Economic Reformer


The new Casablanca: Why Dubai draws Iran, intrigue, and tusk smugglers

Indeed, with so many Iranians in Dubai, US consular officials here regularly pump that large pool for information or recruit them to spy, says Jim Krane, author of a recent book about Dubai.

Many countries have active intelligence operations here in this open and strategic spot, he says. “There are so many reasons to be in Dubai … business, tourism, and conferences, that it’s easy for spies to maintain ‘plausible deniability.’ ”

Israel’s Mossad is widely believed to have sent dozens of agents to Dubai to assassinate Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, the Hamas operative, though Dubai’s tough-talking police chief made clear that such a brazen attack was a step too far. After a quick and impressive investigation, his department secured international arrest warrants for some two dozen suspects from abroad.

Dubai has also drawn praise for its “swift and extensive” cooperation in cracking down on terrorism financing after the US Congress’s 9/11 com­mis­sion found that most of the funds for the 2001 attacks were funneled through the city. Suspected terrorism activity was “dealt with expeditiously” and punished, said the FATF.

As for the crackdown on illicit trade with Iran, it’s unclear how much the authorities are making a dent – particularly for state-backed companies. US officials say they may be fighting a long battle and that they hope to persuade Dubai to crack down harder or risk its international reputation.

Yet even if the emirate were to sacrifice its breezy business climate, illegal traders would just go elsewhere, says Prof. Jean-François Seznec at Georgetown University in Washington, a Gulf specialist.

Dubai follows a long line of entrepôts where smugglers and money launderers gather, he points out, arguing that “there’s always a market for this kind of free trade.”

The spirited attempt to see Smith as an advocate of pure capitalism, with complete reliance on the market mechanism guided by pure profit motive, is altogether misconceived. Smith never used the term “capitalism” (I have certainly not found an instance). More importantly, he was not aiming to be the great champion of the profit-based market mechanism, nor was he arguing against the importance of economic institutions other than the markets.

Smith was convinced of the necessity of a well-functioning market economy, but not of its sufficiency. He argued powerfully against many false diagnoses of the terrible “commissions” of the market economy, and yet nowhere did he deny that the market economy yields important “omissions”. He rejected market-excluding interventions, but not market-including interventions aimed at doing those important things that the market may leave undone.

Smith saw the task of political economy as the pursuit of “two distinct objects”: “first, to provide a plentiful revenue or subsistence for the people, or more properly to enable them to provide such a revenue or subsistence for themselves; and second, to supply the state or commonwealth with a revenue sufficient for the public services”. He defended such public services as free education and poverty relief, while demanding greater freedom for the in digent who receives support than the rather punitive Poor Laws of his day permitted. Beyond his attention to the components and responsibilities of a well-functioning market system (such as the role of accountability and trust), he was deeply concerned about the inequality and poverty that might remain in an otherwise successful market economy. Even in dealing with regulations that restrain the markets, Smith additionally acknowledged the importance of interventions on behalf of the poor and the underdogs of society. At one stage, he gives a formula of disarming simplicity: “When the regulation, therefore, is in favour of the workmen, it is always just and equitable; but it is sometimes otherwise when in favour of the masters.” Smith was both a proponent of a plural institutional structure and a champion of social values that transcend the profit motive, in principle as well as in actual reach ….

Amartya Sen Goes in ..

The struggle for control of a major natural gas supply corridor to Europe is heating up, with the two principal contenders announcing landmark agreements at the weekend in a race to get under way by the end of next year.

Both of the two proposed pipelines would supply a significant portion of Europe’s gas supplies, but increased competition from other sources means only one is likely to go ahead in the next five years, analysts say.

On Saturday, Russia signed an agreement with Austria to co-operate on the South Stream pipeline, which would transport Russian gas under the Black Sea and terminate in Austria. The day before, backers of the rival Nabucco pipeline said they were taking construction bids for that project, which would bring gas from the Caspian region and Iraq through Turkey, also ending in Austria.

Nabucco would potentially offer a link to lucrative markets for remote gas reserves in Iraq, Iran, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan.

