Renowned economist and author Nouriel Roubini said little to cheer advisors at today’s Investment Management Consultants Association conference in New York, predicting an anemic U-shaped economic recovery in the U.S.
Despite a pick up in activity in the first half of this year, Roubini predicted a slowdown in growth in the second half as the effect of the government stimulus package begins to wane. He expected gross domestic product growth to fall to 1% or 1.5% in the second half of the year from approximately 3% in the first six months of 2010.
Roubini pointed to the high unemployment rate, continued deleveraging in the housing sector and the damaged financial and credit systems as further causes for concern. He also predicted the personal savings rate will gradually increase to 8% from its current 4%; and as consumption represents 70% U.S. GDP, it will likely affect growth negatively.
Growth could be boosted by additional government stimulus, but Roubini described this as a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation. If the government backs off too quickly from its stimulus efforts, and private demand is still relatively weak, it risks pushing the economy into a double-dip recession as experienced by Japan in the late 1990s. However, if the government adds too much stimulus it may create unsustainable fiscal deficits and spur inflation.
Despite his bleak assessment for the U.S., Roubini predicted an even slower recovery in Europe and Japan. He sees governments in Europe already backing off from their stimulus efforts (mostly because many of these countries had a high level of public debt even before the crisis) and private demand is not yet strong enough to fuel the recovery without government help.
Asked by an attendee to pick one asset class that will hold up over the next decade, Roubini pointed to emerging markets. He sees a growth rate in emerging markets of 5% to 7%, versus 3% for advanced economies, and in particular, he favors China and India over other countries, such as Russia. Roubini believes China and India are more likely to continue with market-friendly economic policies.