COVID-19 in US, Emerging Markets; US-China Blame Game; Venezuela Coup?

What is the coronavirus update? Have emerging markets been spared so far?

The biggest news is that the US might have a lot more mortality from coronavirus than previously expected in the models. Particularly as we start seeing opening of economies. The US is a federal system and states don't necessarily listen to each other. They don't follow the federal government, and people don't necessarily pay attention to what state governments say. Put all that together, expect to see a lot more people get sick. Whether that is 3,000 or 800 deaths a day, two wildly different models, for the next month. What I've seen so far makes me feel a bit more optimistic, because opening up economies isn't people in full engagement. Big difference in what government says and what people do.


Have emerging markets been spared so far?

Not at all. But, it is hitting emerging markets a little later. Also, numbers of cases are suppressed by the fact that they're not doing as much testing. In some cases, also suppressed by the fact that maybe there is reduced transmission with much warmer weather. I hope that's the case, but the doctors aren't agreed. Either way, the developing world is focusing more on keeping economies open than at extended lockdowns. For some of the poorest countries, like in sub-Saharan Africa, where average age can be under 20, and economies aren't as globalized, in many cases, focused more on agriculture, the fact that they are as underdeveloped as they are is ironically buffering and protecting them from the worst of the coronavirus crisis.

What are the consequences of US-China blame game over coronavirus origins?

The most important consequence is that we'll see more confrontation and less interdependence between the two economies. The Americans will be investing less in China, reducing supply chain footprint, allowing Chinese to invest less in the United States, much more scrutiny. Some key American allies will be doing the same. In the wealthier European states. In Japan, for example. But the Americans are not getting coordination from allies. In part, that's about Trump. In part, that's about the way they've decided to engage in blame. Particularly the last couple days, saying this came from a lab in China and the secretary of state and President Trump saying there is conclusive evidence, strong, very strong evidence that that is the case. The Americans have shared that intelligence with key allies and the allies are saying this is all open source. There's nothing conclusive and we don't buy it. Even Australia, which can't stand the Chinese right now, getting into a big fight, not supporting the Americans. Really overplaying their hand. There's no reason why the Americans can't focus on, there was a cover up, it came from China, we're blaming the Chinese for that. But by going too far, it's like the weapons of mass destruction moment that Colin Powell, Dick Cheney, had in the Bush administration on Iraq. The Americans lose more credibility hitting the Chinese on this.

Finally, what's going on in Venezuela?

According to the Venezuelan government, there was an effort to invade and stage a coup against Mr. Maduro, that included two Americans, former Green Berets, they are saying. The Venezuelan opposition are denying. The American government is denying. We have no idea what the truth is. You can't imagine the American government saying, that was us, if that was indeed the case. But the Venezuelan government has even less credibility than the US and the opposition. It would not surprise me at all if there were a couple of Americans involved in a military incident. That doesn't mean that it was supported directly or indirectly by the US government. They could be mercenaries for hire. They could be ideologically aligned. They could be dual nationals, Venezuelans or Colombians. There's been a lot of talk, but no one in the Trump administration, now that Bolton is gone, actively interested in a military solution for Venezuela. In fact, Trump was resistant for Bolton's hard line. He was undermining Bolton both privately and publicly. So, I'm deeply skeptical of that, as I'm deeply skeptical of most things that come out of the Venezuelan government these days.

Building on its previous commitment, Walmart is investing an additional $350 billion in products made, grown and assembled in America - supporting more than 750,000 new jobs by 2030. This pledge will aim to avoid more than 100M metric tons of CO2 emissions, advance the growth of U.S. based suppliers, and provide opportunities for more than 9,000 entrepreneurs to become Walmart suppliers and sellers through Walmart's annual Open Call.

"The people are stronger," pro-democracy demonstrators chanted as news broke that the Sudanese military had staged a coup Monday, overthrowing the joint civilian-military government and dashing hopes of democracy in the war-torn country.

The backstory. In 2019, Omar al-Bashir – a despot who ruled Sudan with an iron fist for 30 years – was deposed after a months-long popular uprising.

