Ron Paul participated in the Kitco Metals eConference via webcam. He talked about the causes of our current economic crisis and his predictions for the future.
Ron Paul: They are the enemy and the answer that we have to give is an alternative to that, and that of course is sound money, following the Constitution, limited government, private properties, contract rights, all the kind of things that created prosperity in this country at one time. I think the election will go favorably for the Republicans and I believe they most likely at the polls will take over the House and even possibly the Senate.
But they’re not going to change anything, they’re not going to repeal anything, I don’t think Obama is going to be as cooperative as Clinton was when he lost the House and Senate in 1994. I think he’s going to be very determined, so there won’t be a lot of repealing done. But the important thing though from the viewpoint of our finance of our country, I think it will slow things up a little bit. They call it gridlock and when they used gridlock on the TV, they make it sound like “oh, those horrible people who want to have gridlock.” Believe me, compared to what we’re having today a little bit of gridlock would go a long way. So I’m all for the gridlock.
But I’m also for eventually changing the whole system, because I’m an advocate of free market economics, I believe in Austrian economics, I believe in the gold standard, I don’t believe in the Central Bank, I don’t believe in fiat money. And I believe the answer to our problems can be found, not only with our Constitution but with sound economic policy.
When we got into this crisis, most people date the current crisis at 2008. I happen to date the crisis, the slumping economy from the year 2000. And I don’t think we’ve improved very much over that period of time and things have gotten worse. And we tidied things over with the housing bubble, but I think the economy right now has not responded at all to doing the things that Congress has done and the Federal Reserve. And we who believe in the free market shouldn’t be surprised.
The individuals, whether they’re political or economic, predicted, those who predicted the economic crisis were never listened to, and a lot of times you hear on TV “oh, we’re surprised, we’re shocked that we had a downturn.” Yet there were a lot of people predicting what was coming, and those individuals were able to protect themselves individually and they knew about the significance of investing in gold and other commodities.
So in this period of time though from 2008, it was decided that we had to do something, we had to rush to the rescue. Well we got into the crisis because of this belief in central economic planning, that spending was good, deficits were fine, borrowing was okay, and regulation would solve all our problems. Every time we get into trouble we regulate, just think about, happened after Enron, we passed, the Republicans passed the Sarbanes-Oxley Bill, so that’s what got us into trouble.
So what have we done since 2008? We spent much more, we borrowed much more, we inflated much more, doubling the money supply, and then we go and pass this financial reform package, massive amount of new regulations and they wonder “why hasn’t the economy responded?” In this period of time, the Fed and the Congress injected $3.7 trillion and guess what? There’s been no significant increase in the GDP from 2 years ago. Matter of fact, in real terms it’s actually down. So you say “Where did the money go? We’d just pass it out we might have been better off, or if we just repealed the income tax would have been a lot better off.”
But it didn’t work at all, because all it did was mostly used to buy up bad assets, the worthless assets, taking them off the hands of the bankers and the investors and Wall Street, speculators and was put in hands of the tax payers. Now we own that, and they never have come, now they have a commission up there studying the financial crisis. The members are not free market economists and they never call free market economists that might have predicted the problem in to testify. So they just go on their way, so there is no reason in the world to expect the current the crop of politicians and economists in Washington, will do anything to help us, they’re going to make it much much worse.
As I said, I believe the real correction started in 2000. Of course the bigger bubble began in 1971, that’s when I got really interested in economic policy and ran for Congress first, it was the breakdown of Bretton Woods, which meant to me, that there would be no more restraints on the politicians to spend and of course we had massive inflation and devaluation of the dollar and endless…
We did have recessions and they were able to come by and patch things over, there’d be a leak in the bubble and they could pump harder and it seemed to help. But finally the hole in the bubble is so big, it burst in 2008 and they’re pumping hard and hard, the faster they pump the faster the stimulus flows out and it doesn’t do any good. But since the year 2000, we now have 2.3 million less people working, 2.3 million less people working. I mean there are lot more jobs lost in that decade, but we have 2.3 million less people working, at the same time our population increased 26 million. So you know there’s a lot of people out there that aren’t working and are having tremendous amount of trouble.
