Saturday, May 13, 2017

Speed daters make matches like economists

NPR's Planet Money reports on the design of the market for freshly-minted PhDs in economics. The market hasn't changed since I went on the market in 1979. The meetings that January were held in snowy Atlanta, and just like the job seeker in the report, I was running from one hotel to another doing 20+ interviews in a little over three days.

Friday, April 11, 2014

If you want max profits

If you want max profit
Reason on the margin
Come on baby find the Q

[Alternative lyrics for last line: Come on baby find the price]

She sits alone waiting for suggestions
He's so nervous, avoiding all the questions
His lips are dry, her heart is gently pounding
Don't you just know exactly what they're thinking

If you want max profit
Reason on the margin
Come on baby find the Q

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Seven charged over alleged $501m Dubai fraud (edited)

(1/8/2013: This post has been abbreviated. It was originally posted in March 2009. See more in the comments to this post.)

Financial Times:
Dubai’s public prosecution has charged seven businessmen with crimes related to an alleged scheme to defraud Dubai Islamic Bank of $501m, official records show.
International censure has mounted against the government’s decision to hold without charge some executives for almost a year. Zack Shahin, former chief executive of Deyaar, has via US lawyers complained about his extended detention, claiming he had been tortured and was being victimised to protect senior locals.
The public prosecution document accuses Charles Ridley and Ryan Cornelius, both Britons, and Erin Nil, a Turk, of forging documents to defraud the bank of $501m via CCH, a trade finance company owned by Mr Nil and linked to Messrs Ridley and Cornelius. The document alleges that the two former DIB executives, Rafatul Islam Usmani and Omair Mooraj, both Pakistanis, solicited and received bribes of $950,000 and $750,000, respectively, to facilitate the alleged embezzlement. The public prosecution document also claims that Zia Usmani, a US citizen, defrauded DIB of $2m. Arthur Fitzwilliam, the British developer behind the polo-themed Plantation, is accused by the prosecution of aiding Messrs Nil, Ridley and Cornelius to carry out their alleged fraud.
The Gulf News report of the charges says,
Gulf News will refrain from naming the suspects in keeping with the media code of ethics.
From AP's report:
Allegations of wrongdoing tied to Dubai Islamic go back nearly a year with the arrest of Zack Shahin, an American citizen and former CEO of Deyaar Development Co., which began as a subsidiary of the bank. He is not among those named in the recent filing, and remains in custody.
A Web site set up to call for Shahin's release was blocked by Internet censors in Dubai on Tuesday.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Stateless in the UAE; Bidoun

In the UAE, the bidoun’s difficulties have surfaced in the curious case of the Comoros passports. At least a thousand stateless residents have taken the documents, says Zoubert A Soufiane Al Ahdal, Comoros ambassador to the UAE. 
Bidoun in the UAE say the Comoros documents make it easier for them to meet tougher official identity requirements for securing papers such as vehicle renewals – and perhaps even eventually, somewhat paradoxically, a UAE passport. 
It is unclear who is paying for the passports: two of four bidoun interviewed by the Financial Times said they thought the UAE government had paid for theirs. Ambassador Ahdal denied this, while the UAE authorities declined to comment. 
While the Comoros passports seem on one level to offer a little respite for the bidoun and a convenient partial solution for the UAE government, some rights activists say moves by stateless people to secure foreign nationality have a darker dimension that has grown in significance since the Arab uprisings began....In another UAE case, Human Rights Watch said last month that Ahmed Abd al-Khaleq, a detailed UAE-born bidoun campaigner, now fears deportation on the basis of his recently acquired Comorian nationality. Mr Abd al-Khaleq was one of five pro-democracy activists imprisoned last year for insulting the UAE’s leaders and later pardoned. 
The UAE authorities declined to comment on Mr Abd al-Khaleq’s case. Officials have previously said thousands of other bidoun have been given UAE nationality, after a 2006 pledge by Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the president, to resolve the problem once and for all.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Culture that is the UAE

BlackBerry cuts made roads safer, police say
A dramatic fall in traffic accidents this week has been directly linked to the three-day disruption in BlackBerry services.

In Dubai, traffic accidents fell 20 per cent from average rates on the days BlackBerry users were unable to use its messaging service. In Abu Dhabi, the number of accidents this week fell 40 per cent and there were no fatal accidents.
Perhaps Blackberry should be expecting that UAE users reward them for the outage.


Monday, October 17, 2011

WaPo covers wackynomics of Dubai

Washington Post
When its gasoline pumps started going dry in the United Arab Emirates’ poorer northern states earlier this year, Dubai’s oil company blamed mysterious service upgrades. Few believed that at the time, and now the company is dropping its subtlety, triggering an uncharacteristically public spat over fuel pricing policies. When its gasoline pumps started going dry in the United Arab Emirates’ poorer northern states earlier this year, Dubai’s oil company blamed mysterious service upgrades....By letting its farther-flung stations run empty, the Emirates National Oil Co., or ENOC, was telegraphing a message: The Dubai government-owned firm was tired of driving itself deeper into the red by shouldering money-losing state fuel subsidies that keep pump prices artificially low. In an unusually strongly worded statement over the weekend, the company said that continuing to cover subsidies mandated by the UAE’s federal government “is clearly not sustainable or viable for the company.” It was a rare public display of power politics in a country where grievances — particularly ones involving the many businesses controlled by the Emirates’ ruling sheiks — are typically resolved behind closed doors. The rift highlights Dubai’s determination to maintain its independence within the UAE federation despite a daunting debt bill, and it throws into question the generous subsidies the country uses to help buy political stability....The problem for ENOC, which also runs stations under its EPPCO subsidiary, is that Dubai has few of the UAE’s oil reserves. Those are mainly controlled by Abu Dhabi, the federal capital and the richest of the federation’s seven semiautonomous emirates. Because Abu Dhabi and Dubai don’t share their energy resources, ENOC has to buy its fuel on the open market at international prices — a situation it says no longer works....Dubai gas stations remain stocked but are often packed with long lines during rush hours. Meanwhile, ENOC and EPPCO stations remain shuttered in Sharjah, a teeming city next to Dubai that is home to many lower-income workers. Authorities there closed the company’s outlets in June after it failed to respond to demands to replenish fuel supplies, further lengthening lines at stations in Dubai....Most likely, ENOC is hoping the central government will step in to cover the shortfall between the subsidized price and the company’s costs, analysts said.
During its go-go years spread its network of petrol stations across the country soaking up markets that might have been served by the cautious Adnoc. Dubai projected itself across the country. As a strategy, it was always peculiar. Dubai simply didn't have the deep pockets to run the network at a loss. But none of that was transparent when Dubai had access to foreign lending throwing money at its other projects.

My guess is that Abu Dubai is simply squeezing Dubai and will end up owning Dubai's petrol networks.

One question I have: Why doesn't Dubai simply refuse to pay the subsidies mandated by the UAE’s federal government"? Would Abu Dhabi swoop in and embarrass Dubai by enforcing the mandate?


Monday, September 05, 2011

Paragraph of note

In 2005, a company called CyberTrust—which has since been purchased by Verizon— gave Etisalat, the government-connected mobile company in the UAE, the right to verify that a site is valid. Here's why this is trouble: Since browsers now automatically trust Etisalat to confirm a site's identity, the company has the potential ability to fake a secure connection to any site Etisalat subscribers might visit using a man-in-the-middle scheme.

There's more at Slate.