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Banking, Capital Markets, Featured Work, Foreign Exchange, Funds Management, Iran, Islamic Finance, Personal Finance - Sep 26, 2014 19:48 - 0 Comments

Iran’s Pivotal Moment

Euromoney, September 2014Iran's Nuclear Ambitions: Options for the West

Iran is at a pivotal moment. The year ahead will determine which path it takes: a resource-rich, rejuvenated success story, returned to the international fold and relied upon by western states as a stable force in an increasingly troubled region; or a recession-hit, bad loan-addled failure still barred from western trade and getting steadily, inexorably worse. The view in Tehran is that it really could go either way.

The fascinating thing about Iran is the way that geopolitics, the most unpredictable of forces, are slowly shifting in its favour, largely for reasons that actually having nothing to do with Iran.

One would never have imagined it a few years ago, but Iran is suddenly a natural ally to the US, which badly needs a stable government in a region in which ISIS (which, being Sunni in its ideology, is never going to be a friend of Shi’ite Iran) is gaining worrying traction, particularly in neighbouring Iraq. The aligning of the stars, with a leader in Hassan Rouhani who wants to reach out to the west at the same time as an American President who wants to make peace and who badly needs a foreign policy success, feels like a once-in-a-generation opportunity.

And at the same time, Europe has good reason to want better relations with Iran as its own relationship with Russia deteriorates. European reliance on Russian energy, chiefly gas, is clearly problematic; Iran has vast fields of the stuff and pipelines which already reach the Caucuses.

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Banking, Big Interviews, Economics, Lebanon, Politics - Sep 1, 2014 19:23 - 0 Comments

Riad Salamé: The Central Banker who brings Stability to Lebanon

Euromoney, September 2014Riad Salame

Entry into Riad Salamé’s office is a curious process. You enter through the ante-room of his long-standing assistant Claude, open the door, then find a second door, padded, in the same doorframe, half an inch behind the first one. Then you open that one too and there, amid a cloud of acrid cigar smoke, is the longest serving central bank governor in the world.

 

It’s not clear if the double padded door arrangement is a matter of privacy or protecting Claude’s lungs from the cigar smoke (she reckons the former), but the impression it gives of some sort of bunker or inner sanctum is appropriate, because right now you couldn’t dislodge Salamé as governor of Banque du Liban with dynamite. And nobody would want to. In a country that over the years has been beset by wars both civil and external, by assassinations and now by political paralysis and a million and a half Syrian refugees in a country that had only four million people to start with, Salamé is revered by the banking and business sectors. Some want him to be president, others are just grateful that he’s here at all. “The central bank,” says one banker, “is the only place doing any thinking right now.”

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Big Interviews, Economics, Featured Work, Foreign Exchange, From the Vault, Malaysia, Politics - Oct 1, 2007 9:52 - 0 Comments

Mahathir Mohamed, Emerging Markets, October 2007

With MahathirEmerging Markets, October 2007

Putrajaya is a curious place. Though few outside of Malaysia have heard of it, it is the country’s federal administrative centre, founded in 1995 to take the government departments out of nearby Kuala Lumpur. It’s a place of resplendent architectural daring: mosques, palaces, convention centres, and five extraordinary bridges over a 650-hectare man-made lake. But the most striking thing about it is this: there’s no-one there.

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