Dr. Nouriel Roubini’s 2020 Outlook for Markets and the Global Economy

ASH BENNINGTON: Full disclosure. I used to run your macro economics blog, EconoMonitor. We’ve known each other for many years. It’s a great pleasure to be here with Dr.
Nouriel Roubini. NOURIEL ROUBINI: A pleasure being here with
you today. ASH BENNINGTON: Most of our viewers will already
know you from your incredible call in 2006 at the conference in September predicting
the great financial crisis effectively. And not just predicting the crisis, but predicting
the specific mechanisms that were going to trigger that crisis. You talked about mortgage defaults, the problems
with the securities that were built around those mortgages. But you’ve actually been very constructive
for many years since the crisis on US equities. Could you tell us a little bit about how you
thought about the recovery, and how you’ve gotten to kind of where we are right now? NOURIEL ROUBINI: Well, yeah, the recovery
after the global financial crisis was bumpy. Of course, it was a u-shaped recovery. It was not your typical v-shaped recovery,
because this was not a regular recession. It was a recession caused by financial crises,
and a financial crisis was caused initially by too much debt in the private sector and
then a build up of public debt. And as we know, whenever you have a financial
crises, you have a painful process of deleveraging. And for a while, you have to spend less and
save more in order to reduce that over time. And that great deleveraging implied that the
recovery was anemic and was bumpy in many ways. But there’s been a recovery that in the US
has lasted over 10 years now, the longest US economic recovery. And in the rest of the world, the recovery
was stronger in emerging markets. Then there were shocks in the emerging markets. Europe was more fragile. It was a double dip recession in some parts
of Europe, even a triple dip recession. But I would say for financial markets, what
has happened has been that for the last decade, there have been a number of the risk off episodes. And these risk off episodes were triggered
by a variety of factors, concerns about the eurozone, concerns about the hard landing
in China, concerns about what the Fed, concerned about oil prices, and you name it. But in each one of these episodes, that correction
say correction of 10% plus in US and global equity has been followed by a recovery and
then go into higher highs. My explanation of it is that, one, those concerns
that the world economy is going to end up into another recession turned out to be wrong. Growth recovered. And secondly, in each one of these risk off
episodes, the policy reaction of Central Bank has been to ease more in a conventional and
or unconventional way. And therefore, where there was the Fed, the
ECB, the POJ, the BOE, the PBOC. Central Bank have come to the rescue of economies
and markets. So some of those tail risks turned out to
be less severe than thought, and the Central Bank came to helping economies and markets. And therefore, we have had this sustained
recovery of asset prices that has lasted for 10 years. ASH BENNINGTON: Right, and that brings us
to US equity markets. And US equity markets, obviously, we’re sitting
here in December of 2019 have had a very good year. Could you talk a little bit about how you
view that in the context of the broader macroeconomic framework? NOURIEL ROUBINI: Yes, I mean, I would say
that to think ahead about what’s going to happen to you and even in global equities. One is the first to start with what’s going
to be the economic outlook for next year and so on. And as you know, we’re in the middle of what’s
called the synchronized economic slowdown, a slowdown that implies that growth is still
positive. But it’s slower than before. You know, global growth two years ago was
3.8%. Last year was 3.4%. This year, the estimate is going to be only
3%. In spite of that slowdown in growth, this
year, US equities have turned out to do very well. In part, because some of the tail risk that
people are worried about during the year, where there was a risk of a full scale trade
war between US and China, or a hard Brexit, or a war between the US and Iran in the Middle
East. Those stories have turned out to be milder
than previously expected, first point. Then secondly, again, the Fed, the ECB, and
other central banks, once they were aware of this, kind of a global headwinds came to
the rescue of the markets. So yeah, it started with a Q4 last year that
was very bad. But then given the change in stance of the
Fed around the Central Bank and the attenuation of these tail risk, the market has done so
far very well. Now the first question you probably have to
ask yourself is, what’s going to happen to the global economy next year? Because it effects then market and policies. ASH BENNINGTON: That was my next question. NOURIEL ROUBINI: Yeah, so in order to speak
about US equities probably, you have to start with the real economy. I would say there are three scenarios. Scenario number one is the more optimistic
one is the one that is being pushed by a number of say sell side firms on Wall Street. That says, well, a slowdown, but now some
of these tail risks are disappearing. Financial conditions have eased because of
what the Fed, ECB, and other central banks have done. So we’re going to go back to a economic expansion. Not very robust. Instead of having 3% growth like this year,
you’re going to go back to 3.4%. That is OK, but it’s not as strong as it was
in 2017, 3.8, for the global economy. And slight capping growth in US, and Europe,
and Japan, and then other advanced economies, that’s one scenario. And that scenario is part of a pickup in growth. The argument goes that inflation has got to
maintain. Because there are global forces that keep
wage inflation and price inflation low. And therefore, central banks with ease are
going to stay on hold. And that might be an ideal scenario for US
and global equities. You get reflation, trade. You got a pickup in growth. Earnings keep on doing well. Monetary policy remain accommodative, and
then US and global equity could have, say, something close to double digit returns in
spite of a valuation being very high. That’s one scenario. I’m skeptical of it for a few reasons. Second scenario– ASH BENNINGTON: What are
your skeptical points when you think about that? NOURIEL ROUBINI: Well, you know, my view of
the world today is that rather than that scenario, we may have a continuation of this global
slowdown. Where growth next year is going to be, say,
slightly above 3%, but not as strong as 3.4%. And it’s going to remain at current levels
in the US, and Europe, and other advanced economies. Maybe slightly pick up in growth in some emerging
markets, like Russia or Brazil, that did thoroughly poorly in the last couple of years. But I expect a continuation of that slowdown. That’s the bad news. The good news is there are more extreme negative
scenario. That will be my third scenario would be of
a global recession. And it would say, as long as US and China
have a trade deal, as long as Brexit is solved, as long as we don’t have a war in the Middle
East between the US and Iran, and as long as Central Bank remain on hold, and accommodative
policies probably currently the risk of a outright recession is right to be a lot. So then the question is why not to be more
optimistic about the global economy, like scenario one, and instead, believing in the
scenario two of continuation of that global economic slowdown. My view is based on a number of argument. First of all, these argument that were at
the bottom of this slowdown doesn’t to be borne by the data. If you look at the data for Europe, for Germany,
for China, for many emerging markets, yeah, things are not becoming worse. But they’re not improving, and the US, maybe
things are bottoming out. ASH BENNINGTON: What are the key data sets
you look at, Nouriel, when you talk about not seeing those decelerations? NOURIEL ROUBINI: You know, there are, first
of all, coincident indicators of economic activity, like current of the measures of
employment, industrial production, retail sales, Capex. But forward looking data in the various PMIs,
ISMs, and so on give you a sense of what’s going on. And one other characteristic of 2019 was the
significant collapse in global capital spending. Banks were very sharply down. And of course, the reason for it was that
there was a option evaluating given that you didn’t know whether the trade wars with the
US and China and other ones are going to escalate or not. If you have to make major investments of billions
of dollars in your factories, and you don’t know whether things are going to be improving
or worsening. Then you’re going to wait and see. And while a trade deal between US and China
is likely, I think that’s going to be a truce in a medium long term trade, currency, technology,
and even Cold War between the US and China. And therefore, the sources of uncertainty
that keep Capex down maybe are going to remain with us. I think that’s an important part of this story,
I say. Second part of this story, my view is, as
I pointed out, if you look at the data around the world, we’re not yet seeing a bottoming
out of this economic slowdown. It may be happening in the United States,
but the data from any advanced economy emerging markets are not consistent with that. There may be a truce between US and China. But we have a geopolitical situation that
might be having an adverse effect on a trade deal with the US and China. We don’t know whether there’ll be a media
crackdown in Hong Kong. We don’t know whether China is going to react
in a violent way to say a pro-Independence candidate winning the Taiwan election and
so on. So there are lots of geopolitical uncertainties
