Global Financial Crisis of 2008

On the one hand, many people are concerned that those responsible for the financial problems are the ones being bailed out, while on the other hand, a global financial meltdown will affect the livelihoods of almost everyone in an increasingly inter-connected world. The problem could have been avoided, if ideologues supporting the current economics models were not so vocal, influential and inconsiderate of others’ viewpoints and concerns.

A collapse of the US sub-prime mortgage market and the reversal of the housing boom in other industrialized economies have had a ripple effect around the world. Furthermore, other weaknesses in the global financial system have surfaced. Some financial products and instruments have become so complex and twisted, that as things start to unravel, trust in the whole system started to fail.

The extent of the problems has been so severe that some of the world’s largest financial institutions have collapsed. Others have been bought out by their competition at low prices and in other cases, the governments of the wealthiest nations in the world have resorted to extensive bail-out and rescue packages for the remaining large banks and financial institutions.

Some of the bail-outs have also been accompanied with charges of hypocrisy due to the appearance of socializing the costs while privatizing the profits. In the meanwhile, smaller businesses and poorer people rarely have such options for bail out and rescue when they find themselves in crisis.

To some extent risky borrowers bear some responsibility, but overall they have lost out; lenders are being bailed out, while those taking out risky loans either have lost their homes, or face a real threat of losing their home in the near future.

There is the argument that when the larger banks show signs of crisis, it is not just the wealthy that will suffer, but also potentially everyone. With an increasingly inter-connected world, things like a credit crunch can ripple through the entire economy.

Many have blamed the greed of Wall Street for causing the problem in the first place because it is in the US that the most influential banks, institutions and ideologues that pushed for the policies that caused the problems are found.

America is still immensely attractive to skilled immigrants and is still capable of producing a Microsoft or a Google. Even its debt can be overcome. It has enormous resilience economically at a local and entrepreneurial level.

For the developing world, the rise in food prices as well as the knock-on effects from the financial instability and uncertainty in industrialized nations is having a compounding effect. High fuel costs, soaring commodity prices together with fears of global recession are worrying many developing country analysts.

Many believed Asia was sufficiently decoupled from the Western financial systems. Asia has not had a subprime mortgage crisis as many nations in the West have, for example. Many Asian nations have witnessed rapid growth and wealth creation in recent years. This lead to enormous investment in Western countries.

In recent years, there has been more interest in Africa from Asian countries such as China. As the financial crisis is hitting the Western nations the hardest, Africa may yet enjoy increased trade for a while.

While the media’s attention is on the global financial crisis (which predominantly affects the wealthy and middle classes), the effects of the global food crisis (which predominantly affects the poorer and working classes) seems to have fallen off the radar. The two are in fact inter-related issues; both have their causes rooted in the fundamental problems associated with a neoliberal, one-size-fits-all, economic agenda imposed on virtually the entire world.

Borrowing at a time of recession seems risky, but the idea is that this should be complimented with paying back during times of growth. Likewise, reducing interest rates sounds like there would be less incentive for people to save money, when banks need to build up their capital reserves. However, as the real economy starts to feel the pinch, reduced interest rate is an attempt to encourage people to take part in the economy.

Well-designed regulations may protect us in the short run and encourage real innovation in the long. Much of our financial market’s creativity was directed to circumventing regulations and taxes. Accounting was so creative that no one, not even the banks, knew their financial position. Meanwhile, the financial system resisted many of the innovations that would have increased the efficiency of our economy. By reducing the scope for these socially unproductive innovations, we can divert creative activity in more productive directions.

The most powerful international institutions tend to have the worst democratic credentials: the power distribution among countries is more unequal, and the transparency, and hence democratic control, is worse.

Although history often shows that those with agendas of power tend to win out, history also shows us that power shifts. A financial crisis of this proportion may signify the beginnings of such a shift. During periods of boom, people do not want to hear of criticisms of the forms of economics they benefit from, especially when it brings immense wealth and power, regardless of whether it is good for everyone or not.

Investing In A Developing Economy – A Possible Solution To Global Financial Crisis

INTRODUCTION

If there were security problems in Nigeria, no businessman would go to the country to explore opportunities, companies like Celtel, MTN, Etisalat, would not have ventured into security risk country to do business. Those who spread rumour about security and corruption problems in Nigeria are saying so to stop others from making money in the country. Figures don’t lie. They are the biggest testimonies for how conducive Nigeria’s environment for business and opportunities are. If you want to do business in Africa and record good returns on your investment, I welcome you to come to Nigeria. The political environment in Africa, particularly in Nigeria is tremendous.

