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Why Post-Coronavirus America Will Have Massive Poverty

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The way that Congress and the President structured America’s coronavirus bailout legislation, the protections that go to the super-wealthy start immediately, but the protections that go to the neediest — the soaring numbers of unemployed, the increasingly endangered medical workers, etc. — require documentation which is creating delays that might soon cause many of these individuals to lose their homes, their cars, even their lives.

On April 17th, Matt Taibbi headlined “The Trickle-Up Bailout” and he noted that:

As we head into the second month of pandemic lockdown, two parallel narratives are developing about the financial rescue. 

In one, ordinary people receive aid through programs that are piecemeal, complex, and riddled with conditions.

A law freezing evictions applies to holders of government-backed mortgages only. “Disaster grants” are coming more slowly and in smaller amounts than expected; small businesses were disappointed to learn from the SBA early last week that aid would be limited to $1000 per employee.

That’s typical.

As I had already explained on April 14th:

America’s bailout package to overcome the coronavirus ‘recession’ is twofold:

One part is printing money for employees and consumers, so that they won’t be thrown out onto the streets for non-payment of debts such as mortgages, car-loans, credit cards, and student loans.

Another part is printing money for bondholders and stockholders, so that their investments will still have value and there won’t be panicked selling of them as corporations accumulate soaring losses because consumers are staying home and are cutting way back on expenses.

The top-down part of the bailout (the part for investors) will merely add to the wealth of the already-wealthy, while everybody else sinks financially into oblivion. (On April 9th, the Zero Hedge financial site explained in detail why even bailing out the airlines would hurt the economy more than help the economy.) The top-down part supplies the money to the corporations instead of to their employees and consumers, and is therefore supply-boosting instead of demand-boosting. Supplying money to the corporations that the Government selects to protect will enable those corporations to buy up assets and corporations which during the crisis are being auctioned off by the ones that go out of business, and this will leave the nation’s wealth in even fewer hands than before the epidemic struck.  

The bottom-up part (the part for workers and consumers) will be exactly the opposite of that: it will help prevent another Great Depression. By boosting purchases, instead of bailing-out billionaires and such, it will enable the economy to keep functioning, and it will not increase the concentration of wealth.

However, employees and consumers don’t have many lobbyists, but billionaires do, and billionaires also own (through political donations and lobbyists) almost all members of Congress (and also the mainstream press), and they not only own, but are represented by, one inside the White House, who is surrounded there by others, and by representatives of others, so that the concerns of the wealthiest will be very well represented by America’s Government, and will end up dominating the bailouts, so that only the insiders, who are well-connected in Washington, will be protected. (And Joe Biden would be no improvement over Donald Trump, though his rhetoric is different.)

Already, we see, in the ‘news’-reports, that there is ‘chaos’ etc. in the U.S. Government’s response to the crisis, but what’s not being reported in the mainstream ‘news’-media is that there very much is method to this seeming madness, and it is the method of the well-practiced and well-funded takers, definitely not of their victims, from whom they (and their Government) have been, and now increasingly are, taking. The takers own the Deep State, and are protected by it. The vast bulk of the bailouts will go to them. The vast bulk of the bailouts will go to suppliers (investors), not to their workers and consumers.

So, as a general rule: the more that a person’s income depends upon investments, and the less that it depends upon their labor (wages), the more fully that the bailouts will compensate for the losses they’ll be suffering as a result of the coronavirus disruptions.

Here is a breakdown of the incomes that the super-rich receive (mainly from investments), versus the incomes that everybody else receive:

As can easily be seen there, only the super-rich (the top 1%, and most especially the top 0.1%) receive the majority of their incomes from investments (“Business income” and “Capital income”). Everybody else receives it mainly from “compensation” (wages), “retirement income,” and “Transfer income” (welfare).

Most of the benefits to the top 0.1% will be coming by means of monetary policy, via the Federal Reserve, not by means of fiscal policy — such as the payments to the unemployed (which are subject to many delays) and such as the $1,200-per-adult grants (which were the fastest to be paid because it’s the “helicopter money” that buys votes for the political incumbents, all of whom had voted for the bailouts).

