Trolling for Petrodollars

"The governments here have been very helpful to the U.S. and to hear these stories again and again, the private sector here will go elsewhere," he said. "Asia is beckoning, Latin America is beckoning, and there we don't have these kinds of situations."

A repeat of the DPW controversy, with its loss of potential investment, is what Paulson seemed intent to avoid. But there were other goals on the agenda.

Paulson raised the impact of record high oil prices on the global economy. Prices rose to $135 a barrel two weeks ago.

"There is no doubt that the current prices are a burden on economies around the world and a burden on people around the world," Paulson said during the Saudi leg of his trip.

He also gave a nod to the ongoing peg of most Gulf currencies to the U.S. dollar (all but Kuwait's are fixed to the greenback). Maintaining the peg gives the dollar a needed boost, while raising inflationary pressure on Gulf economies as the U.S. Federal Reserve lowers interest rates.

But, according to economist Woertz, the currency pegs do little good compared to the vast benefit of Gulf investments.

"It might signal a lack of confidence in the dollar, but releasing the peg is not that important as long as these countries keep financing U.S. debt," Woertz said. "If they should stop buying or even start selling U.S. assets it would be a catastrophe."

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