One thing that might occur even before the election, we might hear about that next week, is there’s a tendency for people in Washington and even in this country to blame others for our problems, it’s never our fault. So if there is a trade imbalance, it’s somebody else’s fault, and if we can just change the exchange ratios, everything is going to be okay. But there is a strong movement in the Congress to demand the Chinese raise the value of the renminbi. And that will restore trade balances with China, so it’s said. I think this is, there’s probably some truth to the fact that it might be artificially strong and they want to do that, but what do we do? We have an artificially weak currency, we’re manipulating our currency all the time. It was a reserve currency, we destroyed the value of the currency, so for us to be telling other people what to do with their currency is I think beyond me.
But if they have their way, if Congress has their way and try to punish the Chinese, it really doesn’t serve our interest long term, it’s sort of a benefit, we buy goods, we give them paper dollars and they buy our bad debt. And besides, if there is a rearrangement in this currency agreement between the dollar and the renminbi, that means our cost of goods will go up. It’s literally a tax on the consumer here, so it won’t matter, that means to say it did work in that sense, the Chinese would end up with less dollars and there will then going to be less likely of course to buy our debt, which I think they’re already getting to that point.
I believe right now, we’re in the midst of a bond bubble which is part of a dollar bubble, and they’re trying to revive the economy that way. The housing bubble is behind us and it’s going to be a long time before they allow things to happen, of course the correction is to allow bankruptcies to occur, liquidate bad debt, and liquidate bad investment and yet all they know in Washington is another bubble, so everybody is pouring in to the bonds and even though the dollar is weak, it still is way too strong as far as I can see, because people still trust the dollar, they still trust us, we still have a lot of wealth, we still have the military power. So there’s an artificial trust in the dollar, but I think it’s coming to an end.
I think the most fascinating thing that I watch in the financial or the dollar market is how often foreigners are still buying our debt. Just this week, foreigners bought up $10 billion worth our debt and sometimes they buy more, and the last year they bought $400 billion of debt, which to me means that others are monetizing our debt and I think there’s arrangements between our Central Banks and this is why I wanted to audit the Fed, to find out what these international arrangements are, because they can literally extend loans and guarantee loans and they can make deals with other Central Banks.
They can buy off our debt and play these games, but they do not want us to know about what’s happening and that is why, even though we had 320 cosponsors on that bill, you only need 218 to pass, that is the Audit the Fed bill, they were able to remove it, we passed it in the House, they removed it in the conference mainly because the Senate wouldn’t go along with it and the Fed was all that powerful. It shows you how powerful they are and how determined they are to preserve their power to create money out of thin air.
But one thing good came of this. In these past 2 years, the public has become very interested in the Fed like never before. I think there’s more public interest and understanding of the Fed than has been since it’s been established, which means it’s a little bit different. In the past the Fed has got a pass, what would happened is if there were good times in the bubble formation, the Fed got credit for it, and then when there was a correction, we had a recession that was controllable and then the Fed came in and they inflated and they stimulated growth again, and they got credit for getting us out of the recession, but I don’t think it’s going to happen anymore. I think the Fed is on the defensive, they’re still very powerful, it’s going to be very difficult to overcome. But you have to overcome it intellectually first and average people in the streets today know something about the Federal Reserve.
I am very impressed when I go to the college campuses and a lot of young people are reading about the Fed and they’re studying Austrian economics and they’re starting to understand this. So I think a lot has been achieved, even though that bill wasn’t passed. If we had passed the Audit the Fed bill, it wouldn’t have automatically revealed everything we want to know about the Fed, it would have been fought in the courts and they would have obstructed, it would then very very difficult.