Dr. Hamadoun Toure,
Secretary General,
International Telecommunications Union,
Cited in the Punch Newspaper, May 13, 2008)

What is happening currently with the Nigerian financial system is far from being affected in any way by the global credit crisis. At global level currently, the banks are under-capitalised, but Nigerian banks are over-capitalised. And I do not think this is a problem at all. I believe that Nigerian banks are under pressure from other economies within Africa continent that are affected by the credit challenges.

– Gordon Smith,
Head of Research, Africa and the Middle East, International Consilium,
(Reported in the Punch Newspaper, June 30th, 2008).

The foregoing statements aptly connote two understandings of the state of Nigerian economy. These understandings show that, the economy is one of the fastest growing economies in Africa and in the world. Although Nigeria has had hash economic history, it has undergone and still undergoing economic reforms, which are aimed at making Nigeria the Africa’s financial hub and one of the twenty largest economies in the world by the year 2020. Needless to say that the country has experienced political instability, corruption, and poor macroeconomic management in the past, this was responsible for unpleasant and harsh economic situation. The government relentless efforts to reposition the economy have translated into a remarkable economic growth and development. Several mechanisms have been put in place to sustain this growth and development, capable of balancing the interests of stakeholders. Perhaps, this view must have influenced Gordon Smith submission. He described Nigeria as the most dynamic market in Africa, which is under severe pressure from some countries in Africa to serve as a cushion against the effects of global turbulence. He also noted that some countries like Ghana, Malawi, Mauritius, among others were depending on her at the moment due to global risk exposure and that the country’s economy, led by the consolidated banks, was far from being affected by the global credit crisis currently rocking the world’s financial giants. He stressed further that foreign investors, who will be patient enough to weigh the Nigerian financial system on the credit risk perspective relative to global events, will find the nation’s financial sector more interesting to invest and raise capital from.

Faced with numerous challenges, Nigerian government is determined to strengthen, diversify and make the economy attractive and investment-friendly to both local and foreign investors. The government has adopted total liberalization and globalization as the economic policy, instituted privatization and commercialization programmes of public enterprises, provided total security for business and people, extended invitation to domestic and foreign investors, abolished laws inhibiting competition, embraced and fine-tuned policies to ensure quick realization of growth and development of all sectors of the economy. The effort is already paying off as Nigeria is now the focus for foreign investment thereby increased exponentially Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Scores of economic missions and delegations from developed and developing countries have visited Nigeria, thus accelerating the growth of the economy at a very fast rate.

It becomes pertinent to direct the course of this discussion to embrace the second understanding of the above statements made by Hamadoun Toure and Gordon Smith. However, it becomes more pertinent to enumerate the inherent investment opportunities in Nigerian economy before discussing the issue of security as raised by Toure.

INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES AND SECURITY ISSUE IN NIGERIA

No doubt, Nigeria is an investment haven with countless and lucrative investment opportunities including oil and gas, solid mineral, agriculture, tourism, telecommunication, power and steel, transport, trade processing zone, financial sector, real estate / property, manufacturing, sport and entertainment, and fashion industry. Investors have a wide range of opportunities to choose from. It is important to note that the rate of growth of investment is fantastic and exponential in any of these sectors. Investors are at advantage of presenting their products and services to already-made market taking advantage of the population of over 140 million.

In telecommunication, statistics reveals that mobile phone users in Africa were about 280 million, overtaking United States and Canada with their 277 million users in the opening quarter of 2008. With 70 million connections in 2007, the Continent became the fastest growing region in the world, representing a growth of 38 per cent, ahead of the Middle-East (33 per cent) and the Asia-Pacific (29 per cent).It was also revealed that the fastest growing markets are located in northern and western Africa, representing altogether 63 per cent of the total connections in the region. The record showed that Nigeria, Zambia, Tanzania, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Algeria, Tunisia, Ghana and South Africa are highly competitive markets in the Region. The record further contends that two-third of Africa’s telephony are in their early phase of development, with penetration rates below 30 per cent at the end of 2007.In percentage terms, it was noted that Africa is the fastest growing market in the world, but also the second smallest in terms of connections after Middle-East.

As Nigeria accounts for 57 per cent of the West Africa mobile phones, the country is acknowledged as the leading and the fastest growing telecom market in Africa. With mobile phone users at 44,932,181 and 734,444 for GSM and mobile CDMA respectively, her contributions to West Africa and Africa’s telecommunication growth can not be overemphasized. While the overall economic growth rate stands at 7% per annum, the mobile telephony is about 35-50%. Assuming that each of these connections was busy for a minute in a day, the country telecoms market has the capacity to generate over USD 16 million per day (USD16, 666,667) and close to USD 6 billion per year (USD 5,833,333,300). This is why telecom companies such as Visafone and Etisalat quickly joined the likes of MTN, Globacom, Celtel and other telecoms service providers in exploiting opportunities in the country.

