By Cliff Kupchan
In Iran last week, sanctions pressure pushed frustration into violence. Iran's currency has lost half its free market value over the past month, and a clumsy policy response made matters worse.
The rial's dramatic depreciation is stoking a level of inflation that has become the most serious threat now facing the regime. The official inflation rate stands at 23.5 percent, but anecdotal evidence suggests the rate is much higher and climbing. The government's lack of a coherent anti-crisis strategy, economic mismanagement, corruption, and heavy transaction costs imposed by sanctions suggest the worst is yet to come. Sporadic protests are likely to become a fact of life in Tehran.
As a result, the bickering within Iran's political elite is becoming more vitriolic. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad blames foreigners and their sanctions for the current crisis; parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani instead points the finger at the incompetence of Ahmadinejad's government. Ahmadinejad can't seek re-election next June, but his exit won'tprevent these fights from heating up in advance of the vote.
Yet, there is no evidence that Iran is
close to the boiling point. Following the controversial presidential election
of 2009 and the street demonstrations that followed, the regime proved it can
and will use deadly force to intimidate Iran's fractious opposition. Nothing
has happened to suggest that new protests would produce a different result.
So what should Western governments, anxious to slow Iran's momentum toward a nuclear program, be hoping for? Iran's economic turmoil is unlikely to topple the regime, at least not anytime soon, but it just might bring about a more conciliatory Iranian approach to nuclear talks after the U.S. presidential election -- and especially after Iran's presidential election next year.
Over the past half decade, Tehran has demonstrated an almost existential commitment to the nuclear program, but the sanctions-induced pain is squeezing Iran's economy ever tighter, and that could make Iran more flexible. In turn, it's now very important for Western negotiating partners to offer a diplomatic proposal that allows Iran's government to save face before its people.
The Iranian government will never negotiate away its domestic legitimacy, but there might be room for a crucial compromise on the nuclear issue. Without such a breakthrough and relief from tightening sanctions, the Iranian regime has a bleak future -- and the country's leaders know it.
Cliff Kupchan is director of Eurasia Group’s Eurasia practice.
ALI AL-SAADI/AFP/Getty Images)
By Stephen Majors
The global community is focused on the EU's efforts to implement the fiscal union that its currency union now demands, but ambitious eurocrats are quietly pursuing an even more fundamental change for the bloc: a truly common foreign and security policy. This lofty dream remains an unlikely prospect, but the painstaking process of European institution-building in response to the ongoing debt crisis is chipping away at obstacles that may once have been immovable.
Brussels' efforts to implement the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and the Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) are closely tied to the far more high-profile efforts to achieve fiscal and banking union. The fiscal union that few considered possible just a few short years ago now appears to be the only way to save the euro, though it may takes years to emerge. The relinquishing of sovereignty this will require from member states provides the potential foundation for a collective security policy.
The global political and economic environment is also helping encourage consideration of a common foreign policy. European countries are on the verge of becoming security-takers instead of security-makers. European officials -- perhaps surprised by former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates' candor when he said European states were not pulling their weight in NATO -- concede the facts. In part, the issue is driven by economic stagnation. European countries had started to reduce defense spending even before the debt crisis, which has simply compounded the economic challenge. And the trend is expected to continue. By 2050, according to a projection from HSBC economists, Europe will only have five economies in the top 20, compared to eight today, illustrating the decline in the prominence of individual European countries. Collective security would be a logical way to address those concerns, if (and it's a big if) the political issues can be resolved. The EU could be a force to be reckoned with; it has more than 500 million people (far larger than the U.S., but smaller than China or India).
The evolving geopolitical environment provides another impetus for collective European security. The US is reorienting its security approach with its pivot to Asia in response to China's rise, and Europe feels less secure and less favored by the U.S. The Balkans crisis of the 1990s set in motion the move toward a collective foreign policy and Europe's leaders do not want to again find themselves unable to respond to vital security needs. The debate in Europe now revolves around whether EU member states will rally around the CSDP, or whether NATO will retain its primacy in the continent's security affairs. It is difficult to imagine how NATO could co-exist alongside a strong collective EU security body, should it come to fruition. But as Gates' comments illustrated, NATO is already fraying.
