U.S. Student Debt Looming Large

Analysts say this mushrooming problem could be the start of a new subprime crises. But there is a solution.

One in five U.S. households currently includes at least one resident carrying student debt, and the amount of outstanding student debt in the nation now totals almost one trillion U.S. dollars, experts said on Tuesday. Some analysts fear that the situation could be the start of a new subprime crisis.

Sharon Sakson of New Jersey is an example of a person encumbered by student debt. She finished her graduate degree in 2005, and then had to begin repayments on her $40,000 student loan. Sakson had expected to find work immediately after graduating, but she couldn’t find work until 2009. She was forced to declare personal bankruptcy, and now her home is in the process of foreclosure.

“It was an investment and it would pay off because I would get better jobs. And so I wasn’t concerned about the amount of debt. I thought that would be OK,” Sakson said.

Sakson isn’t the only American struggling beneath the weight of student debt. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (cfpb), more than 850,000 student loans are in default.

Experts see disquieting similarities between today’s student loan market and the 2008 mortgage market, which triggered the global financial crisis. In both cases, lenders were eager to extend loans to parties who were often in a poor position to repay them.

Rohit Chopra of the cfpb explained the trend, saying, “Some lenders were able to give loans to students without even verifying they were enrolled, and they were able to flip those loans and package them into securities and sell them to investors.”

This process removed the risk from the lenders and reduced their incentive to make sure borrowers could pay back their student loans. Student loans are particularly difficult for borrowers to escape because, unlike credit card and mortgage debt, it isn’t wiped out by bankruptcy. “I would not go into debt to get a degree. It doesn’t make sense. I worry for all the young people,” Sakson said.

More and more graduates, swamped in debt and jobless, are saying college is the worst money they ever spent. This is an intensifying problem with clear causes—and at least one possible solution. To understand what that solution is, read Trumpet columnist Robert Morley’s insightful article, “Sucked Under by That College Degree.

Is Gold a Safe Investment?

Is Gold a Safe Investment?

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Global central banks around the world seem to think so. But should you?

The global economy is at a dangerous inflection point. Debt and deficits are swamping economies around the world. The global economy risks a plunge into a new Greater Depression. Governments are reaching breaking points, and debts are becoming unpayable.

It’s time to act before you too get swept into the economic whirlpool that’s about to envelope the globe. But what should you do?

The world’s biggest banks are acting. They are buying gold. The thesis is simple: For the first time in history, the global financial system is in danger of total collapse—as in wiped out, totally gone, history. And the dollars, the yen and the euros backing it could go down the drain with it.

Everywhere you look, nations are in economic turmoil. And the problem behind it all is too much debt.

In the United States, federal debt is now $16.3 trillion. But America’s economy only measures $15.5 trillion, according to U.S.DebtClock.org. Europe has the same problem: Debts are growing—economies, not nearly so much. The UK and Japan are in even worse shape. According to the World Economic Forum, total global debt, including local governments, corporations and individuals, as of the end of 2010, reached a whopping $190 trillion—more than 3.3 times the size of the total global economy. And even that does not describe the full problem. Governments owe tens if not hundreds of trillions more in promised retirement benefits that people are relying on.

There is no way these debts can be paid. And now that the developed world is faced with stagnant or shrinking economies, the crisis is being pushed to front stage.

Consequently, central banks are doing what all the fashionable textbooks say should be done. They are printing money like crazy to pay debts. QE1 was followed by QE2 and QE3, etc. According to central planners, this makes debt payment easier for everyone by making more currency available to pay debts. This also results in devalued currencies, which planners say can stimulate economies by making exports cheaper and imports more expensive.

Goldman Sachs analysts believe the Federal Reserve is set to announce another additional round of quantitative easing (money printing) totaling $45 billion per month, according to sources quoted by King World News. For America, this will be QE4. Goldman Sachs indicates that it thinks the program will run for one year and will create another trillion dollars out of thin air to finance government spending. America’s debt problems are so bad that the Federal Reserve is now the biggest buyer of all U.S. government debt—owning one out of every six dollars of debt. America can’t find enough investors willing to lend it money.

But here is the point. It is not just the Fed working the printing presses to inflate away debt. As sisters Mary Anne and Pamela Aden write in the Aden Report, all the “major central banks are also busy creating money.”

“Clearly history is in the making and we don’t know how it’s all going to end.”

