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[casi] Iraq- financial basket-case?

Friday, April 4, 2003

Postwar Iraq would need more than oil funds, experts say
By Warren Vieth / Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON -- To hear some Bush administration officials tell it, the
reconstruction of Iraq will largely pay for itself, thanks to a postwar
gusher of petroleum revenue.

"The one thing that is certain is Iraq is a wealthy nation," said White
House press secretary Ari Fleischer.

A look at the national balance sheet tells a different story.

Iraq will emerge from the war a financial shambles, many economists say,
with a debt load bigger than that of Argentina, a cash flow crunch rivaling
those of Third World countries, a mountain of unresolved compensation
claims, a shaky currency, high unemployment, galloping inflation and a
crumbling infrastructure expected to sustain more damage before the shooting

And the more oil Iraq produces to try to pump up its earnings, the more
likely it becomes that prices will fall, leaving it no better off than

"Clearly, it's a basket case," said Dean Baker, co-director of the liberal
Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington. "Once you start
talking about it, you see what an impossible situation it is. I don't think
the Bush administration is anxious to have that conversation." ...[...]

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