Monday, January 30, 2017

Stocks During the Economic Collapse of Argentina?


Dear Ferfal,
I think I’ve read every blog post you’ve ever written. Long time fan. Thank you so much for sharing your experience and wisdom with everyone.
The Dow Jones just hit 20,000! I have a question about what the stock market is like when TSHTF. Like most Americans, I “own” stocks through my retirement plan. If inflation goes really high, is a stock like a gold ring that doesn’t have value until you sell it (and therefore increases with inflation), or will stocks kind of stay the same price, and therefore lose tremendous value? What happened in Argentina?
And I want to say that you have actually changed my life. I live in a very safe place, the kind of place where people still can leave their front door unlocked. Which I sometimes do when I go next door (on the other side of the porch), but I’ve made it a habit to always lock the door behind me when I come inside. If I come home and someone is inside, I can run away. But nobody’s coming in when I’m home unless I let them in (not too many ways out except the front door). Anyway, I think it’s a good habit, and I think I’m better prepared for what’s coming thanks to you.
Best Wishes,
-Adam
...
Hello Adam,
Thanks for being a long time reader. I’m glad to know I helped make your life a bit safer! These are all little things we do, habits and strategies that start building up as our mindset changes.
I see survivalism, at least the practical version of it that I call modern survivalism, as a lifestyle in which practical decisions are made keeping in mind the best possible outcome in a worst case scenario. Sounds paranoid but it’s not. If doing one thing instead of another improves my odds and quality of life (better, safer, more peace of mind) then it is the one that provides the most strategic advantages from a tactical point of view. From the items in your EDC, the clothes you wear, the car you drive and the place where you live.
Regarding the stock market in Argentina during the crisis, here yet again we see that common assumptions and what actually ends up happening during an economic collapse have little in common.
Of course, the stock market has collapsed in the past and such a possibility is something to keep in mind, but we must remember than these situations are pretty complex, both in causes and effect. It is crucial to fully understand the former to correctly predict the latter.
Here is where we must ask ourselves, what caused the collapse in the first place? In the case of Argentina it was a bank run followed by a devaluation. The knowledge of an impending devaluation and rumours of accounts being frozen obviously triggered such bank run. If the same had happened for example with stocks, rumours of a bubble, followed by sharp sales and loss of value the story would have been different. The chart below reflects the Merval, the most important index of the Buenos Aires Stock Exchange.

We clearly see a big drop as expected at the time of the economic collapse in December 2001, but then as time goes by it starts going up, even as the Peso goes down, why? Well, the price is now in Pesos no longer pegged to the dollar, but even more important is that stocks represented something physical to own, a part of a company (even a struggling one!). Even if people suffered it often occurred that companies did well eventually. The common saying in Argentina years after the crisis about “its great that the economy is doing much better. Too bad we don’t get to see any of it” reflects just that. With a 25% inflation per year anything that held its value was better than the Peso. Real estate, US Dollars and yes also stocks.
I would say that looking at it from a historical perspective, good time-proven stocks tend to do well on the long run. High risk ones are more of a question mark. It sure isn’t a chunk of gold or silver in your hand, but the chances of it being worth only the paper they are printed on and the company going belly up isnt as high if you invest wisely. As always, don’t keep all your eggs in one basket and so on.
FerFAL
Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

How the super-rich are preparing

An armed guard stands at the entrance of the Survival Condo Project, a former missile silo north of Wichita, Kansas, that has been converted into luxury apartments for people worried about the crackup of civilization.
Interesting article.
These guys have:
*Money, both cash and funds in accounts across the world.
*Well set up Bug out locations, both local and abroad.
*Means to get there. Most of these guys have their own plane, boats, can pay for private jets, tickets, etc.
*Intel and connections. By the time you read about SHTF they'll already be in some safe location.
All we can do is try to get as close to such a setup as possible. One of the toughest parts for most people being having the money do move around like that, and maybe even harder to get, connections with true insiders that warn you ahead of time.
Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Best carry knife for Germany ?