Is it any wonder that central banks, for the first time in many years, became net buyers of gold in 2010?

In a world awash in debt, with no way to pay for it, these banks are turning to an asset that can’t be created or willed into existence by politicians seeking to cheat economic realities. Gold is a form of money that can’t be printed or electronically “clicked” into existence ad infinitum.

And since 2010, bank gold-buying has accelerated. This year it is estimated that central banks will purchase 499 tonnes of gold. Up from just 77 tonnes in 2010.

According to economic analyst John Mauldin, “Gold is central bank insurance.” History shows that far too often, “monetary stability yields to political exigency.”

But if central banks, which for the past 41 years have shunned gold, are now turning to it as an insurance policy, something must be very wrong.

In late 2009, Cheng Siwei, a former vice chairman of the Chinese Communist Party Standing Committee, said that China was alarmed by U.S. money printing. He stated on the record that China had lost confidence in the U.S. dollar and was moving toward a partial gold standard through reserve accumulation. “If they keep printing money to buy bonds it will lead to inflation, and after a year or two the dollar will fall hard. Most of our foreign reserves are in U.S. bonds, and this is very difficult to change, so we will diversify,” he said. “Gold is definitely an alternative, but when we buy, the price goes up. We have to do it carefully so as not to stimulate the markets.”

That same year, Hong Kong announced that it would be repatriating all its gold that was stored in London. The central bank of India announced that it had secretly purchased 200 tonnes of gold from the International Monetary Fund. Then in 2011, Venezuela announced it had ordered the return of all 200 tonnes of gold it stored in London and New York. Reports emerged of Russian and Middle East central banks buying gold.

Earlier this year, Ecuador asked its banks to repatriate one third of their gold stored overseas. And Forbes reported that China had imported 69 tonnes of gold through its new gold center in Hong Kong—up 22 percent from a year earlier.

Now, golden heavyweight Germany is also bringing its gold home from New York. Following refusals to allow German authorities to inspect their gold deposits, Germany has asked for 150 tonnes—or about 10 percent of its holdings in America—to be returned. Germany repatriated one third of its gold from London years ago.

The scramble for gold seems destined to heat up.

To pay America’s federal debt in gold, you would need a cube 80 feet square. To cover total global debt, you would need a cube approximately 180 square. But according to Business Insider, all the gold ever mined on Earth would only make a solid cube 66.1 feet per side.

If central banks are looking to gold to fix the world’s debt problems, gold is going to be in very short supply very soon.

So is gold a safe investment? Only up to a point.

As long as the global economy is functioning, and people are worried that paper money is being destroyed, there will be a growing demand for gold. Over the short term, gold has potential as a good investment.

But if you are looking to gold to save you from the looming economic collapse, you will be terribly wrong. If the economic system collapses, and there is no food to eat, people won’t care how much gold you have. Deep down, many investors realize this. That is why some financial advisers recommend learning to farm and becoming self-sufficient.

But even growing your own food and knitting your own clothes won’t provide security.

The Bible warns that the economic troubles facing this world are set to worsen. Times will get so bad that people are prophesied to throw their gold and silver in the streets (Ezekiel 7:19). As the Prophet Ezekiel warns, all the gold and silver in the world won’t be able to buy people food. Read the whole chapter. It is a prophecy for the future of the United States and Britain. (For proof, read Gerald Flurry’s booklet Ezekiel: The End-Time Prophet.)

There is, however, another safe investment guaranteed to produce an absolutely massive return—but you have to be willing to invest.

Invest in God. Invest in your relationship with God. Store up treasures in heaven, where moths and rust can’t destroy them. Put your heart in God’s work today. This is the only sure investment that you can make. God doesn’t need your money. He can support His work in all kinds of ways. But God is concerned about your priorities—where you are spending your time and energy. God wants to know what is important to you. What do you put first in your life? What do you spend your money on? What do you sacrifice for?

Invest in gold if you wish. But if you really care about your future, invest in the one true source of protection. Invest in God.

Syria’s Main Airport Shut Down as Assad’s Regime Weakens

Syria’s Main Airport Shut Down as Assad’s Regime Weakens

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Rebels are making gains in Syria.

Intense clashes between Syrian rebels and Bashar Assad loyalists near Damascus International Airport forced its closure on Thursday, leaving Assad’s forces weaker than ever.

