When the economy cools, then stalls, the number one worry on everyone’s mind will be the dreaded D-word: Depression!
Though the effects of a slowing and shrinking economy will be felt for some time before then, a true depression means abject loss, going without, and a severe tightening of the financial belt, so to speak.
Though there are hardly any people left alive from the time of America’s Great Depression, we have plenty more evidence that shows us what we might be facing thanks to several other major 20th and 21st-century economic depressions in modern countries from around the world.
In short: unless you are totally financially free you had better stock up well before the fateful day arrives. When it does, things will be in freefall, and then it will be way too late.
This article will tell you about what you’ll be facing and what you should stock up on, now, before the next true depression strikes.
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Could the Great Depression Happen Again?
These days, it is trendy to assure people that something like the Great Depression could never happen again.
The issue here, though, is that if we look at all the other “lesser” depressions since then, they have in fact happened again, and again… and again!
So-called economic experts in the public eye actually have the sheer hubris to tell an unwitting public that it is in fact impossible for a depression like the Great Depression to occur once more.
Well, there is one thing I do know for sure: every economic downturn, setback, or “black swan” event makes a mockery of the predictions from a score of economic know-it-alls.
The only fact you can depend on is that the economy, in its totality, is now so complex it is entirely beyond the foresight of experts, and completely unimaginable to lay people.
We know things are bad and getting worse, and this trend will probably continue.
So while it may not be as severe or long-lasting as the Great Depression in America from way back, another “big one” depression could happen with devastating effects on people’s livelihoods and financial stability.
What Assets Hold Value During a Depression?
Before we answer this question, we need to define what an “asset” is in context.
An asset is something that is valuable, that can make you money, or anything that holds its value even when the economy takes a turn for the worse. Assets can be tangible goods or property such as gold, silver, or land.
They can also be intangible investments such as stocks, bonds, or securities. Assets, for our purposes, are things like food and water, which are essential for survival.
But if you are sticking with the traditional definition of asset as a means to maintain your finances and net worth, it is tough to predict what will or will not hold value during the next big depression.
Historical safe bets are things like real estate, which will only, ever, go up in value over time, and tangible goods like precious metals and core commodities.
Of course, when the chips are well and truly down common people will pay dearly to get the things they need to keep their loved ones healthy, and to survive.
During hard times, these basic necessities we take for granted could become geometrically more valuable.
What Assets Did Well During the Great Depression?
During the Great Depression (1929-1939), some assets fared far better than others.
Everyone just about knows by now that most stock and shareholders lost everything, or nearly so, but this was not the case for some intangibles and other “paper” assets.
Things like real estate, as mentioned, were comparatively stable if not totally safe.
Commodities such as wheat, corn, and other grains were also able to mostly withstand the blows of deflation. Treasury notes, bonds, and bills were default-proof, unlike other investments.
Does that mean you should invest in the same things? Not necessarily: so, so much has changed between here and there that there is no clear-cut, across the board answer.
Managing an investment portfolio is always tricky business, and contingency planning around a potential society-altering economic collapse is an order of magnitude harder still.
My advice? If you want to keep on livin’ stock up on things that will help you do that, and also things that you know you can liquidate to those who are truly in need- so long as they have the coin.
What Sells During a Depression?
Everything! Really. From the most fundamental foods and medicines to the most exotic of luxury goods.
For example, during the Great Depression, luxury cars continued to be made and sold because there were still people with money who wanted them, and people who had them and went bust were pawning them off for whatever they could get to before joining the masses in bread lines.
That is likely to remain the case during the next big depression, but keep in mind who the new class of buyers is.
Items that are essential for living or performing daily tasks (think food, medication, and toiletries) will always have demand regardless of the economy.
Other things, like cars, tech gadgets, and other luxuries may be in demand, or at least wanted, but there will be far fewer people with the buying power to afford them.
What Should I Buy Before Another Great Depression?
The following items represent an excellent cross-section of things that will help you both survive a new great depression, and also profit when required by selling them to others.
1. Long Shelf-Life Staple Foods
Probably the single most fundamental prep you can have when preparing for a depression is food, specifically long-shelf-life staple foods. Think about basic ingredients and bulk calories.
Things like flour, rice, beans, whole grains, and more. Freeze-dried or canned goods that can last for years are also a smart investment.
Honey is another food you should have plenty of prior to a depression kicking in, since the cost of the stuff is highly likely to skyrocket. Honey is of particular interest since it effectively never spoils even at room temperature.
So long as it is uncontaminated the worst-case scenario is that it will harden and crystallize. It is an important ingredient for other dishes, and also a great source of calories.
3. Canned Milk
Canned milk is another specialty item you’ll want to have on hand and in abundance because the cost of fresh dairy could go right through the roof depending on where you live.
The only reason most dairy products are available at modern grocery stores at all is because of an intricate and highly fragile supply chain. That is probably history once the depression strikes.
When people need milk for any purpose, canned milk is convenient and lasts a lot longer at room temperature than fresh stuff.
You might be of a mind to drink your pains and worries away during the next big depression, but that’s not why I’m advocating that you lay up plenty of alcohol and hard liquor.
