The above graph is adapted from Limits to Growth, Revisited. It is not a hard and fast prediction, but rather the product of a model with 40 years of high correspondence with developments. We are, at present, at the top of the growth curves, many of which have already begun to plateau. Slopes of decline do not factor in such worst-case scenarios as widespread urban- or domestic nuclear facilities collapse consequent to economic collapse.

I've added the shading and 'crossover' circle' (coincident with 'peak everything') to indicate my best guess as to the high probablility zone for global, economic collapse, triggering the onset of TEOTWAWKI.

I fear a hard landing... no 'reboot' or 'transition' to a lower functioning economy. I urge high priority preparation now.

I've got a short glossary of terms at the bottom of this page... if you come across an unfamiliar term, please scroll down and check it out.

Information I'm including or pointing to doesn't mean I necessarily agree with it. Rather, I've found it to be stimulating and worthy of consideration. I'm sure you'll exercise your own judgement... we're nothing if not independent! 8)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Trade Items for the New Economy

Whatchya got in Trade?


Q: What's a good, TEOTWAWKI investment?

A: Tangibles.

Okay... that was the easy answer. I think we can take it for granted that stock options, bearer bonds, Federal Reserve notes and their ilk are poor choices.

How about gold, silver and gemstones?

Ken Neumeyer suggested in Sailing the Farm (great book, BTW) that of the three, silver was preferable:

A) Being of relatively lower value, one is less likely to be killed for one's purse.
B) Much easier to 'make change' (a $1K bill isn't worth much at the fleamarket).

... and believers in colloidal silver properties might add:

C) It's inherently useful.


Still, any of the above assume an economy somewhat above the barter level. Exchange tokens (as opposed to goods and services) represent a value which is not inherent in the token itself. A gold coin, for instance, only represents abstract value beyond its worth as an especially malleable metal. 

While some amounts of such trade stock may be useful in soft-landing scenarios, a hard-landing (which could be local or regional) may well devalue abstract tokens to brass tacks.


*****

So what kinds of goods are suitable? Here's a list of criteria, some or all of which may be desirable:

  • Value -- Short Supply / High Demand items imply things which are necessary and hard to find or fabricate in foreseeable conditions.
  • Portability -- This implies physically small, lightweight goods, preferably with high value for their 'footprint'. This will vary in importance, depending on one's strategy (e.g., freehold vs. nomadic), but even the best bunker situation may become untenable.
  • Durability -- We don't want a shelf-life or the burden of maintenance.
  • Renewability? -- Some things (e.g., seeds, yeast, algaes, dairy cultures, etc.) not only meet the criteria, but can be multiplied!
  • Economy -- Ironically, we have to obtain these goods prior to any collapse. Therefore, we'd like something affordable in the here-and-now.

In making our evaluation, consider what kinds of things might be common in abandoned homes or businesses. If a hard landing does occur and populations plummet, the supply of many useful items may outstrip the demand. Aspirin, say (which I never-the-less listed below), could conceivably be found in every medicine cabinet of abandoned suburbs.


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So here's a list (in no particular order) of ideas that have come my way. I'll come back and add to it, over time as new ideas come in. Please feel free to suggest items in COMMENTS.

KNOWLEDGE -- Best trade item! Zero footprint; inexhaustible; improves with age; useful in the meantime; can't be taken from you; makes you more valuable alive-than-dead; builds trust and community.

Seeds -- Non-hybridized seeds, chosen for your region are a good choice. Consider durable packaging to extend their shelf-life. There are many seed packages already assembled, so a lot of the work has been done for us. Still, you might want to specialize in a few varieties for trade. Consider potatoes (carbohydrate intensive) and high-nutrition plants.

Files and Rasps -- These are hard to fabricate by hand, even with a full blacksmithy and skills to match. Even small ones -- such as 'points' files are extremely useful for modifying metal objects.

Sawblades (bowsaw and hacksaw) -- Ditto... consider non-tempered teeth, which can be sharpened and kerfed.

Drill Bits -- Ditto.

Razor Blades -- Good for many tasks (including surgical). Single-edged RBs can be used like a knife.

Thread and Needles -- I like polyester upholstery thread for strength and longevity. Larger cones are more compact, though harder to exchange unwound thread.

String -- "A World without String is Chaos!" I like tarred nylon 'seine twine' (fisheries supplies)... it comes laid and braided in various weights.

Bug Netting -- This stuff can be worth its weight what-have-you! Consider the distinction between 'Mosquito Netting' and 'No-See-Um Netting'. NSUs walk right through Mosquito Netting. It can be bought in jackets, pants and head-gear, but is more versatile and compact in rolls of raw fabric. It's surprisingly durable, too.

Surgical / Dental tools -- These are handy for many things besides their intended use. Tooth extractors are going to be something many wish they had.

Clove Oil -- This is a topical anesthetic (among other values) with a long shelf life.

Aspirin -- This and its analogues are handy and versatile stuff. It may be common in abandoned homes, but maybe not.

Antibiotics, anesthetics, anti-histamines, provodone iodine -- These are the backbone of a medicine chest. Research and stock to taste... look for long shelf-lives in ambient conditions.

Firestarters -- I think many of us will be shocked to find how hard it is to make a fire without help. Magnesium starters, Fire Pistons, Magnifying Lenses and good old Flint/Striker Kits may become precious. Be sure you have the know-how to pass on with the method.

Distillation Supplies -- E.g., (copper) tubing and high-performance yeast (Champagne yeast, for example, has high tolerance for alcohol while others perform at lower temperatures). Alcohol is in high demand and has many uses.

Canning Lids -- Canning jars are no-go, but can likely be salvaged. The lids, however, have limited use life... new ones should stay in high demand.

Fishhooks, Net and Line -- These can be improvised, but no comparison.

Snare Wire -- Ditto.

Pure Sulphur -- Hard-to-locate/isolate ingredient of black gun-powder.

.22 Ammo -- LR, mostly, but shorts and shot loads are useful, too.

Condoms -- Life does go on!  8)

O.B.s -- This is a type of applicator-less tampon, which is therefore much more compact. Multiply useful for menstration, wound packing, blotting, the odd Molotov...

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Other interesting ideas include spirulina algae, yogurt starter, honey, tobacco, nails, springs, shock-cord and...??? One intriguing suggestion was lime... hmm.

See ya at the exchange!


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