Iranians have been dealing with an ever-increasing devaluation of the rial since the beginning of the present Iranian calendar (March 21, 2017) but the major and unexpected depreciation occurred almost a month ago, in mid-February, when is supposed to be the biggest crackdown on foreign exchanges in six years.
At the time, U.S. dollar broke all records and jumped to almost 50,000 rials in Tehran’s currency exchange shops, while it used to be bought almost 37,500 rials earlier in past April, 38,000 rials in past September, 41,000 rials in past December and 43,000 rials in early January, 2018.
What has contributed to recent events?
Some critics discuss that since taking office in August 2013, Rouhani administration has tried to artificially keep the foreign exchange market at a level of stability in a bid to cover the inflationary impacts of rial devaluation, adding that the currency disturbances are due to a lack of clear monetary policy and mismanagement. The recent rial depreciation, as they further discuss, can be the result of government’s decision to benefit from the difference between the official and free market rates as a temporary solution to compensate for the wide budget deficit.
Some, in addition, blame Central Bank of Iran (CBI) for the volatility, since the state-run body has a full control over the free currency market and interferes with balance supply and demand as well as the prices by pumping dollar whenever it decides. The issue, in their view, is also justifiable via CBI’s short of funds to inject the needed hard currency to the market.
Besides, the recent decrease in banking interest rates made by CBI and the dominant stagnation in housing sector can also account for the forex market predicament. The two factors have increased Iranians’ demand for purchasing Bahar Azadi gold coins and hard currency as new investment options, for they believe via changing their cash money into dollar or gold, they can prevent devaluation of their assets.
Moreover, the impact of Iran’s current political tensions should not be neglected, they say. Trump is tightening its grip on Iran again, threatening it to re-impose sanctions lifted in 2015 and withdrawing from JCPOA (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action). There has been some news of a coordinated move by the U.S. and its Persian Gulf allies to up pressure on Iran by restricting its access to hard currencies. Iranians often obtain dollars via the United Arab Emirates, but implementation of new value added tax law in this country since the beginning of 2018 has practically locked the gateway of trade transactions between Iranian businessmen and their Emirati counterparts, which used to let the flow of dollar into Iranian market.
Major measures taken
To tackle one of the unprecedented slides in the value of the rial, which, if not curbed, would have a negative effect on attracting foreign investment and would end in inflationary consequences, the government took some major steps.
On February 14, Iranian police force and CBI initiated a joint operation to control the foreign exchange market when they detained almost 100 currency middlemen and frozen bank accounts reportedly worth 200 trillion rials ($5.3bn). The act could immediately pull down the dollar rate by 1,000 rials.
In late February, CBI issued permission for banks to issue rial bonds with an annual 20 percent interest rate and preselling of Bahar Azadi coin in the hope for absorbing some of the market liquidity. Furthermore, the central bank introduced hard currency bonds with a four percent to 4.5 percent return. In its other attempt to bolster rial, on February 28, CBI, who has always sought to switch to non-dollar based trade, clamped down on dollar trading and introduced new restrictions on it by blocking imports priced in the currency. Purchase orders by merchants which are based on U.S. currency are no longer allowed to go through import procedures in Iran’s customs offices since then. The decision, according to Iranian officials, is not expected to create major trouble for traders because the share of the greenback in Iran’s trade activities, as they say, is not high. The state-run body, moreover, has prepared a set of 19-sections policies as a blueprint to regulate the unsettlements of domestic monetary and foreign exchange markets, which is to be applied in near future.
Followingly, when currency prices cooled down a bit, CBI, which has always been seeking unification of the present dual forex regime in the market, issued permit for a limited number of currency exchange shops to sell foreign currency at official rate, less that the free market rate about 7,000 rials to 10,000 rials. The introduced exchange bureaus are allowed to sell up to $5,000 to customers who present their ID cards or passports and travel tickets.
Addressing the 57th annual general assembly of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) on March 4, the central bank’s Governor Valiolah Seif announced that implementation of the described policies since mid-February has successfully curbed the fluctuations of Iran’s foreign exchange market and has restored confidence back.
