Ripening Times – Part II: Discerning Trends of Significance :: By Hahn

We are chronicling the world’s most “significant trends” of the present world season. The previous column defined the term “significant trend” as anything that has to do with the Bible’s prophetic time-line and the Lord’s promises. These might be considered among the “signs of the times” that Jesus implored us to discern (Matthew 16:3). Moreover, we had laid out a set of seven criteria serving as a diagnostic screen of sorts—the objective being to qualify and identify trends that are “significant.”

We continue with the first trend of this series—corporations—no doubt a “significant” development that will seem rather mundane. We will further explain.

According to Martin Wolf, the well-known economics editor of the Financial Times of London (Dec 12, 2018): “The business corporation is one of the most remarkable of all human innovations. Corporations are warring armies battling for supremacy in markets […].”

As we see here, some will be inclined to view corporations as a benign force. And indeed, many corporations engage in beneficial activities. The corporate structure (it being considered a legal “person” and offering “limited liability”) is not necessarily evil and is a useful legal invention.

Actually, however, we are on the trail of the actions of an associated type of entity—the multinational corporation (MNC). These are companies that operate across sovereign borders—in fact, around the world. And, so, the conglomerations of related corporations have become very large. What catches our eye here as a potential “significant trend” is that multinational companies have become very powerful and large rather recently and suddenly.

We discern that the “multinational company” (also named transnational company or TNC) has emerged upon the world as a “significant” trend only as of the early 1950s. That is very recent when viewed against the human cosmological time-line. While indeed many corporations existed before that time, it was not until the middle of the 20th century or so that corporations’ share of global economic activity began to rise very sharply.

This trend was noticed by several economists at the time. Famously, Dr. Joseph Nye Jr. wrote a seminal article on this “significant trend” in 1974. His major observation and concern was that multinational firms were getting so large and influential that they had become a potential geopolitical force to contend with.

As it was, these multinationals were the very “seed bed” of globalization, a rapid development that also cannot be underemphasized in terms of global importance (this being a significant trend that we will yet cover). These past decades, incorporated organizations were the very henchmen of “globalization” … the attacking phalanx on the front lines of global trade and cross-border capital flows. Seen collectively, the multinational phenomenon has done much to commercialize the entire world and establish common materialistic values and powerful behavioral systems.

Already in the early 1970s, some economists were predicting that perhaps 300 companies would, in time, run the entirety of human commerce. In fact, a “think piece” published by a respected international accounting firm (Deloitte LLP) speculated that perhaps 10 to 20 large “megaglots” would run all economic activity in the world. To be sure, this prediction has not yet played out. They may have been too sensationalist in their predictions. Nonetheless, the trend cannot be denied.

The number “10,” of course, will pique the interest of those who are familiar with Bible prophecy—particularly, the topic of the “ten” last-day kings. We will yet examine whether there are some prophetic connections.

Just what kind of force is represented by TNCs? Consider the following general factoids about the emergence of “significantly” important multinational corporations.

  • While TNCs were estimated to account for only about 2% of world economic activity in the early 1950s, 60 years later, this share is now estimated to be as much as 50%. Imagine that today, only some 6,000 companies control 50% and more of world economic activity. However, in recent decades, according to this writer’s experiences, it has become more difficult to compile data on TNC activities, as these became harder to access by UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development).
  • In recent years, publicly-listed corporations have declined significantly in number. On the other hand, what is notable here is that the share and size of private companies is increasing rapidly. In Europe, key families control 40% of the big listed companies. What to make of this trend? It is too early to say; however, it should be noted that these companies are much more secretive and inaccessible.

·           Even at this late date in the supposedly modern and transparent state of world financial affairs, it can be very difficult to ascertain the ownership of private corporations. The World Bank issued a report called “The Puppet Masters: How the Corrupt Use Legal Structures to Hide Stolen Assets and What to Do About It” (2011). This revealed just how concentrated and murky is the state of global corporate affairs. Consider that some states in the U.S. continue to allow corporations to register without requiring them to provide the identity of their owners. To what advantage is this? Obviously, secretiveness, concealment and diversion must be key motives.

