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PodcastsAug 4, 2020 | 21:10 GMT
RANE Insights: Dealing With Megadisasters and Multifaceted Crises Part II
In the second of two podcasts on disaster preparedness, RANE Founder David Lawrence sits down with Jeff Schlegelmilch, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University's Earth Institute and author of "Rethinking Readiness: a Brief Guide to Twenty-First-Century Megadisasters."
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SnapshotsJul 30, 2020 | 17:16 GMT
A Year On, China's Tech-Focused Stock Market Is Making Strides
The STAR Market, China's equivalent to a tech-focused Nasdaq, is fueling growth in China's tech sector, but Beijing's regulation and fears of both domestic speculation and industry bubbles will constrain the exchange's potential for growth. A recent string of launches is demonstrating the STAR Market's potential power to raise capital and draw investment into the Chinese technology sector. China will likely continue to liberalize the market faster than its other domestic stock markets, as the exchange becomes increasingly central to China's overall technology ambitions amid its tech war with the United States. The success of the STAR Market, however, will depend on the innovativeness and quality of the companies involved in it, as well as the broader constraints to China's tech sector.
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On GeopoliticsJul 30, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A display shows the national flags of China and the United States at the Group of 20 (G-20) Summit in Osaka, Japan, on June 29, 2019.
The U.S.-China Ideological Divide and the Challenge of Cohesion
A series of foreign policy speeches by key officials in U.S. President Donald Trump's administration has sought to redefine the U.S.-China strategic competition as one based on conflicting core ideologies between those of the Chinese Communist Party and those of the free world. But to be effective, the United States needs to revive domestic unity and engender global cooperation, while China only needs to maintain domestic unity and exploit global divisions. 
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AssessmentsJul 29, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Ukraine's new central bank chief, Kyrylo Shevchenko, wears a face mask as he watches lawmakers vote on his candidacy during a parliamentary session on July 16, 2020.
Is Ukraine on Thin Ice with the IMF?
A potential falling out with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) over monetary policy and independence of the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) would be highly damaging, but not catastrophic, to Ukraine's economic recovery efforts. The economic fallout from COVID-19 has made Kyiv heavily dependent on the bailout money it's receiving from the IMF, as well as the European Union. The IMF has placed Kyiv on a fairly short leash, warning that the recent appointment of Kyrylo Shevchenko -- an advocate of easier monetary policy and ally of President Volodymyr Zelensky -- raises questions regarding the NBU's independence and possible politicization. Zelensky and Shevchenko's political views are unlikely to cause the IMF to suspend its assistance to Ukraine, though the actions of the NBU will be monitored closely.
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SnapshotsJul 28, 2020 | 19:10 GMT
Lopez Obrador Unexpectedly Moves to Safeguard Mexico’s Pension System
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s proposed overhaul to Mexico’s pension system will preserve investor confidence by maintaining the country’s current individual account system, while still addressing pressing concerns about the system’s long-term sustainability. On July 22, Lopez Obrador announced his proposed pension reforms, which the Mexican Congress will vote on when it reconvenes in September. The proposed changes to Mexico’s current pension system include doubling employer contributions over an eight-year period; increasing total contributions from 6.5 to 15 percent; limiting the commissions charged by Retirement Funds Administrators (AFOREs); and decreasing the number of years a worker needs to contribute to access a minimum guaranteed pension from 25 to 15 years, while increasing the number of such pensions by about 40 percent.
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SnapshotsJul 27, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Lockdown Fatigue Leaves Israel With More COVID-19 Cases and Fewer Options
On July 21, Israel reported over 2000 new cases of COVID-19, shattering previous springtime records that peaked around 765 on April 2. The escalating new wave of infections recently prompted the Israeli government to roll back its reopening, as well as impose localized lockdowns and new restrictions on business activity, which will risk further hampering the country's economic recovery. Israel's unity government, however, will not enact another national lockdown for fear of prompting additional protests and deepening public resistance to health measures designed to reduce the spread of the virus. The absence of a large-scale containment strategy means COVID-19 will likely continue to spread in the country, straining Israel's healthcare system and economy. 
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AssessmentsJul 24, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Fighters aligned with Libya's internationally-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) patrol a village located halfway between Tripoli and Benghazi on July 20, 2020.
