China Eclipses U.S. in World Trade

China Eclipses U.S. in World Trade

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Does this mean the yuan will soon depose the dollar?

China overtook the United States last year to become the world’s biggest trading nation as measured in exports and imports of goods, ending America’s postwar trade dominance, according to the latest official annual data released by the two countries.

The U.S.’s total imports and exports for 2012 stood at $3.82 trillion, according to the U.S. Commerce Department’s report released last Friday. China’s total trade for the same year hit $3.87 trillion.

This is not China’s first significant economic victory. Back in 2009, Beijing overtook Berlin to become the world’s largest exporter. In 2010, China eclipsed the U.S. to become the world’s thirstiest energy consumer, a milestone that reflected both China’s extraordinary economic growth and its multiplying clout as an industrial giant.

But the U.S. is not yet overthrown.

The U.S. economy is still double the size of China’s, with a gross domestic product in 2011 of about $15 trillion, compared to China’s $7.3 trillion for that year.

Still, it was China that reported a 2012 trade surplus of about $231.1 billion. For the same year, the spend-today-worry-tomorrow U.S. reported a total trade deficit of $727.9 billion. This colossal deficit weighs heavily on the U.S., and is only expected to grow larger in the years ahead.

China’s Commerce Ministry came out on Wednesday saying the earlier reports were wrong due to use of differing systems of measurement, and that the U.S. is still slightly ahead of China in international trade.

Nevertheless, China’s economic might is rapidly growing. Its mushrooming influence threatens to unsettle regional trading blocs as it becomes the most important commercial partner for nations not only in Asia and Europe, but also in distant countries like Brazil, where the U.S. has played second fiddle to Beijing since 2009.

“For so many countries around the world, China is becoming rapidly the most important bilateral trade partner,” said Jim O’Neill, chairman of Goldman Sachs’s asset management division.

China’s economic ascendancy also has near-term implications for the dollar as go-to currency for the pricing of tradeable goods. As China’s economic power grows, and as global dissatisfaction with the U.S. economy/debt/dollar increases, the influence of the yuan will multiply. But it actually will be the European currency—not the yuan—that will depose the U.S. dollar.

At present, European leaders are not unified in the handling of their financial crises. In the absence of strong central leadership, they bicker and debate. They dither and prevaricate. The result is an unstable euro that the world isn’t yet prepared to invest its financial faith in. But the dithering and hesitation is injecting European leaders with a desire for an unflinching leader willing to take the drastic action necessary to rectify the Continent’s fiscal ailments. This rising desire will prompt these policymakers to cede national sovereignty over to a central EU leader who will take blitzkrieg action in every facet of European affairs. When this leader takes the reins, the European currency will rapidly replace the dollar—and obliterate it.

To understand more, read “The End of the Dollar System.”

U.S. and EU Plan to Create ‘an Economic NATO’

U.S. and EU Plan to Create ‘an Economic NATO’

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America looks to Europe to stimulate its economy.

America will attempt to negotiate a free trade deal with the European Union, U.S. President Barack Obama announced during his State of the Union address on February 12. The next day, EU leaders published a joint statement with Mr. Obama announcing that the two blocs “will each initiate the internal procedures necessary to launch negotiations on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.”

Before negotiations can begin, the United States needs to notify Congress, and the EU needs approval from its member states. Each plans to have this completed by the end of June.

The potential economic gains from such a deal are huge. It would add 0.5 percent to the annual growth of the EU’s economy by 2027—that’s an extra €86 billion (us$115 billion) a year—according to estimates recently referred to by the EU. For the U.S., the benefit would be 0.4 percent—or $87 billion (€65 billion).

But the deal that America and Europe envision encompasses far more than removing tariffs on each other’s products. They want to harmonize regulations and even address differences in intellectual property and labor laws.

The end goal would be that a car, for example, produced in the U.S. would not have to undergo any significant modifications in order to conform to the EU’s safety standards, and vice versa. This would significantly lower the cost of selling goods in the other trade bloc.

The agreement would be so far reaching that it has been referred to as “an economic nato.” European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, said that “this negotiation will set the standard—not only for our future bilateral trade and investment, including regulatory issues, but also for the development of global trade rules” at a press conference on February 13 (emphasis added throughout).

