Tag Archives: depression

Corona Crisis

An almost empty Piazza del Duomo on Tuesday in Milan, Italy.  The Italian government imposed restrictions on movement across the entire country as cases of the virus soared.  (Credit:  Alessandro Grassani for The New York Times)

A cartoon in last week’s Spectator (British) showed a couple in front of their TV set listening to endless news on the coronavirus.   The husband turned to his wife and said, “I sure miss Brexit.”   British readers will remember that the news was dominated by Brexit for 3 ½ years!

When we first got a television set in the late 1950’s, TV news lasted ten minutes in the evening.   That’s all.  If the coronavirus had been around then, we would have avoided all the panic and negativity that surrounds it now.   With an uncountable number of 24/7 news channels, we are daily saturated with news of the virus.  It’s overwhelming us and affecting people mentally as well as physically.

There is no toilet paper available anywhere in the Lansing area (at least I haven’t found any).   No drinking water, either.   For some inexplicable reason, stores have also run out of vegetarian beans.  Entire rows of shelving are empty.  From Monday afternoon at 3pm, all restaurants and bars in Michigan will have to close.   They will only be allowed to sell take-out food.  Schools closed from Monday for at least three weeks.  We are all encouraged to stay home.  In England, if one person in the family gets sick, then everybody should self-isolate for 14 days to allow the virus to run its course.

It’s affecting international relations, with flights between Europe and America suspended for a month.

The virus is changing the world.   The gradual advancement of globalization over the last 75 years is under severe strain, with nations increasingly looking after themselves.   Some European countries have closed their borders to their neighbors and are not following the lead of the EU in their national affairs.  It’s a case of every country for itself.

Will we ever return to normalcy?

MR 

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Covid-19 virus has “swept away” the last remaining “illusions” about the EU      German-Foreign-Policy, 18 March, 2020

Newsletter – EU Solidarity (II) – Experts expect the Corona crisis to have a serious impact on the EU and speculate a possible disintegration of the Union.   According to an expert in the USA, the heavy human toll that the pandemic will exact and the feeling “that the European institutions are not helping,” could give rise to centrifugal tendencies, particularly in those countries hardest hit, such as Italy and Spain, which are also the countries deeply indebted.   Tensions between Germany, on the one hand, and France and Italy on the other, have been already increasing since Berlin unilaterally closed Germany’s borders, thereby annulling the Schengen Agreements.   Whereas the Élysée Palace has angrily complained about “the unilateral measures at the borders,” the pro-EU Italian daily La Repubblica, notes that Berlin, rather than a detailed coordination “with the partners,” in one of the worst crises the Union has faced, it pursues “a national logic.”  Therefore, the Covid-19 virus has “swept away” the last remaining “illusions” about the EU.   (https://www.german-foreign-policy.com/en/news/detail/8222/)

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“Stay home” is not a sufficient plan
by James Hamlin, March 11, 2020, The Atlantic  

This coronavirus is unknown to our species.   Once it breaks into one of our cells, the extent of its spread through the body seems to vary significantly.   The experience can slowly progress from the familiar— cough, congestion, fever — to a life-threatening inflammatory response as the virus spreads down into the lungs, filling the airways with fluid.   Survivors can have permanent scarring in the lungs.   The virus can also spread into other organs, causing liver damage or gastrointestinal disease.   These effects can play out over longer periods than in the flu, sometimes waxing and waning.   Some patients have begun to feel better, then fallen critically ill.   The disease can be fatal despite receiving optimal medical care.

(https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/03/where-do-you-go-if-you-get-coronavirus/607759/)

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In retrospect, was it wise to have relied on China to produce essential parts for the supply chains of goods vital to our national security?   Does it appear wise to have moved the production of pharmaceuticals and lifesaving drugs for heart disease, strokes and diabetes to China?   Does it appear wise to have allowed China to develop a virtual monopoly on rare earth minerals crucial to the development of weapons for our defense?    (Pat Buchanan, 3/13/2020)

