Texas grid shows need to fix infrastructure in US; RIP Rush Limbaugh

Ian Bremmer discusses the World In (more than) 60 Seconds:

What's happening in Texas?

Speaking of weird weather, my goodness yeah, I didn't know this was coming up here. Yeah, it's cold, right? There's snow. It looks horrible and millions of people without energy and of course that is because the level of infrastructure investment into the Texas grid is well below what it needs to be. There's a lack of integration. Texas' grid largely stands by itself. It is not under the authority of or coordinated multilaterally with broader energy infrastructure. And there has been a lot of investment into renewables in Texas. It is certainly true. They've been very interested in that. Sped up under former Governor Perry but still the vast majority of electricity is coming from fossil fuels. It's coming from coal and mostly oil and gas.


And so, all of these people that recently have said it's because of renewables, and you can't rely on renewables and that's why you've got all of these shutdowns in Texas. No, it's because you haven't invested properly in infrastructure resilience. First of all, there's a lot more gas shut down then there is wind shutdown, and you've got temperatures like this in Northern Europe all the time and worse and they don't have this kind of wind shut down because they invest properly in their infrastructure. So, you know, you go to LaGuardia, and we're finally fixing it in New York, but for quite a while a lot of people including Joe Biden said it was like going to a developing country, they said third world country when you look at LaGuardia. Well, when you look at a lot of infrastructure in the US it feels that way and one of the reasons why I strongly support a trillion dollar plus spend after the $1.9 trillion for relief on infrastructure because that's a good investment that will actually return more than the dollars you put in over the long-term. And that's the way you should think about the deficit of whether or not you're getting a better return on your investment. Just like you do for corporations, you do for sovereigns.

The World Trade Organization, WTO, has a new leader. Who is she and what challenges lie ahead?

She is Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. And I mean, she's a fixture. I've known her, I've seen her at events for well over a decade. She was the minister of finance for Nigeria. She was the number two at the World Bank. And I mean whether you're talking about Davos or IMF annual meetings, any big multilaterals, her presence there as a technocrat, as a plain smoking, really smart pro-globalization force, is kind of legion. It would be really surprising if she hadn't gotten a major, additional position at some point in her career. WTO was an obvious place for her. Not going to be easy, first of all because big decisions have to be taken unanimously and you've got 160, 170 members of WTO so it's hard to do. Secondly, the WTO needs reform, it needs to be focused much more on digital exchange and trade. It needs to be modernized the way trade agreements, multilateral and bilateral do and that's going to be very hard to do. And of course, the Chinese government, the second most powerful economy in the world routinely abrogates the outcomes that are forced upon it by World Trade Organization judges. So do the Americans not least of which in terms of the US-China trade conflict itself. So, it's not an easy role but I do think that she's going to be seen as very active in it, kind of like Christine Lagarde at the ECB when she got that appointment. I mean, this was completely uncontroversial that she would get this position.

Okay, what's happening between Iran and the US over sanctions?

Not very much. The United States certainly wants to rejoin the old Iranian nuclear deal, but they understand there's a lot of domestic pushback unless it is made tougher or at least broader in terms of how long it lasts as well as involving things like ballistic missile development where the Iranians are in abrogation of the UN security council resolutions. The Iranians are saying, "We'll come back to the JCPO as it was but nothing more." These are hard people to negotiate with. It's a hard government to negotiate with, the bureaucrats there. It took years on the final points under Obama and Kerry and that was when the secretary of state was personally involved. There is no cabinet member in the Biden administration that is personally anywhere close to as invested in getting this Iranian deal done if it's hard as Kerry was five years ago. And so, as a consequence, I think there'll be forward momentum, but I think it's going to be much slower than people expect. Now, there is a point that once you start engaging in negotiations a whole bunch of third countries that were concerned about doing anything that might be seen as gray area in terms of busting sanctions like buying Iranian crude and other sorts of goods will suddenly, you'll see more leakage. And so, the Iranians just by virtue of moving back towards the United States and people getting confident about JCPOA, they won't have another million barrels a day on the market, but you'll start to see slippage, leakage in that and that means that energy prices will start going down a bit.

And Rush Limbaugh at 70 no longer, passed away today. What do I think?

I think that Rush Limbaugh is like a precursor to Mark Zuckerberg. He's someone that became an iconic figure by giving people what they wanted, not what they admitted they wanted but what they actually wanted, figuring out what that was and maximizing his reach and his influence as a consequence of that. Talk radio really became the force that it was in the United States because of Rush and his connection with his audience, his understanding of how the medium worked, his ability to raise extraordinary amounts of advertising revenue that had never been done in radio in a news format before that. All things that he became a unique figure and of course an entire field developed around him. And after talk radio we get cable news; we get Lou Dobbs on CNN even talking about a presidential run at some point. And then of course you get social media and now you have Mark Zuckerberg. And I think that you can draw a line directly between those two men. And I think they both caused a lot of damage internationally and certainly in terms of civil society in the United States but also on this day of Rush's passing to recognize just how well he understood the opportunity that was in front of him and how much he was able to maximize it, kind of a force for capitalism in a country that is most interested in unleashing animal spirits. And there you have it, RIP Rush Limbaugh.

Meet Zoe Marshall, grandmother, fishmonger, and thriving business owner.

