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    Default The Changing / Emerging Global Landscape

    I am noticing more movement and change in how larger global systems and structures are organised and aligned.

    This is a thread for collecting different aspects of a changing global landscape, including:
    • Regional structures and alliances
    • Financial and trade structures and groupings
    • Military groups and alliances
    • Space alliances and groupings
    • Other aspects as they emerge

    ~~~~

    First up is the idea of creating a regional trade currency for East Asia. It has been suggested by Malaysia; it has been suggested before (20 years ago). The example of the Euro is cited. Might it have more momentum this time?

    From: https://www.eastasiaforum.org/2019/0...onal-currency/

    Quote Should Asia have a regional currency?
    30 July 2019
    Authors: Namsung Kim and Yasuto Watanabe, AMRO and Hiro Ito, Portland State University

    In May 2019, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad stated that East Asia should ‘adopt a common trading currency, not to be used locally but for the purpose of settling of trade’ that would be pegged to gold. His intention is to create a currency that replaces the US dollar as the region’s vehicle currency in regional trade and investment. Mahathir has a record of suggesting a common currency for the region, particularly during the aftermath of the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997–1998. But is his suggestion more feasible now than it was 20 years ago?



    There is no question that the US dollar is the vehicle currency in the Asian region. This is not just because of the inertia of the region’s long-time practice in international trade — the United States has been one of the largest ultimate destinations of Asia’s goods. The region’s reliance on the US dollar is deeper than the level of its economic relations with the United States suggests. The US dollar’s dominance is also evident in the regional financial transactions conducted with international organisations such as the Bank for International Settlements and the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication.

    Many Asian emerging market economies (EMEs) hold an enormous amount of US dollar-denominated reserve assets as a mean of self-insurance against potential financial instability. China alone holds US$3.2 trillion in foreign reserves as of the end of 2018 (about a third of the global total). EMEs in Asia hold more than 10 per cent of the total while Japan holds another 10 per cent. A large portion of the reserves, around 60 per cent, are invested in US treasuries.

    With this level of reliance on the US dollar, Asian economies are highly exposed to shocks arising from changes in the economic policy and conditions of the United States. As Helen Rey argues, these economies are subject to ‘global financial cycles’ in capital flows, asset prices and credit growth.

    In markets where capital moves freely, countries’ national monetary policies are subject to the monetary policy of the centre countries. While the US Federal Reserve Board (FRB) focuses on achieving domestic output and price stabilities as its mandates, EMEs are vulnerable to ‘global financial cycles’ emanating from the United States and incapable of independent monetary policy, regardless of the state of their own domestic economies.

    One effective way for Asia to mitigate exposure to the US dollar would be to adopt a common currency, like the euro. The euro promotes regional investment and trade and helped develop the regional common market. Since its adoption in 1999, Europe has benefited from both regionalisation and globalisation. The euro has also helped mitigate the spillover effects emanating from key economies.

    When then-FRB chairman Ben Bernanke mentioned in 2013 the possibility of tapering down quantitative easing policy, it caused large depreciation of the currencies of many EMEs — the ‘Taper Tantrum’. While it directly hit many of the emerging economies in Asia, it hardly affected European emerging markets because the impact of the market jitters was buffered by the euro. East European emerging markets are not exposed to depreciation risk because their currency values are primarily linked to the euro.

    Of course, the euro was not built in a day and it would take several decades for Asia to adopt a common currency. Asia needs to establish a common monetary authority to issue the new currency and bonds denominated in it. This would require more regional financial integration and cooperation, macroeconomic policy coordination and a common supervisory function of financial institutions. Above all, a common vision for future financial integration and political consensus among the member countries is crucial.

    With recent progress in regional economic integration in East Asia, adopting a common currency in the region may be more plausible than 20 years ago. If the regional international currency Mahathir suggests could be used not only for cross-border trade of goods and services but also for that of financial assets, it could function as the medium for rescue loans if a crisis occurs in any of the member economies.

    This would mitigate East Asia’s overreliance on the US dollar and take a load off the United States’ excessive burden of ‘exorbitant duty’ as the lender of last resort. The member countries of the new currency arrangement could be given a choice of pegging their local currency to the new common currency or adopting the new currency as their domestic currency.

    The ultimate goal of introducing this new currency is not just to facilitate regional trade and financial transactions, but to secure economic and financial stability in the region. The regional common currency should also contribute to building an institutional framework to deal with financial volatilities.

    At the time of the euro debt crisis, the euro area quickly established institutions such as the Eurosystem Collateral Framework and European Stability Mechanism (ESM). With these organisations, Europe was able to promptly prepare liquidity assistance and therefore maintain ownership of the crisis situation, rather than yielding control to the United States or other external parties. This was possible because the European Central Bank and the ESM committed themselves to being the region’s lender of last resort.

    East Asian countries may not yet have sufficient momentum to move toward establishing a regional common currency. It is uncertain if Mahathir’s renewed suggestion will revive the momentum. But overreliance on the US dollar may not be beneficial for East Asia in the future. Having its own common currency might allow East Asia to solve financial instability in swift and effective ways that would benefit not just Asia but also the world economy.

    Namsung Kim is CMIM Specialist at the ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO).

    Yasuto Watanabe is Deputy-Director of the ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO).

    Hiro Ito is Chair and Professor at the Department of Economics, Portland State University (PSU).
    *I have loved the stars too dearly to be fearful of the night*

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    Default Re: The Changing / Emerging Global Landscape

    This development - the creation of an African Continental Free Trade Area - which I shared a while ago in Iloveyou’s thread on Africa is relevant here:

    Quote Posted by Cara (here)
    Important development - agreement of an African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

    I’m not sure if this is positive news or not. Certainly, it might help some African interests overcome very high costs of doing business across Africa. But it also creates a mechanism for furthering the interests of those with money rather than addressing the cares and concerns of ordinary people. It also may act as a necessary step in the path for those in Europe who are pushing their “Eurafrica” idea (more in the next post).


    https://www.dw.com/en/african-leader...one/a-49503393
    Quote African leaders launch landmark 55-nation trade zone
    It took African countries four years to agree to a free-trade deal in March. The trade zone will unite 1.3 billion people, create a $3.4 trillion economic bloc and usher in a new era of development across the continent.


    African Union summit in Niger on July 7, 2019

    Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and Benin's President Patrice Talon on Sunday signed a landmark trade agreement ahead of the accord's official launch at the African Union (AU) summit in Niger.

    AU commission chairman Moussa Faki dubbed the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) deal a "historic" moment.

    Fifty-four out of 55 AU member states agreed to the deal in March, with only Eritrea holding out. It took African leaders four years to reach an agreement on the continental free-trade zone, which is expected to usher in a new era of development in Africa.

    The AfCFTA is the largest trade bloc since the creation of the World Trade Organization in 1994.

    Focus on Africa

    "The eyes of the world are turned to Africa," Egyptian President and AU chairman Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said at the summit's opening ceremony on Sunday.

    "AfCFTA will reinforce our negotiating position on the international stage. It will represent an important step," he added.


    'AfCFTA will represent an important step,' says AU chairman el-Sissi (L)

    The African free-trade bloc will help boost the continent's long-stymied economy by strengthening interregional trade and supply chains.

    The free-trade zone should be operational from July 2020, AU trade and industry commissioner Albert Muchanga told the AFP news agency.

    Major obstacles

    Economic experts say the AU still faces significant challenges in implementing the deal. Poor roads and railway lines, violence-hit areas, strict border controls and rampant corruption are some of the obstacles to an effective continental free-trade zone.

    AU member countries agreed to eliminate tariffs on most goods, which would boost regional trade by 15-25% in the medium term. It could be doubled in the long term if other issues were dealt with, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

    "Reducing tariffs alone is not sufficient," it said.

    "It will be important to address those disparities to ensure that special and differential treatments for the least developed countries are adopted and successfully implemented," said Landry Signe, a fellow at the Brookings Institution's Africa Growth Initiative.

    The IMF said in a May report that the AfCFTA could be an "economic game changer" for Africa – of a similar kind to the one that boosted growth in Europe and North America.

    Amaka Anku, Africa analyst at Eurasia group, said the deal was a positive step but AfCFTA was still "a long way from taking off."

    African nations currently trade only about 16% of their goods and services among one another, compared with 65% for the European Union member states.

    shs/ng (AFP, Reuters)
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    Default Re: The Changing / Emerging Global Landscape

    The growing overt role of multinational corporations in global structures of governance is also a facet of this change.

    This article, earlier shared here, discusses how this is taking place at the United Nations.

    Quote Posted by Cara (here)
    ...

    This article points to the ongoing gains being made by global corporations towards taking overt roles in governance.

    In this case, the gain made is via the World Economic Forum which has just signed a memorandum of understanding with the United Nations.

    https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/our...e-partnership/

    Quote How the United Nations is quietly being turned into a public-private partnership
    A new agreement with the World Economic Forum gives multinational corporations influence over matters of global governance.

    Harris Gleckman
    2 July 2019

    A new corporate and government marriage quietly took place last week when the leadership of the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the United Nations (UN) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to partner with each other. While this MOU is proudly displayed on the WEF website, it is nowhere to be found on the UN website. The only indication on the UN website of this important new development is a picture of the pen used to sign the agreement, and two pictures of the signing ceremony.

    One reason for this difference is that the UN’s corporate-centered Global Compact has received a good deal of bad press. Now the new WEF-UN agreement creates a second special place for multinational corporations inside the UN. There is no similar institutional homes in the UN system for civil society, for academics, for religious leaders, or for youth. It is hard to imagine a national government signing a similar formal partnership with one of its business organizations.

    At the same time, the UN is under pressure from Donald Trump who wants to deconstruct the whole multilateral system. For Trump, dismantling the international system built after World War II is a companion piece to his domestic effort at deconstructing the administrative state. For the Secretary-General of the UN, the pact with the WEF may well be his effort to find new power actors who can support the current system, which is now celebrating its 75th anniversary, in the face of Trump’s onslaught.

    On the other side, the WEF recently received significant public criticism after giving Hungarian Prime Minister Orban and Brazilian President Bolsonaro a warm welcome at its 2019 Davos gathering. This marriage may be seen as a way for the WEF to re-establish itself as part of the global governance center.

    The timing and managing of public perceptions are not the only interesting aspect of this arrangement. In 2009, the WEF published a 600 page report entitled the Global Redesign Initiative, which called for a new system of global governing, one in which the decisions of governments could be made secondary to multistakeholder led initiatives in which corporations would play a defining role. In a sense this WEF study recommended a sort of public-private United “Nations” – something that has now been formalized in this MOU. The agreement announces new multistakeholder partnerships to deliver public goods in the fields of education, women, financing, climate change, and health.

    The rather detailed MOU includes forms of cross organizational engagement up and down the UN structure. The MOU contains commitments that the Secretary-General himself will be invited to deliver a keynote address at the WEF annual Davos gatherings. His senior staff and the heads of the UN programmes, funds, and agencies will also be invited to participate in regional level meetings hosted by the WEF. It also contains a promise that the UN’s individual country representatives will explore ways to work with WEF’s national Forum Hubs. Aware of the mutual importance of public legitimacy each institution can provide for the other, the MOU also contains an agreement to cross-publicize their joint activities.

    Besides the institutional blessing of the United Nations, what does the WEF get from the MOU? The scope of each of the five fields for joint attention is narrowed down from the intergovernmentally negotiated and agreed set of goals to one with more in line with the business interests of WEF members. So under financing, the MOU calls only for ‘build[ing] a shared understanding of sustainable investing’ but not for reducing banking induced instabilities and tax avoidance.

