Global Challenges

  • President Obama hopes to leave a legacy of bilateral success with China.

    Should China Expect Confrontational Policies from Washington?

    In 2013, the Sino-US relations ended with concern over strategic mistrust. In 2014, bilateral relations were characterized by a sense of optimism. While bilateral trust may endure through the Obama era, challenges will ensue thereafter.

    The renewed sense of strategic trust peaked in the U.N. climate talks in Lima, Peru, when President Obama and President Xi Jinping announced the new China-US climate change targets. 

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  • Market participants will be very busy this week.

    Has the Market Expectation Pendulum Swung as Far as it Can?

    The investment climate has become more treacherous.  Weak wage growth and disinflationary headwinds are making market participants question likelihood of a Fed rate hike around mid-year.  

    The Swiss National Bank's jettisoning its prior strategy has thrown many investors off balance and less secure of their footholds.  OPEC's unwillingness to make room for a continued increase in US oil output has unleashed both powerful positive and negative forces.

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  • Some puzzle pieces point to a potential oil crisis in 2016

    Are There Already Signs of an Impending Oil Crisis?

    Low oil prices today may be setting the world up for an oil shortage as early as 2016.  Today we have just 2% more crude oil supply than demand and the price of gasoline is under $2.00/gallon in Texas.  If oil supply falls too far, we could see gasoline prices doubling within 18 months.  For a commodity as critical to our standard of living as oil is, it only takes a small shortage to drive up the price. 

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  • Using the price of oil as an economic weapon

    Conspiracy Theories and the Price of Oil

    The oil price drop that has dominated the headlines in recent weeks has been framed almost exclusively in terms of oil market economics, with most media outlets blaming Saudi Arabia, through its OPEC Trojan horse, for driving down the price, thus causing serious damage to the world's major oil exporters – most notably Russia. 

    While the market explanation is partially true, it is simplistic, and fails to address key geopolitical pressure points in the Middle East. 

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  • The EU Summit, and Russia, face many challenges

    Russia, Juncker's Investment Scheme and Greece

    Russia's woes have not been sufficient to spur a change in behavior from Putin.  His press conference today was strident, blaming the US and EU for undermining Russia.  He blames foreign influences driving down the rouble.  The EU will impose new ban on doing business in Crimea.  It will also target Russian companies' oil and gas exploration in the Black Sea.  The US Congress has authorized Obama to extend sanctions against Russia as well.  

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  • Where are the highly skilled immigrants going?

    Data Show an Alarming Drop in Highly Skilled Immigrants to the U.S.

    The United States has always been known as a nation of immigrants and a top destination for scientists and other highly skilled professionals. That ability to attract the world’s most educated and innovative people to its shores has often been credited with powering the US economy.

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  • The furor over 'comfort women' will likely not abate soon

    Japan's 'Comfort Women' Debate Casts a Long Shadow

    The Japanese media has been set alight by the debate on Japan’s use of ‘comfort women’ — a euphemism referring to the women used for sex by the Japanese Army in World War II. The furore began in August when Asahi Shimbun, Japan’s premier liberal newspaper, admitted that a source used in a number of articles it published on comfort women had fabricated his story. That source was Seiji Yoshida, a soldier who claimed to have been involved in the capture of 200 women in South Korea during the war.

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  • Lima is Climate Change Reform's Latest Best Chance

    Will the Lima Conference Break the Climate Change Stalemate?

    For quarter of a century, global climate change talks have suffered from a stalemate between major advanced nations and large emerging economies. Since Lima’s climate conference could not resolve it, it deferred the divide to Paris 2015.

    Recently, world’s leading nations gathered in Lima, Peru, for the 2014 U.N. Climate talks. The procedural objective was to develop the foundation for a new climate agreement that could be signed in Paris in December 2015 and that would take effect by the 2020s. 

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  • Oil and the Dollar Dominate the Global Growth Challenges

    Global Challenges are Mounting as Oil Continues to Slip

    The US dollar is trading within yesterday's ranges against the major currencies. The Canadian dollar is the main exception. It is pushing lower still, with the greenback pushing a little beyond CAD1.1550. The main development today is the continued drop in oil prices. 

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