Political risk must-reads

March 11, 2013

Eurasia Group’s weekly selection of essential reading for the political risk junkie – presented in no particular order. As always, feel free to give us your feedback or selections by tweeting at us via @EurasiaGroup or @ianbremmer.

The theme of this week’s must-reads is number crunching—whether it’s budgets in China and Iran, record-long filibusters in the US senate, or how much the quality of life has improved in Africa over the last decade. Get out your calculators. Here goes.

Crunching the numbers

Is fracking a ‘bridge’ to a clean-energy future? Ernest Moniz thinks so,” Brad Plumer, Wonkblog, The Washington Post

In terms of halting climate change, natural gas has been dubbed a ‘bridge fuel’ for its growing role in the energy mix as the world transitions to renewable energy. But just how far into the future can this bridge reach?

China is spending more on policing its own people than on its defense budget,” Lily Kuo, Quartz

China announced a 10.7 percent increase in its defense budget for the coming year. But it still spends more on “public security,” underscoring Beijing’s real focus.

The Curious Case of China’s GDP Figures,” Eve Cary, The Diplomat

China’s reported 2012 GDP: 51.9 trillion yuan. The reported GDP of its 31 provinces: 57.6 trillion yuan.  The numbers don’t add up. Li Keqiang’s 2007 admission that GDP statistics are “man-made” became public via a Wikileaks cable in 2010. 

Ahmadinejad’s Budget is About Iran’s Elections,” Mohammad Ali Shabani, Al-Monitor

Ahmadinjead’s proposed budget has some eye-openers. An 82 percent increase in the executive branch’s operating budget.  Significant cuts for councils run by his rivals, such as Hasemi Rafsanjani. And how does it all add up? Last year the oil price per barrel that balanced the budget was $81.50. This year it’s $85. The proposed budget? $95.

A hopeful continent,” The Economist

Correspondent Oliver August outlines how African lives have tangibly improved over the past decade. Real income per person is up more than 30 percent, while malaria deaths in some of the worst-affected countries are down 30 percent – and HIV infections are down as much as 74 percent.

Longest filibusters in history,” Bobby Cervantes, Politico

On Wednesday, Rand Paul filibustered the nomination of John Brennan as CIA director for nearly 13 hours. How does that rank compared to the all-time longest talking filibusters in the US senate?

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