What do you do when one of the very few economic analysts to predict the financial crisis would strike in ’07 or ’08 says another, even more catastrophic economic collapse will hit the United States economy in 2013 or 2014?
Do a YouTube query for “peter schiff was right” and you’ll find dozens of videos with montages of the investment broker and financial commentator making accurate predictions about the financial crisis that struck in 2007 while other analysts not only disagree, but insinuate that Schiff’s predictions were completely nuts.
In one particular video, uploaded in November of 2008 and clocking in at over 2 million views, it’s easy to see what an independent voice Peter Schiff is in the realm of economic analysis and forecasting. Schiff– a Republican who sought out his party’s nomination during Connecticut’s 2010 U.S. Senate race, a self-described capitalist who believes in free-market economics, and who says he’s proud to be a member of “the 1%”— spends most of that particular video montage arguing with many respected Republican analysts as they deride his predictions and say that the economic boom would continue with no end in sight. Watch:
An independent mindset is an important characteristic not just for politicians, but for journalists, analysts, and commentators, and in Peter Schiff’s case, independence from party-line groupthink has apparently allowed him to see and understand things that most others in his party missed.
In the exchange on Kudlow & Company at the beginning of the video above, former Reagan economic adviser Art Laffer (who justified the Reagan era tax cuts with the now famous Laffer Curve) scoffed at Peter Schiff’s prediction that America would be hit by a bad recession in either ’07 or ’08. Laffer said:
“The United States economy has never been in better shape…I think Peter’s just totally off base…I just don’t know where he’s getting his stuff.”
What follows is a series of such exchanges with other prominent conservative and Republican economic commentators like Nixon and Ford speechwriter Ben Stein. All of them could hardly conceal their disdain for Schiff’s bearish economic predictions.
But Peter Schiff was right. He said:
The Prediction: “I think it’s going to be pretty bad, and whether it starts in ’07 or ’08 I think is immaterial, and I also think it’s going to last, not just for quarters but for years.”
How did Peter Schiff know this would happen? According to his view, what was the problem?
The Problem: “See the basic problem with the U.S. economy is we have too much consumption and borrowing and not enough production and saving, and what’s going to happen is the American consumer is basically going to stop consuming and start rebuilding his savings, especially when he sees his home equity evaporate, and when you have the economy 70% consumption, you can’t address those imbalances without a recession.”
And here’s what Schiff recommended as the solution:
The Solution: “You know, rather than the recession being resisted, it should be embraced, because the disease is all this debt-financed consumption. The cure is that we stop consuming and start saving and producing again, and that’s a recession. And sometimes, you know, medicine tastes bad, but you’ve got to swallow it.”
So what do you do when one of the very few economic analysts to predict the financial crisis would strike in ’07 or ’08 says another, even more catastrophic economic collapse will hit the United States economy in 2013 or 2014?
If you’re smart, you’ll listen– at least to hear him out. Forbes reported this spring that the ever-bearish and independent Schiff is forecasting another economic crisis that will strike at the very heart of the U.S. economy, sweeping through the monetary system itself and precipitating a massive U.S. dollar and Treasury bond crisis. His analysis of the underlying economic problem and solution is essentially the same as it was when he predicted the 2007-2008 financial crisis.
Again, Schiff has a view on what the problem is: ” We consume more than we produce and we borrow abroad , but we are never going to be able to pay them back.” Not only that, but Schiff says when the economic crisis hits, your money might not be safe.
While most major banks have passed the Federal Reserve’s strenuous stress tests to ensure their viability in the event of another economic catastrophe, Schiff says those tests are predicated on another massive decline in home equity and real estate prices, which was the last bubble to pop, not the next one: “The Fed didn’t ask the banks to stress test a big drop in the bond market because that’s what coming, and the banks would fail that.”
His solution? “The more you delay it, the bigger it will be, so we need to raise interest rates during the recession to confront the inefficiencies.” It’s not just unconventional, it’s the exact opposite of what most analysts on both sides of the partisan divide would recommend and flies in the face of the Federal Reserve’s management of the crisis by frantically holding interest rates down to what is functionally a zero percent rate.
Schiff argues the easy money policies and the debt-based economy is what caused the problem in the first place and more of the same will only make it worse. Instead, Schiff believes a recession is a necessary transition of the economy from a debt and consumption-based economy to a production-based economy that creates real wealth and real jobs. He even suggests that the bad medicine doesn’t have to be all bad: “In a deflation[ary recession], real wages will rise because the cost of goods will fall faster.”
Peter Schiff’s advice may be unconventional, but his record of remarkable economic prescience makes him an independent voice worth listening to and he isn’t shy about saying so:
“All of the people who were 100% wrong [back in ‘08] are saying that everything’s OK [now]. I am telling them they didn’t solve the problem and are making it so much worse. I didn’t get lucky, I just understood the problem, and we are going to get another big one coming soon.”
The question is: Do you think Peter Schiff will be right again?