Pinning Down Roubini Requires a Lasso
Pinning down a Nouriel Roubini forecast is like lassoing a frenzied cow. They say a broken clock is right twice a day, and maybe the same principle applies to renowned economist, Professor Roubini (NYU)? Sure, credit should be given where credit is due. He nailed the forecast relating to the housing led financial bubble and subsequent financial collapse – even if the prediction was years early.
Here’s where I have a beef. Now that Roubini has become a celebrated rock star with frequent television interviews and speaking engagements, his touring views are becoming more fluid and slippery as time progresses. Sure it’s more comfortable to ride the fence and lean in whatever direction the weekly economic winds are blowing. I suppose if you throw out enough changing viewpoints, which adjust to evolving moods, you can never be wrong.
Let’s examine some of his views:
- Out of Context: Just last week, Mr. Roubini said the “worst is behind us,” but in order to retain his “Dr. Doom” celebrity status he felt compelled to issue a press release clarifying his statements. He noted his “views were taken out of context,” and added, “I have said on numerous occasions that the recession would last roughly 24 months.” That’s funny, because he just stated last year it would be 12-18 months (Click Here for Video).
- Sweating Out Rebound: Maybe the 41% bounce in the S&P 500 or the 49% jump in the NASDAQ from March 9th lows compelled Roubini to make the “worst is behind us” comments, but why then at the beginning of this year did he say, “We are still only in the early stages of this crisis. My predictions for the coming year, unfortunately, are even more dire: The bubbles, and there were many, have only begun to burst.” Hmmm…excuse me while I scratch my head.
- Alphabet Soup Recovery: Also frustrating are the John Kerry-esque waffling comments relating to whether this economic recovery will be a U, W, or L-shaped economic recovery. Last April he was in the U-camp: “My view is closer to a U-shaped recession as I expect that the economic contraction will last at least 12 months and possibly as long as 18 months through the middle of 2009.” Now, as early as last month Roubini is warning of a double dip or “W-shaped” recovery with the rising possibility of a “perfect storm” in 2010 (Click Here for Video). He sees the expiration of tax cuts, rising oil prices, inflating debt and interest rates leading to another downturn. So is it U or W, or will we hear more about an “L” shaped recovery? Maybe the worst is not behind us? I’m confused.
- Doomsday Earnings Yet to Arrive: Still early in the quarterly earnings reporting season but Roubini’s call for a downside in corporate earnings has yet to materialize. As a matter of fact, Zacks Investment Research reported last week that early second quarter upside surprises are beating downside surprises by a ratio of 7 to 1. So far not too “Doom-full.”
I’m no economist or recovery expert, but what I do know is that I’m having difficulty pinning down Professor Roubini’s ever-changing views. I suppose I will just mail CNBC, Bloomberg, or the bevy of other Roubini media groupies a lasso in hopes they will pin Mr. Roubini down.
Wade W. Slome, CFA, CFP®
Wade W. Slome, CFA, CFP®
Plan. Invest. Prosper.
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