Economic Collapse

The Black Horseman and ‘A Loaf of Bread for a Day’s Wages’;  Bakeries are central to the French way of life. Now they’re fighting for survival. “If this continues, we will all close.” Flour prices have risen three times in one year.

The Black Horseman With A Set Of Economic Balances or Scales

Revelation 6:5 And when he had opened the third (3) seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.

Commentary; balances are symbolic for economic transactions and ‘prices’ for things such as wheat and barley grain, bread, olive oil, wine, various food commodities. These are common throughout the world and are considered by most as the ‘staples of life or living.’

6 And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.

Commentary; The world will have reached a point of ‘climate apartheid’ where only the wealthy can afford basic food resources in the face of fatal droughts, famine, locust swarms and heatwaves, while the rest of the world suffers. Only the extreme rich can afford expensive cooking oil, baked pastries and loaves of multi-grain breads, fancy wines and related luxurious food stuffs. Yet, the ‘average peasant’ has to work for an entire day’s wages just to be able to buy enough wheat to make a loaf of bread. Great and severe income inequality is rampant worldwide. The ‘few’ own a massive disproportion of the earth’s wealth and bounty. Billionaires vs billions of poor. The ‘Crown Prince’ owns 60,000 (6) tonnes of wheat in his store houses or graineries while the few grain silos in the Port of Lebanon were destroyed and its people are threatened with expensive grain shortages that require humanitarian assistance.

The Black Horseman and ‘A Loaf of Bread for a Day’s Wages’;  Bakeries are central to the French way of life. Now they’re fighting for survival. “If this continues, we will all close.” Flour prices have risen three times in one year.

By Anna Cooban and Marie Barbier, CNN Photographs by Nicolas Liponne/Hans Lucas/Redux for CNN Published March 31, 2023

In Millery, a small town in southeastern France, Élodie Chavret runs a bakery to make a living for herself and her two daughters. The 39-year-old is also a part-time firefighter but, she says, this is not the work that scares her.

Her fear? Not being able to pay the bakery’s electricity bill at the end of the month.

The bill skyrocketed from €900 ($978) in December to €7,500 ($8,146) in January as Chavret renewed her contract. With a government subsidy, her bill would drop to €4,500 ($4,888) per month. That’s still an “unmanageable” increase, she said.

The new rate is “unbearable,” Chavret told CNN, and will all but obliterate her profits, already squeezed by rising raw material and gasoline costs, and higher wages for her six employees.

In November, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO, designated the French baguette as part of “intangible cultural heritage,” owing to the specific knowledge and techniques needed to produce it, as well as the central role it plays in French daily life.

But, despite their cherished status, many bakeries are struggling — and some are on the brink of closure — as energy prices and the costs of their ingredients have spiked.

“Everything has gone up,” said Nicolas Amaté, who owns a bakery in eastern France with his wife Nadège.

“If this continues, we will all close,” he told CNN.

Price shocks

French industrial producer prices — the prices suppliers of home-grown goods and services charge businesses — rocketed 13% year-over-year in February, after an even higher rise in January, according to official data.

Input prices in French manufacturing, which covers bakeries, have also been rising, although inflation has slowed since hitting an 11-year high in April last year, according to PMI surveys compiled by S&P Global.

Two years ago, Amaté bought butter for €6 ($6.52) a kilo. Now it costs €12 ($13). Flour prices have risen three times in one year. Eggs, milk and cream are also much more expensive.

But it’s inflation in energy prices that’s been particularly painful for many businesses due to the speed of cost increases when electricity contracts are renewed.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent European natural gas prices zooming to record levels last year. Power prices followed.

Energy prices were also driven higher in France by a shutdown of nearly half of its nuclear power plants in 2022 for maintenance work, which cut off the source of up to 70% of the country’s electricity supply.

French power prices have fallen back from the record high reached in August but are still nearly three times their average pre-invasion levels for March, according to data from the European Energy Exchange.

And following a December spike in power prices to €465 ($505) per megawatt hour, businesses that had to renew, or sign new, energy contracts late last year are smarting.

Government support is available to bakers, but many say the measures fall short of what’s needed.

A “shock absorber” payment was introduced on January 1 to cover up to 20% of the annual electricity costs of a bakery if it employs between 10 and 250 people.

Bakeries with fewer than 10 staff can access a “tariff shield” that limits the increase in their annual electricity bill to 15%. Some of these smaller businesses are also eligible for an average €280 ($304) per megawatt hour cap on their annual electricity contract.

Thierry Maillard, who owns a bakery northwest of Paris with his wife Catherine, points out that a 20% reduction from the “shock absorber” would not have been enough to cover the 500% increase in his electricity costs he was facing.

Maillard is trying to negotiate a contract with a different supplier, though he still expects his electricity costs to almost double.

