Results 51–98 of 98 found.
The 2014 Geopolitical Outlook
As is our custom, we close out the current year with our outlook for the next one. This report is less a series of predictions as it is a list of potential geopolitical issues that we believe will dominate the international situation in the upcoming year. It is not designed to be exhaustive; instead, it focuses on the "big picture" conditions that we believe will affect policy and markets going forward. They are listed in order of importance.
Best Consumed Below Zero?
In this report, we will turn our attention to Denmark to study its decision to undertake the below-zero rate, the specifics of the situation that prompted it and the effects of the negative rate on financial conditions and the broader economy. We will then briefly look at the possibility of a below-zero rate policy for the ECB and, most importantly, the geopolitical ramifications of the decision by the worlds second largest currency block to ease into unknown consequences of negative rates to stimulate the economy.
Elections in Chile
On November 17, Chileans went to the polls to vote on a new president and parliament. In this report, we offer short biographies of the two Chilean presidential candidates, focusing mostly on Michelle Bachelet. From there, we will provide a short history of Chile, primarily to highlight the tensions between the forces of liberalization and reaction. An examination of the Allende-Pinochet period will detail the factors that have affected Chiles political structure over the past five decades. As always, we will conclude with market ramifications.
France and the Iranian Negotiations
Earlier this month, negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 failed to reach an agreement despite great hopes that one was near. In this report, we will examine the reasons behind French objections to a nuclear deal with Iran. We will begin with an examination of Frances relations with the Middle East, focusing on its relations with Israel. Using this history as a guide, we will analyze why the French scotched the potential agreement. A short discussion will follow of the impact of Frances objection on the evolution of U.S. policy with Iran. As always, we conclude with market ramif
The End Times for Strategic Ambiguity
Strategic ambiguity is defined as a condition where various parties say something similar but believe something entirely different. A good example of this is U.S. and Chinese policy toward Taiwan. Both nations say Taiwan is part of China. The U.S. believes that Taiwans democratic government should become the model for the mainland, whereas China believes Taiwan should be part of its nation as it is currently structured. Because both nations say the same thing, the policy difference is not publicly obvious and thus not a problem, at least as long as the ambiguity lasts.
The Egyptian Coup: an Update
In this report, we will update developments in Egypt and discuss how the militarys actions increase the odds of future problems. We will study the militarys goals for the coup. From there, we will examine the Obama administrations difficult position and how the Egyptian coup has caused a divergence of responses from regional powers. As always, we will conclude with potential market ramifications.
The Embassy Closings
In the first week of August, the Obama administration announced the closing of 22 embassies and consulates across the Middle East and North Africa. In this report, we will discuss the role of the embassy for a superpower, the return of al Qaeda, including its strengths and weaknesses, the nature of the terrorist groups intelligence and an examination of other actions that may be behind activities in Yemen.As always, we will conclude with potential market ramifications.
The U.S. Energy Revolution
In March 1971, the Texas Railroad Commission (TRC), which allocated oil production for the state of Texas, announced that producers in the state would be allowed a full allocation. This was the first time the TRC had allowed Texas producers to supply an unlimited amount of crude oil since WWII.
The Egyptian C#@P
From June into early July, the government of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was under pressure from widespread civil unrest. On July 3rd, the military, after warning the president that he had 48 hours to make changes or face an ouster, made good on their promise. The title of our report is tongue in cheek as the Obama administration and other officials are going to Orwellian lengths to say this isnt a coup.
The 2013 Mid-Year Geopolitical Update
At mid-year, we customarily publish our geopolitical outlook for the second half of the year. This list is not designed to be exhaustive. As is often the case, a myriad of potential problems in the world could become issues in the second half of the year. The lineup listed below details, in our opinion, the issues most likely to have the greatest impact on the world. However, we do recognize the potential for surprises which we will discuss throughout the year in upcoming weekly reports.
The Iranian Surprise
On June 14, Iranian voters went to the polls and overwhelmingly supported Hassan Rouhani. Pre-election handicapping did not give Rouhani much of a chance but a series of events led to his unexpected crushing victory. Rouhani won just under 51% of the vote, eliminating the need for a runoff (presidential candidates must secure a majority to win). The next closest candidate was Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, with 17%. The supposed front runner (and favorite of Ayatollah Khamenei), Saeed Jalili, secured a disappointing 11%.