Now, my position on the Fed is that it’s unconstitutional, should have never come about that, we should get rid of the Fed, I don’t think the Fed if I had my druthers, I wouldn’t turn the key and get rid of it in one day, my position is we should have competition and competition will take care of it. We can go from a competitive currency with gold and silver against paper and eventually we’ll win out. But they’re not going to allow a competing currency, but the Fed will go at least under the [conveys] condition as the dollar will go. And that is what I dread, I think things have been really tough in these last 10 years, really tough in these last two years and yet I think the really thing to worry about is a collapse of the dollar.
Now, the reason why there’s so much support for the Fed and the system of money that we have, is that the majority of the people in Washington like big government, and the majority of the American people like big government because whether we had a conservative administration or a liberal administration they really didn’t care about deficits, and nobody really likes to raise taxes to pay all the bills. So therefore they spend, they get reelected and everybody is happy and they borrow here, tax here, then they inflate.
But that is coming to an end, I think that is what we’re hearing and I think that’s what we’re hearing from the Tea Party movement that you just don’t go out and brag about all the money you get back from Washington, that’s very healthy. That you actually tell the truth and say that it’s time to cut back, but the real problem with the system we have has been a seductive way to finance big government. Whether it’s for the welfare recipients here at home, whether it’s for corporate welfare, but also for the military-industrial complex and for subsidizing all that we do overseas which I see is very very harmful to our economy. We can’t spend a trillion dollars which is now estimated to cost us to run our operations overseas, we can’t continue to do that. So I see that coming to an end.
I think the Soviet system was great that they came to their knees, we didn’t have to fight them yet we were in a cold war with them for a long, long time. So they were brought to their knees, but we can as well, we can do that as well. So I look forward to what’s happening right now and the people are waking up and to me that is the best news that we have today. Because ultimately what takes care of us is not the way we invest our personal funds, that’s very important. Just think how important it is for every individual that has the knowledge to be able to protect and if the crisis gets much worse they can take care of themselves, that in itself is very, very valuable. The more people that know about it, easier is to pick up the pieces.
But ultimately that is not it, there’s no secrecy anymore, and there’s going to be more and more invasion of our privacy. Now today if they want to look at a satellite picture, they can tell you how many cars are in your driveway, so it’s not easy to escape the hound dogs no matter going around the world or elsewhere, they will send the satellites and take their pictures and now they can control weapon systems from the states and hit any spot in the world.
So the investment I call for is the investment in liberty, the investment in liberty because time and energy and money, it’s not because you feel generous but out of self interest, we must invest to protect liberty and protect our rule of law and if we did that, we would have some tough economic times but it wouldn’t take long, in a year or so after the correction, we’d all be back on our feet again and we could restore prosperity, which then would be permanent.
And I think that’s approximately 15 minutes so I will go ahead and pause there and see if we can get some questions.
Moderator: Anybody have any questions?
Ron Paul: Okay, here’s the first one I see here. “You have been quoted as saying you would disband the IRS and the Fed, how would you then raise money to run the government?”
I get that question a whole lot and I would say, well, how did we run our government before 1913? We didn’t have the Fed to print the money and we didn’t have the IRS to collect our taxes. I wouldn’t replace it, and you say “what are you going to replace it with? A sales tax or whatever?” No, I would only replace it by having constitutional government, get rid of the welfare state and bring our troops home and don’t have a warfare state, don’t support the military-industrial Complex. But if you get rid of the income tax and you get rid of taxes and you believe we can still run the world with a world empire and have endless prosperity by just bailing out everybody… everybody who has a need just go to Washington, as we are doing and as the states fail we’re going to bail out everybody, but that will end so I would say you do not need an income tax if you have a government that is proper sized.
Okay, I don’t see another question as of now, how would you… if under those circumstances, if you do have to raise money initially in our history what happened was they had franchise taxes and some import taxes, but they were rather minimal. So it is the role of government that really counts. I want to mention that my questions are not coming up and my clock is not working, so if I have to stop or go over, but if somebody can give me a question, or I’ll think up something else to say if you want me to. Because I could talk about Basel 3 or something like that, if we don’t have a particular question.