The EU is in the process of centralizing its foreign policy, albeit with a focus on soft power that avoids the thorniest concerns over sovereignty. The EU's External Action Service (the EU equivalent to the US State Department) already maintains delegations in 130 countries. The CFSP currently runs more than 20 missions abroad ranging from an anti-piracy mission in the Horn of Africa (Operation Atalanta) to the training of police forces (EUPOL) in Afghanistan. Catherine Ashton, the EU's high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, has an important role in many international negotiations, from Syria to the nuclear talks with Iran. The EU has also levied sanctions against Iran for its nuclear program, and is considering whether to go further with additional penalties. But many member states maintain their own missions in parallel to the EU, and turf wars abound. And of course, sending European troops into combat under a European flag is many, many years away.
Beyond the external forces that support the logic of the CSDP, internal politics within the EU also present some advantages. Germany, as the continent's economic power, has only been willing to disburse funds in favor of struggling EU economies after those states agree to cede sovereignty on economic issues, which has driven institution-building on the European level. And given its unique history in Europe, Germany itself is willing to cede sovereignty on security issues-in fact, it is only willing to project power abroad in the context of collective EU decision-making. France and the UK, conversely, would be most opposed to foreign policy integration. Notably, though, these two European powers have already begun cooperating with each other on military matters.
A truly unified European security policy is perhaps the grandest political experiment of them all. But it is a measure of Europe's evolution over the last couple of years that what once appeared to be a utopian EU dream now sounds almost feasible.
Stephen Majors is an editor with Eurasia Group. He recently completed the European Union Visitors Program fellowship in Brussels.
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By Aditya Bhattacharji, Daniil Davydoff, and Scott Rosenstein
Attacks on U.S. interests in the Middle East are not the only security threats to have emerged from the region in recent weeks. In epidemiological circles, concern has been mounting over the discovery of a novel coronavirus in Saudi Arabia, just as Muslims from all over the world begin the annual hajj pilgrimage to Mecca at the end of October.
In the coming weeks, much-needed surveillance and scientific analysis will likely yield important details regarding this virus's threat to human health. But healthcare system shortfalls in some of the countries that dispatch the most pilgrims present obstacles to disease monitoring. And regardless of the microbe's eventual health, economic, and political impact, these deficits are a vivid reminder of institutional challenges to global disease prevention and control.
Little is known about the novel pathogen, but it does belong to the same family as the virus behind the 2003 SARS outbreak, a previously unknown microbe that killed nearly 800 people and sickened more than 8,000. SARS revealed the political and economic risks attendant to emerging infectious diseases. But attention to these dangers has increased considerably since SARS, and this novel virus has thus far been confirmed in only two patients, one of whom is under intensive care at a hospital in London.
Whether it's a heretofore unknown virus, polio, or a host of other pathogens, the upcoming Hajj presents significant public health risks. The annual event attracts millions of pilgrims every year and is therefore an "ideal environment for spreading infectious diseases," according to the U.S. CDC. Although the Saudi government has mandated several vaccinations and dedicated considerable resources to lower infectious disease risks, its personnel cannot track pilgrims once they have left the country. And while the WHO has already issued basic case definitions for identifying infected patients, healthcare system deficiencies abroad could allow potential cases to slip through the cracks and go underreported.
Home to roughly 200 million Muslims, Indonesia is sending the world's largest contingent of hajj pilgrims (approximately 200,000). At home, the vast majority relies upon a decentralized healthcare system that suffers from poor information sharing and one of the most inadequately staffed healthcare workforces of any ASEAN nation. Those with means increasingly seek medical treatment abroad. The trend has become pronounced enough for Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to implore the public, in August 2012, to utilize domestic medical facilities, despite having availed of foreign medical care himself. Indonesia is ill-equipped to track diseases over a territory that spans 17,500 islands even under normal circumstances. There's been speculation that an individual returning home from the Hajj was responsible for the reintroduction of polio into Indonesia in 2004 (via a strain of the disease traceable back to northern Nigeria).
As the second-largest Muslim majority country, Pakistan's quota for pilgrims is more than 179,000, though only about 95,000 Pakistani Muslims plan to take part in the hajj. Even so, recent developments in the country's healthcare sector could impede epidemiological surveillance of returning pilgrims. In 2011, Pakistan devolved its health ministry, relegating previously centralized functions to a variety of provincial and federal-level institutions. Responsibilities for disease surveillance are now fragmented between multiple government agencies and power struggles are reportedly common. While Pakistan may eventually develop a more cohesive public health system, the current state of surveillance is worrisome in the run-up to the hajj.
