Disclaimer: Please note, every bit of experience shared here is personal, as every situation is, and one should not take this as “financial advice.”
Recently, the news in Venezuela has been all about the collapse of the IT system of a state-owned bank. State-owned = no responsibility. They own the justice system, and the district attorneys are there to block any initiative to protect the citizens from events like these. So, yes, the situation is much worse than you could imagine. No one knows if their money will be there once the systems are back online.
“Bank holidays” are common in an economic collapse. About a decade ago this happened in Greece.
Wise people were prepared with the right goods
The features and traits of the Venezuelan collapse are pretty unique, however. Unlike some other countries in similar circumstances, we have not engaged in a full-scale rebellion, nor do most people wish for one. We are getting by with what we have.
I never trusted in the national monetary policy or the “system” in place, and with good reason. Many people feel the way I do, and those with enough space at home invested in things like used cars, for example, rather than using the system. Venezuela is the only country where a used car gains value over time. Nowadays, this seems reasonable: the big car manufacturers that once provided well-paid jobs and made the country work with their products shut down the assembling plants and threw away the keys. They are not coming back any time soon with the absolute lack of a legal system to guarantee, as a minimum, the return of their investment.
People have handled the collapse creatively. Many invested in small local commercial property for rent, or even in domestic appliances and motorcycles.
Motorcycles now are being driven by people who NEVER thought they would be paying 1$ per liter of gasoline. Many of them have gotten rid of the huge SUVs they drove and sold them at bargain prices to get those little French or Japanese doll cars that run on a teaspoon of gasoline. All the old Mad Max-like Dodge Chargers, huge Fords, Chevys, and gas-guzzlers, sell at a loss in Venezuela.
Bartering + skills = survival
Back in the 90s, when my father lost his business, all he had left was a pile of “junk.” However, he could repurpose a payload of that junk. Customers knew he was the only person around who could provide refurbished equipment. My father sold these things to clients who would go back to their farms with a smile on their faces.
While it would be pretty difficult to get this sort of investment return with hard currency today, his repair skills are now valued more than ever, and people will trade a variety of goods to keep their equipment running. Skills are imperative in surviving an economic collapse.
If it’s not cash in hand, it’s probably gone
While I knew there would be a price to pay for returning, it’s been a bit more challenging than I expected. For example, I have not been able to open a bank account nor get a debit card. The bank where I used to have my account is now hard to access. I went to check if my account was still active. It was, and I found the bit of money I had left after 15 years of working my backside off in the national oil company was no longer there. Though it’s not pleasant, I was kind of expecting that hyperinflation would have eaten through my retirement fund.
Sooner or later, I will step over these silly obstacles. The good thing is, I already know which banks (private-owned) are doing their job as intended. Do I need to say that I won’t be using state-owned banks? I guess not. Almost everything seized by the government is now a broken shell of what once was a company.
Going cashless is not going to improve the economy
As I’ve written before, the government here wants to become cashless and they launched their own digital currency earlier this month. Maybe it will make it easier to proceed with payments. But in the long run, giving such inept, corrupt politicians the power to increase the money supply with just a few keys and pressing “Enter” is like giving a warehouse filled up to the top with nuclear warheads to the Taliban. This will not heal all the mess that needs solutions. Much less to get the productive apparatus working again.
Why not? Because there is no actual production leverage. This money will only buy heavily taxed imported goods. Therefore, no real advantage other than providing a couple of cm above the water level for a while. The noise around this “digital” currency is the same old fuzz around the “cryptocurrency” backed up with hundreds of thousands of crude oil barrels that are still underground.
Here are two articles with information that some could find useful:
The Stages of the Collapse – The global economic crisis.
This article explicitly says that “banks will close.”
Paperwork becomes much more challenging to deal with in a crisis
To open a bank account, I need a document (which I already have) that works as a tax “registry.” Mind you, taxes in Venezuela have traditionally been something almost nominal. This means the state’s tax revenue, compared to the enormous income as a product of the oil revenues, was negligible, indeed. Therefore, getting such documents was a mere formality. Some of my coworkers with bigger salaries had to pay some taxes. Still, usually, with our family dependence, our tax declaration was under the required levels, and most of us were exempt.