Matter of fact, I will until I see another question, I think what I might do is talk a little about Basel 3 because they are meeting there right now, matter of fact that meeting might have ended. I don’t expect anything to come out of that meeting in Basel, Switzerland, there may be some announcement that might move market but I think it’s really irrelevant long term. They’re going to talk about capital standards and reserve standards and who’s going to get stuck with…
Moderator: Can’t reopen this…
Ron Paul: This meeting is that those individuals participating there, what they’re doing in the backroom is probably much more important that you’ll ever hear about, because I think they know a lot about what we know and worry about our currency and inflation and the seriousness of our problem. So I am confident that they are talking about and already thinking about another world currency because they’re not going to pass my bill and legalize a competing standard. But one thing Basel 3 will not consider, if they won’t consider the principle of the lender of last resort, which is what our Fed is supposed to do, that is print money if anybody needs it.
And also it will not be challenging and questioning the principle of fraction reserve banking, they won’t challenge the whole principle of fiat money, they won’t challenge the idea of government insurance and guaranteed all these mistakes, all they’re going to do is talk about regulating because they’re not going to have another crisis, they think they can offer this seriously flawed monetary system that is going to always generate bubbles and think “Oh, if we just had sophisticated regulation, we’re going to prevent all those problems.”
Now I think I have another question here, it says “With interest rates near zero marking a turning point in bond yields from a peak in 1971 when capital flows from US and…”, well I’m not sure I see the end of the question. Well okay, I think I might guess what he’s asking about… “be able to…” Okay, he was bringing up the subject of very low interest rates and of course when Bernanke and others come to the committee, the banking committee I frequently bring this up because of course low interest rates of 0% percent aren’t market, this is all price fixing by the Federal Reserve believing that they can solve the problems in the economy by having interest rates at 1% and everybody is going to say “Oh, great I’m going to go out and build more houses.”
In Washington they want low interest rates and they want to stimulate housing when we have millions of houses are unsold, so they’re doing exactly the wrong thing. When I challenge them on the manipulation of interest rates, the last time Bernanke was before the committee, I tried to bring up the moral issue because he wasn’t interested in my economic or constitutional argument. But what right does he have to set interest rates for CDs at 1% for somebody who is frugal, saves their money and they want to take care of themselves. And yet if we had a market rate of interest they might be making 6%. “Oh well, that’s different,” sort of the price they have to pay, but to me it’s bad economics and it’s bad constitutional law, it’s bad morality because interest rates are very low.
But they keep buying these treasury bills at, when they’re earning essentially no interest, but just think nobody would buy treasury bills when they were earning 15% in 1980, so, but that’ll change, it’ll change, if it doesn’t change that means they have cancelled out the laws of nature, the laws of economics, that you can create something out of nothing and it just doesn’t work. They can be fooled for a long time, but if you print a lot of money eventually the confidence will be lost and I think we’re getting precariously close to that point where that confidence will be lost.
Okay, let’s see. “How high we can expect gold prices to go?” Well it depends on how low you expect the dollar to go and I think the dollars potentially could be defaulted on completely. It’s a possibility. Most likely they’ll stop it and come to their senses, they’ll probably save the dollar but not under current conditions. But if they keep doing what they’re doing which they’re going to for a while and its’ not going to change after the next election, it’s virtually impossible […] and say “I believe gold is going to be a lot higher.”
All I know is when I was very very impressed on August 15th of 1971, gold was $35 an ounce, all I knew is they were going to print a lot of money, slowly over the years buying gold as it was going up made a lot of sense, but I didn’t predict and say “Oh, you know in 5 years it’s going to be such and such,” and I didn’t know that we would have about 18 or 19 years where the gold price hardly moved. But I think under today’s circumstances we’re going to continue to see gold go up and it’s going to go up into the thousands of dollars in my best estimation.
I can tell you one quick little story about going to see Volcker one day one morning with a private meeting, it was 1979 when gold was at $700 or $800.
