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Online Courses

2nd of August – 8th of August

The Case of the Belarusian sprinter Kristina Timanovskaya

The Belarusian sprinter Kristina Timanovskaya was first under the protection of the Japanese government after she criticized her coaches for registering her for the wrong event, according to the New York Times. Belarus tried to send her home but she was scared that she would be arrested upon her return. Timanovskaya has since stayed at the Polish embassy, hoping to seek political asylum in Poland, which has since been granted to her and her husband by Poland. Two Belarusian coaches who were apparently involved in the attempt to get her to leave Tokyo for Belarus have been expelled from the Olympic Village.

Wildfires in Turkey and Greece

Wildfires in Turkey have killed at least six people and forced tens of thousands from their homes. President Erdogan has also received criticism over his handling of what can be called Turkey’s worst wildfires in decades. Greece has also been badly affected by the wildfires, recording its hottest temperatures on record with thousands fleeing their homes. The wildfires have since also reached the island of Evia and ancient Olympia, the birthplace of the Olympic Games. The New York Times reported that local authorities and the army “dug firelines around the archaeological site” in an attempt to prevent the fires from destroying it. A thick pall of smoke also hung over Athens last Thursday, meaning that people were instructed to stay indoors until the smoke cleared. 

Other News

  • The Lazio region of Italy, which includes Rome, experienced a cyberattack and left it unable to offer vaccination appointments online
  • New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo faces criticism and calls for him to resign after it became public that he sexually assaulted 11 women. Governor Cuomo, however, has denied these accusations.
  • “American forces stepped up a bombing campaign in Afghanistan,” according to the New York Times
  • Over 200 million cases of COVID-19 have now been recorded around the world, as of Thursday
  • Ebrahim Raisi, the new President of Iran, was inaugurated this past week
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Weekly Summaries

5th of July – 11th of July

Lebanon’s Crisis worsens

The World Bank announced that the current crisis Lebanon is facing could rank among “the world’s three worst since the mid-1800s,” according to the New York Times. In the past year, Lebanon has had to cope not only with the outbreak of the coronavirus but also with the deadly explosion in Beirut’s port. This has meant that Lebanon’s GDP has decreased by 40% from 2018 ($55 billion) to 2020 ($33 billion). Its currency, the Lebanese pound, has decreased in value by 90% since fall 2019. Furthermore, Lebanon currently hosts one million refugees from Syria. All of these factors make it a very difficult and bad situation, providing little hope for people that things may change for the better soon.

Other News

  • After the assasination of President Jovenel Moïse of Haiti, four people who were suspected of being involved in the assasination were shot dead and two arrested by the police. Later on in the week, two Americans and 15 Colombians were detained as well. In recent months there had been protests, demanding Moïse to step down as poverty and hunger continued to increase. Increasingly, armed gangs have also been taking control over streets, causing chaos in what is already the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
  • The Ever Given container ship, which famously blocked the Suez Canal, is finally on its way to continue its journey.
  • Italy beat England in the UEFA Euro 2020 Final, which took place on Sunday, 2:1 after a dramatic shootout. The game took place in the Wembley Stadium in London.
  • A military plane crashed in the Philippines after missing a runway. Onboard were 96 soldiers and crew members. At least 50 people died, including 3 civilians. Later on in the week, a “regional passenger plane with 28 people on board crashed in eastern Russia,” according to the New York Times, as well.
  • The U.S. handed over its final airbase in Afghanistan, ending its military presence in the country after almost two decades.
  • A mudslide in the Japanese town of Atami has left more than 80 people missing.

Fun Fact

England’s deer populations have spiked as the outbreak of the coronavirus halted hunting activity. On a more serious note, the increasing numbers of deer poses serious challenges to the survival of wild plant species.

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News

The G7 Summit in Cornwall

What is the G7?

The G7 is a political establishment, founded in 1975, that addresses current and potential future challenges that can affect the growth of the global economy, including the impacts of fluctuating oil prices and of emerging markets. The G7 is made up of some of the wealthiest economies across the world — the US, the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan (China is not a member of the G7). The organisation is not an official, formal entity and therefore has no legislative or authoritative power to enforce policies or laws around the world. However, due to the powerful nature of the countries involved, policies can be introduced within said countries, helping to resolve global issues.

What is the purpose of the G7? 

The intergovernmental organisation meets periodically to assess economic and monetary issues that have developed throughout the world between each summit. They discuss and sometimes act in order to assist in resolving global issues, particularly those that concern the global economy.  Their efforts have allowed the organisation to launch initiatives, which fund issues and relieve crises, including several aimed at relieving debt within developing nations. For example, the establishment provided $300 million in 1997 to help construct the containment of the reactor meltdown at Chernobyl, following the nuclear disaster. 

