Tuesday, February 07, 2012

is it safe to resume ignoring the prophets of doom?

NYTimes | I remember the first time I interviewed a relatively unknown economist named Nouriel Roubini. It was 2005, and as we sat in his New York University office, he laid out his scary vision of the future. Roubini is a specialist in the flow of money around the world and the crises that (sometimes) result. But on that day he wanted to talk about the U.S. housing market.

Homeowners, he said, had become too used to financing their lifestyles with money siphoned from overvalued homes. This housing bubble would pop, he warned, and send the world into a vicious recession, possibly even a depression. I remember leaving his office both stunned and confused. Only after calling a few leading economists was I reassured that this Roubini guy was expressing a fringe view that merited little attention. Like a lot of reporters that year, I turned around a tongue-in-cheek story about Dr. Doom and his scary (but probably best ignored) world view. Oops!

A few years later, I interviewed Richard Wolff, who is probably America’s most prominent Marxist economist (though it’s not a hugely competitive field). Wolff also walked me through his view of the next few years. He explained that the puncturing of the housing bubble, then apparent, would lead to a crisis much deeper than anyone understood: it would fracture American confidence in capitalism; the economy would stay stalled for a long time; and there would be global chaos. This time, I didn’t even bother calling other economists to check out Wolff’s story. The guy was a Marxist! Days later, Lehman Brothers collapsed.

Once the crisis hit, it became popular to scour the past for apocalyptic predictions that had come true. While many gloomy forecasts came from the left — notably Paul Krugman and Dean Baker — there was one particularly prescient voice from the right. As early as 2004, Peter Schiff, a libertarian investor, was arguing that the housing-fueled economic boom was a bubble waiting to burst.

But these successful prognosticators, among others, didn’t just take a bow in 2008. Many predicted that the U.S. economy would worsen or, at best, stall. Perhaps grasping for hope, many smart people, including, apparently, President Obama, spent 2009 thinking those doomsday callers had just been lucky. Maybe they were right about the crisis, but they were surely far too pessimistic about the recovery. Oops again!

For nearly a decade, it turns out, the most accurate forecasts have come from the fringe. So it’s upsetting to learn that many of those same Cassandras now believe, for different reasons, that we are on the brink of another catastrophe that may be far worse. Wolff, the Marxist, fears that China may be entering a significant slowdown, which, combined with Europe’s all-but-inevitable recession, could send the world into an economic tailspin.

Roubini, now one of the world’s most visible economic thinkers, has a similar view, though he sees the timing differently, with the worst coming in 2013 or 2014, when China will face a situation like the one the United States experienced in 2008. Its banks, he says, will reveal huge investments in nonsensical bubble projects. The world will question China’s solvency, and the subsequent chaos will destroy whatever fragile recovery is under way. Schiff also paints a dire picture, but for essentially the opposite reason, saying America’s indebtedness and currency policy will cause another crash.

It’s much less lonely being a doomsayer these days. Steve Hanke, an economist at Johns Hopkins, says there’s a 50 percent chance of a recession this year. Lakshman Achuthan, of the eerily accurate Economic Cycle Research Institute, predicts a return of double-digit unemployment. They are downright rosy compared to George Soros, who has warned of violent riots throughout the world and a possible total global financial collapse. I really hope these guys are wrong.

6 comments:

nanakwame said...

There is one prediction that is here and just shown in films and Syfy, and needs to be opening discussed like your love of 
http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/02/why-cognitive-enhancement-is-in-your-future-and-your-past/252566/ 

If you pose the dichotomy as you infer to since 2006: one, the end of a 600 yr trajectory and two, the increasing gap in the species, lastly the middle; or some would say the level of "augmented mindfulness". Been reading much lately I really must thank you - Karl Popper - There is something between Chance and Determinism.
The neurobiological sickness
of faith must be eradicated. Our religion must be based in
direct entheogenic experience - and become more materialist than materialism. Everything else is
magical-thinking and crazy-talk among the hoodwinked, bamboozled, deluded, and
insane Cnu....Yet you still reference religion

CNu said...

Good article, thanks!

