What They Didn’t Tell You on the Saudi Road Show

Steve H. Hanke's picture

Authored by Steve H. Hanke of The Johns Hopkins University. Follow him on Twitter @Steve_Hanke.

The Saudis have just completed peddling their new $15bn bond issue (with more to come). One thing that’s been swept under the rug is a smoking gun. A smoking gun because it’s an indication of just how much trouble the Kingdom is in. 

The most telling sign of the depth of the Saudi welfare state’s troubles is the fact that they switched from the lunar based, religious Hijri calendar to the western Gregorian calendar on October 1, 2016. The reason for this radical change is simple economics.

The Gregorian calendar has 10.9 more days than the Hijri calendar, meaning that the public sector can cut costs through the dilution of wages – same pay spread over more working days. In another move that touches on sensitive religious matters, the Kingdom has announced that it will increase visa charges for people completing their religious pilgrimage, the Hajj. Even in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, economics has trumped religion.

If the Saudis really wanted to embrace a calendar without any religious implications, and one that is superior from a logical, economic point of view, they should adopt a permanent calendar (read: the Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar). The Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar (HHPC) provides a comprehensive template for revising the contemporary Gregorian calendar. It adheres to the most basic tenet of a fixed (read: permanent) calendar – each year, each date falls on the same day of the week, and every year begins on Monday, January 1st.

The year is then divided into four three-month quarters. Each month begins on the same day (and date) each year. The first two months of each quarter are made up of 30 days; the third is made up of 31. So, each quarter contains 91 days, resulting in a 364 day year that is comprised of 52 seven-day weeks. This is a vital feature of the HHPC, because, by preserving the seven-day Sabbath cycle, the HHPC avoids the major complaints from ecclesiastical quarters that have doomed all other attempts at calendar reform.

Moreover, the HHPC accounts for the disparity between the necessary length of the HHPC (364 days) and the astronomical calendar (roughly 365.24 days, the duration of one full orbit of the Earth around the Sun) by simply tacking one additional full week to the end of every fifth or sixth year (specifically 2020, 2026, 2032, 2037, 2043, 2048, and so on). This keeps the calendar in line with the seasons — serving the same function as the leap year in the present Gregorian system. 

If you wish to determine the day of the week your birthday will fall on forever under the HHPC, just look at the calendar below.

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chickadee's picture

Who cares if there are 12 months, Steve Hanke. It's a stupid attempt to match up with the lunar cycle. Why not 4? Each quarter is 13 weeks = 364. Last day of the year is a turn around day (New Years Day) with no month.

DC Beastie Boy's picture

The smoking gun will be when China buys a large share of Aramco and the Saudis announce they are accepting Chinese Yuan as payment for oil.  This will be the big fuck you to the US and the Petro Dollar.

The US has already stole $500B of their gold in Switzerland and rehipothicated $Trillions in treasury bonds.  Plus the recent court decision allowing 9/11 victims can sue them.

I'm suprised they haven't turned completely East long ago.

are we there yet's picture

I'm impressed, I did not know Saudi's could count higher than their IQ.

Skiprrrdog's picture

I vote for the calendar that sets aside a day/week/month of celebration for the death of Bill Clinton's wife...

are we there yet's picture

That is called the loonie calendar.

saveUSsavers's picture


jmack's picture

Thanks American Frackers for the Saudi demise.

Gold Dog's picture

The only good wahabbi is the hot stuff that comes with your sushi!

Erek's picture

"Saudi Road Show"?

More like the Saudi Shit Show.

seataka's picture

A freind of the family was involved with litigation against the Saudi's. He had previous exposure to scientology litigation. He said that if I though scientology was tough to litigate with you havent seen anything yet...compared to the Saudis. You have to think like a billionaire who knows he is just another drone target if he gets out of line. Watch the movie "Syriana", it provides the proper look and feel for what it is like being an ally of Washington DC.


Setarcos's picture

"Even in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, economics has trumped religion."

So nothing has changed then, not even the working week, though I'd be surprized if "guest" workers have a 40hour week, whereas I've heard that the Welfare Princes don't work if they don't want to, unless in finance ... so full circle ... I'd put money on it, if I wuz a gamblin' man.  See ya.

Duplex's picture

How does changing the calender save money? Hajri is a lunar calender, it is 10 days shorter than the 365 day solar year, it does not stay in sync with the seasons. (I guess they don't have much seasons there, always damn hot). They would still be working 5 days out of a 7 day week, no matter which calender is in use?

Hard Assets's picture

How does a 364 day year 'stay in sync with the seasons' as well.

Even a 365 and 1/4 day year seems to be a bit off. When I was a kid a new season ALWAYS fell on the 21st. Now it seems to be the 22nd. Has there been a 23rd ?

Isn't a day something ike 23:59:59 or something weird like that ? Who/what/why did they invent a second? Should it not have been a billionth of a seond longer/shorter so a 'day' was exactly 24 hours ?


Dame Ednas Possum's picture

Apparently you studied humanities?

Salary is per annum. 11 more days per annum means lower daily rate or more days of productive* economic contribution for same annual cost.

*productive being a notional concept in this particular case.

East Indian's picture

In Saudi, salary is per mensem. There are 13 Hijri (Saudi) months in a Gregorian year! Therefore Saudis were paying salary 13 times instead of 12 times a year.

Benjamin123's picture

Its all meaningless since salaries are not fixed and the value of any currency fluctuates and is nebulous. There are easier ways to pay less or pay more than by changing the calendar.

In Israel we use the gregorian and lunar calendars. The gregorian for normal life, the lunar for religious affairs. They are not synchronized nor have to be. At one point we used "Hebrew numerals".


King Tut's picture

*productive= non-government employee

Hope Copy's picture

thanks for the robot zombie IQ86 calendar

MaxThrust's picture

That is a interesting concept. Pity we have to restrict ourselves to complying with the wishes of ecclesiastical constraints.

John Prewett's picture

Buy Saudi bonds ?  Not me ... I'd rather buy something safe like derivatives.

AustrianJim's picture

My birthday falls on a Saturday, so this works for me.

Itgoestoeleven's picture

How does one schedule a work week?

laser's picture

My birthday on May 31 ceases to occur. I have mixed emotions.

Doom Porn Star's picture

Some people never grow up.

King Tut's picture
King Tut (not verified) laser Oct 19, 2016 11:56 PM

You would never get older

robnume's picture

I support regime change in Saudi Arabia. As long as the regime change doesn't come via US dictates.

Fed Flintstone's picture

The Saudi Demise cannot come soon enough..

gdpetti's picture

They are doing what producers do in Hollywood, never spend your own money.

King Tut's picture
King Tut (not verified) gdpetti Oct 19, 2016 11:55 PM

You would think they would learn something from their fellow Tribesmen

Erek's picture

Neck deep in camel shit and rising!

Shemp 4 Victory's picture

The Saudis' days are numbered.

BuddyEffed's picture

Is this an attempt to get some QE monies in order to benefit like all the other recipients of QE monies?

AVmaster's picture

Saudi's are starting to sound more like the venezualians with each passing day.


ebworthen's picture

Yup, free money for everyone at the top while us Serfs have to pay our bills.

The Saudi Royalty will never run out of toilet paper - until the oil runs out.

Calendar - my B-day will always be on a Friday, but those on a Monday?


KnuckleDragger-X's picture

I like the fact that a few months ago they were threatening to 'punish' America by dumping treasury's, but now they're dumping them to stay afloat.....