Tags: roach | Double | Dip | recession

Morgan Stanley’s Roach: Ignoring Double Dip Risk Is Ludicrous

Monday, 22 Aug 2011 09:30 AM

The U.S. could fall back into a recession and talk that there is no risk of such is ludicrous, says Stephen Roach, non-executive chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia and Yale professor.

"I am an advocate of the view that post-crisis recoveries are weak and much more vulnerable to double dips," Roach tells CNBC.

"I've seen repeatedly, categorical denials from the president on down of no danger of a double dip. It's ludicrous to talk about no danger of a double dip in a weak post-crisis recovery. You've got to be alert for that possibility."

Even if economic indicators don't officially herald in the arrival of a double-dip recession, the economy is in trouble.

"This is the second growth scare in less than two years," Roach says.

Official unemployment rates may be hovering around 9.1 percent, although when factoring in those who are not working as much as they would like, the figure is much higher.

"The statisticians tell us that it's 25 million Americans, a near record for post World War II, that are either unemployment or underemployed for economic conditions. It is pervasive, it's over 16 percent of the entire work force."

Monetary policy failures

To help lower those unemployment rates and stimulate the economy The Federal Reserve has rolled out two rounds of policies known as quantitative easing, where the institution goes out and buys assets from banks in an effort to prop up the economy.

The first rounds, known as QE1 and QE2, saw the Fed buy about $2 trillion in Treasurys and mortgage-backed securities from banks with the aim of pumping the economy full of money to stimulate it.

Critics say such monetary policies push up inflation rates and have done little to get the economy growing of any mentionable pace while supporters say the moves yanked the economy from the brink of deeper recession.

The Federal Reserve adheres to two mandates, keeping inflation and unemployment rates at optimum conditions, and for Roach, the first round may have been necessary but the second round, a $600 billion Treasury buyback known as QE2, did nothing to fulfill its mandates.

"Before you put Ben Bernanke on a pedestal and congratulate him for a job well done, you got to look at the job he actually he did. QE1 worked, QE2 failed. That's the bottom line."

"What did QE2 do? It gave us a pop in the stock market but the jobless problem is still as severe, if not more severe, than anyone, including Mr. Bernanke thought it would be."

Talk that the Fed may roll out a third round of easing growing louder on Wall Street.

That's good news for investors in gold, which often rises in price when inflation rates go up.

Gold prices are pushing a record $1,900 an ounce and would likely rise with fresh easing.

"There has been a heavy round of speculation that the Fed could be pushed (into another round of) quantitative easing sooner than thought, as there haven't been any signals of a possible economic recovery," says Pradeep Unni, senior analyst at Richcomm Global Services in Dubai, according to Reuters.

"With gold being the only safe haven ... which cannot be intervened (in), investors are left with very less choice other than jumping into the chase, despite being late," said Unni.

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