So, the IT “system” of the tax department (Senate) sent me a message after trying to log in to renew it that says the document is past due, which is fine. I spent three years abroad, and my income wasn’t enough since 2013 to require me to pay any taxes once the hyperinflation took off. But the website doesn’t give a clue about how to renew it. This likely means having to go to the main office and talk to someone behind a desk. I will do everything I can to solve it online, though.
Yet another annoying byproduct of having fled away at the wrong time: legal paperwork to be renewed. Drivers license, ID documents, mortgages to clear up, all of this paperwork left behind in a hurry. However, there was no money left to fix it up, to be honest. We were merely living day to day, without a car, and in a place where walking was exposing ourselves to an armed robbery with fatal consequences.
What do you suggest for someone in the US in the same situation?
For example, you are in the US with some cash in the banks but jobless and carless. Although my knowledge of the actual economic climate in the US is quite limited, my best advice would be: diversify and protect financial assets. If there are enough cash reserves for old age, it’s wise to distribute that load to a few institutions that safeguard the funds to a certain degree.
Get food on sale with whatever cash you have and install backup systems (solar, wind, or grid-tied). Fill your pantry to the roof. Research and put together whatever equipment you can. The US has excellent advantages in some places where one can generate enough power to shove it back to the grid, and that pays for your equipment. This part of the world is not even close to that advantage, and it’s something some of you could consider an investment.
Something one might consider, too, is investing a portion of that money to get some interests back. If your expenses are ridiculously low because you produce a good amount of the food you consume and pay no rent nor power bills, any income is a win.
What do you think of precious metals for bartering?
I know many of you are interested in precious metals for bartering and trading. This video may answer a few of those questions. It’s the real deal, filmed by someone who was there. The gold extracted from there is going somewhere. We don’t know where, as it’s part of illegal operations. Turkey? Iran? Russia? The entire area is under the control of uniforms and those with the bigger guns rule. No civilians can get to the places where this extraction is occurring.
I should add that this gold exchange is not happening in most of the country. And no one uses silver because identifying PM is a lost art. It needs some equipment that people don’t have nowadays. And trust in a stranger who wants to buy you a pickup full of ginger with silver coins? It’s not going to happen. Just don’t.
Being a metallurgist, I would take the silver right away, stash it and go to someplace in Caracas to sell it and get paid in greenbacks. But as a currency, silver is seldom used. People don’t know when it’s legit or not anymore. Selco drew similar conclusions during his own experience.
Have you considered what you’d do if the banks closed?
What would you do in the event of a bank collapse? What if you woke up and all your money was just GONE? Have you diversified enough to manage it? Is it something you’ve considered? Let’s discuss it in the comments.
Jose is an upper middle class professional. He is a former worker of the oil state company with a Bachelor’s degree from one of the best national Universities. He has an old but in good shape SUV, a good 150 square meters house in a nice neighborhood, in a small but (formerly) prosperous city with two middle size malls. Jose is a prepper and shares his eyewitness accounts and survival stories from the collapse of his beloved Venezuela. Jose and his younger kid are currently back in Venezuela, after the intention of setting up a new life in another country didn’t go well. The SARSCOV2 re-shaped the labor market and South American economy so he decided to go back to his own land, surrounded by family, friends and acquaintances, and try again.
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“Venezuela is the only country where a used car gains value over time.”
This is no longer true. There are articles about rising used car prices in the US, and comments from sellers about selling their used car for more than they originally paid for it. Similar sentiments are coming from dealers as well.
I´m very sorry to hear about that. No bueno.
I bought two vehicles 2 years ago for fixing up. A later model Ford Ranger. Needs a rear bumper and door opening mechanism in the drivers door. Maybe some paint. I been offered 2x what I paid as is. The other is a 2005 Prius. I’ve cleaned and rebuiIt the battery bank. I want to polish out the peeling clear coat and charge the starting battery. I may keep it and drive it since it gets 50 mpg.
I paid $725 for a used taxi with good tires, a new driver’s seat, and newer motor. I’ve been offered 2x that and I may take it. At nearly 75 I don’t need the police interceptor engine. But I drive it some. Runs great. My F250 4×4 is mostly my daily driver. It stays.
