What Peter Schiff Doesn't Understand
After reading an excellent blog by Dave in Qatar about Peter Schiff, a comment answering the question posed by the blog just wouldn't do it justice. So I'm elaborating here and let me add, this pertains to many more people than Peter Schiff.
First off, I'm not a follower of the Austrian school of economics. It's too rigid for my Libertarian ways. Don't tell a bank fractional reserve banking is evil, just let the people who bank at such places take their own risks. Which is why I hate the FED so much because they are far more rigid - requiring that we accept paper notes, forcing the U.S. Treasury to sell debt via the FED, not allowing individuals to borrow at the FED window at the rates the richest bankers in the world are allowed to receive.
Before I get off tangent, and I will, lets get back to Peter Schiff. He made the great call on the housing market and he's been calling for hyperinflation. First off, Peters wrong for two reasons:
1) The Fed has printed ~ $3.5 trillion in the last two years. The US is currently a $15 trillion economy, and lets not forget to add in the WORLD economy where this money floats around, we're talking about a world economy that is approaching $85 trillion dollars. The U.S. has added 30% to our economy and some estimates for the rest of the world is about 20% more fiat currency for the rest of the word (don't ask me to cite a source because I'm pulling it out of my a**).
Therefore the world has added 20+% to its currency stockpiles, and in a normal market we'd expect to see 20+% inflation. One could argue that with fractional reserve banking you might even see 100% inflation as each dollar is loaned out over and over again. Schiff's problem is that he's assuming the extra dollars will turn into inflation, but we're in a deflationary cycle (or were) and inflation is probably alot closer to 7% annually (yes, I'm putting in FOOD & ENERGY because they are more core than TV's and Tupperware). But even if we were in a normal economy, such a dumb move by world central banks would never create hyperinflation, just high inflation. And that's why Schiff is wrong on his hyperinflation call.
Personally, I'm fulling expecting high single digit inflation for the next 5 years or more. No, I am not relying on the gov'ts phony numbers where they substitute corn oil for olive oil.
2) While I spent a lot of time on #1, #2 is far more complicated yet requires SIGNFICANTLY less words. What Shiff fails to understand, and if he does he doesn't grasp the magnitude, is how long a sham can play out. Schiff knows that a fiat currency is based in confidence and nothing else, but how long does it take to destroy confidence?
For 30 years the Egyptians have watched their economy struggle and while they've lost confidence in Mubarak, they haven't lost confidence in their fiat currency.
The smartest investors saw the crazy printing of money by the U.S. during the 1960's, but the link to gold didn't break until 1971 - nearly ten years.
CONFIDENCE is not a formula. The people can be manipulated by the media, their ignorance and the educational system. The end will come very quickly, not slowly. For example, don't expect 7% inflation in 2011 followed by 11%, 15%, 18%. It will stay stagnant for a while around 7% for five years or so, then it will hit with a vengeance - jumping immediately over 20%.
This is a tough call because I don't know the political will of the newly elected Republicans, but lets assume the new boss is the same as the old boss. The year 2016 will be absolutely devestating if the current system stays the same. Stagflation will be the norm. Oil will be over $200 barrel and the average American will be 25% poorer than today. From today until 2016 we will putter along as we are now. Then the confidence will break.
Let me add, my prediction is assuming some Volcker wannabe doesn't take the reigns of the FED.