Nana, please do me a favor and read your comments out loud to yourself before you conclude editing them. If they make sense to you when you read them out loud to yourself, there's an improved chance they'll make sense to the intended recipient/audience reading them at this end, a small but important favor.

Since I've pointed you in the direction of what I consider the entheogenic origin of Abrahamic religion, (and personally I have little or no interest in or familiarity with any other) - pointed you in the direction of liturgical, ritual, and symbolic application as a means of standardizing the experience of the intoxicated (cognitively augmented) supplicant, you know full-well what I consider to be authentic and meaningful religious experience and praxis.

Bottomline, I consider genuine religious praxis to be nothing other than the organized perennial effort by a tiny minority of humans to systematically grow and develop their conscious experience and that from this wellspring have emerged the most important, enduring, and transcendent civilizing influences. This is, in effect, the esoteric origin of human religious experience.

The other, fragmentary monkey business passing itself off as Abrahamic religion functions as the antithesis of what I've summarized above.

It is an irrational compendium of make-believe gobbledygook that can only appeal to the ignorant, superstitious, suggestible, and those prone to submission to ridiculous authority. One need only look at the preposterous costumes and antics to immediately and categorically reject this neurobiological sickness.  http://youtu.be/aoAZ6LAwYjY
http://subrealism.blogspot.com/2012/02/oooohhh-lawd.html
http://youtu.be/Imgfn-NvJWQ

nanakwame said...

No one person comes to the problem with the same mindset.  I can't speak as a technologist; I still believe in Magical Realism and  we differ. In reading haiku on twitter and sharing mine (we may have shared the simplistic of the Japanese ,yet I question that now) I found this from France

http://babellibrary.com/ 
Those who believe that they can kill off junk, moronic behavior, or ideas they oppose  in life  is our greatest threat  since the concept of the personhood, and you propagate it, as silly conservatives who talk about killing off liberals. I believe that sincerely in my heart. And I find it paradoxically to worry about wars and battles when you wish 2 billion off of Earth. You and I agree on many things, we just don't agree how we getting there. I still stand by my position, you express the need for rituals weather they are lead by religion or not, yet, you attack those you determine to be wrong. The sins and crimes of  Theology is not the same as the common evolutionary rituals of humans. btw I find folks who dabble in apocalyptic ideas are superstitious also. As Popper said scientist can be lunatics also. 

CNu said...

 No one person comes to the problem with the same mindset.

Right. As BD consistently professes, there is an overabundance of unpardonably stupid and ignorant humans.

Those who believe that they can kill off junk, moronic behavior, or ideas they oppose  in life  is our greatest threat

That's not a threat, it's a promise.

And I find it paradoxically to worry about wars and battles when you wish 2 billion off of Earth.

I wish 5.9 billion off, and, I don't worry about battles, just unintelligent or unsustainable expenditures of my tax dollars.

you express the need for rituals weather they are lead by religion or not, yet, you attack those you determine to be wrong.

the unpardonably stupid and ignorant instantiating DO loops should be serviced with extreme prejudice - and pronto.

btw I find folks who dabble in apocalyptic ideas are superstitious also. As Popper said scientist can be lunatics also.

lol, yet like a crackhead we find you hitting this here pipe daily.....,

nanakwame said...

a crackhead LOL you funny - No it sharpens my mind; I post and read at #haiku, preview the current news from liberal, moderate and conservative, enjoy your easy aggregators and the neo-liberal themes, with, the mindset that YOU are no different than us simple humans who carry myths and conjectures, and check my uncertainties. Your statement by BD shows your affinity, and the statement I made comes from teaching problem solving in business and labor. Don't show your emotive remember Doc

We may become the makers of
our fate when we have ceased to pose as its prophets.

The game of science is, in principle, without end. He
who decides one day that scientific statements do not call for any further
test, and that they can be regarded as finally verified, retires from the game Karl Popper

nanakwame said...

btw - your input  
http://ifagroup.info/blog/ follow up to January post, thank you once again - Long times since I gave my brain this study. 

Science must begin with myths, and with the
criticism of myths.

There are all kinds of
sources of our knowledge; but none has authority

Always remember that it is
impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood: there will always
be some who misunderstand you.

All things living are in
search of a better world.

Karl Popper Wikiquote 

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