economic collapse
Our guest on the March 28th, 2015, broadcast of The Truth Perspective was Fernando "Ferfal" Aguirre. Fernando was a firsthand witness of the many tumultuous changes that occurred in the early 2000's when Argentina saw a collapse in its economy. Finding a whole new and dangerous set of circumstances under which he was living, he had to find new approaches to the challenges of daily living, providing for his family, and keeping them in safety.

Fernando is the author of The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse, which is an account of his many experiences and the insights he has gleaned from them. He is also well known for his Blog, Survival in Argentina, where he regularly posts information about what he sees in the world today, as well as daily tips and reviews of survival products:

Running Time: 01:41:00

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Here's the transcript:

Harrison: Hi everyone. Welcome to The Truth Perspective. It is March 28th. I am Harrison Koehli and in the studio we have...

Elan: Elan Martin.

Karen: Karen.

Tiffany: And Tiffany.

Harrison: Tiff's joining us from the health and wellness show for this addition of The Truth Perspective. And we've got a special show today.

Elan: Yes we do. This week on the Truth Perspective we're happy to have as our guest Fernando Ferfal Aguirre. Fernando was a firsthand witness to the many tumultuous changes that occurred in the early 2000's when Argentina saw a collapse in its economy. Finding himself under a whole new and dangerous set of circumstances, he had to find new approaches to the challenges of daily living, providing for his family and keeping them in safety. Out of his experiences Fernando was inspired to write a book about it, which is called The Modern Survival Manual, Surviving the Economic Collapse. It's an account of a number of experiences he's had, his observations of that time and place and the insights that he came to from them.

Fernando also has a blog called Survival in Argentina where he regularly posts information about what he sees happening in the world as well as survival tips and reviews of products. Welcome Fernando. It's great to have you here.

Fernando: Thanks for having me and it's great to be here with you guys as well.

Harrison: Hi. Thanks for coming on.

Elan: Starting off, could you tell us about the events that transpired when you were living in Argentina in the early 2000's and what led to the economic collapse there?

Fernando: Sure. I lived in Argentina pretty much most of my life and back then we're talking about the year 2001. December 2001 is when everything really went down, but what we have seen until then was a period of time in which the local currency was artificially pegged to the US dollar and that basically caused several problems including the local production, anything in terms of local industry being extremely expensive. And this had a huge impact and national industry was pretty much decimated by then. Little by little debt kept on growing. We saw lots of unemployment until it really was skyrocketing and eventually the country ended up defaulting on its national debt. At that point bank accounts were frozen. The savings were converted to a new devaluated peso and people pretty much lost 75 percent of their savings in that transaction.

Of course people were not happy with all of this, especially with their bank accounts being frozen and people not being able to access their own money. So you saw lots of rioting on the streets and of course inflation going out of control and it was a pretty complicated period of time.

Elan: So it sounds like quite a shock was experienced by a number of people there, probably by yourself too. What were the reactions that people experienced? How did they respond at an emotional/psychological level to all of these changes that occurred at the time?

Fernando: Well, the more I travel and talk with folks from different places - I was just talking with some people here locally in Ireland and people from England, South Africans - we have our differences but we're not really that different. Imagine how it would be, wherever it is that you are, if all of a sudden people were told "You no longer have access to your money. It's no longer yours, all that you've been working for. We're just going to be giving you a hundred bucks a month or a hundred bucks a week so that you by groceries and that's going to be it." People were very upset. They were very angry.

These are the same banks that operate pretty much everywhere. These weren't some unheard of banks, local only to Argentina. These were banks, the same ones that operate in Wall Street. So all of a sudden being told that you cannot control your money anymore, while at the same time you see inflation skyrocketing, you have people rioting on the streets, roadblocks, stores being burned down. It's pretty anarchic.

Tiffany: Well before all of this happened, were you aware of any warning signs? Was anybody sounding the alarm? Did anybody predict this economic collapse would happen? What did you see that alerted you, or were you just taken completely off-guard?

Fernando: No, my mother-in-law usually will tell a story how she went and talked to the bank manager pretty much the day before all this happened and asked about some of the rumours, some of the street gossip that we're always told never to pay attention to. So she went and talked directly with her branch manager and she said not to worry about a thing, that it's all nonsense, nothing's going to be happening. The following day they just closed their doors and everything went down like that. As I was saying, sometimes there was a little bit of a rumour that people that worked in the banking industry were a little bit more aware of, but mostly on a higher level.

You didn't notice for example, that there was a lack of greenbacks in terms of cash. You went to the bank, and actually this is something that happened to me. I went to the bank with my mother and my sister to just close a couple of the accounts that we had because of some of the things we'd heard. And they didn't have a thousand bucks in the bank. That was a real wake-up call. So we hurried and closed the accounts and the following day - I mean it was just like that - the following day you couldn't get any money at all out of the bank anymore.

Karen: So Fernando, from the first point when the financial collapse began, people weren't aware of it until the banks froze up? Is that correct? And how many days or minutes before it came to full impact realization throughout the population?

Fernando: Of course there's never a warning regarding this. They're never going to be telling you "Next week we're going to be closing and we're going to be freezing everyone's accounts."They actually deny. The minister of the economy comes out and denies it just hours before actually doing it. And I've noticed this happens in many other aspects all around the world. So there wasn't any warning regarding that. What had happened, of course everyone knew in a matter of minutes the word had spread. Everyone knew what was happening so people rushed to the ATMs to get money out, whatever they could. What they did was this: they basically allow you to get, I think it was 300 pesos, back in the day, which, after the devaluation, would be about $100 per week that you'd get out of your bank account in cash. So it was pretty much a daily test to see where you found an ATM with money, with some cash in it because even though they did allow you to use your debit cards, most stores would not accept any either because of all the instability and everyone wanted cash, not debit payments.

So even though in theory you could use it, no one was taking it, especially for gas and that sort of thing. You really needed cash.

Harrison: So for you personally and I'm assuming your family, did it hit you guys just as much as it did everyone else or did you have some sort of preparedness knowledge beforehand?

Fernando: Well both my parents are accountants and have worked in the bank industry before, so they sort of saw it coming to some extent. My father was actually already living abroad so we were, I think, better prepared I guess than the average person. But other than that, all the problems that followed, because you have to realize, this is just the beginning of it. This is the first initial stage and it's not even some of the worst things that happened. All this triggers an entire change of lifestyle in your country that affects pretty much all aspects of life.

As for the rest of it, we were just in the middle of it like everyone else.

Elan: Something that you mention in your book is "cash is king".And that's even when the cash isn't worth so much, it seems that folks are still holding onto or using whatever is perceived as to have some value.So that's basically all you had to work with at the time, is that right?

Fernando: Yeah. I know it sounds kind of ironic because on one hand I'm saying that the currency is being devaluated and losing value by the hour, but on the other hand, there's really so little cash going around that it's the only way in which you can actually end up making business, right? So on one hand it's pretty much melting. That's one of the best ways of describing it. It's melting in your pocket along with inflation. But on the other hand, what other resource do you have? Yes, some people ended up bartering at the end but it was never as good as actually having some cash.

So to some extent even in spite of the inflation you could haggle and negotiate a little bit, given that you did have a thousand bucks in your pocket. So you could work a little bit better to get a little bit of a better deal, especially if you had US dollars. In terms of cash as king, the dollars were the true king because those were the ones that were not losing value as the local currency, the peso.

Tiffany: Can you describe what it was like, set the scene maybe, day-to-day living. You said you could have $1,000 in your pocket and that would give you some leverage; you could haggle. How did the prices go up on everyday goods?

