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SnapshotsOct 21, 2020 | 16:00 GMT
A worker assembles a power distribution cabinet in Hangzhou, China, on Oct. 19, 2020.
China’s Economic Recovery Widens, But Risks Remain
Stronger, broader-based growth in China’s economy in the third quarter of 2020 underscores that it will be the only major economy to end the year with a larger GDP greater than it began with. Downside risks remain, but the opportunity to further Beijing’s strategic goals could bear economic fruit in the form of furthering policies that foster domestic self-reliance, even as low consumption persists and a COVID-19 resurgence in the United States and Europe threatens Chinese exports. According to official government statistics released on Oct. 19, China’s GDP growth accelerated to 4.9 percent (year-over-year) from 3.2 percent in the second quarter of 2020, even as it fell somewhat short of predictions. Negative growth for the year was reversed with the economy expanding by 0.7 percent in the first nine months of 2020, including the 6.8 percent decline in the first quarter. This shores up the public image of the Chinese
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AssessmentsOct 12, 2020 | 20:57 GMT
A picture taken during a helicopter tour organized by the government of the United Arab Emirates shows an aerial view of Dubai on July 8, 2020.
A Larger UAE Citizenry Would Mean Smoother Policymaking and Rockier Regional Ties
The United Arab Emirates is considering offering citizenship to its large expatriate population, which would significantly alter the country’s political economy, as well as its regional relationships, by assimilating non-Arab Gulf residents into its middle- and upper-classes. Over time, this new group of foreign-born Emirati citizens would likely erode the tribal and ethnic dynamics that have long shaped the governance of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, along with the cultural foundations driving many aspects of cooperation in the Arab Gulf. On Sept. 30, the Emirati government unveiled proposed changes to the country’s citizenship law that would ease the way for investors, long-term residents and wealthy foreigners to earn a permanent place in the country. With foreigners far outnumbering its local population, the United Arab Emirates’ current citizenship laws have offset the country’s long-standing demographic imbalances by ensuring the influence and prominence of its minority Emiratis via special legal and political protections. Changing
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ReflectionsOct 7, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
People wearing masks walk by the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in lower Manhattan on Oct. 5, 2020, in New York City.
Renewed COVID-19 Concerns Put U.S. Economic Growth in Doubt
New data shows the U.S. economic rebound remains underway but is running out of steam amid the country’s ongoing COVID-19 crisis, as acutely illuminated by President Donald Trump’s own diagnosis and recent hospitalization. What John Maynard Keynes described as “animal spirits” in 1936, today’s economists define as “sentiment,” “confidence,” or just plain “certainty” and “trust.” But regardless of what you call it, it appears Americans’ economic decisions are still being constrained by the course of the virus in their communities, and now their government -- underlining that the biggest threat to the United States and other global economies remains the continued, heightened uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
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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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On GeopoliticsSep 24, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A model of a customs road sign is seen at the mock U.K.-EU border, with a mock Big Ben in the background, at the Mini-Europe theme park in Brussels, Belgium, on May 20, 2020.
Why EU-U.K. Trade Talks Feel Like Brexit Deja Vu
If the current tensions in the trade talks between the United Kingdom and the European Union feel like a repetition of the 2019 disputes, when Britain negotiated its exit from the bloc, it’s because they are. Once more, a no-deal Brexit looms on the horizon, because unless Brussels and London reach an agreement, bilateral trade will happen under World Trade Organization tariffs starting next year. Like last year, both sides are exchanging threats and accusing each other of acting in bad faith. And, in the most notable deja vu from 2019, the status of Northern Ireland has reemerged as an obstacle to a deal. The explanation for this situation is simple: there are fundamental issues that the arrangements of 2019 left unresolved and have come back to jeopardize the negotiations in 2020. 
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SITUATION REPORTSep 9, 2020 | 21:54 GMT
U.S., China: Washington Preparing Bans on Cotton, Tomato Imports From Xinjiang
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection confirmed through a representative that it has prepared orders to restrict U.S. imports of cotton and tomato products from the Chinese region of Xinjiang over accusations of forced labor, but has delayed the announcement of these orders by several days, Reuters reported Sept. 9.
