Are You Prepared for US Bank Bail Ins?

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It’s highly likely that anyone reading the Prepper Journal is very aware of the events that are ongoing in Greece at this time. As of this writing, Greek Banks are announcing their intent to raid the deposits of their customers. This is being done they say, to avert a collapse, but the raw truth is that this is plain and simple theft. Rather than averting a collapse, banks are facilitating a collapse by causing panic which will surely cause harm to the citizens of Greece. They give this practice of legalized theft a cute name; a “haircut” which I assume we are supposed to think means they are taking a little off the top. Is that supposed to make it more tolerable than what it should be called?

The banks in Greece and the US as well have already stated that your money isn’t really your money at all once it has been deposited. You no longer own that money, you are an unsecured creditor to the bank and they don’t really have to pay you back, technically if they don’t feel like it. The risks for the people of Greece are real and tangible, but those same practices the banks of Greece are employing could hit the shores of America very quickly. Are you prepared for Greek style panic when that happens?

Inevitably, Greeks have been rushing to the ATM machines to take out the maximum amount the banks have graciously allowed each day of 60 Euros. They aren’t able to get to their money in the banks. They can’t buy food, medicine or gas and each is becoming harder to find every day.

Can you avoid this fate?

Well, I honestly do not know the machinations of all the political and financial dealings of the IMF and the World Bank. I can’t tell you with any certainty what will happen in the US, but I think we can all look to Greece and take some simple steps that could insulate you if a Greek style panic or bank bail-ins happens in the US.

Disclaimer – The following steps are just my opinions. Each of you needs to weigh your own risk/reward tolerance for yourself. I am certainly not any kind of “expert”. I have never been certified as qualified to give anyone financial advice. To me these steps below are common sense based upon the real life actions taking place in front of our eyes, but you will have to decide what is best for yourself in your own situation.

Step #1 – Keep only what you need for monthly expenses in the bank

I have covered this before in a few other posts, but your money is simply no longer safe in any banking institution. Oh sure, there is the FDIC which is supposed to guarantee your money, right? The FDIC gets its funds from banks themselves so if the banks are unable to pay into the FDIC due to some horrible problem they are having, do you think you will get your money back? If you do, how long do you think that could take.

I personally try to only leave as much cash in the bank as I need to cover my monthly expenses. The rest I have either invested in places I will discuss later or hidden where the bankers can’t find it. If the banks decide to take 30% of my funds, or limit ATM withdrawals, I won’t be up a creek totally.

Greeks are finding food, medicine and fuel in short supply.
Greeks are finding food, medicine and fuel in short supply.

Step #2 – Convert your IRA’s and 401K’s to cash

This is probably the most radical idea I am proposing now, but you should consider whether or not leaving your 401K in the hands of the financial system is riskier than taking the money out now while it is still worth something. Yes, there are tax penalties and you should consult with a financial adviser before you do anything, but if the market tanks, what good will that IRA or 401K be to you then? If you honestly believe that everything is sunshine and lollipops, leave your money in those vehicles and we’ll see who was right when the dust settles.

I chose to take the tax hit while the value of my IRA was almost normal again after the 2008 crash. I don’t think I would be able to do this if the market crashes again for a very long time in the best case scenario and all of that savings would disappear basically due to an accounting trick. Or, they would confiscate it and tell me that they will manage my fund now. Same difference.

Step #3 – Don’t store huge amounts of cash under your mattress

Taking your cash out of the banks is not completely risk free either. You could have that money stolen. You could forget where you put it. Your house could catch fire or your dog could eat it. Yes, just about anything you do assumes some level of risk. I am just looking at the risk with our financial system that they are openly talking about and making a decision for myself. There are several questions you will need to ask of yourself before you do this. First, how much cash do you need if the grid goes down? When you have the answer to that question, it might help you identify how much to keep in various locations. Next, can you afford to do this? If not, what changes can you make in your life immediately to get you in a better state? What would you do if the economy collapsed tomorrow?

If you are going to keep your money out of the bank, don’t just shove it in a jar and dig a hole in the back yard. If the economy collapses and there is a currency revaluation, that jar of money might be just as worthless as if you left it in the bank. Greeks right now are stocking up on supplies as much as they are able and inevitably stores are running low on the most common items. I am trying to convert my cash into tangible assets. These are real things that have value instead of fiat currency, that I can use and possibly sell later if I need to. Possibly some of these items could be used for barter. If the currency is devalued, you won’t be able to do the same with dollars.

What do I buy with the cash I am not saving in the bank? I am purchasing supplies my family can use. I am purchasing extra food, I am stocking up on gas, buying firearms and the implements to maintain them. I am acquiring training. I have purchased some precious metals although I am not confident that they would be worth much in the days immediately after a total collapse.