The Snowden Affair
Over the past two weeks, revelations published in The Guardian and the Washington Post reported on a massive data gathering program that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been operating since 2001. The NSA, created during the Truman administration, mostly monitors signal intelligence and is the primary cryptographer for the U.S. government.
Capitalism and Democracy
In the Italian elections, the party that showed the strongest results was the Five Star Movement, led by the comedian Beppe Grillo. Despite this strong showing, the party failed to form a government and refused to participate in any coalitions. This decision not to participate in the political process has been exhibited by other protest groups, such as Occupy Wall Street, the Israeli Tent Movement, and the Spanish Indignant movement.
Syria and the Red Line
On Thursday, April 25, Secretary of Defense Hagel acknowledged that evidence that chemical weapons exposure occurred in Syria was probably accurate. This news dominated the Sunday talk shows, mostly because President Obama had indicated that Syrian military use of chemical weapons would be a game changer and a red line that would trigger a U.S. and international response. Now that it appears that somehow chemical weapons exposure did occur, the world awaits to see what exactly the president meant by a response.
The Boston Marathon Bombing
In this report, given the extensive media coverage of the event, we will not go into much detail on the attack itself except to illustrate points about the origins of the act. We will discuss why we think the Boston Marathon Bombing was the work of grassroots amateurs and what that means for the nations security. We will touch on how humans become radicalized and how managing that condition challenges democracies. As always, we will examine the ramifications of this event on the financial and commodity markets.
The 2030 Non-state World
Several weeks ago we started looking at the alternative world scenarios as projected by the National Intelligence Council (NIC). The NIC issues a long-term strategic outlook every five years and projects a forecast from this analysis for the following 15-20 years. In the most recent report, Global Trends 2030, the NIC proposes four alternative world scenarios. We are now turning to the last projected outlook, the Non-state World. Under this scenario non-state actors aided by emerging technologies will have increasing influence, as the importance of traditional nation-states decays.
The Asian Economic Crisis and the IMF
In May 1997, a speculative run against the Thai baht became the first clear signal that a problem was developing in Asia. Over the next three years, Asia and other emerging markets, including Russia and Brazil, were rocked by a historic financial crisis. These nations recovered strongly in the following eight years and generally made it through the 2007-09 global financial crisis in relatively good shape. However, the impact of the Asian economic crisis remains a major factor in the behavior of these emerging nations.
The Return of the Ottomans
Over the past two weeks, Turkey has taken two significant actions. First, while President Obama was visiting the region, Israeli PM Netanyahu offered Turkey an apology for the 2010 commando raid on the MV Mavi Mamara, a Turkish ship that was delivering aid to the Gaza Strip. The vessel was trying to run an Israeli blockade, which was put in place to prevent the region from receiving arms shipments. In the raid, nine people on the Turkish ship died, including eight Turks and one American. Ten Israeli commandos were wounded.
The Crisis in Cyprus
Over the weekend of March 16, Cyprus announced it was taxing deposits in order to recapitalize its banking system. The proposal, which levied a tax of 9.9% for deposits under 100k and 12.5% for amounts over that level, caused a severe political backlash. The Cypriot legislature would not approve the measure. In the days following, a banking holiday was put in place to prevent banking runs. The Troika (the EU, the IMF and ECB), who approve bailouts for the Eurozone, negotiated into late Sunday, March 24, before reaching a deal.
North Korea's Problem
In December, North Korea launched a satellite into orbit, which was a violation of U.N. resolutions against ballistic missile tests. Last month, it carried out its third nuclear test, which was apparently more successful than the previous two attempts. The U.N., with Chinese approval, approved additional sanctions on the regime.
On the afternoon of March 5, the vice president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, announced that President Hugo Chavez, who had led the country since 1999, had died. His death did not come as a great surprise. He had been suffering from cancer for nearly two years. Last year, declaring himself cured, he ran for president and won a third term handily. However, by December, he needed additional treatment in Cuba. As he prepared for what proved to be the final round of therapy, he appointed Maduro as the leader of Venezuela in his absence.
The 2030 Increasing Inequality Scenario
Last month we started looking at the 2030 alternative world development scenarios as laid out by the National Intelligence Council (NIC). The NIC forecasts the likely paths that are either currently underway or are forecast to occur in the future. In its most recent report, the NIC projects four possible global political and economic states based on expected trends. Last time, we presented the most likely best case scenario. This week, we will explore the third scenario, under which the world gets wealthier as a whole, but inequalities increase.
