by Fabian Ommar
Author of The ULTIMATE Survival Gear Handbook
In my last article, I tried to establish the relationship between the economy and SHTF and provide some insights on some implications that institutions and other factors have in determining the outcome of collapses (economic or otherwise). Now let’s talk about the practical matters of the looming economic SHTF.
It’s time to see more about what’s coming and how to prepare for it.
Nothing has happened yet. Why should I worry?
I know many people are tired of hearing the economy will crash, and we’ll suffer the consequences for years to come. I get mocked all the time for continually talking about a reckoning of epic proportions. “For more than a decade, yet nothing has happened,” I keep hearing.
And my reply to that? “Wrong!”
First, a lot has happened: the 2008 GFC was the most severe financial crisis since the Great Depression. Millions got wiped. We can still feel reflexes of it today. Second (and perhaps the most important): the situation of the worldwide economy has deteriorated significantly since then.
Some people must wake the f*ck up and smell the coffee.
According to Bloomberg, reports estimate global debt at $281 trillion. And that’s by the end of 2020. Notwithstanding the possibility of underestimation, that’s already more than 350% of global GDP. Wait, there’s more: last year, the Federal Reserve printed 40% of all USD currently in circulation. Ouch.
With that, I ask, how come nothing has happened? Does it take a three-digit IQ to see the implications?
So, who said we’ve seen the worse of this yet? Yes, people will wake up indeed, one way or another. And what a shock it will be. Very few are aware, and even less are preparing for what will likely be a suffer-fest.
An early warning does not mean the warning is wrong.
There is always something governments and institutions can do to kick the can down the road. In fact, since early 2008 (even before that), governments have done precisely that in overdrive.
Unlike natural disasters, the powers that be can artificially postpone economic SHTFs.
However, not indefinitely.
In practice, this means we may keep living on borrowed time for a while. But at one point, reality will assert itself and catch up. A lot of brilliant people believe that reality is coming soon.
Hindsight is 20/20
And that’s why being a prepper is a mindset. In 2018-2019 if someone told you the entire world would lockdown for months thanks to a virus and engulf us all in this craziness we’re in now, how would you have reacted?
When I say bad days are coming, I’m not talking about or trying to predict the end of the world. Arguing that is a distortion. Being prepared doesn’t mean I’m living in a bunker with a gas mask and tons of canned food. Life goes on, and we should be out there living it while we still can.
But this isn’t incompatible with being ready and aware. Don’t stick your damn head in the sand: use it instead. Is it better to be early and prepared, or late and unprepared? With all the warning signs blinking red, the choice should be obvious.
Many in the prepping community don’t see a financial crisis as sexy or impactful.
Maybe the world of finance and economy are viewed as too complex, too esoteric, too corrupt – in short, too distant – especially by a conscious and pragmatic bunch like preppers.
Also, older and newer generations have lived on a tailwind for the last two or three decades, an exceptional situation provided in great measure by fake money printing, heavy interventionism, and scandalous bail-outs. That undoubtedly contributed to making a lot of people soft and complacent.
I don’t know if those are the reasons or not. Understandably, most would rather deal with the practical aspects of prepping (also because it’s easier). But preparedness is all about planning, forecasting, cycles of abundance and scarcity, rational consumption of resources, resilience, etc. So, in essence, prepping is economy.
Now, on to what matters: preparing for an economic SHTF
Those who find things are volatile now shouldn’t wait until this runaway train hits society headfirst. When people realize the size and depth of the fraud and that their wealth, savings, pensions, and rights are in danger (or have evaporated), they will react.
How much of a storm it will be? We’ll see. But that may force the governments to crack down even harder to contain the revolt. And if that happens, the mechanics of action-reaction could mean ever-growing bilateral tensions and conflicts within societies (and possibly external ones too).
You may think I am gloomy. However, look into history again and draw your own conclusions. Regardless of what you see or where you live, you can do better than to take things for granted. It is time to remain alert and active, not alienated and complacent.
Take action now.
