Economy — 22 September 2008

The extraordinary demise of two of the largest investment banks in the world, the nationalisation of insurer AIG and the shotgun marriage of HBOS and Lloyds TSB, in all has brought the number of banks and lenders that have fallen victim to the sub-prime crash to a staggering 284 worldwide.

Even though markets have been buoyed by huge bailouts on both side of the Atlantic, and a massive assault by global regulators on short selling has partially helped to calm the turmoil. The crisis is far from over. Neither tax rebates nor low interest rates nor higher or lower exchange rates can do the job of reviving economies that are burdened by debt loads that are too high.

The effect of hamstrung economies, are actively leading commentators and thinkers to seriously search for clues in the way forward. After all, if a seemingly innocuous clutch of dud mortgages in the American Midwest can rollover to the become a ‘once in a century event’, then something must be amiss in the apparent understanding of how the markets operate.

More than being amiss, its clear that there is something terrifyingly wrong with the system. Calls for action though, have availed a different manner of propriety. The short sighted are simply baying for blood, hoping that buccaneering speculators will take the noose. Others rest their hopes on new global policing that would prevent the likes of junk bonds, ninja loans and toxic assets from ever again attesting their pervasiveness in the markets.

Amongst the more acute, have been those hoping to rip it all up and start again. Critically, it is the loss of confidence in the Free Market ideology that is helping to inspire such notions. At its best, laissez-faire, has been the excuse for speculative bubbles, unfettered capitalism and post-script colonialism. Now at its most embarrassing, it has unceremoniously subsumed itself to its most dreaded opposite – government intervention.

With eyes now wide open, and minds keenly attentive. Proposals of alternative solutions will in the least, have captive audiences. There are rumours of banking based on nationalist interests, as well those proposing collectivist models. None though, are truly a radical a change, as that which is the proposition of the Islamic Economic System, implemented through the example of a Caliphate State. The trillion dollar question that really remains, is how leadership can be given to the notion of Islamic Economics?

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