Many people ask us if Jason Calacanis, the Internet entrepreneur, is stupid. No, but he says stupid things. While he's an expert at timing the market, his plan to fix the economy is all backwards.
It's actually not surprising that Calacanis has attracted a small group of loyal followers who hang on his every word. Let's review the evidence: He ran a tech magazine in the '90s but failed to cash out big. Dumb! He sold a bunch of blogs to AOL for $25 million in 2005, before everyone figured out blogs weren't worth very much. Smart! He squeezed $40 million out of Sequoia Capital, a notoriously tightfisted venture-capital firm, before things went bust in the Valley and Sequoia started telling everyone to lay people off. Smart! He stopped blogging when he realized that it just gave angry people on the Internet a platform to bash him. Smart!
Calacanis's "120 percent solution," boiled down, tells us to work 20 percent harder and cut up our credit cards. But he doesn't take basic supply and demand into account.
Let's say we work more and produce more. Who's going to consume whatever it is we're producing — cars, cell phones, useless Web-directory pages? Us, right? But wait — we followed Jason's advice and stopped buying things. More stuff, fewer people buying it leads to a massive deflationary price spiral. Japan tried this, and it did not work out very well.
Calacanis's U.S.-first scheme could work, I suppose, if we could find someone else to do all the buying. But it turns out most people overseas hate buying things. China, the next great consumer marketplace? Notoriously cheap. Likewise most of the rest of Asia. Russia, the home of so many new millionaires? If gas goes to $1, they're all broke, too. Same for the Middle East. Shoppers in India might buy things, but — oh, right — we just fired all of the outsourcing workers we decided we no longer needed.
So what do we do? Repairing bridges and roads and building high-speed trains sounds like a good idea. But spinning our wheels 20 percent harder, as Calacanis proposes? That gets us nowhere fast. The best part of this market implosion surely must be that Internet CEOs are no longer regarded as economic savants.