Paying in a Broken World
By: Tom Chatham
It is a common reaction to ask, how much is that, when we see something we want or need. The question is answered with some monetary figure that people will recognize and use to determine if they can afford it. But what happens when the monetary system we know becomes so dysfunctional that common monetary values mean little.
This could happen due to massive inflation, currency collapse or a frozen banking system that prevents you from accessing your funds. If you have no way to pay for something, it does not matter how much or little it costs. It will be out of your reach unless you have some means to pay.
Some people keep cash on hand for just such a problem. They know they will be able to pay cash when everything else stops working. That will work for a time but eventually paper currency will be looked on as a diminishing asset as physical goods become more valuable to those that need them. Paper currency is not much different than a check you write on your account. If the account is empty your check is no good.
The same can be said for those entities that issue paper money. If they are bankrupt or shut down, the value of their printed certificates will be worth the same as the bad check. Nobody will want to accept it after they realize it may not be honored for the value it supposedly holds. While a local store may accept it out of habit, eventually businesses will figure out the truth.
In times like this alternative forms of money may become more viable to local individuals such as gold and silver. But, that may take some time and most people will not own any of these precious metals for trade. Some may resort to direct barter with some of the things they have amassed over the years to get the necessities they need and under these circumstances values will be variable and disconnected from reality at times.
Some people have stored barter items for this eventuality rather than precious metals and there is nothing wrong with that if it gives them the feeling of safety they desire. One of the reasons they desire goods instead of metals is the fear that governments will call in precious metals as they did in 1933 and that is a legitimate fear but must be taken with some reflection on the facts.
In 1933, gold and silver coinage was the circulating currency in the nation meaning most people had some in their possession. That is not the reality today as very few people have any knowledge of the value of metals and do not have them in their possession. The fact that the government can call in metals does not mean they will be able to relieve you of them.
In 1933, on the river where I grew up, there was a store on the bank of the river that did a good business with all of the ships that came by. When the gold was called in in 1933, the store owner did not want to turn it in so he kept it hidden away. At the time he had a small chest full of gold coins. He kept that chest of coins until the 1970’s when gold was legal to own again and then he sold it for a good profit. This is a true story and just one example of how hard it would be for the government to call in all of the metals in private hands.
It does not matter what you hold your savings in only that it will retain value when conventional paper currencies become a despised possession. When that happens you need the ability to buy the things you need with what you physically have on hand. The question you must answer is what will you have on hand when that day comes.