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Learn from the Venezuelans

Posted by John Reed on

Venezuela today is illustrating what I have warned of in my hyperinflation book. Tens of thousands of Venezuelans are crossing into adjacent Colombia to buy necessities because price controls in Venezuela combined with hyperinflation of the Venezuelan currency causes the store shelves in Venezuela to be empty. A week ago, Venezuelan President Maduro would not let Venezuelans into Colombia. This is what happens in all hyperinflated countries throughout history.

Only pedestrians were allowed into Colombia, no vehicles, so most seniors, who are some of the must hurting in Venezuela, can’t even take advantage of this meager window of opportunity.

Accordingly, I have urged readers to put enough money to live for two years into foreign currency which is kept abroad. In the case of the US dollar (USD), the obvious place is Canada. I have a savings account and a safe deposit box there. You should, too. I have also suggested it would be very helpful to live near the Canadian border during hyperinflation in the US. I stayed up there crossing the border repeatedly in 2014 so I could write about the details.

Finally, I said that you may need to leave the US and stay away for the duration of the hyperinflation.

Are Venezuelans who live near the Columbia better off now? Hell, yes! Colombia is the only place to buy necessities. Would you rather go a half mile or 100 miles to get there—during a financial crisis when fuel is hard to come by?

Or might you be better off today if you were a Venezuelan who had the wherewithal to take an extended vacation in Miami and Bermuda? Current Venezuelans would think they died and went to heaven if they could do that now.
So why don’t the Venezuelans leave until this is over? You have to lay the groundwork in advance and they did not. The same is true of Americans. In order to cross the Canadian or any other border during a financial crisis, people from the crisis country are suspect as beggars trying to go to a country with richer pedestrians.

To enter another country, you normally have to persuade the border guards that you can support yourself there. Nowadays, they assume that about Americans. But if there were hyperinflation in America, they would assume you could not until you proved otherwise. I could prove that I had Canadian savings by going to an ATM and letting the border guard see my balance in Canadian dollars. Or they could call my Canadian bank.

If there is hyperinflation in the US, hyperinflated US dollars will not be welcome in Canada or anywhere else. You have to prove you have Canadian or other currency to show you can support yourself.

At present, it is relatively easy to put rainy day savings into Canada or many other foreign countries. But if and when we get hyperinflation, it is almost certain that the Congress will instantly enact capital controls. Those place extreme restrictions on your ability to convert your USD to other currencies or to take your USD out of the US.

This is an issue that come up in my new novel the Unelected President. Russia and China deliberately foment USD hyperinflation by selling all their US bonds. “President Medlock” has to fight tooth and nail to try to prevent Congress from passing the “five bad laws”: capital controls, price controls, rationing, anti-hoarding laws, and financial repression laws. Countries with hyperinflation always immediately pass those laws as soon as they get hyperinflation. Once they do it’s too late to get your money out.

If you do not prepare before that happens, you will be reduced to bartering for necessities and you will need to go to Canada or somewhere else to even find them for sale. Barter deals under such circumstances are notoriously bad, like a gold watch for four bags of potatoes or a wedding ring for one bag of groceries.

Like insurance, it better to have, but not need a savings account abroad, than to need it but not have it. Ask the Venezuelans.

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