Politics Magazine

Business Cycles & the Jubilee

Posted on the 18 September 2013 by Adask

Businesscycle2In the Old Testament, God advised the Israelites to have a “Jubilee” every 50 years.  At the year of the Jubilee, all debts would be canceled and properties previously taken as collateral for debts would be returned the original owners or their families.

Modern business cycles consist of economic “booms” followed by economic “busts”, followed by another boom, etc.. The periods of each complete business cycle have been variously measured as lasting from about 30 to 60 years (from the beginning of a “boom” to the end of the next “bust” and beginning of the next “boom”).

It occurs to me that the length of each modern business cycle (30 to 60 years) is not so different from the length of the “Jubilee Cycle” (50 years) in the Old Testament.

It also occurs to me that that one of the effects of an economic “bust” in the business cycle is to wipe out much of the debt that was built up during the previous economic expansion and “boom”.

So, I’m left to wonder if it’s merely coincidence that the busts in the modern business cycle and the Jubilee in the Old Testament both had the effect of wiping out all or most of the pre-existing debts. I know it’s a peculiar idea, but could it be that God “invented” to business cycle to give modern people relief from the burden of ever-growing debts?  Is the real purpose of the business cycle to “cleanse” the economy by “flushing out” much of the debt?

And then, I observe that one of the stated purposes for the creation of the Federal Reserve was to end the business cycle and its pattern of “boom and bust”.  By means of intelligent and scientific management of interest rates and the money supply, it was believed that the Federal Reserve could cause the economy to keep growing moderately (say, 3%), this year, next year, every year, for decades, even centuries.  No more exhilarating “booms”;but  no more horrifying “busts,” either. Just steady, reliable growth for as far into the future as anyone could see.

But then it occurs to me that, if we didn’t have any more “busts” (recessions or depressions) under the Federal Reserve’s “scientific management” of the economy, we’d also never wipe out some or all the existing debts. If the debts are never eliminated by another economic “bust,” virtually all of us will spend our lives as debtors and servants (or even slaves) to the lenders.  All of us, all of our children, all of our grandchildren.  Debtors.  Slaves. Forever.

So I’m back to wondering:

1) If the purpose of the Old Testament Jubilee was to cancel all debt (and thereby free all the debtors from economic bondage); and

2) If the effect of the modern “busts” in the business cycle was to eliminate much of the debt (and thereby free many of the people from economic bondage); then,

3) What is the real purpose of the Federal Reserve’s attempt to eliminate the modern business cycle?

Is the Federal Reserve’s purpose merely “economic”?  Is their purpose benign?  Is the Fed trying to make life easier for us by providing a steadily growing economy from now unto eternity?

Or could it be that primary reason for the Federal Reserve’s attempt to eliminate the business cycle is to eliminate the “busts” and thereby preserve the debts–and the debtors/slaves–forever?

Is the Federal Reserves’ purpose evidence of spiritual war in the sense that, by eliminating the business cycle and eliminating the “busts,” the Federal Reserve would also eliminate the last vestiges of the Old Testament Jubilee mandated by God? I admit that’s a pretty far-fetched possibility.  Still, it does seem arguable that instead of freeing the people from the uncertainties of the business cycle, the Federal Reserve might be seeking to keep all of us in a perpetual steady-state of debt servitude.

We have to give the Federal Reserve its due.  For the past five years, the Federal Reserve has apparently protected America from the economic collapse that almost happened in A.D. 2008.  But have we been thereby spared the pain of an economic bust?  Or have we been thereby denied the cancellation of most debt and the freedom that would inevitably follow?

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