are going to be weighing on the market, and the problems of Europe are not just problems
related to Brexit. It now looks like Brexit are going to be solved. You’re running out of monetary stimulus option
for the ECB, the country where fiscal space, like the Netherlands, could do more by not
doing more. There are fundamental problems of populism
in Europe. There is plenty of fragility in four of the
key economies. Germany, France, Italy, and Spain for different
reasons have political uncertainties. There is a risk of auto tariffs, and there
is a glut of capacity in the auto sector. And the economic reforms in Europe are occurring
much more slowly than desirable and optimal. And therefore, potential growth also with
a aging population remains limited. So I see a world in which while things are
not going to get worse, there are going to strengthen significantly in 2020. Now the good news, there’s not going to be
a recession. The bad news, we’re going to stay in a slowdown. The other good news is that Central Bank,
of course, are going to stay on hold. They’re not going to hike. They’re not going to ease more, most likely. And therefore, in that scenario, in a situation
in which there is still a lot of debt in the world, public debt, private debt in US, in
Europe, in China, in the case of the US, I’m very concerned about the build-up of corporate
debt, whether it’s leveraged loans, C loans, fallen angel in the high grade, or the spreads
on highyield being so compressed in spite of a build-up of leverage. I think there are fragility coming. We have excessive debt ratios that could also
imply something of a surprise, negatively, that leads to a risk of episode and a correction
of US and global equities. So my best scenario for 2020 for US equity
would be that if you have positive returns, they’re going to be in the low single digits,
as opposed to high single digits or double digits. Valuations, of course, are stretched, if you’re
looking at Shiller CAPE, seasonally adjusted P/E ratios. And there’s also a wide range of political
uncertainty related to the United States. We’ll see how this impeachment is going to
go. It’s going to be probably noise. Markets are discounting it. But that could be a source of. Tension we’ll see what happens with their
nomination for the Democratic Party. It’s possible that a progressive candidate
might be nominated. And if that’s the case, and if there is a
chance that he or she may win elections, then most of these progressive candidates are coming
with proposals for taxing more wealth, taxing more income, taxing more capital, or taxing
more the rich, and you could see that the nomination of such a candidate may also be
a trigger for a risk-off episode and a correction in US equities as well. So I would say the year is going to be an
OK year, and a year probably in which after 20%-plus returns for US equity this past year,
next year if you get low single digits, you’ll be lucky. And there are plenty of triggers of a potential
risk-off episode that could lead to a 10% correction at some point during the year. ASH BENNINGTON: So now that we have the base
case and the way you see the world, I’m curious if we could go and unpack some of those things
that you mentioned, so for example, central banks being on hold. Policy has been remarkably accommodative for
many, many years now. If you think about where we are with the federal
funds rate, hundreds of basis points below the historical average. We have balance sheets all over the world
at central banks. Whether we’re talking about the Fed, the ECB,
there’s a lot that they own. So it’s interesting when you say that they’re
on hold. What does it mean, effectively, to stay accommodative
at the level that they’re at, and what influence can that have on asset prices and also on
things like aggregate demand and potential for mis-pricing of assets? NOURIEL ROUBINI: Well, accommodative has to
do with the fact that there has been a global slowdown, and there is a risk that things
will get even worse. And I think the easing of financial conditions,
that additional accommodation is provided, helps avoid the tail risk of a global recession. It’s also the source of some of the asset
inflation we’ve seen this year. I think that central banks, most likely, in
my baseline scenario, even of a continued slowdown– they’re not going to do more. Some of them actually cannot do much more. ECB and BOJ and other central banks in the
smaller parts of Europe already with negative policy rates– they’re reaching the limits
of how negative they can go. They are doing various versions of quantitative
and credit easing. They cannot do much more, unless there is
a severe recession. And of course, the Fed, with the economy doing
OK, growing around 2%, is going to stay on hold. Of course, the risk is that while the real
economy, with low growth and low inflation, justifies this accommodative monetary policy,
that then you’re going to create frothiness in financial markets. And by some standards, US and some other risky
assets– for example, real estate is very expensive in many parts of the world. Credit, of course, is very expensive, with
credit spreads being so low. Government bond yields are very low, and you
could say government debt is also expensive. So we live in the world in which many risky
assets, whether it’s public equities, private equities, real estate, credit, government
bonds, are expensive. Of course, you need a major macro shock to
trigger a significant not just correction, but something worse than that. And of course, some risk-off episodes may
be occurring in the coming year, tensions related to the US and China, something to
do with wars, about geopolitical tensions around the world, the Issue of all these excesses
of corporate debt and re-leveraging and this and that. So I don’t say we are in a bubble, but certainly
we are in a period in which asset markets are frothy, valuations are stretched, and
therefore, any macro shock can lead to a risk-off episode, can lead to a correction, and that
correction may remain persistent, as opposed to being reversed. That’s the risk we’re facing right now. To have a recession, of course, you need a
severe macro shock that is going to be persistent over time. ASH BENNINGTON: One of the things I’m curious
about– do you think, in addition to the potential risk asset bubble, is it possible that we’re
seeing distortions, for example, in the financial system due to the fact that interest rates
have been priced far away from where a Taylor rule would suggest they should be? we see
things like compression of net interest margins in banks. Does that have the potential to have some
sort of impact throughout the economy as well? NOURIEL ROUBINI: Well, the distortion is that,
of course, some of these valuations are excessive because interest rates are so low, both on
the short end of the yield curve and on the longer end of the yield curve. And you have negative not only policy rates,
but up to maturity of 10 years. You have about, depending on the week, $10,
$12, $13 trillion equivalent of government bonds, and even some corporate debt not in
the US but outside the US and Europe and Japan that have a negative yield. So I think that we live in this dilemma that
on one side, the real economy, we have a low growth and low inflation that justifies this
very easy monetary policy. But on the other side, instead of goods inflation,
we’re having asset inflation. We might not be in a full-scale bubble, but
we’re certainly in a situation which is up on the doubt for a wide range of asset classes. Asset prices are too high, valuations are
been stretched, and therefore, the risk of a meaningful correction is there as well. But the dilemma is that the real economy justifies
this accommodative monetary policy, including low inflation. But then the side effects and then the consequences
of it might be asset inflation that eventually becomes asset frothiness, and asset, then,
eventually, credit bubble. And we are building up the seeds of the next
financial crisis with this build up of excessive leverage, excessive risk-taking, and excessive
debt. As I pointed out, in the US, it’s really concentrated,
one in the corporate sector, in the shadow banks. The official regulated banks now, because
of the global financial crisis, have more capital, less leverage, less risk-taking,
more liquidity. So they are OK. There has been some de-leveraging, also of
their housing sector. But I would say the two sore points are corporate
debt in the US, and also public debt, of course. The $1 trillion budget deficit is on a trajectory
that eventually, of course, is not sustainable. ASH BENNINGTON: Let’s talk a little bit about
corporate debt, because that’s something that’s been getting a little bit of press over the
last six months. There have been people who have been speculating
and worrying about this build-up in the corporate sector, especially in triple-C and leveraged
loans and CLOs and things like that. What’s your take on that? How do you think about it? NOURIEL ROUBINI: Well, if you look at the
measures of corporate debt as a share of GDP– are now back to all-time highs. That’s a signal. Secondly, issuance of lots of types of dangerous
debt has been increasing. And it’s not just, of course, junk bonds or
C-loans or leveraged loans, but you have about half $1 trillion of corporate debt in the
high-grade– these fallen angels, essentially. Those were really high-grade. They’re now one step away from being downgraded
to junk bonds, given that there’s been fragility in them. It’s true that corporate profits have been
quite robust. Earnings have been growing, still fine. Profit margins have been high. And if you take a measure of debt of the corporate
