The Dollar is a balloon! Since all we have is debt and the rest of the world owns Dollars, it would be to our benefit to destroy the Dollar.
The United States Constitution and the Supreme Court both say that gold and silver coin are the only money allowed. They both say that debt instruments with no real value shall not be acceptable. see: http://www.honestmoneyreport.com/archives/2008/0304.pdf
President Franklin Roosevelt confiscated all gold and stopped the production of the red-back gold certificate Dollar bills. Foreigners could still ask for gold, but not Americans. As inflation started making silver Dollars better than paper certificate Dollars, Richard Nixon stopped silver from being a currency. Later, the silver certificate paper "Dollars" were replaced with "Federal Reserve Note" paper Dollars that had no inherent value, in violation of the Constitution. The stage was set to rev up the printing presses to pay all bills with this new funny money Dollars. It got out of control, since no president wanted to lose popularity by causing a recession.
What keeps the Dollar having value right now? Every nation keeps a large supply of Dollars as the common global currency for paying for oil. What keeps them from switching to another currency? America is a huge market for goods. The government can shut countries out at will. Also, America fields the most powerful military force in the world. The government speaks softly and carries a BIG stick. Weak countries need us to defend them, so they will buy Dollars like there's no tomorrow. Japan, who is afraid of China, buys a lot. Saudi Arabia, who is afraid of Iran, buys a lot. South Korea, who is afraid of North Korea, buys a lot. Europe, who is afraid of Russia, has bought a lot, but gave up on us recently. China bought a bunch so they could threaten to dump them on our markets if we politically oppose them.
The world of paper and electronic financial instruments are drastically abused and over-extended. The United States national debt is now over 9 trillion Dollars. The financial derivatives market is estimated to be over 23 trillion Dollars. The average public debt is now greater than the average public savings for the first time in the history of the country. Yet huge numbers of Dollars are held by the countries of the world as the common currency for oil transactions.
The Dollar and all Dollar-denominated financial instruments (bonds, T-bills, CD's) will quickly and suddenly lose all value in one titanic panic. It will propagate out around the world. All transactions, transportation and commerce will stop. Oil and food will not flow. Civil servants will not be paid. See this link.
Riots and violence will sweep across the world. The governments will take emergency powers to restore order. Penalties for crime will become harsh. The governments will become despotic to deal with the chaos.
Things are starting to go downhill: http://www.cnbc.com/id/28249915
Get rid of your cash, NOW! Take your 401K and switch to a Roth IRA, and
then Gold certificates. You won't be penalized.
The economy will become local and barter. Neighborhoods will form self-defense and farming coops. The larger suburbs will have to disperse, to find land to feed people. Half the people will end up small farmers. Human powered tools and transportation will be at a premium. Humans, on the other hand, will be overabundant. We will see the return of slavery to compensate for the lack of horses and oxen.
These conditions will not be temporary. One of the dirty little secrets is that the oil-producing countries have been grossly lying about their reserves. All the easily tapped oil is gone. The hard-to-tap oil is mostly gone. Welcome back to the 1800's -- with 16 times as many people. Lives will be cheap.
To prepare, learn as much as you can about skills needed in the 1800's. The local boss can take your food, your guns, your books and your house. But he needs you alive and well if you have valuable knowledge. The Foxfire series of books are excellent. Knowledge of local edible plants are important. Knowledge of how to clean & prepare fish and game are important. Knowledge of making traps, slings and spears are important. Knowledge of low-tech farming is important. Good seed are very important. Here is a huge library of appropriate technology for the 21st century.
Stockpiled Bibles and other Christian material will be very valuable. There won't be anywhere to buy them. As Christians start to pray, due to the extremity of the situation, revival will break out. These materials will be highly important. Please buy these materials now!