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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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AssessmentsAug 3, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
An oil pumpjack operates in Signal Hill, California, on April 21, 2020, a day after oil prices dropped to below zero amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Amid a Global COVID-19 Resurgence, Oil Prices Are Poised to Stall
The resurgence of COVID-19 infections in many countries around the world has undermined the oil market's notion that the recovery in petroleum product demand will continue upward in the absence of a vaccine. Expectations of a swift demand recovery in recent weeks have also been hampered by concerns about new mandatory lockdowns in places where economic activity had resumed, as well as slower economic recoveries elsewhere. Crude oil prices are thus likely to stall heading into the fourth quarter of 2020 as global demand remains sluggish, while modest rises in OPEC+ supply undermine efforts to rapidly balance the market and drain excess inventories. This means the fiscal position of countries highly dependent on oil export revenues will likely continue to be strained, and that any recovery in drilling activity and the oilfield services sector will also be slow.
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SnapshotsJul 31, 2020 | 14:48 GMT
The U.S. Economic Recession Grows Deeper and Bleaker
The United States is likely to experience a weak economy for a prolonged period, which, when combined with high debt levels, will have long-lasting effects on federal spending and perhaps even Washington's ability to exercise global influence as the country turns inward. The United States' pandemic-induced recession may have bottomed out in the April-June quarter, with GDP shrinking at a record pace. But with growth sluggish even before the pandemic, prospects for the U.S. economy remain stark. Base effects alone probably ensure positive growth in the third quarter of 2020, though signs the U.S. recovery is already slowing means another contraction in the fourth quarter cannot be ruled out. And with infections on the rise across America, there's an increasing chance that U.S. GDP growth could remain below pre-pandemic levels for years to come. 
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SnapshotsJul 29, 2020 | 18:37 GMT
Is Uganda's 30-Year Run of Political Stability Nearing an End?
The presidential candidacy of Ugandan pop star Bobi Wine represents the most significant challenge to the country's longtime president, Yoweri Museveni, whose failure to address growing youth unemployment and disillusionment with the current ruling elite is placing the country on a long-term trajectory of political unrest. Wine has been able to connect with younger Ugandan voters in a way that previous opposition figures could not. Museveni and his ruling NRM party will pull out all the stops to ensure they remain in power, including crackdowns on Wine and his party's rallies, which will increase the risk of pre-and post-election unrest. But even if Museveni can control the outcome of the next election, his failure to address increasing political and economic grievances suggests Uganda’s 30-year run of political stability is nearing an end.
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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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AssessmentsJul 17, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A general view of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam near Guba, Ethiopia, on Dec. 26, 2019.
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam Is Filling Its Reservoir. What's Next?
The filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam's reservoir was not initiated by Ethiopian government action, but rather the alignment of the project's construction timeline and weather patterns. But while this will mitigate the near-term impact on the flow of the Nile Basin river system into Egypt, tensions between Addis Ababa and Cairo will likely again increase when water availability decreases after the rainy season. The concept of Addis Ababa restricting the Nile River flow to fill the dam's reservoir has become controversial due to Egyptian opposition and failure to reach a negotiated arrangement. But according to Ethiopia's water minister, recent heavy rains caused its water levels to grow rapidly without the government taking direct action. 
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AssessmentsJul 16, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
The Huawei logo is pictured on a router during a 5G event in London on Feb. 20, 2020.
U.S. Actions Against Huawei Will Only Embolden China’s Push to Grow Its Tech Sector
Escalating U.S. actions against Huawei will only motivate China to pump its domestic technology sector with even more funding and talent, which will in turn prompt the United States to impose more restrictions on international companies doing business with Huawei and other Chinese firms that pose a threat to its global tech dominance. This will result in a cat-and-mouse game in which Washington deploys whatever financial and diplomatic tools are at its disposal to close any loopholes that China and Chinese tech companies can exploit to better compete with the West. 
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AssessmentsJul 15, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A view of Huawei’s U.K. headquarters in Reading, England.
In a Win for the U.S., the U.K. Moves to Oust Huawei From Its 5G Rollout
The United Kingdom's move to oust Chinese tech giant Huawei from its telecommunications networks in the coming years will not only impede the country's 5G rollout, but will further dim hopes for a U.K.-China trade deal that could help London expand its economic relationships beyond Europe post-Brexit. But the decision nonetheless marks a significant victory for the United States, which has been pressuring its European allies to purge Huawei from their 5G infrastructure -- especially if the British ban ends up being replicated elsewhere on the Continent.  
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AssessmentsJul 14, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
German Chancellor Angela Merkel wears a protective face mask as she attends a plenary session at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, on July 8, 2020.
Germany's Next Election Season Will Begin a Period of Political Turbulence
Disputes between outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her potential successor will likely lead to an ineffective government ahead of Germany's next parliamentary election, which will take place in late 2021 and could result in the collapse of the country's ruling coalition. In addition to reducing Berlin's ability to manage the economic fallout from COVID-19, this period of political turbulence will also slow the European Union's policymaking process as the rest of the bloc refrains from making meaningful decisions until its largest economy appoints a new government.
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SnapshotsJul 13, 2020 | 19:09 GMT
High Turnout in Hong Kong’s Opposition Primary Portends a Contentious Election Season
High voter turnout in Hong Kong's opposition primary demonstrates the pro-democracy camp's continued momentum toward a strong showing for the city's September legislative election. Despite fears of low turnout amid the draconian national security law, Hong Kong's July 11-12 unofficial pro-democratic primary attracted 610,000 voters -- 13.8 percent of the city's electorate and in excess of the 170,000-person target. The strong public mandate will help the opposition winnow down the normally massive pool of candidates in order to avoid splitting the vote to the advantage of pro-Beijing opponents. Instead of exerting a chilling effect on politics in the city, it also appears that the new national security law has galvanized the opposition, which bodes well for electoral turnout in September.
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GuidanceJul 13, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
An evening view of the western half of Hong Kong.
Hong Kong's Dollar Peg Likely Remains Safe From U.S. Sanctions -- For Now
U.S. President Donald Trump's expected signature of the Hong Kong Autonomy Act (HKAA) presages a policy challenge for his administration as it seeks to pressure China without further damaging the U.S.-China trade deal. This, combined with the need to avoid creating additional economic uncertainty ahead of the November election, suggests possible new sanctions will not pose an immediate threat to Hong Kong's currency peg to the U.S. dollar.
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On GeopoliticsJul 3, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A map of China.
China’s Rise as a Global Power Reaches Its Riskiest Point Yet
China is an empire in the modern sense -- a nation strengthened (but also held hostage) by its long supply chains, compelled to ever greater economic and political intercourse to preserve its interests, and increasingly drawn into the security sphere as well. It uses its economic, political and military leverage to expand its own direct sphere of operations, from the South China Sea to India and across Central Asia into Europe. The more engaged it is internationally, the more dependent it is on maintaining and strengthening those connections, which are critical for Chinese economic growth and, by extension, domestic management of its massive, diverse and economically unequal population. 
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