    Under climate change, it calls for ‘ …public commitments from the private sector to reach carbon neutrality by 2050’, not actions that result in carbon neutrality by 2030 . Under education, it re-defines the Sustainable Development education goal to ‘ensure inclusive and equitable quality education’ into one that focuses on education to meet the ‘rapidly changing world of work.’ The MOU explicitly restricts the WEF from making financial contributions to the UN, which might have ameliorated the economic impact of some of Trump’s threat to the budgets of the UN system. At the same time, it avoids any commitment to reduce global inequality, to make energy affordable, to hold multinational corporations accountable for human rights violations, or even to rein in the behavior of the WEF’s firms that act inconsistently to the re-defined goals set out in the agreement.

    All this joint work might have some practical good if it were not for three crucial elements: firstly, the agreement circumvents the intergovernmental review process; secondly, the agreement elevates multistakeholderism as the solution to the problems with the current multilateral system; and thirdly the proposed multistakeholder partnerships are not governed by any formal democratic system. Were the Secretary-General convinced of the wisdom of a UN marriage with the WEF, he could have submitted the draft MOU for approval by the member states. Instead, the Secretary-General joined the WEF in declaring in effect that multistakeholder groups without any formal intergovernmental oversight are a better governance system than a one-country-one-vote system.

    All multistakeholder governance groups are largely composed of a self-selected group of multinational corporations and those organizations and individuals that they want to work with. They work without any common internal rule book to protect the views of all who might be impacted by the group. Participation in multistakeholder group is a voluntary undertaking. The drop-in-drop-out arrangements are antithetical to the UN’s efforts for 75 years to build a stable secure global governance system with a clear understanding of obligations, responsibilities and liabilities.

    What is surprising is that by accepting this marriage arrangement with the WEF, the Secretary-General of the UN is marginalizing the intergovernmental system in order to ‘save’ it.
    From: https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/our...e-partnership/


    To me, it looks like there is a plan for the eventual merger of the UN and WEF. The paragraph that leads me to this speculation is this:

    Quote The rather detailed MOU includes forms of cross organizational engagement up and down the UN structure. The MOU contains commitments that the Secretary-General himself will be invited to deliver a keynote address at the WEF annual Davos gatherings. His senior staff and the heads of the UN programmes, funds, and agencies will also be invited to participate in regional level meetings hosted by the WEF. It also contains a promise that the UN’s individual country representatives will explore ways to work with WEF’s national Forum Hubs. Aware of the mutual importance of public legitimacy each institution can provide for the other, the MOU also contains an agreement to cross-publicize their joint activities.
    *I have loved the stars too dearly to be fearful of the night*

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    Default Re: The Changing / Emerging Global Landscape

    Relevant to the post above is a book written by David Korten in 1995 and republished in 2015: When Corporations Rule the World


    Quote Perhaps the most far reaching but little understood transformation in the late twentieth century has been the growth of multinational corporations. Under the guise of free market economics, modern corporations have assumed enormous economic and political power. Corporate libertarians have equated corporate growth with the public good, but as David C. Korten argues, increasing corporate power results in an enormous transfer of power, wealth, and resources from the public to the private sector. Unresponsive to the public will, corporations have placed their immediate self-interest over the public good. In WHEN CORPORATIONS RULE THE WORLD, former USAID official and Harvard Business School professor Korten examines the social, economic, and environmental consequences of the uncontrolled growth of multinational corporations.

    The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Trade Organization (WTO) have all facilitated the growth of multinational corporations. The new global economic environment has resulted in a massive transfer of jobs and capital and a drain on natural resources. Corporate expansion has been fueled by the disconnection of money from value in a predatory financial system, by corporate mergers and buyouts, and most of all by the illusory idea that unlimited growth is possible in a finite global environment. The corporate agenda of maximizing short-term profits often works against the common good, especially when corporations externalize their costs and export jobs and capital. A healthy society requires more than greed and self-interest to sustain itself.

    With the unlimited growth of global corporate power, Korten foresees the emergence of a new corporate colonialism resulting in the loss of national sovereignty, economic dependence, and continued environmental and social decline. The corporate goal of global consumerism on a Western scale is simply unsustainable, Korten warns, without catastrophic social and environmental consequences. The coming “Ecological Revolution” will require a new corporate vision of social responsibility.
    From: https://www.enotes.com/topics/when-c...ons-rule-world

    Here is a web version of the book (I think the 1995 version): http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Ko...ld_Korten.html
    *I have loved the stars too dearly to be fearful of the night*

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    Default Re: The Changing / Emerging Global Landscape

    Space forces are being openly created. Both the USA and France have initiated one.

    Here are some of the more recent developments for the USA in this regard:
    Quote ...

    Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson has stated that a space force, in addition to war fighting responsibilities, should have the roles of space debris cleanup and asteroid defense.[23][24]

    Former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has stated space "is becoming a contested war-fighting domain, and we have to adapt to that reality."[25] Former Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James opposed an independent space service, believing that since it would be the smallest armed service, it would be detrimental to space operations, and instead supports the reestablishment of United States Space Command.[26]

    The U.S. Congress directed two studies to examine the viability of a space force: the first was due in August 2018 and the second was due in December 2018.[26] According to Representative Rogers, the first study assesses to what extent a space force would be necessary, while the second one examines its nature, implementation, and costs.[27] ...

    In August 2018, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence announced a plan that would establish the Space Force by 2020.[29] On August 13, 2018 the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 was signed into law, which included the re-establishment of U.S. Space Command, which will be led by a four-star general or admiral and will temporarily be organized as a sub-unified combatant command under U.S. Strategic Command, until it can be elevated to a full unified combatant command.[30] In December 2018, the Trump administration directed that U.S. Space Command to instead be reestablished as a full unified combatant command, with full responsibilities for space warfighting held under U.S. Strategic Command.[31][32] However, the elevation to full unified combatant command has met continued delays since it requires Congress to amend the law directing its reestablishment as sub-unified combatant command.[33] On February 19, 2019, Space Policy Directive-4 was signed, which calls for the Space Force to be initially organized within the Department of the Air Force, and at a later date transitioned to the Department of the Space Force. All space operations forces of the Air Force, Army, and Navy would be transferred into the new service branch.[3]

    ... On May 19, 2019, the House Appropriations Committee announced in a drafted report that they will not support the allocation of funding to establish a Space Force.[38] However, the committee also reports that they did not completely reject the idea of establishing a Space Force,[38] and have recommended that $15 million be appropriated to the Department of Defense for further study of how a space service could be organized.[38]

    On May 23, 2019, the Senate Armed Services Committee voted to approve the establishment of the Space Force, but with a modified organizational buildup. ...

    The House Armed Services committee voted to approve the establishment of the Space Corps on June 13, 2019. The proposal of the formation of a space force was included in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act under the name of the United States Space Corps instead of the Space Force name in the Senate proposal.[41] The amendment made to the Senate Armed Services Committee's version of the 2020 NDA, which proposes the Space Corps, was amended by Democrat Jim Cooper and Republican Mike Rogers[42] and states that the space military branch will have personnel and assets transferred by the Air Force but may not include the personnel or assets of the National Reconnaissance Office or the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.[41] The Space Corps will be organized, trained, and equipped to provide freedom of operation for the United States in, from and to space and that the secretary of defense can transfer to the Space Corps “functions, assets and obligations" of the space elements of the Air Force (including all property, records, installations, activities, facilities, agencies and projects).[42] The proposal would also create the Commandant of the Space Corps, who would join the Joint Chiefs of Staff.[43]
    From: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unit...es_Space_Force


    And French President Macron recently announced a similar initiative:

    Quote Macron announces creation of French space force
    14/07/2019 - 10:33

    Kamil Zihnioglu, AFP | Emmanuel Macron announced the creation of a space command within the French air force in Paris, July 7, 2013.

    The declaration -- made on the eve of France's Bastille Day national celebrations that feature a military parade down Paris's Champs-Elysees -- mirrors an initiative in the US championed by President Donald Trump.

    "To assure the development and the reinforcement of our capacities in space, a high command for space will be created in September," Macron told military brass gathered for a traditional pre-Bastille Day reception.

    He called the renewed military focus on space a "true national security issue".

    Last year Macron had spoken of the need for a strategy for space defence and this was the result, he said.

    "The new spatial and military doctrine that has been proposed to me by the (defence) ministry, which I have approved, will allow us to ensure our defence of space...," he added.

    "We will reinforce our knowledge of the situation in space, we will better protect our satellites, including in an active manner," he said.

    Defence Minister Florence Parly would reveal details of the funding at a later date, he added.

    International space race

    France's declared interest in boosting its military readiness in space follows increased spending and interest in the area by the United States, China and Russia.

    Observers see military activities -- including spy satellites, location tracing and jamming, communications and cyber attacks -- increasingly being set up in orbit around Earth.

    France 'needs to control what's happening around its satellites'

    France has a 2019-2025 military spending plan that allocates 3.6 billion euros ($4 billion) to defence in space.

    That includes the renewal of the France's CSO observation and Syracuse communication satellites, the launch of three CERES electromagnetic-monitoring satellites, and the modernisation of a spatial radar surveillance system called GRAVES.

    The Pentagon has drafted plans for a new Space Force on orders from Trump who has declared space a "war-fighting domain". But that project still requires the approval of the US Congress.

    In March, United Nations-backed talks in Geneva to prevent an arms race in outer space ended without agreement.

    Parly announced research into the new generation of military satellites at the Paris Air Show last month.

    French operations could no longer do without a presence in space "to contribute to our autonomy of evaluation, decision and action in a decisive manner," she said.

    (AFP)
    From: https://www.france24.com/en/20190713...ce-space-force
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    Default Re: The Changing / Emerging Global Landscape

    Apologies to all readers for the barrage of posts. I have been observing these changes for a little while and until today did not have a sense of how to collect and/or organise them.

    I think I have now posted all the main items that were steeping in my mind.
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    Default Re: The Changing / Emerging Global Landscape

    You are a fine and SUBTLE observer and also you have the words for it.KKEP IT UP!
    "Your planet is forbidden for an open visit - extremely aggressive social environment,despite almost perfect climatic conditions.Almost 4 billion violent deaths for the last 5000 years and about 15000 major military conflicts in the same period."

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    Default Re: The Changing / Emerging Global Landscape

    This shift is not so new and it seems that various commenters argue about what exactly it is. Some are calling it “globalisation backlash”, others “global retreat”, and yet others “deglobalisation”.

    Brexit and the election of Trump are viewed as SYMPTOMS of this change, rather than causes, with most thoughtful commentators citing the global financial crisis of 2008/9 as the start.

    ~~~

    This professor of International Economics and Macroeconomics at Erasmus University in the Netherlands, Peter A.G. van Bergeijk, uses economic analysis and historical data to conclude that what we are seeing is a repeat (with different characteristics) of the deglobalisation that took place in the 1930s.

    Quote Brexit delay will not postpone deglobalisation
    Peter A.G. van Bergeijk 18 March 2019

    Many associate Brexit and the Trumpian trade wars with the start of a new phase of deglobalisation. This column argues that we should view them as symptoms rather than causes, as the world had already started to fundamentally change before either came on the horizon. Neither the delay to Brexit nor the extended pause in the US–China tariff war means that the risks of deglobalisation have diminished.