Some smaller contributors of pilgrims, such as Syria, may also be ill-prepared to catch cases of infection. Current unrest in that country, which has produced considerable strain on the healthcare system, could severely slow down the detection of unusual disease symptoms.
Should pilgrims come home with an infection acquired during the pilgrimage, there may be little to stop the disease from going undetected and infecting others. Whether the newly discovered coronavirus turns into a significant public health threat or not, its emergence reveals the danger that exists when health services are compromised, but the evolution and spread of disease are not.
Scott Rosenstein is director and Aditya Bhattacharji and Daniil Davydoff are analysts in Eurasia Group's Global Health practice.
KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images
By Shaun Levine
Joko Widodo's win in the September 21 Jakarta mayoral election was a momentous step forward for the forces of reform in Indonesia's increasingly stagnant political scene. The luster will soon wear off, however, unless Widodo can translate his victory into fixing the mess he has inherited: failing infrastructure, immovable traffic, water supply issues, and a rebellious regional government, just to name a few. If his time as mayor of the small town of Solo is any indication, Widodo may be up to the challenge. Widodo improved Solo's transportation networks and governance, and reduced the level of corruption endemic in Indonesian politics. However, in order to effect change in the big city of Jakarta, where he is now a de-facto national leader, Widodo will need to roll up the sleeves of his signature checkered shirts.
Widodo's victory could be an important turning point for Indonesia. The early head-first rush into democracy and reformism in 1998 has given way to the patronage politics so common during the days of Suharto. Bureaucratic reforms, the fight against corruption, and attempts to improve governance have largely come to a standstill -- which largely benefits the remnants of Suharto's New Order regime that cling to power and look set to compete with one another in the 2014 presidential election. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's ten-year mandate is coming to an end, with the early promise of reform having been snuffed out by reactionary forces. Even with the backing of more than 60 percent of voters, change and reform have not been easy for Indonesia's first directly elected president.
Going forward, Indonesian voters will have to choose between elevating new reformers such as Widodo, who himself may become a presidential candidate in 2014, and the crop of leaders from the New Order who see 2014 as a must-win election; most may be too old to compete in 2019.
For these leaders, Widodo's win -- which appeared unlikely at the start of the campaign in the early summer -- should be seen as a wakeup call. The proven tactic of pandering to voters, and in some cases buying their votes, may not be the panacea it was in the past. Neither will efforts to translate a growing sense of confidence in Indonesia's future, based on its international standing and strong economic growth, into economic nationalism. Voters are well aware that the reform movement has largely stalled, and that current leaders want to chip away at democracy so that regional governors like Widodo are appointed and not elected.
But the real impetus is on Widodo and his like-minded counterparts, who have overcome the hurdle of reaching office but will now face the bureaucratic challenges, and temptations, of the reformers that came before them. Promises made on the campaign trail mean nothing when gridlock and animosity seek to undermine reform; compromise is a hallmark of democracy, but not when it benefits the few to the disadvantage of the many.
Against all odds, Widodo was able to show that honesty and a proven track record of reform could overcome overwhelming challenges in campaign financing and political party support. The win also demonstrates that Indonesian politics, which is mired in patronage and money, doesn't have to remain so. This is a democracy that will have its fits and starts, but will more than likely rise up to become a leader in the global community commensurate with its population and wealth.
The presidential election in 2014 is likely to be the last for the Suharto-era leaders, many of whom have witnessed Widodo's victory with envy and some of whom have even benefited from supporting his campaign. The chances of a dark-horse candidate such as Widodo winning in 2014 are still slim. But voters' choice in the Jakarta mayoral election has moved Indonesia a step closer to realizing its much-heralded democratic and economic potential.
Shaun Levine is an analyst in Eurasia Group's Asia practice.