sector relative not to GDP but earnings, things are better. And of course, in a world in which short rates
are low and long rates are low, while the debt ratio may be high for the corporate sector,
debt Servicing ratios are also low. And therefore, it allows even highly indebted
firms to keep on borrowing more or to roll over their debt. However, even in a world in which, say, treasury
yields are below 2%, what can happen is that if there are concerns about the real economy,
solid growth, and so on, then you could have a spike in credit spreads. We’ve had at least three major episodes of
that happening in the last two or three years. You had the risk-off episode in August-September
of 2015. There were worries about a hard landing in
China. There was another episode in January-February
of 2016, where there were worries both about Chinese and US hard landing, about the collapse
of oil prices, about the Fed tightening too much. And there was a third risk-off episode in
the fourth quarter of last year, Q4 of 2018. Now, in each one of those episodes, while
bond yields on US treasuries were going lower and lower because people were moving away
from risky assets like equities into safe bonds, credit spreads were widening sharply. In the January-February of 2016 episode, high-yield
spreads went from 300 basis points over treasury to 900. And if debt stayed at 900 for six months,
that could have killed the economy and led to a recession. Luckily, the Fed came to the– saving the
markets. The worries about the hard landing of the
US and China turned out to be wrong, and those spreads narrowed again. Or in Q4 of 2018, again, you had total seizure
of the C-loan, leveraged loan market, and so on. So even if interest rates on safe assets may
be low and falling more in a risk-off, credit spreads for the private sector or for risky
solvents, like in some parts of the world, can blow up. And therefore, you could have the condition
for that crisis. Of course, you need a macro trigger like a
sharp slowdown of growth that then leads to worries that there is a stall in profitability,
and that those corporates and other agents have high debt, cannot more easily roll over
their debts or borrow more. And then that’s a trigger over the repricing
of a risk premium. But we’ve seen those credit spreads widening
sharply and suddenly in a number of these episodes. And I think that whenever there is going to
be another global macro shock, we’re going to see a repeat of the same. ASH BENNINGTON: So talking about central bank
policy action, you are, of course, a keen watcher of the Fed and other central banks. What do you see right now when you look forward
at what’s been happening over the last several months? NOURIEL ROUBINI: Well, 2019 was a year where
central banks, given the global headwinds, they decided to ease more. The Fed cut cumulatively three times by 75
basis points. The ECB went slightly more negative and restarted
QE. Japan has not formally changed policy, but they’re already at negative policy rates. They do QE. They have a yield curve control. And other smaller European countries have
been either easing or signaling, further easing. I think the question mark is not for 2020,
because in the baseline scenario, which there is not a global recession, central banks are
going to stay on hold, and the Fed most likely is going to stay on hold through elections,
and other central banks cannot ease much more. The ECB can go from minus 50 to minus 60,
but then you reach a reversal rate. You are already doing QE I don’t think you
can buy much more than 20 billion euro per month of bonds without eventually having a
scarcity of bonds. The BOJ could go slightly more negative, from
minus 10 to minus 20. They’re already doing YCC. They’re already doing massive QE and so on. The question is, what happens when you have
the next recession, and all the central banks are doing a review of their strategies, the
Fed is doing it, the ECB is doing it, and so on? Now, the attitude of the Fed so far is to
say, if we have another recession, we’re going to hit the zero bound. And if we’re going to hit the zero bound,
then we have to do other things. And what they’re going to do– they’re comfortable
with going back to forward guidance. They’re comfortable with going back to quantitative
easing and credit easing, save buying, again, mortgage-backed security. So far, they’re not comfortable about things
that are slightly more heterodox, like going negative with a policy rate or having a control
on the yield curve by targeting zero bounds on their longer end, and so on. ASH BENNINGTON: We spoke about that a couple
of weeks ago. NOURIEL ROUBINI: Yes, exactly. But so far, the review doesn’t include those
more unconventional tools as being part of the toolkit. I think that what’s going to be happening
when the next recession occurs is that the room, the headroom, is going to be limited. The Fed has only, now, 150 basis points of
headroom. ECB and BOJ are already deeply in negative
territory. And therefore doing, what has been done in
the past, that is, the usual unconventional quantitative easing with negative rates is
not going to be sufficient. And that’s why I think that policies are going
to become even more unconventional, and some variants of either modern monetary theory–
some people call it MMT, some people call it enhanced quantitative easing or People’s
QE or permanent monetization of debt and deficits– is what we’re going to be seeing. First of all– ASH BENNINGTON: This is very
much a hot topic now, especially on the political left, where you see people talking about these
mechanisms that are meant to effectively monetize debt. What are your feelings about that? What are the implications? What are the risks? NOURIEL ROUBINI: Yeah, the ideas came from
the left, of course. But what has been happening is that actually
in recent years, even mainstream people– Ben Bernanke spoke and was potentially positive
about– helicopter drop of money is another way of speaking about the MMT. Adair Turner was the head of the Financial
Stability Authority In the UK. Or even Stan Fischer and his colleagues at
BlackRock a few months ago have come up with an idea about monetizing– ASH BENNINGTON:
Former vice chair of the Fed. NOURIEL ROUBINI: Former vice chair to the
Fed came out with idea on a temporary monetization of fiscal deficits. I think people recognize, first of all, that
fiscal policy is going to be necessary when there is the next economic downturn, because
we are reaching the limit of what you can do with monetary policy. And secondly, if you issue more public debt
and you don’t monetize it, then long rates can go higher, and therefore there’s some
crowding out. And therefore, that monetary fiscal easing
has to be accompanied by monetary easing, whether it’s fully coordinated MMT or whether
it’s informally coordinated, essentially, if you combine on a fiscal stimulus with monetization
of those deficits. And then, effectively, you have some variant
of MMT or helicopter drop or people’s QE or [INAUDIBLE] that Stan Fischer and others are
speaking about. Now, it’s controversial, because on one side,
some people have been critical, saying, if you are doing monetization of fiscal debt,
you’re going to end up into massive high inflation and the basement of their currency and the
valuation. But if there is a slack in the economy during
the recession, the slack’s in goods and labor market, then all that extra money is not going
to lead to inflation. So under those conditions over the price economic
activity, of course you can do variants of MMT, and it boosts economic activity and aggregate
demand. ASH BENNINGTON: Well, it’s interesting, because
on the other side of the coin, we heard about the risks of inflation prior to QE, prior
to incredibly low interest rates. And the velocity of money collapsed, and there
was never the inflation that was expected to come. So you do wonder, will it really come now
or not? NOURIEL ROUBINI: Yeah, as I said, if we’re
in a situation in which there is slack, like a next recession, I think inflation is unlikely
to come back. If anything, you’ll have worries about deflation
or lowflation. Inflation has been low for a number of reasons. For a while, of course, there was significant
slack in goods and labor market. There was this collapse, of course, of velocity,
and therefore all that extra base money created by central bank was being hoarded in the form
of excess reserves, rather than putting being put back at work, and therefore money did
not cause inflation. But even now, where in the US and some other
parts of the world have reached something closer to full employment, and there’s not
much slack in goods market, we’re still seeing inflation low. So probably, there are also more structural
reasons why inflation is low, whether it’s trade, migration, globalization. That could be part of the story. Whether it is workers are weaker and unions
are also weak, in a world in unions have less power, and there’s been a shift in power from
labor to capital for a number of reasons. Whether it’s the gig economy, whether it is
an Amazon– effect that implies that there is less pricing power of traditional retailers. So there are a whole bunch of reasons why
the Phillips curve, both for wages and for prices, have become flatter and flatter, not
on a temporary basis, but more of a permanent basis. So we live in a world in which actually, inflation
is likely to stay low. And therefore, when the next recession is
going to hit, we’ll have a tough choice on what to do. We’ll have to go all even more unconventional. ASH BENNINGTON: One of the things that’s interesting
is, I regularly read your Project Syndicate column, and you’ve made the distinction between
a depression in aggregate demand and a negative exogenous supply-side shock as a cause of
