Benedict XVI—a Question of Time?

Benedict XVI—a Question of Time?

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Is the pope emeritus long for this world?

They say where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Barely weeks following the appearance of the white smoke out of the Vatican confirming the election of Pope Francis, his predecessor, Benedict xvi, is heavily rumored to be significantly ill.

Official Vatican sources deny that Benedict is suffering from any serious ailment. Certain journalists, however, are going public with the story.

Is there any truth in it? It’s hard to say.

Right now with Vatican sources remaining mum on the subject, there’s little to go on to confirm that there’s any truth to the story that emanated chiefly from the Spanish newspaper El Pais.

Journalist Paloma Gómez Borrero writing for El Pais indicated that Benedict will make no further public appearances and stated her belief that Benedict may not be long for this world.

The Telegraph’s Damian Thompson chimed in, using what appeared to be almost epitaph language: “I think all of us were distressed by the fragility of Pope Emeritus Benedict xvi when we saw him greet his successor, Pope Francis. The footage was almost too painful to watch. … His condition has apparently continued to decline. … [M]any of us regard [Benedict xvi] as the most inspiring pope of modern times. No pontiff for centuries has written and preached so brilliantly about the relationships between liturgy, evangelism and the shape of history” (April 10).

Catholic World News commented briefly, “Pope Emeritus Benedict has lost a significant amount of weight in recent weeks. He walks with increasing difficulty, reportedly has nearly lost vision in one eye, and has a history of cardiac problems. Nevertheless the Vatican has said that Benedict does not have any immediate life-threatening illness. He plans to move into his new residence inside the Vatican in May” (April 10).

The most reliable report on this subject appears to be from the National Catholic Register of April 10, which says that “Vatican doctors had noted with concern how he had become much thinner back in January, before he resigned. He had also begun to tire quickly and his personal physician, Dr. Patrizio Polisca, said his blood pressure was having strong fluctuations. He advised the pope to avoid air travel.”

Otherwise the Register follows the Vatican line on the subject.

Whatever the truth concerning Benedict’s state of health, one thing is for sure, he will continue to be a strong influence on the direction of the papacy of Pope Francis until the day he either dies or loses any capability of continuing to use his powerful intellect in the service of mother Rome.

Peace Is Coming to the Middle East!

EDMOND, OKLA.—On April 12, students of Herbert W. Armstrong College and Imperial Academy attended a performance of Shesh Besh at Armstrong Auditorium. The Arab-Jewish ensemble consists of three members of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra alongside four of the finest musicians from Israel’s Arab community. Shesh Besh is a model of tolerance and mutual respect in a turbulent, violent Middle East. They were the recipients of the 2007 European Medal of Honor—Prize for Tolerance.

Shesh Besh’s appearance at Armstrong Auditorium was fitting. The concert hall is named after the late Herbert W. Armstrong, who was a supporter of peace and understanding between all nations. Mr. Armstrong oversaw several projects in the Middle East, including an archeological dig on the Temple Mount and initiatives to promote peace and understanding between Israelis and Palestinians.

The beautiful music performed by Shesh Besh in Armstrong Auditorium is a small foretaste of the eternal peace that is soon to come to the Middle East and the entire world. Many biblical prophecies point to this time of peace that will soon break out in the Middle East and across the Earth.

If you want a real picture of what this coming world of peace will be like, please request a free copy of our booklet The Way of Peace Restored Momentarily and a free copy of Herbert W. Armstrong’s inspiring booklet The Wonderful World Tomorrow—What It Will Be Like.

Are More EU Nations Heading Toward Bailouts?

The European Commission warned on Wednesday that Spain and Slovenia are facing “excessive” problems balancing their economies, while France’s government also received a stern warning to get its debt under control.

In its economic health-check for 13 European Union countries, the Commission said that high domestic and external debt levels continue to pose serious risks for growth and financial stability in Spain.

