natural gas

Marc Faber Suggests Gold Should Make Up 25 Percent Of Portfolio

Earlier this month, I blogged about how Swiss-born investment advisor/money manager Marc Faber informed CNBC TV viewers he holds physical gold stored in safe deposit boxes.

Last Thursday, the publisher of the monthly investment newsletter The Gloom Boom & Doom Report talked more about the shiny yellow metal at a CFA Institute seminar in Chicago. Gail MarksJarvis reported on the Chicago Tribune website on July 22:

Faber told the investment professionals gathered in Chicago that they shouldn’t be prejudiced against gold. Although the typical investment pro keeps less than 1 percent of his or her portfolio in gold, Faber suggests 25 percent. He sees it as protection from a dangerous combination of tremendous government debt and massive bond-buying by central banks globally trying to fight off recession with near-zero interest rates…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

MarksJarvis also noted that “Doctor Doom,” as he’s often referred to by the financial news media, thinks there may be value in precious metals mining stocks.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to regular Survival And Prosperity readers. I blogged back on May 24 about Faber’s statement the prior week to a CNBC TV audience that gold shares are one of “the most attractive assets in my view”- the others being oil and gas stocks.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; a qualified professional should be consulted prior to making a financial decision based on material found in this weblog. If this recommended course of action is not pursued, then it must be understood that the decision is the reader’s and the reader’s alone. Christopher E. Hill, the creator/Editor of this blog, is not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented on the site.)

Source:

MarksJarvis, Gail. “‘Gloom, Boom & Doom’ economist pushes for gold.” Chicago Tribune. 22 July 2016. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/columnists/ct-marksjarvis-column-marc-faber-money-doom-0724-biz-20160722-column.html). 26 July 2016.

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Marc Faber: ‘Most Attractive Assets In My View Are Gold Shares And Oil And Gas Shares’

Swiss-born investment advisor/money manager Marc Faber was on the phone with the CNBC TV show Trading Nation last Wednesday. The publisher of the monthly investment newsletter The Gloom Boom & Doom Report talked investment strategy, and shared the following with viewers:

My view is that in June, [the Federal Reserve] will not move, that they will not increase rates. And that the market will begin to perceive that the Fed wants to support asset markets, which they have stated on numerous occasions before. And that in that environment, gold, which from now on may correct maybe 5 percent or so, will start to move up again. I think an investor should understand, we don’t know how far central banks will move around the world. We need to be diversified. To own some real estate makes sense. To own some equities makes sense. To own some cash and bonds probably makes sense. And to own some precious metals makes sense. The most attractive assets in my view are gold shares and oil and gas shares. I think they still have significant upside potential this year.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)


“Marc Faber on investment strategy”
CNBC Video

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; a qualified professional should be consulted prior to making a financial decision based on material found in this weblog. If this recommended course of action is not pursued, then it must be understood that the decision is the reader’s and the reader’s alone. The creator/Editor of this blog is not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information contained herein.)

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Project Prepper, Part 44: Backup Heating For House Update

Back on February 25, I started discussing backup heating for the house my girlfriend and I purchased in 2013. I blogged:

Last Friday, incredibly strong winds (max gust speed 62 mph) pummeled the Chicagoland area. Not surprisingly, we lost power for a few hours- along with the heat. As I lay in bed recovering from the flu and buried under the covers, I thought to myself, “It’s a good thing it isn’t that cold outside today considering its February in Chicago.”

Later on I started thinking about what my girlfriend and I would do if the electricity had been out for a longer stretch of time while the outside temperatures were more “seasonal.”

I decided to look into a backup heat source for the house once I was up and about again…

I initially thought a vent-free natural gas heater, installed on a basement wall adjacent to the utility room, was the solution. But as I wrote in my last “Project Prepper” entry:

I’m starting to like the idea of a natural gas-powered stationary (standby) generator above and beyond the vent-free heater. The standby generator would allow us to keep using the furnace to heat the house and run other essentials in the event of a power outage…

Now, our HVAC guy did come out to the house to discuss a new heating, ventilating, and air conditioning system for the structure- which my girlfriend and I subsequently agreed to purchase. But not before I confirmed the setup could be tied into a natural gas-powered stationary (standby) generator down the road. When asked if he knew someone qualified to install such a generator, he informed me his brother-in-law does such work. Nice.