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In the corona crisis, the German government has initiated measures aiding the German economy, but refuses urgently recommended measures by the WHO for protecting the population.  Berlin is doing “everything” to prevent the coronavirus COVID-19 from “affecting the economy throughout Germany,” German Minster of the Economy, Peter Altmaier, was quoted saying early this month.  The measures are reinforcing positions of German businesses vis à vis their global rivals.  The following steps will be discussed tomorrow, Friday.  At the same time, the government is opposing the closure of schools and kindergartens, as WHO and leading experts are recommending, because children transmit the virus for a longer period than adults, according to initial studies.  Germany’s Minister of Health, Jens Spahn, on the other hand, declared that closing schools should be avoided, so that parents are still available as workers for the enterprises.  This, however, would eliminate any possibility of containment of the virus, as several Asian countries have been able to do.   According to Chancellor Angela Merkel, “60 to 70 percent” of the population could be infected – throughout Germany.     (German Foreign Policy, 3/12/2020)

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New Zealand’s PM has said nearly everyone entering the country from midnight on Sunday must self-isolate to contain the spread of the coronavirus.  Jacinda Ardern said the new measure also included returning New Zealanders.  The only exemption is for small Pacific islands with no confirmed virus cases.  “I make no apologies.  This is an unprecedented time,” Ms. Ardern said, describing the new rules as the strictest in the world.   New Zealand has six confirmed cases.   (BBC, 3/14/2020)

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FINANCIAL PROBLEMS STARTED A LONG TIME AGO

A decade of aggressive risk-taking, nurtured in part by central banks, has ended in traumatic fashion.   This week marked the biggest one-day falls for Wall Street and UK equities since the great crash of 1987 while European bourses recorded all-time daily slumps.   In the space of just a few weeks, record equity peaks and elevated credit valuations have succumbed to a long-feared moment of reckoning.   Government bond markets had been warning for a while that 2020 was going to be make-or-break for global economic growth.   Meanwhile, the leaderboard in stock markets had been dominated by defensive, high-quality companies — another signal that cast doubt on the widely held view that corporate earnings would rebound strongly this year.   But such signs were mostly ignored.   Money poured into corporate bonds, emerging markets and already crowded equity sectors such as US technology shares, pushing valuations toward extreme levels.   Until last month, that is. When questioned about the risk-versus-reward dynamic of buying assets at these prices in recent months, the response from professional investors pretty much boiled down to a need to “put money to work”, accompanied by a wink suggesting that central banks had their backs.   This week’s rout in markets is of giant proportions, triggered by an oil price war on top of an escalating health crisis across Europe and North America.   An abrupt US travel ban on Europeans for 30 days triggered Thursday’s sharp sell-off across markets.   The adverse sentiment also acknowledged the limited monetary ammunition central banks have, leaving investors wondering whether the fiscal response in Europe and the US can offset the economic damage currently being wrought.  (This market was in trouble long before the virus hit.   (Michael MacKenzie, Financial Times, 3/14/2020)

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Cyril Ramaphosa lists countries on South Africa’s travel ban

“We will limit contact between persons who may be infected.  We’re imposing a travel  ban on foreign nationals from Italy, Iran, South Korea, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom and China. We have cancelled visas from those countries.  We advise against all travel to the EU, the United States, China, Iran, the UK and South Korea – this is effective immediately.

“Any foreign national who has visited these countries in the past 20 days, will be denied a visa.   Anyone returning to South Africa from these high-risk countries will be quarantined for 14 days.  All travelers who entered SA from these nations since mid-February, are asked to get themselves tested.”    (15 March, 2020)

(MORE:  https://www.thesouthafrican.com/news/world-news/ramaphosa-coronavirus-updates-south-africa-travel-ban-which-)

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Netanyahu’s trial delayed by over 2 months as court activity limited over virus
As country slows down with introduction of fresh far-reaching rules in attempt to stop pandemic, May 24 date announced just two days before scheduled hearing

The opening of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s trial in three corruption cases has been pushed off by more than two months due to new restrictions on Israel’s courts as part of the new measures to combat the coronavirus, the Jerusalem District Court announced Sunday morning.   The move comes just two days before the scheduled March 17 hearing, which according to the Courts Administration of Israel has now been postponed until May 24.  “In light of developments regarding the spread of the coronavirus, and taking into account the latest guidelines given and the declaration of a state of emergency in the courts, we have decided to cancel the scheduled hearing,” the three judges presiding over the case wrote in their announcement.   On Saturday night, Justice Minister Amir Ohana declared a 24-hour “state of emergency” in Israel’s court system, “as part of the national effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.”

