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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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SnapshotsJun 25, 2020 | 18:08 GMT
The U.S.-EU Trade War Is Poised to Intensify
The U.S.-EU trade war continues to brew and could see Brussels and Washington move forward with more tariffs through the rest of the year, even as both sides reckon with the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. On June 24, the U.S. Trade Representative's office published a list for the public comment outlining $4.3 billion worth of European products that could be subject to new tariffs as early as August. This latest escalation is part of its 16-year dispute between Washington and Brussels over government subsidies to the U.S.-based aircraft maker Boeing and its chief European rival, Airbus. Trade negotiations between the United States and European Union have already been virtually non-existent this year, due in part to the pandemic, as well as major disagreements on issues [such as agriculture. Even if they do occur, last-minute trade talks to try to avert the escalation over aircraft subsidies will thus likely fail, as both sides
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AssessmentsJun 23, 2020 | 18:03 GMT
A worker goes down a construction ladder at the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile in Ethiopia on Dec. 26, 2019.
Egypt's Losing Battle on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam
The failure of last week's negotiations over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam means that the initial filling of the $4 billion hydroelectric dam on the Blue Nile will likely occur without an agreement between Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia. Egypt will attempt, and likely fail, to bring international pressure to bear on Ethiopia in order to ensure the giant new dam doesn't affect the flow of the Nile Basin river system, which is Cairo's main source of water. But while Egypt's technical coordination on the project is unavoidable, Cairo's waning influence over North Africa's water distribution will make its overall position on the Nile less secure over time.
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SnapshotsJun 9, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Russia's National Wealth Fund Reaches Its Spending Threshold
Despite the fallout from the COVID-19 crisis, the value of Russia's National Wealth Fund (NWF) has managed to rise above the threshold required for the government to start spending portions of the fund. This development marks a positive note amid Russia's overall negative economic outlook, as the country claws its way out of the pandemic and subsequent oil price collapse earlier this year. The unlocking of the NWF, however, is unlikely to trigger a meaningful spending spree. And even if Moscow does decide to tap into its rainy day fund, budgetary rules will severely constrain the scale. 
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SnapshotsJun 4, 2020 | 19:36 GMT
With a Satellite Launch, Russia Beefs up Its Nuclear Deterrent
Russia managed to restore a significant element of its nuclear deterrent by regaining a minimal space-based early warning capability when its most recent Tundra satellite became operational following a May 22 launch. Russia's nuclear deterrent capability, which includes defensive measures such as this early-warning capability, is a core to its bid for great power status.
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SnapshotsJun 2, 2020 | 14:41 GMT
OPEC+ Moves Toward Early Meeting to Discuss Extending Production Cuts
OPEC+ appears headed for an earlier-than-expected online ministerial meeting on June 4 to discuss how to extend oil production cuts for the rest of the year, given the faster-than-expected recovery in oil prices. During the meeting, members will reportedly consider a Saudi-Russian compromise on a very brief 1-2 month delay in the tapering of current headline cuts from 9.7 million barrels per day (bpd) to 7.7 million bpd. The original limitation of having the deepest production cuts last until only May and June was, in part, based on the intense uncertainty about how much demand destruction would actually occur due to the COVID-19 crisis. But it now appears that the flood in inventories has been less than expected, which has already driven Brent crude prices back into the upper $30s. 
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AssessmentsMay 28, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A photo of Argentina's central bank headquarters in Buenos Aires.
Argentina's Latest Default Doesn't Have to Mean Another Economic Collapse
Argentina's debt restructuring negotiations with creditors appear stuck, but the recent extension of the country's self-imposed deadline for talks with private debt bondholders keeps alive the possibility of reaching some form of a long-term deal. Ultimately, however, debt restructuring will not by itself change the fiscal and monetary policies that initially led to Argentina overborrowing. Whether the country's default again transforms into another full-fledged economic crisis will instead hinge on its government's willingness to reach a compromise with bondholders, as well as produce a credible, long-term economic growth plan that remedies the country's currently untenable levels of public spending. 
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SITUATION REPORTMay 13, 2020 | 20:05 GMT
India: New Delhi Announces New Round of COVID-19 Stimulus Efforts
The Indian government has announced $39.9 billion worth of new stimulus measures designed to mitigate the economic impact of COVID-19, including collateral-free loans for small businesses, new support for distressed small businesses, a fund to address equity shortages for small businesses and credit guarantees for shadow lenders, the Financial Times reported May 13.
