How Interest Rates Affect US Discretionary Spending

May 5, 2017 The mounting debt owned by the U.S. government is as much a geopolitical question as a financial one. The federal government breaks its budget into three spending categories: mandatory, discretionary and net interest expense.

Mandatory spending includes pre-existing obligations. Discretionary spending requires passing legislation and is largely composed of defense spending. Net interest expense, which currently makes up about 6 percent of the federal budget, is expected to grow to nearly 12 percent in the next decade.

The U.S. Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that the U.S. debt will have a blended average interest rate of approximately 3.4 percent in 2017. If interest rates exceed the CBO’s current projections, net interest expense would increase and discretionary spending – and therefore likely defense spending – would decline.

The Irish Border Question

What will Ireland look like after Brexit?

In Brazil, Fuel Prices Spark Protests

Brazilian truckers have gone on strike, and though the protests appear to be winding down, the effects have been felt in the transportation, food and fuel sectors.

Obstacles to Mexico’s Territorial Control

Mexico City, the seat of Mexico’s government, has a very basic problem: It has a lot of territory to govern and many physical obstacles between itself and much of that territory.

London, the Vanguard of an Economic Revolution

For the first several centuries of Britain’s existence, much of the world used London as a bridgehead for invasion. But after the Industrial Revolution, when the British Empire reached the height of its power, London instead became a bridgehead for England to invade much of the world.

Population Density of Canada

May 28, 2016 Canada is one of those countries where a vast land mass obscures the fact that the country has a relatively small population. While Canada is the second largest country in the world, its 35 million inhabitants make Canada only the 39th most populated country.

In this way, Canada is similar to countries like Egypt, Russia and Australia. Egypt is a country of over 80 million people and its size is formidable on a map, yet most of its inhabitants are located on a thin strip of land about the size of the state of Maryland on either bank of the Nile River. For Russia, the world’s largest country by land mass, its population centers are located in the west, close to Europe, while the vast and desolate Siberian region is sparsely populated and not connected to Russian infrastructure. Australia – the world’s sixth largest country by land mass and a continent in its own right – has even fewer people than Canada (around 23 million), all living in cities along the coast. The interior of the country is unforgiving and inhospitable.

GDP Per Capita Change in Europe

July 9, 2016 With worrying signals this week about the German economy and the Italian banking sector, Europe has been at the forefront of our minds. So we have chosen here to present a map of the percentage change in GDP per capita in Europe to show how growth has developed over the past 20 years.

GDP per capita is, like all measurements, an imperfect statistic, but it is a useful way of comparing the performance of various economies in terms of standard of living and overall economic productivity.

The Shores of Lake Balkhash

Russia has offered to help Kazakhstan build a nuclear power plant near Lake Balkhash.

The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict, by the Numbers

Minor skirmishes there erupt every so often, but they have never escalated to all-out war.

Debating a Shared History in Eastern Europe

Since 2015, tensions between two important Eastern European countries, Poland and Ukraine, appear to have been rising. The rift stems from the countries’ different interpretations of their shared history.