Wednesday, December 14, 2011

In case the Euro collapses and the economy goes up in smoke

A few weeks ago, I was invited to become a contributor to an American website, The editor of their self-sufficiency section was a reader of my allotment blog ( and wanted to include the material on their website. I would also be able to write to material specifically for the site. So I agreed to their request.

The following is the first article I have written specifically for the site. It's mainly for an American audience, hence the regular use of terms such as "here in Britain", nevertheless, it's as relevant to us "here in Britain" as it is to Americans.

In case the Euro collapses and the economy goes up in flames

It seems that the crisis in the Eurozone has dominated the news here in Britain for the past 18 months. One meeting of European ministers after another does nothing to alter the fundamental problem that the crisis exists because of debt. We have to go through the pain of paying down the debt before we are out of the woods on the Euro.

Britain isn’t a member of the Eurozone. We still have the pound. Yet we are at the mercy of the markets. The world’s two greatest currencies, the US dollar and the Euro, may not be legal tender here in Britain but what happens to them, and especially to the US and European economies, affects us directly. If the Euro really has been holed below the waterline by the debt iceberg and sinks, it will drag us down as well even though we are on a different currency ship, so large is the Euro. And likewise, when the budget crisis came close to crippling the US government earlier this year, we felt the cold chill here in Britain as well.

So, will the Euro collapse? It’s unlikely in my view. Countries like Germany don’t sit back and let their currencies and economies go to the wall. Nevertheless, we need to be prepared just in case the unlikely becomes a reality.

There is, however, one reality we need to prepare for. India and China have a third of the world’s population between them. They are developing rapidly. They are building up huge trade surpluses and sit on trillions of Euros and dollars they have earned from the West which we in turn have financed through debt.

Both countries now have the wealth and foreign currency to pay for the improved lifestyles that so many want. Standards of living for a growing part of the populations of both countries are increasing. Middle class, westernised habits are creeping in to daily life, such as higher meat consumption, car ownership, possession of large quantities of consumer goods.

The considerable increase in the price of food in the last few years is a warning that the emergence of China and India will increase competition for global resources in the years ahead. The days of cheap commodities such as wheat and oil are fading. Okay, I accept there are other factors driving higher prices as well, such as extreme weather conditions damaging crop production. Nevertheless, the growing economic power of China and India will not go away.

This was one of the driving factors that made me rethink my lifestyle two years ago. I had worked in London for nearly 10 years. Then the opportunity came along to return to my home on Tyneside in the North East of England where we have a little bit of land. This was the life changing moment when I decided I was going to grow my own food and become independent of the food supply chain.

If the economy goes up in smoke, the Euro sinks or the Chinese and Indian’s outbid us for the world’s food supplies, I should be ready. We aren’t self-sufficient yet but we are getting close. We live on the urban fringe and are able to demonstrate that self-sufficiency in or close to an urban area is possible.

But it’s not just about me. In showing it is possible to become self-sufficient and independent, I want others to follow. That’s why I keep a blog ( and we make programmes about how we are getting on. The latest covers how we coped with October. So if you want to see how we do self-sufficiency in the North East of England, view the video:

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