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AssessmentsOct 15, 2020 | 16:08 GMT
A close-up view shows the Alipay logo in Ant Group’s office in Shanghai, China, on Aug. 28, 2020.
The U.S. Sets Its Eyes on Chinese Fintech Companies
The U.S. government will likely increase restrictions on the use of Chinese payment systems in the United States, but any decisions regarding broader action on Chinese data acquisition is unlikely ahead of the U.S. election in November. On Sept. 30, senior Trump administration officials reportedly discussed imposing new restrictions on WeChat Pay and Alipay -- the two payment apps owned by the Chinese fintech giants Tencent and Ant Group, respectively. Some White House officials have advocated for wider restrictions that could affect the use of the payment apps outside the United States as part of the administration’s push to limit China’s overall access to the U.S. market due to national security concerns. But any initial U.S. restrictions will likely be limited to WeChat Pay and Alipay’s specific use in the United States and its access to U.S. technology in order to limit the risk of provoking Chinese retaliation and/or self-inflicted
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SITUATION REPORTOct 13, 2020 | 17:11 GMT
EU: Brussels to Impose Sanctions on Russian and Belarusian Officials
EU foreign affairs ministers agreed to impose sanctions against high-ranking Belarusian authorities including President Alexander Lukashenko due to the government’s crackdown on protesters in the country, Euractiv reported on Oct. 12. The ministers also approved asset freezes and travel bans on Russian people and entities potentially involved in the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. 
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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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SITUATION REPORTOct 9, 2020 | 20:26 GMT
Europe: Regional COVID-19 Lockdowns Tightened in Germany, France, Italy and Spain
German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with the mayors of the country’s largest cities to discuss joint measures to deal with Germany’’s rising number of COVID-19 infections, AP reported Oct. 9. The French government also recently announced that the cities of Lyon, Lille, Grenoble and Saint-Etienne will go on “maximum COVID-19 alert” beginning Oct. 10. On Oct. 9, the Spanish government declared a state of emergency in the Madrid region, and in Italy, the province of Latina will be under special restrictions for two weeks amid a sharp increase of infections in the area.
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AssessmentsOct 8, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto (left) and opposition leader Raila Odinga (right) listen to President Uhuru Kenyatta (center) give a speech in Nairobi, Kenya, on Nov. 27, 2019.
In Kenya, the Stage Is Set for Another Tumultuous Election Season
A growing rift between Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto could break up the ruling Jubilee Party ahead of 2022 elections, raising the risk of ethnic violence that could damage investor confidence in one of Africa’s leading economies. On Oct. 2, the Jubilee Party’s National Management Committee recommended that Ruto be removed from his post after he and his allies stormed the party’s headquarters to try to hold a meeting. A scenario where Kenyatta backs an opposition leader and Ruto is removed from office would likely result in localized levels of violence in the lead-up and aftermath of the ballot. Such violence would likely also remain concentrated in the country's more ethnically-dominated rural areas. But demonstrations and attacks in cities such as Nairobi and Mombasa that result in short-term shutdowns of ports, roads and rail travel cannot be ruled out, as metropolitan areas are also home to all
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AssessmentsOct 6, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Philippine and Chinese coast guard ships sail past each other in the South China Sea on May 14, 2019.
The Philippines Takes a Tougher Approach to Its South China Sea Claims
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s South China Sea policy is becoming less conciliatory toward China, as he tries to balance growing pressure from within his administration to revitalize Manila’s security cooperation with the United States against the need to preserve his country’s economic ties with Beijing. The Duterte administration has recently made a number of statements emphasizing the Philippines’ extensive maritime dispute with China. This suggests a notable shift in Manila’s approach toward China, as the Philippine government has largely avoided making points of contention with Beijing since 2016. However, there appear to be divisions between the president and key members of his cabinet on the matter. 
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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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SITUATION REPORTSep 14, 2020 | 21:13 GMT
Israel: Cabinet Approves Three-Week Lockdown Starting Sept. 18
The Israeli Cabinet approved a three-week lockdown that will bar Israelis from traveling more than 500 meters from home except for essentials, closing schools and limiting the private sector in a repeat of the country's strict April lockdown aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19, The Times of Israel reported Sept. 13.
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