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AssessmentsAug 5, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A view of Dubai, the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates, at sunrise.
COVID-19 Risks Robbing Dubai of Its Economic and Political Autonomy
By sapping Dubai's economic growth, the COVID-19 pandemic will also ultimately erode the emirate's political and economic independence from neighboring Abu Dhabi. Without the tools and funding needed to support its own recovery, Dubai will likely be forced to rely on another bailout from wealthy Abu Dhabi, which could impact Dubai's development plans, especially in tourism and finance. 
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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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SnapshotsJul 30, 2020 | 17:16 GMT
A Year On, China's Tech-Focused Stock Market Is Making Strides
The STAR Market, China's equivalent to a tech-focused Nasdaq, is fueling growth in China's tech sector, but Beijing's regulation and fears of both domestic speculation and industry bubbles will constrain the exchange's potential for growth. A recent string of launches is demonstrating the STAR Market's potential power to raise capital and draw investment into the Chinese technology sector. China will likely continue to liberalize the market faster than its other domestic stock markets, as the exchange becomes increasingly central to China's overall technology ambitions amid its tech war with the United States. The success of the STAR Market, however, will depend on the innovativeness and quality of the companies involved in it, as well as the broader constraints to China's tech sector.
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AssessmentsJul 29, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Ukraine's new central bank chief, Kyrylo Shevchenko, wears a face mask as he watches lawmakers vote on his candidacy during a parliamentary session on July 16, 2020.
Is Ukraine on Thin Ice with the IMF?
A potential falling out with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) over monetary policy and independence of the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) would be highly damaging, but not catastrophic, to Ukraine's economic recovery efforts. The economic fallout from COVID-19 has made Kyiv heavily dependent on the bailout money it's receiving from the IMF, as well as the European Union. The IMF has placed Kyiv on a fairly short leash, warning that the recent appointment of Kyrylo Shevchenko -- an advocate of easier monetary policy and ally of President Volodymyr Zelensky -- raises questions regarding the NBU's independence and possible politicization. Zelensky and Shevchenko's political views are unlikely to cause the IMF to suspend its assistance to Ukraine, though the actions of the NBU will be monitored closely.
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AssessmentsJul 28, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A photo shows one of the shallow water reservoirs in Simferopol, Crimea.
Russia's Quick Fixes Won't Solve Crimea's Water Woes
Russia's ongoing efforts to stretch Crimea's dwindling water supplies will only slightly delay the need to permanently fix the region's insufficient water resources by either funding expensive infrastructure overhauls, or convincing Ukraine to reopen the North Crimean Canal. The availability of fresh water in Crimea has progressively degraded following Russia's annexation in 2014. But with drought conditions worsening through the summer and beyond, the peninsula's dire water scarcity issues are now increasingly threatening industrial and agricultural consumption.
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On GeopoliticsJul 24, 2020 | 15:53 GMT
A skyline view of Anchorage, Alaska, and the Chugach Mountains at dusk.
Remapping the American Arctic
Maps play an important role in shaping national policy, and in shaping society’s consciousness and support. But they can also reinforce ideas of relative unimportance by leaving key areas off, or having areas appear as mere incidental inclusions, which can subconsciously constrain developments in foreign policy. Indeed, it’s perhaps no surprise that many Americans still fail to recognize the United States as an Arctic nation when the majority of U.S. maps place Alaska in a small inset box, relegating the state to a secondary geographic status. The United States, however, maintains a strong interest in a secure and stable Arctic, for its Alaska citizens, for economic reasons, and for core national security. So long as the American Arctic is considered something distant and separate from the United States, it risks being sidelined in the national narrative, and thus sidelined in national priorities and attention. The United States is already playing
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AssessmentsJul 21, 2020 | 09:30 GMT
A rally in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on June 11, 2020, at Umayyad Square in Damascus, Syria.
In Syria, COVID-19 and Economic Woes Will Dampen Damascus' Ambitions
Economic and health crises have undercut Damascus' appetite for new major military offensives by creating dissent in previously secure territory. This suggests the al Assad government will attempt to consolidate power within loyalist territories before renewing efforts to eliminate Turkish and American influence.
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AssessmentsJul 20, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speaks during a press conference in Mexico City, Mexico, after announcing his plan to "rescue" Mexican oil company Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) on Feb. 8, 2019.
