Survivalist Industry Thriving on Debt Default Threat

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"There is a combination of uncertainties behind the surge, but all of them are connected to a possible economic collapse," Camden told ABC News. "There is much concern about one caused by a debt default or by a solar flare/EMP [electromagnetic pulse] that would wipe out the power grid."

Fortified homes are bulletproof, fireproof, self-powered and billed as able to repel outside attack. They have "active offensive and defensive components" to protect against anarchy in the case of economic chaos, Camden said. "Our customers' top priority is asset protection. And their families are their most important asset."

While U.S. officials and independent economists have not raised the specter of complete anarchy in the wake of a failure to raise the debt ceiling, they have used increasingly dire rhetoric to describe the consequences after Oct. 17. They warn a default could trigger economic shockwaves, send the dollar downhill, cause interest rates to soar and freeze credit markets across the globe. It could thrust the U.S. into a recession worse than 2008, some officials say.

"If there is that degree of disruption, that lack of certainty, that lack of trust in the U.S. signature, it would mean massive disruption the world over, and we would be at risk of tipping yet again into a recession," IMF head Christine Lagarde said on "Meet the Press" on Sunday.

Those warnings have plenty of average Americans on edge, and eager to stock up on water, practice fire-making skills and hunker down.

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