Note: The fol­low­ing is the fourth install­ment of a series that rep­re­sents a first-hand chron­i­cle of a fic­tion­al eco­nom­ic col­lapse in the Unit­ed States. This series is to be viewed as only one pos­si­ble sce­nario.


March 12 – 144 days after Black Swan Day


My Dear­est Chil­dren -

Spring is final­ly here. Looks like the ground hog keeps his job for anoth­er year. Though not sun­ny and warm yet Old Man Win­ter has cut us a break and the days are get­ting much warmer. Haven’t had snow fall for over a month and that’s fine with me. The West got hit hard and more flood­ing is expect­ed. That means more dam­aged farms and farm land. And that’s on top of a harsh win­ter out West that, accord­ing to the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture reduced the win­ter wheat har­vest by at least 20% (some web­sites claim as much as 40% reduc­tion!) Not what the coun­try needs now. The Rus­sians got hit very hard this win­ter too. They already announced anoth­er mora­to­ri­um on their own wheat exports and MSNBC reports com­mod­i­ty traders expect Rus­sia to try to buy twice the wheat for their own use as they did last year. This can’t be good.

The Dow dropped again down to around 7200 as com­pa­nies report­ed even small­er rev­enues and few­er prof­its. It’s being blamed on the win­ter weath­er as peo­ple had to spend their pre­cious few­er dol­lars on heat and food instead of things like movie tick­ets, vaca­tions and iPads. Nor­mal­ly I say blam­ing the weath­er is a cop-out excuse. But this time I agree. We still indulged a few plea­sures this win­ter though not like years past. But very few of our friends did. They’re too pride­ful to say they’re hurt­ing but your moth­er and I see it on their faces. It’s both sad and scary too. By the grace of G‑d got thee.

OPEC pulled the trig­ger (or you can say banged anoth­er nail in the cof­fin) and announced they are no longer tak­ing the U.S. Dol­lar for oil. Gas jumped to near­ly $9/gallon the next day and is now about $9.29 a gal­lon for no-name reg­u­lar. The oil com­pa­nies said they fore­saw this com­ing and have agree­ments to trade gold for oil so sup­ply should be fair­ly reg­u­lar. But that in turn sent gold to $6500 an ounce (sil­ver $80+ an ounce) and climb­ing. Comex has wor­ried about gold defaults if so much of the worlds’ trade seems now to be mov­ing to away from dol­lars to gold. The Ren­min­bi has held pret­ty good on world mar­kets and, in spite of their eco­nom­ic woes, the Euro is a strong sec­ond place. And sur­pris­ing­ly the Cana­di­an Dol­lar is show­ing well too. Already many stores in Man­hat­tan, LA, Boston and even Mia­mi are tak­ing all these as cur­ren­cy in addi­tion to dol­lars. Price signs are list­ed in dol­lars as well as Euros and Ren­min­bi. I’m going to see about con­vert a cou­ple of dol­lars to Euro just in case. Your moth­er thinks I’m nuts (so what else is new?) but I’m going to any­way. Just a lit­tle, for now.

Looks like I was right about my sus­pi­cions at the super­mar­ket. Wish I wasn’t. But it’s so. Rationing is here! The oth­er day when we went food shop­ping there were signs all over “Lim­it 2 per cus­tomer per day”, “Lim­it 1 per cus­tomer per day”, “Lim­it 5 per cus­tomer per week”, and so on. Milk, bread, fruits and veg­eta­bles, meats, canned goods, flour, sug­ar, eggs, even paper tow­els and TP! And now by forc­ing you to have a bar cod­ed cus­tomer card the com­put­ers can track how much you pur­chased each day, week etc. Plus by link­ing on name and address they are enforc­ing lim­its per fam­i­ly. Also they sta­tioned two big bull secu­ri­ty guards at the check­out lines. Reminds me of the bounc­ers I’d see dur­ing my youth­ful club­bing days. You can go to dif­fer­ent brand stores. They don’t seem to have linked the dif­fer­ent stores (Stop&Shop not linked to Shoprite not linked to Path­mark and so on), yet. But that takes time and burns more expen­sive gas. A guy at work called it “frog­ging” as you jump from store to store to max­i­mize your allowed pur­chas­es. See­ing the same peo­ple going to two or even three stores in your neigh­bor­hood is like liv­ing in “Frog Town” he said. I’m sure it won’t be long before all the com­put­er sys­tems are linked to stop frog­ging.

On the news they are say­ing stores need to do this in order to quote “Have more con­sis­tent vari­eties and items on hand”. No one I speak to is buy­ing that. That means they are hav­ing trou­ble get­ting in stock for the shelves.

Nev­er in my life did I think I’d see this! Thank G‑d we have at least a few sup­plies to draw on if need­ed.

With food now in short­er sup­ply your moth­er and I have joined with your Aunt Don­na and Uncle Frank and some of our mutu­al friends for pot luck din­ners a cou­ple of times a week. We used to do this once in a while as a social event. But now it’s an eco­nom­ic one. It’s cheap­er for each fam­i­ly to make just one dish and togeth­er every­one gets to eat. We rotate homes so it isn’t as much an incon­ve­nience to the same peo­ple all the time. I like that idea too for secu­ri­ty. You nev­er know who’s watch­ing.

And speak­ing of food secu­ri­ty I heard from word of mouth that a num­ber of the 7‑Elevens in our area have been “flash mobbed” recent­ly. The police won’t even respond to the store’s silent alarms any­more. That say it’s just shoplift­ing even when it’s 20 or 30 peo­ple steal­ing and knock­ing over stands and cof­fee pots etc. In fact, with the police (and fire) depart­ment cut backs Nas­sau and Suf­folk PD announced they are no longer respond­ing to 911 calls for things like rob­bery and bur­glary includ­ing car theft, van­dal­ism, tres­pass­ing, even snatch-and-run assault rob­beries. They want you to go down to the local precinct and file a report when these things hap­pen.  The coun­ty says it’s going to put up more video cam­eras to cov­er more areas. How love­ly. I think Cesar is watch­ing too much.

Full spring can’t come fast enough.

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