Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Reply: Debts and devaluated currency

Chris said...
Hi FerFAL, I am going to re-post a question I asked a few blogs back.

I had to ask this question:

Based on your experience in Argentina, when the currency collapses, what happens to debts denominated in that currency?

Like say I had a $20,000 debt, and the currency became worthless.

Could I take some gold and exchange it for huge sums of the failed currency and pay off that debt just like that? Essentially paying the debt of for a fraction of what it was when I took out the loan?

What if a family member has a large debt and they can't pay? Is there any risk there for other members of that family?

Thanks in advance.

Thanks Chris, sorry I missed it before.

It happened here, and yes, your assumptions are correct.

I’ve heard and saw a lot of cases.

People that where just about to pay a debt with dollar, and just the day before they did, the economy crashed, and a few weeks later they just had to pay ¼ of what they had borrowed.

Same happened to others but the other way around.
They paid for the debt and a few weeks later realized that if they had waited they would have saved ¾ of their money.

People that got into debt in dollar for a house, machinery, where lucky because since the problem was so big, all accounts and debts where “pesified”, means they were turned to pesos which at the times was 4 pesos =1 USD.
Their debt was suddenly reduced to 25% of the original amount.

Of course you no longer got paid in a currency that was 1 to1 with the USD, but yes, it was a sweet deal for some.

But don’t expect the USD to become worthless any time soon, it wont.

Yes, expect it to loose value, while as you well say, gold maintains it.

About risks for other family member, cant tell. At least here, everyone is accountable for their own debts ( them and they wives) in some cases if the person isn’t solvent they can go against their parents.
But I haven’t heard of too many cases like this, though it has occurred.

Anonymous said...
Ferfal, could you tell us which kinds of guns are available in Argentina and where to buy them?

At gun shops of course :) You can buy from another gun user if both of you have all your papers.

You can have any handgun, bolt action rifle, pump shotgun, lever action rifles and carbines, semi auto 22LR box fed mag carbines.
Semi auto box feed centerfire long arms are nearly impossible to get, require a collector’s license.
You need a legitimate gun user card, you’ll need:
Legal source of income
Pass a physical and psychological exam (I passed, met some people that didn’t)
Pass a basic handling safety course.
Prove you have no previous criminal records.

Norcal said...
Chris, that is a great question. Say you buy something on your credit card now for $20,000 or $30,000. Then hyperinflation hits in a few months. Then you pay it off in hyperinflated dollars?

The guy that saved money all his life gets robbed, while the guy that had a big loan benefits.
Life is unfair. Sue it. :^)

Anonymous said...
I enjoy reading your blog. You offer practical, common sense, and intelligent advice and have "been there, done that, and got the T-shirt." As a spoiled American, I look about at the enormous wealth in my country, and think that "it can't happen here," but I know that it can. In your opinion, if the American dollar crashes, what do you believe will happen in the USA? A Mad Max scenario? Total locked down Police State? Or, would Argentina be more of a societal model?

No man, not Mad Max, not even close.

Things will get worse, pretty bad for some ( specially those that have a hard time finding a job again) And the crappy situation will likely last for years. This is hard to avoid or to speed up the healing process.

But USA is still USA, the economy wont be utterly destroyed like it happened here ( we only have a mock of what a real economy should be, every serious non gov fund economist says so)
It’s going to get tougher, specially regarding everyday security.
Not zombies or gang of biker looters, but everyday stuff.

“Billy got mugged” “The guy that lives across the street got attacked”
“The girl that lives next door was robbed last night” “The Smith’s got robbed at their home, they tied them up and picked the house clean” And yes, people will get killed more often to.

You guys have race related problems and internal conflicts. Expect that to escalate some.

I know it already happens in USA but my point is it will happen much more as things follow their post-crash natural course.

You’ll hear these things a LOT.

It wont be on the news ( news will show just part, and foucs on other things so as not to spread panic) , it will be happening to you and the people around you, it’s going to be what you talk about when you pick the kids from school, and the teacher will chip in with HER robbery ( this actually happened to me, the teacher had been carjacked at gunpoint in front of the school at 7 AM, in spite of the private school’s hired security)

So crime and insecurity will be something you live with, and the big “other” thing you’ll have to worry about besides the economy, your job, and making enough money.



Natog said...


Thanks again for all the information you provide! I'm wondering if I should get some body armor with my tax refund... Along with all the other stuff I need... IT never ends.

FerFAL said...

If you already have a food, water and a defensive firearm and some ammo, body armor ( concealed!) would be top of my list.

Tacical armor allows you to carry lots of stuff, but concealed armor can be worn during "normal" times, when things get dangerous in case there are riots or lootings, or if your are forced to travel through dangerous parts of town or eth country side.

You should keep it handy at home in case something goes "bump in the night", and put it on when you go investiagte.
Many times you do have a few extra seconds to put the thing on and it can be a real lifesaver.
Probably the most underrated piece of preparedness gear.


Norcal said...

Hi Ferfal,
Have you ever thought of publishing a book? As things go downhill here, I think people in the USA/Canada/England would buy it. I've learnt so much. Yes, we are overall still very safe here.

