Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Biblical debt jubilee may be the only answer

[...] The Fed has cut rates to zero. It is buying mortgage securities on the open market, and eying Treasury debt next. Fellow central banks are exploring their own ways to print money.

The $3 trillion (£2 trillion) fiscal blitz by the US, China, Japan and Europe plugs an emergency gap. With luck, it will keep the world economy on life-support just long enough to stop recession and banking crises from feeding on each other with lethal effect, as they did in 1931.

The latest plans to "ring-fence" bad debts in sceptic tanks puts in place the fourth pillar. The UK Treasury's version involves a state insurance scheme, letting banks shuffle off their crippling loads and escape mark-to-market torture.

The US version is a "bad bank" for mortgage debt. It is more or less the old "TARP" passed by Congress, before the funds were diverted into bank recapitalisations. This method worked after the Savings & Loan crisis in the 1980s. The market found a floor. The Treasury even made a profit.

German finance minister Peer Steinbr├╝ck said he "could not imagine" a bad bank in his country. Time will tell. Der Spiegel reports that Germany's top 20 banks have €300bn (£270bn) of bad debt, booked at "illusory" prices. They have written down just a quarter of their losses.

Taken together, the rescues may make the difference between global recession and a deeper slump that causes mass unemployment and social turmoil, perhaps destroying the open global order we take for granted. We can only guess.

There is no guarantee that the measures will succeed. The vast scale of government borrowing may exhaust the stock of global capital. Markets are already beginning to question the credit-worthiness of sovereign states. The Fed may find it harder than it thinks to disengage from colossal intervention in the bond markets.

In the end, the only way out of all this global debt may prove to be a Biblical debt Jubilee.

Creditors are not going to like that.

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New sites for GAFCON and Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans

A new website for the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans has been launched at  www.fca.net   The GAFCON site has also been redesigned and relaunched, at  www.gafcon.org 
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Sunday, 18 January 2009

Christians are becoming social pariahs in Britain, claims Jeremy Vine

Jeremy Vine, the BBC presenter, has claimed that it is becoming "socially unacceptable" to be a Christian in Britain.

The Radio 2 host said that he feels unable to talk about his faith on his show because he fears how people would react.

He argues that society has become increasingly intolerant of the freedom to express religious views.

"You can't express views that were common currency 30 or 40 years ago," he said.

"Arguably, the parameters of what you might call 'right thinking' are probably closing.

"Sadly, along with that has come the fact that it's almost socially unacceptable to say you believe in God."

His comments follow the claim from Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, that Britain is an "unfriendly" place for religious people to live.

Mr Vine, 43, is a practising Anglican, but says he would be compromised by being more open about his faith on air.

"Just blurting it out would be destructive," he said. Read more

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