Category Archives: Other Issues

Posts on many other important geopolitical issues.

Stratfor: Europe makes Greece a Scapegoat for the Migrant Crisis

Summary: Europe’s immigration crisis shows no signs of abating, and the European Union is struggling to figure out how to address it. The bloc’s original strategies of cooperating with Turkey to limit the number of asylum seekers and redistributing migrants across the Continent have clearly failed. Now, EU member states are looking for alternative approaches as they try to stem the tide of asylum seekers flowing into Europe, and they appear to have reached an agreement on who is to blame: Greece.

Stratfor

Greece: The Scapegoat of a Migrant Crisis

Stratfor, 29 January 2016

In recent weeks, several EU members have threatened to expel Greece from the Schengen Agreement, which eliminated border controls among its signatories. According to countries like Austria, Greece has failed to patrol its borders and should be punished for it. On Jan. 27, the European Commission issued a report saying that Greece “is seriously neglecting its obligations” and that there are “serious deficiencies in the carrying out of external border controls.” Brussels gave Athens three months to improve its border controls, or risk being ousted from the passport-free area. But kicking Greece out of the Schengen zone will not have much impact on the influx of migrants to Europe since Greece does not share land borders with any other Schengen members.

Still, it would punish Greece in an indirect way; though asylum seekers would not be affected by the move, Greek citizens traveling to Western Europe would. Should Greece’s Schengen membership be suspended, its citizens would be treated as third-country nationals when flying elsewhere in the European Union. This suggests that the threat of expulsion is purely a political move aimed at pressuring Greek authorities (through angry Greek voters) to improve the country’s border controls with Turkey. However, the strategy has its risks: If Greece is suspended from the Schengen Agreement, there is no guarantee that voters’ ire would be directed solely toward the ruling Syriza party.

In fact, removing Greece from the Continent’s passport-free zone could inflame anti-EU sentiments in Greece, reducing popular support for the eurozone and the economic reforms linked to it. The Syriza government controls only a small majority in Parliament and is facing protests over its controversial plan to reform the country’s pension system. If the Schengen group ousts Greece, the current administration could collapse if lawmakers refuse to move forward with planned reforms as a form of protest against the European Union. This would derail Athens’ bailout program and add to the uncertainty surrounding Greece’s future.

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Stratfor: Russia’s economy burns; they have no good options.

Summary: As Obama’s military requests vast new sums to defend against Russia, Stratfor examines Russia’s crashing economy — and its few options for recovery. Russia is largest casualty of the financial world war begun by the Saudi Princes (bet on them to win). While this great conflict burns the US military dances away to its own delusional but profitable tune.

Stratfor

Russia Has Few Options for Turning Its Economy Around

Stratfor, 5 February 2016

Forecast

  • The Central Bank of Russia will try to reduce high inflation and encourage growth to counter the economy’s rapid deterioration.
  • However, the bank probably will not be able to rely on its biggest tool — the interest rate — to do so, instead turning to less effective means that will have little impact on inflation.
  • While the central bank’s efforts to reform the banking sector will not yield many immediate gains, they could spur growth in the long run by encouraging investment in Russian businesses.
  • Meanwhile, the Kremlin will use its limited resources to prop up Russia’s most important sectors, including agriculture and the military.
  • Still, unrest will likely grow throughout the year as inflation continues to put pressure on the Russian people.

Analysis

Low oil prices have thrown a wrench in many of the world’s economies, but perhaps nowhere more so than Russia. Depressed energy prices have sent the value of the Russian ruble tumbling and inflation soaring, and much of the Russian population is struggling to make ends meet.

The Central Bank of Russia, under pressure to find a solution to the country’s deepening economic crisis, is exploring all of the monetary policy options at its disposal. But the bank will find that its primary tool for combating the inflation wreaking havoc on the Russian economy — adjusting the country’s key interest rate — may be difficult to actually use under the current circumstances. As a result, bank officials will likely be forced to turn to secondary, less effective measures to keep the Russian economy from sliding even further into disrepair.

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Stratfor: What Kind of Great Power Will China Become?

Summary: How China wields its growing power will help shape the geopolitical world of the 21st century. Here Stratfor looks at China and speculates at what it might become. {1st of 2 posts today.}

Stratfor

What Kind of Power Will China Become?

Stratfor, 3 February 2016

These are grim times for the Chinese economy. In the two years since property markets peaked and subsequently began to slow in most cities across China, it has become abundantly clear that the approach to economic management that sustained double-digit annual growth for two decades has exhausted itself. The unprecedented stock market volatility of the past year, along with signs of spreading unemployment and labor unrest in many regions, are important reminders that the transition to new foundations of national economic growth will in all likelihood be bitter, slow and unnervingly uncertain.

In times like these, it is tempting to embrace visions of irreversible decline — just as it was easy, in the expansive years of consistently high growth, to view China’s rise as straightforward and inevitable. As Stratfor pointed out well before the 2008-09 global financial crisis, which set in motion many of the policies and processes that underlie China’s current woes, the only certainty in the high-growth years was that they would someday end. Their ending, we predicted, would unleash tremendous and potentially destabilizing social pressures long kept at bay by the promise of universal employment and rising material prosperity. At the least, this process would slow China’s political, military and economic rise as the decade ends. At worst, it would send China into a more debilitating and longer-lasting period of crisis and fragmentation.

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