Friday, February 22, 2019

So how'd that favor to the PD work out for you?

In the great tradition of Jim Zumbo, Benchmade Knives really slammed their dick in a drawer this week. If you haven't heard about it, allow me to ask how that hunting trip in Alaska was.

I haven't posted about it since everyone else was and I really had nothing useful to add. I've never been a Benchmade customer, so I can't even boycott them.

However, Jim Shepherd of the Shooting Wire has a pretty good take on the situation. Scroll down toward the bottom to the editorial section of the Friday, February 22, 2019 Shooting Wire to read it.

Edit, 3/11/2019: Zendo Deb was kind enough to dig up a direct link to the editorial. Thanks, Deb.

Dealing with hyperinflation

One of the big concerns when the Federal Reserve began "Quantitative Easing", otherwise known as "monetizing the debt", was hyperinflation taking hold in the US. There was good reason to be concerned, because historically monetizing the debt has lead to bouts of hyperinflation as the currency supply increases and the good for sale remains the same. The currency looses value, and inflation can and has reached 5 digits or more monthly.

For reasons no one is 100% clear on, it has't happened in the US or any other country that followed our lead. That's a good thing. Hyperinflation isn't pretty, and the solutions for it are often worse.

I support a group, the Zimbabwe Pensioner Support Fund, whose mission is to support the old age pensioners in Zimbabwe who lost nearly everything when majority rule was instituted, and who lost what little they had left when the government finally acted to stop the hyperinflation they had caused. I just got a message from them on the situation in Zimbabwe now, and I want to share one particular paragraph.

Overnight in January 2010 the reserve bank removed another 12 zeroes and people who had billions of Zimbabwe dollars were paupers the next day. No matter whether they had Zimbabwean dollars in the bank or at home they lost everything and were left with useless pieces of paper. They have never been compensated for the loss and never will be. So even though the currency changed to US dollars what they had in Zimbabwean dollars no longer existed.  Pensioners are now at the mercy of Good Samaritans that reach out to them. 

So consider this-the government lopped off 12 more zeroes from the currency in 2010. There were other zeroes removed earlier. On top of that, they effectively killed off the currency by moving their commerce to US Dollars. It wasn't only the pensioners who suffered, it was everyone outside of a certain elite group within the government.

Before the Zimbabwean government took this action, the last measured monthly inflation rate was 79,600,000,000%.That's almost 99% per day. Let those numbers sink in and scare the hell out of you.

Is that going to ever happen here? I certainly hope not, but it could. We could have the same thing to a lesser extent, say on the order of Wiemar Germany, where the highest measured monthly inflation rate was a mere 29,500%.

How would you handle such an event? In "When Money Dies", author Adam Fergusson recounts various ways that Germans coped, including trading links from gold chains for needed goods.

So those Gold Eagles might be useful to buy a house, but not a meal. Even silver would be too "value dense" for use on a daily basis. How does commerce of any sort continue? The book has a lot to say on that subject, and honestly, you really need to read it yourself, since it's been several years since I did. I do remember that barter was one way, but it was problematic. What if the farmer doesn't want your flat screen TV in trade for 50 pounds of potatoes?

People also starved to death because they had nothing that had any value to others.

While this isn't likely to happen here, it's something to ponder on. Just in case.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

If it has, we're in deeper than we realized

Charles Hugh Smith believes the Constitution has failed.

I'm not ready to declare the old girl dead just yet. However, I must admit he makes a reasonable case. If he is right, God help us if the Democrats get back in full control. Most Republicans, I'd like to believe, have just enough scruples to not go full Venezuela. I don't give the Democrats that much credit.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Impressive...most impressive, boy!

I suggest you go read this week's Woodpile Report. All of it. Follow the links on anything that you think is political, CW2, survivalist or prepping related.

I apologize for costing you an even's time in advance. It won't be wasted.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Indicators! We got indicators!

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I think it's a good idea to have a list of economic indicators that you keep up with. It doesn't have to be anything formal or have a lot of process to go with it. I know that mine are very informal and I've gotten so used to keeping an eye on these things that it's just second nature now.

My list looks something like Charles Hugh Smith's list, but I generally watch mine for indications on the local rather than the national economy. I've tuned them over the years, because some of the things I used to think were great indicators turned out to be not so great. This isn't the inclusive list, but I hope it gives you some insight into the things you might want to watch.

  1. Business closings and/or sales: This equates to numbers 1, 2 and 4 on Smith's list. When you live in a small town, you're easily aware of every business that opens and closes, and the sale of a business is an event worthy of the local newsrag's notice. When I start seeing businesses close, my ears perk up. In a small town it only takes a very few closing to start things moving in the wrong direction. For sales of well-known establishments, more than 2 per year should raise an eyebrow.
  2. Delayed home sales, few/no new home starts and apartment rent and occupation numbers: This equates to number 7 and a bit to number 6. When I start noticing "For Sale" signs staying in yards for an inordinately long time, say 6 months, I start paying a lot of attention. When you go months and never see a new house started, that's a cause for concern. When rents are static, when there are any giveaways ("throwaway" or not) and when apartments go unrented for months, that's something to investigate. It could just be people are buying houses or would rather rentsomething. Or it could be people aren't setting up new households, which something else entirely.
  3. Numerous large tracts of undeveloped land for sale: Number 6 again with a light sprinkling of Number 8 for flavor. In my AO, a large tract of land is as little as 10 acres. (Welcome to the heavily populated eastern US.) A really large one is 100 acres and you rarely see anything over 200. When these things start coming up for sale in numbers, especially if they have been timbered and are then put up for sale, it's close to a Red Flag warning. Most people who have land like that aren't interested in selling if times are good or even mediocre-they can always lease it out for hunting and make enough to pay the taxes. Even bad times will only bring up so much, but if you seeing enough as as you're driving to say "Hey, that's the x-th one I've seen," then bet there is something going on that you don't know about. Find out about it.
  4. Boys parting with their toys. This is Number 8 but around here, it isn't Porsches. We have a rule of thumb that if you want a boat, and RV or a four wheeler, wait until January-February. That's when all the guys who overdid it on Christmas have to sell them to pay bills. Ditto gun shows during that period. However, if you're seeing an inordinate amount of them during the summer, or four wheelers just before deer season, or yards with more than one toy with a "For Sale" sign on it, then it's probably not for sale because of Christmas bills.
  5. Restaurant business is slow on Friday/Saturday night. Around here, those are the big evening for going to a "sit down" restaurant, and most everyone goes on one of them. If business is slow and it's not one of those major weekends where everyone leaves town, it isn't a good sign. If it keeps up week after week, it's an even worse sign.
  6. When you can't sell reasonably priced useful goods on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, LetGo or at the flea market. There is always a market for the cheap used furniture, older-but-good TVs and the like. When there isn't, it's a problem.
  7. When you can't sell "nice to have" goods on Facebook Marketplace, CraigsList, LetGo or at the flea market at any price. When you can't sell that Yeti cooler for $50, the "S" may already be airborne and heading toward the fan.
There are more, but these are the biggies. I only start watching #6 and #7 when I'm seeing disquieting signs in #1-5.

 If you have any interesting touchstones, I'd love to hear them. We learn from each other.