In the meantime, while the Chicagoland winter was pretty tame this year (especially when compared to the last two), I’d still like to bridge the gap with some temporary backup heating setup until we can afford to buy a stationary generator. I’m leaning towards picking up a Big Buddy Portable Heater by Mr. Heater after reading a number of decent reviews about the product. From its “Description” page on the Mr. Heater website:

The Most Popular Portable Propane Heater in North America. This patented radiant 4,000-18,000 BTU Liquid Propane heater connects directly to two 1 lb. cylinders and is the perfect solution for heating enclosed spaces like cabins up to 400 sq. ft. An integrated fan increases the heating capacity of this unit, blending radiant and convection style heat to give you the best of both worlds. Two swivel regulators give you the ability to adapt usage from disposable cylinders to a remote gas supply with the purchase of a single hose and filter. To light the unit, simply push and rotate the knob. The built in Piezo sparking mechanism will take care of the rest. With the Oxygen Depletion Sensor (ODS) and accidental tip-over safety shut-off, you can be sure that you will enjoy years of comfortable indoor safe heat.

• 4,000, 9,000, or 18,000 BTU per hour
• For use with propane gas
• Heats up to 400 sq. ft.
• Single control start knob
• Hi-Med-Low heat settings
• Swivel regulators
• Automatic low oxygen shut-off system (ODS)
• Accidental tip-over safety shut-off
• Connects to two 1 lb. cylinders
• Connects to a 20 lb. cylinder with optional hose
• Fan operates on 4 – D batteries or AC adapter, both sold separately


“Big Buddy- Operation and Accessories”
YouTube Video

I like the fact that the device can be used for emergency home heating. From its product page on Amazon.com:

The Big Buddy Propane Heater by Mr. Heater is the latest evolution in portable heat-with the capacity to heat up to 400 square feet. It combines radiant heat comfort with fan-powered convection heat for maximum heating efficiency, providing safe, reliable heat anytime. Use it for emergency situations, workshops, garages, storage buildings, construction trailers, barns, tents, patios, porches, cabins, fishing shanties, truck caps, barns — anywhere you want to stay warm. May also be used inside your home in case of a power outage

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Some more research is required on my end. Still, it’s nice knowing there might be a temporary backup heating option available for the house until a stationary generator can be put into play.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Project Prepper, Part 43: Standby Generator For Heat, Other Essentials

In last week’s “Project Prepper” post, I blogged about backup heating for the house my girlfriend and I purchased in 2013.

You may recall I talked about how strong winds knocked out power- and heat (electricity needed for furnace blower)- for a couple of hours late last month. I wrote:

Later on I started thinking about what my girlfriend and I would do if the electricity had been out for a longer stretch of time while the outside temperatures were more “seasonal.”

I decided to look into a backup heat source for the house once I was up and about again…

As we already use a natural gas furnace, I initially thought a vent-free natural gas heater would be a good backup heat source. Based on that initial research I did, I still think it is.

However, I’m starting to like the idea of a natural gas-powered stationary (standby) generator above and beyond the vent-free heater. The standby generator would allow us to keep using the furnace to heat the house and run other essentials in the event of a power outage. David Agrell reported on the Popular Mechanics website on January 25, 2013:

Standby generators offer a steadfast solution to extended outages. Unlike portable generators, they’re installed permanently on a concrete pad in your yard and will provide uninterrupted backup for days. That’s because they’re connected directly to your home’s electrical panel and powered by an external fuel supply, such as natural gas, liquid propane, or diesel. Smaller, air-cooled essential-circuit units… are slightly larger than portable generators and can energize just a few circuits at a time. Larger, liquid-cooled whole-house systems will do just as their name suggests—they’ll comfortably power an entire home…


“Standby Generator”
YouTube Video

According to the Generator Buying Guide (February 2016) on the Consumer Reports website, stationary generators range from roughly 5,000 to 20,000 watts and cost from $5,000 to $10,000. Yikes! Add to that the cost of professional installation. Plus there’s this from the folks over at Consumer Reports:

Guess What: You Need a Transfer Switch

What’s that, you say? Well, the short answer is that it links the stationary or portable generator to your circuit panel in one cable. Skipping it could cause appliances to fry, endanger utility workers, and damage the generator.

We recommend that you have a pro install it, and it could cost from $500 to $900, with labor…

Other items that might need to be addressed include:

• Maintenance
• Municipal ordinances
• Noise
• Physical placement

I get it. This would be somewhat of a complex and costly project to carry out.