Vladimir Putin, the Russian prime minister, heaped scorn on the competing Nabucco proposal at a signing ceremony in Vienna, arguing it lacked sufficient gas supplies to fill the €7.9 billion (Dh38.93bn), 3,300km pipeline.

“We can guarantee Russia’s growing demand and that of essentially all our clients in Europe for the next 100 years,” Mr Putin said on Saturday. “Name me one [supply] contract that has been signed by Nabucco.”

Gazprom executives have said they see competition for Europe’s gas market increasing in coming years, not just from other pipelines but also from a global glut of liquefied natural gas (LNG) that is shipped by tanker and freely traded on the global market.

Walk With Us —

2005 Russia proposes Nordstream, a gas line directly into the EU markets.

“The new gas pipeline is very important in terms of meeting the increasing natural gas demand in the European gas market. Gas imports to the EU countries are anticipated to grow in the nearest decade by nearly 200 bcm, or more than 50 per cent. Due to a direct connection between the world’s largest gas reserves located in Russia and the European gas transmission system, Nord Stream will be able to satisfy circa 25 per cent of the foregoing extra demand for imported gas.

There are no transit countries on Nord Stream’s route, which enables to reduce Russian gas transmission costs and exclude any possible political risks. Nord Stream will provide the most reliable gas deliveries to customers in Western Europe.”

because of the geographical bypass and strong potential to gouges the prices Poland is the staunchest opposition to the Nordstream pipeline from the beginning, this is from 2005 and was in the nytimes

” Moving to bolster its energy security, Poland is set to become the first East European country to try to reduce its dependence on Russian natural gas imports by increasing its sources, according to government officials involved in Poland’s energy sector.

The reason why Poland wants to diversify its gas imports is not just because of the rising prices. Polish officials said the country’s newly elected conservative government believes that President Vladimir Putin of Russia is using his country’s vast energy reserves to exert influence in the region. Gazprom, for example, has spent the past few years buying gas distribution companies and terminals throughout Eastern Europe and the Baltic states to control prices and gain direct access to the energy markets of countries that joined the European Union in2004.”

The Polish in union with other regional countries, came close to shutting it down in 2008

“FRANKFURT (Thomson Financial) – The financing of the 5 bln eur Nord Stream project is on the brink of collapsing, as the European Investment Bank (EIB) is unlikely to have a political majority to finance the Baltic Sea gas pipeline, Die Welt reported.

The newspaper quoted Polish economy minister Waldemar Pawlak saying that a public financing is unthinkable as besides Poland, ‘several countries’ oppose it.

EIB planned to finance some 50 pct of the pipeline’s costs with a low-interest loan, but needs a political agreement between the European Union’s 27 member states on the financing.”

There is a lot of money on the table, and bespokecashmere understand that cash rules everything, and so the nordstream pipeline continues to clear the hurdles that are always around projects like this. Then on the 2nd of March, 2010:

“In a Securities and Exchange disclosure from last Thursday Chevron confirmed that it won new rights to explore Poland for potential shale gas, although the size of the acreage was not divulged. Noted in the annual report, Chevron has acquired rights to explore for natural gas in the Grabowiec concession, located in the southeastern part of Poland.

The confirmation follows Chevron’s announcement in December that the company was awarded three five-year exploration licenses for the Zwierzyniec, Kransnik and Frampol concessions, also located in Poland, to explore for unconventional gas resources, Dow Jones reported.

In December 2009, the Environment Ministry of Poland granted Chevron permission to carry out seismic studies and exploratory drilling up to 3,500 meters underground, as well as to develop shale gas resources.

Keep in mind that Chevron isn’t alone in Poland. Exxon, Conoco, and Marathon are there as well investigating shale’s potential. Which means that Polish shale is likely chock full of gas.

This is getting too big to ignore. One company takes a gamble, two might be foolish, three might simultaneously jump on a band wagon and drive off a cliff. But there is a critical mass of companies in Poland. Something is going on, and it’s unlikely that many companies will be wrong all at the same time.”

The consequence of these discoveries are devastating to the Russian monopoly on gas delivery, especially considering the economies of scale required to realize the desired profits on the nordstream project. Construction starts on April 9th 2010.