The bailouts’ widely publicized part is the $2.2 trillion, since that includes whatever the public gets. However, that part is the smaller portion of the entire program. As CBS News reported on March 24th, “Top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said the price tag of economic stimulus amounts to roughly $6 trillion, which includes $2 trillion for direct assistance, and roughly $4 trillion in Federal Reserve lending power. Kudlow said this will be the single-largest such Main Street financial package in the history of the country.” Kudlow said it at a White House press conference. He mentioned there just in passing (at 1:36), that it’s a “six trillion-dollar program, four trillion dollars in lending power from the Fed, that’s a six trillion-dollar package …,” and the reporters in the White House press corps didn’t ask him anything about the Fed’s part, the $4 trillion portion (the program’s part that protects the billionaires); they evidently didn’t care about that, but only about the $2.2 trillion, which is actually the PR decoration on this $6T cake — the $2.2T that the public is interested in, the bait-part of the entire bailout-program. (Its hook won’t sink in until the readers’ children and grandchildren will be paying for it via their taxes in a stripped America.) However, on March 26th, Wall Street on Parade (WSP) — the best investigative-reporting source about Wall Street — headlined “Stimulus Bill Allows Federal Reserve to Conduct Meetings in Secret; Gives Fed $454 Billion Slush Fund for Wall Street Bailouts” and disclosed that even what Kudlow had called “Main Street” (the $2.2T part) included much for Wall Street; and WSP then rhetorically asked, “Why does the Federal Reserve need $454 billion from the U.S. taxpayer to bail out Wall Street when it has the power to create money out of thin air and has already dumped more than $9 trillion cumulatively in revolving loans to prop up Wall Street’s trading houses since September 17, 2019 – long before there was any diagnosis of coronavirus anywhere in the world?” They promptly answered this: “The Fed needs that money to create more Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) — the same device used by Enron to hide its toxic debt off its balance sheet before it went belly up.” Furthermore, the $454 billion, which WSP called “the money the Treasury is handing over to the Fed” is what CBS had reported “would result in ‘$4 trillion in Federal Reserve lending power’.” And U.S. taxpayers are guaranteeing 100% of these loans to investors — so, it’s “heads you win, tails we lose,” for taxpayers addressing billionaires, and “heads we win, tails you lose,” for billionaires addressing taxpayers. The billionaires win, the public loses. But the billionaires’ media don’t mention this fact, that investors get the guarantees, while the public takes all of the risks. However, what is an “investment” for, if non-investors are receiving its risks? It’s just legalized crime. And these are huge risks, and all or most of the $454 billion that the U.S. is lending to the Fed to guarantee private investors’ investments could be destroyed in the coronavirus-crisis. This is far more socialism for the super-rich than for the bottom 99%. The billionaires love socialism when they’re the ones who are getting the bailouts — the public taking on the risks that investors are supposed to assume. The issue for billionaires isn’t “socialism versus capitalism,” like they always say; it’s actually “socialism for us, and capitalism for everybody else.” That’s not “survival of the fittest,” for the wealthiest class; it’s instead their ordering their politicians to: protect our wealth, no matter what the cost to the public could turn out to be. And that’s precisely what the President and Congress did. Kudlow, however, said, instead, that the “package” would produce “a good rebound in the second half of the year.” Maybe for the billionaires it would.

Kudlow was simply being consistent with his own prior record. On 10 December 2007, he had headlined in National Review“Bush Boom Continues: You can call it Goldilocks 2.0. But you can’t call it a recession.” And he closed by saying, “This sort of fiscal and monetary coordination will continue the Bush boom for years to come.” He’s good for the billionaires; and, so, today, he’s President Trump’s top economic advisor. He’s up there, because he’s wrong — not because he’s right. (If he had been right, he wouldn’t be there.) 

On April 21st, CNBC headlined “Here are the largest public companies taking payroll loans meant for small businesses” and the top 10 on the list totals $56.5 million going to 10 corporations whose collective market capitalization is $2.367 billion. The smallest of those ten bailouts is $10.0M going to the stockholders of a $151 million corporation. The largest of those ten bailouts is to a corporation whose top 3 investors are: Brown CapitalBlackRock, and Vanguard. On April 20th, Forbes reported that, “the U.S. central bank has hired private equity giant BlackRock BLK, which manages some $7 trillion in assets, to run purchases of corporate bonds and commercial mortgages that are part of its response to the pandemic-led recession.” So: the owners of BlackRock will now receive, from “the U.S. central bank” (the Federal Reserve), some of the bailouts from the U.S. Small Business Administration, in this “emergency” program.

Also on April 21st, David Sirota’s blog bannered “Dems Give Unanimous Consent To Trump”, and described the just-passed second coronavirus bailout legislation, which totals $484 billion: It “doesn’t include any resources for first responders, budget-strapped states or food stamps. It doesn’t include any new oversight of the first bailout bill. It includes nothing to help states move to a vote-by-mail system in the event that coronavirus complicates in-person voting during the general election. It basically doesn’t include any alleged Democratic Party priority at all.” But the legislation passed Congress with “unanimous consent,” in this ‘compromise’ with the Republicans (who oppose any government-benefits that might go to the poor).

After the immediate crisis is over, America will have a top 0.1% who are unscathed and whose mega-corporations will be selling not only what they had been selling before, but selling virtually everything that sells in the post-coronavirus world. For examples: what mom-and-pop businesses (including restaurants, B&Bs, etc.) had previously been selling, will, in the future, be supplied (to the extent that it remains being supplied at all) by McDonalds, Starbucks, Marriott, Amazon, Target, Walmart, and other megacorporations (controlled by billionaires), which will have been receiving, from the Fed, and from the Treasury, whatever they needed in order to carry their investors through the crisis-period. (And who are those investors? Look at that chart above, the recipients mainly of “Business income” and “Capital income” — the chief recipients of dividends, interest, and capital gains incomes.)

