Portugal to Fall, Greece to Leave Euro Zone: Roubini

Portugal is likely to be the next to restructure its debtand exit the euro zone, economist Nouriel Roubini predicted on CNBC Friday.

Nouriel Roubini
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Nouriel Roubini

There are several euro-zone countries in trouble, including Italy and Spain, but Roubini sees Portugal as the weakest.

The longtime bear and chairman of Roubini Global Economics said the Greek bond swap and resulting declaration of default — triggering insurance payouts — is "overall a positive."

But on the ground in Greece, it's a different story. With unemployment at 22 percent and half the nation's youth unemployed, "the contractions are becoming severe. The country is still insolvent."

He goes so far as to predict that Greece "will be the first country to exit the euro zone, not this year, maybe later next year."

He also sees little encouragement in economic data out of China and the U.S.

There's risk of the Chinese economy having a hard landing — He predicts growth of less than 6 percent quarter over quarter and closer to 7.5 percent year over year for 2012. Residential investment is starting to fall and infrastructure projects have been stalled as the Chinese leaders move the nation from being a net exporter to promoting domestic consumption.

As for the U.S., employment data released Friday were better but real consumption growth has been flat for three months, capital expenditures fell in January after federal tax breaks expired, construction and home prices have fallen and net exports are worsening, Roubini said.

In addition, there is continued conflict in the Middle East, which can only drive oil prices even higher.

In short, he said, "I still see a very anemic [U.S.] economic recovery."

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