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AssessmentsJan 14, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad is seen on Jan. 2, 2020, following an attack on the facility.
Iraq Faces America's Economic Wrath
For companies active in Iraq, threats to physical security -- whether from a possible military conflict between the United States and Iran, militia violence or a resurgent Islamic State -- aren't the only thing they need to worry about. That's because dark economic times could also be on the way, especially as U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to enact sanctions on Iraq if Baghdad continues to push for a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq following the U.S. assassination of Qassem Soleimani. If Baghdad pushes U.S. forces out, the aftermath, bluntly speaking, will be messy. Given that bilateral diplomatic relations would inevitably take a nosedive in such a situation, the United States would most likely impose punishing sanctions on Iraq. And even if such measures don't come to pass, the United States' campaign of maximum pressure on Iran will certainly leave Iraq worse for wear as well.
Contributor PerspectivesOct 17, 2019 | 09:30 GMT
This photo shows a protester in Hong Kong waving a banner of support for NBA team executive Daryl Morey.
China Calls a Foul, and the NBA Jumps
A groundbreaking game four decades ago in Beijing gave the NBA a toehold in basketball-crazy China. Over the intervening years, the league has tapped a gold mine in the country worth billions of dollars in TV rights and endorsements. The importance to the NBA of maintaining its Chinese operations became evident in the careful steps it's had to take to escape the political minefield that it found itself thrown into by an executive's tweet over Hong Kong.
Contributor PerspectivesSep 12, 2019 | 09:00 GMT
This June 29, 2015, file image shows the start of construction of the China-Russia east-route natural gas pipeline near Heihe, China.
In Russia's Pivot to Asia, Economic Attraction Lags Hard Power
Russia held the fifth Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in Vladivostok, its main Far Eastern city on its Pacific coast, on Sept. 4-6. The forum has been held annually since 2015 to showcase Moscow's commitment to the development of its vast Far Eastern areas and closer economic links with Asia. Russia's "turn to the East" began more than a decade ago. In December 2006, Putin convened a meeting of the Kremlin's Security Council, where it was decided to prioritize the development of the Russian Far East, a huge landmass stretching from the Trans-Baikal region to the Pacific Ocean. At this meeting, Putin invoked Russia's perennial fear of losing its Asian periphery, stressing that the underdevelopment of the country's sparsely populated but resource-rich Far East posed "a grave threat to our political and economic positions in Asia and the Pacific, and to the national security of Russia as a whole." The 2008 global financial crisis helped convince the Kremlin that the center of economic
Contributor PerspectivesAug 21, 2019 | 19:28 GMT
A visual representation of bitcoin on display on April 3, 2019, in Paris.
The Future of Cryptocurrencies
More than 10 years since the first bitcoin transaction in January 2009, and almost two years since a speculative spike pushed the price per bitcoin to almost $20,000, cryptocurrencies are moving beyond cypherpunks and anti-government culture into the world of governments and traditional institutions. The transition is impossible to ignore. While some governments, central banks and financial companies see cryptocurrencies as a threat, others want to harness the advantages they offer. And some governments see cryptocurrencies as a way to save their own struggling economies. To understand whether nonsovereign currencies can serve as a default currency and what threat they pose to governments or how beneficial they might become, it's useful to examine some of the most interesting geopolitical and corporate use cases available.
AssessmentsAug 8, 2019 | 09:00 GMT
This Landsat photograph from 1972 shows the Pakistani-Iranian border.
Pakistan Struggles to Make Good on a Golden Opportunity in Balochistan
In a remote and arid corner of southwestern Pakistan, Islamabad has found itself embroiled in a difficult battle: a multibillion-dollar dispute with a global mining company over one of the world's richest untapped deposits of copper and gold. In July, the World Bank's International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) ordered Pakistan to pay $5.9 billion in damages to the Tethyan Copper Co., a joint venture between Canada's Barrick Gold Corp. and Chile's Antofagasta PLC. The ruling stems from a 2012 case that Tethyan lodged at the ICSID against Islamabad for failing to issue a license to mine gold and copper at the Reko Diq site. The case draws attention to the rich resources of Balochistan, Pakistan's rugged southwestern frontier in which Reko Diq is located, as well as the tug of war between domestic Pakistani law and international arbitration in resolving investor disputes. But above all, the Reko Diq
On SecurityJun 18, 2019 | 10:00 GMT
China is home to the largest aero-engine maintenance base in Asia.