(https://www.timesofisrael.com/netanyahus-trial-delayed-by-over-2-months-as-court-activity-limited-over-virus/)

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Zimbabwe Govt Minister blames USA+EU for coronavirus:  President corrects
The Herald, Zimbabwe, 16 March 2020

[Zimbabwe] – Defence and War Veterans Affairs Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri . . . at the weekend insinuated that COVID-19 was God’s response to countries that imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe.  Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri was speaking at a Zimbabwe National Liberation War Collaborators Association meeting in Chinhoyi on Saturday.   She said in Shona:   “This coronavirus that has come are sanctions against the countries that have imposed sanctions on us.  God is now punishing them  and they are staying indoors now, while their economy is screaming like what they did to ours by imposing sanctions on us.  “Trump should know that he is not God.  They must face the consequences of coronavirus, so that they also feel the pain.”  . . . President Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe stands by the international community in fighting the Covid-19, and that it was time to look after each other, especially the weak and vulnerable.

(https://www.herald.co.zw/dont-blame-anyone-for-coronavirus-president/)

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AN ALTERNATIVE THOUGHT

DAILYKENN.com – God is punishing the USA and other Western nations for its sanctions on Zimbabwe, the African nation’s defense minister said.

Oppah Muchinguri said the coronavirus is God’s punishment for “sanctions against the countries that have imposed sanctions on us,” according to reports.

Zimbabwe has suffered a decades-long downward spiral after ousting the Rhodesian government.   White settlers rescued the region from a millennia of indescribable misery, replacing it with a wonderland of amazing technological advancement.  Those advancements included modern health care that has saved the lives of countless millions of black Africans.

Could it be that God has blessed Western nations for colonizing African regions and introducing them to advanced technologies?   (dailykenn, 3/17/2020)

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Now it’s time to lose the two most famous phrases of the moment.
One is “Don’t panic!”   The other is “an abundance of caution.”

“Don’t panic” is what nervous, defensive people say when someone warns of coming trouble.   They don’t want to hear it, so their message is “Don’t worry like a coward, be blithely unconcerned like a brave person.”   One way or another we’ve heard it a lot from administration people.

This is how I’ve experienced it:   “Captain, that appears to be an iceberg.”   “Don’t panic, officer, full steam ahead.”

“Admiral, concentrating our entire fleet in one port seems tempting fate.” “We don’t need your alarmist fantasies, ensign.”

“We’re picking up increased chatter about an al Qaeda action.” “Your hand-wringing is duly noted.”

“Don’t panic,” in the current atmosphere, is a way of shutting up people who are using their imaginations as a protective tool.   It’s an implication of cowardice by cowards.  As for “abundance of caution,” at this point, in a world-wide crisis, the cautions we must take aren’t abundant, they’re reasonable and realistic.
(Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal opinion (extract), March 12, 2020)

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Spain welcomes post-Brexit chance for Gibraltar talks with UK
Madrid interested in pragmatic accords with territory, says foreign minister

Spain’s foreign minister has welcomed post-Brexit talks with the UK as an “incredible opportunity” for the countries to address the status of Gibraltar after centuries of dispute.   Arancha González reacted warmly to calls by Gibraltar’s government for a free-movement area with Spain and suggested that traditional concepts of sovereignty were less important than a series of recent accords on issues such as tax and fighting contraband.

Spain has sought to regain sovereignty over Gibraltar since Britain took control of the Mediterranean territory through the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht.   Madrid has at times instigated delays at its border with Gibraltar, hitting the territory’s economy.

However, Ms, González, who took office last month after a career focusing on international trade, argued that Spain needed to focus on “21st century sovereignty” and practical issues that would strengthen ties with the territory.   “We have an incredible opportunity to fix a number of things that we have not been able to fix in the last 300 years,” she told the Financial Times. “At the end of the day, whatever agreement we find . . . will have to work for them [for Gibraltar] and it will have to work for us; that’s the only red line in reality.”  . . . She added:   “The Gibraltar population needs the Spaniards to function and the Spaniards need the Gibraltarians in order to enhance their prosperity . . .  What matters in the 21st century is managing interdependence.”   Fabian Picardo, Gibraltar’s chief minister, has called for a special deal in which Gibraltar would become part of Europe’s Schengen free-movement area, adding that under such an arrangement, the number of Spaniards working in the territory could increase dramatically.   (Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2020.   All rights reserved)

(https://www.ft.com/content/11b4dfdc-4da8-11ea-95a0-43d18ec715f5)

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Bombshell letters expose Belgian trawlers fishing off Britain’s Brighton Pier                                                                                                            BREXIT means the UK can finally take back control of its fishing waters, but there are fears that foreign vessels may continue to use them illegally – and documents unearthed by Express.co.uk have revealed a row over claims Belgian trawlers were spotted fishing off Brighton Pier in the Seventies.

