Volume 41 Issue Six June 2022
Last Trumpet Ministries · PO Box 806 · Beaver Dam, WI 53916
Phone: 920-887-2626 Internet: http://www.lasttrumpetministries.org
“For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” I Cor. 14:8
A Confluence Of Calamities
“This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.”
We live in an interconnected world. Thanks to modern technology, the global population has the ability to travel extensively from nation to nation very quickly. If you have the financial means, you can travel via airplane from the United States to Australia in about twenty-one hours. Conversely, when the pilgrims in England set sail for America on the ship known as the Mayflower in 1620, the journey took sixty-six days. In ancient Biblical times, it took the Israelite people forty years to travel from the Land of Goshen in Egypt to the Promised Land. Today, a journey from the Land of Goshen area of Egypt to Jerusalem in the Israeli State can be accomplished in less than ten hours by automobile.
Our ability to travel so efficiently and quickly around the world is precisely the reason a novel coronavirus from China was able to spread across the entire globe in just a matter of months. This same efficient transportation has given way to what has come to be known as a “global economy.” In recent months we have heard a lot about a supply chain crisis that has led to shortages of a wide assortment of products and has exacerbated inflationary pressure in the United States and abroad. The supply issues began with the Covid-19 pandemic because so many areas of the world were shut down in 2020 and beyond. Our modern world cannot easily handle prolonged disruptions, and many people likely have no inkling of just how complex the global supply chain is.
When we think of American-made automobiles, certain manufacturers, such as Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors, likely come to mind. However, none of the vehicles produced by these companies are purely American in origin. Cars today use components from all over the world, and according to a report published in 2018, the two vehicles with the most components produced in the United States were, in a somewhat ironic twist, manufactured by Honda. The Honda Odyssey minivan and the Honda Ridgeline pickup truck were both 75-percent American made in 2018. “There are no purely American vehicles. These are global automakers who use global sources for all types of parts,” said Michelle Krebs, a senior analyst at the car sales website known as AutoTrader. (1)
Consumer electronics have an even more complicated supply chain. Take, for example, Apple’s famous smartphone known as the iPhone. The sheer complexity of these devices is almost mind-boggling. To produce an iPhone, Apple gathers components from forty-three countries and six continents. A video produced by CNBC in December 2018 describes the journey a microprocessor makes before it finally is installed into an Apple iPhone. The chip is designed in Cupertino, California. The chips are then fabricated in Taiwan. They are tested and packaged in the Philippines and finally shipped to either China or Taiwan to be installed in the devices. The video also reveals that a typical smartphone uses between sixty and seventy elements from the Periodic Table of the Elements. Many of these elements, including rare earth metals, are mined in China, but they come from other parts of the world, too. (2)
Clearly, globalism has forced us into a complex way of life. Living in a world that is so interconnected means we face an assortment of crises at not just a local or national level, but rather at a global level. When factories close in China because of Covid related lockdowns, you might not be able to find what you’re looking for at Walmart. When Russia invades Ukraine people in Africa might starve because African nations can no longer purchase Ukrainian wheat. When the United States imposes sanctions on Russia because of their incursion into Ukraine, we pay higher prices for gasoline. If the United States experiences an economic downturn, chances are other countries will too. As a consequence of an increasingly complex and interconnected global economy, few if any nations in the world still have the ability to take care of themselves.
A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. At this present time, there are a plethora of vulnerabilities putting the world at risk. In fact, Kristalina Georgieva, who is the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, or IMF, wrote in a posting published online in May 2022 that the global economy is facing its “biggest test since the Second World War.” “Tensions over trade, technology standards, and security have been growing for many years, undermining growth – and trust in the current global economic system,” Georgieva wrote. Citing the economic damage from the Covid-19 pandemic, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and climate change, the IMF claims the world is facing a “confluence of calamities.” (3)
According to the IMF, these calamities are worsened by an ineffectual cross-border payment system. As a solution to this perceived problem, they suggest that a new global payment system be put in place. “Countries could work together to develop a global public digital platform – a new piece of payment infrastructure with clear rules – so that everyone can send money at minimal cost and maximum speed and safety. It could also connect various forms of money, including central bank digital currencies.” (4) What are they really talking about here? If you read between the lines, they are proposing a one world financial system wherein all forms of money become one and are converted to digital currency!
