Europe: What I am watching now

Steven LeBlanc
These are disturbing developments I continually monitor within the European setting. Economic distress, political battles, refugee issues and more will contribute to destabilizing Europe, this will eventually lead to the rise of a European dictator who will bring a short-lived degree of unity to Europe (this will occur eventually-not immediately). This is a short list (and by no means complete) of what I am watching now:


Will Europe Unravel: Brexit means the U.K. left the EU, will other nations follow—if so this will create a massive economic shock wave felt around the world? founded by George Friedman states the following: The European Union was created with two purposes in mind. The first was to maintain peace. Europe had been wracked with war and horror in the 20th century. Conflict wrecked its economy, psychologically traumatized the continent and lost Europe its place in the world. Integration promised to bring the nationalist tensions that caused the conflicts under control. The EU’s second purpose was to ensure prosperity through the creation of a free trade zone, with a level regulatory system managed from Brussels, and a selectively utilized single currency. European integration, particularly the integration of Germany into a single system, was designed to achieve both ends. The vision, vague and never agreed to by all parties, was the creation of a federation, or at least a confederation, that would result in some variation on the United States of Europe.

The lesson here is simple: Europe desperately want to be unified but continually finds itself grappling with disagreements and misunderstandings. As I have written previously: In the book of Daniel we see an end-time Europe that is partly strong and partly brittle. The divisions we are seeing within the European Union today regarding refugees, the jihadist threat—the economy, showcase that biblical reality of disagreement and division within Europe: Daniel 2:40-43: “And there shall be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron; just as iron crushes and smashes everything, it shall crush and shatter all these. As you saw the feet and toes partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, it shall be a divided kingdom; but some of the strength of iron shall be in it, as you saw the iron mixed with the clay. As the toes of the feet were part iron and part clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly brittle. As you saw the iron mixed with clay, so will they mix with one another in marriage, but they will not hold together, just as iron does not mix with clay.” We watch Europe’s pattern of brief unity, then division, then war—this pattern has played out again and again, down through history.

Dangerous levels of unemployment in Europe: watching southern Europe, where unemployment has remained at more than 20 percent for years, and high unemployment plagues France feeding a groundswell of frustration. The overwhelming difference between the lives of southern Europeans, including the middle class, and Germans, who enjoy 4.2 percent unemployment, is intense. Europe as a whole has stagnated economically—people are becoming ANGRIER.

Italy’s banking crisis: As much as 18 percent of Italy’s loans will not be repaid, this means the balance sheets of Italian banks are horrible. A non-preforming loan is a loan that simply is not being repaid. Only a drastic improvement in Europe’s economy can help Italy come out of its banking crisis. What is very clear is that Europe’s economy is not getting better it is getting worse. What is particularly dangerous is that Italian banks take loans from other European banks. These European banks, including German banks, have borrowed against Italian debt. Italy has the fourth largest economy in Europe, behind Germany, the United Kingdom and France. Should Italian banks begin to fail this will create shock waves throughout Europe.

German banking crisis: The international Monetary Fund (IMF) issued a shocking 63 page report warning that the German banking and insurance sector is in deep trouble. On page 42 of the report we are told that, “Deutsche Bank appears to be the most important net contributor to systemic risks in the global banking system”. Deutsche Bank is Germany’s biggest bank. In just the last year, Deutsche Bank has laid off tens of thousands of workers Low interest rates are cutting into Deutsche Bank’s ability to earn money. If Deutsche Bank were to severely stumble—this could set off a banking crisis in Europe that sends a wave of panic around the globe.

Anti-German sentiment grows in Europe: In the past year Germany has feuded with Italy over banking regulations, clashed with France over defense spending. Germany has repulsed Hungary, Poland, Austria and France over its migration policy (pressing Europe to embrace refugees from the Middle East and North Africa). The Greeks are still angry at Germany over imposed austerity. All of this leading at greater cracks within Europe.

Unrest in Europe is leading to the rise of Nationalism (anti-EU, nation first movements) throughout Europe: More wars have been fought over national identity in Europe than anywhere else in the world. A worsening economy and the refugee crisis is fueling the anti-European Five Star Movement in Italy, the Alternative for Germany party in Germany, the Front National party in France, Jobbik in Hungary, Austria’s far-right Freedom Party, Italy’s Eurosceptic, anti-immigration Northern League (Lega Nord), Geert Wilders anti-EU Party for Freedom (PVV) has surged to the top of Dutch opinion polls. The anti-immigration, nationalist Sweden Democrats (SD) tops the polls in Sweden, and there are more parties of the anti-EU, anti-immigrant bent gaining traction in Europe.

The ‘other’ German problem: There is another European economic crisis looming. Germany gains nearly half of its GDP from exports. German prosperity depends on their ability to export and the ability to export depends on the active demand of their consumers in Europe, America and Asia. Germany exports heavily to the EU, and the Italian banking crisis, if it unravels, is likely to cause an EU-wide banking crisis, and an even greater weakening of the European economy. A worldwide recession would wound deeply German exports, and inevitably drive up unemployment—which Germany fears. A steep rise in unemployment in Germany would open the door to the right-wing Alternative for Germany party, currently led by Fauke Petry.

Russia boosts its military preparedness: The Kremlin is moving troops and equipment to the country’s western border regions and ramping up the Baltic Fleet in an effort to demonstrate Moscow’s commitment to modernizing its military. Low oil prices continue to hurt the Russian economy. Russia is deeply concerned about Ukraine, as it needs Ukraine as a type of buffer against the West. Russian military efforts will increase thus causing tensions with Poland. Poland’s historical Catch-22 is that it is caught between a potent Germany and a controlling Russia. Poland does not trust Russia.

Europe is overwhelmed with political disagreement, unemployment challenges, refugees and lack of stability—this is the type of setting that foreshadows major political change. Watching world events coupled with understanding Prophecy helps us to maintain that sense of urgency in our lives, and continually fuels the need to focus on the work of God which is proclaiming and teaching about the return of Jesus Christ and the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth.

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