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Roubini: Greece Is Bankrupt

Wednesday, 27 Jan 2010 | 3:38 AM ET

Are we concentrating too much on sovereign debt concerns? Not according to Noriel Roubini, who can still live up to his pessimistic reputation.

Nouriel Roubini
cnbc.com
Nouriel Roubini

“Greece is bankrupt,” Roubini told CNBC.com at WEF. “Look, they have to ask China to help them out.”

Greece is trying to get trying to entice China to buy 25 billion euros ($35 billion) in bonds, according to published reports Wednesday.

If the situation becomes dire enough the European Union will be forced to help bail Greece out because it’s such a threat to the monetary union, he said.

(The discussion came as Roubini tried to warm up after an hour on the CNBC set. The temperature as -20 Celsius at the start of the show, and Dr. Doom was trying his best to recalibrate with hot tea and warming his stockinged feet at a space heater).

Not everyone is going with the pessimism. According to one participant, Dr. Doom needs to know when to stop with the Gloom. And there were big difference in the view of Roubini and Lloyd’s Chairman Lord Levene.

Looking at banking regulation, it is not just enough to take proprietary trading and hedge fund activity away, there needs to be a return to the separation of commercial and investment banks, Roubini said.

But Lord Levene said that Sarbanes-Oxley regulation didn’t change the shape of the world and that regulation in “blanket form” can drive the problem away to somewhere else.

And as for banker bonuses, they are back to obscene levels, Roubini said. But the idea of bashing bankers, restricting their pay and expecting them to “all be good” is simplistic, Lord Levene said.