Stay away from crowds of rioters. Throwing rocks never changed anything.
Stay away from crowds of rioters. Throwing rocks never changed anything.

Step #4 – Learn as much as possible and pay attention to world events

Prepping for any type of disaster isn’t simply running out to the Sporting goods store to buy some sleeping bags, a few rifles and a case of ammo. It isn’t only going to the grocery store and buying 12 shopping carts worth of food. Acquiring supplies is part of it, but you can’t buy your way to preparedness for most things.

To be really prepared, you need to have a plan for what you are going to do and it helps to have thought a great deal about the consequences of your actions both currently that you are engaged in and others that you might one day find yourself participating in with your family. Preparedness is almost equally focused on awareness of your surroundings. This is true if you are walking through a bad part of town at night. It is also true with local, regional, national and even world events. To be really prepared, you can’t sit at home watching reruns of Star Trek on Netflix and expect to be able to move quickly when a disaster is imminent. If there is a financial collapse, we may only have days, possibly hours of warning.

I would recommend you regularly check out alternative sources for news. Drudgereport.com is probably the easiest source to quickly see what is going on in the world. If news of some contagion starts spreading you will need to act fast or else find yourself in a similar fate as the Greeks who can’t get any cash, can’t buy food, gas or the supplies they need.

Step #5 – Plan for chaos and violence and do your best to avoid it

If something like this comes to pass, there will be the obligatory riots and demonstrations. These are futile in my opinion and only cause you to risk your safety or freedom. Don’t participate in riots and burn buildings down. You won’t change anything in the world by kicking in windows or pushing police officers or throwing rocks. There is a time and a place for everything and when you are rioting, you are at the mercy of trained forces who employ riot tactics to control and in some cases escalate the violence of the crowds. You don’t want to be anywhere near this when it happens. Better to keep watch on your own house.

Which could lead to you having to defend your property from unscrupulous or desperate people who didn’t take the steps to prepare that you did. It may be necessary to defend your home. Do you have the training, the willpower and defense items you may need? Hopefully you will have taken the steps to prepare above already. If not, you may wish you had. Don’t wait until the banks are closed and you can’t get your money out. Don’t wait until you have lost your job to plan for these scenarios. Don’t wait until someone you love gets hurt to plan for defense. Your life, possibly the lives of your wife or children could count on what you do today.

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LWJ
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LWJ

Pat
Do you know if the banks or credit unions can seize a deposit box one has with them? I have thought about obtaining one to leave some liquid assets in, but I am also not sure if they can seize those as well, and look through them at their leisure.

I would be very interested to know about your other methods for storing liquid assets without going to the banks or to the mattress in the house.

Pat Henry
Guest

I have heard conflicting reports of what is possible with safety deposit boxes. I know they can be seized with the right court orders. No reason not to expect that if they want what is in there, that any silly law would stop them. Also, the problem with safe deposit boxes to me is that they can still be off limits to you when you need them. The bank can shut the vault. They can lock the doors and even if whatever you stored in there is nice and safe, you can’t get to it. Many of the methods I… Read more »

LWJ
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LWJ

China has lost about 3.2 trillon so far, so this is a 1929 type crash for them. It only seems to be a matter of time before we get hit by it.

EgbertThrockmorton1
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EgbertThrockmorton1

I’m not so sure that we ARE going to get “hit” by the Chinese contagion from their “crash”. The PRC is presently (and frantically) trying to stem the tide of sales themselves through their own QE “program”.(hopefully NOT taking lessons from US)
The “glitches” that hit today, UAL, WSJ, NYSE and other outlets are “too coincidental” for my own tastes.
I’ve never believed in “coincidence” at all. I think this is the PRC sending HerrObama a message. Just my cynical pessimism is all.

BobW
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BobW

Actually, China’s approach so far has been to loan banks money to buy up falling stocks as a vehicle for slowing the slide. Not quite the same as QE, but I get your drift.

If this fails to quell the descent, it’ll be worthless just like QE here has been, but if it works, it will have been a solid reactive market bailout.

BobW
Guest
BobW

China is a very interesting case right now. The stock market there doubled the past two years. Now it’s already given back 25% of the new total. Wild debt markets in China over the past 10 years have destabilized in the past 12 months. Billions, maybe trillions of Yuan in loans have been defaulted upon recently. The extremely controlling and secretive government has masked some of it, and under reported others. As for the problems in China spreading, personally, I think its a by-gone conclusion that the world with shudder if China can’t hit the brakes on this market collapse.… Read more »

LWJ
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LWJ

If China goes under we will feel it, if the Greeks go down we will watch it on TV and study it. On the bright side though it would serve as a test run and provide information for preppers. The worst thing we can do as a community is not try to learn from the mistakes of others, and learn from them.

