Graphic of the day: Psychedelic Duck
Mideast and Asian government funds buy $37 billion in Western financial companies
Many of those countries -- especially ones with oil money -- have what are called sovereign funds, which are funds in which government money is invested to provide for future revenues. Sovereign funds are a curious concept: On one hand, they acknowledge that government surpluses are often better used in the private sector than put into new government projects, but on the other hand (as shown by the Mideast investments in Western banks) they often involve taking those government surpluses (which belong to domestic taxpayers) and placing them with foreign firms. Thus, they form a peculiar third way of doing things: Private-sector investment by government, usually with the intention of preserving a country's long-term budgetary stability. But $37 billion would do a lot of good in the wallets of poor people in those countries right now. As noted by some, sovereign funds create an incredible potential for crony capitalism -- which isn't really a free market.
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