Economic contagion is the situation where adverse economic events in a particular economy or region spreads to other economies or regions. A contagion can occur at the domestic or international levels.
Essentially all markets are connected through profits of multinational companies, labor, exchange markets, capital goods, monetary policies and a host of supply chain and logistical issues.
The economic crisis in Europe could cause a global recession. Europe’s economic problems center on high energy prices and concerns about availability this winter, falling real income and living standards, inflation above 9%, a likely record 0.75% hike in interest rates, high governmental spending and social unrest.
The EU’s war on fossil fuel is part of the problem. The Russian war compounded the problem, but energy prices were high in Europe before the war. As one of the largest trading blocks in the world, Europe’s economic problems will be felt in Asia, the Middle East, North America and Africa.
China also is facing severe economic issues. Some of China’s problems include widespread drought, which is creating hydroelectric shortages, supply chain issues, a zero COVID policy which has locked down more than 120 million people in the last eight weeks, a collapsing real estate market due to excessive borrowing and widespread youth unemployment. As the second largest economy which has supply chain linkages across most of the world, Chinese economic problems will have impacts throughout the world.
Politicians throughout the world have already begun to talk about reducing global linkages and trade to protect domestic workers and industries. Reducing international linkages would be a mistake. More than 20% of US growth over the past 20 years, has been the result of world trade. However, fair trading policies, intellectual and trade secret protections and human rights issues should always be promoted. Free trade betters all countries involved, but does increase contagion risks.
The word contagion is often thought of as a disease easily transmitted by contact, or an incident in which an infectious disease is transmitted. However, contagion can also be defined as the communication of an attitude or emotional state among several people. The word contagion is not found in the Bible. But contagion is often described in the Bible through the words spread, grew, adding and similar words.
Our Lord was contagious. The news about Him spread throughout Syria and they brought the sick, demon possessed and paralyzed and He healed them (Matt. 4:24). Jesus brought the synagogue official’s daughter back to life and the news spread throughout the land (Matt. 9:18-31). When Jesus resisted the temptations in the wilderness and returned in the power of the Spirit, news about Him spread throughout the region (Luke 4:14). If we imitate Jesus, we can become contagious too, for His glory.
The early church believers were also contagious. Peter took his stand, raised his voice and declared the gospel—3,000 souls were baptized (Acts 2:41). Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and the scriptures say the Word of the Lord was being spread throughout the whole region (Acts 13:44-49). Philip was preaching the word in Samaria to much rejoicing when an angel told him to leave and go on the road to Gaza. He led an Ethiopian eunuch to Christ who brought the gospel to an entire country. If other believers can be contagious, so can we.
Attitudes and emotional states, in opposition to kingdom principles, can also spread supernaturally. Our enemy is always at work. Today’s social media, movies, songs, videos, a restraint-free internet and many institutions can spread an anti-gospel message and promote anti-Christian, attitudes, beliefs and strongholds. We need to speak up, to be bold, to pray and do all in our power to promote God’s way.
The world is having its share of contagions, and not just the pandemic kind. We have been given the ability, the means and the capacity to return this culture to Christ. All we need is the will. We have not been given a spirit of timidity, but of power, and love, and discipline (2 Tim. 1:7). Joshua was told seven times to be strong and courageous. Perhaps, we need to remember the injunction to Joshua.
Our enemy is not flesh and blood. Our enemy has already been defeated. We have already overcome. We need our actions to line up with spiritual reality. Let us resolve to be contagious messengers for the kingdom.
“By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God, … You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore, they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God,” (1 John 4:1-6a, NASB 2020).
James R. Russell is a professor of economics at Oral Roberts University.