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AssessmentsOct 23, 2020 | 20:31 GMT
Former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri arrives at the office of President Michel Aoun, after the latter appointed him to form a government on Oct. 22, 2020, in Beirut, Lebanon.
In Lebanon, Hariri’s Return Will Ease Markets and Enrage Protesters
Saad Hariri’s return as Lebanon’s prime minister will unlock access to French aid and likely improve the country’s economic stability, but it will also trigger a fresh round of unrest by reinforcing popular perceptions that political reform is unlikely. On Oct. 22, Lebanese President Michel Aoun named Hariri, a prominent Sunni politician, prime minister-designate and tasked him with forming a government. Most political parties approved the nomination, indicating cross-sectarian approval for the three-time prime minister. The Iran-backed militant group and Shiite political party, Hezbollah, even tacitly approved Hariri’s nomination, despite disapproving of other candidates up to this point. 
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SnapshotsOct 21, 2020 | 22:02 GMT
Policemen walk near an overlook at the Giza Pyramids in Egypt ahead of a ceremony commemorating the launch of the site's first environmentally-friendly bus and restaurant on Oct. 20, 2020.
The Cost of Egypt’s Continued Economic Growth
Egypt’s strong macroeconomic performance amid the COVID-19 pandemic and continued appeal to foreign investors hold promise for Cairo’s near-term financial stability. But it does not resolve the country’s stubbornly high poverty levels, which will eventually become a political liability by stoking anti-government sentiment. In an address on Oct. 18, Egypt’s finance minister said economic growth has exceeded even the finance ministry’s previous projections for 2020. This confidence reflects recent positive adjustments to Egypt’s economic outlook projections by Fitch Ratings, Deutsche Bank and the International Monetary Fund -- all of which now see Egypt’s economy growing at 3.5 percent of GDP in this year, exceeding the performance of most of its regional peers. But Cairo’s ongoing pursuit of business-friendly economic reforms in lieu of measures that address rising poverty levels could backfire by raising the risk of social unrest that ultimately deters foreign investment.
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SnapshotsOct 20, 2020 | 17:49 GMT
A satellite image shows Europe at night.
The U.S. Ramps Up Financial Support to Central and Eastern Europe
U.S. financial support for the Three Seas Initiative shows the White House remains committed to its security and economic engagements in Central and Eastern Europe, with an eye on countering China and Russia’s presence in the region. On Oct. 19, the United States announced that it will contribute $300 million to the Three Seas Initiative Investment Fund, which finances cross-border energy, transport and digital infrastructure projects in the regions between the Baltic, Black and Adriatic Seas, raising its capital base to over $1.3 billion. The United States will use cooperation with the Three Seas Initiative to compete with China and Russia for influence in Central and Eastern Europe, as well as promote its foreign policy agenda in the region (which does not always align with that of the European Union). However, internal divisions among Three Seas Initiative countries will limit the effectiveness of such U.S. influence campaigns by weakening the group’s
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GuidanceOct 13, 2020 | 20:23 GMT
A promotional board for the annual series of meetings between the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank is seen outside the IMF headquarters in Washington D.C. on Oct. 13, 2020.
What to Watch for During This Week's IMF-World Bank Meetings
Growing debt vulnerabilities in emerging markets and developing countries amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, along with the enduring need to prop up global growth with money from developed countries, will be the primary focus of the virtual meetings between the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank over the next week. Between Oct. 12-22, the two global financial institutions will hold their annual series of joint discussions via video conference amid burgeoning disagreements on extending the Group of 20 (G-20)’s Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI), as well as broadening the plan to include more comprehensive treatment of debt stocks.
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AssessmentsOct 9, 2020 | 21:25 GMT
A view of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) building from the street in Washington D.C. on Sept. 25, 2020.
Zambia’s Imminent Debt Default
Zambia is expected to default on its external debt when the southern African country misses $118 million in interest payments on eurobonds due from Oct. 14 to March 2021. Hopes for a comprehensive debt restructuring are overly optimistic without major help from China, its largest creditor, as well as a substantial macroeconomic adjustment program supported by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Zambia is the first comprehensive case involving all creditor classes this year, and neither the Paris Club nor bondholders will restructure debt without appropriate burden-sharing by China.
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AssessmentsOct 1, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A masked Hamas militant mans a machine gun in the back of a pickup truck in the Palestinian city of Rafah, located in the southern Gaza Strip, on Oct. 17, 2019. The yellow flags of the Palestinian party Fatah can also be seen in the background.
Abandoned by Old Allies, Palestinian Leaders Turn to Turkey -- and Each Other
A Turkey-brokered agreement to hold the first Palestinian elections in 15 years suggests a new appetite for cooperation between the territories’ staunch political rivals, along with a new mediating role for Ankara, in light of warming Israeli-Arab Gulf relations. On Sept. 23-24, high-level representatives from Palestinian parties Fatah and Hamas met in Istanbul for a two-day discussion hosted by Turkey’s foreign ministry. After the meeting, a Hamas spokesperson announced that the two parties -- which have been engaged in more than a decade of infighting -- had agreed to begin planning elections within six months. 
