7 Places That Could Crumble Like Dubai

Britain, Greece and Ireland may be teetering on the edge

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From East Asia, to the Baltics to the Mediterranean, the Dubai World crisis has raised panic about where the next debt shock could occur. As Fortune's Colin Barr warns, "there is no shortage of other nations suffering a combination of plunging income and outsize borrowings that could soon demand attention." With each country having its own unique problems, here's a case-by-case look at who could be the next Dubai:

  • Greece  Tracy Corrigan in The Telegraph says, "Greece is in a dire fiscal position, has no convincing plan to fix it, and because it is in the eurozone, cannot rely on the weakening of its currency to bail it out. The prospect of help from other eurozone members – themselves hardly prospering – seems, at the very best, less than a dead cert."

  • Ireland  Jerome Reilly at The Independent of Ireland writes: "Ireland could be caught in the crossfire of Dubai's debt crisis in three ways -- most crucially because the emirate's problems have made investors edgy about the security of state-backed guarantees. As many as 6,000 Irish people, including high-profile figures... invested heavily in Dubai in recent years... Dubai's rulers the Maktoum family have extensive business interests in Ireland."
  • The Baltic States  Graham Bowley and Catherine Rampell in The New York Times say, "Lithuania and Estonia remain worryingly exposed, as do Bulgaria and Hungary. All of these nations carry foreign debt that exceeds 100 percent of their G.D.P.’s... External debt is often held in a foreign currency, which means governments cannot use devaluation of their own currencies as a tool to reduce their debt when they run into trouble."
  • Latvia  Bowley and Rampell add, that in Latvia, "economic booms driven by easy credit and soaring property values have given way to precipitous busts... Latvia is sinking into debt even faster. Its borrowings will reach the equivalent of nearly half the economy next year, up from 9 percent a mere two years ago."
  • Britain and Japan writes Prieur du Plessis at Investment Postcards: "Britain, too, relies heavily on the financial industry. And Britain, too, is heavily dependent on debt. Its public finances are among the worst in the world. Japan’s public debt, to add another example, is already 200% of GDP. It’s expected to reach 300% in a few years. And yet, Japan - like the US and Britain - just keeps borrowing. How long can this go on? When will Britain, the US, and Japan announce their own moratoria on debt service payments?

  • California  Robert Cruickshank at California Progress Report, an independent online journal, says "Dubai's basic logic was being used here in California as well, where a real estate bubble was used to promote an economy essentially ordered around serving the interests of the wealthy, with everyone else seeing only cursory benefits that were conditional on the continuation of the bubble. The bubble has burst, and now California faces a crisis every bit as severe as Dubai."
  • Practically Everyone  Not short on gloom, economist Willem Buiter writes: "From Dubai to Iceland, Ireland, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Japan, France, the UK and the USA, the sovereign debt burdens have been at current levels during peacetime only on the way down from even higher public debt burdens incurred during wars.  Watching the public debt to GDP ratios rise to levels likely to reach or exceed 100 percent of GDP by 2014 is deeply worrying."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.