Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Mindset

Kyle said...
Hi FerFAL,

I graduated from college in 1998 and spent a few months in early 1999 backpacking around Europe. There were hoards of young Argentinians doing the same. Since your country is fairly populous, and at the time had a large middle class, I wasn't surprised in the least, but what DID surprise me at the time was the explanation I heard constantly from these folks - "The peso being pegged to the $US has resulted in really high value of the currency, so I traded my money to $US because this won't last." They were aware that bigwigs were discussing decoupling the peso. They knew that the valuation of the currency was artificial.

What I found most interesting was the fact that everybody seemed to be aware of what was coming... not to the degree that it did, but they knew.



Hi Kyle, for everyone like that, there’s 100 others that think Argentina is the best country in the planet, safe, rich and prosperous. What happens here happens in every mayor city is the brainwashed mantra.
That what happened here in 2001 was purely USA’s fault, and that its ok to be best buds with Chavez, Fidel and evo morales.
Average person today: Slow, stupid, metrosexual and politically correct.
Independent thought not included.


There’s smarter people, but in general, the mass, (in any country) is unbelievably stupid.
That’s why survivalists and preppers are such a rare breed.
I’ve learned to mind my own business and rarely ever mention my beliefs and mindset.
Here in Argentina, people don’t even see the wisdom in being armed for self defense, even in your own home and forget about preparing and having supplies, etc.
Yes, they did get scared (like cattle) during 2001 and every now and then after some particular horrendous crime or incident the “sheep” get unsettled, but people in Argentina and in most countries these days unfortunately, they lack the sheepdog mentality.
Little lesson I’ve learned:
Those that get it don’t need explanations, those that don’t hardly ever will no matter how hard you try to explain.

FerFAL

A Fridge that takes only 0.1 kWh a day


http://mtbest.net/chest_fridge.pdf

I saw your post on generators and thought this might interest you - a very efficient fridge.
-Daniel



Hey, thanks! Sounds very effective. Looks like a good option for a solar power setup.

FerFAL

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Portable Gas Generators and Retirement Funds



Ferfal,

Just finished your book. Very informative.

Question. At the end of the book your wife wrote about wanting a generator if she had to do over.

Since there are many types of generators what specifically would you use the generator for.

What size? How quiet, or is quiet important.

Question. I have very little money left in banks except for retirement accounts (I have money and silver at home in a safe). Were these type of accounts frozen also? Were they devalued even if the investments were not in the Argentine peso?

Thanks for your time,

Gerry K.


Hi Gerry, sorry for the delay in replying.
What I’d get is a small generator 1500-2000 W, mostly to keep the refrigerator going.
Over here we have Gamma, but the Honda are no doubt among the best.
Still, having several bottles of frozen water in the fridge allows you to keep going a couple more days easily without power if you’re careful.
Other than for keeping the fridge going, there really isn’t a true necessity for it. People get by without electric power every day, some just a few blocks away from where I live in those shacks and shanty towns.
I believe firmly in keeping things as simple as possible, and you can store food that doesn’t require a refrigerator. The more simple you keep things, the less likely they are to brake and you save money.
Quiet is more a matter of comfort: I firmly disagree with people that believe you have to pretend there’s no one in the house during a blackout. Empty houses get broken into! Better to keep doors locked, make it clear that there’s people and if someone tries to brake in with you inside… well.
All bank accounts were frozen, and for a while banks stayed closed and ATMs run dry so unless you had a fat pile of paper money or some precious metal at hand, you didn’t have access to anything.
What we call here “jubilaciones”, which are retirement contributions, those weren’t frozen and they kept paying people their retirement. Did little good because as hiperinflation skyrocketed, pensions stayed the same even when the contributions during 30 years had been mostly done in a 1 peso = 1 US dollar ratio. Yes, not much of a deal.
Of course this works in a different manner than in USA. But if it is in a bank, then expect to have the same problems applying: The banking system fails, some sort of emergency is declared, and you guys have seen it already with the bailout, they just get away with it.

Brick & Mortar or gold.


Real estate that gives you rent, some cash and precious metals at hand. Those you can trust on.
My grandparents, they all agreed that real estate was the only form of investment that was never stolen from there, here in Argentina during the various crisis and the 2001 collapse, or during the Spanish civil war and Franco’s dictatorship. That’s a good, hard earned lesson right there.

FerFAL

Monday, September 28, 2009

Letter from CapnRick: Bullets Targeted

Venezuela Attempts Gun Control by Limiting Bullets

http://www.laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=344534&CategoryId=10717

This article shows what first steps are put into place by leftist governments to stop people from defending themselves. My Uncle Ray always said that the most significant move could be the control over the production/sale of primers. All reloaders take heed... time to start stockpiling primers is near. Bullets are already hard to find and very expensive in the USA, severely impacting efforts to stockpile them.

For those reloaders who cast their own bullets, as I did... be careful with the fumes. Be serious about a facemask and ventilation, or you can end up with high blood levels of lead, antimony, mercury etc. I had to undergo 3 hour chelation treatments for 12 weeks due to breathing the melting linotype and wheel weight vapors with just a paper mask... very expensive.

ONE THING is very clear: if the government takes stringent steps to impact it's citizens ability to defend themselves, you can be certain that the government has plans to restrict liberty. Such as... free speech http://www.laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=344535&CategoryId=10717

... and property rights of citizens http://www.laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=344531&CategoryId=10717


Suerte -CapnRick


Thanks Rick for the heads up!
Bet several governments around the world have something similar in mind.

FerFAL

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Reply: Recommendation for H2H fighting


Anonymous said...
Hi Ferfal, this is my first time visiting your page, but it looks good. Something similar happened to me not long ago while going to that new mall (DOT) and going by the villa. I've been training muay thai for two years here in the capital, so luckily i was able to handle it and get the hell out of there. I would say muay thai, coupled with BJJ is your best bet. www.muaythaiargentina.com is an excellent site and will tell you where and when to go if you're interested. It's cheap, everybody there is cool and it is a very high quality program. take care.


Hi! Thanks for the link. Yes, I’d like to know where the gym is located, sounds pretty interesting.
Try avoiding villas next time. :-)
I once went into Fuerte Apache by mistake, and older woman started waving her arms and yelling “Get out of here, get out of here!”
I looked into the rear view mirror and so a little mob coming my way so I “J” turned and got away fast. :-)
About DOT mall, its so typical of the Argentine problem. A façade pretending everything is ok but the reality is very different.
Just a few days after DOT’s grand opening, they suffered a bank robbery inside, there was a shooting, don’t remember if a guard was killed or wounded.
Kind of sucked to have that image attached to a newly inaugurated mall.


FerFAL

Friday, September 25, 2009

Thank You, Recession

Jason said...
Hi Ferfal I just recently purchased your book from Amazon. I can't wait to read it. I wanted to share with you something really interesting I came a across on youtube. It's and episode from a show called Vanguard. And the two american reporters went to Argentina to document the state of the Argentina economy. I wanted to get your insight on it. Hopefully you post it on your blog. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SrGyUSgFyb4 If the link doesn't work you can youtube "Thank You, Recession: Vanguard"




That’s crazy. I came very close to being in that program. The two women contacted me from USA before traveling here (they had found my blog) and we talked a lot. They asked me the same question, where do I keep my money.

Unfortunately we couldn’t do it because the contract required to show up on the show gave Current TV rights over my name, material and such, and it wasn’t a good idea to sign that with a book coming up.

My wife has a company in the metal working industry, and its no picnic. They are going through very hard times. It’s true that coops give the worker a greater sense of pride, but its also true that they barely survive, at all.

Anyways, just saw the video and its ok, a bit Elle magazine happy go lucky version of what happened here ( at least the part where they visit Buenos Aires). I have the impression that in that context I would have ended up looking like the crazy, armed survivalist, so I’m glad I didn’t do it.

FerFAL

Deal Extreme Products

HaVoK said...
I've purchased tactical lights and lasers from Dealextreme and I've not been very happy with most of their products.

