December 19, 2010

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Did The Price Of Oil Help Cause The Financial Crisis Of 2008? Will Surging Oil Prices Soon Spark Another Financial Crisis? Oil prices are starting to spin out of control once again. In London, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in February hit 91.89 dollars a barrel on Friday. New York crude moved above 88 dollars a barrel on Friday. Many analysts believe that 100 dollar oil is a virtual certainty now. In fact, many economists are convinced that oil is going to start moving well beyond the 100 dollar mark. So what happened the last time oil went well above 100 dollars a barrel? Oh, that’s right, we had a major financial crisis. Not that subprime mortgages, rampant corruption on Wall Street and out of control debt didn’t play major roles in precipitating the financial crisis as well, but the truth is that most economists have not given the price of oil the proper credit for the role that it played in almost crashing the world economy. In July 2008, the price of oil hit a record high of over $147 a barrel. A couple months later all hell broke loose on world financial markets. The truth is that having the price of oil that high created horrific imbalances in the global economy. Fortunately the price of oil took a huge nosedive after hitting that record high, and it can be argued that lower oil prices helped stabilize the world economy. So now that oil prices are on a relentless march upward again, what can we expect this time? Well, what we can expect is more economic trouble. The truth is that oil is the “blood” of our economy. Without oil nothing moves and virtually no economic activity would take place. Our entire economic system is based on the ability to cheaply and efficiently move people and products. An increase in the price of oil puts inflationary pressure on virtually everything else in our society. Without cheap oil, the entire game changes.
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Vatican Bank hit by financial scandal... again This is no ordinary bank. The ATMs are in Latin, priests use a private entrance, and a life-sized portrait of Pope Benedict XVI hangs on the wall. Nevertheless, l’Istituto per le Opere di Religione (the Institute for Religious Works) is a bank, and it is under harsh new scrutiny, including money-laundering allegations that led police to seize €23m (£19.5m) in Vatican assets in September. Critics say the case shows that the “Vatican Bank” has never shed its penchant for secrecy and scandal. The Vatican calls the seizure of assets a “misunderstanding” and expresses optimism that it will be cleared up quickly. But court documents show that prosecutors say the Vatican Bank deliberately flouted anti-laundering laws “with the aim of hiding the ownership, destination and origin of the capital.” The documents also reveal investigators’ suspicions that clergy may have acted as fronts for corrupt businessmen and the Mafia. The documents pinpoint two transactions that have not been reported: one in 2009 involving the use of a false name, and another in 2010 in which the Vatican Bank withdrew €650,000 from an Italian bank account but ignored bank requests to disclose where the money was headed. The new allegations of financial impropriety could not have come at a worse time for the Vatican, already hit by revelations that it sheltered paedophile priests. The corruption probe has also given new hope to Holocaust survivors who tried unsuccessfully to sue the Vatican in the US, alleging that Nazi loot was stored in the bank.

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I'm a watchman for Christ, looking on the horizon in expectation for the fulfillment of God's Word.

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