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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. And it bears mention that most of these items are from the “tangibles heavy” contrarian perspective of SurvivalBlog’s Founder and Senior Editor, JWR. Today’s focus is on investing in AR-15 family rifles and lower receivers. (See the Tangibles Investing section.)

Precious Metals:

Central Banks Haven’t Bought This Much Gold Since Nixon Closed The Gold Window [1]

o o o

ETF Gold Holdings Hit Highest Level Since 2013 In January: WGC [2]


Economy & Finance:

California home sales volume lays low [3]

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At Seeking AlphaAs The Global Economy Slows, The Grab For Yield Will Accelerate [4]

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Here’s how many people Tesla laid off at its California facilities [5]


Sanctions Cut Off Venezuelan Crude Supply To U.S. Refiners [6]

o o o

U.S. Energy Exports To See Significant Increase [7]. JWR’s Comments: The construction of large coastal Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) terminals will surely generate lots of export revenue. But it will also create some very  lucrative targets for international terrorists. LNG facilities can blow up very dramatically [8], often with large loss of life. For example, the Cleveland East Ohio Gas explosion in 1944 [9] killed 130 people and burned down one square mile of Cleveland. I have read that this disaster was downplayed in the media at the time, because of “The War Effort”, and fears of a copycat sabotage attack. When LNG is spilled onto water, it can undergo a rapid phase transition (RPT)–which is very dangerous!  Beware of the Law of Unintended Consequences.



BitTorrent Token Is Already Nearly Six Times Its ICO Price [10]

o o o

Bitcoin Was ‘Total Bubble’ & 95% of Crypto ‘Will Die Painful Death’: Bitwise Exec. [11]


Tangibles Investing (AR-15 Family Rifles):

A nationwide “Universal Background Checks” (Private Gun Transfer Ban) law now looks like it has a 80% chance of passage by congress. The House version (H.R.8 [12]) has 229 [Update: 231] cosponsors–enough for passage. Meanwhile, the new Senate version (S.42 [13]) already has 41 co-sponsors. (Just 10 votes short of sure passage. Yikes!) Both bills are now headed to committee hearings, and are “on the fast track” to floor votes. Sadly, President Trump indicated that he would sign such a law [14], if it reaches his desk.

Most Americans have not yet considered the full implications of a nationwide private transfer ban. It would essentially end the privacy of firearms ownership. Nearly all transfers would have to go through an FFL (for an undefined fee) with an FBI background check. Whether it is a sale, a gift, a trade, or a loan, gun transfers would also have to be “papered” on a ATF Form 4473. The only exceptions would be gifts (not sales) within an immediate family, and transfers of antique (pre-1899 manufactured) guns.

So what does this legislative news mean to you and me, as tangibles investors? Market chaos and wildly higher prices in the near future. Bottom line: Get thee to a gun show in your state, pronto!  Bring plenty of cash and any guns that are excess to your needs, to trade. Presently, you can buy a decent AR-15 family rifle or carbine for around $450, and an AR-10 for under $800 [15]. But if the Federal private transfer ban passes… …the sky will be the limit!  In the interval between passage and its effective date, I expect the price of even just low end generic ARs to jump to between $1,200 and $2,000. High end ARs would be even more expensive. So buy all the complete ARs–or at least the lowers–you can find now, while prices are low.

Oh, and I must mention: After the dust settles on this new law, folks will wake up to the fact that only pre-1899 manufactured guns [16] will be exempt from the background checks and paperwork. So find some of those as well. Buy still-reliable cartridge guns made before 1899–preferably ones that are chambered for cartridges that are still regularly-produced by factories.

Addenda:  I am currently drafting an article titled: Becoming a Savvy Pre-1899 Antique Gun Buyer. I plan to post that in SurvivalBlog on Tuesday, February 12, 2019.



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 [17]. (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!

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#1 Comment By Big Mike On February 8, 2019 @ 7:31 am

Sounds like the next best thing is going to be the 80 percent gun market. Maybe we will see further development in the form of magnum bolt action rifles, .50 bmg etc.

#2 Comment By Tim in CT On February 8, 2019 @ 12:36 pm

Write to the President directly.
It will have an effect on him.

