Nouriel Roubini: Double dip recession possible; capitalism destroying itself

Who is Nouriel Roubini, and why should you care about what he says? First his credentials: He is the cofounder and chairman of Roubini Global Economics, an independent, global macroeconomic and market strategy research firm. He holds a doctorate in economics from Harvard University, has been on the faculty of Yale University, and is currently a professor of economics at New York University’s Stern School of Business. He has been an advisor to President Clinton, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, and the IMF.

From Cassandra to sage

In 2005, he predicted that home prices were riding a speculative wave that would soon sink the economy. Wall Street scoffed, and called him “Dr. Doom” and “permabear.” In September 2006, he warned the IMF that the United States was likely to face a huge housing bust, an oil shock, sharply declining consumer confidence, and, ultimately, a deep recession. In a few short years, his once seemingly overly negative, doomsday predictions have been matched, if not exceeded, by reality. Which is why I think it’s important to listen to Roubini when he has something to say about the economy.

On August 12, 2011, he sat down to an interview with the Wall Street Journal and predicted the chances of a double dip recession are now greater than 50%. At best, he said, we can expect subpar economic growth going forward for an extended period. One of his most unexpected statements was this:

Karl Marx had it right. At some point capitalism can destroy itself, because you can’t keep on shifting income from labor to capital, without having an excess capacity and lack of aggregate demand. And that’s what has happened. We thought that markets work but they’re not working; . . . It’s a self-destructive process.

FYI: Because of our current economic instability, Roubini is keeping all of his money in cash and out of the stock market because of the threat of another crash. To underscore this point, he mentions an associate who just took $1 billion out of the market. He recommends this for at least the next three months to avoid a loss of 40 to 50 percent. He says “better safe than sorry.”

If you want to know what our economic future may hold, this twenty-minute interview is worth your time.