November 2009
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Day November 27, 2009

Dubai’s Debt Default

James Mackintosh:

Asking to delay repayment on your debt – or defaulting, as the world’s press is carefully not calling it – has turned out not to be a good way for Dubai’s Sheikh Makhtoum to win friends and influence lenders to Nakheel, the property arm of the state-owned conglomerate Dubai World. Markets have tumbled worldwide; investors, reminded that governments can be subprime too, have dumped the debt of other dodgy-looking economies (including Greece); and in Dubai… everyone is on holiday.

What is surprising here is not that Dubai is on the verge of default. It is that anyone was willing to lend them ludicrous sums of money in the first place. Calculated Risk points out that Sir Win Bischoff, then at the (US) state-controlled Citi and now, appropriately enough, at the (British) state-controlled Lloyds Banking Group, was raving about raising $8bn of loans for Dubai last year and as recently as December chose to go public with a “positive outlook on Dubai”. Another non-surprise: state-controlled Royal Bank of Scotland was Dubai World’s biggest loan arranger. In the UK, Dubai World has been buying up a long list of property, according to Anita Likus at The Source; the assumption is it will shortly be selling.

More here.

The Berlin Wall: 20 Years Gone


The Big Picture:

Twenty years ago, on the night of November 9, 1989, following weeks of pro-democracy protests, East German authorities suddenly opened their border to West Germany. After 28 years as prisoners of their own country, euphoric East Germans streamed to checkpoints and rushed past bewildered guards, many falling tearfully into the arms of West Germans welcoming them on the other side. Thousands of Germans and world leaders gathered in Berlin yesterday to celebrate the “Mauerfall” – the dismantling of the Berlin Wall and German reunification – and to remember the approximately 100-200 who died attempting to cross the border over the years. Collected here are photographs both historic and recent, from the fall of the Berlin Wall. Be sure to pause on photos 12 – 15, and click them to see a fade effect from before to after. (38 photos total)