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SITUATION REPORTSep 30, 2020 | 19:50 GMT
Hong Kong: Chinese Officials Warn of Potential “Terrorist Acts” at Expected Oct. 1 Protests
China's Hong Kong liaison office warned of potential "terrorist acts" at expected Oct. 1 National Day protests after a group called Fifteenth Night Operation said it would carry out a “non-peaceful demonstration” in the city and allegedly instigated people to buy weapons to attack police, Hong Kong Free Press reported Sept. 30.
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AssessmentsSep 30, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Farmers in Bangalore, India, stage an anti-government demonstration to protest against the recent passing of new agricultural reforms on Sept. 28, 2020.
In India, Modi Bets the Farm on Controversial Economic Reforms
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s new agricultural and labor reforms may help accelerate the country’s economic recovery from COVID-19, but the likely near-term financial losses for Indian farmers and unionized workers will risk fueling backlash from both protesters and state legislatures. The Indian parliament passed the reforms in an abbreviated monsoon session that ended Sept. 25. By usurping procedural legislative practices to close debate or refine the proposed agricultural reforms, the BJP was ultimately able to quickly push through its proposed legislation through a less precise voice vote in parliament instead of a typical ballot vote. 
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AssessmentsSep 29, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
An illustration shows the flags of Israel and Iran painted on a cracked wall.
For Israel, a New U.S. President Could Mean a Renewed Anti-Iran Push
A victory by U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden in November could prompt Israel to escalate its attacks against Iran in both current and new theaters across the Middle East in order to derail a potential U.S. return to diplomacy with Israel’s regional archnemesis. Before the U.S. election, Israel is unlikely to significantly alter its current strategy of recurrent, opportunistic strikes against Iranian forces in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, since Tehran’s nuclear program is not yet showing signs of the imminent development of a nuclear weapon. Increased attacks against Iran in the coming weeks would also risk jeopardizing the electoral prospects of Israel’s close U.S. ally, President Donald Trump, who is trying to use his reputation as a regional peace broker to bolster his chances of reelection in November. Moreover, Israel’s current “shadow war” with Iran, fought through proxy theaters and covertly within Iran itself, can continue to allow Israel to
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Quarterly ForecastsSep 28, 2020 | 11:00 GMT
2020 Fourth-Quarter Forecast
The last quarter of 2020 will be a waiting game -- waiting for the results of the U.S. election in November, waiting on economic numbers, and waiting to see how the COVID-19 crisis plays out.
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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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SnapshotsSep 17, 2020 | 21:19 GMT
U.S.: Is the Fed Out of Ammo?
Comments by Fed Chairman Jerome Powell indicate growing concern that the Federal Reserve lacks the policy tools needed to achieve objectives related to U.S. employment and inflation. Monetary policy can no longer create demand in the U.S. economy and further fiscal stimulus is needed.
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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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Regions & CountriesSeptember 1, 2020 | 20:54 GMT
Venezuela
Venezuela

Located in South America, Venezuela is bordered by Colombia, the Caribbean Sea, Guyana and Brazil. Colonized by the Spanish in the 16th century, Venezuela became an independent country in 1830. The northern portion of Venezuela is dominated by the eastern spur of the northern Andes. The mountains are cooler than the surrounding subtropical plains and host the majority of Venezuela's population. The country's core includes Lake Valencia and Caracas. Since the late 19th century, oil has been the driving force behind Venezuela's political and economic affairs. The first discoveries were made in the Maracaibo basin, and later discoveries revealed heavy, sour crude deposits in the Orinoco basin. The tropical Orinoco basin is largely unpopulated, with little significant infrastructure. Just to the south are the Guiana Highlands, which buffer Venezuela from the jungles of the Amazon River basin. As a Caribbean country, Venezuela lies within the direct sphere of influence of the United States. The United States is not only the largest military power in the region, but also the largest consumer market and a key destination for Venezuelan crude oil exports. As a result, Venezuela's primary geographic challenge is managing its relations with the United States. Venezuela has throughout history used its relationship with the United States to attract the foreign investment and technological development that resulted in the country's well-developed oil sector. But relations between the two countries don't always match the economic reality. Former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez built domestic and foreign policies around rejecting U.S. influence.

