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April 15, 2004
LA Times: Iraqi Economy Rebounding

Proving that major media outlets can ignore news for only so long, the Los Angeles Times notes in a featured Mark Magnier article that the Iraqi economy shows signs of a strong rebound and the Iraqi middle class is gathering strength:

Wedged between the reports of murder and mayhem, the headline in the local paper was eye-catching: "Should you change your wallpaper for lighter tones?" it asked. "Do it once and you'll see the results." ...

Slowly but surely, ordinary Iraqis are redoing floors, hanging curtains, buying new pictures and feathering their nests after years of doing without.

Furniture and upholstery sellers are reporting strong demand, as are lighting firms, building contractors and plant stores. "I've been in this business a long time," said Muthana Fahawi, a carpet merchant for 25 years in Baghdad's Karada neighborhood. "Anyone who says the economy isn't improving isn't telling the truth. You can feel the money starting to flow."

Polling data from Iraq last month showed significant optimism -- 55% of Iraqis said that things were better right now, and 70% expected life to improve more over the coming year -- as a result of Saddam's downfall. Despite the constant drumbeat of bad news coming to Americans about the situation in Iraq, Iraqis are much safer than they were under Ba'ath rule, where estimates of monthly deaths run into the thousands. With new political and economic freedoms, even the poorer Iraqis have some disposable cash, as a Baghdad shopkeeper notes:

"If you don't have enough to eat, you don't go buying houseplants," said Haider Mohammed, owner of a plant nursery in the shadow of the national stadium. "Now we're even seeing poor people out for a look."

Magnier's article makes it clear that the Iraqis still have a long way to go, of course. But with the oppressive Ba'ath party out of power and its endemic corruption a thing of the past, Iraqi entrepeneurs are looking forward to a future of growth and prosperity. Optimism in Iraq appears hardier than its American cousin these days.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 15, 2004 6:24 AM

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The Iraqi economy appears to be on the upswing. As Captain Ed of the Captain's Quarters wryly comments, "Proving that major media outlets can ignore news for only so long, the Los Angeles Times notes in a featured Mark Magnier [Read More]

Tracked on April 15, 2004 8:16 AM

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