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15.09.2015 10:06 Why Russia is making a risky military move in Syria

Over the last few months a series of diplomatic meetings from Moscow to Washington raised hopes for a serious new push toward a political solution to the vicious war in Syria that has killed more than 250,000 people and forced thousands more to flee to Europe. That optimistic idea has been put in doubt by Russia`s recent moves to significantly bolster military support for Syria`s ruthless dictator, Bashar Assad, whose hold on his country is weakening. Russia has long been a major enabler of Assad, protecting him from criticism and sanctions at the United Nations Security Council and providing weapons for his army. But the latest assistance may be expanding Russian involvement in the conflict to a new and more dangerous level. Russia has sent a military advance team to Syria and transported prefabricated housing units for hundreds of military personnel to an airfield near Latakia, the Assad family`s ancestral home, The Times` Michael Gordon and Eric Schmitt have reported. Russia also sent a portable air-traffic station and filed requests to make military flights over neighboring countries through September. Russia is obviously concerned about the fate of Assad and his regime, which is struggling to sustain an army after four years of war and is suffering such serious battlefield defeats that the state may not survive. The relationship with Syria dates to Soviet times and is one of Russia`s last levers of influence in the Middle East. Russia operates a small naval base at Tartus on the Mediterranean and is keen to preserve it. Russia`s president, Vladimir Putin, may also be using the buildup to strengthen Russia`s hand in any political outcome in Syria and to constrain US military options there. The constructive way to have an impact is for Putin to drop his opposition to Washington`s and its allies` insistence that Assad be replaced as part of a negotiated political settlement that includes a transition to a new government.

13.09.2015 11:46 23.7% of world GDP generated by the EU

The EU hosts just over seven per cent of the world`s population but generates 23.7 per cent of its GDP, according to a Eurostat publication. The 2015 edition of The EU in the World compares the EU with the 15 non-EU G20 countries. Altogether the members of the G20 covered over 61 per cent of the world`s land area, were home to 64 per cent of the world population and generated 85 per cent of global GDP in 2013. With 506 million inhabitants in 2013, the EU accounted for just over seven of the world`s population of 7.1 billion inhabitants. Only China (1.3 billion inhabitants, or 19.1 per cent) and India (1.25 billion, or 17.6 per cent) were more populous. While accounting for 7.1 per cent of the world population, the EU generated in 2013 almost a quarter of the world GDP. The US (22.2 per cent), China (12.1 per cent) and Japan (6.5 per cent) had also a significant weight in world GDP. In 2014 the US and China were also the two main trading partners of the EU, accounting respectively for 15.3 per cent and 13.8 per cent of total extra-EU trade in goods and for 28.5 per cent and 4.1 per cent of total extra-EU trade in services. As regards public finances, the highest ratio of general government debt to GDP in 2013 among G20 members was registered by Japan (243.2 per cent), well ahead of the US (104.2 per cent), Canada (88.8 per cent) and the EU (85.4 per cent).

11.09.2015 18:28 Russia`s Financial System: How Vulnerable?

Is the Russian economy going to collapse? Do sanctions matter? These are the two questions most often asked today about the Russian economy said Sergey Aleksashenko, the former first deputy chairman of Russia`s Central Bank and a former deputy finance minister. At the Center for the National Interest on Thursday, Aleksashenko explained what the fall in oil prices, the decline of the ruble, the rise in inflation and the impact of U.S. and Western sanctions have wrought in Russia. A year ago, oil was trading at near $100 a barrel; today it is less than half that. The IMF`s most recent data project the Russian economy will contract by 3.4 percent this year (it was growing by the same amount as recently as 2012). Russia is in recession, its longest since 1997. But collapse is not in the cards, said Aleksashenko, who has also served as the chairman and CEO of Merrill Lynch Russia. His lapidary verdict: the Russian economy is "more stable than many believe." But Aleksashenko in no way tried to sugarcoat developments in Russia. Quite the contrary. He explained that his overall forecast for the Russian economy is "rather gloomy."

07.09.2015 10:16 These 5 Facts Explain Russia`s Economic Decline

Corruption, cheap oil and unproductive workers all hold Russia backthough Russians don`t seem to care. For the first time since 2009low point of the global economic slowdownRussia is in recession. Its economy will contract 3 percent this year, though Moscow`s $360 billion in cash reserves will cushion the immediate blow. Still, as President Vladimir Putin continues to try to assert Russian power on the international stage, it has become clear that he is now ruling a submerging market. Unless something changes, Russia is in for a slow and steady economic decline. These five sets of stats explain why. 1. Lack of Diversification. 2. At the Mercy of Oil Markets. 3. At the Mercy of Sanctions. 4. Russia`s Other Problems. 5. No Incentive to Change.

02.09.2015 17:58 China growth probably half reported rate or less, say skeptics

China`s economy is growing only half as fast as official data shows, or maybe even slower, according to foreign investors and analysts who increasingly challenge how the world`s second largest economy can be measured so swiftly and precisely. Beijing`s official statisticians reported in July that China`s economy grew by a steady 7.0 percent in the first two quarters of the year, spot on its official 2015 target. That statistical stability comes at a time when prices of global commodities, which China still hungers for despite a campaign to rebalance the economy away from investment and manufacturing toward consumer spending, have cratered. But perhaps the biggest question is how a developing country of 1.4 billion people can publish its quarterly gross domestic product (GDP) statistics weeks before first drafts from developed economies like the United States, the euro zone or Britain, and then barely revise them later.