The fighting—some of the worst since the Syrian civil war began almost two years ago—saw the rebels momentarily taking control of the main road connecting Damascus with the main airport in clashes that reached within 1.2 miles of the airport itself. The airport was then closed, affecting flights by Emirates airline and EgyptAir. These airlines are some of the few that are still operating in Syria. Most other airlines have already suspended services to Syria over the 20 months of the war.

Disruption of the normal operations of Syria’s main airport is significant. Assad’s government relies on it for supplies, money, weapons, and even for its global image. It connects Damascus to the rest of the world. Analysts at Stratfor noted that “Putting the airport in jeopardy is a symbolic success for the rebels” (November 30). These rebels have already seized control of Syria’s largest city, Aleppo, and are now zeroing in on Damascus, Assad’s seat of power. They have taken over some military bases and airfields around the country. But maintaining hold of airfields and airports, Stratfor surmised, is not ideal for the rebels’ guerrilla strategy. “The Syrian rebels don’t necessarily need to take over control of the infrastructure in order to prove that al Assad is weak. Putting the infrastructure in jeopardy is enough to do that,” wrote Stratfor.

Soon after the airport was shut down, the Internet completely blacked out in Syria on Thursday and Friday. While both sides pointed fingers at their adversaries, it appears to be Assad’s forces that were responsible for the communications blackout. The rebels would have more to lose than the government would from the blackout. They use information technology to broadcast images of the civil war, and communicate among themselves and with their foreign supporters.

The U.S. has not yet come out in full support of the opposition forces in Syria. Washington has not formally recognized the newly formed opposition coalition, as have Britain, France, Turkey and other nations. The Washington Post wrote that there were indications from Washington officials that the Obama administration might change its position in two weeks, when the group Friends of Syria will hold a meeting in Morocco. In the meantime, the U.S. has spent about $50 million in “non-lethal” aid to the Syrian opposition, such as satellite telephones and other communications equipment. Quoting State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, the Post noted that this equipment was being put to good use as “the [Assad] regime does appear to be resorting to cutting off all kinds of communication—cellular networks, land lines, as well as Internet service across the country.”

Again, as Stratfor assessed, the blackout is also a sign of a weakening Assad regime, regardless of who was to blame. Stratfor wrote, “Either they [Assad’s forces] lost control of the network or the threat they are facing is so pervasive that they have to shut down the entire national network instead of just localized networks.”

It appears only a matter of time before regime change occurs in Syria. Since Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry first published The King of the South booklet in 1996, we have indicated a prophesied realignment of nations in the Middle East into two main groupings: the king of the south—radical Islam under the sway of Iran—and the “Psalm 83 Alliance” of Arab states that will ally together against Iran’s group. This Psalm 83 prophecy indicates that Syria will not be allied with Iran for much longer. When these alliances fully play out as prophesied in the Bible, the world will be a giant step closer to Jesus Christ’s return. For a deeper understanding of how nations are aligning in the Middle East, and what that means for you, study The King of the South.

Is Iran Infiltrating the United States With Terrorist Sleeper Cells?

Is Iran Infiltrating the United States With Terrorist Sleeper Cells?

BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images

In the advent of a military strike against Iran, Hezbollah agents spread throughout the United States could change strategy, moving from surveillance and fund-raising to launching terrorist attacks.

A new congressional report from the House Homeland Security Committee warns that Iran may be smuggling Hezbollah operatives into the United States, assisted by Mexican drug cartels.

According to this report, released in November, the Mexican border has recently become a primary front for terrorist infiltration into the United States. It specifically points to the growing rapport between Iranian-backed terror forces and Latin American drug-trafficking networks as a cause for serious concern.

Republican Rep. Sue Myrick of North Carolina issued a similar warning earlier this year, in the wake of an Iranian plot to assassinate a Saudi diplomat in Washington, D.C., using a hired gun from a major Mexican drug cartel.

In an even earlier document, released in June, the House Homeland Security Committee reported that there are literally hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of people in America who can be described as either Iranian or Hezbollah agents.

One law enforcement official has gone on record saying the New York Police Department believes there are somewhere between 200 and 300 Hezbollah sympathizers in New York City alone.

U.S. federal authorities have brought numerous criminal cases against these alleged Hezbollah operatives, but so far it appears that most of their activities have been limited to surveillance missions and fund-raising activities.

