Three years ago, oil prices started escalating at a steady rate. By summer 2008, $4/gallon gas prices had begun tipping the scales of American households, forcing the housing bubble to burst. Families that were already stretched couldn’t afford the extra $1,000 - $3,000 per year for gasoline. It put them over the edge.
This year seems eerily similar to 2008. Gas prices are steadily creeping upward, approaching $4 in some parts of the country. Experts predict they could top $5 by mid-summer.
If this were to occur, it could lead to a larger financial crisis – the bursting of the state and municipal debt bubble sometime later this year or in 2012. Currently, nearly 100 city and state governments are on the brink of bankruptcy as a result of exorbitant and unsustainable debt levels. The coming wave of tax hikes and spending cuts intended to deal with this reality will leave many families and businesses broke, while sending significant numbers of government workers to the unemployment lines. This, in turn, would lead to another round of even more home foreclosures. Unless our economy suddenly kicks into overdrive and we witness a major turn-around, the above scenario is all but certain to play out.
Meanwhile, we learned recently from an undisclosed source that the US has begun talks with China over a new currency (possibly a shared global currency). China has already reached an agreement with Russia, deciding to cease use of the US Dollar as their chief international trade currency. Things seem to be moving quickly on this front, but no one is certain about when a new currency system will be formally introduced; the best bet – whenever the old currency system fails. The timing of this depends on what happens with the US economy, which depends to a large degree on what happens with oil prices. (Unexpected natural disasters, instability overseas, and developments in the US Congress could also factor into the equation.)
Aware of the potential for a sharp economic decline, many Christians are wondering what they should do financially. In our Spring 2010 newsletter we touted the merits of investing in the food commodities which were priced near record lows. We are aware of one individual who invested in corn and wheat within two weeks of reading our article. He made $65,000 clear in two months on an investment of $30,000.
However, the problem now is that commodities are on the high side. They may be due for a correction. On the other hand, a bad harvest this year would push prices higher. If you invest in commodities, do so with great caution as anything could happen.
The same can be said about precious metals. Gold is currently on the high side but could go higher in the long term depending on global developments (threats of war, interruption of oil flow, corporate bankruptcies, etc.). Conversely, it could be due for a correction. This is a time of great uncertainty financially. People really needed to take action a year ago or even earlier. However, if you are just now contemplating your next move, I would say focus your efforts first on getting your house in order (as quickly as possible) and securing a reasonable amount of food, water, and other necessities you would need to ride out a few months. Purchasing some usable land with wood and a fresh water spring would not be a bad idea.
As far as actual monetary investments are concerned, I still like silver coins even though their price is on the high side, simply because of their practical use. Silver coins might be the best means of barter if difficult times come. Foreign currencies might also be something to look at. Some will fare better than others. The Swiss Franc and Chinese Yuan might be worth considering. The Iraqi Dinar, depending on whether stability prevails in that country, could significantly increase in value over the next 12 – 18 months (www.dinartrade.com).
However, the hard reality is that all of these investments involve significant risk. No one should do anything without first prayerfully seeking God’s direction. God desires for us to be prudent with our resources, especially if we see a storm on the horizon, but He also wants us to remain fully dependent on Him in every situation. Therefore, prepare in accordance with God’s will for your life.