The Iraqi Tiger
Yes, the American economy sure is growing nicely. But it's no Iraq.
From the American Forces Press Service's "Official Reports Progress in Iraq's Reconstruction, Economic Development" [no link yet, sorry], Ambassador Daniel Speckhard (U.S. Director of the Iraq Reconstruction Management Office) elaborates:
Iraq's per capita income had fallen from around $4,200 per person in 1980, which at the time was higher than Spain, to $500 per person in March 2003, he said. Today it stands at $1,200 - 'a significant advancement in a very short time,' Speckhard said.
Speckhard pointed out that Iraq now has a free press, more than 2,000 Internet cafes, and more than 5 million cell phone users - up from virtually zero in 2003.
In addition, more than 30,000 Iraqi businesses have been registered in the past year alone, he said.
If you look out into the streets, ...you'll see a very vibrant economy,' Speckhard said. 'People (are) buying consumer and durable goods - refrigerators, air conditioners, televisions, and so forth.
Assuming zero population growth, that's compounded annual GDP growth of 34% since the liberation. Not too shabby.
Hat Tip: Congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC), who comments:
While naysayers focus on civil war in Iraq, American soldiers are busy creating a civil society in Iraq. As they work together with Iraqi Security Forces and Coalition troops, their efforts are producing undeniable economic advantages that truly improve the lives of Iraqis: new businesses, higher per capita income, and greater opportunities to interact with the outside world.
Check out how Reuters flips the happy story on its head.
ANALYSIS - Iraqis' economic woes add to desperation
Iraqis may now have mobile phones and internet cafes, but they have seen few real economic benefits since the fall of Saddam Hussein three years ago and are far poorer than they were before the first Gulf War.
Staying alive remains the first priority for Iraqis in a country which some say is teetering on the brink of civil war. But improving the economy would go a long way to boosting public morale and could even help curb the relentless violence.
The figures show that goal is a long way off.
While World Bank statistics demonstrate per capita income rose from $479 in 2003 when U.S.-led forces invaded Iraq to an estimated $1,188 in 2005, that compares with $3,240 in 1980.
And Iraqis themselves paint a picture of unremitting economic woe.
The piece goes on to offer anecdotal evidence of a few ticked off Iraqi businessmen and to point out every half empty glass in the country, which apparently negates the aggregate, measurable, breakneck growth (those World Bank figures suggest growth of over 50% on a per capita basis following the liberation).
Handcrafted by Flip on March 29, 2006 |
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Ambassador Daniel Speckhard, U.S. Director of the Iraq Reconstruction Management Office, recently highlighted the tremendous economic progress in Iraq: Iraqs per capita income had fallen from around $4,200 per person in 1980, which at the t... [Read More]
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