"Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; They fly away like an eagle toward heaven."
Make Themselves Wings
Greetings! The apostle Paul commented to the church in Ephesus, "This grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ." (Ephesians 3:8)
"The riches of Christ are not simply "riches of grace"--"riches of glory"--"riches of inheritance," but that treasury of spiritual blessing which is Christ's--so vast that the comprehension of its limits and the exhaustion of its contents are alike impossible. What the apostle wishes to characterize as grand in itself, or in its abundance, adaptation, and substantial permanence, he terms "riches." The riches of Christ are the true wealth of men and nations. And those riches are "unsearchable." Even the value of the portion already possessed cannot be told by any symbols of numeration, for such riches can have no adequate exponent or representative. Their source was in eternity, and in a love whose fervour and origin are above our ken, and whose duration shall be for ages of ages beyond compute." (preceptaustin.org)
Jesus Himself admonished us in Matthew chapter six; "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; "but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal." (Matthew 6:19-20)
As you may very well be aware, the world could be on the verge of the greatest economic crash in history, unless the Lord somehow intervenes to delay this event.
Many have been predicting this for years and it now appears we may be there, as the following articles reveal. Some of the articles are a little long and involved but we do not have to understand every thing written to get the overall gist of what is happening now and what may be happening in the very near future.
The prophet Jeremiah put 'trusting in riches' in a rather unusual way; "As a partridge that broods but does not hatch, So is he who gets riches, but not by right; It will leave him in the midst of his days, And at his end he will be a fool." (Jeremiah 17:11)
There are many verses in the Bible about riches, trusting in riches, etc. but we will end here with Paul's instruction to Timothy concerning rich and wealthy people; "Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy." (1 Timothy 6:17)
We hope you will find the following articles interesting and food for thought. We have posted more than usual, but then again we are living in very unusual days!
Britain draws up survival plans for life after the euro to avoid plunging into another recession
Stronger economies could contract by 25% if EU falls apart
Mounting fears Greece will default and have to leave euro
Moody's downgrades credit ratings of two French banks
France and Germany insist Greece is 'integral part' of euro
World markets are boosted but experts are unconvinced
By James Chapman and Hugo Duncan
15th September 2011
Britain is drawing up contingency plans for a catastrophic collapse of the euro which experts fear could plunge our economy back into a recession 'beyond comprehension'.
Economists believe the EU would be unlikely to survive a disorderly break-up of the euro and say that even stronger economies could contract by as much as 25 per cent in the aftermath.
Amid a mounting sense of inevitability that Greece will default on its massive debts and be forced to leave the single currency, the U.S. urged EU governments to use 'overwhelming force' to address the debt crisis.
U.S. treasury secretary Tim Geithner, who will take the unusual step of attending a meeting of EU finance ministers in Poland tomorrow, admitted Washington had been 'behind the curve' in tackling its own financial crisis but urged Europe to act decisively.
A policeman clashing with an anti-austerity protester near the Italian Parliament building in Rome
Protesters and riot policemen clash in front of the Italian parliament in Piazza Montecitorio
Yesterday ratings agency Moody's downgraded the credit ratings of two of France's largest banks, Societe Generale and Credit Agricole, because of their exposure to Greek debt causing panic on French stock markets.
The ratings agency left France's largest bank, BNP Paribas, on review, saying its profitability and capital base gave it an adequate cushion to support its Greek, Portuguese and Irish exposure.
World markets rose sharply after European leaders vowed to help Greece avoid default in a bid to sooth trader jitters.
The leaders of Greece, France and Germany - in a telephone conference call - agreed Greece was an 'integral part' of the eurozone.
And Greece promised to stick to agreements on debt reduction - a condition of the further bailout package from other European nations.
The FTSE-100 was up more than 70 points or 1.44 per cent this morning, with the Dax and Cac-40 both up 1.9 per cent.
Overnight, Japan's Nikkei rose 1.5 per cent, South Korea's Kospi 0.6 per cent, Hong Kong's Hang Seng 0.5 per cent and Australia's ASX 200 0.8 per cent.
Benchmarks in Singapore, Taiwan and New Zealand also rose, although most Chinese stocks were unaffected.
Moody's has downgraded Societe Generale and Credit Agricole because of their exposure to Greek debt
Yesterday, U.S. stocks saw their third day of gains in a row. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 140.88 points, or 1.3 per cent.
Uri Landesman, president of the New York hedge fund Platinum Partners, said worries over Greece have gone too far because it won't be allowed to default.
'They're just not going to let them [the Greeks] go under,' he said. 'That's just not happening. I think people have learned the lesson from letting Lehman Brothers fail.'
Despite today's reassurances, even the most die-hard pro-Europeans appear to accept that the eurozone is in terminal trouble.
Former Liberal Democrat leader Lord Ashdown, a long-time supporter of the single currency, asked in an interview with The Spectator whether he thought the euro could survive in its current form, replied: 'No, I don't.'
'The most likely outcome is probably a core euro, a euro that has Germany, Austria, Finland and the Benelux countries in it - you'd have to have France in there for political reasons, even though economically they wouldn't come up to the mark precisely - and maybe Sweden.
'Then you have a core euro and you then create the institutions to govern the euro.'
Martin Callanan, Conservative leader in Brussels, said: 'The thing is in absolute crisis. Everybody is panicking over here.
'And it seems to me the least worst option is to accept the inevitable for Greece to default on its debt, leave the euro and devalue its currency and then give it space to restructure'.
But he warned that Britain could be caught in the fallout as the eurozone collapses.
