The global financial system might be teetering on the brink of a precipice, the world's banks might be collapsing like ninepins, apocalyptic visions of mass unemployment, home repossessions and misery for millions might be filling the newspapers, but it's not bad for everyone.
Polly Toynbee and Will Hutton are sounding, if anything, even happier than Gordon Brown. Further afield, Herr Ratzinger is sounding as chipper as he must have been the day the people of Vigevano gave him 15,000 pairs of shoes. In a speech to his bishops last week, he claimed that the banking problems proved that money "does not exist" and that the word "reality" is in sore need of redefinition. "The realist is the one who recognizes the Word of God, in this apparently weak reality, as the foundation of all things," he asserted:
The one who builds on sand builds only on visible and tangible things, on success, on career, on money. Apparently these are the true realities. But all this one day will pass away. We can see this now with the fall of large banks: this money disappears, it is nothing.
But the pope's calmly enunciated feeling of vindication was as nothing compared to the open rejoicing of many clerics and others in the Middle East at the humbling of the Great Satan. For Sunnis and Shi'ites alike, it's as though all their Eids have come at once.
Sheikh Mohammed Ali al-Jouzo, who rejoices in the grand title Mufti of Mount Lebanon, told his followers that "God has responded to the supplications of the oppressed people". "It is the curse that hits every arrogant power," he added. The same theme was taken up by Ismael Haniyeh, who combines his religious functions with heading the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip.
"What's going on in America is a result of the violation of the rights of people in Palestine, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Muslims around the world," he told worshippers. "We are witnessing the collapse of the American Empire."
I assume he means that it's a case of divine retribution, otherwise it's hard to see the link.
That would certainly seem to be the view of the Iranian ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, who has been positively crowing.
"We are happy that the U.S. economy is in anarchy and the anarchy is reaching Europe," Jannati said. "They are seeing the result of their own ugly doings and God is punishing them."
Although, with oil revenues hit in Iran, God's punishment would seem to be affecting everyone, not just those wicked Americans. For President Ahmadinejad, though, the turmoil represented merely the birth pangs of a new, better word. "Their economy is collapsing... the reason for their defeat is that they have abandoned faith in God and piety," Ahmadinejad said in a televised speech in the northeastern city of Bojnurd. The domination of "international thieves" was over. It was all "evidence that God's promise is being delivered, that tyrants and corrupt (people) should go and be replaced by the pious and believers. "God willing, a global government of justice will be set up with the resistance of Iranian people as the flag-bearers (of the movement) led by Imam Mahdi."
At a conference on the future of Jerusalem meanwhile, the famously moderate Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi took the news of falling bank shares as proof that capitalism has failed and that the world should turn instead to Islamic finance.
"The collapse of the capitalist system based on usury and paper and not on goods traded on the market is proof that it is in crisis and shows that Islamic economic philosophy is holding up," said the Egyptian-born cleric. "The Western system has collapsed and we have a complete economic philosophy as well as spiritual strength. All riches are ours... the Islamic nation has all or nearly all the oil and we have an economic philosophy that no one else has".
I wonder if he would have been quite so happy if his old friend Ken Livingstone were still Mayor of London. Probably.
From a less overtly religious perspective, the Syrian daily Teshrine drew strikingly similar conclusions, declaring that after imposing waves of sanctions against Syria, the United States is finally "getting what it deserved. It said, "After eight years of leading the world from disaster to disaster, the United States has its own disaster to deal with." Ha Ha.
According to Associated Press, one of the first to draw moral lessons from the impeding collapse of capitalism was Al Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn in a video released early this month. "The enemies of Islam are facing a crushing defeat," he predicted, "which is beginning to manifest itself in the expanding crisis their economy is experiencing."
No word from Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed as yet, though. No doubt he has other things on his mind. He has recently taken delivery of a new wife, 26 year old Ruba - the same age as his pole-dancing daughter.