Frédéric Roy, a baker in Nice, has taken more drastic action. In October, he co-founded a campaign group for bakers on Facebook, which now counts 2,100 members. They staged their first street protest in Paris in January, demanding increases to the 20% bill subsidy, and that the “tariff shield” cover more bakeries.

Raising their own prices is another way for bakers to deal with spiralling costs and it is one of the steps recommended by Dominique Anract, president of the National Confederation of French Bakeries, which represents the country’s 33,000 artisanal bakeries.

“If [bakers] have followed our guidance on energy moderation, if they have increased their prices, and they use the [government] help, bakeries are not threatened,” Anract said.

But hiking prices is easier said than done, bakers told CNN.

Take Chavret’s bakery. Last year, she sold baguettes for €1.05 ($1.14) apiece. Now she charges €1.20 ($1.30), an increase of 14%.

She would have to increase the prices of many of her products to make any profit. The price of a classic baguette would need to roughly triple.

“Let me tell you that French people are not ready to pay €3 a baguette,” Chavret said.

Fellow baker Maillard makes the same point. He has upped the price of his baguettes twice in the past year from €1.10 ($1.19) to €1.30 ($1.41).

But the price rises have so far helped cover only the higher costs of raw materials like eggs and butter, he said, and raising prices further is not feasible as customers would balk.

As for conserving energy, Chavret and her staff are constantly switching off lights and keeping the heating off unless it’s bitterly cold, but the bakery’s bills are still by far the highest they’ve ever been.

‘Very critical situation’

In recent months, thousands of French bakers have joined online campaign groups that push for more government support — such as that co-founded by Roy in Nice — and some have taken part in street protests.CNN.

“I’ve been in the business for 35 years now. I’ve never had a situation like this. I have never demonstrated in my life,” Roy said.

“Many of my fellow bakers have had to lay off staff because they can’t pay for everything,” he added, noting that some bakeries “have closed permanently.”

In the survival of their businesses, there is more than bakers’ livelihoods that’s at stake.

France’s bakeries are the lifeblood of many of its towns and villages, serving as rare public spaces where neighbors regularly cross paths. The incidental chit-chat that often comes with it keeps people connected, Chavret said.

“If the bakeries closed, we would lose that human side, that side of communication, of mutual aid,” she said. “It’s not in department stores that people take the time to talk.”

Maillard issues a starker warning.

“In a village or a neighborhood, if the bakery disappears, the other businesses around will disappear… [It would be] the death of villages and certain districts,” he said.

“The bakery is the life of the neighborhood, it’s the life of the village.”


Writer: Anna Cooban

Contributing reporter: Marguerite Lacroix

Photographer: Nicolas Liponne

Editors: Olesya Dmitracova and Mark Thompson

Photo Editors: Marie Barbier, Will Lanzoni and Brett Roegiers

But how can they call on him (Jesus Christ) to save them unless they believe in him (Jesus Christ)? And how can they believe in him (Jesus Christ) if they have never heard about him (Jesus Christ)? And how can they hear about him (Jesus Christ) unless someone tells them?” —Romans 10:14

In His Service,

Night Watchman

Paul Rolland

Night Watchman Ministries

Make Your Decision for Christ NOW!!!!!!! Time is Up!!!!!!!

Jesus Christ’s Offer of Salvation:

The ABCs of Salvation through Jesus Christ (the Lamb)

A. Admit/Acknowledge/Accept that you are sinner. Ask God’s forgiveness and repent of your sins.

. . . “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23).

. . . “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10).

. . . “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8).

B. Believe Jesus is Lord. Believe that Jesus Christ is who He claimed to be; that He was both fully God and fully man and that we are saved through His death, burial, and resurrection. Put your trust in Him as your only hope of salvation. Become a son or daughter of God by receiving Christ.

. . . “That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (John 3:15-17). For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13).

C. Call upon His name, Confess with your heart and with your lips that Jesus is your Lord and Savior.

. . . “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10).

. . . “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (John 1:8-10).

. . . “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. (John 2:2).

. . . “In this was manifested the love of god toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.” (1 John 4:9, 14-15).

. . . “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” (Romans 5:8-10).

. . . “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23).

. . . “Jesus saith unto them, I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6).

. . . “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth.” (Romans 1:16).

. . . “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts: 4:12).

. . . “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth for there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” (1 Timothy 2:4-6).

. . . “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:9).

. . . “But as many as received him, to them gave the power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” (John 1:12).

True Church / Bride of Christ Spared from God’s Wrath:

 Romans 5:8-10. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.”

Romans 12:19. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

1 Thessalonians 1:10. And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.

1 Thessalonians 5:9. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,

Romans 8:35. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

Jeremiah 30:7. Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble, but he shall be saved out of it.

Revelation 3:10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.

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