'Dr. Doom' Nouriel Roubini says Credit Suisse may be too big to save and risks igniting a 'Lehman moment'

'Dr. Doom' Nouriel Roubini says Credit Suisse may be too big to save and risks igniting a 'Lehman moment'
Nouriel RoubiniBobby Yip/Reuters
  • "Dr. Doom" economist Nouriel Roubini said Credit Suisse may be too big to fail and too big to save.
  • He told Bloomberg TV there are doubts Switzerland could engineer a bailout.

Nouriel Roubini, whose correct prediction of the 2008 global recession earned him the title of "Dr. Doom," said trouble at Credit Suisse is may be too much for Switzerland to handle.

Shares of the bank sank as much as 30% on Wednesday after its main shareholder, Saudi National Bank, declined to invest further. Meanwhile, credit default swaps soared, indicating mounting fear that the bank won't be able to meet its debt obligations.

"The problem is that Credit Suisse, by some standards, might be too big to fail, but also too big to be saved," Roubini told Bloomberg TV on Wednesday.

"It's not clear that, unlike the United States, the [Swiss] federal system has enough resources to engineer a bailout," he added, referring to Switzerland's decentralized form of government that devolves authority to cantons.

The warning came hours before the Swiss central bank announced that Credit Suisse could rely on it for liquidity support, and characterized the institution as well capitalized.


Still, Credit Suisse's financial health has been a cause for concern after sustaining big losses, navigating a number of scandals, and seeing clients pulled more than $100 billion in assets in the fourth quarter alone.

The stability of bank deposits has emerged as a top priority recently. A run on deposits at Silicon Valley Bank last week triggered its sudden collapse after it unexpectedly disclosed $1.8 billion in losses on its bond portfolio.

Roubini noted that Credit Suisse has significantly more assets than what SVB had before it failed. At the end of the fourth quarter, Credit Suisse had over $500 billion in assets, more than double what SVB had.

"So anything that happens to Credit Suisse will be of systemic effects, not just for the European financial system but also for the global financial system," he said. "So if Silicon Valley Bank creates ripple effects in global financial markets, something bad happening to Credit Suisse would be an order of magnitude more severe — something more like a Lehman moment."