One can tell the world's condition is dire because the practitioners of that famously dismal science, the economists, are the new celebrities. Putting aside Princeton's Paul Krugman-who this week won the Nobel prize for economics-one academic has emerged with a reputation of a seer, Nouriel Roubini. The NYU professor's once-mocked warnings-of a real-estate collapse, equity market slaughter, the systemic bust of the banking system-have largely come to pass.
It's no wonder Roubini has earned the nickname Dr. Doom. One website suggests a Halloween mask of his unsmiling visage. And the New York Times chose a photograph (left) of the Stern School 'permabear' to go with this description. "With a dour manner and an aura of gloom about him, Roubini gives the impression of being permanently pained, as if the burden of what he knows is almost too much for him to bear. He rarely smiles, and when he does, his face, topped by an unruly mop of brown hair, contorts into something more closely resembling a grimace."
It's time to call bullshit. The image of Dr. Doom may satisfy the needs of the media and partygoers this Halloween-but Roubini is anything but dour. The 50-year-old Iranian-Jewish economist is a promiscuous Facebook friend who draws a cosmopolitan crowd to the frequent parties at his Tribeca loft-an apartment with walls indented with plaster vulvas, incidentally. As this party photograph shows (right), the professor's gloomy public image is entirely at odds with his playboy lifestyle. In a Facebook message, Roubini makes no apology:
Dear Nick, I work very very hard and I also enjoy life. My home is also partially a cultural salon where I host book parties, debate and election night events, independent film screnings, live music nights, theater/performance acts, fashion shows, dinner parties and even plain old fashioned dance parties.
I have this professional Dr Doom nickname but I am quite a cheerful person with a few close friends and eclectic group of friends who, like most New Yorkers, are members of the creative class. The innovations of lawyers and bankers can be as creative as those of visual or performing artists, at times too creative you may say given the current financial meltdown. So I live life to its fullest. To paraphrase Seinfeld; anything wrong with that?