WASHINGTON — In a speech defending his support of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel faulted both major parties for letting recent financial bubbles occur under their watch.
"It was both insane and somehow inevitable that D.C. insiders expected this election to be a rerun between the two political dynasties who led us through the two most gigantic financial bubbles of our time," Thiel said Monday during an appearance at the National Press Club.
"President George W. Bush presided over the inflation of a housing bubble so big that its collapse is still causing economic stagnation today," Thiel said. "What's strangely forgotten is that last decade's housing bubble was just an attempt to make up for the gains that had been lost in the decade before that."
The billionaire tech entrepreneur, who also co-founded the data-analysis firm Palantir and was an early investor in Facebook, argued the country's economic crisis had started under the watch of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's husband.
"In the 1990s, President Bill Clinton presided over an enormous stock market bubble and a devastating crash in 2000," Thiel said. "That's how long the same people have been pursuing the same disastrous policies."
He also argued that the trade deficit was favoring the financial industry to the detriment of the overall U.S. economy.
"The United States is importing more than $5 billion ever year. That money flows into financial assets, it distorts our economy in favor of more banking and more financialization and it gives the well-connected people who benefit a reason to defend the status quo," Thiel said. "But not everyone benefits, and the Trump voters know it."
Thiel acknowledged that Trump was a flawed candidate, and said his comments on women that came out in a leaked 2005 video were "clearly offensive and inappropriate."
But he argued that Trump had a better understanding of the financial setbacks faced by average Americans.
He denounced international trade agreements, which he said caused the loss of millions of U.S. jobs rather than delivering the prosperity promised by economists and policymakers.
"Free trade has not worked out well for all of America," Thiel said. "It helps Trump that the other side just doesn't get it."