Saudi Arabia is considered a wealthy and oil rich country by most people. Certainly when you measure its GDP per capita (per person), it ranks as among the most prosperous in the globe. Yet despite this apparent superficial wealth, it also has an ugly underlying debt problem that has gradually been worsening over the past decade.
Things have become so serious in the last few years that the Saudi Arabian government needs money now. It does not have time for their longer term investments like Vision 2030 to start yielding income. The Saudis have quietly begun massively borrowing. In only one year, they have floated nearly $40 billion worth of government debt. It may not sound like much, yet when you consider that their entire Gross Domestic Product is $650 billion, this is enormous.
Their government is urgently seeking ways to increase revenues as their economy continues to swing back and forth from recession. Massive oil price declines over the last several years have only made matters worse. To try to generate funds, they are even selling off a stake in their key firm Saudi Aramco, the largest producing oil company in the world.
They hope this IPO sale will eventually raise $100 billion in government revenues. Yet it will not fix their dire short term needs now. The Saudis are so desperate to raise government income that they have resorted to a noble sounding form of theft. They call this their Crackdown on Corruption.
As part of the move, the country has taken into custody hundreds of its most famous and richest citizens. At the same time, they have also frozen in excess of 1,700 different bank accounts. Two things tell us that this is primarily an old fashioned government holdup. First, the prisoners are being held in the Ritz Carlton Hotel of Riyadh, not in prison.
Second, the government has informed its wealthy prisoners that they will be released in exchange for choosing to willingly donate an incredible 70 percent of all their financial assets to the Saudi government. How much money does the government hope to raise through this official extortion? They expect to collect upwards of $800 billion per the Wall Street Journal.
Remember that the entire annual output of Saudi Arabia is $650 billion. It would be like the United States seizing over $22 trillion in U.S. citizens wealth. This may sound unthinkable in the U.S.A, yet the Civil Asset Forfeiture gives the authority to many national, state, and even local government groups to lock up and seize all wealth you possess. They do not have to arrest and try you to do it either.
Is Your Retirement Portfolio Protected from the Turmoil of Government Seizure?
If the U.S. government decides that it similarly needs “voluntary contributions” from wealthy corporations or billionaire citizens to cover its over $20 trillion in debt, you can bet that this will impact asset values like stocks and bonds. As investors are in a hurried rush to sell and go to cash, the market prices will drop every time. This is the kind of instability that is nearly impossible to predict until such a seizure move has already been announced.
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