Early this year, one of the main GSM service providers with a subscriber base of over 15 million announced a profit after taxation of USD650 million (78 billion naira) for the year 2007.Putting all these together, one can easily understand Toure’s submission describing Nigerian telecoms market as the best investment destination in Africa.

Recognizing the fact that the Nigeria telecoms industry is enormous and there is need to further exploit the sector to its fullest, the Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC) and the Ministry of State for Information and Communications have made their positions clear by extending invitation to global investors for active participation in the sector as they are willing to grant pioneer status and license for prospective applicants for various undertaking such as Fixed telephony, Mobile telephony, Fixed satellite (VSAT),Paging, Payphone, Internet and other value added services.

With the above facts, one can safely conclude that Nigerian telecom sector offers fantastic and lucrative investment opportunities to global investors. And putting into consideration 40% GSM market growth rate in the first quarter of this year (2008), there is potential for high return on investment in this sector.

Agriculture, the dominant sector of Nigeria economy, engages about 70 per cent of the population directly and provides nearly 88 percent of non-oil foreign exchange earnings. It contributes about 41 per cent of the GDP of the country. The sector recorded an overall growth rate average of 7 per cent in the last three years, a major improvement from under 3 per cent in the 90’s.

Statistically, 91 million hectares of the country’s total land area of 92.4 million hectares is adjudged to be suitable for cultivation. Approximately half of this cultivable land is effectively under permanent and arable crops, while the rest is covered by forest wood land, permanent pasture and built up areas. Among the states, which have the most abundant land, areas are Niger (7.6 million hectares) and Borno (2.8 million hectares).

Agriculture crops in Nigeria are grouped into cereals, root and tuber crops, grains legumes and other legumes, oil seeds and nuts, tree crops, and vegetable and fruits. Governments and the Ministries of Agriculture have made land acquisition easy, encouraged agricultural practices, extended (still extending) invitation to foreign investors and have put in place several incentives to stimulate growth in the sector. Despite, the agricultural potential of Nigeria is barely being tapped and this explains the inability of the country to meet the ever-increasing demand for agricultural products and her rank as 55th in the world (although first in Africa) in farm output.

As the world experiences food crisis and persistent rise in fuel price, the country’s agriculture offers unlimited opportunities for foreign investors and the world at large to provide solutions to these crises. Foreign investors will find investments in cultivation of sugar cane, sugar beet, sweet sorghum, starch (corn/maize), palm oil, soybeans, jatropha, and algae. These products are lucrative as they are potential for biofuels, a good substitute for fossil fuel. Presently, there is a very high demand for these crops from the developed economies.

Solid Mineral is another sector with great investment opportunities. Nigeria is endowed with numerous mineral resources. Recent policy reforms have brought the solid minerals sector to the fore. The emphasis is on encouraging massive foreign investors’ participation in this sector as less than 0.5 per cent is contributed to the Gross Domestic Products from Solid mineral sector. However, the Ministry of Mines and Steel and the Ministry of state’s focal attention in the last one year is to strategically place the country in a better position to explore and exploit just seven minerals in the plethora of minerals so as to increase Gross Domestic Product to 5 per cent within the next few years. The seven strategic minerals are coal, bitumen, limestone, iron-ore, barite, gold and lead / zinc.

Coal can be found in Enugu, Benue and Kogi. Within these three districts 396 million metric tones can be demonstrated using JORC classification criteria, while an additional 1,091 million tones of inferred and hypothetical coal resourced for the areas studied is 1481 million tones.

Knowing fully that development of coal will assist in the realization of energy, the Government and the Ministries are inviting foreign investors to participate actively in the exploration and exploitation of the mineral. Companies such as Denver Resources and Western Metals have already committed US$10 million and US$15 million respectively for two coal fields in the country. Another Chinese firm, Grid Xin Yuan International Investment Company that is providing more than half of China’s electricity needs is also in the country, indicating their interest in the development of a coal field in Kogi State.

The Bitumen reserve in the country is estimated at more than 27 billion barrels of oil equivalent while iron-ore is estimated at over 5 billion inferred reserves with presence in Kogi, Enugu, Niger, Zamfara and Kaduna States. Gold in just 10 locations is estimated at 50,000 ounces, barites 10 million metric tones and limestone at 2.3 trillion reserves.

Talc with an estimated reserve of over 100 million tones can be found in Niger, Osun, Kogi, Kwara, Ogun, Taraba and Kaduna States.The colour of the Nigerian talc varies from white through milky-white to grey. The talc industry represents one of the most versatile sectors of the industrial minerals in the world. The exploitation of the vast talc deposits in Nigeria would therefore satisfy not only the local demands but also that of the international market as well.

