Foreign workers — most of them white-collar professionals — are fleeing the one-time economic mecca of Dubai as the economy goes into free-fall and laid-off personnel fear being thrown into debtors' prison if they can't meet their mortgage payments.
Local and international news reports indicate that more than 3,000 cars sit abandoned in the parking lot at the Dubai Airport, left by debt-ridden foreigners who would in fact be arrested and jailed if they failed to pay their bills.
Some foreigners are said to have maxed-out credit cards, and taped desperate notes of apology inside the windshield of their cast-off cars.
Real estate prices rose precipitously during Dubai’s six-year boom but have dropped 30 percent during the past three months in some parts of the city. Last week, Moody’s Investor’s Service announced that it might downgrade its ratings on six of Dubai’s most prominent state-owned companies, citing deterioration in the economic outlook.
So many used luxury cars are for sale they are sometimes sold for 40 percent less than the asking price two months ago, car dealers tell reporters.
Unlike Abu Dhabi or Qatar or Saudi Arabia, Dubai does not have its own oil and has built its reputation on real estate, finance and tourism. Many expats there talk about Dubai as though it were a con job.
Wild rumors spread as fast as the desert wind: The Palm Jumeira, an artificial island that is one of this city’s landmark developments, is said to be sinking, and when you turn the faucets in the hotels built atop it, only cockroaches pour out.
Overseas markets are being dragged down, experts note, because of the toxic assets forced on the banks by Washington’s real estate boosters and then resold, without conscience, by some on Wall Street.
"The result of such speculation by thousands of Wall Street gamblers was that millions of Americans who played by the rules, and put money each month in their 401(k) plans and elsewhere, lost much of their retirement savings. Many likely will have to keep working well into their 60s or 70s, and delay passing on their jobs to a new generation awaiting employment," writes Victor Davis Hanson in the National Review online.
"Financial wizards like Robert Rubin at Citicorp, and Franklin Raines at Fannie Mae — whom made millions as they left behind imploding corporations — had degrees from America’s top universities.”
“They had sophisticated understanding of hedge funds, derivatives, and sub-prime mortgages — everything, it seems, but moral responsibility for the investments of millions of their ordinary clients."
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