Sunday, August 30, 2009

22 LR : 7 reasons why it should have a place in your survival gear.

Being by far the most popular cartridge world wide should be enough, but there’s much more.
Indisputably the most versatile caliber, the 22 LR is a terrific general purpose round.

Left to right: 22LR, 9mm, 357 Magnum, 308W and 12 Ga.
Don’t let size fool you. Even though not the most appropriate for the job, the 22LR has saved more than enough lives in self defenses encounters since its creation.

1)It’s cheap, small and light. And not only cheap, no other caliber comes close in terms of bang per buck.
Today this is an issue of great importance, and will be even more significant as the crisis gets worse: Even these days you notice it in the firearm’s forums. More and more people can only afford to shoot only 22LR, and maybe an occasional big bore box once in a while.
Regarding wieght and size; Remember when you just want to go for a walk and maybe shoot something that seems to require shooting? like a twig, leaf, frog, or mouse that happens to run by? The little rascal is just begging for it. He’s probably thinking “you’ll never hit me! you’ll never hit me!”.
Other calibers would mean considerable weight to be carried, but with the 22LR you just brag a handful out of a 550 Value Pack, and throw it in your pocket or in your bag and you’re good to go, knowing you have about 200 rounds of ammo. More than enough to spend the afternoon plinking. 200 rounds in their cardboard boxes take somewhat the same space than a box of 50 rounds of 9mm. Something to consider when backpacking.

2)It’s great for plinking. There are hardly better ways to spend and afternoon than plinking with your kids. Try shooting balloons, sticks, or invest in a couple of metal targets in various shapes, or do some of your own. The “cling!” sound never gets old.

3)Perfect for pest control. Even though air rifles are good enough for smaller rodents, the 22LR has more authority and can even manage medium sized animals with the right ammo if the shots are well placed.
4)For occasional warning shots (in a safe direction) to send the right message to the occasional poacher or petty thief, without wasting a hard earned dollar every time you do so. (Warning: What you read here is for entertainment purposes only. Respect the laws that apply to you. Don’t do stupid things that can land you in jail)

5)Finishing wounded game or farm animals for butchering, killing sick animals with a merciful head shot.

6)It works for self defense. You usually have 10 rounds in autos an 9 or 11 rounds in some revolver cylinders. The 22LR sure isn’t perfect but as they say, still more effective than a sharp stick or foul language if you ever need to defend yourself.
I’d go for Stingers or even better, the slightly heavier CCI Velocitors. Remember: 22LR kills people everyday.

7)Almost no recoil. Just perfect for the novice shooter, specially those that are a bit scared about guns and/or recoil sensitive. Some people just can't handle anything bigger or with more recoil because of health issues. For them a 22LR loaded with good ammo fits the bill.

Bersa 22LR pistols.
I knew how important it was to own a 22LR but it took me a while to find one I really liked. I tried and owned many, and there was always something I didn’t like.
Usually it’s a matter of reliability. 22LR guns are very picky and not nearly as reliable as big bore calibers. The ammo itself is of questionable quality sometimes, specially in their bulk presentation where you’ll often find rounds that either need an extra strike or just refuse to fire at all.
I owned some that were very accurate, but weren’t reliable enough, and the commands where just too different.

Customized Bersa Thunder 22. Aluminum frame, steel slide

Bersa 23. Steel frame and slide.

Both use the same 10 round magazine. Except for the slide release, all other parts are interchangable.

I wanted accuracy of course, but I also wanted something that had the typical controls found in a defensive auto.
I also wanted it to be reliable and if it ever had to fill a defensive role, a gun that could be carried in the pocket for social purposes. Of course there are much better alternatives, but 10 rounds of CCI Velocitors will ruin anyone’s day.
The Bersa Thunder 22 falls easily into a jacket pocket. It’s accurate enough for small critter and the occasional medium range shot around a farm. Get some old cans and sticks placed against a safe background and it’s a great way to spend the afternnon with some buddies without hurting the wallet to much.
The Bersa is surprisingly accurate for its size, most reliable 22LR handgun I ever owned.
I came close to putting several bucks down on the counter and buying a nice Ruger, but why fix it if it ain’t broken? I just bought another Bersa 22LR (the blued one).
The blued one is actually a model 23, prior to the Thunder series and has no slide release lever which I don’t care for much anyway. Both have adjustable sights and the Thunder had quite some customization done by a previous owner which makes it a tackdirver. It has a red plastic insert which helps during fast shooting. You shoot when the round dot comes at eye level.

Customized red plastic insert in the front sight.

I have an IWB (inside the waistband) for them, so it can be used to practice defensive shooting drills.
I highly recommend the Bersa to anyone looking for a general purpose 22LR auto.
I also like the idea of a 22LR revolver, but had a Taurus )4 that would fail to shoot half the cylinder ( so much for the revolvers never fail load of bull) A S&W 22LR revolver with a 3 or 4 inch barrel might be just perfect. If you find any of those old “Kit” guns in good conditions they are worth buying.

The steel frame makes it heavier, but it also means it can take a steady diet of Hiper velocity ammo with no concern.

The survivalist side of me wanted something that would last forever. That could take hundreds of thousands of rounds and never worry about an aluminum frame stretching.
The 23 is a bit heavier, but the all steel construction makes it such a gun. Solid as a brick. Heavier, but still as compact both easy to carry and shoot.
That’s it for now guys.
Take care folks, and have fun!

Edited to add: Ammo for the Bersa: If I remember well, Bersa recommends heavier than 38gr., High Velocity. The customized Thunder 22 is very sweet, and will shoot anything.
The blued Model 23 has a slightly stiffer spring and I've had a couple failures with lighter and standard velocity. It needs a bit more power. With high velocities of 38 gr or more I never had a problem with either gun.
I read somewhere (was it the Model 23 manual?) that Bersa tests their 22 LR with Remington Thunderbolt 40gr., and that's the type of ammo that functions the best. I never had problems in either Bersa using that ammo. GO heavy and hot.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Housing prices before the collapse

Hi FerFal,

I was wondering if you could give us some numbers regarding housing
prices before the collapse till now. Do you have any numbers for the
median existing house price before collapse vs. post collapse? And then
if we convert those numbers into dollars what would the "real" loss of
wealth be? If your mortgage was denominated in the Argentine currency
(pesos) are you now able to pay off your mortgage in the depreciated
peso? .... or was your mortgage indexed to a new value based on the

Many people in the states think that they'll be paying their mortgage
off in worthless dollars after the US dollar collapses but I don't think
so. I think the banksters will have something to say about that!