Still, at first glance a natural gas-powered stationary (standby) generator looks to fit our anticipated needs better than just a vent-free heater for backup heating.

I’ll bring up the subject again after looking into it some more.

Stay tuned…

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Agrell, David. “Should You Buy a Standby Generator?” Popular Mechanics. 25 Jan. 2013. (http://www.popularmechanics.com/home/how-to/a8523/should-you-buy-a-standby-generator-14880060/). 3 Mar. 2016.

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Project Prepper, Part 42: Backup Heating For House

The last two “Project Prepper” posts consisted of a recap of what the series is all about and a status report for the project a little over three years in the works.

Today I want to move forward and talk about backup heating for the house my girlfriend and I purchased in 2013.

Last Friday, incredibly strong winds (max gust speed 62 mph) pummeled the Chicagoland area. Not surprisingly, we lost power for a few hours- along with the heat. As I lay in bed recovering from the flu and buried under the covers, I thought to myself, “It’s a good thing it isn’t that cold outside today considering its February in Chicago.”

Later on I started thinking about what my girlfriend and I would do if the electricity had been out for a longer stretch of time while the outside temperatures were more “seasonal.”

I decided to look into a backup heat source for the house once I was up and about again.

Fast forward to tonight. Currently, the structure is heated solely by an older natural gas furnace. And as I mentioned before, when the electricity goes, so do the comfy indoor temps.

Not good in these parts at this time of year.

Thankfully, I may have found a solution:

A vent-free natural gas heater


“Vent-Free Gas Heaters”
YouTube Video

I’m thinking of something along the lines of Mr. Heater’s Vent Free Blue Flame Natural Gas Heater (Model# MHVFB30NGT). From the Cleveland, Ohio-based heating product manufacturer’s website:

This Blue Flame 30,000 BTU Natural Gas Vent Free heater is the perfect supplemental heating solution even on the coldest days. This heater is conveniently equipped with a thermostat for superior control of the temperature in your space. Also, with a battery powered electronic ignition, starting it is a breeze – battery included. This unit can be permanently mounted to the wall or securely fastened to the floor with included mounting brackets and fasteners. A clean burning blue flame tube burner uses the natural convection of the burn to circulate warm comfortable air. With a factory standard Oxygen Depletion Sensor (ODS), rest assured this heater will provide you with years of comfortable and safe heat.

• 30,000 BTU per hour
• For use with Natural Gas
• Heats up to 750 sq. ft.
• Blue flame burner for even convection heat
• Quiet integrated blower for gentle circulation of heated air
• Thermostat for automatic temperature control
• Automatic low oxygen shut-off system (ODS)
• Legs and wall mounting hardware included…

From the Amazon webpage for this family of Mr. Heater products:

Our Vent Free heaters need no external power, great for power outages and applications with no electricity…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Bingo. Just what I’m looking for.

And consider this from Rich M. over at the Off The Grid News website some time back while discussing a different natural gas-powered heater used in the home:

There are two huge advantages to using this type of heater. First of all, they don’t need electricity, and secondly, you don’t have to stockpile natural gas. Natural gas pumping stations provide their own power, so they will probably still be operating even if there is no electricity. About the only way that they can go down is if the gas pipes are damaged…

I’m pretty sure the above applies to the vent-free natural gas heaters too.

In a significant SHTF event, natural gas may or may not be flowing to the house unimpeded. Still, for reliable backup heating after a winter storm/other emergency knocks out the power- and main heating source- for several hours or more, this type of heater might fit the bill.

More research is necessary. As luck would have it, our HVAC guy is scheduled to stop by at the end of next week to talk about a different project. I’ll make it a point to ask him what he thinks about vent-free natural gas heaters as a backup heat source around these parts, and will report back to Survival And Prosperity readers with what was discussed.

Stay warm…

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Project Prepper, Part 41: 2016 Status Report

Last week in the “Project Prepper” series of posts I recapped what the series is all about for those who didn’t already know.

Today, I’m going to talk about where the project stands a little over three years in the works.

