The Ayn Rand Institute held its annual "Atlas Shrugged Revolution" dinner Thursday night in New York City.
In attendance were a number of financial luminaries and hedge fund managers, including Peter Schiff of EuroPacific Capital, John Tamny of RealClearMarkets, Dmitry Balyasny of Balyasny Asset Management and Scott Schweighauser of Aurora Investment Management.
The setting was the tony St. Regis Hotel on Fifth Avenue but there was nothing pleasant about the primary message coming from both the speakers and those in attendance: Western civilization is heading for hell and a hand basket, just like Rand predicted in her seminal novel.
In the accompanying video, ARI president Yaron Brook tells Henry why Rand's devotees believe the global economy is "heading for collapse."
In a nutshell, Brook believes politicians and policymakers have "no solutions" for the problems facing the globe.
"The fundamental problem," Brook says, is with the philosophical belief our society has that governments can solve problems and more rules and regulations are the answer to our economic ailments.
Barring "real structural change" to our economic underpinnings toward self-reliance and true laissez-faire capitalism, "we can buy time, but we can't change the outcome," Brook says.
And what will that outcome be? A repeat of the Great Depression in the 'best'-case scenario, he says. And the worse-case? A repeat of the fall of the Roman Empire.
"I don't expect that, I think we'll rebound," Brook says. "But we have to remember that…civilizations in human history have declined, they've disappeared."