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The Pope predicted economic Armageddon back in 1985

Italian pol says sub prime collapse all in the good loan book...

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Pope Benedict predicted the current economic apocolypse back in 1985, an Italian politician has declared, suggesting that the Vatican may be the one global institution likely to make a killing out of Mammon's downfall.

The claim that His Holiness foresaw the sub-prime crisis, the collapse of the investment banks and the seizing up of the international credit markets when he was a mere cardinal came in a speech yesterday by Italian finance minister Giulio Tremonti, who cited the then Joseph Ratzinger's 1985 paper Market Economy and Ethics

Sadly, anyone looking for something along the lines of Revelations will be disappointed. Ratzinger did not come to this conclusion after a vision of a fiery angel bearing a golden trumpet and floating across a lake of blood drained from repentant bankers and hedge fund managers, as the four horsemen of the economic apocalypse made off down Wall St with US taxpayers' cash.

Rather, Benedict was trying to strike a balance between the amoral determinism inherent in both raw capitalism model, as well as the centrally planned economy traditional Marxism holds up as an alternative.

In the paper, the Pope does indeed warn that a lack of ethics "can actually cause the laws of the market to collapse".

Hardly fire and brimstone, and to be honest, hardly a revelation. Still, Opus Dei et al will be pleased to see Benedict does manage to get a dig in at Calvinism, noting "Weber's thesis about the inner connection between capitalism and Calvinism".

The paper concludes: "Today we need a maximum of specialized economic understanding, but also a maximum of ethos so that specialized economic understanding may enter the service of the right goals. Only in this way will its knowledge be both politically practicable and socially tolerable."

Still, despite the absence of riddles, multiheaded whores and blood-letting on the Plain of Armageddon, the paper does indeed feature many of the hallmarks of a good prophecy, ie no dates and no specifics. Which of course means this 1985 paper could have equally prophesied the financial crises of 1987, 1998, 2001 etc. ®

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