Economics & Investing For Preppers

Here are the latest items and commentary on current economics news, market trends, stocks, investing opportunities, and the precious metals markets. We also cover hedges, derivatives, and obscura. And it bears mention that most of these items are from the “tangibles heavy” contrarian perspective of JWR. (SurvivalBlog’s Founder and Senior Editor.) Today’s focus is on making money buying and selling vacuum tubes. (See the Tangibles Investing section, near the end of this column.)

Precious Metals:

First on today’s roster:  Lawrie Williams: What now for precious metals?

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Why Is Silver Really Lagging Behind Gold?


Shiller P/E – A Better Measurement of Market Valuation.  We  are again approaching the over-valued levels last seen during the bubble of 2000. Beware!

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CNN: Meet the bears predicting stock market doom



Jerry Gulke on Agricultural Commodities: Markets Disappoint Despite Trump’s EPA Reversal

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For anyone who wishes to watch ag commodities closely, I recommend: Commodity Week Podcast.


I noticed that now tracks Bitcoin exchange rates against most major currencies.

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Forex trading in the Swiss Franc CHF was quiet this week.  I still consider the CHF a good hedge against future U.S. Dollar (USD) declines.

Economy and Finance:

Here’s the kind of spending that leads to bigger paychecks and a roaring economy

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TransContainer shipment volumes rise

Troubling Trends:

Drop in Teen Birthrate Helps Drive Decline in Fertility

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IRS to block, suspend tax returns that lack Obamacare disclosures

Tangibles Investing (Vacuum Tubes):

One often overlooked and arcane segment of tangibles investing is vacuum tubes. You can make a good profit by first studying up on the prices of scarce types of tubes. Carry that list in your wallet or on your smartphone.  That way you can be a “Picker” of rare tubes at hamfests, ham swap meets, garage sales, yard sales, tag sales, thrift stores, junks shops, and flea markets.  In my experience, the larger hamfests have an amazing quantity of tubes available, often at “how much for whole box?” prices. You never know when you could find a 12AX7, Mullard 12 AU7, or even the fabled Mullard ECC83.

Get a High Quality Tube Tester

To be a real pro at this, you will need to invest in a tube tester–preferably a big Hickok. You can try to make your offers on really rare tubes contingent on them testing well.  (You can test them right at the seller’s home or place of business.) Keep in mind that there is hardly any demand in most 1960s vintage television-specific tubes. Avoid buying those, unless they come in a box along with some rare tubes and you get them all at one price.  The real money is in high power amplifier tubes and a high-end audio tubes. Exotic tubes (such as “tuning eye” tubes) are also often sought-after.

As with all other collectibles: Knowledge is power. Do your homework first, to avoid costly mistakes. The highest potential mark-up will be if you are the Picker–going through boxes of unsorted tubes.  In contrast, if you buy sorted and tested tubes from a knowledgeable seller, then most of the profit will be going to him, not you.

One important tip: Whenever you go to garage sales or yards sales, always be sure ask:  “Do you have a box of old radio tubes for sale?”

Here is a sampling of some useful articles on vacuum tubes:

Used Vacuum Tubes: Issues To Consider

Audiophile Q&A: Scarcity of NOS (new old stock) audio tubes

New and Used Tubes We Are Buying

Video: How to Spot Super Rare 12AX7 Vacuum Tubes

Rare Tubes (Useful as a price benchmark.)

Rare NOS Audio Tubes (another good price reference site.)

Video: 2017 Shelby Hamfest – An Audio Gear and Tube Pickers Adventure. (Skip forward to the 6:30 mark for the start of his “picking”. His net results after 3+ days of picking can be seen at the 21:00 minute mark.  By re-selling these on eBay, he will probably reap a 200% to 800% profit.)


SurvivalBlog and its Editors are not paid investment counselors or advisers. So please see our Provisos page for our detailed disclaimers.

News Tips:

Please send your economics and investing news tips to JWR. (Either via e-mail of via our Contact form.) These are often especially relevant, because they come from folks who particularly watch individual markets. And due to their diligence and focus, we benefit from fresh “on target” investing news. We often “get the scoop” on economic and investing news that is probably ignored (or reported late) by mainstream American news outlets. Thanks!


  1. +1 on the need for a test rig.

    Little known fact is that many of the audiophile and professional audio companies bought up large swathes of surplus tubes years ago for their own uses. Much of what is on the market now are tubes which didn’t meet their own tests.

  2. I have a SW tube radio carefully packed away. I’ve tried numerous times to get responses from repair shops “specializing” in antique radio repair. I’d like the radio tuned up and the power supply replaced. No responses. Buyer beware. We need people who know how to do this work in order to service a product being saved for SHTF situations. I’ve moved on to buying modern versions of SW radios that are tested and then stored properly for future use.

  3. Back in ’94/’95 I was part of a crew installing DEW/BMEWS replacement radar systems across the top of Canada. The last site we did was on Resolution Island.
    Behind the BMEWS antenna – which was about the size of a drive-in movie screen – was a building the size of a small hanger. Inside it were 20 double-sided eight foot-high racks the length of the building that were still full of replacement parts for all the electronic systems that had been in use at the site, probably easily over 100,000 tubes – not to mention the five radar transmitter klystron tubes in their original crates.(Those had probably originally cost about $500K each.) ‘Course the real kicker were the 10 100KW Caterpillar gensets in the power room that looked like they had never been spun up.
    Being as the island is ~150km off the Northwest Canadian coast it’s probably all still there.

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