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SnapshotsOct 21, 2020 | 22:02 GMT
Policemen walk near an overlook at the Giza Pyramids in Egypt ahead of a ceremony commemorating the launch of the site's first environmentally-friendly bus and restaurant on Oct. 20, 2020.
The Cost of Egypt’s Continued Economic Growth
Egypt’s strong macroeconomic performance amid the COVID-19 pandemic and continued appeal to foreign investors hold promise for Cairo’s near-term financial stability. But it does not resolve the country’s stubbornly high poverty levels, which will eventually become a political liability by stoking anti-government sentiment. In an address on Oct. 18, Egypt’s finance minister said economic growth has exceeded even the finance ministry’s previous projections for 2020. This confidence reflects recent positive adjustments to Egypt’s economic outlook projections by Fitch Ratings, Deutsche Bank and the International Monetary Fund -- all of which now see Egypt’s economy growing at 3.5 percent of GDP in this year, exceeding the performance of most of its regional peers. But Cairo’s ongoing pursuit of business-friendly economic reforms in lieu of measures that address rising poverty levels could backfire by raising the risk of social unrest that ultimately deters foreign investment.
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SITUATION REPORTOct 21, 2020 | 19:06 GMT
Zambia: Bondholders Abstain From Rejecting Debt Moratorium
A group of investors holding 40 percent of Zambia’s eurobonds abstained from rejecting a proposal for a six-month debt moratorium while it looks for concrete evidence that all Chinese claims, including those of state-owned banks and policy banks, will be treated comparably and that there will be involvement from the International Monetary Fund, Bloomberg reported Oct 21.
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PodcastsOct 20, 2020 | 05:00 GMT
Essential Geopolitics: Israel Battles a Second COVID-19 Wave
The world is almost a year into the COVID-19 pandemic. In several countries, including the U.S. and Israel, there’s been an uptick in cases. In this episode of the Essential Geopolitics podcast from Stratfor, a RANE company, Emily Donahue speaks with Middle East and North Africa Analyst Ryan Bohl about Israel's second COVID-19 lockdown and the reaction from its citizens.
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SnapshotsOct 19, 2020 | 22:14 GMT
A protester uses a loudspeaker to talk to the crowd during an anti-government rally in Bangkok, Thailand, on Oct. 19, 2020.
Gauging the Thai Government’s Response to Growing Protests
The recent escalation of the monthslong Thai student protest movement will compel the government to step up its restrictions on dissent and intensify efforts to co-opt the protesters’ less controversial demands through a limited constitutional reform process. This could cause protests to drag on amid continued controversy over the scope and pace of such amendments, even as it eases overall public support for demonstrations. Between Oct. 13 and Oct. 19, Thai protesters turned out on the streets of Bangkok for the most sustained period of protest-related disruptions since the movement kicked off in earnest in July. Demonstrators also appeared in 20 other locations nationwide in smaller numbers. 
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SnapshotsOct 19, 2020 | 20:14 GMT
A man holds new South African banknotes of the South African rand on July 13, 2018, in Pretoria, South Africa.
South Africa’s Economic Reality Will Dim Any Hopes of a Quick Recovery
Domestic political and financial constraints will thwart South Africa’s new economic recovery plan, prolonging the country’s five-year financial crisis while exacerbating its current levels of inequality and poverty. In an Oct. 15 speech to parliament, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa unveiled his government’s Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan, which ambitiously targets an average of 3 percent GDP growth over the next decade -- a level South Africa has not seen since 2011. The plan seeks to meet that goal by implementing structural reforms, boosting infrastructure investment and reducing bureaucratic red tape. Critically, however, the plan does not abandon the government’s strategy of fiscal consolidation over the medium term.
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SnapshotsOct 15, 2020 | 21:23 GMT
The U.S. State Department building is seen in Washington D.C. on July 22, 2019.
The White House’s Hong Kong Report Maintains Its Measured Approach
The White House is continuing its cautious and relatively slow-paced approach to Hong Kong, as it tries to avoid disrupting business continuity in the city and ensure the volatile political dynamic doesn’t drive the overall U.S.-China dynamic, including outreach on issues such as trade. On Oct. 14, the U.S. State Department issued its required Hong Kong Autonomy Act report to Congress, listing 10 Chinese and Hong Kong officials found to have materially contributed to eroding the region's autonomy. The report warned that banks that conduct significant transactions with the individuals listed could face U.S. secondary sanctions, including restrictions on U.S. dollar transactions and measures targeting corporate leadership. This sets the stage for a potential increase of U.S. pressure on foreign, Hong Kong and Chinese financial institutions operating in the city. However, the nature of the Oct. 14 report suggests a less escalatory approach, though that could change depending on the
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GuidanceOct 13, 2020 | 20:23 GMT
A promotional board for the annual series of meetings between the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank is seen outside the IMF headquarters in Washington D.C. on Oct. 13, 2020.
