You may be surprised at our warning against the many warnings! What do I mean? I make some observations that will give you some important insights and perspectives into recent financial market tremors. Should you worry … or not?
Please read on. I hope to provide some balanced perspectives.
First, allow me to provide a perspective on the current outbreak of financial doomsterism. All the news media, the many economists and investment strategists, and individual investors themselves are agitated and afraid. Warnings of financial collapse—literally emanating from the four corners of the globe have been the most rampant in decades.
Financial analysts have pointed out that many conditions experienced today are similar to those of the 2007 to 2009 period. Most will well recall that these culminated in the Global Financial Crisis (GFC). (To this day, we maintain that the GFC is still unfolding, though morphing into different symptoms.)
Even pastors and prophecy pundits are joining in on the current doomsday cacophony, with some marshalling revealed Bible mysteries that supposedly substantiate their doomsday predictions.
Frankly, the collapse of 2015 to 2016 may well be the most predicted financial event of all time.
But, it may not happen … at least, for some time.
A fact to realize is this: Major financial crash periods generally do not occur when the vast majority is expecting them. By the time that everyone is worried, markets have already fully reflected these consensus concerns.
No doubt, there are many legitimate reasons why a “down phase” in financial markets and economies can occur at any time. Even now, one can identify many reasons why this could happen. However, this is not necessarily unusual. After all, down phases are a normal feature of financial markets. Why? Because economies and financial markets are driven by “human beings.”
One must understand the human behavioural element at play.
Of course, to doomsters who strive to strike fear into investors or simply relish sensationalism, cyclical and normal downturns are known as “crashes” or “busts.” Call them what you will, but they are normal in that human behaviour will have created any financial vulnerabilities in the first place, as well as the catalysts for the volatile market movements that can then take place.
As it was, the outbreak of the GFC was a global phenomenon. It was large, but likely not the biggest financial crisis of all human history. Actually, one of comparable impact took place during Jesus Christ’s time on earth, shattering the credit systems of the Roman Empire of that time.
Journalists also like to prey on extremes of human behaviour. They can exacerbate and accentuate the prevailing mood of the times. Back in 2008 to 2009 (and today!), journalists were looking for sensationalist perspectives. Some saw the unfolding crisis to be of “biblical proportions” and that of a Financial Armageddon.
At that time, a few rogue Bible prophecy pundits reinforced the view that Armageddon was at the door and that a complete financial meltdown was therefore unfolding. Others of different theological bents were also gleefully sure that a total collapse was in motion.
Some were persuaded that at last society and economies could be rebuilt according to Christian principles. As can be imagined, journalists were befuddled not knowing who to believe.
At that time, I received an invite to be interviewed by National Public Radio. They felt reassured by my Wall Street pedigree as a former research director and as someone who also happened to be somewhat knowledgeable in Biblical prophecy. I accepted.
My message? The Global Financial Crisis was not signifying the start of the Tribulation period nor were specific financial “downturns” a “sign from God.” (I’ll yet provide support for that view.)
But before that, may I point readers to a book I wrote following the onset of the GFC. Indeed, the first part of its title is overly sensationalist (which we regret in retrospect) and sadly overshadows the important essence of its title:Preserving True Riches in an Age of Deception and Trouble.
This book is still timely and focuses on the likely theoretical progression of financial and economic events into the Tribulation period. This view assumes that mankind continues its God-denying, errant ways. Importantly, the book provides stewardship outlines for these trying times.
Several crucial statements are made that readers must not forget. To begin, here is an important realization: A working global financial system is required for Satan to bring about his ungodly programs and plans for the world. It is only later in the Tribulation period that the False Prophet finds it necessary to bring in a new set of financial controls (Revelation 13:16-18).
Until then (and possibly later) financial and banking systems must remain functional.
As such, a full-fledged global financial collapse will not occur until then. But that is not the total picture. Yes, there will be financial crises, volatility in currencies and stock markets, etc. and heart-stopping events. And, while these are more the norm, these tremors may well trend to higher frequency and amplitude. However, no complete collapse can be allowed.
Readers may well ask: If world fundamental conditions are continuing to deteriorate (which is undoubtedly the case), why and how can collapse continue to be deferred? For several reasons.
First, there is technically no limit to mankind’s capacity for delusion and perversion.
Irrationality, by definition, cannot be measured. As such, unsustainable economic conditions and immoral monetary policies can continue to worsen for far longer than most may think imaginable.
Second, mankind wants to believe in its false idols and will insistently keep propping them up so long as necessary. Also, ponder on the fact that “deception” is a key condition of the last days. It will be (and is) pervasive and institutionalized.
Third, policymakers around the world today face asymmetric risks. What does that mean? The consequences of a policy error are enormous, while the consequences of erring on the side of largesse are only modest.
Policymakers are well aware of the instabilities and fragility of financial systems. They know they are dealing with an unstable stack of open explosives. None of them want to go down in recorded history as having triggered financial disaster. And, on top of everything, the globe is being buffeted with unpredictable geopolitical developments.
Lastly, there are no easy solutions and there is no way of escaping the consequences … ultimately. However, temptingly, there are ways of deceptively deferring them. These deceptions can be very convincing. (“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter” (Isaiah 5:20).)
