era was The Crazy Years. Britain called it the Golden Twenties.

The president of the Chase National Bank said at the time of the crash, "We are reaping the natural fruit of the orgy of speculation in which millions of people have indulged. It was inevitable, because of the tremendous increase in the number of stockholders in recent years, that the number of sellers would be greater than ever when the boom ended and selling took the place of buying." (Wikipedia)

Economist Albert Scardino said in 1987, "The panic of October 1929 has come to serve as a symbol of the economic contraction that gripped the world during the next decade."

As an aside, when economists say "contraction", I think of the contraction of a woman in labor. (Matthew 24:8).

The same conditions that sparked the crash of 1929, wild speculation and bloated spending, sparked the 2008 crash, but like the unfolding Depression of the 1930, it unfolds slowly. The crash is actually a long period of decline, not a one-day event. We have been 'crashing' since October 2008. We are in a crash right now. Let's take a look at the present-day facts.

Wal-Mart is undergoing a silent sales disaster. The Daily Beast reports, Wal-Mart customers have disappeared, will they take the economy with them?
"Where are all the customers?" asks an internal Walmart email published by Bloomberg last week. "And where's their money?" Another email states "In case you haven't seen a sales report these days, February [month to date] sales are a total disaster . . . the worst start to a month I have seen in my ~7 years with the company." Brad Plumer notes that Walmart sales are often a bellwether for the rest of the economy. Should we be freaking out?"

Yes. Yes we should.

Why? The higher payroll tax kicked in this January. Higher payroll taxes mean less money for consumers and less money for consumers means, well, they spend less. The Economic Collapse blog says "The Big Dogs of Wall Street are starting to get very nervous".

And according to a CNN article, corporate insiders are now selling nine times more of their own shares than they are buying...  These corporate insiders have one word for investors: sell. Insiders were nine times more likely to sell shares of their companies than buy new ones last week, according to the Vickers Weekly Insider report by Argus Research. We wonder why corporate bigwigs like Google's Eric Schmidt is selling nearly half of his stock in the company.

The crashing economy is seen not just in consumer spending, stocks, and retail, but in government. The United States has not passed a budget in years. Heritage reports, "The House and Senate have not agreed on a budget resolution since April 29, 2009 (though the House has passed budgets the past two years). If current trends continue, the end of the 113th Congress will mark five straight years without a congressional budget. ... The temporary tax policies of recent years, the debt ceiling debacle of 2011, and the short-term “solution” of last year’s fiscal cliff have only worsened the budgetary dysfunction. Congress now faces across-the-board spending cuts (sequestration) on March 1, another deadline March 27 for funding government operations, and another debt ceiling vote in May. Halfway into the fiscal year, major budget decisions remain in flux. These incoherent practices have yielded no entitlement reform—indispensable for getting deficits and debt under control—but they have produced a $618 billion tax increase."

Caption- Some of the 6,000 men who queued up for jobs offered by a New York employment agency - 1930 (135 found jobs; by 1932 almost 30% of the American workforce was unemployed) Corbis / Bettmann - UPI

Pentagon informs Congress of plans to furlough 800K civilian workers
"The Pentagon notified Congress on Wednesday it will be furloughing its civilian workforce of 800,000 employees if sequestration goes into effect March 1."

Sequestration defined: "Under sequestration, an amount of money equal to the difference between the cap set in the Budget Resolution and the amount actually appropriated is "sequestered" by the Treasury and not handed over to the agencies to which it was originally appropriated by Congress."

As we already know, there is trouble everywhere. The UK lost its credit rating yesterday. Forbes reported,  "Moody’s Investors Service downgraded the sovereign credit rating of the U.K. on Friday, stripping its coveted triple-A status one notch to AA1. The agency blamed U.K.’s rising debt levels, adding that there was “a deterioration in the shock-absorption capacity of the government’s balance sheet, which is unlikely to reverse before 2016.” Forbes asks the $64 question, 'Is the US next?'

Imagine what the loss of pay for 800,000 workers would do to our economy, already staggered by loss of jobs and cash flow. In other words, under sequestration, all money flow comes to a forced halt and during a depression voluntary money flow comes to a halt. Like retail spending--

CBS News reports, "The entire economy is headed for trouble in just eight days -- when massive across-the-board cuts in the federal budget are scheduled to kick in automatically. The cuts were designed to be so deep and harmful, that they would force the president and Congress to find a better way. But they haven't. Just for example, there would be $46 billion cut from the Defense Department and benefit cuts for 4.7 million long-term unemployed."

Retail is failing, and this is a marker of the crash.