The executive arm of the 27-member Union warned that Slovenia faces a “substantial” risk due to high corporate debt, bad loans and deteriorating public finances, despite healthy exports.

Both countries are suffering recession, high unemployment and ailing financial sectors.

The Commission said both countries must move swiftly to fix their ailing banking sectors, either through recapitalizing or by winding down some banks.

EU Commissioner for Monetary Affairs Olli Rehn said the Commission was paying attention to the French economy, and two areas in particular:

“There are two main challenges for France: the deterioration of export performance, which is actually driven both by cost and non-cost factors, and the elevated level of public debt, which definitely deserves continued attention and consistent consolidation of public finances.”

The Commission noted that France’s debt is set to exceed 93 percent of its annual economic output by the end of the year.

With the French economy in recession and combating persistently high unemployment, the government in Paris is struggling to get its budget deficit under control. Experts anticipate it will miss this year’s target of 3 percent of gdp.

The EU will decide in May whether to grant France an additional year to meet the target or to launch a procedure that could lead to economic sanctions.

Bible prophecy reveals that this German-led EU will be whittled down to 10 nations. With this in mind, the Trumpet will continue to watch and report on how the global economic turmoil is reshaping the European Union.

Germany Snatches Gold From Cyprus

Germany Snatches Gold From Cyprus

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Cyprus is being made to sell its gold, most likely to the ECB. Will other eurozone countries be compelled to do the same?

Just when it appeared the news cycle had moved on from Cyprus, the island nation came splashing back yesterday with news from the European Commission: Nicosia will be made to sell around three quarters, or €400 million (us$523.7 million), of its excess gold reserves. (“Excess”? Who has too much gold?)

What’s the big deal? ask some. When a person or nation is in a financial pinch, assets have to be liquidated.

True. But with Cyprus it’s not that simple. From the outset of this crisis, Cyprus has not been in control of its own destiny. Sure, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades was in on most, though apparently not all, of the discussions. Cyprus’s parliament voted on this and that, and ultimately “agreed” to the bailout agreement. But it was all smoke and mirrors. In the end, Cyprus was compelled to agree to a ruinous bailout package created and prescribed by Germany in consort with the European Commission (EC), the European Central Bank (ecb) and the International Monetary Fund (imf). Now we learn from the troika that as part of the bailout agreement, Cyprus will have to sell the majority of its gold.

The important point to note is that this decision was effectively made by Germany and its ecb/EC/imf allies, and not Cyprus.

When a nation no longer has control over its national assets, can it still be considered a sovereign state? Also, consider the tremendous power at Berlin’s disposal if it possesses the leverage to compel another nation to sell a core national asset. Moreover, we learned yesterday that Germany not only has the power to crush a nation’s sovereignty, it also has the motive!

More people need to be alarmed by this. Europe’s financial crisis began in 2008, and since then a number of eurozone states have had to go to Germany and the EU for money. Berlin has generally responded by demanding some fairly stringent austerity measures in return for bailout money. Yet, although it has demanded austerity, Berlin has not asked or compelled a single eurozone country in need of a bailout (like Greece, Ireland, Portugal) to sell part or all of its gold reserves.

Until now.

We should note that Wednesday evening the Central Bank of Cyprus (cbc) denied the report that Cyprus will sell some of its gold. The announcement of the gold sale, however, came from the European Commission, which, together with the imf and the ecb, and under Germany’s direction, is actually responsible for drawing up Cyprus’s bailout. Also, the media and analysts paid little attention to the cbc’s denial and continue to report that this is happening. I wonder if the Central Bank of Cyprus simply hasn’t been told that it’s selling its gold?

To raise the desired €400 million, Cyprus will have to sell around 10.36 tons of gold (at the current price). The nation owns about 13.9 tons of gold, according to the World Gold Council. So it will have to depart with about 74.5 percent, nearly three quarters, of its total reserve. Again, Cyprus didn’t decide to sell, it was told by the German-led troika that it must sell if it wants bailout money.