Under the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), which came into effect in 1983, EU countries have full access to each other’s fishing waters. National quotas were divided up using historical data, which many British fishermen feel the UK got a raw deal out of.   Currently, around 68 percent of the fish caught in UK waters are caught by foreign vessels.   Outside the EU, the UK would be entitled to its own Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which stretches up to 200 miles away from its shores or up to the median point between it and its neighbor (e.g. halfway across the Irish Sea or English Channel). However, before the CFP, boats from other European countries used to flout the UK’s fishing limits.   For example, the UK had general fishing limits of 12 miles, but France and Belgium were entitled to fish in the 6-12 miles – and, even then, Belgian vessels were accused of fishing even closer to Britain’s shoreline.   According to documents unearthed by Express.co.uk in the National Archives, there were accusations of persistent breaches of the six mile limit by Belgian trawlers off Brighton and the Sussex coast in the early Seventies.

(https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/1253526/brexit-fishing-eu-news-belgium-trawler-common-fisheries-policy-brighton-)

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Germany plans to send a warship to the Indian Ocean                        The German Navy plans to send its frigate Hamburg to the Indian Ocean in June to conduct port visits and partake in a regional, naval powwow on the French island of Réunion, the service announced March 12  Cologne, Germany, Defense News, 12 March 2020

The planned Hamburg deployment comes as Germany’s defense leaders test the waters for new engagements far from home.   The sea service especially is seen by some as a potential harbinger for the type of out-of-area missions that the homeland defense-focused German military wants to expand to underwrite its geopolitical ambitions.   “German Navy Chief Vice Adm. Andreas Krause has for years argued that Germany needs a presence in the Indian Ocean.” . . . Bruns said the Navy has been operating in the Indian Ocean’s environs for some time, with mine clearing in the Arabian Gulf, counterterrorism missions under the banner of Operation Enduring Freedom and the European Union’s counter-piracy operation, Atalanta, off the coast of Somalia.   “The Indian Ocean is a vibrant and strategically important maritime theater,” he said.   “German sea lines of communication run through the area, and the great powers are wrestling for influence.”

Krause . . . outlined the country’s maritime spheres of interest in a Defense News op-ed last December.   “They range from the northern flank, i.e., the north Atlantic, the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, down to the Mediterranean, and extend into the wider Indian Ocean region.”

(https://www.defensenews.com/global/europe/2020/03/12/germany-plans-to-send-a-warship-to-the-indian-ocean/)

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The political rise of southern Africa’s machete gangs
Zimbabwe News, 16 March 2020

A dangerous cocktail of unemployment, social exclusion, poverty, corruption and gold smuggling has led to the rise of violent machete gangs, which are offering their services to local power brokers and criminal gangs fighting for power in both Mozambique and Zimbabwe.   International media reports have shown that Islamist militants have carried out a number of brutal attacks and killings in Mozambique that have left hundreds dead and displaced more than 65,000 people, according to estimates by humanitarian agencies including Human Rights Watch.   A wave of violence perpetrated by a criminal gang in Cabo Delgado, 2,000 kilometres north of Maputo, in the far north of Mozambique near the border with Tanzania, came to public attention after shocking armed attacks on police stations in October 2017.   The group deploys thugs to attack and decapitate people, apparently indiscriminately, with machetes and firearms, and burn down houses and villages as part of its campaign of terror aimed at forcing the Mozambican state to adopt extreme Islamist practices.   A study found the group wants the full adoption of Sharia law, along with an Islamic education system.   Its membership is drawn from among unemployed and marginalized youth, particularly speakers of the Kimwani language, the study said.

The gangs, operating under code names “MaShurugwi” or “Mabhemba,” have been linked to senior officials, right up to the top of the government.   This may explain their boldness — they appear to operate with impunity; few arrests are ever made; they have even, on several occasions, invaded hospitals to finish off their victims; and are not averse to raiding police stations to free fellow gang members.
(http://www.thezimbabwenewslive.com/the-political-rise-of-southern-africas-machete-gangs/)

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Coronavirus:   Hundreds gather to pray at Wailing Wall        Posted: 17 Mar 2020 03:16 AM PDT

DAILYKENN.com — Thousands were expected to show up at the Wailing Wall to pray for an end to the coronavirus pandemic. Hundreds showed up.

