By: Joe
15 November 2006

One of my favorite books is The Lieutenants by W.E.B. Griffin. W.E.B. Griffen is a careful researcher and a great writer. The majority of the story takes place during Post-WWII Europe. Post-WWII Europe qualifies as a post-fan environment and offers thoughtful readers many lessons.

Several of the characters, (Lowell, Parker, Mrs. Waterford..) use pseudo-cash because economic dislocations made Pseudo-cash the best or the only choice. The most commonly mentioned forms of Pseudo-cash are tobacco products, distilled alcohol products, chocolate and soap.

What is Pseudo-cash? Pseudo-cash is almost money. That is, Pseudo-cash are items that can be traded for other goods or services. They are items that exhibit many or all of the characteristics of money.

Characteristics of Money:

-Money is a Durable store of value.

-Money should be Universally Accepted

-Money should be Compact

-Money should be Infinitely Divisible

The attached pictures are some examples of pseudo-cash. The items are grouped in ways that make sense to me. The list is not intended to be exhaustive. It is intended to show items that have value as Pseudo-cash and to share my opinions about their strengths and shortcomings. Your choices of Pseudo-cash are likely to differ.



Food items. Food items generally fail the Compact and Durable characteristics. Choosing items that are high in Fat and Protein generally increase their value density. So, given a choice, you should choose Tuna canned in oil rather than water for a trading item.



Vices: While many people do not use "vice" products, nearly everybody knows somebody who does. Both Food and Vice categories are rapidly consumed so it is difficult to saturate the market. It is a safe bet that a family could absorb a pound of M&Ms a day for an extended period of time. You cannot say that about fish-hooks.

Tobacco products are the classic Pseudo-cash item. I just could not bring myself to drop $4.50 on a pack of cigarettes I was going to throw away after taking its picture. Similarly, I cannot picture myself dumping a significant amount of money into cigarette for the sole purpose of having trading goods. A more cost effective strategy is to buy several pounds of loose tobacco. Cost varies by state and will change over time, but a pound of loose tobacco costs about $20 and will make about 400 cigarettes….about $90 retail.

There is anecdotal evidence that "premium" goods have significantly higher trading value than "commodity" goods. This is particularly true for alcoholic beverages.

An interesting spin on this category are precursors for vice. Examples include: 5 grams of 1090 Tennessee Burley seed, or a couple of packages of dried Nottingham and Champaign yeast.


Ammo and Batteries

Ammo and Batteries: Only to be traded to EXTREMELY trustworthy people. Otherwise, they may be used against you.

Ammo is weak on the Universally Accepted characteristic. There are just too many different kinds of gun.

Another shortcoming is that most wild game will get very scarce, very quickly in a post fan environment. Small birds (uneconomical to shoot) and rabbits will hold their own. Every other species will be harvested faster than natural reproduction will replace.

The shotgun shells in the picture are reloaded with 9 pellets of buckshot. Buckshot has dual utility. It is good for hunting deer sized game and is very good for home defense. Ammo like buckshot and high powered rifle rounds are probably best traded out in small numbers (5?) at a time to avoid saturating the market.

It is hard to go wrong with a couple of bricks of plain-vanilla .22LR and a case of 12 gauge in #6 shot.

AA and D sized batteries are doubtlessly the most popular sizes.

Other possibilities for Pseudo-cash:

Cash money: Has no downside except ATMs do not work very well during power outages. Also, milking the ATM can expose the user to risk. Bottom line is that you should have the cash money in $5, $10 and $20 stashed in a safe place in the house. See the attached link http://www.castbullet.com/wood/500.htm

Silver: Has no downside.

Promises: Fails Universally Accepted. Otherwise great. Note that paper and plastic money are this kind of money.

Ibuprofen, Bleach, Soap all fail Compact

Gold and Gem stones fail Infinitely Divisible

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