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SnapshotsJan 14, 2021 | 16:39 GMT
Italy’s former prime minister and current leader of the Italy Alive party, Matteo Renzi (center), holds a press conference with outgoing ministers Elena Bonetti (left) and Teresa Bellanova (right) on Jan. 13, 2021.
Italy’s Government Is in Crisis. What’s Next?
Italy is in a political crisis after a junior member of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s coalition exited the government, effectively leaving it without a majority in Parliament. The most disruptive (but least likely) scenario would be an early general election, which would undermine Rome’s efforts to handle the health and economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic. On Jan. 13,  the small Italy Alive political party withdrew its ministers from Conte’s cabinet to protest his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. This has left the senior members of the coalition -- the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and the center-left Democratic Party -- without a majority in Parliament. 
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SnapshotsJan 6, 2021 | 21:38 GMT
Hong Kong Police Force Senior Superintendent Steve Li Kwai-Wah holds a press briefing following the arrest of dozens of opposition figures under the city’s national security law on Jan. 6, 2021.
In Hong Kong, Mass Arrests Signal an Escalated Opposition Crackdown
A mass arrest of moderate pro-democracy figures in Hong Kong signals an escalation in the application of the city’s national security law to a broader segment of the political opposition, which will increasingly limit the policymaking power of any pro-democracy forces. The first-time detention of a U.S. citizen, meanwhile, will also test whether U.S. President-elect Joe Biden's incoming administration will be able to navigate Hong Kong tensions without jeopardizing its broader relations with Beijing. On Jan. 6, Hong Kong police carried out a citywide operation in which nearly 1,000 officers netted 53 pro-democracy activists and former lawmakers linked to the July 2020 opposition primary for legislative council elections, leveling accusations of subversion under the city’s draconian national security law.
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AssessmentsDec 23, 2020 | 15:59 GMT
EU flags fly outside the European Commission building in Brussels on Dec. 7, 2020.
The EU Seeks to Update Its Regulation of Big Tech
Sweeping new EU draft rules will increase the pressure on large tech companies, but debates over their proposed requirements and penalties will likely limit their impact on big tech. The legislation's ultimate fate depends in part on how the European Union frames the proposals to the incoming Biden administration because its receptivity to rules that disproportionately affect U.S. firms could prove decisive to their implementation.
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AssessmentsNov 13, 2020 | 19:22 GMT
Demonstrators participate in a "March for Freedom" protest in London, the United Kingdom, on Oct. 17, 2020.
Growing COVID-19 Infections in Europe Will Contribute to Greater Social Unrest
As countries across Europe introduce tighter restrictions in response to increasing COVID-19 cases and deaths, social unrest and protests against the measures are increasing, too. This is not the first time we've seen violent protests in response to European COVID-19 policies, but this time around they have been more intense and widespread. Throughout the summer and early fall, periodic protest activity in major European cities led to arrests or clashes with police. In May, Paris police arrested protesters in the central Place de Republique while London's Metropolitan police clashed with protesters in Trafalgar Square in September. The hardships caused by COVID-19 and the associated restrictions, as well as sympathetic Black Lives Matter protests in early summer, led to elevated protest activity across Europe this year. At no other point this year, however, has protest activity been so intense across such a broad swath of the Continent over such a short
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AssessmentsNov 2, 2020 | 20:55 GMT
An image shows Chinese renminbi banknotes.
China Lacks the Will to Usurp the U.S.'s Global Currency Dominance
Renewed efforts by China to internationalize its currency are aspirational for now, and while such moves could erode U.S. dollar (USD) dominance over time, Beijing currently lacks the political will to make the fundamental economic and political reforms necessary to put the renminbi (or yuan) in the same league. Among the changes needed to seriously challenge the U.S. dollar would be an open international financial account (previously the capital account) of the balance of payments; a fully floating and not managed exchange rate; full foreign access to China’s domestic asset markets with legal delineation of property rights; and cntral bank independence from the central government and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
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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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SnapshotsSep 23, 2020 | 21:23 GMT
U.S., Russia: What to Make of Washington's Reversal on New START
The success of the White House’s attempt to score a pre-election foreign policy win by shifting its position in favor of a temporary New START extension will depend on Russia playing along, though Washington’s long-term goal of expanding the nuclear arms control treaty to a trilateral framework still rests entirely on China. In an interview with daily Russian newspaper Kommersant published on Sept. 21, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control Marshall Billingslea said the United States was now open to extending the arms agreement it signed with Moscow in 2010, which is currently set to expire on Feb. 5, but by no more than five years. Washington will only agree to such an extension, however, if Russian President Vladimir Putin agrees to either a joint statement or memorandum of intent (MOI) outlining the framework of a successor treaty with U.S. President Donald Trump prior to the November presidential election.
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