Monday, March 30, 2009

One winner from the Financial Crisis

For years, he has been a manic host of everything from small dinner parties to big bashes. The soirees are more crowded of late, attracting everyone from members of the hedge-fund set to a former Miss Ukraine and propelling the bachelor economist onto the tabloid gossip pages. (He has become a New York Post regular, and CNBC often plays disco music when he appears on the air.)

Roubini’s partying side may have remained below the media radar but for his energetic use of Facebook. He kept his profile on the social-networking site open to the general public until a few months ago, something more privacy-minded users typically choose not to do. On his profile, he said he was single and interested in meeting women, and he posted photos of himself hamming it up with females who look two or three decades younger than he is.

Among Roubini’s Facebook friends is Sarah Austin, a pretty blond who is featured in a black minidress on the website she runs,, which posts interviews with internet “personalities.” Austin says she received an unsolicited email from Roubini last fall—complete with links to articles about himself—praising her site and inviting her to a party. She has yet to take him up on the invitation, but the two are now regular correspondents. She assumes he approached her because he wanted to be written up on her website—­and also because, she says, “I fit the criteria for his loft parties. There are a lot of women.”

Roubini’s Facebook presence brought the media-gossip blog Gawker into the Roubini story last fall. In a post called “The Secret Pleasures of Dr. Doom,” Nick Denton, the site’s founder, flagged what he saw as a disconnect between Roubini’s “gloomy public image” and “his playboy lifestyle”: “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.”...

Still, at the party I attended, occasional whispers could be heard among the guests: “Where are the vaginas?” Such chatter notwithstanding, the gathering was a friendly and civilized affair—no inappropriate behavior, not even a preponderance of booze; mostly scattered wine bottles and bubbly water. “I’m a serious professional economist. I live in New York and have a social life,” Roubini says. “I have book parties and social dinners. And, you know, people will take pictures of you with your friends, and there are some attractive women. It doesn’t mean I go out with them. They’re my friends. I have nothing to hide.” When I send him a thank-you email, I can’t resist adding, “If you ask me, the deep mystery at the center of your life is why you would want to subject your apartment to that sort of abuse.” He quickly wrote back, “I do not subject my apt. to abuse. It is nice to have friends over, and I have a housekeeper that cleans up everything afterward.”

-The Prime of Mr. Nouriel Roubini

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