Saturday, 30 August 2008

Islamic Economics

THE MUSLIM NEWS: Islamic and conventional insurance to be separated 
In Bangladesh, the Insurance Ordinance 2008, approved last month, will allow Islamic insurance, but no company will be permitted to do both Islamic and conventional businesses simultaneously in a major change in the 70-year-old insurance laws. 

Many insurance companies, which run both forms of practices, have to choose either Islamic or conventional insurance after the promulgation of the new law. 

Out of 60 insurance companies currently in operation under the private sector, six are full-fledged Islamic insurance companies. Of these six, three deal with life insurance while the remaining are general insurance companies. Islamic Economics >>>

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Friday, 29 August 2008

The Labour Party Has Done It Again! Darling Warns of Economic Crisis

Photo of Alastair Darling, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, courtesy of The Guardian

BBC: The UK is facing its worst economic crisis in 60 years, Chancellor Alistair Darling has admitted.

He told the Guardian newspaper that the economic downturn would be more "profound and long-lasting" than most people had feared.

Using strong language, Mr Darling acknowledged voters were angry with Labour's handling of the economy.

Ministers are expected to announce a package of measures next week to kick-start the moribund housing market.

Voter anger

House prices are falling at their fastest rate in 18 years, leading to fears of a wave of repossessions in the upcoming months.

Mortgage lending has slowed dramatically due to the credit crunch while key indicators have suggested that the economy could be poised to go into recession in the near future.

The economy showed no growth in the second quarter of the year while building firms and retailers have laid off thousands of staff in recent weeks amid fears that the economy will deteriorate further. Darling Warns of Economic Crisis >>> | August 29, 2008

Economy at 60-Year Low, Says Darling. And It Will Get Worse: In an exclusive interview, chancellor says Labour failing to communicate with voters.

Britain is facing "arguably the worst" economic downturn in 60 years which will be "more profound and long-lasting" than people had expected, Alistair Darling, the chancellor, has told the Guardian today.

In the government's gravest assessment of the economy, which follows a warning from a Bank of England policymaker that 2 million people could be unemployed by Christmas, Darling admits he had no idea how serious the credit crunch would become.

Darling's blunt remarks lay bare the unease in the highest ranks of the cabinet that the downturn is making it all but impossible for Gordon Brown to recover momentum after a series of setbacks.

The chancellor, who says that Labour faces its toughest challenge in a generation, admits that Brown and the cabinet are partly to blame for Labour's woes because they have "patently" failed to explain the party's central mission to the country, leaving voters "pissed off".
By Nicholas Watt, chief political correspondent | August 29, 2008

George Osborne Slams Alistair Darling for British Tax Exodus: Shadow chancellor George Osborne has accused Alistair Darling of damaging the UK economy as yet another company confirmed it is quitting the country for tax reasons >>> By Helen Power and Jonathan Russell | August 29, 2008

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For the Third Year Running, Angela Merkel Tops the Forbes List of the Most Powerful Women in the World

Photo of Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, courtesy of Google Images

THE GLOBE AND MAIL: BERLIN — German Chancellor Angela Merkel topped Forbes magazine's list of the world's 100 most powerful women for the third year running, while U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice slipped to seventh from fourth last year.

Ms. Merkel, who became Chancellor in November, 2005, was cited by the magazine in its latest edition for her efforts to streamline Europe's biggest economy, increasing the national retirement age and putting more women in senior government posts.

The magazine was impressed with her because she “bulldozes through controversy,” referring to her meeting with the Dalai Lama last year, her chastising of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and her push “to make the euro a bigger player in global financial markets as the dollar wanes.” Merkel Tops Forbes List of Powerful Women >>> Associated Press | August 28, 2008

The Dawning of a New Dark Age (Paperback – Canada) >>>
The Dawning of a New Dark Age (Hardback – Canada) >>>
Will the Democrats Win?

TOWNHALL.COM: The Democrats did what everyone knew they had to do: nominate Barack Obama by acclamation on the first ballot of their convention in Denver. But Hillary Clinton made everyone wait until nearly halfway through the balloting before making that inevitable motion, and in so doing underlined the chief lesson of the convention. The delegates were almost evenly split between her and Obama, and the deep division in the party was painfully evident.

The reservation so many delegates had about Obama had one clear cause, and it had nothing to do with the fact that he is black. On the contrary, the fact that he is an African-American counted heavily in his favor, and may have been the decisive factor in his victory. The reservation has to do with his lack of experience. Obama became an attorney, served as a member of the Illinois State Senate for eight years, and was then elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004. He has served in that capacity for fewer than four years -- his only experience in a federal office. And now, as intractable problems beset the U.S. economy and the Middle East is wracked by turmoil, he offers himself as a candidate for the presidency of the United States.

