Studies in the Scriptures
Zion's Watch Tower
Financial, Ecclesiastical and Social Shakings
By C. T. Russell
Pastor New York, Washington and Cleveland Temples and the Brooklyn and London Tabernacles
TEXT: "Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven, and this word, Yet once, signifieth the removing of those things that may be shaken... that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.—
This text is applicable to our day. The removal of all things shakable is now in progress. Only those things which are harmonious with Divine standards, which cannot be shaken, will remain. The shaking of the heavens refers to the destruction of the present religious control—Churchianity—and the shaking of the earth refers to the destruction of present social, financial and political affairs.
Passing by the latter part of my text at this time, I will discuss only the forepart.
Stocks and Bonds to be Shaken
Everything false, bogus, inequitable, will be shaken. In financial parlance this is equivalent to saying that the "water" will be squeezed out of all the stocks and bonds.
By methods once sanctioned, but now everywhere reprehended, stocks and bonds have been issued for sums far beyond the actual value of the properties. These stocks and bonds have cost their present owners varying sums, from nothing up to par; but their actual value is what the properties would cost, plus a reasonable percentage of allowance for right of way and business "good will." In ordinary times these had a market value built upon hope of their future prosperity. Now, however, the general public has become aware of the real situation and is fearful to touch at any price these shares and bonds of over-capitalized companies, and the most sound and solvent of them share the public distrust. Now, in the opening of the New Dispensation, when everything is being "shaken," we are to expect that all such stocks and bonds will be shaken in value until everything like dishonesty
OV337 and inequity shall have been shaken out.
Forty years ago the world’s great bankers and financiers concluded that it would be to their interest to demonetize silver and have only a gold standard. This finally accomplished what they foresaw and intended: It curtailed the world’s monetary supply and enabled the bankers the better to control the entire situation throughout the world.
By an elaborate banking system (valuable in some respects), it made each gold dollar chase itself and do the work of five dollars or ten dollars, assisted by bank checks and drafts. Thus the profits of the larger banks increased amazingly by reason of higher discount and interest charges—making them rich at the public expense.
The public, of course, acquiesced in the law demonetizing silver and making gold the single standard. But they did it under misapprehension, because they believed the bankers’ tale—that this was really the best thing for the people, and not merely a measure in the interest of the banker and at the expense of the people. It is perhaps but fair to say that less than one-half of the bankers understood the philosophy of the matter; the others were guided by the wealthier and more astute, who did fully understand.
The result has been great profits to the bankers, and great power; for without them, railroad stocks and bonds could not be handled successfully. The bankers took over large issues of railroad stocks and bonds, by what is known as the underwriting process. They were capable sales agents for the bonds at a good round percentage of profit, advancing money on the bonds and holding them for sale to the public.
The Day of Reckoning
Now we see fulfilled the Scripture declaration: "He taketh the wise in their own craftiness." (
.) How so, do you ask? I reply that the great banks have their vaults well filled with these bonds and stocks, on which they had hoped to make large profits; but which, on the contrary, they are now unable to sell at any price. These stocks and bonds reckoned in as part of the banks’ assets, show them to be wealthy, with immense surpluses; but now the "water" is to be taken out of these stocks and bonds. It will show an immense shrinkage in the resources of these banks. They will become suddenly poor, without actually losing a cent, by reason of the market value of their securities falling.
This fact is realized by all banks. They realize that if the Day of Reckoning has come, and their holdings—their securities—are to be reckoned at their actual value, it will mean that instead of large resources and surpluses, some of the richest banks will become insolvent and be called upon by the government either to close their doors or to make good their shortage. And right there will be their difficulty; for the rich men of the world have their capital invested similarly, and the reaction will be bound to unfavorably affect all the great commercial enterprises of the world. As all went well, amazingly well for the bankers and the wealthy by reason of the demonetization of silver, so when the Day of Reckoning shall have fully dawned, things will go especially hard with these same people. And, although the stoppage and the reconstruction will involve the whole world, many respects the rich will feel the pressure most.
The liquidating process had already begun before the present European war started.
The Hartford and New Haven Railroad, The Chicago and Rock Island, and others, have been called to account. With these, the "water squeezing" processes of the law have been threatening, and will undoubtedly accomplish their thorough "shaking." But meantime, the war, waiting not for the more gradual processes of the law and the ordinary business, has brought the financial world to a crisis. The nations of Europe are being shaken. The casualties
OV338 of the war already amount to a million and a half of human beings, and hundreds of millions of dollars. And it is only begun. Financial values there are greatly impaired, as are also national credits. The thing wanted is gold, and as in every war, this precious metal has practically disappeared in the nations at war. Their home securities will not be salable for cash, and a general attempt will be made to sell American securities—American stocks, bonds, etc. But who will buy these? America will be practically the only market for them, and, as we have already seen, American banks and bankers are loaded down heavily.
When we learn the immense amount of these American shares and bonds held in European hands, we need not wonder that American bankers pale at the thought of their being dumped upon the American market. Reliable financial authorities declare that Europe has about five thousand millions of dollars invested in American securities.
