Tags: Roubini | rates | eye | see

Roubini: Low Rates for 'As Far as Eye Can See’

By Dan Weil   |   Tuesday, 05 Feb 2013 09:40 AM

The Federal Reserve will keep interest rates near record lows for “as far as the eye can see,” says Nouriel Roubini, chairman of Roubini Global Economics and a business school professor at New York University.

He also says that while private sector deleveraging has worked, public sector deleveraging will be a drag on the economy and keep gross domestic product growth at about 1.5 percent. And that will force the Fed to refrain from raising rates.

The U.S. economy contracted 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter, and economists’ consensus is that growth will total about 2 percent in 2013.

Editor's Note: See the Disturbing Charts: 50% Unemployment, 90% Stock Market Crash, 100% Inflation

“Once the deleveraging of the public sector occurs, consumption growth is going to be slower,” Roubini tells CNBC. “So the economy for the time being is only growing 1.5 percent. Some positives would pick up the growth toward 2.3 percent, 3 percent.”

Raising taxes and reducing government benefits will crimp income growth and force faster deleveraging, he notes. “Job creation is picking up, creating income. The tax increases, including the payroll tax elimination reduces it. So you have forces going in different directions.”

That tension is going to drag down economic growth, Roubini explains. “Part of the growth over the last two years was due to the fact that we postponed the deleveraging of the public sector, and the consumer spent more income than otherwise.”

Now that we no longer have this boost, “there will be a cost of deleveraging the public sector,” he notes, thereby slowing economic growth.

As a result, “I don't think [a reversal of the Fed’s easing] is going to happen any time soon.”

The Fed is buying $85 billion of Treasurys and mortgage-backed securities a month and plans to keep short-term interest rates near zero until unemployment drops to 6.5 percent. The unemployment rate was 7.9 percent in January.

Last week, the Fed said it will stick with its massive easing program for the near future, despite the criticism of many economic experts.

Stanford University economist John Taylor writes in The Wall Street Journal that the central bank’s policy “creates incentives for otherwise risk-averse investors to take on questionable investments as they search for higher yields.”

Even some Fed officials have called for easing to be scaled back.

Richard Fisher, president of the Dallas Fed, favors reducing the pace of asset purchases as the U.S. economy gains momentum this year, Bloomberg reports.

“As you approach your goals and things get better, you reduce purchases,” Fisher says. “I wouldn’t go from Wild Turkey to cold turkey” in monetary policy.

“I wouldn’t have favored spiking the punch bowl to the degree we have,” but it would be too abrupt to stop purchases all at once.

Fisher, who doesn’t vote on monetary policy this year, opposes the Federal Open Market Committee decision last week to continue purchasing securities at the rate of $85 billion a month.

Editor's Note: See the Disturbing Charts: 50% Unemployment, 90% Stock Market Crash, 100% Inflation

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