Mar 2, 2009

What Do These Huge Numbers Mean?

By Todd Strandberg

I am absolutely stunned at the magnitude and speed of the unfolding global economic crisis. Since September of last year, there has been a continuous flood of negative news. The Federal Reserve and Treasury Department have pumped more than $10 trillion into the financial system, yet our economy continues to implode.

The losses incurred by the federal government are so staggering that nobody really knows what they imply for the future. Last week, the Obama administration reported a projected deficit for 2009 of $1.75 trillion. The deficit for 2008 was only $435 billion.

In the next three years, the government will need to borrow $3.6 trillion.

Many people are oblivious to our federal deficit because they don't understand the meaning of these trillion dollar numbers. Here are three examples that might help:
  • If you spent $1 million a day every day since Jesus was born, you would still be only slightly more that three-quarters of the way to spending $1 trillion.

  • A stack of one trillion $1 bills would reach nearly 68,000 miles into the sky; that’s about a third of the way from the Earth to the moon.

  • Earth's home galaxy, the Milky Way, is estimated to contain about 200 billion stars. So, if each star cost $1, $1 trillion would buy five Milky Way galaxies full of stars.
The big question that needs to be asked is: "Does the world have the capacity or the will to keep purchasing our debt?" U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton recently visited China to urge that country to keep buying our bonds. China already has $1.95 trillion in foreign exchange reserves, which leaves us at Beijing 's mercy. If the Chinese weren't so worried about their export market, they could easily destroy our economy by selling some of their treasury notes.

What has caused the federal deficit to soar is all the bail-out money being given to public companies. Unfortunately, these firms continue to bleed cash at a staggering rate. Insurance Giant AIG lost $60 billion in its fourth quarter. The three auto makers are losing $30 billion a quarter. Citibank has $300 billion in bad assets, and the government now owns 40 percent of this company.

As bad as things are here in the U.S., Europe is actually facing a much bigger problem: west European banks have loaned eastern bloc nations vast amounts of money. They hold an astonishing $3.7 trillion portfolio of loans to emerging market countries. While we have banks that are said to be too big to fail, Europe has banks that are too big to save. Austrian banks have loaned $289 billion to eastern Europe. That amount is 70 percent of the Austrian GDP.

In Poland, 60 percent of mortgages are in Swiss francs. The zloty has now dropped in half against the franc. It now costs some Poles twice as much for their mortgages. Another major problem is that much of eastern Europe’s debt is short-term, and a third of it will need to be rolled over this year.

Unlike in the U.S., Europe 's financial system has no EU Federal Reserve ready to act as a lender of last resort or to flood the markets with an emergency stimulus. Because it doesn't have a fire department, Europe can only handle economic forest fires by forming a bucket brigade of funds pledged by member states.

Back here at home, one of the most alarming trends is how quickly people are turning to socialism to handle the crisis. About six months ago, lawmakers were hotly debating the merits of using federal money to support private business. Now CEOs regularly show up in Washington to collect their latest billion dollar hand-outs. When a plan to nationalize parts of the banking system was put forth, many conservative Republicans thought it was a good idea.

The economic crisis has even changed people's views on moral issues. As a way to boost California 's empty coffers, a state lawmaker has introduced a bill that would legalize and tax marijuana. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said states should be allowed to make their own rules on marijuana usage.

The world is in desperate need of a financial savior, and I wouldn't be surprised if the Antichrist is the one who comes to the rescue. The timing is too perfect for this crisis to just be a coincidence. The Beast may already be on the scene working at some level. The G20 summit, slated for 1 April, needs to be watched closely for a big announcement on a “global new deal”.

Paul Henri Spaak, a former Belgian prime minister, once said:

"We do not want another committee. We have too many already. What we want is a man of sufficient stature to hold the allegiance of all people and to lift us out of the economic morass in which we are sinking. Send us such a man and be he god or the devil we will receive him."
He made these remarks over 50 year ago, but they seem to apply most fittingly to our time.

I believe we are witnessing one of the last warning signs to the tribulation hour. Christians need to adopt a very sober attitude about where they are in God's will. Peter's words in 1 Peter 4:7 really ring true for our day:

"But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers."
Every morning, we need to ask the Lord, "What can I do today that will benefit Your Kingdom?"

"And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light" (Romans 13:11-12 NIV).

Related Links

Wall Street tumbles anew as financials slide - Yahoo News
Obama Will Sign Spending Bill Despite Earmarks - Fox News
EU says crisis worst in memory, helping new EU states - Reuters
Toward Nationalizing U.S. Banks – Toward One World Order -