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TOPIC: economy

Russia

How The War In Ukraine Could Overturn Everyone's Plans For The Arctic

Russia owns 60% of Arctic coastline and half of the region's population. In recent history, NATO has not been overly concerned with the defense of the Arctic region because the U.S. military has been focused on the Middle East. This is all changing since Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

-Analysis-

KYIV — As important as the Arctic is for studying climate control and ecology, various states have eyes on it for another reason: resources. Climate change has made the Arctic more accessible for mining, and much of that area is in the Russian Arctic. In order to exploit these potential natural resources, Russia turned to foreign investors and foreign technology, from both the West and China. The war in Ukraine is throwing all of that into question.

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Russia's invasion of Ukraine will have a profoundly devastating impact on the development of Russian Arctic infrastructure, as well as shipping routes through the Arctic. Western companies have left or are about to leave the market, and counter-sanctions threaten those who still cooperate with the Russians.

Given that Russia does not produce the sophisticated equipment to operate in such a complex region and soon will not even be able to repair the equipment it possesses, we can expect Russia's activity in the Arctic to slow down.

Yet, Vladimir Putin has continued to emphasize the Arctic as a priority region, and extended invitations to cooperate to both India and China.

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Why It's Time To Abolish Aid To Africa

Aid in its current form is expensive and inefficient. And it isn't needed — Africa is now a dynamic and confident continent. Europe needs a change of perspective to understand that it needs Africa as much as Africa needs Europe.

-OpEd-

BERLIN — We have a responsibility to help those in need. That is undeniable. From the earliest days of foreign aid, it was given with the best of intentions — to alleviate poverty in Africa. But since then, it has grown into an entire industry. There are so many organizations, all seeking to do good, but inefficiency and misguided assumptions mean they often fail to achieve what they set out to do.

In my opinion, the aid industry has always shown a hint of disdain towards this emerging, vibrant continent. Yes, it is a complex continent – as they all are. It is marked by poverty and war, but that is not the full picture. That is why we need a new approach. Instead of aid, Germany and the rest of the West should focus on increasing economic cooperation with Africa – as an equal partner.

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In Brazil And U.S., Elections As Stress Tests For Democracy

After the Brazilian presidential election and the American midterms, checking the temperature on the state of democracy in a world that has been heading in the opposite direction for too long.

-Analysis-

MONTREAL — Beyond climate change and the return of inflation, the war in Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic, we can add another element threatening the stability of the world: the backsliding of democracy and faith in a system based on the rule of law, free expression, and a sovereign choice of leaders.

The V-Dem Institute at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden publishes an annual report that has tracked this decline.

After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, there was a growing desire for democracy around the world, and the number of people living under a system of freedom and the rule of law was on the rise. But that number has been decreasing since the beginning of the 21st century.

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When Your Boss Is Really An Algorithm

Hard questions amid the increasing use of software algorithms to take on managerial functions, such as hiring, firing and evaluating employees.

The 1999 cult classic film Office Space depicts Peter’s dreary life as a cubicle-dwelling software engineer. Every Friday, Peter tries to avoid his boss and the dreaded words: “I’m going to need you to go ahead and come in tomorrow.”

This scene is still popular on the internet nearly 25 years later because it captures troubling aspects of the employment relationship – the helplessness Peter feels, the fake sympathy his boss intones when issuing this directive, the never-ending demand for greater productivity.

There is no shortage of pop culture depictions of horrible bosses. There is even a film with that title. But things could be about to get worse. What is to be made of the new bosses settling into workplaces across all sectors: the algorithm managers?

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Green
Mohamed Ezz and Nada Arafat

Sharm El-Sheikh, What's Lurking Behind COP27 Shine

The Egyptian coastal resort has been reinvented (again) to host world leaders for the COP27, as it aims to cast a climate-financing-hungry Egypt in a favorable light. But the cosmetic changes hide years of harm to the region's ecosystem.