The Global Food Supply Crisis
Between May 22, 2022, and May 26, 2022, the wealthy and powerful gathered in Davos, Switzerland, for the annual World Economic Forum. According to a report by CNBC, one of the top concerns discussed at the event was the global food supply, which is being hampered by drought, supply chain problems, fertilizer shortages, the war in Ukraine, and worldwide inflation. “Food is the big worry here, because that could be the wildcard. When people are hungry around the world – and there’s going to be 1.5 billion hungry people without necessarily the means or the access to food, particularly in Africa but not only – that is a problem,” said Citigroup chief executive officer Jane Fraser. (5)
The aforementioned Managing Director of the IMF, Kristalina Georgieva, sounded the alarm about the intensifying global food crisis, too. “We have a commodity price shock in many countries, and the particular shock I want to bring your attention to is a food price shock. Over the last week, because of that sense that maybe the economy is getting into tougher waters, the oil prices went down but food price continues to go up, up, up, up. Why? We can shrink the use of petrol when growth slows down but we have to eat every day, and the anxiety about access to food at a reasonable price globally is hitting the roof,” Georgieva warned. (6) Without a doubt, hunger causes instability. When people are starving, they become unpredictable insomuch that if the masses become desperate enough, they could even topple governments in some countries. Here let it be noted that an anonymous source on Capitol Hill was quoted in a recent news report as saying, “The effects on food prices across the world, in particular, Africa, and North Africa are going to be earth shattering. You’re going to see governments fall.”
As of this writing, vast amounts of grain are sitting in silos in Ukraine unable to be shipped because of blockades by Russia. “Currently, twenty-two million tons of grain in Ukraine are in storage facilities. Hunger does not come alone. It is always accompanied by political chaos,” warned Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. David Beasley, who is the chief official at the United Nations World Food Program, also issued a dire warning, stating, “Let me warn you clearly: if you do not respond now, we will see destabilization, mass starvation, and migration on an unprecedented scale and at a far greater cost.” (7) In an interview with Politico, Beasley said that starvation in Africa and the Middle East is going to spark mass migration to Europe. “If you think we’ve got hell on earth now, you just get ready. If we neglect northern Africa, northern Africa’s coming to Europe. If we neglect the Middle East, [the] Middle East is coming to Europe,” Beasley cautioned. (8)
At this present time, more than twenty-three million people in the African countries of Ethiopia, Somalia, and Kenya are experiencing extreme hunger. This number is more than double the ten million people suffering this plight in these countries last year. The region is experiencing its worst drought in forty years and the war in Ukraine has made the crisis much worse. Ukraine normally provides ninety percent of the wheat consumed in East Africa. (9) The sky-rocketing price of fertilizer is further complicating matters. “Fertilizer prices are up an average of 70 percent from last year. The fertilizer is available locally but it’s out of reach for the majority of farmers. Worse, many farmers know that they cannot recover these costs,” lamented Timothy Njagi, who is a researcher at the Tegemeo Institute of Agriculture Policy and Development in Kenya. (10)
Famine has been a problem in Africa for a long time. Even when I was a child, it was not unusual to hear of people starving in Africa. In fact, parents were often heard to be urging their children to finish their meals without complaint because “there are children starving in Africa” who would love to have what we have. Yet, the present crisis extends far beyond the African continent. In fact, India is the second-largest producer of wheat in the world, but due to heatwaves and poor crop yields, the country of 1.4 billion people banned the export of wheat on May 16, 2022. After the announcement, global wheat prices rose to a record high. (11)
The American Food Supply Crisis
The United States has often been called “The land of plenty.” Nevertheless, even here, problems with the food supply and ever-increasing inflation are already starting to squeeze the American people. Single parents are having an especially difficult time. Reports indicate that some are skipping meals so they can feed their children instead. (12) Why is this happening? Overall food prices have risen by 11 percent in just the last year. Some items go well beyond that percentage point. For example, eggs now cost 22.6 percent more than they did in May 2021. Butter now costs 19.2 percent more, while citrus fruits are up 18.6 percent, bacon is up 17.7 percent, roast beef is up 16.9 percent, chicken is up 16.4 percent, ground beef is up 14.8 percent, milk is up 14.7 percent, and the list goes on. (13)
I recently read a post on social media written by a woman from our local community. She was upset because she ordered a 12-piece order of chicken wings from Pizza Hut, and after the delivery charge was added to her bill, her total was about thirty dollars. The American people are not accustomed to these steep prices for food, but they could become more commonplace in the near future. A piece published by Bloomberg News on May 18, 2022, tells the story of a frustrated pizzeria operator in Jackson, Mississippi. Eighteen months ago, the owner of this establishment was paying about 85 dollars for a 40-pound box of chicken wings. The same product now costs as much as $150. Consequently, the menu price for a serving of 15 wings has risen from $13.95 before the pandemic to $27.95 today. However, the restaurant owner isn’t making a profit even at that price. After figuring in the costs of other ingredients and labor, he estimates that his real cost for the order is about thirty-four dollars. “We have never, ever seen anything like what we’re seeing right now,” the restaurant owner said. (14)