Who will it sell the gold to? It’s almost certain the buyers will be the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. After all, they’re the ones, with Germany’s sanction, bailing out Cyprus. The imf and the ecb possess about 2,814 tons and 502 tons of gold respectively. Germany has 3,391 tons, and is the world’s second-largest holder of gold. Together, this amounts to 6,707 tons of gold. That equals about 82 percent of America’s total gold supply.

Note: That figure does not include the gold reserves of other European countries. And if Cyprus is a precedent, then some of this gold could also start to make its way to Brussels and Frankfurt. “I think this could be a turning point,” said Jonathan Spall, director of precious metals at Barclays Capital. “Central bank stocks of gold which had looked to be ring-fenced in the bailout process could now seemingly come into play.”

What if Germany and the ecb make a play for gold owned by other ailing European economies?

Italy is the fourth-largest holder of gold—its central bank holds 2,451 tons. France has the fifth-largest stockpile in the world with 2,435 tons. The Netherlands has 612 tons. Portugal has about 383 tons. Spain’s holdings stand at 281.6 tons. Austria has 280 tons. Belgium 227 tons. Greece has about 112 tons. All totaled, the stockpile of gold if collected from only the European nations mentioned above, including the ecb—but not including the imf (as that gold technically belongs to all imf members)—would come to roughly 10,674 tons.

That exceeds America’s stockpile by 2,540.5 tons!

That’s more than enough to bolster a centralized fiscal authority and underpin a newly revived European currency.

Nearly all these eurozone nations are experiencing extreme financial difficulty and will inevitably require further assistance. Meanwhile, Germany and many others in Europe recognize the need for greater fiscal consolidation and centralization. Is it inconceivable that Germany, as part of an effort to augment a central European fiscal authority and restore confidence in the euro, might compel the likes of Spain, France, Italy, Portugal or Greece, just as it has done with Cyprus, to sell some or all of their gold to the ecb? True, it wouldn’t be a simple or clean task (we’re talking about abdicating national sovereignty). But extreme crises like Europe is enduring demand extreme measures—just as we’re seeing in Cyprus.

When we step back and look at it, there are hints that Germany and the ecb might be pursuing some sort of larger strategy that includes consolidating gold.

In January, Germany suddenly announced that it was repatriating its gold from France and the United States.

In February, it was discovered that buried within Greece’s bailout package is a stipulation that allows the EU to seizeGreece’s gold reserves.

Prominent German politicians in recent years have openly discussed the need for Italy and Spain to sell gold to pay off debt.

Now Cyprus is being compelled to sell most of its gold to the ecb and imf.

Is this mere coincidence, or is there something else going on here? Is it possible that Cyprus is merely the first of multiple European nations that will be made to send gold to a central European authority, one led by Germany? We will know in time. What we already know, however, is that Berlin’s power and influence in Europe, especially on issues of finance, is unparallelled and unchecked. We’re seeing Germany get tougher and tougher with the rest of Europe, especially with southern European countries. Financially, the Continent has been subjugated and, as Charles Moore recently wrote, lies prostrate before the German imperium. The same is happening politically with each passing month.

Consider all this in the context of Germany’s undeniable history of political and financial imperialism, and you get an eery sense that dark forces are at work in Europe. You need to stay tuned to the Trumpet. If you haven’t read it already, read “Germany’s Gold Hoard.”

We don’t have all the details, but it’s clear something is afoot—and Germany’s play for Cyprus’s gold might just be the beginning.

Will Germany’s Economic Miracle Disturb Peace in the World?

Will Germany’s Economic Miracle Disturb Peace in the World?

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Lessons and grave warning from Europe’s Wirtschaftswunder

Wirtschaftswunder in the German language means “economic miracle.” What the world has witnessed since the close of the Second World War in the rising of a country from the ashes of devastation, veritable sick man of Europe, to today’s undisputed master of the Continent’s fiscal fortunes and destiny, is nothing short of an economic miracle.