Lopez Obrador's Policy Shifts Will Have a Mixed Impact on Mexico’s Energy Projects
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's reversal of certain energy policies will likely continue to have a modest impact on foreign investment and competition in Mexico's oil and gas sector. While intended to make Mexico's overall energy industry more self-reliant and state-centric, Lopez Obrador's policy shifts ultimately risk further crippling the country's state-owned oil firm Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex), while delaying its electricity sector's shift to renewable energy sources. 
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On GeopoliticsJul 17, 2020 | 09:30 GMT
Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands on April 21, 2017.
In the South China Sea, Washington Tries to Balance Support and Entanglement
In the recently released U.S. Position on Maritime Claims in the South China Sea, Washington continues to walk a delicate balance between supporting its allies and partners in the region and avoiding entanglement in regional territorial conflicts. The test will come when the United States is called to act upon its more clearly articulated position on Chinese expansionist behavior.
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AssessmentsJul 16, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
The Huawei logo is pictured on a router during a 5G event in London on Feb. 20, 2020.
U.S. Actions Against Huawei Will Only Embolden China’s Push to Grow Its Tech Sector
Escalating U.S. actions against Huawei will only motivate China to pump its domestic technology sector with even more funding and talent, which will in turn prompt the United States to impose more restrictions on international companies doing business with Huawei and other Chinese firms that pose a threat to its global tech dominance. This will result in a cat-and-mouse game in which Washington deploys whatever financial and diplomatic tools are at its disposal to close any loopholes that China and Chinese tech companies can exploit to better compete with the West. 
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AssessmentsJul 14, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
German Chancellor Angela Merkel wears a protective face mask as she attends a plenary session at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, on July 8, 2020.
Germany's Next Election Season Will Begin a Period of Political Turbulence
Disputes between outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her potential successor will likely lead to an ineffective government ahead of Germany's next parliamentary election, which will take place in late 2021 and could result in the collapse of the country's ruling coalition. In addition to reducing Berlin's ability to manage the economic fallout from COVID-19, this period of political turbulence will also slow the European Union's policymaking process as the rest of the bloc refrains from making meaningful decisions until its largest economy appoints a new government.
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AssessmentsJul 9, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A photo shows the site of a recent gas explosion at the Sina Medical Center in Tehran, Iran, on July 1, 2020. 19 people were killed in the blast.
Explosions in Iran Point to a Possible Israeli Sabotage Campaign
Israel was likely behind a July 2 explosion and fire at Iran's Natanz nuclear facility, and potentially some of the other similar incidents that have occurred near Tehran over the past two weeks, including a June 26 explosion at the Khojir missile complex. Although Tel Aviv doesn't typically claim its covert actions against Iran, motive and past history make Israel the most likely actor to conduct such sabotage operations against Iranian infrastructure and assets.  Israel is frustrated by the failure of Western and regional countries to fully rein in Iran's military and nuclear capabilities, which it views as direct threats to its domestic and regional security. With the potential for a less friendly U.S. administration to take office in January, Israel may also be calculating that it has an optimal but limited window to act more aggressively against Iran's nuclear program.
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On GeopoliticsJul 3, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A map of China.
China’s Rise as a Global Power Reaches Its Riskiest Point Yet
China is an empire in the modern sense -- a nation strengthened (but also held hostage) by its long supply chains, compelled to ever greater economic and political intercourse to preserve its interests, and increasingly drawn into the security sphere as well. It uses its economic, political and military leverage to expand its own direct sphere of operations, from the South China Sea to India and across Central Asia into Europe. The more engaged it is internationally, the more dependent it is on maintaining and strengthening those connections, which are critical for Chinese economic growth and, by extension, domestic management of its massive, diverse and economically unequal population. 
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AssessmentsJul 2, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
People stand in line to receive grant payments from the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) in Khayelitsha, a township located near Cape Town, on May 4, 2020. 
South Africa's Budget Outlook Paints a Picture of a Lost Decade
South Africa will likely miss its recently adjusted budget targets as the country’s escalating COVID-19 outbreak delays much-needed austerity measures, leaving the South African economy in shambles for at least another five years. President Cyril Ramaphosa and his pro-business allies in the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party had planned to rein in government spending and the country's sky-high debt levels over the next three years. But South Africa's likely extended health and economic crisis could make that goal politically untenable, given that any budget cuts and potential layoffs would most acutely affect the ANC's support base of labor unions and their poorer Black constituents. 
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