The Pirates Are Back….but no Johnny Depp this time

September 18, 2008

pirates
Suspected Somali pirates captured by security forces

The popular perception of pirates held by most in the West is a mixture of the funny best exemplified by the movie franchise Pirates of the Caribbean and the downright silly, yet perfectly harmless characters in our literary history. These misconceptions can be forgiven since piracy in the First World has long since disappeared.

However, piracy is experiencing a renaissance in East Africa these days. The Gulf of Aden, the body of water where the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean meet, has become a haven for Somali pirates who prey on the international shipping that passes through the area. Since the collapse of a government in Somalia some 17 years ago, piracy has mostly gone unchecked in the area and has become more lucrative. Only yesterday, Somali pirates hijacked two ships off of the Somali coast, bringing their tally for 2008 to 30 hijacked ships in total.

A multinational naval force headquartered in Djibouti is patrolling the Gulf of Aden to ward off pirates, but the piracy has become very lucrative in recent years as Patrick Barkham explains: Read the rest of this entry »

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Panic on Wall Street – Is this the end for America’s financial system?

September 18, 2008

panic
Nervous traders on the trading floor in the midst of one of Wall Street’s most historic weeks

Things are looking grim down on Wall Street. Rather than trying to explain the chaos myself, I’ve chosen two articles that will do it better than I can. Suffice it to say that what is easily noticed is that the credo in American capitalism seems to be “privatize the profits, socialize the losses” as several companies have been rescued by the United States government and more rescues are bound to come.

From The World as we Know it is Going Under:

Things got worse after the markets closed. Washington Mutual, America’s fourth-largest bank, announced that it had started the process of putting itself up for sale. The Wall Street Journal reported that both Wells Fargo and the banking giant Citigroup were interested in taking over the battered American savings bank.

And then came the announcement that would dominate all of Thursday’s market activities: Morgan Stanley — the venerable Wall Street institution and one of the last two US investment banks left standing — had lost massive amounts and was fighting for survival. Media reports were saying that it was even in talks about a possible bail-out or merger. Rumor had it that possible suitors might include Wachovia or China’s Bank Citic.

China?

Read the rest of this entry »


Manhattan: The Art of the Flip

September 9, 2008

Upper West Side
Manhattan’s Upper West Side

The 1980s was the era of junk bonds and Michael Milken. The 90s saw the dot.com bubble and made investors learn phrases like “e-commerce“. This decade has been the decade of real estate and in particular real estate speculation.

Like the previous two speculatory crazes, the real estate frenzy in the USA has ended and has fallen with a big thud. And like the previous bubbles some individuals have made out quite well in this latest one. New York Magazine takes a look at the 6 Most Impressive Flips in Manhattan. Here’s one of them:

15 Central Park West
How can a list like this not include this megaflip haven? To wit: This spring, a venture capitalist paid $13.8 million for a unit the seller bought just two months previous for $6.9 million, according to trade publication the Real Deal; a 29th-floor apartment — picked up for $7.3 million — went for nearly $14 million; and a cable mogul who bought his 36th-floor spread for $7.34 million is now on contract for somewhere near its $12.5 million price tag.

read the rest of the article here


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