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Tuesday, January 03, 2017

What could go wrong? Everything ...

by digby

Yeah, it's a very risky time. And it isn't just us silly old liberals who think so:
U.S. unilateralism under Donald Trump, China’s growing assertiveness and a weakened German Chancellor Angela Merkel are helping make 2017 the “most volatile” year for political risk since World War II, according to Eurasia Group. 
“In 2017 we enter a period of geopolitical recession,” the New York-based company said in its outlook. International war or “the breakdown of major central government institutions” isn’t inevitable, though “such an outcome is now thinkable.” 
With Trump’s ascent to the presidency on an America-first platform, the global economy can’t count on the U.S. to provide “guardrails” anymore, according to Eurasia, which advises investors on political risk. Trump’s signals of a thaw with Russia, skepticism toward the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and his “alignment” with European anti-establishment parties such as France’s National Front could weaken the main postwar alliance protecting the global order, according to the report released Tuesday.

The warning is a reminder of the range of threats to stability in 2017, from elections in Germany, France and the Netherlands and Britain’s planned exit from the European Union to the transition of power in the U.S., setbacks in emerging nations such as Brazil and Europe’s refugee crisis.
In China, a scheduled leadership transition makes it likely that President Xi Jinping will be “more likely than ever to respond forcefully to foreign policy challenges,” potentially leading to spikes in U.S.-China tensions, according to Eurasia. To maintain domestic stability, Xi might “overreact” to any sign of economic trouble, leading to a risk of new asset bubbles or capital controls, Eurasia said. 
Merkel, who is seeking re-election in the fall, faces likely disputes over Brexit, Greece’s simmering debt crisis and an “increasingly authoritarian” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, threatening a refugee accord between the EU and Turkey. France’s presidential election in April could lead to the National Front taking power, according to Eurasia. 
“Despite just how wrong the polls have been in recent major electoral contests across the developed world, Merkel will win a fourth consecutive term,” the report said. “But the need to appease domestic critics this year will leave her a diminished figure, impacting the quality of her leadership both at home and in the EU.” 
Other risks cited by Eurasia include: 
  • Lack of economic reforms, with only China on a “positive trajectory” among 14 major nations and Italy, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey and the U.K. declining. 
  • Politicians blaming central banks, including the Federal Reserve, for economic woes. Such attacks mark “a risk to global markets in 2017 by threatening to upend central banks’ roles as technocratic institutions that provide financial and economic stability.” 
  • A “witch hunt” against parts of the opposition in Turkey, even tighter control over government and the media by Erdogan, and pressure on the Turkish central bank to keep rates low and rely increasingly on fiscal stimulus to offset slowing growth. 
  • North Korea’s nuclear program, which may yield some 20 nuclear weapons, combined with technological advances allowing strikes at the U.S. west coast in the future.
If you believed in US exceptionalism it's long past time to rethink it. We're just running with the lemmings. Unfortunately, we are a big clumsy giant who is likely to stomp all over everybody as we race over the cliff.

Things were already unstable. So it was an especially bad idea to put an unfit, unqualified, cretinous moron in charge of the most powerful nation in the world. Good work America.