Cheat-Seeking Missles

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Street Vendor Economy Of The Oil States

Life has finally gotten close enough to normal that I was able to relax and read for a while, getting back to The Pentagon's New Map, which had been collecting dust for nearly a month. It didn't take long to get to this insight:
In 1980, the Middle East accounted for 13 percent of global exports. Today the share is 3 percent, with the overwhelming bulk being oil and natural gas. A generation ago, the Middle East attracted 5 percent of the global flow of foreighn direct investment. Today that number is a mere 1.5 percent. ...

So while Latin America and Developing Asia have moved off their dependency on raw materials and into manufacturing as their main source of exports, the Middle East remains trapped in a colonial-era economic relationship with the outside world. Simply put, the Middle East exports oil and terrorism and virtually nothing else of significance to the global economy. The value of U.S. imports of manufactured goods from Hong Kong alone is twice that of imports from the entire Arab League. That's one city versus an entire civilization.
Why do you suppose Osama bin Laden gets traction in the Middle East when he complains about colonialism? It's because the flea-bitten economies of the region haven't moved past the 1920s economically. If Arab nations had moved on beyond oil, there would be more than enough prosperity to destroy bin Laden's appeal.

Islam is at the root of this economic evil. Not so much the jihad lust or the suppression of women, both of which contribute to the economic failure of Islamic nations. It's Islam's restrictions against charging interest.

For years Wall Street and the EU have been trying to figure out how to get around these restrictions since they form a high, thick wall to foreign investment. No foreign investment, no factories, no employment, no upward mobility.

The Emirs and princes get richer and all the rest get angrier as the rest of the world leaves them behind.

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