The national demand for table salt, caustic soda, chlorine, sodium bicarbonate, sodium hydrochloric acid and hydrogen peroxide exceeds one million tones. A colossal amount of money is expended annually to import these chemicals. There are salt springs at Awe (Platue State), Enugu, and Uburu ( Imo State), while rock salt is available in Benue State. A total reserve of 1.5 billion tones has been indicated. Government, to ascertain the quantum of reserves, is now carrying out further investigations.

In the same vain, large bentonite reserves of 700 million tones are available in many states of federation ready for massive development and exploitation, over 7.5 million tones of barite been identified in Taraba and Bauchi states, and an estimated reserve of 3 billion tones of good kaolinific clays has also been identified.

Gemstone mining has boomed in various parts of Plateau, Kaduna and Bauchi States for years. Some of these gemstones include Sapphire, Ruby, Aquamarine, Emerald, Tourmaline, Topaz, Gamet, Amethyst, Zircon, and Fluorspar, which are among the best in world. Good prospects exist in this area for viable investment. Understanding that this sector requires urgent investment, the Ministry has directed miners who are still in small artisan levels to form cooperatives so as to benefit from World Bank US$10 million assistance. Apart from this, three Nigerian Banks have also established solid minerals desk with fund of over US$ 8 million each for the development of the sector.

Foreign investors will find this sector worth-investing on as Nigerian governments have put in place various incentives and strategies for investment such as 3-5 years tax holiday, deferred royalty payments, possible capitalization of expenditure on exploration and surveys, extension of infrastructure and provision of 100% foreign ownership of mining concerns.

Recognizing that only a sustained macroeconomic environment and a sound and vibrant financial system can propel the economy to achieve the country’s desire to become one of 20 largest economies in the world by the year 2020, on the July 6, 2004 the Federal Government through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), under the leadership of its Governor, Professor Charles Soludo launched a 13-point reform agenda to restructure, refocus and strengthen the Nigerian Financial System. To complement this agenda, another comprehensive long-term reform agenda for the Financial System (the Financial System Strategy 2020-FSS2020) was launched. The grand objectives of these agendas are substantially being achieved. The country financial system now comprises of strong, efficient and internationally competitive banks with an eye for global markets, a capital market with highest returns on investment, in dollar terms, a sound and rewarding insurance industry and other competitive financial participants.

Gordon was right in his submission to have described Nigeria as the most dynamic market in Africa. His view that “foreign investors, who will be patient enough to weigh the Nigerian Financial System on the credit risk perspective relative to the global event, will find the nation’s financial sector more interesting to invest and raise funds from” x-rays the truth about the country’s financial sector.

The country’s banking system is the safest and the soundest it has ever produced in history. It is the fastest growing banking system in Africa and one of the fastest in the world. In fact, the most outstanding contribution towards realization of the country’s dream came from this sub-sector. Economic analysts have observed that it has taken Nigeria less than 3 years to achieve what it took South Africa 20 years to achieve in the area of banking. In a short word, a world-class banking system has emerged in Nigeria.

Statistically, banking sector contributes 10 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and represents 60 per cent of the stock market capitalization, while there was a reduction in the number of banks from 89 to 25, the number of banks branches rose by 33 per cent from 3383 in 2004 to 4500 in 2007. The total asset base of banks rose by 104 per cent from $ 26.8 billions ( 3.21 trillion naira) in 2004 to $54.7 billion ( 6.56 trillion naira) by mid 2007; capital and reserves rose by 192 per cent from $2.72 billion (327 billion naira) to $7.98 billion ( 957 billion naira); capital adequacy ratio rose by 42.6 per cent, point from 15.18 per cent to 21.6 per cent and ratio of non-performing loans total loan improved massively by 51.3 per cent, point from 19.5 per cent to 9.5 per cent. The sector has also remained one of the most profitable in the country’s capital market. It was noted that 13 out of 21 quoted banks on the Nigerian Stock Exchange recorded returns in excess of 100 per cent since January 2007.

According to the April 2008 edition of the African Business, (the best-selling Pan-African Business Magazine published in London) 18 out of 28 West African Companies with market capitalisation of more than $1 billion are Nigerian Banks. The magazine stated that First Bank Nigeria Plc with market capitalization of $7.4 billion remains the largest company in West Africa. Two other Nigerian banks namely Intercontinental Bank Plc and United Bank for Africa (UBA) remain the second and the third largest companies in the sub-region with market capitalization of $6.2 billion and $4.6 billion respectively.

Apparently, the rising tide of banks in the country from all indications has made the sub-sector very attractive, not only to local investors, but also to foreign investors, and in particular, foreign banks. For instance, the consolidation of Regent Bank, Chartered Bank and IBTC to form IBTC Chartered Bank attracted the interest of the Standard Bank Group, the largest financial institution in Africa with a market capitalization of $ 17.8 billion, whose subsidiary Stanbic Bank, also of South Africa has just sealed a Merger deal for the latest Merger in the country, Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc. In this direction, other foreign banks have started making enquiries with CBN of a possible Merger or take-over.