Best Buy is forecasting 200 to 250 store closings
Sears Holding Corp. forecast store closings: Kmart 175 to 225, Sears 100 to 125
J.C. Penney, forecast store closings: 300 to 350
Office Depot, forecast store closings: 125 to 150
Barnes & Noble, forecast store closings: 190 to 240, per company comments
Gamestop, forecast store closings: 500 to 600
OfficeMax, forecast store closings: 150 to 175
RadioShack, forecast store closings: 450 to 550

In addition to closings, we hear about layoffs.

Blockbuster recently announced that this year they will be closing about 300 stores and eliminating about 3,000 jobs. Toy manufacturer Hasbro recently announced that they will be shrinking their workforce by about 10 percent. And we already heard about the Walmart email that said February was the worst month, ever.

So what does this all mean? It means God is doing a work! Did you know that the bible has a lot to say about finances and economy? There are verses which instruct us on personal level and on a national level. For example, Proverbs 22:16 says,

"Whoever oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth, or gives to the rich, will only come to poverty." The NLT makes it even clearer. "A person who gets ahead by oppressing the poor or by showering gifts on the rich will end in poverty." Tell that to the Occupy Wall Street people...

But now I am going to contradict myself. The Great Depression seems to have begun in October 1929 and the stock market did not recover until 1954. These things take a long time to set up, to occur and to recover from. They are long cycles. (Kondratiev wave). The one exception to the slow cycle of up and  down will be the Tribulation. Why? It will be a time like no other before or since, (Matthew 24:21).

In my opinion, the fact that the global merging of all national economies into one economic force (Revelation 13:16-17) under the management of one man, (Revelation 13:5-8), bespeaks that something massive has to have happened for the people to accept such dramatic moves. And it has to happen fast, because the Tribulation is only 7 years, and since Revelation is mostly chronological, by the time Revelation 13 occurs, it is midway through the entire period. We read in Revelation 13:5 that authority is given to the antichrist for 42 months (3.5 years).

There will be an economy in the Tribulation, it will be vigorous and will trade in all the usual things like flour (Revelation 6:6) but there will also be a trade for luxuries (Revelation 18). There will be people rich enough to buy these luxuries. So much so, that the merchants selling them become incredibly wealthy.

WHAT will have happened that will reduce the world into an entire economic and financial restructuring within just 3.5 years? (first half of the Tribulation). Something terrible and dramatic. It only takes three and a half years for the global economy to be turned completely upside down, restructured and by the time the antichrist comes along, for the world to accept his proposal of a one world government- and enact it!

Of course, the beginning of the events that would cause the acceptance of the one world economy may begin prior to the Tribulation, but given the last five years of slow decline (despite warnings of the 'fiscal cliff) I don't think so. Personally I believe it will be one or more of the following that will cause the final and/or sudden economic collapse:

1. The rapture. If enough consumers who hold withhold their money from retail circulation could cause panic in Walmart execs during just one month, what will the sudden removal of all the Christians' economic input cause the world economy?

2. War. And not just any war- but nuclear war and/or EMP. The coming wars of Isaiah 17, Isaiah 19, Psalm 83 and Ezekiel 38-39 may not occur just in the Tribulation. There is nothing about the prophecy that says these wars have to happen during the 7 years of judgment (except by the very end of the Ezekiel 38-39 Gog/Magog war the Tribulation will have begun, because the Jews are brought back to covenant with God, (Ez 39:7) and the world knows that God is judging the world. (Ez 38:16, 23). Those prophesied wars contain intimations that they will be nuclear. I wrote about that last week. With war often comes...disease.

3. Disease outbreak. The 1918-20 Spanish flu pandemic was an unusually deadly influenza pandemic which infected 500 million people across the world, including remote Pacific islands and the Arctic, and killed 50 to 100 million of them—1 to 3 percent of the world's population at the time—making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in human history. (source). Most of the deaths in the US took place within only 9 months. The sudden removal of human capital, either through death or illness from which they later recovered, was dramatic. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has estimated that a pandemic similar to the 1918 flu would decrease annual U.S. GDP levels by 5% if it happened in today's economy. There were mandatory closings of schools, churches, theatres, and places of public assemblage toward the end of the year in 1918. The entertainment industry was hit hardest.

For example, legal gambling in the US is a 90Billion dollar industry. Factor in other entertainment such as cable, internet, film, music etc and you have a trillion dollar industry. An outbreak of disease could put a severe dent on all that, just as it did in 1918. As a matter of fact, officials are worried about an outbreak of tuberculosis in LA. And yesterday it's reported that a Long Island teen died of a mysterious illness while on a school trip to Disneyland

4. All of the above. All these events could happen simultaneously or nearly so. It is not possible to go through the removal of millions in the blink of an eye, and/or war, and/or pestilential outbreak on a global scale and not have other segments of the global infrastructure such as economy be impacted too.

