Hey baby boomers, gen Xers, and early Gen Y’ers….

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  • Wed, Oct 01, 2008 - 04:20am



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    Buying Financial collapse insurance- a study on Implied Vols

Since I last wrote a post on buying Euro volatility through out of the money Euro calls, implieds have risen from 12-15%. I still think currency skew is cheap and here’s why:
Implied volatility has risen dramatically in commodities like Oil, Natgas, Gold etc.. I would insert some Bloomberg graphs but I’m not sure how to do it but basically implied vols for most of these commodities ranged between 15-20% a few years ago. Today at the money implied vols are closer to 40-50%. Out of the money is even higher. Currencies, more specifically the Euro, show an increase in historical volatility but the implieds are still trading lower than actual recent vol. Out of the money options for other currencies is cheap… there’s no reason that with increased government intervention and central bank manipulation, that volatilities for these currencies can’t spike as high as other commodities.

So there it is, cheap insurance is buying out of the money Euro calls. For guys like me who view volatility as an asset class, buying skew in the Euro seems like a slam dunk and even though there could be potential relative performance issues between the Euro and USD, a more plausible outcome would be the USD weakening against other currencies in times of distress.

  • Thu, Oct 09, 2008 - 05:17pm



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    fellow youngster

lots of good stuff here. ūüôā


i had a 4.0 in high school, and then dropped out before my senior year. went to a year of college (also a 4.0), then said, "wow, screw this." i now have a successful web design company, work in my pajamas a few days a week, and… yeah, life is good.


as many have said here already, college probably has little to offer you. even in a practical degree, you will learn more in an afternoon at your local bookstore, than you will in a semester at college. and, at 19, you’re probably not taking anything worthwhile.


but, where ever you are–opportunities can be found. college may be the perfect place to organize people and become a leader. if you have "nothing" to offer–you need to come up with some big ideas. those will be far more valuable to your community than gold or fuel.¬†


i am almost 25, in a town full of 75 year olds. i have gotten myself prepared as much as possible. and now i am dedicating my time to THINKING. what resources does your town have? look for big buildings (churches, art museums) where people could meet to trade goods, services and ideas. notice any buses around? my partner has a 40 foot bus. i’m thinking it would make a great "commerce wagon." we’ve filled up a tank of diesel for it. i figure it could transport people and goods in our small community for about 2 years, on the diesel we have. want a ride to your grandma’s house? what do you have to trade? batteries, a chicken, zucchini bread? the key is to keep commerce moving!!


the great thing about americans, is that we have a lot of STUFF. when the need arises, we will find new uses for our dollar store finds and ikea treasures. ūüôā


as others have suggested, find people you can talk and plan with. look for people NOT like you. a mix of ages, genders, resources and skills should be in any survival network. be honest with your network. ask them what YOU can do to be beneficial to THEM.


if you can drop out of school and recoup some money, i totally recommend it. but, if your college town would be a good place to spend the end of the world, and you have cheap rent–it might be worth it to stick around. before dropping out, LOOK at the bigger picture. what resources does the school have that you wouldn’t find anywhere else? land? solar? water? anything??


get to your library or bookstore. READ up on permaculture, as someone suggested. become an expert on survival. you will be one of few in your generation who knows how to function in pre-plumbing, pre-electricity, pre-fuel days. if your friends are totally opposed to chris’ teachings… ask them to go camping with you anyway. take a weekend to see just how difficult this might be. PRACTICE!


find something that centers you. you will be worthless to us all if you are panicky. ūüôā deep breathing, meditating, thinking positive thoughts, going downstream… these will all help you move from stage 4 to stage 6.¬†



rock the world,


  • Tue, Oct 14, 2008 - 02:21am



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    Re: fellow youngster

I wouldn’t say that going to school would be a waste. ¬†No offense.

 I think it might be worth it to list a few things here and there that could do the same thing but without as much reliance on electricity

like a mechanical windup clock or watch to tell the time

 maybe using a cb instead of a cell phone (might be better for cars)

maybe repairing a bike

 cooking without cooking oil

cleaning water with heat

 solar cookers etc 

  • Fri, Oct 17, 2008 - 08:36am



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    Re: Hey baby boomers, gen Xers, and early Gen Y’ers….

I am screwed because everything I know depends on electricity, LOL. I learned how to weld in the Navy, and I have a degree in Computer Science, so hopefully I can hook up to a wind turbine and keep making it somehow when this crapstorm comes to a conclusion.







