Showing posts with label inflation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label inflation. Show all posts

Thursday, July 18, 2013

82% Inflation and Precious Metals

FerFAL recently wrote about how Argentina had 82% of their purchasing power over 10 years. While it might not be as drastic I fear we have inflation coming. Honestly it could get really bad. Food and precious metals are good places to put your money.

Speaking of precious metals my recent dip order from JM Bullion showed up today. [It was not involved pwith our advertising relationship, I was just a normal customer.] I ended up on their site and the prices were awesome. They beat the other guy I was dealing with by a couple bucks per item. My gold and silver showed up nicely packaged. In fact it was packaged very well with individual coins in pouches, the pouches in bags, the bags wrapped in bubble wrap and the box covered in packing tape. Had to bust out a knife to get it open.

With silver rounds at $20 and change there really isn't an excuse not to put one away every month or two.Well unless you are buying food and seeds.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Worst Case Scenarios Army Style

The topic of worst case scenarios comes up a lot in the Survivalist community. I got to thinking about them and then unconsciously started using the type of thinking I am indoctrinated to on the problem. Not saying it is the right way parse; unlike some obvious cases such as tactical gunfighting or battle drills where that is what we do there are a lot more options here. This is just a way I am used to dealing with problems. Figured you all might be interested.

Do not plan on fully getting into intelligence preparation of the battlefield today. It is good stuff but well today is Friday so I just dowana. So I'll skip some parts, briefly touch on some parts and dig into what I feel like.

We start by defining the environment we will be operating in. Next we evaluate the threat. First we look at how the threat would fight in an unconstrained environment. For old school conventional fights against folks who have and use doctrine, like the Russians, it is pretty simple to accurately lay out how a mechanized company will act in the defense (or whatever). Now it gets interesting.

What happens now is we apply their order of battle to the terrain/ environment and come up with a situational order of battle. This is how we think the enemy would be arrayed in the current operating environment. After that we look at the enemies potential courses of action.

Right or wrong we typically look at 2 courses of action most likely and most dangerous. The most likely is just that, what we expect the enemy to do based on their tactics, the terrain, etc. Most Dangerous is if the enemy decided to go 'all in' with an aggressive high risk/ high reward plan what it is what we think they would do.

What we do after identifying the templates two plans is figure out the differences between the plans. Those differences are targeted as part of our overall intelligence collection plan to hopefully determine the enemies disposition (most likely, most deadly or something else). Along with high value targets these differences will make up the bulk of our intelligence collection efforts.

It is worth mentioning that neither the most likely COA or most dangerous COA are exaggerations or fantasies. Both need to be grounded in the enemies capabilities and if possible historic activities.

Obviously you will not be looking for the enemies scouts to be templated at location 1 vs location 2, obstacles in a given location or battle positions to determine between 2 COA's as a survivalist. However the principle is the same.

Example time:
Lets say Bob thinks our country has real economic problems. He sees the best case as 8-15% real inflation coupled with a stagnant economy a la late 70's to early 80's stagflation. The worst case he sees is a complete economic collapse of Argentina like proportions. So obviously Bob will not be templating these COA's on acetate then looking for the differences. He will however be identifying the differences all the same.

Some differences might be:
-Continued increase in the monetary supply (most dangerous)
-Rapidly increasing inflation (most dangerous)
-Decrease/ a slowing of the increase in government spending (most likely)
- Slow increase or steady inflation (most likely)

Next we would need to drill down those differences (Priority Intelligence Requirements AKA PIR) into specific identifiable indicators. We will do this for one of our PIR:
-Rapidly increasing inflation (most dangerous)
        -Inflation above 9%
        -Inflation increasing more than 1% in a month
        -The spread between inflation as measured by .GOV and Shadow Stats increasing 25% in a month.

Anyway after a bit more consideration I will share my thoughts on Worst Case Scenarios.

Imagine a bunch of drunks driving around with a trunk full of dynamite to get revenge on a psycho murderer during a tornado. There are multiple risks in play. It should be noted this method only really works to compare similar courses of action (in this case risks). It would not work to compare an economic collapse to a pandemic or Chinese invasion. Looking at 2-3 areas that worry you could be assessed between most likely and most dangerous to determine whether the drunk guy behind the wheel will drive you off a bridge, the tornado will get you or the dynamite will blow up. Hope my iffy analogy makes sense to you.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

RE: Firearms and Ammo as a Hedge Against Inflation by CarteachO

CarteachO wrote a great post awhile back and recently updated it. Given our current environment with looming inflation and the gun grabbers temporarily held at bay the advice is especially timely. My thoughts in no particular order are.

- Obviously you still need food, medical stuff, an emergency fund and such but if there is some extra money left over a few spare guns are a fine place to park some cash.

- Basic guns can offer a lot of value and were not inflated in price by firearmagedon. They also make great loaner guns in case an under equipped but reasonably competent loyal friend or neighbor needs help. The basic guns (quality .38, Moss 500/ Rem 870 12 gauge, .22 rifle or 30-30/30'06) can be found pretty regularly at very good prices. At the right prices Mosin Nagants and SKS's are also valid options. I think if you can afford it the idea of having a few extra's sure beats deciding which of your core guns to arm somebody with.

-In my various gun selling dealings lately it's become apparent to me that guns hold their value over time pretty well assuming they stay in the same condition. Used but not abused guns are probably best as they already have the inevitable couple nicks and scratches with depreciation to match.

-Private party purchases are best. They are typically where you will get the best deals and there is a bonus lack of paper trail.

-Like any financial vehicle you make or lose a significant amount of the potential profit at time of purchase. Being patient and reasonably flexible helps. Also you need to be able to get cash fast as many great gun deals are somebody who needs cash right now.