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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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SnapshotsSep 3, 2020 | 16:10 GMT
The Eurozone's Economic Rebound Loses Momentum
Early signs indicate the eurozone's economic rebound from the COVID-19 crisis is already losing steam, which will force governments to introduce new rounds of stimulus that deepen their already problematic fiscal deficits. The eurozone contracted by a record 12.1 percent during the second quarter of 2020 as lockdown measures negatively impacted consumption, investment and trade. The lifting of those measures led to an improvement in economic activity since late May, but recent indicators suggest that this rebound is weakening as the rise in COVID-19 cases forces governments to reintroduce social distancing measures and international travel warnings. 
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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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SnapshotsSep 1, 2020 | 16:24 GMT
U.S. Pressure on TikTok Prompts a Chinese Show of Legal Force
The recent expansion of Chinese export controls reflects a long-term strategy wherein Beijing will move to counter and match U.S. efforts to limit China's global tech rise, leading to a further decoupling of the world's two largest economies. On Aug. 28, the Chinese government increased restrictions on the export of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, including text-to-speech technology and data analysis to serve up personalized content. China's ministries in charge of commerce and science and technology jointly released a revised export-control list for the first time since it was compiled in 2008. With these updates, Beijing makes itself a more decisive player in the sale of the popular video-sharing app, TikTok. But more broadly, the new export controls also signal China will deploy its own legal tools to retaliate against the increasingly aggressive use of U.S. export controls to restrict Chinese tech companies abroad.
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SnapshotsAug 26, 2020 | 21:36 GMT
The U.S. Expands Its South China Sea Fight to Chinese Firms and Officials
New U.S. restrictions on Chinese companies and individuals involved in supporting Beijing’s actions in the South China Sea still fall short of more extreme options, demonstrating Washington’s desire to avoid derailing outreach to China, even as overall U.S.-China tensions continue to mount. On Aug. 26, the U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) added 24 Chinese companies to its entities list, which increases U.S. export controls, for supporting the militarization of China's maritime claims in the South China Sea, specifically citing the violation of Philippine sovereignty as upheld by the 2016 Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling. The list of entities includes five subsidiaries of the massive state-owned enterprise China Communications Construction Company, as well as one shipbuilding group and numerous telecommunications and electronics companies. The new export controls coincide with the U.S. State Department announcing it would also impose a visa ban on Chinese nationals found to be
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On GeopoliticsAug 21, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Pedestrians stand on top of a world map at a monument commemorating the Age of Exploration in Lisbon, Portugal.
China, the U.S., and the Geography of the 21st Century
The geographical perspective of the 21st century is just now being formed. And at its heart is a rivalry between China and the United States to succeed Europe’s 500-year centrality in the international system, which will be framed by a shift in global economic activity and trade, new energy resource competition, a weakening Europe and Russia, and a technological battle to control information. The new map of the next century will extend to the ocean floor for resources and subsea cables, to space where low-Earth orbit satellites drive communications, and into the ill-defined domain of cyberspace. 
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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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ReflectionsJun 10, 2020 | 17:06 GMT
A woman walks past closed shopfronts in what would be a normally busy fashion district in Los Angeles, California, on May 4, 2020.
Conflicting Data Muddies the U.S. Economic Outlook
The United States and other governments around the world face difficult policy decisions on fiscal stimulus amid great uncertainty regarding the course of their economies in light of the global COVID-19 crisis. But as evidenced by the conflicting data in the latest jobs report released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), it's proving difficult to find numbers and models that are both timely and use reliable data in order to gauge when economies will begin coming out of recovery on their own. Economic forecasts will be increasingly put under the microscope, making it important to understand what these predictions do and don't tell us.
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AssessmentsJun 7, 2020 | 19:41 GMT
Demonstrators protest police brutality and racism on June 6, 2020, in Washington.
Unrest in the United States: Excerpts From Threat Lens
As protests around the United States have expanded and evolved over the course of the last two weeks, we have covered tactical developments for our Threat Lens clients. Though some other readers may have perceived a lack of coverage, we wish to reiterate that we are not ignoring these historic events, but rather taking the time and effort the issue deserves to evaluate the broader geopolitical impacts of the social and political movements underway in the United States. In the interim, we wish to share excerpts of previous Threat Lens coverage with our Worldview and Enterprise subscribers; additional coverage on the topic on Worldview will be forthcoming.
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