Real Estate is one of the safest investments. Always has been.
Then again our market wasn’t as overinflated as yours.
Still, today I’d put my money in real estate if I lived in USA. Prices already went down.
Here the homes kept their value in the solid areas, maybe dropped 10% or so in some cases.
What I mean is that a house that used to cost 100.000 USD, or 100.000 Pesos , now still costs 100.000 USD, 380.000 pesos.
This varied depending on location as always, the nicer, most expensive places keeping their price in USD.
Example, A house that got sold recently in a nice place, sold for 220.000 USD in 2009, and that house would have sold for 240.000 USD, maybe 250.000.
It was sold for 220.000 USD but sold in just a couple months with several potential buyers visitng each week. It could have sold for 240.000 but the client was in a hurry and wanted to sell fast.
If something very bad happens, I can see this happening in other places as well.
A nice house in USA that costs 280.000 USD before a financial collapse, maybe would still cost 200.000 Euros or so after.
For real estate in worse places, or bad investments like buying in a neighborhood that went south, prices went down but rarely loosing more than 30% of their value.
Once property reaches 40% of their value or so, enough speculators start buying and stop the decline. This has proven to be true in several cases in many countries so it’s a good number to go by.
Here the debt was “pesified” and indeed, they ended up paying 1/3 of what they should have.
The person that saved money ended up loosing a large portion of his savings while the person with the poor financial planning, the one that had debt, was forgiven a fair % of such debt.
Debt during a crisis is a risky gamble, but some people did benefit from it.
Bankers already make their profit keeping the savers accounts and getting their own debts forgiven, they can afford to benefit the people that get into debt. They are after all, the ones that keep the financial machinery going, keeping them rich.


Monday, August 24, 2009

More shoppers thinking twice in the checkout line

You predicted this! It is happening here like in Argentina...‏

More shoppers thinking twice in the checkout line

Do I really need that? Cost-conscious shoppers ditching items before checking out

NEW YORK (AP) -- Penny-pinching Americans are getting cold feet at the checkout -- thinking twice about spending and ditching items before they're rung up.
They're leaving sweaters in the dress department, dumping cookies near the grocery cashier and waiting until the last minute to weigh wants versus needs. Online, shoppers are abandoning their virtual carts as they search for better deals.

People "want to be in the act of shopping, but they don't want to be in the act of buying," said Joel Bines, a director at AlixPartners, a turnaround consultant.

It means more lost sales for stores at a time when there are already fewer customers because of the recession. For bricks-and-mortar shops already working with fewer staff, it also means more work because orphaned items have to be restocked.

Hard numbers are difficult to come by, but Burt P. Flickinger III, a retail consultant, estimates that in 25 percent of shoppers' trips to the store, they're ditching at least one item. In the recession of the early 1990s, it was 15 to 20 percent. In good times, it's more like 10 percent.

Ashley Nichols Guttuso of Midlothian, Va., dumped a red cardigan last week at the counter at the local Limited store after she found out she couldn't use a $15 store coupon on the $15 sweater.

Guttuso says she could have afforded it, but she has focused on necessities since losing her job as a copywriter for Circuit City in January, as the chain was preparing to go out of business.

"I went in there thinking I could get something for free," said the 27-year-old. "I couldn't rationalize it -- even spending $15 to $20. I am watching everything now."

Besides abandoning goods while standing in line, they're paying close attention once checkout begins. They ask cashiers to provide a total while they're still scanning items to see where they stand, or to have necessities like health care basics scanned first, said Dan Fishback, chief executive of DemandTec Inc., a retail technology company. When they hit their limit, they forgo what's left in the basket.

Lower credit limits are also contributing to the abandonment. Shoppers say credit card transactions are being denied if they go over their limit just a bit, said Ben Woosley, director of marketing and consumer research at CreditCards.com. In the past, issuers would often approve purchases up to 10 percent over the limit.

Web stores are taking a variety of steps to get consumers to complete purchases. They include sending e-mails to remind customers about abandoned items, simplifying the online checkout process and offering extra discounts to lasso would-be quitters.

Web retailers have always grappled with high abandonment rates because of confusion and technology glitches. Plus shoppers are less invested in the process because they didn't have to drive anywhere. But even online stores say orphaning has escalated.

Internet research company Forrester Research estimates as much as 59 percent of online purchases are being dumped during checkout. Those rates had ranged from 47 percent to 53 percent in the past six years, according to industry surveys.

The Container Store, which sells storage items, has seen its online abandonment rate rise to 68 percent. The company has launched an e-mail campaign to remind shoppers of their abandoned purchases and a service that lets shoppers pick up online purchases at the store to avoid shipping costs.

And SkyMall.com has cut its abandonment rate to 49 percent from 56 percent by reducing the steps in the checkout process and sending out e-mail reminders, online marketing manager Shea Beck said.

Online shoppers are scrutinizing extra charges that wouldn't have slowed them down in a better economy, right up to clicking the "place order" button.

Eric Younan, 35, of Farmington Hills, Mich., who said he had never quit during the checkout process, has abandoned online shopping carts four times in recent weeks because he discovered extra charges late in the game.

"Two years ago, a $10 handling charge wouldn't have fazed me, but now I would just drop it," said Younan, a publicist. "Back then, I had more disposable income, and my time was worth money."

Thanks Mary for the link.
The patern is pretty standard once there's an economic crisis. Of course it depends a lot on the magnitud of what happens but somethings are almost unvoidable.
What would worry me the most living in America would be preparing both for recesion, lack of job opportunites and mostly an increase in crime, even new levels some of which people even today aren't sure of or consider likely.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Getting into fighting shape: Your neck

I’m working out a bit more to prepare for a coming CQC class, same one I took some months ago.
One of the things that became evident was the need to have a solid, strong neck.
When you train in a gym you do so under controlled circumstances where people have experience or the instructor supervising stops things before they get out of hand.
When you just fight someone without that safety net there’s a greater chance of injury. These classes mostly lack such safety nets and even though that’s great fighting training, you can of course get hurt.
An injured arm or leg is one thing, and injured neck is either a serious injury or even fatal, it’s a complicated spot.
All you need is one neck muscle getting hurt and it may leave limbs useless for months, since it will affect the nerves.
I had such a problem and it took months to get the right arm working properly. The muscles tighten up and apply pressure to the nerve. It’s no joke folks, very painful and still have little sensitivity in the tips of the fingers. It also demanded lots of chiropractic sessions.
Given the amount of neck chokes and punches to the head in these classes, it’s better to have a strong neck.
Because it’s such a complex spot to injure, take it easy, since the risk of injury while working out is considerable as well.
Good warm up and stretching is paramount.
Once you warmed up, start with a simple exercise, light pressure with manual resistance exercises in all directions.
Standing straight, place your hand in the side to work out and apply light pressure for a few seconds.
Again, take it easy and supervision under a qualified instructor is advised if you’re not familiar with this type of workout.
Going straight for a neck harness with weights or a neck bridge will almost guarantee an injury.
Here’s a website with some information.

Take care.


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Crisis Affecting neighboring countries or allies

Ferfal, sorry if this is off topic, I was wondering what you think will happen to Canada when the American economy finally collapses? Canada has little national debt, but America is our biggest trading partner. I believe your observation of decline may provide some insight. Thank you.

You may also find Gerald Celente's trend forecasts of value. He has a great track record, and mainstream media are now asking him for his opinion. www.geraldcelente.tk
Especially for those who live in the USA.