By David Sloan, Anjalika Bardalai, and Sasha Riser-Kositsky
India's low-key Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has revealed unexpected backbone, but his renewed vigor may come too late to for India to avoid a ratings downgrade or save his unpopular government. After years of limited and haphazard progress on structural changes to the economy, the prime minister, in conjunction with the new Minister of Finance P. Chidambaram, has successfully leveraged the looming threat of a sovereign downgrade to reassume control -- at least for now -- over India's economic policy-making. At the pair's urging, India's Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on September 14 approved 51 percent FDI in multi-brand retail, allowed foreign airlines to buy 49 percent stakes in Indian carriers, and raised the FDI cap in broadcasting services from 49 percent to 75 percent. Those long-awaited announcements came just one day after a cabinet committee also approved an unexpectedly large price increase for diesel.
The decision prompted a quick revolt by the second-largest party in the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) coalition. Mamata Banerjee, the firebrand leader of the West Bengal-based Trinamool Congress (TMC), announced on September 18 that the TMC was withdrawing from the government after Singh ignored her demands to roll back both the diesel price hike and FDI liberalization.
But the TMC's departure will not stop those measures from going ahead. The TMC's move leaves the UPA even further from a simple majority in the Lok Sabha, but the government says it still has enough support from other regional parties to survive any possible confidence vote, at least in the near-term. The UPA's ability to maintain the outside support of a number of regional parties -- especially the Samajwadi Party (SP), which holds power in India's largest state, Uttar Pradesh, and has 22 members of parliament in the Lok Sabha -- is crucial to the coalition's future. Although the SP has previously turned down ministerial positions and is likely to do so again in the now-inevitable cabinet shuffle, New Delhi will offer the state government significant financial incentives as an inducement. Still, the SP, along with the TMC a huge winner in recent state elections, expects that early national polls would significantly expand its parliamentary representation.
As such, while the government is likely to survive for now, the TMC's exit underscores the fragility of the Congress-led UPA coalition and increases the chances for early national elections. If the SP and the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party can resolve their internal leadership squabbles, they might support any TMC initiative to force early national elections. Otherwise, the UPA government is likely to limp along until the end of its five year term in mid-2014.
Despite the political firestorm, the government is unwilling to risk the reputational damage of backtracking again on FDI liberalization, as it did last December after initially approving FDI in multi-brand retail. But the prospects for further reforms have diminished as a result of the political turmoil. Any liberalization of FDI rules in pensions and insurance that would require legislative action is out of consideration, while implementation of the Direct Taxes Code and the Goods and Services Tax, which would require a constitutional amendment, is extremely unlikely. And while the government will move ahead with fiscal consolidation later this month, the window for new and deeper changes closes as national elections approach. Following the election, the prospects for reform are even bleaker as an even more divided, dysfunctional coalition government is likely to assume power.
David Sloan is head of Eurasia Group's Asia practice, Anjalika Bardalai is an analyst in the Asia practice, and Sasha Riser-Kositsky is a researcher in the Asia practice.
By Famke Krumbmüller
The results of the closely watched Dutch elections are broadly positive, signaling a shift toward centrist policies, and making it unlikely that the new government will throw up roadblocks to management of the ongoing eurozone crisis. Pre-vote concerns that a government led by the Socialist Party (SP) could have weakened the Netherlands' support of the conservative northern camp led by Germany are now moot.
The People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD -- also known as the liberals) secured a strong plurality in the lower house with 41 seats, up 10 from the previous parliament and the largest number of seats the party has ever controlled. The Labor party (PVDA) took second place with 39 seats (up nine). The Socialists (SP) remained steady at 15 seats, but most other parties saw their seat tallies decline sharply. The far right Party for Freedom (PVV) headed by the flamboyant Geert Wilder lost nine seats, down to 15, the centrist Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) lost eight seats for a total of 13, and the Green Left took three seats (down seven). The centrist Democrats 66 (D66) boosted their total by two, taking 12 seats in the new parliament.
The results likely make formation of a new government easier than had been anticipated. The expectation prior to the vote had been that one of the three major parties (VVD, SP, or the PVDA) would negotiate support from centrist parties to stitch together a working majority. Mark Rutte's VVD is likely to again form the basis of a coalition, but it will have to work with the PVDA in order to govern. But the VVD may add one or two other smaller parties in an effort to make legislative approval in the senate easier. A VVD-PVDA coalition would control 80 of 150 seats in the lower house, but only 30 of 75 seats in the senate. The CDA and D66 are the probable candidates, with the CDA somewhat more likely given that its 11 upper house seats would secure a comfortable majority in the senate. But the CDA's reduced vote tally has eroded its negotiating leverage and one option is that a VVD-PVDA coalition negotiates CDA support in the senate only, rather than formally bringing it into the government. That scenario -- with only two parties in the coalition -- would make policymaking simpler, though a third party may reduce tensions between Labor and the Liberals.
