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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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ReflectionsOct 7, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
People wearing masks walk by the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in lower Manhattan on Oct. 5, 2020, in New York City.
Renewed COVID-19 Concerns Put U.S. Economic Growth in Doubt
New data shows the U.S. economic rebound remains underway but is running out of steam amid the country’s ongoing COVID-19 crisis, as acutely illuminated by President Donald Trump’s own diagnosis and recent hospitalization. What John Maynard Keynes described as “animal spirits” in 1936, today’s economists define as “sentiment,” “confidence,” or just plain “certainty” and “trust.” But regardless of what you call it, it appears Americans’ economic decisions are still being constrained by the course of the virus in their communities, and now their government -- underlining that the biggest threat to the United States and other global economies remains the continued, heightened uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
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SnapshotsOct 1, 2020 | 17:06 GMT
French President Emmanuel Macron leaves the European Council building in Brussels, Belgium, on July 20, 2020. Leaders from the 27 EU member states met on July 19 to discuss the bloc’s budget and new COVID-19 recovery package.
Disputes Risk Delaying EU Disbursement of COVID-19 Relief Funds
Ongoing disputes in the European Union over how to implement the bloc’s new 750 billion euro ($881 billion) COVID-19 recovery fund could delay the disbursement of loans and grants to struggling EU economies -- a situation that would be particularly problematic for Southern Europe, where the recessions are deep. The disputes also highlight the extent to which Brussels struggles to quickly react to political and economic crises, which will continue to undermine the European Union’s ability to address internal and external challenges. In July, EU governments agreed to link the disbursement of money from the COVID-19 relief fund to keeping a strong rule of law, but did not establish the mechanism to do it. In late September, Germany presented a proposal to sever funding for countries where corruption or mismanagement in the use of the funds is detected. Other Western European governments, however, believe Berlin’s proposal is too soft, and
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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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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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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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SnapshotsAug 28, 2020 | 20:37 GMT
In Japan, a Post-Abe Era Emerges Sooner Than Expected
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's shock resignation risks returning Japan to a cycle of short-lived administrations, which is unlikely to yield major shifts in domestic or foreign policy. On Aug. 28, after weeks of speculation over his health, Abe announced that he will be resigning from his post once the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) chooses a replacement. In addition to the LDP, Abe himself will also partially determine the succession process, meaning his successor will adhere to the party's long-term policy objectives. But even if secure in their post, Japan's next prime minister will find it difficult to muster the level of power Abe has accrued over his nearly eight years in office and tight control over the Japanese government, which enabled him to go head-to-head with key counterparts abroad. Abe's personal political clout also outmatched that of previous political leaders, which allowed him to bypass internal LDP factions and
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On GeopoliticsAug 14, 2020 | 15:56 GMT
Japanese Self-Defense Forces stand guard at a park in Tokyo on Oct. 22, 2019.
A More Assertive China Drives Japan to Respond in Kind
Japan has long operated beyond the pacifist constraints of its post-war constitution, but a growing and more assertive China is accelerating Tokyo's development of offensive its capabilities. Japan's core strategic imperatives are shaped by economic concerns -- the islands are resource-poor and thus import-dependent. This shaped its post-World War II Yoshida Doctrine, in which Japan largely outsourced its national security to the United States while focusing its energy on economic development at home. With Japan less confident in its dependence on the United States, the same vulnerability is now driving Tokyo to take on a more active role in its neighborhood. Japan's increased economic and security engagement in the Indo-Pacific provides a regional alternative to China for Southeast Asian nations, but may raise tensions with neighboring South Korea.
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On GeopoliticsAug 7, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A U.S. soldier (left) stands guard next to a South Korean soldier (right) in Panmunjom, South Korea, on July 27, 2019, during a ceremony commemorating the 66th anniversary of the signing of the Korean War Armistice Agreement.
With the Drawdown of U.S. Forces in Germany, Is South Korea Next?