When countries are that close, both physical an financially speaking, and have such a bond, its pretty much unavoidable to go down with the big brother, maybe better or worse but a crisis in USA will be contagious for the close partner.
That we saw ourselves as well in with the 2001 crisis, when our banking problem spread to our close neighbor Uruguay, with whom we have a relationship that could parallel the one between USA and Canada. In the end, it caused a crisis of their own.
The Uruguay Banking Crisis
"The Uruguay Banking Crisis was a major banking crisis that hit Uruguay in July 2002. In this, a massive run on banks by depositors caused the government to freeze banking operations. The crisis was caused by a considerable contraction in Uruguay's economy and by over-dependence on neighboring Argentina, which experienced an economic meltdown itself in 2001. In total, approximately 33% of the country's deposits were taken out of financial system and five financial institutions were left insolvent."


Friday, August 21, 2009

Argentina after the 2001 Collapse

Hi Ferfal,

Your blog is amazing, scary, and eye-opening. I have a couple of quick questions you can turn into a blog post as long as you protect my email identity. Anyways here it is...

Is all Argentina a chaotic mess like you say or is it just B.A? Is the Mendoza area, for example, a decent place to live without the insanity you mentioned? I looked at the crime rates on that map and it truly was amazing and eye-opening. Is it the same in Mendoza or in the area just south of Cordoba in Alta Gracia? I would love to know.

How did those areas react when the peso collapsed several years ago? Was it as severe since it is mostly a farming area?

Your help is greatly appreciated and any facts, info or links you can provide me with any additional information would be great.


Argentina isn’t a Chaotic mess.
It’s a country that has seen a fair share of problems for many years and in 2001 suffered a lot with an economic collapse that ended up having long term economical, social and political consequences and its all still very visible and still developing.
People still live their lives, tourists come visit, kids mostly go to school (well, they closed because of the flu for several weeks and strikes are fairly common) but there are the problems I mention such as collapsed infrastructure in nearly all aspects, an inefficient and highly corrupt government, and crime problems that, even though more or less obvious depending where you are located, is out of control and out of charts. A small % of the actual robberies and kidnapping getting reported, there’ no system effectively tracking the crime problem.

Notice I rarely ever mention majestic places like Iguazú falls or the Perito Moreno Glacier, or our rich criole culture. I rarely mention typical foods like mate, emapanadas, or the Havanna alfajores some tourist find fascinating. We have good things here, I suppose like in every other country, and we’re better off in many aspects than say, Bolivia.
“Surviving in Argentina” is a blog where I try to record and pass on lessons learned regarding overcoming the problems we have, not the good things, and there are many.
At least in my opinion and having a better view of what lfe is like in other countries, Argentina unfortunately falls in the list of places I’d like to live in. It’s just my opinion and frankly most people here never left the country, they don’t know any better or have no means to leave.
Other I know, they do know the difference and had the fortune to experiment other countries and cultures as well, but they are too attached to their town, their family and friends, they could never leave.
Is Bs As Chaotic? Depends where you land. The Capital district and northern suburbs are nice, you’ll find that’s where tourists concentrate as well. And there are other places where any person not used t this would simply be scared. If I drop a soldier in camino Negro he’d think what am I doing back in Iraq, and I’ve never seen footage of Iraq looking that bad and filthy.
Places like the villas that can be found along the Riachuleo river, those are places where a Hollywood director could role a post apocalyptic film and save millions: No a single dollar is needed to achieve the atmosphere of abandonment and poverty, you’ll even have the people walking around looking like crap.
That’s one of the most noticeable things, the gap between rich and poor. The small richest percentage making 33 times as much as the lowest middle class.

Let me explain BS As (and in some degree Argentina)wit 3 images:

Puerto Madero, one of the wealthiest parts os Buenos Aires.

Across that same river picutred above, maybe just 2 Km away from where that picture was taken: Dock Sud outisde the Captial Distric limits. Extreme poverty, crime and kids that are poorly fed and have high levels of lead in blood due to contamination.

Fuerte Apache, in Buenos Aires. About 20 km west from where the first picutre was taken. A war zone. Where "gendarmeria" posts are used for target practice when some of the locals get bored.

“Is the Mendoza area, for example, a decent place to live without the insanity you mentioned?”
Mendoza is big and overall expensive to live in compared to other provinces. It’s is nice but there are other nice provinces as well. They do have serious crime problems. Not as bad as Bs As but still, not what the average American would be used to.
That being said, Mendoza is beautiful and has some of the nicest people you find in Argentina.

“I looked at the crime rates on that map and it truly was amazing and eye-opening. Is it the same in Mendoza or in the area just south of Cordoba in Alta Gracia? I would love to know.”

Keep in mind that while a body can’t be just ignored (at least in most cases) robberies and kidnappings mostly go unreported. Even the cops encourage you not to file a report, they’ll tell you to not waste your time. It also keep the numbers lower.

“How did those areas react when the peso collapsed several years ago? Was it as severe since it is mostly a farming area?”

When the peso collapsed their products went up accordingly for export, so the medium and large scale producers (300 acres or more) did well exporting their goods. Of course the government saw this and heavily taxed them, so today they in some cases they only end up making 20% or so of their production. This situation caused the farmer’s crisis last year, you can goggle it up, its fairly well documented in English as well.
The farmer that produce at a lower scale always struggled a lot and still do. Not an activity you’d want to get into unless you can do so at least as a medium scale producer.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

How much ammo should I have?

You need ammo... but how much?

The most important need will be the ability to defend yourself from others. Either socially challenged individuals (scumbags in my language) or people that failed to prepare or are just desperate and end up involved in criminal activity. Whatever you want to call it, other people are the most urgent reason to be armed after SHTF.
For that your handgun (which you should already get used to carrying all day) will be your tool.
For this a few boxes of ammo will do. Most likely you’ll be doing some drawing but the most probable outcome is that the bad guys will choose a less dangerous victim. Of course, you have to be physically and mentally ready for the other outcome as well. My point is that even though being armed will save the day for you more than once after SHTF, you wont be getting into gunfights a lot (hopefully not!) the dead serious aspect of a gun to someone’s face generally is enough. Again, it’s a thin line and you have to be ready for shooting, but the second best outcome is that everyone, including the (bad guys) goes home.
In case you’re wondering the best outcome is spotting them before they are close enough and avoiding the encounter entirely.

Then there’s something I’ve seen done a lot, specially in farms and such, and is the need to fire a few warning shots to send trespassers, thieves and poachers away. This can happen almost on daily basis and I see the wisdom there in using a cheap round like 22LR, and that’s what most farmers and ranchers use most of here. 3 or 4 warning shots a day means over 1000 rounds a year. Better to make that 22LR. The semi auto 22lR carbine is also accurate for long range shooting in case they fire back. Anyone wounded at a considerable distance will most likely just leave.
It’s common for people here that live in the country to supplement that with a 22LR handgun and for the more informed shooter, a 38 special or other big bore handgun in case it gets close and personal.

Handgun ammo: You’ll rarely put any to use, but lets say you do end up in messy situations. 100 rounds a year is more than I’ve ever heard anyone using in a single year in self defense situations, but lets add 200 more to keep a minimum amount of training in troubled times.
That’s 300 rounds a year.

