In the 1930’s, the farm population in the US was nearly 25% of the total and it was quite common for farmers to borrow from the bank (using their farms as collateral) in the expectation that the proceeds from their annual crop would pay off the note each year.
But, in 1929, there was a crash in the stock market, lowering the sales price of crops significantly. That, and coincidental droughts throughout the farm belt, resulted in a large percentage of the thirty million farmers failing to meet their payments. They lost their farms.
Worse, they could not turn to another line of work, as layoffs were taking place in all industries, as a result of the Great Depression, which followed the crash.
But it was said that, in California, there was year-round good weather and the orange groves were full of fruit needing to be picked. If only the Okies could get there, they’d be all right.
And, of course, as most Americans know, this ended in a mass migration. Some 7,000 Okies flooded into California every month.
Not surprisingly, Californians found that they had to deal with overwhelming numbers of people with limited skills, all of whom were broke. They were everywhere and, in a very short time, the authorities were called in to keep them out.
Of course, in any situation in which large numbers of starving people are pitted against armed authorities, the situation does not end well.
In looking back at this period, it’s important to remember that, in mid-1929, warnings had been offered that a market crash was in the making and that the US would soon find itself in an economic crisis.
In spite of these warnings, the great majority of people said, “If it happens, I’ll deal with it when the time comes.”
Unfortunately, if people are to escape becoming casualties of an economic crisis, they must make plans and implement them in advance of the crisis.
And so, nearly ninety years later, we find ourselves in a similar situation. A market crash is in the making and the US (and many other countries) will soon find itself in an economic crisis.
And, just as in 1929, the bankers and the media are claiming that the economy has never been healthier and that it’s foolish to worry. (This is being said, even as larger players are quietly exiting the market.)
Increasingly, I’m asked for consultations by people who say, “I understand a crisis is coming, but what can I do about it?”
Well, in fact, the answer is pretty straightforward, but that doesn’t mean it will be painless. Indeed, it requires a major change for most people, often the greatest change of their lifetimes.
- If you live in a jurisdiction that will be impacted in a major way, liquidate whatever assets you can.
- Remove all wealth, except for three months of expense money, from any banking institutions within that jurisdiction.
- Remove all the proceeds from that jurisdiction to one that’s less likely to be impacted. (If the proceeds are sufficient that they can be divided into multiple safer jurisdictions, so much the better.)
- Convert the proceeds into forms that are difficult for your home jurisdiction to confiscate (real estate, precious metals and some cash as expense money)
- Store all precious metals and cash in a non-banking institution in that jurisdiction.
- Purchase or rent a home in a jurisdiction that’s unlikely to be negatively impacted and obtain the right to reside there, should you choose to move there at short notice.
Unfortunately, in the great majority of cases in which I’ve described this as a “Crisis Insurance” policy, the individual asking for the advice views the policy as overwhelming. If he’s an American, as many of them are, he often says, “If it gets that bad, I’ll just go to Idaho.”
Unfortunately, this “solution” is flippant and ill-advised. Since we have no crystal ball, our best bet is to turn to history if we’re to gauge the viability of current “solutions.” We may ask ourselves, “How did this play out in previous similar situations?” This almost always forces us to be honest with ourselves – to abandon half-baked or “solutions” and do the harder work of developing a real solution.
In light of the Okie history of the 30’s, it’s safe to say that, if an American were to plan to “just go to Idaho,” this time around, we can anticipate that this is what he would find:
- Like the Okies, he would have already have experienced the crash and had lost whatever wealth he had (however large or small) and was now in a rather desperate situation.
- Unlike the Okies, he would have better roads to travel on and the family SUV would be a better moving van than the Model A Ford of the 30’s.
- Once the decision was reached to actually go to Idaho, countless others would already have hit the road and an exodus would be underway.
- It’s likely that, in today’s world, some states would declare an emergency and disallow travel over their roads. Others might charge a fee to pass through (as state governments would also be in a financial crisis and would need the money).
- For the last ten years, police departments have been encouraged by the Federal Government to make up for their budget shortfalls by relying on Civil Asset Forfeiture – the confiscation of possessions (including money) of those travelling the highways. This would be likely to increase dramatically in an economic crisis.
- It would not be at all unlikely that gangs of disenfranchised people would also take to the roads, to prey on travelers.
- Once arrived in Idaho, the migrants would find that such a flood of people was quite unwelcome to those who had been wise enough to establish themselves years in advance. It wouldn’t be at all surprising to find that floods of newcomers would be met with force, both by the authorities and the citizens, as occurred in the 1930’s.
The odds that “I’ll just go to Idaho” might be a workable solution to a crisis, would be unlikely in the extreme.
As stated above, if people are to escape becoming casualties of an economic crisis, they must make plans and implement them in advance of the crisis. Any after-the-fact solution would be a pipe dream.
John’s note: The business cycle and asset bubbles are an increasing part of our lives now. A battle rages. On one side are the fiat (counterfeit) currency pushers and cronies. They inflate the bubbles and parasitize off us, and in the process induce increasing malinvestment (which is defined as a waste of capital and human lives and labor). On the other side are those who produce valuable products and services, create stuff that people need and want, and who behave ethically when doing so. These are the voluntarists, the free marketers, the live-and-let-live folk.
Where there are free markets, they keep the blood pumping for us all. But the leeches suck our blood. The question we all have is how long the good forces of free association and free commerce in the free markets can keep things going? Or when will the crony parasites and their central-planner cousins be too great a burden, and the system become anemic and collapse under their weight? Will the free markets win the trench warfare against the crony statists by creating abundance for us in time, or will the regulations and taxes and currency manipulation and cronies win and drop us into an economic depression?
I’m hoping not to die tomorrow, but I have life insurance just in case. Likewise, I am hoping that the free market will win, but I accept that the cronies and parasites keep gaining ground. They already have the monetary system under their control, and that’s a fundamental problem. It’s one reason we support cryptocurrencies. They are a free market of money, competing to be the best. Maybe they will displace the fiat moneys that empower the statists.
In International Man, we’ll be presenting ways to benefit from the bubbles and from the free markets. We don’t want to miss out on the upsides of bubbles nor on good real useful growth that is happening concurrently. Nick Giambruno and Doug Casey find such opportunities regularly.
Crises happen, locally or globally. They’re almost always caused by the shenanigans of statists and cronies, which is why we speak out against those two incestuous scourges.
I don’t want the crises to happen. But they do. I want to know 1) how to manage them, for myself and those I care for, and 2) how to benefit from them, in order to balance out—and therefore hedge against—the financial downside of the crises that occur.
Nick Giambruno’s Crisis Investing is a superb resource for this. I encourage it highly.
Editors note: Clearly, there are many strange things afoot in the world. Distortions of markets, distortions of culture. It’s wise to wonder what’s going to happen, and to take advantage of growth while also being prepared for crisis. How will you protect yourself in the next crisis? See our PDF guide that will show you exactly how. Click here to download it now.