Showing posts with label Global. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Global. Show all posts

26 August 2019

Business Travel: Pre-Trip Planning and Preparations

With the launch of Stratfor Worldview Enterprise, business leaders from a variety of backgrounds share their opinions on geopolitical risks and business strategies.

In this blog post, the second in a series, Thomas Pecora stresses the need for being aware ahead of any business travel by knowing what emergency, safety and communications systems are in place. He is director of Pecora Consulting Services, which provides consulting services in security vulnerability and threat assessments in Asia and the United States, as well as personal safety and crime prevention and avoidance, and travel security skills training. Pecora is also author of the memoir, Guardian: Life in the Crosshairs of the CIA's War on Terror, and served 24 years as a CIA senior security manager. He managed large complex security programs and operations in Africa, Latin America, Southeast Asia, Europe, the Middle East and in war zones.

The first step to a safe journey, whether it is across town or across the world, begins with knowledge. Business travelers need information to make good decisions and to take specific actions that will increase their chances for a safe and productive trip, especially if their destination is overseas. Conducting some pre-trip research and preparation will dramatically improve your ability to deal with an emergency and will significantly increase your personal safety and give you peace of mind.

24 August 2019

Global Energy Transport Security – Analysis

By Jeff D. Colgan and Morgan D. Bazilian*

Global trade in liquefied natural gas sets new records, reshaping international relations and raising transport security concerns 

A series of attacks and detentions for oil cargo ships this year have made the Strait of Hormuz a geopolitical hotspot once again, harkening back 35 years to the so-called “tanker wars,” part of the Iran-Iraq War. And while Hormuz’s role as the world’s primary most important oil transit route has not changed, much else about the energy security landscape has – especially growth in liquefied natural gas markets. The concerns around disruptions to oil markets are now salient for natural gas markets as well. 

In today’s numbers, an average of more than 20 million barrels pass through the strait daily, about 20 percent of the world’s oil consumption, with 75 percent destined for Asia. And while wars for direct oil conquest are relatively rare, oil is frequently involved in wars in other ways. Research published by the Belfer Center at Harvard University points to complex connections between oil and geopolitical conflict, including resource wars, insulation of aggressive leaders and financing of insurgencies. The report on “Oil, Conflict, and U.S. National Interests” notes: “between one-quarter and one-half of interstate wars since 1973 have been linked to oil.”

22 August 2019

The Population Bust Demographic Decline and the End of Capitalism as We Know It

By Zachary Karabell 

For most of human history, the world’s population grew so slowly that for most people alive, it would have felt static. Between the year 1 and 1700, the human population went from about 200 million to about 600 million; by 1800, it had barely hit one billion. Then, the population exploded, first in the United Kingdom and the United States, next in much of the rest of Europe, and eventually in Asia. By the late 1920s, it had hit two billion. It reached three billion around 1960 and then four billion around 1975. It has nearly doubled since then. There are now some 7.6 billion people living on the planet. 

Just as much of the world has come to see rapid population growth as normal and expected, the trends are shifting again, this time into reverse. Most parts of the world are witnessing sharp and sudden contractions in either birthrates or absolute population. The only thing preventing the population in many countries from shrinking more quickly is that death rates are also falling, because people everywhere are living longer. These oscillations are not easy for any society to manage. “Rapid population acceleration and deceleration send shockwaves around the world wherever they occur and have shaped history in ways that are rarely appreciated,” the demographer Paul Morland writes in The Human Tide, his new history of demographics. Morland does not quite believe that “demography is destiny,” as the old adage mistakenly attributed to the French philosopher Auguste Comte would have it. Nor do Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson, the authors of Empty Planet, a new book on the rapidly shifting demographics of the twenty-first century. But demographics are clearly part of destiny. If their role first in the rise of the West and now in the rise of the rest has been underappreciated, the potential consequences of plateauing and then shrinking populations in the decades ahead are almost wholly ignored. 