recession, and the different policy mechanisms that are required to address each of those. Could you talk a little bit about those distinctions
and why they’re so important in understanding global economies? NOURIEL ROUBINI: Well, they are important
because the global financial crisis– you can think of it as being a major global aggregate
demand shock, and a collapse of animal spirits. Therefore, the policy response of easing monetary
policies in fiscal policy, bailing out illiquid but solvent agents, was the right one. ASH BENNINGTON: Traditional Keynesian economics. NOURIEL ROUBINI: Yeah, traditional Keynesian
economics. What I have noticed, however, is that some
of the tail risks that may hit the global economy in the next few years may not be aggregate
demand shock, but negative aggregate supply shock. If we’re going to have restriction to trade
because of US-China or other protectionist policies by US or another country, that’s
a shock that reduces economic activity while increases, also, inflation because of protection. It leads to higher cost of importing a variety
of goods and services. If you’re going to have Brexit or other shocks
that reduce potential growth, you have lower potential growth, and you’re going to have
a potentially higher costs, because of the trade friction. Of course, if there was another oil shock,
because we’d go to war with Iran in the Middle East, like ’73, like ’79, like ’99, there
were global stagflationary shocks, growth is going to be lower, and inflation is going
to be higher. And of course, in a world in which there is
a populist backlash against trade, migration, and globalization and technology, economic
policies are becoming more nationalistic, more inward, restricting migration or restricting
trade or restricting FDI. And all these frictions are essentially equivalent
to negative supply shocks that reduce all growth and rising inflation. ASH BENNINGTON: That’s very interesting, because
you’ve just talked about the stagflation scenario, which is something that we haven’t heard about
for a very long time. In fact, our younger viewers probably won’t
remember this. You’ve had a great deal of history thinking
about crisis. You wrote a great book called Crisis Economics
with Stephen Mihm, where you looked at crises going back to the South Sea bubble, the Mississippi
Company. And when people think about these supply-side
shocks– you think about things like the Suez Crisis, the Yom Kippur War in ’73, the 79
Revolution– we haven’t experienced anything even remotely like that causing stagflation
in the US. Is that really a risk if these scenarios play
out? NOURIEL ROUBINI: Well, if some of these negative
supply shocks were to materialize, certainly it will have a negative impact on growth. Certainly, the globalization or fragmentation
of the global economy or balkanization is going to imply that, say, a global supply
chain in tech, in manufacturing industry, is going to be creating frictions, going to
increase cost. And therefore, you’ll have a negative supply
shock that increases prices and reduces growth. Now, the short-term response to this risk
of central bank and also fiscal policy has been easing for a number of reasons. Reason number one is that, compared to the
’70s, inflation and inflation expectations are low. So the risk of an un-anchoring upward is still
relatively low. Two, some of the shocks might lead to a price-level
effect, rather than a sustained increase in inflation. So some central banks can look through it. And three, while they are aggregate supply
shocks, they’re also aggregate demand shocks at the same time. The collapse of Capex because of, say, the
option value of waiting. Or if there is going to be protectionists,
import prices go higher, and consumers are going to have a reduction in real disposable
income and are going to consume less. And therefore, in the short run, the right
policy response, of course, is to have monetary and fiscal easing. What I point out is that if these shocks are
not transitory, but they’re permanent, they’re going to permanently reduce growth and increase
potentially, prices, then the right response is not monetary and fiscal easing. Because if you do monetary and fiscal easing,
like in the ’70s, you may end up, eventually, with runaway inflation, and with unsustainable
fiscal deficit and debt. Instead, the right policy would be to not
accommodate them, but to adjust. If Brexit occurs, potential growth in the
UK is lower. And with potential growth, you cannot stimulate
the economy as much. If we’re going to have a full-scale trade
and tech war with the US and China, global growth is going to be lower, potentially. And if you ease monetary policy, you’re not
going to be able to resolve a negative permanent supply shock with monetary and fiscal stimulus. And if you try to do so eventually, not in
the short run, you might have, also, upward inflationary pressure, in spite of these structural
factors that are keeping inflation low in the short run. ASH BENNINGTON: I mean, talking about structural
factors, we’ve also had a dramatic increase in domestic energy production here in the
US that may offset it. And as prices rise, it will become more economical
to extract here in the US at higher price points. Does that have an impact on the ability to
weather a shock, effectively an energy shock from importing? NOURIEL ROUBINI: Well, it’s true that compared
to the ’70s, our reliance on energy production and consumption is lower structurally. And we have, now, shale gas and oil that effectively
reduces the impact of a negative supply shock. But I would make the following caveats. First of all, many other parts of the world
are net oil importers, in Europe, and Turkey, in India and China and many emerging markets,
in Japan. So a shock that increases all prices above
$100 per barrel is going to negatively impact the rest of the world. Secondly, even in the United States, we’re
a net steel and net energy importer. We’re not yet a net energy exporter. So the overall impact of an oil shock is negative. And there’s a distributional effects. Oil producers or energy producers are going
to be better off. Their profits are going to go higher. But they’re not going to do much more production
or investment, while the impacts are going to be very negative on the consumers of oil,
starting with households. If you have oil above $100 a barrel because
a geopolitical risk in the Middle East, and you have gasoline prices at $4 to $6 a gallon,
then the impact negatively on real disposable income and consumption is bigger than any
positive impact that comes on oil producers from that oil shock. So the distribution. effect is that there’s still a negative aggregate
demand shock for the US economy. So we cannot be so blase about it and say,
because we produce so much oil, it’s not going to impact us. The distributional effects could be significant. Households are going to be worse off, and
that could be a tipping point for a slowdown in consumption, because the only thing that’s
been holding the economy going with Capex being so weak has been private consumption. So either an oil shock or a protectionits
shock may be the tipping point for private consumption. ASH BENNINGTON: And potentially another collapse
in demand. NOURIEL ROUBINI: Yeah, that’s a risk. ASH BENNINGTON: Shift gears a little bit. One of the things that caught my attention
in September was the dislocations in the repo market. Could you talk a little bit about the importance
of the repo market, what function it serves, and what you think might have caused those
massive spikes in rates? NOURIEL ROUBINI: Yeah, I mean, what does that
mean? Of course, the repo market is important, because
effectively, more than the Fed funds rate market right now, financial institutions,
not just commercial banks, but those shadow banks, rely on the repo market for their needs
of liquidity and lending, money, and so on. I think part of what has happened was that
the Federal Reserve, when it started its policy of quantitative tightening, believed that
actually, the amount of excess reserves that were needed in the system were lower than
otherwise, and that quantitative tightening, allowing, essentially, the roll-off of maturing
debt, implied there was a shrinkage of excess reserves. And then you have, suddenly, a situation in
which there is a demand for reserves. So when the corporate sector, at the end of
a quarter, needs a lot of cash to pay taxes, or have a situation of that sort. And the other thing that has happened has
been then, of course, a number of shadow banks, including hedge funds, have been using the
repo market as a way of borrowing money, as a way of then going into a variety of carry
trades, borrow short low to make risky investments. So that demand, the repo market for liquidity,
has had spikes that are cyclical and structural when the supply of essential liquidity was
limited. That’s why the Fed is worrying about a similar
shock occurring again towards the end of the year. I would say that since the Fed has gone aggressively
towards providing liquidity and increasing its balance sheet, again, most likely, these
problems are going to be contained. ASH BENNINGTON: So we talked a little bit
about China earlier, and there’s a lot to unpack. There is potential for a currency war, a trade
war, effectively, balkanization of the technology infrastructure. There’s a lot going on. You’ve written about China as a potential
Thucydides trap. Could you talk a little bit about what your
view is in that context and what that means? NOURIEL ROUBINI: Yeah my view– the strategic
rivalry between US and China is going to stay with us for a long period of time. I remember about four years ago, in November