Blaming the forex market fluctuations on currency traders, speculations in the market and the U.S. which was trying to destabilize Iran’s economy, Seif vowed that CBI will be able to manage the market not only by the current yearend but also by the end of the next Iranian calendar year (ending March 20, 2019).
However, some do not agree with him.
Referring back to the applied expanding policies and reduction of banking interest rates in September 2017, CBI critics explain that via doing proper analysis of domestic monetary system and foreign exchange market, the government could have managed to control foreign currency rate, but mismanagement has left the harvest ruined.
As they underline, the inappropriate policies of CBI, mainly injecting dollar to the market at official rates, has pulled out dollar from the economic wheel of Iran to Iranians’ piggy banks and in the pockets of the dealers. They explain that the issued rial bonds or the preselling of Bahar Azadi Coin are temporary remedies, effect of which will be removed in the short-run. Consequently, the future of forex market will not be brighter than its present.
Addressing the prohibition of dollar-based purchase order, which seems to be a win for the Euro, some express worry that the extra layer of currency swapping involved may add to the cost of imports into Iran and push the prices higher in the country.
Offering dollar and other currencies at official rates in some specific currency exchange shops is another tranquilizer which has caused major problems. Long queues are formed at the door of official foreign exchange bureaus and people are asked to stay in them since the sunrise. Some quarrels happen in the queues, which make the police interfere. A lot of non-official currency exchange shops are semi-closed; they do not sell dollar at all but buy if there is any. An amalgamation of customers has been created; some are fake ones i.e. the middlemen who sell the purchased dollar at the official rate in the free market for making benefit, some customers are those who do not need foreign currency but just prefer to save them at home, and some are the Iranian travelers to foreign countries who face difficulties with finding hard currency. Foreign currency prices still experience fluctuations and even an increasing trend. Dealers and middlemen are still active although worried about the interference of the policemen. More importantly, the foreign currency price increase has already had its impact on inflation and the situation will predictably get aggravated.
Speaking on a televised program on Tuesday night, Seif admitted that dollar price should be matched with the reality of Iran’s economy. He criticized the opinion which accuses the government of controlling liquidity in an effort to reduce inflation, saying that despite the increase in liquidity, inflation is controlled and even decreased.
The central bank governor also discussed that the CBI act to reduce interest rates was an effort to convert short-term accounts into the long-term ones and to control inflation.
He underlined that the government’s monetary policies are not longstanding but flexible ones which can be changed in different conditions.
In fact, what is happening at the market does not entirely match with what is expected by the government to occur. Foreign currency rates are experiencing unsteadiness and the future seems murky but officials believe they have a good handle on the market.
Some economists suggest the CBI permit the rial to be devalued so that the economy can find a new balance, although the decision will be at the worth of another round of rampant inflation.
First published in our partner Tehran Times
Inflation and Economic Crisis in Pakistan
Cooperation on International level to protect economy and financial markets is a good development, but in our country with sealed borders amid the killer virus fatalities, economy and financial market is in deep crisis. Prime Minister and his team are taking different measures ranging from domestic to international level, to win the war against the COVID-19 disease, but the fear and consternation forced investors to confine themselves to a limited investment in government and private sectors. Recently, government declared a state of emergency which again left adverse impacts on supply chain and flow of goods. Due to emergency, most companies and businesses are operating from home, but they are in deep financial crisis. All the Businesses across the country are badly affected including travel Industry. While crisis deepen, investors choose different way to save their investment.
The development of society depends on its needs. For this, there are some rules and regulations in every society that inculcate citizens to follow these rules and the way a country developed. From the borders of the country to the point of view, every person is tied to the chain of economics. The chains of this chain are so deep that every moment from the universe to the bedside they are interconnected. Every need of the world is related to money and the value of money depends on export and financial market’s fluctuation. For example, the value of dollar is converted into many rupees in Asia shows that where the currency stands against the dollar.
