Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Some observations on the economy

10 ¶ For thou hast trusted in thy wickedness:
thou hast said, None seeth me.
Thy wisdom and thy knowledge, it hath perverted thee;
and thou hast said in thine heart,
I am, and none else beside me.
11 ¶ Therefore shall evil come upon thee;
thou shalt not know from whence it riseth:
and mischief shall fall upon thee;
thou shalt not be able to put it off:
and desolation shall come upon thee suddenly,
which thou shalt not know.
12 Stand now with thine enchantments,
and with the multitude of thy sorceries,
wherein thou hast laboured from thy youth;
if so be thou shalt be able to profit,
if so be thou mayest prevail.
13 Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels.
Let now the astrologers,
the stargazers,
the monthly prognosticators, stand up,
and save thee from these things that shall come upon thee.
(Isaiah 47:10-13)
For some reason this scripture makes me think of the economic crisis.

Verse 11 reminds me a lot of a certain CEO, who insisted at a Congressional hearing that up to five days before, he had no idea that his company was going to go down.

As I have watched the banking industry thrash around and try to escape the credit crisis and I see all the different things they’ve been trying to do, like buy out each other’s debt, and raise more capital, and sell off assets and ask for bailouts, I can’t help but remember how they insisted that debt securitization was safe, because it was diluting the risk, how they advertised home equity loans for “living better”, and the credit default swaps..and so on.

Really, they do not see it coming, because they have made a perversion of debt. So now, they will try to work magic on their balance sheets to make the mess go away, or they will try to prevail upon the government to save them. I read that so many people in Washington and New York have been working 7 days a week for the last month or so trying to find a way out of the mess. They really are “wearied in the multitude of [their] counsels”. And we look to the market forecasters and economists to predict when things are expected to get better.
15 Because ye have said,
We have made a covenant with death,
and with hell are we at agreement;
when the overflowing scourge shall pass through,
it shall not come unto us:
for we have made lies our refuge,
and under falsehood have we hid ourselves:
16 ¶ Therefore thus saith the Lord God,
Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone,
a tried stone,
a precious corner stone,
a sure foundation:
he that believeth shall not make haste.
17 Judgment also will I lay to the line,
and righteousness to the plummet:
and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies,
and the waters shall overflow the hiding place.
18 ¶ And your covenant with death shall be disannulled,
and your agreement with hell shall not stand;
when the overflowing scourge shall pass through,
then ye shall be trodden down by it.
19 From the time that it goeth forth it shall take you:
for morning by morning shall it pass over,
by day and by night:
and it shall be a vexation only to understand the report.
(Isaiah 28:15-19)
I take courage from verse 16 above, which seems to say that before the disaster happens, the Lord laid a safe foundation to build upon. The main foundation, of course, is Christ, and He gives us a safe financial foundation to build on. We have known for many years that safe foundation is 1) paying our tithing 2) getting out of debt 3) living within our means 4) having a year’s supply of food and 5) having an emergency cash reserve. If we believed in these measures and followed them we will not need to panic or be in a hurry or “make haste”, because we will already be prepared.

Verse 15 is significant because it says that the Lord will lay judgment and righteousness to the line and plummet, meaning that He is testing everyone, even the righteous. If we have built on that safe foundation, we will be able to withstand the hail and the overflowing waters (the financial storms), when otherwise we would be swept away and overthrown. And certainly it will be vexing only to hear what is going on.
8 Who hath taken this counsel against Tyre,
the crowning city,
whose merchants are princes,
whose traffickers are the honourable of the earth?
9 The Lord of hosts hath purposed it,
to stain the pride of all glory,
and to bring into contempt all the honourable of the earth.
(Isaiah 23:8-9)
I think we’re starting to see some humiliation and contempt..

When will the lesson about the perils of greed be learned?
And her merchandise
and her hire shall be holiness to the Lord:
it shall not be treasured nor laid up;
for her merchandise shall be for them that dwell before the Lord,
to eat sufficiently,
and for durable clothing.
(Isaiah 23:18)
When we have learned how much is really enough and learned to donate our surplus to others in need, then we will begin to climb out of these troubles.