Prepping for economic collapse

What does economic collapse mean to you?

To me, economic collapse isn’t the stock exchange disaster of the 1930’s. It is the slow decay and crumbling of our independence and self-sufficiency.

I used to move money. It could be a fifty-dollar transaction bound for Vietnam or a boat in Indonesia or a fifty million settlement heading to another bank. It was a very high stress position with zero margin for error. 

There was a bank of clocks on the wall that represented cities like San Francisco, Toronto, Montreal, London, Paris and New York, who were all part of a routing system to move money globally. The clocks acted as a reminder of international cut off times for payment traffic.

I processed telexed and trader payments that landed in my in basket, took payments from branches and other banks over the phone, and ensured that what I processed was delivered correctly and on time.

This involved a series of intricate fail safes and verifications. It was an area of banking that was a target for fraud and required high degrees of vigilance.

I used to wake up with nightmares from the stress of my job. The first thing I did when I left that job was to take off the watch I wore as part of the time critical component of my work. To this day, I don’t wear a watch.

My time in that position came on the heels of three years spent in the letters of credit department. The orders were shipped to other countries because of their less expensive labor costs.

The point of telling you about this experience as the lead in for prepping for economic collapse is simple. Everything money related is moving around you all the time, quietly in the background. Deals are made. Money is bought and sold. Trade happens. 

Meanwhile, you go to work, earn a pay check and live your life. You spend money and contribute to the trade and commerce around you. If you save money your bank gets the use of your money and pays interest to you for that use.

Everything is interconnected now because of trade and international lending. This is not a case of you have something and I have something and let’s trade. It is a case of competition, trade quotas and trade sanctions, and of maintaining a complex balance.

International trade is not symbiotic, meaning that the relationship is not mutually beneficial.

We trade now because we have to do it. We are not sustainable. We gutted our jobs in North America.

My Dad and I used to spend hours in debate and discourse. This subject was one of them.

Dad’s position was that we had priced ourselves out of the labor market due to unions and that manufacturers went for the cheap labor elsewhere.

My position was that our labor costs were being undercut by countries with an entirely different standard and cost of living. How were we ever going to compete with that?

The end result is that container after container of manufacturing equipment, some hundreds of years old and highly specialized were disassembled, and shipped elsewhere, and our jobs left with it.

The finished product was shipped back to the company who then sold it to us at the same price as if it had been made here. It was a version of enterprise that destroyed jobs, manufacturing and charged us more to shop while they did it.

I remember some companies hung on as did some consumers who refused to buy anything not “made in Canada” or “made in the USA.” Now, those labels are deceptive because they aren’t entirely made in either country. Parts come from elsewhere or something is partially assembled elsewhere.

Which brings me to economic collapse. Have any of you ever wondered about how easily this whole thing could go off the rails? I do and probably not for the reasons that other people do. I don’t get caught up in economic jargon or theory. It’s simple and straightforward.

I look at our countries as preppers who were capable of self-sufficiency. We joined with a group of other prepper countries to trade and barter. We made a bad choice and put ourselves in a bad position.

We can’t make the items we used to make and are now dependent upon other countries for items we need. We are no longer self-sufficient.

If there is a disaster in the other preppers’ country or we have a dispute with the other preppers or one of their friends’ countries, then we get cut off from the items we need.

That doesn’t sound like solid preparedness to me.

Our goods used to be closer to home. 

To make our arrangement work, we need to ship goods over long and sometimes difficult routes. The grounded container ship in the Suez Canal was a good example of how easily the arrangement can grind to a halt.

The current pandemic could easily run us aground in a different way. We have no idea when this pandemic will be over or if it will ever be over. The mutations carry the possibility of antibody resistance which is a big concern.

India is being overwhelmed by the pandemic. They, like China, may have a huge population, but their workers dying or unable to work will impact their production. 

We also can’t forget the long term effects of Covid-19 upon people who survive it. Some are dead six months later. Others are left with permanent lung or other debilitation.

I can’t change history. I have no control over other people. What I can do is adjust how I prepare in the face of the potential for economic collapse.