Worshipers recited prayers and Psalms, sang and even danced in a circle, asking God to help in the finding of a cure for the disease, in a ceremony promoted by Chief Rabbi of Safed and president of the Rabbinical Community Association Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu in partnership with the Israeli branch of the US Orthodox Union.

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TO THE POINT

  • A newspaper in Darwin, Australia, included a few blank pages last Saturday.   It was their way of helping readers get through the shortage of toilet paper!   I well remember my mother talking about the Depression and how her family had to use newspaper, at a time when the print often came off onto your skin.  It led to some humorous comments.   Toilet paper was not invented until 1857.  Now we can’t imagine life without it.
  • Beijing has, according to President Trump’s trade advisor Peter Navarro, already nationalized one American factory making medical masks.   Moreover, Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo on air repeatedly said the Chinese forced at least one ship carrying masks, gloves, and other protective gear to the United States to return to China.   (Gordon C. Chang, Gatestone, 3/17/2020)
  • Dailykenn.com – If you don’t like diversity, get out of the country. That is the message of Tunahan Kuzu, the leader of a Muslim political party in The Netherlands, to native Dutch.   DENK is a relatively new political party, having been formed in 2015.  It is largely comprised of Turkish Muslims.  (3/11/2020)
  • Good sleep hygiene is the new wellness goal.  Try telling that to an eight-month-old baby.   (Hadley Freeman, the Guardian, 3/14/2020)
  • The call for a National Day of Prayer on Sunday should have included a call to repentance.   The US continues to kill 1.3 million babies a year, is the world’s leading producer of pornography and peoples’ morals are sadly lacking.   We need to change a great deal before we can expect God to listen to us.
  • One of the first casualties of the coronavirus is “Playboy” magazine which is to cease publication with the Spring issue.

GLOBAL OUTLOOK BLEAK FOR 2019

There have been an increasing number of articles warning about the global economy.   The latest predicts a depression worse than the Great Depression.   None are specific, in terms of “when” but all say the signs are there.

The most common problem cited is debt.   Governmental debt is already over $22 trillion in the US.   This is the highest amount any country in history has ever owed, so it’s difficult to predict what will happen.   In addition, there’s also corporate and private debt.   The figures given do not include mortgage debt, which is also extremely high.   Nor do they include the annual commitments for Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other government programs, the so-called entitlements.

The 2008 financial crash started as a mortgage failure.   So did the 1873 crash.   It began in Austria-Hungary and spread around the world.   This particular crash was known as The Great Depression, more than fifty years before the depression of the thirties.   It would be a mistake to think it cannot happen again.

In fact, depressions have been a regular feature in America’s history.   There have been as many as 47 recessions and depressions since independence.   After the end of the Revolutionary War, there was a depression, in which the economy slumped by 50%.   The depression of 1873 lasted 25 years, on and off.   Unemployment was at 50% in the 1896 election, resulting in the highest turnout ever – a full 80% of voters participated that year.

Not every year saw the economy in deep depression.   It came in three waves.   It finally ended with the Spanish-American War, which got the economy moving again.

PANIC OF 1873

The 1873 depression in the US started with the collapse of Jay Cooke & Co., then a major component of the American banking establishment.   Contributory failures were the post-Civil War inflation, rampant speculative investment and losses in the Chicago and Boston fires (1871 & 1872).   Bank reserves plummeted in the first two months from $50 million to $17 million.

“The failure of the Jay Cooke bank, followed quickly by that of Henry Clews, set off a chain reaction of bank failures and temporarily closed the New York stock market.   Factories began to lay off workers as the United States slipped into depression.   The effects of the panic were quickly felt in New York, and more slowly in Chicago, Virginia City, Nevada (where silver mining was active), and San Francisco.