To further substantiate the opportunities the banking sub-sector offers the global investors, a cursory look into Intercontinental Bank Plc will reveal the success of banking system in the country. Intercontinental Bank Plc is known to be the second largest companies in West Africa to have recorded a phenomenal growth in gross earnings, which stood at $1.45 billion ( 173.5 billion naira) in 2008. This is an increase of 99 per cent over the $728 million (87.4 billion naira) in 2007, profit after tax grew by 102 per cent to $380 million ( 45.6 billion naira) as against $188 million (22.6 billion) in 2007, while the capital base rose to $1.67 billion from $1.31 billion. The bank deposit base soared to $8.75 billion ( 1.05 trillion naira), an increase of 126 per cent from $3.9 billion (468 billion naira) in 2007, while the total assets also recorded a quantum leap to $14.2 billion (1.7 trillion naira), representing a growth of 108 per cent from $6.86 billion( 823 billion).

The bank is also in strategic partnership with BNP Paribas, the world leading energy financing bank, Afrexim Bank; Export Development Canada (EDC); Finance for Development (FMO); China Exim Bank; Export-Import of United States; International Finance Corporation in financing projects in different sectors of the economy. However, it is relevant to say that the success recorded by Intercontinental bank is a good example of the Nigerian banks’ strength and prospects, and a testimony to opportunities available to global investors in the country’ financial sector.

Apart from the above, Nigerian Capital Market offers viable opportunities as it is positioned to help companies to raise capital, and to generate high returns on investment. Its total market capitalization has grown by over 4000 per cent to $100 billion (12 trillion naira) in March, 2008, up from $2.39 billion (287 billion naira ) in August 1999.Among emerging markets, the Nigerian Capital market remains one of the most viable in terms of returns on equity. Historically, the market has delivered 28 per cent returns.

Insurance industry is not an exemption to this growth and development the country’s financial sector is witnessing. Although there are few black spots on the regulatory handling, the industry has equally recorded success in their reforms and operations. With the inflow of robust capital, insurance companies are now faced with the challenges of delivering returns to shareholders, maximizing value and exploring overseas markets. Their presence can be felt in countries like Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Sao Tome, South Africa among others.

Although Goldman Sachs’ report titled “New Market Analyst” with issue number 08/09 released on March 13, 2008 (cited in the Thisday newspaper March 19,2008) posited that Nigeria is a better economy than South Africa, International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that Nigeria and South Africa got close to 50 per cent of the $53 billion private equity and debt flow to Sub-Saharan Africa in 2007. This underscores the growing confidence of International bodies and foreign investors in country’s financial sector and economy at large.

Furthermore, Fitch Rating Agency and the Standard and Poor rated Nigeria BB-(minus) in the area of sovereign credit, high in development of local currency debt market, and low in the areas of debt to GDP ratio and inflation. The opportunities for growth in Nigeria financial sector are still strong as the underlying fundamentals driving the growth are still present. All these and more, position the financial sector and the country at large as a leading and most dynamic market in Africa and present viable investment opportunities to global investors.

Needless to say that the opportunities presented above are typical examples and an evidence of opportunities awaiting foreign investors in other sectors of the economy.

Nigeria is the largest producer and exporter of oil in Africa (although recently placed second behind Angola in the latest OPEC report as a result of Niger Delta Crisis) with a production of 2.5 million barrels and above a day. Besides, the Nigeria is the 7th world’s gas reserve holder and the highest flaring nation in the world, with the potential to become a major player in LNG export. It has annual gas flares’ capacity to generate over 12000 MW of electricity needed to catalyze the growth of any economy. Although it currently flares an average of 1.2 TCF of gas annually, the sector has the potential to generate great returns on investment.

One of the greatest opportunities awaiting foreign investors is Real Estate / Property. For instance, Lagos Metropolis with a population of about 18 million has attained mega city status. The State has one of the highest urbanization rates in the world according to the World Bank. Consequently, there is an insatiable demand for housing delivery, which has necessitated the introduction of the New Private Estate Developers Scheme. Under the programme, the government will make large parcels of land ranging from 1 to 25 hectares available to corporate organizations capable of undertaking development and delivery of housing units. Such organization must however demonstrate that they have the financial capacity and technical expertise to deliver quality and affordable housing units.

Among other sectors of the economy that foreign investors will find viable and worth-investing on are Transport, Sport and Entertainment, Tourism, Power and Steel, Export Processing Zones, Privatization. And available records reveal that the rate of returns in these sectors is as high as in the sectors discussed above.

