Discussing what wealth is, requires an understanding how the wealth of nations today is not only distributed but also managed. We can agree that the “wealth management” in the Euro area has been pretty lousy recently. Seems that our leaders are not even able to manage our debt…
Other nations are much more successful in handling their own interests in a financial sense. Actively using the surplus from exports (commodities and non-commodities) is an art that a variety of traditional surplus countries manage quite well.
The United Arab Emirates, Singapore, China or Norway are only examples of an array of nations that manage their own surpluses in order to have a war chest for uncertain times ahead. While these funds are officially named sovereign wealth funds, Russia has found a self explanatory name as “National Welfare Fund”. That is what investor’s activities are all about – welfare. Everybody wants to be better off in the future.
It is exactly these sovereign wealth funds that the European sovereign debt fund EFSF now approaches in order to find investors willing to put money into this empty and quite grim looking piggy bank.
One can already hear Klaus Regling, the German head of the EFSF, praising the great deals they can have here: “You put four dollars in and we will put an extra one dollar on top. Your risk is only 80 percent, we will guarantee 20 percent.” What a deal until the EFSF is renegiotiated like everything else!? See who he can find to throw good money after bad with a 20 percent insurance.
What should not be underestimated though is the power these close to government sovereign funds. When a state-owned fund invests into a venture it, of course, will be done in strategic as well as national interest.
Abu Dhabi investing in Citi Group, Dubai in EADS or China intending to put money into the EFSF is always connected to straight forward requirements, prerequisites and intentions. Thus, with the EFSF begging at foreign nations doorsteps for money of course raises interests in Beijing, Abu Dhabi or elsewhere in order to influence European politics and actions accordingly.
It is in this regard interesting to see how the power balance starts to shift. Today we see that unsustainable financial and economic policies have lead to a situation where Europe has to handle foreign interests in a new and unintended way. One could say that the decline gets visible this way but maybe it is also a chance…