Rich? On SS only, hardly. But I budget and still like to work on things. Then I reinvest in another project. No major engine repairs for me anymore. Even that rear bumper isn’t something I look forward to any more. I may trade for someone to get one at UPull It and help put it on.
Covid last year put the breaks on all my projects for over a year. I’m finally really doing better.
You´re a living hero.
Enough said. LOL.
The social media companies (FANG stocks–Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google, and others) have been promised the banking business via cryptocurrency. Crypto can be traced, even with blockchain technology. And if it is traced, so can taxes be applied. Neither are precious metals portable any more. Jose is right–bartering and skills are your best bet for survival.
Thanks for your comment. Yep, and having enough storage space (so you can even rent it if needed) has shown to be a good passive income means…or to storage that stuff you receive as payment, too, when bartering.
“Venezuela is the only country where a used car gains value over time.“
It’s getting that way here also for the average person. Farmers and ranchers start feeling it first. Two weeks ago I sold an excellent 90hp tractor made in 1980. That year brand new it sold for $22,900. I sold it for $16,500.
Not bad for a 40yo tractor.
John Deere (unarguably the most popular tractor brand here in the USA) is on strike straining and already taxed supply chain. Parts (unless one can find salvage) are now already scarce. Chip shortages affect cars, ag equipment, grain elevators,etc. Anything that is in good shape that does not require DEF and a computer chip is bringing top dollar.
My advice, buy food. We are scaling down this farm to a bare minimum. On might say the Shit has already hit the fan for farmers worldwide. We have been trimming back my operation for a year now and are having an auction to reinvest and baton down the hatches.
And we are not the only ones doing this. We are fortunate to be completely out of debt and farm on cash flow. There are neighbors so deep in debt their only hope is to buy and replace praying if they hold on long enough prices will increase and justify the expense.
When cost of production can’t be justified on the farms, watch out. Buy food. Now.
Good advice right there.
To add: have the means of production of food.
And save them seeds!
Happy to have pointed out that phrase. It seems a very good indicator of the S hitting the Fan. On the other side, I´m not happy at all if you´re identifying that happening there.
Jim, I live in farming land and the parts shortage is really effecting the farming community we are in spring alot are feeling the pressure and the one repairer in town is indated with work. He also mentioned used cars have increased in value as imports aren’t coming in the country in volume any longer. He services my ute, we waited six weeks for oil filter and another part. I’ve paid a deposit off my next three services and got him to order the parts for upcoming services . Farmers are doing ok price wise but struggling to get enough workers for harvest.
Jose great article, can I ask how you are you coping without a bank account??
The one and only reason I have a bank account is SS direct deposit–I can pay ALL my debts with cash; even my mortgage I can put in an envelope and mail inside another envelope–it’s not that huge..refinanced before Gene died and cut in half.
I’ve been mailing cash for about 50 years and not burned once…so far.
I do staple the cash to a statement return or a sheet of paper.
I do not like banks–never helped me.
I can pay property taxes cash, in town, the only thing I can’t pay cash is annual homeowners; could if I divided it quarterly, but nah–that’s not how I roll. incidentally, just rec. and increased $250.
There goes the SS increase for next year!!
What kind? Can you be more specific? I’m pretty self sufficient, but not totally.
Unfortunately, a bank collapse in either the United States or Canada will more than likely have more dire consequences. I believe that Venezuela has certain advantages that supposed “first world” countries do not. The first being that the climate. The ability to grow food year round is a huge advantage. In both Canada and the U.S. lack of heating oil, natural gas, or electricity could mean that millions could literally freeze to death in the winter months. Venezuela is also a much smaller, consolidated country, that does not required shipping over vast distances for goods to reach markets. And, I may be completely wrong, but I believe the vast majority of Venezuelans are much closer to the land than the out of touch with reality general populations that we find further north.
A bank collapse up here would probably lead to the proverbial SHTF situation. The countries are simply to vast to even attempt to exercise any type of control over the populations if society begins to break down. You may be able to “lock down” the larger metropolitan areas, but the countryside would revert in many ways to a wild west type mentality. And without a continuous inflow of resources to the cities, they would become death traps in short order. If the banks did collapse it would not mean the end of our countries, but it would result in a huge loss of life, and a restructuring of our society to the point that it would be unrecognizable.