#3 Comment By Tetonman On February 8, 2019 @ 8:55 pm

I did and received a reply! I sent an email encouraging him to be steadfast in his fight for the wall(among other things). A few weeks later, I got an email from The White House thanking me for my support and reassuring me that he’s doing everything he can to fulfill what he promised and signed by him. Going to print it and frame it.

#4 Comment By XYnZ On February 8, 2019 @ 12:44 pm

Not to sound pessimistic but why get enthused about the pre 1899 “non firearm” thing. What’s to stop the non-elected government agency from changing the rule to pre 1850 or pre 1825? It’s like the bump stock. One minute they said it was legal and then after years say it is illegal.

#5 Comment By James Wesley Rawles On February 8, 2019 @ 12:59 pm

The 1898 Antique threshold has been set in law in the United States since 1968. So for 51 years they legislators in effect been saying “These guns are too old to be under our jurisdiction, per the Interstate Commerce Clause.” For them to now expand jurisdiction on guns that are now a half century more antique and now by attrition less than 1/2 of 1% of guns extant is highly unlikely. And such an expansion would probably not survive a court challenge.

#6 Comment By Veritas On February 8, 2019 @ 1:10 pm

I don’t understand why making a process 99% of the guns I have bought has followed will cause prices to jump and shortages in the market? The vast majority of guns in this country are sold through FFLs and they all already do these checks. Now is a good time to buy because of historically low prices and because we are between panic buys that follow school shootings and elections that look to be going Democrats way (because their platform is anti-gun). This is a stupid law but I don’t see it effecting prices at all, if anything it will calm fears of more stricter potential laws like a full AWB because the lawmakers will feel like they “did something about gun violence”.

#7 Comment By James Wesley Rawles On February 8, 2019 @ 1:41 pm

Short term perturbations of a nationwide market can be dramatic. Remember the [18], back in 1983? But here, we aren’t talking about toys. We are talking about our birthright. When your average American gun owner learns that he only has, hypothetically, just 60 days to legally buy his entire lifetime supply of UNPAPERED guns, then he is going to embark on a frantic buying spree. Gun shows will be absolutely packed, and the tables operated by private party sellers will be stripped clean. The demand for private party AR-15 family rifles and lowers will be astronomical. As I often say, the law of supply and demand is inescapable. When supply is almost fixed and demand goes up by a factor of 20X or more, I can safely predict what will happen with prices. Consider this: The current Trump Slump glut of AR-15s is nearly all in FFL channels. Those ARs won’t go up in price substantially. However, the few private party ARs that are offered for sale will be fetching proverbial Princely Sums. All that I’m suggesting is this: Since there is a roughly 80% chance that this bill will become law, it is wise to do some hedging. Don’t be the Third Guy In Line. Or, as my friend Bob is fond of saying: “Panic now, and beat the rush.”

#8 Comment By Ohio Guy On February 8, 2019 @ 1:47 pm

Pat’s review of the Ruger AR 556 compelled me to acquire. Also, a Vortex Strike Eagle 1-8×24, and a quality pair of mounts. Total $1050 plus tax. Oh, and 2000 more rounds of 40 grain 22 LR. The good ol’ fella helping me with my purchase said that he had spent $1200 awhile ago to build the same AR that I bought for $700. Keep stocking up folks, tougher times are ahead.

#9 Comment By James Chilton On February 8, 2019 @ 1:57 pm

Or people can chose to ignore the new law if it passes like they have with the magazine ban in NJ where 0 mags have been turned in. Do you honestly think it will stop people from trading, selling, loaning and gifting guns? Sure some private sales will go the legit route but majority will not comply and simple ignore these words on paper which they can’t effectively enforce.

#10 Comment By James Wesley Rawles On February 8, 2019 @ 2:04 pm

Yes, people will revert to a sub rosa market. But two things are certain if a private party sales ban law goes into effect: Prices will be higher and the available selection of gun models will be much narrower. It will become a “beggars can’t be choosers” black market. Nobody will dare advertise, hence it will all be by word of mouth, and quite localized. So I strongly recommend buying now, while prices are quite low and the selection is quite broad.

#11 Comment By BinWY On February 9, 2019 @ 3:18 am

Maybe you meant “sub mensa”?

#12 Comment By James Wesley Rawles On February 9, 2019 @ 3:35 am

I come from an Intelligence background, where sub rosa is the better-known term. But both imply secrecy. Of course I would never advocate doing anything illegal. Quietly and sans papiere, yes, illegal, no.

