Thursday, 13 August 2009

Steve Forbes, the editor-in-chief of Forbes Magazine and two-time candidate for the Republican presidential primary election in the United States, spoke to an audience Monday in Santiago. On Tuesday he met with Chilean presidential candidate Sebastián Piñera and Finance Minister Andrés Velasco.

The speaking event, organized by Capital Magazine and Universidad de Desarrollo, was titled “How the World Will Change After the Crisis; The World that Reemerges: The Rule of Freedom or the Rule of Regulation?”

Forbes, who advocated a flat income tax as part of his 1996 and 2000 presidential runs, has long advocated small government and free trade, and worked as a advisor for Rudy Giuliani’s and John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaigns.

In his speech, Forbes praised the Chilean government’s then-controversial decision to hold onto billions of dollars in copper windfall profits early in President Michelle Bachelet’s term.

“Chile conducted its business very carefully… and is now in a good position, compared to the rest of the world,” Forbes said, as reported by the Diario Financiero. “Chile is among the best in economic freedom. It is much more advanced than its neighbors and a lot of other countries in the world, and this is critical.”

Forbes, the grandson of B.C. Forbes, the founder of Forbes Magazine, strongly criticized the United States government for mishandling the crisis, which among other things, led to what he referred to as a “perfect storm.”

He made particular mention of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s 2003 “miscalculation” when it made the mistake of thinking that the U.S. economy would experience a similar trend of effects as the Japanese economy in the 1990s.

The money that they printed to avoid this outcome led to greater liquidity and, eventually, was one of the major factors in today’s crisis, he said.

“When you create too much money, weird stuff starts to happen, especially if you work with the world’s reserve currency: the dollar,” he said. A weak dollar, he said, would be a “disaster” for the economy.

His philosophy, he said, is, “Free market, free people.” Forbes’ reported net worth is over US$430 million.

By Daniel Zarchy (

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