  • MNCs are masterful users of tax havens. Some MNCs may have hundreds of associated companies registered in tax havens. The main reason for this is to avoid taxes and, in some instances, to cover up the trail of various global transactions. It was once estimated by Global Financial Integrity, that some 50% of all global merchandise exports in the world are booked through foreign tax havens.
  • Corporate concentration has risen across almost every industry sector. This is a form of monopoly. Concentration is also happening on a global scale. This allows these companies to more effectively impose their prices. To provide just one example, did you know that only two corporations today control 90% of the beer that Americans consume?1 Many more industry examples like this could be provided, showing that concentration is an accelerating trend.
  • The interconnectedness of global economic activity has accelerated rapidly in recent decades. Consider this: According to three professors2 at a Swiss university, 80 percent of world profits are now being earned by a core group of 1,318 corporations. These are mostly run by super entities coming from 147 countries. These companies are interlocked … 755 of them are financial institutions. They found that 737 of the largest holders accumulated 80% of the control over the value of all TNCs.
  • Deception abounds, most certainly also involving the actions of MNCs. According to one survey, corporate motivation to cheat on their accounting performance was high. 93.5% of CFOs (Chief Financial Officers) acknowledge that the objective of cheating is to influence the stock price, and secondly, 88.6% would do so in order to increase their own compensation.
  • In recent decades, researchers have discovered the increase in “monopsony.” This term refers to the condition where one or more companies are the largest employers in a region. That allows them to dictate wages and the price of other inputs. This is a deliberate strategy to boost profit … but also depressing wages for others.
  • It is the board of directors of a corporation (usually, their compensation committee) that makes the decisions on how much to pay senior executives. The compensation of many senior executives today is truly obscene … 200 times and more than the average income of employees working on the factory floor.
  • Some large multinational firms have more employees than many nations have citizens. Of the top 100 economic entities in the world today, corporations make up 37 of these, the rest being nations according to a report by the Transnational Institute.
  • In August of 2018, for example, two companies for the first time in history were valued at over $1 trillion (Apple and Amazon).

There are many more factoids that we could mention. What these collectively reveal is that the multinational company is indeed a powerful global force that has benefited from much favoritism. (For instance, corporations attract much lower taxation rates than do individuals.)

As is popularly said: Money talks. Without question, the prime objective of multinational firms is “profits.” Their senior executives are brutally incentivized to expand the size and profitability of these firms.

Many may be unaware of these trends and their future implications. Nevertheless: “[…] Let us drink our fill of beer! And tomorrow will be like today, or even far better” (Isaiah 56:12). To the contrary: We cannot see any trend here that indicates that these trends will become “even far better.”

 

Thoughts to Ponder

Corporations have a big and growing footprint in the economic arenas of the world. Most certainly, the phenomenon of the rise of the multinational is a “significant trend.” It is a development that fits into the season and times of the “last days.”

Not only that, they also hold implications and challenges for Christians (as we will yet review in Part III). Their influence is evident in many ways, as we have already mentioned. The cultural and workplace values that are promoted, the development of a systemic world financial and economic power structure, and a rapid convergence of materialistic beliefs around the globe are all processes that MNCs have either enabled or endorsed.

Above all, MNCs figure prominently in an endtime boom in wealth and in the emergence of an all-encompassing global commercial order.

Therefore, the rise of the MNC could even be prefigured in the Bible. How so? While they are not mentioned in specific, their role in bringing about the prophesied world conditions of the last days cannot be easily dismissed. Nonetheless, the Bible does mention four different groups of elites that do play a role in the last days.

For example, could the top industry bosses of the world even qualify as the ten kings of the last days, as spoken about in Revelations 12, 13 and 17? If the world continues its path toward rampant materialism and economic centralization, these managers of large industry-dominating MNCs—global economic kingdoms—could indeed number among the modern world’s equivalent of kings.

While that is clearly a speculation, it is a possibility deserving some examination. In the next and final Part III, we will consider this possibility, and will also examine three other elite groups that may be endtime actors.

Whether or not these interpretations and speculations will prove to be correct, one thing is clear: the rapid emergence of the MNC is not a random event of human history. It must be seen as a “significant trend” of the ripening times.

 

Wilfred J. Hahn is a global economist/strategist. Formerly a top-ranked global analyst, research director for a major Wall Street investment bank, and head of Canada’s largest global investment operation, his writings focus on the endtime roles of money, economics and globalization. He has been quoted around the world and his writings reproduced in numerous other publications and languages. His 2002 book The Endtime Money Snare: How to live free accurately anticipated and prepared its readers for the Global Financial Crisis. A following book, Global Financial Apocalypse Prophesied: Preserving true riches in an age of deception and trouble, looks further into the prophetic future.

