Economy 'Far too Close' to Double Dip: Roubini

Nouriel Roubini
Photo: Oliver Quillia for CNBC
Nouriel Roubini

Poor economic data in the US coupled with Europe's debt crisis are contributing to an increase of the risk of the US economy going through a double-dip recession, Nouriel Roubini, who predicted the 2007 financial crisis, wrote in a research paper.

At best, the US economy is headed for a U-shaped recovery this year, Roubini said. That has been his prediction in recent months.

The US faces challenges in the second half, especially as fiscal stimulus measures fade, and "appears far too close to the tipping point of a double-dip recession," he said.

The euro zone is also facing an increased risk of a double-dip fall, because of its ongoing debt crisis, he wrote.

Even if the euro zone does not suffer a double dip, growth in demand will be even more limited and this will hurt the United States' potential for export growth, according to Roubini's paper.

The Roubini Global Economics benchmark scenario puts the risk of a double dip at 20 percent, while a slow, protracted, U-shaped recovery is given the highest probability of 60 percent.

But since the end of February new macroeconomic data from the US have come out and "they have been almost uniformly poor, if not outright awful," Roubini wrote.

Consumer confidence has "tanked", new home sales are "collapsing," existing home sales are also falling sharply, as is construction activity, while initial jobless claims remain "stubbornly high" above the 400,000 mark, he said.

Despite the fact that the growth in gross domestic product (GDP) was revised upwards to an annual rate of 5.9 percent in the fourth quarter, most of it, around 3.9 percent, was due to inventories, Roubini, who is sometimes referred to as Dr. Doomfor his somewhat gloomy outlooks, noted.

Final sales grew at a 1.9 percent rate in the fourth quarter, while in the third quarter that growth was only at a rate of 1.7 percent, he said.

"So, at the time of maximum policy stimulus (second-half of 2009), final sales were growing only at a pathetic 1.8 percent average rate," Roubini explained.