They ARE bright, but they fail easily. Every single gun mounted flashlight or laser has failed after a few trips to the range. All of them. They just can't handle the shock.

Several have arrived in non-functional
condition and warranty replacement is a pain in the ass and takes too long.

I've also purchased battery chargers and one actually caught fire. Most of the others died after a few sessions. Most of the CR123 rechargeables I've gotten also die after a few cycles

The hand held stuff is fine if it arrives in working condition. Don't drop it or get it wet.

All of them had Cree LEDs but I don't think the LEDs are failing. I think it's the switches and the overall build quality.

Another thing to note about LEDs. They give no warning of imminent death like a dimming incandescent. Sometimes it will flicker for second then its darkness. It's on, then off. Sometimes if you wait a bit you can get it to come back on for a few seconds but that's it.

Also, rechargeables also don't hold a long standby charge. They discharge when not in use much faster than conventional batteries.

You can buy good quality industrial versions of Duracell and Energizer at industrial supply places for plumbers and electricians and such. They are much cheaper in bulk and I've had good success with Energizer Industrials of all sizes.

Even the crappy quality stuff can have a place. Like before TSHTF.It's cheap enough to be disposable.Make sure you have backups and good quality stuff for when TSHTF. You don't want to risk you and your families lives on flashlights that die when you have an intruder.





Hi HaVoK,
I’ve recommended DealExtreme because of the great prices, free shipping world wide and overal good quality.
Of course the flashlights are no Surefires or Fenix, but I still think DX is worth mentioning with those warnings, not top quality and the shipping and customer care can be a bit ineffective.
Having said that, I’ve bought 7 LED flashlights so far, and they all work well. The black keychian LEDs I bought (10 pack) was very cheap, lights are ok, and only one had a flicking problem. Still, cheap and the 9 others work well, 11 hours of light and can stand a fair amount of abuse.
The flashlights I own and reviewed here in the past, they do get dim before losing power completely. But It’s FAR better performance than incandescent bulbs. Beisdes, multimode LEDs can run for over a day in low mode.
Here are the reviews in case anyone wants to take a look:
Flashlight Review
Gear review: Flashlight and charger
As you correctly explain, Cree LED emitters aren’t the problem. After all, it’s the same LED used in much more expensive lights such as Fenix flashlights. (which are just excellent and I love the one I have)
The problem is quality control and build. I mostly bought items with 3 or 4 stars, and very good comments, so I suppose that helped. Minor issures such as tightening a loose lamp or adding some silicone arent much of a problem, at least in my opinon.

There’s lots of junk, but there’s also some nice LED flashlights in DX. I say so because I just like some of their stuff. There’s no affiliate program so, unlike Amazon, I don’t get a single buck if people buy there, I just think there are some good deals to be found and is worth recommending (with those warnings)

As for gun mounted weapons, forget it. You need to buy a very well made light to take the shock. Maybe modding it with a better switch, more silicone or even hot glue to tighten things up, but its better to get a quality weapon light.
Something like this is needed:

Streamlight TLR Tactical Lights Tactical Light

or if you have the money for it, something like this ....(drooling)

Streamlight Flashlight Weapon Lights TLR-2 w/Laser


Same with scopes. There are a few at DX but I doubt they can take the shock, at least in most cases.
The Trustfure RCR123 batteries and Nano charger, I have a couple chargers and several batteries, both have worked well for me so far, and I use them often.
After some testing, use and trowing around, I keep this 10 buck Q2 Trustfire light in my nightable. I’ve used it enough and ended up trusting the little light a lot.


UltraFire WF-602C Cree Q2-WC 5-Mode 150-Lumen LED

As always, best thing to do is test stuff. Sometimes you find items like these, cheap and functinal.

FerFAL

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Updating the Surefire G2 (R2 and Q5 LED drop in lamps)

When buying gear you sometimes end up paying for advertise and brand name, while other times you’re buying quality tools that will serve you well a lifetime and beyond.
The Surefire G2 is a good example of such tool.
The first G2, (and the first Surefire I owned) was a gift from a good American friend.
Having been used to a big old 3-D cell Maglite, the handy sized yet powerful flashlight was a real treat as a bedside light. Goes along well with a handgun for when things go bump in the night and you need to check things out.
Several years went by and the LED revolution changed the way we view flashlights and their possible applications.
Gone are the days of dim, blue tinted LED. Today, thanks to manufacturers such as Cree as well as a few others, there is such a thing as too bright.
It happened with Maglites and it happened to the Surefire as well: When you have a quality product that sets a milestone like the G2/P60 did, the market will usually offer you ways to “update” the tool and use modern technology in the time proven design.


Classic. A couple of Surefire G2. Shown with original and replacement drop in R2 LED lamp. Also in teh picture, the SureFire SC1 Spares Carrier which safely stores 6 batteries and a replacement lamp.

The Cree R2 Lamp for P60



Cree LED R2 compared to the original Xenon lamp. Top to bottom, High, mid and Low.

The R2 is one of the latest models of LED made by Cree.
One of the things I like the most about the Q and R family is the way it achieves a satisfactory white light. (The Q5 and R2 are both very good, bright LEDs)
White can be divided into the infinite array of colors. When you combine all other colors you get white.
If you ever tried doing that with paint you know how hard it is to reach pure white, its about impossible. LEDs aren’t really white, they achieve white by combining other colors, this is why it’s common to find LEDs that have a slight violet or blue tint to it.
This particular replacement R2 lamp has a 5 mode setting, switched by clicking or twisting on/off. High-Mid-Low-Strobe-S.O.S. There are other’s available with les modes or no modes at all, just High.
The Mid Led, is somewhat similar to the original 90 lumen output, and High can be put in the 150 lumen range easily.
The R2 has a couple darker rings and the spill isn’t as uniform as in the original Xenon P60, 6V lamp.
The R2 clearly has better throw, concentrating the bright spot at greater range.
The R2 can also handle rechargeable 3.6 V Li-Ion 123 batteries, which would destroy an ordinary Xenon lamp as soon as you try it (don’t try it, it burns it the second it makes contact)

More Power, More Versatility.

Now, this not only means you end up with a more powerful light and greater runtime, it also means you have more options and functions, some which were unthinkable with the original G2.
The lamp has memory setup, so it adapts to your applications, using the same mode you did last time.
For example if you use it as a tactical light, and used it to inspect a noise the previous night, as long as you don’t tap on it again and change modes, the next time you turn it on it will also be on High. Same for the other modes as well.
The Low and Mid modes are more than enough for walking around the woods, might even be too bright if you want to go unnoticed and would require a red filter, but most times you just want to see well and just be able to walk around.
The SOS and strobe modes aren’t of much use but I bet you’d love it if you get lost while trekking or get injured and need to be rescued.
The Mid mode works for general purpose chores where High might be too bright for using the light at close range (repairs and such).
For survival application such as needing light for several nights or being many days without power, the Low mode is still bright enough and it can go for over 20 hours using good batteries.
I got the Cree R2 replacement lamp form DealExtreme. Cree R2 Drop in 5-Mode I had to remove teh coil for propper fitting in my G2.
As of right now, I bought several products in DealExtreme but in all honesty there are two orders that simply didn’t arrive and it’s been almost two months now.
As I expected, prices are good, and the products are mostly ok (bought several flashlights and other items), but there are some “Made in China” kind of problems such as defective products and shipping problems. It is a bit of a gamble.
If you don’t want to take the risk, there’s Amazon.
Amazon only ships books to Argentina, so that’s not an option for me.
They do have original Surefire LED replacement which even without testing I’m sure are of superb quality like the rest of their products.



SureFire P60L LED Reflector Assembly




Cree Q5 Drop in Module (single mode-80 lumens 12 hours)




Cree Q5 LED Drop-in Module (3.7V~18V Input)
(The Q5 is pretty much teh same, this one is sinlge mode, the R2 is a bit better)
Cree R2 Drop in 5-Mode

FerFAL

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Argentina: Surviving without money

Hi guys, watching this right now. I'll comment on it latter.
Edited to add: The video is of 2001, pre December 2001 crisis.
To all the barter theorists, note the need for some form of currency. Most of those places no longer exist as true barter clubs, most simply started adopting the local currency (even dollars and euros) thus transforming into fairs and open markets.

