NEW YORK — Over delicious blue cheese salad, chicken with rice and chocolate fudge cake, Forbes Inc. president/CEO Steve Forbes spoke to the attendees of the Direct Marketing Association’s Fast Forward event about inflation, taxes and U2’s Bono.
Mr. Forbes was witty and carefree as he made serious issues into a comedy routine, cracking jokes about metabolism and joining U2’s Elevation tour. His messages and opinions on the economy, however, were clear: America’s economy is actually doing well.
“Personal income is still rising at a healthy clip, manufacturing output is booming, but we get no credit for it,” Mr. Forbes said. “There is plenty of juice left to keep this economy going.”
Long a flat tax proponent, Mr. Forbes should know the state of the economy. He edits a 900,000-circulation magazine covering the business world’s movers and shakers.
Mr. Forbes also knows how much of a burden taxes can be. The federal income tax code is about 9 million words and rising — 12 times as long as the Bible and 7,000 times the size of the Declaration of Independence.
“Taxes from your income are the price that you pay for working, being successful and taking risks that work out,” Mr. Forbes said. “If you lower the price of taxes, the economy will only expand, because more people will feel free to start something big.”
U.S. consumers, though, are also the biggest challenge when it comes to credit and debt, which have resulted in inflation and higher interest rates. This has been felt most at the gas pump recently.
Mr. Forbes said that the best barometer of monetary disturbances is a precious commodity: gold.
“The price of gold will tell you all you need to know and if the central bank has it right,” he said.
Mr. Forbes addressed the legal system, arguing that by delaying trials, prosecutors drain the resources of the defendant in an effort to cut a deal.
When asked about the recent purchase by private equity group Elevation of a minority stake in Forbes, Mr. Forbes said he saw the deal as a huge growth opportunity for his company.
“We see the chance to expand, and they will provide us with the resources to do that,” he said. “They put money in trusting what Forbes is doing.”
Sadly, Mr. Forbes will not join U2’s Elevation tour this fall.
“If we get sanity back in our legal system and get this inflation out of the way and back to business, when we meet again you won’t just have chicken, but fillet,” he said.