Monday, August 18, 2008

Worse than doom

There are always reasonable people who differ over whether the glass is half-full or half-empty. Yesterday's NY Times Magazine ran a respectful feature on Nouriel Roubini ("Dr. Doom").

Doomsayers are a-dime-a-dozen, but what to do when smart people get into it? The article is slightly more nuanced than its title and the interview may have been even more nuanced. But the ending is odd. Roubini is quoted this way: "Once you run current-account deficits, you depend on the kindness of strangers. This might be the beginning of the end of the American empire."

But these strangers are unlikely to see themselves as charities. And Roubini thinks they are all dummies because they are buying the paper of a fading empire. Dummies on both sides of the deal might augur worse than just plain old doom.