Andrew Lilico, chief economist at analysts Europe Economics, said the collapse of the euro would almost certainly mean the end of the EU.
'The EU is most unlikely to continue without the euro,' he said. 'Sudden and disorderly collapse of the EU would induce a massive further phase of recession.'
He referred to predictions by the Swiss bank UBS of a 20-25 per cent contraction in gross domestic product for strong countries and 50 per cent for weak countries.
'I happen to think that the UBS figures are somewhat emotional,' he said. 'But it would certainly involve a recession on a scale beyond modern experience or comprehension in a Western democracy.'
In an extraordinary sign of alarm across the globe, five big developing countries said they were ready to discuss bailing out Europe.
The leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - the 'BRICS' countries - are to meet at the annual World Bank and International Monetary Fund summit next week to talk about providing emergency assistance.
The head of the World Bank said the global economy had entered a new 'danger zone' and that the 'time for muddling through' was over.
Robert Zoellick said: 'Unless Europe, Japan, and the United States can face up to responsibilities they will drag down not only themselves but the global economy. They have procrastinated for too long on taking the difficult decisions, narrowing what choices are now left to a painful few.'
Treasury sources believe that Germany is now resigned to the eurozone breaking down in its current form and a new European 'inner core' being created. There is an increasing expectation that this will mean a new EU treaty.
Downing Street confirmed that officials were working on 'contingency plans' aimed at trying to insulate Britain from a full-blown crisis in the eurozone, but refused to speculate about what form they would take.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, in a speech on the economy, warned: 'The economic context is much worse than before. Yes, facts have changed.'
Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls warned of the danger of a 'massive economic catastrophe' on a larger scale than the banking crash in 2008.
'The issue now isn't really Greece, it is what is happening in Spain and in particular Italy,' he said.
Polish finance minister Jacek Rostowski, who will chair a meeting of EU finance bosses tomorrow, said the EU could be destroyed by the debt crisis.
But the president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, insisted that the answer to the growing threat to the euro was a more, and not less, integrated EU.
Europe's debt crisis: 5 things you need to know
By Ben Rooney
September 13, 2011
German Chancellor Angela Merkel wants greater 'convergence' among all EU members.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- It's been about 18 months since the sovereign debt crisis in Europe began attracting attention in global financial circles.
In that time, the crisis has grown into the biggest challenge the European Union has faced since the adoption of the euro as its single currency 12 years ago.
Greece, Portugal and Ireland are on life support. Italy and Spain are exhibiting worrying symptoms.
Germany and France, the healthy ones, are suffering from a global economic malaise.
As the situation appears to be coming to a head, again, here are five key issues to keep an eye on.
1. Stability fund is not very stable
In July, European political leaders announced a set of proposals to address the crisis, including a second bailout for Greece, which was teetering on the verge of default.
The centerpiece of the July 21 agreement was the proposed expansion of the European Financial Stability Fund. The fund was set up last year to facilitate low-cost loans for struggling EU members including Portugal and Ireland.
Under the proposed changes, the fund would be able to buy government bonds directly from banks and investors. Importantly, it would be able to do this for nations that do not already have bailout loans, such as Spain and Italy.
The goal is to contain the crisis by limiting volatility in the sovereign debt markets, where nervous investors have driven borrowing costs for several struggling EU nations to record highs.
That would take some pressure off the European Central Bank, which has been buying government bonds as part of an emergency program.
But many analysts say there is not enough money in the 440 billion euro stability fund to be effective if Italy and Spain need to be rescued.
Over the next few weeks, the proposals will go before Parliaments in several eurozone nations, including some where voters are suffering from so-called bailout fatigue. The bailout and stability fund expansion would also need approval from the 17 nations that use the euro as their currency.
2. Greece and Italy are on a knife's edge
In addition to expanding the stability fund, eurozone governments must unanimously approve Greece's 109 billion euro package of low-cost loans.
The agreement has already shown signs of cracking.
Finland and Greece reached a controversial agreement in August for Athens to provide cash collateral against loans from Helsinki.
The move resonated with other eurozone nations that have relatively health economies, including Austria and Belgium, which also called for collateral.
Eurozone officials have chafed at the bilateral agreements, since they mean Greece would have to put up cash in order to get cash. Jean Claude Junker, president of the Eurogroup, said finance ministers are working on an alternative plan, but the situation remains murky.
At the same time, Greece has struggled to implement harsh austerity measures aimed at reining in budget deficits and meeting conditions for its bailout loans.
Meanwhile, investors have also been growing worried about Italy.
The third-largest economy in Europe, Italy is considered too big to fail. While the nation has a relatively small budget deficit, Italy has debts equal to nearly 120% of its gross domestic product.
At the same time, Italy's decade-long economic slump is not expected to end anytime soon, making it difficult for the nation to pay off its debts.
Italy has been struggling to impose austerity measures aimed at reducing its debt burden. But the process has been hampered by political infighting and public backlash.
Yet the Italian Senate voted Wednesday to approve a set of reforms, including a controversial value added tax on purchases.
The belt-tightening measures will be voted on by Italy's lower chamber later this week.
3. Banks are under heavy pressure
Investors are afraid big European banks, which hold billions of euros in sovereign debt on their books, may be forced to take painful writedowns if governments cannot repay their debts.
Société Générale (SCGLF), one of the oldest banks in France, has been at the forefront of investors' worried minds. The company's stock price has plunged to its lowest level since early 2009, when the financial crisis was in full swing.
Some analysts say even German banks, such as Deutsche Bank (DB), would not be immune if the sovereign debt crisis spirals out of control.