The source of inflation on a daily basis and the source of human identity, determines quality of life. The maturity of the foundation is seen revolving around the economic activities of individuals. There are many important points to influence individual forces and social decisions. But there are problems in the destinations when they are difficult to travel. Such destinations are always full of thorns. The jatts of the destination make the paths easy or difficult. It is possible for any community or regional head to rise only when its economic action is spoken of social values.
If the principles are made, Europe has adopted social and economic principles to further its agenda, and even we can say that they are following the streak what Islam suggested. If our state is talking about madina state, then it can be learned as a matter of fact, then the social patches can be straightforward, but the actions were considered to be very straightforward. It is known to be done. The life of the world is always a matter of humility, politicians are one of his inventions, and human being is not only a human being, but also the principle of compassion is also learned. The principle of humility is also one of those who make humans humble with humans. The principles of a human being become the destiny of an area.
The last several years of Pakistan’s economy were regarded as highly inflationary periods due to its political instability. Inflation has been the major obstacles in the way of development since years. The inflation adversely affected the country economic growth and financial sector development. Since the last six months, Pakistan received $8 billion in grants and loans from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and China, but cannot be termed as the whole panacea for its financial and economic diseases. We need more help and more progress to stabilise our economy. International fuel prices have also cause inflation. The inflation hike is mainly due to the increasing prices of fuel and food, according to a PBS statement. The country GDP growth would remain close to 2.5% because of slowdown specifically in large scale manufacturing and agriculture sectors. According to macrotrends, the year 2018 average the inflation was 5.8%, which was quite low this year. If the average inflation of the budget 2016-17 was 4.1%, then the average inflation rate of 2017-18 was 2.9%. The rate of the year was 7.0%. According to the 2018- year of March 2019, inflation is 9.4% at the record level. According to the Pakistan bureau of statistics, the measurement of mingi is distributed to groups. In this group, cpi (consumer price index) includes nfne non-food and non-energy items. Oil, petrol, diesel, CNG, electricity and natural gas Inclusive. Their rates were recorded at 5.6% in July 2017-18 and 7.6% in 2018-19.But in the year 2017-18, the average rate was recorded 5.6% and the average rate of 2018-19 was 8.1% extra. After that, the effects of inflation were seen by dividing people into five groups in terms of income.
The first group was 8000-12000, which was 2.7% in 2017-18 and 4.9% in the year 2018-19. The second group is 8000-12000, which is 3.0% in the year 2018-19 in the year 2017-18. The third group was 12000-18000, which faced 3.1% in the year 2017-18 and 5.5% in the year 2018-19. What is the salary group? The fourth group is considered as a salary class, it has experienced an average rate of inflation in the year 2017-18 at 3.3% and 6.6% in the year 2018-19. In the end, more than 35,000 people included in the year 2017-18, who did not tolerate the rate of inflation from 4.4% in the year 2018-19 and 8.4% in the year 2018-19.
If the annual average is taken out, 3.8% in the year 2017-18 and 7.0% in 2018-19. After that, if the wpi (wholesale price index) wholesale goods are spoken, the agricultural forestry and fish industry 7.4% in ores and minerals 14.31%, the clothing industry 13.79%, leather 33.07%, metal machinery 6.70%, and 21.15% in the transport goods were increased. The record was behind the inflation, the imf went to the previous government or the current government’s wrong policies. In the past sixty years, 6000 billion Pakistani rupees were one million twenty thousand, but in these two bells, one million sixty Thousands will be born. The current government has raised 11 thousand billion loans in different deal forms.
Every day in 2013, the PPP has taken 5 billion rupees every day, 2018 Muslim league-nawaz has spent 25 billion rupees every day. The poor people of Pakistan are considered to be the winners. From the people of the country, the thinking of government houses starts from home and ends in the end of the house. Because the nation in which the forgiveness of the dead is the prayer of the mpa of the area If you do not know what you’re looking for, then you will be able to get rid of it. If you do not know what you’re looking for, then you will be able to get rid of it. If you do not know what you’re looking for, then you will be able to get rid of it. The swords of doubts hang. Recognize the inner… economic and social values will be the dust of your feet…
COVID-19 cruelly highlights inequalities and threatens to deepen them
In many countries, income inequality has risen steeply since the 1980s, with adverse social and economic consequences. The COVID-19 pandemic now cruelly highlights those inequalities – from catching the virus, to staying alive, to coping with its dramatic economic consequences.