5. Other. God is creative. I do not know what else He may have planned that will cause the world's economy to fail or at least come to the point where the population of the planet accepts an entire restructuring. Who expected the 9.0 quake and tsunami in Japan? Who expected the Pope to resign? Who thought Obama would be re-elected for another 4 years? Who thought that a massive sinkhole in Bayou Corne or a BP multi-month oil breach would occur?

We Christians can look forward to the rapture and will escape all these things. We see the rapture in Revelation 4. The Church is seen in Heaven in Revelation 5. The wrath begins in Revelation 6. No matter how close the wrath is, the rapture is closer!

15 comments :

  1. Good article, Elizabeth. Thanks for the instructive points about the timescale of an economic collapse.

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  2. Hi Elizabeth, This is a great blog with excellent articles. When I first started studying Bible prophecy I was absolutely certain that the rapture was pre-tribulational. However, the more I study scripture the less sure I am. Pre-wrath of the Lord rapture - yes, definitely. Pre-tribulation rapture - I honestly don't know! Blessings, John.

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    1. Hi John,

      I'm so glad you find anything here helpful to you in your walk.

      I'm sorry satan is stealing your certainty about the pre-trib rapture, because the rapture *is* to occur before the tribulation. Here is how you can know. If it is not pre-trib, Jesus/Holy Spirit/God is a liar. How? Here's how

      We are spared God's wrath, as He said in 1 Thess 5:9 and Rev 3:10. The wrath begins in Rev 6 with the opening of the seals as stated in Rev 6:16-17. If we go thru the wrath, it nullifies 1 Thess and Rev 3 and makes God a liar.

      He said that the gates of hell will not prevail against his church (Mt 16:18), but the power was given to antichrist to overcome against His saints in the Tribulation. (Rev. 13:7). If we are here in the Tribulation and overcome, it makes Jesus a liar.

      I have at least five essays on the blog on the pre-tribulational rapture, if you search in the box at the top right, they will come up. It is a lock, a certainty, scripture tells us, we won't be here.

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  3. Hi Elizabeth, Thanks for your gracious reply and for directing me to your essays on the pre-tribulation rapture. I'll read them with great interest. Please be assured that I would never call God a liar. Many blessings, John.

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    1. Hi John,

      Oh, heavens no, I didn't mean you! I mean that the bible is clear on it to such a degree that to hold anything but a pre-trib position means that verses begin to contradict each other, The only resolution that makes no contradiction is a pre-trib position. Anything else sets verses against each other that brings a failure of God to keep His promises, which we know can't happen :0 . SO sorry and don't think for a moment that I meant you. Your question was endearing and thoguhtful

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  4. Hi Elizabeth, Having read your articles on the rapture, 2 points I had forgotten about do seem to signify it as being a pre-trib event. a. As Christians we are made clean by our faith in Jesus Christ, so why would He then require us to endure any part of the tribulation? b. The great tribulation is more accurately known as the time of Jacob's trouble, indicating that it is a time of great refining of the Jewish people, who still do not recognise Jesus as their Messiah. Thanks for the clarification. John.

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    1. John, exactly! He washed away sin from us, so why as Daniel 9:24 says, will be be punished for sin? It would be another contradiction. And you're right, Jeremiah 30:7 says, it is about Jacob, or Israel. The decree of so many years (490) was stopped short by 7. As the Lord resumes them, it is like a resumption of the Old Testament. The Spirit's ministry changes, the OT Judaism resumes- The practicalities of the situation are these:

      --sacrifices will resume at the temple.
      --are the Tribulation saints to sacrifice? or are they saved by grace alone?

      It would be confusing and God is not the author of confusion.

      The end of the tribulation will be glorious- the Jews come to national repentance. Isaiah 53 is not properly interpreted as a future prophecy when it was written and fulfilled as Jesus died and rose again from the cross. It is a still future prophecy as the Jews at the end of days look BACK to the cross and realize what they missed, as they joyfully but mournfully claim Jesus as Messiah finally, as Zech 10 & 12 show.

      If a person understands the work the LORD is doing over all of time between the Jews and the Church, then it becomes clear. Romans 11:25-27 has it- God partially hardened the Jews as punishment, until the full number of Gentiles has come into the church, when that # is reached, we go to heaven via rapture, and He lifts that hardening to resume His work with His original chosen people.

      Great job John for checking these things out yourself Great!

