Guest Post: This Is What Crisis Feels Like

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Simon Black of Sovereign Man blog,

On December 1, 2001, Argentina’s economy was in trouble. Unemployment was high, debt was high, and recession had taken hold. But life was somewhat ‘normal’.

Basic services still functioned. And no one had to really worry about... food. Or water. Then it all changed. Literally within a day.

On December 2nd, our bankrupt government imposed measures that essentially froze everyone’s bank accounts. You can just imagine– one day having access to your funds, and the next day being completely cut off.

Within a matter of days, people were out in the streets doing battle with the police. The government soon defaulted on its debt, and the currency went into freefall.

I was doing some post-graduate work in Boston at the time. As a foreigner in the US, I wasn’t really able to work… so I was living on a tight budget from my savings.

Yet, overnight, I went from being able to pay my rent and living expenses to being completely cut off from my funds. I had nothing.

But when I spoke to my family back in Argentina, I realized that they had it even worse.

Everything became scarce. The electricity went out all the time. Even food on the grocery store shelves ran low. You would eat what you had available at home.

And in a way, food became a medium of exchange. Within just a few days, people went from having confidence in their currency to not trusting it at all. No one wanted to accept paper money anymore, especially for something as valuable as food.

And if they did, it would be at 2-3 times the normal price. With all of this unfolding, I flew back down to see my family.

My father called me and said he had stashed his life savings in US dollar cash in a bank safety deposit box. He needed my help getting it out.

When we arrived to the bank, there were thousands of people in the streets rioting. The police were there in paramilitary gear. It was so tense, we had to bribe someone just to get inside the bank.

Fortunately we were able to get access to the box. But… we had to walk 3 or 4 blocks to the car. It was half panic, half adrenaline rush walking past an angry crowd with my father’s life savings shoved down our pants.

Looking back, this was crazy. But at the time, it was the only way. Then came the even harder part– getting it out of the country.

We had friends who would take rowboats full of cash to neighboring Uruguay. But this was incredibly risky.

At the time, the only legitimate way to get money out of the country was buying ADRs (Argentine public companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange). And the only reason we were even able to do this was because we had the contacts.

But we got killed on the fees. The commission alone was 20%, and then, of course, the stocks we purchased took a dive.

So my father ended up losing about half of his savings trying to get it out of the country at the wrong time.

What’s funny is that we eventually ended up suing the government. They had destroyed everyone’s life savings, and even seized pensions as well.

The government dragged out the legal process for years, almost a decade. They were hoping that all the retirees who were suing them would simply die off, and the problem would go away.

Eventually, we won the case (along with thousands of others). But the judge gave the government a ‘suspended sentence’. So, no penalty.

There are so many more stories to tell about this… and fortunately I can laugh about it all now. But at the time, it was beyond stressful.

The best way I can describe it is despair. And this is really the worst emotion you can have. Because when you’re in a state of despair, you’re hopeless. It’s a terrible position to be in.

Life becomes hell because you do not know whether you are going to be able to put food on the table the next day.

And in such a state of despair, you’re not in a position to make good decisions. It’s all about survival.

Of course, we kept thinking, “why didn’t we see this coming? Why didn’t we do something sooner?”

If only we had moved some money out of the country before, or taken steps to safeguard his pension, life would have turned out much differently.

It’s like that old saying– better to be a year (or decade) too early than a day too late. Because one should never underestimate the speed with which things can unravel.

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francis_sawyer's picture

My advice to you Simon is to hit the slopes & put all your worries behind... No really!

Charles Nelson Reilly's picture

Yeah, Colombia isn't that far away.

NotApplicable's picture

"Our government."

LOL, good one Simon.

Never One Roach's picture
IBM lays off hundreds in Westchester, Dutchess counties in $1 billion restructuring


The reduction targets employees with a range of seniority, from rank-and-file workers to executives, said a person familiar with the company's plans, who asked not to be named because the information is private. Some U.S. employees began to receive notifications of the cuts Tuesday night, according to Lee Conrad, a coordinator for Alliance@IBM, an employee group.

Meat Hammer's picture

You all might want to take a gander at the Nikkei.  Down 400 pts.


