Inflation is a sustained rise in the general price level. Its root cause is too many dollars chasing too few goods. Inflation destroys value as it takes more and more of a currency to purchase the same quantity of goods and services. Inflation harms those on fixed incomes and lenders. It helps those whose incomes rise faster than inflation and borrowers with fixed interest rates.
Inflation can destabilize an economy. Price expectations feed inflation and can cause an inflationary cycle. If consumers expect higher prices tomorrow, they increase purchases today, which causes prices to rise, which increases price expectations for tomorrow, which cause more consumers to purchase today, and a vicious cycle has begun.
According to Hanke and Bushnell of Johns Hopkins, the global economy has experienced 57 instances of hyperinflation. The authors have defined hyperinflation as an inflationary rate of at least 50 percent per month for at least 30 consecutive days. Venezuela was recently added to the list with a monthly inflation rate of 221 percent (3.96 percent per day) in November of 2016. Prices now double every 17.8 days. The Venezuelan government intends to print its currency in larger denominations, which will not help. Zimbabwe already tried that strategy. Their 2007 inflation peaked at a daily rate of 98.0% where prices doubled every 24.7 hours.
Current U. S. inflation is subdued, with the consumer and producer price indices increasing 1.7 percent and 1.3 percent during the last 12 months respectively. An improved labor market and future inflationary expectations allowed the Fed to cautiously increase interest rates 1/4 of one percent. Most Fed governors expect the Fed to increase interest rates three times during 2017. With an incoming president proposing a $1 trillion increase in infrastructure spending and lower tax rates across the board, an abundance of inflationary caution is in order.
In the kingdom of God, we have the responsibility, opportunity and wherewithal to produce works with lasting value. Many works, even good works, do not have lasting value. It should be noted:
- The magnificent temple built by Solomon does not exist today.
- The temple of Jesus' time does not exist today.
- Most New Testament churches do not exist today.
But the message which Jesus delivered in His short 3 1/2 years of earthly ministry has changed and is changing the world. The fruit from the sacrifices of early disciples is being seen today in the lives of hundreds of millions of believers. The manuscripts early believers wrote are providing inspiration, wisdom and guidance to millions. The examples of the faith, obedience and blessings of Old Testament believers are still inspiring millions. Unfulfilled biblical prophecies are as valid today as when they were made even if separated by thousands of years. The lives of the martyrs are an inspiration to believers and a testimony to the world.
When prioritizing our efforts (time, focus, monies and prayer), do we place eternal fruit at the top of our list? Do we have heavenly priorities? Are our activities in line with what we are called to do? Can we tweak some of our projects that don't have obvious lasting value to at least include some of heaven's priorities? Do we pursue activities that routinely waste time or other resources? Are we willing to change our priorities to build lasting value?
"Each one's work will be revealed. For the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each has done" (1 Cor. 3:13, MEV).
Souls are eternal. Equipping the saints is eternal. We are children of the living God on assignment. Let us determine to magnify Him in all that we do. If we listen to His guidance and obey, we will build lives of lasting value.
"Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least." —Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Dr. James Russell is a professor of economics and undergraduate chair of the College of Business at Oral Roberts University.
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