In the 1950s and 1960s, bunkers were a feature of many American suburban homes, populated by families fearful of the prospect of nuclear war. That threat has subsided, but now many reasonable people are stocking up on essential supplies in preparation for a new cataclysm.
When you hear the word "survivalist", what image comes to mind?
Perhaps you think of a gun-toting loner in Mid-West America, who lives in a shack surrounded by tinned food and emergency water supplies.
Or maybe you think of end-of-the-world religionists retreating to a fortified camp with enough food and drink to last them until Judgement Day.
But today there is a new breed of survivalist and they’re well-heeled, well-educated and more likely to wear an immaculately pressed suit than a camouflage flak jacket.
Barton M Biggs is about as far as you can get from the old John Rambo-style survivalist. Forget long, unkempt hair and a sweat-stained vest. Mr Biggs is a former chief global strategist for Morgan Stanley, who now runs the hedge fund Traxis Partners in New York.
Yet in his latest book, Wealth, War and Wisdom, he suggests that all right-minded people should "assume the possibility of a breakdown of the civilised infrastructure".
May 9, 2009