17 August 2019

Human Rights Are Under Attack. Who Will Protect Them?

Globally, human rights remain under assault, whether by populist movements desperate to gain power or authoritarian governments eager to maintain it. Technology has opened up new frontiers for curbing people’s ability to express and share dissenting ideas. And broad assaults are underway on institutions like the International Criminal Court, which was established not only to offer recourse for the victims of rights violations, but to establish an international human rights benchmark. Instead, it is being replaced by a dangerous intolerance.

Around the world, populist authoritarians have built their movements by demonizing minorities. In Brazil, for instance, newly elected President Jair Bolsonaro reveled in his provocations calling into question women’s rights as well as those of the LGBT and indigenous communities. With their verbal assaults, these leaders and the movements that follow them are inspiring people to commit acts of physical violence. In just a matter of months, Jews have been targeted in Pittsburgh, Muslims in New Zealand and Christians in Sri Lanka.

13 August 2019

17 Countries, Home to One-Quarter of the World's Population, Face Extremely High Water Stress

Rutger Willem Hofste, Paul Reig and Leah Schleifer
Once-unthinkable water crises are becoming commonplace.

Reservoirs in Chennai, India’s sixth-largest city, are nearly dry right now. Last year, residents of Cape Town, South Africa narrowly avoided their own “Day Zero” water shut-off. And the year before that, Rome rationed water to conserve scarce resources.

The reasons for these crises go far deeper than drought: Through new hydrological models, WRI found that water withdrawals globally have more than doubled since the 1960s due to growing demand – and they show no signs of slowing down.

10 August 2019

Who Will Save the Amazon (and How)?

By Stephen M. Walt

Aug. 5, 2025: In a televised address to the nation, U.S. President Gavin Newsom announced that he had given Brazil a one-week ultimatum to cease destructive deforestation activities in the Amazon rainforest. If Brazil did not comply, the president warned, he would order a naval blockade of Brazilian ports and airstrikes against critical Brazilian infrastructure. The president’s decision came in the aftermath of a new United Nations report cataloging the catastrophic global effects of continued rainforest destruction, which warned of a critical “tipping point” that, if reached, would trigger a rapid acceleration of global warming. Although China has stated that it would veto any U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force against Brazil, the president said that a large “coalition of concerned states” was prepared to support U.S. action. At the same time, Newsom said the United States and other countries were willing to negotiate a compensation package to mitigate the costs to Brazil for protecting the rainforest, but only if it first ceased its current efforts to accelerate development.

8 August 2019

How Would Global Gas Cope with a Hormuz Closure?

The Strait of Hormuz is a well-known chokepoint in oil markets—much has been written over the years about its key role in oil markets and the severe effects a suspension of shipments would have on oil prices. But the strait is also a chokepoint for liquefied natural gas (LNG) shipments—and the implications of disruption are less widely understood.

First, a few facts (all data from this report). Qatar is surrendering its title as the top liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter in the world, but it was still the world’s number one exporter in 2018, accounting for 25 percent of global LNG supplies. Abu Dhabi, the first Middle Eastern LNG supplier, still exports a small amount too—5.5 million tons in 2018. Some of this trade stays within the Gulf with LNG going from Qatar to Kuwait (and, in previous years, the United Arab Emirates too). But mostly, these two countries send their LNG through the strait. There is also some incoming traffic: Kuwait and Dubai import LNG, Bahrain will start imports soon as well, and Sharjah might import LNG by 2020.

The impact of any disruption will depend on several factors: will the disruption take place in the summer or winter, and how extreme will temperatures be; how strong is demand generally at the time; how much gas exists in storage; are shipping markets tight or not; how prolonged is the disruption; and so on. The specifics will matter greatly—and will determine how the system will adjust.

30 July 2019



In October 2012, the global financial system got its first taste of the effects of climate change when Hurricane Sandy roared through lower Manhattan, shutting down Wall Street. Amid the blackout, the power remained on in the tower containing the headquarters of Goldman Sachs, offering to the world a striking if accidental symbol of a future age of climate inequality.

