The Armageddon Gang

Interesting article in Time magazine, The Armageddon Gang, looking at the uber Bearish crowd.

The piece starts out pretty skeptically, but eventually, acknowledges risks and issues usually ignored in family publications. Frequent BP guest Mike Panzner gets a lot of ink:

"There are those who fret that current troubles in real estate will lead to an economic slowdown, maybe a recession. Then there’s Peter Schiff. "Our standard of living is going to decline," the Connecticut stockbroker confidently declares. "There’s no way around it, and it has just started. . . "

Schiff owns Euro Pacific Capital, a smallish firm that specializes in moving clients’ money into nondollar assets like foreign stocks and bonds. Over the past couple of years, he has become a regular, hectoring presence on cable-TV business shows–on CNBC they call him "Dr. Doom." Now he has a book out, ominously titled Crash Proof: How to Profit from the Coming Economic Collapse.

It isn’t the only such cheery tome on shelves these days. In Financial Armageddon: Protecting Your Future from Four Impending Catastrophes, trader Michael Panzner warns of an economic meltdown that will lead to Zimbabwe-style hyperinflation and possible martial law . . .

We have heard such pronouncements of impending doom before, of course . . . When I bring this record up with Panzner, he has a ready retort. "History didn’t begin in the postwar period," he says. "History didn’t begin 20 years ago." Living memory includes the Great Depression, begun in 1929 and stopped only by global war; stocks didn’t fully recover until 1954. The scary scenarios painted by Panzner and his ilk are not outside the realm of historical experience. What’s more, they’re all grounded in the incontrovertible truth that much of our economic growth of the past 25 years–and almost all the growth of the past five–has been funded by debt."

What makes Mike’s book more interesting than the typical doom and gloom tome is his politics: The four impending catastrophes he discusses are pulled equally from the playbook of the Left (Massive debt, unregulated derivatives) as well as the Right (Unfunded Pensions, Social Security and Medicare entitlement programs).

Remind me to introduce Mike to Larry Kudlow next week — despite the less than sunny views in the book (which is the antithesis of Larry’s perspectives), the concern with government  guarantees and entitlement programs are right up Kudlow’s alley . . .


The Armageddon Gang
Time, Friday, Mar. 30, 2007,9171,1604936,00.html

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