Fernando: I remember for example, a little box of corn flakes, not the larger ones that you guys have in the US, but one of those little pitiful boxes of corn flakes, at some point it was five US dollars a box of corn flakes, one of the smallest ones. And you would just stare at it in disbelief. So you had all these crazy prices just going out of proportion sometimes. The prices were changing by the minute. I literally picked up stuff in a grocery store, in a hardware store and by the time I got to the cash register it had doubled or tripled in price. And you had to go and say "Look, I picked it up" - actually it happened to me with a drill. I remembered I picked it up at say, $34 and by the time I got to the cash register it had doubled or tripled in price. I told the lady there "I just picked this up at 34 bucks. How is this possible?

So we went back to where I had picked it up and you could see the stickers of the prices because they were changing so fast they just pasted one on top of the other. So we removed some of the older ones from that same day and I showed her the price. "This is what I picked it up at." That's just a little story. It was a matter of constantly checking your currency, how much it was worth. If you had dollars that gave you, as we were talking before, more leverage. For example if you were buying a bigger price tag item you could negotiate a little bit more.

But on your daily life, for example, you would get up and go to work or school or whatever it is that you had to do in your life as always, but then again you had to worry about a few more things. You had to worry about making sure you weren't coming across any roadblocks, any protests on the street, because all these things started happening on a daily basis; the rioting, the protests on the streets. Whenever anyone wanted to grab the attention of the government or the media, they just blocked the street and started protesting right there. So you had to check that when moving around.

You also had to worry about finding cash. So you paid special attention to any rumours of any ATM that you knew had a little bit more cash. If a neighbour, a friend told you about "Yeah they have cash over at the Walmart, the ATM over there" they usually have cash. So maybe you would go there. And if not, you just waited for hours in line at your bank and get whatever they were allowing you to get that day. And besides this, finding a store, a supermarket to make your purchases and maybe one that was taking debit cards, which meant you saved all your cash, you didn't have to spend your cash there if you were able to find that. And at the same time many supermarkets were getting looted because people were actually, if you combine all this mess with the unemployment of 25 percent, you can imagine how desperate a lot of people were. There were a lot of people very hungry and desperate.

Karen: So how did they combat panic? We've heard about normalcy bias and there's been a lot about that, of people not reacting when something tragic is happening, but what about panic?

Fernando: Well that would be one of the things in which you didn't have much of an option. If you didn't have a job, you didn't have any money. It's not as in some rural places where the government will give you stuff for free. Especially back in those times, there weren't any handouts. There weren't any benefits. People just went hungry. And when you have a mass of people that are hungry enough, they will loot a supermarket. So you would be at a store and all of a sudden you see a crowd of folks demanding that food be turned in and sometimes the managers would just do that. They would just leave the food for people to take and maybe spare the place from being sacked.

So they just got by any way. And then you had people plain just ate out of the garbage. They would just start roaming on the streets and picking whatever they found in trash cans and such. It was a pretty desperate time and in many ways still is.

Elan: I think one of the things I most appreciated about your book Fernando, is the kind of way you convey the information. It's sort of like a friend telling another friend "Look, this is the deal. This is actually what happens." And the language is pretty informal and matter-of-fact. And a large part of it is getting your head around these things, getting your head around adapting to the changes that completely affect your life and your world on an hourly basis it seems. One of the things you spoke about was learning, adapting and moulding ourselves into more capable people. I was wondering if you could speak a little bit about what that meant for you in terms of adapting to the changes that you saw.

Fernando: Well in many ways it was realizing that you just had to do whatever it is that was within your possibilities, especially in terms of employment. You just got whatever it is that you could. If you could work for a relative, your family, a friend, someone that gave you any job, you just hold onto it because beggars can't be choosers, or something along those lines I think the saying goes.

You just did whatever you could. I know of lawyers or accountants that ended up driving around people like a taxi, or maybe selling products in one of these markets or bartering stuff, psychologists offering sessions in barter clubs for food and clothing. Those are things that have happened and happened quite a bit. So you just did whatever it is that you could. And then at least personally one of the things, as I said, I was most worried about was in terms of security. I was always interested in survival preparedness, from an early age, but more of the wilderness survival stuff that we usually still see, backpacking, camping and all that interesting bush crafting stuff.

But on the ground level, in the situation that we dealt with there in Argentina, it was basically about staying safe. And for me that was one of the main priorities, improving the safety in my house and a personal level and knowing how to defend myself, knowing how to protect my family including all those safety habits like making the security of my house much better than it was before. Those are things that you sort of learn along the way and you took training for that. You looked for information and many of those things you ended up doing yourself, so just installing your own alarm system. These were things that you learned on the go.

Tiffany: So Fernando, I read on your blog this morning, you were talking about golden hordes pouring out of the city and you asked the question "When did this happen in real life?" and that there's professional resources that showed that this was the opposite because it sounds like you and a lot of people that you knew hunkered down in the city. You didn't go off into the wilderness to practice your bush craft skills. So can you talk a little bit more about the whole idea that people are going to flood outside of the cities when an economic collapse happens?

Fernando: I think it's huge to a level. It's one of those popular things and if someone started it at some point and repeated it and maybe Hollywood thought it would be making great films, about this idea. And when you actually do this seriously, when you study things, you realize that people don't do that. It didn't happen in Argentina. It didn't happen in the United States during the Great Depression and it basically never happened anywhere. Especially when it's an economic crisis or a financial disaster, why would people leave the place where there's the best chance of getting a job. You're basically desperate for safety and money. Those are the things that you need. And it doesn't matter if it's in Argentina. It doesn't matter if it's in eastern Ukraine right now.

I correspond with people in eastern Ukraine that have escaped some of the eastern cities. They don't move to the middle of the country and start a garden or start growing their own food. That's all fantastic. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that, but people escaping war? They go to a place where they have housing, employment and safety, which makes all the sense in the world. During the Great Depression, if you lost your farm to the bank which thousands of people in the United State ended up seeing and suffering that firsthand, you ended up moving to these places where they had more jobs, they had better chances for their kids and themselves. You basically look for security and work. Why would you just run out like a madman on the highway and run for the country? Doing exactly what? There's no logic in that. And when you look at it and you study it, it will never happen.

The last golden horde that actually existed was Ghengis Khan in god-knows-when. But in realistic terms, that's what people end up doing.

Harrison: Like you mentioned, there are a lot of different types of preparedness and survivalism. You've got your people doing the outdoors kind of stuff and then you've got your apocalypse preppers. But your book and a lot of the things you talk about is about this specific situation, economic collapse, so I'm wondering if we can get into some of the specifics of the different things that people need to do in order to prepare for a similar situation in their country, because like we've seen, it can just pop out in a day. You saw that in Argentina and we're seeing that happen in east Ukraine and even just the economy in Ukraine in general right now is in a pretty deplorable state. So can you list some of the main areas that people should be looking at if they want to prepare for something like this?

Fernando: Sure, yeah. Before I say anything else, there's really nothing wrong with what is mostly considered wilderness survival, which is what a lot of people end up trying to adapt and this idea of bugging out, and not bugging out as maybe as I ended up doing, or like people skipping more or millions of refugees have been forced into, but this idea of bugging out meaning I grab a bag with a tent and a sleeping bag and I head to the nearest national park. That really doesn't solve anything at all. My advice for people that want to be ready for something like this, or at least something similar to what I've gone through, would be just a sensible approach to things.