Hi Ferfal, You seem to like folding knives. I live in Germany where it is illegal to carry a folding knive. It is only allowed to carry non-foldable knives with a blade that is less than 12 cm long. I'm looking for an all-purpose knive that I can legally carry. What knive(s) do recommend for Germany?
Regards, Karl
....

Hello Karl, thanks for your message and sorry for the long wait.

Yes, I can recommend you a knife and will do so in a minute but before we go there I’d like to talk a bit about having the right mindset. This goes for my friends here in Europe and the ones in US that have to deal with restrictions just as bad or worse depending on where they are living.

Those of us that are law abiding citizens always look to understand the local laws and regulations and stay on their right side. The problem I see is that many times, like-minded honest citizens try to go an extra step away from that line, just to play it safe. This is how I often come across people that truly believe guns are illegal when they are not, or knives or other defensive tools. I had a friend in Argentina that was surprised to know that guns were legal to own in the country. She was in her early twenties, we were in college and she wasn’t a dumb person. It’s just human nature to assume that anything potentially dangerous gives you power, and these days people are brainwashed to believe that power should not be in the hands of common people.
The same happens with guns, ammunition, and knives. Recently I had to explain a gun store owner that buckshot is perfectly legal. He was under the impression that it was banned so he hadn’t been ordering it for years “just in case”.

Now, the thing that sets me apart from most other people is that I know for a fact what happens when SHTF. I know that if someone attacks you on the street or breaks into your house to hurt you and your family, they (its usually more than one) won’t care what you thought or wrongfully assumed. It will just be too damn late and what happens is cold harsh reality. An undeniable fact that can’t be changed and isn’t open to debate. (Yes, people there are no “alternative facts”). If you get killed in your home, or your loved ones hurt. If you’re left on a wheelchair for the rest of your life or your daughter is raped that cannot be changed. It simply is what it is and you can’t go back in time to change it.

So… you may read here and there to just play it safe and go with a Swiss army knife, or maybe a non-locking Opinel. True, it will handle 90% of the cutting tasks you may come across on your day to day routine and even help in some emergencies. But my advice is to plan for the worst and keep that worst case scenario in mind. Don’t take five steps away from the legal limits. Know them and within that limit we law abiding people always respect, carry the best most capable tool you can.
In your case, it seems that you can’t carry a folder that locks and can be opened single handed. You may be able to do so with a lawful use (say you go fishing, hunting or hiking) but it seems that you can carry a fixed blade as long as its under 12 cm (4 3/4inch). That’s actually pretty good and opens up a few interesting options.

SOG Seal Pup

A great option. I believe the blade is exactly within your limit. This would be one of my first choices. If the blade happens to be a couple mm too long, I wouldn’t hesitate to cut the tip down a bit and regrind it. If you’ve done this before you can do it yourself, or find someone more experienced if not. Just be careful not to overheat the thin tip and dip it in water constantly when working on it with a grinder.

ESEE 3P

This is another solid choice. Definitely within your legal limit yet a super capable little knife. The sheath is pretty much ideal since you can carry it as a neck knife or on your belt. It doesn’t look aggressive or tactical, at least not much, so it may work better if ever stopped by cops and such.

Cudeman MT-5 Survival fixed blade knife

This is a actually a great brand, makes excellent knives in quality BĂ–HLER N-695 stainless steel, similar to 44C . If you’re in an area that is damp or wet often, this is a great way to go at exactly 11 cm.
If you ever need that knife, and you happen to need it in a life or death situation where a Vicotrinox or other pen knife simply wouldn’t have been enough, you’ll be glad you went with the most capable tool you could lawfully carry.
FerFAL
Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”.