Over the past six decades, which saw its historic reunification, the country’s social market economy has competitively expanded into broader markets. In 2012, the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung produced an economic report focused on what it termed Germany’s “unexpected success story.” It noted the weathering of the 2008-2009 global financial crisis as a key barometer to its ongoing upswing in fiscal fortunes.

The report reflected upon the social-market-economy approach being in harmony with a trio of essential principles. One, “maintaining a large share of exports and imports”; two, “unwavering commitment to price stability,” and three, “European vocation of the governing class at least.”

The report went on to highlight that, “Recently, these features of the (west) German prosperous economy were named a ‘self reinforcing iron triangle,’ because the key principles were derived from the traumatic failures of earlier German polities, notably the Great Inflation of 1923 and murderous and ultimately self-destructive Nazi regime.”

The short-term unsuccessful implementation of the euro currency has disproportionally benefited the nation in the present and will continue to do so in the long term.

The report continued:

Moreover, both the opportunities of globalization (new markets and lower cost abroad) as well as improved transportation and information and communication opportunities first of all challenged and after a period of adjustment benefited the many world-open German companies by allowing them to take advantage of diversifying and cheapening their supply chains as well as opening up new export and production markets in Eastern Europe and Asia.

This has translated into an explosive export market, which has boosted gdp and fueled strong employment opportunities. In August 2012 the EU Blue Card was introduced to speed visa applications of the wealthy and their highly skilled employees. Money- and employment-creation laws were softened for investors looking to establish companies in Germany.

Hailed as Europe’s version of the U.S. Green Card, “The EU Blue Card scheme is designed to make Europe a more attractive destination for highly educated persons from outside the European Union. All 27 EU member states, except the United Kingdom, Denmark and Ireland, participate in the EU Blue Card scheme,” the card’s website claims.

Not surprisingly, the Federal Statistical Office recently revealed that exports continued to gain in January, posting a 1.4 percent jump to €91.9 billion (us$120.3 billion) from December 2012. Furthermore, Europe’s most powerful country boasted a €15.7 billion (us$20.5 billion) trade surplus for January and a 3.1 percent jump in exports over the same time period in 2012.

What’s more, it has rapidly risen to the summit as the largest exporter of military armaments in Europe and third in the world behind the United States and Russia. The Arms Export Report 2011, released by the German government in November 2012, revealed Berlin’s global geographic reach, international partnerships and foreign policy relating to its burgeoning armaments industry.

The report revealed a total of €5.4 billion (us$6.9 billion) in export authorizations approved by Germany’s Federal Security Council, up from €4.8 billion in 2010. “German arms exports have nearly doubled since the end of the 1990s,” reported German-Foreign-Policy.com (Nov. 16, 2012).

In January this year the European Union conducted its seventh community innovation survey, focusing on product, process, organization and marketing. The results reveal where the highest proportion of innovative enterprise is. The answer was documented by Eurostat, which reported, “Among the EU27 member states, the highest proportions of enterprises with innovation activity were recorded in Germany (79 percent of enterprises) ….”

Germany’s Wirtschaftswunder from World War ii to today is indisputable, increasing and has placed it as the heart of the Continent as the prime investment market.

However, this rise is economically, militarily and religiously foreboding in a world that has long forgotten the lessons of history. “Western leaders from both sides of the Atlantic assured our peoples that a demoralized Germany would never rise up to strike again,” wrote our editor in chief in Germany and the Holy Roman Empire.

He cited a signed 1945 document chartered by Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill regarding American-British policy on Germany, which stated, “It is our inflexible purpose to destroy German militarism and Nazism and to ensure that Germany will never again be able to disturb the peace of the world. We are determined to disarm and disband all German armed forces, break up for all time the German General Staff that has repeatedly contrived the resurgence of German militarism; remove or destroy all German military equipment; eliminate or control all German industry that could be used for military production. … It is not our purpose to destroy the people of Germany, but only when Nazism and militarism have been extirpated will there be hope for a decent life for Germans and a place for them in the community of nations.”