of 2015, I was with a delegation in Beijing. We had the honor of meeting President Xi Jinping
in the Great Hall of the People just off Tiananmen Square. And this was actually a year before Trump
was elected. He spent the first 10 minutes speaking formally,
specifically, about the Thucydides trap. For those who don’t know it, Thucydides was
the great historian that essentially wrote the history of why a rising Athens and new
rising power facing an existing power, Sparta, led to war between Athens and Sparta. And that term now has become, essentially,
a code name for a situation which has a rising power facing an existing power. ASH BENNINGTON: Graham Allison– NOURIEL ROUBINI:
And Graham Allison, from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard two years later,
wrote the famous book now, Destined to War: Will the US and China Avoid the Thucydides
Trap? Now, what Xi Jinping was telling us was that
the rise of China will be peaceful, and therefore, we shouldn’t worry about the Thucydides trap. But guess what? We’re now two years later where we’re in the
middle of a trade war, a currency war, a technology, war a rather cold war. Alison pointed out that in 12 out of 16 cases,
when you have a rising power facing an existing one, there is a hot war. I don’t think in the case of US and China,
we’re going to have a hot war, even if there are strategists both in Beijing and Washington
who are thinking about those tail risks. But certainly, the risk of a cold war between
US and China, I think, is a rising risk. It’s important, because for the last 40 years
or so since 1979, when China opened up to the world with the reforms, of Deng Xiaoping,
or since 1989, when we had the collapse of the Soviet Union and the fall of the Berlin
Wall, we have been in a process of greater globalization and more trade in goods and
services and competent labor in technology and data and information. And instead, if a collision course with the
US and China will occur, we’ll be at the beginning of deglobalization, of decoupling, of fragmentation
of balkanization. And just to give you an example, know today,
the US is worried about the 5G of Huawei and having a back door to the Chinese government. And of course, those 5G networks are going
to control our telecom and our cell phones in the next few years. But in the next few years, once we have autonomous
vehicles, we need a 5G system to make sure that millions of cars that are autonomous
don’t hit each other. But a few years from now, every piece of consumer
electronics, even a coffee machine or a toaster or even a microwave is going to be 5G cheap. So if you believe that China is listening
to our devices, using microphones and drones and whatever not, they can do so also with
a coffee machine or with a toaster. And therefore, if you’re going to have a technology
war, eventually a technology becomes a trade war. And therefore, I think you are going in that
direction. If you look at all the data, we are already
in a process of decoupling with the US and China. We see it in the trade side. We see it in then FDI, with Chinese FDI in
the world has collapsed, or towards the US has collapsed by 90% in the last couple of
years. We see it in movements of talent, where now
people worry in the US that every Chinese researcher or every student might be potentially
suspicious or a spy, whatever. We see it in a variety of other technological
areas, where clearly, China wants to achieve strategic dominance in the industries of the
future, where there is AI, telecom, quantum computing, biotech, electric vehicles, autonomous
vehicles. And the US now sees China as being a strategic
rival of the United States. And therefore, this tension between the two
powers is always going to dominate the technology of the future, going to imply restriction
of movements of technology. So we see that across the spectrum. I mean, to give a couple of recent examples,
even restriction of data and information, there is this dating app for gay people that
was purchased recently by a Chinese media firm. And now the US is asking China or this Chinese
firm to divest from it, because of worries that some people that stay in the closet might
be subject to blackmail if you have control of their data. Or people now are worried that maybe TikTok
might be used as a way of essentially getting data about what US teenagers are doing. There are even some ideas about making sure
that even TikTok is divested from a Chinese owner. So it’s not just a restriction in trade and
goods and services, in capital, in labor, but also technology, information, and data. So across the board, we are in a process of
de-globalization and decoupling between US and China. It’s going to occur slowly over time, and
a trade truce is going to postpone some of it until after the US election. But I think the medium-term trend is deglobalization
and decoupling. ASH BENNINGTON: I mean, the scope of the problem
that you just described is absolutely enormous. If you think about the size of the bilateral
trade relationship, and then you talk about these technology issues that were things we
didn’t even think about as recently as five years ago, it’s an extraordinary degree of
coupling technologically, economically– all of the diplomatic and Asia-Pacific military
issues. I mean, it is an extraordinary problem. Are you ultimately optimistic about it, pessimistic
about it? Do you think we just blunder forward for a
while? I mean, it almost feels as though there has
to be a resolution, or there has to be conflict. Or is that too simple of a way to look at
it? NOURIEL ROUBINI: Well I don’t believe in a
hot war, but there is certainly risk of a cold war between US and China. Some people are more pessimistic. They think of a sheer cold war and just strategic
competition between these two major powers. Other people are more constructive, say, the
former prime minister of Australia Kevin Rudd, who’s an expert on China, says that we should
have managed strategic competition between US and China, so that we compete in some dimensions,
and we cooperate in others. Other people have a variant. They use the term “co-petition,” where there
is competition in some dimensions and cooperation in other ones. I think that one important point is going
to be Europe, because of course, the US and China are going to say, either you are with
us or against us. Either my 5G or their 5G, my AI or their AI. I think that maybe Europe can have a important
role in making sure there is still an international economic order where you follow some rules,
even if there is competition in some strategic dimension, and we don’t have a destruction
of the international economic order that we created with the WTO, the IMF, the World Bank,
and the UN, NATO, after World War II. So it could escalate into a full-scale cold
war, or it could be something where you compete and you cooperate on some dimensions. I don’t think that the outcome of it is very
clear for now. ASH BENNINGTON: And that conversation has
already begun, for example, in the UK, with using data infrastructure for 5G. It’s interesting. You were talking about World War II, and I
was thinking back to World War I, the notion the Guns of August scenario, that Europe had
become so economically integrated that it was simply impossible that a hot war could
take place. And I suppose the message is that we should
never take for granted that positive outcomes will occur, and we should never stop to attempt
to solve these problems. NOURIEL ROUBINI: Yeah, people make mistakes. And if you’re in a mindset where you’re fearing
the other side, then you can end up into a self-fulfilling situation, which things escalate
in a fullscale cold war or something worse than that. Therefore, leadership matters, both in the
US and in China and in Europe. Leaders can make sure that some semblance
of the international economic order that gave us peace and prosperity for the last 70 years
stays with us. If we’re going to go the direction of a full-scale
trade and cold war, the economic damage is going to be huge. When there was the first Cold War between
US and Soviet Union, you got a sense of, we were doing barely any trade, a little bit
of oil, a little bit of wheat, and so on. But there is such an integration of the US
and China and global supply chains from Asia to Europe and so on that decoupling is going
to be much more of a negative supply shock for the global economy, let alone the geopolitical
implications of it. But finding the right balance within cooperating
and competing is going to require leaders that have the long-term view of how to manage
this complicated relation, because of all the geopolitical issues of our time, how to
manage the rise of China and make sure it doesn’t lead to conflict is going to be the
most important geopolitical issues for the next decades to come. ASH BENNINGTON: Do you have any confidence
that we see leadership in the United States, either presently or on the horizon, that understands
the complexity and scope of these problems? NOURIEL ROUBINI: One can be only hopeful that
there will be changes, politically, in the US so that we have, actually, leadership. China is rising. If China is rising, you need to have a strategy
towards Asia. The first thing that, say, Trump did when
he came to power in the first week was to pull out of TPP. And at least Obama had a strategy. China is rising. There’s a pivot of the US towards Asia. People cannot be just sending a few Marines
to Australia. There has to be an economic lag, and the economic
lag was TPP, to make sure that the Asian countries and the Asian Pacific countries stay in the
economic orbit of the United States. Well, Trump pulled the plug on that one, and
the economic pillar of maintaining that strategic role in Asia has disappeared. So unless you have a vision about how you
