With hundreds of billions spent to save the ailing economy of Greece (and the rest of the continent), unemployment rates in excess of 50% among those in their twenties and a solution nowhere to be found, many in Europe and around the world are realizing that this entire system is about to come unhinged.
And when it does, as we have noted on several occasions over the years, there will be riots in the streets.
Retail business owners in Greece and greater Europe are now planning for the worst.
This is not some alarmist overreaction. This is happening right here and now, and people are starting to understand that the consequences of a collapse in Europe, the United States and the world are going to be serious:
The planning, says Dixons chief Sebastian James, may look alarmist but it’s good to be prepared.
Company bosses around Europe agree. As the financial crisis in Greece worsens, companies are getting ready for everything from social unrest to a complete meltdown of the financial system.
Those preparations include sweeping cash out of Greece every night, cutting debts, weeding out badly paying customers and readying for a switch to a new Greek drachma if the country is forced to abandon the euro.
Chief Executive James says the company has contingency plans to shutter up its 69 wholly owned and 29 franchised Greek stores and close them in the short term to protect against any threat of civil unrest and prepare for a switch to a new drachma.
Dixons, using its experience of dealing with riots in London and other British cities last summer – big flat-screen televisions were the looters’ booty of choice – has ordered enough shutters to protect its stores and is working with the Greek police and security groups.
KPMG’s Bayly advises his clients to check the six Cs when preparing for a possible Greek euro exit: cash, contracts, continuity, counterparties, control and commercial. He believes that automotive companies, tour operators and pharmaceutical groups would see the biggest immediate disruption from an early euro exit by Greece.
Bayly also warns companies to guard against the failure of key suppliers or counterparties, to tighten up on controls to avoid errors and fraud, and also to be clear on how they would be affected commercially by possible future changes in patterns of government and consumer spending.
As we highlighted in Just In Time: When the Trucks Stop, America Will Stop , the entire commerce infrastructure is one catastrophe away from seizing up.
We’ve already seen an example of this in Greece when liquidity in the credit system dried up and caused shortages in live-saving medications because customers weren’t able to pay pharmacists, who weren’t able to pay distributors, who weren’t able to pay manufacturers and transporters – and none of them were able to acquire credit terms from banks to keep the cycle going.
There is so much interdependence within the system that it is impossible to predict the exact sequence of events. However, astute readers understand that a breakdown in credit lending, or key manufacturers going belly-up because they can’t cover operating expenses, could lead to serious shortages down the line in businesses that include everything from medicine to food to fuel.
Take a queue from the businesses that have direct relationships with large credit organizations and government insiders. They know something is amiss, and they are taking steps to prepare today, not hoping for a solution that will never come.
It is critical that you reduce your personal counter-party risk as much as possible ahead of the economic destruction to come.
You think 2007-2008 was bad?
That was a private sector collapse. The taxpayers of the world were the backstop – and for the most part business continued as usual.
We’re now to the point where entire nations are beginning to crumble under the weight of excessive spending and debt – and all of their backstops and emergency response plans have been exhausted.
The end result will be a paradigm shift unlike any we have witnessed in our lifetimes. There will be riots. There will be starvation. There will be bloodshed.