SHARM EL-SHEIKH — Amgad* arrived in Sharm el-Sheikh about 40 years ago, driven by curiosity like many other Egyptian youths at the time to explore this corner of Sinai, newly returned to Egypt in the wake of the 1973 war after a 15 years of Israeli occupation.

What Amgad found was a small Bedouin village sheltered within an immaculate landscape: to the east, the Gulf of Aqaba, teeming with marine creatures and jeweled with coral reefs; to the south, two Egyptian islands — now transferred to Saudi Arabia — that separated Sinai from Saudi Arabia; to the west, valleys and mountains, part of the Great Rift Valley, traversed by the Bedouin tribes who have settled in the area for centuries.

The coastline is home to 200 unique species of coral, 500 species of marine vegetation and various species of fish and marine animals, part of the Egyptian barrier reefs that marine ecology professor Mahmoud Hassan Hanafy tells Mada Masr are among the last sanctuaries for this type of marine life in the world, having demonstrated unique resilience to climate change. Onshore ecosystems also serve to protect marine life, he notes.

If, however, you’re among the thousands converging on the city this month to attend COP27, four decades separate you from the site of natural beauty that Amgad first laid eyes on.

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Economy
Alan Shipman

Rishi Sunak — It's The Economy, Smarty

Nobody questions the new British Prime Minister's intelligence, or even his performance as Chancellor of the Exchequer. But the economic conditions after the debacle of his predecessor Liz Truss leaves little margin for error for Rishi Sunak.

As the incoming UK prime minister, Rishi Sunak has the immediate advantage of perceived success in his two years as chancellor.

His tenure ended last July when he resigned due to a difference of opinion with then-prime minister Boris Johnson over the economy. But during his time as chancellor, he is credited with rescuing households and businesses from the effects of the COVID pandemic lockdowns by launching an innovative and impressively timely furlough scheme. He reversed a “small state” approach to become the private sector’s temporary paymaster, spending an unprecedented £70 billion to shorten the recession.

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Economy
Reinaldo Spitaletta

The Folly Of 'Degrowth' Economics — A View From The Global South

Those touting degrowth for the sake of the planet should remember that the majority of the earth's population has yet to taste a fraction of the material prosperity now blamed for destroying the natural world.

-OpEd-

BOGOTÁ — A Colombian poet once said that to keep the peace in this country, people had to be kept fed. But to do so, profound changes need to be made that will tackle the causes of misery in a place like Colombia. That means industrializing the countryside, creating new fronts in employment, and, above all, developing that thing called capitalism.

James Lovelock, a pioneer of environmentalism, observed years ago that the friends of the earth had their heart in the right place, but not so much in their head. The industrialized world, he said, needn't yank itself back to primitive farming but rather the poorer countries should first industrialize their farming.

This beautiful and long-suffering homeland of ours remains today in the grip of a residual feudalism, with a countryside that grapples systematically, and fearfully, with such regular practices like paramilitaries grabbing fertile plots.

Growing calls to pursue a policy of degrowth in the world's advanced economies jibe very little with life in these parts.

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Geopolitics
Beesan Kassab, Daniel O'Connell, Ehsan Salah, Hazem Tharwat and Najih Dawoud

Patronage Or Politics? What's Driving Qatar And Egypt Grand Rapprochement

For Cairo, Qatar had been part of an “axis of evil,” with anger directed at Al Jazeera, the main Qatari outlet, and others critical of Egypt after the Muslim Brotherhood ouster. But the vitriol is now gone, with the first ever visit by Egyptian President al-Sisi to Doha.

For the first time since coming to power in 2014, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi traveled to Doha last month on an official visit, a capstone in a steadily building rapprochement between the two countries in the last year.

Not long ago, however, the photo-op capturing the two heads of state smiling at one another in Doha would have seemed impossible. In the wake of the Armed Forces’ ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood government in 2013, Qatar and Egypt traded barbs.

In the lexicon of the intelligence-controlled Egyptian press landscape, Qatar had been part of an “axis of evil” working to undermine Egypt’s stability. Al Jazeera, the main Qatari outlet, was banned from Egypt, but, from its social media accounts and television broadcast, it regularly published salacious and insulting details about the Egyptian administration.

