World Economy

Rate hike needed to pop bubbles: Robert Shiller

'New normal' boom driven by anxiety: Shiller
'New normal' boom driven by anxiety: Shiller

The U.S. Federal Reserve should consider lifting interest rates sooner rather than later to tackle speculative bubbles in the housing and stock markets, Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Shiller told CNBC on Monday.

"I'm thinking they (Fed policy makers) ought to be considering that, because that is the mistake they made in the past," the Yale University professor told CNBC Europe's "Squawk Box" when asked whether he believed the Fed should raise interest rates soon or later on.

"They didn't deal with the housing bubble that led to the present crisis. There's a suggestion in my mind that they should be raising rates now, (but) unfortunately the latest news looks a little weak on the demand side," Shiller added.

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Friday's economic news painted a dim picture for the U.S. economy: gross domestic product declined at a 0.7 percent annual rate in the first quarter of the year compared with an initial estimate of 0.2 percent growth. The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment for May, meanwhile, marked a fall and the May Chicago Purchasing Manager's Index dropped unexpectedly.

Against a weaker tone in economic data, markets have pushed back expectations for the first U.S. rate rise since 2006 from June to later this year.

Robert Shiller, Yale University Professor of Economics, co-founder of Case-Shiller Index
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

"If I was asked to testify before them (the Fed) I might reconsider, but there is a tendency for central banks to ignore speculative bubbles until it's too late," Shiller said, talking about the need for higher interest rates.

"It may already be too late. Stock markets in the U.S. are quite high and prices in the real estate market are getting high."

The Dow Jones Industrial Average and 0 hit a record high last month, lifted by a perception that disappointing economic news would encourage the Fed to keep interest rates low for longer than anticipated.

'New Normal Boom'

Shiller said that some parts of the U.S. -- such as San Francisco and California -- were in "bubble territory," with house prices growing rapidly.

Shiller, who won the Nobel prize for economics two years ago for research that has improved the forecasting of long-term asset prices, said a recent boom around the world was driven by anxiety.

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"I call this this the 'new normal' boom – it's a funny boom in asset prices because it's driven not by the usual exuberance but by an anxiety," said Shiller.

"This is an anxiety driven world – the whole world is driven by anxiety. It is anxiety about the aftermath of the global financial crisis, it's anxiety about inequality and about computers replacing jobs," he added.

His best-selling book, "Irrational Exuberance," on excessive speculation in markets was first published in 2000 and coincided with the bursting of a bubble in U.S. tech stocks.