In 2014, I co-authored an updated version of a book originally written by Fred Fredfeldkamp entitled "Financial Stability: Fraud, Confidence & the Wealth of Nations." The book starts with a discussion of why, in financial and economic terms, Jesus of Nazareth tossed the money changers out of the Temple in Jerusalem.
The Old Testament forbade the use of "two measures," effectively requiring that currency transactions occur at the mid-point of the market. Temple priests maintained an excessive bid-offer spread, an early example of financial fraud and political folly that eventually led to the cruxifiction of Christ. They also were tax collectors for the Roman army of occupation, who eventually destroyed Jerusalem in 70 AD in response to the rebellion which followed the death of Jesus.
The email below came after I sent Fred a copy of the article by my friend William Greider in The Nation, "How Donald Trump Could Beat Hillary Clinton."
Below is the email from Fred. Best, Chris
Frederick L. Feldkamp <firstname.lastname@example.org>
March 13, 2016
[Bill Greider]'s correct and a very wise man. We can only hope for better--we cannot undo mistakes of the past.
It's coming toward Easter, Chris, and I always think more about the "economics" of what Christ was trying to achieve at this time of year.
In fact, he was trying to cure an economic and political debacle that was sinking the fortunes and lives of everyone around him, because NOBODY in power had even the slightest idea what the heck they were doing to themselves and everyone else by their self-centered practices to build a huge Temple treasury of riches and a murderous Roman occupation army.
Leaders of Christ's church (the Jewish leaders of the temple in Jerusalem) could not see that they had been running a rigged market that made money mainly for their leader, Annas, who hoarded so much of it as to cut off re-circulation (just as the practice of huge excess reserves in the Great Depression caused a shortage of circulating money--pushing spreads through the roof and the economy through the floor).
That's the same trap we all fell into in 2007-8 as fear caused everyone to stop circulating money.
Christ did what was necessary to end the combination of monopoly/hoarding/taxation by chasing money exchange out of the temple, but that meant he would bankrupt the High Priest's family and destroy the Roman tax base (created by taxing all Jews as they left the Temple at holidays).
He then actually forgave even his murderers as he was dying, saying "they know not what they are doing."
WOW!! WAS THAT AN UNDERSTATEMENT!!
The same thing applies to all the people Grieder identifies as at the heart of today's problems. Until the nation listened to Bernanke's understanding of how mistakes, restraints and fear raised the true cost of money and destroyed the economy in 2008, we were heading onto the same path of destruction that the Annas family and Roman rulers created for Jerusalem in the First Century.
Christ identified "how" to fix it, but nobody listened and performed what was needed. Anger and frustration built on all sides of the First Century dispute until Rome said "enough" (then robbed the Temple treasury, killed as many Jews as remained available for killing, burned the Temple down and destroyed Jerusalem).
Christ's backers fled and eventually founded a religion that Rome adopted. The Jews finally acknowledged that Temple sacrifice was not a good way to go and built Rabbinical Judaism around the principles of Hillel the Elder (the head Rabbi in Jerusalem at the time Christ was a teenager who lingered at the Temple when he was 12).
Grieder has perceived the same build-up of frustration today. I see it in the trigger-point of the frustration of "tax hoarding" that I mentioned Friday. BIG BUSINESSES WILL NOT INVEST THEIR HOARDS SET ASIDE IN TAX HAVENS TODAY FOR FEAR THAT THE WORLD'S GOVS WILL FIGURE OUT THE SCAM AND DEMAND PAYMENT OF BACK TAXES.
So, while nobody is talking about it, fear has gripped us yet again, just as it did in Jerusalem 2000 years ago.
The one truly constructive thing is that fear has subsided dramatically since 2/11/16. Bank spread (Inv. Gr. - 10-yr Ts) is down 47 bps. The banker who bought Chicago's biggest bank used his bank's capital to make the buy and entirely paid for it by cutting the merged banks' funding cost by 50 bps. So, the recovery since 2/11 is huge if only for that.
BUT, it's much better. The spread banks charge to growth firms (HY bonds - IG bonds) has fallen an astonishing 112 bps (total finance spread, HY minus 10 yr Ts, is down an amazing 159 bps since 2/11).