Don’t wait until something happens to start researching and learning how to live in a world with an economy entirely different from the one we had for the past 20 or 30 years.
I know this sounds like basic prepping advice. But it is less about stockpiling food or ammo and more about not underestimating the blow that living a simpler or more limited life can have on ours, our family’s and friends’ psychology (and physiology too).
On that, Daisy provides a wealth of advice on living frugally in many of her books and articles. Jose is also a great source of information and wisdom about everyday-life-real-life in a collapsed economy. Go back to their writings and heed their words. It’s actionable stuff that can provide a lot about preparation and survival during personal and collective economic SHTF events.
Deep economic crises can last a lot longer than other SHTFs.
Natural or man-made disasters can have a much quicker resolution, so it’s easier to prepare for them in many ways. Stockpiles and other preparations are good for these situations and can ease the blow of an economic crash.
But stuff doesn’t last forever. Some preppers in Venezuela had food stocked for a year or two. At the time, it seemed a lot, and on all accounts, this helped them go through the early phase. But the ordeal has been going on for twenty years. Think of that for a moment. It’s a lifetime – and it hasn’t ended yet.
The correct mindset is a marathon, not a sprint. This is why gear, stockpiles, and equipment matter but more in the short-term: to provide some comfort, safety, and confidence as a way to soften the blow. Mid and long-term, especially in a lasting economic downturn, require a different mentality.
Think of economic SHTF preparation in other ways.
Life goes on. It’s perfectly fine to keep enjoying your current lifestyle. Continue consuming and using products and services that are still available and your financial condition allows. But get ready for a downgrade. Research, learn, test, get acquainted, and live some time using alternative/lower brands and options.
See how this change affects you and your family. I know most people can adapt. But losing can hurt, and it’s much better when it’s voluntary, or we know how it feels. This exercise can ease the transition practically and psychologically and save a lot of work in case of shortages, price hikes, or a reduction in the variety and availability of products, which are all common during economic downturns.
Don’t underestimate the importance of this sort of preparation for surviving a more harsh economic collapse. Just look at the tsunami of mental and psychological illnesses that stemmed from the lockdowns and the whole craziness we’re living.
Invest in tools.
Here is more of a practical tip. Refurbishing, reusing, repurposing, recycling and repairing were common ways to save money during the ’70s and ’80s. Inflation is higher on first necessity items and lower or even negative on less essential products and services. These are precisely the ones that can be DIYed.
Installing or repairing stuff around the house or car leaves more to be used in other goods and necessities or saved and invested. You can generate income by doing this too. Tools are still cheap, so it’s a good idea to have a good set ready along with complementary items such as screws, blades, PPEs, and other non-perishables. (Even if you don’t know how to use them now.)
Have an Inflation Mentality.
On payday, my father would take us all to the supermarket to pull carts topped. Non-perishables would be purchased all at once to be stored and rationed. He’d also top the tank of the car and pay his bills that same day.
It was that, or his salary would be over well before the month was. Prices would rise daily, sometimes twice per day. Everyone did the same for decades until the country could contain inflation in the mid-’90s. Sounds too crazy? Can you imagine living in such a world?
Perhaps you should because even though there’s no way to tell what kind of scenario we’ll have this time around, a particular type of mentality is necessary to navigate a fast-changing economy and optimize resources. Inflation, deflation, or stagflation scenarios require a shift: we must think in terms of purchasing power instead of affordability when facing an economic SHTF
War-gaming possible scenarios.
Think of the many different ways that an economic SHTF can, directly and indirectly, affect you and your family. Consider the implications for your job, career, savings, mortgages, investments, pensions, income, healthcare, everything.
Also, think about practical changes in everyday routine: how will transportation, leisure and entertainment, safety, shopping, and other routines and necessities (yours and your family’s) may be affected, both by the changes in the economy, the society, the politics, and your community.
Do the above to plan and implement the necessary preparations to provide home and personal safety, health, mental stability, etc.