You can contact Wilfred at: staff@eternalvalue.com

 

1 Jonathan Tepper, Variant Perception. Competition Is Dying. Accessed online November 27, 2018.

2 The Network of Global Corporate Control. Stefania Vitali, James B. Glattfelder, and Stefano Battiston. September 2011.

Ripening Times – Part I :: By Wilfred Hahn

Ripening Times – Part I: Discerning Trends of Significance

We are always on the alert for “significant” world trends. Why? Plain and simple, because the Bible instructs us to. We are expressly mandated to recognize the season and to “watch.” Said Jesus: “[…]  keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come” (Matthew 24:42).

If we are to be watching, then what would qualify as a “significant” sign of the season? We would answer: anything that has to do with the Bible’s prophetic time-line and the Lord’s promises. Such trends may be legitimately identified as an “enabling development;” a sign; or perhaps even the actual fulfillment of Bible prophecy. (We will yet define these characteristics more succinctly.)

Our age today is “ripe” with many “significant trends. No one will doubt that the world has embarked on an accelerating course over recent decades and centuries. Humanity is on a rushed agenda to “rendezvous with history.” One doesn’t need knowledge of the Bible to agree with this statement. The indicators are plain to see.

The Bible uses the metaphor of ripening grapes to indicate time for judgment. “Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, trample the grapes, for the winepress is full and the vats overflow—so great is their wickedness!” (Joel 3:13; cf. Revelation 14:18). In this sense, we indeed see that the world is ripe with last-day trends and is quickly approaching the time of fruition.

However, the secular humanist will prefer to recognize “significant” new trends optimistically, as the great advances of mankind and its emancipation.

The trouble is that humanists have no firm benchmark or cosmological time-map in which to organize and place their views. They do not know the ways of the Lord. While they are eager to pronounce the future as “friendly” and without human limit, at the same time they are captives of unpredictable and volatile change as well as the grave of death.

Not so the Bible student who also “hears the word and understands it” (Matthew 13:23). What then are the diagnostics that one can use to discern the “cosmologically significant” trends today? But, before answering, it should be established that one has a rock-solid Biblical worldview; one that is based on the literal, plain-sense interpretation of the Bible. And, one must endeavor not to go beyond what Scripture says (1 Corinthians 4:6). With such a grounding, you will be better able to discern trends and developments that enable, signify, or precede actual fulfilled prophecies.

There are at least seven characteristics that may help us to identify possible candidates qualifying as “significant” world trends:

  1. Acceleration: Any “accelerating” trend, particularly so beginning after 1948 (that being the point in which God’s timepiece, Israel, again became a sovereign entity in its original land) and/or post 1880s (the beginning of Zionism). If the Lord sees fit to clearly alert us to such momentous time points in His plan, then we would be wise to expect other indicators to emerge as well.
  2. Recency. While the “recency effect” (meaning, that one tends to biased by what is seen presently) is the bane of all secular forecasters and interpreters of Biblical signs alike, a “recently accelerating trend” is much more notable than one having started a long time ago. Why? Because the Bible frequently tells us that last day events will come “quickly.” “The great day of the LORD is near—near and coming quickly” (Zephaniah 1:14). This writer believes that once the Rapture occurs, world developments will indeed move at even greater hyper-speed. The Book of Revelation mentions that several events happen in “one hour.” However, well before this point, pre-Rapture Christians should be able to discern increasing intensity in world affairs and the convergence of the signs of the times to final events.
  3. Improbability: We observe many rapid world developments today that we had not anticipated. We find ourselves asking “why” their emergence … and “why now and not at some other time of history.” The very improbability and inexplicability of such emerging trends gives a possible sign.
  4. Global Scope: Trends that have a worldwide influence (not just applying locally or to North America) are indicative … i.e. identifying them as a potential “significant” trend. Bible prophecy is also global in scope. For example, the Tribulation … the world’s leaders conspiring to unshackle their chains (Psalm 2:3) … etc. are all global fulfillments. Therefore, we are particularly alert for “global” trends. We do observe a tendency among prophecy interpreters to cite only evidence seen domestically, and not “global” manifestations.
  5. Interconnection: Any trend that has confluence or interconnection with another accelerating trend of “significance”—interweaving and reinforcing each other—likely qualifies as also being a “significant” trend.
  6. Suddenness: A tell-tale key identifying a “significant trend” is its suddenness and rapidity. For example, the worldwide penetration of the smartphone will likely prove to be the most rapid phenomenon of all time. It is indeed a significant trend, as we will show in this series.
  7. Godlessness: Obviously, it follows that very few, if any last-day trends will be marked by pure and godly motives. Rather, quite likely the opposite will be the case. Significant “signs” are also likely to be in the service of Mammon, humanism, greed and immorality. It would not be a surprise if they cater to the “lust of the flesh” and political and economic expediency.