#13 Comment By Fred On February 8, 2019 @ 2:32 pm

Tesla Layoffs
Both GM and Nissan North America are laying people off as well. This is industry cyclical and not Tesla specific. GM tried to shut down assembly sedan plants due to unprofitable sedan sales in North America and the government, Trump specifically, told them that they can’t. So GM, mismanaged the company into bankruptcy and needed bailouts years back and now is trying to manage the company correctly and the government won’t let them. This is classic fascism, socialistic control of the means of production.

#14 Comment By No One of Consequence On February 8, 2019 @ 3:15 pm

Just out of curiosity, will newly manufactured black powder weapons be affected?

#15 Comment By James Wesley Rawles On February 8, 2019 @ 3:36 pm

No. they will also be exempt. But they are much less effective self-defense tools than magazine fed cartridge repeaters and semi-autos.

#16 Comment By No One of Consequence On February 8, 2019 @ 5:15 pm

Thanks for replying. I realize that they’re obsolete, of course. Just wondering. I didn’t figure that they’d go that far…..yet.

#17 Comment By Anonymous On February 8, 2019 @ 3:32 pm

Economy & Finance [Green New Deal]:

WSJ writer slams Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal, says it looks like Dem parody bill
By Lukas Mikelionis
(2019, February 8)
Fox News

We shouldn’t be laughing at these people, if they get elected, their ideas will be the law of the land…

#18 Comment By John D. On February 8, 2019 @ 3:33 pm

I am curious where you can purchase a firearm with out FFL (unpapered)?

#19 Comment By James Wesley Rawles On February 8, 2019 @ 3:35 pm

That is legal in about 40 States. Sales of used guns between private parties at gun shows and through newspaper want ads is the norm in those states. If you live in a gun-grabby state, then perhaps it is time to consider moving. Vote with your feet!

#20 Comment By Comingstorm On February 9, 2019 @ 2:34 pm

Jim…love to see a list of those 40 states!

#21 Comment By James Wesley Rawles On February 9, 2019 @ 3:36 pm

You need to check the laws your own state. These vary widely, and unfortunately they change frequently. The map here is good but now slightly dated: [20] (For instance, Washington recently enacted more background checks.)

#22 Comment By Thomas Benoist On February 8, 2019 @ 4:06 pm

John D.,

In my state, buying a firearm from your neighbor is treated exactly the same as buying a bicycle or a lawn mower. You agree on a price, shake hands, and trade something (cash, coin, etc.) for the firearm. You *may* agree to write out a bill of sale, or you may agree not to.

It’s no one’s business what I buy or sell.

#23 Comment By Eric On February 8, 2019 @ 5:34 pm

Please keep this thread going, lots of questions to be asked and answered.

#24 Comment By Chris in Arkansas On February 8, 2019 @ 6:36 pm

I don’t think people realize this is a de facto registration. Once you buy via a background check and FFL you are essentially on the hook for long term ownership of that firearm unless you can prove the transfer via another transfer via a FFL with a background check. So when the time comes and some government entity asks for official registration of your firearms they’ll likely know what you have already and ask why you aren’t registering it. It will take decades to eventually get everything on the books but they’ll keep doing this in incremental steps.

#25 Comment By James Wesley Rawles On February 8, 2019 @ 6:48 pm

Yep. Think of it as “generational” de facto registration. By law, every Form 4473 must be retained by an FFL dealer, permanently. And then when a dealer goes out of business, all of those 4473 forms by law must be sent to the ATF’s Out Of Business records Centers. Therefore, once “Universal Background Checks” (with 4473s required) becomes the law of the land, after one generation more than 90% of guns will have a paper trail. By two generations, probably 98% will have a paper trail. And in these days of OCR document scanning, it is just one small step to create a full blown database. But at least there will be pre-1899 guns and homemade (80% receiver) guns, as the last bastions of firearms privacy, even if H.R. becomes law.

#26 Comment By SwampCrackerYankee On February 9, 2019 @ 10:26 pm


You are absolutely correct! This is the system that was put into effect in CT in 2013 by state law. No more private transfers without going through a FFL, even if a father wants to give a rifle to his son. Over time, all firearms will be recorded into the state database. Now CT is trying to make homemade guns illegal. The statists in CT want to know where every firearm resides, and now the democrats are trying to force this tyranny on the whole country! So far, pre-1899 firearms are still legal in CT, but who knows how long that will last. Buy now!