“The New York Stock Exchange closed for ten days starting 20 September.    By November 1873 some 55 of the nation’s railroads had failed, and another 60 went bankrupt by the first anniversary of the crisis.    Construction of new rail lines, formerly one of the backbones of the economy, plummeted from 7,500 miles (12,070 km) of track in 1872 to just 1,600 miles (2,575 km) in 1875.    18,000 businesses failed between 1873 and 1875.    Unemployment peaked in 1878 at 8.25%.    Building construction was halted, wages were cut, real estate values fell and corporate profits vanished. ”  (Panic of 1873, Wikipedia)

GRUNDERKRACH

I single out the 1873 depression because of the similarities in the global situation today.   The depression in German speaking countries is known as the Grunderkrach, or Founders Crash.   When Germany was united following the Franco-Prussian war, a lot of money flowed into the country, mostly from French war reparations. Loans were then made, mostly for mortgages.   When people couldn’t pay them, the banking system collapsed.   This spread to the US and Britain.   It was the beginning of the end of Britain’s global supremacy.

The Great Recession of 2008 began as a housing crisis.   It actually began two years earlier when housing prices started falling.   For years previously house prices had been rising fast.   Millions of people bought homes, homes they could not afford.   The banks loaned to people who should not have had loans.   It was a recipe for disaster.

The same thing is happening again.   Bad loans and speculative investments are pervasive.   Student loans are so high they could be the cause of a collapse by themselves.   Government debt is at an all-time high as are corporate debt and consumer, non-mortgage debt (credit cards).

I am reminded of what the late President of France, Charles de Gaulle, said over 50 years ago.   He did not want Britain to join the EU (he had incredible foresight!).   He dismissed the US and the UK as “the Anglo Saxon debtor nations.”   The British-American economic systems have been built on massive debt.   It works well . . . for a while!   Eventually, there comes the day of reckoning.

That may be this year.

We should never have borrowed so much money, especially after the Crash of 2008.   Often it’s been encouraged by government, when it makes little sense.   Social engineering has boosted the value of homes and increased the number of loans (more profits).   A government decree made under the last administration was that all neighborhoods should be 25% minority; the only way to achieve that was to give 100% loans to people who had never owned a house. Additionally, 100% loans have been made to immigrants, who have had little time to learn how the economy works in the US.

Remember, at stake here is America’s global leadership role.   A serious set-back for the economy would weaken the US.

It’s interesting here to note that the euro is set up very differently, with government borrowing limited to 3%.   The euro has its own problems, but could emerge as the greater currency in the event of a global depression.  It’s already used by more people than the US dollar.

Debt can mean the borrower ends up in servitude to the lender. Note the following warning from scripture:   Proverbs 22:7 7  “The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower is servant to the lender.”

This is a far cry from the promised blessings for obedience:

Deuteronomy 15:6 says:  “For the Lord your God will bless you just as He promised you; you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow; you shall reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over you.”

A second cause of financial concern is impending TRADE WARS.   These will slow down the global economy.   Once again, uncertainty is an issue here.

A third reason the global economy is at risk is BREXIT, now less than two months away.   This could seriously affect inter-European trade.

A fourth factor, increasingly seen, is the economic Rule of Inequality. This is an economic law that predicts the likelihood of revolution based on the gap between the rich and the poor in any country. China is very concerned about this.   There is only one country with a greater gap and that’s the US.   Trump’s election was our “revolution” – if he is not able to deliver, there will be trouble ahead.

There are many countries around the world with a similar gap. France is going through weekly demonstrations about the rising gap between rich and poor; Venezuela and Zimbabwe are on the brink of revolution.

Other factors to watch are China’s slowdown and even the weather. Both can impact economies.

The above are all the predictables.   There may be other factors, unpredicatables, such as war, that can add to economic woes.

It remains to be seen.   But the warnings are there.   The only question is “When?”

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RUSSIA & CHINA POSE BIGGEST THREATS TO US

“Former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski warned in 1997 that the greatest long-term threat to US interests would be a “grand coalition” of China and Russia, ‘”united not by ideology but by complementary grievances.”   This coalition “would be reminiscent in scale and scope of the challenge once posed by the Sino-Soviet bloc, though this time China would likely be the leader and Russia the follower.”

Nobody listened back then, but now it’s becoming clear that the two countries are cooperating to deal with what each perceives as the American threat.   The latest development is in Venezuela, where they are supporting President Maduro and condemning the US for backing the “usurper,” Juan Guaido.

In the past, the US has thought a Sino-Russian entente outlandish. Only now it’s happening.   As Mr. Brzezinski warned, it’s not that they have a lot in common, but rather they share a common enemy.