Some groups, such as migrant workers and workers in the informal economy, are particularly affected by the economic consequences of the virus. And women, who are over-represented in the public health sector, are particularly exposed.
High levels of poverty, informality and unprotected jobs also make it more difficult to contain the virus.
Policy responses must ensure that support reaches the workers and enterprises who need it most, including low-wage workers, small and medium enterprises, the self-employed and the many other vulnerable people.
Everyone is at risk
While some workers can reduce their exposure to the risk of contagion by teleworking from home, or benefitting from preventive measures, many cannot because of pre-existing inequalities.
Across the world, 2 billion workers (61.2 per cent of the world’s employed population) are in informal employment. They are more likely to face higher exposure to health and safety risks without appropriate protection, such as masks or hand disinfectants. Many also live in cramped housing, sometimes without running water.
This not only exposes these workers to health risks, it also makes preventive measures for the wider population less effective.
Getting sick means becoming even poorer
Inequalities also play out cruelly in what happens to people when they catch the virus.
For some it means going on sick leave, accessing health services and continuing to receive a salary.
But for those at the bottom of the income chain it’s a catastrophic scenario. Many are not covered by health insurance and face a higher risk of mortality. They may not even have access to health services.
Even if they ultimately recover, the absence of income replacement benefits means that they can become even poorer. Every year, an estimated 100 million people fall into poverty as a result of catastrophic health expenses.
The “work or lose your income” dilemma
Governments and central banks have adopted large-scale measures to save jobs and enterprises, and provide workers with income support.
Unfortunately, not all workers or enterprises benefit from these measures.
For informal economy workers, reduced hours, due to the pandemic, means loss of income with no possibility of receiving unemployment benefits.
Informal micro and small enterprises that constitute 80 per cent of enterprises worldwide are generally out of reach of public policies.
Part-time workers, many of who are women, temporary workers, or workers under short-term contracts and in the digital gig economy are frequently not eligible for unemployment benefit or income support.
Many of them face the same “work or lose your income” dilemma as informal economy workers. To pay their food and other basic expenses they often continue to work until forced to stop by measures to limit contagion by the virus. This compounds the economic insecurity they already face.
We need equitable and inclusive policy responses
In adopting short-term responses to the crisis, urgent attention should be devoted to protecting low-income households.
This means income support measures broad enough to cover the most vulnerable workers and the enterprises that employ them.
Italy for example extended income support (80 per cent of the gross salary) to workers in enterprises with financial difficulties, to all economic sectors and to enterprises with less than 15 employees, which are normally not eligible. Lump-sum income compensation is also provided to the self-employed and external collaborators.
Spain is providing income support for the self-employed, members of cooperatives and workers whose employment has been temporarily suspended, even if they would not have normally received unemployment benefits.
In developing countries, informality and limited fiscal space add to the difficulties. However, income support could be extended through non-contributory social security schemes or existing cash transfer programs. Support could also be offered temporarily to informal enterprises.
In 2019 – the last year for which we have complete statistics – all classes of financial investment had a total increase of 23 trillion US dollars, particularly Stock Exchange securities and public debt instruments. The global value of Stock Exchange securities alone grew by 17 trillion US dollars, from 67,000 to 84,000 US dollars, while, finally, the global value of bonds alone grew by 6 trillion US dollars.
A very weak house of cards. In fact, two events alone, such as the closure of the Straits of Hormuz, or a new “democratization” in the Middle East, would be enough to trigger an inflation led by oil or other raw materials cost, which would bring the whole great house of cards of public and private debt down.
A “short-term life”, an “altered stage” of finance that currently – with fintech and derivatives, born with Clinton’s banking reform – can afford not to consider the financial flows data, but only a manipulated calculation of probabilities, against which, however, you can insure yourself.
