Sunday, October 12, 2008

What a Week! What a God!

What a week!

By now everyone knows this was an interesting week in American history. The US financial market is in a freefall. The Dow is down more than 5,000 points since a year ago and lost 20% of its value in the last seven days. Markets in countries around the world have been affected too, signaling a global problem. I mean, hey, Iceland declared bankruptcy and some prankster offered it for sale on eBay.

Lots of finger pointing. By presidential candidates. By congressman. By media. By the man on the street.

Is it the greed and excess of Wall Street? Was it the subprime lenders or the people who accepted subprime mortgages? Was it the deregulation encouraged, or at least, not opposed in Washington over the last eight years?

Who knows?

Greed and excess on Wall Street? Certainly. Wall Street, the aggregate of the brokerage houses, venture capitalists, and hedge funds, is all about making money. Seems obvious to me that those who can skirt the regulations and even break the law to maximize their profits without harming their sense of ethics will do so. They did.

Predatory lending by subprime mortage brokers? You betcha. Because they could do less work in terms of due diligence and earn as much money. So again, why not pile on if you can get away with it?

Greedy home buyers wanting more home than they could afford? A few. I believe the majority of subprime mortgage holders didn't get subprime rates because they were trying to be greedy and buy into a lifestyle beyond their means. A lot of subprime mortgage holders were working class people who got into subprime mortgages because that's what was available to them. Unfortunately in the last decade, the mortgage industry began sweetening the pot, not with subprime fixed rate loans but with adjustable rate loans that allowed as little as 0% down and had low interest rates for anywhere from the first six to 24 months. (I know because in the 13 years that we had a home in NY, we had both. Thankfully, we sold before the current foreclosure crisis.)

Under these easy money conditions, more people qualified for loans and walked through the gateway to the American dream, their own home. Some took advantage of the lax terms to invest in a number of properties for the purpose of "flipping" them and earning big profits. But neither group paid much attention to what would happen if interest rates suddenly began to climb. Mortgage brokers told them, "That's NEVER gonna happen." It happened.

Lack of deregulation? Yes and no. Because regulations have a purpose, to safeguard the financial system and the American public from some of what we're going through now. But at the same time, there are always creative new financial instruments that allow for the opportunity to achieve great wealth while also allowing for great abuse. The first is a good thing; the latter stinks.

Throw all of this stuff in a pot, boil in a steadily worsening economy, and you get what we've got now. The US government, the same government that's spending in excess of its revenues and that's borrowing money daily from the Chinese and others to pay for the war in Iraq, among other things, is going to save the financial markets.

I don't know about you and I'm not saying there are a lot of other options but I'm wondering how much they really know about the subject matter, what possible solutions are worthy of consideration, and who should be in charge of minding the store.

People are afraid. They're allowing themselves to become frantic or depressed, either of which leads to erratic behavior. Just this week, a man in California killed himself and his entire family because he didn't see a way out of their financial woes.

The future seems uncertain. Very uncertain.

There is one thing I do know. God is God.

We must take comfort in the knowledge that God is still who He has always been. Our Sustainer. Our Provider. Our Peace. Our Refuge. Our Comfort. The Lifter of Our Heads.

It may be tempting to worry, to fret, to be anxious about what's happening all around us. Let's be clear. Things are bad and they could get much worse before they get better.

But God will take care of His own.

That doesn't mean we won't experience hardship or difficulties, that we won't have to endure some stuff.

But we know that He will watch over and care for us, if we keep our eyes and hearts focused on Him.

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. (Luke 12:5-7, NIV)

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Heb 13:8, NIV)

What a God!

Peace & Blessings,


Chicki said...

What a God is right! At every service at World Changers we give people the opportunity to give first fruits offerings. It is so incredible to see how God is blessing His people in the midst of famine and hard times. Hundreds of people each week are receiving raises, promotions, new contracts, etc.

When it was dark in Egypt, it was light in Goshen!

Patricia W. said...

And what I like most about that is that people who are going through get encouragment in their faith by seeing others being blessed.