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AssessmentsAug 13, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A soldier keeps guard near the Nigerian border in Maradi, Niger.
Security in the Sahel Is Poised to Worsen
Recent political upheaval in Mali and the Ivory Coast threatens to compound intensifying instability in the Sahel and could spill over into other West African countries. Structural weaknesses of governments in the Sahel will leave them vulnerable to bouts of political unrest, insurgent and terrorist activity and other disruptions. As instability in the Sahel continues to grow, jihadist groups will further undermine the security of these countries and pose an increasing threat to coastal West African countries. These groups do not yet pose a threat of attacks outside the region.
SnapshotsAug 5, 2020 | 19:36 GMT
An Explosion Risks Razing Lebanon’s Last Shreds of Stability
A massive explosion in Beirut will intensify already potent popular anger at the Lebanese government and contribute to political infighting, even as it opens the door for much-needed humanitarian aid in the near term. The catastrophic explosion at the port of Beirut sent a shockwave miles through the surrounding area, destroying thousands of homes and buildings. The blast has so far killed over 100 people while injuring thousands more. Available evidence about the nature of the explosion aligns with the government's account of the accident, pointing at gross negligence that will elicit anger at authorities. The damage to Lebanon's most critical port, even if temporary, will also exacerbate the country's existing food and supply shortages.
ReflectionsJun 10, 2020 | 17:06 GMT
A woman walks past closed shopfronts in what would be a normally busy fashion district in Los Angeles, California, on May 4, 2020.
Conflicting Data Muddies the U.S. Economic Outlook
The United States and other governments around the world face difficult policy decisions on fiscal stimulus amid great uncertainty regarding the course of their economies in light of the global COVID-19 crisis. But as evidenced by the conflicting data in the latest jobs report released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), it's proving difficult to find numbers and models that are both timely and use reliable data in order to gauge when economies will begin coming out of recovery on their own. Economic forecasts will be increasingly put under the microscope, making it important to understand what these predictions do and don't tell us.
On SecurityApr 23, 2020 | 11:00 GMT
Shoppers wearing face masks amid concerns over the COVID-19 novel coronavirus outbreak in a market in Seoul, South Korea, on March 14, 2020.
Learning How to Reopen a Country After COVID-19 Shutdowns
As governments around the world explore ways to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, easing the economic pain caused by lockdowns without causing even more damaging public health crises, they will be looking at the experience of other early outbreak countries to guide their actions. While best practices are emerging, recovery strategies will be tailored to the vulnerabilities of specific populations, and to governments' current capabilities. Whether the lessons of South Korea can be applied in the West remains to be seen.
SnapshotsMar 25, 2020 | 15:05 GMT
COVID-19 and Global Growth: How Low Can It Go?
Economic projections of the quarterly impact of COVID-19 on major economies are increasingly pessimistic as more bad news comes in on countries already past the peak of the epidemic, and the effect of national lockdowns on those still suffering. The International Monetary Fund now projects a global recession in 2020 that is "at least as bad as during the global financial crisis or worse." In China, which was affected first and now seems to be in recovery, it will still take time to bring business activity up to normal, especially as exporters struggle with an unknown level of global demand destruction. Other remaining unknowns include how wide COVID-19 will spread in the United States, whether it is a seasonal disease, and the still-untested ability and capacity of many health care systems to respond effectively. Due to these uncertainties, it is still not possible to quantitatively gauge the long-term impact of the
AssessmentsMar 24, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A colorful and conceptual 3D illustration of the novel coronavirus.
Reassessing the Global Economic Fallout From COVID-19
As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to spread to more countries in more corners of the world, initial forecasts that the total economic damage would be mostly contained to China are no longer plausible. Consensus estimates now suggest a 5-10 percent drop in global gross domestic product (GDP) in the quarter in which country-wide epidemics begin, persisting at an as-yet-undetermined magnitude into the next quarter as consumers and businesses adjust to the impact. The still many unknowns that surround the pandemic, however, has made it difficult to forecast the full economic fallout. China’s recovery may thus provide a better benchmark for what will happen elsewhere, given its status as the initial epicenter. But few other countries will be willing or able to take actions as draconian as Beijing's to quickly and efficiently contain the virus -- and the subsequent economic hits. 
AssessmentsFeb 27, 2020 | 15:47 GMT
Tradesmen stand on the side of the road in Johannesburg, South Africa, seeking work.
South Africa's Grim Economic Reality Shrinks Its Budget Aspirations
South Africa’s newest budget review paints a bleak picture for the country’s economy over the next three years. The budget plan for the 2020 fiscal year, unveiled Feb. 26, projects economic growth over the next three years of just 0.9 percent, 1.3 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively – and this may be optimistic, compared with the International Monetary Fund's projections. The new budget dramatically alters South African expectations in terms of fiscal and debt consolidation over the next year, as it no longer views balancing its primary budget by 2022 as possible. The new budget also attempts to curb years of wage and expenditure growth – setting up more confrontations between the government and labor unions.