Apart from the opportunities mentioned above which our office is strategically positioned to maximize opportunities for the benefit of prospective investors. We also offer consultancy services in the areas of general management, manufacturing, marketing, finance and accounting, personnel, research and development, packaging, administration, international operation, specialized services and other value-adding services. And our strategic partnership with national and international companies put us in position to deliver quality service and high returns on investment.

Nevertheless, there have been fears raised by international observers, agents and bodies that Nigeria is a high-risk nation for investment and other business transactions. This development is attributed to security, multiple taxation, epileptic power supply, bad roads and poor work environment.

It may appear that doing business in Nigeria is challenging because of the activities of a few untrustworthy Nigerians who are unscrupulous. But such are simply characterization of human nature; as it can be found anywhere else in the world. It must be said emphatically that the world has been biased in their judgment and treatment of Nigeria security issue. There have never been terrorist attacks, suicide bombings or kidnapping until recently when the issue of Niger Delta came on board.

Niger Delta region-the source of nation’s oil wealth- has become an area of perennial tension, agitation, and recently, militancy. However, a confluence of factors such as environmental damage by oil exploitation, failure to develop the region, lack of job opportunities and sense of deep deprivation from the low share of derivation revenue accruing to the states in the region, has led to the present situation. Acknowledging their situation, the Federal Government has organised a Summit, to be chaired by Professor Ibrahim Gambari, the United Nations Under Secretary General, to provide everlasting solution to the crisis. Frankly speaking, Nigeria is a safe and investment-friendly place and Nigerians are accommodating and industrious.

Cyber Crime is another fearsome crime, which often put-off prospective investors from involving or investing in the business opportunities in Nigeria. This crime was actually imported into the country by expatriates. It has never been part of Nigeria culture. It is perpetrated by a few section of the population. Their operations are carried out via Internet and their targets are people who transact business via the medium. They pose as government officials and sometimes as businessmen with United Kingdom identity who deal in digital products. However the list of their tricks and operations is not exhaustive. With the help of Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices and Related Commission (ICPC), and other Anti-Criminal Agencies, Cyber Crime and their perpetrators are under control and disappearing.

The grand objective of the present administration, as encapsulated in VISION 2020, is to make Nigeria a major industrial and economic power, and one of the 20 largest economies in the World by the year 2020 by providing enabling investment and business environment and maximum security for active participation of local and particularly, foreign investors. The realization of these aspirations had informed the radical and pragmatic reforms designed to increase the attractiveness of Nigeria’s investment opportunities and foster the growing confidence in the economy. In this direction, the Federal Government has provided incentives and strategies for investment such as 3-5 years tax holiday, deferred royalty, possible capitalization of expenditure and provision of infrastructures such as road and electricity, just to mention a few.

African economy is witnessing the strongest growth in 30 years; no doubt, Nigeria is one of the major contributors to this development. Most commentators have observed that the opportunities for business and investment in the country look increasingly rosy with GDP growth of 7 per cent in 2007 and 13 per cent in the next 12 years. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecast of 9 per cent growth rate for Nigeria in 2008 (which is second to India 10 per cent and ahead of China 8 per cent) lays credence to their observations.

Furthermore, the increase in Foreign Direct Investment, the entrance of multinational companies, the strong financial sector, the favourable and tremendous business environment, the government support, the abundant natural resources, and the population of over 140 million people, among others, put Nigeria in a comparative ( and possibly absolute) advantage over other African countries.

Just as it is difficult to ignore China as a market in the global arena, (one out of every five persons in the world is Chinese) so is it very difficult to ignore Nigeria as a market in Africa (one out of every three persons in Africa is Nigerian). With a population of over 140 million people and its economic potential, Nigeria still remains Africa most important market.

IMPACT OF GLOBAL FINANCIAL CRISIS IN A DEVELOPING ECONOMY

Unlike China and India, African economy(developing economies) is yet to be integrated into the world economy. This is as a result of slow rate of integration and globalization at which the economy is being fixed into the global economic and financial system. Consequently, developing economies will only suffer a limited financial impact from the credit crunch. However, this is not to say that developing economies are in isolation and totally free from the crisis.

To grant a point, this paper will continue to use Nigerian economy for its analysis as it represents a paradigm of a developing economy with valid and considerable variables.

According to the report from a recently concluded Bankers Committee Meeting, which ended on October 20 th, 2008 , the Nigerian banks are safe as they operate at 22 per cent capital adequacy ratio( 14 per cent above the world 8 per cent requirement) and the financial sector is far from being affected by the current global financial crisis. The report also posits that any bail-out scheme is unnecessary as the situation that warranted bail-out schemes in developed economies- poor quality assets and heavy loan losses resulting from exposure to inadequately collateralised mortgage loans- is absent in Nigeria. To underscore its point, the report noted that, as the Direct Foreign Investment in Nigerian banks is comparatively low and the banks connection with their foreign counterparts is loosely fixed, the impact of the crisis will be limited and indirect.