FerFAL

Robbers targeting homes full of people


http://www.khou.com/news/local/stories/khou090917_mp_full-house-robberies.18e08bf00.html?npc


Houston NewsHOUSTON – A group of armed men are barging into homes full of people and robbing them. Police say the robbers are targeting the Timbercrest neighborhood in the Third Ward. Thought you might find this interesting. Love my Colt .45 government model made in 1925. The wolf ammo, steelcase causes some of the brass cases to stick. Too much carbon build up I think. Pull the trigger slowly when your on the target. Let the hammer drop surprise you. Bulls Eye!
T.

http://www.khou.com/news/local/stories/khou090917_mp_full-house-robberies.18e08bf00.html?npc



Robbers targeting homes full of people

By Lee McGuire / 11 News
HOUSTON – A group of armed men are barging into homes full of people
and robbing them. Police say the robbers are targeting the Timbercrest neighborhood in the Third Ward.
One Sunday night, the Abernathy family was enjoying dinner when they had an uninvited guest.
"I thought it was somebody playing with us,” said Helen Abernathy, robbery victim.
Helen Abernathy said she laughed when she saw the strange man in her kitchen, until he pulled out a gun.
“He said, ‘This is for real. This is a robbery. I want everything you have,’" Abernathy said.
He and a friend robbed everyone in the house.
It may sound like an ordinary home invasion except there weren’t just a few people in the home at the time.
“Twenty people. There was 20 people in the house," Abernathy said.
Two days later, police believe the same men barged into a crowded fraternity house just down the street and robbed the people there. The students have now moved out and the home is for rent.
"That's the fear that the community has. And they have every right to be fearful because they are taxpaying citizens and we are not going to take this," said Houston City Council Member Wanda Adams.
The robberies prompted a town-hall meeting.
"It is our responsibility as citizens of this community to tell them, no, you're not going to have that here. We're not going to allow it," said neighborhood president Tomaro Bell.
Residents think the criminals are hiding out in abandoned buildings which are numerous in the area since Hurricane Ike. But for all the fear they're causing, the robbers don't seem to be getting much for it.
"Cell phones and about $300. I don't think it was really worth coming in," said Abernathy.
She says she's not scared. Instead, she's fighting back.
"They don't want to go to work. They don't want to do anything. They want to take people's things. Work. Go to work," said Abernathy.
The community is now working together with the police department to stop the rash of brazen crimes.


This is an all too common situation in Argentina, and one of the main reason lifestyle and habits end up being changed unless you want to be the next victim.

1)Doors locked at ALL times
2)Getting in and out of the house FAST
3) NO messing around and talking with the neighbors on the front door. Better to invite the person in for a drink or cup of tea than being exposed.
4)CAREFUL when answering the door. Never open the door without knowing who’s on the other side.


Not saying anything new here folks, but still people keep failing to apply these simple rules most of us know since we were little children.

A final consideration: Takes less than a second to kick, what? 95% of the front doors out there?
How long would it take you to reach your firearm? Better to carry your handgun with you at all times. Its not that big a deal once you get used to it. If you’re not still there, at least make sure you always have a weapon within reach. This goes specially for the big homes or the ones with to levels.

Robbers wont wait until you get your favorite rifle, gear up with all your tactical webbing, call your friends, etc. You need to reduce that reaction time gap as much as possible.

At night you can keep your weapon handy, along with a flashlight and body armor. Our good friend Nick from bulletproofme.com still has excellent armor at some of the best prices, don’t plan on shooting and never getting shot.
Takes just a couple seconds to gear up if everything is left handy, but if you don’t have those seconds (even though many times you do, and you should make the most of them) you need to fight back right away.

FerFAL

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Reply: So you don't have a door anymore...



CapnRick said...
Thanks - Great post on a subject often overlooked. What good is a house full of survival goodies if a hefty guy with a crowbar can invite his thug friends to join him in enjoying the fruits of your foresight?

Strong door designs abound with the infusion of narcotraficante money... all the drug dealers have them. Just about any hardware store or Home Depot can help. My Argentine wife will not let me armorplate the inside of our doors, but WILL let me reinforce our already substantial heavy wood door with a couple of bars horizontally placed across the entire door.

I have seen police in various countries defeat strong doors by tearing them out of the wall with truck-mounted battering rams... but, a lot of times they just need a pickax, a sledgehammer and some 1.5 - 2 minutes of grunt work to bust thru the walls, defeating the expensive door standing. If the walls are standard US construction, and NOT concrete block with steel reinforcing, they can shorten that time to 20-60 seconds.

Fortunately, we have 2 foot thick masonry/steel/concrete walls as most 5-10 story buildings in Mar del Plata were built like that in the 1940s-1950s.

I wanted inside-mounted (not visible from outside when not in use) solid steel shutters on all the windows... she insisted on outside rejas... decorative steel security bars. Adding insult to injury, she wouldn't let me pop for the hinged-plus-lock installation I really should have insisted upon. One cannot foretell the future, and escaping a home with immovable bars on all the window in an emergency is not easy.

PLEASE NOTE: I am a strong believer that the best defensive stronghold features are the ones that no one knows about. The thieves have friends that work in the security door business who will gladly give thieves your name for a piece of the take. Also, be aware that cops target homes with apparent strong doors and other security devices (including pit bulls) in some neighborhoods for surveillance.

On a further note, I am using a commercial storage area within walking distance, secured with my lock, to house my prep goodies overflow, as my phase one shtf plan is to survive in place in a medium sized apartment. I am, looking for a garden site not too far from the end of municipal bus service as well as a roof garden for growing food. Sorry if this part is too far off-topic, Suerte, ya'll!

CapnRick


Hey Rick,
Check out mercadolibre, they have some good deals on reinforced doors that look like normal ones, costs 1450 pesos using your own door and getting the work done on that. Mucho cheaper than those Pentagono ones that are outrageously expensive.
Seems I’m going to Pinamar this summer so we’ll definitely drive over there to Mardel and have lunch or something with the families.
Take care man.

FerFAL

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

So you don't have a door anymore...

This is a post I’ve been wanting to write for a while. A rather long time actually, since last year when my next door neighbor had her house broken into and was left with a busted front door.
Its an all too common situation, you get home, the front or back door is broken and everything is turned upside down inside. Money, jewelry, drugs and expensive electronics, all around the world that’s what most criminals go looking for.
In some cases when they know you’ll be out for a day or two, the house gets picked clean. I know of people that even had their toilets and faucets stolen.
But for the immediate problem: You arrive and there's no way to secure your house anymore. The door is busted and you’ve just been robbed so it doesn’t add much to feeling very safe.

I remember my wife gave the woman some tea (she was crying, very nervous) and after the cops left I looked at the busted solid wood door and thought “Now what?”.

100% Useless


The door and frame where busted, the lock itself smashed through the door. They must have used a crowbar, or maybe even a hammer. Point is, there was no way to secure that door.
In the end I used a big aluminum ladder I have, to block the door from the inside.
A commercial alternative would be something like the Katy Bar, or if you have the tools and materials, improvise something like that.

Now, the problem comes when the door panel is completely broken. Then what? How do you replace a door when you come back home after dinner and a movie and find the door busted in, all broken?

Folks that live in storm territory often have plywood panels ready.
This works for windows but can also help for improvising a quick door. Of course someone with minimum carpentry skills can make a rather nice and solid door using 2x6 or 2x4s, etc, but this will require more time.

Some spare material kept handy such as plywood and wood planks might be a good idea


Just something to keep in mind guys, maybe to remember next time you buy wood and other materials for a project or storm season. And of course, money in a reinforced security exterior door is money well spent.

FerFAL

Monday, September 14, 2009

Book and Censorship in Argentina with the new “Media Law”

Hi guys,
The previous Lulu code expired and I just updated it. Apparently they have one kind of code or another every month, usually for a 10% discount.
I’m also using Amazon’s print on demand service called “Create a Space” which may offer a better shipping service, as well as Amazon storefront.

