Meet the destroyers waiting for the economy to collapse

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  • Talks of economic doom are becoming louder as they say the economy is heading towards collapse.
  • There is a gap between what experts call a healthy economy and the experience of many individuals.
  • Feelings of economic devastation and despair are palpable

Daniel, a Reddit user based in Washington, DC, has been browsing the subreddit r/economiccollapse for about four years. He says he is not a doomsdayer, but he sees an economic explosion coming for America that could mirror the collapse of the Soviet Union at the end of the Cold War.

Daniel, who asked that only his first name be used to protect his privacy, has taken steps to prepare for his grim vision of the future. He refuses to keep his savings in cash and has invested all his money in a portfolio of defense stocks, gold, crypto and other assets that he believes will maintain their value.

“The one thing that's going to guarantee our economy is a wartime economy,” Daniels told Business Insider in an interview. “Only time will tell how bad it really will be.”

Observers may be quick to dismiss such talk as conspiratorial or alarmist, but a growing number of people in online communities on Reddit and elsewhere say their uneasiness about the economy and physical conditions in the US points to a coming collapse. Does it.

Experts say sentiment is rising amid the despair and anxiety that came with the pandemic and appears unlikely to ever subside, though most economists agree the economy is probably fine for now.

Based on raw search data, ultra-bearish interest is dominating the market or the economy is going up. According to search analytics firm Glimpse, Google searches for “stock market crash” have increased 17% over the past quarter, while searches for “economic crash” have increased 15%.

Search interest for economic crash has increased more
Google Trends/Glimpses

Membership on the r/EconomicCollapse subreddit has also increased in recent years, increasing by 80% from the end of 2021 to the end of 2023. The broader doomsday message board, r/Collapse, also saw a surge in membership, rising 26%. Since late 2021, according to analytics site Subreddit Stats.

In both communities, users are sounding the alarm over all kinds of apocalyptic scenarios for the economy, with some predicting a stock market crash, housing market crash, or a complete collapse of the US financial system.

An r/EconomicCollapse member associated with Business Insider, who remained anonymous to protect his privacy, said he believes the stock market will “collapse” if the Fed does not continue raising interest rates, causing The problem of hyperinflation will spread in the economy. ,

“I have personally met only a handful of people who actually know what is going on,” he told BI. “I'm very pessimistic because I don't have much control over this and I haven't seen any evidence of things getting back on track.”

Another user warned that the recent rally in AI stocks could lead to a dot-com-style crash.

“Irrational exuberance and greedy speculation. Big money to be made in the short term, but huge hangover when the party's over,” he wrote in a post. “I wouldn't want to be holding the bag when it all falls out.”

Many detractors say they are presenting a more realistic version of the situation. Freddy Smith, a Florida-based real-estate agent, says he's not worried, but regularly posts warnings on the economy on his social media accounts. In a TikTok, he speculated that the economy is worse now than it was during the Great Depression due to the higher cost of living.

Smith said of the government's behavior towards the middle class, “They're still sucking money, sidelining people.” They fear that if economic reforms are not made, the number of homelessness will increase and more people will live paycheck to paycheck.

Jonathan Rose, CEO of commodities firm Genesis Gold Group, says he has also seen growing concern among his clients. Rose estimates that the number of investors he works with who have purchased physical gold specifically as a store of value has increased by about 40%-60% since the pandemic.

Rose said he believes some of the customers looking to capture gold are preppers and homesteaders, people who want to prepare for a major disaster or are otherwise completely self-sufficient “off the grid.” Want to achieve the lifestyle.

“People are looking to prepare with metals,” Rose said. “There's always an influx of people who are always trying to bring safety and diversity. But I think there's definitely been an increase in that over the last few years.”

perception and reality

The economic reality does not exactly match what many people on these forums say they are preparing for.

The US has avoided the recession that had been predicted for the past two years. The labor market also remains relatively strong, with the unemployment rate remaining near historic lows in March.

Rose estimates that pessimism about the economy has increased since the beginning of the pandemic. He says that experience of uncertainty and fear has made people more aware of the risks facing the economy, including high government debt levels, rising geopolitical tensions and extremely high inflation.

Rose said, “I think there are more problems today than there were 10 years ago. So people are concerned about these problems, and people are saying we're about to see something happen. And I agree with that. ”

Many may also be reacting to the fact that their experience of the economy is not matching the strength of the reported data.

The high cost of living has begun to plague the American middle class, and a survey from Northwestern Mutual found that financial anxiety among Americans is hovering at its highest level since 2012.

“I certainly note the increased prices at restaurants and grocery stores and the cost of living due to inflation,” said Richard Silla, a financial historian at New York University. “Others may not be as lucky and may be constrained by them, and this may affect their outlook for the stock market and the economy.”

Smith said he makes videos to educate people about the economy and express his frustrations about the working class.

“I see these 23-year-old kids online talking about how they're working 40, 50 hours a week and living with their parents,” Smith told BI. “The whole world has changed in the last 10 years… I think the frustration is the lack of recognition of a broken system,” he said.

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