Month: November 2010

Black Friday = America’s Running of the Bulls

On the day after Thanksgiving each year, Americans partake in a strange pastime where they line up for hours (or even days) in order to be one of the first to rush into a store and snap up all the supposed bargains on offer. I have a very hard time understanding the allure of this type of madness, but then I’m not much of a consumer. In America land, consumerism is a national sport and Black Friday is the equivalent of the Super Bowl. This is one aspect of the American culture that I will not miss at all.

The following video offers a glimpse of the frenzy. Someone likened the scene to what you would see in starving, third world nations when the food convoy arrives. I’d advise you to turn down the volume before you watch this clip. For some reason it’s pretty loud.

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The French are Planning a Run on the Banks

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We’ve all seen the protests against austerity measures that are happening all over Europe. The French seem to be particularly passionate about protesting against the Government and big banks who they see as having caused the financial crisis. The country known for it’s bloody and violent revolution at the end of the 18th century now looks set to try and start another, with a run on the banks.

The idea seems to have spawned from a recent interview in which former Manchester United star, Eric Cantona, recommended a run on the cash reserves of the world’s banks. (watch the interview at the bottom of the page).

We don’t pick up weapons to kill people to start the revolution. The revolution is really easy to do these days. What’s the system? The system is built on the power of the banks. So it must be destroyed through the banks. This means that the three million people with their placards on the streets, they go to the bank and they withdraw their money and the banks collapse. Three million, 10 million people, and the banks collapse and there is no real threat. A real revolution. ~ Eric Cantona

Cantona’s call to action has inspired a new political movement, first in France and now spreading virally around the world. The French-based movement – StopBanque – has taken up the campaign for a massive coordinated withdrawal of money from banks on 7 December 2010. Their facebook page indicates that already people in 24 countries are supporting the movement.

Are you prepared?

If this movement continues to build momentum and spreads to all the continents of the world where people are upset with bank bailouts and indebted governments, this bank run may be enough for the governments to declare a ‘bank holiday‘. Remember, banks only have a very small fraction of cash on hand and if enough people withdraw their money on 7 Dec 2010, it will not be long until the banks are forced to close their doors to avoid further withdrawals.

If this movement gets REALLY big, it could well bring down the banking system when banks find their balance sheets out of kilter as their deposits disappear. I think this is unlikely. Governments would step in before it got that bad, but the likely result would be an extended bank holiday until the threat subsides.

Of course, all of this might result in nothing at all. My point is: if the banks close their doors for a day or more, if your ATM and credit cards stop working, will you have enough cash on hand to go about your business? Would it be worth getting some out in advance….just in case?