As the investment bank stood firm, the U.S. government’s outpost on Wall Street, the New York branch of the Federal Reserve, made plans to pull up stakes. In response to the hurricane, the Fed created new backup capacity for market operations farther inland, at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

Descended from historical port cities, it is not by accident that the world’s leading financial centers—New York City, London, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai—are vulnerable to flooding. But the larger challenge that climate change poses is not so much the physical as the systemic risk. What central bankers—the world’s preeminent economic decision-makers since the 1980s—are beginning to worry about is the potential for climate change to trigger financial crisis.

10 July 2019

Restoring Forests Could Help Put a Brake on Global Warming, Study Finds

By Somini Sengupta

What if we stopped cutting down forests to produce palm oil and cattle? What if we grew new forests on vacant city lots, old industrial buildings — even golf courses?

For the first time, scientists have sought to quantify this thought experiment. How many trees could be planted on every available parcel of land on Earth, where they could go, and what impact could that have on our survival?

They concluded that the planet could support nearly 2.5 billion additional acres of forest without shrinking our cities and farms, and that those additional trees, when they mature, could store a whole lot of the extra carbon — 200 gigatons of carbon, to be precise — generated by industrial activity over the last 150 years.

Parts of the study — led by researchers at ETH Zurich, a university that specializes in science, technology and engineering — were immediately criticized.

What on Earth Is Going On?

4 July 2019

Global Peace Index 2019

This thirteenth edition of the Global Peace Index ranks the peacefulness of 163 independent states and territories according to 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators. In addition to providing the index’s findings and an overall trend analysis, the report also includes an updated assessment of the economic impact of violence as well as trends in Positive Peace: the attitudes, institutions and structures that create and sustain peaceful societies. For the first time in five years, the results of the index suggest a slight improvement in the average level of global peacefulness.

24 June 2019

2019 Third-Quarter Forecast

The U.S.-China Trade War Will Drag On. While there is a small window for a truce between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, there is a stronger likelihood that the White House will follow through on its threat to impose tariffs on remaining Chinese imports. Nearly every move China makes to push back and cope with tariff pressure, including ramping up state backing for strategic industries and retaliating against U.S. businesses, will drive the two economic giants further apart as the trade war continues to damage the global economy.

Iranian Retaliation Will Raise the Risk of a Military Confrontation. Iranian retaliatory moves against the United States, including the resumption of nuclear activities and threats to shipping in the Strait of Hormuz, will raise the threat of U.S. punitive strikes on Iran. Even though the White House intent will be to limit offensive action and avoid bogging itself down in another politically unpopular war in the Middle East, the potential exists for a more serious escalation. Short of the negotiation Trump envisioned for Iran, progress could be made toward establishing a deconfliction channel via third-party mediators.

23 June 2019

The Geopolitics of Information

Information is now the world’s most consequential and contested geopolitical resource. The world’s most profitable businesses have asserted for years that data is the “new oil.” Political campaigns—and foreign intelligence operatives—have shown over the past two American presidential elections that data-driven social media is the key to public opinion. Leading scientists and technologists understand that good datasets, not just algorithms, will give them a competitive edge.

Data-driven innovation is not only disrupting economies and societies; it is reshaping relations between nations. The pursuit of information power—involving states’ ability to use information to influence, decide, create and communicate—is causing states to rewrite their terms of engagement with markets and citizens, and to redefine national interests and strategic priorities. In short, information power is altering the nature and behavior of the fundamental building block of international relations, the state, with potentially seismic consequences.

21 June 2019

Our global system has spun out of control. Here's how to rebalance it

Klaus Schwab

The global system we are part of seems to be spinning out of control. Headlines around the world tell us something is amiss in many societies. I believe many of the developments we see today in individual countries and societies are part of an interconnected network of cause and effect. The entire global system is under stress. We must ensure it rebalances.

