There’s a one-in-three chance the factors will combine to stunt growth from 2013, Roubini, who predicted the global financial crisis, said in a June 11 interview in Singapore. Other possible outcomes are “anemic but OK” global growth or an “optimistic” scenario in which the expansion improves.
“There are already elements of fragility,” he said. “Everybody’s kicking the can down the road of too much public and private debt. The can is becoming heavier and heavier, and bigger on debt, and all these problems may come to a head by 2013 at the latest.”
Elevated U.S. unemployment, a surge in oil and food prices, rising interest rates in Asia and trade disruption from Japan’s record earthquake threaten to sap the world economy. Stocks worldwide have lost more than $3.3 trillion since the beginning of May, and Roubini said financial markets by the middle of next year could start worrying about a convergence of risks in 2013.
In the U.S., a failure to address the budget deficit risks a bond market “revolt,” Roubini said. President Barack Obama’s administration has been negotiating with Republicans, who control the House of Representatives, over cutting the federal government’s long-term shortfall and raising the debt ceiling.
“We’re still running over a trillion-dollar budget deficit this year, next year and most likely in 2013,” Roubini said in a speech in Singapore on June 11. “The risk is at some point, the bond market vigilantes are going to wake up in the U.S., like they did in Europe, pushing interest rates higher and crowding out the recovery.”
Japan’s economy, the world’s third-largest, slid into a recession last quarter after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami and ensuing nuclear crisis. The government is spending an initial 4 trillion yen ($50 billion) to clean up from the disaster, which is estimated to have caused as much as 25 trillion yen in economic damage.
Roubini in July 2006 predicted a “catastrophic” global financial meltdown that central bankers would be unable to prevent. The collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in 2008 sparked turmoil that led to the worst financial crisis since the 1930s.