If the EU and the U.S. adopt the common rules, they will be setting the standard for the whole world. With such a huge chunk of the global economy conforming to one standard, it would be hard for the rest of the world not to follow. If Europe gains the upper hand in its negotiations with the U.S., it will be setting the standard for the world.

But a successful agreement is not a forgone conclusion. Harmonizing regulation means months of painstaking negotiation, while entrenched lobby groups of farmers, lawyers and businesses try to bend the rules in their favor.

But even if the two blocs fail, this renewed push toward a free trade deal demonstrates a subtle change in course in America’s foreign policy. It is investing more of its hope and trust in Europe. Both U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden and nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen have called for European nations to improve their militaries and play a more active role in the world, to take the burden off America. America is looking to Europe to solve its military problems. And now it’s looking to Europe to solve its economic problems too.

America can see its global power failing. Its solution: look to Europe for help. To understand why this is a terrible idea, see Trumpet columnist Brad Macdonald’s recent article, “U.S. Vice President Dotes on Germany, Europe.”

Pope Benedict Resigns—Now What?

Looking Eastward: Turkey’s Bluffing Game

Looking Eastward: Turkey’s Bluffing Game

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Will Turkey be able to force itself into the EU?

Chances are Turkey will never join the European Union. For one, it espouses the wrong religion. For another, Bible prophecy indicates it just won’t happen. But that doesn’t mean it will ally with the EU’s main opposition bloc, China and Russia, through the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (sco) either.

On January 25, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced that he thought Turkey should consider looking east for allies instead of to the Western European powers. Europe has been stringing Turkey along with the carrot of EU member status since Oct. 3, 2005, when, alongside Croatia, Turkey began accession talks.

“We are not the ones that are undecided; the European Union is. Whereas if they would just reveal their true intentions to us, we would be at ease. … The European Union needs to stop stalling us. … We told [Russia], if you say come, we will come,” said Erdoğan in an interview printed in the Turkish newspaper Sabah (translation from Pravda).

Turkey’s turn toward Russia and China is no more than a bluff. Turkey intends to pressure the European Union into speeding the process of EU membership along. It has been seven years since talks began, after all. Croatia, which started dialogue with the EU at the same time, is now on track to become an EU member state in just a few months. Does Turkey feel a little left out? It is sending a clear message to the West by casting its eyes eastward. Is Europe ready to give up the possibility of influence over the crucial sea gates of the Bosporus and Dardanelles which Turkey controls? Will the EU risk losing the prospect of influence over that crucial gateway to the Black Sea?

Croatia may not have much to offer the EU in the way of economic production. As of last year, the nation had a negative gdp growth rate of -1.1 percent and an unemployment rate of 19 percent. A fifth of the population lives below the poverty line. On paper, it doesn’t look like a great acquisition for the Union. What Croatia can offer is a strategic deep-water port in Rijeka on the Adriatic Sea and the Danube River port of Vukovar. Back in 2006, Croatia began an extensive upgrade of the transport infrastructure that was intended to make its waterways the “fastest inland route from Asia to Central Europe,” according to a Stratfor analysis from February of the same year. Another factor influencing Croatia’s bid to join the EU is the fact that it’s 87.8 percent Roman Catholic.

Why doesn’t the European Union want to bring Turkey into the fold? It is stronger economically than Croatia. Its gdp of over $783 billion grew at a real rate of 3 percent last year, 2012 unemployment was 9 percent and its budget deficit was only 2.6 percent, a little more than half of Croatia’s. And with a labor force some 25 times the size of Croatia’s, there is a greater potential for industrial capacity and productivity.

“Still, for every obstacle Turkey hurdles, the EU throws up another. Since 1987, when Turkey applied for full membership, 15 other states have cut to the front of the line and been accepted: Austria, Finland, Sweden, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bulgaria and Romania,” Joel Hilliker wrote in the November/December 2007 Philadelphia Trumpet. “The Turks have watched the Union swell from 12 states to 27, while they remain peering through the window from the outside.”

As bad as Turkey has wanted in, why has it been blocked at every turn by the EU? The answer is simple: religion.

