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The birth of the modern concept of economic war and Bernard Esambert’s thought

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Without my friend Bernard Esambert there would not certainly be the current concept of “economic warfare”.

 Having studied at the Ėcole Polytechnicque, he is a natural heir to the best Colbertian, Saint-Simonian, positivist – and later Gaullist – tradition – which pervades the background and education of the modern and post-revolutionary French elites, with governments that pass and ruling classes that remain, as it must always be.

 It is no coincidence that, at the beginning of a book he wrote in 1971, Le Trosième Conflict Mondial, Esambert mentioned an old Saint-Simonian song, written by Rouget de Lisle, which glorified science and technology, as the new leaders of peoples after the so-called âge de l’obscurité. Rouget de Lisle, a French army officer, was the poet who wrote the words and music of La Marseillaise.

 Two facts that, symbolically, are certainly not by chance.

 After having been a mining engineer (and the engineering sector is traditionally a great area of recruitment for the intelligence Services and the French senior management) Esambert became a great commis d’Ėtat. Une vie d’influence, just to recall the title of one of his recent books, Une vie d’influence – dans les coulisses de la Ve République.

 Finally, Esambert became a point of reference for Georges Pompidou, who later called him to collaborate with him – as a man of influence – at the Presidency of the Republic.

 As Benedetto Croce – a too much forgotten philosopher – used to say, you can always and only implement “the possible liberalism”, well knowing that the real economy is made up of an agreement between private enterprise and State management, which is the one that always really counts.  

 It has always been and it will always be so. This is the first criterion for setting the scene of an economic warfare which – as Bernard Esambert himself noted for the first time – applies always and everywhere, and is never forgotten, unless severely defeated, even by the modern States that want to win a challenge that always lasts and has never one single face – a warfare, financial, technological, political, cultural and organizational one.

 The economic warfare worked well also in ancient Greece: the overpopulation in Athens; the need for commercial outlets in Central Asia; the expansion of Greeks to Southern Italy, where the Bruttians, after having taken their idols with them, hid in the mountains without ever seeing the sea again.

 The faces of economic warfare are always manifold and all of them always work. Whoever forgets some of them is always bound to lose.

 Certainly there are the current young and brilliant French analysts operating in the intelligence Services and the training sector, who belong to the Ėcole de Guerre Ėconomique (ĖGE) founded precisely by Esambert, based on an old idea developed by Christian Harbulot. There are also the new Italian initiatives in the academic world, all designed more to showing up and flattering the Heads of the intelligence Agencies, for whatever small favours – the usual and often imaginary “small powers” of the Italian academic world, always a bit stingy, after the long season of the roadshow organized by the Intelligence Department (DIS), at the time of the Interior Minister, Marco Minniti, as “Authority responsible for the Intelligence Services”, from 2013 to the end of Renzi’s Government.

 In this regard, we should also recall Ambassador Giampiero Massolo, who was the first supporter of the Italian intelligence services’ roadshow in the Italian academic world – now very badly damaged – more to improve the Agencies’ image than to really seek new recruits for the intelligence Services, which have always well selected their people inside and outside the universities, without any need for chattering or showing off.

 Moreover, as we all know, the young people who were recruited by means of the website sicurezzanazionale.gov.it were quickly dismissed from the Agencies and now vegetate in other sectors of the Public Administration.

 It is not a matter of “young” and “old” people or of creating some fashionable opportunities for declining universities, but rather of ensuring that the whole Italian ruling class endeavours for a well-designed and, above all, stable economic warfare.

 As far as I know, for the time being there exists only one specific Master in Economic Intelligence in Italy, organized by the Institute of High Strategic and Political Studies (IASSP) in Milan. I have been told that also Harbulot participated in it.

But once again, this has nothing to do with the decades-long tradition of intelligence and economic ruling class in France, Great Britain and even the United States, not to mention also the small countries that walked out from the Warsaw Pact, with great intelligence and efforts.

 It was Esambert himself, already present in an old but already usual and obvious Davos Conference – a now well-known fashionable meeting of those who believe they are authoritative people but, indeed, are nothing – who told about the exit of the old General Jaruzelsky, the strong man of the Polish counter-coup to avoid the occupation by a weak Warsaw Pact, when the old Polish General, whose right-hand man was a NATO spy, openly said he wanted Western investment in Poland and was also ready to progressively liberalize the zloty, as well as finally accept the Western business rules and Western capital coming to Poland.

 Obviously subject to the control of the old-but-new-regime.

 Here is the real success of an excellent economic warfare – not the many small stories that the globalized rich people usually tell to their useless and always gauchistes children, since it is fashionable.

  Incidentally, it should be recalled that even Adam Smith, the inventor of “political economy” according to the basic rules of the British global interests of his time, was a free trade theorist in the markets where Great Britain had to settle, but supported the strictest protectionism, just when it came to closing the national or colonial British markets to the attack of the cheap goods of European competitors and, later, of the 13 colonies that were to become independent on the East Coast of North America.