Handful of Dust's picture

Used to live in the Armonk area subletting my professors house for the year while he went abroad to write another book...loaded with IBM execs, law school professors and plastic surgeons...I must have been the poor one in the neighborhood but they all looked at me as their 'kid' so treated me pretty well with free 7-course dinners and invited me to the neighborhood shindigs...many of them had cooks...oops, I mean "Chefs" so meals were delicious. Hope that area does not deteriorate too badly with all the firings...oops, again, I mean "layoffs." I remember when the the airline industry hit the skids awhile back, the area around DFW turned to doggy-poop.


As Napoleon said, "From the sublime to the ridiculous is but one small step."

tooktheredpill's picture

good story, but no mention of the AUD? Down about 10% since you said it was becoming a safe haven.

fonzannoon's picture

"During a bank run, there are two kinds of people.

The first group is people who run away with cash in their pants. The second group is the people who chase first group.

Having grown up fucking everywhere depending on the story, I never saw ___ until my first winter at West Point/MIT/Saturn at the age of 17/20ish. So I am unfortunately in the latter group. But I do my best to fake it.

This weekend I had my hundreth totally awesome thing happen this season. It's winter/summer time down in Awesomeville, but you wouldn't really know it. The high yesterday was in the low 70s with a warm, sunny, blue sky.


If you're a skier/tiger wrestler (in either group), I highly recommend it....."


prains's picture

the alpaca hunting season is about to commence and they pack a ferocious



BandGap's picture

Simon is the neighborhood kid that always got the shit kicked out of him for making shit up. He never learned.

DaddyO's picture

I'd like to know what class at WP he was in, my wife was there, early class of female cadets. She would post his (stolen valor?) info and let everyone lite him up if not true.


Jam Akin's picture

He is not in the West Point Register of Graduates DaddyO.   I doubt he went there or did any of the other amazing things he claims to have done.  And wouldn't writing under an assumed name be kinda dishonest if he actually had gone to Club Hud?  

My theory remains that he is noonlighting from his night shift call center job in India.

Further, I assume this narrative is about someone other than Simon as "Simon" spent the entire 2001 Argentine crisis locked down in the call center...

kito's picture

fonz....i started stacking...for real......i found a 1954 quarter today.....i went online......its worth almost 4 bucks....its got SILVER IN IT!!!.........................oh yeah....i got PHYZZZZ BITCHEZZZZ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

fonzannoon's picture

remember to start slow. You don't want to overdo it at first.

DoChenRollingBearing's picture

+ 1 to each of you two.  An online beautiful friendship unfolding is a wonder to watch.  Los Dos Amigos!

NoDebt's picture

I have many lbs. of pre-64 quarters and dimes.  All of them "real pocket change" which means there is the possibility of a few being worth something even beyond their significant silver weight.  They're not "bulk purchase" silver coins.

When you have a hard time lifting it, you've probably got about half as much as you need.

I am still not a "silver/gold guy."  I don't know why I feel the need to keep pointing that out, but I always do on ZH.  Stuff keeps piling up in little dribs and drabs here and there.  I feel NO need to trade it in for fiat.  I keep thinking "I'm gonna trade this stuff in."  Years pass.  Still it sits.

I keep justifying it based on mere "asset allocation" grounds (I AM one of THOSE guys.  That, I freely admit).  Yet, I also admit some of the real reasons I keep it are pure fear-based.  I mean, look around you.  Does this look like it's going to end well?  I am rapidly running out of "willing suspension fo disbelief" when it comes to traditional paper-based assets.

Even if we're all wrong and everything turns out fine, would it absolutely kill you to keep a couple grand worth of physical PM somewhere easily accessible to you?  Would it irrevocably alter your lifestyle for the worse?  Probably not.  Put a little in, sleep a little better at night.


Meat Hammer's picture

They're actually sitting next to each other....with matching laptops.

prains's picture

sorry fonz and kito but fuck that was funny


......with matching laptops and bow ties at applebees






TheFourthStooge-ing's picture


i found a 1954 quarter today.....i went online......its worth almost 4 bucks....its got SILVER IN IT!!!

It feels almost magical, doesn't it kito? Go ahead, hold it in the light next to a post-1964 quarter. Shiny, huh? It makes the newer quarter look cheap, fraudulent, and forlorn.

Take a look at the edge. Notice anything?

That's right, it's not just a silver veneer, it's silver all the way through. The reeded edge? That's an invention of Sir Isaac Newton, designed to thwart those who would shave off slivers of metal from the coin's edge.