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UK TO CRASH OUT OF THE EU

Now, nothing can stop Brexit from happening.   Even many supporters of remaining in the EU see that.   The way Europe has treated the UK will make it impossible to avoid a hard Brexit.   (This assumes no change of heart in the EU.)

The facts are that British incompetence has led to Europe just wanting to get it over with.   Looking back on almost 50 years of membership there is a realization that Britain has never been a good fit, either, so why try to keep the British in?

A third reason is NATO.   Most of the other European countries sense that the US is pulling out of NATO, that it doesn’t want the responsibility or cost of defending the other members.   This is why Europe is trying to put together its own military force.   Britain, more pro-American, would only get in the way of this.

So, expect a full Brexit on March 29th.

This will not prevent Mrs. May running around Europe like a chicken with its head cut-off!

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BOOK QUOTE

“From July 1780 until the end of the year, the Catawba River Valley and the adjacent northern districts were the scenes of some of the most brutal warfare ever fought in what is now the United States.   It was a civil war, with all its horrors, as neighbors and families turned on one another with a vengeance.”   (page 140, Partisans and Redcoats, by Walter Edgar, 2001)

OUT OF TOUCH

Jeb Bush

Following the Republican debate Thursday evening, one newspaper quoted on PBS’ McLaughlin Group observed that Jeb Bush spoke as if he thinks that America’s problems are all psychological and not real at all.   The Bushes have done well and live the dream and can’t understand why others have failed to achieve the same.

On Sunday, reports from Moscow showed a similar problem. President Vladimir Putin, by some accounts now the richest man in the world, thanks to the accumulation of ill-gotten gains, ordered the destruction of 350 tonnes of food from the EU in retaliation for western sanctions on Russia.   Mr. Putin’s decision shows that he is oblivious to the fact that millions of Russians are struggling to feed their families.  40% of Russia’s food was imported before the sanctions were announced.

Jeb Bush and Vladimir Putin aren’t the only two politicians who are out of touch with reality.   It’s difficult, for example, to imagine how Hillary Clinton, who, together with her husband, earned approximately $30 million last year, can possibly claim to represent the middle class.

It’s dangerous when politicians at the top are out of touch with people at the bottom.

In 1789, France’s Queen, Marie Antoinette supposedly said: “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche”—“Let them eat cake.”   That same year, the monarchy was overthrown and, three years later, the hated Marie lost her head to Madame Guillotine.   It wasn’t that simple.   The queen actually did a great deal for the poor through her charitable work and the words she supposedly uttered were recorded over a century earlier, attributed to the Spanish wife of King Louis XIV.

But hungry people don’t care about historical accuracy – they just want to eat.

A lack of food has been a regular cause of revolution throughout history.   In 1917, a bread riot in Petrograd (St. Petersburg) started the revolution that led to the downfall of the 300-year-old Romanov dynasty.   It’s not inconceivable that something similar could happen to Mr. Putin.   Of course, the revolution did not improve the situation – seven decades of communism included many years of famine and regular food shortages even at the best of times.

No nation is exempt.   If billboards in Michigan are to be believed, one in five Michigan children go to bed hungry.

Former presidential candidate Ross Perot warned a few years ago that food stamps are all that stand between us and anarchy – in other words, take away free food for the poor and you could see a revolution in the United States.

In June, 1932, veterans marched on Washington demanding that a bonus they were promised by Congress should be brought forward as, in the midst of the Depression, they could not afford to feed their families.   They built shanty-towns outside of Washington and were determined to stay until Congress met their demands.   President Herbert Hoover sent in troops under the command of General Douglas MacArthur to tear down the camps and send them home.   Reports at the time tell of great hunger amongst the vets and their families, including young children.   President Hoover was seen to be out of touch and uncaring (the shantytowns were dubbed “Hoovervilles”) and lost the election a few months later to Franklin Roosevelt.

Mr. Bush should remember the fate of the last Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, who lost the 2012 election to Mr. Obama.   Mr. Romney was recorded dismissing the “47%” of the electorate who depend on government and who, therefore, were not going to vote for him anyway.

Mr. Romney and Mr. Bush, both claiming to be conservative, should have read a biography of Benjamin Disraeli, the nineteenth century Conservative British prime minister who warned of Britain becoming “two nations,” one rich and the other poor.   He reshaped the Conservative Party to be a party that reached out to the working-man.   If the Republicans are to succeed, they have to do the same, to show how their policies will help improve the life of Joe Citizen.   To do this, they need to distance themselves from Big Business.