Egypt Readies to Intervene in Libya as Hifter Struggles
In response to movements from the Turkish-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), Egypt will likely launch a military intervention in eastern Libya, using tribal ties to gain public support for or the deployment to secure Egypt's western borders. While Egypt will seek to avoid engaging in direct combat with rival Turkish forces in the region, its presence on the ground will raise the risk of a wider confrontation that draws Cairo deeper into Libya's increasingly insoluble civil war. 
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SnapshotsJul 22, 2020 | 16:03 GMT
Scotland Creates a New Pro-Independence Party
The creation of a new pro-independence party in Scotland could weaken the Scots’ push for independence by exposing growing fissures within secessionist camps regarding referendum strategies. In recent days, several members of Scotland's governing Scottish National Party (SNP) have left the party to work on creating a new pro-independence group, the Alliance for Independence (AFI). Scotland must hold a parliamentary election by May 2021, which suggests that the new party wants enough time to prepare for it. The United Kingdom, however, will not authorize an independence referendum, which could lead the AFI to defend unilateral measures as it seeks to differentiate itself from the SNP's milder positions. This would increase political volatility in the United Kingdom at a time when the country is adapting to Brexit and coping with the COVID-19 crisis.
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AssessmentsJul 17, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A general view of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam near Guba, Ethiopia, on Dec. 26, 2019.
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam Is Filling Its Reservoir. What's Next?
The filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam's reservoir was not initiated by Ethiopian government action, but rather the alignment of the project's construction timeline and weather patterns. But while this will mitigate the near-term impact on the flow of the Nile Basin river system into Egypt, tensions between Addis Ababa and Cairo will likely again increase when water availability decreases after the rainy season. The concept of Addis Ababa restricting the Nile River flow to fill the dam's reservoir has become controversial due to Egyptian opposition and failure to reach a negotiated arrangement. But according to Ethiopia's water minister, recent heavy rains caused its water levels to grow rapidly without the government taking direct action. 
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SnapshotsJul 16, 2020 | 21:07 GMT
China's Economy Is Growing Again, Sort Of
Further scrutiny of China's 3.2 percent GDP growth in the second quarter of 2020 still shows uneven, slow healing from the COVID-19 crisis that leaves the Chinese economy vulnerable to setbacks and shocks, even as the headline number suggests a slight recovery from the country's deep dip earlier this year. Risks in the second half of the year include a renewed virus outbreak, residual Chinese consumer caution and weak business investment in manufacturing plants and equipment, shaky global demand for Chinese exports, heightening tensions with the United States, and severe flooding currently in much of the country.
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SnapshotsJul 14, 2020 | 14:21 GMT
A Call for Unity May Protect Iran's President From Impeachment, but Not His Officials
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's appeal to parliament against efforts to impeach President Hassan Rouhani will slow, but not stop, legislators' action against Rouhani's administration in its final year. In a July 12 address to parliament, Khamenei urged unity among Iran's leaders and voiced his support for Rouhani carrying out the remainder of his second term, which ends in 2021. The movement to impeach Rouhani and officials in his administration, which has been building since Iran's new parliament took office in late May, has accelerated over the last week. Khamenei's intervention won't halt dissatisfaction with Rouhani's performance, but it will make his impeachment less likely. Other prominent figures in his administration, however, will still be at risk of being prematurely ousted from office.
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SnapshotsJul 13, 2020 | 19:09 GMT
High Turnout in Hong Kong’s Opposition Primary Portends a Contentious Election Season
High voter turnout in Hong Kong's opposition primary demonstrates the pro-democracy camp's continued momentum toward a strong showing for the city's September legislative election. Despite fears of low turnout amid the draconian national security law, Hong Kong's July 11-12 unofficial pro-democratic primary attracted 610,000 voters -- 13.8 percent of the city's electorate and in excess of the 170,000-person target. The strong public mandate will help the opposition winnow down the normally massive pool of candidates in order to avoid splitting the vote to the advantage of pro-Beijing opponents. Instead of exerting a chilling effect on politics in the city, it also appears that the new national security law has galvanized the opposition, which bodes well for electoral turnout in September.
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GuidanceJul 13, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
An evening view of the western half of Hong Kong.
Hong Kong's Dollar Peg Likely Remains Safe From U.S. Sanctions -- For Now
U.S. President Donald Trump's expected signature of the Hong Kong Autonomy Act (HKAA) presages a policy challenge for his administration as it seeks to pressure China without further damaging the U.S.-China trade deal. This, combined with the need to avoid creating additional economic uncertainty ahead of the November election, suggests possible new sanctions will not pose an immediate threat to Hong Kong's currency peg to the U.S. dollar.
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