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Sunday, April 15, 2012

An introduction to strategic Prepping - Installment 1

Chapter 1:    INTRODUCTION

To be Independent – Learn to think and live independently

REDUCE YOUR DEBT: Reducing ones debt to as close to zero as possible is essential. That may involve selling off some of your real estate investment, moving to a smaller home, refinancing your home mortgage to a 15-year loan, and eliminating your credit cards. Stop paying interest. Do not be dependent on the government for your well-being. Try to be as independent and self reliant as possible for your income.

Take control of your finances. Read many alternate sources of information. Do your homework. Be driven to understand what is going on and more importantly what it means to you. Avoid states of denial. Become as independent as possible. Make yourself save as much as you can. Most people live above their means. Learn to live below your means. If you save a minimum of 10% per month, you can grow your wealth very safely. Some can save 20%-25%.

Diversify your investments; include investments in Swiss money instruments, gold, different currencies.  Owning tangible assets such as junk silver coins is an ideal way to preserve wealth in an economic collapse.
Avoid weak financial institutions. Get out of harm's way. Many banks, brokerage house, S& Ls and insurance companies are tottering on the brink of disaster or close to it in the event of a market downturn. And in spite of the perception to the contrary, there is no substantive insurance safety net under these institutions.

Avoid popular investment markets. There are few goof-proof opportunities for conservative investors. Stocks are overvalued. If you own stocks have stops in place. Corporate bonds are vulnerable and will drop as U.S. interest rates rise. Be very selective in investment real estate. Commodities are out of favor and at bargain prices. All things are cyclical and go from being under valued to over valued.

Find investment safe havens. The three best and most conservative investments to put your money into over the next few years are gold and silver, foreign government bond funds, and U.S Treasury bill money market funds. Don't announce to the world what you are doing; keep a low profile. Legally “bulletproof” your business and personal matters. America is the most litigious country in the world, with 700,000 lawyers and 187 million new civil lawsuits per year. Every doctor, professional businessperson or business owner has a nightmare about being sued into ruin. Incorporate your belongings with an LLC or a trust – in this way you own nothing, but control everything. Therefore you cannot lose it to a lawsuit.

Pay Attention
Check your mindset about the news, about investments and about your financial security – is your information reliable – does it stand up to independent research. To survive the coming hard times, you must vigilantly control the way you do things, the way you think, and the way you invest. You must read between the lines in today's news reports ... find alternative investments and financial institutions ...and plan for the future.

Food and Water
Purchase and maintain a one-year food supply (to start) – then  have a large water source, such as 55 gallon water barrels. Own tangible assets or commodities that can be bartered or traded.

Live Independently
Finally, buy remote acreage with cash – eliminate debt – all debt……and ultimately buy or build an off-the grid, sustainable home in a small town or rural community that can serve as a home and your family retreat or place of refuge.

It is dangerous to be right, when the government is wrong
Chapter 2:    BACKGROUND:      

Case Study:         The Worst Episode of Hyperinflation in History – Yugoslavia 1993-1994 – or Why you should not believe everything you are told.

Under Tito Yugoslavia ran a budget deficit that was financed by printing money. This led to rates of inflation of 15 to 25 percent per year. After Tito the Communist Party pursued progressively more irrational economic policies. These irrational policies and the breakup of Yugoslavia (Yugoslavia now consists of only Serbia and Montenegro) led to heavier reliance upon printing or otherwise creating money to finance the operation of the government and the socialist economy. This created the worst hyperinflation in history up to this time.
By the early 1990s the government used up all of its own hard currency reserves and proceeded to loot the hard currency savings of private citizens. It did this by imposing more and more difficult restrictions on private citizens access to their hard currency savings in government banks.

The government operated a network of stores at which goods were supposed to be available at artificially low prices. In practice these store seldom had anything to sell and goods were only available at free markets where the prices were far above the official prices that goods were supposed to sell at in government stores. In particular, all of the government gasoline stations eventually were closed and gasoline was available only from roadside dealers whose operation consisted of a parked car with a plastic can of gasoline sitting on the hood. The market price was the equivalent of $8 per gallon.

The combination of the shortage of gasoline and the government confiscation of German Deutsche mark deposits created a bazaar episode. A man after repeated attempts to get the government to let him withdraw his Deutsche mark deposits as Deutsche marks announced the was going to commit suicide in front of a government building by dousing himself with gasoline and igniting it. On the appointed day he showed up with a canister of gasoline. The media was there to film his protest. The police were also there and arrested the man. Afterwards the television station got numerous phone calls asking what had happened to the canister of gasoline.

Most car owners gave up driving and tried to rely upon public transportation. But the Belgrade transit authority (GSP) did not have the funds necessary for keeping its fleet of 1200 buses operating. Instead it ran fewer than 500 buses. These buses were overcrowded and the ticket collectors could not get aboard to collect fares. Thus GSP could not collect fares even though it was desperately short of funds.

Delivery trucks, ambulances, fire trucks and garbage trucks were also short of fuel. The government announced that gasoline would not be sold to farmers for fall harvests and planting.
Despite the government desperate printing of money it still did not have the funds to keep the infrastructure in operation. Pot holes developed in the streets, elevators stopped functioning, and construction projects were closed down. The unemployment rate exceeded 30 percent.

