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  • Writer's pictureJohn Foulis

Newsletter 19th April 2020

Updated: Apr 25, 2020

A selection of the finest stories from the week

Is there anything going on apart from Corona?

Well Putin is doing his best to give us something. First of all he is proceeding with steps to keep himself in power till 2036. Which would give him the luxury of long-term thinking denied to his more democracy-constrained peers.

But it's not clear yet if his involvement in Syria is a geopolitical masterstroke or a quagmire he has been dragged into and is going to struggle to extricate himself from.

Financially his oil-dependence is causng him problems. Whether the OPEC+ deal is going to help him out remains to be seen. But it and the global drop in demand means he is unable to spend to protect his economy in the way others are doing. That economic weakness continues to be a threat to his endless reign.

Finally there is always a bit of sabre-rattling to keep things interesting.


Another day, another EU crisis

It's not so much that the EU has problems, it's more that it itself is a continual process for dealing with problems.

Orban's challenge to it's norms and values in Hungary is an issue that will have to be confronted at some point. It doesn't seem to just be a negotiating position and is too blatant a breach to be ignored forever.

Meanwhile, the Corona crisis has brought up the thorny issue of eurobonds once more. Behind the specifics of funding the disaster response is the questions of what the EU is for and what it's aims are. In the eyes of 'proper' countries like the UK and the US fiscal transfers are the obvious answer, but in those nations they seem to have become a permanent means of regional support, tolerated for the moment on national grounds. But this runs counter to the European goal of convergence, which is certainly advocated by the richer countries and at least paid lip-service by the poorer.

All that being said the Dutch have to go back a long way to find evidence of Italian prodigality.

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