By Econmatters – Carolyn Baker.com September 25, 2011
Dr. Doom Roubini has grown even more pessimistic since he put a 60% probability of a U.S. double dip in 2012 just about three weeks ago. Business Day reported that speaking at a press conference in Johannesburg on Sep. 20, Roubini now says, ”The US is already in a recession although it will not admit it.” and that the rest of the world would not be insulated from the effects of another global meltdown.
Regarding Greece and Euro Zone, Roubini thinks Greece would do best to default on its debt and leave the euro zone, and that Europe needs to step up austerity measures.
Eerily, George Soros also said almost exactly the same in a CNBC interview. Soros believes the U.S. is already in a double dip recession, and that “a number of smaller euro zone nations could default and leave the single currency area.” Soros also sees Europe could be “more dangerous” to the global financial system than the Lehman Brothers in 2008, due to “Euro zone policymakers repeatedly following the wrong policy shifts.”
But there’s a reason Boubini earned his “Dr. Doom” reputation as he made an even more ominous prediction that there would be protests as well in the world’s largest economy.
“There is growing inequality all over the world. We have already seen middle-class unrest in Israel. Germans have smashed fat cats’ cars…..As we go into another recession, there will be unrest in the US.”
Interestingly, Business Day quoted Roubini that he was not averse to state involvement in the economy and held up Singapore — which had state ownership of firms and joint regulation and free markets — as an economy that might be shielded from global shocks.
While we are a bit surprised that Roubini seems to have lost total faith in capitalism by embracing a somewhat socialistic structure of the Singapore Model, we have to admit, on first blush, we (along with the markets) are sufficiently freaked out by both Roubini and Soros asserting the double dip status of the United States.
However, that feeling quickly dissipated as we think about the definition of recession – two down quarters of GDP, or when National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) declares one, and realized the U.S. so far has not met these conditions yet.
We do believe Europe now holds the key as there’s a distinct risk that the U.S. could be pushed over the recession edge by the Euro Zone debt crisis due to the interlinkage of the global financial system.
On the other hand, the current euro zone debt crisis is quite similar to the debt ceiling fiasco in the U.S. a while back. The bloc has an inherent structural weakness – central currency without a central political governing body. But eventually there will be resolution, be there a Greek default and leaving the currency union, or a super-roid-charged bailout package as the stakes are too high for a Euro collapse.
Meanwhile, the U.S. economy could be facing a tough patch in the next two years or so, but the odds are still in favor that backed by its tremendous natural and human resources, the country could pull through and resume growth.
Roubini has been consistent with his double dip recession gloom and doom for the past three years; however, Soros’ track record suggests that his recession talk could be nothing more than a reflection of his current trading position, knowing his influence over the markets, rather than an objective economic assessment.