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Counting the Cost

The vultures swooping on vulnerable nations

Could vulture funds be turning their sights on troubled eurozone countries like Ireland and Greece?
Last Modified: 03 Nov 2012 08:55

Their critics call them vulture funds because they prey on vulnerable countries that have defaulted on their debts - usually poor countries in Africa. But this time, a vulture fund has swooped on the Libertad, a ship belonging to the Argentine navy and now docked in a port in Ghana. A court there impounded the ship at the request of NML Capital, which is owned by a US hedge fund called Elliot Associates and run by Paul Singer, one of Mitt Romney's supporters.

The dispute goes back almost a decade to when Argentina decided to default during its economic crisis.

Vulture funds hold countries to ransom - some would say preventing them from getting out of poverty. But it is all legal and they make massive profits. And vulture funds are no longer just targeting developing countries. Eurozone nations like Greece and Ireland could be next.

So, just how widespread are these vulture funds and what sort of power do they wield? Tim Jones from the Jubilee Debt Campaign joins the show to answer these questions.

Also, it was one of Pakistan's worst man-made disasters - the fire at a garment factory in Karachi in September left more than 289 people dead. Locked fire exits and faulty fire extinguishers laid bare the serious problems with Pakistan's safety laws. But a couple of months later, not much had changed.

In a weeks-long investigation, Al Jazeera secretly visited six factories in Pakistan and found that none had adequate safety measures in place.

Plus, it is not a title they would have wanted, but Ireland is now the world's most indebted nation. And trying to reduce that debt is proving tough. It is still being drip-fed a bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and its European neighbours. With an unemployment rate of 15 per cent and falling tax revenues, the government plans to swing the axe again - with another $4.5bn in spending cuts. But where to cut from? Counting the Cost reports from Ireland.

Finally, over the past few months, India has opened its airline industry to international investors. But who would be interested in buying into a hugely competitive and loss-making industry? It is often touted that Gulf carriers like Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad would be interested. There is little doubt that with a rising middle class, the industry has got huge potential. And if Indians begin to travel as frequently as Americans, we could see the market boom from the current 150 million passengers a year to more than two billion. But today, crisis dominates the industry. Indian airlines made a $2bn loss in the last year, on the back of a $3.5bn loss over the previous three years.

Gulf airlines, on the other hand, have lots of money and are expanding fast. Would they be interested in investing in India's struggling airlines?

Counting the Cost, hosted by Matthew Moore, asks Adel Ali, the chief executive of Air Arabia.

 
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Follow Kamahl Santamaria @KamahlAJE and business editor Abid Ali @abidoliverali

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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