I have started researching which items such as medicines are made in other countries. I am also researching which items are made entirely in North America and making a list of suppliers and manufacturers.

Part of my search is for local and regional suppliers because in an economic collapse, shipping long distances may not be viable. It is also a way to foster mutually beneficial relationships for long term survival.

I am making a list for stocking more of certain items that could be impossible to get if a supplier country halts or reduces production.

I am also looking at what skills or items I could make if necessary and getting the knowledge or instructions hard copied and in place now.

What do you think economic collapse will look like? What are you doing to prepare for it?


  • Comments (19)

    • 5

      Good morning Ubique,

      Preface: I agree with Dad’s position. All else is commentary.

      Yes, I am one who wondered – and knew – … I worked in China pre, during and post Diem reforms … about how easily this thing could go foo the rails.

      Actually, the US did not make “bad” decisions but really trade-offs.  If Japan could not re-industralize it might have gone neutral in the Cold War. If South Korean could not get some basic manufacturing, like steel and shipbuilding, the predominent US thought was that South Korea could get absorbed into the Middle Kingdom. Thoughts of Laos and Cambodia were present in conference rooms. 

      Goods domestically produced cost more than imported goods even with the shipping and insurance – the entire CIF invoice plus any applicable tariff schedule duties. 

      Even exclusive domestically-produced goods like some RX pharma are cartel controlled and expensive.

      I think economic collapse will look like migrations from the coastal areas to inland, less critical infrastructure personnel (in broad term).  I think this “economic collapse” will have the citizenry living in smaller dwellings with much less single-family detached homes.  I think there will be required arrangements for elderly parents/family members and children to also dwell together in same housing unit.  The nursing homes and day care programs fading away. They are too clostly.

      My preparedness involves ongoing study and practice of “field” health care envisioning NO professional health care support.

      My preparedness involves supplies / tools for chronic pain and the typical disabilities of the aging process.  Thus, for example, I do not stockpile 25 years of MREs … consumption beyond 4 meals of ’em can be devastating … but do keep large inventorys of eg raw honey, olive oil,… that are eligible for modifying diet.

      My preparedness involves supplies / tools for repair to dwelling envisioning NO electricity by any source. All tools envisioned for work are manual, from drills to saws …… all brackets used for repair are of a larger size with larger screws that can still work so as to avoid the risk of arthritic condition precluding holding a small wood screw in place.

      • 3

        Good morning Bob,

        “Trade-offs” is a good term for it.

        I miss the quality of the goods we once had. Things were built to last and not meant to litter landfill several years after buying them.

        The return to the nuclear family concept is very possible. Other countries live like this. If the elders are treating well by the family, then it can work very nicely. It was the way we did things in our family. However, the danger is if the elder is not treated well and isolated from the world.

        Care for those unable to live independently must follow a better model and be done with love and compassion as is the case of true palliative care. The deploring conditions in long term care have existed for too long and have again been brought to light due to Covid-19. Perhaps economic collapse will foster a grassroots approach to proper care for long term care.

        The motto of palliative care that I was taught is: “You matter because you are and you matter until the end of your life. We will do all we can not only to help you die peacefully, but also to live until you die.” (Dame Cicely Saunders) A bit about this extraordinary woman here:


        I have assembled tools also. I use bar-b-que tongs to reach for certain items as opposed to using a ladder. This is to lessen the risk of falls. I also stock the raw honey, oil etc. Much more sensible and nutritious in the long run.

        I use magnetic drivers to help stabilize what I am fastening. It really helps on the tougher arthritis days. One trick I learned to do, and it works well on small screws, it to use a small needle nose plier to hold the screw in place with one hand and then use a hammer to tap a starting spot for the screw. Then switch to the screwdriver. It makes it easier to get the “bite” going for the screw.

      • 2

        Good morning Ubique,

        Appreciated reading the Dame Cicely Saunders link.

        I like that “Love and Steel”.

        Appreciated reading her “total pain” teaching model.

        I LOVED reading about how her 4 page analgesics approach is now a 1244 page book.  This Oxford book meets and exceeds the weight test.

