Tag Archives: giving

Bridging the Great Monetary Divide


[The chart above is found on page 9 of Mat McCracken’s piece, The Imminent Financial Reckoning, linked at the end of my August post. The chart was originally released in the Quarterly Journal of Economics.]

Do you notice that the only time in the last century when the top 1% earned more as a percentage of the total nation than they did in 2012 was in 1928?

We all know what happened shortly thereafter, when the U.S. experienced the collapse of its stock market and financial institutions and the Dow plunged from its 1929 high of 380.33 (9/3) to its 1929 low of 198.69 (11/13) in less than 3 months. As the history books make clear for anyone studying this period, this 181.64 point drop (48%) was the beginning of the Great Depression. *

Eventually, tens of millions of lives would be changed by this global deflationary depression, the Dow continuing to collapse until its 1932 low of 41.22 (7/8), producing an 89% loss.

But I believe my fellow Americans not only were challenged with the extreme financial and economic conditions, but could see no way out of their current condition without the rapid expansion of the powers of the state. In other words, in the 1930s, the idea of “big government and big debt are needed in a crisis” took root. People started looking more to the state than each other and the Divine.

Now let’s jump forward to lessons we could have been learning these last few years, yet in a world of hurry, hurry, more, more, the idea of a massive expansion of debt and the powers of central banks in our markets seems to have gone unnoticed by the majority of the public. It is if we can not change it, why learn about it or consider the serious of all of these red flags popping up everywhere.

Yet anyone watching current events and history can see that these topics are not going away. There will be consequences.

In 2015, the income and wealth disparity has become a major topic again, due to the tens of trillions in debt that central banks around the world have poured into the global financial system in an attempt to “inflate our way out” of the problems created from the collapse of the last debt fueled bubble collapse in 2008. The issue is not a Democrat or Republican one, since it impacts all Americans, and frankly, the entire global economy.

Ted Cruz Says Top 1 Percent Earn More of National Income Than Any Year Since 1928, Politifact, Jan 30 ‘15

“…Cruz drew his comparison to 1928 from a report by the Pew Research Center citing research by Emmanuel Saez, a University of California, Berkeley economics professor who studies wealth and income inequality.

Saez helps steer the World Top Incomes Database, sponsored by the Paris School of Economics, a research center and conglomerate of French universities.”

And the problem is not merely income disparity, but wealth disparity as well. Once again, I am not promoting or seeking a big government/big bank/big debt solution, since this theme has gone on for decades and the problem only continues to worsen during every subsequent boom.

I believe the answers lie at the local and individual level, and a reboot like the year of Jubilee that the Jews were given in Deuteronomy 25 over 3,000 years ago.

I do not see this as a solution today, since the public at large, even the church, seem to start discussions of global finance at the big bank (central banks)/big government level, so that when the next “crisis is an opportunity” comes, the public should continue to seek answers from the state which has become our “god”.

“But don’t we need more government and central banking assistance?”

Let’s stop and look at the amount of wealth in the world today, backed by historic levels of debt.

A new report on the concentration of wealth was released last week by the Swiss Bank, Credit Suisse. The report states that of $250 trillion in global assets (backed by more than $200 trillion in global debt), the top 1% own 50%, and the bottom 50% own less than 1%.

To say there is no money to solve massive humanitarian needs without more government and more debt is totally insane from looking at these numbers. In my opinion, it comes from redefining human life as a greater investment than material gains, once again, something I do not see changing until another collapse into the tens of trillions in global asset values.

Consider the charts below and comments, pulled from the recent article, Top 1 Percent Own More Than Half of 1 Percent of Wealth (Global Research, Oct 14, 2015). The flood of debt worldwide from central banks since 2008 has done nothing to change these dangerous societal trends.



Whether the publication is seen as a supporter of socialism or capitalism, both discuss the same Credit Suisse data and see a problem.