Reflections on Sequester
Over the past several weeks, the notion of sequester, a plan of across the board spending cuts, has been dominating the news. The sequester was a program designed to never go into effect. In the dark days of 2011, when the debt ceiling debate threatened to cause the U.S. to default on its debt, the administration and the House GOP made a deal. In return for a higher debt ceiling, one high enough to ensure that it would not be hit before the 2012 presidential elections, a commission was tasked to make significant cuts to fiscal spending.
The Difficult Transition to Democracy
The Arab Spring has turned into something of a disappointment. In Tunisia, the recent assassination of Shokri Belaid, a secularist opposition leader, has increased tensions. S&P recently downgraded the countrys sovereign risk due to rising political turmoil. In Egypt, protests have returned, this time against the Muslim Brotherhood-led government. Yemen remains in chaos. Syria is essentially in a civil war. Unrest continues in Bahrain but the minority Sunni leadership remains entrenched, mostly due to military support from Saudi Arabia.
The 2030 Most Likely Best Case Scenario
Two weeks ago we started looking at the 2030 alternative world development scenarios as laid out by the National Intelligence Council (NIC). The NIC forecasts the likely paths that are either currently underway or are forecast to occur in the future. In its most recent report, the NIC projects four possible global political and economic states based on these expected trends. Last time, we presented the most likely worst case scenario. This week, we will explore the most likely best case scenario.
When the last U.S. troops officially left Iraq on December 17, 2011, it seemed Iran was the big winner. Iraq was being ruled by a Shiite coalition. Its military was weak and no longer a threat to Iran. Along with its ally in Syria and its proxy Hezbollah in Lebanon, there was growing talk of a "Shiite Arc" that ran from Iran to the Mediterranean Sea. Although Western sanctions were in place, Iran had become adept in working around them.
The 2030 Outlook
Over the next several weeks we will look into the more distant future, to the year 2030. We will explore the long-term strategic alternative world development scenarios as laid out by the National Intelligence Council (NIC) and present our views regarding the developments. The NIC forecasts the likely paths that are either currently underway or are forecast to occur in the future. The NIC projects four possible global political and economic states based on these expected trends.
The Complicated Case of Mali
On January 11, 2013, French President Francois Hollande announced the French military was intervening in Mali at the request of the government. The Mali military was reeling in the face of jihadist rebels from the north who were making rapid inroads toward the south. Although the U.N. Security Council had authorized an African-led military intervention in Mali to contain the rebels, it had been ineffective. Thus, France "piggybacked" off that resolution to justify its intervention.
Japan: Tip of the Spear
On Sunday, December 16, 2012, Shinzo Abe, the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), led his coalition to a decisive electoral victory in Japan. The LDP won 294 out of 480 seats and, with the additional 29 seats captured by its coalition partner, the New Komeito Party, will control the lower house in the Japanese Diet. Abe was named the new prime minister ten days later.
The 2013 Geopolitical Outlook
As is our custom, in mid-December, we publish our geopolitical outlook for the coming year. This list is not designed to be exhaustive. As is often the case, a myriad of potential problems in the world could become issues in the coming year. The lineup listed below details, in our opinion, the issues most likely to have the greatest impact on the world. However, we do recognize the potential for surprises which we will discuss throughout the year in the weekly reports.
The Muslim Brotherhood Consolidates Power
On November 22nd, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi issued a decree that effectively gave him unchecked power. The decree allowed him to unilaterally legislate without oversight by the judiciary. This action clearly rattled those opposed to the president and his political party. Demonstrations ensued and there were numerous threats from the judiciary to obstruct the president's newly declared power.
Syria: The Problem of Intervention
The situation in Syria continues to deteriorate. The rebels, though divided, are acquiring heavy weapons (there have been reports they have some tanks), mostly by taking them from the regime. Apparently, the rebels are also attracting former soldiers who can operate such weapons. Still, there is nothing to suggest that either side is about to dominate the other and so the current civil conflict will likely continue.
Scotland: The Same, Only Better?