Rifle ammo:
Lets go for a similar minimum as the handgun, even though the handgun is much more likely to be used. 300 rounds a year. (I’m not taking into account real training where you can easily shoot 1000 rounds a day. I’m talking about a bare minimum here)

Living in the country:
At least 1000 rounds of 22LR a year (add %20 safety measure) That could be a couple 550 value packs and a few 50 rounds boxes of good premium 22LR ammo like CCI Stingers or Velocitors for small game hunting or self defense.
You could carry a magazine with bulk ammo for daily use, and a couple more with good premium ammo in case you come across game or need to defend yourself.

Ideally, you’ll have a greater safety net in having x2 or x3 times as much ammo.

Forget about ammo as currency, buying a pair of hand made socks in Barter Town with 10 rounds of 22LR only happens in fiction novels.
If you want to have money to be used after SHTF and want to prepare for the most outrageous possible SHTF situations, just play it safe and put that money into gold and silver.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

RE: Long time prepper needs advise

Thanks Fernando!

I'll get rid of the DoomerSteve and just go with Steve :)

Feel free to place my reply on the blog. I hope others can find it useful.

Thank you Ferfal and the other posters for your advise. I'll elaborate a bit more but I am paranoid about OPSEC to give away too much information.

I have been in business for 15 years full time and another 10 prior to that working for other people. I am in an entertainment related industry and my biggest problem and the source of most of my stress is managing my employees. The people I need with the required skill set are hard to find and the available pool is quite small. It takes a long time to train someone to the standards I require to keep my customers happy. I used to love this business, but the years of dealing with unreliable people are taking their toll. Recently I have had to fire 4 employees, two of them for theft and one of them had been with me over 10 years and a friend for 15. Every week there is one issue or another, lateness, lost or damaged equipment etc. The last two years have been brutal with staff. I am chronically short staffed now and doing a lot of the work myself. The old adage is absolutely true sometimes... if you want a job done right you have to do it. The problem with that is I work 60-80 hours a week to do it and I am truly burnt out.

I have taken steps to downsize... I guess part of that 80/20 stuff you spoke of. Trying to stay focused in the business I can do myself and make the most money on, while trying to reduce my dependency on other unreliable people. I've gotten rid of equipment I rarely used and lowered my overall expenses. I am training new staff and in the process of tightening up control over inventory and improving efficiency through better checks and balances. It is taking time and I guess I just have to suck it up for a while longer.

I do have a good reputation and people do business with me because I do good work for a reasonable price and no matter what happens I do what I say I am going to do. If I make a mistake I make it right. End of story. People know this. This possible new owner will most likely just take what customers they can keep and sell off my equipment. They have done this with several failed companies. In my case they will be just buying a competitor just to get rid of me.

I believe most of my problem is my perspective. I have had such a long run of bad luck that I am looking at everything is a very negative light. Only seeing the bad. I need to find the time to step away for a while, but it has been hard to find. I had a nice two week vacation planned but it was cut short because I injured myself on the first day, recovery took up most of the vacation and I only managed to get away for a few days. I am so desperate to get away from it for a while that I have been seriously considering just dumping it so I can run away for a while. You are all right, it would be a mistake. My wife has been telling me this for weeks but she also says she will support any decision I make. My wife has been my biggest asset.... she is an incredible woman. I need to focus so much more on the good things I have, as they are many. I have to get out of this mental rut I am in. I just don't know how.


Steve, a non-lethal dose of paranoia makes us survivalists.:)
Maybe you need to hire the services of a good human resources company to help you target the kind of employees you need. Might be worth the cost.
But it sounds like you'll do ok. ;-)


Monday, August 17, 2009

Long time prepper needs advise

Hi Ferfal,

I read your blog religiously and have found it a gold mine of wisdom based on fact... someone who is living the collapse.

I've been preparing for whatever may come for several years now. Food, fuel, weapons, tools, ammo, armor, first aid gear, generators, seeds, gold, silver... almost everything I could imagine. In addition to the material goods, I have updated or learned many new skills to help me cope with what may come.

I am Canadian, and self-employed in a business I have grown to hate over the years. The economy is beginning to affect my business. Reliable and effective staff are becoming harder to find and my health is beginning to suffer from the stress of trying to keep everything together. Another blow is that I do not own my own property. Been renting for decades. It has been impossible for me to get a mortgage for a variety of reason... the main one being that the banks here take a dim view of self-employed individuals. Even with the generous downpayment I have available, banks do not want to loan on rural properties. Too much risk they say... ha!

I have a low offer on my business which combined with savings, and liquidation of other assets, will buy me a decent property away from an urban center. A big downside is that it is worth easily double of what is being offered, just in assets alone, not too mention the reputation I have and the clients I already have. Another downside will be that I will be next to broke and my income stream will be gone. I would have to find a regular job, which will be difficult outside of urban centers, to keep the lights on and pay the taxes. In the meantime I plan to become as self-sufficient as possible to lower my expenses. The big plus is I get rid of my main source of stress, which I am afraid will kill me if I continue the way I am. I have had the business for sale for a year and no one except this person has even looked in my direction. This business will also become completely redundant if things get bad here

I'm really stuck. Could I stick it out for a few more years and come up with the balance needed to buy a retreat outright? Yes... if the economy doesn't get any worse. Will I have heart attack from the stress? Maybe, but I should be able to hold out for a few years. Do I have a few years before it all falls apart?

I have physical gold and silver holdings away in safe locations. My hope is gold and silver will rise to what they should be and I won't have to worry about a mortgage or selling my business. I'm not one to hold my breath... it could take forever for them to be where they should be or they could just go down.

The other piece of good news is I do have family in a rural area and do have plans in place to relocate there if the wheels come off suddenly. I have transport for my goods and the stored fuel to get me there. At least I am not without a place to go.

Any wisdom you can offer would be greatly appreciated.


Hi Steve (lets try to get rid of the doomer part :-) )

Thanks a lot for reading and I’m glad you find my blog useful.

Sounds like you are a lucky man, you have a well rounded setup in terms of material preps and skills.
Still you are apparently having problems in a much overlooked aspect of survival: Your finances and income.
Some survivalists concentrate so much on the unlikely that they overlook basic everyday issues such as having solid finances, a good job they enjoy and a well rounded budget.
There are survival experts that literally prepped themselves into bankruptcy. Even Mel Tappan admitted his greatest survival edge: A multimillionaire wife. :-)
Yes, money is supposedly mediocre tinder and worse toilet paper according to some survival gurus but who are they kidding?
An economy collapse catches these folks with their pants down, because it strikes where least expected: Their pockets.
Back to your email, I can only give you so-so advice since I don’t all the details but here it goes.
First, look at the bright side, you have your preps already and you have your own business.
My friend, thats more than most people reading this have.
About the stress, I hear you and it is true, it gets to you and it will get even worse until you take measures to fight the stress and change your attitude regarding everything, not only work.
Finding time for yourself, relax more, a hobby, quality time with the family and again, a relaxed attitude all helps.
My most humble advice and not knowing all the details: Don’t sell, specially at such a low price. It really isn’t the time to take such risks, with inflation and unemployment around the corner.
It worries me though that you don’t enjoy your job, that certainly is a problem because your supposed to enjoy what you do for a living, otherwise it affects your productivity and even worse, your life, and your supposed to survive to live and not the other way around.
Get rid of the idea of self sufficient as mythical goal where you reach it and you no longer need anything else. Unless you want to live in far less than ideal conditions, self sufficiency reduces your dependency of society, but it never eliminates it.
We’re all so self sufficient until we need to go down to the local hospital and try every trick modern medicine and technology has to offer. Money, proximity to proper health centers, you’ll always need them and use them sooner or later. The frontier settler was a self sufficient guy… and died at age 35 average.
I’m sure you have reasons to be stressed, but know that it could always be worse. That’s a lesson learned the hard way.
Not knowing what the business is about, is there any way you can change what affects you about it? Could you change the way you do business, how you do it, the people you relate to?
Is there a niche or aspect you’d enjoy more, or one you can diversify into that could apply to a crisis scenario? (there always is)
You’re looking at the half empty glass Steve, concentrate on the good things you have. They are many. You have your family, your preps, savings and a business you own. Man, most people would kill for that.
I’d tell you to look at your business from another perspective, try to change it into something you do enjoy. A self owned business and even more important, a hard earned reputation isn’t something you just want to throw away for ½ its price. Specially not now.
Don’t count on SHTF the way it would be convenient for you (what you said about gold) it almost never does.
Remember, stress has a lot to do with your attitude, change that, change the way you work, work less and if you don’t like your work much concentrate on the 80/20, the 20% of it that generates 80% of your profit.(Pareto Principle)
Take care man,


