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Counting the Cost

In debt but building the future

We examine three nations in the midst of a debt crisis and compare their differing strategies to get out of it.
Last Modified: 02 Dec 2012 10:35

This week on Counting the Cost we look at three nations in debt.

Dubai was facing a debt crisis three years ago which shattered the illusions of many about 'the Dubai dream'. But it has not gone away.

Dubai is still intent on being the biggest and the boldest even if it could cost $50bn, or about half the emirate's gross domestic product. The emirate is going on another building spree.

A new 'city within a city' was just announced - 100 hotels, mega theme parks, the world's biggest shopping mall, and a massive park area which will be 30 per cent bigger than London's Hyde Park.

It will be called Mohammad Bin Rashid City, named after the ruler of Dubai, who said at its announcement: "The future does not wait for those who are hesitant. We do not anticipate the future. We build it."

But where is the money coming from? And where is the caution? After going so close to the financial brink, is mass expansion not just a little risky? Is it a bounce back, or just a desert mirage?

Hazem Sika takes a look at how the emirate got itself into trouble, and its plans to get itself out.

Just another sticking plaster?

More bailout money has been approved for Greece, but Athens only gets it if it can buy back debt from some private investors.

Without any strong growth, Greece's debt will hit 220 per cent of GDP, and at some point the eurozone and European Central Bank will need to take a loss on the 127bn euros ($175bn) they have lent Greece so far. In fact, eurozone nations may need to write off as much as 50bn euros ($64bn) in 2016 alone.

The IMF has agreed to more bailout money but is it making any long-term difference? Is it a lifeline, or just another sticking plaster?

Escaping the clutches of the vulture funds

We also look at Argentina, where debt dramas in the courts could force the country into default again.

Argentina faced the real threat of defaulting on its debt - the so-called 'vulture funds' were circling and it looked like they were winning when a US judge ordered Argentina to pay $1.3bn to them. But this week, a court of appeal has overruled, but only until the end of February.

So where does all this come from? And how is a ship stuck in an African port involved?

Teresa Bo in Buenos Aires reports on the background to this case and further reaction in Argentina.

 
Watch each week at the following times GMT: Friday: 2230; Saturday: 0930; Sunday: 0330; Monday: 1630. Click here for more Counting the Cost.

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

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Al Jazeera
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