One doesn't have to be an excessively partisan Republican, or indeed a Republican at all, to wonder whether a man with a record that anemic is ready to shoulder the somber burdens of the presidency. How broad and deep is his understanding of the American economy -- or indeed, of economic principles in general? Even more important, perhaps, is how ready is such a man to take on the leadership of the world's most powerful nation in its dealings with other countries? Will the Democrats Win? >>> By William Rusher | August 29, 2008

Barack Obama's Speech in full >>>

Warum viele Amerikaner an Obama zweifeln: Mit einem perfekt organisierten Parteitag und einer brillanten Rede wollte Barack Obama auch die letzten Zweifler von sich überzeugen. Es ist ihm nicht ganz gelungen. Es gibt sie noch, die Abwartenden, Unschlüssigen und entschlossenen Gegner der Demokraten. Was sie über Obama denken >>> Von Torsten Krauel | 29. August 2008

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Russia May Cut Off Oil Flow to the West

THE TELEGRAPH: Fears are mounting that Russia may restrict oil deliveries to Western Europe over coming days, in response to the threat of EU sanctions and Nato naval actions in the Black Sea. 

Any such move would be a dramatic escalation of the Georgia crisis and play havoc with the oil markets. 

Reports have begun to circulate in Moscow that Russian oil companies are under orders from the Kremlin to prepare for a supply cut to Germany and Poland through the Druzhba (Friendship) pipeline. It is believed that executives from lead-producer LUKoil have been put on weekend alert. 

"They have been told to be ready to cut off supplies as soon as Monday," claimed a high-level business source, speaking to The Daily Telegraph. Any move would be timed to coincide with an emergency EU summit in Brussels, where possible sanctions against Russia are on the agenda.

Any evidence that the Kremlin is planning to use the oil weapon to intimidate the West could inflame global energy markets. US crude prices jumped to $119 a barrel yesterday on reports of hurricane warnings in the Gulf of Mexico, before falling back slightly.

Global supplies remain tight despite the economic downturn engulfing North America, Europe and Japan. A supply cut at this delicate juncture could drive crude prices much higher, possibly to record levels of $150 or even $200 a barrel.

With US and European credit spreads already trading at levels of extreme stress, a fresh oil spike would rock financial markets. The Kremlin is undoubtedly aware that it exercises extraordinary leverage, if it strikes right now.

Such action would be seen as economic warfare but Russia has been infuriated by Nato meddling in its "backyard" and threats of punitive measures by the EU. Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov yesterday accused EU diplomats of a "sick imagination".

Armed with $580bn of foreign reserves (the world's third largest), Russia appears willing to risk its reputation as a reliable actor on the international stage in order to pursue geo-strategic ambitions.

"We are not afraid of anything, including the prospect of a Cold War," said President Dmitry Medvedev. Russia May Cut Off Oil Flow to the West >>> By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard | August 29, 2008

Analysis: Should We Fear a New Cold War?: With his liking for Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia seems an unlikely heir to the Kremlin's dour collection of Cold War leaders >>> By David Blair, Diplomatic Editor | August 28, 2008

South Ossetia ‘Will Become Russian’ >>> | August 29, 2008

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Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Europe: Veils, Veils, and More Veils

YNET NEWS: Wealthy Muslims are proceeding to buy Europe, as well as its conscience

In the coming days, tens of thousands of Israelis will be returning from their vacations abroad. After they unpack their suitcases and take out the perfumes they bought at the duty-free store, and after the kids go back to school, memories of their trip overseas will resurface.

And among other things, what they will remember is this: Veils. Plenty of veils. Black veils made of simple cloth, expensive veils made of silk, long veils, and short veils.

Europe is putting on a veil over its face. For years now this has been the picture encountered by guests who arrive there for a brief moment (and who are more aware of these things) in the major streets of large cities, and also in small towns.

Yet it appears that an all-time record was broken this summer – but perhaps we are still far away from the record?

Money can buy almost anything

A common sight these days is a Filipino man following his veiled woman on the streets of Paris, London, Rome, and Berlin, while carrying her shopping bags. In large luxury stores, wealthy Muslim customers ask managers to keep other clients out of the store before proceeding to buy half of it, at times spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on one occasion. Muhammad is buying Europe. Opinion: The Veiled Continent >>> By Eitan Haber | August 27, 2008

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Pound Could Slide to $1.50 against the Dollar

THE TELEGRAPH: The pound could slide as low as $1.50 against the dollar in the coming years as the exodus of foreign investors from sterling gathers pace, experts have warned.

