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.
China, United States: Over the weekend, the United States and China agreed to a “cease-fire” to their “trade war.” Both sides made concessions, and both sides are claiming it as a victory. This is as much about domestic politics as it is about geopolitics, of course, but we won’t really know until we pore through all the stipulations of the agreement.
Iran, Jordan: On May 18, the heads of state of Iran and Jordan met for the first time in 15 years. What was this meeting about? Why is it happening now?
China: The People’s Bank of China is taking steps to increase cross-border capital flow and implementing several new controls on real estate transactions and infrastructure investment. In China, capital flow restrictions tend to ebb and flow. Where do they stand now? Find out if the new measures apply to capital outflows, and if they do, find out why China would let more money leave the country.
North Korea: Ahead of South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s trip to the U.S., South Korea’s Defense Ministry dismissed speculation that Seoul and Washington would reduce the size of their military operations – one of North Korea’s biggest demands in the denuclearization negotiations. Related, some pro-China news agencies in Hong Kong have published articles praising Beijing’s indispensability to the North Korea talks. This is a reminder that in light of the events of last week, when Pyongyang basically told the world to temper its expectations, we need to review the positions of every side involved in the talks.
Poland, Ukraine: Poland has called for a U.N. peacekeeping force in Ukraine. What are Poland’s interests here? Is this simply a matter of putting as many guns between it and Russia as possible? How does this peacekeeping force differ from the one Russia proposed months ago?
Chechnya: The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for an attack on a church in the Chechen capital of Grozny. Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov insists the attack was carried out by Western powers. Kadyrov’s statement seems disingenuous, but even the perception of Western encroachment in the North Caucasus is worth noting. If the attack turns out to be an IS attack, find out the motivation behind it.
Palestinian Territories: Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is sick. His death would come at a bad time, considering all that’s happening with Israel, the Palestinian Territories, Iran, Lebanon, Syria, etc. The Middle East is changing. We need to understand where the PNA fits into it.
Italy: The Five Star Movement and the League apparently have agreed to form a government. A prime minister hasn’t been selected yet. Though the parties have moderated their more extreme stances on eurozone membership and debt forgiveness, other tenets of their platforms, such as calling for an end to Russian sanctions, are still an affront to the European Union. Dig into the details of the government agreement. Also, as always, keep an eye on Italian debt. Is there anything besides pension reform that could add to its debt levels?