Friday, August 14, 2009

Swine Flu: Partial School Quarantines

Hi Fernando,

What do you think about a partial school quarantines, like I described here
We'd keep the school going, but students do not go to school anymore. Instead, they meet up at a local rendezvous point, to work on their homework. A teacher is there to provide supervision. This group (5 to 20) of students do not interact with other student groups in the school district/zone. We keep the kids occupied while the parents work. If you want to keep your kids at home instead of at this local day care, then they get a school absence.

If there is an outbreak, it is limited to the student group and does not spread to other students. Yet we can keep up a semblance of normal during this time of crisis. If swine flu is spreading through non-school means, then we can a total society lock down at that point. But this cellular school quarantine gives us a choice other than school closings.


Sorry for the delay in replying Jimmy (and everyone else)
I’m working on several projects at the same time (oh yes, some regarding survival and prep :-) ) and I end up with little time left so I have many unanswered emails and messages.
I think partial school quarantines work. Not as good as complete shutdown but its much better than no measures at all.
It’s easier to control the spreading of the disease, but it still requires a lot of responsibility from adults, students and their parents.

I was working on my final thesis for Architecture right in the middle of the pandemic and we did that, got together someplace in very small groups to make corrections and such (less than 5) . Anyone that had the slightest sign of being ill was encouraged to please not show up.
I used my respirator in those meetings back then, and I think that along with good hand hygiene does help a lot.

My son’s school went a set further:
During the quarantine they disinfected the place completely, threw away any billboard, loose sign made of paper or cardboard, threw away educational material made of cloth, puppets, cushions and such, they washed everything with water with a good amount of bleach in it.
What our school did was offer us small manuals they printed swiftly, and once a week we’d pick them up and the kids would do that at home, so it helped a lot during home schooling.

The important part people: Do SOMETHING.
If the problem is serious, stop school and classes completely. As a preventive measure before seeing things develop fully, partial quarantines may be a possibility.

I’d advice you to limit the meeting to no more than 10 kids, even less if we’re talking about younger kids that aren’t as good at keeping hands clean and such, more forgetful about the safety measures.

Classes in the province of Catamarca stopped yet again this week, because there was a new wave of A flu and a lot of kids got sick.
These are times of swift and decisive measures, adapting as the pandemic evolves and affects each community in its own way.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Policia and "Villas Miseria" in Argentina

Saludos... It appears that the recent public demonstrations in various parts of Argentina in protest against the government's lack of ability to stem the huge increases in crime are having results. The Policia Prefectura are all over the Mar del Plata downtown area where I live. They are stopping cars day and night... I guess they are looking for DWI drivers using roadblocks. My wife reported they are also rounding up teenagers who are chemically impaired while walking on the downtown streets. Some of her middle school students are among those detained... soething the local cops don't usually do. One can see them in their specially equiped van-type vehicles in large numbers all over the highest crime areas... a very visible deterrant.

I don't know if this is the first time federal troops have been used in local crime supression.

The following article shows that the pharmacy murders allegedly by Mexican narcotraficantes over the psuedo-ephedrine traffic last year are also having results.

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Argentine customs officers have seized more than four tons of a chemical that can be used to make methamphetamine during an investigation into drug traffickers with ties to Mexico.
Mario Crespo, director of investigations for the customs service, says a total of 4.2 metric tons (4.6 tons) of pseudoephedrine was confiscated at several government warehouses at the port in Buenos Aires on Wednesday. No arrests were made.
Carlos Stornelli, justice minister for the province, says the drug seizure is related to an investigation into a clandestine meth lab that was discovered near Buenos Aires last year at which nine Mexicans were arrested.

Captn. Rick

Hi Rick, hope you're doing well.
That's good news in terms of security, because “prefectura” is better at fighting crime and as you note, the militarized thing they have going on is a better deterrent. Of course its far from ideal because the police shouldn’t be a militarized force but its common practice in Buenos Aires. Same for gendarmería.
Do you remember the “gendarme” that was murdered last year(was it Fuerte Apache?)? I remember the comments from the neighbors were all very positive, they liked having gendarmería keeping a firm grip on things, keeping the goblins at bay so the honest inhabitants of the “villa” could have a better life.

Villa in Rosario, Argentina

About “villas miseria”, these are shanty towns and slums where there’s no formal street or sidewalk, just dirt passages that sort of form by themselves almost organically, as people build their shacks with metal sheet, cardboard, plastic sheets or whatever they can find.

This is what "Below the poverty line" means in Argentina: Not enough money a month to buy the needed calories to survive.
How many? 26% of the population as of 2004 according to INDEC. INDEC being manipulated by the K government, today we dont know how many live in these conditions.

These places have no formal floor other than the dirt and earth they sit on, and conditions are pretty bad.
They all have improvised illegal power connections but that’s where all luxuries end.
I interviewed people from “villa Carton”, as part of a special emergency Architecture project.
As the name implies, the place was full of cardboard and paper collected by the “cartoneros”, the scavengers that inhabited it.

"Cartonero" in Buenos Aires, one of the thousands that invade the city each night.

A fire, supposedly intentional, turned the place into firebomb and the people lost what little they had.

The more recent villa miseria I found near by in Ing. Bunge is a sight to behold. Looks like one of Dante’s circles of hell.
Imagine a junkyard, as wide and the eyes can reach and also gets lost in the horizon ahead. No imagine the place is flooded. Now imagine shacks with families living there.
I kid you not, as my wife said, even our dogs live better than those people. At least the kennel is dry.

People looking for food or trash to sell.

These people have a foot of water inside the shack as soon as they climb out of their soaked mattresses.
These villas are a politicians favorite dish: Poor, ignorant people willing to sell their vote for a few bucks and some false promises, each one procreating and making 4 or 5 new poor, ignorant and desperate voters. What an evil machinery.
Some of these villas have evolved, like villa 31, where the shacks were replaces by brick and mortar improvised homes. Still illegal in many ways, most have illegal power connections, but little by little the lucky ones evolve into real neighborhoods.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Politicians and finances: Learning to read between the lies, I mean, lines.