Amazingly enough, another report indicates that a Mexican restaurant in Florida has resorted to using stickers on their menus after being forced to raise their prices four times in fifteen months. With prices rising so quickly, it is easier for the establishment to use stickers to change the prices instead of printing new menus. When I read this report, I thought of stories my father used to tell about the Weimer Republic in Germany in the years following World War I when the country was ravaged by hyperinflation. At the time, it was common for restaurant patrons to insist on paying before they ate their meal because oftentimes the price would have already increased by the time they were finished eating. Interestingly, the author of the Bloomberg article wrote, “The last time I saw stickers on menus, I was in Venezuela covering an economy ravaged by hyperinflation. There’s no comparing the inflation in Venezuela back then to the inflation here now. They’re not even close. But I have to say that seeing stickers on a menu in the U.S. brought back a lot of memories.” (15) It is certainly true that inflation in the United States is not as bad as in Venezuela right now but inflation could remain a problem for quite some time.
Lately, there has been one crisis after another affecting our food supply. Even babies are threatened by malnourishment in these days of turmoil. In February 2022, Abbott Laboratories voluntarily began recalling some of its baby formula brands. The company then shuttered its manufacturing plant in Sturgis, Michigan, after four babies were hospitalized because of bacterial infections. Since the company manufactures 48 percent of all baby formula in the United States, the recall and ensuing shutdown threw the entire country into chaos as desperate parents frantically searched for the formulas they are accustomed to using. (16) For those wondering why Abbott Laboratories closed their facility in Michigan for a time, a report from the New York Times quotes Food and Drug Administration chief Dr. Robert Califf as saying the Sturgis plant was found to be “egregiously unsanitary.” He further went on to say, “Frankly, the inspection results were shocking.” (17) Some babies were also hospitalized due to nutritional deficiencies after their parents were unable to procure formula for their infants. (18) Facing mounting criticism, the Administration of President Joe Biden has resorted to receiving emergency shipments of baby formula from Europe. (19) It is truly a sad state of affairs when the United States of America cannot even provide sustenance for its youngest and most vulnerable population.
If you’re wondering why poultry and eggs are so expensive nowadays, a significant contributing factor is the ongoing bird flu crisis in North America. Because of government regulations, farmers in the United States are required to destroy entire flocks of birds, such as chickens and turkeys, if even one animal tests positive for the bird flu virus. “Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, here comes the bird flu,” said Karyn Rispoli, a reporter for the commodity research publisher Urner Barry. (20) More than 37 million domestic birds have died because of the bird flu outbreak. (21) About forty species of birds, both domestic and wild, have been infected by this highly contagious bird flu strain. To make matters worse, Jonathan Runstadler, who is a professor at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, said the virus responsible for the outbreak might never go away. “There’s reason to expect this virus is here to stay, and it’s not going to disappear,” he said. (22)
Chances are if you’re not a farmer, you don’t give much thought to fertilizer. Yet, it is an important topic because if farmers do not have an adequate supply, crop yields are going to be much lower than they normally are. Sadly, there is presently a global shortage of fertilizer, which means the United States is also impacted by this dire situation. “If you speak to a farmer in North America or Oceania, the main talk is fertilizers, specifically the price and availability of fertilizers. Prices are more or less 78 percent higher than average in 2021, and this is cracking up the production side of agriculture,” informed Theo de Jager, who is President of the World Farmers’ Organization. (23) The preceding quote was found in a piece published by National Geographic on May 23, 2022, with the foreboding headline, “Global food crisis looms as fertilizer supplies dwindle.” (24)
John Boyd Jr., who is President of the National Black Farmers Association, has warned that the American people could have some unpleasant surprises in store by the end of summer 2022. “We’re gonna see a lot of empty shelves and a lot higher prices,” he said. (25) There are so many problems with the food supply in both the United States and abroad that it is becoming difficult to grasp everything that is happening fully. From drought, to famine, war, bird flu, and a fertilizer shortage, all of these crises are threatening humanity’s ability to sustain life. Thankfully, we know the one who can sustain us even in the face of great adversity. Psalm 3:5 declares, “I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the Lord sustained me.” God has already brought us through so much, and He is not going to forsake us now. One thing is certainly evident: we need Him now more than ever before.