The entire Eurozone, which believes to be smarter than the others, lives on trade surpluses – often huge as in Germany – but also with a mix of low domestic wages and booming foreign trade, which makes the EU economies extremely vulnerable to asymmetric attacks from some non-EU expanding countries – not to mention the USA and China, which will tolerate for a short time yet this difference in level, which harms them significantly.
The European Target 2, the interbank payment system that no longer allows to resort to foreign currency reserves to offset banks’ liquidity deficits, has now a full balance of over 1 trillion euros, of which 800 billion euros are German flows only, which therefore live on purchases by the Euro area.
Hence a system that amplifies the asymmetric shocks, which are inherent in a “rigid” currency and not lender of last resort as the euro, but which favours above all the holders of greater surpluses than the EU countries, which are currently less capable of achieving trade surpluses. Therefore, for Italy, beating the surplus within the Eurozone is a primary goal of economic and financial warfare. It can be done.
Certainly Keynes’ old and still valid idea – launched at the Bretton Woods Conference – to find a single currency and also an account currency, namely bancor, which would revalue the currency of the country recording a surplus and devalue the country recording an excessive deficit, was defeated by the USA, the winning country, which had also financed Great Britain – that paid its debt to the USA until 1973 – but which wanted above all to internationalize the dollar, so that it could have a “high” value despite its structural trade deficit.
Therefore, this enables the EU countries which record higher balance of payments surpluses to purchase bonds – for example, Italian ones – while the further reduction in value of the Greek, Spanish and Portuguese bonds is maintained by favouring one or the other markets of government bonds and securities. Currently the shopping of public debt instruments is a primary method of economic warfare.
In this very weakened framework, the huge Covid-19 pandemic broke out.
It is the seal – if ever there was a need – of a new war economics.
This means: a) initial planning of actions; b) predefined distribution of resources; c) hierarchy of goals; d) careful selection of public and private spending.
Furthermore, democratic Socialism, but also social Catholicism, were born from the experiments that the great capitalist economies carried out during the First World War, such as the Beveridge Plan – a continuation of war Socialism by other means – just to paraphrase Von Clausewitz’s well-known statement – but also the subsequent democratization of Germany following the end of the Third Reich, which led the winners to maintain the workers’ co-participation in the management of small and large companies.
When this health and human tragedy is over, we can think about a sort of new “Glorious Thirties”, as a French economist called the years from 1945 to 1975.
Nevertheless, we shall give up what the Maoist Red Guards called the “four old habits”, i.e. old ideas, old culture, old habits and old behaviours.
But obviously we shall do so within our eternal Western culture, which respects all the others and, often, enhances them.
Old ideas: balancing the budget as a goal in itself. Let us consider that currently the EU Member States’ Constitutions enshrine precisely the “balanced budget” principle. It is a laughing matter. What should be done if Vesuvius erupted? Could we leave the whole Campania region without aid? What about Smith’s invisible hand?
What if a new pandemic broke out? What should be done? Are we not aware of the fact that probably also the current financial criteria may be undermined, not only by people’s demands, but precisely in their intrinsic structure?
Old culture: what if we rethought all the finance and productive economy?
What if, for example, we rebuilt the internal market, without thinking – as it will never happen – that trade-induced capitalization will be such as to refinance the system? The mountains of money on which the global “billionaires” are sitting like Uncle Scrooge are not really cashable now, even if it seems so.
Hence we are building a “Monopoly” that looks like a real system, but it is not so any longer.
Old habits: what if we tried to control production so as to avoid – even manu military – companies’ delocalization abroad? What if we understood, for example, that a mechanic from the Piaggio company in Pontedera is not at all interchangeable with a poor Indian immigrant?
Surely they will never make the same Vespa scooter. Hence, what if we invested not in the quick planned obsolescence – possibly with much advertising rhetoric – but in items capable of being a non-monetary investment for buyers?
This is the theory of generalized wear – even in goods production – that Ezra Pound expressed in the 45th Canto of his most important work.
However, there are no industrial nations by vocation or mission.
