The world's advanced economies are headed for recession and no amount of policy and crisis-management decisions in Europe can stop it, says New York University economist Nouriel Roubini.
Economic contraction in the United States and the United Kingdom could begin in the next quarter or two, he warned CNBC.
"The question is not whether or if there is going to be a double dip, but whether it's going to be mild or severe with another financial crisis," Roubini told CNBC. "The answer on that depends on the eurozone."
Fears that a sovereign debt default could take place in Greece has European policymakers scrambling to contain the problem.
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Europe needs to expand its financial assistance program, the European Financial Stability Fund (EFSF), to around 2 trillion euros ($2.728 trillion) and create a Europe-wide plan to recapitalize the banks, similar to the TARP legislation that shored up U.S. financial institutions in late 2008.
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"You need an EFSF that is 4 times as large as the 440 (billion euros) to make sure that a bad equilibrium and a self fulfilling run on Italy and Spain doesn't occur," Roubini says.
"There's no plan for that, because politically even the first EFSF has not yet been approved, let alone to triple it or quadruple it."
In for shock
Some say a Greek default is unavoidable, and when it occurs, financial systems across the continent will be in for a shock and so will those in the United States.
"(Our) position is that there's a pretty high likelihood that the eurozone will be in some form of a recession over the next four to six quarters," says BTIG chief global strategist Dan Greenhaus, according to the Australian Associated Press.
"We think that there's a pretty high probability that by the middle of next year, government austerity across the eurozone, as well as slower growth, is going to drag the eurozone down into some form of a recession."
Some disagree with those who say recession is imminent, especially where the United States is concerned.
The world's largest economy may be due for sluggish growth but not a fresh downturn.
"The U.S. economy doesn’t look like it’s double-dipping at all," says Allen Sinai, president of Decision Economics in New York, according to Bloomberg. "But it is a crummy recovery."
Standard & Poor's analysts see a 40 percent chance of a new recession in western Europe in 2012, according to MarketWatch.
Officially, the agency is still predicting sluggish growth in the continent at 1.1 percent for next year.
"We still believe that robust demand from emerging markets, resilient consumers in key markets such as France and Germany, and the continued support of monetary policies will help avoid a new recession next year," says Jean-Michel Six, Standard & Poor's chief economist for Europe, according to MarketWatch.
For now, French and German leaders say they want to beef up European banks should the financial condition in Greece get worse and spread.
That has markets happy — for now.
"The more we can put our arms around the problem with a little more detail, the better, and time frames usually help," says Michael Sansoterra, a portfolio manager at Silvant Capital Management in Atlanta, according to the Associated Press.
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