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…[F]iscal austerity will envelop most advanced economies this year, rather than just the eurozone periphery and the United Kingdom. Indeed, austerity is spreading to the core of the eurozone, the United States, and other advanced economies (with the exception of Japan). Given synchronized fiscal retrenchment in most advanced economies, another year of mediocre growth could give way to outright contraction in some countries. Words: 780
So writes Nouriel Roubini for Project Syndicate in edited excerpts from his original article* entitled 5 Risks Facing The Global Economy.
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Roubini goes on to say in further edited excerpts:
With growth anemic in most advanced economies, the rally in risky assets that began in the second half of 2012 has not been driven by improved fundamentals, but rather by fresh rounds of unconventional monetary policy. Most major advanced economies’ central banks – the European Central Bank, the US Federal Reserve, the Bank of England, and the Swiss National Bank – have engaged in some form of quantitative easing, and they are now likely to be joined by the Bank of Japan….
Moreover, several risks lie ahead:
America’s mini-deal on taxes has not steered it fully away from the fiscal cliff. Sooner or later, another ugly fight will take place on the debt ceiling, the delayed sequester of spending, and a congressional “continuing spending resolution” (an agreement to allow the government to continue functioning in the absence of an appropriations law). Markets may become spooked by another fiscal cliffhanger. And even the current mini-deal implies a significant amount of drag – about 1.4% of GDP – on an economy that has grown at barely a 2% rate over the last few quarters.
While the ECB’s actions have reduced tail risks in the eurozone – a Greek exit and/or loss of market access for Italy and Spain – the monetary union’s fundamental problems have not been resolved. Together with political uncertainty, they will re-emerge with full force in the second half of the year. After all, stagnation and outright recession – exacerbated by front-loaded fiscal austerity, a strong euro, and an ongoing credit crunch – remain Europe’s norm. As a result, large – and potentially unsustainable – stocks of private and public debt remain. Moreover, given aging populations and low productivity growth, potential output is likely to be eroded in the absence of more aggressive structural reforms to boost competitiveness, leaving the private sector no reason to finance chronic current-account deficits.
China has had to rely on another round of monetary, fiscal, and credit stimulus to prop up an unbalanced and unsustainable growth model based on excessive exports and fixed investment, high saving, and low consumption. By the second half of the year, the investment bust in real estate, infrastructure, and industrial capacity will accelerate and, because the country’s new leadership – which is conservative, gradualist, and consensus-driven – is unlikely to speed up implementation of reforms needed to increase household income and reduce precautionary saving, consumption as a share of GDP will not rise fast enough to compensate – so the risk of a hard landing will rise by the end of this year.
Many emerging markets – including the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India, and China), but also many others – are now experiencing decelerating growth. Their “state capitalism” – a large role for state-owned companies; an even larger role for state-owned banks; resource nationalism; import-substitution industrialization; and financial protectionism and controls on foreign direct investment – is the heart of the problem. Whether they will embrace reforms aimed at boosting the private sector’s role in economic growth remains to be seen.
Serious geopolitical risks loom large. The entire greater Middle East – from the Maghreb to Afghanistan and Pakistan – is socially, economically, and politically unstable. Indeed, the Arab Spring is turning into an Arab Winter. While an outright military conflict between Israel and the U.S. on one side and Iran on the other side remains unlikely, it is clear that negotiations and sanctions will not induce Iran’s leaders to abandon efforts to develop nuclear weapons. With Israel refusing to accept a nuclear-armed Iran, and its patience wearing thin, the drums of actual war will beat harder. The fear premium in oil markets may significantly rise and increase oil prices by 20%, leading to negative growth effects in the US, Europe, Japan, China, India and all other advanced economies and emerging markets that are net oil importers.
While the chance of a perfect storm – with all of these risks materializing in their most virulent form – is low, any one of them alone would be enough to stall the global economy and tip it into recession and, while they may not all emerge in the most extreme way, each is, or will be, appearing in some form. As 2013 begins, the downside risks to the global economy are gathering force.
Editor’s Note: The author’s views and conclusions are unaltered and no personal comments have been included to maintain the integrity of the original article. Furthermore, the views, conclusions and any recommendations offered in this article are not to be construed as an endorsement of such by the editor.
Why are so many politicians around the world declaring that the debt crisis is “over” when debt-to-GDP ratios all over the planet continue to skyrocket? The global economy has never seen anything like the sovereign debt bubble that we are experiencing today. This insanity will continue until a day of reckoning arrives and the system implodes. Nobody knows exactly when that moment will be reached, but without a doubt it is coming. Are you ready? Words: 1270
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Risk is inevitably mispriced when unprecedented intervention suppresses risk [and, as such, the] policies that appear to have been successful for the past four years may continue to appear successful for a year or two longer but that very success comes at a steep, and as yet unpaid, price in suppressed systemic risk, cost, and consequence. [This article identifies 8] key dynamics that will continue to play out over the next two to three years [and an] understanding of the eventual consequence of such influential trends – that risk is inevitably mispriced when unprecedented intervention suppresses risk. Words: 1299
For the 28th year running I have given my views on a number of economic, financial market and political surprises for the coming year….defined as events which the average investor would only assign a 30% chance of taking place but which I believe are “probable”, having a better than 50% likelihood of happening. [Below is my list of 10 surprises for 2013, complete with my rationale for each.] Words: 1037