Conclusion

The words of Mr. Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the Managing Director of International Monetary Fund, at a meeting in Washington D.C are the corner stones of the concluding thoughts of this paper. He stressed as follow:

We meet at an extra-ordinarily difficult time- a time of uncertainty and insecurity, with a danger that those fears push us away from- not towards- a more inclusive and sustainable globalization….At its best, multilateralism is a means for solving problems among countries, with the group at the table willing to take constructive action together. When multilateralism is dysfunctional, globalization can be a Babel of Tower, with competing national interests colliding to benefit none. The new multilateralism, suiting our times, is likely to be a flexible network, not fixed system. It needs to maximize the strengths of interconnecting actors, public and private, profit-making and civil society Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs). The multilateralism must respect state sovereignties while solving interconnected problems that transcend borders…The private sector cannot restore confidence on its own. Macroeconomic policy measures by governments cannot restore confidence on their own. Piecemeal measures on financial markets will not restore confidence on their own. What will restore confidence is government intervention which is clear, comprehensive and cooperative among countries..The world must act quickly, forcefully and cooperatively to contain the ongoing financial and economic downturn.

Thus, the position of this paper is that the confidence will only be restored if “government intervention which is clear, comprehensive and cooperative” is complemented with investment in developing economies with less or no crisis impact as “flexible multilateralism” and cooperative and sustainable globalization is solution that suits our time, not” economic isolationism”.

Financial Integration and Financial Literacy of Hispanics in the US

The latest data available from the census bureau says that Hispanics now in the United States are the largest minority group in the country. Hispanics are now 15.8% of the total population making this group the most significant ethnic group after whites in the United States.

One of the major problems among Latinos in our country is knowledge and more in particular financial knowledge. After the recent financial crisis we start to see more and more programs aiming to educate consumers and making them more financial literate.

One of the most recent examples of the new changes in the law is the recent change in the bankruptcy law which now requires consumers to take a small class before filing for bankruptcy.

I think that the main idea is great. Let’s image that anybody getting a car loan, a mortgage and a credit card with a credit limit over $5000 is require to take a financial course or a small seminar before getting the approval. The United States has learned the hard way that its consumers are poor educated when it comes to their personal finances.

A recent study showed that people are more private and prefer to keep it personal in regards to their sex life and finances.

Hispanics are the most important group after whites and the reason behind that is that now by being a majority of the minority Hispanics can decide who runs the country or which legislation gets the ok. One of the main problems among Latinos is their poor financial literacy and one of the major problems is because their lack of familiarity with the U.S financial system along with its products services and options.

Hispanics immigrants who come to this country in the majority of the cases have a problem learning English making difficult for them to communicate. Learning the language is definitely a major problem in learning the financial system in the U.S.

A good example of a factor affecting Hispanics financial literacy is a 2006 study sponsored by the Inter-American Development Bank and develop by Sarah Stookey(2006) and noted that many new Hispanic immigrants have never had a bank account and that this is one of the obstacles that stand in the way of greater financial integration of recent Hispanic immigrants.

Understanding the U.S tax system is another big problem among Hispanics and is quite interesting, because the other ethnic groups have the same problem,treating its returns like a savings accounts and making major unnecessary purchases.

In the financial sector the ability to provide bilingual services to Hispanics customers had a significant improvement.

Brenda Muniz from the NCLR noted that in a bilingual financial system some problems need to be resolve, and one of them is communication. She noted that In some cases written financial materials are provided in languages other than English such as Spanish, Vietnamese, Creole, Russian, etc, but the translation may not be fully comprehensible or it will not fit as culturally appropriate language. Understanding credit and credit usage and even more complicated terms such as credit scores or debt ratio are a little difficult to interpret for non English speakers.

The Hispanic community is the faster growing community in the country, business and agencies should be started to address some of the major issues in having a group of immigrants entering our financial system illiterate. Financial Literacy courses or Financial Literacy literature should be available for all the major purchases and financial transactions.

Is a Lack of Financial Education the Reason for Poor Financial Management Decisions in America?

Americans study all of the essential things in school, algebra, science, history, languages and the arts. However, many people wonder why there may be a lack of financial management classes to learn basic financial planning strategies. Many students don’t know the first thing about retirement, savings, credit cards, debt or even basic budgeting strategies. Although some might say this is something that should be taught by parents, today’s parents are the byproduct of the credit card generation; therefore many parents only learned the cause and effect of their financial matters by trial and error.

It is not only the parents that are financially challenged. Even teachers lack the training because of an education system that lacks the teaching of fundamental skills needed to achieve fiscal responsibility. Some of those more savvy in the diligence of their finances may seek the services of a financial management advisor, however given today’s economic turbulence, the very root of the problem has become apparent in our society’s apparent financial illiteracy.