But all of that vitriol is now gone.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Yves Bourdillon

How Western Sanctions Are Quietly Undermining Russia's Fighting Power

Despite what the Kremlin claims, Western sanctions against Russia are working. Perhaps most important is the embargo on electronic component exports, which prevents the Russian army from rebuilding tanks and missiles severely depleted in the war.

-Analysis-

PARIS Europe is shooting itself in the foot.

That was the narrative that spread among both the public and economists: the European Union sanctions against Russia were bound to backfire, without ever really taking a toll on Moscow — power shortages this winter in the West, while Russia "bathes in cash" thanks to soaring energy prices and a rising ruble. All the while, the received wisdom told us, Moscow will be able to skirt any EU export embargoes via the black market or thanks to its Chinese ally.

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The ever masochistic European Union was blindly following the U.S, rather than truly defending our interests by advocating a rapid diplomatic solution, a formula that ultimately means "just let Putin take Ukraine".

The only problem is that this narrative is that it's a myth. It is a line of rhetoric based on a lack of understanding of the real objectives and functioning of sanctions.

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Economy
Loraine Morales Pino

What's Driving The New Migrant Exodus From Cuba

Since Cuba reopened its borders last December after COVID closures, the number of people leaving the island has gone up significantly. Migration has been a constant in Cuban life since the 1950s. But this article in Cuba's independent news outlet El Toque shows just how important migration is to understand the ordeals of everyday life on the island.

HAVANA — Some 157,339 Cubans crossed the border into the United States between Oct. 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022, according to the U.S. Border Patrol — a figure significantly higher than the one recorded during the 1980 Mariel exodus, when a record 125,000 Cubans arrived in the U.S. over a period of seven months.

Migrating has once again become the only way out of the ordeal that life on the island represents.

Cubans of all ages who make the journey set off towards a promise. They prefer the unknown to the grim certainty that the Cuban regime offers them.

Migration from Cuba has been a constant since the 1950s.

In 1956, the largest number of departures was recorded in the colonial and republican periods, with the arrival of 14,953 Cubans in the United States, the historical destination of migratory flows. Since the January 1959 revolution, that indicator has been exceeded 30 times.

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Ideas
Esteban Actis and Nicolás Creus*

Why The New World Order Is Taking So Long To Get Here

A relative loss of power by sovereign states to non-state actors, as well as China's ascent, are part of a wider reshaping of power structures that is tense, "anarchic" and far from complete.

-Analysis-

BUENOS AIRES — In his book The Future of Power (2011), analyst Joseph S. Nye observed in the early 21st century a double transformation of power in the international order. It was a process of both diffusion and transition of power.

In the first case, power had begun to shift from sovereign states to a range of non-state actors with agendas that were outside national interests and state control. The latter refers to a displacement of the epicenter of world economic power from West to East.

A decade later, the evolution has become starker.

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Geopolitics
Philip Volkmann-Schluck

Bulgaria And Hungary: Risks Of A Pro-Russian Alliance Inside The EU

Bulgaria had sworn off Russian gas imports, but then its government collapsed. Now pro-Russian politicians are in power, which for the European Union means there is much more at stake than just energy supply.

The letter Z, a symbol of support for Putin’s war in Ukraine, has appeared on Bulgarian government buildings in Sofia. Last week, demonstrators fixed a Z in black tape to the entrance of the Ministry of Energy’s headquarters.

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They were protesting their government’s announcement that it would reopen negotiations with Russia about importing gas – although Bulgaria had declared public support for Kyiv and subsequently stopped all Russian imports. “Putin’s gas is a trap,” one of the placards reads.

These scenes have been growing more common in the Bulgarian capital since the reformist government led by Prime Minister Kiril Petkov was ousted last month in a no-confidence vote. Petkov had pledged to tackle corruption and taken a strong stance against Russia's invasion. But his coalition government fell after just seven months in office when an ally quit.

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