Originally, I decided my preparedness education and activities would focus on a prioritized list of six “innate survival needs” (hat-tip Jack Spirko @ The Survival Podcast). That included:

1. Security
2. Water
3. Food
4. Shelter
5. Sanitation and Health
6. Energy

In May 2015, I split up “Security” into “Physical Security” and “Financial Security” (following Spirko’s lead). The revised list now looks like this:

1. Physical Security
2. Financial Security
3. Water
4. Food
5. Sanitation and Health
6. Energy
7. Shelter

After its adoption I blogged on May 20, 2015:

“Physical Security” is still priority number one because I predict the push for more gun “control” will continue while crime simultaneously gets worse. “Financial Security” breaks into the list at number two because the most likely disaster I see on the horizon is an economic one. “Shelter” now brings up the rear as I’ve completed that move from my Chicago apartment to a house in the suburbs (plus there’s my family’s place in Wisconsin where I spend time).

In my last “status report” (December 10, 2014), I wrote:

Decent strides have been made in the area of security… Physical security on the exterior/interior of the new house has been improved, particularly with landscaping, lighting, and locks. Personal safety gear, supplies, and tools have been acquired, with training having commenced a few years back.

Concerning water, the foundation for an emergency water supply is now in place. While utilizing some water storage containers I had prior to this project, I’ve acquired additional containers. To maintain the quality of the water for an extended period of time, I purchased aerobic stabilized oxygen. I’ve also kept a couple of cases of bottled drinking water on hand, along with an emergency water containment system that holds up to 100 gallons of fresh water in a bathtub standing by in the wings. At present, my girlfriend and I have close to a week-and-a-half supply of emergency water each (based on federal government guidelines of one gallon per person per day). Even though this is significantly more than Uncle Sam’s 72-hour recommendation, I’m not comfortable with this amount.

Concerning food, the foundation for an emergency food supply is also in place. Taking advantage of price drops and gift cards, my girlfriend and I scored a relatively-inexpensive 1-week supply of high-quality freeze-dried meals each. Like with the water though, I’d like to increase that amount commensurate with the potential emergencies I’ve identified.

Concerning shelter, purchasing that house last spring was a pretty big “prep.” And it was certainly an improvement over the multi-family housing arrangement where my girlfriend and I used to live. As much as I love the city of Chicago and would have liked to stay in our northwest side neighborhood, my girlfriend and I are much better off here in a close-by suburb, all things considered.

Concerning sanitation/health, not much work has been done in this area yet. As health is concerned, I’ve acquired a good deal of basic first aid supplies and instructional material in the last couple of years. But it’s been too long since I’ve had any training in this area. It’s one of my goals in 2015 to complete an American Red Cross First Aid/CPR/AED class and build a comprehensive first aid kit- as well as having the knowledge/skills to use it. In addition, while working around the house has been good for the body, I really need to improve my physical fitness. Not only will it help me cope with the difficult times I see coming down the pipeline, but hopefully it will keep me from having to rely on our floundering health care system as much as possible.

On sanitation, an unforeseen (and somewhat costly) improvement was carried out late last year on our sewer line going from the house. I’ll spare readers the details, but a new cleanout was added on the front of the home, and with it, a check valve. Should the city’s sewer system fail for any reason (extended power grid failure?), the valve should prevent sewage from backing up into our house and through the toilets. At least, that’s how I understand it should work. When it comes to people having to “go to the bathroom” in an extended grid-down scenario and dealing with the waste, I’m already researching a number of possible solutions.

Finally, as energy is concerned, for short-term blackouts I’ve been looking at portable generators to use at first until my girlfriend and I can afford a standby generator that can be hooked up to the natural gas line coming into the house. I’m also exploring if we can’t utilize renewable sources of energy somehow. I really hope so, because it’s probably what we’ll be forced to turn to in a long-term grid-down situation. That being said, we are limited by what we can use due to our location in a major metropolitan area.

So that’s where I stand with “Project Prepper” as 2014 draws to a close. Decent progress has been made in tackling those “innate survival needs,” but there’s still a lot more work that needs to be done. Hopefully, time and money will be on my side in the new year.

“Hopefully, time and money will be on my side in the new year.”

Regrettably, “time and money” were not on my side. That being said, I was able to make some progress on “Project Prepper.” Going down that revised list of “innate survival needs”:

1. Physical Security: Additional lighting has been added around the property to illuminate the exterior of the house. More personal safety tools and gear have been acquired, along with training material purchased from affiliate marketing partner Paladin Press.

