Thursday, November 20, 2008

Iceland's fall and the EU's ascendancy

Iceland’s fall and the EU’s ascendancy
By Wyatt Ciesielka Thursday, November 20, 2008

Iceland is a fantastic, mysterious country located on the fringes of the habitable world where geothermal steam wisps slip through rock and ice fissures to escape into the cold blue sky. Iceland is one of the most advanced and educated nations on the planet and was fast becoming a world-class financial power – until its economy collapsed. What are the lessons for us?

“Financial collapse” is an unpleasant phrase that is unfortunately becoming more common. The term can be over-used. However, in Iceland’s case, their economy and day-to-day business truly did collapse. What is sobering is that the causes of Iceland’s financial collapse, and the consequences of that collapse, are very relevant lessons for the rest of us.

Icelanders are a somber, proud and independent people. Iceland is a hardy nation of survivors, of fiscally conservative savers, and of hard workers. In fact, Iceland doesn’t even bother running daytime television because everyone is either in school or is working!

But in all its history, the events of early October 2008 were both unexpected and brutal. The events should also be a serious wake-up call to the rest of the world.

On October 6, the government ordered television generators powered up and Iceland’s Prime Minister addressed the nation. Geir Haarde sat soberly behind his desk and declared that the country was on the verge of bankruptcy, that the government would immediately begin the nationalization of the banks, and that unprecedented government intervention was planned to salvage the nation and the life-savings of Iceland’s 300,000 citizens (New York Times, October 8, 2008).

As the day and week progressed, people found their credit cards refused. Inbound shipments for residents’ internet and mail-order purchases ranging from children’s books to chocolate, from French wine to U.S. clothing, from automotive parts to fishing equipment ceased. Some phone and internet services ceased. International bank loans ceased. Investment by foreign businessmen ceased. The economy ceased.

Iceland was caught in the double trap of the worldwide financial system meltdown coupled with bad timing and bad business decisions by a handful of powerful, Icelandic venture capitalists (Financial Times, November 15-16, 2008). As global capital markets tightened, financing dried up and projects were shelved. Quickly, banks were overwhelmed and Iceland became stuck with an economic debt many times its entire gross domestic product. Additionally, falling home prices, rapidly rising interest rates and spiraling unemployment are making citizens’ debt burden unmanageable.

The average Icelander is no greedier than the citizens of most other modern countries. In fact, Icelanders are probably more naturally cautious than most. But, this tiny country became an early casualty of the global economic slowdown. While the US, the UK, Germany, France, China, Brazil and other nations watched unemployment rise and saw banks fail, Iceland itself fell.

And here is the lesson for those who understand Bible prophecy. Now, the once staunchly independent island nation is turning to the European Union for help. “The country, whose government has long opposed EU membership, has shown signs of warming to the idea of joining the 27-nation bloc to help avert future crises” (The Guardian, November 17, 2008).

We pray for the people of Iceland as we pray for those suffering throughout the world. But, for those who understand prophecy, we see yet another nation being absorbed into the mighty and growing European Union.

Temporarily, the EU will also endure economic challenges. But, Bible prophecy teaches that the EU will grow incredibly strong and wealthy (Revelation 18:3) while the US, Britain and the British-descended nations will continue to weaken (Jeremiah 30:5-7).

God’s Church has long understood these prophecies and has long pleaded with modern-day Israel (which includes the US, Britain and the British-descended nations, other nations of northwestern Europe and Israel) to repent, or to suffer coming disaster (Ezekiel 33:7).

Please request The United States and Great Britain in Prophecy to learn more about what your Bible says is the history, and the future, of our nations.

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