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?
Even in the current gloomy economic climate, there is something else that has grabbed media attention – the outbreak of swine flu. This is of particular concern, given the WHO’s announcement that we are in an H1N1 flu pandemic. The symptoms and health risks have been widely broadcast, but it is not just this that governments are concerned about. The economies of some countries, in particular Mexico, have been suffering. ‘Swine flu has dealt a major blow to Mexico’s already battered economy’. Many countries have issued advice to businesses on dealing with a potential pandemic and some countries are facing trade restrictions. It’s important to consider the economic consequences of this outbreak in a time of global recession. How will some of the worst hit industries cope and what are the costs that firms could face if the situation gets worse? The following articles explore the issues.
Economic impact of swine flu BBC News: World News America (4/5/09)
Advice to businesses on swine flu BBC News (4/5/09)
Swine flu nations make trade pleaBBC News (3/5/09)
WTO protectionism report to feature swine flue bans The Economist (12/6/09)
Mexico economy squeezed by swine flu BBC News (30/4/09)
Swine flu fears hit travel shares BBC News (27/4/09)
Swine flu: Four ETFs to watch Seeking Alpha (12/6/09)
Employers have to pay for swine flu quarantines Scoop Business: Independent News (12/6/09)
- Which industries are the most affected by the outbreak of swine flu?
- What are some of the costs that businesses will face following the WHO’s announcement that we are in a flu pandemic?
- Some of the articles talk about possible trade restrictions. What are the arguments (a) for (b) against protectionist measures in these circumstances?
- How will this flu pandemic add to the global crisis we are currently facing? What will happen to share prices, to tourism, to people’s expectations?
- Do you think that firms have a social responsibility to deal with this pandemic?
- Will there be additional health costs and who should bear them? What do you think will be the impact on the NHS, given its method of provision and finance?
- Do you think that this pandemic will affect the global economy’s ability to recover from this recession?
In complete contrast to the holidaying habits of the Blair family, Gordon Brown chose to take his holiday this year in Weymouth on the Dorset Coast. Is he setting us a good example? Should we all be holidaying at home to support the UK economy? In the article below, David Smith looks at the impact of holidaying abroad on the UK balance of payments.
Holiday at home and do your bit for Blighty Times Online (26/8/07)
||Examine the impact of growing overseas travel on the UK balance of payments.
||Assess the impact of a reduced tourism deficit on the rest of the UK economy.
||Discuss policies that the government could adopt to help encourage a reduction in the balance of payments deficit on tourism.