The Dubai debt default seems to have inspired a bit of fear in the U.S. But is there any real reason for it? U.S. banks have minimal exposure to Dubai's debts -- most of the banks that would suffer if Dubai defaulted are located in the Middle East. Nevertheless, U.S. markets fell 1.7% Friday during a holiday-shortened trading day -- after futures suggested the market would be down 2.7%. But if Dubai's oil reserves exceed its debts, it could sell oil to repay them.
The extent of Dubai's energy reserves is in dispute. The New York Times reports that Dubai's oil reserves are minimal, noting it "is one of the few member states of the United Arab Emirates [UAE] that has little oil wealth of its own." (Dubai is one of seven emirates that together make up the UAE.) Yet other sources suggest Dubai has significant oil and gas reserves -- worth $311.4 billion at today's prices -- a figure that does not strike me as minimal in light of Dubai's $80 billion in debt