Some months ago I spoke up about how it felt being a crafter in the economy, which you can find here. Prior to the release of the Ascended crafting and salvaging for Luck it was a very poor outlook for the crafter-to-be and it seemed like the best outcome would be to purchase anything you've ever needed off the trading post and sell all your materials. In some cases this is still true, but a lot has changed in this time: the cost of blue and green rarity items, the prices and surplus of base crafting materials and the validity of being a crafter.
Prior to the update that allowed us to salvage green and blue items for Essences of Luck, there was very to little reason to salvage these items and even less of a reason to sell them to the Trading Post. These items were vendor trash that gave you pennies. However; this has changed and almost drastically in some cases. In the article I wrote before I had put up a screenshot that showed me attempting to sell a Berserker's Cabalist Hood of the Rata Sum for 1 silver and 66 copper, which was just a penny above vendor price; now, that price has almost doubled and it's actually a question if I want to keep it or salvage the item now. I have +96% Magic Find from Essences of Luck, but the question is actually if I want the materials now.
Materials have become worthwhile to have in this new economy. You want your materials so you can actually start producing goods that are worth more than the base materials. This is a sign of a worthwhile economy that has crafters gladly purchasing up basic materials from people who have a surplus, and in return those with the surplus will gladly purchase the finished outcome. This is made evident in the case of desired level 80 exotic items; or, with the new Ascended materials that can be made by those of us who pushed into the new crafting tier. Just doing some quick research told me that crafting Deldrimor Steel Ingots turns about a 1.40 gold profit per ingot, which is perfectly acceptable and encourages people to at least craft one per day to get some solid income.
However, I'm not going to say that it's all sunshine and roses in the long term. Elonian Leather Squares? You lose 37 silver per square, which is to say that the market has been flooded with Elonian Leather. It means, to me, that eventually our markets will be flooded with the new crafting materials. People aren't making Ascended items as quickly as people are crafting the materials, even with the time constraints in the early crafting stages. There also aren't alternative uses for these materials. We need more things like the Toxic consumables, which pushed the new materials and gave us choices. If we had more uses for Elonian Leather Squares than just armor crafting and one weapon recipe, we might see the price jump back up. Give me a new bag or the ability to make backslots with it. That'll boost that price up real quick.
As it currently stands, however, the best path is still to invest in temporary, holiday or completely RNG items. If you're lucky enough to get a Permanent Hair Style Contract from a Black Lion Chest you immediately have enough money to outright buy almost any legendary in the market. If you made any of the Mystic Forge Conduits or have Azurite Orbs you have a massive income of money there, too!
The best thing one can do right now, while in this particular down time between updates? Key farm for Ticket Scraps, make sure you harvest as many materials as possible and hit up a few Champion chests, Dragon Lieutenants and Dungeons (or WvW) to get the Ascended materials and ectoplasms needed for crafting. The Tickets will get you long-term investments and the materials will provide you smaller short-term sales while still giving you a chance to get jackpot on the RNG tables.
ANet still has some polishing to do in the markets and crafting, but I will say this is a major step up than where we were five months ago. Crafting is worth the investment now, we aren't blooded with materials and blues and greens are actually able to be sold on the trading post to turn some small profits. We're in the right direction, we just need a little bit more to finally get the great balance I think that we are capable of getting in this game economy.