A collapse in US would crash the entire world. But the US government will intervene every time a crash occurs, exactly to avoid panic and contagion. Of course, this will work until it doesn’t. At one point, the printing and flooding of fiat money into the system won’t be able to restore confidence. Then, a crash might actually become a collapse.
Dear Lone Canadian,
Yes, you´re right in our advantages (I suppose that´s the reason many people has been to even thrive, including a good amount of farmers who don´t rely on the State financing or founding in order to work).
I would dare to say, regarding to the contact with the reality, that yes, people has learnt the hard way to invest and work harder, and avoid non-essential expenses. We don´t need heating oil, and if people would be more receptive, solar would be huge. Farm laborers charge for their work in staples and a little cash, for instance. Yes, the ability of having most of the common vegetables and fruits year-round is one of the reasons people hasn´t yet dare to go on a dog-eat-dog gunfight with the green pants. One of the reasons I left Lima is because heard about what happened when an earthquake blocked the two main roads with landslides, and in less than a week there were even loots and the Army on the streets, back in the 90s I think. The best approach are smaller towns, but not so small neither.
Jose and Lone Canadian.
interesting debate and some good points IMHO.
Maybe the issue is that Americans (and first-worlders in general) are much more used to a much higher standard of living. Lots more comfort, convenience and high-quality products, services, utilities and a much better infrastructure. I guess that´s established, right?
We don´t really know how the population will react if this comes to fault, or declines significantly. Maybe it depends on the speed. I wouldn´t be surprised if this happens slowly and gradualy and everyones adapts, even if things turn ugly. As Jose pointed out, this is what happened in Venezuela. People just adapt, this is certain.
But I also wouldn´t be surprised if something happens sudenly and we start to see revolts. Usually the line in the sand is the lack of food and/or energy, or excess of tyranny.
But we had famine and blackouts and oppresion happening in other places many times before in history too, and still people didn´t revolt.
We´ll have to wait and see.
“we had famine and blackouts and oppresion happening in other places many times before in history too, and still people didn´t revolt”
because in those instances the problems were recognized to be natural, not acts of war against the populace.
Not what happened in Venezuela (as noted by Jose),. Also NK, Ireland, Russia, Lebanon, China, Cuba…
All man-made collapses with all these ingredients, yet people didn´t revolt. At least not until some other force came into play.
Besides, governments are very efficient at suppressing civil upheavals.
I can assure you in our case it´s different. There was NOT a single word to justify that such a rich country made us to spend 6 hours in line to get a bag of rationed food. It was about societal control to avoid uprisings, and they could steal over 700 billions without the people devouring them alive. They needed this to subjugate the society.
This is a fact.
“And without a continuous inflow of resources to the cities, they would become death traps in short order”
goes for the rural areas too. and moreso.
“The countries are simply to vast to even attempt to exercise any type of control over the populations if society begins to break down”
noticed in numerous quarters ….
As always, a great account of the difficult situation in Venezuela and some important insights and advices for everyone as we keep heading into this challenging period.
Though the situation in Venezuela has its particularities, specifically when it comes to the duration (20yrs) and the political aspect (dictatorship), I guess it’s clear that the economy and finance is a major factor.
I agree and keep repeating that too, because it directly impacts the lifestyle of the population and the government controls the economy and thus “weaponizes” it to reach its goals and control/opress/explore the population.
Banks serve themselves and the governments, so they don’t care.
That’s why we must have some reserve out of the system (cash, food, tools, etc.).
Thanks again Jose, stay well.
Thanks Fabian! same for you.
One final thought: if one has food for him/herself and ones family and is pressed to trade or barter skills and goods, that person will be dealing from an advantageous position.
Buying/trading/bartering from desperation is the worst case scenario. And when trading, try and be very judicious about who you conduct business with. Desperate people in duress tend to attract and that can end in calamity.
Personally, I intend on helping others. Labor is always welcome on a farm and builds a sence of pride/accomplishment/independence. Things like that will be needed individually to move forward in the future.
