Monday, November 30, 2009

Dubai: conjuring chocolate biscuits from thin air

Much is being written about the Dubai fiasco, and about financial markets more generally, but this article perhaps puts the problems as aptly as anything that's out there:

"the world's financial markets seem shocked and surprised, like Bagpuss being disappointed to learn that the mice from the mouse organ couldn't really create an endless supply of chocolate biscuits from thin air."

The article, even if it doesn't add much to the sum of human knowledge, is worth reading for entertainment value alone. How secretive is Dubai? Take a look here.

TJN's John Christensen was in Doha recently. He found it intriguing how -- just as in Dubai - there were all these tower blocks under construction, towering over the place (see picture). He spoke to someone attached to a Qatari development agency, and asked him "do you have tenants?" The answer came: they weren't enormously concerned about obtaining tenants at that stage - property prices were escalating so fast and tenants tended to detract from the value of the properties!

Christensen also spoke to somebody back in London who was deeply involved in putting together structured finance packages for property developments around all the United Arab Emirates, almost invariably routed through tax havens. A shaky set of packages, it seemed, although note that Qatar, being backed by vast gas reserves, is a very different place from Dubai.


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3:09 am  

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