"Who says that German banks, just because they are big, and just because they are domiciled in Euroland's largest and most stable economy, are safe?" asked Carl Weinberg, chief economist at High Frequency Economics.
The troubles in the banking sector have raised concerns that Europe could suffer a credit squeeze similar to the one that crippled global credit markets in 2008.
While there have been some indirect signs that European banks are having trouble obtaining short-term dollar loans, the traditional indicators of stress in the banking system are not yet flashing red.
EU officials maintain that stress tests conducted in July prove that European banks have sufficient capital.
And there is always the ECB, which has already provided some relatively small loans to European banks. But given the challenging stock market and concerns about a pullback in interbank lending, banks in Europe appear to have few options to raise capital.
This dynamic has fueled fears that there could be a run on a major European bank if investors and depositors start to pull money out in a panic. In that case, governments may be forced to step in and take over.
But it's not clear whether policymakers have the political will, and the cash, to bailout a major bank.
4. Economy is in the dumps
In the second quarter, overall economic activity among the 17 nations that use the euro grew only 0.2% compared with the first quarter, according to Eurostat.
Germany, the region's economic powerhouse, reported a paltry 0.1% increase in second-quarter gross domestic product, compared with a more robust 1.3% in the first quarter. But economists say Germany is still on track for modest growth in 2011.
The German economy is heavily dependent on exports and has benefited from rapid growth in emerging nations such as China.
As activity cools in those markets, the outlook for Germany has dimmed. The slowdown raises troubling questions about the long-term outlook for the eurozone.
Economists say the weaker members of the eurozone will not be able to repay their debts and live without bailouts until economic activity resumes in a big way.
5. Fate of eurozone is at risk
The crisis has brought to light problems that many analysts say will require a fundamental change in the way the European Union operates.
The eurozone nations have enjoyed the benefits of a shared currency and uniform monetary policy since about 1999. However, aside from certain unenforced budget targets, the group has never had a common approach to fiscal policy.
The lack of coordination has resulted in a situation where stronger members of the union are now being forced to help support less competitive members that have spent beyond their means.
If they don't, many analysts say the union could break up, with one or more nations abandoning the euro.
European leaders have said repeatedly that they will do whatever it takes to preserve the euro, arguing that greater economic integration is the key to doing so.
Last month, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel met in Paris to discuss, among other things, a proposed "golden rule" to require all euro area nations to commit to balanced budgets.
The goal, they said, is to promote greater "convergence" among the policies of the core members of the EU, such as France and Germany, with those of the more troubled nations on the union's periphery.
The leaders also discussed greater coordination on corporate tax rates and the creation of a so-called financial transaction tax.
But officials have so far stopped short of explicitly calling for a uniform fiscal authority.
Investors have been calling for the creation of a so-called Eurobond, which would be backed by all 17 euro area nations. Issuing a common form of debt would ease borrowing costs for the weaker members of the union.
But it would result in higher rates for more credit-worthy nations, which are opposed to the idea.
The Economic Collapse
20 Signs Of Imminent Financial Collapse In Europe
Sept 13, 2011
Are we on the verge of a massive financial collapse in Europe? Rumors of an imminent default by Greece are flying around all over the place and Greek government officials are openly admitting that they are running out of money. Without more bailout funds it is absolutely certain that Greece will soon default on their debts. But German officials are threatening to hold up more bailout payments until the Greeks "do what they agreed to do". The attitude in Germany is that the Greeks must now pay the price for going into so much debt. Officials in the Greek government are becoming frustrated because the more austerity measures they implement, the more their economy shrinks. As the economy shrinks, so do tax payments and the budget deficit gets even larger. Meanwhile, hordes of very angry Greek citizens are violently protesting in the streets. If Germany allows Greece to default, that is going to start financial dominoes tumbling around the globe and it is going to be a signal to the financial markets that there is a very real possibility that Portugal, Italy and Spain will be allowed to default as well. Needless to say, all hell would break loose at that point.
So why is Greece so important?
Well, there are two reasons why Greece is so important.
Number one, major banks all over Europe are heavily invested in Greek debt. Since many of those banks are also very highly leveraged, if they are forced to take huge losses on Greek debt it could wipe many of them out.
Secondly, if Greece defaults, it tells the markets that Portugal, Italy and Spain would likely not be rescued either. It would suddenly become much, much more expensive for those countries to borrow money, which would make their already huge debt problems far worse.
If Italy or Spain were to go down, it would wipe out major banks all over the globe.
Recently, Paul Krugman of the New York Times summarized the scale of the problem the world financial system is now facing....
Financial turmoil in Europe is no longer a problem of small, peripheral economies like Greece. What's under way right now is a full-scale market run on the much larger economies of Spain and Italy. At this point countries in crisis account for about a third of the euro area's G.D.P., so the common European currency itself is under existential threat.
Most Americans don't spend a lot of time thinking about the financial condition of Europe.
But they should.
Right now, the U.S. economy is really struggling to stay out of another recession. If Europe has a financial meltdown, there is no way that the United States is going to be able to avoid another huge economic downturn.
If you think that things are bad now, just wait. After the next major financial crisis what we are going through right now is going to look like a Sunday picnic.
The following are 20 signs of imminent financial collapse in Europe....
#1 The yield on 2 year Greek bonds is now over 60 percent. The yield on 1 year Greek bonds is now over 110 percent. Basically, world financial markets now fully expect that Greece will default.
#2 European bank stocks are getting absolutely killed once again today. We have seen this happen time after time in the last few weeks. What we are now witnessing is a clear trend. Just like back in 2008, major banking stocks are leading the way down the financial toilet.