Al-Bashir was a bad guy: he cozied up to terrorists like Osama bin Laden and dropped barrel bombs on his own people. He also embezzled truck loads of money from oil production while millions of Sudanese went hungry, and oversaw a genocide in the Darfur region that left 300,000 people dead and displaced 1.6 million.

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As COP26 nears, the need for real climate action has never been more urgent. There are reasons for hope, but many scientists believe the ambitious goal of net zero emissions by 2050 is unattainable without immediate and significant change. Governments, financial institutions, and private sector companies alike have all recognized the need for a multistakeholder approach to solving this crisis of a lifetime.

Watch "Climate Crisis: Is net zero really possible?" a one-hour virtual livestream, hosted by GZERO Media and Microsoft as part of the Global Stage series, to hear scientists, corporate leaders and policymakers debate this question and offer critical perspectives on the way forward. Live on Tuesday, November 2nd at 11am ET, we'll break down what "net zero" means, take stock of where the world is on the path to carbon neutrality, and discuss critical steps needed to make real progress.

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Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hey everybody and happy Monday. Back in the office, getting a little cool. So I've got my sweater going on. It's the first time I've had a sweater on. What do you do with that? Discussing fashion, as I talk to you about what is on my mind this week?

And what's on my mind this week, Facebook. Facebook is on my mind. It's a tough week for Facebook. There are all sorts of whistleblowers out there. There's testimony going on. There's calls for regulation. Everybody seems unhappy with them. Indeed, you even got the government relations types, Nick Clegg, who I've known for a long time back when he was a policymaker in the UK saying that the headlines are going to be rough, but we're are going to get through it. But I will say, first of all, I'm kind of skeptical that any of this goes anywhere in terms of impact on how Facebook actually operates.

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Turkey's Erdogan ups the ante with the West: Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared diplomats from 10 Western countries "persona non-grata" after the group — which includes the US, France, and Germany — called on Ankara to release Osman Kavala, a Parisian-born Turkish businessman who's been held in jail since 2017 but hasn't been charged with a crime. Erdogan says that Kavala was involved in an attempted coup against the government in 2016. This latest move is a sign of Turkey's authoritarian drift in recent years, which has seen Erdogan's government increasingly crack down on opposition members as well as journalists. It also reflects Turkey's increasingly fraught relations with the West: things got particularly bad between Washington and Ankara after Turkey purchased missile defense systems from the Russians in 2019. The Council of Europe (the EU's leading human rights organization) had previously warned that Ankara has until November to release Kavala or it would impose "infringements," though it's unclear what those would be.

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ASEAN gets tough(ish) with Myanmar: The leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations meet Tuesday for their annual summit with one notable absence: the head of Myanmar's military junta. It's a rare snub from ASEAN, a regional bloc that's gotten a lot of heat in the past for giving tyrants a free pass. The junta says ASEAN violated its traditional principles of deciding by consensus by disinviting its leader, and non-interference in domestic affairs for demanding the bloc's special envoy meet detained former leader Aung San Suu Kyi. For their part, the other ASEAN members have grown visibly alarmed at Myanmar's rapidly deteriorating political and economic situation since the February coup, and they're worried about the spillover effects of Myanmar becoming a failed state. More importantly, Myanmar is a big thorn in ASEAN's side as it walks a fine line between keeping warm ties with the US — which most members want cash and security from — and getting along with China, one of Myanmar's few remaining friends and viewed with suspicion by most ASEAN members over its South China Sea shenanigans.

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149: The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached a record-high 413.2 parts per million in 2020, 149 percent above pre-industrial levels. A new report by the UN weather agency released ahead of the COP26 climate summit found that last year's lower emissions due to COVID-related lockdowns had no impact on the overall amount of greenhouse gases causing global warming.

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Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, shares insights on US politics:

Why should all eyes be on the Virginia suburbs?

I'm here in the Washington, D.C. suburb of Arlington, Virginia, where the state will be having a gubernatorial election on November 2nd. The Virginia governor election is held in the year after the US presidential election typically, and is generally seen as a bellwether for how popular the incumbent president of the United States is. In 2009, the Republican candidate won by a commanding 16 points despite the fact that Virginia has been trending more and more Democratic in recent years due to the population growth here in the suburbs, which tend to be more blue than rural areas of the state.

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