Monday, January 23, 2017

6 Reasons why you should own a kerosene heater


For most people that live in locations where winter temperatures mandate heating to remain comfortable or even survive, staying warm is crucial. This means having a main source of heating and at least two backup plans. Remember that three is two, two is one and one is none. People may use electricity, natural gas, heating oil and wood, just to name some. It still surprises me though that a lot of people don’t include what is probably the most rugged system, ideal for disasters which is kerosene heaters.
Sengoku CTN-110 KeroHeat 10,000-BTU Portable Radiant Kerosene Heater
Why should you get one?
1)They are cheap. Some on Amazon go for under 100 bucks and if you keep an eye out you can often find them on flea markets or garage sales for a lot less. Keep in mind that you may need a new wick for it though. Other than the kind of fuel used, the wick is the second most important part of a kerosene heater.
2)Most reliable way to heat a home. There just isn’t a most straightforward and reliable way to provide heat. Electricity will be down during serious storms, propane bottles can leak, found empty when needed the most. A generator is a far more complex machine, and it is nowhere nearly as efficient in terms of heat per fuel used. With a kerosene heater you can literally buy one, keep it along with a few gallons of fuel stored in a garage and years later you know you can have it running in a matter of minutes. Kerosene heaters are extremely simple machines. There really isn’t much that can break of otherwise go wrong.
Dura Heat Convection Kerosene Heater, 23,000 BTU, Indoor- DH2304
3)Its safe. Like with all open flame heaters, you have to make sure you have ventilation of course. A cracked window, just a couple inches will do for smaller rooms. For larger family rooms even less than that will do. You should still have a CO detector to be on the safe side but these modern heaters burn very clean and are extremely safe. Kerosene is one of the safest fuels you can store.

4)Its compact. If you have little room around to spare and nowhere to stockpile cords of woods then this is the way to go.


5)It can be used in any type of building. Kerosene heaters are used all over Japan in both houses and apartments. No complicated or expensive installation is requires.

6)It can be used for cooking and lighting besides heating. The models with flat tops can usually warm up, even boil water placed on top of them on a pot. The model shown below also has a glass body and can double as a lantern.

FerFAL

Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

10 years chasing this knife(worth it!): Muela Magnum 26


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Bank Payments and Having Children when SHTF

Image result for greece financial crisis
Hi ferfal my name is Aris from Greece I am 31 years married no children yet. I had send you before an e mail many years before but didnt get an answer its ok I had your book for guidance hope you are ok.
I know you are very busy so I’ll make it quick.
I have a question need your advice .
What did you do in Argentina with banks? my father has a  house loan and till now we pay it  many people here dont paid the banks because they waiting bankrupsy and to come drachma alredy the banks here make some cut to the loans if someone  has 10000 euro loan and can afford to pay the say pay us 5000 euro cash and we are ok.
Many clever guys took advance of this so me and my father feel like suckers that we struggle  to be ok with our payments.
questions
1 shall i stop paying the bank and keep the money in offshore or as we say in the matress waiting?2 keep paying ?
Thanks.
Also a personal  question my wife and I want to make a child start a family but situation here is very bad economical shall I wait for better days or to start having children, how was in Argetina the birth  rate after the economic collapse?
I try to buy the new book of you but don’t have money right now waiting the summer for work. I love my country and I don’t want to leave.
Thanks for all the advices from the first book sorry for my english!!!
-Aris
...
Hello Aris,
I’m sorry I didn’t reply to your previous email. Some days it piles up and if the following day I also get a bunch its sometimes hard to keep up. Sometimes they end up filtered as spam for whatever reason.
Regarding your first question. What you certainly DON’T want to do is to lose your house to the bank. You need an advisor to go over your contract and make sure that whatever it is that you do, you do not endanger that.  Having said that, yes, many times you pay every month and then comes this guy that hasn’t paid a cent all year and gets a bigger discount than you. Banks are all about making money, not being fair, let alone being your friend. If they can charge you 2x they will, and if they believe they can only get 1x out of another person then they will go for that. In Argentina its common practice to pile up property municipal fees and wait for some payment scheme that offers a bigger discount to debtors. In that case yes, the person that paid in time feels like a sucker. After making sure you are not endangering possession (don’t know how this works in Greece) maybe you can save up that money in an offshore account. If you have to make the payment you still have the money, if eventually a better deal can be made and save money then you can try that too.
As for your question regarding children my advice is to go for it. I had my first boy right after the  big collapse of 2001. It wasn’t easy, as you say money was tight, but it was worth every second and I’m glad we had him back then rather than wait. As I explained in my previous post, you have to live today, not plan to live 5 years from now and this is especially true with having kids. Have them young, enjoy them. In Argentina birth rates went up soon after the crisis. This is pretty common, for people to invest more in family when times are tough.
FerFAL
Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Are you truly living or are you merely surviving?