“The fundamentally Roman Catholic continent simply has no intention of incorporating 70 million Muslims in one swoop. And Turkey—with its Ottoman history, which at one time threatened Catholicism’s very existence—has particularly negative associations in European minds. As Bernard Lewis expresses it, ‘[T]here is still a reserve of mistrust, and even at times of hostility [toward Turks], with roots deep in the European Christian past’ (From Babel to Dragomans)” (ibid). Compare Turkey to Croatia—where Croatia is majority Catholic, Turkey is 99.8 percent Muslim.

Simply put, Turkey is too Muslim to ever integrate into the EU. Christianity (read Catholicism) and Islam just don’t mix. You only need to read a history book to prove that fact.

What does that mean? Because it won’t be accepted by the EU, will it be accepted by the sco?

The answer: still no.

The sco may have made Turkey a dialogue partner, and may go as far as to let it be an observer state, but it will never gain full membership in that group of nations either.

One reason is Turkey’s place in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (nato). Turkey has been part of nato since 1952. nato is comprised of nations with a certain level of democratic government, with major world players like the United States, Germany, the UK and France. Notably missing from the list of members are the powerful Eastern nations like Russia, China and Japan. Much like the impasse of religion, there is the obstacle of governmental ideologies between the sco and nato. Stratfor’s chief analyst Robert D. Kaplan said of the sco: “The Shanghai Cooperation Council is actually a very soft anti-Western, anti-democratic grouping that shows the world that there’s this vast tract of Eurasia that rejects Western moralism, Western universalism …. And it’s basically the tool of a Moscow-Beijing, a Russian-Chinese alliance.” The two organizations are ideologically at odds, and Turkey cannot belong to nato, and support what it represents, as well as be a part of a Sino-Russian-dominated alliance that holds “anti-Western, anti-democratic” principles.

The nail in the coffin that denies Turkey’s ticket to sco membership lies in the prophecy contained in Psalm 83, where Edom (the modern-day region of Turkey) is named among a confederacy of Middle Eastern nations that are against the king of the south (Iran and its cronies) and are tied with Assur (Assyria, or Germany).

Daniel 11:44 talks about Germany being troubled by tidings from the north and east (modern-day Russia and China); the rising power of the Eastern nations is part of what helps to solidify the German-led European power. If Turkey is to be a part of the pro-Germany, pro-Europe Middle Eastern alliance, it would not be joined to the Asian powers. That rules out membership in the sco.

Turkey is a valuable strategic asset that Europe won’t want to let slip away. The EU may never allow the Muslim nation to fully integrate into the European Union. It will recognize Prime Minister Erdoğan’s recent statements as the bluff that they are. The EU has been successfully stringing Turkey along since 2005, and there is no reason for that to change.

For more information on the prophetic fulfillment of the Psalm 83 alliance, read “A Mystery Alliance,” Chapter 2 of The King of the South by Gerald Flurry. If you want to know more about the rise of Russia and China, read Russia and China in Prophecy.

Why Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Is Right

Why Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Is Right

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Iran’s religious leader swatted down the olive branch put forward by the United States.

Direct talks with the United States over Iran’s nuclear program will not resume, Iran’s supreme leader announced on February 7. The speech came as new economic restrictions were placed on the selling of Iranian oil that are designed to slow Iran’s drive for nuclear weapons capability.

“The Iranian nation will not negotiate under pressure,” said Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. “The U.S. is pointing a gun at Iran and wants us to talk to them. The Iranian nation will not be intimidated by these actions.”

“Direct talks will not solve any problems,” he added.

The ayatollah is right. Direct talks will not solve this issue.

Iran having just one nuclear weapon will upset the balance of power in the Middle East. Iran is already feared in the Arabic neighborhood. Nations such as Saudi Arabia and Jordan are scrambling to counter Iran. As Iran grows in power, so does its influence in nations such as Iraq and Afghanistan. Iran has already renewed ties with Egypt, is supporting President Bashar Assad in Syria, and continues to sponsor terror across the Middle East.