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  5. Hi Elizabeth, Thanks for your reply. If you have time, would you mind checking out Scottie Clarke's video 'The most logical rapture theory' - extended 38 minute version- on YouTube (eternalrhythmflow)? I make no comment on it at present but would appreciate your opinion. There's no rush! Thanks, John.

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    1. Hi John,
      I found extended version. I watched 2:13.

      His premise is from the Rev 12:1a portion of this passage:

      "A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who “will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.” And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. The woman fled into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days"

      His premise is that the woman clothed with the sun is a constellation that will appear at a certain time in the skies. Tying that with Luke's warning in chapter 21:25a that there will be signs in the sun and moon and stars, he says "based on where this is [constellation] and what's going on when this sign happens, we can actually deduce where the rapture is." [on his timeline].

      But his 1st mistake is that he takes excessively narrow views of parts of a verse, out of context, ignoring the rest. If one reads the entire 6 verses above from Revelation 12, the woman clad with the sun cannot be a constellation. She is referred to as a she. She gives birth. The babe is someone who is on a throne, uses a scepter, and finally, the woman flees to the wilderness. Constellations don't do that.

      The commonly accepted interpretation of the Revelation passage is that the woman is Israel, the 12 stars are the 12 tribes. Her baby is Jesus, who ascended into heaven to rule from His throne.

      (here’s a link to an essay on How to Interpret the book of Revelation, http://www.gotquestions.org/Book-Revelation.html)

      Scott is taking parts of different verses to patch together something to support his man-made speculation to come to a conclusion of something that scripture actually says not to do: deduce the return of Jesus, whether it’s the rapture or the Second Coming.

      I personally believe that the end of all things is near but look at what Revelation 1:3 says, "Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near." The time is near- 1,922 years ago!

      Scripture that says we cannot nor should we deduce His return:

      "keep watch, because we do not know on which day our Lord will come” (Mt 24:42)
      "be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when we do not expect Him” (Mt 24:44)
      "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority." (Acts 1:7)

      Do those verses apply to all peoples except for Scott, who figured out that a certain grouping of stars in a certain place at a certain time means he knows when Jesus is returning? No, of course not.

      GotQuestions http://www.gotquestions.org/Jesus-coming-back.html#ixzz2OTQHXf4Q --
      "The force of Jesus’ words diminishes if at some point in the future someone will be able to determine when He is coming back. If the date is discovered, we no longer need to “keep watch” or “be ready.” So, with the principle of Matthew 24:36-44 is mind, no, it is not possible for anyone to know the date that Jesus is coming back."

      We are not to know the times and dates, neither of the rapture nor of the Second Coming. I'd recommend just to read Revelation. It's fascinating, easier to understand than people think, and joyfully study with the Spirit. Any time someone says "I figured out a certain sign that means I know when He's coming back" is an automatic no-go in my book. Why? It would be divination, which is forbidden. (Deuteronomy 18:9-11; Deuteronomy 29:29; 1 Timothy 4:1)

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  6. Hi Elizabeth, Thanks for your thoughtful and detailed response. I agree with everything you say. I just don't believe it's possible for any human being (including Scottie, although he's incredibly creative!) to know when Jesus will return. Thanks also for the links which I'll check out soon. Do you have any particular take on the parable of the fig trees and 'this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened'? Again, no rush!Enjoy your Sunday. John.

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    1. Hi John,

      Great. I admired his heart but not his result, unfortunately.

      I'll leave it to you to check out the parable of the fig tree and get back to me on what YOU think ;)

      Have a good weekend and nice week ahead,
      Elizabeth

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    2. Hi Elizabeth, I would like to believe the theory that the parable points to Israel becoming a nation again in 1948, and that theirs is the generation that will not pass away. Psalm 90 links a generation to a period of 70-80 years, so the implication is that Jesus' second coming might be imminent. However, Matthew 24 could also be interpreted as a prophecy concerning the demise of the temple, Jerusalem and Israel in the generation of AD 70, although some of the events of this chapter have obviously not yet taken place. Jesus says 'until all these things have happened', so I suppose this could be a dual prophecy indicating that our present generation is one of the last of the present church age. But basically, I don't know! John.

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  7. Hi Elizabeth, Did you get my reply posted earlier today? John.

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    1. Hi John,

      Yes I did. I can't get to Blogger at work, it's blocked. (A school department). So I work with comments between 6-6:30 am and after school from 3:30 onward :)

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  8. Hi Elizabeth, I've just listened to John MacArthur's teaching on this subject. As you probably know, he totally dismisses the 1948 Israel theory. Instead he teaches that
    'this generation' refers to the generation (of 40 years) who live 'through all these things', meaning that when all these thongs happen, they happen quickly. This makes sense to me. I wish I'd found your blog earlier! Thanks, John.

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