First of all you have to worry about the basics that you know you're going to be needing no matter what. And here I'm talking specifically about food, water, means of protecting yourself, having a firearm which in the United States it is a right, a possibility and I think you should take advantage of that because when you do need it, when unfortunately if that moment ever comes, you don't have time to improvise that. You need to have a firearm for self-defence, at the very least. But these are mostly things that you're going to be needing no matter what, if it's a storm, if it's a blackout, you need to have ways of staying warm in your house, staying fed, have water that's ready to be consumed. The same with medicines that you may be needing for any specific medical issue that you have. Those are the standards that you need.

Now advancing a little bit on that, what happens when you have other types of problems like we saw in Argentina. Of course money is a huge asset. So instead of buying stuff that maybe you don't really need and you're fantasizing "Well I need this piece of gear because if this or that happens...", instead of going for that, start having savings, real savings. Also a good point for having precious metals. I think that especially for an economic collapse where if you have currency that loses value, to a great extent precious metals is one of the best things to have, no doubt about that.

So savings and cash, savings in the bank, savings in precious metals. These are the things that when most common disasters happen - here I'm talking about things that could be anything from a personal financial disaster; you lost your job, you're not finding one; you got hurt, you can no longer work or you have to go without working for a few months. What is it that you're going to be needing? Money. Money is the thing that gets most of us out of the problems that are very likely to happen. In a case in which you have to leave wherever it is that you are, like in the case of Ukraine, again, money is one of the strongest assets they have.

Tiffany: Fernando you mentioned money and also precious metals and it's a good idea to have gold and silver. Did you see that during the economic collapse in Argentina? Were people actually using gold and silver and other precious metals to actually purchase things? How did that work?

Fernando: Absolutely. And that's why anything that I recommend, it's because I know that it has worked in the past for others. I've seen it work myself. In the case of Argentina, the gold business, the buying and selling of gold went up 500 percent in just the first few years of the crisis. It also became something of huge interest for criminals as well. Basically you couldn't go around Buenos Aires or pretty much anywhere in Argentina with anything that was made of gold, gold jewellery. I changed my wedding band, my wedding ring, for a silver one while I lived in Argentina because you just couldn't safely wear it on the streets anymore.

So criminals were definitely looking for gold. People desperate that didn't have any money left, the thing they sold - gold. Gold was the thing that when you didn't have anything else, that's what you sold so that you could put food on the table. Also a little bit about my family, I have on my wife's side, I actually have a piece of gold jewellery that my wife's grandparents sold during the war in Europe just to put food on the table as well. They would sell a few links at a time of gold just to buy food.

Harrison: You mentioned the criminal element. In your book you describe a big upswing in violent crime. Could you talk a little bit more about just that general situation, what it looked like, just the crime element?

Fernando: Right. In South America crime has always been a thing, to some extent. It was never as bad as it became soon after the economic collapse. We've always had crime but it was one of those things that just happened pretty much like anywhere else. Or you would say in any big city there's crime so yeah, in Buenos Aires there's crime as well. The thing is that we saw a huge increase in crime in just a matter of months. Again, it has a lot to do with this thing of people being desperate. When people are desperate they start doing desperate things. We saw a huge increase in kidnapping which basically hadn't existed before. That was the kind of thing that happened in Colombia or somewhere else in Central America, more dangerous, but it didn't happen in Argentina. All of a sudden people were being kidnapped left and right and even for kids it was very dangerous. Kids were being kidnapped because of the school uniform they were wearing, if they had a school uniform of a more expensive private school. Actually for some time many of these schools told their pupils not to wear their uniform anymore because of the uniform alone being enough to get you kidnapped.

Then you have the level of violence. I think that has a lot to do with the frustration and the desperation of criminals and even the hate of those that have from the have-nots. That was clearly one of those points because in many cases people were being killed even after giving up everything they had. So you've given your wallet, your cell phone, your car keys and they still shoot you for nothing.

So one of the things that you heard on the street was in the old days you would just give up your wallet and that was that. Now even if you do that, they still kill you. So you have to do something about it. You cannot just say "Okay, just take the money and go." That didn't work anymore, at least not as well as it used to.

Harrison: What about organized crime? We've heard Dmitri Orlov talk about the situation in Russia and how when an economy in certain countries tanks, a kind of organized crime element kind of takes control and so there's bribes that have to be paid and money for protection basically. Did you see anything like that, and if not, can you talk a bit about it maybe, in other countries?

Fernando: Yes. Corruption would be one of the things that always exists in Argentina, but like everything else, it got worse after a crisis. Eventually five, six, seven, ten years after 2001 it got completely out of control. Right now Argentina I think is one of the most corrupt countries according to Transparency International. It's extremely corrupt. Anything that you have to do in terms of dealing with the government, you have to be ready to pay off someone. The companies that still operate in Argentina have a budget specifically for bribes. And this has been discovered in some of the bigger, more important companies that are more organized. They actually have a budget for bribes in the country. And then on a street level, pretty much any dealing with government officials, it's pretty much unavoidable.

Now in terms of organized crime, in terms of criminal gangs, that you saw as well. You saw a huge increase in how well they were being organized, how they used maybe police uniforms, how they did intel much better than before. And you would easily find gangs of five, ten, fifteen members that were very well organized and did commando-type attacks where they would have people outside, someone going inside. In many cases also being honest, it was police being involved. They were doing these things after office type of activity, to supplement their budget.

Elan: Jesus!

Fernando: Yeah. That was very concerning because these are guys that have a lot of training and they know exactly what they're doing.

Elan: On that subject, something which you say in one of your recent blog videos, the problem with preppers - and by the way folks, if you go onto Fernando's blog It's a really interesting video and analysis of the different types of prepper mentalities and their blindnesses and biases. But one of the things you mention is that some of these preppers, all they focus on is guns.

So they're not really going to store food or get supplies or think in any of those terms, but they're just going to go out with their guns and basically attack people who do have stuff.

Fernando: Yeah. My point there was to try to explain that if someone says "I'm a prepper" it doesn't really mean anything because if I had to define myself somehow, a survivalist with a modern survival approach to things maybe. But if someone else said "I'm a prepper so we're basically the same thing", I don't know. What is it that you do, and I'll tell you what I do and maybe we do have things in common. But just having guns is not the only thing that I worry about. Just having food is not the only thing that I worry about either. So eventually you realize that this is something that affects all your life decisions. I live where I live because it's safe, because it has good education for my kids, it has good standards of living, there's pretty much not a chance of a flood here where I live. And these are not all accidental. These are things I looked into before actually doing them. Everything that I end up doing is keeping in mind what could be the worst possible outcome if things don't turn out well.

So the approach that I have is definitely different from someone that's just worried about having a ton of guns or having a ton of food or maybe driving a big off-road vehicle because that's the thing that he enjoys doing. And many times you see this and it's not just being mean or anything, but sometimes you see folks that call themselves a prepper or a survivalist and they have guns, they go shooting and then you look at them and you realize that they're not taking care of themselves nearly as well as they could. I'm no athlete myself but a person that has 100 pounds of overweight problems should be dealing with that. That should be his main focus because from all practical perspectives, the thing that's most likely to kill him, to affect his life is his health. If he's not taking care of that first then you're completely blind to what is by all means your most important risk factor. And you see this a lot.

Harrison: Okay, so health. I'd agree that that's probably the first thing that anyone can look at if they haven't even started looking into these kinds of things. But you mentioned the basics like shelter, supplies, food, water. You also mentioned just now transportation. What are some of the things that people that maybe put a bit more thought into it should think about? Like maybe some specifics supplies or things that they should think about looking at?

