By the author of Street Survivalism: A Practical Training Guide To Life In The City and The Ultimate Survival Gear Handbook
We’re only two months into 2023, and so much water has already passed under the bridge. All I can say is, what a year this is shaping up to be. Is it just me, or does anyone else feels the same?
To anyone still involved with the Chinese balloon drama, let me remind you that the U.S. (and the entire world, in fact) was invaded by China long ago. Products and dopamine-inducing apps, farmland acquisition, shady investments, and government collusion in some places and continents, and so on are all evidence of this.
And that’s only what we know of.
What about the unknown unknowns? I don’t think anyone would be surprised to finds out that there’s more, much more, would they? I wouldn’t, just like I wouldn’t be if it was revealed that more of these sneaky airships have been flying in the stratosphere everywhere since God-knows-when. Very likely.
The episode may generate consequences, if only because it’s a powder keg out there. How much should we be concerned? The government and the Chinese can say anything they want, and it won’t impact anyone’s life unless it crashes over their house.
It’s crazy how a device, at the same time old-fashioned and modern, innocent and threatening, can stir up people’s imagination in the era of 5th-generation fighter jets, landing rockets, A.I., and autonomous vehicles. But whatever, it’s already been shot down, so everyone can move to the “next thing.”
If you want to stay ahead of the curve, there are other events taking place around the globe that deserve more attention. Not only might these have short and mid-term implications, including in our daily routines, but also because they encapsulate important lessons that might help us directly.
Lebanon’s currency shock.
The Lebanese central bank announced a 90% exchange rate devaluation, effective February 1st. The pound’s rate is much lower than that in the black market, where 99,9% of the country’s economy and population are now. But it’s still a big blow and shows the country’s currency’s failure.
My Lebanese friend (who shared a few civil war stories with us last year) has relatives living in Lebanon, and they have told him the current situation is even worse than during that period. While I’m not entirely sure that’s a valid point of view (due to historic distancing and all), it reveals the state of things in the country.
However, the crisis in Lebanon is rather old, so the people have been learning and preparing to defend themselves from these things long ago. They’ve put their money in hard assets and foreign currencies such as the U.S. dollar and the Euro.
Now, I am often asked by American colleagues how to defend from something like that if you have your bills denominated in USD. First, the USD is the world reserve currency and won’t lose that status overnight. Certainly not before most other currencies crash to zero or Fed Coins, aka CBDCs, get implemented. So there’s no need to rush and dump your greenbacks.
Still, it’s possible that the USD keeps its value against other currencies while losing its purchase power internally. So, the basic strategy is essentially the same: diversification—different currencies, different asset classes, and maybe even investing in other countries. This is not financial advice, meaning you have to do your own research on these and other options or get specific counseling from a professional.
Other countries are at different points of the same cycle.
The Bank Of England has been warning about the worst year of growth since the Great Depression. That doesn’t mean the U.K. or nations like Japan or China will end up like Lebanon or Argentina. But given the context, something can break in these markets – it’s not without warning, but it can happen at any time.
Following Lebanon’s footsteps, Argentina has just unveiled the 2000 pesos note to keep up with their accelerated currency devaluation and 95% YTD inflation. That’s twice the value of the highest note currently in circulation and the equivalent of US$ 5 (maybe less by the time you read this). The peso keeps plummeting, and the black market is full-steam in the country right now.
Those things matter because whatever happens in the Japanese bond market, the Chinese real estate sector (a 50+ trillion dollar market responsible for a quarter of Chinese GDP), or the U.K. job market will impact everywhere else – and it won’t be small or pretty. Social unrest is another lousy development, and the situation is ripe for protests, strikes, and others across Europe.
Again, the best form to defend is by investing in hard assets and more stable currencies. Keeping some cash in reserve can help in the case of bank runs, which are already happening in some places and can happen anywhere (don’t think otherwise unless you want to become the low-hanging fruit in these situations).
(Want to learn more about preparing for disaster by putting away food? Then check out our free QUICKSTART Guide to building a three-layer food storage system.)
Europe’s lucky break.
Not all is bad news. Analysts and experts were predicting a grim winter in Europe, thanks to all the issues going on with ESG policies, supply breakdown, dwindling reserves, the Russia-Ukraine war, and everything else.
However, thanks to an unusually mild winter, things are manageable in the Old Continent as the north moves towards spring in a couple of months. There’s still the risk of a cold outbreak, and experts warn that blackouts and closures cannot be ruled out completely. The message is clear: the grace from the weather should be no reason to stop preparing.
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Taking advantage of favorable conditions is one thing, butb counting on luck hitting twice is not really a strategy.
The structural conditions for the energy crisis are still present, particularly in Europe. There are no signs of the war ending, nor the attacks on the energy sector changing course. If anything, these and other factors should get worse and increase the stress on the system (and the population). Energy prices keep rising across Europe and everywhere else too.
I honestly don’t see a change in course by governments when it comes to ESG scores. Maybe if, come summer, “off the chart temperatures” and “unprecedented heatwaves” submit the northwestern countries to an even more challenging scenario (thanks to a possibly severe El Niño in 2023), the stupid and damaging policies could be reverted?
We’ll have to wait and see, but the way things are being conducted, I wouldn’t count on that.
When the grid is unstable, some events take a different proportion. It feels like the end of times, however if we look objectively, the system is still up and providing support to the issues going on everywhere, be that blazing fires ravaging forests in Chile, earthquakes causing death and destruction in central Turkey, or ransomware server attacks and the internet going down in Italy.
Europe has dodged a bullet thanks to mother nature, which shows how unforeseen events can impact things for worse but also for better. Nature, for instance, can cause unexpected SHTFs (see the horrific situation of Turkey and Syria or Chile), but it can avert seemingly unavoidable ones as well, as this case shows.
However, fortune is a fickle thing. The bottom line, though, is the events presented here aren’t going to get fixed. On the contrary, they will escalate and contaminate the situation beyond their current borders. Issues created by human intervention in human-created systems (economy, politics, production and supply chain, energy sector, and so on) are more complex, and the interconnectedness of subsets is vast.
What do you think about all this, though? Are we being flooded with distractions to take away from economic accountability? Outside of the air invasions, are there other happenings you think our readers need to know about? Let us know in the comment section below.
Fabian Ommar is a 50-year-old middle-class worker living in São Paulo, Brazil. Far from being the super-tactical or highly trained military survivor type, he is the average joe who since his youth has been involved with self-reliance and outdoor activities and the practical side of balancing life between a big city and rural/wilderness settings. Since the 2008 world economic crisis, he has been training and helping others in his area to become better prepared for the “constant, slow-burning SHTF” of living in a 3rd world country.
Fabian’s ebook, Street Survivalism: A Practical Training Guide To Life In The City , is a practical training method for common city dwellers based on the lifestyle of the homeless (real-life survivors) to be more psychologically, mentally, and physically prepared to deal with the harsh reality of the streets during normal or difficult times. He’s also the author of The Ultimate Survival Gear Handbook.
You can follow Fabian on Instagram @stoicsurvivor