    ===

    While economists agree that the multilateral trading system is under pressure and that US trade wars and the Brexit chaos provide examples of behaviour that is completely new for the present generation, it is still unclear if we are actually in the midst of deglobalisation (O’Rourke 2018, 2019). Deglobalisation would imply a fundamental change in our economic environment but not a new phenomenon from a long-run perspective, because a period of significant deglobalization also occurred in the 1930. We can glean from history the pattern of emerging deglobalisation (van Bergeijk 2019). Figure 1 illustrates this historical perspective of alternating waves of globalisation (a more open world economy) and deglobalisation by means of the change in the world trade to world output ratio.1 The figure shows that strong globalisation phases are followed by decades in which the world’s trade-to-GDP ratio decreases or stagnates. What does the current pattern of emerging deglobalisation look like?

     Figure 1 Change in openness 1880-2023
    (average annual change per decade of the world trade to world production ratio)

    Notes: The estimate for 2010-2023 is (partly) based on IMF forecasts. Note that the number of available years is limited in the 1910s and 1930s and the absence of the 1940s.
    Sources: Maddison (1995, 2001), World Bank World Development Indicators, and IMF World Economic Outlook data base.


    Deglobalisation 2.0

    The start of the deglobalisation phase is a major economic crisis that reduces demand, increases uncertainty, and destroys confidence. Next follows a collapse of world trade and investment (Baldwin 2009). The collapse marks the end of decades of intensifying globalisation, and increasingly free international trade and capital flows. The start of a period of deglobalisation at first remains hidden under the veil of initial economic recovery, but later becomes clear and measurable. Figure 2 shows this pattern for the most recent phases and turning point. In the early 2000s openness (on the vertical axis) increased until it reached an all-time high in 2008 and from there deglobalisation sets in. Deglobalisation actually gains momentum around 2013 (and this leads to the recognition of the world trade slowdown; see Hoekman 2015). At the same time, uncertainty (on the horizontal axis) increases and moves into unknown territori. The figure makes an important point: deglobalisation started well before Trumpism and Brexit came on the horizon. Rather than being the causes of deglobalisation, we should therefore treat them as symptoms – the world had already started to change fundamentally and the wave of deglobalisation that we are currently experiencing may be here to stay for quite some while.

    Figure 2 Openness and economic policy uncertainty of the world economy

    Sources: Davis (2016) and data underlying Figure 1.

    The major difference between the 1930s and the 2000s is that authoritarian countries in the era of the Great Depression were more likely to reduce trade and openness, whereas reductions of trade and openness during the Great Recession were more likely to occur in democracies (van Bergeijk 2018). To some it may be especially worrying that the clearest manifestations of deglobalisation occur in democracies, because democracies built the Bretton Woods institutions (and the EU). Indeed, the popular anti-globalist movements currently seem to hit the system at its heart. It is unwise to downplay the issue of populism, but it is important to recognise that the turning point of globalisation in all major economies appears to have occurred well before the recent trade shocks. This is why the phenomenon of deglobalisation requires a much broader conceptualisation than the ‘backlash from globalisation’ or the ‘retreat from globalisation’ on which research is already well underway. Deglobalisation in the sense of reduced openness also occurs in countries where popular support for globalisation is still strong, and this is a research puzzle that has not yet been addressed.

    Drivers of the turn towards deglobalisation

    Phases of strong globalisation carry the seeds of their own destruction, that is, such phases generate the forces that ultimately set limits and force a retreat of internationalisation. A first mechanism operates in national economies: redistributing the gains from further openness to the people who lost from globalisation becomes more difficult at higher levels of globalisation. This is a double-edged sword. In the initial phase when a country starts to open up, the economy experiences steep increases in productivity and welfare, but once the low-hanging fruit has been picked the same increase in the intensity of globalisation brings less benefits to the economy. At the same time the costs of redistribution at a low intensity of globalisation are initially small, but they are on an increasingly steep path. This shift in the (marginal) costs and benefits of further globalisation shifts the political balance towards less openness

    A second mechanism operates in the international arena. During both the Great Depression of the 1930s and the Great Recession, the leading economic power of the time deserted the rules of the game that underpinned globalisation and were actually designed by its initial interest in an open trade and investment climate. An open stable and relatively peaceful system, however, allows other countries to develop and grow faster, capturing a larger share of the benefits of globalisation. In the early phase of globalisation a smaller share from a larger economic pie may still be an improvement. At some point the costs of being a hegemon, however, outweigh the benefits. It is ironic, but sad, that the US and the UK (the hegemons that helped to build a constellation in which trade, democracy, and peace were reinforcing aspects of the world order) are opting against global and European governance.

    Cease fire?

    Deglobalisation is a structural transformation of the world economy. Political turbulence can perhaps hasten this process. To some observers, delays to the big topical trade shocks may therefore seem to help to turn the tide. Brexit and ‘Make America Great Again’ are, however, symptoms of underlying processes that have already generated significant trade and investment uncertainty and this is already exercising a concrete impact on trade and investment flows as firms and consumers are adjusting behaviour in anticipation of further trade shocks. The delay of the deadlines provides a pause at best. It is therefore pertinent to rethink global economic governance and make it resistant to deglobalisation. A repositioning of the extent of internationalisation is manageable, but then concerted action is necessary to make the required changes in the rules and regulations of the world economic system. Those rules and regulations should be redesigned to meet the requirements of globalisation and, as recent experiences have made crystal clear, also meet the challenges posed by a wave of deglobalisation.

    References

    Baldwin, R E (ed) (2009), The great trade collapse: Causes, consequences and prospects, a VoxEU.org eBook.

    Davis, S J (2016), “An Index of Global Economic Policy Uncertainty,” Macroeconomic Review, October (updated on http://www.policyuncertainty.com).

    Hoekman, B (ed) (2015), The global trade slowdown: A new normal, a VoxEU.org eBook.

    Maddison, A (1995), Monitoring the World Economy 1820-1992, OECD.

    Maddison, A (2001), The World Economy: A Millennial Perspective, OECD.

    O'Rourke, K H (2018), "Economic history and contemporary challenges to globalization," CEPR Discussion Paper 13377.

    O'Rourke, K H (2019), “The end of globalization”, Vox Talks, 1 February.

    Pástor, L and P Veronesi (2018), “Inequality Aversion, Populism, and the Backlash Against Globalization", CEPR Discussion Paper 13107.

    van Bergeijk, P A G (2018), "On the brink of deglobalization… again", Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society 11(1): 59-72.

    van Bergeijk, P A G (2019), Deglobalization 2.0: Trade and openness during the Great Depression and the Great Recession, Edward Elgar.

    Endnotes

    The figure is intended to sketch a long-run perspective and thus by necessity focuses on merchandise trade in relation to world production. This of course ignores developments in services and financial flows.
    From: https://voxeu.org/article/brexit-del...eglobalisation
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    Default Re: The Changing / Emerging Global Landscape

    Related to the post above, here is a slightly different perspective, one more oriented towards political economy, of International Relations academic, Raffaele Marchetti. See below the video for his various affiliations including to the European Commission and NATO.

    He speaks on the backlash against globalisation in this video (18:15 long). His three main topics:
    • Populism is relevant but not that important
    • The dichotomy between supranational integration and localisation
    • An increasing challenge to the macro narratives of the 90s, chiefly neoliberalism, with alternatives emerging

    Quote Published on Jul 4, 2018
    Raffaele Marchetti (Laurea, Rome-La Sapienza; PhD, London-LSE) is senior assistant professor (national qualification as full professor) in International Relations at the Department of Political Science and the School of Government of LUISS. His research interest concerns global politics and governance, hybrid and city diplomacy, transnational civil society, (cyber-)security and political risk, and democracy.

    He acts as external expert for the European Commission and other public/private institutions on issues of global governance, public policies, civil society, and security. He is member of the editorial board of The International Spectator, the Academic Advisory Board of the NATO Defense College-NDC, the European Joint Doctorate GEM-STONES academic board, and the steering committee of the Centro studi sulla Cina contemporanea. He is the editor of the Routledge series World Politics and Dialogues of Civilizations.

    In 2015 he produced one of the first MOOCs on IR: From International Relations to Global Politics for Iversity. In the past, he was director of the FP6 Strep project SHUR. Human Rights in Conflicts: The Role of Civil Society and held a Jean Monnet European Module on EU’s Engagement with Civil Society, both funded by the European Commission. He was visiting/adjunct professor at American University of Rome-AUR, China Foreign Affairs University-CFAU-Beijing, Freie Universität Berlin, London School of Economics-LSE, MGIMO-Moscow, Sciences Po-Paris, Strathmore University-Nairobi, Université de Geneve, University of Naples L’Orientale, and Waseda-Tokyo. He was fellow at the European University Institute-EUI, Italian National Research Council-CNR, University of Exeter, the FP6 research project DEMOS. Democracy in Europe and the Mobilization of Society at the University of Urbino, the Network of Excellent GARNET. Global Governance, Regionalisation & Regulation: The Role of the EU, the SUSI on US National Security Policy-Making at the University of Delaware, and the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung- WZB. He was research contractor for the DoC Research Institute, European Union Institute for Security Studies-EUISS, Istituto San Pio V, Istituto Affari Internazionali-IAI, and Finmeccanica. He was rapporteur for the European Commission on Civil Society in Global Governance, and received the Lawrence S. Finkelstein Award by the International Studies Association-ISA, Section on International Organization.
    ~~~

    For those who would like a “primer” on regionalisation and globalisation in the international political arena, this is a good mainstream overview lecture style presentation:

    Quote Published on May 24, 2019
    This Lecture talks about Globalization to Regionalization - Situation changes in World Politics .
    *I have loved the stars too dearly to be fearful of the night*

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    Default Re: The Changing / Emerging Global Landscape

    Oil market dynamics and relationships amongst producers are changing quite dramatically. Russia and OPEC are now in close collaboration and Iran is allowing Russia use of two if its ports and several other agreements - both military and oil related - have been made.

    ~~~

    First, Russia and Saudi Arabian are increasing coordination of oil output:

    Quote Saudi-Russian Oil Fling Becomes Marriage
    Javier Blas and Jack Farchy
    Wednesday, July 03, 2019



    (Bloomberg) -- It was supposed to be a six-month fling, but Saudi Arabia and Russia have instead signed up for eternity.

    Complete with poem and celebratory badges, Moscow and Riyadh led two dozen countries in signing a charter to formalize the OPEC+ group that for the past 2 1/2 years has coordinated supply to prop up the price of oil.

    OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Barkindo compared the pact to a “Catholic marriage,” saying it would last for “eternity.”

    “The charter may end the perennial questions of whether Russia-Saudi is a relationship built to last,” said Helima Croft, chief commodities strategist at RBC Capital Markets. “The charter is the ring in the relationship.”

    It was a moment that would have been hardly imaginable three years ago, when decades of distrust were poisoning relations between the world’s two largest oil exporters as prices languished. In late 2016, in the face of skepticism from analysts and some senior figures in both countries, Khalid Al-Falih of Saudi Arabia and Russia’s Alexander Novak promised the output cuts they’d agreed on would last just six months.

    Oil Diplomacy

    This week, the group agreed to extend the cuts into a fourth year, to March 2020. But signing the charter was a key moment in a much broader Saudi-Russian diplomatic effort.

    It was Russian President Vladimir Putin who first telegraphed the result of the OPEC+ meeting, after discussions with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in Osaka on Saturday. And when Putin visits Saudi Arabia later in the year, Riyadh is planning to invite other heads of state from the OPEC+ group for a signing ceremony of the charter.

    For Saudi Arabia, turning what had been an ad hoc coalition into a formal group provides a hedge against future oil-market turbulence. The kingdom can now lean on a group representing almost half of global oil output for support.

