revenge of the nerds

Economist Edward Hugh Gets His Close-up

For a long time, they were shunned by the outside world. They sat alone in dark rooms, the bluish light of their individual computer screens reflecting off their ratty bathrobes, trading messages of doom to basically just one other, since no one else would listen. And then, everything they had been predicting actually happened. The economy came crashing down, and suddenly, these men — Jim Grant, Nassim Taleb, Peter Schiff, Nouriel Roubini, and so many others who had maintained bearish views for years — were thrust, blinking, into the spotlight. They were hailed as geniuses, invited to lunches, given lucrative speaking contracts, and asked to appear on television.

In some ways, it was as if the Rapture finally happened, and everyone who was derided as extremist by the world at large was suddenly on CNN, speaking with authority about how to meet the Lord in the air.

Edward Hugh, a British-born, Barcelona-based blogger who has long maintained a defiant lack of faith in the stability of the euro zone, has had to wait longer than most. But since his bearish views have been recently vindicated by the Continent’s sovereign debt crisis, Hugh has become the toast of Europe, the Times reports today; the recipient of many important invitations that he has received with aplomb, since, like Roubini, despite his grim outlook, Hugh is also a socialized human with a “convivial” spirit. (Also like Roubini, he’s apparently quite popular with the ladies, and has “his own support network of middle-aged housewives.”)

But things are different in Europe. Like Robbie Williams, Hugh is really only famous in Europe, and he has not quite achieved the level of mega-celebrity to which we treat our economists in the U.S. For instance, he has not yet partied with Gwen Stefani, or appeared opposite Jonah Hill in a major motion picture. And:

Last week, in fact, he even had to borrow money from friends to buy clothes presentable enough to allow him to address the conference of Spanish politicians and business executives.

If only he lived here. Dockers would be begging to dress him.

The Blog Prophet of Euro Zone Doom [NYT]

Economist Edward Hugh Gets His Close-up