        From the little I know, … based on about 1 to 2 trips a year for volunteer work at VA centers, “hospice” and “palliative” care are seperate types of care.  I personally see no real difference and treat all patients no differently than any of the veterans enrolled or not enrolled in any of the programs. 

      • 2

        Good afternoon Bob,

        Glad you enjoyed Dame Saunders info. She was extraordinary and left such a gift for all of us.

        I include a link on hospice care and it’s interesting history. Aside from travellers, there were those who were poor, alone and dying that sought care through hospice. 


        I’m afraid Covid-19 blew the doors open on the deplorable conditions in some of the long term care facilities in Canada. We had to pull our military in to assist in Quebec. It was thanks to our military that the whistle was blown on the neglect and suffering in some of the care facilities. Not a proud day for Canada to know this went on.

        I believe we need to Nationalize our long term care for the infirm, draft a set of standards and hold everyone accountable with a separate watchdog to ensure that this never happens again on Canadian soil.

        There is a call in our government currently to Nationalize long term care and I hope this is done. I would like to see every private “care” facility driven out of our country. The private care is about the bottom line and profit, so they plead “short staffing” when in reality they are understaffed.

        They also have hiring and supervision standards that I can’t fathom as someone who worked in management. I don’t know why they don’t nanny cam each and every room to ensure that no one is ever abused.

        Also, New York police began a system of 6 month mandatory psych evaluations after Serpico brought their problems to the public.

        Any professions/jobs that involve caring for any vulnerable person should require regular and random drug tests, on going psych evaluations to ensure that mental health issues are caught before a vulnerable person is harmed.

        My Dad told me always watch people who are attracted to positions of power and control. Some people do it because they care and some because they are sadistic and like to hurt people who are weaker or unable to run away or defend themselves.

        He got one in England during WWII and broke his nose because the trainer was sadistic and Dad caught him at it.

      • 4

        Good evening Ubique,

        Will glance at the Wiki link soon.

        I don’t have the background to even consider private sector care converted to the public sector. The Department of Veterans Affairs’ Veterans Health Administration is the world’s largest hospital system.  It no longer wins awards.

        Here, the official military (much contracted out) is just not set up to help the civilian population on any large scale. A hospital ship from Norfolk, Virginia sailed to NYC and a hospital ship from San Diego sailed to LA for COVID support. A fortune was spent and these vessels aren’t even designed for infectious respiratory diseases like COVID-19.

      • 5

        Good morning Bob,

        Sadly we made the news over it. Sometimes, that is how change happens.

        Back to economic collapse. The unsustainable “bubbles” are still being blown (and will eventually break). Consumers still “invest” in financial products that can leave them penniless.

        Do you know that I don’t factor interest in any of my long range financial planning? I saw too many people left in a mess because they based all their financial plans on X amount of interest. Trouble was, interest rates dropped and so did their income.

        Also, in Canada, people bought into Registered Retired Savings products (commonly called RRSP’s). These were tax deferred products and heavily marketed here.

        The problem is this type of product is not good for a lower income person. They will take the tax hit at retirement when their income will drop on pension. They weren’t in a high tax bracket before and didn’t need this type of product which was meant for high income earners.

        I use a simple savings approach. If interest rates are up or down, my little boat doesn’t rock. I just keep floating along.

      • 5

        Good evening Ubique,

        Will glance at the Wiki link soon.

        I don’t have the background to even consider private sector care converted to the public sector. The Department of Veterans Affairs’ Veterans Health Administration is the world’s largest hospital system.  It no longer wins awards.

        Here, the official military (much contracted out) is just not set up to help the civilian population on any large scale. A hospital ship from Norfolk, Virginia sailed to NYC and a hospital ship from San Diego sailed to LA for COVID support. A fortune was spent and these vessels aren’t even designed for infectious respiratory diseases like COVID-19.

    • 5

      To me, it is just a matter of time until we have another stock collapse… another Great Depression.  However things will be different.  As you state, we no longer grow our own food… we import much of it.  If it is grown in the US, it likely is not grown locally.  There are very few local farms nowadays growing food.  Almost all the agriculture around me is the raising of cattle and growing hay.  Food comes from elsewhere.

