Friday, October 24, 2008

Nouriel Roubini is a Star

I've been out of the office for several days. I spent a couple of enjoyable days in Blacksburg, VA, home of VA Tech University and one of my all-time favorite places. The view of the mountains as I flew into Roanoke airport was phenomenal. I went to Blackburg to give a talk about my book, Even Buffett Isn't Perfect. I was hoping to attract 100 people. About 300 showed up. In times like these, everyone is seeking Buffett's wisdom.

The Blue Ridge mountains provided much needed relief from these troubled markets. Readers of my blog know I had been bearish for quite some time. In fact, in June 2007, I even wrote a piece in Forbes magazine called Here Comes the Bear arguing that stocks were likely to sell off. Yet in all honesty, what we've seen has far exceeded my expectations. I never thought we would have this kind of selling.

One man who did is Nouriel Roubini. More than a year ago, when most economists were still very bullish on the economy, Roubini was calmly and clearly explaining why we were about to have a serious recession. When he warned about subprime mortgages and collapsing home prices and how this would cause systemic problems, he was often ridiculed. I'm sure his critics wish they could take back their words.

Roubini remains very bearish. In fact, he has been warning about widespread financial panic, arguing that fundamentals don't matter because everyone is selling. Take a look at his blog RGE Monitor. It is definitely worth a close read.

On Wednesday, Oct. 29, we are hosting the Forbes Family Business Forum. We were hoping to sign up Roubini as a speaker. Unfortunately, he wasn't available saying he had to teach class. No doubt his students at New York University appreciate his dedication.

Roubini may be right about his views. It is extremely difficult to predict when the economy, let alone the markets, will turn. I have long believed this mess would end when housing prices stabilized, which I still expect to happen by spring 2009. However, I'm now beginning to wonder if stable housing prices are enough. Despite my concerns, I have been buying stocks anyway. I know stock prices could go much lower in the short term, yet I am comfortable buying at these levels. I feel confident that the world will avoid a great depression and that the investments I make today will appreciate over time.