However, it's funny, my car was broken into about a year ago when my friend and I were hiking on the trail. The car was parked on a busy street, in a parking lot open to plain sight.

We were only gone an hour and when we came back, someone had bashed her car window and taken our purses. Now it was our fault or at least my fault as the strap of the purse and part of the purse was visible. Of course at that time I was so naive and not as careful. But the surprising thing was--- when I told people about it, they all had a story, like someone broke into their car when they were volunteering in their kids' school. Now this is in the best part of our city. Not the very richest as there are other tiny suburbs on the edge of our city that are richer. But still we are in the nicest part. I noticed this type of crime is NEVER mentioned in the newspaper, no matter how common.

School crime (I'm a teacher) is hidden/downplayed unless there is a body! Still compared to Argentina we are fortunate. And I have a relative who lives in one of the most dangerous parts of Los Angeles and swears he feels safe there.

Anyway I think your book would be a best seller. I think almost all of us reading you blog are fascinated. It's the first blog I read every day. I think we all have a sense that a milder version of Argentina is unfolding here before our eyes.

Anonymous said...

Que Pasa FerFal!

A fake cop tried to stop me in America. My young neighbor wanted to borrow my truck to tow a boat, he gave me his flashy custom mustang to drive. At night I noticed a car close behind me, as cops sometimes do, but my gut feeling was that this was not a cop car, as the headlights were too close together, probably a small car. Anyway, I turned off the main road into a subdivision, probably a mistake going somewhere with less people to see, and he turned on a dash mounted blue light. Since I was nearby my friends house I pulled into his long driveway, the house's motion lights came on, and dogs started barking, the fake cop hesitated then quickly left. Another thing in my favor is that my car has deeply tinted windows, so the fake cop could not be sure how many people were in there, and if they were armed or not.
As an afterthought I like to kayak at night in the ocean, and I use a flashlight that has a blue tint. Sometimes I have had large boats pull over thinking I was a cop in a 15 foot kayak. The moral is that Americans are far to willing to follow authority and are easy pickings for the cunning. Thanks for the warning.


FerFAL said...

"We were only gone an hour and when we came back, someone had bashed her car window and taken our purses. Now it was our fault or at least my fault as the strap of the purse and part of the purse was visible. Of course at that time I was so naive and not as careful."

Thanks Norcal for the nice words.:)

The book was supposed to be ready before Christmas bu it will take a bit longer.

No one leaves a purse in the car here, soon someone would smash the window and steal it.

They even do that in red traffic lights with you inside. They smash the passengers window and if you left your bag there on the seat, it’s gone.

That’s why even while driving its better to leave things on the floor, not on the seat where they’d be readily available if they open the door or smash the window.


Anonymous said...

Would you shoot someone in self-defense and what would the law do to you, Ferfal?

FerFAL said...

When there’s no other choice and it’s self defense, then yes.

When in reasonable fear of your life, or the life of your loved ones, you have the right to use lethal force, everyone has that right.

Of course, expect a lawsuit after that, so make darn sure you used lethal force as a last resort.


Norcal said...

Wow! A friend just called and her husband just lost his job. He's an outstanding engineer. It was a total shock to her. Funny that just a week or so ago I asked her if there were any worries about the job and she said absolutely not. A shock to all--

It's a high tech company that was doing very well until just recently.

The owner was in tears as he let everyone go. They thought about letting people go in dribs and drabs but decided that, given the state of the economy, that it was very unlikely the company could recover.

Another person unemployed.

My other friend just had her hours cut to 16 per week.

It seems that almost daily my friends are losing their jobs. My husband already was laid off!

Anonymous said...

i'm a divorced mom of two boys, 15 yrs. and 8 yr.s old. what type of gun should I get? Also, i do know how to load a gun, etc. but have never actually shot one.

FerFAL said...

I generally advice people to get a high capacity handgun.

For anyone willing to spend the time to learn how to shoot it well, get used to it, know it like the palm of your hand I’m sure it’s the best alternative.

The Glock 19 would be small enough for a woman’s hand, and still arguably one of the best handguns in the world, for any shooter, of any level.

I’ve introduced a lot of new shooters, both guys and girls, and hands down they all shoot better with the Glock.
This requires certain training, and somewhat regular visits to the range.

Specially to overcome the two weaknesses autos have:
1) Learn to clear failures to fire instantly without even thinking
2) Being responsible and always having the gun ready to fire when you pull the trigger.( even cops have wasted valuable seconds pulling the trigger on a gun with the safety “on” , wondering what’s wrong)

If guns aren’t your thing and you wont be practicing as much as you should, then get a Smith and Wesson 4” barrel 38 special revolver, 2” barrel if you live in a small apartment of tight quarters.

With kids, you definitely need a safe.


Norcal said...

What kind of front doors do people in Argentina put in? Here in Cali the front doors are often 50% or more glass.

You can get a solid door but there is not way to see who is at your front door.

So do people in Argentina put in some kind of speaker system that the person has to answer before they come in?

Just wondering how you increase front door security there in Arg

Thank you

Anonymous said...


Wow. Great info. One question though. With the US's ingenious idea of saving the economy by printing more money, should I have some gold and silver physically saved? In case are currency fails like what happened in Argentina?

God bless