Fernando: Sure. First of all, one of my videos on YouTube on my channel, I talk about the circles of the preparedness and I use that as a way of analyzing what's more important and then expanding on that. First of all the first circle would be in your head, the mindset that you have. What is it that you're going to be doing in terms of preparedness? What is it that you want? Do you just want to be ready for an earthquake because you live in a place that's prone to that? Are you looking to have a certain mindset as in a general attitude towards life and problems in general? So the first circle would be mindset.

Now when you expand that circle a little bit and you start including your entire body, you start looking at "Okay, am I in proper physical shape? Could I carry someone if a family member of mine is hurt? Or am I going to be worrying about zombies when in reality my blood pressure's going to be killing me before anything else?" It sounds a little bit ironic but one of the things that ended up killing the most people during the economic crisis was stress. These folks, and I'm including myself in this group, the stress that you go through when something like this happens, that's via a large margin, the thing that kills the most people. It's not even the bullies or the criminals. And it's not only sovereignty tests.

It's the tension, the anguish of not being able to put food on the table, of not providing for your family. So taking care of yourself, it's not just about going to Crossfit and pumping iron all day long. It's about managing your stress level as well; working out, being in good shape, not having a ton of weight on you and being in a good weight margin.

So that would be the first thing that I start with. As you start working, you start adding other things such as, you were mentioning, food, water, having other supplies, having flashlights; the typical stuff that you always see in terms of a survival emergency kit kept at home, ways of transportation in case you have to leave wherever it is that you are. In terms of shelter, I wouldn't focus only on having a tent or sleeping bag. Those things have a reason and a purpose, especially for some people that may have to use it for some time, but actually more important than that is having an idea of where it is that you're going to be going.

If I could no longer stay in my house where I am right now, where would I be going? I wouldn't be going to the woods and live in a tent for the rest of my life or for a few months even. I would go maybe to my folks' house, maybe to my brother's house, my sister, a friend nearby. I'm just back from my neighbour 30 metres away from me. Those are the kind of relationships that you have build up because that's the people that are going to be helping you when things go wrong.

Tiffany: Speaking of relationships, you'd mentioned something about preppers all thinking that they're all alike, they're like-minded and you can rely on these people, but you said to prepare to be disappointed the majority of the time and that people will let you down. Can you talk about how people got together or didn't get together during this economic collapse and help each other out?

Fernando: Sure. I think nine out of ten times people will let you down because many times people have good intentions but when the moment comes, unfortunately for one reason or the other, either maybe they weren't even honest in the first place, maybe they have other problems and suddenly when forced into a decision of helping you or maybe helping themselves, because when these kind of things happen, everyone is in a tough position. So many times the good intentions suddenly change because they compute other things as well that they weren't taking into account before. Sometimes maybe people don't even have the ability of helping you anymore. For example in terms of crime, when crime is as bad as it is in Argentina, sometimes it comes down to a friend showing up to your door when you call them and you say "Someone's trying to break into my house." There's not a lot of people that will show up with that kind and help you out during a time like that. Some people will, but it's safe to say that most folks won't.

So if you have a friend that is grabbing a gun and coming to your help, that is a special kind of friend. At least in my experience it's not the most likely one that you will come across. So that doesn't mean that you shouldn't try, right? All these relationships, that only means that you should try more and have more friends and have more people around you because that way you will end up coming across these true friends, these people in your life that you can really depend on when the time comes.

Sometimes it's a matter of being a good person to the people around you, your neighbours. The first thing that I did when I moved here where I live now, when I talk with my neighbours, "If you need anything just let me know." The lady across my street, she's an old, old lady and she's a widower and I told her "It doesn't matter if it's 3:00 am, if there's any problem, you just let me know and I'll do my best to help you out." I was talking with her the other day and she said "You know it makes me feel well that you are here, that I know you are across the street."

Sometimes it's not about any interests. I don't want anything from her, but it's just about being a good person as well. That's also something that's important. It's not always about 'what I can get in exchange for being a good person'.

Karen: Fernando, what happened to mortgages or renters in Argentina when the crisis broke? Did the banks move on this or were people still trying to pay their monthly bills?

Fernando: It depended on each individual case. There were some emergency laws and decrees and help packages passed but it really didn't help much at all. It was limited to a very small number of people basically. I think it was houses priced under 100,000 pesos which was like $30,000, $40,000. And even then it was just giving them a little bit more time to pay back, or a little bit more time so as to pay their mortgages, which when people don't have money, even if you give them more time, they're not going to be paying. So it really didn't help much.

On the other hand, mortgages and loans and house loans and such were not nearly as popular as they are in the United States. In Argentina for quite some time you just bought it when you actually had the money, not because you got a loan from the bank. So there weren't as many cases, but people for one reason or the other ended up losing their houses as well in many cases because they couldn't pay rent anymore. A lot of people that were renting suddenly they just didn't have the money anymore so they had to move back with their parents, with their folks. And the famous "living in your mom's basement" thing? Well a lot of people ended up doing that. Even in their kitchen if they didn't have any place.

So yes, a lot of people did end up moving their houses, although it could have been much, much worse if there had been already a bigger segment of folks with mortgages.

Karen: Okay. Thank you.

Harrison: Going back to the relationships and the networking, so of course it's a good idea, just common sense really, to be a good neighbour. But on the other hand, like you said, people will let you down. So is there a limit to how much you share with people about what you're doing or if you're preparing for something? How much do you keep to yourself and how much do you share? Or how do you choose who to let in on your plans? "If something happens can we go to your place" kind of thing?

Fernando: Right. I think you have to take it little-by-little. If you go out there and say "I'm a survivalist then maybe you're going to be scaring a lot more people than anything. I think it's like anything else in life, it's just a matter of common sense and little-by-little see how the relationship develops. I wouldn't be very open about sharing how much food you have or if you have guns or how many guns you have. Try and find common ground. One of the best things for me was in my gun club where I took my classes and training and such, that was of course a natural place for like-minded people, I guess. Again, at least that was a point of connection, right? At least everyone there liked guns and was training and was taking it seriously. So understandably, you could find more folks that agreed on certain things and were basically looking for the same.

So I would suggest trying to find these places where you can find some common ground and start developing relationships from there but being very cautious about what you say and also the way you say it. Little-by-little you start seeing where the other person is and if you have things in common or not.

Elan: So you talked a bit about the high level of crime that burst forth at the time and that must have changed your approach to just walking in the street and taking care of things in general every time you had to leave your home, or even when you were in your home. And actually you did devote a good part of the book to those types of subjects. Can you give some idea as to how much focus and awareness and to what types of things you were paying attention to when you realized that the situation had become so much more dangerous?

Fernando: It was basically about knowing how to defend yourself in terms of knowing how to use a firearm. It's not just about going out there and buying a gun. Anyone can go and buy a gun and that's great. The gun, you actually need it to defend yourself in those extreme cases. But it's also about knowing how to use it. I usually say it's like buying a car and not knowing how to drive it. I can go and buy the nicest car there is. If I don't know how to drive it, then it's not really doing me any good. And with a firearm it's the same thing or maybe even worse because they can be quite dangerous if you don't know.

I had already fortunately taken some classes when I was about 14 or 15 years old because I was very much involved in shooting. I liked it. But I just took it a step further, started training even more, taking more classes. And this helped us to meet other people that were also interested in it and making good friends. But basically it came down to that; to being armed, being aware of your surroundings. Also and maybe more important is avoiding risks. If you avoid risks to a great extent, then the chances of you even needing to use any of this are significantly reduced. You don't go to silly places and mess with the dangerous people. You're going to be avoiding these types of situations but the thing is this.