The Top 1% Now Owns Half The World’s Wealth, Fortune, Oct 14, 2015

“Credit Suisse says wealth inequality was actually falling before the financial crisis but has increased every year since 2008. The U.S. created 903 new millionaires between the 2014 and 2015 report, while median wealth has stagnated. Globally the number of millionaires fell, though the strength of the U.S. dollar is cited as the biggest contributing factor to that statistic.”

Going Global Or Local: Could We See Both In the Period Ahead?

David Rothkopf, a global insider and CFR member, released the book, Superclass: The Global Power Elite and the World They Are Making, in 2008. According to Rothkopf, to be super rich in the world today takes a global view, and one that rises above such things like national sovereignty and country loyalty.

“ They will feel more affinity to their fellow global conversationalists thatn to those of their countrymen who are not yet part of the global conversation.” – Walter Wriston, former CEO of Citibank in his book, The Twilight of Sovereignty (pg 11)


“Their loyalties – if the term is not itself anachronistic in this context – are international rather than regional, national or local. They have more in common with their counterparts in Brussels or Hong Kong than with the masses of Americans not yet plugged into the network of global communications.” – Christopher Leach in his book, The Revolt of the Elites (pg 11)

As the bust phase in financial history sets in, the world will change for everyone, whether super rich, rich, middle class, or poor. If we are going to keep our civility and “love thy neighbor as thyself” is to be a part of our society, we must know our neighbors and demonstrate true compassion for people of all backgrounds and cultures around us, and that may mean doing things outside of our comfort zones.

For me personally, these ideas, written during the 1st century and taken from the pages of the New Testament, inspire me to consider human life as more important than material gains in the period ahead. It also reminds me how there are examples from that period that are highly relevant to our world today. I hope they touch your heart, no matter where your faith lies.

“ Greater love has no man than this, that one down his life for his friends” – John 15:13


“…and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people.” – Acts 2:45-47


“Now, brethren, we wish to make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia, that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality. For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability, they gave of their own accord, begging us with much urging for the favor of participation in the support of the saints…


For if the readiness is present, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have. For this is not for the ease of others and for your affliction, but by way of equality at this present time your abundance being a supply for their need, so that their abundance also may become a supply for your need, that there may be equality; as it is written, “HE WHO gathered MUCH DID NOT HAVE TOO MUCH, AND HE WHO gathered LITTLE HAD NO LACK. (Exodus 16:18) II Corinthians 8:1-4; 12-15

A Curious Mind, Desirous of A Compassionate Heart

  • Check out the history of all closing prices in the Dow Jones Industrial Average from October 7, 1896 to the present at Measuring Worth.com.
  • Another source is the 2012 study, Pulling Apart, which examines income disparity across states between 1917 and 2011. The research was assembled by the Economic Policy Institute and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. (Once again, I believe the only sustainable solutions are ones that return power to the states and local communities, not an expansion of powers at the global level. A debt based money can only continue to lead to even greater crises in the years ahead, not less. The Special Drawing Rights, the international monetary unit backed by the International Monetary Fund, was expanded 8 fold in 2009 in response to the 2008 crisis. Clearly world financial leaders are expecting a massive change at the currency level as a “solution” to the next major crisis. This is why local community solutions will become very important in the period ahead.)

Oil Drops: Cheap Gas for U.S. Consumers; Rising Prices for Russians

Gas.Below2As an American, it has been nice to go the pump and find gas under $2.00 a gallon. In fact, the last time we saw prices at these levels was in the fall of 2008.

Yet what has been saving me money has been a major factor in the slowdown in the Russian economy, and the decline in the value of their currency, the ruble. This in turn has been hurting my friend Vasily. When reading economic data and statistics, it is easy to dismiss others pain by following an “out of sight, out of mind” way of thinking. However, if we both, whether American or Russian, seek to follow the teachings of Christ, then we should want to understand if our neighbor is hurting from something that is benefiting me.

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” – Matthew 22:36 –40 [NIV]

I contacted Vasily right before the New Year and asked him to give me some details about how the sharp drop in the ruble had impacted their daily lives. As you can see, the changes have been substantial recently.

