Are the Gulf's sovereign wealth funds getting nervous?
This, is today's Wall Street Journal: Oil-Rich Sheikhs Run for Cover
The Gulf funds have lost their appetite for shares in distressed Western banks, and as oil prices plummet, there's growing pressure to sell down foreign investments to refocus on the huge cost of protecting and diversifying the region's oil-dependent economies.The short article goes on to note that confidence in markets at home is also weak: share prices on the Dubai Financial Market have fallen 32% since the start of the year. The Dow Jones is off 18% over the same period.
One of the most recent big bank investments by a Middle East oil fund was the Kuwait Investment Authority's purchase early this year of a stake in Merrill Lynch, just sold for a song to Bank of America. Gulf funds are major holders of stock in Citigroup, Credit Suisse, HSBC, Standard Chartered and Barclays, all investments showing big paper losses. The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority had about two-thirds of its $900 billion hoard locked into U.S. assets at the start of the year.
Gulf states have $2.3 trillion worth of infrastructure projects either underway or in development, according to Middle East Economic Digest, much of which still has to be financed. If oil prices fall further below $100 a barrel, states will be hard-pressed to find that funding without tapping their cash reserves.