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Peter Schiff is a stockbroker, author, financial commentator, and a long-time vocal opponent of Bitcoin. He frequently spars with members of the crypto community on financial news channels and social media, telling bitcoin investors to sell their coins and buy gold instead.
Who is Peter Schiff?

Schiff serves as Chief Economist and Global Strategist of Euro Pacific Asset Management, an investment advisory firm. He is a regular guest on financial news media including CNBC, Fox News, and MSNBC, has authored multiple books including “Crash Proof” and “How and Economy Grows and Why it Crashes,” and is the host of the Peter Schiff Show Podcast.

Schiff famously predicted the 2008 financial crisis, making high-profile statements between 2004 and 2006 that warned of the burst of the real estate bubble as well as the collapse of the mortgage market and banking sector. Because of the accuracy of this particular prediction and his bold, often contrarian views, Schiff’s investing advice and economic commentary is closely watched by both the media and individual investors.

Schiff has been steadfast in his opinion of Bitcoin since 2013, repeatedly predicting its downfall and calling it a Ponzi scheme.

“The Bitcoin #HODL gang accuses me of not understanding #Bitcoin. They think that if I just took the time to learn about the underlying technology that I would embrace it. But the truth is that I understand Bitcoin much better than the people who own it. That's the reason I don't,” he tweeted.

Personal history

Schiff was born in 1963 in Connecticut, USA. His father, Irwin Schiff, was a well-known figure in the US tax protestor movement and died serving a 13-year prison sentence for tax evasion. While Peter Schiff was not as radical as his father, he said that he found his father’s beliefs “compelling” even if his actions were not practical. His father’s anti-establishment and libertarian convictions influenced Schiff’s financial and economic views.

Schiff received a Bachelor of Science in finance and accounting from the University of California, Berkeley in 1987 and started his career as a stockbroker at Shearson Lehman Brothers brokerage.

Schiff and his partner acquired an inactive brokerage firm in 1996, renaming it Euro Pacific Capital. The firm was successful and expanded with branches in Florida, California, and New York.

Financial crisis prediction

Schiff issued multiple economic warnings on news networks in the years leading up to the 2008 financial crisis, many of which were proved accurate.

He told viewers on CNBC that the country was hampered by too much borrowing and consumption, and not enough production and savings, which will lead to a recession. He doubled down on his opinion a few months later, predicting that the government and lenders will tighten standards and credit, and that sky-high real estate prices will come crashing down. He also said that the Dow will fall below 10,000 and wrote in his 2007 book, “Crash Proof,” that US economic policies were financially unsound.

“The United States is like the Titanic and I am here with the lifeboat trying to get people to leave the ship.... I see a real financial crisis coming for the United States," he said in an August 2006 interview.

Schiff was often the lone commentator with his dire warnings and was criticized by news networks for his gloomy outlook. However, after his forecast proved correct, many looked to him for advice on investing and guidance on navigating difficult economic conditions.

Role in the cryptocurrency community

Schiff was critical of Bitcoin as early as 2013, when the cryptocurrency was starting to gain traction in financial circles.

That year, Tyler and Cameron Winkelvoss had said that Bitcoin resembles “gold 2.0”, after which Schiff responded that Bitcoin was a bubble that will soon burst. He said it more resembled tulip mania 2.0, referring to a time in the Dutch Golden Age when the price of new and fashionable tulips reached extraordinary levels, then dramatically collapsed.

“I don’t think Bitcoin is going to end up being a source of commerce for the world,” he said. “I think right now it’s a source of gambling.”

Bitcoin criticism

Schiff has been adamant in his opposition to Bitcoin since then. Along with numerous media appearances and interviews, he is active on crypto Twitter, frequently sparring with Bitcoin evangelists. Through bitcoin’s price highs and lows, his advice to investors is consistent – get out of the crypto market whenever an opportunity arises and buy gold instead.

“#Bitcoin is trading above $18K, its highest level in 3 weeks, an excellent opportunity for #HOLDers to sell … #Gold is only up $10, trading at an 8-month high. While Bitcoin has already broken down, gold has broken out. Time to drop Bitcoin,” he tweeted in January 2023.

Schiff receives significant criticism from crypto enthusiasts when the price of Bitcoin rises, then he hits back when the price goes down. He frequently predicts that Bitcoin will collapse and that investments will be worthless.

Schiff has also compared Bitcoin to a Ponzi scheme, noting that its success is predicated on deposits of other investors. He laments that celebrities, athletes, and influencers contribute to Bitcoin’s price bubble, noting that they are prime targets for crypto companies to pay to advertise their product to thousands of followers. “No gold company had a Super Bowl commercial,” he said.

Investing in gold

Schiff advises in investing in gold as a stable asset, recommending that 10% - 15% of an investment portfolio be in gold and silver.

“The problem with the dollar is it has no intrinsic value,” he said. “Gold will store its value, and you'll always be able to buy more food with your gold."

A “corrupted” Bitcoin wallet

Schiff made headlines in 2020 when he tweeted that his Bitcoin wallet got “corrupted” and his password was no longer valid, and that he subsequently lost all his bitcoin.

Erik Vorhees, the founder of ShapeShift, later clarified that he had helped Schiff set up his Bitcoin wallet a few years prior while they were out to dinner. He said that Schiff had forgotten his password and did not write down his recovery phrase.

Peter Schiff essentials

  • Peter Schiff is a stockbroker, financial commentator, author, and long-term Bitcoin critic.
  • He is known for accurately predicting the 2008 financial crisis and his economic advice is closely watched by investors and the media.
  • He is active on news networks and Twitter, often sparring with crypto enthusiasts and encouraging investors to sell their bitcoin and buy gold.

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