Economics & Investing For Preppers

Here are the latest news items and commentary on current economics news, market trends, stocks, investing opportunities, and the precious metals markets. We also cover hedges, derivatives, and obscura. Most of these items are from the “tangibles heavy” contrarian perspective of SurvivalBlog’s Founder and Senior Editor, JWR. Today, we look at rising lumber prices. (See the Tangibles Investing section.)

Precious Metals:

Interview with Phil Streible: All-in gold doesn’t make sense; silver, oil are the real winners

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Frank Holmes: The Debate Between Gold And Bitcoin Intensifies

Economy & Finance:

Biden names liberal econ team as pandemic threatens workers

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At Zero Hedge: Feds Admit $2.3 Trillion In Improper Payments. A little snippet:

Dead people: $871.9 million in mistaken payments were made to dead people. Medicaid, social security payments, federal retirement annuity payouts (pensions), and even farm subsidies were sent to dead recipients. Root cause: failure to verify death. Four-year total: $2.8 billion

Ancient Americans: Six million Social Security numbers are active for people aged 112+; however, only 40 people in the world are known to be older than 112 years of age.”

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The Pandemic Public-Debt Dilemma

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At Wolf Street: US Air Passenger Traffic Skids Again, Delta & American Warn of Declining Bookings

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The BIS Issues A Dire Warning: “We Are Moving From The Liquidity To The Solvency Phase Of The Crisis”


In some web-wandering, I stumbled into this: U.S. power use to drop near 4% in 2020 due to coronavirus – EIA

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OilPrice News reports: California Is The Top U.S. Net Importer Of Electricity

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Reader E.J. suggested this article that was posted back in October: Rising Costs and Material Shortages Could Deter Housing’s Boom.  Here is an excerpt:

“As suppliers attempted to catch up on orders while demand ramped up during the late spring and early summer months, many builders were forced to place orders without concrete delivery dates or prices. The result of insufficient supply to meet soaring demand has caused prices of building materials, most notably lumber, to soar during the summer months.

According to the NAHB, the composite price of lumber has increased by more than 170% since mid-April, causing the average price of a new single-family home to increase by $16,000. The market value of the average multifamily home has increased approximately $6,000 over the same time period due to lumber prices. OSB prices have also tripled in recent months, and the average delivery times for many materials are growing.”


At The Motley FoolThe Two Things I’m Doing to Prepare for a Stock Market Crash in 2021

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Wyatt Research: Why Stocks Could Crash by 40% in April

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Over at Seeking Alpha: Tesla: The SP 500 Inclusion, The Force Of Passive Indexing And The Excess Liquidity

Forex & Cryptos:

Pound Sterling stumbles against US dollar and euro

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Ted Kavadas: U.S. Dollar Decline – December 1, 2020 Update

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China’s National Digital Currency DCEP / CBDC Overview

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Reported on Tuesday: Bitcoin Price Slides $500 Overnight, But Is A Steeper Selloff Brewing?

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Crypto trader and accused Ponzi scheme is now fighting the SEC and jilted investors

Tangibles Investing:

File under:  “I Told You So”: More Homebuyers Purchasing Property in the Suburbs, Small Towns, or Rural Areas

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Real Estate In 2020: Top Trends In A Year No One Could Have Predicted


SurvivalBlog and its Editors are not paid investment counselors or advisers. 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 closely watch specific markets. If you spot any news that would be of interest to SurvivalBlog readers, then please send it in. News items from local news outlets that are missed by the news wire services are especially appreciated. And it need not be only about commodities and precious metals. Thanks!


    1. My guess is: It looks like a roller on the bottom and teeth against the debarked section of the tree, allowing upward saw pressure for sawing upwards. Similar to teeth on a chain saw and probably the reason to debark that section to get a good bite.

      1. Sounds like a good guess, RG.
        I looked on the Internet and found this:

        “Underbucks help hold the saw in position when the saw is cutting from underneath the log. They also act as a fulcrum. A good sawyer can cut as fast—or faster—from underneath a log as from the top.
        …… When a sawyer is cutting from underneath, a downward pressure on the underbuck handle forces the saw up into the log. The sawyer does not have that mechanical advantage when cutting from the top.” … …
        …….. Some mechanical underbucks attach to axes; others are
        sheaves that fit over an ax handle; and others are standalone tools. Most underbucks have a groove or ~>>>roller on the end to serve as a guide for the back of the saw (figure5–15). This groove or roller needs to be adjusted properly to align the saw cut.

        [From: fs(dot)fed(dot)us/t-d/pubs/pdfpubs/pdf06672805/ch05.pdf [Chapter 5, page 71.] = This is an old booklet from the US Forest Service about cutting trees and logs.

        There’s a picture of an underbuck, but it doesn’t really resemble the device shown on Survivalblog. But, it might be an underbuck shown.
        I still can’t understand how the device ~underbucks work. I’d have to see one in use. The Logger/Lumberjack in the Survivallog picture looks like someone that had feared Vikings as ancestors.

      2. What the photo is not showing is that the underbuck is attached to the log being cut. The underbuck is stationary, the wheel holds the edge of the blade so it slides back and forth easily so when the guy on the other side pulls up as he’s cutting, the wheel acts as a fulcrum point allowing him to apply upward pressure on his side, giving him more pressure to bite into the wood. We better have 3AD Scout pick us up a few at the auction.

        Here’s a better photo of an underbuck.

        1. St. Funogas ‘winner of the Paul Bunyan and Internet Search award’ of the year. … The Paul Bunyan award, because St. Funogas must be a man of many skills.
          The linked photograph in his comment is the perfect explanation for how an Underbuck is used. One picture is sometimes worth a 1,000 words.

