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Bush to Middle East: Keep helping

Nancy Marshall-Genzer Jan 10, 2008


Doug Krizner: This country’s major investment banks are being kept alive by foreign investors. The mortgage crisis forced firms like Citigroup and Merrill Lynch to go overseas, cap-in-hand. Sovereign wealth funds from Abu Dhabi and Singapore have already invested billions, and more could be on the way.

This morning, the Wall Street Journal reports Citigroup is working to get another $10 billion, and Merrill an additional $3 [billion] to $4 billion, all from foreign governments. Which takes us to President Bush. He’s visiting several wealthy Arab nations this week. Nancy Marshall Genzer has more.

Nancy Marshall Genzer: The president has stops in Kuwait, Bahrain, The United Arab Emirates and Saudia Arabia. Kuwait and Abu Dhabi run two of the biggest government-owned investment funds in the world.

Abu Dhabi’s fund invested more than $7 billion in Citigroup, bailing it out from subprime losses. Foreign funds have also bought up U.S. government debt.

Brookings Institution Mid-East analyst Tamara Wittis says President Bush will encourage the Mid-East officials he meets to keep the money spigot open.

Tamara Wittis: We need the need the money, as long as we’re going to keep our budget in the red.

Wittis says President Bush will also want to nail down the details of a $20 billion U.S. arms deal with Saudia Arabia and five other Mid-East countries.

Wittis: To sort of firm up what’s been agreed upon in terms of purchases of U.S. military equipment, and also how we might help them make good use of that equipment.

President Bush returns from the Middle East on January 16.

In Washington, I’m Nancy Marshall Genzer for Marketplace.

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