      But the biggest difference between a depression now and back in the 1930s is the people.  Back then, no one expected the government to save them.  It was extremely helpful when the government stepped in with public works programs but no one demanded our government save them.  Americans have become soft & take little responsibility for their own well being.  If something goes wrong, it is not an issue of people expecting government help… they demand it. 

      So IMO, this next depression will be more than an economic collapse… it will be  collapse of society. It will be much worse.

      • 2

        Alright last comment and then I really need to get back to doing some things. Wish I could spend all day on these forums…

        What do you think will happen if another stock collapse occurred? Do you think the government will just take out more debt and bail out companies and people?

      • 5

        There is a limit to what a government can do, especially if the banks are also failing.

      • 4


        I agree with Redneck, there is a limit to what the government can do. Bail outs are like putting bandaids on a very serious wound, when other treatment is needed to properly heal the wound.

        If you think about it, the government is the administrator for our collective tax dollars. They can print money and put more into circulation, but that has limits because of how that affects the economy.

        It is why preparedness is so important. Do go into debt and save as much as you can each month. If the market crashes or you lose a job, then you are prepared for it and not worrying about how to pay bills or debt.

        If you live below your means, you will get ahead in life. That is how very wealthy people have done it.

        Also, you can live simply and live a very happy and creative life.

      • 4

        Correction: “Do go into debt” should read “Don’t go into debt”

      • 6


        I agree that the stock market will collapse again. It is meant to do that. That is what happened in the 1930’s. People actually borrowed money to invest into the stock market back then. They hoped to become rich. They were nothing but fodder for it. When it crashed, the rich ones weren’t hurt nearly as badly as the people at the bottom.

        I had to explain non-guaranteed investments to a dear friend who was sold into them by a fast talking banker (from a bank he dealt with for years!) By the time, he had the investments changed, which was not long, he lost over three thousand dollars.

        The imported food is a huge concern for me. First, it doesn’t taste as nice as the varieties that were grown for flavor versus how well can it handle being shipped. Also, we can’t lose the skill and knowledge of how to grow our own food, especially in a time of climate shift. We need to have this knowledge regardless of where we live. It makes for a strong country.

        We have lost too many family farms and we need the smaller farms for the diversification and for healthy rural communities. The thriving small towns are part of what made USA and Canada strong and balanced. It can’t all be urban areas. It is one of the saddest things to travel across country and note the towns that are gone or virtually gone.

        There is a difference in expectations between then and now. No one assumed rescue back then. It was sink or swim. People may have been kind to each other, but as you say other than work programs, no one expected the government to step in.

        I agree people have become soft and lack good self-managment skills. Taking responsibility for one’s life is a part of maturity. It is the adage of “First you give your children roots, then you give them wings.”

        Today we have people with self-entitlement. They are not empowered to make their way in this world because they have given their power away in exchange for the easy way out. Then it becomes generational and the attitude or expectations handed down. It is very sad. They don’t experience the satisfaction of a job well done or what it feels like to get a merit promotion and raise. They don’t know what it feels like to be valued for their contributions to a company or their own company.

        I think you are right regarding the societal collapse. What will happen if the government has to cut back supports? Fostering that level of dependency does not end well. I see it here also, including the generational component. The cycle needs to be broken so the children of such homes have a chance to do better.

        It is very much like a pressure cooker with a lot of ingredients in the mix. There are many factors contributing to the stress and much mess when that lid blows.

    • 5

      Hi Ubique,

      I worry about the long term lack of real growth. Since the ’70s our debt in the US has grown faster than our economy. “Economic growth” is an illusion. 

      net gdp

      It seems like we have been in a deflationary depression for 40 years—disguised only by the “stimulus” of borrowing to prop up GDP: it now takes $4 of borrowing to get $1 of “growth”. The previous 100 years growth was driven by fossils and mechanization but even with the genius of automation and containerization and an ebbing population explosion we seem to have reached the point of diminishing returns.


      • 5

        Welp, that’s depressing. Never knew it was so bad.

      • 4

        Good morning Pops,

        A real good graph and just loved reading the part of graph title “REAL INVESTMENT ADVICE”. Ever since January 1951 do we need adjectives like “real”. January 1951 was when we lost George Orwell.

