If we have a global economic collapse, it most likely will happen gradually. Life isn't like a light switch. It doesn't just shut off. We have warning signs, indications that things are declining, perilous signs, and then the stores close down.
I think watching Greece is important. Greece is one of the countries in the worst shape. Watching the amount of businesses go bankrupt, and then seeing people have issues with procuring supplies, seeing homelessness rise, and watching how they cope, will all be ways of learning how to prepare.
Of course we can see how the people of Argentina coped from video testimonies. Those are older, but fairly recent examples. Things got bad there, but not apocalyptic.
There are lots of different kinds of people regarding prepping and survival. There are those who are unconcerned, those who always buy a normal amount of supplies, those who buy extra, those who buy extra and know skills, those who actively prep/garden/hunt, etc.
There's also some people who are sociopathic and claim that they'll live off of other's supplies. Well that's to be expected as we always have had a criminal element. There are people who have those tendencies, but function in society as long as things are stable for them, but given a challenge, will take the easy route of preying on weaker members of society who do obey the law.
Because there are many types of people that fit into either group, a wise person waking up has to prepare for both kinds. It's important to consider how to deal with any person who will want either want help, some assistance, collaboration, trade, or deal with conflict. Dealing with conflict is a long complex topic. I recommend that you research that and prepare for it. Discussing it would only detract from the topic. It's an emotional one, but I think taking a realistic approach is a balanced one, versus a hopeful approach that isn't based on reality, or a Mad Max one that's based on being afraid.
Argentina had issues, but of course each country has a bit of common ethos and character. Still people are variable, so of course they had issues with violence. By and large, it didn't degenerate into a Mad Max scenario. I don't expect Greece to, but it could, so watching it will give us some hint of how bad it might get eventually in our countries.
But quickly, if things get bad, what are realistic things that could happen?
Most people don't have seven days of food in their homes. Most people shop every 3-4 days. That normal behavior is replicated in stores with restocking. That means the transportation follows that pattern too.
Imagine a global collapse of the EURO. The European economy is more than the size of both the US and China combined. The contagion starts there. Chinese imports to European countries are halted while decisions are made to ship there. The Federal Reserve of the US sends treasuries as collateral to help the European banks borrow money. This stop gap allows a brief period for kicking the can down the road, but eventually the US can't send collateral this way.
Now the supply chain has been interrupted. The ships that transport Chinese goods get routed to countries who can pay for them. That means of course interruptions in any transportation that utilized European sources to relay the goods along. You can see how that would create issues. That will be a major red flag.
Meanwhile life in the US and other less affected countries goes on. Price increases for Chinese goods occurs due to shipping increases. US distributors of Chinese goods can reduce package amounts or supply sizes, and this will allow delivery but not full loads. Factories or distributors of products that can will reduce the amount within a package. We've seen some of that as a way to increase prices by lowering the amounts within the package over the last year and a half.
Eventually shortages occur. Chinese officials have to decide whether it might cause them more economic problems by not sending the goods at all or is it better to ship them without passing on more price increases? I think that some Chinese goods will not get shipped. They can devalue their currency to keep production and shipping going, but I doubt they can sustain that. Regardless any devaluation of the EURO will mean less purchasing power by Europeans and a subsequent increase in the Yuan.
American consumers wake up. Some people that ordinarily don't buy in bulk or prep start to. People without money share across extended families. Money is always tight after Christmas when the credit card bills arrive. Fifty percent of the US citizens are at the poverty line. Unemployment gets worse post-Christmas since temporary service workers lose their jobs.
People who never have gone to a food bank in their lives, go and find very little food there. People who have never had an issue with missing a meal, decide to diet to save money not lose calories and feed their children. People ordinarily diet post-Christmas, but Americans get thinner. People usually eat more when stressed, but as less income, less food stamps, more unemployment occurs, people don't eat as much. Some people switch to two meals a day, or one meal on Sunday.
