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THE GRAPHIC TRUTH: A WORLD GROWING APART

THE GRAPHIC TRUTH: A WORLD GROWING APART

The International Monetary Fund has released its latest World Economic Outlook and… it’s not so great. While the world economy continues to expand steadily at an annual clip of 3.7 percent, the combined effect of rising protectionism, geopolitical tensions, and political upheaval in key economies could soon throw a spanner into the works.


The graph above provides a look at a handful of the biggest countries where growth is picking up or slowing down the fastest.

And here are a few highlights where domestic politics are playing directly into the economic outlook:

Saudi Arabia – Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s bid to liberalize certain aspects of his country’s deeply conservative society and the natural process of recovery from the previous year’s recession have nudged up economic growth (+3.1 points) fast. But his ruthless power grab – which includes crackdowns on activists and businessmen, and may now involve the murder of an opposition journalist – could undermine growth if investors fear he’s overplayed his hand.

United States – American politics and society may be extremely polarized, but the economy is humming along as President Trump’s tax cuts and deregulation measures have lent further momentum to a long-running recovery (+0.7 points). But his protectionist impulses could yet throw a damper on growth as businesses begin to reduce trade with China and other markets and consumers cut back on purchases.

Brazil  After a harrowing few years of economic crisis, Brazil is set to grow faster in 2018 (+0.4 points). And while presidential frontrunner Jair Bolsonaro’s nostalgia for dictatorship raises alarm bells about the durability of Brazilian democracy, his commitment to neo-liberal economic policies has placated investors for now. Still, progress on economic challenges that could catalyze long-term growth – such as reforming a bloated pension system – will require coalition building that the controversial and inexperienced Bolsonaro may not be able to muster.

Turkey  President Erdogan’s economic mismanagement and geopolitical missteps have plunged Turkey into a deep currency crisis that threatens the country’s broader financial and economic stability (-2.6 points). But his strongman approach leaves little room to make critical compromises on fiscal and financial policy – meaning that the outlook is as uncertain as ever for the Middle East’s second-largest economy.

Wales, early 19th century: During breaks from his law studies, William Robert Grove indulges in his passion for science to become an inventor. On his honeymoon in Europe, he learns about the new energy source everyone's talking about: electricity. After learning that electricity allows water to be broken down into its two components, hydrogen and oxygen, his intuition leads him to an idea that ends up making him a pioneer of sustainable energy production.

Watch the story of William Robert Grove in Eni's MINDS series, where we travel through time seeking scientists.

Listen: The country's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, joins Ian Bremmer to talk vaccines, school re-openings, and when—and how—the pandemic could finally come end. He was last on GZERO World just weeks before the pandemic hit in the fall of 2019 and he described at the time what kept him up at night: a "pandemic-like respiratory illness." This time, he talks about how closely that nightmare scenario foreshadowed the COVID-19 pandemic. He also offers some guidance about what public health measures vaccinated Americans should continue to take in the coming months (hint: masks stay on).

Subscribe to the GZERO World Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your preferred podcast platform to receive new episodes as soon as they're published.

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here, and as we head into the weekend, a Quick Take on, well, the first bombing campaign of the new Biden administration. You kind of knew it was going to happen. Against some Iranian-backed militias in Syria, looks like a couple of dozen, perhaps more killed, and some militia-connected military facilities destroyed. I think there are a few ways to look at this, maybe three different lenses.

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Afghanistan frustrated nineteenth-century British imperialists for 40 years, and ejected the Soviet army in 1989 after a bloody decade there. And though American and NATO forces ousted the Taliban government in 2001 over its support for al-Qaeda, there's no good reason for confidence that nearly 20 years of occupation have brought lasting results for security and development across the country.

But… could China succeed where other outsiders have failed – and without a costly and risky military presence? Is the promise of lucrative trade and investment enough to ensure a power-sharing deal among Afghanistan's warring factions?

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Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Stockholm on Europe In 60 Seconds:

Is there a military coup ongoing in Armenia?

Well, it isn't a military coup as of yet, but it's not far from it either. This is the turmoil that is resulting from the war with Azerbaijan, which Armenia took a large death loss. What happened was that the head of the armed forces asked for the prime minister to resign. That was not quite a coup, but not very far from it. Now, the prime minister sacked the head of the armed forces, there's considerable uncertainty. Watch the space.

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Biden strikes Syria. Now what?

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