So now there’s Lulu, Create a Space and Amazon.
Hopefully this will give you guys more alternatives to choose from, since Lulu’s shipping seems to be a bit expensive.

I also wanted to thank everyone for your support and the excellent reviews. It’s great to have a real 5 star rating on Amazon. :-)
As petty as it may sound, many authors and publishers buy many copies of their own book and rate themselves with 5 starts to boost the ratings and sales. It feels wonderful when you can be proud of the result of your work and it also reflects on sales and people’s feedback.

We’re going through another … “interesting” period here in Argentina, 48hs away from (most likely) having a law approved that will give the K government direct power to censor TV and Radio, a new law called “Media Law”(Ley de Medios).

This is going on as I write this and I’m not sure if its already being mentioned, but we are 2 days away from becoming Venezuela.
Some journalists talked about bribes of 1 million dollars for each representative to approve it. Its terrible.
Supposedly it will get approved but there’s always hope.
Take care folks, and thank you all.

Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre

Letter from Russia

Hi, Fernando.
I read with great interest your article. The life in all economic crises are very similar. The life in Russia at 1991-1998 years was almost same, as in Argentina.
And I would like to obtain your permission to placing my translation of your article on my web site.
In addition, if you will be interested, I can write to you about their experiences of survival during the civil war. Most of your article is suitable for survival during the civil war. But some councils not Are not absolutely correct for survival in the civil war . If you're wondering, I am ready to write you about it.

Dmitry B., Russia, Moscow



Sure man, I’d love to hear all about it.
As you mention, there are many similarities and there are differences as well based on social, geological, political and historical context.
Feel free to translate anything you want. All I ask is being mentioned as the original author and a link back to my blog.
It would be great if you could share some advice and articles regarding civil war. I usually try to learn from such things, real events that have happened before.
Take care Dmitry, hope to hear from you soon.

FerFAL

(eidted to add) Hi Dmitry!
Your email, bounces back with a “Mail delivery failed” message.

Could you tell us a bit about your experiences? The main most important points, also the similarities and differences you see between what happened in Argentina and what you experienced over there?

Thanks!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

"Rabbit" starvation


I'd like to help those who worry about "rabbit" starvation. Rabbit is a great protein source. Stock up on stuff to fry it. Margarine, grease, lard. We need two essential fatty acids, linoleic and linolenic. Lard profides it as does other fats. If you can't stock fats or procure them it'll be tough going. While you're at it stock a large bottle of a simple multiple vitamin.
Physician in Colorado



Thanks for the tip :-)

FerFAL

Friday, September 11, 2009

"Prepper" in Alaska

Ferfal,

I recently found your site and thank you for the reams of useful information.

I'm a "Prepper" and have been for a while. I live in Alaska, a few miles outside of Wasilla. I thought I might share how some of my preps up here are the same and different .

First of all I agree with you on food. However, how I go about it is a little different. First of all I count on catching between 300 and 400 pounds of salmon every summer, which really isn't hard to do once you learn how to work the salmon returns. I smoke about 50% of this catch and freeze the other half for consumption throughout the year until the next summers salmon run. Then each fall I rely on harvesting one Moose, which gives me anywhere from 500-600 pounds of red meat. I also hunt small game throughout the winter. In addition on our few acres I keep a flock of laying hens, 2 dairy goats, and fairly large garden with green house where we grow our own fresh vegetables that are mostly canned for use until next growing season. We also collect wild blue berries and raspberries which we turn into preserves. Beyond what I hunt/gather/grow we store up much like you do with normal store bought items. I do work full time as a professional in Industrial Safety, however I feel I could comfortably feed my family a whole year if necessary without "store bought" products.

Now being here in Alaska I don't plan at all for "Bugging Out". There's nowhere really practical to go from here, except deep into the subarctic wilderness or flying to the Lower 48, driving through the Canada would entail all kinds of problems in a worst case scenario. Even if my home is destroyed, my plan is to stay on the land in my camper/tents and rebuild. So as you might assume I put a lot of thought, work and money in prepping my home. For water I'm on a well, I have arranged for my electric well pump to be quickly connected to gas generator for short term water needs. For a worst case scenario I have a manual "Arctic" pump which would require going outside to fill a bucket; but I know I will always be able to get water.

As you might imagine heating the house comes next in priority. For this I've diversified as best I can. I have a boiler that works on either home heating oil or wood. In addition I have installed 2 modern wood stoves that on their own are capable of heating my house comfortably with outside temps down to -50 degrees F, and both have cooking surfaces. In addition I have kerosene space heaters for emergency use and a cache of stored 1k kerosene. Now the big problem for me is putting away enough firewood each year as I can easily go through 10 cords. Purchasing firewood doesn't make much sense to me as the costs per btu is comparable to oil/propane/natural gas. So I go about it the old fashioned way.........with a chainsaw, and a power log splitter. With the proper power tools and a long bed work truck it really isn't as time consuming as one might think to put away that much wood and there's essentially an unlimited supply up here.

For defense I'm well stocked with all types of guns, more than I need but fewer than I want. I've been stocking ammo and reloading supplies since the 1994 Clinton Ban. I can go a looooooooooong time without needing ammo.

For transportation I've also diversified: I have an economy car and a 4x4 truck for everyday use. In addition I have a four wheeler (atv), a snow machine , 2 horses, skis, snow shoes, mountain bikes and a canoe with outboard motor. Come hell or high water I'm getting around at least up here in a 200-300 mile radius.

My house isn't paid for, but my Mortgage is fixed, I have a military retirement, and skills to drum up enough money to at least pay the mortgage. I 've put away $$$ including Gold and Silver. If the US Dollar crashes far enough I might be able to pay off my mortgage for a few pieces of gold or silver.

Anyways I figure up here in Alaska if there's a US Dollar collapse a bunch of folks up here will return to the Lower 48. Firstly most people up here come for jobs somehow related to Oil, Tourism, Mining or Fishing. About half the population in Alaska live in Anchorage and Anchorage is highly dependent on these industries, I figure at least 3 of the 4 are going to be severely impacted. Most of these Anchorage folks live just like folks in Wichita, Tuscon or any other city and it's expensive up here now due to the fact that just about everything except fish, moose, wood, gold and oil needs to be shipped in. Once they loose their jobs up here they'll go back to where ever their families are from as this could be a hard place for an Environmentalist "city fella" thousands of miles from his family to survive in should the SHTF. My guess is there will be plane loads of these folks leaving behind almost everything they have in Alaska to get the hell out, probably not good for home values but what do I care as I'm not looking to sell. Because of this mass migration back to the L48, I'm not as concerned about long term crime, rioting etc. I figure those of use "fools" who are committed to Alaska have the same values and will make a go at it, perhaps in a semi-isolated, semi-barter free market economy.

Let me know what you think.


Paul
Wasilla, AK

Hi Paul!

Sounds like a terrific place to live in, congratulations!
Your food preps sound good too, and I like the way in which you have a balanced setup with some animals and an orchard, but still allowing you to keep a fulltime job.
Mountains around Wasilla, Alaska


Going entirely into the “live off the land, escape the modern world” thing never works out as expected.
Guess it’s like everything else in life: Escaping society is no different than evading other problems in life, instead of accepting them and dealing with them.
My wife loves gardening so I see a nice garden in our future as well.
My mother in law had a small but productive garden, several hens and other small animals in her tiny backyard. She tells me they had so many eggs she would give them away for free to the neighbors. (I would have loved it if she had told me she was selling some as well :) ).
She also used to breed German Shepherds as a hobby. She sold those mostly, also gave some away to people that really wanted them but couldn’t afford them.