What did they discuss in Cornwall last week? 

As expected, the main topic of conversation was resolving the current global crisis, COVID-19. The leaders within the establishment debated the importance of a stronger global health system and reviewed a potential plan of action which could reduce the global health inequality that could protect us from future pandemics.  Their agenda further included discussion on actions taken towards climate change, e.g. the unsuccessful Paris Agreement of 2015, and trade agreements. This was a big topic for Britain in particular, since talks regarding Brexit began in 2016 when Britain decided to leave the European Union.

What were the outcomes of the meeting? 

The meeting had three major outcomes: “A Billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine (1)”, “no more coal (2) ”, and “tech giants and tax havens targeted (3)”.

  1.  The leaders at the conference pledged to deliver over 870 million vaccine doses to the developing world, on top of the 250 million already promised by the US and the 100 million from the UK. This action will not only allow the HIC’s to recover from the pandemic but allow LIC’s to recover, also. This will have a rather large impact as the lower-income countries are more at risk of an unrecoverable economic depression than higher-income countries. 
  2. There was a unanimous agreement in which the G7 leaders pledged to phase out coal-fired power generation at home and reduce/end funding for new coal-burning power plants in the developing world. Furthermore, the leaders committed to offering developing nations $2.8bn to help them switch to cleaner fuels. These plans will not only help reduce carbon emissions but will consequently reduce climate change. A large issue within climate change is that developing countries do not have funding to provide renewable sources of energy. Therefore, this initiative is of great importance as it will allow countries to take a global stance against global warming.
  3. The summit agreed to take steps towards dissuading MNC’s (multinational co-operations) from shifting profits to low tax-havens. The leaders signed up to levy a minimum 15% corporate tax rate. This will help boost economies especially following the pandemic, which has caused severe economic instability globally. Furthermore, the leaders have also moved to help protect the global financial system from the impact of climate change by agreeing on rules which require companies and financial institutions to disclose the extent to which their business is exposed to climate change risks.

Sources

  1. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/06/g7-summit-covid19-tax-environment/
  2. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/g/g7.asp

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Weekly Summaries

24th of May – 30th of May

A possible case of plane hijacking by Belarus

Last weekend, a Ryanair plane on the way from Athens to Vilnius was forced to land in Minsk (Belarus’ capital) by a fighter jet, according to the New York Times. On board was Roman Protasevich, a leading opposition journalist who currently lives in exile in Lithuania. Upon landing, he was immediately arrested on what the New York Times calls “charges of inciting hatred and mass disorder.” He will face imprisonment of more than 12 years if he is found guilty. The international response has been critical of Belarus, with Greece and Lithuania both describing the scenario “hijacking by the Belarusian government” and the E.U. “urging” airlines to avoid flying over Belarus’ airspace. Russia, meanwhile, has stood by Lukashenko’s side.

Other News

  • The former leader of Myanmar, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, has been seen in public at the court for the first time since the military coup that detained her, ending her term as leader of Myanmar. If she is found guilty of the many charges she faces, she may be imprisoned for life.
  • The one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s killing was last Wednesday.
  • A cable car crash in Italy killed 14 people. Police have now arrested three people, who may be related to the crash.
  • Just as the last of the remaining U.S. troops in Afghanistan are withdrawing, 25 rural Afghan government outposts as well as bases in four provinces have surrendered to the Taliban, according to the New York Times.
  • Just days after Mount Nyiragongo erupted deadly in the Democratic Republic of Congo, another potential eruption forced the evacuation of Goma.
Categories
Analysis

The Economic Situation of Italy

Italy’s economic context

In 2020 Italy’s economy was severely affected by the COVID-19 global crisis, in relation to the fact for which this country was the first in Europe to be influenced by the pandemic consequences.

IMF and GDP growths and losses in WEO’s view

The IMF (International Monetary Fund) estimated a GDP (gross domestic product) loss of 10.5% in 2020 after an output contracted by 18% in the first half of the year.

In fact, the rebound of construction and industrial contributions could not offset the loss of other sectors (especially services and tourism, which accounts for 13% of GDP alone), despite government support. In 2021, a substantial carryover effect should have underpined a GDP rebound of 5.2%, followed by further growth of 2.6% in 2022 (IMF’s October 2020 forecast), though the situation is still uncertain under the nowadays time of the pandemic and the tightening of containment measures in the last quarter of 2020.
In its most recent January 2021 update of the World Economic Outlook, the IMF has revised its GDP growth projections for Italy to 3% in 2021 and 3.6% in 2022 (representing a difference from October 2020 WEO( world economic outlook) projections of -2.2% and +1%, respectively).