engage your allies in Asia– and you have to engage with them, and you have to support
them, whether it’s Korea, whether it’s Japan, whether it’s the other Asian camps. Otherwise, they’re going to end up into the
economic and then political and geopolitical orbit of China. So you need a strategy. But that probably implies having leaders in
the US that have that vision about how, in a constructive way, you engage China. This cannot be containment. It has to be engaging the allies of the United
States and Europe and the rest of the world in Asia, so make sure that the economic re-balance
system remains an economic liberal system. ASH BENNINGTON: So Kennan’s doctrine from
the Cold War will not suffice. We need more engaged leadership. NOURIEL ROUBINI: Absolutely so. The Soviet Union was a declining power, and
therefore, containing it eventually led to a collapse of the Soviet Union. With all its flaws, China is a rising power. Even if potential growth has fallen, it’s
going to be at least 4% to 5% for the next few years. And if you try to contain China, as opposed
to engage it, the risk is that China is going to become more aggressive. So it’s a much bigger challenge to manage
the relationship with China than it was with the Soviet Union. If you make stupid mistakes, then it could
escalate into something, which, some of the conflicts both, economic, financial, but also
military and geopolitical, could become tense. In Asia, of course, there are tensions in
Taiwan, in Hong Kong, the East China Sea, the South China Sea. All these things are important, and having
leaders in the West who know how to engage China, to push back on certain things, but
engage it in others is going to be so absolutely key. ASH BENNINGTON: And very complicated potential
military flashpoints in the South China Sea around the shipping lanes. NOURIEL ROUBINI: Yeah, absolutely so. And one should recognize that some of the
issues of China are legitimate. Any power that becomes a major economic trading
and financial power, also as to flags, is also a military and geopolitical power. China is worried that, since they are importing
commodities and materials from all over the world, they have to have some insurance that
the shipping lanes, like the Strait of Malacca, are going to remain open. So the fact that China has a blue-water navy
right now doesn’t have to be seen as aggressive. It could be purely defensive. But that’s where there is a source for miscalculation. What they think as defensive, we can think
of it as being aggressive, and then things can escalate. ASH BENNINGTON: Guns of August again. NOURIEL ROUBINI: Yeah. ASH BENNINGTON: So obviously, we’re coming
into a 2020 election cycle. One of the things that’s coming up quite a
great deal is the rise of populism, issues of economic inequality. What’s your view of that? NOURIEL ROUBINI: Yes, throughout the world,
we’re seeing this populist backlash against trade, against globalization, against migration,
against supranational authority, even against technological innovation and maybe threatening
jobs and opportunity. And this is happening, I would say, not just
in advanced economies– the election of Trump in the US or Brexit in the UK or the rise
of the political power of some populist parties of the extreme right or left in some parts
of Europe, but you also see authoritarian strongmen becoming entrenching powers in many
emerging market economies. You have Putin in Russia. You have Erdogan in Turkey. You have Orban in Hungary. You have Maduro in Venezuela. You have Bolsonaro in Brazil, Duterte in the
Philippines. And Xi Jinping is also an authoritarian leader. And even Modi in India has some authority
unrestricted. So there is even a threat to liberal democracy. Now, what’s happened, I think, is in part
concerns that are economic, and then there are also concerns about identity, social,
cultural, religious, ethnic identity. On the economic side of it, I think that the
lesson we’ve learned that was known to our economy is that while trade and globalization,
migration, increases the economic pie, there are also distributional effects. Some people benefit out of it. Some people don’t benefit as much of it. There are winners and losers. There are those who are going to go ahead,
and those that are left behind. And unfortunately, whether it’s trade or globalization
or migration or technology, there are plenty of people that are left behind, that are struggling. And it’s not just trade and migration. In the future, of course, technological innovation
in AI is going to threaten jobs and incomes and entire firms and industries. And therefore, these distributional effects
have to be addressed. You have to make sure that globalization and
digitalization doesn’t leave people behind and makes it successful for most people. Otherwise, the populist backlash is going
to become more extreme. ASH BENNINGTON: You’ve written about this
devastating trinity, from AI specifically and technology more generally, that it’s effectively
labor-saving, capital-biased, and skills-biased, which effectively serves to be a pro-cyclical,
I guess, effect for income inequality. NOURIEL ROUBINI: Yeah, income inequality has
been rising. Initially, it was a story about trade, migration,
and globalization. But technology, innovation, and skill-biased
labor saving implies that if you have capital, you’re going to do well. If you are in the top 20%-30% distribution
of skills, you’re going to do well. But if you are a low-skilled laborer– not
just blue-collar, but increasingly even white collar jobs are going to be threatened by
technology– then your income and your jobs are going to be threatened by this technological
innovation. I think part of the risk is, we may be fighting
the last war. Trump is worried right now about the application
of trade and migration for jobs and income. But make the following thought experiment. Suppose we have a big wall all over the US,
and nobody can get in. Suppose we have 100% tariffs and we’re not
importing anything from the rest of the world in the next five to 10 to 15 years. The job disruption that occur through technology–
I don’t know whether it takes 10 or 15 years until we have semi-autonomous vehicles, but
you have millions of Uber drivers or millions of truck drivers, the Teamsters. And those jobs are going to be gone. And those jobs have nothing to do with trade. They have nothing to do with migration. So even if you, quote, have a big wall, and
you have tariffs, technology is going to disrupt many more jobs and incomes and entire firms
and industries, more than trade and globalization. And we have to think about solutions about
those problems. Otherwise, the rise in inequality is going
to come from technology, and these other forces of globalization are going to lead to an even
bigger backlash against globalization. ASH BENNINGTON: It’s extraordinary. It’s something that’s been happening in blue-collar
jobs for decades. And now, it seems that people who live in
cities and read The New York Times are concerned about it, because they realize that their
jobs are being outsourced. Or there’s this unusual shift that’s happening,
with jobs that were previously outsourced. They’ve now been parameterized and structured
in a way that they can be fed into computers. For example, law, my job, for example. We have, increasingly, stories being written
about financial and economic data by machines. And it seems as though the potential opportunities
to displace labor with technology are virtually limitless. NOURIEL ROUBINI: They are limitless. And what has happened that is a different
route from the past is that with the first, second, and third industrial revolutions,
we’ve moved labor from farm and agriculture to manufacturing, then from manufacturing
to services. But now, many of the service jobs are also
threatened by technology. Two, the speed at which these things are occurring
is much more rapid than the past. And therefore, the disruptions are going to
be severe. And as you point out, for every job created,
say, by Amazon, there may be 10 other retail jobs that are disappearing. And now a whole bunch of services, financial
services, through fintech are going to be subject to large amount of automation, payment
system. Threat allocation, robo-advisors, asset management,
insurance. Transportation– we have autonomous vehicles,
going to be disrupted app. Media is being disrupted. Legal firms are disrupted. Audit firms are disrupted. So even good jobs that are white-collar, middle-,
upperincome, can be disrupted by technology. So it’s really a much more sweeping process
that’s going to be highly disruptive in the future. ASH BENNINGTON: That leads us right back to
economic populism here in the United States, if we look at some of the field in the Democratic
Party talking about things like universal basic income and wealth taxes and some other
things that wouldn’t have been on the table as recently as four years ago. What’s your view about those? Are they things that could potentially be
helpful, or are they just destructive, in that they’re going to create economic dislocation? NOURIEL ROUBINI: Well, we need to do something
to help those who are left behind. I would say the first best policy will be
to provide the skills, the human capital, the tools, the relocation, to make sure that
everybody survives and thrives in a globalized digital economy. It’s easier said than done. Not everybody can become a venture capitalist
or entrepreneur. Some people will, but some people are not
going to be able to do so. So if people are going to be left behind,
then I think the other thing is to have a broader social safety net. If you cannot have the same job for life,
and you have to hop from one job to another, you have to make sure that if it’s bad luck,
