Global Financial Crisis-One Year Later

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Global Financial Crisis-One Year Later

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I have been thinking about the financial crisis now that September has rolled up on my calendar. It was a year ago this month when financial houses on Wall Street began crumbling like mud brick homes in a monsoon. Panic seized the markets as stocks began falling. The United States government enacted a massive multi-billion dollar stimulus plan to bail out the banks and large businesses deemed essential like General Motors. Before it was all over thirty percent of wealth was wiped off the books including the retirement and savings accounts of most Americans.

In December the name Bernard Madoff became synonymous with fraud and greed. The financial guru to the rich and wealthy was revealed to have scammed up to fifty billion dollars from investors over the years. People, and many charitable trusts, discovered overnight they were insolvent. One cold look at his ponzi scheme and see much about what is wrong with the western financial model and our own sense of values. It has been quite a year.

As I look at the headlines and try to figure things out–where the markets will go, how I should handle my own accounts, including my financial future–there is one lesson that jumps out at me. Reduce your debt and curb your spending. It is that simple.

My own Indiana state governor, Mitch Daniels writes in this morning’s Wall Street Journal that three-fourths of state governments have deficits exceeding 10% of their budget and only the “infusion of printed federal funny money” keeps the doors open. He follows, “Most governors I’ve talked to are so busy bailing that they haven’t checked the long-range forecast. What the radar tells me is that we ain’t seen nothin yet. What we are being by isn’t a tropical storm that will come and go, with sunshine to follow. It’s much more likely that we’re facing a near permanent reduction in state tax revenues that will require us to reduce the size and scope of our state governments. And the time to prepare for this new reality is already at hand.” (The Coming Reset in State Government, September 4, 2009).

Governor Daniels, who has done a pretty good job managing Indiana finances, foresees declining tax revenues in the near term, which will impact all state governments. Since states, and you and I, cannot print “funny money” and sell it to the Chinese to finance debt, the lesson is clear, live within your income, save and prepare for leaner times. This is sound advice for all of us with our personal finances.

The United States has violated a fundamental Biblical principle found in Deuteronomy 15:6, “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.” We have become a debtor nation today. Were it not for the Chinese, Saudi Arabia and other nations financing our huge consumer debt we would have long ago gone under financially. International finance is very complicated to try and understand. But the foundation is no more difficult than this one principle: don’t let your debt put you into servitude to any other nation. This has happened and but for the grace of God we have not yet come to where our destiny is out of our control.

Our financial stress is caused by a deep spiritual crisis whose roots go deep into our society. The greed and fraud of one is small evidence of the depth of problem that has crept throughout our people. God challenges us of us to see where this may lurk in our life and root it out. You can begin today with a close examination of your spiritual values.

God challenges us to “seek the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you”. His piercing statement, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”(Luke 12:31, 34) goes to the foundation of life itself. With our financial future in question this is the time to evaluate our spiritual foundation to determine its strength.

We have come one year from the start of this global financial crisis. What have you learned?