You’ll want it because other people will want it for the exact same reason, and will pay handsomely to get it just to not feel miserable. It also has a secondary use for making medicinal tinctures.
5. Tobacco Products
You want lots of tobacco products for the same reason that you want hard liquor. In times of trouble, people will turn to any substance they can take away the pain or just numb themselves to it, if only temporarily.
Cigarettes, loose-leaf tobacco, dip, snuff, and the like will at the very least hold their value, and thanks to the industrialized production of these goods today are quite likely to become even more valuable during a depression once the supply dries up.
6. Hygiene Supplies
No matter what is going on, people generally want to stay clean and presentable if they can.
They might not be able to afford to during a depression, and furthermore, many such common supplies that we use for the purpose could dry up. Soap might just become a new luxury item.
In any case, you’ll want hygiene supplies for yourself so you can stay healthy and keep disease at bay, and having a surplus on hand to sell to others is just a value-add under the circumstances.
Just like the hygiene items above, women will always want cosmetics if there is any way that they can afford them.
Having these once-common items on hand might afford you considerable leverage when it comes time to bargain for other things you do need.
Even if you don’t plan on selling to anyone else, the women in your household and family will certainly appreciate you having some put back for them to use.
8. Baby Care Items
Taking care of infants is a full-time job, and it can be a whole lot harder if you don’t have the right supplies for the task.
Uncared for, babies can quickly develop skin problems and get sick, and whether you have a baby of your own or not you’ll want a supply of diapers, diaper cream, baby powder, and all of the other essentials on hand.
This is likely one of the very first categories of items that will dry up when things take a turn for the worse, so don’t wait to stock up.
During a major depression there will be millions of people that won’t even be able to afford to seek medical attention for any kind of malady they may have.
Self-medication, with real medicine this time, will be the norm but these medicines are likely to skyrocket in price and dwindle in supply simultaneously.
You’ll want a huge personal pharmacy of all common over-the-counter medications and also an extended supply of any prescription meds that you or your family members need.
Make sure you rotate this supply religiously because they do go bad over time!
10. Precious Metals
Out of all the hard commodities that you might keep on hand, precious metals are just about the closest thing to a guarantee you can get.
Silver and gold have been valuable to humans all around the world since time immemorial, and that is showing no signs of changing anytime soon.
Yes, precious metals might take a temporary dip or hit during a depression, but once things start to get back to normal it will go right back to where it always has been.
Even in the middle of a depression, precious metals can open up doors and get you favors that cash might not be able to under the circumstances.
Land, the original real estate, will be as valuable during another Great Depression as ever, and especially important if you need a place to, perhaps literally, set up camp after being displaced.
The one thing you can say for sure about land is that they aren’t making any more of it, and accordingly the value only generally goes one way and that is up.
But this isn’t something you’ll probably be able to afford in the middle of a major downturn, so you are far better off having it ahead of time.
12. Car Parts
It might sound strange to start stocking up on car parts for a depression when you have so many other concerns and priorities, but it does make sense when you consider how fragile the supply chains are that bring all these components to the market.
Bulbs, belts, alternators, batteries, and the like will continually be in high demand, whether or not they are available.
You will of course want these items for your own vehicle and also for other common makes to use for trading.
It might be a serious mistake to assume you’ll still have your usual access to the electrical grid during a depression.
First, it is bold to assume that the grid itself won’t just be another casualty of the economic downturn.
Second, you and other people just might not be able to afford it any longer. In that case, it’s lights out, unless you have a generator and plenty of fuel to make your own electricity.
Solar generators are another option and one that can greatly reduce your reliance on expensive and difficult-to-store fuel.
14. Water Filtration Gear
Aside from the electrical grid, other utilities like the public water supply might become suspect.
Barring that, displaced people or those who are forced to live on the streets or in the wilderness will be facing drinking from contaminated water supplies that can make them gravely ill.
Basic water filtration gear will dramatically reduce the amount of organic and inorganic contaminants found in virtually any water source. Essential for good health in the aftermath, and also as high-value trading commodities.
15. Hand Tools
In the middle of a severely depressed economy, as incomes start to dry up modern technology will become more and more expensive to maintain before it is eventually discarded.
Muscle power, though, will be in no short supply and you’ll see lots of people turning back to traditional hand tools in order to get things done. Get a high-quality set for yourself, and keep spares on hand to sell or trade.
Firewood is another strange inclusion on our list at first glance.
But consider that wood, despite being present pretty much everywhere in great quantity, is much better as fuel for a fire after it has been seasoned for anywhere from 6 to 12 months.
Yes, you can burn green, fresh-cut wood but it is highly smoky and very inefficient. Taking the time to lay in a huge supply of firewood now so it is on hand in the event that you need it is a wise choice.
Stock Up Now or Go Without
Don’t believe the so-called experts who claim that another Great Depression will never happen.
Never say never, and we have already seen too much to think otherwise. If those experts are wrong it will be you and everyone else who pays the price, not them.
Make sure you stock up on all of the items listed above so you are truly prepared for the hard times that lie in wait.
Tom Marlowe practically grew up with a gun in his hand, and has held all kinds of jobs in the gun industry: range safety, sales, instruction and consulting, Tom has the experience to help civilian shooters figure out what will work best for them.