Wednesday, October 31, 2012
An American Horror Story
An American Horror Story for Halloween...
Today I awoke to the news that the dollar is no longer acceptable in settlement for the purchase of foreign goods from foreigners. This news was immediately disconcerting because I have hundreds of thousands of these dollars saved up over the past 30+ years, and I'm planning to retire soon.
The President was on all channels assuring us that this is not a big deal, and certainly meaningless unless we're planning to buy a foreign car or travel abroad. My dollars, he said, will still be "as good as gold" here in the United States. The US, he said, has the most important economy in the world, and the dollar is our currency. The government, he said, would not miss a beat. The government, he said, can never run out of money. Our dollars are safe.
The President said that this news today was only because of the international money speculators who, because they thrive on crises, help to create them. He said that these "speculators" have declared war on the American dollar. He said that this is extremely foolish because the American economy has the largest GDP and also because the American government can never run out of money.
So, in response, he has directed his people to halt all international payments except those deemed to be in the vital interest of the United States. And for those deemed vital, he said that any government agency can independently authorize payments of any size needed to keep the vital foreign goods flowing in. America won't be held hostage by either our own internal budgets or foreign currency exchanges, he said.
I'm not generally one to panic at anything, but even as reassuring as the President's words were, I started to panic. So after a little reflection I decided that I needed to call in sick to work and run out to stock up on a few last-minute necessities, just in case. What I found was deeply troubling.
Many stores were simply closed for the day, and the ones that were still open were overrun with people who, I guess, had the same idea as me. Most of the stuff on my list was already gone from the shelves. So I went back home to call my broker.
I've been talking about a dollar collapse and buying gold for weeks now. Ugh. And I've been reading about it for months, but I was so sure that this was just one of many possibilities. And even if it happened, all signs seemed to be pointing to 2014 or later, so I was goddam cocksure that I had plenty of time before making a big move. To my credit, I did at least have my broker sell all of my bonds and put the proceeds into cash and money markets, just so I could move quickly into gold on a good dip.
I called my broker to make sure it was still liquid, what with the news and all. He said it is, as long as I'm not planning an international transfer. Next I called the largest gold dealer in my state, the one that had been recommended to me. But he said that he is only buying today, not selling. He said he couldn't make any sales because his suppliers aren't quoting sell prices today to replace his inventory. He said I should try again tomorrow. I tried a couple more dealers and got the same run-around. WTF?
So here I sit, writing this pathetic entry. I'm not sure what comes next, and I am literally beside myself in confusion, dismay, dread, despair and regret. I cannot decide what to feel. I have this deeply foreboding sense that I really screwed up this time. I guess I'll just have to wait and see what tomorrow will bring. But I think I already know.
The dollar is crashing abroad and my government's response is going to compound the problem taking it to depths never before imagined in a global reserve currency. My retirement money is already as good as gone. It's not gone, but it is now trapped while being sapped of all real value. It is trapped because I waited one day too long, even though I knew what I wanted to do with it. This is the real world, and there is no reward for knowing, only for doing. I didn't do, and now I will have to face whatever reality delivers while knowing what I knew. What an absolute horror.