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World War III?, Who’s the Captain Now?, Stuck in the Middle with Chile, India is Misunderstood, and the Week in Review

Blog / Weekly Review

World War III?, Who’s the Captain Now?, Stuck in the Middle with Chile, India is Misunderstood, and the Week in Review

World War III? Not so fast. U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin held a 2-hour video conference on Tuesday. According to the White House, the main topic was Ukraine, but several other issues were also discussed.

What it means: Do not underestimate the centrality of Ukraine to Russia’s foreign policy. Russia’s revanchist desires are not idle threats, nor will sanctions or strongly-worded statements deter Russia from defending its interests by any means necessary if it feels threatened. (The idea that a U.S. threat to pressure Germany to block the Nord Stream 2 pipeline will change Russian behavior is ludicrous and only demonstrates the asymmetry of interests here.) ALL THAT SAID – we continue to think that’s not what is happening right now. We think Putin is using the threat of military force to secure political concessions rather than to make new facts on the ground…and it seems to have worked.

Who’s the Captain now? The Gulf of Guinea has become the world’s global piracy hotspot. According to a newly published UN report, incidents of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea have been significantly elevated for the last three years, averaging 105 incidents per year, a 75 percent increase from 2017. In addition, the threat is no longer concentrated close to the Niger Delta, but has “spread outward from the shore over a vast region extending hundreds of miles from the coast.”

What it means: A less savory consequence of a multipolar world. Can there be any more telling indicator of the rise of multipolarity than maritime trading routes becoming more at risk from piracy?

Stuck in the Middle with Chile. Center-left Chilean presidential candidate Gabriel Boric promised fiscal responsibility if he wins the December 19th runoff. Boric noted that if he wins, he will be taking over an “overhead” economy facing “inflationary pressures” which will require fiscal consolidation and stabilization of debt levels as a percentage of GDP.

What it means: Boric sounds like a candidate who believes he has a chance of winning if he can attract enough centrist voters to his cause. His challenger, conservative Jose Antonio Kast, meanwhile, is moving to the left on issues like the environment and women’s rights. Maybe democracy isn’t broken everywhere. And maybe YOU should sign up for LatamPolitik!

India is misunderstood. The day before the Biden-Putin summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin was in India to sign several deals to deepen defense cooperation between India and Russia. Russia reportedly also began delivery of S-400 missile defense systems to India this week – a system that the U.S. has sanctioned Turkey for trying to acquire from Russia.

What it means: The U.S. is hoping to make India the centerpiece of the “Quad” alliance in the Indo-Pacific, comprising India, the U.S., Australia, and Japan. In practice, however, India has jealously guarded its geopolitical nonalignment since gaining independence from the British, and under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has only doubled down on keeping its options open. One wonders when the West will realize this.

Extra! Extra!

New York City is in the throes of a cream cheese shortage.

China’s Evergrande Group is officially in default after failing to make two payments on Monday totaling approximately $82.5 million.

Canada is releasing stockpiles from its maple syrup reserves.

South Korea recorded a decline in its total population.

Saudi authorities cracked down on camel beauty contestants receiving Botox injections. (Yep. That’s a real thing.)

Germany officially has a new chancellor for the first time in 16 years.

Sea shanties are making a comeback and we are HERE for it.

In Argentina, rumors abound of a possiblecorralito” – referring to a failed 2001 strategy in Argentina that limited access to cash savings in foreign currency deposits for Argentine citizens.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reiterated his opposition to raising interest rates.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government claims it has recaptured two key strategic towns from Tigray rebels.