There we have it: Seven potential diagnostic indicators. Based on our screen, we identify a great number of “significant” trends. Not all significant trends will rate seven confirmations. In fact, even just one condition along with Biblical affirmation is enough to qualify as a significant trend. Indeed, all significant trends that we identify must be corroborated by the Bible.

Crucially—to no surprise—these trends end up intersecting with humanity’s future “history” in the Tribulation period.

As such, this column launches a new article series on “ripening” world trends. We see many developments that qualify as being significant. They all serve the Trapper: “The wicked foe pulls all of them up with hooks, he catches them in his net, he gathers them up in his dragnet […] he gathers to himself all the nations and takes captive all the peoples” (Habakkuk 1:15; 2:5).

Here are just some examples of “significant trends” that qualify for our further examination (in no particular order).

  1. The emergence of multinational companies (a topic that we will begin here);
  2. Emergence of global elites;
  3. The implications of the rapid adoption of various new technologies;
  4. Post-Familialism (the breakdown of the family unit);
  5. Narcissism and self-love;
  6. Epidemic mental disorders;
  7. Global political centralization;
  8. Global urbanization;
  9. A global financial system;
  10. Popularity of Celebrity and Amusement;
  11. Religion of monetarism and financialization.

Readers may find some of these selections surprising … seemingly flying “below the radar.” That may be the case, because we do not have a broad cosmological perspective. Or, we may errantly think that conditions we see today are normal … that they have always been that way. But, we also recognize that Satan and his hordes are extremely effective in their strategies. Deception and lying are key characteristics of the Devil.

Ripening Trend #1: Corporations

The world of multinational corporations—large companies, whether private-owned or publicly listed—continues to speed along, making new history.

But what possibly could be “significant” or interesting about corporations? Are not these the same boring companies that we are familiar with today? Haven’t they always been in existence? What is there to worry about with such seemingly useful companies as Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft or McDonald’s?

As we will show, the history of the “corporation” is an epic one and certainly one of great world significance. We have written much on this topic in years past. Nearly two decades ago, we published a booklet titled “Investing in Corporate Stocks: Deeds of What Kind?” New and rapid developments continue to confirm this trend’s “significance” since we last examined this topic.

In one sense, we already have confirmation of just how significant some corporations are today at the global level. Following the Global Financial Crisis, the Financial Stability Board (FSB, which is associated with the G20 nations) designated some 30 or so companies as SIFIs (Strategically Important Financial Institutions). The FSB has since recategorized this list, expanding its candidates to also include insurance companies and others.

Recent trends confirm the continuation of their increasing concentration. What do we mean by concentration? It includes several sub-trends—ever expanding in size; industry domination; and, increasing geopolitical and economic power.

This writer has long dealt with “corporations”—as a “Wall Street” securities analyst, as well as senior executive of multinational financial institutions. In time, I came to realize that corporations (here meant generically and not applying to all, but most) represent one of the most powerful global “obedience structures” of our age.

All successful human organizations must have obedience. If not, they will eventually fail. Atilla the Hun, the Roman rulers, the Roman Catholic Church, for example, all ruthlessly demanded obedience. That is certainly the case with corporations today. Disobedience or non-conformity meets with quick punishment in these organizations. I can attest to that.

Today, the word “corporation” tends to just refer to the legal structure of a business. Crucially, however, they provide the foundation for multinational companies … also called Global Titans. These have stupendously come to dominate the world in recent decades. We will further explain their significance in the next part.  Furthermore, we pose an intriguing question: Could powerful and influential chiefs of multinational firms, qualify as those rulers that are mentioned by the Prophet Daniel? He says that the Antichrist “[…] will greatly honor those who acknowledge him. He will make them rulers over many people and will distribute the land at a price” (Daniel 11:39).

Wilfred J. Hahn is a global economist/strategist. Formerly a top-ranked global analyst, research director for a major Wall Street investment bank, and head of Canada’s largest global investment operation, his writings focus on the endtime roles of money, economics and globalization. He has been quoted around the world and his writings reproduced in numerous other publications and languages. His 2002 book The Endtime Money Snare: How to live free accurately anticipated and prepared its readers for the Global Financial Crisis. A following book, Global Financial Apocalypse Prophesied: Preserving true riches in an age of deception and trouble, looks further into the prophetic future.

You can contact Wilfred at: staff@eternalvalue.com