This is a question I used to ask myself a lot when living (or should I say surviving) in Argentina.
I knew the answer well enough. I was surviving in Argentina and I did not like it. That’s why we left after all. Since then I can say we’ve been living life. It’s been a great life with my fantastic wife and kids. We live every day to the fullest and look forward to the next one. In many ways we’ve been making up for lost time. Every day I try to do right, do what I like and live it as the precious moment that it is. For all the talk about the snowflake generation, I do treat each day, each moment as one. As something that is unique, special, will last just a moment and I’ll never get back. Let me tell you, it’s a great way to live your life. If you do it you’ll look back and regret nothing.

What does it mean to “merely survive”? It means to just be alive but not do much living other than that. In our case the clear limiting factor was crime. Every time you left your home you felt exposed and you did because you actually were. You would walk around always looking around, you looking for threats. Even in crowded places you needed to be careful with pick pockets or snatchers grabbing your backpack, briefcase or in the case of women their purses. I’ve seen men get mugged, at gun point, at the train station in the middle of rush hour. The platform packed full of people and the robber sticking a gun to the guy’s face. It could truly happen anywhere at any time and it happened a lot, all around you. After we left Argentina, the thing that amazed us the most was that, security. The ability to go out for a long walk, pretty much anywhere we want and not fear getting attacked. Sleeping at night knowing that even is some noise wakes you up, chances are its not four or five guys trying to break in.
Crime limited you in other ways too. It dictates where you can live. Gated communities and apartments in safe buildings are fine, a more isolated house in the outskirts of town is not. When buying a new car, try not buying one that is too expensive or looks too good or you’ll get carjacked over it. A guy that I knew bought himself a fancy car and had it armoured so as to be able to enjoy it. A week later he was carjacked when getting in, robbed at gunpoint.
What can you do about this? The choice is either do something about it (try to avoid being a victim) or go into denial. I’d say 90% of people chose denial.

The other factor was of course economic. No matter how much money you made 25% inflation meant you couldn’t save up money at all. You had to spend it right away. With that kind of economic instability you can’t plan for anything beyond a couple weeks, let alone a few years.

Here is where I suppose a lot of people may feel represented. Not because of inflation but because of money being tight and living month to month with nothing left in between. That isn’t much of an enjoyable life either. Worrying about an unexpected expense, an accident or illness ruining you financially. Never taking vacations, always living on a strict budget.  In my case I felt as if my life was on hold, as if someone had pressed the “pause” button in my life. What kept us going was the hope that soon enough we’d get to live for real. Be free to go out for a walk without worrying about getting mugged. Get to travel without the fear of our home getting picked clean while we were away. Get to dress anyway we wanted without worrying about having something on us that was of certain brands or worth a bit too much and it being too much of a temptation for a would-be robber. I mean, my wife and I, we ended up replacing our gold wedding bands for silver ones. It was common practice to avoid getting mugged. I still remember the day after we left that we got to wear them again.