“PORTOVAYA BAY, Russia, April 9 (UPI) — Construction of the controversial Nord Stream pipeline linking Russia and Germany under the Baltic Sea has officially started.

Portovaya Bay in Russia has surely never seen so many VIPs. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, the European Union’s Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger and former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder all traveled to this sea port near the Finnish border to attend Friday’s ceremony launching the construction of Nord Stream.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at the ceremony called Nord Stream, which will cost $10 billion, a “contribution to Europe’s energy security.”

Moscow has long lobbied for the project. The pipeline was designed to bypass transit countries in Eastern and Central Europe.”



AS DELEGATES drifted from the main hall into the vast foyer of an Italian-built conference centre in Sirte, a dusty town on the Libyan coast, loudspeakers at full throttle blared a familiar, rousing tune. “O volcano of rage,” thumped the words in a seemingly endless refrain, “Come to unite the Arabs.” The unbounded optimism of the song, written four decades ago in honour of Gamal Abdel Nasser, Egypt’s charismatic leader who embodied Arab nationalist dreams, jarred with the setting. For there seemed little more chance of uniting Arab leaders at this summit, the Arab League’s 22nd, than at their first meeting back in 1946. The greater concern was to avoid open clashes—and to dig into the fine meals prepared by a Turkish catering firm.

As ever, there was plenty of lofty language, with Libya’s dictator, Muammar Qaddafi, playing the host. Many leaders referred to Jerusalem, the burning regional issue of the moment, as the apple of the Arabs’ eye, describing its rescue from Israeli clutches as a religious duty for every Muslim. Yet all that was agreed was to earmark more money to save the city, but with no details of who would pay or how the cash would be spent.

The Arab League’s general secretary, Amr Moussa, warned that, in the absence of progress in Palestinian-Israeli talks, Arabs should begin to plan for the day when they broke down completely. But when Syria’s president, Bashar Assad, urged backing for “resistance” groups, a Palestinian official sniffed that if Syria mobilised its own army first, others might follow. Yemen’s beleaguered president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, said it was time to create a full-blown Arab Union, an idea quietly shunted into a committee for later debate.

After the event, Abdel Bari Atwan, editor of a London-based Arabic daily, al-Quds al-Arabi, which often echoes popular feelings, wrote that while such meetings were meant to determine joint Arab action, their utility had shrunk to the point where there is no longer any Arab action at all. By contrast, he added, “Turkey has built democracy on a solid economic foundation. Iran has created a strong army backed by a nuclear option. What do the Arabs have, except corruption, dictatorship, backwardness and leaders who are sick or old?” Some Arab leaders openly shared such dismay. Even Mr Qaddafi declared bluntly that Arabs were fed up with talk.

Strictly defined as the area inside the périphérique, Paris is tiny. It is home to just over 2m people, fewer than Addis Ababa. Its area is an eighth as big as Berlin’s. But going beyond the ring-road to the suburbs, the total built-up area has a population of 10m. Many of these people travel to work in the city, yet live far beyond the remit of Paris’s mayor and police. The heavily Muslim estates of the banlieues, where joblessness is high, are even more cut off.

Across the Seine, the soaring skyscrapers of the distant business district seem dwarfed by Argenteuil’s rain-streaked tower blocks. There, visionary talk of Greater Paris is otherworldly. Over a third of residents live in social housing. More than 40% of men under 25 are jobless. An ochre-coloured mosque, surrounded optimistically by palm trees, has been built on the site of a defunct car factory; another where a plastics-maker stood. Here Mr Sarkozy once dismissed local drug-dealers and gangs as racaille (rabble).

The town hall has an architectural exhibition, with the slogan “Little Argenteuil, Grand Paris” as a nod to the bigger plans. “The super-metro won’t solve the problem of social segregation,” says Philippe Doucet, the Socialist mayor. He is cross that so much is being spent on one metro line. Bertrand Delanoë, the Socialist mayor of Paris, calls the scheme “mediocre” and denounces the centralising hand of the state. The mayors are not alone. Some architects are furious that their ideas have been ignored. “The confusion is total,” wrote Jean Nouvel in Le Monde, blaming unilateral decision-making by Mr Blanc.

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