They can do it.   The 1896 election was held in the midst of a Great Depression that saw 50% of the people unemployed, at a time when there were no unemployment benefits for those who were out of work.   Understandably, the election saw the highest turnout in American history.   80% of the electorate voted.   The presidential election that year was won by Republican William McKinley.   He promised the people sound money and high tariffs to increase employment at home.   It’s interesting to note that the same issues still prevail.

Left-leaning parties, whether the Democrats in the US or the Labour Party in Britain, do not represent working people.  They are the parties of Big Government, which gives jobs to their supporters, but leads to a rise in taxes.   Those taxes are paid by ordinary people and small businesses, making life harder for the majority of people.

Leaders, and aspiring leaders like Jeb Bush, cannot afford to be out of touch with the common people.   This is especially true in democracies where every citizen has the vote.   Perhaps Mr. Bush and Mr. Putin should copy Britain’s Prince William, who spent the night sleeping on the streets of London to get the feel of homelessness.   At the very least, his gesture showed empathy with the poor, a realization on his part that tens of thousands of people are homeless and unable to take care of themselves.

Only a return to conservative values, including restoration of the traditional family, can help people get out of poverty.   Conservatives everywhere need to convince the voters that they represent them and not Big Business.

They could start by following the example of Menachem Begin, an Israeli conservative and former prime minister.   Mr. Begin spent many years in prison under the Bolsheviks.  Reading a biography of Benjamin Disraeli helped him maintain his sanity and inspired his future conservative course.   Focusing on struggling voters makes more sense than pursuing big business!  After decades of Big Government, people want change.

IS EUROPE GOING INTO A DEPRESSION?

EU

The French government has resigned for the second time in four months, following opposition from a couple of cabinet members to German imposed austerity measures. These left-wing members of the French parliament want the priority to be growth not fiscal discipline.

It should be noted that growth is the number one priority of the US Federal Reserve. In contrast, the eurozone believes the priority should be living within your means, hence the austerity imposed on a number of European countries.

The result after three or four years of austerity is a deepening recession throughout the EU. The latest country to go into recession during the second quarter is Germany, the economic engine that supposedly pulls the rest of the eurozone along.

Could Europe’s recession become a depression?

Before the Great Depression of the 1930’s, any downturn in the economy was described as a “depression.” In the 30’s the word had such a negative connotation that, after World War II, it was decided to use the milder word “recession” to describe a milder downturn. If an economy has negative growth for two consecutive quarters, it’s in recession. If the downturn is 10% or more, it’s a depression.

The problem is that a recession can easily become a depression. Deflation is a serious threat in Europe – that’s where prices and wages keep on going down. There is little that can be done to correct deflation, which is considered the worst thing that can happen to any economy.

As economies go into reverse, the consequences are hard to predict.   A look at history can help.

Rising unemployment and spreading poverty, despair, and hopelessness led to the rise of fascism in the Europe of the 1930’s. A number of countries, including Germany, turned to dictators who promised them everything. Those dictators, in turn, led their countries into war, which at least helped boost economic growth. Vast populations blamed the Jews for their financial problems, claiming the Jews controlled the world’s financial system; the result was the Holocaust in which six million Jews died.

Could it happen again?

Of course it could. European history shows that the Jews have been turned on repeatedly throughout history.

Could a depression bring about the collapse of democracy? All EU members are required to have a democratic system of government but most governments in the EU have lost a great deal of support during the economic crisis. If conditions worsen, there is no guarantee democracy will survive. When people are going hungry, they don’t care about constitutional niceties!

Could the EU fall apart?

Yes, it could. The Euro has been a great success for the wealthier nations but is hindering growth in other countries. In the past, countries like Greece, Portugal and Spain could devalue their currencies to boost trade; they can no longer do this when their currency is controlled externally.

In Revelation, chapter 17, we see that a union of ten nations is prophesied to come together at the end time. The EU is a union of 28 members, who, most of the time, are not very united. The UK is even considering pulling out of the Union, which is unprecedented.

A new and different union would emerge after a collapse of European economies. It would also have to emerge fairly quickly if it is to defend itself against the rising threat in the Middle East.

Keep watching events in Europe as well as the Middle East. The latter is the main focus of Bible prophecy but Europe is in second place. Europe and the Middle East have impacted each other greatly down through the centuries and will continue to do so.