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AssessmentsMay 13, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
An aerial photo shows villagers sowing highland barley seeds with agricultural machinery in the fields in Lhasa, the capital of China's Tibet Autonomous Region, on April 22, 2020.
COVID-19 Tensions Place Australian Farmers in China's Crosshairs
On May 10, Australian grain producers issued a joint statement warning that China has made a provisional decision to impose anti-dumping and anti-subsidy tariffs on Australian barley imports of up to 80.5 percent, effectively shutting down their exports to China. Sources within the Australian government say the timing of these tariffs is linked to the recent uptick in Chinese tensions over COVID-19, though Prime Minister Scott Morrison has publicly since said he does not believe the two are related. China's economic pressure, however, would have to expand beyond barley and the small group of beef slaughterhouses to compel Australia to reconsider its support of U.S. efforts to counter Beijing's rise. If Beijing threatens more sweeping measures against Australian beef exports, or turns to targeting wool exports, Canberra may be prompted to change its approach. But as things stand, barley producers in Australia have other options.
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AssessmentsMay 12, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
An image of a gas flare at the Mozyr Oil Refinery in Belarus on Jan. 4, 2020. Russia recently resumed its oil deliveries to Belarus after a pricing dispute prompted Moscow to halt its supplies at the beginning of the year.
By Diversifying Its Oil Imports, Belarus Limits Russia’s Leverage
In recent months, Russia has weaponized its discounted oil deliveries to coerce Belarus into accepting a level of economic and political integration that would essentially guarantee its loyalty. This strategy, however, has only emboldened Minsk’s push to diversify its oil imports. But Belarus’ continued dependence on Russia’s close trade ties and natural gas exports will still leave Moscow armed with other sources of leverage to wield over its smaller neighbor in future negotiations.
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SnapshotsMay 11, 2020 | 19:39 GMT
As Oil Prices Plummet, Saudi Arabia Opts for Austerity
In the face of the COVID-19 crisis and subsequent global recession, most countries are launching significant fiscal stimulus programs to boost domestic economic activity. Governments dependent on oil and gas revenue, however, are being forced to do the opposite as the likely long-term collapse of energy prices necessitates sharp spending cuts and unpopular austerity measures. Saudi Arabia has recently joined the growing list of oil-producers now facing twin economic and political crises as a result of the pandemic.  On May 10, Riyadh announced three specific measures that Saudi Minister of Finance Mohammed al-Jadaan said were necessary to get its public finances under control for the long and painful road ahead: - Saudi Arabia will cut or delay spending totaling 100 billion Saudi riyals ($26.6 billion), which is roughly equivalent to 10 percent of Saudi Arabia's planned 1020 billion riyal ($271.5 billion) 2020 budget. It is not clear how much of the spending cuts and
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On GeopoliticsMay 10, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A mother takes photos with her baby under cherry blossoms in full bloom in Tokyo, Japan, on March 29, 2015.
The Geopolitics of Postmodern Parenting
During the two months I recently spent away from work to fulfill my demographic duty, I found that most of my conversations with visitors followed the same pattern. The talk quickly turned from the standard cooing over my baby girl to an intensive debate over parental leave: how much time and flexibility to grant new parents in the workforce, how to reconcile career ambitions with the responsibilities of human procreation, how to compensate for the crazy cost of child care and how to boost birthrates. As a white-collar, taxpaying working mother in the United States, I had become one of the statistics I used to pore over as an analyst pondering the implications of aging and shrinking populations. But you don't have to be a parent -- or an analyst, for that matter -- to care about this stuff. In fact, a lot of the global angst today over stagnant economic
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AssessmentsMay 4, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Pedestrians wearing face masks cross an intersection in Seoul, South Korea, on April 23, 2020. In the first quarter of 2020, South Korea's economy saw its worst performance in more than a decade as COVID-19 spread across the country.
With Its COVID-19 Outbreak Contained, South Korea Braces for the Global Fallout
As his country's COVID-19 outbreak wanes, South Korean President Moon Jae In is emerging from the battle stronger than ever, though the economic challenges ahead will impede his ability to translate that success into progress on his ambitious reform agenda. In early March, South Korea's epidemic was the worst outside of China, but it has since been far surpassed by COVID-19 outbreaks elsewhere. On April 30, new domestic spread in the country hit the milestone of dropping to zero after topping 10,000 cases overall. Despite its relatively quick recovery from the virus itself, however, South Korea's economic outlook will remain grim even after the rest of the world -- and in particular, its top trade partners in North America and Europe -- join it on the other side of COVID-19. In the meantime, the need to shore up growth amid a deepening global recession will delay Moon's promised progress on economic inequality
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