The days of the $2 pound are gone for at least five years, they added, as sterling dropped to a new two-year low against the greenback. The pound dropped almost two cents compared with its previous close to $1.8386 - the first time it has dipped beneath the $1.84 mark since mid-2006. It also hit a new 12-year low on its trade-weighted index, which measures it against a basket of other currencies, falling 0.1 points to 90.5.

On a day that saw the dollar climb yet further against most of its major counterparts, the pound lost more ground, as investors speculated that the Bank of England will soon have to cut interest rates to help support the weakening economy. Pound Could Slide to $1.50 against the Dollar >>> By Edmund Conway, Economics Editor | August 26, 2008

Euro Gains as Dollar Rally Stalls >>> | August 27, 2008

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Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Die Araber setzen über das Rote Meer

NZZ Online: Ein saudischer Geschäftsmann plant den Bau einer Brücke über die Meerenge zwischen der Arabischen Halbinsel und dem Horn von Afrika. Das Projekt mag utopisch erscheinen, doch Investoren aus dem Golf sind schon eifrig daran, ihre Geschäfte in Afrika auszubauen.

jbi. Djibouti, Ende Juli

Am 29. Juli ist in der kleinen ostafrikanischen Republik Djibouti das Projekt einer Brücke vorgestellt worden, welche die Meerenge von Bab al-Mandeb zwischen der Arabischen Halbinsel und dem Horn von Afrika überspannen soll. Initiator des Plans ist der in Dubai domizilierte Geschäftsmann Tarik bin Ladin, Spross einer Familie, die das grösste Bauunternehmen Saudiarabiens beherrscht, und Halbbruder des Kaida-Führers Usama bin Ladin. Neben dem Brückenschlag zwischen Asien und Afrika umfasst Tarik bin Ladins kühne Vision auch die Errichtung je einer «Stadt des Lichts» an den zwei Brückenköpfen in Jemen und Djibouti. Die beiden Städte sollen eine Freihandelszone bilden, in welcher Häfen, Flughäfen, Industrie, Dienstleistungsunternehmen, Hochschulen und kulturelle Institutionen die Entwicklung der ganzen Region – Djibouti und Jemen gehören zu den ärmsten Ländern der Welt – in Gang setzen sollen. Die Araber setzen über das Rote Meer: Saudischer Geschäftsmann plant Brücke über den Bab al-Mandeb >>> | 26. August 2008

The Dawning of a New Dark Age (Taschenbuch) >>>
The Dawning of a New Dark Age (Gebundene Ausgabe) >>>
FTSE Falls as Sterling Falls to Two-Year Low

TIMESONLINE: London's leading shares today tumbled by 134.1 points as the pound slid to its lowest level against the dollar since July 2006 and fears rose another Wall Street bank is close to collapse.

The FTSE 100 index of blue chip stocks fell to 5,373.4 points in early trading, after investors were also spooked by a warning from the Bank of England's Deputy Governor, Charles Bean, that the current slowdown will continue for a "considerable time".

The index was dragged down by mining companies after the price of copper in China slumped while the dollar strengthened against sterling, sending the pound down to a two-year low at $1.84.

Today's fall in the FTSE follows a torrid day in the US yesterday when the Dow Jones industrial average closed 2 per cent lower, on speculation that another investment bank is set to follow in Bear Stearns footsteps, and seek a bail-out to stop it from going under.

British investors were also unnerved by comments on the UK economy from Mr Bean who said yesterday: "We have our fingers crossed but there is the recognition there is still quite a long way to go yet. FTSE Falls as Sterling Falls to Two-Year Low >>> By Dearbail Jordan | August 26, 2008

Dollar Increases against the Euro: The dollar has climbed back to a six-month high against the euro, as continuing fears about the European economy hit the single currency >>> August 26, 2008

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Friday, 22 August 2008

Britain’s Economy Grinds to a Halt

TIMESONLINE: Britain's economy is teetering on the brink of recession as official figures showed that output ground to a halt between April and the end of June. This is the weakest performance since 1992, the tail-end of the last recession and will increase pressure on the Bank of England to cut interest rates to prevent a full blown economic slump.

Official figures released this morning showed that output did not grow at all in the second quarter, contrary to initial estimates showing that the economy grew by 0.2 per cent between April and the end of June.

On the year, GDP was 1.4 per cent higher, revised down from an initial reading of 1.6 per cent and the weakest since the final quarter of 1992.

The downward revision came after grim news from the manufacturing and services sectors with surveys suggesting acitivity has contracted for at least three months in a row.