rather than your own characteristics that led you to lose a job, you have enough unemployment
benefits and reskilling, you have enough health care, you have enough other things that are
going to be pensions and others that are going to make sure that then you can move from point
A to B to C. That’s going to be part of the solution, to try– like in the Nordic model,
to help jobs rather than protecting specific jobs. So you need to have that new type of a social
safety net. Paradoxically, you need a wider a social safety
net to make sure people are more flexible, because if there is not a social safety net,
people are going to resist globalization and technology. If they make sure that, then, if they lose
a job they can move to other ones, and there is a safety net, then they’re going to be
more flexible. And if all of these things are not going to
be sufficient, of course, some variants of universal basic income may be part of the
solution. But all these solutions essentially imply
that the economic pie becomes bigger, but the distribution of it becomes more unequal,
because owners of physical and financial capital do better, those that are skilled workers
are doing better, and everybody else is left behind. So you have the margin to tax the winners
and then redistribute stuff to those who are left behind, you get redistributed as income
and subsidy. You can do it as a provision of public services
that are essentially free, like health, education, and reskilling and so on, or you could do
it in different ways. But we’re going to probably have to move towards
a more progressive system of taxation and try to make sure that those that are left
behind are less left behind. ASH BENNINGTON: I was curious about the Nordic
model, because these are very small, homogeneous countries. And how do you administer something like that
on a scale of 330 million Americans living in diverse regions and different regional
economies? It’s an interesting question. NOURIEL ROUBINI: Yeah, you’re right. They are much more homogeneous societies,
even less so than the past, given migration. But the idea that you should protect workers
rather than specific jobs, I think, a principle that can be applied anywhere. If an industry or a firm, because of technology
or trade, is disappearing, propping it up is not be sufficient. Keeping the same job– ASH BENNINGTON: Always
popular. NOURIEL ROUBINI: You want to make sure that
the workers have enough to be able to survive and then move to something else. So the concept can be applied even onto a
large economy like the United States. And we do have the fiscal resources, if the
economic pie becomes bigger, to tax those who are successful, to try to help those who
are left behind. ASH BENNINGTON: Does it involve changing the
structure of the tax system, meaning, is it sufficient to simply increase things like
corporate taxes some marginal percentage, income taxes? Or is it, in your view, going to take something
like taxing wealth, as some have suggested? NOURIEL ROUBINI: Well, whether you tax wealth
or you tax more the income of high-income individuals, or whether you tax slightly more
capital and less labor, there are pros and cons about doing it for wealth as opposed
to income as opposed to capital income versus labor income. But I think the basic principle is, the economic
pie becomes bigger. Some people are winners. Some people left behind. Those who are left behind– eventually, it’s
going to cause economic and social and political instability. And then you have to tax those who are winners
to provide either public services or income or subsidies to the other ones to maintain
an economic balance. Even from a point of view of economic growth,
leaving aside the political instability, if there is too much redistribution of income
from labor to capital, from wages to profits, you’re transferring income from those who
have a propensity to spend to those who have a high marginal propensity to save. So these concerns about secular stagnation
might be in part due to the rise of inequality. Karl Marx had this view that capitalism is
going to self-destruct because as profits become larger and wages become lower, you’re
going to have this theory of under-consumption. And I think some of the weakness we’ve seen
in the last few years has been driven by this rising inequality. For a while, we could paper it over by keeping
up with the Joneses, by borrowing against their housing wealth, and that’s why we got
the global financial crisis. But now we have the same dismal income prospects,
and people cannot borrow like the past. So we have to find much more fundamental solutions
to this problem of under-consumption. Otherwise, you have both economic and political
instability. ASH BENNINGTON: Marx was much better at diagnosis
than prescription, wasn’t he? NOURIEL ROUBINI: He was, but certainly, the
diagnosis there are some potential fundamental problems in capitalism that can’t be addressed,
happened. But even after the first and the second industrial
revolution, there was the same squeeze on wages and on labor income. And those counter the benevolent, I would
say, capitalists, realized that you’re going to have, eventually, revolutions like in Russia
and China in the West. We created a social welfare system, free education,
health care, unemployment benefits, worker’s rights, and other things that increased, actually,
incomes of the workers to maintain social economic stability. And that’s why that mixed economy, market
economy with welfare system, led to a change of capitalist societies that maintained them
successful and stable. And we’re having the same challenge right
now. Either we reform capitalism to make it work
for everybody, or eventually, you’ll have either revolutions or civil wars or political
instability. That’s a story of the past. ASH BENNINGTON: So perhaps it’s in continuity
that the Silicon Valley potentates are looking at things as modern-day Henry Fords, perhaps,
things such as universal basic income and other schemes to democratize education and
do other things that would be pro-social, progressive. NOURIEL ROUBINI: Yeah. Well, they’re resisting, however, being taxed
more. I think that we’ll have a backlash against
Big Tech, not only because of its economic power, but also because of– everybody has
to pay a fair share of the tax system. and That’s not happening, especially in the
tech sector, in part because of offshoring and so on. So we’ll need to have a different tax system,
where those who are winners are paying a fair share of the taxes as well. ASH BENNINGTON: And also, the different tax
treatment for private equity versus ordinary gains. NOURIEL ROUBINI: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. ASH BENNINGTON: So Nouriel, here we are in
December. As we head into 2020, what are you going to
be looking for specifically? NOURIEL ROUBINI: As I pointed out, there are
a variety of scenarios. I’m more confident that we are going to continue
with this global economic slowdown. But optimists say we’re going to have a reflation
and expansion. And the pessimists, of course, are going to
look at potential for shocks that are going to lead to a recession. I think that the key things to look for the
next few months are going to be, one, what happens with the US and China, how much there
is a real truce and improved trade and tech relations, as opposed to a truce that leads
them to an escalation of a technology war. ASH BENNINGTON: Are there any specific indicators
you’re looking for in that particular outcome? NOURIEL ROUBINI: Well, the specific one will
be that while there’ll be a truce on trade, I fear that this technology war between the
US and China is going to escalate, and the US may take various types of legislations
or regulatory restrictions that restricts further, for example, what China can do in
the United States. There is a new proposal that the Commerce
Department may have the right to block any technology that comes from abroad, that is
coming from a foreign adversary. That will create a whole new system of bureaucracy
equivalent to [INAUDIBLE]. So the technology space, I think, is a very
important one. Regardless of the results of the UK elections,
whether it’s going to be a true process of negotiation that leads to a soft Brexit, as
opposed to a contentious relation between the UK and Europe, it’s going to be something
to monitor. I think that the tensions in the Middle East
still can explode. I don’t know whether Iran can stay for another
year under these very severe sanctions imposed on them without doing something like escalating
some of the friction that leads them to a military attack by the United State. And that could escalate, certainly. And I’m going to also look at what happens
to Europe, how much political tensions are going to continue to occur in Germany, in
France, in Italy, and Spain the four important key eurozone economies. And whether the Trump policies on trade lead
to the escalation just not with China, but also with other parts of the world. Are we going to have a trade war on technology
and digital taxation with Europe? Are we going to impose taxes and tariffs on
European exports of cars? And there are lots of other things that can
happen on the trade protectionist side as well. ASH BENNINGTON: So a landscape fraught with
quite a bit of peril. NOURIEL ROUBINI: Absolutely. And hopefully, some of those tail risks are
not going to be materializing, in which case, maybe this slowdown occurs without the recession,
or maybe growth could pick up slightly stronger than otherwise in a more positive scenario. ASH BENNINGTON: I love ending on a positive
note. NOURIEL ROUBINI: Yes. ASH BENNINGTON: Thank you for joining us,
Nouriel. NOURIEL ROUBINI: Great being with you today. Cheers.