And when he walked into the meeting he went to his aide immediately, not to me to say hello, he went to his aide and the first thing he says “What’s the price of gold?” So Central Bankers watch gold, they know that the gold price is a vote against what their job that they’re doing and that is why I believe they’re very much in the business of making sure gold prices are lower than the market would be, just like they kept gold at $35 an ounce for a long, long time and then they had to throw in a towel and gold surges up. So I think that is the same thing that’s going on today, but literally it’s going to go thousands of dollars.
“Dr. Paul, is Congress finally going to be able to do an audit on our global reserves in Fort Knox, if so what time frame for that?” Okay, he’s asking about the audit of the gold reserves which I mentioned on a program on Kitco I believe, a program recently and the bill will be introduced. I’ve introduced this bill in the past and I’ve talked about it in the past, but during the Gold Commission in 1981 I brought up the subject to recommend that we had a gold audit and 15 of the 17 voted against the audit. But we haven’t really had a serious audit probably for more than 60 years.
The bill is going to have difficulty passing. I hope I’m successful with getting cosponsors on this as I was with the Audit the Fed bill, but there should be no reason in the world that a single person in this country or a single member of Congress wouldn’t say “transparency of government is good, we ought to know if the gold is there, who knows we might need it someday when we might have to have a gold standard to do something with it, so we ought to know if it’s really there.” We do know that western banks have sold a lot of gold, and they’ve loaned a lot of gold. So even if we walk in and they show me and they say “There it is, all that gold what are you worrying about?” I won’t know what kind of agreement they’ve had, what kind of swap arrangements they have. So you really have to be able to internally audit a lot of what the Fed does and what the Treasury does to find out exactly who owns that gold, but I think this is a very important point but I don’t think it’s going to happen in the near future.
Once again, I’m not positive about my time so if somebody can let me know…
Moderator: 25 minutes.
Ron Paul: Okay, we’re going okay then. “If the Fed does not have the gold reserves that it purports they have, how will this affect our ability to return to gold?” Well, if we don’t have any gold it would effect it a lot, it wouldn’t prevent it, but it would be better to have a transition, I’ll tell you what, a lot of us have already gone on our old gold standard. If you are an investor in gold and you’ve been buying for years your reserves are in gold, so fortunately one of the best things that happened to us and for us in the gold issue was the legalization of owning gold.
When I first started buying gold, we played these games where we had to buy a numismatic coin from Mexico that was backdated to 1947, but now it’s legal to own gold, so if we have more time to have this transition, to have more people investing and buying gold and just legalize it, the gold would be there, and the dollar hopefully would hang together and people can, we could work out a transition. But if tomorrow we have a total dollar collapse and we want to start a gold standard and say “Look, what we’re going to do at the Fed now is we’re printing no money and we’re going to have a reserve of $5,000 or $2,000 and we’re going to live up to that reserve.”
But if they say “we don’t have the gold” why should they be believed. When we went back on the gold standard after the civil war, it was a non-event, it was a 3 year period it gradually went back to $20 an ounce. But then people trusted the government, we didn’t have a welfare state, we weren’t the policeman of the world, so even today going back to the gold standard is not easy. You have to have a believable government, you have to believe in, they’re not going to run debt, they’re not going to be involved in constant war and you’re not going to have a Fed that will abuse the system, you really can’t have a fractional reserve standard and that is why in a short run I’m pessimistic that one of the best things we can do in order to be prepared for this, is more and more people be involved and protect themselves one way or the other of course. Financially very important but like I said earlier, we should also invest some time and money into promoting the right values and right economic policies.
Okay, where are we? You have said that the Federal Reserve System… well it’s not doing real well. The Federal Reserve System has led too much more… I think the questions have to be shorter to fit on the…
Moderator: Okay, more volatile economic and financial conditions however dated demonstrates that real economic growth has been less volatile, bank bailouts would be worse.
Ron Paul: If we had bailed them out.
Moderator: He’s making an argument that says the Fed actually stabilizes which I think is predictable.