The key signpost for future policy trends will be the cabinet formation process. Both Rutte (VVD) and Diederik Samsom (PVDA) know they need to form a stable government as quickly as possible, but the two parties must also work through a potentially acrimonious policy agreement process. In the end, future policy is likely to be somewhat more balanced between the left and right than it currently is and the next government could have the political wherewithal to approve needed and painful domestic healthcare and housing reforms. Nonetheless, with Rutte in line to return as prime minister, a high degree of continuity is likely. A long government formation process (which is common in the Netherlands) could be a signal of tensions though, and the agreement will signal how stable such coalition will be. Rutte's likely return as prime minister also signals that the coalition government will be pro-European and that it is likely to support ongoing fiscal rectitude, though the PVDA may push for some measures to stimulate growth.
Famke Krumbmüller is an associate with Eurasia Group's Europe practice.
By Michal Meidan and Carsten Nickel
There are many reasons why China's economy has begun to cool, but the dramatic slowdown within the European Union, China's largest trade partner, is among the most important. Fears for Europe's growth and stability weigh heavily in Beijing, and China's risk-averse leaders are willing to invest in Europe's recovery.
But Beijing won't risk throwing good money after bad with substantial bailouts for risky peripherals like Spain, Italy or Greece. That would play badly inside China, where public perception that government is bailing out wealthy Europeans during a slowdown at home wouldn't play well. Greek haircuts earlier this year left Chinese investors with huge losses, and to invest in the European Financial Stability Facility (Europe's current bailout fund) is to form closer ties with meddlesome bureaucrats in Brussels.
Instead, China is increasing its direct investment in Germany, still Europe's economic engine, and, by extension, in Berlin's ability to manage crises and restore the continent's growth. That's good news for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who sees the strategic importance of improving relations with the world's other leading manufacturing-dependent surplus economy. China has become Germany's third-largest export market behind France and the United States, and with demand among Germany's neighbors unlikely to increase anytime soon, German manufacturers will grow increasingly dependent on China and its markets.
Economic ties between China and Germany began to tighten following the onset of the financial crisis in 2008 as demand generated by the Chinese stimulus plan became an important source of Germany's recovery. Closer ties with German automakers and producers of renewable energy help Chinese firms develop new technologies and climb the value chain.
is a downside for Germany. Expanded commercial ties will force Merkel's
government to contend with domestic concerns that China's labor practices fall
far short of acceptable standards and that German companies doing new business
in China will have their intellectual property stolen. But Chinese purchases of
German Bunds will help Merkel ease domestic fears that German support for
Eurozone weaklings will sap the country's strength. That's why Merkel's once
vocal criticism of China's human rights record has all but disappeared -- and why Berlin,
unlike European institutions in Brussels, has yet to demand equal access to Chinese
That's crucial for China. Beijing will continue to pay lip service to its ties with EU institutions, but growing ties between Beijing and Berlin will complicate Brussels' efforts to develop a common foreign and trade policy toward China, increasing Beijing's bargaining power with individual European partners.
Today, when China's leaders look toward Europe's core, they see a weakened France, a marginalized Britain, and a rising Germany. By betting on Berlin, China is hoping that Germany will use its increasingly decisive role in EU decision-making to provide China with market economy status, and the commercial advantages that come with it, and even to help lift Europe's arms embargo on Beijing. For its part, Germany is hoping ties with China can boost growth at a moment when it's badly needed.
For the moment, it's an increasingly profitable partnership.
Michal Meidan is an analyst in Eurasia Group's Asia practice. Carsten Nickel is an analyst in the firm's Europe practice.
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By Mujtaba Rahman and Willis Sparks
It's not easy to unseat an incumbent U.S. president. In 80 years, only Ronald Reagan (1980) and Bill Clinton (1992) have done it, and while it's too soon to say how close the current race will be, it's clear that Republican challenger Mitt Romney lacks the ease, warmth, and charisma of these two remarkable political talents. Mitt Romney needs a boost.
