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Economists Predict Meltdown – 9 Meals From Anarchy

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The DailMail reports that economists are warning that Britain is 9 meals away from anarchy only this time rioters won’t be looking for flat screen tvs but food.

Across the country, steps are being taken to cope with such a situation. But not by central or local government. Their contingency planning for such an emergency is focused on the most important and most vulnerable in society.

Instead it is ordinary people who are taking action: stockpiling their larders with non-perishable food, buying water-purifying pumps and camping stoves.

Companies selling freeze-dried food rations, sealed in giant air-tight multi-serving tins and with a shelf-life of 25 years, have seen sales soar in recent months — increasing ten-fold compared to previous years.

Most popular are the packs of instant meals that will keep a family of four going for three months once water is added. At around £1,500 they are not cheap. But many of those buying these emergency rations see them as a wise investment — and they are well-placed to make such a judgment.

‘It is not “crazies” buying this,’  says James Blake, whose company Emergency Food Storage specialises in freeze-dried foods. ‘We get a lot of high-powered business people as customers. Most people buy insurance for their health, their house or their life — this is food insurance.

Dave Hannah and his company B-Prep sell similar products. He says a number of his customers are bankers. Their average spend is £3,000.

And what about our capacity to handle difficult crisises ?

A wise precaution or an over- reaction? Either way, in recent years, a series of events have served to highlight the fragility of the infrastructure of developed First World countries in the 21st century.

Take the fuel strikes of 2000. Lorry drivers, fed up with high diesel prices, blockaded the refineries. Almost immediately they exposed the frailties of a society that feeds itself via a just-in-time supply chain.

Within days, shelves were bare and supermarket bosses were warning civil servants in Whitehall that there were just three days of food left.

Then there was Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Within days, residents of the richest country in the world were looting to feed themselves and their families.

Next came the credit crunch and that day in September 2008 when the Royal Bank of Scotland almost folded. It would subsequently emerge that its cash machines were only hours away from running out of money.

You may have money in the bank,  but what if you can’t get to it, and  food shops — fearful of a major bank defaulting — refuse to take anything except cash?

 

 

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Hungarian Bill Could Take Power From Central Bank

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An article in the NewYork Times discusses a bill in Hungary that threatens the independence of the Hungarian Central Bank.  In a positive move the government proposes to have more political influence on decisions taken by the Central Bank.

In an interview with the Hungarian Web site Index.hu, Andras Simor, head of the National Bank of Hungary, said that a proposal to increase the number of political appointees participating in decisions on monetary policy added up to “almost a total takeover” of the institution.

In a further positive move the Prime Minister Orban has managed to persuade the banks to take some burden sharing.

Mr. Orban has also nationalized some pension funds and levied significant windfall taxes on the retail, energy, telecommunications and financial sectors. The government demanded that banks absorb losses to help take the pressure off Hungarian consumers who took out loans in Swiss francs and euros, which became onerous to repay after the local currency, the forint, fell sharply against those currencies.

On Thursday the government announced that it had reached an agreement with the banks to share part of the burden of the repayment plan and to let them write off some of their losses against the windfall tax.

…it gets even better

Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank, issued what amounted to a written protest against the changes. In a legal opinion dated Wednesday and signed by Mr. Draghi, the bank complained that the Hungarian government had not consulted it about changes in the central bank law, as required, and expressed concern that the Hungarian central bank’s independence from political influence was under threat.

 

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