31.08.2015 13:42 China`s economy in the limelight

Global economic growth continues, but at a slightly slower rate than we expected, especially in the EMs, and with some more significant downside risks. The outlook for the DMs remain favourable and in 2015 growth should be at its strongest since 2010, supported by the central banks, lower private-sector debt and lower oil prices. Economic growth in the EMs will slow for the fifth consecutive year, as a consequence of the deceleration in growth in China and lower commodity prices. All in all, global growth will reflect the impact of Fed rate hikes, the first since January 2004, and the pace of the economic slowdown in China. In the most likely scenario, global GDP growth in 2015 will repeat the 3.4% increase seen in 2014 and will accelerate to 3.8% in 2016.

26.08.2015 20:54 Russia can survive oil at $US40 as economy adjusts

Eleven months of surviving with oil below $US100 have left Russia hardened enough to endure a monthlong drop to $US40 a barrel, a survey of economists showed. Crude at that level will push the economy to a contraction of 5 per cent this year and 1 per cent in 2016, before it rebounds to 0.8 per cent growth in 2017, according to the median of 20 estimates. The central bank said in June the economy will shrink every year through 2017 if oil remains at $40. Last year`s rouble crisis underscored the vulnerability of the world`s biggest energy exporter to slumping oil, which together with gas accounts for about half of budget revenue. The latest forecasts reflect Russia`s move to loosen its reins over the currency and allow consumer demand to absorb the shock of last year`s collapse. "During the first half of 2015, the economy has already adjusted to some extent to a weaker oil-price environment," Oleg Kouzmin, a former central bank adviser who`s now an economist at Renaissance Capital in Moscow, said by email. "So the continued contraction in oil should not hurt it as much as a direct drop from $US100 to $US40." If oil drops to $US40, authorities will limit their response to an emergency interest rate increase, avoiding harsher measures such as capital controls and the state takeover of banks, a majority of economists said.

24.08.2015 09:49 Global economy grows at slowest pace since financial crisis, NIESR predicts

The world economic growth would slow this year to the lowest rate since the financial crisis, the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) said. The economic research institution downgraded global economic forecasts for 2015 and 2016. The 2015 and 2016 forecasts were revised down by 0.2 and 0.3 percentage points respectively, to 3.0 and 3.5 percent. NIESR said global growth this year is now forecast to be the slowest for any year since the crisis, reflecting a trend of weakening growth in many emerging market economies as well as hesitant recoveries in the advanced economies. It cut growth forecasts for the U.S. and a number of emerging market economies in Asia and Latin America. While the Greek crisis has been the main preoccupation of Eurozone policymakers, the growth forecast for the euro area has been lowered only slightly, the think tank added. Its prospects for Britain economy were unchanged at 2.5 percent this year.

20.08.2015 18:56 Things in China are about to get better, but for the worst possible reason

Chinese economic data continues to disappoint, and the recent volatility in the country`s stock markets shows no sign of abating. Wall Street`s reaction to this is pretty much unanimous: the government has to take action to stop the bleeding. And that action, the belief goes, will help China`s economic performance turn around in the second half of 2015. The problem is that the measures the politicians will most likely implement will only exacerbate China`s deepest structural economic problems. That means any bubbles in China`s credit and property markets will only get bigger, and the reform required to tilt the economy toward domestic consumption will be further delayed. This is a giant can being kicked down the road. The plan for China`s economy had been to start accepting lower levels of annual growth in what President Xi Jinping called a "new normal" in order to reform sluggish economic sectors and normalize the system. The government was at the same time encouraging investment in the stock market.

18.08.2015 19:14 Big four country boom could add $25 trillion to world economy

An unusual confluence of events in the world`s new effective Big Four economies could add $US18 trillion ($25 trillion) to the size of the world economy by 2020 confounding the current gloomy outlook and pushing oil back above $US100 a barrel. And a potentially stronger than expected recovery in the US, China, Japan and India fuelled even more by their interdependence would have a particularly positive impact on a commodities dependent and food exporting economy like Australia, according to a new study by BNY Mellon investment strategist Simon Cox. Mr Cox, who is talking to investors in Australia this week about a new series of planned contrarian reports on a potential upturn in world growth, says that the existing "glum consensus" in the world gives little weight to to some of the things that have gone right over the past couple of years especially in what he defines as the big four economies. He says Japan has a stable government and a determined central bank, unemployment is dropping surprisingly quickly in the US, China`s president Xi Jinping has consolidated power fast and has staked his personal authority on economic change and in India Narendra Modi is adding reforms to an already changed Indian economy. "This is an unusual confluence of events. The United States is enjoying a durable recovery just as all three of Asia`s big powers boast secure, confident governments committed, at least in word, to economic reform. The region`s stars rarely fall into alignment in this way," he says.


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