It is alleged that Hezbollah funds itself by collecting donations from Islamist sympathizers across the Western Hemisphere and by taking commissions from Latin American drug trafficking networks. One South American drug trafficker who was investigated by Colombian officials back in 2008 admitted that his drug-trafficking network gave 12 percent of its annual profits to Hezbollah in return for its support.

So Iranian-backed Hezbollah operatives spread out across the United States, Mexico and Latin America are using the money that Americans spend on drug addiction to fund terrorism in the Middle East!

They have also been observed examining sensitive U.S. targets such as subway systems, bridges and nuclear power plants. Such behavior has prompted several U.S. officials to express concern that the rules of the game could change dramatically in the event of an Israeli or U.S. strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

They worry that such a strike could prompt Hezbollah to change strategy, moving from surveillance and fund-raising in North America to launching terrorist attacks.

This network of Hezbollah operatives already has detailed surveillance information on American infrastructure and access to vast reserves of drug-trafficking money. This puts them in a prime position to unleash societal chaos if so directed by the Iranian mullahs.

The U.S. government may have the ability to defeat Iran in an outright military attack, but it lacks the ability to squash all the hit-and-run terrorist operations that may result from such an attack.

Anciently, the Prophet Ezekiel foretold of a day when end-time Israel would be beset by terrorism, rioting and societal collapse. This time of chaos is prophesied to result primarily from a great economic siege against America, but it no doubt could be enhanced by violence coming from the hands of foreign terrorists. As it is written in Psalm 127, “Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.”

For more information on this scenario and how you can personally escape it, read the booklet Ezekiel: The End-Time Prophet by Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry.

Germany Considers More Arms for Saudi Arabia

Germany Considers More Arms for Saudi Arabia

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Hundreds of Boxer armored troop transporters could soon be on their way to Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia has officially requested Germany’s permission to buy several hundred of its Boxer armored vehicles, Der Spiegel reported on December 2. Germany’s Federal Security Council considered the purchase on November 26, but postponed a decision until next year, Spiegel claims.

“The Boxer is one of the most modern battle vehicles in the world,” writes Spiegel. “It can be equipped with a remote-controlled weapons station or converted into a mobile surgical unit. The Bundeswehr uses the Boxer in Afghanistan as an armored personnel carrier.” Saudi Arabia wants them for its Royal Guard, whose main job is to protect the royal family.

“The addition of Boxers … would provide the Guard with international state-of-the-art equipment,” writes Spiegel.

But Spiegel points out that “Boxers are also well suited for suppressing uprisings, particularly because their tires make them useable on roads.” If riots broke out in Saudi Arabia, “one scenario could involve units loyal to the royal family fighting revolting crowds with German tanks,” it wrote.

If approved, this deal would deepen the already strong arms links between Germany and Saudi Arabia. The latter is already planning to buy 270 German Leopard A7 tanks—one of the most advanced tanks in the world.

Germany is using its arms industry strategically to build up the enemies of Iran and create an alliance for itself in the Middle East. Spiegel wrote:

German high-tech weapons are a hot commodity among Arab potentates and other autocrats. They haven’t failed to notice that the coalition government of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right Christian Democratic Union (cdu) and the pro-business Free Democratic Party (fdp) has steadily relaxed Germany’s otherwise restrictive arms export policy ….The numbers suggest that the Merkel doctrine is beginning to have its effect. In accordance with the chancellor’s wishes, Germany is now sending soldiers to conflict zones in emergency situations only. Instead, “partner countries” in the affected regions are to be strengthened through arms exports to handle the job of maintaining peace and security on their own.

This German strategy is one the Trumpet has written about extensively. For more information on it, read our article “Next in Line, Please” from the December print edition of the Trumpet.

Arafat, Still Terrorizing Israel

Arafat, Still Terrorizing Israel

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Yasser Arafat has been dead and buried for eight years. Why dig up his body now?

On November 27, Yasser Arafat’s body was exhumed from its burial place in Ramallah. The reason was so experts from France, Switzerland and Russia could collect samples in order to prove whether or not radiation poison was the cause of the former Palestine Liberation Organization leader’s death.

Why now—eight years after his death in a French hospital? Access was granted to Arafat’s body last week after tests in January on some of the clothes he wore the day of his death revealed high levels of polonium 210, a radioactive isotope. In July, following the tests showing high polonium levels, Al-Jazeera reported the findings in a documentary about the iconic Arab leader. This resulted in an outcry from Palestinians for an international inquiry. Arafat’s widow, Suha Arafat, lodged a formal legal complaint for murder. French authorities soon launched a formal inquiry.

