International Forecaster Weekly

So it Begins

When the fuel companies won’t give fuel on credit, when the food wholesalers can’t get product from the farmers/cattle raisers, when the local mom and pop shop, can’t finance their meat market, the “bad” side of People will emerge.

Bob Rinear | March 17, 2020

The first part of today’s letter is a bit of public service announcement. I’m sure you’ve all witnessed the shortages at the grocery stores. I’m sure some of you are having a hard time finding paper towels and toilet paper.

Well “it’s” begun. People are being robbed at knifepoint for their TP. We’ve heard of it in London, Hong Kong and now here in the US.

Over the years, I’ve written a considerable amount of articles about self defense, weapons training, soft prepping, etc. It’s not because I consider myself some big time expert on this. It’s because I’m somewhat of a silent partner in a company that indeed teaches such things. Several of our weapons trainers were special ops in the Marines. They’ve been stationed and operated in some big time, nasty hell holes. Well, when you hang with such talented folks, some of it rubs off on you.

So, let me just talk a little bit about this situation. I’m prayerful that all the social distancing we’re being forced into ( Here in Florida they just closed all bars and nightclubs for 30 days) will have the effect of slowing the spread enough that the medical system doesn’t implode like we’ve seen in Italy.

If so, this is still going to suck, but they won’t be stacking people in hallways at the hospitals. But what will happen, is that people are going to get desperate for things they can’t get. On Tuesday I had no choice but to venture to my local grocer. We had run out of aluminum foil, and olive oil. We needed both to prepare dinner.

Of course the shelves were 50% bare. I expected that. Of course there’s no toilet paper or canned goods. Expected that. What I really didn’t expect, was two women duking it out at the check out line. Yet that’s exactly what I witnessed, and all of it over a jug of Orange juice. You know those wooden dividers that they use on the checkout belt to separate who’s stuff is who’s? I didn’t see which one put it on the belt, but each woman claimed it was hers.

The lady behind the wood, said she didn’t see the divider, and placed it in the other lady’s pile. That lady, claimed it was hers all along. They got to yelling at each other, then the first push, and no kidding, swinging fists.

Over orange juice folks. A container of juice. One of those ladies was lying. If people will break down over some shortages of TP, and OJ, what happens in a real SHTF scenario??

We preach awareness in our classes. Be aware of your surroundings. If you’re pushing a cart back to your car and you happen to be lucky enough to have scored TP, Paper towels, wipes or what have you, PAY ATTENTION to who’s around you. Pay attention to anything that doesn’t seem right. If you see some guy wandering around the cars, scoping people out, don’t go to your car. Getting a knife in your throat for Scott tissue, isn’t a good situation.

Even if his intent wasn’t to place a knife at your throat, there’s been a lot of “snatching” from carts. Usually TP and paper towels aren’t in grocery bags, they’re too big. It’s really easy for some idiot to just grab your pack and run. So, when you do actually get to your car, immediately place your paper goods in the car and lock the door. Then go ahead and put your other groceries in the trunk, or truck bed, or what have you.

Another thing that’s happening, and while it’s always happened in Florida with fishing gear, etc, is that people store their paper goods in the garage, but leave the door open for most of the day. CLOSE YOUR DOOR. Yeah it’s a pain to raise it/lower it all the time, especially if you use it a lot like a front door. But people will scope out that you’ve got goods in there, and yeah they’ll run in, grab it and run back to their car. You’ll never hear them.

Guns and ammo have flown off the shelves. Every shop in town is being swamped. Gouging is taking place all over, especially on the most popular things, like 9 MM and 40 cal. Background checks for weapons purchases are soaring. In the past, most people panic bought weapons and ammo, because they thought that the Politicians were going to ban them, and they wanted to “get some” before they couldn’t buy them.

This time it’s different. People are stocking up, because they fear all manner of civil unrest. Is that fear justified? I don’t think fear is ever justified, but yes, being prepared does indeed involve being able to keep your family safe, and the only way to do it is with good weapons and ammo.

I wrote last week, suggesting that this pandemic shouldn’t be the monster problem that most preppers have prepped for. The biggest headaches in a real SHTF situation is energy, water, and food. Well, this virus, should NOT effect 2 out of three, and even the food situation, shouldn’t get desperate.

Everyone’s still going to have power. Everyone should still have water. Food should be plentiful enough to get past this. Yes, you might have to change your eating habits some, but getting food shouldn’t be the nightmare it could be.

I am however going to switch up and talk about something that could indeed come out of this. As you know the market has crashed. The Fed’s are pulling out all the stops to counter things. But the thing they’re most afraid of is a total lockdown of the credit markets.

This nation runs on credit. Trucking fleets buy their fuel on company cards and pay over 30 days. Company’s borrow for their payroll. There’s mortgages and car payments, business loans and credit swaps. Credit is the lifeblood of the US.

It’s the credit markets where the rubber meets the road for capitalism. If businesses can’t get access to the capital they need to finance payroll, or to pay their bills, or to make expenditures on new projects, or to simply run things on a daily basis, then the economic consequences get dire.

If companies with debt coming due can’t refinance that debt with banks or public investors, then the economic consequences become dire. If companies can’t issue new debt at acceptable rates of interest, or at any rate of interest, then the economic consequences become dire. If the credit markets freeze up, as they did in the fall of 2008, then the economic consequences become dire.

Companies know they will need cash to keep operating while Americans halt travel, work remotely, and cancel plans to avoid spreading the virus, and they know that will require cash. They just don’t know exactly how much those adaptations will affect their cash flow, or how much other companies’ layoffs or furloughs will hurt the income of their customers.

So, companies are rapidly turning to their credit lines with the banks, but the banks have become reluctant to loan the money, and many have cut the amount of credit companies can have. The banks don’t want to get caught with a ton of non performing loans, but if the companies can’t get the money they need to stay afloat, all hell breaks loose.

Well for all intents the credit market has frozen up, and the Fed’s have been increasing their Repo activities to try and keep the wheels greased. If a domino effect of credit defaults hits us, THAT is what could really send the Zombies out in the streets at night.

When the fuel companies won’t give fuel on credit, when the food wholesalers can’t get product from the farmers/cattle raisers, when the local mom and pop shop, can’t finance their meat market, the “bad” side of People will emerge. Having weapons and something to feed them, makes a lot of sense from that angle.

That’s my biggest concern folks. We are awash in debt, that can never be repaid. All they can do is roll it over and increase it for ever. If the credit market binds up for good, and no one lends, all manner of business comes to a total stop. It’s one thing if you can’t get your widget from China because of the virus. It’s quite another when there’s no food at the grocery, because their credit line vanished, and the trucks aren’t coming anyway, because they have no fuel, etc. You get the point.

So yeah, we’re in a very dangerous time here. The credit problems were already starting all the way back in September. Remember how the Feds said they were going to do “temporary” actions? Well, not only was it NOT temporary, the amount of their activity is now running in the trillions. If this breaks, the DOW will be at 5K, and yeah, with the virus problem to go with it, all hell will break out.

Things aren’t anywhere near desperate ( Yet) and people are starting to behave like animals. It disgusts me. Stay alert, lock your doors. Keep your distance. Get some cash and put it under the mattress. We are NOT out of the woods by any means.

By the way, if you can’t under any circumstances find Toilet paper, the two “next bests” are 1) rags, and 2) newspaper. With either one WET THEM FIRST to make them soft. If you use rags, do NOT flush them, drop them in a bucket of bleach water, and then wash them to reuse. News paper can be flushed, but not a lot at the same time.