What to Watch for During This Week's IMF-World Bank Meetings
Growing debt vulnerabilities in emerging markets and developing countries amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, along with the enduring need to prop up global growth with money from developed countries, will be the primary focus of the virtual meetings between the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank over the next week. Between Oct. 12-22, the two global financial institutions will hold their annual series of joint discussions via video conference amid burgeoning disagreements on extending the Group of 20 (G-20)’s Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI), as well as broadening the plan to include more comprehensive treatment of debt stocks.
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SnapshotsOct 13, 2020 | 15:52 GMT
The Turkish military activates the S-400 missile system from Russia at an airbase in Ankara on Nov. 25, 2019.
What to Expect From Turkey’s Upcoming Missile System Test
Turkey is poised to soon test its new Russian S-400 missile system, betting that the immediate U.S. pushback will remain symbolic and not include sanctions. Turkey has signaled it will test the S-400 missile system near the Black Sea province of Sinop from Oct. 13-16, according to a “notice to airmen” from the Turkish government that warned of unspecific missile testing. Washington already ended Turkey’s participation in the F-35 program as punishment for purchasing the S-400 system, which it fears will provide Moscow with a backdoor to gain information on advanced NATO weapon systems, such as the F-35, in addition to fostering overall greater security cooperation between Turkey and Russia. U.S. President Donald Trump, however, has yet to signal any plans of enacting new sanctions on Turkey, which -- while popular in Congress -- would have to overcome a presidential veto. 
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AssessmentsOct 12, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A woman wearing a face mask walks past a closed shop in Rome, Italy, on May 18, 2020. The sign on the store window reads "Without government aid, we cannot reopen on May 18. Thousands of employees at risk."
COVID-19’s Uneven Impact on Europe Portends an Equally Uneven Recovery
COVID-19’s uneven economic impact on the European Union portends an equally uneven recovery, as growth in the south will be weaker than in the rest of the Continent due to structural factors. Different policy priorities between harder-hit southern states and their northern and eastern peers will thwart the bloc’s ability to increase financial integration among its 27 members, as well as implement monetary policies for its 19-member currency zone. The risk of social unrest, government collapses and the emergence of anti-establishment movements will also be higher in Southern Europe, where the pandemic has exacerbated countries’ pre-existing economic weaknesses such as high unemployment, deep fiscal deficits and high sovereign debt levels. 
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AssessmentsOct 9, 2020 | 21:25 GMT
A view of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) building from the street in Washington D.C. on Sept. 25, 2020.
Zambia’s Imminent Debt Default
Zambia is expected to default on its external debt when the southern African country misses $118 million in interest payments on eurobonds due from Oct. 14 to March 2021. Hopes for a comprehensive debt restructuring are overly optimistic without major help from China, its largest creditor, as well as a substantial macroeconomic adjustment program supported by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Zambia is the first comprehensive case involving all creditor classes this year, and neither the Paris Club nor bondholders will restructure debt without appropriate burden-sharing by China.
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SITUATION REPORTOct 8, 2020 | 19:07 GMT
U.S., Iran: White House Imposes New Round of Financial Sanctions 
The U.S. Treasury Department has sanctioned 18 Iranian banks as part of a move to essentially blacklist the country’s entire financial sector by designating it as a key entity that the Iranian government uses to raise funds under the Executive Order 13902, according to an Oct. 8 press release. 
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AssessmentsOct 6, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Philippine and Chinese coast guard ships sail past each other in the South China Sea on May 14, 2019.
The Philippines Takes a Tougher Approach to Its South China Sea Claims
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s South China Sea policy is becoming less conciliatory toward China, as he tries to balance growing pressure from within his administration to revitalize Manila’s security cooperation with the United States against the need to preserve his country’s economic ties with Beijing. The Duterte administration has recently made a number of statements emphasizing the Philippines’ extensive maritime dispute with China. This suggests a notable shift in Manila’s approach toward China, as the Philippine government has largely avoided making points of contention with Beijing since 2016. However, there appear to be divisions between the president and key members of his cabinet on the matter. 
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