If but one-fifth of these be sacrificed to realize gold, it will mean an avalanche—a financial deluge. American banks, already overloaded with these "securities," cannot purchase all; hence prices will tumble and wrecks follow.
Effect of Silver Demonetization
In view of these matters, is it any wonder that American bankers fear to see the stock exchanges open for business? Had the exchanges not closed promptly when they did, we would have had the most terrible panic ever known. By the closing of the exchanges that awful panic was temporarily averted. By their closing, the owners of the stocks and bonds have been hindered from realizing upon them; thus the face value of these stocks and bonds has been preserved, and thereby the banks and bankers have been permitted to continue to count these shares and bonds at fictitious prices which nobody would pay for them to-day.
Had silver not been demonetized, bankers would not have had as easy a time as they have been enjoying in cornering the financial market, and getting large rates of interest and premiums; but neither would they be in the same distress at the present time, for the world would have had twice as much money with which to do its business. When we consider that the gold coin of the world is not sufficient for even the paying of the interest of the debts, we perceive how the banking institutions have had the people, figuratively, by the throat, and now are being choked themselves by their own device.
The interest upon the debts cannot be paid in gold because there is not enough of it to pay the interest. Hence the only thing remaining to be done is to issue more bonds, payable in gold also, and the interest payable in gold. Now that nobody will buy the bonds, what is to be done? Interest on foreign holdings of American "securities," estimated at only four per cent per annum, means a drainage of two hundred millions of dollars every year in gold, needed to pay that interest. Now we seem to be coming to a dead stop through this war; and the wheels of finance which worked so favorably for the bankers in the past, are turning in the opposite direction and lacerating them financially.
Apparently our financial "house of cards" is trembling, and about to fall. Various expediences are being tried by the governments and the ablest financiers of the world.
We might hope that their skill would accomplish the end they desire, and save the present institutions—financial—from being "shaken" to pieces. But, if we are right in our understanding of the Scriptures—if the great Day of Settlement has come, in which all the shakable things are to be shaken and nothing remain except that which cannot be shaken, then we may be sure that all human effort will fail, and that the greatest of all crashes of a financial kind that have ever happened will take place.
It will be noticed that I am saying
OV339 nothing new—that what I have just said has been said in part, at least, by many, and published in the newspapers I am merely bringing together these things, and showing their relationship to the testimony of the Bible, that we are now in the great day of "shaking." To some this will be considered a fanatical pessimism, because the vast majority of people have absolutely no confidence in the Bible. Nevertheless, when these things shall come to pass in the very near future, some may be helped to an understanding of the true situation—to a recognition of the fact that the "shaking" upon the nations—financial, social, political and religious—is of the Lord, and not accidental.
Under normal conditions, American business should be prospering as never before, because her commercial competitors are at war and unable to properly attain to their commercial interests. Likewise, American securities should be in demand, because all securities of foreign countries have depreciated by the war. But with the gold standard and an insufficiency of gold, the business of the entire world is stagnated. The world’s needs and wants are as great as ever, but it has not the gold wherewith to purchase. The demonetization of silver seems to be referred to by the Prophet Ezekiel (7:19) saying: "They shall cast their silver into the street"—treat it as a commodity and not as money.
The Prophet then tells how gold will become scarce and eventually be completely withdrawn by the people hiding it as though it were an unclean thing, as the Hebrew text implies—"Their gold shall be removed." Thus neither silver nor gold will be available.
Railroad magnates, and the bankers who hold their securities, perceive that if it is difficult to raise money for the meeting of the interest on the bonds, it will be more difficult to issue new bonds to replace maturing ones, no matter how sound and well managed the railway may be. Is it any wonder that the trepidation of the financial and political princes of the earth is great, as they look into the future! Their well-grounded fears were prophesied by our Savior as one of the signs of the present time: "Men’s hearts failing them for fear and for looking after those things coming upon the earth"—the social order—and because of the shaking of the heavens, the ecclesiastical systems.—
THE DAY OF HIS PREPARATION
LAY down your rails, ye nations, near and far, Yoke your full trains to steam’s triumphal car; Link town to town, unite in iron bands The long-estranged and oft-embattled lands.
Peace, mild-eyed seraph; knowledge, light Divine, Shall send their messengers by every line.
Men joined in amity shall wonder long That hate had power to lead their fathers wrong; Or that false glory lured their hearts astray, And made it virtuous and sublime to slay.
How grandly now these wonders of our day Make preparation for Christ’s royal way, And with what joyous hope our souls Do watch the ball of progress as it rolls, Knowing that all, completed or begun, Is but the dawning that precedes the sun!
THIS TOO WILL PASS!
POOR heart, break not, though cruel be thy wound—This too will pass!
The weariest day will end in sunset light, And dawn must follow e’en the darkest night!
Nor drink too deeply of Joy’s honeyed cup—This too will pass!
Caressing hands will lose their loving touch, And words mean nothing, that once meant so much.
Ah, then, whate’er thy state, seek thou content—This will not pass!
True rest is found in God, He knows and cares, His heart of love thy every sorrow shares!