 Here, once again, the problem is scarcity, which just today – as always said by Esambert – seems far away, at least from what Mao Zedong called “the world’s metropolises”.

 However, there is instead the natural and induced scarcity. Nowadays we live in induced scarcity, which does not need wars “for raw materials” –  as the German geopolitics of the 1930s theorized – but it is the induced scarcity of modern consumption, which needs technology, expert management and States capable of expanding strategically, as well as modern factories. Here it is the new and inevitable economic warfare.

 Either we win or lose, but always continuously. In contemporary economic warfare, there is no “declaration of peace”. Quite the reverse.

 This is the real core of the issue. If we can no longer build monopolies by managing scarcity – as always happened when modern capitalism was established, according to  Adam Smith – how can we today favour the national companies and the typical products of our region, if there are no longer real trade wars, such as the penetration of the East India Company in the Far East and in China, or the British oil trade closures in the Middle East, to take Kurdish oil in Haifa when Churchill, as First Lord of the Admiralty, turned the British military navigation from coal into oil navigation, or the operations of the Belgian royal family alone in Congo, or the French possessions in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia?

 The choice of Habib Bourghiba – Mussolini’s guest in Rome – to secretly deal with De Gaulle’s France Libre, when he realized that Rommel and his Afrika Korps were in disarray, can be considered a technique of economic and commercial warfare. He sold his Destour covert network, previously operating with the Axis, in exchange for independence, after the victory of the Western liberal democracies which Habib, indeed, did not like so much.

 Lacking a real effective and modern colonial experience, Italy still does not know how to export its productive potential, which is what really counts.

 From Giolitti’s to Mussolini’s time, Italy treated its colonies as simple ways out for the rural overpopulation, especially when the exit routes to the United States or South America were blocked.

 Italy made the only mistake it should not make.

 It even lost the Libyan oil, which was taken back only with the coup of Gaddafi, a creature of Italy’s intelligence Services.

 The Italian politicians currently in power support the idea of going abroad to transfer our potential for economic warfare either as door-to-door sellers of the all too famous Made in Italy – which, indeed, almost sells itself – or in search of external and distant areas where to make our agonizing small and medium-sized enterprises survive as long as possible, so as to squeeze every last drop of the labour cost differential.

 Either fashion, the brand – now in foreign hands – or begging to prolong the agony of some SMEs which are interesting for political, electoral and financial reasons.

 Two attitudes which are deeply wrong – precisely in substance. As Esambert used to say, every country goes to sell abroad certainly not to repeat the plot of the beautiful 1959 movie by Francesco Rosi, The Magliari, set – not by chance – in Germany, but to win and wipe out its competitors.

 This movie could teach much to the Italian politicians currently bleating for German “help”. They should watch it again and think about the behaviour of the two main characters -masterfully interpreted by Renato Salvatori and Alberto Sordi – who are defeated when trying to antagonize their Polish rivals, the previous “magliari”.

 You never go abroad to propose a factory or a business, but you always go – willingly or unwillingly – to propose a way of doing business, a success story, a lifestyle, a product that must therefore be ipso facto protected, supported, advertised – for which imitations must be stopped, on site and elsewhere, and for which it is necessary to create a stable dependence of the target country and a powerful image in the foreign market of reference.

 Nothing to do with the ramshackle, slow, inefficient, impolitic style – all aimed at simply making a deal, at striking a “bargain” – often characterizing our foreign policy, even in countries that Italy should tread very carefully and in which it should proceed with extreme caution.

 Foreign countries must be conquered with trade, exactly as they could be conquered with a real battled war, if this were possible today.

 In fact, every trade treaty is a peace treaty which, however, must clearly show the will of those who have won, i.e. – in Italy’s specific case – the productive system of those who have come from outside.

 Certainly, today even economic wars are no longer made – at least in principle – to support a market that can absorb our surplus.

 Marx’s old criterion of surplus value, which is certainly useful today as a way to analyse the evolution of modern capitalism.

 As Esambert always says, economic wars are made to create room – outside and inside the old national perimeter – for counteracting and fighting against everybody’s adverse actions – both friends and foes – in our productive system.

 Whoever loses faces – without time limits – the disasters of globalization (uncontrolled immigration, pollution, the classic combination of unemployment and inflation), while whoever wins offloads the problems on his global competitors.

  And again there is no time limit.

 When Spain was still under Franco’s regime, the State of Madrid created an instrument of economic warfare just with SEAT, in 1950, thanks to a small contribution of FIAT capital.

 Later in 1985, SEAT became part of the German group Wolkswagen Aktiengesellschaft – created on the basis of an old project by the Führer.

  The huge Catalan factory was inaugurated in Martorell by King Juan Carlos in 1993.

 FIAT left and VW came in powerfully, with no local or European competitors.

 Was it not an economic warfare operation? Of course it was.

