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Top five US political moments of 2021

Well, I can think of five. The first and most important was probably January 6th. Historically important moment, rioters breached the Capitol building in order to stop the legal counting of the presidential election results, but also, it was an important moment because it created a dividing line for Republicans who had to decide if they were with President Trump, who had a role in instigating the riot, or if they were against him. A lot of Republicans ended up choosing to be with him creating various forms of apologies for the rioters over time, and even to some degree making martyrs out of some of them. This will be a really important defining moment, not just in American history, but also for the Republican party.

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2021: Groundhog Day in a G-Zero world

Did 2021 actually happen, or are we still stuck in 2020? So many things seem to have barely changed this year. After all, we’re entering yet another holiday season worried about a fresh wave of the pandemic, and uncertain about what comes next for our economies and our politics.

In a lot of ways, the past 365 days feel like a year of unfulfilled promise. Let’s have a look back at what did, and did not happen in 2021.

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Will we finally ditch COVID in 2022?

Many of us, at least in the advanced economies, thought the pandemic would be over sometime in 2021. Vaccines worked, and a lot of people got them. Restrictions were relaxed, and things started to return to normal. But then came the virus variants, which threw a wrench into hopes of a speedy recovery. What'll happen next year?

Here are three things that could threaten the global post-COVID comeback.

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The Graphic Truth: Prices are soaring everywhere

It started growing in the spring, crept up in the summer, and exploded in the fall. Inflation now dominates the political conversation in many countries. COVID-related disruptions to supply chains are considered the primary cause, but economists also argue about other factors like too much stimulus spending. What to do about it? The classic recipe is raising interest rates, which will make borrowing more expensive, and risks slowing down the economic recovery everyone’s been dreaming of for two years. We take a look at how prices have risen in a few key places around the world.

What We’re Watching: Putin-Xi heart each other, Boris survives Tory revolt, Fed may raise US interest rates

No new friends — Putin and Xi. The leaders of Russia and China held a conspicuously chummy video conference on Wednesday at a time when both are getting an earful from “the West.” Putin told his “dear friend” Xi that he will absolutely attend the Beijing Winter Olympics next February despite a US-led diplomatic boycott over China’s human rights abuses, and that China is right to be worried about Western military maneuvering in the Pacific. Xi, meanwhile, told his “old friend” Putin that China supports Russia’s demands for security guarantees from NATO. Both men reportedly discussed developing alternative financial structures in order to evade Western sanctions — the US and EU have threatened to shut Russia out of SWIFT if the Kremlin invades Ukraine (again). Russia-China relations have always been tricky — they have clashed over borders in the past and Moscow is perennially worried about being dwarfed economically by its more populous neighbor. But as the US gears up for a push against authoritarian countries, the two most influential important ones are closing ranks.

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Can Biden bring down gas prices?

US domestic politics and oil markets have come together in an unprecedented fashion in recent weeks. Soaring gasoline prices and persistently high inflation that are raising concerns about US President Joe Biden’s agenda have prompted extraordinary steps by his administration to bring down prices at the pump. We spoke with the head of Eurasia Group’s energy practice, Raad Alkadiri, to understand these measures and their potential impact.

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Larry Summers' view: What caused US inflation and how to slow it down

Ian Bremmer interviews economist Larry Summers on GZERO World. Summers served as the Treasury Secretary under President Clinton and as the Director of the National Economic Council under Preisdent Obama. He sounded the alarm bell about inflation back in February 2021 when few people were talking about it. Part of the reason prices are rising so much today, Summers says, is because the Biden administration made the political decision to do "too much stimulus," a big mistake in his view. Summers discusses how supply chain problems are also contributed to the highest levels of inflation in the US in 30 years.

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Larry Summers: Rising inflation makes society feel "out of control”

The economic consequences of high inflation are already bad enough.

But for Larry Summers, sometimes the psychological trauma that comes with it can do even more damage to a society.

"A society where inflation is accelerating is a society that feels out of control."

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