-Divisibility is important so instead of having 1 gun work $2,500 I would suggest several guns that add up to the same value.  

- You can never have too much ammo stored away in ammo cans. To make things easier get hedge guns in calibers you shoot and stock already. Have some mags and ammo to sell/ trade with the gun. During an emergency or another firearmagedon just the gun isn't too useful while a gun with 4+ magazines and a couple boxes of ammo would sell itself.

Over the next few years assuming no significant change in gun laws or any SHTF, personal or otherwise, we will probably squirrel away several hedge/ loaner guns. A set of basic guns with an extra revolver is more or less my personal goal. As described above each would have a complete if simple setup with some ammo, mags if applicable and a needed accessories. If we got there as time went by more friends might show up to be test fired, cleaned, lubed and put away.




Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Inflation Coming and What Are You Doing About It

It has been more and more clear to me that we are in an inflationary situation. If you have been to the grocery store, gone clothes shopping or filled up the family auto you have probably seen it also. Maybe I am just really noticing it but it is here. Lots of hidden inflation in food products, smaller servings, etc but it is still apparent.

The scary thing is that our current slowly robbing you of purchasing power inflation can suddenly begin quickly robbing you of purchasing power. When the banking conglomerate market focuses on a country things can spiral out of control in a hurry. Not months but weeks if not days.

This week for whatever reason I am getting out of the problem admiration phase. Put up a close line earlier this week. Dug out the spare parts to fix Wifey's bike and will get it up and running probably tomorrow. Trying to find a deal on a bike for me.

Today I picked up some plants; herbs, yellow peppers and tomatoes. My brilliant plan is to grow them. I think the plants are going to be coming inside at night for a bit until the risk of frost is over, probably in 2-3 weeks but I have to do some more reading about it. Am going to get my stuff together, do some research, and try to grow a half dozen buckets (or pots as Wifey doesn't want our yard to look white trash fabulous) of different stuff. If I can make it work without a hassle it would be nice to do the heirloom thing and keep the seeds for next time.

With the exception of  getting the bike up and running and hopefully finding another one for cheap these are tiny steps. Growing some food would be nice, both to teach kiddo about taking care of things and have a fun activity to do with him and to save a few bucks. In fact I expect failure. I don't expect a whole ton to happen from these efforts. The reason I am doing it is to get the inevitable growing pains out of the way now when it doesn't matter. However the real point is to start building some skills. Skills we may need later. Skills that may be the difference between barely getting by on stored food and having some variety to go with it.

I also dug out FerFAL's book Surviving the Economic Collapse  and started going back through it. I briefly talked about his book years back but it turns out I never did a full review. Might have to fix that. In any case despite the relatively high cost of $25 I suggest buying and reading this book. If you are really cheap, read all his old forum posts, guest posts at Survival Blog and his blog it's probably OK to skip the book. That being said I did all that stuff, bought the book and was happy I did.

We are also putting money into food. Stuff like freeze dried emergency food and plain old canned staples like rice and beans. Depending on where your preps and finances are you might want to think about precious metals. If your financial situation is in decent shape (no credit card debt, some savings, etc), you have some gear and a few guns with ammo PM's are a good place to park a few bucks. In particular I think silver is a good buy right now with at $30ish.

I am not saying that you need to do what we are doing. Everybody has different strengths and weaknesses and working from them instead of blindly following me or anybody else makes sense. The point is that you should be doing something.

What have you been doing?


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Ruminating Thoughts On The Coming Year

The Sun will continue to rise and set. Basically I expect a slightly worse version of this year.

Taxes- Taxes will go up. Part of this will be strait forward rate increases but most of it will be increases in 'fees', eliminations of various loopholes and such. The bottom line is that more money will flow from your pocket to multiple levels of government.

The Economy- I am not sure about our economy. My initial thought is that the lost decade our current jobless, non housing inflation and cheap money fueled recovery will continue. In this regard I expect a bit worse version of 2012. Then again who knows.

The European Sovereign Debt issue could well reemerge. With China's unsustainable growth rates turning to inflation and the economy slowing the US may well be one of the better looking horses in the glue factory this coming year.

I suspect artificial manipulation of gold and silver prices to continue. Silver will probably continue to be a pretty good buy over the coming year. Once our food storage goals are met we will put away some more PM's for sure.

Inflation- Hidden inflation will continue. The current CPI calculation seems manipulated to suit political aims inaccurate on how inflation affects normal folks. Most of this inflation will be covered up by smaller packages, less food by weight and the usual tricks. Expect your income to purchase fewer goods and services than before. 

Gun Control- I think that gun control could go many ways.  Were I forced to take a guess something will probably happen next year. The Dem's will do something, potentially via executive order if needed, to get a symbolic victory. It could be as benign as mandatory reporting of certain behaviors by medical professionals and maybe import limitations on certain guns like Siaga 12 shotguns and AK's or could be worse.

Crime- It ain't gonna get better. The flat lined economy will push some marginal folks towards crime. Also as state and county agencies try to make budgets work they are going to continue or increase prisoner releases. Yes these folks will generally have been arrested for nonviolent offenses but that is just what they were caught for. Plenty of violent criminals are incarcerated for various minor offenses and some of them will inevitably be released.

Down here in the South West I think the Reconquista downward spiral of drug/ cartel violence and unchecked illegal immigration will continue.

I wish that it wasn't my opinion that the partisan nature of politics in the US will get worse. Identity politics and hate mongering to suit various agendas will continue. There is potential for short flashes of localized violence being orchestrated to suit specific purposes. Think twitter flash mobs against political opponents.

