Peter Schiff - Carts and Horses
In a CNBC debate last week, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich presented a set of contradictory beliefs that unfortunately reflect the conventional wisdom of modern economists. In a discussion with Wall Street Journal columnist Stephen Moore, Reich correctly and comprehensively listed the reasons why American consumers could spend so lavishly before the crash of 2008 and why they can no longer keep up the pace. But instead of making the logical conclusion that former levels of spending were unsustainable and that spending should now reflect current conditions, he advocated that government take on additional debt so that tapped out consumers can spend like they used to.
To achieve this, Reich called for lowering taxes on working Americans and raising taxes on the rich. He argued that middle-income Americans are more likely to spend additional dollars while the rich are more likely to save and invest. As a “demand-side” economist, Reich made clear that spending is superior to savings and investing as a catalyst for growth.
To put it simply: Reich believes that the cart pushes the horse. In his worldview, businesses produce goods and services simply because consumers spend. Therefore, anything that increases spending fuels growth. Unfortunately, he fails to see what should be strikingly obvious: capital formation must precede production, which then allows for consumption.