In a place like Argentina where crime is so high, there's really no place in which you can really say "I'm going to be safe." It can be noon, 12:30 in the middle of the day. You're picking up your kid from school. You're walking back home and you get a gun stuck in your face. It's that kind of thing. In broad daylight in the middle of the day with people all around you. They just don't care.

So even then, you have to be careful. It's of course less likely than at 4:00 in the afternoon when there's less people on the streets. Now my wife, for example, she would be very careful about avoiding places where there was not a lot of people in the streets, maybe just take a cab or get a car so that she could go somewhere and not walk even though it was a nice day and maybe you were tempted to walk, maybe going to one of the stores just 10 blocks away. A nice spring afternoon, a normal person would be walking. And that's what you would be doing in a safe country, in a normal country. Over there, no. And all these things restrict your freedom quite a bit.

So it's about trying to avoid the potential dangers but also about being trained and knowing how to defend yourself if it comes down to that.

Tiffany: So you grew up in Argentina and you eventually moved to Ireland. Was there a straw that broke the camel's back where you said "This is enough. I'm getting out of here."? What was it that prompted your decision that it was time to leave?

Fernando: Yes, we'd wanted to leave for quite some time. With my wife we'd been talking about it for several years actually, right after the economic collapse. We'd been talking about that. And things always getting worse. But the thing that, as you say, broke the camel's back, was after the President's re-election, Cristina de Kirchner's re-election, we knew that there was going to be a few things that were going to be getting even worse than before because that was her final term. There was no way in which she would be staying in government anymore. So right after she got re-elected, she would be doing all the things she hadn't dared to do before that. That was said and done. Right after the re-election we saw a lot of restrictions in terms of currency exchange.

They basically banned the purchase of foreign currency in many ways. Officially speaking it's illegal for you to do so, but you have to earn more than a certain amount of money and then you have to ask for authorization. And only then they decide to see how much they allow you to exchange. So maybe for a lawyer, they just say "Yeah, you can exchange $100 or $1,000" if you have a big company or something like that. And it's only for certain things. So all these things were showing me that there was an important restriction of liberties.

Then there was a problem with freedom of the press. The press was being constantly censored all the time and the government had started buying more and more companies in terms of radio, press, TV and there were just a couple of companies left that were still the only media outlets that were independent and not owned by the government in one way or another, directly or indirectly. So when you see freedom of the press being attacked that way, that's scary. That's very concerning.

I also had a friend of mine that was in my gun club that had been killed during a home invasion. So all those things combined, made us decide to leave.

Harrison: Well speaking of relocation in general, what are some of the signs that people should be looking for in their own country if they're considering relocating and what are some of the steps that people should take if that's what they're planning on doing eventually?

Fernando: I think it's a very good idea to look at these things ahead of time. But it also depends on where it is that you are. For example, in the United States there is actually a good case for if you have to leave, maybe leave within the United States to a different state because it's already as big as it is, almost like each state works like a little country on it's own right. So it's a good idea to do this exercise. If I'm living in Florida and for whatever reason I have to leave here, where would I be going? Would I be going to Texas? Do I know anyone there? Do I have friends, family there that could take me in for some time until I find a job or something, until I get back on my feet? That's the kind of mental exercise that I suggest doing.

Now some folks in the survival community will look at "Okay, where do they have military bases, nuclear targets", right? They want to avoid those things. They want to avoid population. I have a different approach to things. I look at cost of living, quality of life, crime, medical care, if it's any good, if there's a good amount of employment. All those things are realistically more practical and more important on a daily basis. And if you're just worrying about potential nuclear targets you're just preparing yourself in the case of a nuclear war which, as weird as things are these days, it's still not the thing that worries me the most. I'd much rather have a good quality of life and cost of living, safety, good schools for my kids. Those are things that I look at.

Some of the countries I was really considering, I was honestly considering the United States. I really like the US. I think it's a great place to live in spite of the problems of course. I think it still has a lot of things going for it, especially in terms of personal liberties and freedoms. I think it's a fantastic option. I really like Texas, still do. Then you have countries like Australia and New Zealand that do have their issues, their problems, but are also good places to live with a fantastic quality of life. And these would be countries, especially being in the southern hemisphere, those would be particularly good countries in case of a worst case scenario of a military conflict between the United States and Russia, something a little bit more farfetched. If it got down to that maybe Australia, New Zealand, those would be some of the options that I would keep in mind. But then you have Canada. Where I am now in Ireland is a good place to live as well.

Elan: On the subject of where a good place to live is, do you see any countries these days, as you're reading the news or looking at the signs, that say "Oh, Fernando, this really reminds me of the things that were happening in Argentina shortly before the shit hit the fan"? Have you gotten any impressions recently that make you concerned that another country in South America or even in the west is close to or on the way to experiencing something similar?

Fernando: I think there's some very concerning things happening in many places, even in the United States there's many of these things, especially the way in which poverty is slowly - you guys are already there. You guys live there and maybe you notice it more or not, but I think it's safe to say that poverty, little-by-little has increased in affecting society. Maybe not. You know what? Because something that I noticed in Argentina, folks that came to Argentina left and then came back maybe two or three years later, they would just drop by and say "Man, this has really gone down the drain. This is really getting worse." And for us that were there, you wouldn't maybe notice it as much, right? And this is something that you notice in some parts in the United States where you definitely do see more poverty than before.

You definitely do see a loss of quality of life. The standards of living have decreased quite a bit in many places. And that's concerning. Maybe not try to make any drastic decisions, but something to keep in mind and keep an open mind about. I don't know. I will just give you an example. If I'm in the United States and I see things slowly getting worse and I'm really concerned about how things are going to be in the future, maybe Canada's not that much of a bad option. It wouldn't be ideal by any means, but that's the kind of thing that you have to start thinking about so as to not be completely caught by surprise if there were a significant event that really drops the quality of life over there and makes it a lot more dangerous to live in than before. I know Americans that have left because they just didn't like it anymore, the way things were already there. And I talked with them and actually some that are living here where I am now, and yeah they will tell me that they didn't like living in the United States anymore and it was not for them anymore because it was too dangerous, schools were just awful. Well, you drive around here you don't see what you see in the United States.

And they're right. I cannot deny that here you don't have the same poverty that you have over there. Even though I do like, because of personal matters, because of personal preferences, I do like certain things of the American way of living that maybe for other folks is not nearly as important.

Harrison: So what are the practicalities about moving to another country? Because I think for a lot of people, they just don't see it as an option. Can people just up and get out of their country? There's the issue of citizenship or getting some kind of extended visa.

Fernando: First of all, I don't think anyone should rush into something like this.Especially not if you are in the United States, and I've said this many times, if I was in the United States myself, I wouldn't be leaving because of in spirt of the greater poverty than before and the noticeable to some extent, loss of quality of life and things being worse than they used to, they're still pretty good. At least to me it's still the place to be in. So even though it's not what it used to be, and even though there has been a little bit of going downhill, I wouldn't be leaving the United States myself. Maybe if I'm in a state that is doing particularly bad, as I said before, I would be considering relocating within the United States to a better state where at least one that I consider more suited to what I'm looking for.

Harrison: Or if there's a big economic collapse. From a lot of the stuff that we read and put on our news website,, it's hard to deal with predictions but a lot of people are seeing that as a very real possibility that the US dollar could tank and who knows? The US could be seeing a much worse situation than it is currently.

Fernando: Yes, it could just be the case and maybe some states would be better off. Texas has been doing pretty well compared to some. You have different states that are doing better than others through the crisis. So the way in which you would end up leaving the country entirely is if it really is no longer an option to stay there anymore. It has to be something particularly bad. The United States is not Argentina, right? But if you have to do it, then you have your passport and you look at some of the options that you have.

