Bean Counting in Baghdad : Debt, Reparations, Reconstruction, and Resources; Strategic Insights: v.2, issue 6 (June 2003)
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The 1980s began with Iraq recognized as being one of the most promising countries in the Middle East and in the developing world. It was a donor country as well as a significant international creditor. The central bank held approximately $36 billion in foreign assets (Jiyad, 2001, p.15). Per capita income was around $4000 and, with a growing middle class and the start of a modern industrial sector, the country was poised for take-off to high-sustained growth. A plausible scenario at the time would have anticipated the country having a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of close to $400 billion, with a per capita income of $15,000, self sufficient in food, and an exporter of a wide variety of industrial products. Instead, Iraq sealed its demise in 1980 with its invasion of Iran. Two wars and a decade of sanctions later, GDP is not $400 billion but $30 billion--per capita income is $2000 at best. Industry has ceased to exist and unemployment is optimistically estimated to be around 50%. This Strategic Insight examines Iraq's fiscal challenges and possible financial strategies over the next decade or so. What options are available under UN Resolution 1483 of May 23, 2003, as well as the resolutions coming out of the May 2003 G-8 Finance Ministers' meetings? Which strategies seem best from the perspective of Iraq's reconstruction? Under reasonable assumptions, will there be enough money to reconstruct the economy and revitalize the oil industry?
This article appeared in Strategic Insights (June 2003), v.2 no.6
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