Common Misconceptions About China's Corporate Espionage Tactics
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the dangers of setting different security standards for information stored in "riskier" areas (such as Beijing) versus "safer" areas (such as Brussels). I argued that the threat posed by sophisticated corporate espionage actors, such as Chinese intelligence agencies, is global in nature, which is why security programs to defend against them must also have a global scope. As I have discussed this topic in more depth with clients, readers, the media and my Stratfor colleague Fred Burton in a recent podcast, it occurred to me that the belief that the espionage threat is limited to certain locations only scratched the surface of several other dangerous misperceptions -- especially when it comes to considering the threat posed by Chinese human intelligence operations.
AssessmentsJan 2, 2019 | 10:00 GMT
Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, left, inspect the troops during a welcoming ceremony at the Malacanang Palace in Manila on Nov. 20, 2018.
The Philippines Waits for a Chinese Windfall
Since 2016, conciliation with China has been the name of the game for Philippine foreign policy planners. Under President Rodrigo Duterte, Manila has de-emphasized thorny South China Sea disputes in favor of pursuing cooperation with China in the hopes of freeing up resources to quell internal instability while attracting Chinese investment to bolster the Philippine economy and even out the island country's deep regional development disparities. For Beijing, the warmer relations with Manila align with its preference for dealing with each of the South China Sea's claimants on a bilateral basis, along with its overall regional strategy to leverage its economic heft for strategic advantage. As Duterte nears the midpoint of his term in office, the jury is still out on whether his approach has been a success. Despite two high-profile state visits and a raft of pledges, Chinese investment has yet to flow into the archipelago. Ultimately, if China wants
SnapshotsOct 17, 2018 | 21:08 GMT
U.S.: The Latest Sanctions Against Iran Cast a Wide Secondary Net
The U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned 20 Iranian companies and financial institutions and reclassified nine more as Specially Designated Global Terrorist entities subject to secondary U.S. sanctions. While the Treasury Department's imposition of sanctions on Iran is nothing new, the nuances of this latest move mark a significant escalation in U.S. strategy. The 20 businesses are tied to the Bonyad Taayon Basij network, which has established a number of shell companies in Iran's auto, mining, metals and banking sectors to mask ownership as a way to shield itself from sanctions. OFAC now claims that the companies in the network have dealings across the Middle East and Europe that make them worthy targets. The critical difference between this set of sanctions and earlier ones is that the penalized organizations have multiple -- in the most extreme case, seven to eight -- degrees of separation from the
MemosOct 9, 2018 | 15:59 GMT
Austin's LASA high school teachers, Neil Lowenstein and Cody Moody (pictured left), generously share the details of their student project.
How Stratfor Became a Game-Changer for LASA High School
A social studies teacher of world geography at The Liberal Arts and Sciences Academy (LASA), an Austin, Texas-based high school, describes how Stratfor's geopolitical intelligence and analysis have informed and influenced his lessons and students.
AssessmentsJul 5, 2018 | 09:00 GMT
As it makes changes to its economy, China is intent on ensuring greater control over the entire supply chain for lithium-ion batteries for years to come.