#3 The German government is now making preparations to bail out major German banks when Greece defaults. Reportedly, the German government is telling banks and financial institutions to be prepared for a 50 percent "haircut" on Greek debt obligations.
#4 With thousands upon thousands of angry citizens protesting in the streets, the Greek government seems hesitant to fully implement the austerity measures that are being required of them. But if Greece does not do what they are being told to do, Germany may withhold further aid. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble says that Greece is now "on a knife's edge".
#5 Germany is increasingly taking a hard line with Greece, and the Greeks are feeling very pushed around by the Germans at this point. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard made this point very eloquently in a recent article for the Telegraph....
Germany's EU commissioner GÃ¼nther Oettinger said Europe should send blue helmets to take control of Greek tax collection and liquidate state assets. They had better be well armed. The headlines in the Greek press have been "Unconditional Capitulation", and "Terrorization of Greeks", and even "Fourth Reich".
#6 Everyone knows that Greece simply cannot last much longer without continued bailouts. John Mauldin explained why this is so in a recent article....
It is elementary school arithmetic. The Greek debt-to-GDP is currently at 140%. It will be close to 180% by year's end (assuming someone gives them the money). The deficit is north of 15%. They simply cannot afford to make the interest payments. True market (not Eurozone-subsidized) interest rates on Greek short-term debt are close to 100%, as I read the press. Their long-term debt simply cannot be refinanced without Eurozone bailouts.
#7 The austerity measures that have already been implemented are causing the Greek economy to shrink rapidly. Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos has announced that the Greek government is now projecting that the economy will shrink by 5.3% in 2011.
#8 Greek Deputy Finance Minister Filippos Sachinidis says that Greece only has enough cash to continue operating until next month.
#9 Major banks in the U.S., in Japan and in Europe have a tremendous amount of exposure to Greek debt. If they are forced to take major losses on Greek debt, quite a few major banks that are very highly leveraged could suddenly be in danger of being wiped out.
#10 If Greece goes down, Portugal could very well be next. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard of the Telegraph explains it this way....
Yet to push Greece over the edge risks instant contagion to Portugal, which has higher levels of total debt, and an equally bad current account deficit near 9pc of GDP, and is just as unable to comply with Germany's austerity dictates in the long run. From there the chain-reaction into EMU's soft-core would be fast and furious.
#11 The yield on 2 year Portuguese bonds is now over 15 percent. A year ago the yield on those bonds was about 4 percent.
#12 Portugal, Ireland and Italy now also have debt to GDP ratios that are well above 100%.
#13 Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Spain owe the rest of the world about 3 trillion euros combined.
#14 Major banks in the "healthy" areas of Europe could soon see their credit ratings downgraded. For example, there are persistent rumors that Moody's is about to downgrade the credit ratings of several major French banks.
#15 Most major European banks are leveraged to the hilt and are massively exposed to sovereign debt. Before it fell in 2008, Lehman Brothers was leveraged 31 to 1. Today, major German banks are leveraged 32 to 1, and those banks are currently holding a massive amount of European sovereign debt.
#16 The ECB is not going to be able to buy up debt from troubled eurozone members indefinitely. The European Central Bank is already holding somewhere in the neighborhood of 444 billion euros of debt from the governments of Greece, Italy, Portugal, Ireland and Spain. On Friday, Jurgen Stark of Germany resigned from the European Central Bank in protest over these reckless bond purchases.
#17 According to London-based think tank Open Europe, the European Central Bank is now massively overleveraged....
"Should the ECB see its assets fall by just 4.23pc in value . . . its entire capital base would be wiped out."
#18 The recent decision issued by the German Constitutional Court seems to have ruled out the establishment of any "permanent" bailout mechanism for the eurozone. Just consider the following language from the decision....
"No permanent treaty mechanisms shall be established that leads to liability for the decisions of other states, especially if they entail incalculable consequences"
#19 Economist Nouriel Roubini is warning that without "massive stimulus" by the governments of the western world we are going to see a major financial collapse and we will find ourselves plunging into a depression....
"In the short term, we need to do massive stimulus; otherwise, there's going to be another Great Depression"
#20 German Economy Minister Philipp Roesler is warning that "an orderly default" for Greece is not "off the table"....
"To stabilize the euro, we must not take anything off the table in the short run. That includes, as a worst-case scenario, an orderly default for Greece if the necessary instruments for it are available."
Right now, Greece is caught in a death spiral. The more austerity measures they implement, the more their economy slows down. The more their economy slows down, the more their tax revenues go down. The more their tax revenues go down, the worse their debt problems become.
Greece could end up leaving the euro, but that would make their economic problems far, far worse and it would be very damaging to the rest of the eurozone as well.
Quite a few politicians in Europe are touting a "United States of Europe" as the ultimate solution to these problems, but right now the citizens of the eurozone are overwhelming against deeper economic integration.
Plus, giving the EU even more power would mean an even greater loss of national sovereignty for the people of Europe.
That would not be a good thing.
So what we are stuck with right now is the status quo. But the current state of affairs cannot last much longer. Germany is getting sick and tired of giving out bailouts and nations such as Greece are getting sick and tired of the austerity measures that are being forced upon them.
At some point, something is going to snap. When that happens, world financial markets are going to respond with a mixture of panic and fear. Credit markets will freeze up because nobody will be able to tell who is stable and who is about to collapse. Dominoes will start to fall and quite a few major financial institutions will be wiped out. Governments around the world will have to figure out who they want to bail out and who they don't want to bail out.
It will be a giant mess.