Government revenues should benefit from the rebound in economic activity in 2021, so that the deficit is expected to decline to 3.4%. The historically-high debt-to-GDP ratio spiked to a worrying 161.8% in 2020, though it is set to slowly decline to about 156.6% in 2022, thanks to nominal GDP growth and more favourable interest expenditure.
Inflation stagnated in 2020 (0.1%) due to downward pressure from oil prices and private consumption, and should remain subdued in 2021 and 2022 (0.6% and 0.9%, respectively – IMF).
 
Main Indicators 2020 (e) 2021 (e) 2022 (e)
GDP (billions USD) 1.00 2.00 2.00
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) -10.6 3.0 3.6
GDP per Capita (USD) 30 35 36
General Government Balance (in % of GDP) -3.8 -3.4 -2.9
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 161.8 158.3 156.6
Inflation Rate (%) 0.1 0.6 0.9
Unemployment Rate (% of the Labour Force) 11.0 11.8 10.8
Current Account (billions USD) 59.64 63.21 68.59
Current Account (in % of GDP) 3.2 3.0 3.1
•Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook •Database: October 2020
•Note 1: (e) Estimated Data
•Note 2: The GDP growth projections for 2021 and 2022 (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) were updated by the IMF in January 2021

Agriculture and economics by 2020

Italy is one of the main agricultural players in the EU, being the biggest European producer of rice, fruits, vegetables and wine.

The agricultural sector represents 1.9% of Italian GDP and is reliant on the import of raw materials utilised in agricultural production due to the country’s limited natural resources (Italian imports of raw materials are responsible for more than 80% of the country’s energy). The country has 12.6 million grounds of agricultural land and its main crops include cereals (particularly wheat), corn, barley, rice and oats. Italy is also the first world producer of wine. In order to respond to the COVID-19-related crisis, the Italian government set up specific schemes for the agro-food sector allocating more than € 1.1 billion.
Nevertheless, in the second quarter of 2020 the primary sector recorded a 12.8% decrease compared to the previous quarter (Italian Council for Agricultural Research and Analysis of Agricultural Economics).

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Weekly Summaries

22nd of February – 28th of February

General Strike in Myanmar

A general strike took place in Myanmar on Monday the 22nd of February. Millions participated, protesting against the military rule that has been in place since the military coup three weeks ago. Last weekend, two protestors and dozens more had been injured when the military started shooting at the protestors. Since then Facebook has banned Myanmar’s military from its platforms, making it obvious that they were siding with the pro-democracy protests.

Other News

  • An order was issued by the Supreme Court which allows the release of the former US President Donald Trump’s tax returns
  • Italy’s ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo was among three other people who were killed during an attack close to the city of Goma
  • The Syrian pound reached an all-time low against the dollar on the black market
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Weekly Summaries

25th of January – 31st of January

Elections in Portugal

President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa was re-elected this past week. He received 61% of the votes, a number that may come as a bit of a surprise because Portugal introduced a new lockdown just two weeks ago over concerns of overwhelmed hospitals. This may also explain the low turnout, which was only 39% of the population. 

President Rebelo de Sousa will begin his second 5-year term with a strong foothold: the candidate with the second highest number of votes — the Socialist candidate Ana Gomes — received only 13% of the votes. In Portugal, the role of President is second to that of the Prime Minister who is in charge of the day-to-day affairs. As President, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa can, however, dissolve Parliament and veto some legislations and is also involved in foreign policy and national security.

Italy’s Prime Minister Resigns

The Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte resigned this past Tuesday after weeks of political conflicts. At the moment there is still hope that Italian politicians may come up with a solution but otherwise early elections may be the only solution. Especially opposition parties are very keen on early elections with polls suggesting that the Nationalist Party may win. 

Other News

  • The House of Representatives sent an article of impeachment against Donald Trump on Monday.
  • This past Tuesday, President Biden and President Putin agreed to extend the last remaining nuclear arms treaty between the United States and Russia.
  • Thousands of farmers entered New Delhi, India, on Tuesday with their tractors to protest against new farming laws.
  • A new law went into effect in Poland on Wednesday which bans abortions in almost all instances (in cases of rape, incest, and threat to the life of the mother abortions are still allowed). Thousands went to the streets to protest, vowing to keep fighting.