HOLLYWOOD, Fla. -- The U.S. will win the global currency race to the bottom but decimate its economy in the process, economist Peter Schiff said.
With global central banks using currency manipulation to spur growth, capital markets have been awash in talk of what the fallout will be for investing strategies and consumers who may have to bear the weight of inflation.
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Longtime Federal Reserve critic Schiff said the central bank is being forced to prop up an ailing U.S. economy and the only way it can is by weakening the dollar.
"There is a currency war going on," Schiff said at the Inside ETFs conference presented by Index Universe. "The irony of a currency war which makes it different from other wars is the object is to kill itself. Unfortunately, I think the U.S. is going to win the currency war."
The CEO of Euro Pacific Capital in New York has been one of the market's most outspoken supporters of gold as a hedge against inflation specifically and global turmoil in general.
He believes the metal will be a prime beneficiary of the currency war, while consumers will be its main victim.
"Anybody who believes there is no inflation isn't shopping," he said.
Government cost-of-living indexes such as the consumer price index are a "total fraud. Consumer prices in the U.S. are moving up much faster than indicated by the CPI. It is manipulated. It is deliberately designed to mask inflation, not report it," he said.
As for U.S. economic prospects, Schiff believes they are gloomy.
Gross domestic product indicated a slight contraction in the fourth quarter, though most economists expect that to change in future revisions and growth to be steady but modest through the year. In the meantime, the European sovereign debt crisis is beginning to return to the news as well, though the stock market hasn't seemed to mind any of it.
(Read More: ECB'S Draghi Says Currency War Talk Exaggerated)
But that could change quickly.
"We're broke. We owe trillions. Look at our budget deficit, look at the debt to GDP (ratio), the unfunded liabilities," Schiff said. "If we were in the euro zone they would kick us out."
For Schiff, such talk, though incendiary, is fairly routine.
He found a good deal of interest at the conference, though, with attendees crowding him after his panel discussion even as some other participants were beginning to catch flights out.
"The Fed knows that the U.S. economy is not recovering," he said. "It simply is being kept from collapse by artificially low interest rates and quantitative easing. As that support goes, the economy will implode."