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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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SnapshotsSep 23, 2020 | 21:23 GMT
U.S., Russia: What to Make of Washington's Reversal on New START
The success of the White House’s attempt to score a pre-election foreign policy win by shifting its position in favor of a temporary New START extension will depend on Russia playing along, though Washington’s long-term goal of expanding the nuclear arms control treaty to a trilateral framework still rests entirely on China. In an interview with daily Russian newspaper Kommersant published on Sept. 21, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control Marshall Billingslea said the United States was now open to extending the arms agreement it signed with Moscow in 2010, which is currently set to expire on Feb. 5, but by no more than five years. Washington will only agree to such an extension, however, if Russian President Vladimir Putin agrees to either a joint statement or memorandum of intent (MOI) outlining the framework of a successor treaty with U.S. President Donald Trump prior to the November presidential election.
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SnapshotsSep 17, 2020 | 21:19 GMT
U.S.: Is the Fed Out of Ammo?
Comments by Fed Chairman Jerome Powell indicate growing concern that the Federal Reserve lacks the policy tools needed to achieve objectives related to U.S. employment and inflation. Monetary policy can no longer create demand in the U.S. economy and further fiscal stimulus is needed.
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SnapshotsSep 14, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
New U.S. Sanctions Against Hezbollah Risk Thwarting Lebanon's Progress
New U.S. Sanctions against Hezbollah risk extending Lebanon's economic and political crises by undercutting French efforts to broker Lebanese domestic political and economic reforms, which require the Iran-backed militant group and political party's support. On Sept. 8, the United States issued sanctions against two Lebanese politicians for engaging in corruption and providing "material support" to Hezbollah. The policy change appears to expand U.S. actions in recent years against the group, which has long been a target of Washington's efforts to counter Iranian proxies and allies throughout the Middle East. This is the first time the United States has targeted individuals with second-order connections to the group, broadening its scope of sanctions in ways that will impact a larger cross-section of Lebanese politicians across all major factions. The widening net will also create regulatory barriers that are likely to further spook investors and international institutions, including the International Monetary Fund.
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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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AssessmentsSep 2, 2020 | 11:00 GMT
A view looking up at the U.S. Federal Reserve building in Washington D.C. on July 1, 2020.
What to Make of the U.S. Fed's New Approach to Inflation
The U.S. Federal Reserve's switch from inflation targeting to inflation averaging confirms it will keep interest rates near zero for a prolonged period, even if prices begin to rise. This will not have an immediate impact on monetary policy given extended shortfalls from targets by both the Fed and other major central banks. But the move may pressure the European Central Bank (ECB) and others to also adopt new approaches to inflation and employment. It will likely result in a somewhat weaker U.S. dollar for a longer time as well, which will come as relatively good news for emerging markets barring another shift in global risk aversion. 
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On GeopoliticsSep 2, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A satellite image of the United States at night.
The U.S.'s Eurasia Obsession, Part 2: The China Challenge
The United States is in the midst of a strategic refocus from counterterrorism and rogue nation control, to so-called great power competition. While Russia, the Cold War counterpart, remains a concern, China has emerged as the primary near-peer threat. This is reawakening a key element that has long shaped U.S. foreign policy and strategic assessment -- the major power of the Eurasian continent. But U.S. culture is split over the best way to deal with a Eurasian competitor, and domestic political and economic divisions will make it difficult for the United States to maintain a consistent strategy. 
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