A pundit who saw the U.S. housing bubble early and predicted a collapse in home values is speaking in Minneapolis on Friday, and he wants you to pay $20 to spend your Friday night listening to him.
Peter Schiff was not the only person who saw the housing collapse coming, but he was in a minority and thus became something of an authority on the crisis as it unfolded.
Before the crash, he inspired incredulity in the people he sparred with on CNBC. There are many examples on YouTube, sets of clips spliced together by an obvious fan, demonstrating that he was correct and forceful. (There are also plenty of videos available in which he doesn’t look as smart, so judge for yourself.)
One of the favorable videos includes a clip from CNBC’s Kudlow & Company in August 2006, in which Schiff betters a feeble Art Laffer:
Laffer: “I just think Peter’s just totally off base and I just don’t know where he’s getting his stuff.”
Schiff: “One of us is off base but it’s definitely not me. It’s not wealth that’s increased in the last few years. We haven’t increased our productive capacity. All that’s increased is the paper values of our stocks and real estate. But that’s not real wealth, no more than the NASDAQ was wealth.”
Laffer: “Of course it is!”
Schiff: “When you see the stock market come down and the real estate bubble burst, all that phony wealth is going to evaporate, and all we’re going to have left is all the debt that we accumulated to foreigners against it.”
Laffer: “Peter I’m going to make a bet with you on this one. I’ll bet you a penny on this one, if you sign a letter saying that if you’re wrong, you’ll sign a letter that you were wrong to me in this, but you’re just way off base. There is nothing out there that tells us – we’re going to have a nice slowdown, but it’s not going to be a crash.”
Schiff: “I’ll bet you a lot more than a penny.”
Lately he has been talking politics on the Fox Business channel, throwing his support behind Mitt Romney’s well-reported assertion that President Obama enjoys an electoral advantage among the 47 percent of Americans who do not pay federal income taxes.
Schiff is speaking at Willey Hall at the University of Minnesota, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. He will argue the economy is not recovering.