The Global Energy Crisis
As I write this newsletter on May 30, 2022, the United States is celebrating a holiday known as Memorial Day. This holiday is often considered to be the day that kicks off the summer travel season in America. As such, prices for gasoline tend to rise dramatically around this time due to increased demand. This is bad news for drivers since fuel prices are already at record highs and are expected to continue their climb in the coming months. On May 19, 2022, the average cost of gasoline hit five dollars per gallon in the state of Illinois. (26) The price is even steeper in California where drivers are now paying on average more than six dollars per gallon. (27) For the first time in history, gasoline now costs more than four dollars per gallon in all fifty states and reached a national average of $4.60 on May 28, 2022. (28) Why are we seeing these record-breaking fuel costs?
According to the experts, the Covid-19 pandemic is a big factor causing the higher prices. During the lockdowns of 2020, people around the world traveled far less often than they usually do, which meant fuel usage went down dramatically. Thus, oil companies cut their output. However, as the pandemic waned, demand for oil came roaring back as throngs of people were eager to hit the road again. As the demand increased, oil companies struggled to keep up, and the global supply of oil is still at only 97 percent of pre-pandemic levels. “Three percent doesn’t sound like a lot, but inventories are very low,” informed Peter McNally from the research firm Third Bridge. (29) Overall global demand for oil has increased beyond what it was prior to Covid-19. In 2019, the global demand for oil was about 100.3 million barrels a day. At the time, the supply was about 100.6 million barrels a day, which allowed countries to use the daily surplus of 0.3 million barrels a day to build up stockpiles. However, the demand for oil today is believed to be 103 million barrels a day. The problem? There’s only 100.6 million barrels a day available. Sanctions by the United States and other Western nations against Russia due to their invasion of Ukraine have further complicated the problem, resulting in the loss of about one million barrels a day from the worldwide supply. (30) According to a recent report from Bank of America Global Research, much of Europe, North America, and Asia have oil stockpiles that are “dangerously low.” “Most worryingly, strategic oil barrels held by OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) governments are already low, and set to decline steeply going forward, leaving consumers exposed to any future negative supply shock,” the report warns. (31)
The majority of Americans drive automobiles that run on gasoline. However, agricultural equipment and semi-trucks usually run on diesel fuel. Unfortunately, the supply of diesel fuel in the United States is in shockingly bad shape, especially in the Northeast portion of the country. The East Coast usually has an inventory of 62 million barrels of diesel in the month of May, but this year the May supply was less than 52 million barrels. “I wish I had some good news for the Northeast, but it’s bedlam,” said analyst Tom Kloza. (32) This is an enormous problem. If trucks cannot get the diesel fuel they need to operate, goods will not be able to flow in the United States. If farmers cannot obtain the diesel they need, they will be unable to grow their crops. If this happens, everything will cost more.
While the American people struggle with the high cost of fuel, American President Joe Biden has shown himself to be remarkably out of touch with reality. Consider this bizarre statement from the President: “[When] it comes to the gas prices, we’re going through an incredible transition that is taking place that, God willing, when it’s over, we’ll be stronger and the world will be stronger and less reliant on fossil fuels when this is over.” (33) Thus, we see that the President believes these high energy costs are a good thing because it will force people to embrace green energy and spark an “incredible transition.” He is likely hoping that more people will buy electric vehicles. Yet, with raging inflation in the United States, I find it doubtful that many Americans can afford such a costly purchase. According to a report published by NBC News in March 2022, the average cost of an electric vehicle is about $60,000. (34) Considering the fact that two-thirds of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, (35) most people are struggling to afford traditional vehicles powered by gasoline. The average age of cars in the United States is now 12.2 years, a new record. (36)
We are indeed living in a time when there is a “confluence of calamities,” and it is very likely that there will be more trouble ahead. The stock market in the United States has been shaky in recent weeks, the housing market is beginning to decline, and there are growing fears that a recession could be right around the corner. Meanwhile, the war in Ukraine continues, we are being warned to expect an active hurricane season this summer, and the world is now contending with an outbreak of the monkeypox virus. As of this writing, there are 257 confirmed cases of monkeypox infection in countries where the disease is not usually found. There are 120 more suspected cases. (37) This number is likely to grow in the coming weeks. The World Health Organization has classified the outbreak as a “moderate risk” to public health. (38)
As we consider all that is happening in the world, the words found in Lamentations 3:17 are quite relatable. This verse reads, “And thou hast removed my soul far off from peace: I forgat prosperity.” The United States hardly feels like a prosperous and peaceful nation right now. However, the chapter in Lamentations continues on and reminds us that as God’s people we do have hope! Lamentations 3:21-26 declares, “This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.” Sometimes we forget, but each and every day we are given is a gift from God. His mercies are new every morning, He knows the end from the beginning, and He knows how to get us through every calamity that is ahead. If you have not yet repented of your sins and dedicated your life to God, I urge you to do so now.