When certain “preppers” talk about looking forward to SHTF, because they’ll do great while all the liberals die off, they have no idea what they’re talking about. Surviving sucks folks. It’s the living part that’s fun. Merely surviving sucks but it’s much better than being dead, most of all because it means there’s still chance you may end up living again one day.
FerFAL
Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Sarajevo war movie: Shot Through the Heart (1998)

Just saw it and its worth watching. Real life survival folks, and it wasnt that long ago. The big survival lesson here? Yet again, know when to leave.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Survival Diet: Sugar causes heart attacks (yes, it does)

Image result for sugar heart attack
It is obvious enough, isn’t it? Staying healthy is essential for survival and nothing else is as strongly linked to health as our choice of fuel, whatever constitutes our diet.

With the right diet, your body works better, it repairs itself better and even your mind works better. One of the big problems with processed foods (among others, including pesticides, GMO, etc) is the addition of sugar. With moderation, sugar as found in fruit is cool, as found in Froot loops its not.
It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to understand why our brain craves sugar and how food companies figured out how to exploit that to maximize profit at the expense of our health. You can literally pick up horse manure, if you add enough sugar and some artificial flavouring you can wrap it up and sell it. Someone will buy it. And like it.

I firmly believe that if it wasn’t for the billions food companies pump into the medical establishment, we would know a lot more about the disastrous effects it has on our bodies.
If you think I’m nuts try this: One week without food with added sugar. Fruits yes, but no sodas, no junk food or even a teaspoon of the stuff in your coffee. Just one week and you’ll see for yourself how you can concentrate more and basically think better.
Take the time to read the article linked below.
Take care folks,
FerFAL

Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Muela Scorpion: Beautiful, Functional & Overall Great Knife!


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Russian and Argentine Collapse: Similarities, differences and lessons learned

Image result for USSR collapse food
Folks there’s this fantastic thread over at ar15 survival forum where member Gyprat posts about his experience the Soviet Union during its socioeconomic collapse. I encourage you to follow the link and read the entire thread.Gyprat's insigths into societal collapse
 
Here are some thoughts and notes I took about parallelisms, similarities and some differences too with what I saw in Argentina.

1)” One day I remember well was in August of 1991, when communists attempted a government takeover coup. I was in Moscow that day. Everyone was scared and confused. Nothing was on the news. Oil pump quit in my little Lada's engine and I was not far from one of the busiest intersections, where tanks were taking positions to fire at something. I was lucky to have tools and skills to pull the oil pan off and to make a temporary repair to the oil pump shaft to get us back home.”
The Lada comment and car problems right in the middle of chaos, protests and social unrest. This means no one to call to tow your car, no help, no insurance or breakdown cover, you have to fix it yourself. In my case it wasn’t a Lada but a Renault 9. A reliable, but mostly simple carburetor engine vehicle that was easy to work on and parts easily available. Dear God I’m no mechanic by any stretch of the imagination but I knew that car well and could fix little problems with my Leatherman, some wire and duct tape. At times that made the difference between having a vehicle when SHTF all around you or not. Today, the lesson for me is keeping my Honda well equipped and well serviced in an official Honda shop.

2) The rumours, lies and misinformation. Understanding that the government lies, that companies lie (yes, for profit! Unbelievable!) , that the media owned by such companies lies as well. Lies and social engineering, how people’s opinion is “shaped” and they don’t even realize it. Maybe this is one of the most important, key aspects taking place today. Alas, 99.9% of people, even those that consider themselves “conservatives” don’t even realize they’ve been manipulated in such a way.

3)” Monetary system? Everything was cash based.”
Yup, indeed it was. Cash is king. Even when devaluating it’s still king. You have to be careful and watch before things go Venezuela or Weimar republic on you (meaning cash becoming practically worthless)  but cash gets things done.

4)” Some people had savings accounts in the only available, government owned bank. Once the inflation hit, savings accounts were frozen by the government. People had to stand in long lines to get a limited amount of money out. I can't remember all the details but the inflation hit very hard.”
Oh I sure can relate to that.
One of the most powerful tools that I’ve mentioned here before (even if some of the “experts” here have mocked me for it) having an off shore bank account and second nationality. When everyone in my country was struggling to get 300 pesos out of an ATM, I could go to a local branch of my off shore bank, use their ATM and get 1000 USD out of it, cash. Then go to an “arbolito”, street currency dealer, and turn that into 4000 pesos. Only Gyprat here understands what that means. To have your money safely abroad, and access it, while everyone else a)Lost 66% of their savings b) will keep losing more to inflation c) cant even access what’s left of it.

