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SnapshotsSep 29, 2020 | 15:42 GMT
Armenian soldiers fire artillery shells toward Azeri forces in the town of Martakert, located in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, on April 3, 2016.
Armenia and Azerbaijan Intensify Their Border Battle
The current, intense fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenian forces near the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which started early on Sept. 27, follows months of atypically high levels of ceasefire violations between the two sides since a July 2020 skirmish in a different sector of the Armenia-Azerbaijan border. Russian efforts to alter its strategy in the South Caucasus may have signaled an opportunity to Azerbaijan, prompting an attempt to advance its position on the battlefield while still enjoying strong Turkish support. The established dynamics of Armenia and Azerbaijan’s ongoing conflict, however, are expected to persist, as local geography and a lack of resources limit both sides’ ability to challenge the higher-level reality along the line of contact.
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AssessmentsSep 25, 2020 | 20:27 GMT
A picture taken on Aug. 14, 2018, shows the logo of Turkey's central bank at the entrance of its headquarters in Ankara.
Contextualizing Turkey’s Surprise Interest Rate Hike
On Sept. 24, the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey (CBRT) announced a surprise interest rate hike in a preemptive move that seeks to prevent the country’s depreciating currency from unfolding into a larger banking or balance of payments and external debt crisis. The steadily declining value of Turkey’s national currency, the lira, is largely the result of economic imbalances -- partially precipitated by a highly negative real interest rate, a credit-fueled construction boom, and large external financing needs, as well as the CBRT’s lack of credibility and near exhaustion of Ankara’s foreign currency reserves.
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On GeopoliticsSep 25, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A damaged EU flag is seen in Brenzone, Italy, on Aug. 14, 2019. 
The Quest for European Unity: No End of History
Europe faces a challenge of identity and international role over the next decade. For nearly 500 years, Europe sat at the center of the international system, its internal competitions rippling out across the globe. But the relative balance of global power and influence has shifted. And rather than being the driving force of global dynamics, Europe is increasingly caught between major powers: the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and now the United States and China. Internally, Europe still strives for the creation of a continental union, though those dreams have been eroded by financial crises, Brexit and a resurgence of nationalism in recent years. Externally, Europe remains fragmented in its foreign policy and prioritization. The shifting patterns of global competition will compel Europe to rethink its internal structures and to come to grips with defining its interests abroad. Otherwise, it will find itself drifting further
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On GeopoliticsSep 24, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A model of a customs road sign is seen at the mock U.K.-EU border, with a mock Big Ben in the background, at the Mini-Europe theme park in Brussels, Belgium, on May 20, 2020.
Why EU-U.K. Trade Talks Feel Like Brexit Deja Vu
If the current tensions in the trade talks between the United Kingdom and the European Union feel like a repetition of the 2019 disputes, when Britain negotiated its exit from the bloc, it’s because they are. Once more, a no-deal Brexit looms on the horizon, because unless Brussels and London reach an agreement, bilateral trade will happen under World Trade Organization tariffs starting next year. Like last year, both sides are exchanging threats and accusing each other of acting in bad faith. And, in the most notable deja vu from 2019, the status of Northern Ireland has reemerged as an obstacle to a deal. The explanation for this situation is simple: there are fundamental issues that the arrangements of 2019 left unresolved and have come back to jeopardize the negotiations in 2020. 
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SnapshotsSep 22, 2020 | 22:24 GMT
Reading the Fine Print of Angola’s Debt Restructuring
The International Monetary Fund (IMF)'s recently announced $1 billion disbursement to Angola is based partly on China indicating a willingness to defer 2020 debts. But Beijing's creditor role may be complicated by possible efforts to take an equity stake in some of the Southern African country's oil fields. And while the funds will help fill some of Angola's financing gaps, there is clearly a market view that the country may require more comprehensive debt restructuring, even if it doesn't happen until 2021 or later. 
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AssessmentsSep 22, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
An Indian fighter jet flies over Ladakh, the disputed Himalayan region near the Chinese border, on June 26, 2020.
A Military Drive Spells Out China's Intent Along the Indian Border
China's intensified development of military infrastructure on the Indian border suggests a shift in Beijing's approach to territorial disputes, forcing New Delhi to rethink its national security posture. China is expanding and upgrading a large number of military facilities along its entire border with India as tensions continue to run high in the wake of the bloody clash between Indian and Chinese forces in June, followed by the reported exchange of gunfire in late August. New Delhi has struggled to come to terms with these recent escalations, but the new strategic reality created by Beijing's permanent infrastructure drive will nonetheless force New Delhi to shape its future defense posture around long-term outlooks of China's growing capabilities in its border regions. 
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On GeopoliticsSep 7, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Cadets from China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy march in formation before a ceremony at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on Sept. 30, 2019.
China’s Amphibian Dilemma: Straddling Land and Sea Ambitions
China borders the largest number of countries by land, and its navy now boasts the largest number of battle force ships by sea. With the pressures and opportunities of both a continental and maritime power, China faces an amphibian’s dilemma, as the characteristics best suited for life at sea and life at land may not always prove complementary. Traditional continental powers are more prone to autocratic leadership to manage their challenges, while traditional maritime powers lean toward democratic systems and more open markets. China’s attempt to straddle both can intensify sectionalism and exacerbate differences between the interior core that remains continental in outlook, and the coastal areas that become more maritime in outlook.  This challenge is also highlighted in China’s attempts to reshape global norms and standards, which themselves largely represent the maritime world order. The apparent global political and economic dissonance is not merely caused by China seeking change, but
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SnapshotsSep 3, 2020 | 16:10 GMT
The Eurozone's Economic Rebound Loses Momentum
Early signs indicate the eurozone's economic rebound from the COVID-19 crisis is already losing steam, which will force governments to introduce new rounds of stimulus that deepen their already problematic fiscal deficits. The eurozone contracted by a record 12.1 percent during the second quarter of 2020 as lockdown measures negatively impacted consumption, investment and trade. The lifting of those measures led to an improvement in economic activity since late May, but recent indicators suggest that this rebound is weakening as the rise in COVID-19 cases forces governments to reintroduce social distancing measures and international travel warnings. 
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AssessmentsSep 2, 2020 | 11:00 GMT
A view looking up at the U.S. Federal Reserve building in Washington D.C. on July 1, 2020.
What to Make of the U.S. Fed's New Approach to Inflation
The U.S. Federal Reserve's switch from inflation targeting to inflation averaging confirms it will keep interest rates near zero for a prolonged period, even if prices begin to rise. This will not have an immediate impact on monetary policy given extended shortfalls from targets by both the Fed and other major central banks. But the move may pressure the European Central Bank (ECB) and others to also adopt new approaches to inflation and employment. It will likely result in a somewhat weaker U.S. dollar for a longer time as well, which will come as relatively good news for emerging markets barring another shift in global risk aversion. 
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