Economist Nouriel Roubini, the famed Dr. Doom of the global financial crisis, doesn’t need much of a push to wax pessimistic. So the news Tuesday that Greece’s credit rating had been cut to junk status was like pitching him a softball right down the middle.
At a panel at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, Roubini worried that Greece’s financial woes -- and more important, the deepening fiscal problems of its European neighbors Portugal and Spain -- could batter global credit markets, disrupt the economic recovery and potentially tear apart the 11-year-old European monetary union.
“The reality is that what has happened in the last few months is the first test of the viability of the European market” and the euro currency, Roubini said, adding that the possibility of the European monetary union coming apart is “significantly rising.”
Roubini focused much of his concern on Spain, which in some ways is more troubled than Greece, he said. Spain’s unemployment rate, for example, is 20%, twice that of Greece. Both Spain and Portugal, he said, are uncompetitive in the international economy and will require a host of structural reforms.