Now look at the edge of the newer quarter. It screams cheapness and fraud. A slab of copper between two sides of grey cupronickel alloy, its reeded edge is merely a remnant from days long past. Nobody shaves metal from the edges of these pretenders, as they are barely above the level of a slug.

You're off to a good start, kito.

prains's picture

dude that was positively encyclopedic, what you learn is in the details, cheers 4th. If you ever need some building tips hopefully i can return the favor one day

DoChenRollingBearing's picture is your friend!  Metal values of our coins.

prains's picture

my coinage goes directly to the repo market: 3 kids, 1 wife

doesn't stay around long enough to study it

HeliBen's picture

Wait till Kito has a couple dozen in his hand and fumbles them around hearing them clink, and the weight of it... Ah... Real money rocks.

Axenolith's picture

Silver comes out of the ground (metal detecting) more often than not looking like it did the day it went in, even after a 100+ years.  Clad crap looks like shit after a couple years, and the 1982 and later zinc pennies literally corrode apart after a short time in ground.

Bendromeda Strain's picture

Now you can change your name to kitco

TimmyM's picture

Yea,and in 1954 you could get a gallon of gas and a small soda with it. Oh wait!

kito's picture

That's what is crazy.. it gave me pause to realize that I'm holding the modern day version of the pre-debased roman coin.....I'm really starting to think....I smell smoke.....

jerry_theking_lawler's picture

exactamundo.....i explained the PM point of view to my 'older' parents (teens in the 50's). i asked them their salaries back then, converted it to oz silver. i asked a few prices, converted those to oz silver. converted those costs to todays number and lo and behold, almost every item has seen deflation....gas is cheaper today, food is cheaper today, entertainment is cheaper today.....but what was more striking is that real wages have deflated even faster....example: my mother was an office clerk in 1958. when you convert her 58 salary into oz of silver and then those oz of silver to 2013 dollars what did you get?? well, since you are all so nice, I will tell you....a little over $100k.....

so, 55 years later, on a real money standard, I only make a little more money than my mother did, and with my education and expertise, I can guarantee you that I am 5x more productive.

Fuck the Fed for robbing us of our productivity gains and of our freedoms. Fuck anyone that believes in the Federal Reservce System and I hope they rot in hell (which I know they will).....

OpTwoMistic's picture

Thanks.  In the fifties, sixties appliances, TVs were expensive. They had to be planned for.

otto skorzeny's picture

Don't hate the playa- hate the game.

fonzannoon's picture

my favorite quote from his website.

" It’s not 1984 anymore."

Otto I'm just having fun. It seems like we are all just waiting around at this point for an asteroid to hit. I just decided to put my walkman on and shoot spit balls while we wait.

prains's picture

my wife is making me clean the toliets while we wait, you're having more fun

q99x2's picture

Good advice. It happens quick. And there are lots of signs right now that something is up.

Midasking's picture

It's coming to a theater to you real soon!

lolmao500's picture

But but but! It can't happen here!! Because freedomz, childrenz and Amerika bitches!!

Van Halen's picture

But most of all... Barack Hussein Obama! Mmm! Mmm! Mmm!

THX 1178's picture


samsara's picture

No It can't happen here because we have Technology

Snoopy the Economist's picture

Sooooo.....what country do you trust your money in if the US isn't it? And how do you get access to it without the US taxing teh crap out of it?

lolmao500's picture

Storable food, guns and ammo... then PHYSICAL silver and gold... better than any cash or bank account anywhere. If they want to take your stuff, they'll have to physically come to your house to get it.

dark pools of soros's picture

or send some HAARP tornados your way

El Tuco's picture

i'll just loot the fucking museums, hopefully there will be a van Gogh or Monet exhibit in town. hey it worked for the nazi's.

seriously, i'll probably go to the casino and live off the buffet and catch the nightly shows until it all blows over. those indian reservations got it made.

tango's picture

I have decided (with others) that if I have to spend the rest of my days lugging ammo, manning watch towers, checking if the fences are still electrified, wear camouflage, drill 24/7  ---  I'd rather just go on to the next phase.  If we don't have neighborhood, friends, good times, a hint of "normalcy" (walking outside your home without bullet proof vests) then what's the use?  What kind of society are you fighting for when everyone is a potential soldier and victim?  Community is as important (or more important) than all the AK 47s in the Western Hemisphere.