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A graph comparing Venezuela's GDP per capita with the average price of crude oil.

Paige Fusco

The Graphic Truth: Economic turmoil in Venezuela

Venezuela has the world’s largest oil reserves but a combination of corruption, mismanagement, and tough US sanctions since the Maduro regime came to power in 2013 has meant that the petrostate has failed to benefit from its vast reserves of liquid gold.

While high oil prices under the Chavez regime in the early 2000s gave a boost to Venezuela’s middle class, US sanctions first imposed in 2006 – and significantly ramped up under the Obama and Trump administrations – have cut Caracas off from US financial systems.

Economic hardship is rife, with a staggering 50% of people living in extreme poverty. Pervasive hopelessness has also led to one of the worst migrant crises in the world.

In a bid to offset a global energy crisis in 2022 as a result of Russia’s war in Ukraine, the Biden administration began lifting some sanctions on the Venezuelan oil sector. So how are things faring? We look at GDP per capita and corresponding oil prices since 1999.

A woman cooks by a candlelight during one of the frequent power outages in South Africa.

REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo

South Africa struggles in the dark

Things are dark in South Africa right now, both metaphorically and literally. Though not new, rolling blackouts have worsened in recent months, disrupting every aspect of daily life. With the situation near breaking point, President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a state of disaster in recent days, which allows the government to bypass bureaucratic hurdles to get stuff done.

Why are things so dire in Africa’s most industrialized country, and what’s the government’s plan – if any – to fix it?

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Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Pakistani PM Shehbaz Sharif during a meeting on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

Sputnik/Alexandr Demyanchuk/Pool via REUTERS

Russia and Pakistan might cut unprecedented oil deal

Cold War rivals Russia and Pakistan are negotiating an agreement for the Russians to start selling cheap oil to energy-starved Pakistan in March.

This will make Islamabad yet another Asian customer of Russian crude at a time when Moscow’s cash inflows are limited by a G7/EU oil cap and sanctions. Also, considering Pakistan is dead broke, payments might be made through a “friendly” country, presumably China – a power play for Beijing, whose yuan will be used for the transactions, giving the currency more sway as an alternative to the US dollar.

How is this deal going to affect American interests in the region? And why is Pakistan, which wants to balance its ties with Washington, giving business to the Russians perhaps through China?

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Ukraine's President Zelenskiy visits Ukrainian service members in Bakhmut, Ukraine.

Reuters

Three hundred days of war in Ukraine

Tuesday marked 300 days since the start of Russia’s attempted obliteration of Ukraine. For almost a year now, war has tormented the Ukrainian people, though their resolve remains unshaken.

The spectacular failings of Russia’s military endeavors over the past 11 months have been well documented. Still, the winter months will bring unprecedented challenges for Ukraine as temperatures and morale plunge.

In a sign that Kyiv is doubling down on efforts to secure more support ahead of a grueling winter, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will reportedly arrive on Wednesday in Washington, DC – his first time leaving Ukraine since the war began. The Ukrainian president will meet President Joe Biden at the White House and address a joint session of Congress, where he'll likely thank them for the US' ongoing support and request that the funds keep on coming.

Here are three of the biggest challenges facing Ukraine in the months ahead.

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A trader works on the trading floor at the New York Stock Exchange in New York City, U.S.

Reuters

What We’re Watching: Central banks vs. inflation, Peru’s endless crisis, Russian "energy terrorism"

Mixed messages from US, European central banks

In their last meeting of the year, two European central banks – the Bank of England and the European Central Bank – followed the US Fed in raising interest rates by 50 basis points, down from their most recent hikes of three-quarters of a percentage point. While central bank chiefs said that November’s numbers show that inflation has peaked, they also warned that this more mild rate hike should not be taken as a sign that they're taking their feet off the brakes. Facing sky-high energy prices and a tight labor market, the UK is on the brink of recession, economists say, while the EU is not far behind. Indeed, ECB chief Christine Lagarde admits that the eurozone will likely enter a recession next year, although says it will be “relatively short-lived and shallow.” Wishful thinking? Maybe. Lagarde also confirmed that eurozone inflation will remain above its 2% target into at least 2025 and warned of more belt tightening. Meanwhile, the Fed has now raised interest rates to the highest level in 15 years, and markets dipped in response to indications that higher rates would persist well into next year.

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Europe’s tough decisions: Russia, China, and EU unity
Europe’s Tough Decisions: Russia, China, & EU Unity | GZERO World with Ian Bremmer

Europe’s tough decisions: Russia, China, and EU unity

Winter is coming and for Europe, a bleak winter it may be.

The escalating Russia/Ukraine war has united European support to Kyiv’s cause, but it’s also brought a plethora of economic, political, and social challenges. Inflation, a sinking Euro, and the possibility of an energy crisis brings to question just how long Europe’s support for Ukraine will last?

On GZERO World, Ian Bremmer speaks with German diplomat Christoph Heusgen, who served as his country’s ambassador to the United Nations and is now chairman of the Munich Security Conference.

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The state of the global economy is … not good
Ian Explains: The State of the Global Economy Is … Not Good | GZERO World

The state of the global economy is … not good

This year, the annual fall meetings of the World Bank and the IMF were all about global economic doom and gloom.

The IMF has cut its global growth prediction for this year by half compared to 2021. And next year will be the worst since COVID and the 2008 financial crisis.

Meanwhile, inflation is still very high — and efforts by rich countries to tame rising prices are going to hurt poor nations.

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Political unrest when governments fail struggling citizens
Political Unrest When Governments Fail Struggling Citizens | Economic Empowerment | GZERO Media

Political unrest when governments fail struggling citizens

What happens when 1.4 billion people are cut off from the global economy because they don't have a bank account at a time of mounting crises?

"The geopolitical ramifications are potentially huge," Ali Wyne, senior analyst for Global Macro-Geopolitics at Eurasia Group, says during a livestream conversation on closing the global digital gap hosted by GZERO in partnership with Visa.

First, it was COVID. Then came the twin blows of the food and energy crises, aggravated by Russia's war in Ukraine. When people are struggling, Wyne adds, they'll look to their governments for solutions.

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