1 After twin tragedies, Malaysia Airlines faces doubtful future (BBC) Shares in Malaysia Airlines closed down 11% in Malaysia following the crash of flight MH17 in Ukraine on route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. This is the second catastrophe to hit the Malaysian airline this year after flight MH370 disappeared in March. Questions are being asked about whether the carrier can now survive.
“Even if this is pure coincidence, it’s never happened in history that a flag carrier has seen two wide-body aircraft disappearing in a few months,” said Bertrand Grabowski, head of aviation at DVB Bank, which acts as a banker to Malaysia Airlines. The company has been losing money for many years and its market value has fallen by more than 40% in the past nine months.
Reports suggest that state investment firm Khazanah Nasional, the major shareholder in the airline, is looking to take the carrier private. The firm has invested more than $1bn into the airline in recent years and had previously indicated that a major restructuring was on the cards. Mohshin Aziz, an investment analyst at Maybank in Kuala Lumpur, said the challenges now facing Malaysia Airlines were “insurmountable”. Without significant funding, he said the airline would not survive beyond a year.
2 Addicted to inflation (Paul Krugman in The New York Times) The first step toward recovery is admitting that you have a problem. That goes for political movements as well as individuals. So I have some advice for so-called reform conservatives trying to rebuild the intellectual vitality of the right: You need to start by facing up to the fact that your movement is in the grip of some uncontrollable urges. In particular, it’s addicted to inflation — not the thing itself, but the claim that runaway inflation is either happening or about to happen.
The roots of inflation addiction run deep. Reformers like to minimize the influence of libertarian fantasies — fantasies that invariably involve the notion that inflationary disaster looms unless we return to gold — on today’s conservative leaders. But to do that, you have to dismiss what these leaders have actually said.
More generally, modern American conservatism is deeply opposed to any form of government activism, and while monetary policy is sometimes treated as a technocratic affair, the truth is that printing dollars to fight a slump, or even to stabilize some broader definition of the money supply, is indeed an activist policy.
The point is that inflation addiction is telling us something about the intellectual state of one side of our great national divide. The right’s obsessive focus on a problem we don’t have, its refusal to reconsider its premises despite overwhelming practical failure, tells you that we aren’t actually having any kind of rational debate. And that, in turn, bodes ill not just for would-be reformers, but for the nation.
3 World’s first indoor city (Oliver Wainwright in The Guardian) For the desert city-state Dubai that has the tallest building in the world, as well as the biggest flower garden and largest aquarium on the planet, plus islands shaped like palm trees, buildings in the shape of sails, and an entire archipelago shaped like the world itself, there was only one obvious next step: building an entire city indoors. Unveiled this week, the Mall of the World is a vision for a climate-controlled leisure district, a place of hotels and shops, entertainment and healthcare, all connected by hermetically sealed avenues – 7km of them – along which trams will trundle.
Launched by the emirate’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, it is the first state-sponsored mega-project to emerge from Dubai since the light-headed days of the pre-crash bubble, when anything seemed possible, drunk on the tidal wave of petrodollars. “We plan to transform Dubai into a cultural, tourist and economic hub for the two billion people living in the region around us,” said Sheikh Mohammed.
There will be 20,000 hotel rooms and enough parking for 50,000 vehicles, servicing the largest shopping mall in the world, at 8 million sq ft (750,000 sq m). “Our ambitions are higher than having seasonal tourism,” said Sheikh Mohammed. “Tourism is a key driver of our economy, and we aim to make the UAE an attractive destination all year long.”
No timeframe or budget has yet been announced for the Mall of the World, but Dubai Holding, the state-owned development company behind the project, hopes it will be the emirate’s main focus at the UAE World Expo trade fair in 2020. Dubai Holding is no stranger to dreaming big. Back in 2003, the company launched an ambitious plan for Dubailand, a gargantuan $64bn leisure district, planned to cover an area of 278 sq km, making it three times bigger than Walt Disney World. It was put on hold in 2008 – although cranes are once again moving and the first phase, the Miracle Garden, opened last year.
With a recent Deloitte report suggesting that $12bn of the UAE’s stalled construction projects are back on track, spurred on by the new deadline of the 2020 Expo, Sheikh Mohammed’s stately pleasure-dome might be more than just a mirage in the desert.