Sunday, August 3, 2008

Nouriel Roubini: The Prophet Jeremiah or Joseph in Egypt?

A few weeks ago I wrote the following:
It is worth noting that Nouriel Roubini predicted Fannie and Freddie's collapse back in August 2006. If you are curious as to how the rest of this financial crisis will unfold, take a look at Nouriel's 12 steps to financial disaster. Let me add Nouriel to my list of certified economic prophets.
Now Robin Goldwyn Blumenthal at Barrons makes a similar comparison:
LIKE THE EXHORTATIONS OF JEREMIAH TO THE NATION OF Israel before the first temple's destruction, the warnings of economist Nouriel Roubini fell on deaf ears. For the past two years Roubini, a professor at New York University, has cautioned about a huge housing bubble whose bursting would lead to a 20% drop in home prices; a collapse in subprime mortgages; a severe banking crisis and credit crunch; the near-failure of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and a U.S. recession of a magnitude not seen since the Great Depression. So far, this latter-day prophet of doom has been on the mark, though time will tell about the recession part.
I love the prophet Jeremiah analogy. I wonder, though, if the Biblical character Joseph would be a better comparison for Roubini. After all, both were taken from their home lands (Canaan, Turkey/Italy) , educated in at the finest centers of learning of their time (Egypt, Harvard), and warned that the good economic times would be followed economic bust (7 years of abundance-7 years of famine, 4 years of housing boom, 2 -3 years of housing bust and residual fallout). Joseph, of course, was better at calling the turning point and had a longer forecast horizon, but I think he still makes a better comparison than Jeremiah. What do you think?

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