Afghanistan- It isn't going to get better. The writing is on the wall that we are leaving. Expect limited conflict to support political goals. Think 'Nam in about 1971.

Wellthose are, for whatever they are worth, my thoughts on what is coming in 2013. Hopefully they give you something to think about. Again in closing I expect it to be a lot like last year but a bit worse.  Good luck,

What are your thoughts on the coming year?

Ryan




Saturday, October 13, 2012

RE: Advice on Military/ Banking/ Finances

Saw this post over at FerFal's place. After thinking on it for awhile I decided to do a post here instead of commenting over at his place. Nothing wrong with FerFal's ideas but let's just say I have probably thought about this scenario a bit more.

The basics of survivalism/ preparedness obviously apply. Have food to eat, water to drink and the means to purify more, medicine for when you are sick and arms and ammunition to protect your family. That statement is a mouthful we do not need to get bogged down as the specifics of each of those are another series of posts.

These folks have some cash in an IRA. I definitely wouldn't mess with what is already there. Maybe depending on what they are contributing in comparison to other savings they could slow IRA deposits but that is getting into the weeds. Remember folks, we do not know what is going to happen. Maybe my grand kids will be living on a hard scrabble little farm in the woods shooting small game with home made bows and defending their lives with ammo I have stored. Then again it is probably a lot more likely that things will keep on ticking and in 40 years when I'm bouncing grand kids on my knee it will be nice to have some money.

As FerFal suggested keeping a good portion of your liquid emergency fund in cash is prudent. I wouldn't keep it all at home as accidents can happen when you are away. However keeping at least 2-3 months essential cash expenses (food, fuel, medicine, etc) worth of money makes sense. You could make a good argument for keeping more beyond that up to say half of your liquid savings in cash.

The benefits of owning some precious metals were mentioned and are pretty obvious. They are a good hedge against inflation and currency failures. Don't go crazy here. Buy an ounce or two of silver when you can (or save it and make bigger orders to cut down shipping costs and take advantage of better deals) and over time it will add up.  If you have a bit more money buy some small (1/10th and 1/4 ounce ish) gold.

The topic of off shore accounts came up. Let's move forward assuming this money isn't best spent elsewhere and we want to keep it in some sort of currency. I wouldn't worry about off shore accounts unless you have serious money to stash. If you have a few grand I would put some in the gun safe and maybe hide the rest in a well thought out cache. The hassle wouldn't be worth it and the potential benefit's are iffy. Anywhere they will take a card cash will work, the opposite is not true. Now if you had fifty thousand dollars maybe it's worthwhile to take a trip to the Cayman Islands or someplace.

As FerFal noted the military and security folks like police are going to get paid unless things fall apart entirely and go totally Mad Max. I am going to get the exact amount of dollars and cents on the first and fifteenth. That does not however carry any guarantee that the money I receive will be able to purchase a given amount of goods and services.

Inflation is coming, heck it is here now. I fear that the best case is for it go get worse, like 10-20% real inflation for a few years. If things get crazy it might be worse than that. I don't see Zimbabwe/ 1920's Germany hyperinflation happening but 30-50% inflation would be ruinous. 

The one big thing I would add to FerFal's post is to decrease your standard of living now. Be balanced and don't do anything radical overnight. Try to pay off some debts and maybe eliminate bills by canceling various nonessential services. If you can start doing things for yourself [Guys buy a shaver and cut your hair at home. If I can do it you can. Gal's put a lot more stock in their hair so unless somebody is good at cutting it then get it done at a good but sanely priced place. That's just my .02 cents.] to eliminate bills. Buy stuff on sale and take advantage of coupons. The point here is to decrease your basic household expenses. Again be balanced with this and do it over a period of time so it is less uncomfortable.

Reallocating money you are used to spending on whatever is very hard. I know because have done it. Cutting twenty bucks from the grocery budget means you don't get Digorno pizza on Wednesday, the Mrs doesn't get the soda she likes  and you both have to drink less beer (or whatever). The point is that it sucks. Sorry, wish there was a better answer. Being smart and doing it over time helps. Also seeing the benefits of what else you can do with that money helps considerably. The savings account may grow as could cash and precious metals on hand as well as preps put away.

For military folks or anybody else with a fairly predictable salary schedule there is another option to use in conjunction with decreasing expenses. When you get a raise make some intentional choices with this money. Instead of letting it slip into your budget with a few small lifestyle increases save that money, put it into precious metals or preps or whatever else makes sense. Do that a few times and you will have a nice gap between what comes in and what you actually need.

This gap building we are has a couple benefits. First it lets you go into overtime paying down debts, putting away cash and precious metals, storing preps or whatever your goals are. Doing these things helps improve your situation even further. It is a positive feedback loop.

Second and more on topic this is your inflation protection. Living on 50-60% of what you make means there is some room to absorb inflation. Of course you would want to change your standard of living to still save, etc but you would have time to figure that out in an orderly manner. Not a fun option but I fear it is very realistic.

Think about it like this. If Fate left a message saying that your income would drop by 30% on a given date you would start doing things to get ready for it. If that date was in 6 months or a year you could pay off that credit card and ease out of $5 coffee every day, mani/pedi's or whatever, and other luxuries. Might even trade in a car for an older model, eliminating another payment. You would darn sure save some money. Now if that date was a week away all it would do is be depressing. By getting in front of this problem you have the luxury of time to make things as pleasant as they can be.

Anyway those are my thoughts on the matter.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Putting on my Nostradamos Cap

On Economics/ Politics:

Well QE 3 is finally getting launched so we will see a fast meaningful recovery the lost decade will continue.