Remember a few months ago I mentioned the problem we had here with lack of coins?

Mostly the bus companies (buses use coins here) where stocking them up, sucking them out of the market, and reselling them at a 10% profit to the same passengers.
Well, a tinfoil hat nut such as myself might have thought there’s a reason why this is allowed to be done in the first place.
Oh, ever the conspiracy theorist!

Today we learned the wonderful news that the government found a solution to this … “problem” … manufacturing a excess of 480 million units so there’s coins everywhere (they did say if they were 1 buck or 10 cents).
Man! It’s just so nice to fix … “problems”… including financial problems, by just printing and stamping out more and more coins.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could all just fix problems the same way? Scanning 100 USD bills and printing a pile of them… oh right, it would have much vale if we all did that, would it?
But hey, its ok for the authorities to do that when they need a few more bucks.

It's not as if doing that would cause even more inflation. OK, maybe just a bit more, but who's counting? :-)

They also raised driving tickets and fines 100%… for our own safety.
A tricky mind would suspect that they are doing so to suck out money from the population in every possible way, but its not nice to think that way, is it?


Monday, August 10, 2009

This is why I write:

Thank you, Fernando

I would just like to thank you for changing my whole survival mindset
after I found your blog and your book a couple months ago. Here's what I

Before Ferfal:

I wanted to get 20 acres in the middle of the Nevada desert and live out
there away from everybody. I had chosen what I thought was one of the
state's few agricultural areas (turned out they only grow hay there
because of poor soil). I was into the whole thing of having a fortress
against the hordes streaming out of the city. Of course, I couldn't
figure out how to pay for it, so I started a website that launched in
the middle of the financial crisis and flopped.

After Ferfal:

I decided to stay here in Sacramento, since it's the state capital and
we will likely get much of the food once rationing starts, since we have
all the politicians. I decided that there was actually a REASON I went
to trade school, so I became a computer repairman. I am currently
thinking of buying a half acre out in Rio Linda, which is zoned
agricultural but still urban enough so that the neighbors can hear me
scream (and the gunfight). That way I can have a garden and a few
chickens and not be arrested, since that's illegal in many other areas
of town. I currently have my eye on a property that holds an illegally
modified house that will have to be torn down. That way I can build to
MY specs.

So, thank you for everything (including saving my money and sanity!).

A couple notes:

It's weird how normal everything is here in the US, 9 months after the
banks nearly collapsed. Prices haven't gone up 500%. There are plenty of
beggars on the streets, but they don't look nearly as bad as some
Argentines did and do. I keep seeing recreational vehicles on the roads,
even though many workers are afraid to take a vacation lest they be
fired, but enough are. The banks are open, and the withdrawal limits
haven't been lowered. There has been plenty of work for sign companies
as the new owners of failed banks change the signs. Most people are
working fewer hours, but not fired completely.

Americans have yet to make the major adjustments in their lives that
will be necessary-I read about a family that couldn't afford food, yet
they were buying cigarettes and beer, and paying for cable TV, cell
phones, and Blackberries (a text messaging minicomputer). They were
paying these expenses even before their rent! And they were buying food
with what was left over. Their teenage son was flunking out of secondary
school, a fact that elicited only mild whining from his father. So, the
reality of what the future holds hasn't really sunk in here.

People are angry over a proposed government run healthcare plan, but are
not seeing the big picture. They managed to keep the system from
collapsing last fall, but only put off the day of reckoning until later.
I give it at MOST until 2012 as to when people will realize that it's
all over. I personally am trying to pay off debt and invest in
commodities so that I will at least have something when the banks DO
close. I bought an old army safe and will use it for PM's. It's just
sort of a wait and prepare game now.

Also, how are kids who were just little when SHTF in Argentina doing? It
was always an article of faith in American survivalist circles that once
civilization weakened, the young would forget it completely and become
untamable wild animals. Is that happening there?


My over inflated ego doesn’t need this, but thanks man. :-)
I’m posting it because this is what its’ all about for me. When I get these emails, it inspires me to continue, to post more, to participate more in the various forums. Again, thanks man.
You guys, you’re all great and I appreciate all the help, from so many people it’s just humbling.
And I may have had a few beers but I love you all (just kidding, I don’t drink much at all)
Seriously, thank you. :)

“It's weird how normal everything is here in the US, 9 months after the
banks nearly collapsed. Prices haven't gone up 500%.”

Dude, just be grateful. You don’t want SHTF. You do not want collapse, chaos and madness. Yesterday, Sunday night the new (We had like 5 or so) minister of economy was talking about the new measures taken to raise taxes and pretty much steal our money.
There’s people out there getting power bills with the new taxes and other BS, some have gone up 1500%. I’ll type that again: 1500%!!!!!

That means a poor guy that used to get a 150 power bill every two months (roughly) 40 dollars., now finds a bill in his mailbox for over 2000 pesos. That’s almost twice the minimum wage for the power used in a smallish home or apartment, not a Mc mansion type home.

They are slowly killing us here.

Also, how are kids who were just little when SHTF in Argentina doing? It
was always an article of faith in American survivalist circles that once
civilization weakened, the young would forget it completely and become
untamable wild animals. Is that happening there?

These are official numbers. This is not me inventing anything and it’s all easily found with a little google, but just so you understand what happened with our youth after 2001.
½ the males in the Buenos Aires Suburbs (meaning the majority of the population of Buenos Aires) between 18 and 35 are addicted to Paco , a highly addictive drug, made using the waste of the cocaine production process. Total junk, destroys people in a matter of months.
Out of those addicts 1/3 to 1/4 , depending on the neighborhood we’re talking about, are involved in criminal activities to get money for this drug.
Just picture those numbers for a second, translate that to what you know, your city and you’ll see the insanity, the magnitude of the problem.
Every addict needs to rob or steal an average of 100 (a bit over 25 USD) pesos a day for his fix. The drug itself is cheap, but its so addictive that they need to stay high most of the day.
The average person here carries what? 20 pesos to move around?
Each addict will need an average of robbery victims each day.
Think about those numbers and you start to understand why crime is such a huge problem here.
But it’s not even about drugs. Holland has drugs and yet its couldn’t be any safer, at least compared to the madness in Argentina.
It’s about poverty, the 2001 collapse, the lack of hope for a better future, living in worse conditions as time goes by. The frustration felt by the parents and grownups is transmitted to the young and it has consequences.
As we say here “estan jugados”. It means their dices have been thrown and they already lost. They don’t give a damn if they get thrown to jail or risk their neck in a robbery. They steal, rob, rape and murder to get back at whomever they think is to blame.
Our own president goes live on national TV saying middle class, people with money are responsible, what can you expect?
The more poor, the better for her.
Don’t know about “untamable wild animals”, but do expect a very violent , very ruthless generation.
Won’t take 10 years, just five years from now will be enough to start seeing this new wave. Those that are already 7 or 8 years old will become serious social predators. We have our share of 13 year old murdering criminals.


