“Even now hedge fund titans rake in billions.”

“Even now hedge fund titans rake in billions.” A friend sent me this piece that appeared in the business section of The New York Times on Wednesday. The headline would catch anybody’s eye, given the massive economic downturn that we and the rest of the world are enduring right now. The article was accompanied by a photo gallery of the top ten hedge fund managers and their estimated earnings for 2007 and 2008. While the markets were melting down, apparently the earnings of these ten men were still mounting up. The top three: James H. Simons, head of the Renaissance Technologies fund, earned $2.5 billion last year; John A. Paulson, “who rode to riches by betting against the housing market,” earned $2 billion over the same period; and George Soros, a familiar name on the wealthiest Americans lists, accumulated $1.1 billion from his hedge fund. Total take last year for the top 25 managers—$11.6 billion (half of the $22.5 billion they earned in 2007). “The managers’ compensation, which was breathtaking in the best of times, is eye-popping after a year when hedge funds lost 18 percent on average, and investors withdrew money en masse” (www.nytimes.com/2009/03/25/business/25hedge.html).

The populist hue and cry this past week over the AIG bonuses, along with this report of the top hedge fund managers’ earnings, is one more reminder of the age in which we now live. In fact there is a New Testament passage, with language so strong I am choosing not to quote it here, that links what is often called the “obscene” accumulation of wealth with the meltdown of human society and the return of Christ. James 5:1-6 specifically identifies financial hegemony at the expense of the hapless laborer and the downtrodden poor. A century ago the words of James’ were prefaced with this comment: “The Scriptures describe the condition of the world just before Christ’s second coming. Of the men who by robbery and extortion are amassing great riches, it is written . . . [James 5:3-6]” (9T 13, 14). But James turns upbeat with hope for the economically disenfranchised and the socially marginalized: “Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. . . The Judge is standing at the door!” (v 7, 9 TNIV). I.e., economic injustice between the have’s and the have-not’s will have its day in court, when the Judge returns.

So how then shall you and I live—we who will never be ranked in any top ten or 25 or pick-the-number listing? With our meager finances, how shall we survive what is portending to be the coming economic earthquake? Join our new mini-series (at worship, on television, podcast and radio) with four financial secrets on how to survive these tough economic times. Come to worship. Download the podcasts. And share the promise that “my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). After all, his hedge fund is out of this world!

Comments

Over the 2.5 years my husband was laid off twice, for a total of 8 months of unemployment. The first lay off was in Michigan, he was an engineer for a subsidiary of Ford. It lasted 6 months. During that time, our faith was tried and intense tension built in our marriage. He at the time kept track of our budget, and I was unaware of how tight things really were. The Lord had increased my work, but still it wasn't enough to cover our expenses. Our mortgage was due that week and we were still $500 short. I wrestled with the idea of lowering our offering commitment that we had made to the Lord but my husband refused to do it. We were invited to a church and I gave the message that day. I am certain that it was the worst sermon I ever preached. I could barely keep my thoughts together and struggled to believe the encouragement I was trying to convey to others. I felt completely defeated because the uncertainty of our personal situation was so overwhelming. When the sermon was over, my husband went to put our belongings in the car so that we wouldn't leave anything after the fellowship lunch. A gentleman we had never seen before walked behind my husband and said to him: "Excuse me, I hope you won't be offended but the Lord has impressed upon my heart to give you this...it's not much but I felt that you should have it." He handed him a check. I watched my husband, a very reserved man, shed a tear in front of this stranger and he immediately accepted it by folding it and putting it in his pocket without looking at it. He said, " Thank you, this must be from Jesus because only he knows the situation we are in". We had not shared our troubles with anyone...not even family. After the fellowship luncheon, the kind gentleman said: "How I wish I could have given more." I thought wow: "maybe it's $20, whatever he gave us it more than welcome." We returned home, we prayed and thanked God for his gift and I went about other things. Then my husband called me from downstairs. He said, "you are not going to believe this, look at this check". There it was $500, exactly. We were so moved that we cried. We only could ask God for forgiveness for doubting his promises and allowing doubt to cloud our judgment of faith. We also asked him to help us put our finances in order so that we could be a blessing to others in the same way. We stopped worrying after that and 2 weeks later my husband was offered a job in Tennessee and we were relocated. Ten months later he was laid off again, the week before our first child was born. This time we knew who was in control. Neither one of us could work. We never went without food. Sure there possessions that we lost. But our faith was strengthened. We KNOW, God is as real today as when he parted the Red Sea. I share this because I know there are many who are losing homes and are in financial crisis. In Matthew 25:21 the Bible says: "His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!' The thing is we were faithful in sooo little...yet He is always abundantly faithful to us. He is worth the trials and tribulations on earth. Just to glimpse His tenderness personally is enough to fuel a lifetime. I encourage you to put your trust in Jesus, He is the Way the Truth and the Life.

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