Unfortunately I do not think our economy is going to get better until we are really honest about our situation and take the steps to get back to an honest and stable place. This requires facing the pain of unraveling all the bad "assets" floating around and the massive empty inventory in the housing market gets unloaded at realistic prices. As this is not happening any time soon the pain will continue.

I saw an interesting article over at James Dakin's place (original Lew Rockwell article here) that basically says we will not have hyperinflation because it is not in the best interest of big banks and their whole crony network. I cannot say that I understand it fully but, not necessarily for any quantifiable reason, I agree that hyperinflation is not likely.

We do need to get onto the same page as to exactly what is considered hyperinflation. Let's pick the definition of hyperinflation as greater than 50% inflation in a month. It is as good as any. I do not see this happening. Yes we have a huge debt but we are too big and powerful with too many huge productive businesses for it to be likely IMO. (Also I think Arctic Patriot noted that huge powerful countries do not go broke, they go to war) I don't intend to argue this point, it is just my take on things.

Now I do think a period of painfully high inflation is quite possible. Maybe somebody gets some sense and cuts off the free money that has been subsidizing big businesses and poor decisions like dollar shot night at the local bar. Maybe our creditors start to get wise and demand an actual return on their money. Maybe the big banksters aim their destructive market powers at US. I don't know.

We could see 10-13% inflation which would probably leave the fed rate around 16%, prime mortgages around 20% and consumer debt in the area of 30%. This would drag down our economy like a guy trying to swim with an anvil tied to his waist. Several consecutive years of this would essentially destroy those on fixed incomes. Folks holding adjustable rate debt's would probably face default or ruin.

We may see rioting and disorder as welfare/ food aid/ etc that are chained to the ever more manipulated to give a happy story CPI get left behind. [Briefly touching on Matthew Bracken's When the Music Stops I do not see our government failing to send out welfare/ food stamps (now on cards)/ etc. I respect Matthew Bracken immensely but IMO this article misses the simple point that our government via it's cronies the Federal Reserve has a darn license to print money. It is like saying that Jack Daniels will run out of Whiskey or Tula will run out of .45 caliber bullets.

Seniors and moochers will get what they are "entitled" down to the exact penny. However that doesn't mean it will be worth the same as it is today. Somebody on food stamps or whatever will get the same dollars worth of hand out's but if a pound of rice costs $5 and a Digorno frozen pizza costs $10 it won't go very far. Not quite as sudden or whatever as envisioned in the scenario. It would more likely cause a slow upswing in problems than a sudden burst of angst. That is of course unless some sort of response was coordinated to meet a specific purpose in support of some agenda.]

I see this arguably intentionally orchestrated series of events potentially diminishing our status on the world stage with a wimper, not a bang. Think of the way Britain's role and power have changed from WWI to now. They went from being the biggest and arguably most powerful nation in the world to being publicly dissed by Argentina stealing their island (yeah they later took it back, barely).

On War:

The madness between Israel and Iran is out of control. All I hear in the media is war drum's. At this point I really would not mind if they get it over with and fight, at least that way it would get done and we could have  the news back. Except of course it would cause a lot of problems, likely embroil us in a nasty conflict, maybe cause nuclear war, blah, blah, blah.

On Gun Control:

I do not see a reinstatement of the Assault Weapons Ban or whatnot. The balance of public opinion is clearly against it. Unless the Dem's sweep the house and senate plus keep the presidency which is probably not likely I am not concerned. Even then I am not so sure for heavens sake Walmart sells AR-15's.

That being said ATF fiat and possibly executive orders might pop up with some fun new stuff. The play of the ATF arbitrarily usurping more of our rights changing some regulations which FFL's (and individuals) will then follow or face their lives being ruined and livelihoods destroyed is already in the playbook. Remember that your shotgun is a shotgun unless it is suddenly a pistol or maybe an evil assault weapon.

On Crime and Disorder:

In general I think crime is getting worse with the signs showing the trend is likely to continue. Maybe it is the economy. With everybody (well a lot of folks anyway) taking a step down the proverbial economic ladder some folks look to crime as the easy way out. Some of it is cultural/ environmental but that doesn't really matter. For reasons I am not entirely clear on criminals seem to be getting more and more violent. Home invasions seem to be becoming more and more prominent.

As discussed above there is a potential scenario (amongst others) where things could just go nuts like LA Riots times 1,000 all over the place.

Anyway that is what I think may be coming. Now to what we might be able to do about it:

Economics:

Some folks argue that having a lot of debt is fine because hyperinflation or at least inflation will let them pay it back in cheaper (or basically free) dollars. The first issue with that plan is that if you haven't figured it out yet banks are going to get taken care of at the expense of common folks, not the other way around. The second issue is that you it will be hard to pay back cheaper dollars if you lose your income/ job because the economy tanks.

If you listen to nothing else that I say get out of any debts that have an adjustable interest rate. The only exception would be if you have the cash to pay the debt off immediately (like in the next payment) but choose to keep it at a low adjustable rate so you can stay a bit more liquid. Rates are very low right now with almost a guarantee that they will go up. As we saw with various European countries a bad auction or two can jack up rates in a hurry.

The basics still apply here. Minimize debt and live below your means. Save in various forms against an uncertain future.

Gun Control:

In this quadrennial 'OMG the evil gun haters might ban everything' period I have spent a bit of money but that was just bumping up some purchases I planned to make anyway by a bit. Sort of hedging my bets if you will. That being said I have been getting squared away in this area for awhile and while things aren't perfect (are they ever?) most of our bases are covered. If you do not own something, especially if it is likely to be targeted in a ban, that you want and can afford then consider getting it.

