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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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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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AssessmentsSep 25, 2020 | 20:27 GMT
A picture taken on Aug. 14, 2018, shows the logo of Turkey's central bank at the entrance of its headquarters in Ankara.
Contextualizing Turkey’s Surprise Interest Rate Hike
On Sept. 24, the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey (CBRT) announced a surprise interest rate hike in a preemptive move that seeks to prevent the country’s depreciating currency from unfolding into a larger banking or balance of payments and external debt crisis. The steadily declining value of Turkey’s national currency, the lira, is largely the result of economic imbalances -- partially precipitated by a highly negative real interest rate, a credit-fueled construction boom, and large external financing needs, as well as the CBRT’s lack of credibility and near exhaustion of Ankara’s foreign currency reserves.
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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 22, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
An Indian fighter jet flies over Ladakh, the disputed Himalayan region near the Chinese border, on June 26, 2020.
A Military Drive Spells Out China's Intent Along the Indian Border
China's intensified development of military infrastructure on the Indian border suggests a shift in Beijing's approach to territorial disputes, forcing New Delhi to rethink its national security posture. China is expanding and upgrading a large number of military facilities along its entire border with India as tensions continue to run high in the wake of the bloody clash between Indian and Chinese forces in June, followed by the reported exchange of gunfire in late August. New Delhi has struggled to come to terms with these recent escalations, but the new strategic reality created by Beijing's permanent infrastructure drive will nonetheless force New Delhi to shape its future defense posture around long-term outlooks of China's growing capabilities in its border regions. 
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SITUATION REPORTSep 16, 2020 | 18:13 GMT
Argentina: Finance Minister Unveils New Budget
Argentine Finance Minister Martin Guzman on Sept. 15 unveiled a budget for 2021 based on estimates of GDP growth of 5.5 percent, a primary public deficit of 4.5 percent of GDP, an inflation rate of 29 percent and an exchange rate with the U.S. dollar of 102 pesos.
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SnapshotsSep 15, 2020 | 17:24 GMT
A Bill That Threatens EU-U.K. Trade Talks Makes Progress
In a development that will complicate the trade negotiations between the European Union and the United Kingdom, the Internal Market bill cleared its first hurdle at the British Parliament on Sept. 14. The bill violates British commitments under the 2019 EU-U.K. Withdrawal Agreement, and if passed, reduces the probability of a trade deal between London and Brussels before the end of the year.
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AssessmentsSep 11, 2020 | 15:40 GMT
An external view of the building of the European Union in Brussels, Belgium.
What the Fading Promise of EU Accession Means for the Balkans
The European Union will not accept any new member states for the foreseeable future, which will erode the promise of EU accession that has made the bloc an influential political and economic force in the Western Balkans. As the fallout from the COVID-19 crisis forces the European Union to remain focused on recovering (and not enlarging) its economy, candidate countries risk veering off from the reforms they had been pursuing to earn their place in the bloc. Non-EU players such as the United States, Russia and China, meanwhile, will likely become more active in the region, seeing European Union's waning presence as an opportunity to assert their own influence in the Balkans.
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SnapshotsSep 9, 2020 | 19:16 GMT
Another Border Clash Heightens China-India Tensions
Renewed altercations between Chinese and Indian forces in the disputed region of Ladakh reflect a growing risk of military escalation as China's growing presence along the two countries' border prompts India to more assertively defend its claimed territory. China and India have accused each other of firing shots during a Sept. 7 incident south of Pangong Lake, marking the first official claims of small arms fire on the border since 1975. While the situation in Ladakh had calmed down after the deadly June 15 melee in Galwan Valley, a resurgence of tensions is now occurring in a separate area of the disputed territory. Since Aug. 29, Chinese forces have allegedly been trying to cross into Indian controlled territory in the mountainous area between Pangong and Spanggur Lakes. India reportedly deployed troops to block these Chinese incursion attempts in several separate incidents. 
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SnapshotsSep 8, 2020 | 20:05 GMT
The U.K. Turns up the Heat Ahead of the Next Round of Brexit Talks
The desire to avoid further economic disruption amid the COVID-19 crisis will keep the United Kingdom and European Union focused on reaching a limited trade deal before London exits the EU single market on Jan. 1. But threats on both sides to abort negotiations are again increasing the possibility of a no-deal Brexit that would force the European Union and the United Kingdom to trade under costly World Trade Organization (WTO) tariffs. The latest round of EU-U.K. trade talks began in London on Sept. 8 and will end on Sept. 11. On Sept. 7, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said his government would walk away from the negotiations if there is not a deal by Oct. 15. The U.K. government is also expected to unveil a bill on Sept. 9 that "clarifies" certain aspects of the Withdrawal Agreement it negotiated with the European Union late last year, including London's interpretation
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SnapshotsSep 4, 2020 | 20:24 GMT
The U.S. Job Market Starts to Show Signs of Lasting Damage
The U.S. labor market continued to rebound in August, with the economy recovering 1.37 million jobs. But behind that headline number remains a grim picture of an American economy and workforce reeling from the COVID-19 crisis for the foreseeable future. Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 1.37 million jobs in August, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report released on Sept. 4. The unemployment rate, meanwhile, fell to 8.4 percent from an April high of 14.7 percent. That, however, is the full extent of the "good news," as the report also showed that the overall pace of the labor market's recovery is slowing. Private sector gains were softer than expected, permanent job losses surged to 3.4 million, and total non-farm payrolls remain 52 percent below February's level. 
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On GeopoliticsSep 4, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A satellite image of the Middle East and North Africa. 
A New Brand of Nationalism Takes Root in the Middle East
Once the salve for crushed Middle Eastern empires, Pan-Islamism and its vision of a singular caliphate are now increasingly seen as a threat to stability in the region, with countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia turning toward nationalism to instead define their policies and behavior. Indeed, even the countries that still claim to embody the movement’s ideals, such as Qatar and Turkey, are only doing so as a means to a nationalist end, exploiting its preachings of Islamic unity to project their government’s strength at home and abroad. This trend has most recently been illuminated by the UAE-Israel normalization pact by dealing yet another blow to the idea that a global Muslim community, despite its many differences, could at the very least agree on issues such as the Palestinian question. 
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