The desire for answers may be understandable among Arafat’s family and supporters, but one has to question the timing and motivation of the investigation. Are authorities really trying to discover if he was assassinated, or is this just a stunt designed to stir up hatred toward Israel?

Speculation that Arafat was assassinated has swirled for years, even though conclusive evidence has never been discovered. (At the time of his death in 2004, his widow did not permit an autopsy to be done, so there were no definite answers as to the cause of Arafat’s sudden illness.) But a French website notes that a document confirms the military hospital in which Arafat died would have conducted a routine series of tests for radiation poisoning. While polonium 210 would not have been specifically tested for, the website states that “given the characteristics specific to polonium, it is very unlikely that the French specialists could have, in 2004, not identified its urinary presence if it was still present eight years later in his personal items.” The website goes on to cite reports issued a few days after Arafat’s death that suggested his symptoms more closely fit those of poisoning by toxic mushrooms, not polonium.

In short, there is much more evidence proving he was not poisoned than evidence proving he was poisoned. So, why go grave digging?

The motivation for this investigation is further called into question when you consider its timing. Polonium has an extremely short half-life—the time it takes for the radioactivity of an element to be reduced by half. Polonium has a half-life of just 138 days. Darcy Christen, spokesman for the Institute of Radiation Physics in Lausanne (the institute that discovered the polonium on Arafat’s belongings earlier this year), said, “Since President Arafat died, we’ve gone through 20 or 21 cycles, which is a lot. That means the polonium—if there was any originally—should be very low now.” Because of polonium’s quick decay, “Eight years is considered a limit to detect any traces of the deadly radioactive substance,” according to the Swiss Institute of Radiation Physics. Arafat died just over eight years ago. As Christen went on to say, “We have actually put a deadline to the end of November, saying that beyond that date, scientifically, [exhuming the body for samples] would not make much sense.” So they have exhumed the body at the very last moment that any evidence can be gained.

Why has no one decided to investigate this till now? Surely in the eight years since his death, these tests on his clothes could have been done.

The results of the tests will not be known for another three to four months, but already, the Palestinians have made up their minds on the issue. Gen. Tawfiq Tirawi, who heads the Palestinian investigation committee, said, “If the investigation yields negative results, that does not concern me. If I reach a deadlock, I will announce it. But for now, we will continue regardless of the results of the examinations.”

Tirawi’s admission reveals the real agenda behind this investigation. He also said, “We have evidence that President Arafat was assassinated. And we will continue with our investigation until we get all the relevant details.”

Many Palestinians believe Israel is responsible for killing Arafat. But if they already have evidence Arafat was assassinated, why do they need to exhume the body? Even if the tests do prove positive, it still would not prove who killed him—only how he was killed.

It’s not hard to see the true motive behind these tests. The Christian Science Monitor quoted Tirawi as saying, “We need proof in order to find those who are behind this assassination and take it to the icc,” the International Criminal Court.

Now, in order to take a case to the icc, an entity needs to be recognized as an “observer state” by the United Nations. Conveniently, the Palestinians obtained that status from the UN the same week that they exhumed Arafat’s body. Could it be that all the evidence pertaining to Arafat’s alleged assassination had been held back until a time in which it could be exploited? Is this investigation really about providing closure, or is it just a step in a larger plan to take Israel before the International Criminal Court for Arafat’s death?

The Palestinian Authority is following in the steps of its former leader and attacking Israel politically on the international scene. With this stunt, it is sullying Israel’s reputation by selling the narrative to the international community via the mainstream media that Israel—in this case, by supposedly assassinating Yasser Arafat, the Nobel-winning Palestinian leader—is actively and unfairly working to destroy the interests of the Palestinian people.

In the last half of Leviticus 26, God outlines the curses He would bring upon the nations of biblical Israel if they failed to obey Him. God specifically mentions that He would “appoint terror” over the people if they refused to obey. That is exactly what the State of Israel is facing today. The exhuming of Yasser Arafat is a stark reminder: Even from the grave, the former Palestinian leader is still bringing terror upon Israel.

God is looking for Israel to look to Him for deliverance. Sadly, Bible prophecy shows that Israel will not turn to God for help, but to Germany. Watch this investigation to see how it may help speed that along.