As the Eurozone countries are trying to find the functional balance between national sovereignty and Eurozone-wide central control on the national level, fractures are also appearing within the nation states themselves. Additionally, the Northern European countries are questioning the extent to which they should be expected to bail out the Southern countries, while the wealthier regions of the nation states reason that they would be more efficient in managing their internal fiscal budgets.
A Bombing in Lebanon
The larger issue is related to Syria's civil war and the growing potential for the conflict to regionalize. In this report, we will offer a short history of Lebanon and Syria, examine the current state of the conflict in Syria and discuss the potential for the Syrian civil war to become a regional conflict. As always, we will conclude with potential market ramifications.
The Little Country That Could
In this geopolitical report we will take a brief look at Estonia's history, its economy after the break-up of the Soviet Union, its remarkable economic growth in the 1990s and early 2000s, and the ensuing downturn in 2008. The country stands out for choosing a different path to deal with the recession than many other European countries.
On September 27th, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu gave a speech before the U.N. General Assembly. Although it will be best remembered for his "looney toons" prop of a cardboard bomb which he used to describe when Iran crosses the "red line" (which, appropriately enough, was drawn on the bomb with a red marker), the real story of the speech was his apparent climb down from pressing for an attack on Iran.
Echoes of the Arab Spring
In this report, we will discuss the issue of American foreign policy, democracy and the emerging world. Our primary focus will be on the Arab states. From there, we will examine the particular issues of democratization and regime change for a few selected nations in the Middle East. As always, we will conclude with potential market ramifications.
The 9/11 Lessons for Terrorists
In this report, we will outline potential lessons learned over the past 11 years by terrorist groups. By doing this, we hope to outline how terrorists might act in the future. As always, we will conclude with potential market ramifications.
The Problem of Proxies
In this report, we will discuss the role of proxies and their use by governments, including a historical perspective of their positive and negative aspects. A short discussion of the regional factors of the Syrian situation will follow, focusing primarily on Iran's problem if the Assad regime is replaced by a Sunni-led government. Interestingly enough, these regional factors also affect the proxy groups, making them more difficult for their sponsors to control.
Israel and the Evangelicals
On several occasions, we have noted that Israel enjoys significant leverage over U.S. policy into the November elections. Often, it is assumed that this leverage comes from the influence of American Jews on the political system. Although not unimportant, the numbers, as discussed here, suggest that the Jewish vote is barely significant in only two states, New York and Florida. Even in these two states, capturing all the Jewish voters would not guarantee winning these states.
The Muslim Brotherhoods Long Grind
Over the past two weeks, there has been an upswing in violence in the Sinai Peninsula. Last week, Egyptian President Morsi announced the forced retirement of several military leaders, the same men who ran the government after the ouster of the former president, Hosni Mubarak. It isn't completely clear that the two incidents are related, although it does appear that Morsi used the unrest in the Sinai as a way to remove the remnant Mubarak cronies.
The Eurozone Drama Continues
In this report, we will review the political and economic structure of the Eurozone. From there, we will discuss the critical event that caused the reversal in safety assets and what this reversal likely means for the geopolitics of the Eurozone. As always, we will conclude with potential market ramifications.
The Complicated Kurds
Last week, the Syrian Army withdrew from Kurdish areas in the northeastern parts of the country. Kurdish militant groups took over patrolling the area; more importantly, they took control of the border crossings. In this report, we will offer a short history of the Kurds, focusing on the problems they have encountered as a significant minority in four countries. There will be a discussion of the tyranny of colonial borders along with a projection of the longevity of these border arrangements.
The Young General Emerges
On July 16th, the official North Korean media reported that General Ri Yong Ho, the militarys Chief of the General Staff, had been dismissed of all duties. Reports suggested that the general had been removed due to illness. General Ri was a close confidant of the late Kim Jong Il and was thought to be tasked with smoothing the transition of the new leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, the Young General. Ri's exit, along with other events, suggests changes in the Hermit Kingdom.
Escalation in the Middle East
Last week, the fighting in Syria escalated, with the Free Syrian Army, the rebel umbrella group, announcing an attack on Syrias capital, Damascus. Reports indicate that Alawites are starting to flee Damascus for sectarian strongholds on the coast. This information follows the news that the rebels successfully bombed a Syrian intelligence and security facility, killing at least four major figures within the Assad regimes security apparatus.
Results 51–98 of 98 found.