The stagnation of the economy raises the prospect of recession as businesses struggle in increasingly difficult conditions. A technical recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of falling output. Britain’s Economy Grinds to a Halt >>> By Grainne Gilmore | August 22, 2008

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Monday, 18 August 2008

Georgia and Russia’s Riviera Riches

Image of Villa Leopolda courtesy of The Vancouver Sun

TIMESONLINE: I'm back in Paris from Moscow but the news is still Russian. President Sarkozy has warned the Kremlin of the dire consequences that will ensue if it fails to pull its troops out of Georgia. If it does not, he will... call a special meeting of the European Union council. That will give Vladimir Putin pause for thought.

And we have confirmation today that a spectacular Belle Epoque villa on the Riviera is being bought by Mikhail Prokhorov, one of Russia's biggest billionaires, for the astonishing sum of 496 million euros (731 million dollars). The world record real estate deal emerged last week, but the identity of the mystery Russian was only reported yesterday by Nice Matin newspaper.

The two events can be linked. The Russian purchase of the Leopolda villa [above] is an in-your-face display of the power enjoyed by the oligarchs who have amassed fortunes with the indulgence of Russia's governing caste. In January last year, Prokhorov, 42, [picture below], who made his fortune in nickel, was humiliated by French prosecutors who detained him at Courchevel, the glitzy ski resort. He was held for four days on suspicion of bringing dozens of prostitutes from Moscow to entertain his Alpine party guests but no charges were brought. The episode was seen in Moscow as a French plot to humiliate a leading Russian. Georgia and Russia’s Riviera Riches >>> By Charles Bremner | August 18, 2008

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Credit Suisse Targets Same Sex in the City

THE TELEGRAPH: Credit Suisse has become the first major bank to target the pink pound with a bespoke private banking service provided by gay advisers.

The Swiss banking giant’s new service will cover all the traditional aspects of private banking, alongside tailored services to deal with events such as civil partnership and adoption.

Credit Suisse said that gay role models - such as Boris Johnson’s chief of staff Nicholas Boles - have helped boost the confidence of the younger gay community - leading to an increased desire to be dealt with by those that understand their lifestyle.

Many of the bank’s rivals, including HSBC, Barclays and UBS, offer no specific service or products for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. UBS said that it does not “segregate clients in this way”, while HSBC offers other dedicated services such as a diamond and jewellery arm and a family office within its private banking business.

Stephen Connolly, who is leading the Credit Suisse service, said: “Clients with us have no need to explain their lifestyles or - as we know happens in some cases - almost feel the need to justify the way they choose to live their lives.”

With earnings of £81bn last year, Britain’s 3m-strong gay and lesbian community could provide a lucrative client list for Credit Suisse. As Mr Connolly, 38, points out, the majority have no school fees to contend with, freeing up much of their short-term finances and allowing for greater risk taking and earlier retirements. Credit Suisse Targets Same Sex in the City >>> By Emma Thelwell | Auguat 17, 2008

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Saturday, 16 August 2008

Sterling’s Decline Against Dollar Hits Run Not Suffered Since 1975

TIMESONLINE: Sterling fell against the dollar for the eleventh day in a row yesterday, its longest consecutive decline since 1975, as concerns mounted over Britain’s faltering economy.

The pound hit a more than two-year low of $1.8514 – a level not seen since July 2006 – further extending a seismic shift in currency markets in recent days as interest rate expectations for big economies change.

This latest fall came only days after the Bank of England struck a doveish note in its quarterly Inflation Report, leading analysts to believe that the door may be open for rate cuts once spiralling inflation starts to fall.

Investors are fleeing to the dollar after reassessing the merits of the US economy against those of the UK and the eurozone.

They are betting increasingly that the US Federal Reserve’s next move will be to raise interest rates, while gloomy data from the UK and the eurozone this week suggested that rate cuts could be on the cards.

Analysts say that sterling’s fall is not over yet. Bilal Hafeez, a Deutsche Bank foreign exchange strategist, said: “We could level off at this rate for a while but I expect the pound will fall further.” Sterling’s Decline Against Dollar Hits Run Not Suffered Since 1975 >>> By Gráinne Gilmore, Economics Correspondent | August 16, 2008

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Tuesday, 12 August 2008

The Dollar Rebounds

BBC: The dollar has hit a six-month high against the euro and its highest in almost two years against the pound.

The US currency has bounced back from record lows against euro on fears that European growth may slow sharply.

The UK is also struggling with high inflation and faltering growth, causing a slide in sterling.

The European currency hit a six-month low of $1.4812, while the pound hit a 21-month low of $1.9012 in trading on Tuesday morning.

Commodity boost

The US economy is still suffering from the credit crisis but analysts say the deteriorating outlook elsewhere in the world has buoyed the currency's standing. Pound Suffers as Dollar Rebounds >>> | August 12, 2008

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