Political risk must-reads

September 27, 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.


Taxis Vanish in Rain as Singapore Gets Congested” – Sharon Chen, Bloomberg

Singapore’s population has grown by more than a million since mid-2004 to 5.3 million today. The 1996 transport system white paper planned for a population of 4 million by 2030. All this growth is a good problem to have—but can Singapore’s infrastructure support it?

Saudi Arabian Women Urged To Protest Against Driving Ban By Getting Behind The Wheel On October 26” – Sara C Nelson, Huffington Post

A petition is circling for a “day of defiance” where Saudi women will take the wheel in protest of a ban on their right to drive. The government seems to downplay the social importance of the ban — in 2005, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of the Interior said, “It looks like some people want to make it an issue, but it’s not.” The petition has over 10,000 signatures that say otherwise.

Ukraine to become China’s largest overseas farmer in 3m hectare deal” – Mandy Zuo, South China Morning Post

China just purchased a massive tranche of farmland from Ukraine. If certain conditions are met, the 100,000 hectares will expand to 3 million, or 5 percent of Ukraine’s total land.

US and Iran: The art of the nuclear deal” – Ali Gharib, Al Jazeera America

How much leverage does the Obama administration really have to cut a deal with the Iranians regarding their nuclear program? According to the International Crisis Group, only eight of the 31 U.S. and international sanctions against Iran can be reversed by order of the White House (the rest require votes by the U.N., the European Union or Congress).

Troubled currencies

’Get a boat!’ Venezuela flights booked full for months” – Girish Gupta and Andrew Cawthorne, Yahoo News

Flights in Venezuela are virtually sold out for months in advance. US dollars now sell on the black market at a 7x markup from the government-sanctioned exchange rate of 6.3 bolivars to the dollar. How are these two trends interconnected? And what does it say about Venezuela’s deteriorating economic condition?

The Troubled Currencies Project – Steve H. Hanke (director), Cato Institute and Johns Hopkins

Venezuela’s currency is not the only one that’s pegged at an unworkable exchange rate. This project tracks the world’s most troubled currencies, along with the warped exchange rates and inflation implications.

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