How China Is Muscling In on Lithium-Ion Batteries
From the salt flats of the Atacama Desert in Chile to the savannas of the Congo, the makers and users of the world's batteries are scrambling to secure the vital raw materials needed to produce the lithium-ion cells that will power electric vehicles around the globe. But no battery-makers are more aggressive than those from China, which is working to lock down the entire supply chain for its companies. Meanwhile, the United States will rely on economies of scale to compete in storage-cell manufacturing, turning toward North American raw material producers to ensure supplies whenever possible. Even then, the country will face stiff competition from Chinese investors -- to say nothing of European automobile companies, who will be compelled to increase their reliance on China. Buoyed by support from the highest levels of government, Chinese companies are likely to find few challengers over the next decade and a half as
SnapshotsJun 15, 2018 | 19:13 GMT
Congo: Kabila's Government Flexes Its Power Over the Cobalt Market
After implementing the Democratic Republic of the Congo's demanding new mining regulations on June 9, President Joseph Kabila's government has shown little interest in bending to mining companies' requests or suggestions. After all, Kabila's country has the upper hand, buoyed by continued Chinese investments, a lack of real competitors in the cobalt markets and a substantial share of other strategic metals like copper. The Congolese government will likely be able to force mining companies and manufacturers operating in the country to comply with its increasingly onerous demands -- at least until alternative markets and technologies come online, which will take at least three years to emerge and more to fully diversify.
SnapshotsMay 2, 2018 | 22:07 GMT
A map shows sub-Saharan Africa
Congo: Problems for Miner of Copper and Cobalt Only Multiply
With the rapid rise in the prices of certain minerals and metals, commodity-rich nations in Africa are looking to capture a greater share of this bonanza. To take advantage of the growing demand for key metals such as cobalt and vanadium, developing countries can either open up mining operations to foreign direct investment or try to collect more revenue from their raw materials. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is taking the second approach, which is adding to the problems facing Glencore PLC, one of the country's larger mining operators.
AssessmentsApr 19, 2018 | 09:00 GMT
Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) shakes hands with Vladimir Bogdanov, CEO of Surgutneftegas oil and gas company, in Moscow on April 30, 2016.
New U.S. Sanctions on Russia Make It Personal
Moscow has had time to adjust to and anticipate economic restrictions in the four years since the European Union and United States first imposed sanctions. Though the latest sanctions' announcement drove the ruble down to its lowest point since December 2016 and brought the Russia Trading System index down 13 percent, both recovered within a few days. The Russian economy is stabilizing after years of recession, and the country's National Wealth Fund stood at $65.9 billion as of April 1. Finance Minister Anton Siluanov, in fact, has said that the Kremlin may actually wind up with a budget surplus this year, depending on energy revenues. The targets of the sanctions will be the ones bearing the brunt of the new restrictions, but that detail doesn't mean the Kremlin won't respond.
Quarterly ForecastsMar 11, 2018 | 22:11 GMT
The White House will bump up against the laws of the United States and the central tenets of the World Trade Organization as it launches a global trade offensive in the name of national security.
2018 Second-Quarter Forecast
All eyes will be fixed on the White House this quarter as it launches a trade offensive whose collateral damage will span the globe. As economic and political pressure mounts against China, North Korea will use a temporary detente with the South to undermine the United States' containment strategy against it.
SnapshotsFeb 1, 2018 | 22:36 GMT
Australia, China: Stepping Up Scrutiny of Foreign Investment
Australia, one of the most China-dependent economies outside the developing world, is beginning to curb investment from the Asia-Pacific titan. China accounts for 30 percent of Australia's trade, in addition to investing in key sectors. But this reliance has long caused ripples of controversy, because it touches on the deeper fears of isolation and of foreign control arising from Australia's geopolitical position. Amid a roiling controversy over Chinese influence over Australian politicians and parties, the country unveiled tighter restrictions on investments, citing national security concerns while turning an eye toward China.
AssessmentsJan 8, 2018 | 08:00 GMT
As a key component in lithium-ion batteries, cobalt has become an important commodity in the growing electronics and electric vehicle markets.
Cobalt: A Metal Poised to Peak
As the demand for electric vehicles increases over the coming decades, so, too, will the demand -- and the price -- for the raw materials required to produce them. Increased demand for elements such as lithium and cobalt will lead to potential supply bottlenecks over the course of the next several years. And while the media has touted the potential of lithium -- as the eponymous component of lithium-ion batteries -- to be the raw material that powers the gradual transition away from fossil fuel-reliant transportation, it has understated the significance of one element in the equation: cobalt. Lithium-ion batteries require lithium, yes, but they also require something else. Under the constraints of present technology, that something is more often than not cobalt.
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