About bugging out, I don’t think its something you should discard completely as plan B.
“Bugging out” sounds very commando like, E&E through the snow wearing you BOB and covered in cammo, and needing to go on foot is a possibility, but most often its far less dramatic and a plane/car will do nicely.
Having a bag or kit ready to go is important, but there’s much more to it than that.
Staying in contact with relatives/close friends could provide you with a plan B. A roof over your head, a place to live in if something unexpected happens.
Here it would be important to relocate some of your gear, at least a small part.
Too many times we hear of good folk that lost everything to a fire, flood or robbery. You know, not putting all the eggs in the same basket deal.

It’s great that you diversified on all the important aspects.

Woods stoves are great, and I’d love to have a heating system that works both with fuel or natural gas and wood.
The woods cooking stove are also very nice, used often here, mostly in farm houses.
You can cook, heat up a small home and even do the plumbing to use it as a water heater.
My grandfather along with my parents used to have a small house in Mar del Plata (CapnRick, in Constitucion, about 4 blocks from the beach). Not much to brag about, a small lot, and they built most of the house themselves. But it was comfortable and back then there were still many vacant lots, “baldios”, full of pine trees. We had a great time.
Anyway, there was the fireplace, and we also had a woodstove in the kitchen, similar to this one:

Vogelzang 200,000 BTU Cast Iron Pot Belly Stove


It’s not like the cooking wood stove my friend has but I remember my mom would put the kettle on top to boil water (even though we had a regular oven and burners ) or warming it up a bit of drinking mate.




Wood Cooking Stove


The exhaust pipe would go up to the roof and through the kid’s bedroom where my brothers and I slept. It heated up the room nicely.
It was so much more efficient than the fireplace. A waste of money compared to that little wood stove.
Anyway, sounds like you have great place up there.
Say, don’t you have some extra space for a couple with two kids? (just kidding :-) )

Congratulations man, sounds beautiful.


FerFAL

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Media control in Argentina: Blunt and Brutal



We’ve seen it going on for a while: Threats, intimidation and prosecution of writers and journalists, bribes to loyal jackals, phone and email tapping by the Argentine intelligence agency but now its shameless and out in the open, no longer tinfoil hat material or conspiracy theorists.
Take note people, this is important. This is one of the things some people feel that oh, it will never happen here, but maybe a couple years from now when everyone disagreeing with the government gets labeled as a terrorist, maybe then people will be singing a different tune.
There’s a law right now the K government in Argentina is trying to get approved, that would make media more… “fair”… . BS aside it would give then control, lawful control of the media, something we haven’t seen since our previous dictatorship in the 70s.
This law would give the government to basically decide who they authorize ( with some BS excuse ) who they authorize to have a license for TV channels and other media. They would control the media plain and simple.
Ms. K said “Freedom of speech doesn’t imply freedom of extortion”.
You see, the K regime considers reporting anything that would tell the truth about their corrupt government “extortion”.
A report questions the ways in which the capital of the presidential couple increased in 150% in one year, according to their own tax report? Extortion!
Another article questions subsidies for 10.000.000 pesos to an illegal company owned by one of their buddies? Extortion!
How about the pharmaceutical company with strong attachments to Mexican drug dealers and local fake pharmaceutical drugs sold in the local market(many of them simply placebos ) and how this same company gave millions to the K presidential campaign? Oh, Extortion of course!
A dictator doesn’t crawl form under a rock or comes to this world through the gates of hell.
No folks, dictators usually get voted into office, at least at first.
Then they try to control everything, they become hungry for power.
And in the end they loose contact with reality. They think they are almighty, like Gods, and when things don’t turn out like they want they become even more violent, capable of anything.
Lets “Hope”… USA never “changes” … into something like this:

FerFAL


Controversial inspection
Between 180 and 200 inspectors of the AFIP tax collecting agency showed up at the headquarters of Clarín newspaper, in an operation classified as "routine", although the newspaper reported it as an "intimidation" due to a conflict it holds with the government.
The government is looking for Congress to approve a controversial bill to decentralise the media sector. If passed, the bill will affect the big media conglomerates, such as Clarín Group.
The operation coincides with the publication of compromising information for Ricardo Echegaray who, aside from being head of the AFIP, is also in charge of the irregularities denounced by Clarín newspaper of the ONCCA farm trade control agency, which allowed 10 million pesos in subsidies to be paid to a company without authorization.

AFIP (TAX)inspectors raid Clarín building

"We are truly surprised (...) These types of inspections have never occurred in all of Clarín's history as a newspaper," said Clarín's manager of External Communications Martín Etchevers to a local TV station.
"The illegal use of government organisms to attack our companies is a shameful custom," he added.
The newspaper's general editor, Ricardo Kirschbaum, enrolled the agency's fiscal action in a framework of "intimidation" and government "harassment."
Inspectors arrived in the building where the Clarín, La Razón, and Olé -also property of Clarín Group- newsrooms are found.
An AFIP tax collection agency source told journalists that a massive operation in Clarín was "routine" and that its purpose was to "relieve personnel."
President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, as well as her predecessor and husband, Néstor Kirchner, constantly criticise part of the press for the way in which it informs about government-related issues, and considers Clarín as part of the opposition.
Buenos Aires City Mayor, Mauricio Macri, said the operation "feeds levels of violence and confrontation." According to deputy-elect Francisco de Narváez, it is "a sample of the instruments the State uses to condition." Margarita Stolbizer, depute-elect for Buenos Aires province, defined it as "abuse of power," and Patricia Bullrich as "violent and anti-democratic."

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A big thx and a couple of other items (guns & gear)

Mr. Fernando Aguirre,

I'd like to thank you for your diligence in constantly communicating all you've learned during the economic problems your country is going through. I fear the USA is about to enter this same economic failure very shortly.

I'm a survivalist by nature, learning it as a Boy Scout, which I got thrown out of at the age of ten. I'm 56 now. I've still got an attitude problem.

I've written on several forums and have read your accounts since you started posting over on Frugal Squirrel all those years back.(note by FerFAL: Left many years ago, I’m at Minion’s Report Forum now)

I enjoy reading your blogs at your website.

I noticed that you recommend a good bag. Your preference being a copy of a musette bad, which is a good choice.

I recently flew on a trip from Denver to Scranton, Pennsylvania to pick up my second used military truck, which I drove the 2000 miles back (at 60 mph). It's a 1986 M1028A2, which means it's a 5/4 ton dually pickup truck, with 4x4, 6.2L diesel engine, and a TH400 transmission. Being a used military truck, it's very sturdy. My OTHER used military truck is a 1985 M1009 3/4 ton Blazer with 4x4, 6.2L engine and a TH400 transmission. I have also accumulated a spare 6.2L engine in a metal military container, a spare TH400 transmission and a spare transfer case. Being my own mechanic is something I've done for more than 30 years.

I got to this point after reading this particular account of a guy who took his Deuce and a half into New Orleans right after Katrina wrecked havoc on the Gulf Coast. You can read his account here.

http://lonestar-mvpa.org/events/2005/05_Katrina.htm

After winning a law suit with the City of Denver, who said my truck was a commercial vehicle (it wasn't), I sold it. Long story short, I found myself getting grief from everyone about not owning a vehicle. So this time I got the Blazer. Then three years later I purchased the pickup truck.

Back to your bag. I shop online with a company out of California called LA Police Gear and on this trip from PA back to Colorado, I used a recently purchased Diplomat Bail Out Bag. It's smaller than yours, but the reason I purchased it was NOT to carry a firearm, because I figured I would use it on the RARE occasion I travel (without a firearm). I'm retired AND LIKE staying at home. Anyway, here's a link to the Diplomat bag. I paid $10 for. If you shop the sales at LA Police Gear, you can get some really great items at fairly cheap prices.

http://www.lapolicegear.com/diplomat-bail-out-bag-jr--tactical-nylon.html

Another item I have purchased from lapolicegear are pants. They are 'tactical' pants. They are 'tac-lite' pants. I tried other versions of these different pants, but I found that the 'tac-lite' elastic expanding waist band allows me to crouch for a long period of time and it doesn't cut off my circulation or bunch up. At $40 a pair, they are not cheap, but the quality is high and that price includes a matching fabric belt that is very sturdy. The note about the 'Tilley' pants are why I mention it. The 5.11 line of products are basically made for police and are worn by police all over my country, on duty or off.

http://www.lapolicegear.com/511-tactical-tac-lite-pro-pants.html

I'm going to purchase one of the 5.11 vests next month. Even though it's $70, it will give me the ability to carry pretty much everything in your EDC bag, without carrying the bag. It will even allow me to CCW. Plus, I LIKE wearing vests and own several. And hats (don't know why). And sunglasses or shooting glasses.

http://www.lapolicegear.com/5tave.html

I would like to purchase your book. And I would like your autograph on the book. I'm not sure how to go about it. I would gladly take any advice you would have to help me accomplish this. I collect books, with my current collection now over 3000 hardbacks. I LOVE the ones signed by the author very much and go out of my way to get them signed. I'm strange that way.

