Saturday, 16 July 2011

"A piece of gold could buy a bag of bread"

Just to take your mind off the things you're probably worrying about at the moment, try reading this:

Return of the Gold Standard as world order unravels.

"One of the big US banks texted me today to say that if QE3 actually happens, we could see gold at $5,000 and silver at $1,000. I feel terribly sorry for anybody on fixed incomes tied to a fiat currency because they are not going to be able to buy things with that paper money."

QE3 = the third round of 'quantitative easing', ie printing money. A friend of mine tells the story of a member of the aristocracy playing cards with a member of the new middle classes a couple of centuries ago who owned a bank. They had a wager on who could tear up the most money and the bank owner won because, of course, when he tore up a bank note, he just printed another one. As my friend said, the governments of today have the upper hand in the present crisis because there is currently no world shortage of trees.

To put that in plain English, the next big thing will probably be inflation.

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  1. Hi John,

    I agree and disagree. I suspect that what's more likely to happen as interest rates stay low is that you'll see traders borrowing money and seeking ways to turn a buck. Some commentators here in Oz have speculated that's what's behind some of the commodity price spikes in the last year. This will cause bubbles, which tend to burst eventually.

    Roger Gallagher
    Merrylands Australia

  2. It is curious that so much time and effort has been given over to the subject of homosexuality by conservative Christians in recent years (something which even by the research you presented via Chelmsford Anglicans affects 3% of the population, of whom only 0.5% are in cohabiting relationships that have the potential to become civil partnerships – these proportions are from the methodologically flawed piece of research Dr Hans-Christian Raabe gladly contributed towards) yet little is written on the morality of unregulated free-market capitalism.

    I think there is substantial evidence to suggest this means of wealth production can happily take the blame for much of the external (and some internal) pressures that have severely impacted upon family life. The very fact that when you were growing up – and to a lesser degree (15 years later) when I was growing up – even many working class women didn’t need to go out to work because a single income was enough to pay the bills and maintain a reasonable standard of living. The ‘freeing of the market’ under Thatcher and Reagan, the creation of debt (i.e. via ‘banking products’) as a means of economic production, a housing and debt fuelled boom rooted in cheap credit have all impinged upon family life to a degree that often both parents have to work to pay bills and the mortgage and consequently have less time for their children – both in quality time and as role models. (A personal example is the fact the house we live in now was first bought, new, in 1996 for £86K – we bought it in 2009 for £248K (almost a 300% increase in 14 years – whereas Retail Price Index inflation would put the amount at £126K (if only!!!)) – and the house was bought after the market had dipped – by any stretched of the imagination such an expenditure on a house is going to have a serious impact on the lives of those burdened with such a mortgage.) Yes, there has been a superficial increase in the material quality of life in many Western societies over the past three decades, but there has also been a price to pay for this. In addition the division between rich and poor has grown exponentially – the USA being the most striking example of this; and it is also a nation that leads the Western world in many of the social problems which are (by conservative Christians) placed at the feet of liberalism, despite the fact it is has a far greater level of church attendance, religious discourse in politics and civil society and is (away from the coasts) a much more conservative society than the UK.

    Perhaps it is time for conservative Christians to deal with homosexuality in proportion to its incidence and grasp the more thorny issue of what is really wrong at the heart of many Western societies? Of course it is much easier to talk about homosexuality – you are not going to challenge many of the lives of your followers are you? 3% of the population and probably a good deal less in conservative Christian circles (tho’ that is debatable...) are homosexual; all the population is part of the economic system. To preach that Christians should be rejecting blatant consumerism, the avoidable use of debt, health and wealth teaching etc. and instead of lobbying government for the right to discriminate against homosexuals in the workplace and in services for the general public, should be lobbying to reject the excesses of unregulated free-market capitalism. But it is much easier to limit the call for morality to the condemnation of easily identifiable groups, rather than the more difficult and challenging morality that impinges on the material quality of one’s own life and (if you’re lucky enough to have it) the fecundity of one’s investments!

    Just a thought...

  3. Peter, just trying reading this which I posted on the blog ages ago. You could also start here, read what I've posted and then click on the 'labels' for 'interest' and 'usury'. Then get back to me.

  4. Revd John

    Thanks for this - perhaps it is a limitation of English, but my ‘you’ was an abstract plural rather than a criticism of your own teaching. I was more thinking of the excesses of some of our conservative friends. Your piece very much chimes with my own thinking and research on the matter of usury and of living in an avaricious society.

    A good portion of my work in palliative care social work was trying to sort out the finances of people who were terminally ill – often young people – who had lived beyond their means. I was shocked by just how much debt people got themselves into and moreover that religious belief seemed to be no protector from this error. This was particularly the case with African patients, who may have had extremely conservative beliefs but frequently had a very large amount of debt. One of the worst cases I had to try and untangle was a church pastor!

    I watched the Michael Moore film on Capitalism (tho’ I had seen it before) over the weekend and although I am not always a fan of his views or his methods, I think some of his arguments are very persuasive.

    Yet, I think my own argument is also persuasive, in that bleating on about homosexuality being a contributory factor towards the break-up of family life, or the authenticity and potency of the Gospel, may seem a virtuous cause, but I think for many conservatives, it is the easy option. The real problems of Western society – and Christianity – are much nearer to home for many; and if they were to abide by your own advice, I think they would find them much more costly.

    Just for the record, I do pay my credit card off every month and any household items over £1,000 are always saved up for, if the cash is not immediately to hand. The only borrowed money we have is the mortgage. In addition I am great one for make-do and mend...

    Thanks for this:


  5. Asking why Christians have had to spend time on homosexuality in the last few years is like asking why Russian Christians had to spend time discussing church regulations under the old USSR. When the establishment has chosen that method to harass the church, inevitably it will rise to the top of the agenda. Attempts to suggest that Christians are "spending too much time on it" are merely a cynical attempt by the same establishment to silence Christian objections.

    Moving back to the post, I remember thinking a couple of years ago that gold was overvalued at $800 an ounce. How I wish I had bought some! But speculating on the metals market is a good way to lose your all, considering that the insiders know the market and those who influence it and we don't and can't.

    I'd welcome a return to honest money. It won't happen, tho.

    I wish we'd all been ready, eh?

    By the way, it is almost impossible to post a comment here using IE8.

  6. Well said Roger. The epitomising text for this is Daniel 6:5. Christians have given more attention to homosexuality only insofar as the challenge from outside has grown greater.

    Meanwhile Peter, regarding this:

    "...lobbying government for the right to discriminate against homosexuals in the workplace and in services for the general public..."

    I feel that you've fallen for the perverse verbiage of establishment propaganda. You might as well say that Jewish or Muslim caterers are out to "discriminate against pork-eaters in the restaurant". There are always going to be plenty of places where you can dine out on pork products so why insist that every outlet provide them?

    Again, private businesses are first and foremost there to make an honest profit for their owners, not to provide "services". To state that that is their primary reason for existence is in fact to declare them nationalised in all but name: in other words, an admission of crypto-communism.

    The more general point is that such practices were never considered objectionable until just the last few years when Blairite revolutionary legislation came in and began to be used to try to close them down. Therefore to talk as though this was the ending of discrimination against homosexuals instead of the start of an unprecedented discrimination against Christians, is a massive historical case of the tail wagging the dog.

    Dan Baynes
    Barton Seagrave