EgbertThrockmorton1
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EgbertThrockmorton1

It “depends” upon your “rental” of the safety deposit box agreement with your financial institution. READ the small print, most institutions can indeed “seize” your belongings in those boxes per their contractual agreement with you.
I prefer our HOME “safety deposit boxes”(safes) which are FAR more secure, controllable and well protected(including from fire) than any financial institution. If the banks/CUs’ “close” just HOW are you going to gain unsupervised private access to your own box rental? Not going to happen at all.

LWJ
Guest
LWJ

I am trying to think of places to stash money that don’t involve the shovel, or hiding in random ass places around the house. Can’t have the wife think I have gone off the deep end, but the return rates on CD’s is nothing anymore.

LWJ
Guest
LWJ

Good point about the boxes, looks like the shovel and some safe places around the house it is.

Michael Simpson
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Michael Simpson

When we went to the gold standard, the banker would stand next to you when you opened your box and take all the gold. You were of course paid a measly sum for your forfeiture. Safe deposit boxes are a no go.

Herman Nelson
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Herman Nelson

Deposit boxes are NOT safe. California has been robbing them for awhile. Here’s a news story on the situation and why it’s a bad idea to store anything at the bank anymore.

http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=4832471&page=1

NRP
Guest
NRP

All of the world markets are down right now, The US Dow Jones is down over 200 points this morning, and there is a “technical malfunction”???? Yea right, we all believe that.

EgbertThrockmorton1
Guest
EgbertThrockmorton1

Actually, I heard on Fox Business News during the “glitch” that the NYSE had installed their “cloud system” last night WITHOUT doing a “Beta Test” prior to this morning’s opening. While I fully suspect a coordinated cyber-attack and hack, it could be old fashioned incompetence as well. OK, just saw/heard another reference to the non-beta test installation as being responsible for today’s NYSE “glitch”. Still no explanation for UAL, or WSJ’s “issues”.

BobW
Guest
BobW

Egg, thats called damage control. The most important stock market in the world doesn’t rollout major changes to their systems without substantial testing. Its not like there are thousands of markets already using the systems, so due to the uniqueness of the system, testing is a must.

I’d venture a guess that while they may have drifted to the cloud, they delayed things to not let the market tank like others have. Nothing like a good triple ‘glitch’ to deflect the sheps’ eyes from the real problem. Shits getting interesting.

EgbertThrockmorton1
Guest
EgbertThrockmorton1

As I ingracefully age, I have become far more of a cynical pessimist, when it comes to all things “coincidental”. Just don’t believe in “coincidences” at all, never have. That being said, since we left the Left Coast(yeah, I’m a native CA boy-from the conservative NORTH) we have been slowly building up our own “bank of Home” by slowly and carefully withdrawing small amounts of cash from every paypoint Debit card transaction we do. We now only keep as small an amount in the account/s as possible to avoid getting the anal-schnitzel AND an “economic refugee” haircut. Screw ’em, our… Read more »

Pat Henry
Guest

I’m with you Egbert, I don’t think there is anything coincidental about these latest “glitches” at all. Where I work, we experienced issues with a major internet provider that didn’t hit the news. I wonder who else had problems that weren’t broadcast.

Elizabeth
Guest
Elizabeth

Hey Pat, I agree with you in large part – I look at the IMF report that just came out regarding US reforms being incomplete and the growing levels of risk in the shadow banking sector, the strength of the dollar (counter intuitive as that is), then couple those with the things you mentioned – Greece, the Euro zone, the DOW, China – it makes sense to pay attention. I’ve been watching Greece for a while now…at this point, no matter what happens, the sunshine and lollipops will be in short supply. For individuals that are not in that situation… Read more »

Pat Henry
Guest

Thanks Elizabeth,

Yes, I completely agree in that diversification strategy is very wise at this time. I don’t mean diversified in stocks, bonds and mutual funds but exactly what you said. Get your money spread out a little bit more so if all hell breaks loose, you don’t lose everything.

I have been watching some documentaries on the Argentinian collapse and it is eerily similar to what is going on with us. People lost all of their savings when the peso was revalued and the banks simply wouldn’t give anyone their money.

Elizabeth
Guest
Elizabeth

yes, Argentina would be a more comparable scenario to what would happen in a collapse than Greece or Cyprus.