        After reading the Seeking Alpha article, … I think the national economic situation is worse than presented.Still, there are “solutions” entering the scene that aren’t big sellers for the American middle class. One probable saving grace to my “somewhat” negative view is the slow phase out of petroleum.  See:

        “THE WORLD AFTER OIL – The Shifting Axis of Power and Wealth”, Bruce Nussbaum, 1983, ISBN 0-671-44571-5

        Bretton Woods really had to close down (and replaced by Davos) because LBJ  introduced the US economy to permanent deficit financing.

        Now add to all our problems the American housing market – valued at ~ $26 trillion.  It is the world’s largest asset class even more than the US stock market (but not sure re the grain trade markets). When global investors holding US mortgage bonds  closed out in 2008, D.C. absorbed the all of the mortgage guarantees …… and much of this mortgage market was already D.C. obligations. It’s taxpayers are responsible for defaults – the unfunded liabilities. In substance, our housing market is nationalized.

        I’m from the petroleum industry and actually experienced how the US lost this industry. To keep this post non-political, am not posting examples.

        Some non-political general economy comments:

        I anticipate the Social Security retirement program to be means-tested.

        Medicaid Part 19 is already closing down. It’s old age home funding for the poor.

        Electric care are expensive. I re-activated a song I like by Judy Garland: “Clang, clang, clang went the trolley”. 

        Still, am not going to move to a South Seas island until I get some insight from Greta Thunberg.


        Appreciated reading your post and linked Alpha article. Thank you.


      • 3

        Hi Bob,

        I’m a long time amateur observer of the “oil replacement problem” so I’m as well hopeful that we can indeed transition to renewables and efficiency.

        The real estate market is crazy right now but it is mostly a supply/demand situation I think. But you’re right, it was underwritten by the gov.

        As I’m sure you know, the last crash had to do with lending to people who were not qualified and then putting those bad loans together with some good ones and selling them as AAA rated CDOs (Collateralized Debt Obligations). The reasoning was real estate is local, but since the loans were from all over, they would never default all at once—except enough did to break the banks.

        That exact mistake is not being made now I don’t think. I flipped a house last year and for the first time in more than a dozen career sales it appraised for LESS than the sales price. Not by much but still…

        But… even though the mortgage biz is less bad, the looming crisis is the exact same: CLOs (Collateralized Loan Obligations)—the same idea except instead of packaging bad mortgages, these are packages of bad corporate loans. What could go wrong? When the PPP ends those zombies are gonna start falling and they could very well take the banks again.

        Or not. Plan for the worst, etc, etc.

      • 4

        Good afternoon Pops,

        Oh, most definitely, I remember the investment grade CDOs.

        This is why I recommend new preppers to live below their means – even if big adjusts must be made: less costly apartment, house,take max care of car, try to join a group …… this is where help will be found, no impulse buying … first talk with group member(s).

        I don’t anticipate a Weimar type economy but definitely the middle class will feel the pressure.

        The party’s over – at least for the middle class.

      • 2

        Hi Pops,

        Thank you for a posting a really good visual of what we are currently facing.

        National and personal debt has continued to feed this situation. We have been warned recently in Canada about inflation and an increase in interest rates. They are now tightening mortgage rules here, but it is a case of too little, too late. The bull is already out of the barn.

        People have been borrowing money for years because of low interest rates. They don’t have the income to support the debt but low interest rates and current lending practice says “approved.” If the rates rise even 1%, they are under water. This has played out many times over the years with the amount of debt getting larger as products and home prices increase. It is a vicious circle.

        Some people don’t remember how quickly interest rates can rise and to what heights. In the early ’80’s, the interest rates began to gallop upward. I had knew a person who had a mortage that increased to over 22%. She could have used our staff rate which was 3%. They almost lost their house.

        This road to debt hell has been paved by banks, business and markets. Globally, the financial machine keeps turning profits while our economy is at or near diminishing returns. 

        “Towers of Gold, Feet of Clay” is a book written by Walter Stewart in 1982 explains how the banks make money. The information is still relevant today.

        This system won’t change until consumers stop playing the game.