Crime and Disorder:

Things are getting more and more dangerous. Carry a weapon if it is legal and practical for your lifestyle. Get the training to know what you are doing. Make yourself a hard target. If you live someplace that is sucky and dangerous with a high percentage of unhappy urban folks and welfare types consider moving if you can figure out how to afford it.

Note that most of the things I have recommended are the same things I have been talking about for awhile. Preparing for every situation is not the same. You do not need a dozen assault rifles to survive an economic collapse. Having half your net worth in PM's will not be ideal if things go all mad max. That being said a whole lot of the commonalities are the same. Live below your means saving (in various forms) for emergencies and the future. Store food, fuel and other various things you will need. Have the skills and weapons to protect yourself and your stuff.

Anyway that is what I have been thinking about. Thoughts or input are of course welcome. 








Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Fed: Recession kicked median household wealth to 1992 level

Here is the article. This is not suprising but still sort of depressing. What they fail to mention is that a buck is worth considerably less today than back in 1992.

I look at who benefited from this, the classic cui bono if you will. It is pretty clear to me. Big bankers and financiers made a killing. Politicians did well on campaign contributions from those folks as well as using the money flowing into their coffers to buy votes. Personally they also made a killing on insider trading their consistently and consistently lucky investment choices. Some normal folks did well, if just for awhile. Nobody was complaining when their homes went up in value 20, 30 or even 40%. Nobody was complaining when the construction industry was booming.

I realized in writing this that I have sort of looked at bankers in the wrong way. I think a bit too locally. The assistant manager of West lake Trust in Peduke, Iowa population 50,000 didn't wreck out economy. That guy gives people loans they come to the bank looking for. Now the big bosses at Citibank, B of A, WAMU, etc all on the other hand had to knew what was really going on. That is why they got rid of these loans like a kid playing hot potato. They made money hand over fist for years. When the game was up they dumped all the junk onto the public in a variety of ways both above and below board. After that we loaned them cheap money which they used to buy up the competion which was slightly worse off or couldn't get easy money friend loans.

Between politicians making laws, setting conditions (keeping interest rates artificially low for years) and supporting their friends in banking and finance a lot of the blame goes to our wonderful elected officials. Banksters knowingly gave bad loans which they repackaged to unrecognizability then sold as rock solid. They bought politicians to do them favors and provide mafia like protection. These two groups royally screwed normal everyday Americans out of tons of money.

I cannot however totaly absolve people of the choices they made or the situations those choices caused. Lots of folks used electronic/ paper gains in their homes to finance vacations, new cars or home improvements and such. Some of them are mad now because they are "underwater" and have to pay back the money they so prudently cashed out during the boom. Lots of normal folks made poor choices thinking that somehow the good times would never end and ended up in a bad spot. Others tried to get in on the game and lost too, by the time normal folks get into the game the smart money is already on it's way out. Normal folks are standing when the music stops in the proverbial game of musical chairs.

Today I may be more disenchanted, with the establishment for lack of a better word, than I have been since the height of this mess in 2008 or so. Not exactly sure what if anything I will do about it.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Look Inward

To paraphrase Joe Fox "focus on what you can do". I have talked about the concept for some time but he expressed it in a clear and simple way that I am stealing. You can't control what the Federal Reserve is doing to the monetary supply or inflation or all kind of other things. You can control what type of debt you have (for goodness sake if you won't get out of debt (excluding your home) at least get out of anything adjustable rate) and how you choose to save for the future. You can't do anything tangible about illegal immigrant criminals (for the sake of this discussion I am talking about legal immigrants who are criminals beyond breaking our laws to come here), home invasions being on the rise and jails letting all sorts of crooks out (hint, just because they were arrested for drugs or petty robbery doesn't mean they are not a stone cold killer, they just didn't get caught for it.). You can take steps to limit your risk, harden your home and prepare for violent encounters.

After you have started framing problems in terms of what you can do start being real with yourself about what you can and can not control in the rest of your life. There are some things that you do not control. Medical conditions that are genetic or totally random are a great example of something you genuinely can not control.

Pretty much everything else is a choice. Where you live, who you are in relationships with, what you do for a living, the lifestyle you live, etc are all choices.

You can chose to move or do something else for a living and end toxic relationships. Of course there are consequences direct and indirect. Your job might not exist outside of a huge urban center. You probably kind of like the lifestyle you live and the spouse might also. I am not saying that you need to or should make all kinds of radical changes in your lifestyle. The point of this is twofold. First it makes you open your eyes to a whole wide world of options. You could move to Montana, live somewhere that you can shoot an AK from the front porch naked and sell pizza out of a van to construction workers and folks on the street. The wife might not like your naked AK shooting time and your business might or not pan out but that isn't the point.
The point is that if you want to do it you can at least give it a shot. Knowing that you have options is valuable even if you choose not to do anything with them. Next and most dear to my heart this realization cuts out the vast majority of bitching people do or at least takes it's validity away. If you really cared about being able to legally carry a pistol, owning an AK/AR/M1A, low taxes and nonintrusive government or any of the things that so often come up you would probably move someplace to someplace else. Sorry you don't make enough to support the lifestyle you want to live, figure out how to earn more or be happy with less. I'm not saying it is that simple. If you love your job, enjoy your community and are near family but your one complaint is that you legally can't own a blastomatic 2000 moving just so you can have one doesn't really make sense. However you should come to terms with the fact that you are chosing not to own a super sweet blastomatic 2000.