I believe this is possible, and I will outline below how I think this rebalancing can be achieved. But first let us consider the extent of the current global imbalances. There are four reasons why the system has spun as out of control as it has.

1. The unprecedented complexity of our global system

In a world of 7.7 billion people, it is no surprise that our global system is more complex than at any other time in history. In 1945, when the building blocks of the current global system were constructed, the world population was less than a third of what it is today. Similarly regarding the global economy, after World War II exports comprised a mere 5% of global GDP. Today, that percentage is roughly five times higher, even as global GDP has increased multifold as well.

Reassessing CBRN Threats in a Changing Global Environment

Threats related to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) use are evolving rapidly alongside changes in the political environment and developments in technology. The continued use of chemical weapons (CW) in armed conflict has, in particular, underlined the fragile nature of existing arms control agreements. In addition, several recent attacks in Asia and Europe using toxic chemicals and radioactive materials suggest that a new concern—state-sponsored assassination or attempted assassination—must now be incorporated into national security policy. Such confirmed use of CBRN materials by both state and non-state actors in these contexts highlights substantial challenges that the world is facing. As such, it is imperative to identify the threats posed by the use of CBRN and to understand the obstacles that impede cooperation at both the regional and international levels. Strengthening barriers against the use of CBRN weapons by exploring the possibility for working collectively to safeguard and enhance existing international instruments is in the mutual interest of Asian and European states. On 14 January 2019, SIPRI held the expert workshop ‘Reassessing chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) threats and their implications for East Asia’. A number of key takeaways generated from the workshop are set out in this volume.

17 May 2019

Can the East Save the West?


Asia’s emergence as the world’s geopolitical and economic center has lent global prestige to a new paradigm for achieving sustainable growth alongside social solidarity. With many other countries already studying the Asian playbook, the United States and Europe could benefit from doing the same.

SINGAPORE – The past two decades have been either the best of times or the worst of times, depending on where you are sitting. Just when the global East was converging economically with the West, the two regions began to diverge psychologically. While America and Europe turned inward, toward pessimism and despair, Asia embraced globalization with growing confidence and optimism.

At the same time, Asians devised a new set of principles to govern the majority of the world’s population, and their models are spreading faster than Western-style democracy and development paradigms. As the world undergoes a rebalancing of power, the most important feature of the change is not economic or geopolitical, but intellectual. The years between the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States and US President Donald Trump’s election in 2016 will be remembered as a historical rupture. The post-war decades of Western political and economic dominance are already behind us.

16 May 2019

A Global Gas Strategy for the United States

Natural gas, unlike oil, has never been a major strategic preoccupation for U.S. foreign policy. The country was historically a net gas importer, but self-sufficiency was relatively high, and imports came mostly from Canada, raising few geopolitical or energy security concerns. In the 2000s, the United States was worried that it might become reliant on liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports, but that moment passed quickly. If the United States ever had a grand strategy vis-à-vis global gas, it could be summarized simply. In Europe, the United States wanted diversity of supply, which meant access to non-Russian gas; and in Asia, it wanted liquidity, meaning a relaxation of rigid contract terms and a move away from oil indexation as the pricing mechanism for LNG.

But the growth in U.S. gas supply, and now exports, has created a new reality. The United States is a major global gas player—by far the largest producer in the world, and quite possibly, in the 2020s, the largest LNG exporter. Yet this change has not produced a new grand strategy. So far, the instinct is to promote U.S. LNG exports—selling gas abroad is the number one priority, especially for the Trump administration. This is a logical place to start, but it is not enough, especially since the push is mostly in the form of advocacy, rather than accompanied by a serious policy agenda or toolkit to support exports or gas consumption. More than ever, the United States needs a new global gas strategy.
Clean Up at Home

10 May 2019

Huawei’s Long Road to Global Tech Leadership

By Chen Dingding and Hu Junyang

The globalization of the world economy is entering a transformative period of evolution from the traditional mode of the knowledge economy to the age of artificial intelligence (AI) and other digital-based technologies. Accompanying this comes a fundamental shift in what it means to be a leader in the marketplace and in the technology sector in particular.