2. Financial Security: No progress, although efforts have been ongoing since 2004. More on this another time.

3. Water: Additional water storage containers have been purchased and acquired. I bought one Reliance Products Aqua-Pak 5 Gallon Rigid Water Container
via Amazon.com to try out (review forthcoming), and have been stockpiling empty 2-liter plastic bottles.

4. Food: Nothing’s been added to the existing emergency food supply. Although regular readers of Survival And Prosperity might remember the “experimental” food garden my girlfriend and I grew last year using heirloom seeds from My Patriot Supply’s Survival Seed Vault.

Cucumbersaurus Revisited

Cucumbersaurus Revisited: It was DELICIOUS, by the way

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Despite a number of rookie mistakes and other challenges, I’d say it was a success, and I can’t wait to grow another, more expanded one this year.

5. Sanitation and Health: I wasn’t able to take that American Red Cross First Aid/CPR/AED class and build a comprehensive first aid kit in 2015 like I wanted to. I have started a new workout regimen though in an effort to improve my physical fitness. I blogged back on August 26, 2015:

As for the standards I’m shooting for, I’m leaning towards those embraced by Blackwater, Inc. Founder and former CEO Erik Prince talked about them in his recently published book entitled Civilian Warriors: The Inside Story of Blackwater and the Unsung Heroes of the War on Terror:

Our employees may have been retired from the military, but Blackwater didn’t hire your typical “retiree.” After the eight-week Moyock training programs that turned those veterans into diplomatic security professionals, our final physical fitness test standards required men to run one and a half miles in less than ten minutes, forty-five seconds; execute twelve pull-ups in a row, seventy-five push-ups done in two one-minute sets, and seventy-five sit-ups in two one-minute sets; and drag a 175-pound dummy eighty feet in under one minute

(Editor: Bold added for emphasis)

6. Energy: No progress.

7. Shelter: No progress. But to be fair, the house in the Chicago suburbs was a pretty substantial prep.

I’m disappointed I didn’t accomplish more since that December 2014 status report. Particularly as I believe time is ticking before the “balloon goes up.” From this point on, I’ll need to get “time and money” back on my side to keep “Project Prepper” moving forward. I’m up to the challenge.

More next week…

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Chicago: Prepare For Rising Electric Bills

When looking at Chicago-area properties to purchase in 2013, my girlfriend and I preferred the house we bought be “cheap” to heat and cool as we suspected utility bills would keep getting more expensive.

Luckily, the home we live in “fit the bill” (no pun intended), and just as we predicted, area utility companies keep raising rates.

This morning, I opened up my Sunday paper and spotted the following headline:

“Chicagoans’ electricity costs to rise”

Cythia Dizikes wrote in the Chicago Tribune:

Chicagoans will see a portion of their electricity bills rise in coming years because of new electric grid rules tied to the polar vortex, according to power auction results that were made public Friday.

The auction will increase part of the average ComEd residential customer’s electricity bill in 2018-19 by roughly $82 a year compared with what customers are paying now, and by about $100 a year compared with what they might pay in 2017-18, according to industry experts. The increases per month in the ComEd region are about two to three times greater than what some analysts had been predicting…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Last year, ComEd also made local headlines for higher electric bills. I noted on May 7, 2014:

Local utility and energy delivery company Commonwealth Edison is a major provider of electricity to the Chicago and Northern Illinois region. Residents of these areas served by ComEd could see their electric bills jump in the weeks ahead. Steve Daniels reported on the Crain’s Chicago Business website earlier today:

Commonwealth Edison Co.’s residential rates will rise 20 percent beginning in June as a new charge for electricity reflects rising costs to secure supply during peak-demand periods from power plants.

ComEd’s new energy charge of 7.596 cents per kilowatt-hour, filed yesterday with the Illinois Commerce Commission, is 38 percent higher than the 5.52 cents its customers are paying now…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Next up? Higher heating bills again, I’m guessing.

As I told my girlfriend at lunchtime today, it will be interesting to see how long Chicagoland residents put up with the new fee here, the tax hike there, the higher utility costs around the corner- and the rate at which they come.

The aggregate pain from all these rapid hits to pocketbooks on Main Street and down in the city can’t possibly elicit a pleasant response.

Stay tuned…

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Dizikes, Cynthia. “Chicago ComEd customers to be charged more for electricity in coming years.” Chicago Tribune. 22 Aug. 2015. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/breaking/ct-comed-charges-increase-met-20150821-story.html). 23 Aug. 2015.

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Survival And Prosperity
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