One of the things I always tell people in my website is to get a passport. Lots of Americans don't have a passport and they will tell you "I'm not planning on going anywhere. I'm in the best place on the planet. We have everything here. Why would I want to travel anywhere else?" Well maybe that's a good point. Maybe they don't feel the need to do so. But still, I do recommend that everyone should have a passport and if you have the option of getting a second citizenship, lots of guys in the United States have the option of getting European citizenship because of their Irish or Italian or Spanish ancestry. Lots of folks have that option. If you have a grandparent that comes from one of these countries, most likely you can do that. It does take several years but it can actually be done. Now it's one of those things that you get it and you pass it over to your kids and your grand-kids and you simply don't know what's going to be happening 10, 20, let alone 30 years down the road. There's no way of knowing that. So no matter how much you're not planning on leaving, that's a great tool to have. And off the top of my head I can think of several things, not just about traveling with another passport. Keep in mind in many parts of the world, the American passport can actually get you in trouble, not the other way around because it has a negative connotation and you just don't know who you're coming across. Having another passport can be a valuable option.

With a European passport you can basically go into any European country and settle as a citizen. If you have a surgery that costs $100,000 in the United States and you have a European passport, you can go to your country in Europe and get your surgery basically for free. These are all things that people don't think about. In terms of education, with the cost of college in the United States right now, with a European passport you can go study and train in university in Dublin, costing a third of what it costs you to study in the US.

None of these things are definite. It's just little options or actually big ones that you have, all these tools that you may end up using or not but having them is definitely an advantage.

Harrison: Well in your recent video just from early this month, I think it was Twelve Lessons Learned from the Ukraine Crisis, you mentioned some similar points. You also mention on top of the passports, just having any form of identification on you, specifically in a conflict zone like that. Could you talk some more about things like that to take care of in a conflict zone?

Fernando: Yeah. Well the passport is also the most well-recognized form of identification. Again some folks will say "I don't have to have an ID because I'm a free person" and that's all fantastic. But sometimes you do need it. If you're going to be leaving your state, moving somewhere else and because of whatever reason, you lost everything, because of a widespread natural disaster in your hometown, in your state and you have to start over elsewhere, your passport is your best form of ID for everything, from renting a place to live in, renting an apartment, a house to live in, for finding work or for opening a new bank account. So it's a great piece of ID as well.

In the case of Ukraine, for folks going through a checkpoint, if you failed to show your ID you're in a huge world of hurt. And I know that Ukraine all seems far away, right? You think "That's Ukraine, Russia invading and such", but at the same time I actually have a friend that was helping during Katrina and he got stopped in a checkpoint on US soil and he was a soldier himself, and he still got his gun taken away from him. So all these things that seem to happen only in other places, sometimes they do happen at home as well.

In the case of Ukraine, some of the things that people were saying is, these are guys that are Ukrainians and they'd love to go to a European country but because they don't have that passport, because they don't have that second citizenship that I was talking about, they cannot do that because neighbouring countries are not allowing them in. Now if that same guy had that second citizenship, if that guy had another nationality, he could just walk in like any other citizen.

Karen: One of the things you mentioned, I guess it would be on one of your blog pages, was survival in the Ukraine, the Ukrainian people that possibly could apply to the United States if we got into kind of similar scenarios. And you said things like avoid being in protest marches, don't get into clashes, don't show up on a camera because they might remember your face, your attitudes, the kind of clothing you wore, any insignias, weapons and GPS things. Could you kind of round that out for us?

Fernando: Yeah, that's of course much more of a problem in a place like Ukraine where you actually have an invading force that has taken control of a territory and such and they're specifically looking of course for spies or infiltrators and such on both sides. But, a lot of those things, the pieces of advice work in US as well and it works in Argentina as well during this period of time; it still does.

When you are participating in some of these clashes, take a look at Ferguson for example. Some people may feel strongly one way or the other. It doesn't really matter. The thing is that if you start participating in these things, you are more likely to get yourself in trouble. Now of course, yeah, freedom of expression and this may sound a little bit like "But I want to show my frustration with this or that" or "I want to make my voice heard". Now that's all great, but from a practical perspective, from a practical point of view, which is the kind of thing that I do, it's always better not to get involved in it. People that get killed in Venezuela, when was that? A model, I think she was a 25-year-old something model that was a well-recognized face and she was participating visibly in the protest against the government, she shows up with a bullet in the head. They just take care of her. They just eliminate her from the picture.

The more visible you are, the more likely you are to get yourself in trouble when you're involved in a conflict. Now of course, you still have your ideologies, you want to make those heard, but I think it's a good idea to be very cautious about it. And also in terms of what you're saying, what you're showing yourself as being part of and involved in, because if you're participating for example, in a protest against the government, or in favour of it and all of a sudden something happens and you happen to be filmed or somehow associated with someone that has a little bit more of a darker background than yours, that's the kind of thing that can end up getting you in trouble as well.

Harrison: Recently, early this month, or late last month, there was a report released on torture in east Ukraine and that scenario cropped right up where a lot of people who in western Ukraine who had been either protesting against the government or just making off-hand comments, were targeted, arrested, tortured and then eventually set free and sent back to the east in one of the prisoner exchanges. But that's a very real thing. It's just a matter of you're in the wrong place at the wrong time. You might say something and someone might remember it. You get photographed and then people like that will come after you.

Fernando: Absolutely. It's the kind of thing that has happened before in Argentina during the dictatorship and the dirty war in the '70s in Argentina, if you just dressed like a hippy. While in the United States maybe the cops were going after hippies or beating them up a little bit or something like that, being a bit rough with them. In Argentina if you dressed like a hippy during the '70s you went into one of these cars and you were never seen again. You just went missing because you were one of these - it was the anti-communist regime. They were looking for communists. And if you even smelled like a communist, according to their own view of things, you just disappeared.

People have died because of being in the wrong phone book. If they maybe took one of these guys and they started torturing him. When someone is being tortured, they start saying absolutely everything and even more, just to make it stop. So even if they really had nothing to do with any activity, illegal or anti-government activity, even if they were completely innocent, they started talking and making up stuff. And they mentioned their neighbours, they mentioned their friends, they mentioned anyone so as to make it stop. Or maybe they just found you in his notebook, in his phonebook, you were just there, and they just picked you up.

And as you were mentioning, in the case of Ukraine, they have all the footage. They film everything. They watch the news like everyone else. They have actually a lot of people following that and they start taking note of who's who, the faces, the names. They put things together and they just start going after those. So it's a good idea to just stay away from problems and trouble whenever possible.

Elan: Keep a low profile.

Fernando: Absolutely, yes.

Elan: So something that Harrison said a little earlier, there's a lot of information out there that points to the possibility here in the US of us going into hyperinflation, of the dollar falling in value and certain events triggering a similar situation as you experienced in Argentina. Do you think it would look any different if it happened here to that extreme? Do you think the concerns would be less or more if such a situation were to occur in the US or any other western or European nation for that matter?

Fernando: I think in the case of the United States, I see how it could be that you start seeing more of a decline for the value of the dollar, little-by-little, but most of all more poverty spreading, more of this middle class becoming poor, especially when it's very slow it's not nearly as noticeable but all of a sudden people start realizing that they can afford less and less and less and less and their quality of living starts dropping and dropping. As years go by, one day they look back and say "What the hell happened here? How did we end up here? Why is it that we're living this way when ten years ago everything was so different?"

