Expert View supplement GIS’s in-depth reports with incisive opinion. Written by top GIS experts, sometimes challenging and always thought-provoking, these brief commentaries provide an informed viewpoint on crucial geopolitical issues.
Venezuela’s bond default
Venezuela failed to pay last month $1.1 billion in interest due on three different government bonds. China’s state-controlled banks are the largest holders of Venezuelan government debt, sitting on more than $60 billion of the $143 billion total. Aside from creating a tense situation in the world of international finance, the default adds to the crushing economic, humanitarian and political crisis Venezuela is going through.
Debate: What China’s new Silk Road means for Europe
In a debate last month in Warsaw, politicians, bankers and businessmen considered the implications for Europe of China's Belt and Road Initiative – likely to be Eurasia's largest infrastructure project in this century. It is both an economic opportunity and a portent of growing Chinese preeminence on the continent.
How the United States can limit illegal immigration from El Salvador
The flow of illegal migrants and criminal gangs from El Salvador into U.S. cities can only be contained when Washington helps the country address its huge problem of unemployed and uneducated youths.
Shinzo Abe’s underappreciated recovery
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appears to have made good on his promise to pull Japan out of deflation and slow growth. A large part of the credit goes to the central bank, which stepped in with aggressive bond-buying. But equally crucial has been the role of middle-aged women, who are reentering the job market in droves.
Olympic spending and democratic accountability
Rich, Western nations are less and less eager to host the Olympics. Dictatorships and countries with weak democracies are more than willing to take them on, however. That is because democratic societies have become aware of the costs, and their representatives are more accountable. Leaders in countries where freedoms are restricted see a chance to buff their image, and do not have to answer to the people.
Economic sanctions are bound to be a long-term failure
Trade is a powerful tool – it is one of the best ways to bring people together for mutual benefit. Limiting trade can be used as a weapon, and it is one the United States and the European Union are wielding against Russia and Iran. And while the goals Western governments aim to achieve are noble, sanctions are likely to backfire. They will strengthen the regimes they are meant to weaken, and will reduce American and European political clout around the globe.
Brazil’s embattled president is still not in the clear
Brazilian President Michel Temer beat a corruption indictment by using federal funds and political favors to by off Congress. But the price of his political survival may have been the sacrifice of his fiscal reform program. And Mr. Temer is not out of the woods yet.
North Korea crisis reveals true nature of Russia-China relationship
Many people seem to believe that China and Russia have a close relationship and can work together to solve issues the United States struggles with. But Moscow’s failure to inform Beijing of a U.S. strike in Syria and Russia’s energy exports to North Korea tell a different story.
Could the right make a comeback in Italy?
Local elections in Italy had a surprise result – a surge from the center right. Both former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s allies on the left and the upstart Five Star Movement led by Beppe Grillo seem to be losing traction. Is this part of a larger European trend away from populists and back toward known political quantities? And could this mean a return of Silvio Berlusconi?