Nevertheless, the shrinking of the Welfare State following the eventful advent of the so-called “Second Republic” in Italy has been based on the concept – which is very hard to prove scientifically – that the cost of market limitation is always greater than the cost of a restructuring crisis.
This has never been the case, not even on a simple accounting level.
Hence a war economics against the pandemic is needed to rebuild the old Welfare State with new formulas.
The war economics, as it was studied after the Second World War, is made of many things: the economic “war cycles”, which absorb the Schumpeterian creative destruction; the calculation of the national income; the estimate of real capital and its depreciation, not to mention the input-output tables.
There is an old study by the Naval War College, drafted by Jim Lacey in 2011, which tells how US economists probably determined the allies’ real victory in the war against the Axis powers.
In 1931, a British intelligence cell supervised the German industrial reconstruction, while in the 1930s and 1940s, the economic experts – not the poor ideologists of the current tout va bien – identified the industrial sectors which had to be selectively funded, as a priority, to secure the victory and the war efforts.
A cost-benefit analysis was made – not the ridiculous one that is currently so fashionable for infrastructure in Italy – but the one based on Leontief’s matrices.
Preference for strategic bombing, for example, as well as for precision weapons and for surgical actions on convoys.
The battle of materials theorized by Ernst Jünger was made by the Allies, not by the Third Reich.
Hence, in the current Covid-19 times, selective investment is needed in biological sciences and electronic infrastructure – all public investment, even if some private entities would have the possibility to invest in these fields – but also in technical and mass information, scientific training and all the new technologies.
The private sector may currently have the capital to invest, but it has not the heads for it while, in the medium or long-term, the public sector can afford a return on non-financial investment and, in any case, lower than the one that a private investor in the same sector would expect.
This is the reason why, based on my first-hand experience of that era, I can say it was silly to privatize IRI’s large product and business sectors.
This is also the reason why energy is still mostly public in Italy, precisely because the capitalists in the sector would have been forced to – or would have anyway preferred – a “shorter” timeframe for the return on capital.
As is the case with household appliances, cars and even computers. As often currently happens, they are homogeneous products, but selected by consumers on the basis of structurally non-efficient criteria such as colour, fashion, user-friendliness, advertising, etc.
The next industrial revolution will be much less advertising-based than the current one. The market is already rather updated and selective.
The Washington Consensus is also over. Disciplined fiscal policy is not necessary, as the most recent European history has shown us. Quite the reverse. “Fiscal moderation” does not produce capital and investment. Also the “public spending readjustment” does not produce the desired effects, because the average wages of those who remain at work are lowered and the positive interest rates do not always guarantee the investment expansion, but probably above all the unearned and unproductive income.
Furthermore, there is no free “market” of exchange rates, considering that it is guided by exquisitely political evaluations and that the privatization of public companies does not ensure greater quality of management. Quite the reverse. It entails a distribution of “donations and contributions” to the new political parties – as happened with the “Second Republic” in Italy. Finally, deregulation is not necessary given that it permits the exploitation of the lower labour costs, but does not automatically optimize the production formula.
With these economic and financial mechanisms, the wealth produced in the Glorious Thirties has been drained. However, much less wealth than expected has materialized.
The offensive weapons of war economics are still traditionally the same: limiting the financial flows in the enemy country; the embargo; the manoeuvres on the public debt (to cause the fiscal crisis of the State or its insolvency). Today it is a matter of overturning these rules, so as to identify those that capitalize on the Covid-19 epidemics and stop their adverse actions.
For Italy, the cost of this epidemics is now quite clear: if it ends next May, although it is unlikely, the cost for companies – generically calculated – will be approximately 300 billion euros.
If the epidemics lasts until next December, companies’ losses will be over 640 billion euros.
Obviously all this requires a war economics, both in terms of a planned strategy for investment and subsidies and in terms of the future reprogramming of Italy’s production system.
This system shall be targeted to take essential market shares away from the States that would currently like to benefit from our crisis, both to acquire our companies at low prices and to make the remaining Italian companies ancillary to their production formula.
This is the new war economics.
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