The danger to informal workers grows: Coronavirus lockdowns have created a world of uncertainty for businesses and workers around the world. But one group of people that could be hit particularly hard are those working in the so-called "informal economy," where workers lack formal contracts, labor protections, or social safety nets. Nowhere is this challenge more widespread than in Africa, where a whopping 85 percent of the work force toils in the informal sector. These workers, which include street vendors, drivers, and the self-employed, don't have the luxury of working from home, which makes social distancing unviable. As a result, many continue to go to work, risking exposure to the virus, because not turning up is often the difference between putting food on the table and starving. What's more, even where governments are trying to provide support, many people lack bank accounts, complicating efforts to get them aid. In Nigeria, for example, some 60 percent of people do not even have a bank account, according to the World Bank.
When this health crisis is over, will we remember COVID-19 as an historic turning point for globalization? We're talking here about all the processes that move goods and services, people, money, information, and ideas across borders at historically unprecedented speed. It's a trend, like all important trends, composed of plenty of both good and bad. It has lifted billions of people from poverty and given each of us a new stake in the success of others. And it has also dirtied our air and water, warmed the climate, and disrupted lives and livelihoods as millions of jobs cross borders too.
It's the defining force of the post-Cold War world.
In the end, it took the coronavirus to break the year-long deadlock in Israeli politics. Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu will still face corruption charges, but he has yet another new lease on political life, as he and political rival Benny Gantz cut a deal yesterday: Bibi will continue as prime minister, with Gantz serving as Speaker of the Knesset, Israel's parliament. After 18 months, Gantz will take over as prime minister, but many doubt that will ever happen.
The major outbreaks of coronavirus in China, Europe, and the United States have garnered the most Western media attention in recent weeks. Yesterday, we went behind the headlines to see how Mexico and Russia are faring. Today, we'll look at three other potential hotspots where authorities and citizens are now contending with the worst global pandemic in a century.
Start with India. For weeks, coronavirus questions hovered above that other country with a billion-plus people, a famously chaotic democracy where the central government can't simply order a Chinese-scale public lockdown with confidence that it will be respected. It's a country where 90 percent of people work off the books— without a minimum wage, a pension, a strong national healthcare system, or a way to work from home.
On January 6, we wrote about the annual Global Top Risks report from Eurasia Group, our parent company. At the time, there was not yet a single confirmed death from COVID-19 in China or anywhere else.
That was 11 weeks ago.
You can now read a coronavirus-related update to that report, which details the many ways this global pandemic has altered the world's biggest political risk stories.
What's next for the Democrats? Joe Biden swept primaries in Florida, Illinois and Arizona on Tuesday night, racking up a wide margin of victory against Senator Bernie Sanders, his main opponent in the race for the Democratic nomination for president. Sanders would now need to win about 6 in 10 of all remaining delegates to gain the party's nod. That's improbable given Biden's strong support, particularly among older voters, who turned out despite coronavirus fears. Sanders will now be under intense pressure to exit the race, to allow the Democratic party's presumptive nominee to focus his time and resources on defeating Donald Trump at a time when traditional political rallies have become impossible and daily life for millions of Americans is being turned rapidly upside-down. We're watching to see what Bernie decides to do.
The US presidential matchup is now all but set. Short of a personal health crisis, Joe Biden will be the Democrat who battles Donald Trump in November. What should we expect from that race?
History teaches us that the candidates with the most cash and the best campaign organizations tend to win—and that debate performances, choice of running mates, and the spectacle of party nominating conventions matter less.
No one can say whether coronavirus will still be infecting a large number of Americans in six months. But if it is, we might have to throw all the conventional wisdom about elections out the window. Sure, US voters and candidates have navigated election year crises many times before, but the impact of Covid-19 on the physical realities of campaigning would be unprecedented in the modern era. Here's how:
Fighting has pushed the Syrian province of Idlib to the breaking point. Russian-backed Syrian forces, Syrian rebels trapped inside the city, and Turkey's military are all directly involved, and the stakes in this conflict have risen dramatically in recent days as the conflict threatens to generate a severe humanitarian crisis that sends shock waves through Turkey toward Europe.
Turkey's President Erdogan and Russia's President Putin reportedly agreed on a ceasefire on Thursday, but previous such deals have fallen apart.
So, what do the big players in this conflict want?