Just the way I see things.
Welcome, no worries.
I have been hungry before. Not fun.
While I have no intention of letting my neighbors go hungry, I will expect some degree of trade or something in return, labor, like you suggest.
This is also where I think your word or reputation will be worth a lot in a community.
On the other hand I am also concerned with cling-ons (no, not the Star Trek ones). People who see you have food or the means of production and suddenly, you are their new best friend.
Watching the news and what is not publicly being told is telling. We’re sitting on the edge of a cliff and the dirt is beining to slide out from under us. I feel we are already past grabbing a branch to scramble back from the yawning chasm -drawing, pulling us down.
As a new Widow I feel the pull fighting with Insurance, social security, and no helper. My bank just sudden was reopened as a new named thing. Makes me wonder about that elusive camel score that rates banks. 1 good, and 5 quickly to be history.
I have always aimed to have food from harvest to harvest. My parents were adults in the Great depression. They lived that way. I garden and can and dry in the sun.
Still I work toward self-sufficiency. It is a hard time. And yes I save seed.
Thankfully I also have skills that I can bargain with, things to barter. I just traded a stack of flooring brick for labor that I need done and since Covid I’m not yet strong enough to do. It may be sooner than many are prepared to face. Not a far away thing but a tangible thing. You can feel it.
It isn’t if SHTF, it’s when ShTF.
Yes used cars are gaining in value. Auto makers have been quiety closing down some factories. Cutting back to survive. Even the news is finally reporting on the empty half stock stores. Not just preppers are now telling people to clear up your bills and set back food and water. Pay off the mortgage. Those are good advice but they should been the goals of long ago.
Clergylady, I am sorry for your loss.
I’ve diligently read all your posts and admire you. I’m sorry to hear you are newly widowed. In these times to be widowed and still be participating in this forum and yielding advice is an inspiration.
When my wife died, I was lost and checked out from society. You, on the other hand, still graciously participate here and grace us with wise experience.
Clergylady–just went there. Mutual of Omaha told me in 5 minutes on the phone after calling the funeral home the check was in the mail. Good event and I hope they do that for everyone–check in box in one week.
SS was slow, but helpful.
VA lost most paper work and after second filing, turned down for any widow or spouse benefit. Gene received 80% disability for all his problems from agent orange.
It’s hard living on one SS check–I lost my SS check and his disability…60% of money coming into this household.
I heard the dock unloading situation is manufactured. Just read an article that regulations in Cal. are preventing truckers from getting new trucks because of the future regs and old ones can’t pass inspections…blah blah.
I feel all this is manufactured to collapse economy and place all of us on welfare..the the cabal has control of all we do and eat.
Thank you Grammy Prepper, Jim, and J.
Yes J. It’s a new adventure in belt tightening. I’ve lost around 2/3 of the usual household income. When Social Security gets done it should improve some.
Jim I was widowed in 2002. I lived on what as stored here for over a year. No heat with below zero temp in winter, carried home 4 milk jugs of water every day from a neighbor, walked 4 miles a day gathering an armful of sticks to cook and heat water. I had no income, no running vehicle, no insurance, and i was 15 miles from town. I was 55. But I survived.
This time is better. I have what I need to survive. I had bought and paid a small insurance policy so when it comes ill repay family the borrowed money for the mortuary. Then I’ll pay last years and this years property taxes. Then I can switch that to a small monthly bill. I’ll cover whatever auto pay took from my spouses check that came after I reported his death. SS will claw back that check and ill have to pay the bank. But I can. Then it will all be gone. Thankful I bought into a policy when I could.
The insurance contacted me yesterday. About three days and the check will be in the mail.
My church gave me $200. I needed gas money desperately. I’m so grateful. I’ve been to my bank with the odd new name and business is getting taken care of. Internet Friends reached out and sent more cash. Sunday I gave the pastor $200 and asked him to spend it on the youth.
Prepping is a life saver. At 74 almost 75, I have food, water, a new winch for the second well if the power goes out, 2 running vehicles, and insurance to cover all the initial expenses. What I didn’t have was cash on hand that I needed. Usually I do, but its an hour to the bank. And I couldn’t leave my husband home alone.