Here is an interesting read from Daisy back in 2017 on What a Second Civil War Would Like Like.
Don’t forget the pandemic.
Whatever your views on the whole COVID-19 ordeal, things like virus developments and government impositions, lockdowns, mandates, vaccines, etc., are still a threat and can compound issues. I defend that everyone should be free to decide how to act, but either way, everyone can be impacted by consequences and changes. Use common sense, and don’t play the fool for anything.
Establish plans for short, mid, and long terms.
Be aware that generational economic downturns don’t happen suddenly. There can be shocks and crashes of various magnitudes with more immediate and grave consequences, but things usually occur in stair-steps cycling through booms and busts (as they’re happening right now) while we ride to the bottom.
Short term means having preparations (cash and provisions) to deal with frozen accounts, bank holidays, confiscations, bouts of social unrest, things like that. Mid-term can include shortages, disruptions, blackouts, and overall decadence and failure in public services and utilities. And the long term, all the effects of inflation compounded with stagnant or declining economic growth (stagflation) and everything that comes with it.
Some (many?) things cannot be anticipated or planned.
And that’s fine. We must accept, not worry, and not stress. Don’t get stuck on that. Reflect, discuss the possibilities, take notes on what you can, and move on. Stay calm, positive, and open on what you can’t. Stay mobile and agile. Keep improving. Above all, learn to roll with the punches and adapt. Learn to decide fast and act swiftly. None of that takes special skills, much less gear or stockpiles.
Hyperinflation is essentially a failed state.
Inflation is a form of taxation, a very punishing and unfair one. Most important, high levels of inflation mean a broken-down state and society, which has reflexes and ripples through all aspects of everyday life.
Expect a lowering in infrastructure investment and maintenance, a worsening (or failure) of public services and necessities, a general reduction in quality on everything public and private. And, of course, all the social volatility that we know will occur.
The lack of “Crisis Memory” may turn things worse.
Most people today have no idea what are things like the indexed economy, price control, and how the market and government respond to these things (hint: shortages, withholds, confiscations, price gouging, and all kinds of scams and tricks).
There are now entire generations that have no memory of living in such an environment. These issues haven’t been on the minds of the individuals and the collective for decades now.
Will this lead to mistakes, misreadings, bad judgments, and wrong calls? Probably. The market isn’t even considering the possibility of crashes and changes (yet). I’m afraid this will worsen the consequences of the impending economic disaster. But I hope I’m wrong. In fact, not just about this but everything else.
Final thoughts about an economic SHTF
Much of what happens in the economy is related to the psychology of the people and the collective. When things are good, and everyone is happy, we behave one way. When things are bad, and people are in a bad mood, afraid or pissed, we behave totally differently regarding money, savings, and everyday life. And this ends up shaping up the future, and the reason why it’s impossible to predict it.
The main takeaways are:
- Since no government can produce anything, if much, they have the power to make things worse. In the end, it’s always the people who pay the price and have to make all the sacrifices.
- While these kinds of significant economic events are terrible for most people, they are also excellent opportunities for those who prepare to move up in life and stay ahead.
- So get busy: whatever your situation, preparing intellectually, mentally, and psychologically is within reach. Study, get literate in economy and finance if you will. At the very least, don’t be an “economy denialist.” And, of course, keep working on any material preparations you deem essential. No one knows about you better than yourself, so betting on ourselves, whatever happens, is the best strategy of all.
How are you preparing?
Do you believe we’re about to face a massive economic crisis? Why or why not? How are you preparing yourself for a long-term economic SHTF scenario? Let’s discuss it in the comments.
Fabian Ommar is a 50-year-old middle-class worker living in São Paulo, Brazil. Far from being the super-tactical or highly trained military survivor type, he is the average joe who since his youth has been involved with self-reliance and outdoor activities and the practical side of balancing life between a big city and rural/wilderness settings. Since the 2008 world economic crisis, he has been training and helping others in his area to become better prepared for the “constant, slow-burning SHTF” of living in a 3rd world country.
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