How to Survive Hyperinflation
Posted June 02, 2021
“I’m not saying a hyperinflationary period is happening in the U.S., but I’m also not denying it.”
Romanian Youtube vlogger Lehel recently did a series of videos on how his family survived hyperinflation in Romania in the ‘90s.
While financial pundits and academics have their reckonings and theories… there’s nothing quite like hearing from someone with experience going through a currency collapse.
Moreover, to understand what happened, Lehel’s also studied hyperinflation and understands a good deal about economics.
Today, we’ll roam through the larger points in his video series.
His biggest takeaway?
“Things that were important before were not so important…. and things that were not important became very important.”
Starting in 1889, and then really kicking off throughout the ‘90s, Romania went through severe hyperinflation.
“We had a four zero inflation,” says Lehel. In ‘89, a loaf of bread was around 1 leu (pronounced “lay”). In the span of five to seven years, a loaf of bread was 10,000 leu.
(If you have $10,000 in your checking account right now, imagine only being able to buy half a dozen eggs with that amount.)
Lehel tells of his relatives who had enough in the bank to buy three houses before inflation kicked off. “After this period,” he said, “they were only able to buy a television set. And I think it was a black and white television set back then.”
That’s hyperinflation. And it’s also why moving your money out of the dollar and into inflation hedges is so important.
“You might think that this could not happen, but it does. It does all the time. It’s just a different country every 10 or 20 years. And that’s your reset. Your bank account gets reset to zero. Everything you saved for gets reset.”
And what of those saddled in debt? Technically, he says, your debt would become worthless. But that’s not set in stone and depends on the political situation. If you have fixed long-term debt and you’re confident everyone will keep their promises and the political situation will remain the same… then your debt could go away.
But that’s not guaranteed.
“Inflation,” says Lehel, “is a transfer of wealth. Your rich uncle who saved a lot of money in the bank will get wiped out and he will become poor if he doesn’t do anything. And you, if you have a lot of debt, you’ll be able to pay the debt off with bread money… as long as the political situation doesn’t change.”
Problem is, dramatic political changes usually do take place: “The government wants to wipe out their debt, but not necessarily your debt. So don’t bet on that.”
Like student loan debt, it could become unforgivable, putting you under the thumb of the government. (In short, get out of debt.)
Lehel outlines how hyperinflation hit Romania:
→ The cost of raw materials starts to rise
→ Other things begin to rise in staggered waves
→ Supply chains begin to break down
→ Salaries begin to rise to compensate
→ Rationing begins at the supermarket
→ The value of savings is destroyed
→ Loss of confidence in everything
→ Social collapse
“The first thing you’ll see in hyperinflation or high inflation is starting to happen is that the cost of raw materials is rising… you would think that it’s just some supply chain issue or some other issues, but actually the cost of everything is rising. Absolutely everything is rising. It just happens in waves. First, it’s this, then it’s that, then it’s that… everything gets its turn. Usually, it’s raw materials at first.”
While everyone believes things will normalize, they don’t. The cost of simple tools started rising. Then, the cost of other staples and necessities. Shortages begin popping up. Eventually, once employers realize this is the new normal, the salaries begin to rise, too.
“Also somewhat last but not very last is food prices. Governments or authorities cannot let food prices go up too high because society becomes unstable so there’s either some subsidy or something that will happen that food prices need to be a certain level.”
And then, the shortages really ramp up: “There will be shortages in eggs, and then shortages on this and that.” Then, rules will be put in place that you can only buy a certain amount as rationing is normalized.
Then the social deterioration.
“People make fun of Russians or Eastern Europeans and say, ‘Oh those Russians, they drink a lot.’ Well, that was a coping mechanism. Life was hard. You had to deal with it somehow.”
Eastern Europe has one advantage over America and Western Europe: strong communities.
“People don’t tend to move a lot,” Lehel explains. “If they bought a property it was probably their grandparent’s property and the neighbors were usually family. Everybody knew their neighbors. Everybody knew if someone needed help. Having a community was a must. In Western Europe and in the United States people move a lot and they don’t tend to build strong relationships. That value saved everyone. Everyone knew someone who could help out and everybody would help out someone who would need help.”
“The key thing to remember is that whatever you have before this period, you don’t want to sell it during this period.” During a time when there’s the most suffering, things that most people think are valuable become worthless and things you thought were worthless become highly valuable.
The obvious: food, shelter, and practical manual skills.
The non-obvious: Honesty and being a good person. Being a trustworthy person will get you far in times of crisis.
“We got to know who we could rely on. In the worst of times, you will see the best of people and the worst, but you will know.”
What assets best helped Romanians weather the storm?
“Real estate was OK. It didn’t necessarily appreciate in value.” Rather, said Lehel, it was more of a store of wealth. “If you had the house before, you still had a house after.”
But more isn’t always better. “If you had too many houses… political stuff could happen where you would be taxed at higher rates because you were the bad guy and all of this is because of you.”
Playing By New Rules
While many people fell to a perma-underclass… many people got rich. Many of them got super rich.
The vast majority of them understood one thing: the game is rigged… and the powers at the top keep getting richer.
The secret, then, is to do what they do.
The same thing’s happening again, right here in the United States.
Wall Street has the market rigged… and those in D.C. benefit the most.
If you want to get ahead and stay there, you’ll have to play by their rules… for now.
But, as you’ll see, there is a way to turn the tables in your favor.
Here’s what you need to know.
Tomorrow, Bill O’Reilly and Alexander Green are going to reveal one of Wall Street’s dirtiest tricks… how they use it to screw over the little guy…
And how you can turn the tables and legally rig the stock market in your favor.
In times of uncertainty, the wise (and wealthy) will use all the tools at their disposal.
Don’t miss this FREE event.
Managing editor, Laissez Faire Today