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Surviving A Global Depression – The Apocalyptic High Severity Scenario

Updated on January 25, 2009

That brings us to the High Severity scenario. I stated that this was the apocalyptic option and truly it is. At this level of worldwide impact, all bets are off.

Stock markets would effectively cease to operate and this would have a disastrous effect on the world economy. With investments wiped out, cash could take a predominant position, but the unwise knee-jerk reactions of some politicians could cause Weimar Republic-style hyperinflation, wiping out its value and sparking a barter economy. Even precious metals could suffer as people would find little practical use for gold. Bonds would be useless paper. Bonds are built on trust in the future and this would be a very rare commodity in a depression economy. Global panic would delay the return to a stable bond market for at least a full generation.

Social upheaval is certain to follow governments’ inability to provide economic security to a vast majority of their populations. A mass hysteria could set in, with people willing to do literally anything to secure food and supplies. A survival-at-all-costs mentality could become pervasive. Police and military would be swamped by this unrest, as well as their own internal casualties due to clashes with a very violent and desperate citizenry.

There are no real hedges in this eventuality, whether financial or social, and the survivalist’s credo that the only things of real value are “food, water and ammunition” could actually come to pass.

There is no point analyzing this scenario sector by sector. After the global depression renders the entire population of the developed world into paupers, civilization will not return to the Stone Age, but it might be pretty close. We can rest assured that there will be a very different world on the other side of a depression this pervasive.

Politics will be shunned as it offered no hope when humanity needed it most. The prospect of basing a world economy on a bubble of credit and ever-higher, but essentially irrational, expectations will never return. Survival issues will be of great importance in Western nations that previously concerned themselves with more esoteric and abstract pursuits. The breakdown of law and order will see some communities band together and operate their own vigilante, Wild West justice. Atrocities now limited to warring tribes in Central Africa will become commonplace.

The elimination of the financial system may spur a new Golden Age or we may just descend into savagery. No one can know. Does humanity have within it the ability to build a new, better, fairer and truly utopian system on the ashes of the deceased world, or will we return to a Dark Age feudalism where we band together only for self-preservation from the savages outside the walls? Western civilization has become dependent on technology and its trappings. Whether this dependence can be shed for a return to self-reliance and manual labor is questionable. This depression will strike at the core of our civilization, in the heart of its crowded cities most of us now reside. One can only hope that in this scenario, humanity will distinguish itself as the noble animal we can be.

Next: Surviving A Global Depression – Preparing For Low, Medium & High Scenarios

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    • BWD316 profile image

      Brian Dooling 6 years ago from Connecticut

      I agree with you Hal, gold might have been good in the past but now in western societies where we pretty much don't produce any of our own food or products will have no use for gold when they're starving, especially if transporting goods is to expensive or not safe enough. So if it gets to this point, the most anyone is going to think of is surviving day to day

    • Hal Licino profile image

      Hal Licino 8 years ago from Toronto

      Don't get me wrong, gold has traditionally been a superlative hedge in cases of financial meltdowns, but I firmly believe that this one is going to be different and the items of true value will be ones with specific uses, such as food and medicines.

    • pauljorg profile image

      pauljorg 8 years ago

      I don't buy any kind of apocalyptic predictions. People are just thinking negatively. The current situation is going to get much worse in my estimation, but in any case I've ever read about, when currencies collapsed, the people who maintained or increased their wealth were the ones who had gold. Keep physical gold, keep it in a few different contries if you can and keep some small denomination pieces of gold or silver at home, and relax and enjoy your life knowing that you're prepared for catastrophy if it happens. I'm not scared.