ESADEgeo’s Daily Digest, 05/05/2017

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Financial Times—Anjli Raval /  Oil extends tumble to hit lowest price since November

  • The oil price’s slide accelerated in Friday morning London trading, taking Brent crude to its lowest level since November ($47.41).
  • West Texas Intermediate, the US marker, weakened to $44.45. The price has gone down by more than 6% in the last two days.
  • Oil market participants have been losing faith in the ability of Opec and rival producers, such as Russia, to shrink the excess crude inventories.
  • Opec and non-Opec ministers are set to meet again at the end of this month in Vienna. Participants are ultimately expected to extend the supply cut beyond an initial six-month period that runs until the end of June.
  • “Shale growth makes the sizeable but too small a cut completely lose its potency,” said Jamie Webster, a fellow at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University.

The New York Times—M. Landler & P. Baker / Saudi Arabia and Israel will be on itinerary of Trump’s first foreign trip

  • “Tolerance is the cornerstone of peace,” Trump said at a ceremony in which he announced his intentions to travel to “Saudi Arabia, then Israel, and then to a place that my cardinals love very much, Rome.”
  • Trump is considering a side trip to Bethlehem to meet with Mr. Abbas again. There are also reports that Trump hopes to convene a summit meeting of Israeli and Arab leaders, perhaps in the summer.
  • The U.S. President will also attend a NATO meeting in Brussels that opens on May 24 and then fly to Sicily, where the leaders of the Group of 7 will meet starting May 26.
  • Contrary to the recent tradition, Trump will not visit Canada or Mexico before venturing elsewhere.
  • Trump is expected to talk to leaders behind closed doors, rather than giving public speeches. Potential disagreements about human rights would be dealt with in private.

Project Syndicate—D. Gros / Europe’s new hope?

  • Macron brings hope that renewed Franco-German leadership of the European Union may be on the horizon.
  • If he becomes President, Macron’s initial move may be to try to reform the Eurozone. He may find that to be a tall order, particularly considering Germany’s different economic philosophy, which focuses on keeping deficits low. However, Macron does recognize the need to balance the budget in the long term.
  • There are signs of economic convergence between France and Germany, which may make it easier for them to reach an agreement.
  • A reform of the monetary union should include completing the banking union, with a strengthening of the common deposit areas. In this and other policy areas (such as the management of refugee flows), problems concern Germany and Italy more than Germany and France.
  • A Macron Presidency should push for policy packages that take into account the priorities of both Germany and Italy, the biggest obstacle to EU reform.

Foreign Policy—N. Hauer / Putin has a new secret weapon in Syria: Chechens

  • Moscow has said it plans to reduce its presence in Syria. But while some Russian forces did initially depart in early January, Moscow is actually expanding its role in the country through an expansion of military bases and the use of private contractors.
  • Putin also deployed an unprecedented Russian weapon to Syria: several units of Chechen and Ingush commandos. Until the deployment of these Sunni commandos took place, Moscow’s ground operations in Syria had been minimal.
  • Using nonethnic Russian special personnel might protect Putin from a public backlash sparked by rising battlefield casualties, while also helping Moscow to increase its influence in Syria, not least through religious ties.

 

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