        2. Thanks St. Funogas!

          There are times you have to cut from below, because if you cut from above it will pinch the saw. I never thought about how they did that in pre-chain saw days.

  1. I work at a small construction warehouse,we are just a pimple on Home Depots butt.
    Supplies are short,prices up if we can get it.Not mentioned,but drywall also hard to get.
    We have a product that comes in 5 gallon plastic buckets.Manafacture has the product,but can’t get the buckets from their supplier…so it rolls down hill.
    We sell lots of nails/screws..not many from China..but lots of other countries and U.S.A.
    That is effected(affective?) also.

    1. I signed up for a “contractor account” at the local independent building supply chain when we oversaw the addition on our house some years back, so I get their monthly newsletter where they outline where materials costs are headed for each major class of project each month (and why) and what they are doing to try to keep all the contractors supplied. I have to say, it’s a quite educational view of macroeconomics and global trade.

    1. Hmmm, just at Walmart this morning and CCI Stinger was $3.80 for box of 50. That’s 7.6 cents a round. I bought a 1,050 round bulk pack of Blazer (made by CCI) 38 gr lead nose for $43. That’s 4.6 cents a round.

  2. You can’t have a housing boom, if the materials aren’t available. There was an article a couple months ago from Ontario that showed many developers and residential construction companies are on the verge of bankruptcy.

    Yes, the housing boom continues to be strong, but the selling and buying is contingent on being able to sell the houses that they are presently building. Many builders/developers have hit a wall. The biggest issue seems to be sinks and toilets. You can’t finish a home and sell it without sinks and toilets, and word is that these have had production issues dating back to the beginning of the scamdemic.

    Many of these developers have tens of millions tied up in homes that they can’t sell, and they’re going broke waiting. And they can’t build new homes until the old ones sell, because their money is tied up in the old ones. This could be one of those things that takes a while to be felt, but could impact the housing industry for some time to come.

    1. We’ve got two perfectly functional toilets sitting in the garage which we removed from our bathrooms when we remodeled a few years ago in good condition (they were eggshell-beige, and I wanted white). Maybe I should hit them with a bucket of bleach and then list them on Craigslist, see what I get?

      But back to your point, we’ve been waiting for FIVE MONTHS for our replacement faucet from Delta because the handle on the old one snapped and it came with a lifetime guarantee. They said they would ship it to us for free, but we’re still waiting.

  3. Guaranteed a lot of those “active”Social Security numbers are being used by illegal aliens. Back when I was a small town police detective I investigated a major theft at the local McDonald’s restaurant, a couple years after 9/11. About half of the employees were using fake Social Security numbers. When I notified the Social Security Administration’s investigators, they asked me what nationality they were. I told him they were all Guatemalans. The guy said “yeah, we’re really only focused on the Middle Eastern’s right now. “And we wonder why there’s so much fraud.

    1. Hey Spotlight, my experience has been the same. In certain occupations, 95% of the workers are illegal aliens. I worked at a place with 100+ illegals. You can spot a fake SS card from ten paces and the LEO’s all say it’s not their problem, and it’s not. If they do anything about it, the Feds tell them they’re not interested. I used to help three illegal friends do their taxes every year and they used a “Taxpayer I.D. number” for that. So even the IRS knows they’re all bogus.

      Politicians will never do anything about it. Republicans and business owners love illegals because they’re good for business in those jobs that Americans refuse to do, like agriculture, and Democrats love them because they’re great for the social programs. So that leaves nobody to do anything about it. All the screaming and posturing by politicians is just blather to keep the Sheeple happy. The one good thing about illegals is that they pay into SS every week but they’ll never be able to draw any money back out. The SS Administrations loves that since it helps keep the Ponzi scheme going just a little longer. So who does that leave to fix the illegal alien situation? Nobody.

      1. All true St. Funogas. The govt is happy to give out Taxpayer ID numbers and take in the taxes of illegals. When I was in high school and college I made a fortune cutting grass. We literally never had anyone turn us down no matter how much we charged. We weren’t landscapers either, we literally mowed the lawn and left, no trimming, etc. No kid today wants to mow grass!

  4. Garret the Supreme Court sold out the Republic. It was a 7/2 decision on not taking up the case.

    Another branch of government totally failed to do what is required.

    1. @Skip- Yes. They stabbed the President in the back, it appears. Including all three judges appointed by President Trump. Only Alito and Thomas were on our side. However, there are other suits before the court and one of them may be ruled in our favor. The Supreme court* is our last hope to avoid ‘civil’ war.

      *Supreme court is like regular court but it has sour cream and tomatoes.

  5. Many construction materials are back ordered. Many custom size windows are taking 4-6 weeks. Certain fiberglass insulation’s are on allotment. There was a supply chain issue with the raw chemicals for spray foam and that is causing delays. Drywall is difficult at times. The availability of lumber has gotten slightly better and the prices have ticked back down just a bit, but not much. Seems like some shortages are affecting different locations. Items made with PVC are another shortage that I am starting to see. Custom home building and remodels in my area have been at a peak this year. Business has been amazing and we are able to pick and choose which jobs we wish to take on. My company has been fortunate and God has blessed us. So far I don’t see an immediate decline in my market, but things can always change quickly.

  6. I shouldn’t chuckle but I am NOT surprised to see California as a major importer of energy, even with all the solar and wind farms. The reality is that California went away from dependable power sources in favor of the new and cool many years ago to the expected and predicted detriment. And it’s causing real headaches in the state. Ask the major silcon valley companies why their server farms are in places like Grant County, Washington (hint: cheap, steady power from those evil dams on the Columbia). California buys power that is often not “green and clean” despite what their companies tout.

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