    For Russia, the formalization of the group helps expand Putin’s influence in the Middle East. That’s a blow to the U.S., which has spoken out against Russia’s growing clout in the region. “I am very confident that Vladimir Putin’s efforts will fail,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo when asked earlier this year whether the Russian president could use oil diplomacy to supplant the U.S. in the Middle East.

    The charter is, implicitly, a recognition of the long-term nature of the problem facing Saudi Arabia and the other major oil producers. Oil slid on Tuesday in spite of the agreement, with West Texas Intermediate and Brent dropping 4.8% and 4.1%, respectively. Prices edged higher on Wednesday.

    Breakneck growth in U.S. shale oil production, combined with worries about slowing demand growth, mean that the OPEC+ group has little choice but to continue its cuts or see prices plunge.

    Al-Falih acknowledged as much, saying that oil producers would need to “keep adjusting” until U.S. shale production eventually peaked.

    That’s a particularly painful reality for Saudi Arabia, which is doing the bulk of the cutting. Russian output in June of 11.155 million barrels a day is just 0.5% below its level in December 2016, before the cuts deal began. Saudi Arabia’s oil production, on the other hand, is more than 7% lower over the same period.

    “Russia pulls the strings while Saudi output swings,” said Roger Diwan, a veteran OPEC-watcher at IHS Markit Ltd.
    From: https://www.rigzone.com/news/wire/sa...59216-article/

    ~~~

    Next, the growing ties between Russia and Iran (this commentator is not happy about the developments):

    Quote Russia Gains Stranglehold Over Persian Gulf
    By Simon Watkins - Aug 04, 2019, 4:00 PM CDT

    In a potentially catastrophic escalation of tensions in the Persian Gulf, Russia plans to use Iran’s ports in Bandar-e-Bushehr and Chabahar as forward military bases for warships and nuclear submarines, guarded by hundreds of Special Forces troops under the guise of ‘military advisers’, and an airbase near Bandar-e-Bushehr as a hub for 35 Sukhoi Su-57 fighter planes OilPrice.com has exclusively been told by senior sources close to the Iranian regime. The next round of joint military exercises in the Indian Ocean and the Strait of Hormuz will mark the onset of this in-situ military expansion in Iran, as the Russian ships involved will be allowed by Iran to use the facilities in Bandar-e-Bushehr and Chabahar. Depending on the practical strength of domestic and international reaction to this, these ships and Spetsntaz will remain in place and will be expanded in numbers over the next 50 years.

    This gradual roll-out of Russian capability in a country is the Kremlin’s tried and tested operating procedure for leveraging economic and/or political support for a country into that country allowing itself to be used as, effectively, one large multi-level forward military base for Russia. Exactly the same plan was used, and remains in place, in Syria, with Russia maintaining a massive army presence in and around Latakia, Syria, despite having repeatedly made assurances that it was to withdraw from this military theatre. In the early stages, these troops – again, in reality all Spetsnatz foreign operatives – appeared in the guise of military advisers and to provide ‘security staff’ for the huge Russian Khmeimim Air Base and the S-400 Triumf missile system in place in and around Latakia. This Russian presence was later duly expanded and formalised under an agreement signed with Syria in January 2017, which allowed Russia to continue its operations in Latakia and also to utilise the naval facility at Tartus for the next 49 years. This is precisely the format of agreement that has been agreed by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in the last few days, despite muted protest from the broadly pro-JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) nuclear deal allies of President Hassan Rouhani.

    Given how poorly Iran has fared in its recent dealings with Russia – most notably over its Caspian Sea oil and gas rights– Iran’s decision to go ahead with this latest deal may seem surprising to many but is the product of two key reasons. First, Iran has no other choice of a potential geopolitical ally in its current fight against sanction-induced economic austerity and political marginalisation. There are only five Permanent Members on the United Nations Security Council: the U.S. (the prime mover against Iran), the U.K. and France (both toeing the U.S. line), China (whose support ebbs and flows according to its own agenda), and Russia. “If you have no means of getting food from the supermarket ten miles away then you have no choice but to shop at the store around the corner, no matter how crappy it is,” one senior Iran source told OilPrice.com last week.

    The second reason is that President Rouhani and his broadly moderate pro-West, pro-JCPOA supporters have lost the confidence of many who voted for him due to his inability to deliver the economic prosperity that he promised would result from the nuclear deal agreed in 2015 and implemented on 16 January 2016. “This includes [Supreme Leader, Ali] Khamenei, who supported Rouhani for the first few years but now has no choice but to go along with the IRGC’s recommendations, and this Russia deal is at the forefront of these,” said a senior Iran source.

    Why is the IRGC backing this deal with Russia, given that its senior personnel are extremely capable people and hardened military officers, well aware of the trouble that the deal could create on a global scale? “Firstly, they [the IRGC] honestly believe that a corollary financial deal agreed with Russia last year is the only economic lifeline that Iran has that will stop it from falling into a popular revolutionary scenario, and the second reason is that some of the most senior figures in the IRGC also stand to gain monetarily by co-operating with Russia,” an Iran source told OilPrice.com last week. The cornerstone deal in question was part of a wide-ranging 22-point memorandum of understanding signed by Iran’s deputy petroleum minister, Amir-Hossein Zamaninia, and Russia’s deputy energy minister, Kirill Molodtsov, at the time covering closer co-operation between the two countries across the board.

    For the oil and gas sector, specifically, it involved Russia giving US$50 billion per year every year for at least five years so it could complete its top priority oil and gas projects to Western standards, which was estimated to cost around US$250 billion. Another US$250 billion would then be available for the following five years for Iran to build-out the remainder of its economy. In exchange for this, Iran would give Russian companies preference in all future oil and gas field exploration and development deals, to add to the seven already agreed at that time. These included: Zarubezhneft for Aban and Paydar-e Gharb, Lukoil for Ab Teymour and Mansouri, GazpromNeft for Changouleh and Cheshmeh-Khosh, and Tatneft for Dehloran. In addition – and crucial for what is now in view militarily – Iran also agreed to buy Russia’s S-400 missile defence system, to allow Russia to expand its number of listening posts in Iran, and to double the number of senior ranking IRGC officers that are seconded in Moscow for ongoing training, to between 120 and 130.

    The deal also ensured that there was a clause not allowing Iran to impose any penalties on any Russian development firm for slow progress on any field for 10 years, including not being able to re-offer these fields in new bidding rounds even if no progress at all was being made. Over the 10-year period the Russians would have the right to dictate exactly how much oil was produced from each field (to the barrel), when it was sold (to the day), to whom it was sold (by company), and for how much it was sold (to the cent). “Added to this is the fact that within the contracts there was another killer clause: Russia had the right to be able to buy all of the oil – or gas – being produced from fields that their companies were supposedly developing at 55 to 72 per cent of its open market value, for the next 10 years,” said one of the Iran sources. In just the last week as well, Russia – despite it swindling Iran out of its arguably rightful share of Caspian Sea resources – has offered to extract oil and gas from Iran’s sector in the Caspian and sell supplies on in the international markets.

    The other reason that has prompted the IRGC into allowing Russia to use Iran as a forward operating military base is that at least two of the most senior commanders have been given monetary inducements to champion Russia’s cause. This was also the reason why Iran ended up buying the inferior capability 28-year old S-300 missile system from Russia rather than the cutting edge new S-400 system. “Russia told Iran that it didn’t actually need the S-400 system and that the S-300 system would be adequate for its needs, despite the S-300 system still costing in total US$7 billion – US$4 billion up front and US$3 billion when it was actually delivered – which was three times the cost that Russia charged Egypt for the better S-400 system,” said one of the Iran sources. “At the same time, two of the key IRGC commanders who had allowed this deal to go ahead pocketed US$105 million each just from that one deal, and they and others get another cut of the US$50 billion per year deal if that fully re-emerges and of the newly-agreed Caspian deal,” he added.

    As it stands, then, Russia not only has unfettered access to all of Iran’s onshore, offshore and Caspian Sea oil and gas reserves to sell on as it wishes, however it wishes, but also is set to secure two of the most strategically well-placed ports and surrounding areas in the world’s most sensitive oil and gas hotspot, giving it effective control over the Strait of Hormuz. The Strait, of course, remains the world’s most important oil transit chokepoint – and the key route from the Arabian Gulf to the Far East via the Indian Ocean - with roughly 35% of all seaborne oil and about a third of global liquefied natural gas supplies passing through it. “Bandar-e-Bushehr and Chabahar will give Russia a potential stranglehold over the entire Persian Gulf area and into the Indian Ocean, which will allow it as well to conduct joint naval operations with China with more ease in the U.S. sphere of influence in the East, including around Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines,” a London-based intelligence analyst told OilPrice.com last week. “The fact that Russia also intends to use these two ports not just for warships but for nuclear submarines as well when the waters in its more northern ports are frozen is significantly upping the Russian ante on the West in general and on the U.S. in particular,” he concluded.

    By Simon Watkins for Oilprice.com
    From: https://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-G...ian-Gulf.html#
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    Default Re: The Changing / Emerging Global Landscape

    Quote Posted by Cara (here)
    Next, the growing ties between Russia and Iran (this commentator is not happy about the developments):

    Quote Russia Gains Stranglehold Over Persian Gulf
    By Simon Watkins - Aug 04, 2019, 4:00 PM CDT

    In a potentially catastrophic escalation of tensions in the Persian Gulf, Russia plans to use Iran’s ports in Bandar-e-Bushehr and Chabahar as forward military bases for warships and nuclear submarines, guarded by hundreds of Special Forces troops under the guise of ‘military advisers’, and an airbase near Bandar-e-Bushehr as a hub for 35 Sukhoi Su-57 fighter planes OilPrice.com has exclusively been told by senior sources close to the Iranian regime.

    --- snip ---

    By Simon Watkins for Oilprice.com
    From: https://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-G...ian-Gulf.html#
    A nice fairy tail has exclusively been told by OilPrice.com ...

    Quote No, There Will Be No Russian Base In Iran

    A somewhat weird report published at Oilprice.com claims that Russia will station troops, ships and fighter jets in Iran. The piece was reproduced at Yahoo.com and Zerohedge even as it is obviously bonkers.

    The headline: Russia Gains Stranglehold Over Persian Gulf:
    In a potentially catastrophic escalation of tensions in the Persian Gulf, Russia plans to use Iran’s ports in Bandar-e-Bushehr and Chabahar as forward military bases for warships and nuclear submarines, guarded by hundreds of Special Forces troops under the guise of ‘military advisers’, and an airbase near Bandar-e-Bushehr as a hub for 35 Sukhoi Su-57 fighter planes OilPrice.com has exclusively been told by senior sources close to the Iranian regime. The next round of joint military exercises in the Indian Ocean and the Strait of Hormuz will mark the onset of this in-situ military expansion in Iran, as the Russian ships involved will be allowed by Iran to use the facilities in Bandar-e-Bushehr and Chabahar. Depending on the practical strength of domestic and international reaction to this, these ships and Spetsntaz will remain in place and will be expanded in numbers over the next 50 years.
    Where to start?

    1. The Persian Gulf is a lake with an average(!) depth of less than 50 meter. It is a place where one might use small and nimble midget submarines. But no one serious will put a nuclear submarines there.

    2. Sukhoi Su-57 fighter planes have yet to be build. Those currently flying are test planes which still lack the required new engines. Russia recently ordered the first batch of Su-57 but the first deliveries will only be in 2022-24. 35 of these planes may be available in a decade or so. When they are they protect mother Russia from NATO and not some Iranian oil wells.

