The government of Libya, flush with oil, has amassed $40 billion and is ready to put it in play on Wall Street. China recently acquired a huge stake in one of the biggest names in U.S. finance. Tiny Qatar is adding $1 billion a week to its investment coffers and is trying to buy the leading grocer in Britain.
Developing nations, especially in Asia and the Middle East, are aggressively stockpiling some of the largest concentrations of investment money in history. The cash hoards, called sovereign wealth funds, are controlled not by state-run companies or private investors but by governments.
These investment pools are equal to or even bigger than the largest pension and private-equity funds in the United States, and many are highly secretive about their activities. The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority has an estimated $875 billion to invest, while China's first stab at a sovereign wealth fund, which started last month, has $200 billion. The largest private-equity firm has about $90 billion under management.
Sovereign wealth funds have been around for decades. But enriched by the surge in the price of oil, which settled at a record $93.53 yesterday, and the trade gap between the United States and Asia, these funds have grown to gigantic proportions. This has alarmed U.S. politicians and regulators, some of whom held a series of meetings on the topic here this month. Some on Wall Street say the growing prominence of these funds portends a fundamental shift in financing power away from Western nations. ...
About two dozen countries have established sovereign wealth funds, including Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Kuwait, Australia and Russia. While precise data about each of the funds can be difficult to obtain, most Wall Street analysts agree that the value of the funds has reached about $2 trillion and is likely to grow at least fivefold by 2012.
"We want to be encouraging people to invest as much of this money in the U.S. as we can," said Douglas Rediker, a former investment banker who works at the New America Foundation in the District. "We are driving our way around the country every day and sending them our U.S. dollars at $3 or $4 a gallon. ... You really want those dollars recycled back into your economy, because if they aren't, it means they are going somewhere else and the dollar is less attractive and will continue to weaken." ...
For the complete article, please follow this link. Douglas Rediker co-directs the Global Strategic Finance Initiative with Heidi Crebo-Rediker, at New America.