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Pundit faceoff

Jim Rogers v. Nouriel Roubini Add to ...

Nouriel Roubini, dubbed Dr. Doom for his prescient call on the economic meltdown, warns that global investors are inflating an asset bubble that could lead to a spectacular bust.

With oil prices up 80 per cent this year, gold up 24 per cent and commodity indexes up nearly 50 per cent, prices have risen "too soon, too fast," the New York University professor said Wednesday.

"It is very hard to justify oil going from $30 (U.S.) to above $80 based only on the fundamentals of supply and demand," Mr. Roubini said at the Inside Commodities Conference in New York.

Those predictions didn't sit well with Jim Rogers, the chairman of Singapore-based Rogers Holdings who is widely known for calling the commodities rally of 1999.

"What bubble?" Mr. Rogers said in an interview Wednesday on Bloomberg television. He was responding to a question about whether he agreed with Mr. Roubini's forecast. "It's clear Mr. Roubini hasn't done his homework, yet again."

Mr. Rogers noted that many commodities are not yet near their record highs and he boldly predicted that the price of gold will double to $2,000 an ounce, or more, in the next decade. He said he remains pessimistic on the value of the U.S. dollar.

"It's not a bubble if something is up 100 per cent this year, but down 70 per cent from it's high. That's not a bubble, that's a good year," he said, adding that equity markets are not about to crater.

However, Mr. Roubini, who is also chairman of the New York research and advisory firm Roubini Global Economics, thinks that the greenback is due for a major "snap back" that will see it rise as much as 20 per cent within the next year.

In an interview with CNBC television on Wednesday, he said that investors are executing the "mother of all carry trades" by borrowing dollars to buy commodities. Specifically, they are getting great rates on the weak dollar and investing in emerging markets, fuelling a bubble. He foresees the dollar swinging up when the asset bubble bursts.

"It's eventually going to occur, but it's going to be six months from now, a year from now," he said.

As for gold hitting $2,000? "Utter nonsense," Mr. Roubini said.

Mr. Rogers, in turn, didn't agree with Mr. Roubini's call on emerging markets.

"I don't know any emerging market stock markets that are so high I'd call them a bubble," Mr. Rogers said. "They're certainly all up a lot, maybe they're too high, but being too high is not a bubble for anyone who knows financial markets."

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