 At that time, Italy was numbed with the Clean Hands judiciary probe and no one noticed that Germany was taking over Spain’s basic industries after the end of the Caudillo’s regime.

 This happened also in other parts of the world.

 Starting from the imprisonment and the related suicide of the old ENI President, Cagliari, until the never resolved issues of Gardini’s death, in the connection between the takeover of Montedison and the fanciful creation of Enimont, the whole Clean Hands judicial investigation was, however, an accelerated operation to sell off Italy’s primary industrial system, pending the fall of the Berlin Wall and the truly endogenous crisis of the Italian political system.

 There was, at first, the sale of primary assets, ranging from the motorway company Società Autostrade to the food holding  SME – of which I had a first-hand experience – and later the redesign of the system of bribes from companies to the political system, which began with ENI’s disruption following Cagliari’s imprisonment, until the creation of a new network of funding to a “new” political system, where all parties were renamed – according to a potentially two-party system – “progressive” and “conservative” or even “liberal”.

Was it not an economic warfare operation? Of course it was. Many large and small companies became attractive to large foreign investors that were favoured, while the Italian State-owned and private companies faded away, struck by the new moralists’ blows.

 What happened, at that time, in Mitterrand’s France or in the Great Britain led by Margaret Thatcher who, however, was ousted from Downing Street by a clique of Tories, involved in a large helicopter business affair?

 We can also recall Liu Tenan, the Chinese Head of the “Development Commission”, expelled from the CPC; Rouhani himself in Iran that saw the 1979 Revolution in danger because of corruption, or Ana Mato, the Health Minister who resigned because of the scandal that in 2014 sullied the reputation of the entire Partido Pupular in Spain –  not to mention the fact at least 2.3% of the world GDP fuels global corruption.

 Can we believe that all this came only from what had happened in Italy?

 Once again the usual moralistic parochialism sets in, a short-lived legacy of the snobbery of Italy’s old Action Party, whose liberal Socialism – taunted by Croce – led Italy to be a pale imitation of Great Britain, the eternal myth of all poor politicians and managers wearing grisaille suits.

 Hence the final formula: the mix of legal and non-legal, advertising, political, military, strategic and monetary protection and support for the local ruling classes, as well as the fair and rational relations with the target country, are called exactly “economic warfare”.

 There is no other way to make foreign policy and establish international relations, even non-economic ones. There is only and always economic warfare.

 Hence, after this explicit and direct phase of the inevitable economic clash for survival between nations, there is the phase in which “companies are used as armies and management and business schools are used as schools for officers”, and entrepreneurs and business leaders are seen as new generals. In fact Akira Kurosawa, the director of the movie Seven Samurai and a descendant from a Samurai family, wanted – in a later movie of 1980, Kagemusha (Shadow Warrior) – to describe Japanese business leaders as new Samurai.

 Every economic action is a “covert” act of war. Every act of war can also be turned into an economic action, which instead of being a cost – unsustainable in the long run – is a real bargain or can even become so.

 Economic warfare shifts the cost of operations onto the victim.

 Attractiveness and competitiveness are now complementary, while Italy is the 7th world exporter of goods, but it only ranks 18th in terms of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the territory.

 The current FDI is an instrument of external hegemony, not a system of national power or of projection of our economic and non-economic power onto the countries that receive our goods or that – in any case – should consume them, instead of our competitors’ products.

 The economic warfare also stems from the fact that all the great Western countries produce more or less the same goods.

 Nevertheless, in Italy 43% of the companies currently listed on the Stock Exchange are owned by foreign businesses. Obviously, there is no direct correlation between the quality of management of the various industries and their ownership. However, do you believe that if a French bank manager has to organize a strategy for his own company, he will pay heed to the large multifarious group of his small investors – as currently happens in Italy – or will he rather consider the ideas coming from some State think tanks in Paris, or possibly from one of his Ministers, or even from a colleague in Lyon or Grenoble?

 According to the 2018 data, in Italy the foreign investors’ shareholdings of listed companies currently amount to 196.4 billion euro, i.e. 43% of the total.

 The shareholdings of listed joint stock companies owned by Italian businesses are worth 25.8%, with the State holding 2.7% of the total portfolio. Hence it is certainly not difficult to imagine that, in this framework of international economic equilibria, Italy would have an extreme need for a policy of economic warfare.

 This also applies to cultural or humanitarian operations.

  Goodness knows what the organization Mèdecins sans Frontières was for France, or the management of the U.S. or Canadian grain overproduction was for the U.S. power projection policy in third countries or in those suffering humanitarian crises.

 Whoever eats your wheat becomes your friend, whoever is saved by your doctors will never make war on you but, above all, will gladly buy your products, when the crisis is over and France or the United States will present local governments with the bill for its humanitarian operations.  

 Moreover, in 2011 the Italian multinationals were as many as 6,500 Italian, while currently they are decidedly fewer and often smaller.