  • Tue, Oct 21, 2008 - 05:02pm



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    Re: Hey baby boomers, gen Xers, and early Gen Y’ers….

What to do? Depends on how you want to live from here on out.

What we have read indicates that our technology should level out around the 1850s capacity. So the two computer geeks (me and my husband) have now spent a few years learning where things used to come from.

Your physical strength and capacity for learning are at their best right now. So, experiment and see what appeals to you. Like others have said, permaculture, natural building techniques, food cultivation, fabric production Рhit the basics and see what you will need to survive and even thrive.

The Basics? Water, food, shelter, warmth, community, physical security and safety. Then hygiene, plumbing, natural medicine. I see having my own land as paramount. I don’t really want to be in the cities when the food and water runs out.

My husband and I are going the homesteading route.¬†There likely won’t be much of a retirement plan for us over-50s folks. We are learning our own food production, storage and seed saving techniques. We now know how to can or dry¬†our garden produce, and make cheese from raw milk. We are building our own dehydrators and even a solar oven. I know how to run a woodstove, and we plan to buy one when we have a permanent structure.

I even learned how to milk a goat, they seem like creatures that know how to survive. We learned about chickens, although we still don’t think we can kill to eat. I know a million ways to fix eggs and custards! We are building our own sustainable structures, and we are trying to create buildings that will last hundreds of years.

And, we are gathering tools for the lifestyle we see coming on. We’ve developed a fascination for old tools, and how they were used. Those things lasted forever!! Hand run saws, drills, carpenters’ brace, all kinds of things I never looked at before. And old building techniques. Now we have books on how to make furniture, farm tools, musical instruments, fix spinning wheels, things we didn’t even know existed before. We know more about chickens, horses and goats than we ever imagined we would need.

We’ve thought about this for a long time. We feel as if we are in a race with the economy and the end of goods.

So, look at your life. What you love, what you can’t live without, what you can offer of value to others who have skills you don’t, but that you need.

It’s really hard to believe that the structures we are so familiar with might collapse. But, knowing what you do and being able to visualize the crash, I’d be really tempted to put some money into 5 acres somewhere that you could make into a small homestead.

Best of luck!


  • Tue, Oct 21, 2008 - 09:09pm



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    Re: Glass half full

Forget about maxing out your credit card.¬† Debt = slavery.¬† There’s just no other way to say it.¬† If you are in debt, you will do one of two things: you will either work to pay it off with interest, or you will default.¬† The first of these costs you your life.¬† The second costs you your soul.

OK, not all debt is created equal.¬† Almost none of us can pay cash for a house, for example.¬† Furthermore, this kind of debt is really a trade of sorts.¬† Yes, you have a mortgage, but you also have a property that¬†(hopefully) has value at least equal to¬†the outstanding balance.¬† But going into debt for consumer items is a bad bet.¬† You still have the obligation, but consumer items don’t fare well as assets.¬† All you have is your time and the obligation to use it to pay off the debt.¬† In other words, you’re now a slave.

Also, as Chris points out, you are assuming that (your) future will be bigger than (your) past.¬† That is, your future will enable you to repay your debt with interest.¬† Who’s the winner here?¬† And this may be a bad bet.¬† We have been extraordinarily blessed to have lived in an age of generally rising prosperity with no serious¬†downturns.¬† If you’re an American, this is largely because the US emerged from WWII virtually unscathed — the only major industrialized nation to do so — and enjoyed unparalleled prosperity due to its economic and military dominance.¬† And — trust me on this —¬†you don’t want to know how your country used its military dominance to ensure its economic dominance.¬†¬†Now, however, the rest of the world is beginning to achieve parity.¬† The future is definitely not going to be like the past.

Here’s my prescription:¬† Join the Peace Corps and see some of the world while you’re young enough to apply what you learned out there to a large part of your life.

OK, all kidding aside, here’s my personal view:¬†

Step 0:  Make as many friends as you can and honor those friendships.

Step 1:¬†¬†Finish your education.¬† You just can’t go wrong by becoming educated,¬† You become a more knowledgable person.¬† Study only subjects that you care about.

Step 2:  Once step 1 is behind you, save up enough money to weather an economic downturn.  At least six months worth of bare-bones living expenses.

Step 3:¬† Buy a house as soon as you are geographically stable and able to afford one.¬† Then pay it off as soon as you possibly can.¬† Buying a house that is well within your means helps immeasurably.¬† Once your house is paid off — you’re a free man.¬† Until then, you’re a slave.