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When Zoe Marshall decided to switch careers in her forties and become a fishmonger, she was scared. After leaving her job of 23 years, Zoe was forced to pivot in order to keep her family's home. Despite challenges, she forged ahead, opening Sea-Licious. Accepting Visa payments in her fishmonger shop, this access to commerce helps Zoe provide convenience to her customers and confidence in their transactions. Though she's one of the only women in the fish market each morning, her business and its place in the local community are flourishing with Visa's help.

Learn more about Zoe and her story.

The minutiae of supply chains makes for boring dinner table talk, but it's increasingly becoming a hot topic of conversation now that packages are taking much longer to arrive in the consumer-oriented US, while prices of goods soar.

With the issue unlikely to be resolved anytime soon, right-wing media have dubbed President Biden the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, conjuring images of sad Christmas trees surrounded by distraught children whose holiday gifts are stuck somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.

It hasn't been a good run for Uncle Joe in recent months. What issues are tripping him up?

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Taking place on October 21 and 22, the Sustainability Leaders Summit will go beyond preexisting narratives and debate priorities for governments and industries ahead of COP26. Placing the spotlight on Asia's role in the global sustainability agenda, the event will address whether Asian countries and companies can achieve shared sustainability goals, and what is needed to help get them there. The summit will be co-hosted by Tak Niinami, CEO of Suntory Holdings, and Ian Bremmer, founder and president of Eurasia Group and GZERO Media. We will address three key questions: How can Asian countries, with the help of the private sector, achieve shared Sustainability Goals? Why does this matter? And what are the policy changes needed to bring it about?

Attendance is free and open to the public. Register to attend.

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Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week with a look at the NBA's latest rift with China, Brazil's Senate investigation, and COVID booster shots.

China wipes Boston Celtics from NBA broadcast after the "Free Tibet" speech from Enes Kanter. Is NBA boxing itself into a corner?

Nice mixed sports metaphor there. NBA has some challenges because they are of course the most progressive on political and social issues in the United States among sports leagues, but not when it comes to China, their most important international market. And you've seen that with LeBron James telling everyone about we need to learn better from the Communist Party on issues like Hong Kong and how Daryl Morey got hammered for taking his stance in favor of Hong Kong democracy. Well, Enes Kanter's doing the same thing and he's a second-string center. Didn't even play yesterday and still the Chinese said that they were not going to air any Boston Celtics games. Why? Because he criticized the Chinese government and had some "Free Tibet" sneakers. This is a real problem for a lot of corporations out there, but particularly publicly, the NBA. Watch for a bunch of American politicians to make it harder for the NBA going forward, saying how dare you kowtow to the Chinese when you're all about "Black Lives Matter" inside the United States. No fun.

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

A Trump media platform? Is this for real?

This week, President Trump announced his potential return to social media through the creation of his own digital media platform that's going to merge with an existing publicly-traded company in a deal known as a SPAC. These deals are increasingly popular for getting access to capital, and it seems like that's where President Trump is headed.

The publicly-traded company's stock was up on the news, but it's really hard to see this coming together. The Trump media company claims it wants to go up against not only Facebook and Twitter, but companies like Amazon and cloud computing and even Disney providing a safe space for conservatives to share their points of view. The fact of the matter is, conservatives do quite well on existing social media platforms when they aren't being kicked off for violating the terms of service, and other conservative social media platforms that have attempted to launch this year haven't really gone off the ground.

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Protests in Sudan: Protests are again shaking the Sudanese capital, as supporters of rival wings of the transitional government take to the streets. Back in 2019, after popular demonstrations led to the ouster of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir, a deal was struck between civilian activists and the army, in which a joint civilian-military government would run the country until fresh elections could be held in 2023. But now supporters of the military wing are calling on it to dissolve the government entirely, while supporters of the civilian wing are counter-protesting. Making matters worse, a pro-military tribal leader in Eastern Sudan has set up a blockade which is interrupting the flow of goods and food to the capital. The US, which backs the civilian wing, has sent an envoy to Khartoum as tensions rise, while Egypt, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey are all vying for a piece as well.

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1 billion: One billion Indians have now gotten at least one COVID vaccine shot. It's a big turnaround for the country, which stumbled with the initial rollout and then suspended vaccine exports for months to deal with a deadly wave in the spring. Still, only 30 percent of the eligible population is fully vaccinated in India, the world's largest manufacturer of vaccines.

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Listen: The nature of work had already been changing long before the global pandemic accelerated trends around flexible work, remote work technology, and the gig economy. While some industries and workers have benefitted from these changes, others have been left behind - including many women who dropped out of the workforce due to family concerns, or service-industry professionals whose jobs evaporated.

The latest episode of Living Beyond Borders, a special podcast series from GZERO brought to you by Citi Private Bank, looks in depth at the future of work and how the latest trends will change business, the economy, and the global political balance. Moderated by Caitlin Dean, Head of the Geostrategy Practice at Eurasia Group, this episode features Ida Liu, Global Head of Private Banking at Citi Global Wealth and Alexander Kazan, Chief Commercial Officer at Eurasia Group.

Ida Liu Global Head of Private Banking, Citi Global Wealth

Ida Liu

Global Head of Private Banking, Citi Global Wealth

Alexander Kazan, Chief Commercial Officer at Eurasia Group

Alexander Kazan

Chief Commercial Officer, Eurasia Group

Caitlin Dean, Practice Head, Geostrategy, Eurasia Group

Caitlin Dean

Practice Head, Geostrategy, Eurasia Group

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