Tag Archives: Finance

New Global Financial Phenomenon: from Poor Candidates to Rich Leaders…….

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All the recent talk of the Panama Papers and hidden wealth. It is, as I once observed, the tip of a huge global iceberg.

In the old days, three or four or five decades ago, when an Arab or Muslim leader (not a monarch) died or left power, he left behind only his personal belongings and (maybe) his pension. That was the case with Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt, Qassim of Iraq, Ben Bella of Algeria, and various other leaders. The same was true of American leaders: Truman and Eisenhower did not leave office as very wealthy men. In fact nor did Nixon. But that was then. Things are different now, especially in the past two decades.

Now there is one thing that most Middle Eastern leaders, especially Arab leaders, have in common with modern era American presidents  and with many European leaders of the past two decades. They all have the same thing in common with other Muslim leaders and with African leaders and with Latin American leaders and Chinese and Russian leaders.
Know what it is? They all leave office as very rich people, much richer than before they took office.

Americans call it “looking for number one“, and they don’t mean “the people“.  That is one risk they take when they seek office. It is a by-product of the globalization of many things, especially greed and corruption.
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

New Age Heroes: Financial Opportunists, Lobbyists, and Rogue Crusaders………

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“Haym Salomon funded not only the Revolutionary War but several leading politicians, yet passed on claiming huge debts. On January 6, 1785, Haym Salomon, the Polish-born immigrant to colonial New York who is revered in American history as the financier of the Revolutionary War, died. He was all of 44 years old — and he was bankrupt………….”

They have a picture of a 10 cent U.S. stamp from 1975 calling Haym (Haim) Salomon a “financial hero”. It says somewhere that he ran a “brokerage business” as well, but apparently he had nothing to do with Salomon Brothers firm that came later. Mr. Salomon died bankrupt, but only because he lived in a different era.

Speaking of financial heroes, I fully expect the new U.S. Congress (both houses) to start creating new “financial” heroes. I expect some top lobbyists to be named, as well as CEOs of Citigroup and JP Morgan Chase and Mr. Blankfein of Goldman Sachs. For their role in the crash of 2008 that required government funds to bail all these geniuses out. The Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson of Las Vegas gambling, financial godfather of the New New Republican Party, will surely be on the list. Not to ignore some other likely candidates: famous anti-tax, anti-affordable universal healthcare, anti-affordable higher education, and anti-welfare ‘crusaders’.

The New New Democrats, led by you-know-who-she-is, should they win the White House in 2016, will likely not only follow the same path, but revert to their old habit of appointing top bankers as top financial officers of the U.S. government.
As for myself, I would suggest an economist like Paul Krugman or even Robert Reich for treasury secretary. But that would limit the New New Democrat president to one term. Unless she or he is impeached and convicted first by an uncharacteristically outraged Congress.

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter


Qatar and Her Sisters: Foundation for the Defense of More War……..

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KuwaitCox2    ChristmasPeanuts

“It has been dubbed the most two-faced nation in the world, backing the U.S.-led coalition against the militants of the Islamic State while providing a permissive environment, in the words of one top American official, for terrorist financiers to operate with impunity. And despite a growing furor on both sides of the Atlantic, Qatar, the tiny but super-wealthy Gulf emirate, shows scant willingness to clamp down on the jihad moneymen. Indeed, it may never unless Western powers start raising the political stakes. A new report identifies more than 20 funders designated as terrorist-linked by the U.S. or UN who have benefited from a mixture of benign neglect or support in Doha. “With every important case of suspected terror finance involving a Qatari national in past years, the government in Doha has refused effectively to crack down,” according to the study, “Qatar and Terror Finance,”……………Al-Nuaymi, who has also been fingered by the UN and the European Union as a funder of terrorism, has held major roles in official Qatari organizations, including serving as a board member on charities backed by the government and at the Qatar Islamic Bank…………….”

This Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) website claims it is “a non-profit, non-partisan 501(c)3 policy institute focusing on foreign policy and national security………” The most reasonable among its leaders is dead: one former NFL quarterback named Jack Kemp who went on to Congress and the Reagan cabinet. I usually take their analysis about the Middle East with a pound or two of salt, and I am being extremely polite here.
The Foundation For the Defense of Democracies has little to do with “democracy”. It is an extreme warlike group inhabited by frustrated American warhawks/chickenhawks and scurrilous Arabs and other exiles who seek more Western wars and destruction on their native region. The group is dedicated to two things: (a) absolute Israeli supremacy in the Middle East, and (b) waging more wars of choice on any remaining Middle East country that is not allied with the United States. Just a list of its board and its comments and its contributors will tell the story.

Having said that, this is not to deny that certain elements in the Persian Gulf states are heavily involved in financing Jihadi terrorists in Iraq and Syria. And not just Qatar, the Little Wahhabi gas power. I have written on this since before 2011, before the first Wahhabi suitcases of cash money from the Gulf entered Syria, through Turkey and Lebanon (the latter care of the pro-Saudi March 14 bloc). In Iraq the trail can lead all the way back to the elections of 2005 and the rise of Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia, possibly earlier.

Ironically, there were no Qataris involved in the September 11 terrorist attacks, mainly Saudis, and Egyptians and Emiratis. Qatar has a tiny native population (some 90% are imported temporary foreign labor) but a lot of surplus money. Unlike some other Gulf states, they send more money and less Wahhabi volunteers to kill Shi’as and people of other faiths.

