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Black Swan author says Obama's stimulus plan made everything worse


I read Nassim Nicholas Taleb's book "The Black Swan" while sitting poolside overlooking the Atlantic side of a nice spot in the Turks and Caicos.  That's a great way to wreck the mood.  Not that the book is entirely depressing -- just that it's certainly a jolt to some of your economic presuppositions.

I know Taleb professes to be a rigorous independent.  But he does hang with the HuffPo crowd a good bit. So use that as context as you read what he said at a speech this week in Montreal:

U.S. President Barack Obama and his administration weakened the country’s economy by seeking to foster growth instead of paying down the federal debt, said Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of “The Black Swan.”

“Obama did exactly the opposite of what should have been done,” Taleb said yesterday in Montreal in a speech as part of Canada’s Salon Speakers series. “He surrounded himself with people who exacerbated the problem. You have a person who has cancer and instead of removing the cancer, you give him tranquilizers. When you give tranquilizers to a cancer patient, they feel better but the cancer gets worse.”

And Bloomberg notes that he had upbeat words for his Canadian audience:

Taleb, a native of Lebanon who gave his speech in French to an audience of Quebec business people, said Canada’s fiscal situation makes the country a safer investment than its southern neighbor.

Canada has the lowest ratio of net debt to gross domestic product among the Group of Seven industrialized countries and will keep that distinction until at least 2014, the country’s finance department said in March. Canada’s ratio, 24 percent in 2007, will rise to about 30 percent by 2014. The U.S. ratio, now above 40 percent, will top 80 percent in four years, the department said, citing IMF data.

“I am bullish on Canada,” he told the audience. “I prefer Canada to the U.S. or even Europe.”

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