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    » 06/01/2009, 00.00

    DUBAI

    Signs of a new financial storm for September coming from Dubai and Saudi Arabia

    Maurizio d'Orlando

    Dubai calls on the Rothschild bank for help, perhaps out of desperation. In Saudi Arabia a Saad Group company defaults. US, European and Asian banks are struggling. The end of Ramadan in September might mark the start of an economic depression worse than that of the 1930s.
    Milan (AsiaNews) – Rothschild’s Dubai office has been retained by Dubai’s Department of Finance for advice on the US$ 10 billion financial support fund (FSF) the emirate raised on the bond markets.

    Nakheel, the property development arm of Dubai World, was the first to benefit, but is likely to be the last of its kind because funds will be handed out on the basis of two criteria: urgency and strategic importance.

    In fact government-related corporations deemed essential for the long-term development of Dubai’s economy will be eligible for FSFs. They include firms involved in infrastructure, transportation (ex. the Metro and Maktoum airport projects), aviation, ports, shipping and tourism. Banking might be included and the Rothschild guidelines might be flexible with regard to real estate.

    This said Rothschild is not getting directly involved but will act through commercial banks in which it has equity or has connections with, like JP Morgan and other ones. Moreover, through the same commercial banks, Rothschild has a say, and a powerful one, over the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRBNY).

     By law the latter plays a key role in the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) and thus has a crucial role in making key decisions about interest rates and the US money supply.

    Through the FRBNY Rothschild is in a privileged position to influence US monetary policy and shaping US monetary supply, crucially important since the US dollar remains the main reserve currency in the world.

    Dubai’s choice is also part of a ongoing dispute between the Saudis and the Emirates over the location of the single central bank of the Gulf States and what direction to give it.

    The United Arab Emirates (UAE), especially Abu Dhabi, has recently put the brakes on the whole thing, and in the short run no solution seems to be in sight.

    The Saudis are considered too close to the United States and thus indirectly to Israel. Gulf States, especially the UAE, favour a Euro-Asian axis that runs from China to Russia that includes Germany, a relationship best illustrated by Opel’s sale to the Austro-Canadian Magna group, which stands in for the Russian state bank Sberbank.

    The Rothschild family has have been closely associated with the Zionist Movement. The 1917 Balfour Declaration was in fact addressed to Lord Rothschild in which the British government committed itself to the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.

    By choosing this banking group, Dubai is distancing itself from the other emirates, perhaps out of desperation.

    But the Saudis too are facing their own serious problems. The Saad Group, which is linked to The International Banking Corp (TIBC) and the Ahmad Hamad Algosaibi & Brothers Co, is in difficulty.

    Saudi Arabia’s central bank has frozen all the accounts of Saad chairman, Saudi billionaire Maan al-Sanea, who owns 2.97 per cent of the HSBC Holdings Plc, Europe’s largest bank based in London.

    Once known by its full name of Hong Kong & Shanghai Banking Corp., HSBC Holdings Plc is also one of Asia’s main banks.

    The decision by Saudi Arabia’s central bank comes after an Algosaibi-owned company defaulted on a billion dollar debt.

    Maan al-Sanea’s Saad Investment Co. had also received a US$ 2.82 billion loan from a group of 26 European, US, Asian and Arab banks in 2007. 

    Such troubles might be a sign of more bad things to come for the banks, especially those in Europe and to a lesser extent in Asia.

    Conversely, although US banks were hit by the subprime credit crisis in real estate, they are not that involved in emerging markets and eastern Europe.

    As in the spring of 2008 when the first signs of the coming September financial storm were visible, today’s signs, albeit not front page news, might herald another major storm this fall. 

    But this year’s crisis could be worse than last year’s because of the multiple points of origin. In addition to the weak situation of the US Federal Reserve, whose financial commitments in support of the US banking system are equal to the total US GDP, European banks could go in tilt because of their exposure to emerging markets whilst those of Asia (especially Japan’s and China’s) could suffer because of Asian economies’ heavy reliance on now declining exports.

    As for Dubai real estate values in the city-emirate have dropped by 50 per cent since before the crisis[i]; insolvencies here and across the Gulf region are rising.

    At the same time two contradictory trends appear to be coming together. On the one hand, we see that “creata ex nihilo”[ii] e-money might lead to hyper-inflation; on the other, collapsing prices in real goods could lead to deflation and an economic depression worse than that of the 1930s.

    Indeed in Dubai many expect the next storm to hit at the end of Ramadan, 21 September.

     

     

     

    [i] According to AsiaNews’s own sources, the drop in real estate values could actually be higher, of the order of 60 to 70 per cent.

    [ii] Such an almost blasphemous expression refers to money created by accounting decisions and practices made by existing computerised banking methods and which do not reflect actual available goods.

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    See also

    23/06/2008 ASIA
    Economy to get double whammy
    Economic forecast for the next three months indicates storm ahead as stock and credit markets collapse. The cost money is set to go up as the fight against inflation gets rougher. The dollar’s plunge could be followed by that of the euro, because of politics.

    22/07/2005 CHINA
    Expert comments on yuan's (small) revaluation
    Opinions are positive about the small revaluation (+ 2 per cent) but see it as insufficient. Fear that it might lead to lower exports and job losses.

    11/03/2008 Asia
    Fears of an economic tsunami grow, especially in Asia
    As involvency grows in the US subprime market the banking system becomes more dysfunctional. As lending to firms, consumers and governments is tightened, the crisis spreads to the whole economy.

    19/03/2008 ASIA
    Economic crisis renews prospects for world currency
    As the number of prophets of doom multiplies, the demand-side structural imbalance of the world economye, now under scrutiny in many economic studies, lies in the artificial compression of Chinese domestic consumption.

    10/03/2009 UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
    Dubai: massive projects wind down, immigrants return home
    The economic crisis is affecting the construction industry most of all. In 2009, 45% of the workers in the sector will lose their jobs. The Dubai Economic Council is earmarking 10 billion euros to confront the crisis. Hundreds of cars have been abandoned at the Dubai airport by foreigners fleeing from debts after losing their jobs.



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