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AssessmentsSep 30, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Farmers in Bangalore, India, stage an anti-government demonstration to protest against the recent passing of new agricultural reforms on Sept. 28, 2020.
In India, Modi Bets the Farm on Controversial Economic Reforms
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s new agricultural and labor reforms may help accelerate the country’s economic recovery from COVID-19, but the likely near-term financial losses for Indian farmers and unionized workers will risk fueling backlash from both protesters and state legislatures. The Indian parliament passed the reforms in an abbreviated monsoon session that ended Sept. 25. By usurping procedural legislative practices to close debate or refine the proposed agricultural reforms, the BJP was ultimately able to quickly push through its proposed legislation through a less precise voice vote in parliament instead of a typical ballot vote. 
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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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On GeopoliticsSep 7, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Cadets from China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy march in formation before a ceremony at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on Sept. 30, 2019.
China’s Amphibian Dilemma: Straddling Land and Sea Ambitions
China borders the largest number of countries by land, and its navy now boasts the largest number of battle force ships by sea. With the pressures and opportunities of both a continental and maritime power, China faces an amphibian’s dilemma, as the characteristics best suited for life at sea and life at land may not always prove complementary. Traditional continental powers are more prone to autocratic leadership to manage their challenges, while traditional maritime powers lean toward democratic systems and more open markets. China’s attempt to straddle both can intensify sectionalism and exacerbate differences between the interior core that remains continental in outlook, and the coastal areas that become more maritime in outlook.  This challenge is also highlighted in China’s attempts to reshape global norms and standards, which themselves largely represent the maritime world order. The apparent global political and economic dissonance is not merely caused by China seeking change, but
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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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Regions & CountriesSeptember 1, 2020 | 21:41 GMT
Hungary
Hungary
Hungary is a landlocked country in Central Europe located in the heart of the Pannonian Basin, a major agricultural area. Two major rivers cross the country from north to south: the Danube and the Tisza. Flat, fertile lands and rivers that facilitate trade explain why Hungary emerged as a regional power in the late ninth century; the combination also explains why Hungary attracted invaders. In fact, Hungary fell under partial Ottoman occupation between the 16th and 17th centuries, and then came under Habsburg rule. By the late 19th century, Hungary was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire along with Austria. Hungary's modern borders were defined after World War I, when the country lost 70 percent of its territory and almost 60 percent of its population to its neighbors. The new borders led to a series of territorial and ethnic disputes that have not been fully solved. During the Cold War, Hungary was a Soviet satellite. Like most of its neighbors, Hungary joined NATO in 1999 and the European Union in 2004. Hungary is an exports-oriented, high-income economy, and one of the main receivers of foreign direct investment in Central Europe. Its main trade partners are in the European Union, and the country is a net receiver of EU cohesion funds. However, in recent years the Hungarian government has been critical of some aspects of EU integration, and has so far decided not to join the eurozone. Hungary is also interested in keeping close ties with its Central European neighbors in the Visegrad Group, which also includes Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. While Hungary's main policy goal since the end of the Cold War has been to integrate into Western economic and security organizations, Budapest also seeks good ties with Russia, from whom it purchases most of its natural gas. After five centuries of being under the influence of bigger powers, Hungary's main geopolitical goal is to achieve as much autonomy as possible and to keep its options open, especially during times of competition between greater powers.
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Regions & CountriesSeptember 1, 2020 | 21:12 GMT
Norway
Norway

Located on the Scandinavian Peninsula, Norway shares land borders with Russia, Finland and Sweden and has coastline on the Barents, Norwegian and North Seas. The country’s core lies in the southeast around its capital Oslo. This lowland region is Norway’s most habitable and is closest to the more populated parts of Europe. With a rugged coastline consisting of about 50,000 islands, the Scandinavian Mountains stretching the length of the country and proximity to the Arctic, Norway is difficult to populate and, therefore, control. As a result, it has historically been dominated by regional powers such as Denmark and Sweden. After gaining independence in 1905 and maintaining neutrality throughout World War I, Norway was occupied by Nazi Germany in 1940 despite, again, proclaiming neutrality. Following the war, Norway joined NATO and tightened economic relations with continental Europe to increase its national security. As member of the European Economic Area, Norway is part of several European Union institutions. However, Norwegians rejected full EU membership in referendums in 1972 and 1994. With a population of only about 5 million people, Norway has forged close ties with other Nordic countries to stifle the influence of continental Europe and Russia. Offshore oil and natural gas discoveries in the late 1960s have made the country one of the richest in the world and are vital pillars to its modern economy. But as reserves in the North Sea are depleting, the Barents Sea and Arctic are gaining importance for their natural resources and potential trade routes. Therefore, the upcoming geographic challenge for Norway, with its small population, is to secure its interests in the north through exploration and regional collaboration.

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