Washington hopes to change Khamenei’s mind by sitting down at the table to talk peace. The trouble is, it is trying to reason with a man who views global warfare as an inevitable precursor to the return of a Muslim savior. Aside from increasing Iran’s power, the acquisition of a nuclear bomb helps to hasten that scenario.

In his speech, Khamenei said, “Talk is meaningful if it is based on goodwill.” But this was a platitude. He refuses to see any move by the U.S. as a sign of goodwill. To him, the U.S. is the repository of all evil.

America continues to talk anyway. On Friday, the Times of Israel reported that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned Iran, be ready to talk seriously, or else.

“We are prepared to let diplomacy be the victor in this confrontation over their nuclear program,” said Kerry after meeting with Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird. “But,” he also said, “if [the president] cannot get there, he is prepared to do whatever is necessary to make certain that Iran does not have a nuclear weapon.”

No one believes him.

Yet even as negotiation is failing, a war won’t bring lasting peace either.

Every time America gets involved with other nations in the Middle East, it makes things worse. Look at Egypt and the ousting of President Hosni Mubarak. In return for deposing a dictator who was its ally, America got a dictator who is a radical Muslim Brotherhood member and who hates America and no longer wants a peace treaty with Israel. In Libya, America ousted Col. Muammar Gadhafi. In return, America got an al Qaeda-sympathizing government and a dead diplomat in Benghazi. America overthrew Saddam Hussein in Iraq, and in doing so turned the country over to the Persians on a silver platter.

Both talk and action has been disastrous for America. What is left?

The United States and its allies may have the greatest intentions in stopping Iran. They may want peace, but they do not know how to achieve it.

But that should not be a shock: Mankind has 6,000 years of proof that, as Isaiah prophesied, it does not know the way of peace (Isaiah 59:8).

But that world of peace is coming soon. To understand it, and even to learn how to have peace in your own life today, read “What Is the Kingdom of God?

Willy Brandt Airport: Harbinger of German National Socialism?

Willy Brandt Airport: Harbinger of German National Socialism?

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Scandalous delays recall Guillaume Stasi spy affair, fall of the chancellor and rise of a strong man.

Has Europe’s most modern airport become a symbol of German pride and prejudice?

The national transport minister’s recent admission that he cannot rule out additional delays of the opening of Berlin’s new airport is adding insult to injury for one of the country’s highest-profile projects.

Delays have gone beyond a predicted grand opening in 2011-2012 with construction costs doubling to €4.4 billion, putting the city in the position of proposing opening day somewhere in late October this year.

The new airport will substitute for the cramped, aging Tegel in the west and Schoenefeld in the east, which facilitated air travel during the split of the country during the Cold War.

After unification, robust economic growth, and the subsequent cementing of Germany as undisputed leader of European fortunes, the fact that the name of Willy Brandt now adorns this most spectacular and modern airport invites a historical review.

Herbert Ernst Karl Frahm was born on Dec. 18, 1913, in Lübeck, Germany. In 1929 he joined the Socialist Youth and a year later the Social Democratic Party (sdp). He fled Germany for the safety of Norway in 1933 amid the surge to power of the National Socialist Party. There he changed his name to Willy Brandt. His fear of the Nazis continued as he assumed the name Gunnar Gaasland in 1936, posing as a Norwegian student for a trip to Germany. Under his new identity, he worked in Spain as a member of the press, and by 1938 was applying for full citizenship in Norway, thus completing his disguise. After German occupation of the country, he was eventually taken into custody. However, his altered identity prevailed, and he soon was on the run again fleeing to Sweden.

After the war, in 1946, following the death of many of those who had remained to oppose Hitler, he returned to Germany as an employee of the Norwegian administration. Two years later he re-naturalized himself as a citizen of the country he had fled 15 years earlier.

Within a decade, and by the time of construction of the wall, he had risen to become mayor of West Berlin. He remained at that post from 1957 to 1966, during which time he was appointed head of the sdp.

During his time as mayor, he said, “It was as inevitable as the sunrise that the German people would seek their national identity …. We say 20 years is enough” (Plain Truth, June 1966).

