The Debt Crisis from an Asian Perspective


Today I am excited to introduce my new weekly email called Handwriting on the Wall. In it you will find biblical clarity on issues, events and trends that impact our lives. To ensure you never miss an issue, you can subscribe to this free weekly email by signing up here.

I hope you enjoy this first issue of Handwriting on the Wall…

I’m in Hong Kong—one of several stops on an Asian business trip. The city is not only vibrant and beautiful; it’s a global financial hub where everything is expensive, except the free Wi-Fi.

Earlier, while walking along bustling streets in the shopping district, I was surprised to see something that would be extraordinary even in the affluent U.S.—jewelry stores packed to overflowing with buyers from mainland China competing to see who could push to the counter fastest to make a purchase.

This was not the casual “just looking” type of shopping that you see in the typical mall jewelry store. The crowd was in a fevered rush to buy, buy, buy—the likes of which you only see with last-minute shoppers on Christmas Eve, and even then, never in an expensive jewelry store!

Before you assume these visitors from China had all gone mad with materialism, let me explain. It turns out the frenzy was driven by a drop in the price of gold. These shoppers, none of whom gave the appearance of being rich, were adding to their gold supply in the form of useable jewelry.

It was a street level indication of the disposable income—and savvy investment mentality—of the average citizen in communist China, where personal savings rates are estimated to be between 25-40% of income. These people weren’t spending foolishly—they were building inflation-proof assets in preparation for dark times ahead.

Being in Asia while the debt crisis unfolds has given me a different perspective of America’s economic problems.  Most people here believe that if the United States and the European Union don’t fix their debt problems, the rest of the world will be impacted as well by a global financial collapse.

I was talking the other day with a group of Christian business leaders here. They were well aware that the Bible teaches us to avoid excessive debt, and they wanted to know what happened to our nation. “Why does America no longer follow God’s financial principles?”

Their simple question really got to me. It seems our out-of-control debt problem not only threatens them financially, but spiritually, as well. What are we telling the body of Christ here about the way we value God and His principles? It was painful to try to explain our present dilemma. Frankly, I couldn’t. I asked them to pray that America would repent. I told them America needs revival more than recovery.

My friend Rusty Leonard of Stewardship Partners wrote a sobering commentary on the West’s unsuccessful attempt last month to solve the debt crisis:

All the key finance ministers and central bankers met in Washington, D.C…What became clear was that no credible plan to solve Europe’s sovereign debt and banking solvency has coalesced yet. While US and Asian leaders, as well as the IMF, all spoke in the most blunt and alarming terms in a desperate attempt to persuade the European leaders to get engaged immediately to resolve these issues, nothing but vague promises of future action were made. It is hard to imagine the US Treasury Secretary speaking as candidly as he did unless he viewed the situation as very, very serious. Geithner urged Europe to put in place a huge bailout fund in order to avoid “cascading default, bank runs and catastrophic risk. (Emphasis mine)

It is increasingly clear that unless the United States and Europe get their debt problem under control, we are headed for serious trouble—sooner rather than later.

What can you do? Keep your eyes on the Lord. Pray. Remain watchful of the world around you and always be prepared.

One more thing you can do—subscribe to this column. In the weeks and months ahead, I’ll give you a biblical perspective of the historic events unfolding around us—and I’ll throw in my two cents, as well. It’s information you won’t get from other sources and it will help you weather the storms ahead.

Oh, and the price is right. For as long as we can, we’ll offer this column for free.

About Chuck Bentley

CEO, Crown Mininstries
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