In the early 20th century, the world kept witnessing just that; a series of bank runs and economic contractions forced the governments around the globe to act. At that stage, outlawing fractional-reserve banking was no longer politically or economically tenable; a simpler alternative was to let go of gold and move to fiat money - a currency implemented as an abstract social construct representing indebtedness, with no predefined connection to the physical realm. A new breed of economists saw the role of the government not in trying to peg the value of money to an inflexible commodity, but in manipulating its supply to smooth out economic hiccups or to stimulate growth. Depending on who you ask today, contemporary monetary policies - especially in the era of bank bailouts and debt-fueled GDP boosting - are either a brilliant way to stabilize free markets and promote wealth, or a reckless charade that papers over systemic problems and sets us up for serious trouble in the coming years.
And I have bought various pantry sized cans of sauces to increase flavor and nutrition. Alfredo sauce, tomato sauce, mild hot sauce, and Italian seasoning mix come to mind immediately. Since those cans are so well sealed, I don’t bother putting them in the buckets. I also have some #10 cans of cheese sauce powder (think boxed Mac and cheese) since I couldn’t find it in a pantry can, but I store lots of ziplock freezer bags (both quart and gallon sizes) and can use my silica packs to keep it fresher – hopefully long enough to use it up. Cheese sauce over pasta, rice or broccoli will be a nice change of taste when things get boring.
Is it stereotypical that the AARP crowd would be the ones to spend three hours talking about metal detectors and canning and caving at a Pizza Hut on a Monday night? Probably, but that’s what I bore witness to in this event room; its combination of exposed wood and stock-photo decor felt like an Olive Garden inside a pirate ship. Up front, the scraggly white-bearded, Bad Santa–lookalike Andrew: rested one foot on a chair, gripping the mic, just like Randall said he would be.
This brings us to gold: this metal occupies an interesting niche, because its value is driven chiefly not by industrial applications, but by direct consumer demand and by its status as a mainstream financial instrument. In fact, investors and governments alike frequently flock to it in times of economic uncertainty and stagnation, as they did in the wake of the financial crisis of 2007. Of course, this goes both ways: should the economy pick up steam, the demand may decrease and the currently elevated prices of gold may fall closer to their historical, inflation-adjusted average of $800 per troy oz. Still, the metal is an interesting and reliable hedge against economic disasters, especially given that it is very easily bought and sold. If you are worried about hyperinflation, you may want to convert some of your savings into this shiny commodity, although I wouldn't go over 20-30% or so.
Light: It’s fine to have battery-powered flashlights for your home — provided you have some extra batteries around. We love this Mag-Lite XL200 LED flashlight because it’s tough and has multiple modes including SOS and dimmer timer. It’s a good idea to have crank-powered flashlights as well. And make sure you have candles, like this pack of six 115-hour emergency candles.
An American hedge-fund manager in his forties—tall, tanned, athletic—recently bought two houses in New Zealand and acquired local residency. He agreed to tell me about his thinking, if I would not publish his name. Brought up on the East Coast, he said, over coffee, that he expects America to face at least a decade of political turmoil, including racial tension, polarization, and a rapidly aging population. “The country has turned into the New York area, the California area, and then everyone else is wildly different in the middle,” he said. He worries that the economy will suffer if Washington scrambles to fund Social Security and Medicare for people who need it. “Do you default on that obligation? Or do you print more money to give to them? What does that do to the value of the dollar? It’s not a next-year problem, but it’s not fifty years away, either.”