 Not to mention Italy’s cultural and hegemonic penetration – virtually nothing, apart from a few old-style and ramshackle elite operations for socialites.

 We need more than beautiful girls, superstar chefs or art exhibitions. It takes guts to penetrate and hegemonize a distant market. It is an operation in which companies and the intelligence Services shall participate simultaneously, and shall be ever less tied to the cliques of revolving-door government and also less parochial in their actions. Even humanitarian organizations, some universities – less familist than usual – as well as the fashion world, newspapers, TV networks, cinema and all the many other instruments of attraction and seduction shall take part in this operation.

 An operation which, however, must be stable and well-designed, otherwise we risk repeating what happened when an Italian President of the Republic, while visiting the Chinese Great Wall, learnt that the German Prime Minister was coming for a flying visit to Beijing so as to sign an agreement between the German and Chinese large car manufacturers.

 A dinner, some greetings and a quick return to Berlin.

 Unless the full criterion of the “economic warfare” is followed –  as must be done according to Bernard Esambert’s guidelines – Italy will always be relegated to the sidelines of the great global economic development and it will not reap the fruits but only the damage of globalization – as is already currently happening.

Advisory Board Co-chair Honoris Causa Professor Giancarlo Elia Valori is an eminent Italian economist and businessman. He holds prestigious academic distinctions and national orders. Mr. Valori has lectured on international affairs and economics at the world’s leading universities such as Peking University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Yeshiva University in New York. He currently chairs “International World Group”, he is also the honorary president of Huawei Italy, economic adviser to the Chinese giant HNA Group. In 1992 he was appointed Officier de la Légion d’Honneur de la République Francaise, with this motivation: “A man who can see across borders to understand the world” and in 2002 he received the title “Honorable” of the Académie des Sciences de l’Institut de France. “

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Are we going into another economic recession? What history tells us

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An economic recession or depression is a period of economic decline, typically characterized by a decline in the gross domestic product (GDP), high unemployment, a decline in manufacturing and industrial production, a stock market crash, and a decrease in consumer spending.

The Great Depression

The Great Depression was a severe economic downturn that lasted from 1929 to 1939. It was the longest and most severe depression of the 20th century. The Great Depression began in the United States and quickly spread to countries around the world. Many factors contributed to the Great Depression, including economic policies and structural weaknesses in the global economy. During the Great Depression, unemployment rates reached as high as 25% and GDP fell by as much as 30%. Many businesses and banks failed, and people lost their savings and homes. The depression had a profound effect on society, leading to widespread poverty and social unrest. Governments around the world implemented various economic policies in an attempt to combat the depression, including increased government spending, protectionist trade policies, and monetary policies such as the devaluation of currencies. The Great Depression had a lasting impact on the global economy and political landscape, leading to the rise of fascist and communist regimes in some countries and shaping the economic policies of governments for decades to come.

The Suez Crisis of 1956

The Suez Crisis of 1956 was a political and military conflict that arose after the Egyptian government nationalized the Suez Canal, a strategic waterway that connected the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea. The nationalization of the Suez Canal led to the withdrawal of foreign investments and a decline in international trade, which hurt the economies of Egypt, France, and the United Kingdom, the three main countries involved in the crisis. The crisis also led to a rise in oil prices, as the closure of the Suez Canal disrupted the flow of oil from the Middle East to Europe. This had an impact on the economies of oil-importing countries and also led to inflation in many developed economies.

The Sue Crisis also led to a decline in stock markets around the world and a fall in the value of the British pound and US dollar, as investors sought safe-haven assets in the wake of the crisis. The Suez Crisis also had a long-term impact on the global economy, as it led to a shift in the balance of power in the Middle East and contributed to a decline in the influence of the Western powers in the region. It also had a lasting impact on international relations, as well as on oil prices and the global economy. The crisis also contributed to the formation of the OPEC and the oil embargo in 1973 which had a significant effect on the world economy.

The International Debt Crisis of 1982

The International Debt Crisis of 1982 was a financial crisis that arose from the inability of several developing countries to repay their debt to international creditors. The crisis began in the early 1980s, when several Latin American countries, as well as some countries in Africa and Asia, found themselves unable to service their debt and were forced to seek assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other international organizations. The crisis was caused by several factors, including a rise in interest rates, a fall in commodity prices, and a decline in economic growth in many developing countries. The crisis was also exacerbated by the fact that many developing countries had borrowed heavily in the 1970s, during a period of high commodity prices and strong economic growth, and were now facing a difficult economic environment.

The International Debt Crisis had a significant impact on the global economy. Developing countries affected by the crisis saw a decline in economic growth and an increase in poverty and unemployment. The crisis also led to a decline in foreign investment in many developing countries. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank responded to the crisis by providing financial assistance to affected countries, in exchange for economic reforms such as austerity measures, structural adjustments, and trade liberalization. These measures had a significant social and economic impact on the affected countries and were criticized for their negative effects on the poor and vulnerable populations.

