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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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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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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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SnapshotsAug 31, 2020 | 19:41 GMT
Pemex’s Losses Deepen Mexico’s Financial Woes
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's failure to strengthen Pemex's finances and shore up domestic oil production will exacerbate Mexico's public finance woes from COVID-19.  On Aug. 24, Mexico's state-owned energy giant Pemex reported its lowest level of monthly crude oil production since 1979, with the company's July output totaling only 1.6 million barrels per day (bpd) -- marking a 0.6 percent decline from June and a 4.5 percent decline from July 2019. Pemex was already struggling before the current COVID-19 crisis, seeing record losses during 2019 and the first half of 2020. Lopez Obrador's attempts to strengthen Pemex's bottom line and increase domestic oil production, however, will continue to fail without new private investment to help increase long-term production, as well as a business plan that forces Pemex to focus on the most profitable areas.
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AssessmentsAug 26, 2020 | 15:13 GMT
A close-up of a five-euro banknote.
The Eurozone's Upcoming Financial Problems
Escalating soverign debt and fiscal deficit levels in eurozone countries due to the COVID-19 crisis will increase the probability of financial and banking crises in the years ahead, as well as surges in social unrest and higher taxes for both large corporations and big earners. Furlough schemes, subsidies and other forms of welfare spending across the eurozone are mitigating the economic fallout from the pandemic by keeping money in people's pockets and helping sustain domestic consumption at a time of deep recessions. But these schemes are financed through sovereign debt, loans from EU institutions and deepening fiscal deficits -- all of which are unsustainable.
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AssessmentsAug 25, 2020 | 18:58 GMT
Army vehicles patrol the roads on the outskirts of a village in northern Mozambique on May 26, 2016.
To Protect Its Energy Projects, Total Joins Mozambique's Counterterrorism Fight
Total's decision to support Mozambique's fight against insurgents may help protect its energy facilities from direct attacks, even as it risks the French oil major's reputation while doing little to reduce escalating militant activity in the country's north. On Aug. 24, Toal signed a security agreement with the Mozambican government to protect the $20 billion liquified natural gas (LNG) project it's developing in the country's northernmost province of Cabo Delgado. Under its new pact, Total has agreed to provide logistical support to a newly established joint task force focused guaranteeing the protection of the company’s planned onshore LNG facility, which is located in the Afungi Peninsula near the northern town of Palma. 
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SnapshotsAug 19, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Argentina's New Debt Deal Is Just the First Step in Its Recovery
The deteriorating global and local economic conditions due to COVID-19 paved the way for a breakthrough in deadlocked negotiations between Argentina and its creditors by adding an impetus for debt reduction. Unlike previous rounds of talks that ended in long and acrimonious disputes, negotiations this time yielded a concrete agreement to significantly restructure roughly $65 billion in Argentine sovereign debt. But while the new debt deal is a significant accomplishment, Argentina's economic recovery still depends on President Alberto Fernandez's ability to balance his populist credentials against the need to appease the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and provide a healthy environment for investment by implementing structural reforms. 
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SnapshotsAug 18, 2020 | 14:46 GMT
The U.S. Broadens Its Tech Battle With China
The United States' move to expand export controls against Huawei’s cloud-computing affiliates indicates its pressure campaign against Chinese telecommunications and internet companies is evolving to include a wider spectrum of information technologies. On Aug. 17, the U.S. Commerce Department added a total of 38 new Huawei affiliates to its entity list, which increases U.S. export controls. The added companies include 22 of Huawei’s cloud-computing subsidiaries, such as Huawei Cloud Computing Technology and Huawei Cloud France, as well as several of its OpenLab units that promote research and development collaboration overseas. 
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ReflectionsAug 18, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A view of NASDAQ in Times Square on May 7, 2020, in New York City.
The Limits to a U.S.-China Financial Divorce
Political and regulatory risks of investing in Chinese companies are increasing as the United States ramps up efforts to "decouple" its financial system from Beijing, including the White House's latest push to delist Chinese firms from U.S. exchanges. But given the sheer size of the U.S.-China financial relationship, which totals as much as $4 trillion (or 11 percent of the two countries' combined GDP), such efforts will see only limited success -- keeping the world's two biggest economies linked for the foreseeable future.
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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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AssessmentsAug 14, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Soldiers patrol the streets in Mocimboa da Praia, Mozambique, on March 7, 2018.
An Insurgent Offensive Looms Large Over Mozambique's Energy Projects
Recent insurgent activity in northern Mozambique suggests a possible evolution of capabilities that could eventually grow to threaten liquified natural gas (LNG) operations in Cabo Delgado. Militants of Islamic State's Central Africa Province (ISCAP) have captured parts of the port town of Mocimboa da Praia in an offensive that consisted of coordinated attacks and interdiction of government reinforcements. Without an effective counteroffensive by government forces, or an intervention by regional forces, ISCAP could secure greater freedom of movement in Cabo Delgado and expand to directly threaten the country's LNG export projects located less than 40 miles north.
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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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SnapshotsAug 5, 2020 | 19:36 GMT
An Explosion Risks Razing Lebanon’s Last Shreds of Stability
A massive explosion in Beirut will intensify already potent popular anger at the Lebanese government and contribute to political infighting, even as it opens the door for much-needed humanitarian aid in the near term. The catastrophic explosion at the port of Beirut sent a shockwave miles through the surrounding area, destroying thousands of homes and buildings. The blast has so far killed over 100 people while injuring thousands more. Available evidence about the nature of the explosion aligns with the government's account of the accident, pointing at gross negligence that will elicit anger at authorities. The damage to Lebanon's most critical port, even if temporary, will also exacerbate the country's existing food and supply shortages.
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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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