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Politics is a long game, the financial markets an extremely short one. The economy could be said to be somewhere in between. It is necessary to reconcile the durations of those three games to compose an economic and financial scenario that does not bring too much dissonance. In such a scenario the cycle will prosper, and even strengthen, provided that political risks do not materialise due to a draconian tightening of financial conditions.
Highlights: Poland is forecast to emerge from deflation in 2017. In Russia, will Mr Putin continue to be patient? What role do women play in the Middle East and North Africa labour market? Nigeria is experiencing a liquidity crisis. In China, things are kicking off quite well? In Brazil, the Attorney General spectacularly intervened in the Odebrecht affair.
Highlights: Azerbaijan is at the mercy of oil... Serbia and Kosovo have awoken their old demons. In Saudi Arabia, a reformist 2017 budget has been drawn up on the basis of Brent at USD 50/bbl. In Côte d'Ivoire, the crisis has multiple faces. In China, 2017 will be a year of challenges. Is Mexico staring at the end of NAFTA?
The issue of populist movements does not stop at elections. In the longer term, it poses the problem of the legitimacy of elites and solutions for reconciling democracy and globalisation. In fact, we have now entered into a political cycle, ie, a point in history where politics has taken over from the economy and is imposing its own rationality. There is no going back: we are seing a transition of both internal and external political equilibrium.
Highlights: Doubts persist as to Turkey's potential for growth. In Serbia, the public finances are improving faster than expected. In Egypt, the new floating exchange rate regime has devalued the pound by 57% in 12 months and triggered a new bout of inflation. In South Africa, the economy is flagging in a gloomy climate. Is China moving towards making fewer foreign acquisitions? GDP has again fallen in the third quarter in Brazil.
Clearly, the geopolitical, political and economic risks facing the world are many and multifarious. And it's no easy matter to isolate those that seem most apparent to us. In this respect, a sudden tightening of financial conditions does not yet seem an imminent danger. While 2017 is not looking as if it will be the year of living dangerously, 2018 could well be more fraught.
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