Thursday, March 16, 2006

Folly or Consumption

I recently posted on Assymetrical Information wondering whether the current boom in Dubai was folly, consumption, or investment. I've removed investment from the consideration set.

Secret Dubai Diary says:
The financial losses suffered by investors in tumbling regional stockmarkets is likely to have repercussions far beyond a few now-empty dishdash pockets.

First: thousands of often inexperienced, first-time local investors have taken out huge, unsecured bank loans to speculate in the markets. Most will now presumably default on these loans.

Secondly: GCC nationals aren't used to losing money. They're used to the government bailing them out if they don't have enough money or don't save any money. They're used to the courts bailing them out with favourable verdicts if they can't pay their bank loans, or if they have a dispute with their foreign partner. They're not used to having access to things like gambling, since that's banned in most Islamic countries. Hence the fever - to the point of violent stampedes - that broke out over many recent IPOs, with the markets effectively becoming a legitimised casino.
Leverage, the belief that prices never go down, and moral hazard do not support investment.


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