Also I’m here. My head is in an OK place. Lonesome, yes. But we’d planned what to do, said our goodbyes in a million little ways. Nothing left unsaid or undone. I guess that’s a kind of prepping to.
You are an amazing woman and I salute you, Clergy Lady. God speed in this next season.
Yup, the U.S. economy is turning into Venezuela’s day by day. If you take the time and consider all of the Bills the D-rats have tried to pass this year alone, if they had succeeded, we would now be The Soviet States of America. ONE PARTY COMMUNIST RULE.
“Let’s Go Brandon- Let’s go Brandon- LET’S GO BRANDON!!!!!!!!”
I remember that during the financial crisis of 2008 there were “technical glitches” in several banks. I can imagine that when the same thing repeats, we may see more “technical glitches”, and they may last for longer.
I divided my savings into two banks, just in case one of them starts having issues. And I keep a certain amount of cash at home, which is a sensible thing to do because there are no banks and a limited amount of cash-points in my town. I have also invested some money into a couple of local co-ops. I figure that if things go belly-up, I may find it easier to get my money from the co-ops than from the banks.
One recommendation for banks. Use a smaller regional one. Of course, make sure they are safe. (As safe as any bank can be nowadays)
A co-op or S&L is also a good idea.
Oh BTW; don’t hide the cash under the mattress. LOL
All my cash is home. I withdraw in account all as soon as SS is deposited and mortgage is paid.
I have never left money in a bank–I use them. They cash my check and I get my money.
I haven’t seen that bank since Jan. 2021 when I had to open account in my name but about 2/3 times.
Everyone here try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud…today or tomorrow.
For the oldies–”’stop, children, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down”’
I guess I’m an oldie, too. LOL
For what it’s worth.
Smart moves Doly.
I’m sure when all is said and done, they will most likely blame a “superpower” for hacking them and causing the problem.
Who knows? They might even be right.
“giving such inept, corrupt politicians the power to increase the money supply with just a few keys and pressing “Enter” is like giving a warehouse filled up to the top with nuclear warheads to the Taliban.”
nah, it’s worse. the talliban would just say “insh’allah!” and launch them randomly anywhere. the politicians however will launch them at highly specific targets with exacting goals in mind.
remember when, responding to notions of internal rebellion, biden said the united states had nukes? there’s a reason he said that.
“gotten rid of the huge SUVs they drove and sold them at bargain prices to get those little French or Japanese doll cars”
is public transportation still running?
Yes, it is, but prices are crazy. And they vary from place to place. No standard fees.
I’ve collected skills at every opportunity… I can do gourd up construction, maintain and sink wells, tool leather, weld, forge, sew, weave, knit, crochet, mill lumber, electrial wiring, auto repair, ram pumps, irritation, solar, electric vehicles first aid and minor surgery, set bones and a plethora of other skills. Gardening and preserving food has been a part of my life from chilhood, along with many of the other skills. I do have precious metals, food stores, equipment, including a lumber mill, spear well pumps, plumbing fixtixure, and a load of other surplus supplies. My Hobbiis have always been saving items that others intended to take to the dump and fixing them. I have several shipping containers of such items, that I never found a home for, always intending to hold a yard sale, but never wanting people tromping around my property and always finding ‘better things’ to do. Like another project. My latest of which is learning rammer earth construction. So, I’m as prepared as possible. I even am surrounded by friends, with connected properties who are skilled as well.
I find that skill building is a on going life requirement, just as I will never be full satisfied with my property or skill level. It’s like loading your own rounds, or smithing your own weapon… in your mind you ask, if this alteration or an extra grain or 4 will change it for the better…
Sorry for rambling… but the bottom line is skills are the one thing they can’t take away from you.
Question for anyone:
I posted this question elsewhere and wanted to post it here. I am on SSDI but wanted to charge food on my card to make sure I have extra. I was putting money aside but since it is such a small amount, it is taking longer. I wanted to go to Costco and get extra coconut cream since I just read those prices are going up along with a few other things. Charge or not? I am debt free by the way..
anything you charge on a card will go into a database that can be mined to indicate how you live and what you’re thinking about. up to you whether or not that matters.