And it's all these kinds of things. I learned a lot of things from Argentina in the way in which maybe you keep buying the same cereal that you buy today and you're buying that same cereal five years from now but all of a sudden you read the ingredients and the amount of actual cereal in there has dropped a lot. What used to be nutritional value food, has been reduced 50 percent. Maybe the price has gone up two or three times and the actual food content has been drastically reduced or products getting smaller. That's one of the hidden inflation things that is sometimes made reference to. Little-by-little you start becoming a little bit poorer and it's not always as noticeable.

I think that one of the things that people can do to prepare for that is start now in terms of being very conscious about what they spend money on and be very conservative about it. I know that some people don't think that's very American in terms of consumption. "I'm American. I want to buy stuff and I should be able to buy stuff." That's all great, but stuff is not your life. There's more important things in life than just buying stuff or buying the latest cellphone.

So I think it's very important to start budgeting much better, much, much better than people are used to. Buy less stuff. You don't need half of the stuff that you're buying. Saving the money and investing in something that can be useful later on, that's a good piece of advice.

Tiffany: It sounds like one of the phrases I picked up off of your website was "When to leave, what to bring, how to prepare and common mistakes." Now what you were just talking about sound like a common mistake. Do you have other samples that you could give us?

Fernando: Well in terms of the prepper community again, they focus so much on buying stuff. They buy this and that because "this is going to be worth it's weight in gold after the end of the world or after the collapse." This is a very common phrase. They buy five generators. Nothing's going to be worth its weight in gold. The only thing that's worth its weight in gold is actually gold. That's the only thing that is worth its weight in gold.

So instead of buying all these things or buying tools, for example, or surplus camping stuff or military surplus equipment, because this is going to be worth a lot when everyone is hungry and starving - if everyone is hungry and starving, they're going to be really taking care of their budget and not spending a buck on anything. All this stuff that you think you're going to be selling to someone after the end of the world and whatnot? You're not going to be selling it to anyone. No one is going to be buying it. Everyone is going to be on a very tight budget and saving as much as they can.

Harrison: Any other things that people tend to do wrong?

Fernando: I think it's a matter of being balanced and not overdoing and not being scared. There's a lot of fear and fear-mongering in general and it's understandable that people are worried and frightened by some of these events. The more you start preparing and learning about what could go wrong, it's understandable that you get a little bit scared. Now life does go on. Your life will go on. It's just a matter of being well prepared so as to go through it as best as possible. But one of the things I can definitely tell you is that if you become negative, you're not going to be making it through. Some people ended up killing themselves because of all this stuff. In Argentina and anywhere else where you look, when people have to go through very tough times, some of them just give up and they give up by just doing that.

In our cases, they give up, maybe they don't kill themselves, but depression gets the best of them and it's very hard to fight through that. Now at the same time you have guys that are so charged about preparedness, the preppers, the typical doomsday preppers, the guy that "Yeah, the world's always going to be ending because of this and that", "Russia's going to be nuking us" and "the dollar's going to be exploding" and all these horrible things. I get feedback from people all the time. Many times their family gets tired of it and they just get divorced. Their kids don't talk to them anymore because they are so depressing to even be around. You have to be very positive. I think that's essential, especially when dealing with stuff like this. You have to be very positive because now you're not going to be making it with your family, you're not going to be finding a job and you're not going to be able to function in general.

Elan: Well Fernando, this is a terrific show today and unless there were other points that you feel might round out the program, let me just ask, are there any other major pieces to looking at preparedness and survival that we may not have discussed today?

Fernando: I think we've had a good conversation back and forth and such. Just keep a level head, analyze realistically your risk. I call it risk assessment in terms of what's likely to happen, in terms of your location. Sometimes it's a matter of maybe I'm living on the west coast and sure, pretty much an earthquake is at some point unavoidable in a few years, right? So that's something that you have to be keeping in mind. Where would I go if the big one finally hits? If I'm in a place that's known for having floods or storms, snowstorms? The thing that you know are likely to happen, of course prepare for that first. Make a realistic assessment of yourself, where you are physically in terms of your shape, if you need to lose weight, there's no better moment to start than right now. If you need to improve your financial situation, maybe you can find a better job, start saving more than you were used to, budget better than you're doing now, stop wasting money. Have the supplies that we always talk about, that we all know. You do need those things. You do need the food and water, long-term food storage and food is something that you can never go wrong with because you're going to be using it anyway. I love the idea of storing what you actually use. I eat lots of rice and vegetables, all that stuff. That's what I store. That's what I actually eat. And the big surprise is some of the healthiest stuff that you can possibly eat is boiled basmati rice with a little bit of vegetables, eating less than before, you don't have to stuff yourself full of meat. That would be healthy. That's perfectly doable. And you're talking about food that you can store for very, very little money. Rice is as cheap as it can possibly get. Beans, cheap as well. Many of these things are affordable. So you're stocking up for in case of an emergency, you're saving money and you're staying in good shape.

And then just try to have a strong family. Be in good relationship with your extended family, friends, and especially in relationship with your wife, your husband, your kids. The stronger you are, the more likely you're going to be getting through unscratched if it ever happens.

Harrison: Fernando, I have one more question. You mentioned it a bit earlier. I just wanted to get a bit more perspective on it. The idea of banks and having money in the bank because I've read some discussions online, on internet forums, and with some people freaking out saying "oh, should I take all my money out of the bank or should I hide it all underneath my mattress?" What's your take on that? Should people take all their money - I know it's not taking it because you mentioned leaving some money in the banks, but where's the balance in there?

Fernando: I think it's important to have a balance. I think at minimum you want to have at home, at least a month's worth of expenses in cash. Some folks just don't have anything but a month worth of expenses in cash, I think that's important in case there's problems with the bank, and especially if you have a personal problem even, having the cash really helps a lot. I am of the idea that it's important to have cash in your wallet, quite a bit of it all the time. One of the things that a lot of people just don't look into because it sound a little bit too wild or something, is having an offshore account as well. If you have an offshore bank account that means that if something like the stuff you see in Greece, Cyprus, even Ukraine or something that could even happen in the United States as well, but if you have an offshore account, you can send money back and forth. If I have an offshore account and I see the banking sector is struggling or being in a complicated situation in the United States, maybe I can send half of the money that I have in the bank outside just in case, and if something does happen, I saved half my savings. I didn't lose all of it. And depending on how bad you see the situation going, you move around more or less.

But this is the kind of thing that you do need that open bank account for. Now I know that it's a little bit more difficult for people in the United States because banks in other countries try to run away from Americans because it's complicated, you know. And here is where that second citizenship that we were talking about before, really does come in very, very handy. It's much easier if you have another citizenship to open it. But it's not impossible to open even for an American with just an American passport, American citizenship, it's not impossible to open another account. And there's really nothing strange or illegal about it. Some people freak out about it. It's perfectly legal and there's nothing wrong with it. So there's really no reason not to do it. It's just about having more options. How much money should we keep? It's really personal. I would really have, as I said, a month worth of expenses in cash, maybe a bit more, if possible a bit more. In terms of precious metals as well, 10 percent or 15 percent in precious metals, in gold. That's something that could save you if things really get bad.

And then there are investments, depending on how much money you have. Some folks don't have a lot of money anyway, so why have it in the bank if they have very little of it?

Elan: On that subject, that reminded me of another question that folks may have and that is, what if they have debt? What should one do if they owe money to credit cards or some other institution and the economy is going kafflooy, for instance? What would be the best approach to that sort of situation?