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Regions & CountriesSeptember 1, 2020 | 17:01 GMT
North Korea
North Korea

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea, or North Korea, lies on a peninsula extending outward from northeast Asia. The country borders China and Russia to the north, the Republic of Korea to the south, and Japan across the sea to the east. North Korea's primary geographic challenge is securing its northern and southern borders from the threat of its much larger regional neighbors. The Kaema Plateau and Hamgyong Mountains comprise much of the northern border region, providing a strong but not unbreachable geographic barrier. The Taebaeck Mountains run along the east coast, limiting the potential for invasion from the sea. Since the time of earlier North Korean kingdoms including Koguryo, The Dandong-Sinuiju gap across the Yalu River in the northwest and the wide Imjin-Han river valley in the south leave the country vulnerable, particularly with the lack of geographic barriers along the north-south axis. North Korea's mountains do provide ample hydropower, and the country also has numerous natural mineral resources and coal, but its terrain and climate limit agricultural activity. Given its larger neighbors, North Korea has two core imperatives. It must secure its southern and northern borders via political accommodation, defensive lines or outward expansion, and it must engender a strong sense of national unity and exploit differences among its neighbors to balance external political pressure. From the launching of the Korean War to the heavily fortified DMZ, from the exploitation of relations between China and Russia to the development of a nuclear deterrent, North Korea's actions in many ways are shaped by similar constraints and pressures as felt by its predecessor kingdoms due to its location and geography.

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AssessmentsAug 26, 2020 | 15:13 GMT
A close-up of a five-euro banknote.
The Eurozone's Upcoming Financial Problems
Escalating soverign debt and fiscal deficit levels in eurozone countries due to the COVID-19 crisis will increase the probability of financial and banking crises in the years ahead, as well as surges in social unrest and higher taxes for both large corporations and big earners. Furlough schemes, subsidies and other forms of welfare spending across the eurozone are mitigating the economic fallout from the pandemic by keeping money in people's pockets and helping sustain domestic consumption at a time of deep recessions. But these schemes are financed through sovereign debt, loans from EU institutions and deepening fiscal deficits -- all of which are unsustainable.
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AssessmentsAug 25, 2020 | 18:58 GMT
Army vehicles patrol the roads on the outskirts of a village in northern Mozambique on May 26, 2016.
To Protect Its Energy Projects, Total Joins Mozambique's Counterterrorism Fight
Total's decision to support Mozambique's fight against insurgents may help protect its energy facilities from direct attacks, even as it risks the French oil major's reputation while doing little to reduce escalating militant activity in the country's north. On Aug. 24, Toal signed a security agreement with the Mozambican government to protect the $20 billion liquified natural gas (LNG) project it's developing in the country's northernmost province of Cabo Delgado. Under its new pact, Total has agreed to provide logistical support to a newly established joint task force focused guaranteeing the protection of the company’s planned onshore LNG facility, which is located in the Afungi Peninsula near the northern town of Palma. 
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SnapshotsAug 18, 2020 | 14:46 GMT
The U.S. Broadens Its Tech Battle With China
The United States' move to expand export controls against Huawei’s cloud-computing affiliates indicates its pressure campaign against Chinese telecommunications and internet companies is evolving to include a wider spectrum of information technologies. On Aug. 17, the U.S. Commerce Department added a total of 38 new Huawei affiliates to its entity list, which increases U.S. export controls. The added companies include 22 of Huawei’s cloud-computing subsidiaries, such as Huawei Cloud Computing Technology and Huawei Cloud France, as well as several of its OpenLab units that promote research and development collaboration overseas. 
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ReflectionsAug 18, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A view of NASDAQ in Times Square on May 7, 2020, in New York City.
The Limits to a U.S.-China Financial Divorce
Political and regulatory risks of investing in Chinese companies are increasing as the United States ramps up efforts to "decouple" its financial system from Beijing, including the White House's latest push to delist Chinese firms from U.S. exchanges. But given the sheer size of the U.S.-China financial relationship, which totals as much as $4 trillion (or 11 percent of the two countries' combined GDP), such efforts will see only limited success -- keeping the world's two biggest economies linked for the foreseeable future.
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AssessmentsAug 17, 2020 | 22:25 GMT
Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko (left) take part in a ceremony in Rzhev, Russia, on June 30, 2020.
Why Russia Won't Rush to Lukashenko's Aid in Belarus
Russia will be reluctant to insert itself in the unfolding political crisis in Belarus without certainty over the survivability of President Alexander Lukashenko's regime. But Moscow has critical geostrategic interests in maintaining influence over Minsk, which it will act to fiercely defend should a decidedly pro-Western government begin taking shape amid the chaos. Following an Aug. 16 phone call with Russian President Vladamir Putin, Lukashenko has attempted to flaunt Moscow's alleged support for his regime, citing Putin's affirmed commitment to the two countries' defense treaties as proof. In reality, however, the Kremlin has been extremely measured in its response to the opposition protests that have erupted across Belarus following the country's contested Aug. 9 presidential election. Moscow has limited its public interactions with Lukashenko's government to only essential diplomatic exchanges. Several Russian officials and journalists have even criticized the Belarusian authorities' behavior during the elections and subsequent crackdown on the
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