This is from an Italian summary of a presentation Nouriel Roubini just gave in Milan, so it’s possible much was lost in translation. But this is the first positive noise we’ve heard Roubini make in the past 18 months:
There may be light at the end of the tunnel according to Roubini if the right policies are undertaken. Governments and central banks should commit to “break the vicious circle”, the lack of confidence that is hindering real investment spending by companies that are solvent and that is leading sound households not to spend…
[G]overnments and central banks can play a crucial role with interventions to assist small and medium sized enterprises and households at risk of going bankrupt because of the lack of credit; therefore, government guarantees of lending and recapitalizations of banks can help. In short, governments and central bank are the only agents who take actions to prevent a worse recession. “Partially socializing the losses of banks, firms and households, transferring to the public sector the losses of the private sector will be very expensive public debt-wise; but it is the policy medicine that can help an L-shaped near depression” in the words of Roubini.
Of course, this ray of hope was embedded within the usual Roubini outlook:
Dr. Doom had already foreseen a long and protracted U-shaped recession for the world economy when the prevailing view was of a short and shallow V-shaped recession for the US. Roubini yesterday made it clear that his estimate for the length of the recession in the U.S. is moving from 24 to 36 months, with an unemployment rate in the U.S. that is heading towards 10%. Its “U” in the meantime is worsening day by day.
“If the Obama Administration and the rest of the world will not intervene in drastic manner, with anti-crisis fiscal and other policies even stronger than those announced, the” U “is likely to turn into a” L “, i.e into a near-depression.”
The forecasts by Roubini about the global economy are bleak. “Do you remember the saying that when the U.S. sneezes, the world catches a cold. Well now the United States have a severe chronic case of pneumonia.”
[E]xcesses of leverage also existed in many countries outside the US: the “too much” leverage (excessive borrowing of households to purchase homes and/or auto loans, student loans, and broader consumer credit) was prevalent also in the UK, Spain, Ireland, Iceland, some Baltic states, Emerging, Europe, Dubai, etc. According to Roubini, if the growth in China slows from 10% to 5% as likely this year that is a “hard landing” for China.
On a positive note, we shouldn’t be worrying about inflation:
“If a patient comes into the emergency room and is in a coma fighting to survive, I simply don’t believe that doctors in such a situation should be concerned about the diet of the patient and tell him to first exercise, go on a diet and lose weight if he is overweight, or first to convince him to stop smoking: first of all you need to do something immediate to prevent the patient from dying.”
Well, a recession that threatens to turn into a depression that is like a near death experience for the global economy: and that is why Dr. Doom… urges governments and central banks to focus on the risk of deflation. Prices will fall because firms have an over-supply of unsold good that they will try to dispose of by reducing prices. Roubini also argues that commodities prices, despite recent decreases (even by 60% for oil), may drop further, fueling the deflationary pressures. He sees “more downside risk” for oil and gold prices. As demand and consumption falls below production, prices fall and firms cut back production and employment leading to another round of falling demand; this is the vicious circle that governments need to prevent.
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