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Watch List: Nov. 7, 2017

U.S. naval drills, oil price spike, Kazakhstan-Kyrgyzstan border traffic

  • View count: 29 views
  • Last updated: November 7
  • Total word count: 394 words

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.

  • North Korea: We are tracking several developments. Seven of the United States’ 11 aircraft carriers are simultaneously underway, the first time this has happened in several years. The U.S. is planning a drill with three of these carriers – the USS Nimitz, the USS Ronald Reagan and the USS Theodore Roosevelt – and it is also conducting drills with the Japanese and Indian navies in the Sea of Japan. New activity has also been observed at one of North Korea’s nuclear testing sites, which was a previously unused location.
  • Oil prices: Brent crude is currently trading at $64 per barrel, its highest price in more than a year. This is probably a short-term spike due to political developments in Saudi Arabia, including the arrests of several royal figures and ministers and the accusation that Lebanon has declared war on Riyadh, but we need to see if there anything else that could account for the price hike.
  • Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan: Commercial traffic was down at some points along the Kazakhstan-Kyrgyzstan border. It was nonexistent at others. We had considered the border closure a potential sign of increased instability in Central Asia. Is the reduced traffic an indication that this was merely a temporary diplomatic spat?
  • Kazakhstan: Kazakhstan’s RBK Bank, the country’s ninth-largest lender, has requested a $721 million bailout from the central bank. This comes after four other Kazakh banks received $1.2 billion in bailouts last month and after Kazkommertsbank, the country’s largest lender, received a $7.5 billion bailout earlier this year. How substantial are these sums relative to Kazakhstan’s financial system?
  • Russia: The Economic and Political Reforms Center in Russia reported that the country saw 284 protests in the first quarter of 2017, 378 protests in the second quarter and 445 protests in the third quarter. Most rallies took place in Rostov, Krasnodar, Sverdlovsk and Novosibirsk regions, as well as in Moscow. We need to check if this organization has any political affiliations, and we need to verify the size of the protests it is tracking.