A Midyear Checkup on Germany’s Economy

June 30, 2017 In late June, two influential German economic institutes published their midyear economic forecasts. They were released after the German central bank published its own forecast, saying that the German economy’s “solid upswing” will continue. The economic institutes found similar results, asserting that the German economy will continue its “steady growth.”

Both reports underlined that, unlike other periods of recent German history, the first-quarter economic results were based on domestic performance more than they were influenced by export growth. Our 2017 forecast, however, says German exports will fall in 2017, weakening Berlin’s trade position and, ultimately, slowing economic growth.

The latest reports coming from Germany challenge this forecast on two fronts. First, the German reports say that exports will continue to rise. Second, the German reports insist that while exports have grown, it is the domestic drivers that have made German growth stable.

German Intelligence Failures Ahead of Stalingrad

Nov. 24, 2017 The Battle of Stalingrad had its origins in a pivotal German miscalculation at the start of the war. Operation Barbarossa, the code name for Germany’s invasion of the east, was designed to destroy the Soviet Union, securing Germany’s eastern flank and thereby guaranteeing German control of continental Europe. The invasion began on June 22, 1941.

The North Caucasus: Russia’s Southern Buffer

Oct. 28, 2017 The North Caucasus stretches from the Caspian Sea in the southeast to the Sea of Azov in the northwest. The westernmost part of the area, composed of Krasnodar region and the enclave of Adygea, lies within the Southern district. Krasnodar consists mainly of flat lands, which allowed Russia to more easily slavicize the territory after the forced exodus of its Circassian inhabitants in the late 19th century.

The rest of the North Caucasus region – the North Caucasian district – has maintained its distinct Muslim identity and hence was configured into a single federal district. This district runs from Krasnodar to the Caspian Sea and consists of the republics of Karachay-Cherkessia, Kabardino-Balkaria, North Ossetia, Ingushetia, Chechnya and Dagestan. The region of Stavropol – sandwiched between Krasnodar in the west and Dagestan in the east, and sharing borders with each of the other republics in the south – and North Ossetia are the only majority ethnic Russian and Orthodox Christian units within the North Caucasian district.

An Alliance to Save the EU

Chancellor Angela Merkel did not emerge from German federal elections unscathed, but she emerged nonetheless. Now that she has, she must throw the full weight of her limited powers into halting the EU’s slow decline into irrelevance.

A New Route From Asia to Europe

Last month, Maersk, one of the world’s largest logistics firms, sailed a cargo ship from Asia to Europe through a route north of Russia for the first time. The melting Arctic ice has opened up new possibilities for the shipping industry.

The Philippines’ Perspective

Jan. 20, 2017 China is keenly interested in the Philippines because a Chinese-Philippine alliance would solve China’s main strategic weakness – the various choke points around its coast that it cannot currently control. The United States wants to continue to use the Philippines as a key part of its naval strategy in the Pacific, as it has for decades, because the Philippines is highly valuable strategic territory and Philippine alignment with the U.S. is a key part of U.S. naval dominance in the Pacific. The Philippines wants to gain some degree of independence in its foreign policy, and that means not being too dependent on any outside power.

The Saga of the Kuril Islands

Russia and Japan are talking about a peace treaty once again.

Big Days for Democracy in Asia

Voters in Indonesia and India – two countries that account for about 20 percent of the entire population of Earth – will soon decide who they want to represent them.

Syrian Civil War

Dec. 9, 2015 Since 2011, Syria has been torn apart by the ongoing civil war. This conflict created an opportunity for the Islamic State to take hold of some territory in the country and even establish its own de facto capital in Raqqa. Different parts of Syria are now being controlled by government forces, the Islamic State, the al-Qaida-linked Jabhat al-Nusra, Kurds and various rebel groups.

Countries Most at Risk From a Currency Crisis

These economies are sitting on a ticking time bomb of U.S. dollar-denominated debt.