When it comes to predicting the current economic crisis, Peter Schiff has a pretty solid claim on the last laugh—that is, if there were anything to laugh about.
Schiff, head of the brokerage firm Euro Pacific Capital, has lately emerged as the Cassandra of the business-news networks, where he repeatedly warned of the sub-prime mortgage crisis and the ensuing credit crunch at least as early as August 2006.
Several "Peter Schiff Was Right!" mashups of his appearances are circulating on YouTube, including a 10-minute clip that shows fellow on-air soothsayers, including Ben Stein, roundly dismissing his downer views. At one point, Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto kids him, "Peter, I wish we had more time….I know you want to continue that exposé on Santa Claus."
Watch the clip below:
"Well, I have been right," Schiff told B&C when we reached him last week. But the clip, which he wasn’t involved in producing, hasn’t exactly been vindicating.
"I don’t think [the anchors] give me any extra credibility now because they obviously don’t understand what’s going on or they would give me the respect I deserve," Schiff said. "I will go on some of these programs and they will give me the same amount of time as a lot of these other analysts that were wrong, so, you know, it hasn’t changed too much in that regard."
Apart from Stein, who apologized to Schiff in his New York Times column, those who mocked him on the video have only grudgingly admitted he was right.
"He was certainly out front on almost an uncanny prediction on what would unfold in 2008 and beyond," says CNBC president Mark Hoffman. "I think he got a fair hearing on CNBC."
Fox Business anchor Liz Claman, who went to high school and UC Berkeley with Schiff, recalls his dire warnings from early 2006.
"Nobody wants to listen to somebody like Peter because they don’t want to hear the message," she says. "When we launched Fox Business, he came on the show in October  and flat out said among a whole panel of people, ‘The Dow is going below 10,000.’ At the time the Dow was around 14,000, and most of the people on the set burst out laughing. Look where we are today."
Of course, all that cold reality can be a bit much—like the time Claman and Schiff were out with their children and Schiff noticed a discarded old RCA television set on the sidewalk.
" ‘Look at this!’" Claman recalls him shouting. " ‘This very well may be the last thing the U.S. has truly manufactured here. This country’s not manufacturing anything here anymore, and that’s why we are going to lose the super-power race.’ And I’m like, ‘Peter, can’t we just play in the park?’"