    3. Spetsnaz (not Spetsntaz) are expensively trained special forces. They do not do guard duty for bases.

    4. Iran's constitution (pdf) does not allow the stationing of foreign troops. Article 146 is pretty clear about that:
    The establishment of any kind of foreign military base in Iran, even for peaceful purposes, is forbidden.
    -- snip --
    https://www.moonofalabama.org/

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    Default Re: The Changing / Emerging Global Landscape

    Thanks, good catch.
    *I have loved the stars too dearly to be fearful of the night*

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    Default Re: The Changing / Emerging Global Landscape

    Quote Posted by Cara (here)
    Relevant to the post above is a book written by David Korten in 1995 and republished in 2015: When Corporations Rule the World


    [ .... ]

    Here is a web version of the book (I think the 1995 version): http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Ko...ld_Korten.html
    Yes, highly recommended. I read it from cover to cover back in 2002, and it really made quite an impact.

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    Default Re: The Changing / Emerging Global Landscape

    State issued cryptocurrencies are on the way.

    China:
    Quote China’s Digital Currency Coming Soon, Says Central Bank
    By Kalyan Kumar On 8/12/19 at 10:37 AM EDT

    At a time, the currency war between the U.S and China is raging in the name of deliberate weakening of yuan, here comes news that the central bank of China is all set to issue its sovereign digital currency.

    Disclosing this, Mu Changchun, deputy director of the People’s Bank of China’s payments department, said the PBOC’s cryptocurrency is “almost ready” for release.

    Earlier China was maintaining the stand that cryptocurrency creates disorder as speculators sell off the regular currency and would buy up virtual currency.

    In the new system, China might be hoping to create stability with the off-blockchain model.

    According to reports, the central bank’s researchers have been working on the currency for five years.

    The news comes amidst central bankers worldwide taking a skeptical view of Facebook’s plan to create a cryptocurrency named Libra in association with a consortium of companies including Visa and Uber.

    No fixation on Blockchain

    The cryptocurrency news from China’s central bank said its digital token will have a two-tier system in which the PBOC and commercial banks will be the authorized issuers at tier 1 and tier two.

    The significant part is that PBOC is not fussy about making blockchain the exclusive platform. Rather, it will be technology-neutral.

    Blockchain is the main decentralized ledger technology platform guiding most cryptocurrencies including bitcoin.

    China's digital currency plan gained traction after Facebook announced details of its Libra cryptocurrency in June.

    Wang Xin, head of the research bureau at the PBOC, said in June that the central bank is paying “high attention,” to Libra and would ramp up the development of its digital currency.

    China wants more control

    However, shunning the decentralized blockchain-based offerings reveals Beijing’s intent to exercise more control over its financial system.

    According to reports, the PBOC has already filed 52 patents relating to its digital currency in the name of the Digital Currency Research Lab of the PBoC.

    The patents registered by the central bank suggest consumers and businesses have to download a mobile wallet and swap their yuan for the digital money, that could be used to make and receive payments.

    The PBOC will track every time money changes hands.

    Changchun also said the “blockchain platform just couldn't deliver the throughput needed for retail.”

    He said the PBOC’s digital currency will serve as a substitute for M0 –coins and notes in circulation, but not M2, including bank deposits.

    Mu said the digital currency would boost the circulation of the yuan internationally.
    ...
    From: https://www.ibtimes.com/chinas-digit...mpression=true

    Iran:
    Quote Iran Announces Gold Backed National Cryptocurrency
    July 20, 2019

    The Tehran News agency has reported that Iran intends to launch a gold-backed cryptocurrency. This comes less than a week after President Trump slammed virtual currencies on Twitter amid tensions between the historic foes. The New agency reported the development on its English website.

    Accordingly, the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) has approved the issuance of new cryptocurrencies. This is according to the CEO of Iranian Information and Communication Technology (ICT) FANAP, Shahab Javanmardi.

    Shahab described the measure as follows:
    “Iran’s cryptocurrency will be supported by gold, but its function is similar to other cryptocurrencies. The crypto asset is designed to maximize the use of Iranian frozen bank assets.”
    As a matter of fact, banks like Parsian Bank, Bank Pasargad, Bank Melli Iran and Bank Mellat were working with blockchain startup Kuknos Company on this as early as January. The Financial Tribune reported that the gold-backed cryptocurrency project will be called Paymon.

    The Legal Status of Cryptocurrency in Iran

    The Iranian government had earlier this year signaled some opposition to Bitcoin and mining in general. This is because the government decried the use of power which is a feature of cryptocurrency mining. Notably, power is subsidized in Iran and many miners took advantage of this opportunity to have large mining farms.

    Mehr news reported that CBI was looking to ban private cryptocurrency and encryption services like in China. That said, the status of Bitcoin in the legal system is still quite unclear. Different government agencies have given conflicting positions in the recent past. In this regard, the conundrum of crypto regulation is as unclear in Iran as it is in most countries globally.

    ...

    Ironically, the American government has accused the Iranian government of actually using Bitcoin to circumvent sanctions. This is because Bitcoin is immutable and not subject to centralized control. Therefore, the Iranian government seems to have a “do as I say and not as I do” stance on Bitcoin.

    The Role of Politics

    ...

    Iran is similarly in the middle of currency turmoil after more sanctions from the USA. The fact that cryptocurrency is a way to escape the monopoly of SWIFT transfer in finance is lucrative. As such the country is simply taking a logical measure to cope.

    Iran is not alone in exploring cryptocurrency. In fact, more than 70 percent of the world’s central banks are looking at the impact of such a coin. The announcement by the Central bank of Iran will certainly up the ante.
    From: https://www.asiacryptotoday.com/iran...cryptocurrency

    Russia:
    Quote Russian Engineering Union Proposes Stablecoins “Backed by Material Valuables”
    cryptoregradar July 27, 2019

    The Russian Engineering Union (‘SoyuzMash’) has requested that the Central Bank of consider exploring blockchain technology as a potential means of exchange for arms deals with foreign customers.

    Vladimir Gutenev, the vice-president of SoyuzMash, has indicated that he made the recommendation directly to Elvira Nabiullina, the head of the Central Bank of , alongside “a whole range of measures” also endorsed by the union.

    Specifically, Mr. Gutenev recommended the consideration of stablecoins to conduct Russian arms sales, emphasizing the advantages such offered in facilitating the bypassing of economic sanctions. He stated:

    The so-called ‘stablecoins’ are cryptocurrency backed by material valuables, especially gold. That is to say, anonymous payments are one of the possible ways to resolve the existing problems.

    Mr. Gutenev’s comments also indicated his preference that arms only be exported after receiving full payment upfront, stating:

    Quote It’s hard to name any new conditions with respect to competition, because of course, this is not a competitive environment, it is powerful sanction pressure. Whereas previously there were a few reference points according to which one could say that a contract had been fulfilled, we are now encountering cases where for months the delivered equipment and adopted equipment is not paid for, the transactions are very difficult to carry out.
    The recommendation was made by the Russian Engineering Union in partnership with an “expert council on military and technological cooperation” of the State Duma’s commission on legal support for the development of defense industry organizations, which was established during 2019.

    Russian Cryptocurrency Legislation Expected by the End of 2019

    Last month, local media outlet Interfax reported that the Russian deputy finance minister, Alexei Moiseyev, had announced that the country’s lawmakers were discussing allowing the purchase and sale of cryptocurrencies while preparing Russia’s upcoming virtual currency regulation. However, Mr. Moiseyev indicated that cryptocurrency payments will not be legitimated under the bill.

    “Like with foreign currency, it would be possible to buy and sell [cryptocurrencies], but impossible to use them for payments,” he stated.

    The report also cited the head of the Duma Financial Market Committee, Anatoly Aksakov, as having indicated that Russia must develop and implement a regulatory apparatus for cryptocurrencies before 2020 to comply with the recommendations of the international financial watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
    From: https://reginnovate.com/2019/07/27/r...in-arms-sales/

    Other countries have also made announcements:
    Quote So far, the countries that launched their own Cryptocurrency

    To date, countries that have issued their own cryptocurrencies include Ecuador, China, Senegal, Singapore, Tunisia, though these countries will not be standing alone for long with Estonia, Japan, Palestine, Russia and Sweden looking to launch their own national cryptocurrencies. Some of these countries are likely to take it a step further and replace paper tender altogether with China being one nation that is looking to take one step beyond a virtual and paper version.

    Of the countries looking to introduce their own cryptocurrencies, the world’s largest economies could force the hands of smaller nations and we would expect momentum to build in the years ahead. Central banks now looking closely at the successes and constraints faced by those who have already stepped into the light, though only in early September, ECB President Draghi stated in a press conference that no member state of the Eurozone can introduce its own digital currency, with the currency of the Eurozone being the euro.
    From: https://www.fxempire.com/education/a...urrency-443966
    (I think the article is somewhat out of date as it does not mention Venezuela’s announcement to launch a petro backed cryptocurrency.)
    *I have loved the stars too dearly to be fearful of the night*

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    Default Re: The Changing / Emerging Global Landscape

    A new(?) Scramble for Africa seems to be on.

    It's "announced" here by the Economist magazine, which of course has its own particular bias and is at pains to tell us that (a) this time round Africans are in a much better position, and (b) be careful of those dastardly Russians and Chinese (who are bad because they are NOT US):


    Quote The Economist
    Published on Mar 8, 2019
    The past decade has seen a big surge of foreign interest in Africa—involving China, India and Russia. If the continent handles this new "scramble" wisely, the main winners will be Africans themselves.
    ====

    For reference, here is the original carving up of Africa:

    Quote The Scramble for Africa, also called the Partition of Africa or the Conquest of Africa, was the occupation, division, and colonisation of African territory by European powers during the period of time known to historians as the New Imperialism (between 1881 and 1914). In 1870, only 10 percent of Africa was under formal European control; by 1914 it had increased to almost 90 percent of the continent, with only Ethiopia (Abyssinia), the Dervish state (a portion of present-day Somalia)[1] and Liberia still being independent. There were multiple motivations for European colonizers, including desire for valuable resources available throughout the continent, the quest for national prestige, tensions between pairs of European powers, religious missionary zeal and internal African native politics.
    From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scramble_for_Africa

    ====

    This time around, aside from the legacy European powers, the USA (mostly seen in AFRICOM), and Russia and China as mentioned above, there are some interesting players:

    Korea:
    Quote Scramble for Africa intensifies as Korea joins the party
    On Friday, July 26, Korea Overseas Infrastructure & Urban Development Corporation, a state-owned Enterprise, inaugurated its KIND Africa Office in Nairobi,

    In Summary
    • For AfCFTA to succeed, Africa needs gigantic infrastructure, and in consequence, Africans are spending more on infrastructure.
    • KIND’s initiative will deliver desired results if the Government of President MOON Jae-in can formulate a clear policy on Africa.

    To say that China, with her nonpareil financial muscle, is fundamentally altering the character of African nations is not news. What is news is that Korea, which has significant strengths, has decided to join the battle for the soul of Africa.

    On July 26, Korea Overseas Infrastructure & Urban Development Corporation, a state-owned Enterprise, inaugurated its KIND Africa Office in Nairobi, Kenya. They wear the badge of DFI — Development Finance Institution — and PPP Project Developer and Investor.

    A high-powered delegation from South Korea led by Kim Seong-ho, Director-Construction Policy Bureau, Overseas Construction Policy Division, Ministry of land, infrastructure & Transport, and Lim Han-kyu, Executive Vice President, KIND, attended the grand opening ceremony. Amb. Choi Yeong-ha led the Korean diaspora and agencies in Kenya.

