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Watch List: Jan. 10, 2017

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  • Last updated: January 10
  • Total word count: 626 words

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The items listed below represent potential emerging issues that our analysts are tracking. These can be long term or short term, but will be updated daily. If an item on our Watch List becomes critical, we will email you a full analysis explaining its significance.

Each Saturday, we will follow up our daily Watch List for each week with our conclusions on these issues.

  • Russia: The Russian defense minister says rearmament targets for the Russian army and navy will be maintained in 2017. The chief of Missile Troops and Artillery said his troops’ weaponry will be upgraded by 2021. These are both signals that Russia is not cutting its defense spending in 2017, despite speculation that it would due to economic problems. These budget sections were not made public, so finding information is difficult. But if Russia is not cutting defense spending as hinted, it could have negative long-term economic effects. Let’s keep an eye on this.
  • Mexico: Mexico’s National Coordinator of Education Workers, a teachers’ union and one of the most organized and powerful labor groups in the country, has called on its members to join nationwide gasoline protests from Jan. 15-21 and to protest other reforms proposed by the country’s current president. No information is available yet on their demands or how broadly they will be able to mobilize, but this could be a significant domestic destabilizer in Mexico and warrants close attention.
  • Italy: The Italian banking drama continues, as the CEO of Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena met today with Italy’s economy minister to discuss a restructuring plan for the bank. That plan likely will involve the Italian Treasury becoming a shareholder in the bank. The plan will be submitted to the European Central Bank (ECB), and Italy will try to secure an exemption to rules on state aid for its banks. Let’s track this new round of talks between Italy, its banks and the ECB.
  • Turkey-Syria: The General Staff of the Turkish Armed Forces issued a statement denying that civilians had been harmed in its operations in northern Syria. The denial isn’t as interesting as the accusation, which easily could be disinformation or propaganda. If it is based on fact, that also would be important. Let’s find out the accusation’s source.
  • Iraq: A new report from Iraqi TV says the Islamic State destroyed the last bridge connecting Mosul across the banks of the Tigris River. Major media organizations reported that the last bridge was destroyed in December. In light of the conflicting reports, let’s dig deeper and find out when the bridge was destroyed. If it was not destroyed in December, IS might have been able to retreat to the river’s left bank before destroying the bridge, rather than being pinned down on the right bank. Let’s bring some clarity to the situation with the bridges.
  • Philippines: At least eight people have died in a piracy attack on a Philippine fishing vessel off the coast of the southern Philippines. Let’s find out if piracy is becoming an increasing problem in these waters or if this is normal.
  • Bosnia-Herzegovina: A Bosnia-based news website published a feature article suggesting that Republika Srpska plans to hold an independence referendum. Let’s find out if this report is accurate and important.
  • China: Western media reported on a statement by China’s chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission saying the usual stuff about cutting coal and steel capacity as well as other industries. But it also mentioned that hundreds of thousands of steel and coal workers had been “transferred” to other jobs. Let’s find out the original source of this quote and dive deep into the issue, which directly intersects with our forecast.