The International Debt Crisis also had an impact on the global financial system, as many banks and other financial institutions that had lent money to developing countries were at risk of default. The crisis led to a decline in the value of the US dollar and a rise in the value of other currencies, as investors sought safe-haven assets in the wake of the crisis. The International Debt Crisis of 1982 was a major event in the history of the global economy, and its effects were felt for many years afterward. It also led to important changes in the way the international financial system operates and the role of the IMF in providing financial assistance to developing countries.

The East Asian Economic Crisis 1997-2001

The East Asian Economic Crisis, also known as the Asian Financial Crisis, was a period of financial and economic turmoil that affected several countries in East Asia, including Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea, and Malaysia, between 1997 and 2001. The crisis was characterized by a sharp devaluation of currencies, a decline in stock markets, and a rise in interest rates, and had a significant impact on the economies and people of the affected countries. The crisis was triggered by several factors, including a rapid increase in debt, a property market bubble, and a lack of transparency in the financial systems of the affected countries. Many of these countries had experienced rapid economic growth in the preceding years and had attracted large amounts of foreign investment, but their economies were not well-equipped to handle the sudden influx of capital.

The crisis led to a sharp devaluation of currencies in the affected countries, which made it difficult for businesses and individuals to repay their debt. This, in turn, led to a wave of bank failures and a decline in economic activity. The crisis also led to a decline in the value of stock markets and a sharp increase in interest rates, making it more difficult for businesses to access credit.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) intervened to provide financial assistance to the affected countries, in exchange for economic reforms such as austerity measures, structural adjustments, and trade liberalization. These measures had a significant social and economic impact on the affected countries and were criticized for their negative effects on the poor and vulnerable populations. The East Asian Economic Crisis had a significant impact on the global economy, as the crisis led to a decline in economic growth and a fall in stock markets around the world. It also led to a decline in foreign investment in many developing countries, as investors became more cautious about investing in countries facing economic problems.

The East Asian Economic Crisis of 1997-2001 was a major event in the history of the global economy, and its effects were felt for many years afterward. It also led to important changes in the way the international financial system operates and the role of the IMF in providing financial assistance to developing countries.

The Russian Economic Crisis 1992-97

The Russian Economic Crisis of 1992-1997 was a period of economic turmoil and financial instability that affected the Russian Federation following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The crisis was characterized by hyperinflation, a sharp decline in industrial production, and a sharp fall in the value of the Russian ruble.

The crisis was caused by several factors, including the massive structural and political changes that occurred following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the rapid privatization of state-owned enterprises, and the lack of a clear economic plan or strategy. Additionally, the crisis was exacerbated by the failure of the government to implement necessary economic reforms, and the ongoing conflicts in the region. The Russian economic crisis had a significant impact on the lives of the Russian people, as living standards declined sharply and poverty and unemployment increased dramatically. The crisis also led to a decline in foreign investment and a fall in the value of the Russian ruble.

The government responded to the crisis by implementing several economic reforms, such as the introduction of a new currency, the Russian ruble, and the implementation of a tight monetary policy to combat hyperinflation. The government also implemented several structural reforms, including the privatization of state-owned enterprises, the liberalization of prices, and the opening up of the economy to foreign trade and investment. The Russian Economic Crisis of 1992-1997 had a significant impact on the global economy, as the crisis led to a decline in economic growth and a fall in stock markets around the world. The crisis also led to a decline in foreign investment in Russia and other countries of the former Soviet Union, as investors became more cautious about investing in countries facing economic problems.

The Russian Economic Crisis of 1992-1997 was a major event in the history of the Russian economy and had a lasting impact on the country’s economic and political landscape. It also had important lessons for other countries undergoing the transition from a planned to a market economy.

Latin American Debt Crisis in Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina 1994-2002

The Latin American Debt Crisis of 1994-2002 was a period of economic turmoil that affected several countries in Latin America, including Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina. The crisis was characterized by a sharp devaluation of currencies, a decline in economic growth, and a rise in interest rates. The crisis had a significant impact on the economies and people of the affected countries. The crisis was triggered by several factors, including a rapid increase in debt, a lack of transparency in the financial systems of the affected countries, and the failure of governments to implement necessary economic reforms. Many of these countries had experienced rapid economic growth in the preceding years and had attracted large amounts of foreign investment, but their economies were not well-equipped to handle the sudden influx of capital.

The crisis led to a sharp devaluation of currencies in the affected countries, which made it difficult for businesses and individuals to repay their debt. This, in turn, led to a wave of bank failures and a decline in economic activity. The crisis also led to a decline in the value of stock markets and a sharp increase in interest rates, making it more difficult for businesses to access credit. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) intervened to provide financial assistance to the affected countries, in exchange for economic reforms such as austerity measures, structural adjustments, and trade liberalization. These measures had a significant social and economic impact on the affected countries and were criticized for their negative effects on the poor and vulnerable populations.

