Thursday, February 27, 2003

Free market forces have arrived with a vengeance in Arbil. An economist could write a dissertation on the laws of supply and demand and how they come into play when several hundred journalists descend on a town.

The Americans, not content with preparing to blow seven shades of shit out of this country, have also thrown the local economy into a frenzy. As we spent the day trying to hire fixers, vehicles and television live positions, it became clear that the Kurdish marketplace was undergoing what Alan Greenspan might call a bout of “irrational exuberance. Prices had doubled or tripled because the American broadcasters were prepared to pay what the local wide boys were asking.

It would seem the ancient Middle Eastern art of haggling is a mystery to the likes of CNN and Fox News. They're prepared to pay $$$$$ for whatever they need and as a result when we come along Sheikh Ali Conman expects the same. Arguments that it's all licence fee payers money and we're a public service broadcaster carry little weight around here. It's a case of you pay what I ask and if you don't like it, go somewhere else. Who can blame them? In a few months' time the 7 coachloads of cash cows which arrived yesterday are going to be gone again and Arbil's Mr Bigs will be sitting back, counting their money and praying for the next big pay day.


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