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Roubini’s 2009 U.S. forecast: Grim and grimmer

As promised last week, here’s a summary of the 2009 U.S. economic forecast from Nouriel Roubini, aka Dr. Doom, the man who back in 2006 predicted the mortgage morass and the credit crisis it engendered.

Nouriel Roubini
Nouriel Roubini

As promised last week, here’s a summary of the 2009 U.S. economic forecast (free registration required) from Nouriel Roubini, aka Dr. Doom, the man who back in 2006 predicted the mortgage morass and the credit crisis it engendered. These numbers reflect Roubini’s “benchmark” scenario, but bear in mind a couple of other factors: He told CNBC there was roughly a one in three chance that the United States will still wind up in a long-term deflationary stagnation akin to the Japanese meltdown of the ’90s or the U.S. experience in the 1930s; and he has followed this forecast with worrisome words about China, where a worse-than-expected downturn could increase the pain in America and in other developed countries.

Roubini believes that:

  • The recession, contrary to rosier forecasts from Wall Street, will continue throughout 2009 and result in a cumulative 5 percent contraction in the economy.
  • Housing prices, which have dropped about 20 percent so far, will continue to decline until mid-2010, with an eventual peak-to-trough loss of 30-40 percent.
  • The number of homeowners who are “under water” on their mortgages–they owe more than their house’s current market value–will increase from the current level of roughly 12 million to a range between 15 and 25 million, depending in part on the number of 2009 foreclosures.
  • The economy will continue to eliminate jobs throughout 2009, reaching 9 percent by the end of the year, and job cutting may persist even after the official end of the recession, edging up toward 10 percent in 2010. And the official unemployment numbers, he notes, will likely understate the extent of the pain because of the growing number of “discouraged” workers who stop looking for jobs.
  • Home mortgage-related credit defaults will continue to mount, and growing defaults in the commercial real estate and credit card markets will become bigger factors.
  • Stock prices could slide another 20 percent in 2009.