‘There’s a huge amount of anger’
With protesters occupying Wall Street and European voters deciding on whether to support the failing peripheral states, Foreign Policy went back to its two favorite economic and political prognosticators — Nouriel Roubini and Ian Bremmer — for another spirited debate on what the coming months hold.
The news isn’t good. “There’s a huge amount of anger,” says Roubini, better known as Dr. Doom for having predicted the 2007-2008 financial crisis. He sees another recession coming; the only question being “whether it’s going to be a plain-vanilla recession or one as severe as the last.”
So, can Barack Obama do anything to stem the tide? Not in an election cycle, says Bremmer — head of the Eurasia Group political-risk analysis firm and moderator of FP’s The Call blog — and we should be worried about political contagion across the Atlantic, too.
But surely the fiscally sound, sensible Germans won’t let Europe fall apart, right? Roubini’s answer is even more ominous: “Things that should not occur sometimes do occur — even if they lead to disaster.”
Could China rescue the eurozone? Don’t bet on the Chinese “white knight,” says Bremmer; they’re a lot more interested in watching Greece crash and then “bottom feeding.”
Foreign Policy: What do you think of the Occupy Wall Street protests? Have you been down to see them?
Nouriel Roubini: I stopped by. My view of it is that it is a symptom of the economic malaise that we’re facing not just in the United States, but all over the world. It started with the Arab Spring, and of course, poverty, unemployment, corruption, inequality eventually leads to people becoming restless. But now, you have middle-class people in Israel saying we cannot afford homes; you have middle-class students in Chile saying we don’t have education; you have riots in London; people smashing Mercedes and BMWs of fat cats in Berlin and Frankfurt; you have an anti-corruption movement in India. It takes a lot of different manifestations, but we live in a world with a lot of economic insecurity, of worries about the future, of inequality, poverty, of concerns about jobs. And [Occupy Wall Street] is the manifestation in the U.S.
In 2009, [President Barack] Obama told the bankers, “I’m the only one who’s standing between you and the pitchforks.” The bankers got the bailouts; they were supposed to extend credit, extend mortgages. They did pretty much nothing, and they went back to the same actions as before: making money through trading. At this point, I think people are fed up with it. Rightly or wrongly, there’s a huge amount of anger…