My world has already ended in Sri Lanka and soon enough yours will too. This is investment advice for that future, things I wish I knew. None of this will actually save you from suffering and indeed, the most important lesson is ‘fuck you’. We fundamentally have to get away from the individualistic idea of investing—which just leads to more suffering—and take a much widerview.
1. Long-Term Investments: Heaven
In the long run, we’re all dead, so the wise apocalyptic investor keeps treasure in heaven. Sages like Jesus and the Buddha said to give up everything. The Holy Quran says “Allah has made interest fruitless and charity fruitful,” the opposite of all earthly investment advice. Given that we are entering an apocalyptic accounting period, it’s best to take sage advice.
I try to hedge my bets by worshipping everyone with the same level of neglect,but obviously find what works for you and your cultural context. It’s known that god is with the poor and suffering and that the meek shall inherit the earth, so best to be with them. It’s also best to offer some sort of sacrifice and to feed ancestors, the most ancient investment methods which we tend to forget.
Every religion and moral system loves a giver and hates a hoarder, so give as good as you get. It’s best to see helping the less fortunate not as charity which makes you a great person but as karmic debt that makes you marginally less shit.
Simply giving treasure away is the oldest and most ignored investment advice and also the best.
2. Medium Term Investments: Earth
If you—like me—can read the above and consult every holy book and still think ‘yeah, but I like my shit’ then this next advice is for you. As the fake economy collapses, the real will persist and even profit. That means land, food, water, natural resources, anything tangible and real. You can hold these things through contracts and deeds, but remember that these are all magic spells that can break in an instant. Possession is nine-tenths of the law, so prioritize whatever you can physically hold and care for.
That means land you live on, food you grow, energy you can renew, water can you draw, gold you wear, and also relationships above all.
Children are viewed by modernity as a liability, but historically they were always an asset. Extended family is viewed as an occasional obligation, but in the past (and indeed in most southern cultures) they were and are everything.
It seems crazy to bring children into this world, but the truth is that we need them more than ever. Every generation literally regenerates the world and that’s what we need more than ever. I’m not saying have children, we’ve made that into a personal choice and I get it. But the most ancient ancients worshiped fertility for a reason. As Ariana Grande said, “when all is said and done, you’ll believe God is a woman.”
Neighbors are also viewed as strangers today, but as transport becomes more difficult, the physical, walkable community of a village becomes more important, wherever you can find it. The best way to manage resources in a time of scarcity is not to hoard them (which is impossible), but to share what little you have.Even information.
Communication and social networks between the people physically close to you were vitally important for all of human history, only recently supplanted by electric communications, vehicles, and digital social networks. As that all goes to hell, it’s best to return to the earth.
Hence while I’m talking about land, food, and water, I’m not talking about ‘owning’ them. These things are really best managed communally, among families and neighbors. Indeed even children are best raised by a village, not by this modern conception of a nuclear family which has already imploded. Rather than showing wealth as things you have (like a car or fancy house), it can be things you give away, like feasts. Even things like gold are frequently transferred generationally and across families through marriage, not hoarded.
This is a completely different way of looking at investment, not as something that protects us individually, but which protects us communally. This is the way of the interconnected earth, which we have divided foolishly into castles in the air.
3. Short-Term Investments: Air
Now we enter the conventional investment plane, which is the aforementioned castles in the air. This is every deed for land you don’t till, every share in a company you don’t work for, all the interest you don’t actually earn. This is the entire basis of modern wealth and it’s all quickly gone from the earth and forever scorned by the heavens.
Massive inflation quickly obliterates interest income, sheer panic will overwhelm the stock market soon, and land should be redistributed or simply occupied, though that’s probably the last to go. In the short-term, however, massive volatility means that there’s plenty of profit to be made on the way down.
They say when there’s blood in the streets, buy property. If you have capital that’s an obvious way to move it. While the stock market is fundamentally bullshit, people will still need shit, and companies that actually produce things will only be more valuable. While complicated investment vehicles will unravel fastest, simple stores of value like certain currencies, gold, and watches will last longer.