The Latin American Debt Crisis of 1994-2002 had a significant impact on the global economy, as the crisis led to a decline in economic growth and a fall in stock markets around the world. It also led to a decline in foreign investment in many developing countries, as investors became more cautious about investing in countries facing economic problems. The Latin American Debt Crisis of 1994-2002 was a major event in the history of the global economy and its effects were felt for many years afterward. It also led to important changes in the way the international financial system operates and the role of the IMF in providing financial assistance to developing countries.

The Great Recession

The Great Recession was a period of economic decline that lasted from December 2007 to June 2009. It was considered the most severe recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s. The Great Recession began in the United States and quickly spread to other countries around the world. The primary cause of the Great Recession was the collapse of the housing market in the United States, triggered by the widespread use of risky subprime mortgages and lax lending standards. The housing market crash led to a decline in housing prices and a wave of foreclosures, which in turn led to a decline in consumer spending and a decrease in economic activity.

As the recession deepened, several large financial institutions, such as Lehman Brothers, failed, leading to a financial crisis and a credit crunch. This made it difficult for businesses and consumers to access credit, further exacerbating the economic decline.

Governments around the world implemented various policies to try to combat the recession, including monetary policy measures such as interest rate cuts, fiscal policy measures such as stimulus spending, and bank bailouts. Despite these efforts, the recession caused high levels of unemployment, a decline in GDP, and a fall in stock markets around the world. The Great Recession had a profound impact on the global economy, leading to widespread job losses, a decline in economic activity, and a loss of wealth for many people. It also led to significant changes in economic policy and regulations, particularly in the financial sector, to try to prevent a similar crisis from happening again in the future.

Current Scenario

The current economic crisis is a downturn in the global economy that is caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ukrainian war, devaluing currency, Economic sanctions on Russia and Iran, New Strategic alignment, and US-China competition. It has resulted in widespread economic disruptions around the world, leading to a decline in consumer spending, an increase in unemployment, and a fall in economic activity.

Similarities between the current economic crisis and previous economic recessions include a decline in the gross domestic product (GDP) and an increase in unemployment which stands at 6.4% from 5.4% in 2021. Businesses, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are facing severe economic challenges, with many closing down or filing for bankruptcy. Consumer spending also took a hit as people become more cautious about spending money and saving for uncertain futures. The current crisis also has some similarities to the 2008 financial crisis, as it has led to a decline in stock markets and a fall in the value of many currencies. The crisis has also led to a decline in foreign investment and a rise in uncertainty in the global economy, populist leadership.

Governments around the world are taking measures to mitigate the economic impact of the crisis, including fiscal policies such as stimulus spending and monetary policies such as interest rate cuts. Central banks are also taking action to provide liquidity to the financial system and to support the economy. The current economic crisis is a reminder of the interconnectedness of the global economy and the importance of swift and coordinated action to mitigate the economic impact of such crises. The crisis has also highlighted the importance of economic diversification, and the need for countries to build resilient economies that can withstand future shocks.

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China and the Middle East: More Than Oil

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Image source: China MFA

Within the next 20 years, the need for oil will account for just 20% of global consumption, but by the year 2040, that percentage will have increased to 75%. More than half of the oil that is necessary for the functioning of the industries and the upkeep of development is imported by China.

Oil is only one of many things that China has an interest in when it comes to the Middle East; their interests go much beyond that. China was responsible for some of the building work in Saudi Arabia and Iran. China has big plans to expand its reach into the Middle East. To demonstrate its presence and proclaim itself a global force within the context of the regional pattern. It is a fact that China’s rapidly expanding economy has a significant need for more oil.

China is likewise seeking an alternate supply, but as time has passed, its reliance on the middle east has grown from 19% in 1990 to 70% in 2020. Nearly twenty percent of China’s oil comes from Saudi Arabia, while ten percent comes from Iran. The fact that China has inked many petroleum agreements with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait demonstrates the country’s interest in the areas that are rich in oil and other commodities.

The oil industry is just one component of China’s interest in the Middle East. This interest provides a hyperlink to China’s growing influence on the world stage. The value of China’s trade with the Middle East surpassed that of the United States to become the region’s most important trading partner, having climbed from 100 to 222 dollars. Middle eastern nations that rely heavily on low-wage workers can afford the low-priced consumer products and commodities of everyday use that China ships there from its factories. In addition to this, China made investments in the transportation sector, technology sector, agricultural sector, real estate sector, and energy sector.

China is also making investments in the process of reconstructing Iran’s infrastructure. Even though China is the biggest exporter of oil from Iran, accounting for fifty percent of total exports, China makes every effort to smooth the road during discussions and diplomatic efforts. China is making significant efforts to protect the access it has to the energy resources that are situated in the nations of the middle east.

