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Sovereign funds could give U.S. a pass

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Scott Jagow: For a while, banks were getting a ton of money from the sovereign wealth funds of foreign governments. Remember this? China, Dubai, Abu Dhabi. They saw it as a smart investment. Uh, not anymore. Mitchell Hartman reports.


Mitchell Hartman: A year ago, sovereign wealth funds from Abu Dhabi, Singapore, Korea and China were investing tens of billions from their oil and export profits into distressed U.S. banks and brokerages. But that money has all but dried up.

Jan Randolph: Well, I think it’s a case of once bitten, twice shy, really.

That’s Jan Randolph, head of sovereign risk at Global Insight in London.

Randolph: I think nearly everyone’s come to the realization that the credit crunch is a lot deeper and going to be a lot more protracted than first thought.

Randolph says these funds aren’t confident that new investments in U.S. banks will make money in the short run. They may also be waiting for share prices to hit rock-bottom before wading in.

So, what are sovereign wealth funds doing with their piles of money in the meantime? Randolph says it runs the gamut. They’re building infrastructure in the Middle East, boosting agriculture in Africa and South Asia, investing in India and Japan. Abu Dhabi’s fund just bought a British soccer team, Manchester City.

I’m Mitchell Hartman for Marketplace.

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