The government tried to counter the inflation by imposing price controls. But when inflation continued the government price controls made the price producers were getting ridiculous low they stopped producing. In October of 1993 the bakers stopped making bread and Belgrade was without bread for a week. The slaughter houses refused to sell meat to the state stores and this meant meat became unvailable for many sectors of the population. Other stores closed down for inventory rather than sell their goods at the government mandated prices. When farmers refused to sell to the government at the artificially low prices the government dictated, government irrationally used hard currency to buy food from foreign sources rather than remove the price controls. The Ministry of Agriculture also risked creating a famine by selling farmers only 30 percent of the fuel they needed for planting and harvesting.

Later the government tried to curb inflation by requiring stores to file paper work every time they raised a price. This meant that many of the stores employees had to devote their time to filling out these government forms. Instead of curbing inflation this policy actually increased inflation because the stores tended increase prices by a bigger jump so that they would not have file forms for another price increase so soon.

In October of 1993 the created a new currency unit. One new dinar was worth one million of the old dinars. In effect, the government simply removed six zeroes from the paper money. This of course did not stop the inflation and between October 1, 1993 and January 24, 1995 prices increased by 5 quadrillion percent. This number is a 5 with 15 zeroes after it.

In November of 1993 the government postponed turning on the heat in the state apartment buildings in which most of the population lived. The residents reacted to this withholding of heat by using electrical space heaters which were inefficient and overloaded the electrical system. The government power company then had to order blackouts to conserve electricity.

The social structure began to collapse. Thieves robbed hospitals and clinics of scarce pharmaceuticals and then sold them in front of the same places they robbed. The railway workers went on strike and closed down Yugoslavia's rail system.

In a large psychiatric hospital 87 patients died in November of 1994. The hospital had no heat, there was no food or medicine and the patients were wandering around naked. The government set the level of pensions. The pensions were to be paid at the post office but the government did not give the post offices enough funds to pay these pensions. The pensioners lined up in long lines outside the post office. When the post office ran out of state funds to pay the pensions the employees would pay the next pensioner in line whatever money they received when someone came in to mail a letter or package. With inflation being what it was the value of the pension would decrease drastically if the pensioners went home and came back the next day. So they waited in line knowing that the value of their pension payment was decreasing with each minute they had to wait in line.

Many Yugoslavian businesses refused to take the Yugoslavian currency at all and the German Deutsche Mark effectively became the currency of Yugoslavia. But government organizations, government employees and pensioners still got paid in Yugoslavian dinars so there was still an active exchange in dinars. On November 12, 1993 the exchange rate was 1 DM = 1 million new dinars. By November 23 the exchange rate was 1 DM = 6.5 million new dinars and at the end of November it was 1 DM = 37 million new dinars. At the beginning of December the bus workers went on strike because their pay for two weeks was equivalent to only 4 DM when it cost a family of four 230 DM per month to live. By December 11th the exchange rate was 1 DM = 800 million and on December 15th it was 1 DM = 3.7 billion new dinars. The average daily rate of inflation was nearly 100 percent. When farmers selling in the free markets refused to sell food for Yugoslavian dinars the government closed down the free markets. On December 29 the exchange rate was 1 DM = 950 billion new dinars.
About this time there occurred a tragic incident. As usual pensioners were waiting in line. Someone passed by their line carrying bags of groceries from the free market. Two pensioners got so upset at their situation and the sight of someone else with groceries that they had heart attacks and died right there.

At the end of December the exchange rate was 1 DM = 3 trillion dinars and on January 4, 1994 it was 1 DM = 6 trillion dinars. On January 6th the government declared that the German Deutsche was an official currency of Yugoslavia. About this time the government announced a new new dinar which was equal to 1 billion of the old new dinars. This meant that the exchange rate was 1 DM = 6,000 new new dinars. By January 11 the exchange rate had reached a level of 1 DM = 80,000 new new dinars. On January 13th the rate was 1 DM = 700,000 new new dinars and six days later it was 1 DM = 10 million new new dinars.

The telephone bills for the government operated phone system were collected by the postmen. People postponed paying these bills as much as possible and inflation reduced their real value to next to nothing. One postman found that after trying to collect on 780 phone bills he got nothing so the next day he stayed home and paid the entire phone bills himself for the equivalent of a few American pennies.

Here is another illustration of the irrationality of the government's policies. James Lyon, a journalist, made twenty hours of international telephone calls from Belgrade in December of 1993. The bill for these calls was 1000 new new dinars and it arrived on January 11th. At the exchange rate for January 11th of 1 DM = 150,000 dinars it would have cost less than one German pfennig to pay the bill. But the bill was not due until January 17th and by that time the exchange rate reached 1 DM = 30 million dinars. Yet the free market value of those twenty hours of international telephone calls was about $5,000. So the government despite being strapped for hard currency gave James Lyon $5,000 worth of phone calls essentially for nothing.

It was against the law to refuse to accept personal checks. Some people wrote personal checks knowing that in the few days it took for the checks to clear inflation would wipe out as much as 90 percent of the cost of covering those checks.

On January 24, 1994 the government introduced the super dinar equal to 10 million of the new new dinars. The Yugoslav government's official position was that the hyperinflation occurred "because of the unjustly implemented sanctions against the Serbian people and state."

Source: James Lyon, "Yugoslavia's Hyperinflation, 1993-1994:
A Social History," East European Politics and Societies vol. 10, no. 2 (Spring 1996), pp. 293-327.

Lesson:         It CAN and probably WILL happen here – don’t wait to be told what to do.

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