BobW
Guest
BobW

As an alternative to liquidating retirement accounts, consider moving the funds to a precious metals fund. Raw materials are taking a beating right now, but gold has been pretty dead for a bit. With the extreme uncertainty in all sectors, stocks, bonds, currencies, commodities, precious metals should be surging, but instead are dead.

:channeling Dennis Hopper: “Its a conspiracy, man!”

Elizabeth
Guest
Elizabeth

ok Bob, that was funny! Thank you. Indeed something to consider – not all, but perhaps some. (because of the eggs and baskets thing though, I may consider using other resources but I like the idea). I’m also thinking about income redundancy these days. Not from investment but from earned income which may or may not mean actual money. I’m doing perfectly fine with what I’ve got in the world as it exists right now, but I’m also thinking about how to prep for a big but not globally catastrophic situation. Considering an asset generating business ahead of time that… Read more »

Pat Henry
Guest

Those are ideas I have also had for another post. How to make yourself financially redundant…

Elizabeth
Guest
Elizabeth

I’d be interested in reading that.

Peter
Guest
Peter

For sure 10,000% definite and all bank deposit boxes will be raided whenever the Government decides. The Governments are in it with the banks and the IMF, the World Bank and the FSCB ( the Financial Stability Control Board and the BIS ( Bank Of International Settlements ) and a number of other shadowy committees and bank groups including huge international power-brokers & businessmen such as members of the Bilderberg group and others – they are all there with a finger in the pie as they fight to gain control of us Sheeplings ( you and I ) and to… Read more »

CopperOwl
Guest
CopperOwl

Excellent article, Pat! As to where to put your money, I’d add one thing: tools. Most people have stored food and water, but what about the tools that you may need in the long run? I’ve been buying high-quality hand tools for several years. Personally, I stay away from anything that needs electricity, but that’s my bias. I’ve chosen not to invest in generator systems because I want to keep it simple. Anyway, my alternate property is completely (and sustainably) off-grid. So, along with the long-storage food, seeds, and water, add a few shovels, saws, screwdrivers, post-hole diggers, an old… Read more »

Pat Henry
Guest

Thank you very much!

Great idea about tools and anything like that falls into the tangible category for me. Invest in things that you can use to make stuff, or get by without an income, or barter for services.

BobW
Guest
BobW

You forgot an old-fashioned hand crank drill. So old school, I’m not even sure you can find one in a store anymore, but when the power goes out, it’ll be irreplaceable.

CopperOwl
Guest
CopperOwl

That’s the “brace-and-bit” system I mentioned. It took a while, but I eventually found the large ones (using a ‘brace’) and the small manual hand drills. Using the brace sure does build arm muscles! Also, you really need to have a good supply of different kinds of hardware, like screws, nails, hooks, and that kind of stuff. You can make nails but it’s not easy. I started collecting all this stuff because I was doing construction out on some property that has no accessible power. It’s been an education.

Mike Lashewitz
Guest
Mike Lashewitz

I am very aware of what is happening in Greece. What I am seeing from the people also impresses me. But it will not be enough. Only a civil war or exiling the criminal elite and their political counterparts as well as the criminal Bankers will suffice. Iceland provided a template. However Greece is better prepared than the USA for what comes next because many already are operating home gardens. They have years of home farming experience where moszt of us idiots forgot it long ago and also the manures we have available today are already contaminated with herbicides making… Read more »

Douglas
Guest
Douglas

FYI: In the event of a house fire, for example. My insurance from Farmers only covers $100 cash, if destroyed.

Pat Henry
Guest

That may be true Douglas, but a fire safe is relatively cheap at $30 on Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008HZUI34/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B008HZUI34&linkCode=as2&tag=theprejou-20&linkId=VSJZA2F2ZKE24IOL

Another trick you can use is to wrap your money tightly in aluminum foil and then for good measure, wrap that in Heat Shield Tape http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000QFN3DU/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B000QFN3DU&linkCode=as2&tag=theprejou-20&linkId=MGVULOABJ2FZXBCO. That could prevent fire from damaging the cash.

Herman Nelson
Guest
Herman Nelson

I’ve learned a few things about being a bank user and talking with my boss who used to work in the banking industry. First off- you are a UN-secured lender. If your bank fails, you are LAST in line to get your money back. Secured Lenders will be first in the pecking order, whatever is left is distributed out to the UN-secured lenders (that would be you). Safety deposit boxes- why have them? If the bank has a “bank holiday”, you will have no access to it. If left dormant for too long (in california, it’s just 3 years), the… Read more »

Pat Henry
Guest

Good points Herman and I am right there with you on the Safety Deposit boxes. There was an article on ITS today from a man in Greece who said that “There were some talks recently about opening them with warrants and taxing their contents.” They will get their pound or twelve of flesh…