The only reason I can see that people often ignore this is that it is easier to blame others then admiting that THEY HAVE A ROLE IN THEIR PROBLEMS, which is still is far easier than actually doing something about them. They aren't armed to the teeth with the latest coolest weapons because they choose to live in an anti gun area. They have money problems because they make 30k and live a lifestyle that requires 30k to maintain if everything works out well, go figure how that could be an issue. That means they are less than perfect and share some blame for their situation. This is less pleasant than blaming all kinds of people and groups for your problems.
So in conclusion focus on the stuff you can do. Train, exercise, learn new skills, produce food and position yourself for a variety of scenarios. Also be sure to look at all manner of options available to you and then for goodness sake don't gripe and whine about the ones you choose.

Thoughts?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Random Thoughts: Inflation, Scotch and my Field Survival Load

Today I realized that commenting has been a bit light which lead me to look at the main page and realizing I haven't written in a couple days, whoopsy. I have been working through the errands and logistical needs required for us to settle back in here and spending a lot of time with Walker. Really just trying to get settled here so I haven't tried particularly ambitious stuff on any front. Here is some random stuff that has been going on or I have observed.

I filled up our fairly large Earth hating SUV today. It cost about $10 more than I remember. Not a huge deal as we do not drive much but it was interesting.

A bottle of J and B Scotch Whiskey has gone up two bucks in price. This is my house scotch. It is solidly enjoyable but reasonably priced so I don't hesitate to pour a glass on Tuesday if the mood strikes me. I love me some single malts but they start out expensive and go up in a hurry.

Along those lines I picked up a Glenmorangie 10 year and it is quite enjoyable. It is goes down mildly and has a pleasant, slightly spicy aftertaste. I may have to finish the glass and have another to confirm this.

I started putting together my level one survival load. My plan is a small pouch that I can slip into my cargo pocket. Depending on my level of motivation to dig around our stuff to find the right pieces it should be finished in the next few days or so. More to follow on this later. The only piece I am kind of up in the air about is the fire starter. I will go with a Zippo in the short term because I have one lying around (somewhere). However I would like to purchase a Butane lighter, like the kind you can use to weld thin metal or smoke crack underwater. Thoughts or input are appreciated on a specific windproof and or waterproof lighter you have had positive experiences with.

So that is what's going on right now.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Stabilize the Debt: An Online Exercise in Hard Choices

Play The Debt Reduction Game. I did it and found it pretty interesting. Well worth looking at. The rather obvious conclusion I came to is that there is not one silver bullet solution to this problem and that lots of painfull cuts are going to have to be spread around.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

US Debt Downgraded

This morning I went in to work half asleep as usual. I am able to get moving quicker than most folks but am still not quite myself until I've been up for a half hour and or had a cup of coffee. Someone said in passing "US Debt was downgraded" and it caught my attention enough to walk over and ask if he was serious. He was and gave me the one sentence summary of it then moved on to something else. This part was kind of interesting.

Remember the scene in Snatch (if you haven't seen it you really should) where the two black guys who run the pawn shop and their friend walk into the office and find Brick Top (an old crazy english gangster with funny glasses) sitting on the couch? Well it got the two guys attention because there was an old, odd looking man sitting on the couch in their supposedly locked office. The third knew who Brick Top was and what his presence there meant, that it was very bad. This was kind of like that. Certainly it will get everybodies attention, if just for a second, but only some who keep track of these sort of things know how really bad it is.

For a lot of reasons I have been somewhat complacent recently but this definitely changed that. While not a suprise parse I didn't think anything like this would happen so soon. It definitely made me take stock of things.

On the bright side I am really happy Wifey and Walker are at home with family. It would be nice if I was around, both for psychological and functional (healthy young men with military training are useful) reasons, they are in the best possible place they could be. This makes me very glad we made that choice.

I had been (maybe mistakenly) waiting for PM's to take a hard dip before buying again. That plan is out the window. I made a big, for us, purchase and feel better knowing that a little bit more of our buying power is now not dollar denominated. Also I am looking at filling a few gaps that have been present for awhile. I HAD planned to just stash cash and do a good round of buying when I get back but that plan is now out the window. Also I have a few more ideas and need to do some more thinking and talk with the Wife about them.

Get your house in order while it is still possible and reasonably affordable. I don't mean to tell you that the world is ending and you should put every dime into beans and bullets or anything like that. However if there is something you have been meaning to do, or a purchase you have been meaning to make and can reasonably afford them it is time to do it. Could be food, training, PM's, guns, ammo, whatever. There may well be some bad stuff coming so if you want something and can (please don't use credit or spend irresponsibly) afford it them it's time to get it.

If our nation does not get it's economic house in order sooner instead of later we may have some very ugly times ahead.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Quotes, Inflation and Hyperinflation

 
I underlined and bent the pages in The Ascent of Money for these quotes. They interested me and may interest you.
 
"Inflation is a monetary phenomenon, as Milton Friedman said. But hyperinflation is always and everywhere a political phenomenon, in a sense that it cannot occur without a fundamental malfunction of a country's political economy."
 
"Only entrepeneurs were in a position to insulate themselves by adjusting prices upwards, hoarding dollars (TOR adds they were talking about Germany post WWI so the dollar was a safe currency, comparisons could be made to the Canadian dollar or Swiss franc today), investing in real assets (such as houses and factories) and paying off debt in depreciating banknotes."
 
Inflation is on my mid term worry calender. At some point a couple to several years from now employment will start rising and we will finally have worked the glut of housing inventory out of the system. Things will start to get better and consumer confidence will rise which leads to more spending. When those dollars banks, businesses and people have been hording under the mattress in case of emergencies start moving it will eventually become noticable that there are lots of dollars chasing the same amount of goods and prices will rise. Our benevolent banking friends the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates to try and slow the inflation. I am less than confident it will work.
 