AssessmentsFeb 24, 2020 | 09:00 GMT
This photo shows a dry irrigation canal in Crimea.
Under Russia, Crimea’s Future Grows Dimmer -- and Drier
Water scarcity is quickly dimming Russia's hopes for economic growth on the Crimean Peninsula. Reservoirs throughout the region are at record lows for this time of year, with only a few months of reserves left to cover the Crimean population's daily consumption. But while an unusually dry winter is partially to blame, Russia's annexation has been at the core of Crimean water woes by prompting Ukraine to close off the North Crimean Canal in 2014.  Without access to external fresh water resources, permanent relief for the peninsula can be obtained only by either desalinating water from the Black Sea, or by building pipelines to feed water from Russia's Kuban River directly into Crimea. But unless Moscow coughs up the capital needed to fund such costly infrastructure projects, Crimea risks becoming a mostly barren military bastion as its industries, agricultural lands and population shrivel alongside its water reserves.
AssessmentsDec 3, 2019 | 21:23 GMT
This illustration shows the OPEC logo and an oil pipeline.
OPEC+ Will Maintain Course Headed Into 2020
When they meet Dec. 5-6, the members of the OPEC+ coalition are likely to agree to extend current oil production quotas until at least the end of June 2020 and possibly longer, despite renewed media chatter on Dec. 2 suggesting the Saudis are considering supporting a deeper cut in support of the Saudi Aramco initial public offering. This outcome is at least mildly bearish relative to current market positioning, given the probability of a return to global oversupply in the first half of 2020. Despite being relative price hawks since 2016, Saudi Arabia seems to have accepted that it is not in a position to push others to do more, even as the final IPO price of Saudi Aramco will be determined Dec. 5.
AssessmentsNov 22, 2019 | 09:00 GMT
Workers at the Chinese-majority owned Colombo International Container Terminal (CICT) in Colombo load a cargo ship in this photograph from June 24, 2016.
A Familiar Name Takes Charge in Sri Lanka
A familiar name is taking the helm in Sri Lanka. Gotabaya Rajapaksa surged to victory in Nov. 16 elections in part because he succeeded in channeling his credentials as a minister who helped end Sri Lanka's long-running civil war to win the confidence of an electorate demanding security after an Islamic State-inspired group killed 290 people in terrorist attacks in April. Economic grievances, however, were as much a factor in the minds of voters as national security. And as Sri Lanka's $89 billion economy lumbers through its latest downturn, the new president's administration will focus on reviving growth, raising the country's income status and creating jobs, all while ensuring the growing debt burden remains manageable. As a developing country in a strategically significant location, Sri Lanka's needs for capital will create more opportunities for China and India to lavish funding on the island nation. Whatever the case, Gotabaya Rajapaksa will
AssessmentsNov 5, 2019 | 10:30 GMT
Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev listens during a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel prior to a meeting on Jan. 21, 2019, in Berlin.
Uzbekistan Comes in From the Cold
For years, isolationism guided Uzbekistan's interactions with the wider world. Now, however, reforms stemming from a political succession in Central Asia's most populous country are reverberating far beyond Tashkent. As part of its political evolution, Uzbekistan has strengthened cooperation within Central Asia while also becoming an increasingly attractive partner for Russia, China, and the United States as they engage in a strategic competition for influence and investment in the region. The opening presents significant opportunities for Uzbekistan to expand its economic and security outreach to its neighborhood, yet the changes also pose risks, as the competition among these larger powers could pull the country in directions it doesn't want to go.
AssessmentsOct 28, 2019 | 09:30 GMT
The logo of the New Delhi-based Reserve Bank of India is seen in this May 3, 2013, photo.
India Grapples With a New Economic Downturn
Twice it experienced a downturn and twice it weathered the storm: In the years following the global financial crisis, India's economy displayed resilience as it battled challenges related to inflation, trade, consumption, investment and the deficit. But despite emerging from these downturns in 2009 and 2014 with stronger rates of growth, India's current slowdown poses a challenge to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's administration as it seeks to revive rural demand and boost credit amid a shadow banking crisis. As the government focuses on raising consumption while fending off challenges from the opposition, the economy's long-term growth prospects will depend on its success in reviving fixed investment to over 30 percent, boosting manufacturing's share of gross domestic product and promoting labor-intensive growth to achieve Modi's vision of a $5 trillion economy by 2024.
Contributor PerspectivesOct 22, 2019 | 10:00 GMT
This file photo taken around 1930 shows New York's George Washington Bridge during its construction.
Great Powers Invest in Infrastructure. The West Was the Prime Example.