Disappeared for a couple days

Sorry for that, the internet provider had some problems with their competition (Multicanal) and they apparently messed up some of their equipment on purpose. A little sabotage to slow them down, since my provider has better prices and a lot of people are moving over to them.
I remember one time a several years ago, they sent guys with chainsaws to cut down all their cable poles in the neighborhood when they first got started with the cable TV.
That’s how they do business in the southern Buenos Aires “conurbano”. :-)
I’ll catch up with some of the emails, approve some comments and then try to catch up with the posting.
There’s also a new code for the 10% book discount, “README”, since the previous one expired. (thanks Rick in NG ;-) )


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Family during and after a crisis

Anonymous said...
Ferfal, since we're on the topic of weddings, did you notice if a lot of women were getting pregnant and having babies during 2002 and 2003 in Argentina? This seems to be a big thing in the US, many many women are now pregnant, and there are even ads on Craigslist and other online classifieds looking for "sperm donors".

A lot of these women seem to be unmarried and even have a couple kids already. The pregnancy boom here has been commented on a lot by internet pundits, and many men have said that it is illogical for women to want a baby during an economic crash, albeit a mild one. Yet women seem intent on getting pregnant.

I know that you and your wife were married soon after the collapse, so it was sort of natural to start a family, but I'm talking about women who have little in the way of steady salary having babies.

The weird thing is that there was a dip in pregnancies during the oil crisis in the 70s, since I was concieved during the 1973 embargo and my school classes were always the smallest, but now there seems to be a pregnancy boom.

More people are getting married. Specially among middle class, its also viewed as a way of formalizing the relationship and saving money on rent and other expenses.
Specially among the poor, there’s also a reduction in age of sexual initiation and lots of teen moms. This goes hand to hand with poverty and lack of education typical of a severe crisis.
Having said that, there’s even less young moms having babies, mostly because they can’t afford to have them, or to have as many kids as they once did, so the birth rate has gone slightly down the last 3 years in Argenitna.

In a certain way, it’s also true that during hard times people fall back to family for support both physical (going back to live with the parents, or families living under a same roof) and emotional as well.
Some women put their carriers before family (having kids) during a recession where there’s little room to grow professionally motherhood become more appealing to these type of women as well.
The amount of women looking to be single mothers (either through sperm donors or informal relationships) also grew as well.


The Royal Scam

Interesting graphs on the currency collapse in Argentina. Thought you'd be interested...Chuck


Here's what happened in Argentina: the political leaders are dysfunctional and infighting, paying out to their home provinces, uncaring of the enormous debt and with no reason to care so long as foreign money could be borrowed. Meanwhile the economy began to rest more and more on bubbles and speculation funded by this foreign borrowing. When the balloon went up, the insiders saw which way it was headed and got their money offshore, something like Cheney and Halliburton did the other year. Then as things devolved, ever-increasing capital controls were put in place, just like now with the US investigating “off-shore havens” and profits one might have made overseas using the premise of money laundering to chain the firedoors shut one by one.

Finally, they enforced the official “corrilito”, and soon after had an extended Bank Holiday for the 5 months it took to devalue the Peso by 73%--far faster than anyone not forewarned could adjust and react. Once every exit was chained tight, they firebombed the casino, trapping everyone inside. Even if you had thousands in stocks, bonds, and savings accounts, with the market frozen and the monthly bank withdrawal limit set at $300/mo, the little people could not pay rent or even eat, becoming “Cartoneros” garbage-picking architects and engineers, wandering the streets with their children at midnight as the nation devolved into a chaos that did not topple the ruling class.

Once all the assets in the country had been discounted a minimum of 73%, the insiders then repatriated their money and bought their neighbor's fortunes for pennies on the dollar, finding cheap, hungry, competitive labor, ready to compete with even 3rd world wages. The prudent, hard-working, and savers (the wrong people) were wiped out, and the money was transferred to the speculators and insiders (the right people). Massive capital like land and factories can not be expatriated, but are always worth their USE value and did not fall as much, or even rose afterwards as with falling debt ratios and low wages these working assets became competitive again. It's not so much a “collapse” as a redistribution, from the middle class and the working to the capital class and the connected. ...And the genius is, they could blame it all on foreigners, “incompetent” leaders, and careless, debt-happy citizens themselves.

Now I'm no genius here, but couldn't the United States do the very same thing?

What you need to do is--and bear with me here--send your best Wall St. salesmen and diplomats to China and sell them a bill of goods about how they can “modernize” with our help. The Cold War is over. Capitalism reins. You know us Wall St. types! It's all about the dollar! Have the radio scream the President sold out and sign them up to the WTO as you suck Asia into massive overcapacity and a deep, unbreakable reliance on the US and G-8 as customers while paving over the national independence of their life-giving water and farmland. Then, once they've tasted freedom and affluence, once they're unable to support themselves independently, you pull the plug not on them but YOURSELF. Implode your own middle class as above. Kill the bond markets, cause a run on your own currency, and default on the debts you owe them. Hey, it's the only thing you could do, right? Americans are just stupid, right? Wall Street is just greedy. It's all an accident, an act of God really. No one's to blame. It's classic Judo.

In a single stroke you:

a) lose the burden of external debt

b) by devaluation lose your internal debt

c) make the nation competitive as a manufacturing power.

d) scare the people back into compliance, even exultation with their low wages.

e) with the renewal of manufacturing, re-cast the power that your military rests on

f) during a time of Peak Oil, radically reduce unnecessary consumption while insuring strategic (military) supply.

g) by doing that, suck in the oil powers of Russia, Iran, and Venezuela enough to knock them off-base, first with high prices, then low prices.

h) club China into submission to the G-8 money powers again

and best of all:

i) enrich insiders beyond their wildest dreams, insuring their dominance for a generation to come.

All the right people win, all the wrong people lose.

Seeing the monetary parabola looming dead ahead after the near-miss of the Tech collapse, what do you need to insure this happens on a very tight schedule?

First, knowing this will happen, you suck in your own people by demanding—straight from the top—that bankers loosen lending standards so low even the dumbest financier couldn't believe it was prudent, then refuse to prosecute even the most blatant corruptions by mortgage originators, fraudulent borrowers, and other “outsiders”. Suspecting this will all blow up, pay yourself today in bonuses instead of later in investments.

Then, knowing you'll never repay, you jack up national spending beyond anything anybody's ever seen and go do what you want all over the world, in any country you want, with impunity.

Then you have a scare that gives you cover to set up conduits that insure all the right people have lifeboats, even if it costs $23-30 Trillion, and even if the Hoi Polloi scream bloody murder. It'll all be over soon anyway.

It was only a 3% GDP deficit that sank Argentina:


Thanks Chuck! :-)
The article is pretty accurate (no, I’m not one of the garbage picking Architects mentioned :-) )
but there are a few points though:

1) The most important one, This chart:

is absolutely fake, a shameless lie:
Every single person that lives in this country knows that.
Inflation never when down like that rather the contrary.
Today, compared to pre 2001 prices. Inflation is roughly 300%, many times up to 500% on some product, and maybe a bit less in few others, 150% or so.
But that chart is just ridiculous. We were “dollarized”, that’s why a family that today expects to maintain basic middle class levles needs 2000 USD a month, that’s roughly 7500 pesos for a middle class family. And that’s why today middle class in Argentina is going extinct. It’s impossible to keep up with the ever growing inflation.
10% inflation compared to the year 2000. It’s a joke, an insult for the poor that suffer the reality and know better, and one of the main reasons why the current administration is hated so much: The lies of the INDEC the hidden inflation that is only hidden in numbers but everyone sees when buying.