For decades, the governments of the western world have been warned that they were getting into way too much debt.
For decades, the major banks and the big financial institutions were warned that they were becoming way too leveraged and were taking far too many risks.
Well, nobody listened.
So now we get to watch a global financial nightmare play out in slow motion.
Grab some popcorn and get ready. It is going to be quite a show.
Euro exit could cost 45,000 Euros for each family
Pressure on currency and fears of its demise mount after Dutch government's bombshell
By Nick Webb - Sunday September 11 2011
THE cost of Ireland leaving the euro could be as much as 45,000 euros per family in the first year, according to research report for clients of giant Swiss investment bank UBS.
The threat of a break-up of the euro mounted last week when the Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte, and his finance minister, Jan Kees de Jager, dropped a bombshell by suggesting that countries that persistently break eurozone budget rules should be chucked out of the currency. With the latest Greek bailout deal on a knife-edge, the possibility of Greece leaving the euro has increased dramatically in recent weeks.
Analysts believe the departure of Greece would lead to major problems for the other bailed-out countries, Ireland and Portugal, as markets smell blood. Ireland's massive bank debt is like catnip for sharp-suited hedge-fund bosses and institutional investors looking to "short" our bonds.
This could lead to a domino effect, with the weaker countries being forced out the door. Spain, Italy and France would also come under enormous pressure from speculators.
"We estimate that a weak euro country leaving the euro would incur a cost of around 9,500 euros to 11,500 euros per person in the exiting country during the first year. That would then probably amount to 3,000 euros to 4,000 euros per person per year over subsequent years," according to the report from UBS economists Stephane Deo, Paul Donovan and Larry Hatheway issued last week.
"That equates to a range of 40 per cent to 50 per cent of GDP in the first year." The value of Ireland's economy -- or GDP -- is forecast to be just over 150bn euros this year.
"The cost of a weak country leaving the euro is significant. Consequences include sovereign default, corporate default, collapse of the banking system and collapse of international trade," according to UBS.
The notion that a country could leave the euro and set up a new currency -- an Irish punt for example -- which would devalue, is slammed by the UBS economists.
"Exiting the euro is not going to take place with a small depreciation of the new national currency. The idea that a 10 per cent or 20 per cent adjustment is all that is required is fantasy. Why on earth would a country go through this much trauma for so small an adjustment?"
The suggestion that a country leaving the euro could regain competitiveness by devaluing its new currency "is not likely to hold in reality", according to the report. UBS estimates that Europe would impose massive tariffs against the exports of the seceding country.
"The EC explicitly alludes to this issue, saying that if a country was to leave the euro it would compensate for any undue movement in the new national currency," according to UBS.
It has also been suggested that Germany might leave the euro and revive the deutschmark. This would also lead to corporate defaults, recapitalisation of the banking sector and the collapse of international trade.
UBS estimates that it would cost every German man, woman or child up to 8,000 euros in the first year if the country left the eurozone and up to 4,500 euros per year after that.
The cost of bailing out Ireland, Greece and Portugal entirely in the wake of a default would be just over 1,000 euros per German as a one-off hit.
- Nick Webb
New York Daily News (Edited from longer article.)
One in every six Americans living below poverty line, U.S. Census Bureau announces
By Christina Boyle and Larry McShane - Daily News staff writers
September 13th 2011
More than 3 million New Yorkers are among the 46.2 million Americans trapped by the tanking economy as the U.S. poverty rate hit its highest level in 27 years.
The stunning 15.1% figure for 2010 meant one in every six Americans - and New Yorkers - were living below the poverty line, the U.S. Census Bureau announced Tuesday.
The number, up from 14.3% in 2009, was the highest since 1983 as U.S. household income dropped by an average 2% last year.
"It's disappointing that the poverty rate is going up," Mayor Bloomberg said. "We have got to make sure that globalization and technological automation doesn't take away the ability of people to be self-sufficient."
The depressing numbers add up to trouble for President Obama, whose 2012 reelection campaign will undoubtedly center on his handling of the nation's fiscal nightmare.
The President is pushing for a $450 billion job creation package to get the economy back on track as the national unemployment rate stays above 9%.
The amount of people living in poverty was the highest since the bureau began tracking the figures 52 years ago - and the third straight year the number increased.
Pensioners turn back to living off the land
September 1, 2011
For the first time in years, Amari Valley in the island's Rethymno district has turned green again as fields have been cleared and put back to use as farms.
By Tania Georgiopoulou
«Here you can go a week without spending a single euro over here," says a man who moved back to Crete two years ago to live in the village of his birth. "You get fresh food from your farm and if you need something extra, like olive oil for example, you can get it from a fellow farmer. You only need money to pay for your gas and bills," he says.
He is not alone. For the first time in years, Amari Valley in the island's Rethymno district has turned green again as fields have been cleared and put back to use as farms.
Recent data on farming in Greece show that the number of jobs in the sector has gone up by 38,000 between 2008 and 2010. This increase is in stark contrast to the grim statistics regarding rising unemployment across most other sectors.
However, a closer examination of the data shows that these born-again farmers are for the most part pensioners trying to make some extra money -- particularly by cutting down on their cost of living. Between 22 and 32 percent of those who have taken up farming in the past couple of years are aged between 45 and 64 years old. Some 70 percent of the latecomers in the Epirus region in northern Greece are over 65.
Giorgos Christonakis, a former employee at Hellenic Petroleum, lives between Athens and Amari. "After I retired, I went to look for a house in the village. I have since planted vegetables, I have my own olive trees and I plan to grow wheat so I can make my own bread," he says. His children, he says, are not too keen on moving to Crete, so he has to travel between places. "But if the state breaks down and I end up losing my pension, what will happen then? At least we will have an alternative; we won't starve to death."