As stated above, I'm 56. About 16 years ago, I grew tired of a very good paying computer management career and with the support of my wife, I went back to school and got my second degree. This time as a gunsmith. I spent the next ten plus years being a gunsmith. I have retired now, again with my wife's support.

I occasionally frequent some of the same forums you do. I have a bit stronger personality. Plus, I'm an opinionated SOB. I've been that way my whole life (don't forget being thrown out of the Boy Scouts at 10). But I also know lots of things. Most learned firsthand. As I grow older, I find that I CAN learn from others mistakes. I have a good friend I went to gunsmithing school with and he is currently a Special Forces Armorer and I take his advice as gospel. He spent almost six years (on and off) over in the sand and finally returned to the USA a month ago. His advice learned while he was there is invaluable. His advice and yours are but one of the reasons I read the things you post. There are LOTS of things that jump out at me that most seem to miss, like: "glasses ( if you use them, get LASIK!)". I not only agree, but had my bad vision corrected almost twenty years ago with radial keratotomy (precursor of Lasik). I'm considering getting my 'reading glasses' issue resolved with a similar type of Lasik surgery. Or like your suggestion of the LED head worn lights (excellent suggestion BTW) - I already have more than 30 small LED AAA flashlights, plus eight Maglites (from tiny to the 5 D cell job). I will be purchasing eight of the head worn LED lights (I HATE being in the dark).

I am also curious on your opinion of firearms. Being a gunsmith and a member of the gun culture for more than 35 years, I think we see things pretty much the same.

My MBR's are AK's. I consider them my 'under 200 meter' firearm. OUT PAST that distance, I go to my Rem 700 BDL Heavy Barrel in .308 caliber.

I felt I would show a couple to you for your opinion. Plus a few handguns, mine and my wife's.


Romanian Draco AK in 7.62x39 - by my bed



Hungarian AMD65 w/Chinese 75 round drum


My wife's .357 Magnums w/speedloaders



My Glock 22's (sequentially numbered - I'm anal that way) - I'll be picking up three Glock .357 Sig barrels



Plus factory mags - note CDNN sells Glock factory mags CHEAP - you can get them for as little as $20 - $22 with $10 shipping - get on their email list - it will save you a bundle (they don't ship outside the USA, but you could always get someone here ship them to you) http://www.cdnninvestments.com/glock.html



Some ammo to go with it - gotta order two more cases of .357 Sig (probably Winchester Ranger T series) next week to finish this storage off



Blazer parked behind the dually (I have removed the rear cap on the dually)


Thx for everything. Keep safe. Keep it coming.


Reply: A big thx and a couple of other items

...
OH, I've owned FAL's. They are great. But I find my Chinese NHM-91 does a fair job for out to 200 meters. I still need to refinish the stock so the two pieces match each other, but I can't decide whether to lighten up the rear skeleton stock or darken the front wood. Decisions, decisions.

Out past that, I would go to my Rem 700 Hvy barrel in .308 with a Burris 3x - 10x with a Harris bipod. I 'rebuilt it' while I was going to gunsmithing school - blueprinted the receiver and bolt, changed the barrel lug from factory to one that was slightly larger, bedded the barrel and action, etc. She'll do 1/2 MOA all day long. Which is better than I can see. Even with the scope.

My decision to collect AK's instead of M1A or FAL, both of which I have owned, goes to my buddy that is a Special Forces armorer. He now SWEARS BY AK's and Glock's also. He and I used to argue about AR (his choice) vs AK/M1A/FAL (any 30 caliber MBR - my choice). That is until he WENT to Afghanistan and Iraq and probably Iran, though I can't prove that. THEN he figured out that having a .30 caliber rifle IS the way to go. He suggested the AMD 65 which he carried in 'The Sand', which is what started me down that road.

The funny part? My wife and I were watching TV while Katrina unfolded in front of us. My wife looks over at me and asks, "How's our armory?" I told her we had some hole's in it. She told me to tell her how much money I need and to FIX those holes. Then GAVE me all the money I needed. God I love this woman. And she's a better shot than I am.


Chinese NHM-91 in 7.62x39 - scope is Russian with Bullet Drop Compensator built in, plus lit reticle (red) for low light shots - scope can be removed and put back on without changing zero - great setup - and it WILL handle all AK mags, including the 75 round drum

J

Thanks for the nice email :-)
Sounds like you've got your preps well in order. Some very nice guns too.

I like the Blazer a lot. I suppose parts are readily available there since the Blazer is so popular.

You have great guns and I couldn't agree more with your weapons of choice.
I'd go with Glocks and AKs too, plus a FAL for 308W, probably scoped in the Para version.

Your wife has a nice 357s collection, she sounds very supportive as well.

Fernando

Monday, September 7, 2009

Barack Obama accused of making 'Depression' mistakes

he said it:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/6147211/Barack-Obama-accused-of-making-Depression-mistakes.html

H & C


Barack Obama accused of making 'Depression' mistakes




http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/6147211/Barack-Obama-accused-of-making-Depression-mistakes.html

Barack Obama is committing the same mistakes made by policymakers during the Great Depression, according to a new study endorsed by Nobel laureate James Buchanan.
By Edmund Conway

Published: 9:55PM BST 06 Sep 2009



History repeating itself? President Obama has been accused by some economists of making the same mistakes policymakers in the US made in the Great Depression, which followed the Wall Street crash of 1929, pictured Photo: AP



His policies even have the potential to consign the US to a similar fate as Argentina, which suffered a painful and humiliating slide from first to Third World status last century, the paper says.
There are "troubling similarities" between the US President's actions since taking office and those which in the 1930s sent the US and much of the world spiralling into the worst economic collapse in recorded history, says the new pamphlet, published by the Institute of Economic Affairs.
In particular, the authors, economists Charles Rowley of George Mason University and Nathanael Smith of the Locke Institute, claim that the White House's plans to pour hundreds of billions of dollars of cash into the economy will undermine it in the long run. They say that by employing deficit spending and increased state intervention President Obama will ultimately hamper the long-term growth potential of the US economy and may risk delaying full economic recovery by several years.
The study represents a challenge to the widely held view that Keynesian fiscal policies helped the US recover from the Depression which started in the early 1930s. The authors say: "[Franklin D Roosevelt's] interventionist policies and draconian tax increases delayed full economic recovery by several years by exacerbating a climate of pessimistic expectations that drove down private capital formation and household consumption to unprecedented lows."
Although the authors support the Federal Reserve's moves to slash interest rates to just above zero and embark on quantitative easing, pumping cash directly into the system, they warn that greater intervention could set the US back further. Rowley says: "It is also not impossible that the US will experience the kind of economic collapse from first to Third World status experienced by Argentina under the national-socialist governance of Juan Peron."
The paper, which recommends that the US return to a more laissez-faire economic system rather than intervening further in activity, has been endorsed by Nobel laureate James Buchanan, who said: "We have learned some things from comparable experiences of the 1930s' Great Depression, perhaps enough to reduce the severity of the current contraction. But we have made no progress toward putting limits on political leaders, who act out their natural proclivities without any basic understanding of what makes capitalism work."
The authors of the pamphlet, Charles K. Rowley and Nathanael Smith, give their views.


