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Spoils of war

Spoils of war

Seizing investment opportunities on the ground floor of emerging economies or in countries and regions scarred by violence is risky, but can provide big returns.


May 23, 2010 10:31 by

In late 2008, Newsweek ran a story with the compelling headline: “The best way to stabilize Iraq is by helping its economy. And if America doesn’t, others will.”

And it seems they were on to something. Iraq’s stability – and, by default, that of the region and the world, they argued – is as threatened by economic failures as it is Islamic extremism and Taliban style vigilantism.

“This enemy fosters violence, inspires hate and undermines security; US commanders estimate it may account for half of US casualties suffered since the fall of Saddam Hussein. What is this lurking menace? Iraq’s deep economic problems,” Newsweek said.

Shutting down the state supported Iraqi economy devastated the financial outlook for thousands of ordinary citizens, and the Newsweek story contends that the economic devastation of the Iraqi economy put as much fuel on the fire of insurgency as any political zeal on the part of the recruits.

These same sentiments are echoed – with a profit-motive twist – by headlines that are increasingly prominent in the international press. “Invest in Iraq” is the new mantra, and if you do it now, you will get in on the ground floor. The best analogy might be to think of the Iraqi economy right now as a sort of IPO opportunity – rather like the chance to buy Adobe stock for 17 cents a share back in the 1980’s when they went public. Had you done so and sold today, a $2,500 investment would be worth nearly a half-million dollars. While safe investments in the stock market may earn you 8 percent over your professional life, taking a chance on Adobe would have returned your investment 200 times over.

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