According to a recent survey, over 60% of all high school students failed certain questions about basic household financial management and were not given the proper role models for financial independence. Across the gamut, the media has highlighted examples of adults who have mismanaged their money, losing homes or severely damaging their credit by defaulting on their loan and credit card payments, as well as college students who default on student loans and many other examples. Even big businesses on Wall Street have gone bankrupt and the entire financial system of banking seems to be crumbling right before our very eyes. We expect our youth to learn about proper financial planning and financial management amid a society that has accepted financial failure as the norm?

Today’s Financial Buzz attributes many of these economic problems not entirely to the fault of any one entity, enterprise, or government but instead to the theory that the need for financial management practices should be taught early on to our youth. By teaching everyone how to become financially literate, we could create a society of fiscal responsibility. Instead, it is becoming rare to see a young person who doesn’t abuse credit by either racking up high debt, paying late or even bouncing their checking accounts time and time again by relying on unsafe measures, such as online banking. Some do learn these best practices in college through economics or financial courses, but those students are becoming far and few between.

Some critics say that in order to add any more mandatory courses to the education system would require dropping some other important classes. Other say that the public school system is not supposed to be a lesson in life training manual and that those types of learning exercises should be enforced by parents. However, there are two sides to every coin and with many parents now in deep financial troubles themselves, they may not be the best role models for kids to follow. Foreclosures have reached an all-time high while stocks and securities have reached an all-time low, indicating a big problem with the entire system of financial management and not just a few sprinkled examples here and there.

Strengthen Our Financial System With Effective Regulations

When discussing regulations affecting financial services organizations, or for that matter, regulations affecting any type of industry, people tend to be in one of two major groups – those who believe that having fewer regulations is always better, and those who believe that more regulations are needed to protect the public. In my view, both groups are wrong. Let’s discuss why.

The Need for Regulation

The economic downturn that began in 2008 has created severe hardships for millions of Americans who have lost jobs and not been able to find new ones. Many of these same Americans have lost their houses due to foreclosure, or have watched as the value of their primary assets, their houses, plummeted well below the total of the mortgages that they still owe on them. In addition, the US Government was forced to bailout many large financial services organizations due to the concern that their failure would send shock waves through the worldwide financial system and cause global markets to collapse. These bailouts added at least a trillion more dollars to our burgeoning national debt that is already too large to be handled reasonably. This downturn, which has been so devastating to so many, was caused by a lack of effective regulation over our financial system.

There is a reason why financial services organizations have traditionally been regulated more closely than companies in other industries. The impact of a financial services organization failing, or following unsound operating practices, is far-reaching. Much more far-reaching than normal product or service companies. Not only do financial services organizations carry huge levels of risk, in comparison to their capital levels, that risk is also intertwined with risk in other financial services organizations. The collapse of even one financial services organization can potentially cause the collapse of others, which in turn can potentially bring down global economies.

Our Current Regulatory Environment

The regulatory environment within which financial services organizations operate has been gradually weakened over a long period of time, at least 40 or 50 years. At this point, most of the major tenets of the regulations that were enacted shortly after the Great Depression have been swept away. In their place, we have enacted newer regulations that focus more on “how” business is conducted, rather than “what” business is conducted. These newer regulations require detailed documentation of operating policies and procedures, along with required testing to ensure compliance with the policies and procedures. In addition, examinations from various regulatory entities have gotten more frequent and more detailed oriented. During our recent economic downturn, it goes without saying that most, if not all, financial services organizations that were bailed out by the taxpayers had detailed documented policies and procedures in place, and were in solid compliance with recent examinations, when they collapsed.

The regulations that are currently in place are onerous and costly to implement and maintain, but more importantly, they just are not effective.

The Regulations That Are Needed

Once that major regulatory constraints have been released, it is extremely difficult to put them back into place, and enacting new regulatory constraints would be equally as difficult. However, if new regulations were going to be created, they should require the following:

Separation of commercial and investment banking. This requirement was originally a part of the Glass-Stegall act, which is no longer in effect. However, we were supposed to learn this valuable lesson in the 1930’s.

Capital requirements on derivatives. There should be adequate capital maintained against the total amount of risk in derivative portfolios, without allowing netting of counter-party risk.

Risk diversification guidelines at the total institution level. Each institution should be required to have stated guidelines that diversify its total risk by product and product type, collateral type, geography, and major customers, including joint ventures and interlocking directorships.

New regulations are needed to strengthen our financial system. Our current regulations are not effective, and new ones will be difficult to enact. However, new potential regulations should focus on “what” business is allowed, and not “how” business is conducted. That should lead to a regulatory environment that is more effective and efficient.