People start to wake up, and this means people buying more at a time to bulk up and save money from uncertain rising food costs. This change in buying patterns will mean more people buying suddenly and in larger amounts than normal, and disrupting the standard 3-4 day pattern. More shortages occur. The increasing amount of empty shelves makes more people buy that don't ordinarily. It perpetuates.
That can't keep up as money is tight. Stores catch up, but the cost rises on increasing demand and supply issues from China. Other countries get affected by the EURO collapse too. Shortages occur from any exporter countries of food products.
A lot of countries have switched from subsistence farms to monoculture farms. The cash crop had been bringing in more money versus growing their own food. More people worldwide garden from concern about the food supply. Seed prices, gardening tools, fertilizer, all increase in cost. More people are reading gardening books. There's an increasing interest in canning and dehydrating foods, but this is not as prevalent since that's many months away. If you see a renewed interest in gardening beyond the norm, then stock up on preservation methods.
Rising state budget issues in the US come to a head post-Christmas. Utility rates go up. In some areas quite radically. Expect frustration and open anger to be reported on the news about it. Rate increases mean that for the first time people who have never considered the cost of water before, and those who garden with it, will put in rainwater catchment devices and plumbing. Watch for price increases as this is touted as a solution and more demand occurs.
Some new homes have hot water on demand systems. As utility costs increase, more people buy them. However as more utility companies cut down on employees, there's concern about disruptions in the utilities. Old hot water systems have a reservoir of water in them. This means that in the case of a disruption, the new system's won't have that reservoir of water. I anticipate issues with that long term since when the SHTF, that's a potential 40-50 gallons of drinking water. Check your system. If you have a tankless, you'll save money. It would be wise though to get large plastic storage container for water.
As state government budget crisis increase, their ability to repay municipal bonds increase. More state government's have to lay off workers. Disruptions in services occur. You have to go on certain days to talk to a government workers and the line to talk to them increases as any limited ways they can assist you decreases. Many more part-time government workers will exist.
The increase in unemployment coupled with rising costs and less financial resources post-Christmas mean people will cut back on unnecessary expenditures. Cable and satellite tv declines. Less people need the Internet since SOPA passes. People use the Internet to download movies or stream them. Some cable users switch to streaming tv instead. More tiered packages of services are offered. Prices significantly rise despite a decreasing demand in cable services. Layoffs occur in those industries. People who work in cell phone service see a decline in cell phone use as rates increase and people look for ways to cut expenditures too. A decline occurs across free forums as operators see less potential revenue from Internet advertising and less users. It's a major warning sign.
The decline in this deepens the entertainment industry's woes. TV seasons have far less episodes. Far less movies are made due to declining attendance and DVD sales. More people throw movie parties where someone rents a movie and many people watch it.
Fast food and regular restaurants see big decreases in sales. Much of their income is made in beverages. Supply issues increase beverage costs. Both create more unemployment from what few service jobs there are. Lots of temporary or part-time workers are laid off.
Discount retailers that market to lower wage workers see a change in demographics. Normally this would mean a change in inventory, but it doesn't work that way. People with more wealth buy cheaper goods.
Industries like Human Resources see almost no jobs except in fracking areas like North Dakota and medical jobs like nursing. Small independent operators see a temporary increase based on letting workers go, and possibly as human resources are outsourced, but ultimately they close their doors.
More people let medical needs go. Less people see the doctor unless absolutely essential. Expect an increase in medical issues from this. This will be a major red flag. Expect more contagion from flu, diarrhea, untreated fever, etc. Less people are working, but still in contact with others.
Many businesses that relied on government contracts see a decline. There are increases in ones that service military ones though. Expect riots to occur and more dependency on the military to control them. Expect more demonstrations, but less public sympathy at first due to targeted blockades of supply chains. Angry people will ultimately protest as they can't afford goods, and more people end up joining the protest movement.
Expect violent incidents to occur as police, National Guard, and the US military clash with protestors. More deaths occur, as well blindness and broken bones, and wounds. More protestors in jail. This could be a powder keg.
More people can't feed their children. Expect an increase in foster care. Expect to visibly see more homelessness especially children.