Kind of creepy and sad. You'd think a leader would try to avoid following the steps of my country but I guess sometimes its hard to learn from other's mistakes.

FerFAL

Our loss, your problem

Saludos
This is an article that makes my blood run cold.
http://www.economist.com/businessfinance/displaystory.cfm?story_id=14365060

As it turns out, a year ago, the ESTIMATED worldwide potential liability for derivatives was $60 TRILLION. Now it is at least $100 trillion. It can only be estimated because the derivatives market is unregulated and unsupervised... many times each business day, contracts for over $100 million are done with a text message to a cell phone.

This story about potential default is very significant...
1. the reason for the Wall Street bailout was strictly because of derivatives. The bad mortgages packaged into the derivative packages were only a tiny portion of the worldwide problem.
2. politicians refuse to regulate this very lucrative money making derivative tool because the Wall Streets of the world won't let them. The money made by selling derivative instruments is what funds the politicians' campaigns and lines their pockets.
3. If any nation does what this article says China contemplates doing and defaults, the lights will go out around the world relatively quickly. The total worldwide risk for derivatives is probably may multiples of worldwide annual productivity... hard to know due to under reporting.

As bad as things are now in the US and the Common Market, it would have resulted in "lights out" this year if any country allowed default. While we can't easily measure the benefits... or, even the true costs... of the US financial bailout, the default of any country on their derivative contracts would have set the entire worldwide house of cards to tumble.

These jerks are so arrogant and so desperate to generate sales that in the absence of a mortgage derivative market, they are offering older folks money for up to 80% of the value of their life insurance contracts so when the original policyholder dies, the insurance company pays the financial investor. The financial guys want to package these contracts into tranches of $100 million each and sell derivatives based on these same contracts.

Gold and silver and other noble metal investments look a lot better now than they did before I read this article.

Suerte -CapnRick


Derivatives contracts in China

Our loss, your problem

Sep 3rd 2009 | HONG KONG
From The Economist print edition
http://www.economist.com/businessfinance/displaystory.cfm?story_id=14365060
China considers bailing out of costly futures contracts

GIVEN its vast reserves and seemingly healthy economy, a default by China’s government or one of its tentacles should be one of the lesser concerns for international markets. This perception was jolted on August 28th by reports that the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) might endorse a move by large state-controlled enterprises under its umbrella to break derivatives contracts that were purchased last year from international banks to protect them from rising commodity prices.

Details, inevitably, are fuzzy. There is no official comment; terrified international bankers are silent. But reports in the local press and some elaboration by participants suggest that efforts by the country’s large shippers, airlines and power companies to cope with high oil prices by taking out futures contracts produced steep losses as the market reversed and prices fell.

That apparently prompted SASAC to launch an investigation, in part to find out if its wards were engaged in outright speculation, rather than hedging, but also to determine if a bail-out could be arranged. The bluntest remedy would be to break the contracts entirely; another, to force contracts to be rewritten and losses reduced. Either outcome would be costly for the foreign banks, in the short run through lost profits and in the long run because a growing business in derivatives would be badly undermined.

For China, too, the consequences would hurt. Counterparties would presumably charge more in future to offset the risk of being stiffed. There would be legal fallout as well. If the contracts were arranged outside China through subsidiaries in Hong Kong, Singapore or London, which is common, then they were almost certainly done under non-Chinese laws that are unlikely to be sympathetic to deliberate deadbeats. Given the direct ties these companies have to the state, a default could in theory trigger a sovereign credit failure and the legitimate seizure of state-owned assets (though it is a stretch to believe that any bank with interests in China would push a case that far). If the contracts were arranged inside China, the companies might claim to have lacked the authority to have engaged in them, but that would undermine their ability to do business abroad.

One theory is that Beijing is trying to squeeze foreign banks out of the derivatives business. That would accord with rules recently put into effect that restrict the ability of foreign firms to develop derivatives. China, it is said, would like its own banks to gain expertise and, if profits must be made, have them benefit. If so, independent pricing of risk, which is what derivatives are meant to be about, would be the real casualty.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A Flu preparations



I was at the drugstore buying stuff to prepare for the bad A Flu season
that's coming, stuff like hand sanitizer and masks, and the cashier asks
what I need all this stuff for. I told her about the bad swine flu
season, and she says "So 3 people will die instead of 2?" So I explain
to her how thousands died in Argentina, and how it's expected to do the
same here, and she shrugs and says "I don't know, I just trust Jesus"
and giggles.

You see, these are the type of people we need to look out for. By the
time she sees her friends dying of A flu, and realizes that Jesus isn't
going to ride by on a unicorn to save her, she'll think that maybe it's
a good idea to prepare. About that time is when EVERYBODY ELSE will
think so too, and they will mob the drugstores trying to get supplies.
But there won't be any supplies.

Maybe then people will realize why the hospitals said not to come to the
hospital if you get the flu, and why there are no visitors allowed at
the hospitals, and how these measures were announced way back in
September when nobody was noticing, and how there was a steady stream of
government officials saying there was no need to worry, and how people
believed the government instead of the evidence.

The fact is, the government here IS preparing for thousands if not
millions of deaths, and they are trying to keep it a secret until it's
too late. I guarantee you the politicians are stocking up. There's also
a lack of hype surrounding the A flu here, unlike bird flu when the
media was on full panic mode. They know this is the real deal.


In other news, a local newspaper announced in their paper edition-but
not online-that California's unemployment rate of working age adults has
reached "2 in 5", while not giving a percentage. Do the math: that's a
40 percent unemployment rate! That's Depression levels of unemployment.
And it is soaring higher every day. By the time it reaches 60 percent,
society will start to come apart at the seams. So many people will be so
hungry that they will simply steal food, and the police won't be able to
stop them. Then it will be SHTF time.



Resignation is almost as good as denial.:-)
Funny you mention it, many people here have a similar stance on crime and insecurity. They’ll call it fate, meant to be.
“It will be whatever God wants it to be”, they’ll say. That’s correct but I’ll be damned if God expects us to sit around and just do nothing to change our reality. And the fact remains that the more steps and measures you take to achieve anything, including your own safety, it improves your odds significantly.
Washing hands often, avoiding contact (preferably staying home during the worst of the season) and wearing a respirator if going to crowded places improves your odds a lot.
But I guess the clerk was right, 3 instead of 2 easily translates into 3000 instead of 2000 dead. For some of us 1000 dead people is no joke.
For whatever its worth, apparently people in USA aren’t experimenting many of the symptoms seen here. Here people have described it as an unusually tough flu, while in America a lot of people apparently experienced it as a rather mild flu.
Still, the supplies can com in handy in a variety of situations, and flu isn’t the only disease around either, here Hepatitis, Chagas and Dengue are no joke.
Anyway, good to know you’re preparing. ;-)

“But there won't be any supplies.”


You got that right. You don’t know what will happen, but I guarantee you this: If the flu gets worse than expected and there’s even the slightest mention of it on the news, the slightest comment that it may be worse than expected, every store will run dry of respirators, face masks and alcohol gel within hours.


A Flu in Argentina-Ezeiza International Airport, Buenos Aires


“The fact is, the government here IS preparing for thousands if not
millions of deaths, and they are trying to keep it a secret until it's
too late. I guarantee you the politicians are stocking up. There's also
a lack of hype surrounding the A flu here, unlike bird flu when the
media was on full panic mode. They know this is the real deal.”



Oh you should have seen the politicians here, kissing (perfectly healthy, no doubt) kids in hospitals, a high ranking politician saying he had A flu but did alright. Of course they were given Tamiflu right away, while the poor average Joe sucker was sent home with an aspirin. Heck it took weeks for A flu to be diagnosed at first, what good was Tamiflu going to do you after a month? It only does you any good if taken within 24-48 hours.

That is very high unemployment, and it worries me the kind of president you guys have.
I fear he’s the typical charismatic leader the crowd loves. … and yet charisma wont fix things.

It’s like watching someone climbing a ladder on fire: The guy keeps climbing instead of jumping and simply breaking a bone, he tried to escape the fire by going even higher, not knowing that when the ladder unavoidably collapses the damage will be worse.

Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre

Saturday, September 5, 2009

“Dad, can you teach me how to shoot?”

I was writing as usual last night and my son walked into the room, stood there at my side and asked, “Dad, can you teach me how to shoot?”

We shoot with the air rifle but he was talking about “real” guns. He just turned 7, so I promised him I’ll start teaching him soon.
I like guns a lot, no secret there, but I’m not obsessed with them and I try not to force my passion for firearms onto my children.
So, my son knows dad has guns, he’s seen me handle them sometimes when a certain situation required it, some noise or someone at the door late at night, but I don’t purposefully try to make my son like them as much as I do.
I prefer to let him decide for himself as he grows older, make his own choices.
This morning during breakfast I mentioned to my wife the crime I saw on the later news yesterday, a home invasion where both father and son got murdered.
“Yes, we saw it too”. She mentioned that my son was worried about it and asked if she could change the channel.
When news scare kids more than a R rated movie, you know things aren’t ok.
“He was very worried, he said he was going to ask you to teach him how to shoot.”
“Yes, he did” I replied.
Is this the way we live now? A 7 year old boy having to worry about defending himself from criminals that go their merry way, killing people on daily basis.
I’m proud of the son I have. I’m proud that he has 10 times more balls at age 7 than some of the 50 year old sissyifed, politically correct idiots that don’t know what backbone is even if you hit them over the head with it.
Still, I remember when I was a kid, I didn’t worry about that.
When I was 7, or 10, I know I never thought about shooting to save my life. It wasn’t a real concern I had.
This afternoon we were playing “Left for dead “ on the xbox. My son and I were taking turns killing zombies. I thought I’d mention the issue again.
“You know the difference between videogames and shooting for real, do you?”.
He pressed the pause button and looked me in the eyes, as serious as I’ve ever seen him in my life. “Yes dad, I know. This is just a game, its not real. I want to know how to handle real guns, in case bad men ever come here, like it happened to that boy and his dad. If they come here, I’ll kill them”
He’s getting older, that much is clear, but this situation we live in is just taking away from him an innocence he shouldn’t be loosing at such an early age.
Do other boys his age talk like that? Do I influence him?
All I know is that even though I’m sincere about the poverty and such, I’ve always tried to make him feel perfectly safe at home.
Sucks to think I failed.
But on the other hand, how can you avoid it? I mean, every damn day people get murdered here, and they talk about it on the news.
We’ve talked about not watching the news with him around (how crazy is that?!) but still, he’s getting older, watches TV, talks with other boys at school.
Sometimes I feel being brought up like this will make him a tougher person, sometimes I think it’s just not good to live like this, think that way at such a young age.
Times are different for sure. Just hope I’m making the right decisions.

FerFAL

Friday, September 4, 2009

Reply: "Bank Failure: What to do with my savings?"




Don Williams said...

1) Any investment strongly depends upon how the economy and government behaves.

2) In the US Great Depression, my great grandfather bought up a lot of land with coal under it at Sheriff's auctions. That is when the landowner does not have enough money to pay taxes and the local government seizes the property and sells it to highest bidder.

3) My great grandfather had recognized the warning signs prior to the 1929 crash and had pulled ALL of his money out of the banks into cash. Since he had cash --and many did not --he was able to buy property at extremely LOW prices. (Government just wants some money from taxes -- doesn't care if the landowner gets ANY of his equity back from the sale.)

4) A few years later, Roosevelt got us into WWII , the government was spending $Billions on steel for armaments, the steel industry badly needed coal and my great-grandfather made huge profits either leasing the coal or mining it himself. (OF course, his worthless children became playboys and nothing came down to me. Sigh)

5) As people here have noted, gold is kinda high at the moment. But there are a LOT of special rare earth metals that are largely found in CHINA and which CHINA recently decided to restrict on exporting. Some of those might be a better investment than gold.

See http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/04/business/global/04minerals.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

I believe that the USA has to get most of its tungsten from China now.
September 4, 2009 5:23 PM

Don Williams said...
The larger point being that products sold to the common citizens may not do well in hard times --because the citizens don't have the money to buy.

But the rich and large corporations will almost always have money to spend. Stuff THEY need will usually keep its value, provided supply is limited.

I don't disagree with Ferfal re Real Estate but caution that real estate has value only so long as the local economy does well --or at least maintains itself.

There are a lot of empty houses in depressed areas like Detroit (collapse of General Motors and Chrysler auto makers). In the past, I have seen housing values fall through the floor in some areas when the local economy collapsed.

But if you buy in a national capital -- like Buenos Aires or Washington DC --you are usually ok.
Although I have some doubts re Washington DC now because of the huge size of the US government debt.

Even house prices there fell in 1990 by about $60,000 (for a $250,000 house) with the huge defense cutbacks at the end of the Cold War.



Excellent points Don, thanks man.

You got that right, its better to buy a small place but in a strong downtown neighborhood, one that simple wont go down unless the country is destroyed, which is very unlikely to happen. (nation or sate capitals are good places, also college towns, the older the better)
We have ghost towns here as well, or parts of town were property lost a lot of value. Better to buy small but safe, don’t buy a mansion in a town that is ½ dead already.

About economies doing well and rent, we found that after the collapse, of course there was no credit, and people had lost their savings, so renting was the only way to go for most. That or move back with the old folks, which a lot of people did. Very common of collapsed societies and such: family and several generations, grandparents, uncles, cousins, all living as they can under the same roof.
So, because people couldn’t buy like in the good old days, rent went up and beyond, becoming a very profitable business.
The key: Choose location wisely. Buy small, but buy in a safe, secure location, a place with potential clients.

FerFAL

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Bank Failure: What to do with my savings?



Ferfal;

please don't let folks highjack your blog for health care propaganda.

I believe the topic was bank failures. So what do the politicians do with their money to keep it safe? The only thing I have seen mentioned so far is swiss bank accounts. Besides precious metals, what do you do with your money?

I am too old to start over with nothing. What should I do with my savings?

amos





There’s several things you can do. As always, everything requires doing research, a bit of effort and most important, persistence.
It’s the same old story folks, nothing is free or easy, at least nothing worth it.
If you ask me, today someone with a moderate amount of savings should give a long hard look to real estate, specially those places where the price has gone down to the bottom of their realistic price.
Again, this requires knowing the location you plan to invest on, so doing so close to home always makes sense since that’s what you know best.
For bomb proof saving you have precious metals, gold is a bit too expensive these days since it goes up during crisis, but silver is still more reasonable.
The Swiss bank account or international account is something doable and there’s no minimum account balance in some places.
Knowing how to open a Swiss bank account takes you one or two days of internet research, maximum. Finding what kind of product fits your needs.
Simply google up “how to open a Swiss bank account”.
Worth looking into, and maybe finding a bank in some other country if you’re planning on doing some relocation in the future.


Small apartments or studios are usually good, safe investments. Look for those located downtown close to where people work or near hospitals or college campus where demand will be greater.

You ask about politicians.
The politicians I know of invested in real estate (both here and in other countries) and have foreign accounts as well, as well as a safe with a nice amount of cash.
I know of one local politician that had gold and dollars in a bank safe deposit box. Not a bad idea but there were times when those were opened as well, private property be damned.

Amos, I’ve been having some long talks with my grandmother, taking notes, writing her insights down. Sounds silly but I never bothered doing so and I now understand how much life lessons she has to pass along.
What they did with what they had left of their savings?
My grandfather (before he died) spent a few weeks walking around the city, checking real estate agencies, checking out various neighborhoods.
He ended up buying two very small but nice apartments, and the rent from them allows my grandmother to live ok.
The crisis gets worse? Inflation?
The rent slowly readjusts to realistic values. The key is having a good contract.
My grandfather was +70 years old when he did that. And he was a farmer, then a carpenter, not a financial guru. But he knew the value of brick and mortar.
I don’t see a reason why anyone couldn’t do just what my grandfather did.


Fernando "FerFAL" Aguirre