According to the more sure word and light of prophecy, this economic star has not been an “unexpected success story” but rather a “prophesied success story” (Isaiah 10:5-7). The United States and Britain have failed to contain and curtail six decades of explosive growth. Now Germany stands atop Europe’s economic edifice as its champion, master and kingmaker (Revelation 17:12). We have been witness to an unprecedented economic miracle, but at what price? For the shocking answer and inspiring outcome, request your free copy of Germany and the Holy Roman Empire.

Australia to Abandon the U.S. Dollar

Australia to Abandon the U.S. Dollar

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Australia chooses a side in the global currency war.

Australia’s announcement that it is abandoning the U.S. dollar for trade with China is the latest broadside in the global currency war. Starting April 10, Australia and China will no longer use the U.S. dollar for trade between the two nations. For the first time, Australian businesses will be able to conduct trade in Chinese yuan. No more need for U.S. dollar intermediation.

This is a significant announcement and key development for China as it continues its campaign to internationalize the yuan and chip away at the dollar’s role as the world’s reserve currency.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard made the announcement during an official visit to Shanghai on Monday. She noted that China is now Australia’s biggest trading partner and that the direct currency trading would be a “huge advantage for Australia.”

She called the currency accord a “strategic step forward for Australia as we add to our economic engagement with China.”

According to hsbc bank, more than 40 percent of small and medium-size Australian businesses that trade with China plan to offer quotes for goods and services in yuan. No longer will Chinese customers need U.S. dollars before purchasing Australian goods.

For China, this is a big accomplishment as it works toward its goal of having about a third of its foreign trade settled in yuan by 2015.

But for the U.S. dollar, it is more like the treatment the U.S. Eighth Army got at Chosin Reservoir in Korea.

This Australia-China currency pact isn’t the only whipping the dollar has taken lately either.

On March 26, China and Brazil agreed to cut out the U.S. dollar for approximately half of their trade. Some $30 billion worth of commerce per year will now be conducted in yuan and reals. Brazilian Economy Minister Guido Mantega said the trade and currency agreement would act as a buffer against any unexpected dollar turbulence in the international financial markets.

Less than a week later, China announced its participation in the joint brics bank initiative. Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa announced the creation of a new development bank that some analysts say has the potential to rival the U.S.-dominated World Bank and European-influenced International Monetary Fund.

“Most people assume that the current economic crisis has led to a great strengthening of the power of the World Bank and the imf, and that this power is largely uncontested,” notes Prof. Geoffrey Wood, who teaches at Warwick Business School. “The proposed brics development bank represents an important new development that potentially further circumscribes the influence of these bodies.”

America’s other major ally in the Pacific announced last year that it would be curtailing its use of the dollar too. In June, Japan and China began cutting out the dollar in bilateral trade. The initiative was announced as part of a broad agreement to reinforce financial ties between the world’s third- and fourth-largest economies.

Similar dollar exclusion deals have been announced by Russia and China, Russia and Iran, India and Iran, and India and Japan.

“[T]he free lunch the U.S. has enjoyed ever since the advent of the U.S. dollar as world reserve currency may be coming to an end,” writes popular financial blog ZeroHedge. “And since there is no such thing as a free lunch, all the deferred pain the U.S. Treasury Department has been able to offset thanks to its global currency monopoly status will come crashing down the second the world starts getting doubts about the true nature of just who the real reserve currency will be in the future.

As more nations challenge the dollar’s position as reserve currency it will greatly impact living standards in America. Interest rates will skyrocket. The government will be forced to resort to full-scale money printing to finance its debt. Credit and loans will become unaffordable, collapsing much of America’s consumer economy. Monetary inflation will shoot through the roof destroying the value of people’s savings. And higher levels of unemployment will become a way of life.

By jumping ship and swimming to China, Australia may think it will mitigate the worst of the looming dollar war. But eking out strategic partnerships with China comes with a whole set of other risks that are just as deadly.