In this invisible battlefield, China has long been active, with a greater edge than many observers appreciate. As one of the world’s largest investors and adopters of digital technologies and home to one-third of the world’s so-called unicorn companies, it persists in expanding the scale of innovation and entrepreneurship to aggressively consolidate this global position, according to a discussion paper by the McKinsey Global Institute. Comparatively, it is in mobile payments, for instance, that China becomes a true leader, with 11 times the transaction value of the same technology in the United States. Although the latter still remains dominant in the global landscape of the technology sector as a whole, China’s gap with other actors is shrinking.

In addition to other internet companies, Huawei is a formidable company that fuels the country’s competitiveness and has recently commanded the most attention from outside. With its exceptional growth over the past few years in the telecommunication sector, Huawei is “the only Chinese company to feature in the annual ranking of the World’s Most Valuable Brands 2018 compiled by Forbes.” It has also moved up to 48th place on The Most Innovative Companies of 2019 list compiled by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

6 May 2019

Examining the Global Terrorism Landscape

By Bill Roggio

Editor’s note: Below is Bill Roggio’s testimony before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa and International Terrorism. 

Chairman Deutch, Ranking Member Wilson, and other distinguished committee members, thank you for inviting me to testify today to examine the global terror landscape.

The Easter day bombings in Sri Lanka serve as a stark reminder that our enemies are committed to their cause and are willing to go to any lengths to destroy our way of life. Nine suicide bombers, many of them well educated, including two sons of a wealthy spice tycoon, and a pregnant woman, killed more than 250 people during attacks on churches and hotels. The suicide bombers swore allegiance to Islamic State emir Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi before carrying out their heinous attacks.

The Sri Lanka bombings took place just one month after the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) declared a victory over the Islamic State. While the Islamic State may have lost its physical caliphate in Iraq and Syria, it is by no means defeated.

26 April 2019


The next decade will be defining for the future of Europe and Europe’s role in the world. Seismic global power shifts; pressure on liberal democracies; challenges to global governance; the transformation of economic models and the very fabric of societies; new uses and misuses of technology; contrasting demographic patterns; and humanity’s growing ecological footprint – the world is well on its way towards a new geopolitical, geo-economic and geotechnological order. What role will Europe play in this fast-changing world? How can the European Union ensure that it does not end up a middle power, caught between the United States and China? What will it take for Europe to hold its destiny in its own hands in 2030?

Against this backdrop, the ESPAS Global Trends to 2030: Challenges and Choices for Europe report is a contribution to support policy- and decision-makers as they navigate the world into 2030. The European Strategy and Policy Analysis System (ESPAS) provides a framework for cooperation and consultation at administrative level, on a voluntary basis, between the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union, the European Commission and the European External Action Service, with the European Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions, the European Investment Bank and the European Union Institute for Security Studies as observers, to work together on medium and longterm trends facing or relating to the European Union.

21 April 2019

How global value chains open opportunities for developing countries

David Dollar

Traditional trade statistics measure the gross value of trade. When a smart phone goes from China to the United States, what is recorded as an export is the full value of the phone. It would be more accurate to say that the United States is importing different types of value added from different partners: labor-intensive assembly from China, more sophisticated manufacturing inputs from South Korea, and services from the United States, since even foreign-brand phones have a lot of U.S. technology.

In recent years, major economies have produced annual input-output tables that deconstruct production into its many constituent parts. There is a growing amount of research into the value added in trade, as well as into the stages of the value chain. These studies provide new perspectives on trade. The Global Value Chain Development Report 2019, produced by the World Trade Organization and other partners, has a wealth of findings, some of which are especially relevant to developing countries.