“For many people in Russia, life for recent weeks has been filled with fears and concerns about their future. The ruble plunged, losing about 72% of its value to the US dollar since the beginning of the year [2014]. In the beginning of the year it was 35 R/$, currently it is about 60 R/$, but in the middle of December it fell down to 85 R/$.”

If you are not familiar with currency conversations, consider what Vasily is saying. As the Moscow.Russiaruble devalued, anyone exchanging dollars for rubles had to come up with more and more rubles to exchange for 1 US dollar. The impact has been dramatic on the people in Russia.

“No wonder people rushed to the stores to buy various things from smart phones and flat-screen TVs to furniture and cars. People tried to use the fact that the prices in the stores stayed the same during those days, and buying could protect their money from fast devaluation. Stores, however, caught up within a week or two, and now many prices reflect the devaluated ruble. Milk went from 32 rubles per liter to 53 rubles per liter; meat from 240 rubles per kilogram to 480 rubles per kilogram; bananas from 35 R/kg to 65 R/kg: apples from 35 R/kg to 80 R/kg. Not as many people bought new furniture, TV, or a new car, but all people buy milk, meat or fruit on a weekly/daily basis. Many retail prices even though not directly connected with a dollar, began to reflect the increased dollar rate. So people now have to either spend more rubles if they can afford it, or buy less. People’s salaries stayed the same so far, although the government promised to increase pensions on 7-10% in 2015. It is clear that this crisis has cut in half the standard of living that people had become accustomed to over the last 5 years. The Russian government, the Central Bank, and the President work hard now to stabilize the situation on the financial and stock markets, but so far the prognosis people hear is not too positive, at least for 2015.”

His story could be seen by anyone keeping up with current events too.

Russians flock to stores as ruble remains volatile, Fox News, Dec 17 ‘14

“The Russian government looked at ways of easing the selling pressure on the ruble Wednesday amid fears the country may face a full-blown bank run and as consumers look to buy big-ticket items before prices rise.
Deputy Finance Minister Alexei Moiseyev was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying that the government is going to sell foreign currency “as much as necessary and as long as necessary.” That, the hope is, would relieve the pressure on the ruble, particularly against the dollar.
The ruble has lost more than 50 percent of its value this year.”

Vasily also shared with me some illustrations, that make it clear that his work with other Russians doing missions work inside and outside the country has been greatly impacted by rising prices.

“Our short term mission trips to Israel became more expensive. For a group we took to serve in Israel for 10 days in November 2014, people paid 28,000 rubles. As the year progressed, a March 2015 trip was going to be more like 45,000 rubles. Some people decided not to go because the cost became prohibitive for them especially with the increased cost of their daily lives. So it is harder now to mobilize Russian believers for foreign missions with a weaker ruble.

Historically we have seen that such crises would lead to a cheaper ruble at first, but in 1-2 years the ruble would catch up and inflate prices in dollars too. That can be seen historically in the cost of e3 trips; for instance, it was $1,100 in 1992, then $1,800 in 1998, then $2,800 in 2004, then $3,800 in 2012.

Currently we are sadly observing panic in the financial markets because of the fall of the ruble, plunge in oil prices, sanctions, and speculative currency trading. We trust the Lord will help us through all this now and in the future.”


As nations the world over are impacted by a slowing global economy, struggling under increasing trillions in additional debt, most of which has gone toward unsustainable behavior in global markets, may we all remember our neighbors, not only next door, but especially those struggling under conditions far worse than our own in other nations.

May the people of Macedonia under the Roman Empire during the 1st century AD inspire us today. I hope the world of 2024 will read this, and immediately think of examples of this type of behavior by those who claimed to be followers of Christ.

“Now, brethren, we wish to make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia, that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality. For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability, they gave of their own accord, begging us with much urging for the favor of participation in the support of the saints…” II Corinthians 8:1-4

On a cold day in January,

A Curious Mind

PS – If you would like to make a financial impact on the lives of people in Russia, I encourage you to check out Vasily’s web page. I continue to believe that an investment in the lives of people is more rewarding that an investment in financial markets.