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Dear rss free blog,


Ghitis writes: “A few days ago I traveled to a place that, according
to the IMF, is on track to post one of the highest rates of economic
growth in the world: the West Bank.

crossing through the Qalandiyah checkpoint north of Jerusalem I
traveled to Ramallah, seat of government for the Palestinian
Authority. Life is undoubtedly hell for the people of devastated
Gaza. But here in Ramallah, searching for squalor proved fruitless.
The city offers a vibrant show of Middle Eastern commerce, complete
with impenetrable traffic jams and trendy coffee at Stars and Bucks
café, where the cappuccino was steaming and the smoothies well chilled.

who spends much time in Europe where Arafat-style black and white
checkered Arab head-dresses and scarves are all the rage will be
disappointed to discover those Keffiyahs are nowhere in sight in
Ramallah. Young men wear their hair stylishly gelled. No Keffiyah.

90% of women, however, wear hijab, covering their hair and sometimes
their faces. This overwhelming display of religiosity (or politics)
is something I did not see in previous visits to the West Bank and
even Gaza during my days at CNN.

billboards show the conflicting forces at play. Though most
Palestinians are practicing Muslims and alcohol is served in few
places in Ramallah, a giant picture of a beer bottle looms on a city
wall, urging potential customers towards Taybeh Beer. ‘Drink
Palestinian!’ it says. And then, in the painted shadow of the
bottle, it adds, ‘Taste the Revolution.’

advertising can stop your blood. Posters of Shaheeds, martyrs, (known
to us as suicide bombers), adorn the city walls, honoring the men for
their deadly deed.

looks like it’s thriving. Away from the busy center, enormous new
buildings are going up, competing for construction cranes with luxury
elite homes. Occasionally stern-looking soldiers in red berets and
AK-47 block intersections as a speeding motorcade zooms by carrying
Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas. The motorcade is very
long, with several black SUVs with tinted windows and many mysterious
vehicles following at high speed. The largesse of foreign donors,
rather than taxes, finances all government operations.

Palestine Securities Exchange reportedly trades companies with a
market cap of more than $2 bn, but continuing growth in the private
sector is anything but assured. Despite the economic boom, I would
not go searching for Palestinian ADRs.

IMF says the West Bank will grow a solid by 7% this year, as long as
Israel continues easing travel restrictions. This Israel has vowed to
do. Its Premier Benjamin Netanyahu is betting on “economic peace”
bringing prosperity to Palestinians, giving them something to lose to
prevent war, deter extremism, and perhaps eventually lead to peace.

studies show that every time economic growth comes to Palestinian
territories, a new intifada erupts. Economic disaster results from
the violence, mostly for Palestinians but also for Israelis.
Prosperity is opposed by radical Palestinians who don’t want to see
a Palestinian middle class coming to terms with Israel. As long as
the political process remains stalled, hopes for lasting prosperity
and peace look unrealistic.”

added even more
irrationality to the StOXX index of European equities it runs. Today
it announced that
of Finland would
be removed from its index and replaced. Then it relented and put
Metso back in. Remember that fund managers trying to
track thatindex buy and sell shares based on their ex- or in-clusion. MCXYY
moreover is concluding an acquisition in Denmark which further roils
its share price with arbitraging. D-J is proposing to spin off its
index sub, but given their unstable components, it will be hard to
earn royalties from exchange-traded funds for StoXX. ETFs do not want
to run up trading costs.

about some of our smaller companies plus the usual suspects for paid
subscribers follows. We cover many smaller start-up companies, even if we did not choose to buy (yet) in the West Bank. The irrational in- and out-flow from indexes on which exchange-traded funds based their performance makes stock picking and small stocks a more compelling investment strategy than before. Tracking error, which we have reported on for ETFs investing in bonds is an argument for buying closed-end funds or individual foreign bonds. You will not get this information unless you become a fully paid subscriber at