    Nancy Karigithu, PS State Department for Maritime and Shipping Affairs led the Kenyan delegation.

    ...

    Now enters the Dragon. Chinese infrastructure investments shot up from $6.4 billion to $19.403 billion, an increase of $13 billion. When you compare this with the top four Asian economies, China was followed by Japan, $2.361 billion, India at $704 million, and South Korea at $10 million. For South Korea, this was a huge drop from the 2016 commitment of $432 million.

    China is winning in Africa because of its clear policy on Africa implemented through the Belt and Road Initiative, China-initiated Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Benin, Djibouti, and Rwanda memberships were approved this July and the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation.

    ...
    From: https://www.the-star.co.ke/news/2019...ins-the-party/

    Israel:
    Quote ISRAEL’S SCRAMBLE FOR AFRICA: SELLING WATER, WEAPONS AND LIES – AL JAZEERA ENGLISH

    For years, Kenya has served as Israel’s gateway to Africa. Israel has been using the strong political, economic and security relations between the two states as a way to expand its influence on the continent and turn other African nations against Palestine. Unfortunately, Israel’s strategy seems, at least on the surface, to be succeeding – Africa’s historically vocal support for the Palestinian struggle on the international arena is dwindling.

    ...

    THE ISRAELI SCRAMBLE FOR AFRICA
    On July 5, 2016, Benjamin Netanyahu kick-started Israel’s scramble for Africa with an historic visit to Kenya, which made him the first Israeli prime minister to visit Africa in the last 50 years. After spending some time in Nairobi, where he attended the Israel-Kenya Economic Forum alongside hundreds of Israeli and Kenyan business leaders, he moved on to Uganda, where he met leaders from other African countries including South Sudan, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Tanzania. Within the same month, Israel announced the renewal of diplomatic ties between Israel and Guinea.

    The new Israeli strategy flowed from there. More high-level visits to Africa and triumphant announcements about new joint economic ventures and investments followed.

    ...

    ...In January this year, for example, Chad, a Muslim-majority nation and central Africa’s geo-strategically most important country, established economic ties with Israel.

    As it tried to establish itself as a partner to African nations, Israel did make some contributions that benefited Africans, such as delivering solar, water and agricultural technologies to regions in need. However, these contributions came at a significant cost.

    When, for example, in December 2016, Senegal co-sponsored UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which condemned the construction of illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, Netanyahu recalled Israel’s ambassador to Dakar and swiftly cancelled the Mashav drip-irrigation projects – The projects had previously been “widely promoted as a major part of Israel’s contribution to the ‘fight against poverty in Africa’.

    Israel not only used projects like these to punish African nations when they failed to give blind support to Israel in international forums, it also used this new relationship to turn Africa into a new market for its arms sales.

    African countries such as Chad, Niger, Mali, Nigeria, and Cameroon, among others, became clients of Israel’s “counterterrorism” technologies, the same deadly tools that are actively used to suppress Palestinians in their ongoing struggle for freedom.

    ...
    From: https://www.zimfocus.net/2019/07/23/...zeera-english/

    Continues in next post....
    *I have loved the stars too dearly to be fearful of the night*

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    Default Re: The Changing / Emerging Global Landscape

    Part 2 of the post above.... The New(?) Scramble for Africa:

    This article from February 2018 focuses on the Horn of Africa and outlines the steps being taken by the Gulf countries (UAE, Saudi Arabi, etc), Turkey, and China.

    Quote February 26, 2018
    The New Scramble for Africa

    Jacqulyn Meyer Kantack

    The modern scramble for Africa is intensifying. A sharp uptick in the expansion of foreign militaries in the Horn of Africa accompanied the growth of economic competition in the region in 2017. China, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates have opened military bases throughout the area in the past two years. The region is strategically important to these states for various reasons: securing shipping routes in the Bab al Mandab Strait, proximity to the ongoing conflict in Yemen, and the desire to array forces in the region alongside rivals including the United States.
    • China has concentrated its military presence in Djibouti near American and other Western forces.
    • The competition between the United Arab Emirates and Turkey in the Horn of Africa has yielded mixed results in Somalia. The Somali Federal Government (SFG) has received significant counterterrorism training support from both nations, as well as humanitarian aid from Turkey. The competition has strained relations between the SFG and Somalia's semi-autonomous regions, however. Somali President Mohammed Abdullahi Farmajo rejected the legitimacy of a 30-year Emirati contract on the port of Berbera in Somaliland, for example.[1]
    • The 2017 crisis between Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE exacerbated tensions between Somaliland and President Farmajo after the semi-autonomous government of Somaliland supported the boycott of Qatar, while the SFG remained neutral in the conflict.[2]



    Emirati operations in Yemen relied originally on basing in Djibouti. The UAE invested heavily in Eritrea beginning in mid-2015.[3] The Emirati military now operates from the Assab base in Eritrea and smaller outposts on the Yemeni islands of Socotra and Perim. The UAE is also expanding its presence into Somaliland at the port of Berbera.[4]
    • In 2008, Djibouti agreed to lease the Doraleh Container Port to Dubai-based company DP World.[5]
    • The UAE and Saudi Arabia leased a base in the Haramous district of Djibouti City in April 2015 to support operations during the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen.
    • On April 28, 2015, the UAE and Djibouti broke diplomatic relations due to a conflict between Emirati officials and the chief of Djibouti’s Air Force over the lease and after an Emirati plane landed at Djibouti’s Ambouli International Airport without authorization.[6]
      • Longstanding strained relations exacerbated tensions between the two countries after Djibouti prematurely rescinded a 20-year agreement with Dubai’s DP World to run the Doraleh Container Terminal in 2014.[7]
      • Djibouti ordered the eviction of UAE and Saudi troops from the country the following day.
    • On April 29, 2015, as Djibouti evicted Emirati troops, Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz met with Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki to finalize a 30-year agreement to base Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) operations in Yemen out of Eritrea.[8] The UAE conducted a heavy military buildup at the Assab base in Eritrea in May-July 2015. The UAE also undertook significant infrastructure developments at Assab, including the addition of new deep-water port facilities next to the airfield, the construction of a pier, the expansion of the airfield’s tarmac space and air traffic control system, and the rerouting of major highways and security perimeters around the base.
    • The UAE launched operations from Assab to retake Aden, Yemen in August 2015.
    • Emirati forces have also used the Assab base to train and equip thousands of Yemeni counterterrorism forces.[9]

    The UAE opened a military training center in Mogadishu in May 2015.[10]
    • UAE Special Forces fund and operate the base with the goal of training a brigade of Somali National Army soldiers to combat al Shabaab.[11] The facility and training program remain operational.[12]
    • The UAE signed a 30-year lease on the Port of Berbera in Somaliland in February 2017. The base remains under construction, but Emirati ships have docked at the port. Emirati forces are using it to support operations in Yemen.[13] The Yemeni al Houthi movement threatened to strike the Berbera port with ballistic missiles in December 2017.[14]
    • Somali President Farmajo called for the cancellation of the Berbera contract in February 2017.[15]
    • The UAE has funded police and intelligence operations in Puntland and Somaliland.[16]
    • The UAE also took over the management and development of the Boosaaso port in the semi-autonomous Puntland state in October 2017.[17]

    The UAE confirmed the presence of its military forces on the Yemeni island of Socotra in May 2017.[18]
    • President Hadi reportedly leased the islands of Socotra and nearby Perim and Abd al Kuri (part of the Socotra archipelago) to the UAE for 99 years before abdicating his position in 2014.[19]
    • The UAE does not appear to be using Socotra to support operations in Yemen. It has only trained soldiers on the island thus far.[20]
    • The UAE also is reportedly building an airstrip and related support facilities on Perim Island to support its operations in southern Yemen.[21] The UAE has not yet established a presence Abd al Kuri.

    China opened its first overseas military base in Djibouti’s Gulf of Tadjoura on August 1, 2017.[22]
    • China had used the port in Djibouti since February 2015 but negotiated permission for construction of a permanent military base with President Ismail Omar Guelleh in early 2015.[23] The Chinese began construction on the base in early 2016 and completed construction in July 2017. Djibouti is attractive for numerous reasons, including its proximity to key shipping lanes through the Bab al Mandab Strait and the Suez Canal.Djibouti is attractive for numerous reasons, including its proximity to key shipping lanes through the Bab al Mandab Strait and the Suez Canal. Additionally, China’s new presence in Djibouti alongside major Western powers such as the United States, France, Spain, and Italy indicates its intent of maintaining military capabilities with global reach.
    • The current agreement ensures China’s right to maintain up to 10,000 soldiers in Djibouti through 2025.[24] Approximately 1,000 personnel currently staff the base.[25]
    • China has previously invested heavily in Djiboutian infrastructure, funding upgrades to ports and airports and financing 70% of the Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway.[26]
    • China claims that the base will be used to support blue-helmeted peacekeepers and humanitarian operations in Africa, as well as anti-piracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden. China will also likely use the base to protect its economic interests in the region and ensure safe shipping between East Africa and China.[27]
      • China has approximately 2,200 personnel deployed in Africa and 500 others in the Middle East.[28]
      • China claims to have escorted more than 6,000 ships through the Gulf of Aden. [29]

    Turkey opened its largest overseas military base in Mogadishu on September 30, 2017.[30]
    • The Turkish military began construction on the base in 2015.
    • Turkey has announced its intention to use the base to train 10,000 Somali soldiers. The base reportedly has the capacity to train 1,500 personnel at a time.[31]
    • Turkey claims that it intends to maintain only 200 troops at the base, but a Turkish official clarified that the opening of the base aligns with Turkey’s prioritization of weapons sales to new markets.[32]
    • Turkey has previously cultivated a strong relationship with Somalia through a combination of direct investment and humanitarian aid.
    • Turkey’s only other operational foreign military base is in Qatar, which houses approximately 5,000 Turkish troops.[33]

    Sudan signed an agreement on December 26, 2017 to transfer responsibility for Suakin Island in the Red Sea to Turkey.[34]
    • Turkey has stated its intent to build a naval dock on the island to support both military and commercial vessels, stating that the agreement “could result in any kind of military cooperation.”[35]
    • The agreement prompted Egypt to deploy hundreds of troops, additional weapons, and military transport vehicles to the Sawa military base in Eritrea.[36] Sudan responded by deploying thousands of troops to the border region of Kassala. Ethiopia similarly sent additional troops to the Eritrean border.[37] The Suakin Island agreement followed decades of disagreement between Sudan and Egypt over the Halaib Triangle border region.[38]
    Watch how the new scramble for Africa has developed since 2010:
    From: https://www.criticalthreats.org/anal...ble-for-africa

    Continues in next post....
    Last edited by Cara; 18th August 2019 at 12:00.
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    Default Re: The Changing / Emerging Global Landscape

    Part 3 of the above post .... The New(?) Scramble for Africa:

    Quote U.S. GENERALS WORRY ABOUT RISING RUSSIAN AND CHINESE INFLUENCE IN AFRICA, DOCUMENTS SHOW
    Nick Turse
    August 13 2019, 7:31 p.m.

    THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION and the Pentagon have repeatedly warned that China and Russia are expanding their influence across Africa, where the two longtime American adversaries “interfere with U.S. military operations and pose a significant threat to U.S. national security interests,” national security adviser John Bolton said last December.