For the past 250 years, Western Europe and North America have led the way not just in inventing new technologies of transport and communication, but also -- and equally importantly -- in building the infrastructure without which these technologies would be useless. The West has sunk astonishing amounts of energy and capital into updating and replacing its infrastructure, over and over again, as new technologies have emerged. Having the best infrastructure has been a key to global dominance since the 18th century, but in the early 21st, there are alarming signs the West is losing its strategic lead. Everywhere, infrastructure is creaking and crumbling. Every part of the system seems to be getting old at the same time. How the West deals with this challenge -- or, perhaps, opportunity -- will do much to shape the geoeconomics and geopolitics of the 21st century.
Contributor PerspectivesOct 17, 2019 | 09:30 GMT
This photo shows a protester in Hong Kong waving a banner of support for NBA team executive Daryl Morey.
China Calls a Foul, and the NBA Jumps
A groundbreaking game four decades ago in Beijing gave the NBA a toehold in basketball-crazy China. Over the intervening years, the league has tapped a gold mine in the country worth billions of dollars in TV rights and endorsements. The importance to the NBA of maintaining its Chinese operations became evident in the careful steps it's had to take to escape the political minefield that it found itself thrown into by an executive's tweet over Hong Kong.
GuidanceOct 11, 2019 | 10:00 GMT
Indian students form the Chinese character for the name of Chinese President Xi Jinping, in Chennai on Oct. 10, 2019, ahead of a summit between Xi and his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi.
For China-India Ties, the Status Quo Will Do
For two of Asia's most enduring military rivals, the search for harmony is taking center stage in a relationship rooted in decades of mistrust. Chinese President Xi Jinping was set to arrive in India on Oct. 11 for an informal summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Mamallapuram. Xi hosted Modi last year after bilateral ties deteriorated during the 2017 Doklam standoff, in which thousands of Indian and Chinese troops nearly came to blows. For Xi, a preoccupation with U.S. President Donald Trump's trade war as part of Beijing's broader strategic competition with Washington explains why he wants calm with neighbors like New Delhi. And for Modi, a desire to avoid confrontation with China -- the superior military and economic power -- explains why he wishes to sustain high-level dialogue with Xi. Ultimately, however, any dialogue will strive purely to manage tensions, which will only grow in the long run
On SecurityOct 8, 2019 | 09:00 GMT
Methamphetamine crystals
The Cartel Connection to the Meth on America's Streets
On its own, it was an impressive haul, but in the wider picture, it was just a drop in the bucket: On Sept. 26 at a checkpoint in Sarita, Texas, U.S. Border Patrol agents seized 64 kilograms (142 pounds) of methamphetamine with a street value of $4.5 million. A methamphetamine seizure of this size is not surprising or unusual, especially in this location, given that cartels in Mexico manufacture the drug at home before smuggling it into the United States. Indeed, 97 percent of the methamphetamine seized by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) occurs along the U.S.-Mexican border, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration's 2018 National Drug Threat Assessment. So what exactly is driving this record-setting production of methamphetamine? For me, two main factors are responsible: economics and cartel dynamics. Ultimately, a combination of high-quality drugs, record-low prices and the massive competition among ever-splintering cartels is flooding the hungry U.S. market
AssessmentsOct 2, 2019 | 09:00 GMT
The sun rises over an LNG terminal at sea.
Pakistan Strives to Switch to Natural Gas
Hoping to quench its economy's growing thirst for energy, Pakistan has turned to several multinational companies for an ambitious expansion of its liquefied natural gas terminals on the Arabian Sea. On Sept. 20, Petroleum Minister Omar Ayub Khan said Pakistan had chosen ExxonMobil, Trafigura, Royal Dutch Shell, Gunvor and Tabeer Energy to build five LNG facilities. Ayub's announcement touches upon a broader plan to boost the country's LNG processing capacity while shifting the economy's reliance away from oil. With a shortfall in domestic production expected to persist as more customers sign on to the grid, Pakistan's burgeoning demand for natural gas will drive ever-more LNG imports in the next few years. And though some might hesitate to invest in Pakistani LNG lest local partners run afoul of a far-reaching (and allegedly politically motivated) anti-corruption campaign, the growth of the country's LNG demand creates major opportunities for international energy companies looking
AssessmentsSep 13, 2019 | 09:00 GMT
This photo shows the pipeline-laying vessel Castoro 10 working on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project.
Russia and Ukraine Seek a Contentious New Gas Transit Deal
Representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the European Union are set to meet Sept. 19 in Brussels to begin negotiations over a new agreement on the transit of Russian gas to Europe through Ukraine. The current agreement, reached in 2009 only after tough negotiations resulting in a temporary cutoff of gas flows to Europe, expires Dec. 31. European and Ukrainian elections delayed the start of the upcoming talks, limiting the amount of time for a new deal to be struck before the old one lapses. Even without the time pressure, these negotiations would have been difficult, meaning talks could hit an impasse, and if they do, natural gas cutoffs could possibly result.
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