5)” I could barter almost anything for alcohol.”
Alcohol is always a valuable barter item, especially in times of war, but I believe its also very much cultural as well. A bottle of vodka sure has more of an appeal in a place like Russia than in South America. I my experience it was always cash the nice thing to have and most often used in bribes. Gyprat mentions cash bribes as well, I think it’s the “safest” route for something that has universal appeal. Maybe in USA a box of ammo has somewhat of a similar appeal, especially in more pro gun areas. In general though, if I had to advice anyone I’d say go with cash if you have to buy your way through trouble.
Regarding bribes, it sure is illegal and you shouldn’t do it, but then again sometimes you do NOT have an option. I know because I’ve been in such situations before. Sometimes it culturally accepted, (even if it wasn’t not long ago) and sometimes it’s so accepted that it’s expected of you, and not doing what’s expected of you when dealing with corrupt people with power gets you in very serious, life threatening trouble. Consider yourself lucky if you’ve never been in that position, but know that some of us have.

6)” Medical services were free.”
Free in Argentina too, although not nearly as good as having private cover like I had. One of my grandparents died before his time because of poor public cover. I will admit though that poor public cover is better than no cover, and that with the new government in Argentina the free public healthcare is doing much better once again. Turns out that when politicians aren’t stealing 90% of the people’s money, it’s much easier and cheaper to get shit done! If I was poor and suffered health problems, I’d rather be in Argentina today than in USA. Healthcare will be a main topic to work on for American survivalists in the future. You just have to check GD forum here to read up on some horror stories. Make it a priority to have as good health cover as you can afford, and as always options, options, options. The more the better.

7)” Water was another story. We live near the highest spot in the whole city. Water pressure was always low and we only had water from 6-9 AM and back at 5 through 8PM. That's it. Water quality was terrible too.”
Yup, little water and of poor quality. By code, homes in Argentina have at least a 1000l tank. That means the tank gets filled up during the times of the day that you actually have water, and you use the 1000l during the day. With a bit of careful use you can get through a couple days or more, but the problem is that people forget about the automated system and only realize theres something going on when they run out of the reserve tank which is no longer being refilled.
Poor water quality means a good water filter is essential.
“Natural gas, on the other hand, was always there and was almost free.”
Yes, natural gas is generally pretty reliable if you have a city connection. Its also much cheaper than buying bottles, another advantage of being closer to a town that actually has NG. Ironically enough, people that live further away, in many cases poor people that live in less consolidated areas, they have to pay a lot more for gas used for heating.

8) I was just telling my oldest son about the time my grandparents lost everything. They had been successful business owners, both of them. My grandfather had a large carpentry shop, half a block workshop, my grandmother had a successful bakery, also pretty big. They made very good money. Because of the increase in crime and a couple armed robberies my grandmother sold the bakery. They still had my grandfather’s business. My aunt convinced my grandfather that he was already a successful businessman, to just sell his company and live off interest and investments. So he did that. Sold it, put the money in the bank and bought a couple small rental flats. Then came the hyperinflation in the later 80’s. My father, an accountant and executive in a large bank, told them to take the money out of the bank ASAP. They didn’t listen, my aunt told them it would be all right. It wasn’t and they lost everything. The retirement collected each month was pitiful and really the rentals were the only thing keeping them afloat.
I remember it was the first time I heard my father shout so much. My grandparents were crying in the kitchen, asking him “what do we do now!?” My dad was so pissed, he shouted back “Nothing! now you’re fucked! Why didn’t you listen to me!?”.  Sometimes people self-destruct like that. You know what’s better for them, you try to make them understand but they just don’t listen. Of course it’s much worse when its people you care for.