    That view was echoed by the former head of U.S. Africa Command, Marine Corps Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, who left the job last month, and his replacement, Stephen Townsend, both of whom testified publicly before Congress earlier this year. But the two generals went further in written responses to Congress obtained by The Intercept via the Freedom of Information Act, describing an Africa ever more likely to fall under the sway of Beijing and Moscow — with Russia exerting influence in as many as 10 different African countries and China likely to open more bases across the continent.

    Beijing and Moscow have steadily increased their economic ties across Africa and, with them, their diplomatic sway. Trade between China and Africa has risen from $765 million to more than $170 billion in the last 40 years, and 39 of 54 African nations have now signed on to Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative – a trillion-dollar plan to link infrastructure and trade via a vast new network of roads, rail lines, ports, and pipelines across Eurasia, the Middle East, and Africa. Russia’s trade with Africa increased from $5.7 billion in 2009 to $17.4 billion in 2017, and the country has been aggressively promoting nuclear infrastructure and technology partnerships as well as oil and gas investments there.

    Both nations have also aimed to increase their cultural influence. The number of Chinese-government-sponsored Confucius Institutes in Africa, which promote Chinese language and culture, have risen from zero in 2004 to 48 last year, according to data compiled by Development Reimagined, a Beijing-based international consulting firm. AFRICOM documents note that these centers are located in 20 different African countries. The Russian equivalent, Russkiy Mir Foundation, a nongovernmental and nonprofit organization, is active in nine African countries, according to AFRICOM.

    Russia and China have also been forging stronger military ties with African nations through arms sales, security agreements, and military training programs. Russian private military companies are active in 15 African nations, according to AFRICOM.

    Last month, Beijing hosted the first China-Africa Peace and Security Forum, which brought together nearly 100 security officials from 50 African countries and the African Union, including 15 defense ministers and chiefs of general staff, according to China’s Ministry of Defense. While that gathering was underway, the Russian news agency Tass announced that roughly 35 African leaders had confirmed their attendance at the first Russia-Africa Summit – co-chaired by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi — set to be held in Russia’s Black Sea resort city of Sochi in October.

    IN HIS TESTIMONY before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Waldhauser mostly focused on Russia’s increasing inroads in Central African Republic and, to a lesser extent, Algeria, Libya, and Sudan. But in his written responses, Waldhauser mentioned six other nations that were also involved with Russia or susceptible to its influence including Angola, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, and Tunisia. Russia is leveraging or seeking to leverage military aid in return for mining rights and energy partnerships, according to Waldhauser. “To thwart Russian exploitative efforts, USAFRICOM continues to work with a host of partners to be the military partner of choice in Africa,” he wrote.

    In the Central African Republic, “Russia has bolstered its influence with increased military cooperation including donations of arms, with which it has gained access to markets and mineral extraction rights,” Waldhauser explained in his public testimony. “With minimal investment, Russia leverages private military contractors, such as the Wagner Group.” He noted that the president of the Central African Republic, Faustin-Archange Touadéra, had recently installed “a Russian civilian as his National Security Advisor. The President also promised the armed forces would be deployed nationwide to return peace to the country by forces likely trained, equipped, and in some cases, accompanied by Russian military contractors. Russia’s ability to import harsh security practices, in a region already marred by threats to security, while systematically extracting minerals, is concerning.”

    Asked to privately explain these “harsh security practices,” Waldhauser mentioned reports of Russian contractor cooperation with militias and acquiescence to their human rights violations; the abuse of local security force trainees as well as civilians “who approach Russian mining interests”; and the possibility of involvement in the deaths of Russian journalists who were murdered in the Central African Republic while investigating the activities of Russian military contractors.

    In his public testimony, Townsend ranked China just below Russia as a threat to U.S. primacy in Africa but said he expected the People’s Republic to eclipse Russia. “I think that they are after access and influence to our detriment,” the new AFRICOM commander said of China. Behind the scenes, Townsend also badmouthed China’s efforts on multiple fronts, including arms sales, and explained that the U.S. needed to emphasize the shoddy nature of Chinese military technology to African countries. “China has provided Nigeria with armed unmanned aerial systems … but the poor quality of the platforms has contributed to infrequent use,” he wrote. “Low cost and short delivery timelines entice African partners to purchase Chinese equipment, but purchases frequently do not address the underlying military need. We need to tell this story to a greater extent.”

    In his written remarks, Waldhauser explained that current Chinese efforts in Africa were unlikely to inhibit U.S. military access and operations in the near term but warned that “China could gain that capability within the next decade.” While China only opened its first overseas military base, located six miles from the U.S. military’s Camp Lemonnier in the Horn-of-Africa nation of Djibouti in 2017, Waldhauser mentioned more Chinese facilities on the horizon. “China is actively working with African partners to open new bases in several locations across the continent,” he wrote. “By working with other [African] nations … we may be able to ensure that when China or Russia do gain military access to ports, bases, or airspace, that they are unable to take full advantage of that access to threaten U.S. freedom of maneuver in and around Africa.”

    IN RESPONSE TO perceived threats from its great power rivals, AFRICOM has launched a five-year campaign plan designed, in part, to counter the “increased presence” of China and Russia on the continent. The command is also strengthening alliances in order to “deter Chinese and Russian malign action,” Waldhauser wrote in March. In his written answers, Townsend also referenced “Russia’s malign influence in Africa” and took aim at China, noting that “[t]he Chinese have successfully promoted their false narrative that their assistance comes with no strings attached.”

    While Waldhauser and Townsend painted Russian and Chinese motives as “malign” and America’s as virtuous, some experts take a different view. “It’s hard to make the case that any of the great powers truly have Africa’s best interest at heart. America’s behavior simply cannot be categorized as altruistic because its overly militarized post-9/11 foreign policy actually correlates to an increase of violence on the continent rather than deterrence,” Temi Ibirogba, a program and research associate with the Africa Program at the Center for International Policy, told The Intercept. “American officials like Nagy,” referring to the assistant secretary of state of African affairs, “and Waldhauser seem to have the false perception that American foreign policy is loved and welcomed by Africans, but it’s really the Chinese who are winning there at the moment.”

    In his public testimony before the Senate in February, Waldhauser noted that the National Defense Strategy has outlined the importance of limiting “the harmful influence of non-African powers on the continent.” Ibirogba agreed. “Waldhauser’s claim that non-African powers have a harmful influence in Africa is true — and the U.S. is one of those powers,” she said.

    At the same time that U.S. military efforts in Africa have soared, as The Intercept has previously reported, key indicators of security and stability on the continent have plummeted. “Overall, militant Islamist group activity in Africa has doubled since 2012,” according to the Defense Department’s Africa Center for Strategic Studies. There are now roughly 24 “active militant Islamist groups” operating on the continent, up from just five in 2010; 13 African countries face attacks from these groups — a 160 percent increase over that same time span; and the number of “violent events” across the continent has jumped 960 percent, from 288 in 2009 to 3,050 in 2018.
    From: https://theintercept.com/2019/08/13/...litary-africa/
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    Default Re: The Changing / Emerging Global Landscape

    I posted in #14 above about nation / state issued cryptocurrencies.

    In addition to this change (and maybe as a necessary precursor - see in the article below, 2nd last paragraph), it seems there is also work underway by Central Banks to transform payment systems in a significant way - they are aiming at a digital system, with interoperability across regional systems and a span of control that includes ALL payments (including small local banks).

    (Bold emphasis in the original, my emphasis underlined)

    Quote Lost Within the Rate Cut: The Fed’s Drive to Establish a New Payment System
    5 days ago [14 August 2019]


    Part way through delivering a press conference following the Federal Reserve’s first rate cut since December 2008, chairman Jerome Powell let it be known that the central bank was ‘looking carefully‘ at developing a new faster payments system. Unsurprisingly, his words on the subject proved the equivalent of screaming into the face of a force ten gale. Besides a handful of financial outlets, nobody heard him. All that analysts and observers were really interested in was the Fed’s stance on interest rates.

    This was unfortunate because whilst they may appear banal and complex on the surface, payments systems are of far greater significance than whether a central bank opts to cut or raise interest rates. Anyone keeping pace with the myriad of speeches and publications emanating from central banks will know that globalists are working incrementally to introduce a cashless monetary system under their control. The Federal Reserve are one strand of this strategy as we will discover.

    Less than a week after the rate cut, the Fed announced that they were planning to devise a new ‘round-the-clock real-time payment and settlement service.’ Called ‘FedNow‘, the system would be an RTGS run service designed to initiate faster payments.

    RTGS stands for ‘Real Time Gross Settlement‘, and is the same model through which the Bank of England and the European Central Bank operate their payment systems. The BOE announced back in May 2017 a blueprint for the introduction of a ‘renewed‘ RTGS service, whilst the ECB in late 2018 launched a new system dubbed TIPS (TARGET Instant Payment Settlement). It was around the time that TIPS launched that the Fed issued a ‘request for comment‘ on reforming their own system. Taken as a whole, this is a further example of central banks working in coordination.

    In a press release announcing ‘FedNow‘, the Fed justified the venture on the premise that the ‘rapid evolution of technology‘ had presented them with a ‘pivotal opportunity‘ to modernise the U.S. payment system. Exactly how long the Fed have been looking into adopting a new payment system is unclear. But if the Wall Street Journal is to be believed, they have been exploring a faster system since at least 2013.

    The press release also pointed out that over 10,000 financial institutions are incorporated into the current Fed payment system known as ‘Fedwire‘, and argued that new real time infrastructure developed through the central bank would be best placed to offer full nationwide coverage.

    The next stage of ‘FedNow‘ sees the Fed ‘requesting comment on how the new service might be designed‘. As for when it becomes available, the expectation is either 2023 or 2024. The Bank of England’s renewed RTGS system is due to be operational by 2025.

    On the day ‘FedNow‘ was announced, Lael Brainard, a member of the Fed’s board of governors, offered up more information on the system in a speech at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. As you might expect, Brainard was there to extol the benefits. The big selling point was 365 days a year access, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Funds would be available immediately after payment is sent. It would be a system built on convenience and one that was fit for the speed of the 21st century.

    Of greater interest than these superficial benefits, however, is the motivation behind what the Fed are seeking to achieve with ‘FedNow‘. Brainard was equally as explanatory in this regard.

    We learned from her speech four key bits of information.

    Firstly, fintech companies are openly supportive of the Fed’s new system. These are companies that are part of an industry that has pioneered the creation of distributed ledger technology.

    Secondly, the planned implementation for either 2023 or 2024 is not a fixed objective. More important to the Fed is the goal of achieving ‘nationwide access for all‘, meaning that their overarching aim is for ‘FedNow‘ and private sector payment services to work in conjunction (or, as Brainard put it, to ‘interoperate by exchanging payments among services directly).

    Thirdly, Brainard told us that no one private sector provider of a U.S. payment system has ever been able to establish nationwide reach by itself. Nationwide coverage would have to encompass the many thousands of small and medium sized banks. Hence why the Fed are now making a determined move to utilise private sector technology and incorporate it into their own system. I would contend that the Fed’s goal is to achieve full spectrum control of America’s payment infrastructure, with all digital transactions falling under their jurisdiction. ‘FedNow‘ would be the mechanism in making this happen.

    Fourthly, as Brainard laid out, the path that the Fed are embracing is not one of ‘incremental‘ change. Rather, it is of ‘transformative‘ change. I would take this to mean that the infrastructure underpinning current payment systems must be overhauled to allow for the implementation of fintech devised technology.

