IT is narrated that, in the 17th century, an Ottoman sultan had opened his council to the public, received people and listened to their issues.
One day a man entered the council, dragging an ox behind him. The people in attendance as well as the sultan were baffled. The sultan asked the man to explain his motives.
The man said, “I ask my lord for permission to present to him my idea. After five years, this ox will be one of the most eloquent orators, as I intend to teach him speech and eloquence but if you lend me one hundred thousand dinars”.
The Sultan was astonished by the man’s boldness and his strange idea, but he appreciated the situation, and said with a laugh, “If you fail, then I have to chop off your head”.
The man replied with confidence, “I accept the challenge”, and so the Sultan issued an order to give the man one hundred thousand dinars.
Upon returning to his house, the man was met by his wife who was worried about what her husband committed himself to, and wondering whether he was mentally sound to put himself in such a position. She was adamant that her husband will not be able to deliver what he promised in this regard.
However, the man reassured his wife that they can now enjoy this wealth, and that probably after five years, the ox or the Sultan or even himself may die, and that whatever the case, he will be the winner.
Despite the strangeness of this story, it indicates boldness in presenting ideas, and not being afraid of loss. This story applies to several countries that chose to risk long-term borrowing, relying on their financial solvency, to maintain their sovereign rating, and to invest those funds in well-studied scientific ways, which enabled them to generate huge profits within a few years.
Such countries also took advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to strengthen their sovereign funds by buying more assets and shares in which they were investing. Instead of selling them, they cooled the stocks and continued buying additional assets and shares. When these stocks regained their value, they achieved huge profits, and this enabled them to stimulate their economies after the pandemic started to shrink.
It is a known fact that the majority of the world’s stock exchanges declined during the past year by about 40 to 70 percent, but they regained their value with great profits. This benefited international investors, such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and others that knew from the beginning how to use their investments in the right ways.
These countries did not sleep on the silk of hopes and promises and then woke up to a decline in the sovereign rating, which raises the risk factor in their debt both internally and externally.
Nonetheless, financial institutions will not venture to pump their money into an economy that suffers from a structural crisis, either because of the absence of the right decision and proper planning, or as a result of the subjugation of the executive authorities to the whims of influential people, politicians and MPs who are masters in the art of blackmailing the state.
Many countries worked according to the theory of the ox owner, as they boldly bet to invest, taking advantage of all circumstances and working with the principle of time as a problem solver. This means the pandemic must end one day, so either the man dies, or the ox dies, or the Sultan dies. Irrespective of the situation, the man benefits in the end.
Perhaps those in charge of the national economy should have the courage to seize opportunities, and not be afraid of a glimpse here or a wink there. They must not continue to spin around a vicious circle for slogans that never put bread on the table.
For decades we have been hearing about the diversification of the sources of income, and mega projects, but they are still ink on paper. It is looking more like cooking a rarely seen egg of the Yellow Wagtail bird.
All this is from us to the seniors…
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times