Therefore do not be surprised if policymakers do engineer, and grossly manipulate a global economic recovery with their policy sorceries, even if only for a short period of time. Remember what God said of the people of Babel who were attempting to build a tower into the heavens:
“If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them” (Genesis 11:6).
Made in the image of God, humans and collective humanity are capable of incredible things. “[…] nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.” As to what could yet unfold in the future with respect to unorthodox monetary policies or anything else, it is advisable to not be complacent, keep one’s eyes open, and refrain from falling prey to the incessant doomsters.
Remember that policymakers are subject to fears as well.
As already mentioned, there is no question that mankind’s credit systems and commerce conditions are on a path of deterioration. Global indebtedness continues to increase and it is not declining as is normally the case in post-crisis periods.
Ultimately, the associated godlessness and humanism of the world will be judged. God’s wrath will be unleashed. This is clearly prophesied in the Bible as God foreknows the free-will choices that mankind will make.
However, prophetic knowledge has no predictive application to the short-term vagaries and volatilities of human monetary systems. The point to realize is that a humankind that is determined to go their own ungodly ways, and wanting to believe fables and deceptions, can indeed engineer even greater financial bubbles in false wealth. If so, many will be vulnerable to falling for these deceptions and they may well swallow up the faith of many more Christians.
But what of the signs?
There are some flaws with the messages of the various doomsters who invoke the claim that “heavenly signs” are taking place in financial markets, or that say, a Shemitah (a Hebrew cycle) is marking God’s judgments upon financial markets and economies.
First, God has already given his sign to this generation. Jesus Christ explicitly said to the “sign seekers”: “This is a wicked generation. It asks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah. For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation” (Luke 11:29-39). This same generation still exists today.
Second, the various events (a crashing stock market or slumping bond market, etc.) that are cherry-picked to serve as the “proof” signs are entirely subjective and speculative. All these supposedly divinely-induced signs all have one and the same commonality and nothing else: they are all negative. Any indicator will do as long as it is heading in the “downward” direction … or something that is anxiety-generating.
As the facts may be, in any given year there will be available a smorgasbord of “negative” proofs to choose from if you are looking for one. There is likely to be an asset class (stocks, bonds, currencies, etc.) or a specific country or an economic development of some type (soaring or plunging oil prices, inflationary spirals, etc.) that can be chosen as the “proof” negative sign.
This subjective approach does not stand the test of statistical validity. I can tell you that I would never let an analyst publish any theory or opinion based upon such flimsy and subjective evidence.
Here is the clincher: With all the emphasis being on negative “signs,” why then have major bond markets, and most stock markets and economies all continued to reach successive new highs over past years?
There may be 10 claimed proofs of a Shemitah in a row (one every 7 years) marking a subjectively chosen indicator of a “divine decline.” But each time the chosen indicator will subsequently continues on to new highs.
No respectable economist would make a career out of only predicting short-term downturns and always ignoring the recovery phases. According to natural laws and the created nature of human beings, economies and financial markets fluctuate. They go up; they go down.
Of what use then are the predictions of the Shemitah, the Blood Moons, and the various divine signs (of many claimed types) that only claim fulfillment with downturns?
Why are there no divine signs for an upturn? Is this the case because the Lord does not want Christians to save for their retirement?
Only listening to the purveyors of supposed “divine signs of doom” can be catastrophic.
It will ensure that you do not participate in the “upside periods” of financial market. Markets go up; they go down. You would have sold all your investments several times over, perhaps bought gold, etc. Does this make any sense?
No. It is nonsense … and crucially, it is also unbiblical.
Jesus Christ expressly highlights that peoples and societies will be generally unaware of any impending crisis and of the “day of the Son of Man.”
“As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man” (Matthew 24:37-39).
The same applied in the days of Lot. “People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building” (Luke 17:28).
The great and final financial collapses of pre-millennial history will come as a surprise; all are likely to occur within the Tribulation period.
In the present dispensation, it only stands to reason that Satan, who seeks to lead the world astray (Revelation 12:9), would have much more success luring mankind to a “heaven on earth” humanism adorned with perpetually-rising financial markets and economies. He will not win the world over with economic depressions and a terminal financial system. Until the final trap is sprung, the world will continue to be deceived.
There is another perspective to be kept in mind, as well. As the late David Hunt would say, Satan needs to discipline his human devotees upon earth from time to time. When they get too greedy and independent, they need to be admonished. Ergo, financial crises are needed from time to time. In fact, downturns and crises are necessary factors in the advance of worldwide humanism.
In conclusion, are we to expect financial ups and downs, and worsening economic conditions in the world? Yes, definitely. Nevertheless, we hope we have provided some balancing perspectives that will help calm anxieties.
[Readers may be interested in a five-part series that we have recently completed called “Anxiety Merchants and False Prophets.”] It elaborates further on the themes addressed in this article. The first part will be published in the February 2016 issue of Midnight Call magazine. To subscribe, please visit www.midnightcall.com.
In due course, we expect to republish at least a part of this series on Eternal Value Review (EVR).
For additional perspectives on the last-day financial trends of relevance to Christians, see Why the Global Financial System Must Survive For Some Time Longer .
This article you have just read is an excerpt from a chapter contributed to the book How to Overcome the Most Frightening Issues You Will Face This Century, Defender 2009. While the title of the book is sensationalist insinuating that the collapse of financial institutions is frightening, the real risks for Christians and humanity that we laid out are very different.