Market Watch: Peter Schiff Says We are Not in a Bear Market, We are in a House of Cards that the Fed Built

December 20, 2018

Article by Mark DeCambre in Wall Street Journal Market Watch

Where in the world is Peter Schiff, as the stock market entered an apparent unraveling phase? Find the chief executive of Euro Pacific Capital, a longtime gold bug and market pundit, on a beach in Puerto Rico, where he’s taken up residence as he watches the equity market get rocked.

“I’m watching the U.S. economy implode from the beach,” Schiff told MarketWatch during a recent phone interview. “We’re in a lot of trouble,” he said.

“This isn’t a bear market, we’re in a house of cards that the Fed built,” he said.

Indeed, despite recent attempts to rebound, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is on track for its worst year since 2008 — down by about 3.5% — when the financial crisis brought global markets to their knees, according to Dow Jones Market Data. The same goes for the S&P 500 index which would also notch its worst year in a decade, if its roughly 4% decline thus far this year hold.

The prominent investor should be worthy of investors’ attention, on the back of his prescient calls ahead of the 2008 financial crisis, which earned him plaudits as one of the few able to spot a global economic crisis emanating from the housing market.

Signs of inflation in the broad economy have been elusive still, but Schiff says inflation has taken hold in the lofty prices of stocks and other assets and predicts that they will gradually shift to higher prices for consumers.

Schiff says that this time the crisis, part two, will be worse and that policy makers have essentially papered over problems and set the stage for an economy that is unable to cope with higher interest rates after a decade of easy-money policies.

“Markets are starting to crack as this debt is getting more expensive to service,” he said. “We built this gigantic bubble on this unprecedented amount of cheap money and quantitative easing, and now the hangover will be much worse,” Schiff said.

The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board on Tuesday made the case that the Fed needs to pause its interest rates hikes, which appeared in the publication a day after the duo of hedge-fund luminary Stanley Druckenmiller and Kevin Warsh, a former Fed official, made a similar entreaty in an op-ed titled Fed Tightening Not Now.

Schiff says it won’t matter what the Fed does Wednesday (policy makers tightened as expected), with a rate increase of a quarter percentage point anticipated. “I think what’s going to happen is the Fed is ultimately going to take rates back to zero,” he said.

That sounds like a bold call, given that the U.S. economy has remained mostly strong as reflected in the jobs market, even as the rest of the globe has been consistently demonstrating signs of economic weakness.

For Schiff’s part, he thinks the Fed isn’t just making policy mistakes, he thinks that Powell & Co. don’t appreciate how fragile the economy currently is: “They don’t realize how bad the economy is just like they didn’t realize how bad it was in 2007.”

To read this article in Wall Street Journal Market Watch in its entirety, click here.

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