Practical analysis for investment professionals
10 March 2015

Nouriel Roubini: Unconventional Truth Six Years after the Crisis

Posted In: Economics

It has been over six years since the start of the global financial crisis. The unconventional expansionary monetary policies that have been pursued in its wake do not seem to have delivered on their objective of a robust global economic recovery. Yet the fears that such measures would lead to hyperinflation or the collapse of the US dollar have not been realized either.

Why has reality defied expectations? I discussed these issues with the distinguished economist Nouriel Roubini in a short, nine-minute video interview last month at the 2015 Middle East Investment Conference.

Roubini argues that those who feared hyperinflation from unconventional monetary policies confused cause and effect. Policies like quantitative easing (QE) and zero-interest rates were implemented to prevent deflation and a “double-dip or triple-dip recession,” he said. The “doom-and-gloom” pessimists who anticipated the rise of gold and cryptocurrencies have been proven wrong, he noted. Gold is trading well below its highs and bitcoin was the worst performing currency in 2014, falling by nearly 60%.


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As for why these measures have failed to create robust economic growth as expected in different parts of the world, Roubini points to the “wrong policy mix,” with too much reliance on monetary expansion and not enough on fiscal stimulus. He thinks that the world’s supply of goods and services is greater than demand. Monetary policy alone can only do so much to boost aggregate demand, and government spending, particularly productive infrastructure outlays, with the obvious exception of China, could have made a difference in spurring a global economic recovery.

If gold and cryptocurrencies have not lived up to the expectations of the “gold bugs,” they haven’t created large-scale externalities either. But might unconventional monetary policy hold some of the blame for rising inequality? When I asked him this question, Roubini responded that increased inequality is caused by a number of factors unrelated to these measures. He points to technological innovation, trade, globalization, and a “winner-take-all superstar effect.” Unconventional monetary policies have probably played a part in rising inequality through asset price inflation, he says. But things would have been much worse for those on the middle and lower rungs of the economic ladder in the absence of these policies, which may have helped prevent a potential double-dip or triple-dip recession.

In addition to sitting for this interview, Roubini delivered the closing keynote address at the 2015 Middle East Investment Conference. Coverage of that presentation can be found in “Roubini: Robust US Growth, Bumpy Landing for China, and No Grexit.

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All posts are the opinion of the author. As such, they should not be construed as investment advice, nor do the opinions expressed necessarily reflect the views of CFA Institute or the author’s employer.

About the Author(s)
Usman Hayat, CFA

Usman Hayat writes about sustainable, responsible, and impact investing and Islamic finance. He is the lead author of "Environmental, Social, and Governance Issues in Investing: A Guide for Investment Professionals," and the literature review, "Islamic Finance: Ethics, Concepts, Practice." He is interested in online learning and has directed three e-courses for CFA Institute: "ESG-100," "Islamic Finance Quiz," and "Residual Income Equity Valuation." The other topics he writes about are macroeconomics and behavioral finance. Previously, he was a content director at CFA Institute. He is a former executive director at the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP). He has experience working in securities regulation and as an independent consultant. His qualifications include the CFA charter, the FRM designation, an MBA, and an MA in Development Economics. His personal interests are reading and hiking.

12 thoughts on “Nouriel Roubini: Unconventional Truth Six Years after the Crisis”

  1. Nitin Dadar says:

    Good Stuff!!

    1. Nitin Dadar

      Thanks for the positive feedback!

      Regards

      Usman

  2. Joe Sanders says:

    Great interview questions. Roubini is one of the best economist at explaining the major issues facing global markets along with the fiscal policies short-comings applied to date by the various governing bodies.

    1. Joe Sanders

      Thanks for visiting the blog and your feedback.

      Regards

      Usman

  3. Armin says:

    Thanks a lot for this! I am writing my thesis on QE and found this really helpful! He provides much insight about QE and points out the very important issue which is the mismatch between monetary and fiscal policies.
    Also, various empirical studies (including my own results) have shown that QE has been effective in lowering the interest rates (at least in England and U.S.A.). I personally think this is enough to show that monetary policy has achieved many of its goals but has been betrayed by a weak fiscal policy, as discussed in your interview.
    All in all we have learned a lot since the financial crisis happened. The experience with QE and the importance of realising that it is not enough on its own to stimulate an economy is one of the key things points have learned.

  4. Armin,

    Glad to know you found the interview helpful. We will probably continue to look back and learn from the GFR and the policy mix since then.
    Good luck with your thesis on QE!

    Regards

    Usman

  5. Roubini is always an inspiring breath of knowledge and insightfull even if at some points better to take it lightly in order to not to depress to much the weekend!. Good job.

    1. Christian Torres,

      Thanks for visiting the blog and sharing your comment. I guess that Roubini would appreciate being perceived as “Dr. Realist” as opposed to “Dr. Doom.” I’m glad that you found the interview useful.

      Regards

      Usman

  6. vinny says:

    Perhaps a more enlightening line of questioning for Roubini would be where he is presently invested in the market. This will tell us all on where he stands. Anything else is a sales pitch.

    1. Vinny

      Thanks for visiting the blog. Regarding the views Roubini expressed that relate to markets, you will find a bit more detail in the summary of his talk at our conference. I am pasting the link below:

      http://meic.cfainstitute.org/2015/02/17/roubini-robust-u-s-growth-bumpy-landing-for-china-and-no-grexit/

      Regards

      Usman

  7. T.S.B.Ratnayake FCMA,CGMA says:

    Mr Rubini at his desk can truely smell what is in the air & feel the grass at his feet.A grate economist slightly ahead of our times.

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