Given that U.S. economic data points to a recovery that doesn't appear on the verge of either a surge or a sharp reversal, the most obvious risk for the Obama campaign is a substantial market meltdown in Europe in September or October, one that sends Wall Street into a tailspin and generates consumer and investor fears that the U.S. economy is again headed in the wrong direction. Though Europe's markets may well endure a rough ride this fall, a substantial meltdown is unlikely. But given the likely timing, it's a risk that both candidates are thinking about.
For now, President Obama is winning. Despite historically high unemployment and continued consumer anxiety over the state and direction of the U.S. economy, current polling in the states likeliest to decide the election gives President Obama several credible paths to victory. Judging by their spending habits, the two campaigns and their allies believe the race will be decided in Ohio, Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Colorado, Nevada, Iowa, New Hampshire, and perhaps Wisconsin. Romney will have to win six or seven of these nine states to earn the 270 electoral votes needed to win, and only in North Carolina does he enter the fall with a clear lead.
Given the country's intense current partisanship, party faithful on both sides are likely to vote in large numbers this November, and the outcome of a close election will depend on the choices of genuinely independent voters, a group that represents about 10 percent of those likely to cast ballots. This is, by definition, the least ideological segment of the U.S. electorate, and these voters are most likely to vote based on perception of the president's competence and on confidence in his leadership rather than on fidelity to a defined set of social and political values. That is why, though he remains the favorite, President Obama remains vulnerable to external events over which he has little direct influence.
Which brings us to Europe. The autumn to-do list facing Eurozone leaders is daunting. They must agree on another broadly unpopular bailout for Greece, manage volatility in Spain and Italy, and create a credible new Eurozone-wide bank supervisor to make future crises both less likely and less costly to manage when they occur. They must also agree on a concrete and detailed plan to address the Eurozone's original design flaws, and they must do all this with jittery investors watching their every move.
Why is the fall likely to be an especially volatile time? Greece will return to center stage in September, given the additional financing needs that have been created by poor growth, a bureaucracy slow to implement promised reforms, and the possible extension of fiscal targets. Creditor countries are not eager to help, and they may demand that Greece's government enact reforms before help is provided, leaving Greek officials caught between an increasingly angry public and the expectations of those who can help. In the meanwhile, warnings from creditors -- designed to keep pressure on Greek officials -- will keep markets on edge. Also in September, we can expect a ruling from Germany's constitutional court on whether the Eurozone's proposed bail-out fund-the center piece of Eurozone leaders' response to the crisis-is legal.
Then there is the trouble in Spain. Current yields on Spanish debt reflect market expectation that the European Central Bank (ECB) stands ready to backstop Spain. That's an overly optimistic assessment, because ECB President Mario Draghi has detailed the pre-conditions for the bank's help, and those conditions have not yet been met. To satisfy Draghi's requests, the Spanish government must first make use of sovereign-backed bailout mechanisms in conjunction with a reform program. But unless and until market pressures force him to, Spanish Premier Mariano Rajoy is unlikely to ask for help, increasing the risk of market turmoil.
Also this fall, the European Commission is due to propose plans for a single pan-Eurozone supervisor, part of a deal agreed by Germany in June that will pave the way for direct recapitalization of Spanish banks instead of an indirect path through Spain's government. But many controversial issues remain, not least the separation of national from EU-wide supervisory powers and a decision on whether all Eurozone banks will be covered or whether some countries, especially France and Germany, can negotiate exemptions. Without this measure of reassurance, lenders may again drive rates dangerously high.
Even if agreements on all these issues are reached with a minimum of friction, there is no guarantee that the creation of a supervisor will be enough to shore up vulnerable banks, provoking new anxieties and more market pressure on the bloc's weaker economies.
Will all these potential problems generate enough fear in September and October to send European, and then U.S. markets, reeling? Probably not. But the risk is real, and the timing is ominous. You can be sure that the Obama and Romney campaigns will be watching closely.
Mujtaba Rahman is an analyst in Eurasia Group's Europe practice. Willis Sparks is an analyst in the firm's Global Macro and United States practices.
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The Call, from Ian Bremmer, uses cutting-edge political science to predict the political future -- and how it will shape the global economy.