#27 Comment By James On February 8, 2019 @ 7:52 pm

Don’t forget, too, that a number of states are proposing laws that criminalize failing to report lost/stolen firearms in a timely fashion. Add this to the paper trail of the FFL forms and the noose gets even tighter.

#28 Comment By JD On February 8, 2019 @ 6:46 pm

Buying pre-1899 items is difficult. Many times FFL’s refuse to sell antiques without a 4473, even though they have no legal reason to do so. Sometimes they tell me they can’t prove the date of manufacture, so they require either to ship to an FFL or a 4473 be filled out. I wish there was a way to show manufacture date info that could be used by FFL’s. Unfortunately most FFL’s I have dealt with don’t care about antiques, they require an FFL to ship or 4473. Pre-1899 guns available off paper are actually very hard to find.

#29 Comment By James Wesley Rawles On February 8, 2019 @ 6:52 pm

Yes, some storefront dealers can be obstinate. They are actually breaking the law by putting antiques in their books. They don’t belong in there any more than BB guns do! The best place to find pre-1899 guns is at gun shows. Bring a hard copy of my Pre-1899 Cartridge Guns FAQ with you, so you’ll have a solid reference on the 1898/1898 serial number cutoff dates.

#30 Comment By Eric On February 8, 2019 @ 6:49 pm

So, if the law is passed, the only way to profit from it is to be willing to skirt the law?

#31 Comment By James Wesley Rawles On February 8, 2019 @ 7:01 pm

Technically yes, after its EFFECTIVE date. But in the interval between passage and the effective date, we will witness a frantic nationwide free-for-all, as millions of gun owners scramble to buy what they can, legally, off-paper, inside the boundaries of the 40-odd free states. That interval might be as short as two weeks, and possible as long as four months. Remember when the Hughes Amendment passed in 1986? Gun makers did their best to crank out as many auto sears as they could, and get them registered before the law took effect. Ditto for the Federal magazine ban, back in 1994. It also had a brief window of opportunity. A lot of gun magazine makers transitioned to two shifts of production per day, during an interval of just a few weeks. And needless to say, quality control suffered. Again: Panic early and beat the rush.

#32 Comment By Tex On February 8, 2019 @ 6:51 pm

What would enforcement of the new law for private gun transfers even look like? If it is (and I believe it it is) unenforceable, what pitfalls exist in intrastate commerce of buying/selling a firearm from someone you know?

I think this is a “feel good,” law for the lawmakers, and the morons that elected them. It is, though, getting us closer to an all-out assault on gun ownership. They can only poke a sleeping giant so many times…

#33 Comment By Eric On February 8, 2019 @ 8:34 pm


So, let’s say I buy a bunch of ARs in Hopes of making profit when I resell. I can’t sell them, off paper, AFTER the effective date, correct? If I sell AFTER the effective date, legally, they must go on paper, correct? So, the price bump would only have to do with the guns being OFF paper, correct?

This sucks ass because gun laws are pretty damn draconian with sentencing.

Did I get anything wrong? There is no way to profit unless you are willing to skirt the law.

#34 Comment By James Wesley Rawles On February 8, 2019 @ 9:18 pm

For the record: I am NOT advocating breaking any laws. What I’m referring to is just the brief window of opportunity that will exist after the bill is passed and before it becomes enforceable law. There is always a time lag. So let’s say, hypothetically, that TOMORROW you go to a gun show with $4,800 in cash. You find six quite nice but slightly used AR-15s or M4geries on the tables of private parties, for around $800 each. You bring them home, clean them, and oil them. In April, the news hits that both the House and Senate have passed the Private Transfer Ban. (“Universal Background Checks”.) The market for ARs immediately jumps. ARs then sell for between $1,200 and $2,000 each. A few days later, the news AnchorBabe reports that President Trump has signed the bill, and that it will go into effect on June 1st. The price of ARs jumps again. Now they are selling for between $1,800 and $3,000 each. Over the course just the next two or three weeks you sell all six of those ARs to folks in your town for an average of $2,300 each. Gross sales: $13,800. Net Profit: $9,000. Not a bad return on investment, for just a few months.