    An accompanying list of FAQ’s lent credence to the understanding that fintech is central to the construction of ‘FedNow‘. Here, the Fed expounded that the market for faster payments in the U.S. remains in the ‘early stages‘. Banks and fintech firms can provide a range of services, but the functionality of them is limited which restricts their level of coverage and reliability. They lamented the ‘lack of a universal infrastructure to conduct faster payments‘, which means that at present users who are signed up to one service such as Paypal invariably cannot send or receive payment from a user signed up to another service. As a result, the market remains ‘fragmented‘.

    With the Federal Reserve system encompassing twelve regional banks, and the relationships the Fed has with 10,000 plus banking institutions, their belief is that they are ‘well positioned to overcome the challenge of extending nationwide access.

    Throughout their communications there is a preoccupation with the objective of achieving nationwide access. So much so that the Fed board are apparently intending to ‘explore interoperability and other paths to achieving the ultimate goal of nationwide reach.’

    ‘FedNow’ would provide the necessary universal infrastructure that the Fed are seeking, and allow banks of all description to offer real-time payments.

    Undoubtedly this presents an opportunity for the Fed, and indeed central banks throughout the world, to move in and claim hegemony over the next generation of global digital payment systems. But they, along with the Bank for International Settlements and the International Monetary Fund that preside over them, cannot do this by themselves. This is where the private sector comes in, for it is here where the expertise and technological innovation is found.

    Within the FAQ’s it is also stated that the ‘FedNow‘ service would ‘operate alongside private sector RTGS services for faster payments‘. Prior to the announcement of the new system, the Federal Reserve board had come to the conclusion that private sector RTGS services ‘cannot be expected to provide an infrastructure with reasonable effectiveness, scope and equity alone.’ A roundabout way of saying that whilst the Fed do not possess the technology, they do have the reach in order to disseminate private sector innovation to every corner of the U.S. The beauty for the Fed is that they would have full regulatory authority over ‘FedNow‘. In conjunction with fintech, their level of control over the payments infrastructure would be unassailable.

    If central banks manage to utilise fintech successfully, it will give them a clear path to begin the gradual implementation of central bank issued digital currencies. Back in April I published an article (BIS General Manager Outlines Vision for Central Bank Digital Currencies) that looked into the subject of CBDC’s more deeply.

    In regards to ‘FedNow‘, equally as interesting as what was discussed by the Fed is what was left unsaid. There was no mention throughout any of the supporting documentation of plans to incorporate distributed ledger technology. Instead, there will be ‘engagement between the Fed and the industry to inform the final service design.’ This is a process that is now getting underway.

    I would expect that once the final design of ‘FedNow‘ is confirmed, it will have the capability of interacting with systems that use distributed ledgers. This would follow on from the Bank of England who in 2018 announced that their new RTGS service would enable such systems to achieve settlement in central bank money.

    Once this has been achieved, the next logical step for central banks is to complete the process of digitising all financial assets through the issuance of central bank digital currency. And as BIS general manager Agustin Carstens warned back in March 2019, this would mean that people would no longer have the option of paying with cash. ‘All purchases would be electronic‘.

    In a follow up article I will be exploring the process underway at the Bank of England and the European Central Bank to reform their payment systems, and how China is proving to be the test bed for fintech innovation.
    From: https://stevenguinness2.wordpress.co...ayment-system/
    *I have loved the stars too dearly to be fearful of the night*

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    Default Re: The Changing / Emerging Global Landscape

    The role of the corporation is changing (noted above) with moves for companies to play an ever increasing role in governing society.

    The Business Roundtable (a powerful US organisation of corporations and companies) has just released a new statement on the wider purpose and role of the company.

    Quote The Business Roundtable (BRT) is a group of chief executive officers of major U.S. corporations formed to promote pro-business public policy.[1][2][3][4]

    ...

    Members of the board of directors include Jamie Dimon, Mary Barra, Michael S. Burke (AECOM), Safra Catz, Mark Costa (Eastman Chemical Company), Lynn Good, Alex Gorsky, Greg Hayes, Marillyn Hewson, Tom Linebarger, Kevin Lobo (Stryker Corporation), Doug McMillon, Larry Merlo, Dennis Muilenburg, Douglas L. Peterson, Chuck Robbins, Ginni Rometty, Arne Sorenson, Randall L. Stephenson, Mark Sutton (International Paper), and Mark Weinberger.[21]
    From: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_Roundtable

    Here is their statement, which was signed by 181 CEOs:

    Quote Business Roundtable Redefines the Purpose of a Corporation to Promote ‘An Economy That Serves All Americans’
    Aug 19, 2019

    WASHINGTON – Business Roundtable today announced the release of a new Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation signed by 181 CEOs who commit to lead their companies for the benefit of all stakeholders – customers, employees, suppliers, communities and shareholders.

    Since 1978, Business Roundtable has periodically issued Principles of Corporate Governance. Each version of the document issued since 1997 has endorsed principles of shareholder primacy – that corporations exist principally to serve shareholders. With today’s announcement, the new Statement supersedes previous statements and outlines a modern standard for corporate responsibility.

    “The American dream is alive, but fraying,” said Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Chairman of Business Roundtable. “Major employers are investing in their workers and communities because they know it is the only way to be successful over the long term. These modernized principles reflect the business community’s unwavering commitment to continue to push for an economy that serves all Americans.”

    This new statement better reflects the way corporations can and should operate today,” added Alex Gorsky, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Johnson & Johnson and Chair of the Business Roundtable Corporate Governance Committee. “It affirms the essential role corporations can play in improving our society when CEOs are truly committed to meeting the needs of all stakeholders.”

    Industry leaders also lent their support for the updated Business Roundtable Statement, citing the positive impact this commitment will have on long-term value creation:

    “I welcome this thoughtful statement by Business Roundtable CEOs on the Purpose of a Corporation. By taking a broader, more complete view of corporate purpose, boards can focus on creating long-term value, better serving everyone – investors, employees, communities, suppliers and customers,” said Bill McNabb, former CEO of Vanguard.

    “CEOs work to generate profits and return value to shareholders, but the best-run companies do more. They put the customer first and invest in their employees and communities. In the end, it’s the most promising way to build long-term value,” said Tricia Griffith, President and CEO of Progressive Corporation.

    “This is tremendous news because it is more critical than ever that businesses in the 21st century are focused on generating long-term value for all stakeholders and addressing the challenges we face, which will result in shared prosperity and sustainability for both business and society,” said Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation.

    The Business Roundtable Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation is below and the full list of signatories is available here.

    Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation

    Americans deserve an economy that allows each person to succeed through hard work and creativity and to lead a life of meaning and dignity. We believe the free-market system is the best means of generating good jobs, a strong and sustainable economy, innovation, a healthy environment and economic opportunity for all.

    Businesses play a vital role in the economy by creating jobs, fostering innovation and providing essential goods and services. Businesses make and sell consumer products; manufacture equipment and vehicles; support the national defense; grow and produce food; provide health care; generate and deliver energy; and offer financial, communications and other services that underpin economic growth.

    While each of our individual companies serves its own corporate purpose, we share a fundamental commitment to all of our stakeholders. We commit to:
    • Delivering value to our customers. We will further the tradition of American companies leading the way in meeting or exceeding customer expectations.
    • Investing in our employees. This starts with compensating them fairly and providing important benefits. It also includes supporting them through training and education that help develop new skills for a rapidly changing world. We foster diversity and inclusion, dignity and respect.
    • Dealing fairly and ethically with our suppliers. We are dedicated to serving as good partners to the other companies, large and small, that help us meet our missions.
    • Supporting the communities in which we work. We respect the people in our communities and protect the environment by embracing sustainable practices across our businesses.
    • Generating long-term value for shareholders, who provide the capital that allows companies to invest, grow and innovate. We are committed to transparency and effective engagement with shareholders.
    Each of our stakeholders is essential. We commit to deliver value to all of them, for the future success of our companies, our communities and our country.
    From: https://www.businessroundtable.org/b...-all-americans

    Larry Fink, Chairman of Blackrock, in his 2019 Letter to Shareholders articulates much the same sentiment but in starker terms.

    Blackrock:
    Quote BlackRock, Inc. is an American global investment management corporation based in New York City. Founded in 1988, initially as a risk management and fixed income institutional asset manager, BlackRock is the world's largest asset manager with $6.84 trillion in assets under management as of June 2019.[3] BlackRock operates globally with 70 offices in 30 countries and clients in 100 countries.[4] Due to its power and the sheer size and scope of its financial assets and activities, BlackRock has been called the world's largest shadow bank.[5][6]
    From: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/BlackRock

    From Larry Fink’s letter:
    Quote ...
    Market uncertainty is pervasive, and confidence is deteriorating. Many see increased risk of a cyclical downturn. Around the world, frustration with years of stagnant wages, the effect of technology on jobs, and uncertainty about the future have fueled popular anger, nationalism, and xenophobia. In response, some of the world’s leading democracies have descended into wrenching political dysfunction, which has exacerbated, rather than quelled, this public frustration. Trust in multilateralism and official institutions is crumbling.

    Unnerved by fundamental economic changes and the failure of government to provide lasting solutions, society is increasingly looking to companies, both public and private, to address pressing social and economic issues. These issues range from protecting the environment to retirement to gender and racial inequality, among others. Fueled in part by social media, public pressures on corporations build faster and reach further than ever before. In addition to these pressures, companies must navigate the complexities of a late-cycle financial environment – including increased volatility – which can create incentives to maximize short-term returns at the expense of long-term growth.

    ...

    As divisions continue to deepen, companies must demonstrate their commitment to the countries, regions, and communities where they operate, particularly on issues central to the world’s future prosperity. Companies cannot solve every issue of public importance, but there are many – from retirement to infrastructure to preparing workers for the jobs of the future – that cannot be solved without corporate leadership.

    ...

    Companies that fulfill their purpose and responsibilities to stakeholders reap rewards over the long-term. Companies that ignore them stumble and fail. This dynamic is becoming increasingly apparent as the public holds companies to more exacting standards.
    ...
    From: https://www.thegeniusworks.com/2019/...tained-growth/
    *I have loved the stars too dearly to be fearful of the night*

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    Default Re: The Changing / Emerging Global Landscape

    For a possible view on how the world might be with corporations playing a larger role in governing society, I can recommend a sci-fi novel by Neal Stephenson called Snow Crash. obviously this is only speculative fiction, so it’s an imagining. However, the extrapolation of the themes of digital / cyber technology and laissez fairy capitalism are very interesting.

    Neal Stephenson:
    Quote His novels have been categorized as science fiction, historical fiction, cyberpunk, postcyberpunk, and baroque.

    Stephenson's work explores subjects such as mathematics, cryptography, linguistics, philosophy, currency, and the history of science. He also writes non-fiction articles about technology in publications such as Wired. He has also written novels with his uncle, George Jewsbury ("J. Frederick George"), under the collective pseudonym Stephen Bury.

    Stephenson has worked part-time as an advisor for Blue Origin, a company (founded by Jeff Bezos) developing a spacecraft and a space launch system,[1] and is also a cofounder of Subutai Corporation, whose first offering is the interactive fiction project The Mongoliad. He is currently Magic Leap's Chief Futurist.
    From: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neal_Stephenson

    And Snow Crash:
    Quote Stephenson's breakthrough came in 1992 with Snow Crash, a comic novel in the late cyberpunk or post-cyberpunk tradition fusing memetics, computer viruses, and other high-tech themes with Sumerian mythology, along with a sociological extrapolation of extreme laissez-faire capitalism and collectivism.[6][7] Snow Crash was the first of Stephenson's epic science fiction novels.
    From: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neal_Stephenson

    *I have loved the stars too dearly to be fearful of the night*

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