Fernando: Well the standard approach to debt of course is that it's never good, right? That's what we've always been told. And it is true. If I'm in America right now and I have debt, I have credit card debt and it's killing me. It's taking money away from me and it's being completely wasted. And it is true that you have to get rid of that debt as soon as you can. That is the standard answer and that's correct. But at the other side of things, the truth is that what I've seen in Argentina and what happens in other places when the economy does tank, is that some people that had a lot of debt actually benefit a lot from it. Someone that had $100,000 in debt in Argentina when the economy collapses and all those debts are being turned to pesos, suddenly that guy has something worth $100,000 and he's only paying back one-third of it in terms of the reconverted debt to a new currency or to a new value of the currency. So if the economy's going to be going to hell, then yeah, sure your debt is going to be taking quite a bit of a hit and shrinking a lot.

Now that's a very risky gamble to play. I wouldn't recommend anyone gambling on the economy tanking and the debt becoming much less than it used to be. But it is true that sometimes that's what ends up happening. So yeah, I would definitely try to take care of whatever debt you have, especially credit card debt, monthly eating out on your savings. That's something I try to take care of as quickly as possible.

Karen: In the United States of course we have the dollar and we're on a dollar standard, so if it's devalued we don't really get a peso profit here.

Fernando: Yeah, but you know what? If I'm going to be really thinking about worst case scenario and I understand that this is a very unlikely situation, but if you want to go down that way in terms of how I would go down an Argentina collapse and a USA, what they would end up doing is the following: if the dollar suddenly gets dropped by China and everyone else, if the dollar does collapse, they will have a new dollar or any other name they want to call it, and it's going to be the new currency again. You'll have the old dollar and the new dollar and the new dollar is going to be the one that you're supposed to move towards and the old one is going to be the devaluated and dropped little-by-little or all of a sudden. A very unlikely situation, but if it does happen, probably would happen along those lines.

Elan: The Amero.

Fernando: Yeah, exactly. But anyway you want to call it, there's going to be Euros, there's going to be British Pounds or whatever, and those will definitely be in high regard, in comparison to the currency that just dropped like a rock.

Elan: Right, because everyone's going to be desperate to cling onto something stable.

Fernando: Most of all, keeping it very simple and safe, precious metals. Those will not drop. If the dollar falls to pieces, whatever you have in gold and silver, that's going to be solid as gold, as solid as it gets.

Harrison: Worth it's weight in gold.

Elan: Well this is just a terrific discussion Fernando. We all really appreciate you taking the time to talk with us today. You have a lot of hard-won knowledge and experience that's invaluable and I hope a lot of people tune into it today and will tune in. Your book The Modern Survival Manual-Surviving the Economic Collapse, just a terrific read. You've also written Bugging Out and Relocating, When Staying is Not an Option. They're both available on Amazon. I haven't read that one yet, but look forward to reading it. Your blog, a lot of interesting information.

Fernando: Actually, my website is It's like the nicer version of my whole website.

Elan: Okay. Thanks for that. And I hope we can invite you on again some time to talk about various situations we're seeing in development and to hear your insights on developments.

Fernando: Absolutely. Whenever you want, it's great talking with you and I really enjoyed it.

Harrison: Alright. Thanks Fernando.

Tiffany: Thank you.

Fernando: Thanks.

Harrison: Have a nice night.

Fernando: You too, thank you. Bye.

Elan: Take care.

Harrison: Bye-bye.

Elan: Well that was interesting.

Harrison: Yeah, a lot of great information there and I really like Fernando's approach. He's very practical. Common sense really is what most of this stuff comes down to and that's probably a commodity that's also worth its weight in gold because not many people seem to have it these days.

Tiffany: It's good that he has actual firsthand experience of actually going through an economic collapse. There's many preppers or survivalists who are preparing for the future, but they haven't actually gone through certain situations themselves. So I appreciate Fernando for that.

Harrison: I just had a few comments on some of the things that Fernando was talking about. First of all the importance of just being healthy. That's why I will recommend listening regularly to the Health and Wellness Show.

Tiffany: We actually talked about survival from a medical perspective on our show last Monday. So if you guys are interested you can check that out. We talked a lot about prepping our diets and getting ourselves into good shape in order to prepare for the future; getting off any medications because that's going to be hard to get, and just in general getting healthier, in preparation for the future.

Harrison: Well like Fernando said, if you have to lose weight, all of us here are on the ketogenic diet and that's probably the quickest and easiest way to lose weight in a sense. Some people, if they're not doing it, they see it as just a huge task. "Oh my god, ketogenic diet! What am I going to do? I can't do it! I can't go without ma bread!" But when you actually do it, I love it.

Tiffany: And it's a lot cheaper than buying a bunch of vegetables that go bad in your refrigerator like mine always did; fruits that went bad in my refrigerator and cereal's expensive. Meat can be expensive, but you eat a little bit of it and you eat a lot of fat so you're not really that hungry. So you end up saving money in the long run.

Elan: Something he mentions in his book is how along with economic collapse, follows epidemics and sickness. We've learned about the ketogenic diet that you can boost your immunity system to many illnesses, the fat that you're consuming on the diet is going to protect your cells and keep you healthy in ways that eating a lot of carbs won't.

Harrison: Coming back to the common sense, I liked some of the basic advice that Fernando was giving, not directly related to the so-called prepping, buying a whole bunch of stuff, stocking up, but just one, being a good person, being a good neighbour, establishing meaningful relationships with people. That will help not only yourself personally, but the community around you no matter what happens and it makes for a more fulfilling life no matter what happens. So there's that. And the whole thing about just not freaking out because that's one of the big things. Like with the bank issue that I asked about; "what should I do? Should I just take all my money out of my bank? What am I gonna do?" Well just look at it as a problem and try to solve it. Okay, well I need a bank account because I have to pay certain bills through my bank so I keep some money in there. I take some out and I keep some in cash, however much I can. Maybe if I've got the extra funds I can invest in some precious metals. You've just got to look at all these things case-by-case as they come up and deal with them because it won't help you and it won't help those around you if you're freaking out. Like he was saying, some of these prepper guys, it gets to the point where their families don't even want to be around them because they're freaking out all the time. They're just being paranoid.

Elan: And on the subject of dealing with stress, I thought it was great that he mentioned that. Obviously if you can be proactive about managing stress, it's going to be a benefit to you when things really get stressful. So if there are practices, for instance a number of us practice a technique called Éiriú Eolas and that's going to help you breathe easier, it's going to help your thinking, it's going to help you manage emotions in difficult times. And it's a very kind of forward-looking way to condition yourself and your thinking for when times take a turn for the worst, should they.

Harrison: Yeah, because when you're active all the time, and stressing about stuff, just taking that time, like doing some meditation, getting out of all that for a time, actually strengthens you. It gives you a source of energy and a source of will and knowledge and just the ability to face these situations that you couldn't have before. So it may sound counter-intuitive that all this stuff is happening, I've got all this stuff to worry about, I just need to do more and more. Well actually, it helps to just kind of forget about all that for just a little bit, take some time for yourself, relax and that just enables you to deal with these situations so much more. So that's a good point too.

Since we usually talk about politics, I just wanted to bring up something. We can't know what's going to happen in the future but there have been several developments over the last years but it seems they're just coming faster and faster this past month. For example, with the new Chinese bank, the AIIB, new alliances and economic relationships between countries, the idea that who knows, maybe Russia will end up backing up the ruble with gold. In that case maybe it would be worthwhile to buy some rubles like they were doing in Argentina with the dollar. Who knows? We'll just have to wait and see how that turns out.

Karen: That would be a Russian Rublette. (Laughter)

Harrison: Well I think that's all from us today. So thank you again to Fernando for coming on the show. Thanks to everyone for listening. And we'll be back next week with another show. It's going to be a surprise because we don't know what it's going to be yet. So everyone take care and we'll see you next week.