What to do with the profits? Go to the gun show and spend that on common caliber pre-1899 cartridge rifles, before people catch on to the significance of their Federally Exempt status. Lather, rinse, repeat.

#35 Comment By SwampCrackerYankee On February 9, 2019 @ 9:42 pm


If you sell those six ARs you bought in a two week period, what is the chance that the BATFE would arrest you for being in the business of selling firearms for profit? BATFE is very vague about how many firearm sales constitutes a business.

#36 Comment By James Wesley Rawles On February 9, 2019 @ 10:34 pm

The few prosecutions that I’ve heard of use “making a principal livelihood” (as a firearms seller) as their claim/argument for conviction. If someone makes $90K per year, then an EXTRA $9K in just one tax year could hardly be argued to be their principal livelihood. No sensible jury would return a guilty verdict.

#37 Comment By JD On February 8, 2019 @ 8:53 pm

I’m in agreement with JWR 100%. For those doubters in some of these comments, now is the time to stock up on firearms.

Just look at the outrageous/unconstitutional gun laws recently passed through governorships across the Land of the Free because of the Brave.


////notice the war on cash in the Maryland Bill – no guns to be purchased by cash but CC only \\\\\\\\. Don’t think for one minute that the NSA super computer in Bluffdale, Utah doesn’t have all your Credit Card transactions stored to create a profile of you and your loved ones…

Here’s the one JWR is talking about passing both houses of congress (HOR, Senate), the next stop is the POTUS signature.


So this is getting “scary” they first tossed the gun control term around for two decades, it’s now having a foothold. So now they are stripping your constitutional rights removing certain magazines, calibers, gun stocks, unlocked magazines required a minute with a tool to switch (CA only), length of barrels, suppressors (illegal in many states), CCW permits, and redefineing over and over what an assault rifle is….

Please see a pattern here. They really don’t care about magazines, suppressors, bump stocks, or even your barrel length–they the Marxist LEFT in Congress want total disarming of Americans.

They are gunning for your guns! Pun intended! Stock up now. They also want to remove cash transactions for gun/gun accessory purchases (look no further than the Maryland Bill above).

I recommend writing, calling, and organizing marches to secure our freedoms. Otherwise we will need to use our guns to remove those legislatures in order to secure our freedoms. Look we as Christians are not going to allow this to happen, as deep down in our spirit this is wrong. We need to be proactive now and start harassing these LEFTists until they stop–otherwise this will go to war.

Hope you’re listening.

#38 Comment By juniebjones On February 9, 2019 @ 12:19 am

Question for clarification: I read the text of the House bill, but it said nothing about exempting guns that are inherited. Are inherited items considered “gifts” under the proposed statute? Thanks.

#39 Comment By Eric On February 9, 2019 @ 12:25 am


I didn’t think you were advocating breaking the law, I just didn’t see what you were saying. You’re saying the time between signing of the bill and the effective date, there will be a shortage of guns and that will cause the spike in price.

#40 Comment By Don in Oregon On February 9, 2019 @ 2:27 am

Oregon banned private party sales a while ago.

I have heard about people selling a gun to a private party, and providing a bill of sale with a date that predates the ban.

So the seller commits a crime but the buyer ends up with an unpapered firearm with a document to back it up. Naturally the price of the firearm reflects the risk taken by the seller.

But the gun has to be bought pre-ban and the bill of sale has to be dated post-original purchase, pre-ban.

As James says, window closing.

#41 Comment By Dan On February 9, 2019 @ 6:58 am

Going the 80% Lower route. Haven’t found manufactures in the Redoubt yet unfortunately.

#42 Comment By James Wesley Rawles On February 9, 2019 @ 3:41 pm

Ceratac is in Wyoming, but I’m not sure where all of their 80% lowers are made. See: [25]

#43 Comment By Anonymous On February 9, 2019 @ 1:53 pm

Isn’t the real issue when they put restrictions on parts sales

Make it impossible to buy parts and you end up with defacto gun confiscation fairly quickly. You can have all the private sale guns you want, but without the springs, buffers, pins .. they’re a nice plastic club

#44 Comment By Dan On February 9, 2019 @ 4:34 pm

If I were part of the “gun grabber” crowd, that’s exactly the angle I’d take; especially on ammo. I’d go after primers, powder and lead.