9)” This meant that everything was tied to a real market price, tied to the real currency exchange rate. Prices skyrocketed. People were walking around in shock and disbelief after they saw new prices on food and everything else. It was like 10, 100 or 1000 times more than a month earlier. Yes, food was readily available but people could not afford much because they were still getting paid very little..”
Amen to that. This is what folks sometimes don’t understand. Cash is king, yet you have to be careful with hyperinflation. If a banana costs 1000 USD, does that mean the USD is worthless? Well, not if you need that banana and you have those 1000 bucks. “So I should stock up on bananas/tools/stuff! Sell it after the collapse!” Well… no. There’s lots of “stuff” floating around, the price will rarely be as good as you hope. Only certain items at a certain time keep up the price. In my case it was foreign currency, what Gyprat calls “real market price”. In the case of Argentina I know gold and silver stayed in that “real market price” too and that’s where I see Americans finding a safety net in such an economic disaster takes place there. Even if bananas cost 1000USD each, I don’t see 1oz gold coins selling for 2000 USD, the price will most likely than not go up just like the price of bananas did.

10)” Food was number one priority back then. Like I said previously, people were not really starving but they were not eating as good as what's considered normal here in the US. I often laugh when I hear on the news about people who "starve" here in the US. How is this possible when food is so cheap and available everywhere? Perhaps they call it starving when they can't afford to eat out everyday? Obviously they have no clue about basic things like cooking. Yes, it's nice to have pork chops or a steak every day but it costs a lot too. Why not make soup? It's relatively cheap and will feed a family for several days. A 50 lbs. bag of rice can be purchased at Costco for around $15 and will last for a long time. You can make a lot of mouth watering dishes from potatoes only. How can you go hungry in this country???”
Regarding food and eating habits it was as bad or even worse in Argentina in terms of eating habits. Argentines eat meat, and meat in Argentina means beef. An “asado” often mistaken with a BBQ, is not about grilling a few burgers or hotdogs. Its about getting all sorts of cuts from a cow, preparing the organs and eating it all. Any Argentine male worth his salt knows how to prepare a fire and cook everything inside an animal on it, most know how to ID each cut of meat and organ. We had to adapt and understand that in spite of our cultural tradition food didn’t mean a pound of beef in each plate. You had to stretch it, lots of rice, pasta, make soups, cook lentils. That same pound of meat that used to sit in a single plate now went into a big pot along with rice, vegetables etc and fed the entire family.  Sure this means learning to cook for those that don’t know how to do it already.

11) “My grandparents shared a lot stories about the WW2 with me. I sure learned a lot of valuable lessons from them. My grandmother told me stories about people trading everything they had, including gold and silver for a piece of dry bread so their children would not die of starvation, or at least live another week. This was true survival. Food was very important. Alcohol and tobacco were very valuable items as well.”
My wife’s grandparents went through WWII in Italy. Her grandmother had a big chain of gold and would go to town to sell a few link to buy whatever they needed. By the time they left Italy and moved to Argentina that neck chain had lost so many links it was now short enough to be a bracelet. My wife still has that bracelet. While I see how in some desperate situation you may end up trading precious metals at a great loss, in general I would say that with enough time and know how you can put precious metals to very good use, especially in countries where there’s already a culture and understanding of what precious metals are, how to ID them and their overall value.

12) “The supply line was always overloaded in summer months. Forget about running a hair dryer or any high wattage appliances. It was enough for lights and maybe for a TV. We were the only ones who could watch TV because my dad installed a CVT to keep the voltage close to 220V. Our neighbors were lucky if they got 160 Volts in the evening and it often sagged down to below 140 Volts and could spike to above 260V, early in the morning. It was enough for lights but not enough for a TV or any other appliance. The electrical company was owned by the government and could care less, like every other organization back then.”
This I can completely relate to and experiences the exact same thing. In my case, in Buenos Aires, we rarely had spikes, and it seemed that year round, other than in winter when AC weren’t used as much, you had 150V-160V instead of 220V. This isnt enough to run a microwave and the AC barely works or doesn’t work at all. I fixed it by installing a voltage elevator. That thing cost me a good bit of money but was worth every cent. Loved that thing. When I left I gave it away to my brother in law. He didn’t seem to care though, and in spite of being a pretty good electrician he just left it there in the house. By the time he could be bothered with picking it up someone else took it. Some people just cant be helped.