A friend of his, 60-year-old Pandelis Zoumboulakis, grows beans and tomatoes in that same valley. Zoumboulakis, a former municipal employee, retired two years ago but has yet to receive his first pension payment. His housing loan installment cannot wait, however. "I get an 800-euro advance on my pension each month. We are lucky my mother chips in to help," he says.
His children are now independent, and the couple have returned to their family home in Crete to work the land. "We're not doing it for the money; but at least we know what goes into our stomachs," he says. "More and more people are coming back to the village to do the same," Zoumboulakis says. His cousins from Athens recently visited the island to plant some trees. "When they retire in a few years, they plan to move here too," he says.
On the island of Chios, the collection of mastic from gum trees, an age-old tradition, is experiencing a revival and production last year rose by 20 percent.
Lefteris Karakatsanis, 74, migrated to Germany in 1963 before trying his luck in the United States. In 1994, after he retiremed, he returned to Chios to live with his wife. In the early years, his pension was enough to afford them a decent life. As the euro rose against the dollar, it became harder for them to get by. "At least I make some mastic and we manage to earn some extra money," he says.
"Mastic is a very good product," says Giorgos Avdeliodis, 57, who used to work for the Public Power Corporation (PPC). He cultivates mastic trees, but also breeds animals. "Goats, chicken, pigs -- mostly for our own consumption," he says.
For many people on Chios, mastic collection is for pocket money, says Christos Koukouris, a retired naval officer and member of the island's mastic production board. "But it's still a tough job."
Israeli-Greek defense pact invoked versus Turkish naval and air movements
September 15, 2011
Israel and Greece have invoked the mutual defense pact they signed secretly only 12 days ago in the light of heavy Turkish sea and air movements in the eastern Mediterranean. DEBKAfile's sources report that this was decided in a long nocturnal phone conversation Wednesday night Sept. 14 between the Israeli and Greek prime ministers, Binyamin Netanyahu and George Papandreou, and at Israel's expanded cabinet of eight, which was called into session over the Turkish threat to its off-shore oil and gas rigs. - The Greek Prime Minister added to the information recorded so far on Turkish fleet movements in the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas. He was particularly concerned by the observation flights suddenly increased in the past 48 hours over the Greek island of Kastelorizo in the southeast Mediterranean just two kilometers from the Turkish coast. Those flights are escorted by Turkish combat jets. - Athens fears a Turkish attack on the island, whose population is fewer than 1,000, and an attempt to damage or seize it. Israel suspects that a Turkish attack on the Greek island will be the signal for Turkish military aggression against its oil and gas platforms located in the Mediterranean between Israel and Cyprus. Papandreou said the Turks are capable of surprise attacks on additional Greek islands near the Turkish coast. - Ankara would be acting on the pretext that Israel and Cyprus have no right to mark out and exploit the gas and oil zones of the eastern Mediterranean - a fuel-rich region known as Block 12 - without the consent of Turkish Cyprus (the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus - TRNC). Turkey also backs Lebanon's complaint that Israel is robbing it of its natural resources. Talks between Lebanon and Cyprus to resolve this issue broke down. Beirut refuses any discussion with Israel.
Neither Jerusalem nor Athens has disclosed in what way they have invoked the new defense pact.
DEBKAfile's military sources surmise that in the first stage, Israeli navy and air forces are to be posted at Greek Mediterranean bases. The two intelligence agencies are already sharing input. - Up until now, Israel could only respond to a Turkish threat from its own borders. With a presence at Greek military bases, Israel will be able to operate from the rear of Turkish forces in the event of an attack by those forces in the Mediterranean. - Monday, Sept. 12, Ankara dictated conditions for Israel to obey in order to keep its navy afloat free of Turkish aggression:
1. Israel vessels are prohibited from taking action against Turkish ships heading for the Gaza Strip. Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has declared "null and void" the UN report confirming the legality of Israel's blockade of Gaza.
2. Israeli warships crossing the 12-mile line bounding its territorial waters will be challenged by Turkish warships, which are instructed to approach them to within 100 meters and "disable their weapons."
This threat covers not only shipping bound for Gaza but also Israel's oil and gas drilling platforms which are more than 60 miles out to sea. - Israel's political and military spokesmen have been trying hard to downplay the Turkish menace. On Wednesday, Sept. 14, they brushed aside reports of Turkish naval and air movements in the eastern Mediterranean. After the cabinet of eight's meeting, the official line was that Israel is practicing "restraint in contrast to Turkish wildness" and they should be given time to cool down. In any case, the US and NATO were closely monitoring the crisis Ankara is generating with Israel, Greece and Cyprus, and won't let it degenerate into Turkish military action.
But both Israel and Greece appear to know better: They decided to invoke their mutual defense pact - not before obtaining a green light from Washington - because they believe the Turkish threats indicated by its military movements are real and tangible.
(Ezekiel 38 and 39, lining up for Armageddon. Ed)
NASA Launches Twin Spacecraft to Probe Inside the Moon
by Denise Chow, SPACE.com Staff Writer
Date: 10 September 2011
Rising from fire and smoke, NASA's twin Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission launches atop a United Launch Alliance Delta 2 Heavy rocket. Leaving from Space Launch Complex 17B on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, the spacecraft launched at 9:08:52
CREDIT: NASA/Darrell McCall
Two identical space probes are on their way to the moon, after launching today (Sept. 10) on NASA's newest lunar science mission aimed at unlocking mysteries of the moon that are hidden beneath its surface.