On one hand I am not that worried about inflation because our income is secure and we live well below it with no debt. Remember that while inflation makes debts cheaper in real dollars and thus easier to pay off, it also hurts the economy and leads to layoffs and failed businesses. It doesn't matter if your mortgage or bills cost 20% less if you are laid off/ business goes under and you make 100% less. In this respect we are in a good spot as we don't owe anything.
 
However I do have some worried because we couldn't raise my wages/ prices 20% tomorrow like a small business or whatever could. Since I am pretty happy with my job this is not going to change any time soon. That leaves us managing it. We don't have any debt, let alone variable interest rate debt or a frickin ARM mortgage but if we did I would be trying to get those accounts settled in a hurry.
 
We own some precious metals which would hold their value and be very useful if inflation became truly ruinous. We also store some food which would help us get through issues with JIT inventories. In this sort of situation (high but not hyper inflation) most likely our biggest savior would be that our normal lifestyle is well below our means. It would mean saving less and our travel budget (destined to drop 50% or more anyway when we return stateside anyway) would drop significantly but our day to day existance would be the same.
 
Obviously that sort of plan would not work well in hyperinflation. For that sort of scenario I have less of a warm and fuzzy but since it is so unlikely my underoos aren't all twisted up about it. As soon as practical we are going to start growing some of our own food which will help. Of course stored food and pm's would help in emergencies or as a short term stop gap measure.
What are your preparations for inflation? What are your preparations for hyperinflation?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Dealing

Things are not great right now. Our economy is at best floundering and will take several years for a full recovery and at worst, well I hope you have bullets, beans and bandaids. I think it is important to keep a sense of perspective and a positive attitude. First of all Americans, even 'poor' Americans are rich by world standards. If you can turn on a faucet and have all the clean water you want you are rich and most of us can do that (the ones who can't have chosen not to for whatever reason). Seriously we all have our wants and struggles but we have it pretty darn good. Attitude is just so darn important. A person who ends up in a bad situation with a good attitude and the willingness to move forward and deal with the new reality is always better off. There are numerous cases of people who are well prepared and essentially die of giving up and other cases of people who are in horrible situations and get through almost exclusively on good attitude and willingness to do what must be done. For Americans and most likely other folks it is really hard to accept reality and a change in standard of living or life patterns. Unfortunately the idea that you cannot have a 'middle class' lifestyle is tantamount to accepting defeat and failure as a person. I encourage you to ignore what other people think. Other people are poor and have seriously skewed values.

Also I think it is important to remember that broad trends are made up of a very large amount of individuals. I think we are facing an overall drop in quality of life of the American middle class. Call it whatever you want, inflation, market cycles, changes in labor patterns, depression, etc but it seems to be the situation. I urge you to work to either move against this trend or at least mitigate its effects on you and your family. Just because there is an overall 20% decline in standard of living doesn't mean it has to happen to you. Or in a more extreme case if most people lose everything and you just lose something you are better off. I think it makes sense to work along both traditional lines of effort such as good financial choices, increasing your earning power, etc as well as more preparedness oriented ones like tangible stores of wealth, primative and survival skills, alpha stragegy type purchases and the 3 B's. In the real world your finances and other boring stuff are almost surely more important for your ability to deal with realistic situations then the kind of semi automatic rifle you choose, the bullets that are in your handgun or whatever.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Someone's Got a Case of the Mondays

As a blogger every now and then I have the idea for my next post fully formed and the thing practically written in my head when I see a post elsewhere that says exactly what I was going to say better than I could. This morning was sort of one of those days. SHTF Blog's post Prepper Burnout- Identify and combat it really struck a cord with me. 

I've been feeling sort of burned out recently. Since I got back last Friday it has been evident enough that people I talk to are noticing it during conversation. I got to really thinking about why this was last night. I laid there for about 3 hours just thinking.

A bit of it is just life. Work has recently (last 2-3 months or so) been busy, not particularly rewarding and more stressful than in the past. That is definitely a factor. I am pretty ready to take a break for the holidays.

I got to thinking that a lot of it however is what SHTF Blog keenly identified as Prepper Burnout. Right now our big push is to become debt free by paying off my school loan. We are putting an almost rediculous percentage of our income toward that goal. Things are working but it isn't fun. While we have decent reserves our general operating budget is tight. This is creating a lot of stress in our finances that would not otherwise exist. The payoff date is pretty darn close so it isn't really worth tweeking things. However if we had it to do over again a slightly less aggressive (about 10-15% less a month) repayment plan would have given us most of the benefit with a lot less stress.

Also not being colocated with a lot of my preps stresses me. Not so much in a worring about if things happen and I am not there sort of way as I am comfortable with our situation here. More that I got a lot of joy in seeing my stocks and watching stuff accumulate. It makes the work and effort I put into stuff worthwhile and also has a real calming effect on me. The work is still there but the calming effects are not.

It probably doesn't help that we are currently living through a preparedness scenario. Just because it isn't a fun, quick or sexy scenario doesn't make it any less real. Employment is bad, the economy is at best uncertain, crime is up, there is inflation in normal purchases and all kinds of other bad stuff. That you can't carry a rifle everywhere and there is still electricity doesn't mean real stuff isn't going down.

Anyway enough with the pitty party. The real question is what am I going to do about it. Today I started making a couple conscious efforts and made a bit of progress. The day sucked especially bad and my mood is, at least relatively speaking pretty good. The first thing I decided was to do at least a couple things in a day just because I enjoy them. Today I had a doughnut for breakfast on a work day. Also I had a little time with no TV/ computer or other noise just hanging out with Walker. That was nice and took my mind off things.

