Economist and New York University professor Nouriel Roubini, often referred to as “Doctor Doom” for his pessimistic economic forecasts, said the Federal Reserve is facing “Mission Impossible” as inflation remains persistent and fissures appear in the banking sector.
Speaking at Semafor’s World Economy Summit on Wednesday, Roubini expressed concerns about the fragility of the banking sector, citing a multitude of factors that could lead to a severe financial crisis. Global debt levels, artificial intelligence-induced job losses, growing radicalism, wealth inequality, and escalating geopolitical tensions were just a few of the categories he listed.
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In short, financial regulators may be trapped in a box.
“When inflation is too high, if you raise rates, you risk causing a hard landing,” he said, outlining the Fed’s dilemma. “Forget about jobs; if you don’t raise [rates] enough, then the risk is a de-anchor of inflation.”
Roubini particularly emphasized the risks of mounting debt levels in both developed and developing economies as well as in the private and public domains. He argued that massive debt accumulation, particularly by governments and corporations, has reached unsustainable levels and cannot be supported in an environment of higher interest rates.
According to the professor emeritus, combined public and private debt in advanced economies was roughly 100 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in the 1970s. Today that number is 420 percent, he said.
An over-indebted economy means each subsequent rate hike by the Fed adds a greater financial burden on borrowers to make interest payments. However, inflation—which came in at 5 percent annually on Wednesday—continues to chip away at the income of lower and middle-class households.
On China, Roubini warned that the accelerated decoupling of the United States and China poses another financial stability risk, particularly in America.
“This Cold War between the U.S. and China is becoming colder by the day,” he said. “The Chinese realize, ‘if I owe you a billion is my problem for you, a trillion is my problem,’ and they want to diversify from dollar assets.”
Ultimately, he acknowledged that both nations face considerable challenges, with China facing a rapidly declining population and increasingly aggressive authoritarianism.
Article cross-posted from our premium news partners at The Epoch Times.