2) the idea of a booming Argentina, a well greased piece of machinery working at full power a couple years after the collapse. Not so. I’ve been saying so for years, and just now, only last week, did Christina Kirchner half heartedly recognize this, and accepted to run all our economy numbers from INDEC (the official institution in charge of it) going back to 1998, doing all the numbers again.
This happened because Argentina needed to project an image of prosperity after the crisis, to attract investors again. Guys, the economy collapsed completely like a tower or cards. No one invested a single buck, we needed that image of “ Look, a couple years after the crisis we’re back on top, come invest, come visit. We welcome tourists with very competitive prices!”
But the problem was that cooking the books in such a way means you don’t have a correct diagnosis of the “illness”. Only now they recognize this path leads to certain death.
But what does this mean? It means that people that for years trusted the official numbers of Argentina (many didn’t) don’t have an accurate picture. That’s why the part where it says :
“And a few months later, Argentina defaults on sovereign debt, for a multi-billion dollar loss to foreign creditors. A mere two years later, the country is without debt, working hard, and booming.”

It’s not true. At least for most companies I assure you, even today they struggle to keep afloat. Every business owner, small or medium will agree on this, at least 9 out of 10 will. I can’t think of more than a handful “booming” companies here. There are a few, but they sure are the exception.
We’ll have to wait for a long time until they do what they promised to do, check the statistics again and go back to 1998 and move forward form there.

3)The idea of the “insider” job. It’s only a partial truth. The IMF, and world powers, are they supposed to be poor naïve catholic school girls? They new what was going on. When you give money to a bunch of corrupt politicians and lobbist, knowing fully well they wont give it back, you already know what you’re doing and what you’re getting into is pretty dirty.
Gee, wish I came across one of these goodly trustful bankers that just give you a billion dollars knowing you’ll never pay back.
Did any of you ever come across one of these??
They were blowing the place up and ready to collect the pieces for a profit. More 1 USD/hour qualified workers, more governors and politicians, even the president, eating out of the palm of your hand.
Our politicians are thieves, some petty little thieves, some actual mafia, but this required some global help as well.

Other than these to points, the rest is very well explained and certainly worth reading… and learning from.


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Criminal Mastermind: Luis “Fat” Valor.

The legendary criminal was arrested in Buenos Aires a couple days ago, after a car chase and some intense gunfighting, followed by a car crash where he got injured.

This man has been in and out of prison his entire live, even escaped once disguised as a doctor, tieing sheets to forma rope, then jumping a wall and running, this was caught on video.

“Fat” Valor’s supergang does it all. He robbed over 30 Cash in Transit armored trucks. (his specialty) and it’s impossible to tell how many banks he robbed directly or indirectly, though recently he’s been specializing in “commando” type robberies to high end mansions and houses in private gated communities.

Alamo Alto Country: One of "El Gordo" Valor targets

His gang has 20 stable thieves and another 60 used randomly for different “jobs”.

Recently they found one of his (many) safe houses: Radios and other communication gear, cell phones, body armor, police uniforms, 2500 rounds of ammo, over 60 guns including a very nice FAL Para, several shotguns, some sawed off, scoped bolt action rifles for long range shots, handguns and SMGs, I saw a few of both (pistols and SMGs) with sound suppressors.

Behind bars or not, Luis “El Gordo”(Fat) Valor will always be a threat to society.

More on Luis "El Gordo" Valor.


Home Business

My mom is oblivious to the oncoming economic avalanche. She's a recent divorcee` using the settlement from the divorce to start a wedding cake business. She lives in a small town but is near a medium-sized town (just big enough to have a public airport). Next month I'm going there to visit her.

My question is this: did any bakeries/confectioners/caterers survive the Argentinian collapse? If so, what was their angle? Since she's set on doing this, I am thinking of trying to persuade her to sell "little luxuries" like cupcakes instead of "big luxuries" like wedding cakes.

By the way, I bought your book and enjoyed it. Well, I won't say "enjoyed" it... it scared my toes off... but I appreciated the information in it. Especially your wife's advice at the end. Wish there were more articles on the web from lady preppers.

Best wishes,

Tall Sally

I’ll see if I can convince Ms. FerFAL to write a bit more :-)
I think its interesting because she went from being very naïve in some ways to very realistic of the situation we live in. Maybe not in a gun-ho type of way guys usually relate to more, but seeing things for what they are and just taking a lot of precautions, some of which I never would have thought of.
About your moms business.
Of course we have bakeries and such. In spite of the crisis Argentina is a modern country unlike some of the extremely poor dirt holes sometimes seen in movies. We have almost everything you can find in USA, including many of the luxuries. It’s just more… devaluated in general terms. And there’s of course much more poverty, the zonas liberadas I mentioned (and will post about next) , poor infrastructure outside major down town areas, etc.
Banks, shops, bakeries, and everything you can think of, those business that weren’t solid fell during the collapse or barely managed to keep running. There’s plenty of everything, but many shops went out of business and the more solid, more prosperous ones, those survived.
Which ones survived? The ones that were good at doing business.
Note I’m not saying good at what they did, but good at doing business. Two completely different things.
I know people that are very good at what they do, yet they are poor business minded, and they don’t do as well.
This means knowing the market, how to sell your product, how to advertise it, the niches to provide for, etc.
Maybe your mom knows the area well, maybe people there are sort of upscale and can afford her product, maybe it’s a rather poor neighborhood and aiming for a market with tighter pockets it’s a good idea.
These are times to be very conservative, this means being very cautious about spending money, sticking to low risk, and analyzing the market in full detail before going for it. There’s got to be no doubt in your mind that be business or deal will be successful and telling someone you trust and having his objective view as well wouldn’t hurt.
It’s not just hard work. Hard work not always = making money. People in sweat shops make clothes 15 hours a day, and that’s not making them rich.
Now, if she really loves the cake business she has in mind, then that helps a lot. When you put passion into it, and you use your head as well, sooner or latter you succeed. Sounds corny but its the truth.
Help her out listening to her, analyzing the numbers she has in mind from a different point of view, and helping her come to a decision, how to structure the business so that its more successful.
My wife’s best friend works in something related to that. She cooks for parties, weddings and events. She moves in a higher middle class market ( even if its small compared to 1st world countries) and she does ok. She’s not getting rich but makes a living.


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Example of sheeply stupidity:

This is what I sometimes talk about guys. People live such perfectly sheltered lives, they get to a point where they don’t even make sense anymore.
A dose of hard reality usually cures this.

Lady, if by any chance you happen to read this, playing videogames isn’t killing.
You admit that there are real monsters (that much is correct).
You better be armed if/when you have to face one.

By the way, knives are as lethal as guns and they never run out of ammo. But I’m sure there are no knives. Not in your life.