With the drawdown of U.S. forces in Germany underway, a reduction of U.S. forces in South Korea is now more likely than ever, given evolving U.S. defense priorities and longstanding trends on the Korean Peninsula. Rumors of an imminent U.S. force drawdown in Korea have been circulating since at least 2019, and President Donald Trump has made it clear he wants to reduce large overseas basing. South Korea, however, is a particularly contentious case, as any changes to the size and structure of U.S. forces must take into consideration both the local mission of deterring against North Korea, as well as the broader U.S. strategic mission of refocusing on great power competition, particularly with China. And that will require reassessing South Korea's own national defense capabilities, the benefits and risks of having a large forward force based on the Asian mainland, and the impact of any shift in forces on
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AssessmentsAug 3, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
An oil pumpjack operates in Signal Hill, California, on April 21, 2020, a day after oil prices dropped to below zero amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Amid a Global COVID-19 Resurgence, Oil Prices Are Poised to Stall
The resurgence of COVID-19 infections in many countries around the world has undermined the oil market's notion that the recovery in petroleum product demand will continue upward in the absence of a vaccine. Expectations of a swift demand recovery in recent weeks have also been hampered by concerns about new mandatory lockdowns in places where economic activity had resumed, as well as slower economic recoveries elsewhere. Crude oil prices are thus likely to stall heading into the fourth quarter of 2020 as global demand remains sluggish, while modest rises in OPEC+ supply undermine efforts to rapidly balance the market and drain excess inventories. This means the fiscal position of countries highly dependent on oil export revenues will likely continue to be strained, and that any recovery in drilling activity and the oilfield services sector will also be slow.
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Quarterly ForecastsJun 29, 2020 | 00:02 GMT
2020 Third-Quarter Forecast
While many of the trends identified in our annual forecast remain slowed down by COVID-19, their pace is picking up as countries carefully emerge from lockdown.
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AssessmentsJun 27, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Refugees and migrants stand at a port upon arriving at the Greek island of Lesbos on March 7, 2020.
Summer Weather Will Rekindle Europe's Migration Debate
The summer months will see an uptick in the arrival of migrants to Europe by sea and land, though a repetition of the 2015 crisis is unlikely. Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 crisis, however, even a moderate increase in migrants will risk further destabilizing the Continent’s already fraught economic and political environment.  The European Union will increase controls of its external borders and seek to improve the expulsion irregular migrants, but the introduction of mandatory quotas to more evenly distribute migrants across the bloc is improbable. This means the migration burden will continue to fall on Mediterranean states (who are already facing some of the deepest recessions due to COVID-19), as well as the bloc’s largest economies such as Germany. The Turkish-Greek border, in particular, will become especially volatile due to Ankara’s ongoing disputes with both Brussels and Athens.
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SnapshotsJun 26, 2020 | 20:08 GMT
With a Raid, Iraq Asserts Its Authority Over Iran-Backed Militias
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi is signaling that his new government will keep powerful Iran-backed militias in the country in check after conducting a raid against Kataib Hezbollah, the group linked to numerous attempted attacks against U.S. forces over the past year. On the evening of June 25, Iraqi security forces raided a building belonging to the Iran-backed group, which resulted in the arrests of several Kataib Hezbollah leaders and members, as well as the seizure of multiple rockets. In retaliation, militia members threatened to overrun Iraq’s Counter Terrorism Service building where the detained Kataib Hezbollah members were being held, placing Baghdad’s surrounding Green Zone under lockdown. Overnight negotiations between Kataib Hezbollah leaders and the Iraqi government have since resulted in the release of most of the militia members arrested during the raid. The government’s willingness to quickly deescalate the situation indicates Baghdad’s desire to assert its authority over Iran-backed
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AssessmentsJun 9, 2020 | 19:38 GMT
Pro-democracy protesters shine the flashlights on their cellphones as they take part in a rally in Hong Kong on June 9, 2020.
Hong Kong’s Election Lights the Fuse for Another Wave of Unrest
A year after the city's extradition bill prompted more than a million people to take to the streets in June 2019, marking a watershed moment in last year's protests, Hong Kong's political crisis is heating up once again. The next three months in Hong Kong will see protests kick back into high gear as pro-Beijing and pro-democracy camps focus on winning Legislative Council elections planned for September. The central government in mainland China will fast-track its controversial national security laws ahead of the polls to increase control over protestors and politicians, while the regional Hong Kong government will work to fulfill its side of the legislation. The White House, meanwhile, will pressure China to ease back on its encroachment in Hong Kong by possibly stripping away the city's special tariff treatment, but will weigh carefully whether to escalate further to financial measures that would cripple Hong Kong's status as a business hub
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