Making Sen$e: What Would Happen if the U.S. Government Collapsed?

BY Paul Solman  February 27, 2012 at 6:07 PM EDT

U.S. Capitol at night; file photo

Paul Solman frequently answers questions from the NewsHour audience on business and economic news on his http://www.pbs.org/newshour/economy/makingsense/ “>Making Sen$e page. Here is Monday’s query:

Name: Teri

Question: In the event of a total collapse of the U.S. government, what would happen to the individual financial institutions, i.e., would money be worth anything, what would be the best thing to have in order to “purchase” needed supplies? Gold? Salt? Would there be an IRS anymore? Would anyone have to worry about paying property taxes? Would all government agencies stop including police, fire? Would it be anarchy?

Making Sense

Paul Solman: For the Cormac McCarthy/Mad Max endgame, I was going to recommend salt, Teri. But then I noticed from your email that you’re from Logan, Utah, which looks to be no more than 20 miles from the Great Salt Lake. In your case, then, I’d opt for water, canned goods, and what a friend from Idaho calls “primer-back securities”: rifle ammunition. But first, let’s try to avoid that fate, shall we?

This entry is cross-posted on the Making Sen$e page, where correspondent Paul Solman answers your economic and business questions