Really wanted to get back into the gym today but it just didn't work with my schedule. Tomorrow I think it will. Lifting once in a blue moon or a couple times in a row randomly won't do much for my body but I enjoy it and it gets those good endorphins going. Lastly I am just trying to enjoy the little things and force myself to be happier. Remember, fake it until you make it. Going home, seeing friends and family, shooting my own guns, repacking all my new awesome stuff and just plain taking a break will hopefully help a lot.

See you all tomorrow

Friday, November 19, 2010

Quantitative Easing Explained



I have seen this video floating around and Saddle Tramp sent me a link to it. Finally got time to sit down and watch it this evening. I suggest a stiff drink. In fact you might want to have a drink before watching this and another for during it.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Why Do People Fail To Adapt?

1. Not seeing what is happening. Sometimes folks just aren't informed on what is going on. Hard to make logical conclusions and adapt to them if you don't have the information.

2. Refusal to accept the new reality. Folks will just stick their heads in the sand and hope the problem goes away. Often this happens with a family who simply can't afford to maintain their current lifestyle. They will try to borrow and juggle bills and try to hold onto the greased string as long as they possibly can. Like tearing off a band aid going slower just makes it worse. Better to have a couple really rough months than a couple pretty rough years.

Also there are those starving farmers in Africa. Ya know the ones you always see on the aid commercials. The ones who keep planting pathetic little gardens on their 1/2 of an acre farm in the Sudan where 9/10 years there is a drought that kills all the crops.

3. They limit their options. They refuse to try the kind of food that is available and starve instead. They refuse to move to find work. They hope old jobs will come back instead of focusing on retraining and finding new employment.

4. They give up. Adapting, at least in the context we are talking about, is usually unpleasant. Like any other human situation there is a huge psychological factor. When something bad happens I am not saying you shouldn't be sad. Eat a carton of ice cream, or drink a half bottle of booze or whatever it is you do. Go to sleep, wake up and get the heck on with your life. It will eventually get better.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Shades of Atlas Shrugged: Third World America

Third World America this article is disturbingly true. On another note Shades of Atlas Shrugged is going to be the series title for this sort of article.

I am not sure what the answer is. I do however think we need to create incentive's to promote desirable behaviors. [For example if we as a nation wanted to promote individual saving we could, say, not tax interest, dividends or capital gains on individuals with an income below $100,000 and a net worth below $750,000.] We aren't doing this. We aren't doing close to this. We are often in fact doing just the opposite. We have taken for granted that things are good and will stay that way. That no matter how much individuals or businesses get hammered they will stay in the same place and keep on doing the same thing. We've gotten cocky and lazy and it is coming back to bite us. Big time.

For example we need to attract manufacturing. America is never going to make sweat pants or t shirts cheaper than some random Asian nation where wages are a dime an hour. However I don't see why we shouldn't make computers, tv's, cars and all kinds of other stuff. Particularly the kind of relatively high tech manufacturing which employs more skilled individuals and pays them decent wages.

[If there is any positive way forward for America's low skilled blue collar workers it is if they can get the skills and we as a nation can attract this sort of higher skilled manufacturing jobs. The golden age for American manufacturing type workers from WWII to around the early 90's which has been dying a lingering death for awhile, set expectations which could not be maintained. Large numbers of people simply can't walk out of high school into a secure job that makes a comfortable wage with good benefits and retirement anymore.

I saw this play out on a smaller scale with the timber industry dying in the PNW. Some individuals were able to find a way forward in another job. Others managed to retrain and be successful. However when it was all said and done a lot of folks went from earning a comfortable middle class living to a couple bucks an hour above minimum wage or chronic unemployment. The restaurants and stores which these people patronized went under. Some towns died and a lot of others are sad shells of their former selves. The bottom line was that the jobs that went away were gone. The other industries were able to absorb some people, given that they received training, but a town that lost 100 timber jobs didn't suddenly have 50 new jobs as carpenters and another 50 for auto mechanics. Without some sort of X factor, such as a boom of high tech American manufacturing this will be the case on a larger scale.]

The biggest reason we have issues attracting or keeping these kinds of manufacturers is a grossly unfriendly business environment. Art Laffer said "Taxes don't redistribute wealth, they redistribute people (or I suppose businesses)" and the same could be said for regulations and all sorts of other little committees and agencies that make it hell to actually produce something. There are all sorts of ways America, or a state could do this. Simply streamlining the process for getting permits and clearances to build would be a good start. For a company that isn't going to dump tons of poison into the water system it should be a snap to open a factory. No taxes for 5 or 10 years would be a good one. Matching funds on select capital development would be another. Cheap or free energy would help too. Creating a work force which suits certain high tech manufacturing needs could work; especially if combined with a business friendly atmosphere and some tax breaks.

Instead of trying to hammer businesses for every dime we need to help them grow and employ more people and buy more machinery or other stuff. If every little bureaucratic despot and city councils could realize factories bring jobs; jobs which they desperately need we would be in such a better place.

As for infrastructure I think this is being blown out of proportion. Not significance but priority and who needs to be involved in addressing it. The answer is not big over reaching stimulus but government at all levels adjusting their priorities. Look at it this way. Most sane people would fix a hole in the kitchen floor before going out for a night on the town. If the family car breaks next week they don't need a stimulus from somebody; we need to shift our budget around and figure out how to fix it. If that doesn't work we can raid our hard earned savings. Governments from town to state have forgotten this. They need to make the important stuff work even if it means letting go of some of the flashy unessential stuff.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Buying Silver and Gold

I got an email recently asking about how to get started buying silver. I recalled a post some time back where that was covered. After a bit of digging here it is.

Where to buy precious metals.

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