Of course, you might *like* being a slave…¬† Most¬†people do.¬† Freedom is hard work.¬† You have to make decisions.¬† While you’re a slave, a lot of the important decisions — like what you’re going to do with your waking life for the majority of the week for the majority of your life — are made for you.¬† If you can settle for the brain-dead life¬†and cookie-cutter dreams of a¬†slave, ignore this post.

Step 4:¬† Don’t even think about diverting money into a retirement plan until your house is paid off unless you can spot some extraordinary investment opportunities.¬† By extraordinary, I mean¬†opportunities that *guarantee* a rate of return that exceeds your mortgage rate.¬† Yes, I know it’s tax deferred, but guess what?¬† You’re going to pay the tax on that money before you get to use it no matter when that is.¬† And who knows what the tax rate down the road is going to be?

Well, OK, maybe this is a little overstated,¬† You might want to, for example, contribute enough to¬†a company-sponsored 401K plan to gain the employer’s match, but this¬†is really just another way to increase your earnings.¬† Or maybe extraordinary investment opportunities will come knocking.¬† If so, by all means…¬† But keep it in perspective, man.¬† This stuff can come down to random ink spots on paper faster than you would believe possible.¬† Retirement plans don’t always work out, as any former Enron employee can readily attest.¬† Plus inflation can eat away¬†at its value.¬†Plus you might not be able to get at your retirement savings when you need it¬†— like when you’re in a financial bind¬†and are facing foreclosure.

Your house, on the other hand, will never lose its real value on a February night as long as a) you have a wood stove, b)¬†good insulation, and c) it’s yours.

  • Wed, Oct 22, 2008 - 12:47am



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    Re: Hey baby boomers, gen Xers, and early Gen Y’ers….

It’s interesting how someone mensioned chickens. I know someone that grows their own food and is raising chickens. Spring and summer give her all the eggs one could ever eat…sometimes yes you get one…Make sure you feed them grass, not corn. Or if you do very little corn. Corn is actually quite destructive to animals insides in mass quantities.


Wired magazine recently had a pretty good article on cows and what goes in and comes out, same with corn as to what goes in and out. You’d be surprised how long some of this takes.


I’d say chickens would probably be the easiest mainstream meat to raise. Although I say this knowing I saw one wild turkey a month ago…in the same place a few weeks ago it was a few and today it was nearly 9! These are fat animals but they can claw things to shreads!


Definatly learn to grow some food. I’ve started this year and it isn’t that hard. I used my own compost (grass clippings, coffee grounds mostly but also some tea, leaves, orange peels, bananna etc) next season I’ll make compost tea and expand the operation 3 fold and plant earlier.


Also health is important. I’m not saying someone needs to totally workout and become a vegetarian or anything like that. But priorities trump things. It doesn’t make sense to say smoke and have money in a 401k or IRA. If someone is doing something that obviously has the potential of lowering a life span then saving for retirement isn’t the top priority. Also don’t invest in things that go down in value. This might sound obvious but think of how many people get a car loan…on a new car…Others are just simple things like don’t get beyond when you are full¬†

  • Thu, Oct 23, 2008 - 03:41am



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    Re: Hey baby boomers, gen Xers, and early Gen Y’ers….

–I am anxiously awaiting this "what to do" section —

You and me both. I’m old and don’t have a penny. I’ve never been unemployed, but I’ve never been successfully employed. No retirement program. No benefits. For thirty-seven years, I have earned only enough money to pay my bills. Every time I set aside a few thousand dollars, I break a tooth, or need a car, or need a car repair, or have to cough up a two-thousand dollar medical deductible. Now I’m arthritic and generally ill despite a lifetime of exercise and sensible eating, and it’s becoming more and more difficult to even stand without excruciating pain. Holding a job is an ordeal, and I have lost two jobs in the last seven years, due to office closings. I’m ten years from retirement and I fear I will never see a penny of "social security". I have no assetts. I’ve never enjoyed luxury, not even cable TV. This is my last month for broadband service. I should have been a serial bankrupter and lived it up. What difference would it make now? Every month I think it is the last month I will be able to afford my medical insurance. In the economic collapse, what will happen to me, and the dozens of people I personally know in my same situation? I see myself dying in the street, hungry, without medical care, unless I am first killed by angry thugs for sport, or to get the $5 in my pocket. I never thought it would be like this. At least my parents had the "safety net". Their old age was softened by medicare, social security, and various other social services. That won’t be there for me.


