[Dr. Kurt Richebächer was one of the most visible and vocal proponents of Austrian School economics at the time of his death in 2007. Eight years earlier, at the height of the dot-com bubble, we interviewed him for the Sunday San Francisco Examiner. In retrospect, the economic problems that he believed threatened the global economy were small and relatively manageable back then. The same problems are of course still with us, and Richebächer undoubtedly would be appalled by the extent to which they have metastasized.
Although he spoke of a deflationary collapse in the interview, a close reading of his monthly newsletter from 1997-2002 reveals that he was conflicted on the subject. He used the word “deflation” only rarely during that period, and when he did, his logic became uncharacteristically muddy. Perhaps this is because, in the Austrian scheme of things, spectacular credit blowouts are not supposed to beget deflation, but rather, inflation. Arguably, if he were around today, he would still be uncertain as to which is likely to prevail when the economy finally collapses, as it must. The interview below appeared in November 1999 under the flippant headline -- not my work, for sure -- “Economic Basics Predict Apocalypse”. RA]
The dismal science will never be the same if Dr. Kurt Richebächer’s dire predictions for the global economy should come to pass. The former chief economist and managing partner at Germany’s Dresdner Bank says a deflationary collapse lies ahead that will ravage the world’s bourses and usher in a dark period of austerity and financial discipline.
Probably not one economist in 50 shares his views, at least not publicly. Richebächer, now living in France, says many of his American colleagues have been seduced into ignorance and complicity by Wall Street’s billions as well as by their love affair with mathematical models that shun fundamental laws of economics. Where they see a New Era of productivity growth and industrial efficiency, he sees duplicitous bookkeeping and manufacturing’s steep decline. They talk of a booming U.S. economy; he sees a profitless mirage. They worship capitalism’s bold risk-takers; he scorns them for recklessly piling leverage to the sky. Someone’s going to be wrong, but judge for yourself who. » Read the full article