Economy

Robert Rubin: Economic Future Is Most 'Uncertain' He's Ever Seen

Former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin says the U.S. economic outlook is the most "uncertain" he has seen in his lifetime.

Given that he was born during the Great Depression (1938), and lived through the Cold War, the 1970s' inflation, a brutal 1980-82 recession and the recent global financial crisis, that may be saying a lot.

Rubin, who was President Clinton's Treasury secretary, is now co-chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations. He spoke Wednesday in Washington, D.C., at a conference called "American Competitiveness: What Works," sponsored by General Electric.

Rubin said the economy is pushing ahead for now, but likely will slow because of "powerful headwinds." His list of worries includes: too much consumer debt; excess factory capacity; slow wage growth; insufficient job growth; reduced government spending; "unsustainable" levels of government debt and a still-horrible housing market.

And of course, Rubin also frets about U.S. congressional ineptitude and the European debt crisis.

He did not use the technical term "YIKES," but it was implied.

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