The global economy is barreling toward an inevitable recession from a trio of economic plagues, economist Nouriel “Dr. Doom” Roubini predicts, including the U.S.-China trade war, an escalating geopolitical crisis involving Iran and the potential for a no-deal Brexit in the U.K.
“A global recession can be triggered by either escalation of U.S. and China trade war, or possibly hot war between U.S. and Iran that will spike oil prices, or a hard Brexit that will damage Europe and affect the rest of the world,” said Roubini, who teaches economics at New York University’s School of Business. “If there is another global recession, both advanced economies and emerging markets are going to be hurt.”
Roubini was in Seoul, South Korea, at the 20th World Knowledge Forum as a speaker for a session called Global Economy in Transition.
“Within the emerging markets, there are some that have weaker economic and financial and policy fundamentals and others stronger fundamentals,” he said, making note of countries with large amounts of public debt like Argentina and Venezuela, and countries with small economies like Pakistan and Lebanon. “A country like Korea has stronger fundamentals. But of course, if the recession was to be triggered, say, by escalation of the trade currency, technology and cold war between the U.S. and China, a country like Korea will be a victim.”
Roubini also pointed to leveraged loans, collateralized loan obligations and high-yield bonds as triggering the next global financial crisis, adding that the policies of a decade ago worked at the time, but options are limited now with Japan and Europe already having negative rates, and the U.S. having ultra-low rates.
He also mentioned what’s been on everyone’e lips regarding the global economy: the trade war between the world’s two largest economies, the U.S. and China.
The worst-case scenario, Roubini said, is the U.S. could levy 20% tariffs on Chinese goods worth about $500 billion, and then push that up to 25% to 30%.
“Even if we reach a mini-deal, I feel that tariffs are going to go up slightly higher … and even slightly more tariffs is bad for global growth,” he said, adding it would bring negative supply shock and raise inflation.
Roubini also said the trade war is likely to go beyond the 2020 elections and that even if a Democrat wins the presidency from incumbent President Donald Trump, the trade war will likely continue.
“Geopolitical rivalry between the U.S. and China will stay with us for a long period of time,” said Roubini, who predicts a global recession coming in 2020 due to the trade war.
Roubini, known as “Dr. Doom” for his gloomy predictions, is famous for calling the 2008 financial crisis during a 2006 lecture to economists at the International Monetary Fund, where he noted the coming housing bust and credit crunch.