China is steadily climbing the ranks of world powers, and its growing influence in the Middle East is a clear indication that it has been successful in consolidating its authority over the nations of that region. Middle Eastern nations want to avoid getting into any kind of dispute with China since China is their most important trading partner; they want to make sure that their commercial operations aren’t interrupted. The United States’ stranglehold on the market is being challenged by China’s rapid expansion there. In 2010, China’s trade volume with middle eastern nations surpassed that of the United States’ trade volume with those countries.

China’s interest in the nations of the Middle East stems from the proposal known as the “New silk route,” in which the countries of the Middle East serve as a connection between the continents of Europe and Africa. These regions provide half of China’s crude oil imports which makes Arabs countries natural partners of the belt and road initiative.

China is participating in commercial operations while maintaining a neutral stance about the disputes that are taking place in the region at the same time. China is playing the role of the middle. Regarding the Iran nuclear agreement, the crisis in Syria, and the conflict between Israel and Palestine, China takes the position that these issues should be addressed diplomatically and politically. China took positive action to improve its position in the eyes of all parties involved in the dispute and to maximize the amount of profit it could make from the situation while minimizing the impact on trade.

Not only is China achieving its goals for its interests, but on the other side, Saudi Arabia is also making progress toward its goals for 2030. The construction of new infrastructure received significant funding in Iran. Oil from Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia is sold to China, bringing in billions of dollars. On the other hand, China provided advantages to these nations while simultaneously expanding its soft power to advance the “New Silk Route.” This was done for the greater good of the initiative. Chinese studies were first included in the university curricula of Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Millions of Chinese visitors travel to these nations, and some of them decided to make a permanent move there.

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Economy

The importance of Sisi’s visit to India to build economic blocs for Egypt with the BRICS group

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Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi during ceremonial reception at Rashtrapati Bhavan (Pic. Courtesy Twitter/@rashtrapatibhvn)

Asian countries represented successful experiences at the level of economic blocs, hence Cairo’s quest to be part of global blocs of an economic nature, as this represents confidence in the ability of the Egyptian state to advance its economic sector. Recently, the Egyptian desire to be part of  From the BRICS group, which is an economic alliance that includes Brazil, Russia, India and China, and was established in 2006, and South Africa joined it later in 2010.

  The BRICS Forum is an independent international organization that works to encourage trade, political and cultural cooperation among its member countries, taking into account that Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa represent nearly a quarter of the global economy, and contributed to more than half of the global growth in the past years.  About 30% of what the world needs in terms of goods and products, while its citizens represent 40% of the world’s population.  The BRICS countries have adopted many initiatives to support cooperation among themselves in various fields, including the establishment of a development bank with a capital of $100 billion to finance development projects in the member states.

   President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s visit to India is a national strategic visit in the first place to facilitate Egypt’s entry and accession to the BRICS international economic grouping with the help of China and India. The countries of China and India, and Egypt is trying through these relations to enter the giant BRICS gathering, which contributes to strengthening Egyptian cooperation with the countries of the ASEAN group and its geographical and regional scope, through many axes and ways to develop cooperation with Egypt and those countries in various fields, especially economic, investment and development in light of  The distinguished development experiences of India, China and those countries in achieving comprehensive development, as well as their progress in small, medium and micro industries, in addition to the convergence of all of them compared to the vision of Washington and the West towards a number of issues of common concern, primarily the Middle East issue, the Palestinian issue and efforts to combat terrorism.

 On the occasion of President El-Sisi’s visit to India, this was not his first visit to India, as he had already visited India in 2016 as part of an Asian tour, during which he met his counterpart, Indian President Bernab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and senior officials in New Delhi.

 We find that President El-Sisi’s current visit to India confirms that President El-Sisi possesses great political and economic experience, through which he can open more investment and economic fields for Egypt, looking forward during his visit to benefit from the economic renaissance of the state of India, and the rapid growth rates achieved by India.  And growing, and Egypt here can benefit from this accelerating Indian experience, which will have positive effects on Egypt in several areas, such as: increasing exports, raising production rates, opening investment fields, and advancing the Egyptian trade and economy forward, given that India is one of the best countries in the world in terms of application.  Democracy has achieved economic development in recent years, effectively penetrated the field of technology, and the Indian product occupies a strong global position with high quality, despite its population exceeding one billion and 200 million people, but it has been able to achieve self-sufficiency after its massive agricultural revolution.

 Egypt and India have distinguished political relations, in addition to the trade and economic relations that have witnessed remarkable growth over the past years, despite the slow growth of the global economy.

 It is expected that President El-Sisi’s visit to India will witness a list of new joint projects that India can implement in the new administrative capital, including a project to establish a medical city on an area of ​​350 acres, which includes the establishment of a number of hospitals and nursing schools, as well as the establishment of an Indian university specializing in medicine, according to what has been done as an agreement with the Indian side.

