What to expect from economic apocalypse

The Web site, The Consumerist, has put together a list of 10 things to expect from “the new post-apocalyptic economy.”

Number 1 is worth considering: A much less leveraged economy — Cash will be the thing to have.

What would things look like if we have to pay cash for everything, once credit cards dry up (maybe they’d eliminate the grace period and start charging a finance charge from first dollar)?

I’ve got two, and you can add yours in the comments section.

-1- More lottery ticket sales, and sales of car air fresheners and other junk. Why? Pay at the Pump, baby. It’d be history. You’ll have to actually go inside the convenience store/gas station and wait in a long line of other people. From boredom, you’ll start picking up little trinkets and trashy things that the stores know you’ll buy on impulse. They’re smarter than we are. Oh, and there’ll still be people who want to pay with a check who won’t have filled any of it out while standing in line.

-2- No mail today? If there’s no credit cards, there’ll be no more credit card mailings. I got four yesterday, alone. State Farm offered me 0% on balance transfers until July 2009. Hey, here’s an idea, bailout voters in Congress, stick a provision in that puppy when you revote this week that forces credit card solicitors to put the true cost of this scam right on the front page. Outlaw asterisks.

Capitol One (how does Capitol One have any money after the cost of sending at least three credit card solicitations a week to every American and every household pet?) offered 0% on purchases and transfers until 2010.*.

Life after credit, what’s it look like? Be funny, now, we all need a good laugh.

  • sm

    Will those awful credit report ads go away on tv? Because there wouldn’t be credit anymore to monitor.

    Barter will become bigger, especially with internet barter networks. We can learn firsthand about how society worked in the Middle Ages.

    And we wouldn’t have to pay sales taxes anymore because who can track cash?

  • JohnnyZoom

    Less identity theft, but more physical theft

    * (obligatory astericked comment) I doubt credit cards will go the way of the dodo / Betamax / quality network TV programming, but sure they’ll less prominent.

  • penny formythoughts

    speaking of identity theft, mr zoom, why do the banks not use personal thumb printing/passwords in identifying the user?

    don’t you think that would STOP identity theives?

  • davidz

    Just to be fair, the Consumerist was doing a retread/overview of the original in Kiplinger’s.

    Best Buy will surely be hurting when people have to actually save their money before they buy the fancy new electronic toys.

    Pay-at-the-pump doesn’t go away, since there’s such a wide variety of debit cards and pre-paid cards in use already. A cash transaction doesn’t automatically mean bills and coins.

  • Bob Collins

    // barter

    Ah, see? things are looking up already. A barter economy will be good news for the pickup/auto industry.

    I’ll need something big to move llamas and stuff in. The dryer repairman came today, he’ll need a bigger vehicle too because next time I’ll be paying him in old baseball cards.

  • WI Rugger

    Well-with out all the junk mail what will we use to start our fire?

    Craigslist will be more popular than the MOA.

    Maybe, if I am lucky, my kid will quit asking for all a cell phone.

  • Joel

    Sorry, but with words like “apocalypse” and “no credit” all I can think of is fire and brimstone.

  • Joel

    Buuut, if we’re going back to the middle ages, and since I have a braodsword that I purchased one year at Ren. Fest, maybe I can hire myself out as security detail and be paid in fresh eggs from someone’s backyard chicken coup.

  • More talk about veggie cooking like lentils and rice – good for you AND your wallet! Expect celebrity cookbooks on the topic that are just as vapid as today but more preachy – and more bland.

    Beer will make a comeback and fancy shots involving Red Bull will die a horrible, painful death. That’s not necessarily a prediction, but a wish. (pleasepleasepleaseohplease!)

    A Robin-hood like figure along the lines of Bonnie and Clyde will come along, and many people will ignore the fact that this person is a total thug. Think gangsta rappers with a cause.

    Lastly, the kings of the new economy are Junk Silver and Tuna in cans!

  • Alison

    It will once again be cool to whip out a crisp new Ben Franklin or two at the supper club to pay for your family’s meal on Friday payday as the men of my grandparent’s generation liked to do back in the day.

  • b2

    Target is already airing ads featuring cheap alternatives: Camping in the backyard, Tent $79.95, Workout in the spare room, Blue Workout Ball $19.99, etc. They weren’t spotlighting preserve jars and touch-up paint for your SUV, but that’s coming.

  • I think the real impact will be on the leveraged buyouts of companies. Delta buying NWA comes to mind. Dumb buyouts like Boston Scientific buying Guident with a lot of debt wouldn’t happen.

  • flashmcduff

    Someone mentioned canned tuna – prepared/preserved meats and Hormel will thrive. Has anyone else seen the recent Spam endcap displays in grocery stores?

  • MR

    Taxpayer-funded stadiums will become much, much less common, as communities won’t be willing to put together the massive incentive packages to lure teams away.

    Here’s an ESPN column on this issue.

  • Alison

    There are lots of generic brand items featured more prominently at Target these days.

  • I think that there is a difference between credit being less available and moving to non-card based payment systems. Most ATM cards these days have a Visa logo but are not credit cards and don’t seem to be used as such. They do allow the same simplicity of credit-like transactions but at little cost to no cost for the card holder.

  • bsimon

    People will relearn how to cook.

  • bsimon

    “Taxpayer-funded stadiums will become much, much less common, as communities won’t be willing to put together the massive incentive packages to lure teams away.”


  • Bob Collins

    It’s not that people don’t want to cook (although for the record, I can’t stand cooking). It’s that they can’t, what with the increased hours of the job and the demands of family life.

  • sm

    Investments in construction paper and glitter futures will go up as homemade gifts become popular.

  • JSmith


    Although the debit cards are run at no cost to the card holder, they are swiped at cost to the business accepting the card. They get charged both a flat rate per-month and a percentage per-transaction. This is why some businesses won’t take American Express or Discover as they charge a higher percentage per-transaction.

    Because of this, for example, gas stations are only making around $0.02 per transaction on pay-at-the-pump given the operating costs and current price of gas.

    I believe MPR (or maybe it was NPR) even ran a story on that.

  • Bob Collins

    My mother sent me a birthday card I sent to my Dad back in 1974. I was a broke college kid. I made little gift certificates for things like a car wash, a fishing trip, two hours work in the field etc. They were pretty funny and, you know, looking back, I’ll bet they were some of the best presents my Dad received that year.

    It’s just a pity he never cashed any of them in.