I enjoyed this CRASH COURSE, by the way. It’s sort of a distantly abstract scary thing, but it’s fascinating anyway. It should be on home video for everyone to watch. I showed it to a friend and it scared her to death. Probably, I shouldn’t have. She’s in a similar situation to mine and there’s nothing she can do.




  • Wed, Oct 31, 2012 - 07:01pm



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    I am with you man!



I too would love to get some more advice/guidance for the 20’s and below crowd. I am a Gen Y’er and had some so-so jobs (entry level corp/retail banking). After working in banking in 2007, I decided to do something better, so I went to grad school. I got my Master’s in urban planning which opened my eyes to say the least. Long story short, there are few opportunities for young urban planners and I am working at Home Depot, nibbling away at my student loan debt.

While I think¬†we’ve heard some great ideas from others on this forum as to what younger people can do to prepare themselves and families, I would like to know what careers today’s graduates can and should strive for to best set themselves up for success in the future. I hate to be cynical, but bread-baker, ¬†heirloom seed cultivator, or other alternative careers are unrealistic. These can be great skills to harvest and cultivate in our spare time, but we’re not at the end of the road yet. Preparedness is just that, a state of readiness, not focusing all of our resources and time on something yet to happen.¬†

The ideas and creativity that we bring to the table will be those that get us (define at your leisure) out of the woods. So all that being said, what should us youngsters focus on? I am inclined to think that real estate (rental) might be a good play if you can find investors. Ag sciences would be another and I would throw ecology in there as well as hydrology and community development. Rather than wax poetically, I want to hear from other likeminded, pro-active youth who want to make the most out of what is left, and will be ready to lead when the time comes. 

  • Thu, Nov 08, 2012 - 03:43pm


    Amanda Witman

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    jlh, I would think that

jlh, I would think that pursuing a career in energy — such as developing and converting existing technology to alternative, post-Peak-Oil-compatible solutions — would be a good choice.¬† Also anything that develops, builds, improves, or fixes things that are attractive to those who seek (or require) increased resilience would also be worth considering.¬†

I am encouraging my kids (they would say requiring) to develop marketable skills and a means of supporting themselves, potentially beginning at age 18.¬† They may not have the luxury of college, or they may need to work their way through it.¬† I think it’s great to pursue a calling in an area requiring higher education, such as the sciences (my eldest is particularly interested in theoretical mathematics and physics), but I also think they need to have training in a trade where they can get work even in an economy that might not be able to support the higher-level stuff.¬† I have kids with awesome talent in music and circus art, but around here, they would do well to learn how to do electrical installation and repairs (particularly solar conversion for grid systems), timber framing, carpentry, perhaps fine woodworking (furniture building and repair), small and/or large machine repair, plumbing, or other such trades.

My goal for my kids is that they pursue something they love AND something that will more likely pay the bills even in a cut-back economy.¬† If they are lucky, they’ll get to do what they love and make a living at the same time.¬† But if they can’t, I hope they will be able to earn a reliable living, which will hopefully allow them time to pursue what they love on the side, at least sometimes.

People are going to need things fixed, especially when they can’t afford to buy new.¬† People will have to make the most of what they have — the houses they have, the systems they have.¬† The lucky ones will be able to convert to more efficient options; the less lucky ones will just have to keep repairing and making do with what they have.¬† So any profession that gives you the training, know-how, and experience to be able to a) fix stuff people need, and b) innovate improvements that save people money in the long run, would be good.

Honestly, I’d stay away from anything primarily funded by taxes (you mentioned community development) unless you also have a fallback plan for staying afloat financially.¬† It’s a very important area for smart, aware people to be in, VERY important, so if you can, that is great, but if you only have the resources for investing in your own long-term future, I’d recommend choosing a different strategy.¬† But fitting with what I said above, devoting your non-career time to community development would be a great gift to your community and the world.¬† Just don’t rely on it financially and expect it to carry you through an economic downturn.

I don’t think real estate is a good choice, unless you’re playing that risk like you would any investment.¬† I imagine there will be — or really, there already are — many underearning, undersatisfied real-estate agents, and the likelihood that you’d escape their ranks seems small.

I am a Gen Xer, but my kids are Gen Y, or whatever comes after…they were born in 98, 99, 02, and 04…so I’ve been giving this a lot of thought on their behalf.

Great thread to resurrect, by the way — I’m interested in other people’s perspectives, here, also.

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