Less than two hours after their launch, the twin Grail-A and Grail-B probes were deployed, setting them en route to their lunar destination.
"We are on our way, and early indications show everything is looking good," said David Lehman, GRAIL project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif. "We will know more about GRAIL's status in a few hours, after an opportunity to analyze telemetry and poll our mission controllers." [Photos: NASA Launches Grail Probes to the Moon]
The $496 million Grail mission (short for Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory) will closely study the interior of the moon, from crust to core, and will map the moon's gravitational field in unprecedented detail. The three-month mission is expected to help scientists better understand the composition of Earth's natural satellite and its evolutionary history since it was formed 4.6 billion years ago.
Next stop: Moon
The two Grail spacecraft blasted off this morning on an unmanned Delta 2 rocket at 9:08 a.m. EDT (1308 GMT) from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, after windy weather and a technical glitch delayed the mission's launch by two days and threatened to again. A first try earlier today at 8:29 a.m. EDT (1229 GMT) was called off due to high-altitude winds, but weather conditions improved, and the agency was able to take advantage of the day's second launch opportunity.
Today's launch is the last planned launch of a Delta 2 from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's launch complex. The workhorse rocket has had an illustrious career, which includes being the vehicle that carried the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity into orbit on their journey to the Red Planet.
About 80 minutes after the launch, the Grail spacecraft began separating from their Delta 2 rocket, an event captured by a video camera mounted to the booster. The camera beamed down stunning live views of the Grail probes as they pulled away from their rocket. A bright blue Earth served as the backdrop. [See a photo of the Grail separation here]
This amazing view shows NASA's Grail-A probe with the blue Earth as a backdrop after the moon gravity probe separated from its Delta 2 rocket. This view was taken by a camera on the Delta 2 rocket shortly after the Grail mission launch from Florida on Sept. 10, 2011.
CREDIT: NASA TV
The two spacecraft, called Grail-A and Grail-B, are flying on an energy-efficient path to the moon, and are expected to arrive at their lunar target around New Year's Day (Jan. 1).
"We've used gravity science before, however these have been very primitive attempts compared to what Grail will be able to accomplish," Robert Fogel, Grail program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., said in a news briefing on Wednesday (Sept. 7).
Understanding how the origin of the moon and how it evolved will shed light on how other rocky planets in the inner solar system formed, said Maria Zuber, Grail principal investigator at MIT.
"We have orbital reconnaissance of the surface, we have lunar samples which we can analyze in Earth labs," Zuber said. "The piece of the puzzle that has been missing in trying to reconstruct lunar evolution is understanding of the lunar interior."
The twin probes will then enter into tandem orbits around the moon, separated from each other by a distance of about 75 to 225 miles (121 to 362 kilometers). The spacecraft will circle the moon about 34 miles (55 km) above the surface.
As the Grail spacecraft chase each other around the moon, regional differences in the lunar gravitational field will cause the probes to speed up or slow down, changing the distance between them, explained Sami Asmar, Grail deputy project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.
Microwave signals bounced back and forth between Grail-A and Grail-B will measure this distance, which will help researchers construct accurate maps of the moon's gravity. The instruments onboard the Grail probes are so precise they will be able to calculate the distance between them to within less than the width of a human red blood cell, Asmar said. [Video: Grail's Mission to Map Moon Gravity]
Understanding how the moon formed and evolved will help scientists piece together clues of how other large objects in the inner solar system came to be.
"The moon is a fantastic body ... in terms of learning about early planets," Zuber said. "It's nearby, it's accessible, and it preserves the record of what early planets are like. Other planets in the inner part of the solar system have gone through the same processes that the moon has gone through."
Infographic shows how GRAIL mission maps the moon's gravity field
CREDIT: Karl Tate, SPACE.com
The Grail mission is also expected to raise public awareness about the moon, and special cameras aboard the probes will be used to encourage middle school students to participate in lunar science and follow along with the Grail expedition.
The so-called MoonKam project, which will capture pictures of the lunar surface for students on Earth, is being led by former NASA astronaut Sally Ride and her educational company Sally Ride Science.
As part of their public outreach efforts, NASA also invited 150 Twitter fans to attend the launch and share their experiences with the public through social media.
The agency also announced it will hold a contest for students of all ages across the U.S. to select a name for the Grail lunar probes. The contest will run from Oct. 14 to Nov. 11 and students will be invited to submit essays explaining their choice of names, Zuber said. NASA will announce additional details about the contest soon, but the winners will be announced before the Grail spacecraft arrive in lunar orbit.
NASA's broadcast of the Grail launch suffered a power outage shortly after both the Grail-A and Grail-B probes were deployed. Video was recovered shortly after, with only a short interruption to the agency's post-launch commentary.
Are Evangelical Christians Warmongers?
Chuck Baldwin - -
September 15, 2011
I've been an evangelical Christian since I was a child. I've been in the Gospel ministry all of my adult life. I attended two evangelical Christian colleges, received honorary degrees from two others, and taught and preached in several others. I've attended many of the largest evangelical pastors' gatherings and have been privileged to speak at Christian gatherings - large and small - all over America. I have been part of the inner workings of evangelical ministry for nearly 40 years. I think I learned a thing or two about evangelical/fundamentalist Christianity in America. And I'm here to tell you: I don't like what I see happening these days!
