Friday's New York Post sports a front page headline reporting that "STOCKS SOAR!" Not, on Thursday, certainly. And certainly also not in London or Tokyo or Hong Kong. But stocks did soar "(in Baghdad)" in parenthetical lower case. I suppose this news brought joy to Iraqis. But the New York audience to which it was addressed? Thursday's market was down nearly 700 points.
So what was the point of the gloating? To show readers how well the Iraq war is going? To demonstrate that the American economy is in terrible straits while the general index of the country we've been spending zillions on had gone up nearly 40% in one month, more or less how much the Dow (and the S & P 500 plus the NASDAQ) had fallen since January?
Are Americans going to resent this news? Are they going to be pleased...or at least respectful?
In the meantime, today's markets were down another 1.5% but not before having hit a a steeper new bottom 700 points lower in the morning.
We haven't heard much from Robert Rubin of late. I thought he was the person who had been overseeing Citigroup when the funny stuff starting up there. Apparently, all he ever had there was a checking account and an ATM card.
A couple of days ago, I noted in this space that Dubai, among other emirates and almost all the rich Arab principalities, had not quite avoided the financial calamity now swamping the advanced economies. I know some of you think that Dubai and Abu Dhabi are really a tick of mine, and I admit it. But no more a tick than it is of The New York Times, at least one of its columnists and its travel section.
The fact is that these artificial societies are utterly dependent on the prosperity of the first world, plus some of Asia. But these places are no longer prosperous. Their rich will not be putting their energies in seeking out new ways to spend their ample cash. Even the wealthiest of them no longer think their accounts ample. It's all relative, after all.
Which also means that no one will be going to Abu Dhabi to visit the umpteenth foreign Guggenheim and a new outpost of the Louvre.
Who will pay for the foreign workers building false societies in the sand?