As always, we are grateful to our kind supporters that make this newsletter possible. May God bless you abundantly. If you have any prayer requests, we invite you to send them our way. Each request is given individual attention. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
Samuel David Meyer
01. CNN, July 7, 2018, By Chris Isidore, http://cnn.com.
02. CNBC, December 14, 2018, By Magdalena Petrova, http://cnbc.com.
03. CNBC, May 23, 2022, By Elliot Smith, http://cnbc.com.
04. IMF Blog, May 22, 2022, By Kristalina Georgieva, Gita Gopinath, and Ceyla Pazarbasioglu, http://blogs.imf.com.
05. CNBC, May 26, 2022, By Elliot Smith, http://cnbc.com.
07. Fox News, May 27, 2022, By Caitlin McFall, http://foxnews.com.
08. Politico, March 22, 2022, By Eddy Wax, http://politico.com.
09. National Public Radio, May 18, 2022, By Eyder Peralta, http://npr.org.
10. Bloomberg News, May 1, 2022, By Elizabeth Elkin and Samuel Gebre, http://bloomberg.com.
11. AFP, May 16, 2022, By AFP, http://afp.com.
12. CNN, May 10, 2022, By Alicia Wallace, http://cnn.com.
13. The Des Moines Register, May 13, 2022, By Donnelle Eller, http://desmoinesregister.com.
14. Bloomberg News, May 20, 2022, By Amy Yee and Tarso Veloso Ribeiro, http://bloomberg.com.
15. Bloomberg News, May 10, 2022, By Nathan Crooks, http://bloomberg.com.
16. The New York Times, May 20, 2022, By Julie Creswell and Madeleine Ngo, http://nytimes.com.
17. The New York Times, May 25, 2022, By Christina Jewett and Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, http://nytimes.com.
18. Business Insider, May 21, 2022, By Yelena Dzhanova, http://businessinsider.com.
19. US News and World Report, May 23, 2022, By Dennis Thompson and Ernie Mundell, http://usnews.com.
20. Bloomberg News, May 6, 2022, By Eleanor Song, Elizabeth Elkin, and Michael Hirtzer, http://bloomberg.com.
22. The Jerusalem Post, May 22, 2022, By Tzvi Joffre, http://jerusalempost.com.
23. National Geographic, May 23, 2022, By Joel K. Bourne, Jr., http://nationalgeographic.com.
25. KTLA News, May 15, 2022, By J.J. Bullock, http://ktla.com.
26. KSDK News, May 20, 2022, By Tracy Hinson, http://ksdk.com.
27. Fox Business, May 23, 2022, By Louis Caslano, http://foxbusiness.com.
28. ABC News, May 28, 2022, By Max Zahn, http://abcnews.go.com.
30. CNBC, May 27, 2022, By Kelly Evans, http://cnbc.com.
31. Rigzone, May 24, 2022, By Andreas Exarheas, http://rigzone.com.
32. FreightWaves, May 12, 2022, By Rachel Premack, http://freightwaves.com.
33. The New York Post, May 23, 2022, By Callie Patteson, http://nypost.com.
34. NBC News, March 16, 2022, By Paul A. Eisenstein, http://nbcnews.com.
35. CNBC, May 11, 2022, By Jessica Dickler, http://cnbc.com.
36. USA Today, May 24, 2022, By Jayme Deerwester, http://usatoday.com.
37. CNN, May 30, 2022, By Katherine Dillinger, http://cnn.com.
38. STAT News, May 29, 2022, By Helen Branswell, http://statnews.com.
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