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Mohammed Haider Ghuloum


Deutschland Uber Alles in Education? Wirklich, You Betcha………

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     “You know, greed is good………” Ivan Boesky, Gordon Gecko, Rick          Santelli, et al

“American students that want to attend college, but are unable to find the finances to do so, may want to look at schools in Germany as tuition fees have been eliminated country-wide after Lower Saxony became the last state to get on board. Germany universities were free in the past, but a 2006 ruling by the country’s Constitutional Court ruled that limited fees did not conflict with the Germany’s commitment to universal eduction. It didn’t take long for various states in Germany to see how unpopular the new fees were, and slowly each state dropped them, leaving Lower Saxony as the final holdout. Gabrielle Heinen-Kjajic, the minister for science and culture in Lower Saxony, said in a statement that the decision was made “because we do not want higher education which depends on the wealth of the parents.”………..”

Germany is becoming more and more like America was in the period from the 1950s through the 1970s, before the American counter-revolution that started in the 1980s against open higher education. Germany now seems to be leading the way in higher education. The target in Germany is equality and building up a well-educated society, true social mobility through an educated labor force. Educated voters are not seen as a potential enemy by any major party, not openly anyway.

That free universal education used to be the target in America as well, before the banking industry took over higher education over the past three decades. But first, in order to do that, the banking industry had to take over the U.S. Congress, both houses and both parties, which they have done admirably. And they had to get university administrators to cooperate, which they have done. Now the tuition goal is ‘whatever the market bears’, unless one is an athlete.

Change you can believe in? Yes sir, that is the small change you get after paying the tuition and the student loan payments.

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum


Economics of Terrorism in Iraq and Syria: Follow the Money if You Can………


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“The extremist group that is threatening the existence of the Iraqi state was built and grown for years with the help of elite donors from American supposed allies in the Persian Gulf region……….. But in the years they were getting started, a key component of ISIS’s support came from wealthy individuals in the Arab Gulf States of Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Sometimes the support came with the tacit nod of approval from those regimes; often, it took advantage of poor money laundering protections in those states, according to officials, experts, and leaders of the Syrian opposition, which is fighting ISIS as well as the regime. “Everybody knows the money is going through Kuwait and that it’s coming from the Arab Gulf,” said Andrew Tabler, senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Studies. “Kuwait’s banking system and its money changers have long been a huge problem because they are a major conduit for money to extremist groups in Syria and now Iraq.”…………..”

The money
, it all comes down to the money. Any army or militia needs a source of money: zealotry alone is useless. God will surely not help an army or militia that is flat broke. Thousands of Wahhabi terrorists in Iraq and Syria would not function long without money, a lot of money. It is not money from captured oil fields in Iraq and Syria. It is not from taxes in impoverished western Iraqi regions. It is not locally printed money. It is not from ransoms paid for hostages: most of the hostages are poor pilgrims or soldiers who can’t afford a ransom. It is hard currency, mainly U.S. dollars. I have posted on this in the past, more than once. Yet nobody seems able to discover the exact source and route of the money. Correction: we can guess the sources of the money, but nobody wants to come out and say it publicly and do something effective about it. And who has that kind of money, to spend many millions without having to get anyone’s approval?

In the case of Kuwait the writer exaggerates: it has been the pro-Wahhabi elements of the private sector that aid and abet the Jihadis, rather than the government. In the case of Qatar and Saudi Arabia (and possibly the UAE) the situation is different: the princes and potentates started throwing money and weapons at the Jihadis in Syria early on. Some of the same princes and potentates are still at it, financing the terrorists even as official policy seems to be against it. Instability in Iraq has always been part of the strategy of the princes and oil potentates.………… 

is what I posted one year ago about The Economics of Jihad in Syria
“Local Kuwait media report that the tribal Islamist opposition has called for a mobilization for war in Syria (they called it for Jihad in Syria). A bunch of former opposition tribal Islamist MP’s held a sort of tribal charity ball but stag, a large gathering of men to start a campaign to raise money to equip and arm 12 thousand ghazis (ghazi is Arabic for invader, raider, meaning here Jihadi) for Syria. They have called for every family (that listens to them) to equip and arm one Mujahid to go to Syria to fight. One of them suggested that 700 Dinars (about US $2400) would prepare and send a Jihadis to battle in Syria. (No idea if this amount covers one or multiple multiple wives). That of course does not cover the current cost of operations: food, bullets, shelter, bribes, booze, weed, women, etc. All that minus current revenues: whatever can be looted as war booty or obtained as ransom for hostages the FSA and Jihadist militias like to take (they are avid hostage-takers and are still holding two Christian bishops and two other priests hostage, in addition to many Alawis and Shi’as). Some of the well-heeled tribal Islamists at the gathering contributed new non-Islamist cars. One gave a new heathen-made Chevrolet Suburban, another donated a new infidel-made Mercedes-Benz. One former member of parliament got a family to pay for the arming and equipping 28 ghazis (raiders or Jihadis) for Syria. Another former member deposited funds to cover three Jihadis………………”

If $2,400 will send one terrorist fighter to Syria or Iraq. One thousand jihadis would cost $ 2.4 million (as a starting fixed cost, not counting current expenses). Add all other expenses over time, and you do the rest of the math. Take into consideration that the $2,400 might just be a ‘teaser’, a hook, to get things started.