2 min read

Dr. Doom, 20 Years Later

The oracle is predicting another storm.

In 2005, an obscure professor, Nouriel Roubini, started issuing dire warnings about a housing crisis bumbling immediately below the market's surface. His warnings did not make him popular company, but they were fatefully accurate.

Drawing heavily on lessons from history, literature, and international politics, Roubini reached his pre-2008 after building rigorous models of balance sheet recessions and debt-deflationary spirals, which historically carried the weight of systemic risks from those profiting from the very systems that looked like they were going to collapse.

Roubini's ability to foresee the ominous signs stemmed from his willingness to be clear while others had somehow convinced themselves of the neverending wealth effects of surging house prices.

Yet, as the 2007-2008 crisis dramatically unfolded in line with his predictions, Roubini's regional roots, contrarian insights, and global macro expertise transformed him into an unlikely truth-teller commanding the world's stage. In the aftermath, Roubini's status soared. Soon, his counsel was coveted everywhere from Washington to Beijing, and he has been a pillar of the WEF circuit since his presence fifteen-plus years ago.

Much has been written about the jigolo economist's past predictions, but I'm more interested in his analysis of what happens next. And he has thoughts. Old Doom, now a 66-year-old intellectual superstar, has returned with a vengeance since 2023. In particular, Roubini has warned of institutional complacency and denial - foundational to the 2008 financial crisis - again causing systemic leverage and fragility risks in the global system. Yet, unlike leading into 2008, from Washington and Beijing, those who once derided his Cassandra-like prophecies now find themselves compelled to seek his unvarnished counsel.

Roubini's legacy,empiricism over dogma, has been debated among his peers for decades[1]. But this much is clear: He has earned his place by cranking the hideously sounding siren for a tidal wave still out of sight—the heroic Prometheus formidably armed not with stolen fire but with truly independent economic analysis and empirical truth-telling. You may want to start listening.

  1. An accomplished but less well-known economist captured the skeptical view perfectly: "Nouriel Roubini has been singing the doom-and-gloom story for 10 years. Eventually something was going to be right." ↩︎