 In my opinion, President El-Sisi’s visit to India is an important political and economic achievement that affirms Egypt’s presence as a pillar of stability and development in the region.  For Egypt to present its economic program to facilitate its entry into the giant BRICS economic group with the help of China and India in the first place, in a way that facilitates the process of attracting foreign investments to Egypt and promotes economic advancement and improves the living conditions of the Egyptian people.

 Here, it is worth noting the importance of President El-Sisi’s visit to India, in advancing Indian tourism to Egypt and increasing the number of Indian tourists coming to Egypt.  and experiencing rapid economic growth. The Indian market also has many opportunities for the growth of our exports, especially in the sectors of chemicals, plastics, fertilizers, fruits and agricultural crops such as cotton, handicrafts such as textiles, leather, marble, granite, dairy products, metal industries, iron and steel, crude oil, and others.

 Egypt will seek to activate the agreement between the Egyptian and Indian governments to increase the volume of trade exchange to $8 billion, knowing that Indian investments in Egypt are estimated at about $10 billion.

  In this context, we find that Egypt and India have six trade cooperation agreements with India, namely: an agreement to develop intra-trade, an agreement to establish a joint committee, an agreement to encourage and protect mutual investments between India and Egypt, an agreement to avoid double taxation, and two memorandums of understanding in the field of trade and technical cooperation.  And in the areas of small, medium and micro projects, and an agreement for a joint work plan to develop trade and joint investments between the two parties.

 There is momentum in our relations with the Indian side, and a common desire through President El-Sisi’s visit to India to develop them to a higher level, given the existence of intense political cooperation between the two countries, and continuous interaction at the level of leadership and ministerial level, where Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with President El-Sisi on the sidelines of meetings  The United Nations General Assembly in New York in September 2015. The Indian and Egyptian sides are interested in strengthening their relations with regard to issues of combating terrorism, strengthening economic partnership and common regional issues between them.  India’s relationship with Africa through the Egyptian side.

 There are 50 Indian companies operating in Egypt, with a total investment of about $3 billion.  About half of these companies are joint ventures or wholly owned subsidiary companies of Indian investors, while the rest of the companies operate through their representative offices and implement projects for government agencies.

 Among the largest Indian companies investing in Egypt is TCI Sanmar (whose investments amount to about one and a half billion dollars), and the company announced the opening of a new production line with investments amounting to $200 million, in addition to other giant Indian companies with branches in Egypt, such as companies  Alexandria Carbon Black, Dabur India, Egyptian-Indian Polyester Company and Skip Paints.

 Indian companies are also implementing several projects in the fields of railway signals, pollution reduction, water treatment, irrigation, shock prevention devices, and others.  And the Indian company Hetero, a major company working in the field of medicine, launched a joint venture in May 2015 to produce a drug to treat hepatitis C, which was highly appreciated by the Egyptian government.

 Among the projects that were carried out through the Indian grants to Egypt were distance education and distance medicine projects in the African continent, based in Alexandria University, a solar lighting project in the village of Agwain, and a vocational training center for textile technology in Shubra, Cairo, which are projects that have already been completed, in addition to  To another project under implementation to establish an information technology center at Al-Azhar University.

 Here we find that cooperation in the technical field remains an important part of our bilateral relations with the Indian side.  Since 2000, more than 600 Egyptians have benefited from Indian technical and economic cooperation programmes. Many Egyptians have been trained under various programs such as India Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme, India-Africa Forum Summit and CV Raman Foundation Fellowship.  Many Egyptian diplomats joined the foreign diplomats course at the Indian Foreign Service Institute, and many Egyptian scholars and scholars benefited from the grants of the Indian C.V. Raman International Foundation for African researchers.

 At the level of cultural cooperation relations between India and Egypt, the Maulana Azad Indian Cultural Center was established in Cairo in 1992, with the aim of enhancing cultural cooperation between the two countries through the implementation of the cultural exchange program, in addition to its interest in spreading Indian culture through Indian and Urdu language courses, yoga and dance courses.  And seminars, film shows and exhibitions organized by the Indian Cultural Center, the Center also organizes many cultural festivals.

 One of the results of the Egyptian-Indian joint cooperation in the field of education is the allocation of 110 grants by the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Egypt within the framework of the Indian technical and economic cooperation programme.

 In the field of scientific cooperation between India and Egypt, we find that both the Indian Council for Agricultural Research and the Egyptian Agricultural Research Council work together in the field of joint agricultural research according to joint cooperation agreements between them. There are also programs for cooperation in the field of science and technology that take place every two years between the two parties.

 What can be concluded here, from the Egyptian moves on the level of foreign policy, is that Cairo avoids defining its relations and partnerships at the political, economic and military levels, which reflects prudence in decision-making and prompts Cairo to enter into partnerships and international economic blocs such as BRICS and others, which transforms Egypt economically and rapid development to broader horizons, with the aim of making Egypt an important figure in all regional and international equations on the basis of standing at the same distance from everyone, and moving in accordance with the requirements of the national interest and international law.

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