Jan. 27, 2017 The average annual per capita disposal income by household in China in 2014 was about 20,000 yuan or approximately $3,000, which equates to $8.22 a day. On the surface, that seems to be a somewhat promising figure. It wouldn’t make any of these households rich or even lower-middle class by American standards, but it would be quite a leap forward from where they started. In 1981, the year the World Bank began tracking poverty in China, 88.3 percent of China’s population lived on less than $1.90 a day.
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.
Jan. 13, 2017 A common language is one of the basic building blocks of a national culture, and India’s various states do not share one. While at the national level Hindi and English are the official languages, the country’s constitution recognizes 22 languages, and there are dozens more that do not have any type of official status. Language is just one example of India’s multinational nature, and as a result, the states have different internal demands. Under this structure, India cannot be thought of as one coherent economic entity, nor can it be expected to behave like a textbook nation-state.
Jan. 6, 2017 Advocates of a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict often argue that demographics loom as an existential threat to Israel’s continued existence as a democracy and Jewish state.
However, the fertility rate is not a significant concern for Jewish Israel. Per the latest available data from Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), the fertility rate for Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs was an identical 3.13 children per woman in 2015. This means that Israel has no concerns regarding population growth since 2.1 is the necessary fertility rate for such growth. It also means that Israel has no concerns relative to its Arab population because the Israeli Arab fertility rate is not appreciably greater than the Jewish population’s.
Dec. 30, 2016 The biggest myth surrounding the issue of China as a holder of U.S. debt securities is the outsized role China is perceived as playing. U.S. government debt currently totals $19.89 trillion. This is a somewhat misleading figure, however. Intragovernmental holdings make up $5.47 trillion of that figure, which means that almost 30 percent of the debt is money that the U.S. government owes itself. Of the remaining $14.41 trillion, $6.15 trillion is held by foreign sources, and the rest is held by various U.S. pension funds, insurance companies and other investors. Of the amount held by foreign sources, only $1.84 trillion is held by China, 61 percent of which is held in U.S. Treasury securities. (The rest is in equities and corporate or U.S. agency securities, as shown below.)
Dec. 23, 2016 All national economies are regionalized at some level. The U.S. Department of Commerce divides the U.S. into nine regions for bureaucratic purposes. What stands out in this week’s graphic is that, while the U.S. certainly has regions that account for a greater share of GDP, economic activity is more spread out than some might think. The Southeast region actually contributes most to total GDP. The Mideast and the Far West are not far behind. New York City is the U.S.’ largest city, and its greater metropolitan area accounts for about 7 percent of the country’s GDP.
Dec. 16, 2016 China has been working on a plan to modernize the legendary Silk Road. The two-part initiative called One Belt, One Road includes both land and sea routes and the opening of multiple economic corridors, spanning an area that covers almost two-thirds of the world’s population and a third of global GDP. Linking Eurasia together will require the construction of roads, railways, ports and other elements across vast distances in some of the harshest terrain and least populated areas in the world.
Dec. 9, 2016 The sheer number of products for which the United States depends on imports from China is striking, as shown in the chart below. In 2015, 21.8 percent of U.S. imports came from China. The U.S. pushed for China to join the World Trade Organization in 2001, the year U.S. imports of Chinese goods took off in earnest. Through trade with China, U.S. consumers gained access to cheaper goods because it cost less to make them in China than in the U.S. China became a convenient one-stop shop for building and selling products of all sorts, and an especially strong electronics supply chain emerged in Asia, centered around China.
China also is exposed to the U.S. markets. With the exception of 2013, the U.S. has been the top destination for Chinese exports for over 15 years (in 2013 the U.S. was a close second to Hong Kong). In that period, the size of the Chinese economy, measured in terms of GDP, has increased by a factor of 10, from $1.3 trillion in 2001 to $10.9 trillion in 2015. Last year, 18 percent of China’s exports went to the U.S., a percentage three times bigger than the percentage of exports received by China’s second-largest importer by country, Japan.
Dec. 2, 2016 Saudi Arabia is a deeply conservative Muslim country that has been dependent on oil exports for the bulk of its existence. It now faces the need to change the nature of how it manages its political economy due to falling oil prices. Riyadh has blown through 27 percent of its foreign exchange reserves, which stood at $737 billion in late 2014. In October 2016, they were at $535.9 billion. The kingdom has engaged in a number of measures towards adjusting political economy to accommodate low oil prices.
Nov. 25, 2016 Iraqi and coalition forces started their campaign on Oct. 17 to retake Mosul from the Islamic State. They began the assault from Gwer, a town southeast of Mosul. In the first two weeks of battle, Iraqi forces covered a distance of 25 miles. In the past three weeks, however, the offensive has become extremely slow and Iraqi forces remain tied down in the districts just inside the city limits.
In recent days, U.S. airstrikes destroyed two bridges over the Tigris River in Mosul. The city now has only one remaining crossing that connects the eastern and western parts. The offensive forces have established the districts on the eastern periphery of the city as the front line and IS fighters are expected to retreat towards the west in the direction of their core turf. The west also remains the main supply route to ferry fighters and material. For this reason, the Iraqis have dedicated a special group to prevent IS from getting supplies and cut off IS’ escape route.
Nov. 18, 2016 Sub-Sahara Africa’s natural resource deposits are a key feature that tie the region into mainstream geopolitics. Countries in the region have historically depended highly on export of raw materials, which fueled economic growth in industrialized economies.
This strong dependence on the sale of natural resources has also made many Sub-Sahara African countries very susceptible to the exporters’ crisis – both in terms of falling commodity prices and lower demand from major customers like China. Nigeria’s oil and gas sector accounts for about 35 percent of GDP, while hydrocarbons account for about 45 percent of Angola’s GDP. Oil and petrol account for 90-95 percent of exports in both countries. The price of other commodities, including gold, iron ore, platinum and copper, has remained low. Production of these materials figure prominently in the GDPs of South Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique.
Nov. 11, 2016 The Russian economy, which is heavily dependent on revenue from hydrocarbon exports, has suffered since oil prices began to drop in 2014. This chart shows Russian wage growth, interest rates and inflation from August 2015 to July 2016.
GDP per capita in Russia is down from an all-time high of $11,615 in 2013 to $11,038 in 2015. More than 2 million people fell into poverty in 2015 as wages fell by 9 percent. Inflation, which fell from 12.9 percent in December 2015 to 7.4 percent in March 2016, has been the most worrying indicator. As inflation dropped, the central bank resisted calls to cut the interest rate as nominal rages rose more than 5 percent in the first quarter, exceeding the rate of inflation for the first time since 2014.