13)” One thing that was always available was bread.”
Probably strongly linked to the Soviet communist system. Its good that they managed to keep bread supplied but I certainly wouldn’t expect it in other countries. Even in current Venezuela its clear that they can’t keep people fed. Having flour and bakeries all over the country ready to supply the population on demand even when little else is working in terms of infrastructure is a serious achievement. Indeed, a person can live on bread and water, but I wouldn’t count on it in most countries if there’s a socioeconomic collapse.

14) “Having a vehicle for transportation is essential for living in this country. I did not need a car when I lived in Russia because everything was close and there was good and affordable public transportation in most Russian cities and even outside of city limits. American cities are spread out and it's nearly impossible to get places without a vehicle.”
This is another American-specific issue to prepare for. In Europe you can move around most countries without a car. Even with a car public transportation is very good and at times even more convenient. Why drive somewhere, park and such, if an air conditioned train gets you there faster without you having to drive? It is true that in certain small towns public transportation isnt as good but in America you are always expected to drive places rather than catch a train or bus. You need a car and you need one that works well, and is affordable to fuel and maintain. Heck, its so important you probably need two so as to have at least one backup.
“I would probably trade my new 4runner for a 4x4 Dodge 2500 truck with a Cummins diesel or another vehicle that runs on diesel fuel”
I just refilled my diesel Honda CRV. What was it? 30 bucks? I came back from Sierra Nevada just a few days ago. Round trip about five hours driving time and I still had fuel to drive around town and then some, about 44 mpg is I remember right. Diesel is just fantastic. Its not only cheaper, it just gives you a lot more range on these little engines, all while giving twice as much torque compared to gasoline.

15)” The city we lived in (Tula) was about 100 miles south of Moscow. Moscow, being the capital, always got much, much better food availability and selection than any other city in the country. Most government officials lived in Moscow and obviously they made sure that their city was supplied better than anywhere else. They also wanted to show off to some foreigners who visited the capital”
So much for large cities being the first place to burn down, refugees pouring out of them into the countryside!
It is indeed typical for collapsed countries to keep their capitals and other major cities strong. Its a practical decision (x money servicing a larger number of people) a strategic one (capitals are usual government headquarters) and psychological (the capital, the “head” of the country and what it stands for).

16)” Crime was getting worse by the day. Armed robberies became a new norm. People no longer trusted wooden entry doors with regular locks. My friend's company built new, hardened metal doors, locks and hinges that guaranteed to turn your apartment into a fortress. The doors were bullet resistant and guaranteed to stop a 7.62mm AKM round fired at a close range.”
Exact same thing in Argentina. Most houses have armoured doors. Not having one is practically asking criminals to rob you. Not kidding here, if you don’t have one and you get robbed people will go “what do you expect? Did you see that stupid flimsy door he had?”

17) “Moving to another country would be an ultimate test of your flexibility and ability to adjust to new conditions and culture.”
And I would add, it’s the ultimate solution to a large scale SHTF that affect a country or region.
It’s the one thing Gyprat and I have in common. We left the mess behind and found greener pastures. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side but it is if your side is collapsed Russia or Argentina. After years of researching disasters and survivalism I can say with confidence that when it gets THAT bad, you better move somewhere else. That’s the ultimate solution. Study, have skills, get an education, for God’s sake learn a second language and If you can get a second citizenship, don’t let such an opportunity go to waste if you happen to have it.
FerFAL
Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Brexit Toblerone vs EU Toblerone: What Shrinkflation Looks Like!