Let's get this straight right out of the gate: nothing touched by man can be perfect, because none of us is perfect. There is no perfect church, perfect school, perfect mission board, perfect Sunday School class, perfect pastor, perfect deacon, or perfect Christian. Until the afterlife, we are all yet encased in Adamic flesh, complete with human weaknesses and imperfections. And only the Pharisaical among us are too proud to admit it.
That said, I do think it is more than fair to say that, historically, Christians have always attempted to be - and have always publicly taught the importance of being - peacemakers. Historically, Christians have preached - and tried to practice - love and brotherhood. The early church was born in a baptism of love and unity. Oh sure, there were always individual misunderstandings and differences, but, on the whole, the church was a loving, caring, compassionate ecclesia.
Mind you, Christians historically were not afraid or ashamed to defend themselves, their families, and their country. The Lord Jesus, Himself (the Prince of Peace), allowed His disciples to carry personal defense weapons (see Luke 22:36,38). Yes, while some Christian sects were conscientious pacifists, these were the exception, not the rule. The vast majority of Christian believers understood the Biblical, Natural Law principle of self-defense. But believing in the right of lawful, God-ordained self-defense was never to be confused with warmongering.
So, what has happened to turn the most peace-loving institution the world has ever known (the New Testament church) into the biggest cheerleaders for war? I'm talking about un-provoked, illegal, unconstitutional, unbiblical - even secret - wars of aggression. The biggest cheerleaders for the unprovoked, unconstitutional, pre-emptive attack and invasion of Iraq were evangelical Christians. Ditto for the war in Afghanistan, the bombing of Libya, the attacks in Yemen, etc. Who is calling for the bombing of Iran? Evangelical Christians. Who cheers for sending more and more troops all over the world to maim and kill more and more people (including innocents)? Evangelical Christians. Shoot (pun intended)! Most evangelical Christians didn't even bat an eye when the federal government sent military and police personnel to murder American citizens, including old men, women, and children - Christian old men, women, and children, no less - outside Waco, Texas.
And where are today's evangelical Christians giving a second thought regarding their fellow Christian brothers and sisters in many of these Middle Eastern countries that are being persecuted, imprisoned, tortured, and killed by the puppet regimes being put in power by the US government - at US taxpayer (including Christian taxpayer) expense? I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but more Christians have been persecuted under the US-imposed regime in Iraq than were ever persecuted when Saddam Hussein was in power. Oh! And don't forget that it was the US government that was responsible for putting Saddam Hussein in power to begin with. The US government set up Osama bin Laden, too. But I digress.
In addition to the "white" wars (the ones everyone knows about), the US government authorizes some 70 black ops commando raids in some 120 countries every day. In fact, the secret, black ops military of the US is so large today it now totals more personnel than the entire military of canada!
A recent report noted, "In 120 countries across the globe, troops from Special Operations Command carry out their secret war of high-profile assassinations, low-level targeted killings, capture/kidnap operations, kick-down-the-door night raids, joint operations with foreign forces, and training missions with indigenous partners as part of a shadowy conflict unknown to most Americans. Once 'special' for being small, lean, outsider outfits, today they are special for their power, access, influence, and aura."
Yet, how much of this knowledge would even faze the average evangelical Christian today? All we hear from today's "churches" is "bomb," "attack," "wipe them out," etc. Then, at the same time, they get all emotional about sending missionaries to the same countries that they had just cheered-on the US military in raining down missiles of death and destruction upon (to bring salvation to the lucky ones that weren't killed, I suppose).
And who are the ones that belittle and impugn Ron Paul? Evangelical Christians. Why? Because he tells the truth about America's foreign policy being responsible for much of the hatred and bitterness erupting in foreign countries against us. I guarantee you that many of the "conservative" Republicans who booed Dr. Paul's comments to this regard at the GOP Presidential debate this week would identify themselves as evangelical Christians.
The disciples of our Lord were called "Christians" first by the Gentiles of Antioch, because of the manner in which the disciples reminded them of Christ's nature and teachings. I never thought I would hear myself say what I'm about to say, but the truth is, the term "Christian" today means anything but Christ-like. To many people today, "Christian" refers to some warmongering, mean-spirited, throw-anyone-to-the-wolves-who-crosses-them person, who then has the audacity to look down their nose in contempt against anyone who disagrees with them for even the smallest reason. And the word "church" has the stigma of being simply an enclave of warmongers to many people today. And that, my friends, is one reason so many people are so turned off with today's Christianity. And I can't say that I blame them. I'm turned off too!
Am I a pacifist? Absolutely not! Do I believe an individual, a family, a community, or a nation has the right to protect and defend itself? I absolutely do! And the fellow who breaks into my home or who attacks my loved ones will personally discover I believe that! But this blind support for illegal, immoral, unconstitutional war is anything but Christian. Not only is it turning people against our country among people abroad, it is turning our own countrymen against the Christ we Christians claim to love right here at home.
I dare say that the modern Warfare State would grind to a screeching halt tomorrow if evangelical Christians would simply stop supporting it! And the thing that most evangelical Christians fail to realize is that the Warfare State is one of the primary tools that the evil one is using to usher in his devilish New World Order that even babes in Christ know to be of Satan. Hence, Christians are helping to promote the very thing that Satan, himself, is using to enslave them.
Yes, I've been an evangelical Christian for most of my life and an evangelical pastor for all of my adult life. And if we Christians do not quickly repent of this bloodlust that seems to dominate evangelical Christianity today (spiritually and militarily), the word that was first used by un-churched Gentiles to describe Christ's followers will be used as a curse-word to describe those who facilitated the ruination of our country.
If you do not already know Jesus, receive Him today as your Lord and Saviour!
Until next week...
"Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!