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  2. i refuse to listen to this Idiot – the whole Crypto community laughs abou this Idiot and hopes he retires soon and shut up

  3. I respect Mr. Roubini but he sounds like a mainstream CNBC finance reporter just touting the standard business as usual mantra. I expect a lot more out of Mr. Roubini about how the Fed has distorted markets by enabling financialization and malinvestments.
    And, this has led to a fulfillment of George Soros reflextivity theory where auto investing, buybacks and algorithms just continue cause the equity markets to leave realism behind and continue to contribute the the great wealth divide.

  4. Real Vision; don't you have some kind of filter for interviewing people that DO NOT WORK FOR THE GLOBALISTS? This guy is a true bankster and idiot spreading false information for the benefit of the central banking system which will blow up and get extinguished soon!

  5. Hey, it doesn’t matter that we have $1trillion deficit, which is 20-25% of the budget, the answer is tax people to pay “their fair share”… yeah, that’ll do it.

  6. I can't trust an economist that isn't a billionaire. If you were so right, the capital you attained over the course of your career should be in the hundreds of millions.

  7. We are in a period investors have never faced such a disorientation of creditable professional advise. First the Powell pivot and now the Roubini reversal. Quoted July 2019 – Roubini = “It’s a very scary time for the global economy,” the head of Roubini Macro Associates, sometimes known as “Dr. Doom,” said in an interview with Bloomberg TV. He said he expects a recessionary shock to greatly materialize next year. The rub for Roubini is that monetary policy makers’ ability to respond to shocks is impaired, with benchmark interest rates still at historically low — and in some cases negative — levels. High levels of debt will also pose a constraint, he said. 2020 will be global recession. Feds will ease but very limited on what they can do…more Q/E wont work. Markets will collapse! There will be huge fiscal stimulus. Helicopter drop of money." In the end THEY JUST DON'T KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT.

  8. “Rant rant…I hate bitcoin…rant rant…only racist white teenagers like bitcoin…rant rant…bleep expletive swear word…rant rant” SUBTITLES “I’ve been wrong about bitcoin for 10yrs and completely missed all gains and I’m bitter about it and get repeatedly proven wrong in all arguments on twitter but I’m a famous economist so I demand you respect me as if I’m the smartest economist on earth” 🤮

  9. Fantastic interview. Everyone here who is leaving disapproving comments because Nouriel said something you didn't like about Bitcoin, grow up.

  10. completely useless convo. No valuable or intresting insights, completely trivial theories constantly refurbished by Roubini.

  11. Dr. Doom, doesn’t call out the issuance of dangerous debt and existing monetary policy a SCAM, even though he thinks Bitcoin is a scam. Lol ! When folks can barely make ends meet, and are one paycheck away from being broke, the real economy is not working. When middle class Americans are being priced out of their homes due to increased Property Taxes, due to central bank EASY MONEY, monetary policy isn’t working for average Americans.

  12. terrible interview no substance just some mumbling about MMT and monetary/fiscal policy to cover the typical buzzwords.

  13. I couldn’t get past the first 20 min of this verbal diarrhea! Banks have more liquidity?! Then why does the fed need to inject billions into the repo markets daily because the banks can’t reach their minimum reserves at close?

  14. HAHAHA. THIS GUY IS A DR and he thinks we're at full employment? How about using the real statistics, like the labor force participation rate as opposed to the phony unemployment rates (post 1994) that don't account for workers who have dropped out of searching for employment. I bet he believes the 2% CPI figures too. And believes in Santa Claus

  15. This guy loves central banks, MMT, and bottomless money printing. He actually think the asset prices made a natural recovery. I don’t trust anything he says

  16. Roubini was dead wrong about decoupling of the markets in 2007. The problem with these guys is they are wrong half the time and the rest of the time they are "stopped clocks."Their "insight" and "expertise isn't worth squat." Finished typing this at 01:30

  17. Didn't he say bitcoin is antisemitic recently? 😂😂 Get this goon off the channel. His cred from a call in 2006 is gone by now.

  18. Simple l, elegant, and spoken eloquently this is how intelligent financial advice is given… analyzing this guy it's unbiased, realistic and educated an investor like myself to take risk but also be cautious and hedge for an array of unforeseeable factors going into 2020

  19. China is a paper tiger. All lenders to China will lose all their money eventually. The biggest ponzi scheme ever, the whites fell for it.

  20. sorry, but if Donald J Trump win at 23 of November of 2020, it will be at least 10 years of bull market, dow jones at 100.000 in 2030, and S&P at 10.000 in 2030, thanks to Donald J Trump, my house worth at least a 10 millions dollars !!!! thank you Donal J Trump !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  21. Just another proponent of the Calergi plan. His cultural opinions made me hate him, even thought he probably have economic wisdoms.

  22. He's adjusted his view on the crash because he sees that the Fed can basically do what it wants when it wants to bail out the banks. Basically print more money the only real risk with this is either inflation or deflation. He talked to the fact to why we haven't seen any substantial inflation. I personally don't think we're anywhere near a deflationary period. So as long as those factors remain like truly full employment which no one really thinks will happen soon. 2020 will not see a recession and as long as the china trade deal holds up 2021 won't either just on the mere fact $130 billon or more of the 200 billion they agreed to is scheduled for 2021 and we know that the Fed changes usually take almost a full year to effect the real economy. Just bc he isn't saying the sky is falling people are upset. I think his view is spot on moderate growth in the US for 2020. There's not a recession in 2020.

  23. Isn't this the same quack "doctor" who called Bitcoin anti-semitic, sorry Mr. Jew but not everything is antisemitic.

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