Ron Paul: Yeah, this is the arguments made, did not the bailout and the Fed going in and rescuing all these bad loan. Yeah, I think they’ve got a stabilizing effect, but once again, only because it restored a little bit of the bubble, it didn’t liquidate the debt, all it did was it stabilized to the point where the people who didn’t deserve to be bailed out got bailed out, that is, the Fannie Mays, and the Freddie Macs and the people holding securities, the Fed bought $2 trillion of debt. So that stabilized is it fair and will it last? I think it’s very unfair and I don’t believe it’s going to last because it is done by the creation of new money.
But on a short run just like coming out of recession you say well “Didn’t you want to paper over and spend more money and print more money to get out of those recessions?” Well not if you want long term prosperity or if you want to be fair, but it is, it’s sort of like taking a drug though, the drug has worked to a degree but is going to harm. I mean, you might argue this case that there’s been stabilization, but for whom, how about the people who are losing their houses? This whole welfare system was based on the fact “Oh, we can give everybody a house, they don’t have to have a down payment, they can borrow against it and the price will go up forever” – they’re the first ones to lose their job and lose their house, so they’re not very stable.
Unemployment is a lot more than 9.7%, it’s really over 20% real unemployment rate, so it’s very unsound and I think that instability for the middle class has been going on for 10 years. So the fact that the bankers stabilized and now are cash flush and making money because they get money for free and then they buy a treasury bill for a percent or two higher and they make money on this and nobody gets to borrow the money, I would say that kind of stability is nothing more than, if the cancer patient comes in and they’re hurting he’s “We don’t want to give you a serious operation, what we’re going to do is dope you up with morphine and you’re going to feel better.” Well, I think that feeling better is limited.
Moderator: At today’s prices is it difficult is it difficult for people to have a position in the future, that’s a question about silver. Yeah, will silver be a better investment or a better…
Ron Paul: Okay, I will talk a little bit about silver and position in gold, when I think of a position in gold, I think of ownership of gold unless you’re very good at trading and options and futures and all that, that’s for somebody else and I like people to hold their gold as insurance policy and not so much as an investment. I think silver, I guess it’s been maybe 10 or 15 years or even longer. The statistics were there: “There is a shortage of silver, we’re using more silver that we produce and there’s too many stockpiles and coming out this government vaults and that’s quite a market it’s flooding… but, we’re soon going to get to that point where silver is going to explode” and I keep thinking well I sort of believe that, but it never seems to happen. But I think right now we seem to be getting very close to that we thought with silver at $20 an ounce, it’s so much different.
The atmosphere today is so much different than it was when a few people tried to corner the market in 1970 and it just blew off like crazy and went up. The $800 gold was really artificial at the time and it settled down rather quickly. But $20 silver today, the way that looks to me is very, very solid, and I think if I had to, I like them both because I can’t figure out which one is better than the other. But right now I would lean to say if I had to predict which metal will do better in the next 2 or 3 years, my guess is that silver would probably do somewhat better, but silver is a good option because some people might feel better about buying silver and can afford to buy silver where it’s tough coming up with $1,200 or $1,300 for 1 ounce of gold.
Moderator: Last question.
Ron Paul: “What about going back to President Lincoln’s greenbacks so we won’t have to pay interest to the Fed.” I wouldn’t like that at all. I would like not paying interest to the Fed, we don’t want to do that, but I don’t want to go back to greenbacks because that’s not constitutional, that was not backed by anything, they just printed the money and they didn’t pay interest of course. This is what some people don’t understand, I had the last person defend the Fed. Well, we pay a lot of interest to the Fed and they run their affairs and they’re off budget and they do all of the things that I don’t like them doing. But they have money left over and they just return it to the Treasury. But it’s the fact that they can monetize debt which is the real evil.
But just printing money and the greenbacks, that’s not constitutional, all we’re allowed to do is make gold and silver legal tender and regulate that value of that coin whether it’s 1 ounce or 2 ounce or whatever it is. But only and silver and gold should be legal tender not greenbacks.
It looks like our time is about up and I want to thank everybody once again and I hope that we can do this again someday. Thank you.