Over the past year, the world has seen a massive change in the fortunes of Dubai. At one time, it was as if Dubai was immune from the credit crunch. Property prices rose and then rose again. Credit checks barely existed and anyone seemed to be able to get on the property ladder, including a large number of foreigners. Indeed, 75% of property in Dubai is owned by foreigners.
However, those living their dream in Dubai have entered their worst nightmare. Property prices have already fallen by 50% and further falls are predicted. Debt levels are at about $85 billion, although some suggest they could be closer to $100 billion. Oil prices have fallen as a result of the situation in Dubai, although they have recovered slightly in the past few days, partly boosted by an announcement by the United Arab Emirates central bank that it was providing additional liquidity to banks. Share prices across the world have also been adversely affected, but these also have experienced a recovery.
Dubai has acknowledged the extent of its debts by asking to delay repayments, but whilst some hope that the worst has passed, others are speculating that further debts may be revealed. Dubai asked for a six-month repayment freeze on debt issued by Dubai World and its unit Nakheel, a property developer. The fear of Dubai defaulting on its debts has continued to affect global markets and how quickly Dubai is able to recover may depend on the generosity of Abu Dhabi, its oil rich neighbour. It might be that Abu Dhabi only offer help in exchange for more control over Dubai.
Read the following articles and try answering the questions about this new example of a global issue that highlights the increasing interdependence of economies across the world.
What spoiled the party in Dubai? BBC News (27/11/09)
Dubai says not responsible for Dubai World debt Reuters, Rania Oteify and Tamara Walid (30/11/09)
Oil jumps on positive US data, waning Dubai worries AFP (30/11/09)
Dubai debt crisis should be a lesson to us all Times Online, John Waples (29/11/09)
US shares slide over Dubai fears BBC News (27/11/09)
European shares fall on Dubai fears, banks slip Reuters, Atal Prakash (30/11/09)
Dubai Debt Worries CNBC (30/11/09)
- What are the main causes behind the debt crisis in Dubai?
- If Abu Dhabi does step in, what do you think it will demand in return?
- Explain why oil prices have suffered as a result of Dubai’s debt crisis. Why have they recovered slightly? Illustrate this using demand and supply – don’t forget to consider elasticity!
- What lessons should we learn from this debt crisis to prevent it from happening again?
- Following Dubai’s debt crisis, share prices fell around the world. What’s the link between debt levels and share prices?
- Having listened to the CNBC report, do you think that tourism is enough to rescue Dubai or will intervention be required?
On July 8 the UK government published its long-awaited White Paper on reform of the system of banking regulation. Several commentators had called for the abolition of the ‘tripartite’ system of regulation, whereby responsibility for ensuring the stability and security of the banking system is shared between the Financial Services Authority (FSA), the Bank of England and the Treasury. Some have advocated a considerable strengthening of the role of the Bank of England and even abolishing the FSA. What is generally agreed is that there needs to be ‘macro-prudential’ regulation that looks at the whole banking system and at questions of systemic risk and not just at individual banks. Several of the articles below debate this issue.
The government’s White Paper proposes keeping the tripartite system but also strengthening various aspects of regulation. Amongst other things, it proposes giving the FSA powers to ‘penalise banks if their pay policies create unnecessary risks and are not focused on the long-term strength of their institutions’. It also proposes setting up a ‘new Council for Financial Stability – made up of the FSA, the Bank of England and the Treasury – to meet regularly and report on the systemic risks to financial stability’. Banks would also be required to increase their capital adequacy ratios. The first two articles below give an outline of the proposals. The detailed proposals are contained in the third link, to the Treasury site.
Chancellor moves to rein in ‘risky’ banks Independent (9/7/09)
Banks to face tougher regulation BBC News (8/7/09)
Reforming financial markets HM Treasury (8/7/09)
Treasury sees devil in the detail Financial Times (7/7/09)
How to police the banking system Independent (8/7/09)
City regulation: a quick guide Telegraph (8/7/09)
Treasury White Paper: what it means for the financial services industry Telegraph (8/7/09)
Key issues: Financial regulation BBC News (8/7/09)
Alistair Darling accuses banks of ‘kamikaze’ attitude to loans Telegraph (5/7/09)
HSBC boss on banking reform BBC News video (3/7/09)
Bankers ‘want to be proud of what they do’ BBC Today Programme, Radio 4 (7/7/09)
Divisions on display at Mansion House BBC Newsnight video (18/6/09)
Who should supervise the banks? BBC Newsnight video (18/6/09)
Governor wants more bank powers BBC News video (17/6/09)
King puts spotlight on banks too big to fail Times Online (21/6/09)
Mervyn King: Banks cannot be too big to fail Edmund Conway blog, Telegraph (17/6/09)
The City doesn’t need any more rules Telegraph (6/7/09)
Treasury admits ‘intellectual failure’ behind credit crisis Telegraph (8/7/09)
Bankers to face draconian pay veto Times Online (8/7/09)
- What do you understand by macro-prudential regulation? What would be the difficulties of applying regulation at this level?
- Why may liquidity ratios and capital adequacy ratios that are deemed appropriate by individual banks be inappropriate for the banking system as a whole?
- If banks are too big to fail, why does this create a moral hazard?
- Examine the case for splitting universal banks into retail banks and investment banks.
- Examine the arguments for and against regulating the level and nature of remuneration of senior bank executives.
US national debt has got so large that the national debt clock in Time Square has run out of zeroes and they have had to order a new one. UK national debt is also set to rise in the current financial crisis as government borrowing rose sharply in September. The impact of greater public spending and the part-nationalisation of the banks is all likely to lead to a rapid rise in public borrowing and therefore national debt, but is this sustainable for the UK economy?
How the bank crisis hits Britain’s public finances Guardian (14/10/08)
National debt clock runs out of zeroes – new larger clock ordered Guardian (9/10/08)
Banks’ bail-out: ‘The money’s being spent on buying bank shares, so it shouldn’t hit public borrowing’ Guardian (14/10/08) (podcast)
Rescue plan underlines likelihood of tax rises and spending cuts Guardian (9/10/08)
Darling must spend now Times Online (20/10/08)
Public borrowing hits record high Times Online (20/10/08)
Gordon Brown defends level of national debt Guardian (20/10/08)
UK borrowing hits a 60-year high BBC News Online (20/10/08)
Crisis ‘to double UK borrowing’ BBC News Online (22/9/08)
Deep pockets The Economist (9/10/08)
||Explain the relationship between the level of public borrowing and the national debt.
||Examine the reasons why public spending has risen.
||Discuss whether this increase in aggregate demand will be sufficient to prevent the UK economy falling into recession.