Hence in the short term, you can see significant benefits by A) moving money out of your currency before it starts inflating (ideally to one pegged to natural resources or a strong military) B) buying physical assets with some ancient worth (like gold, or silver) C) owning or acquiring productive assets, like factories that actually make things or land that actually grows food.
As exchange values start to fluctuate or just disappear, use values will become stronger and more important. So in the short term, look around for anything immediately useful and hold onto it.
More Practical Advice
That’s all a bit religious, so let me give you some direct advice that’s more practical. My country Sri Lanka has already collapsed, so these are the immediate things I did or wish I did earlier.
- Move money out of interest-bearing accounts—in Sri Lanka, we have high interest before (like 10%) but this got obliterated in days by hyperinflation and collapsing exchange rates. During collapse you’re trying not so much to get returns as to prevent losses. Where do you move the money?
- Move into more stable currencies—this is relative and unknowable, but as our currency cratered we also lost the ability to even move it out. Whatever we could move we put into dollars or pounds and we could have actually made money by putting it in rubles, surprisingly. But I wouldn’t try to play to forex game. The dollar is relatively stable now, and the Chinese yuan will likely hold longer term. You can hold money in different currencies using a service called Wise, and quickly move between currencies using crypto exchanges.
- Stay the fuck away from crypto—yes, I mentioned crypto because you can use coins like USDT to move money around exchange controls (without affecting the exchange rate). I have done that, but only holding crypto for hours or maybe days. Crypto has become a victim of its own popularity and is crashing along with everything else, more violently because it’s the most ethereal investment of all. Besides the inherent evil of the thing (which I don’t consider dramatically worse than normal finance), it’s not a hedge against mainstream finance anymore. It’s mainstream, so you’ll drown along with everyone else.
- Secure personal, renewable energy and transport—In case you hadn’t noticed, there’s an oil shock worse than the 1970s and it’s not getting any better. My family managed to get battery backup for our house, so we avoid the power cuts, but we have a diesel vehicle which is a giant paperweight now. There’s simply no fuel. I wish we’d traded it in for an electric vehicle, but at least we have bicycles. We also take the bus, so as a community it’s essential to invest in public transport. Barring that, this also means pooling neighborhood cars, which we’re also doing.
- Secure food—The weird thing during famine is that food is available. It’s just in the wrong places or too expensive. If you secure money you can still get food. It’s depressing but true. So if you have a foreign currency, or some productive asset, you can either exchange it or raise prices and make do. We don’t actually grow food ourselves, but we’re learning how to. The unfair thing is that we don’t have to, but in time I assume that will change too.
- Relationships—After we got married I wanted to live far away from my in-laws because that is what I learned as ‘independence’ growing up in America. Once we had kids I realized this was madness and we now live right next door. Multi-generational homes and neighborhoods are the best. Obviously, if your family is abusive and sucks you should leave, but the idea that this should be the default is folly. Live with your parents forever, get help raising your children, care for them in old age. This is the ideal. We are meant to live together, not die clutching our investment accounts separately. People say the greatest investment you can make is in yourself, but this is meaningless on its own. The best investment you can make is in community, however you construe it.
To close I’ll return to god and the poor, which is still the most important thing. I can’t explain this, but our (mine and wife’s) grandparents always gave and helped even when they didn’t have much, and this has somehow gotten them through hard times before. There’s no spreadsheet you can plot these ‘returns’ on, but it is true, I feel it.
Every religion tells us to give, to sacrifice, and they tell us for some reason. I don’t understand enough to explain this, but I feel it deeply. Every beggar, every person asking to share, I try to view them as an angel, as god themselves, giving far more than they receive.
In Sri Lanka we have a name for this, pin, and when you give to someone they say a prayer for you to bestow merit on you for later births. This is the most important asset in apocalyptic accounting, in which the books are turned upside down and the money-lenders are chased out of the temple. The first shall be last and the last shall be first, so I encourage you, above all, to be with the poor in their need.
If you want the greatest returns, give away everything. As I said, we’re talking about long-term investment advice here, and in the long run we’re all dead. Plan accordingly.