Brandt also said, “None of the democratic parties in the Federal Republic can shirk the responsibility. If they fail to meet it, if they fail to grasp and respond to the spirit of national identity, if they abandon the cause of self-determination, then, and only then, will it be possible for someone to pick up the banner they have dropped and use a national sense of frustration and disappointment to brew the poison of radicalism” (Look, Dec. 14, 1965).

Brandt’s design for power went beyond Berlin. He twice ran for the chancellery, coming up short against the Christian Democratic Union’s (cdu’s) Konrad Adenauer and Ludwig Erhard. He didn’t have to wait long for an official post, though, as the government faltered and what was known as a “grand coalition” formed in 1966 between the sdp and Christian Social Union. Brandt was handed the elite posts of foreign minister and vice chancellor.

As his popularity grew, the elections of three years later swung his way under a coalition government of the sdp and the Free Democratic Party (fdp), with Brandt as chancellor effective October 1969. That December, Herbert W. Armstrong directed that Brandt’s image appear on the cover of the Plain Truth, which contained a feature article titled “The Power Switch in Bonn.”

“One false step and Herr Brandt could be catapulted out of the chancellor’s chair,” the Plain Truth wrote. “There are those in German politics today who cannot stand the thought of seeing a German chancellor possessed of a ‘lack of toughness and decisiveness.’” This reporting would prove to be an insightful appraisal of Brandt’s political fortunes.

Brandt was credited with the creation of Ostpolitik, which was an effort to open the doors of trade and relations with the Soviet-controlled East. For these efforts he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1971.

As the Plain Truth foresaw, Ostpolitik was seen as weakness and not well received by many in Germany’s West. In 1972, with Brandt’s support fraying, the Bundestag’s very first no-confidence vote ensued in an effort to elect a new chancellor. Brandt’s miraculous political survival was later revealed to be due to corruption, with revelations that two members of the cdu were bribed by the Socialist East’s security ministry, the Stasi, in an effort to keep him in power.

Within a year, the political walls were closing in on Brandt. In 1973, West German security was told that one of his personal assistants, Günter Guillaume, was a Stasi spy. In late April 1974, Guillaume was arrested. The chancellor resigned in May.

Brandt remained head of the sdp, a role he would not relinquish for 23 years—until 1987. He went on to lead Socialist International from 1976 to 1992 in a program of enlargement. He was an active member of the European Parliament from 1979 to 1983, notably supporting the democratic independence of both Portugal and Spain. From 1987 to 1992 he was honorary chairman of the sdp. In early October 1992, at the age of 78, Willy Brandt—and Herbert Ernst Karl Frahm and Gunnar Gaasland—died.

It is ironic that Angela Merkel’s rise to power necessitated a grand coalition of her cdu with the sdp in 2005 and yet another in 2009 with the fdp. The controversy over construction of Germany’s new airport is reminiscent of its namesake’s tenure in office. The same fears that existed then amid weakness in the chancellery—possibly precipitating a strong nationalist leader arising to lead the country—are once again front and center.

Merkel’s party base has been decimated in regional elections ahead of the general election later this year. The intervening period of her grand coalitions have enabled Germany to consolidate and dominate Europe.

As Brandt noted while mayor, “It was as inevitable as the sunrise that the German people would seek their national identity.” Yet again, after two world wars that it initiated, Germany has risen again to master of continental fortune.

By the time Willy Brandt Airport officially opens, will we see his fear become reality: that someone would enter the political scene and “use a national sense of frustration and disappointment to brew the poison of radicalism”?

In Daniel 8, a leader is prophesied to flatter his way to the chancellery. The ancient prophet described this leader as fierce in physical appearance and devious in dark political lobbying. He appears one way to German and Europe’s citizens, only to be just the opposite: a crafty wolf in sheep’s clothing, leaving devastation in his wake via a deceptively crafted policy of peace to which the political left, center and right will look.

Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry has long warned readers, “The Daniel 8 man is going to change the German landscape—economically, politically and militarily. Germany needs a man for emergencies. What we see developing now is just such an emergency, and Germany is about to bring that man to power. This is what’s just ahead of us!”

Again, we remind you as Herbert W. Armstrong did in the first issue of the Plain Truth,a world dictator is about to appear! A strong man in Europe is about to arise!