Furthermore: after the crisis, commercial real estate will be super-cheap, because of all the bankrupted mom-and-pop businesses. Wages also will decline, as the public become increasingly desperate, and the billionaires win increasing market-power. Therefore, not only will the megacorporations be selling a larger percentage of the national output, but their expenses will go down.  

Consequently: America will have lots more poor people, and lots wealthier billionaires.

This, however, will be only a temporary situation, because the enormous spread of poverty will result in greatly decreased taxes coming into all levels of the U.S. Government. Bridges will collapse, potholes will proliferate, unendowed colleges will close, nervous breakdowns and heart-attacks will increase, and thus the public won’t be able to spend as much as they were spending before the crisis hit. And, so, although the megacorporations will be selling a larger percentage of national output, that national output will decline, because of the spreading poverty. Therefore, even the billionaires won’t necessarily become richer than they were before the crisis hit.

All of this outcome is unnecessary and results from corruption. The only reason why there is any bailout, at all, for investors (in anything other than pass-through entities), is the pervasive governmental corruption at the very top. If there were no corruption, then the only bailouts would be to individuals and pass-through businesses (which are individuals) — the “bottom-up” bailouts. America is a very corrupt country at the top, and that is the reason why it will collapse in the aftermath of the coronavirus crisis.

Ultimately, when the wealth-inequality is so extreme, the billionaires are selling mainly to each other, and the necessities for the public are less and less profitable to sell at all. The outcome will therefore be economic collapse, and perhaps even revolution.

The basic way to evaluate how well or poorly a nation’s Government is performing in this crisis is the country’s ratio of coronavirus cases to its total population, but if a given country has not yet reached its peak in its daily number of new cases, then that country’s ratio is probably still rising, in which instance, that country’s performance will probably turn out to have been less good than this ratio currently is showing it to be. And, conversely, the lower this ratio is, the better the performance of that country’s Government is shown to be in responding to Covid-19.   

Here are the ten nations that have the largest numbers of cases at the present time, and the ratio of that number to their total population; and also shown here is the date when the daily number of new cases peaked (because if it hasn’t yet peaked, then this crucial ratio will probably be rising in that country):

Ratio of total cases to total population, per million (the lower this number, the better):

USA 2,472 maybe not yet peaked

SPAIN 4,367 peaked March 26th

ITALY 3,043 peaked March 19th

FRANCE 2,421 peaked April 3rd

GERMANY 1,772 peaked March 27th

UK 1,901 peaked April 10th

TURKEY 1,133 peaked April 11th

IRAN 1,010 peaked February 12th

CHINA 57 peaked March 30th

RUSSIA 362 maybe not yet peaked

In addition, the following major countries might especially be noted, since the main reason they aren’t on that list is their being outstandingly good performers:

JAPAN 88 peaked April 11th

S. KOREA 208 peaked March 3rd

The worst of all these performers appear currently to be, though not yet in any clear order: USA, Spain, and Italy.

The best appear to be, in order: China, Japan, and S. Korea. 

Regardless of a country’s size, here are the absolute worst performers, and their respective known infection-rates per million: San Marino (14,028), Andorra (9,280), Iceland (5,210), Gibraltar (3,918), Faroe Islands (3,786), Isle of Man (3,610), Belgium (3,534), Ireland (3,248), Switzerland (3,243).

The U.S. press has recently been particularly praising Denmark’s performance, and noting that Denmark’s coronavirus emergency legislation is more socialistic than Sweden’s is. However, both of those Scandinavian countries actually have very similar actual performance, thus far, in this crisis. In Denmark, the focus of the emergency legislation was on “saving jobs,” instead of on protecting investors. It’s a democratic socialist country, perhaps the most equalitarian in the world. Of course, that’s the exact opposite of dictatorial capitalism (fascism), which became America’s system after FDR died in 1945, and increasingly thereafter (hyper-imperialistic, military-industrial-complex or “MIC” dominated, like fascist regimes usually are), perpetrating coups and invasions, destroying Iran, Iraq, and many other countries, in order to expand its power and the wealth of its billionaires (like the fascist countries had done going into WW II). No cases of coronavirus-19 were reported in Denmark until February 27th. Denmark unanimously passed its emergency law on March 13th — drastically different bailout legislation from the one that America subsequently passed — in order to deal with the crisis. The daily number of Denmark’s new Covid-19 cases peaked on April 7th, and has been declining since that time. Its neighbor Sweden peaked on April 8th. Sweden’s emergency legislation is less strict about lockdowns, but relies more on individual discretion. However, since Sweden, like Denmark, is a democratic socialist country, individuals needn’t worry about paying medical bills, nor about being paid while on sick-leave. So, employees aren’t desperate to return to their places of work, such as in America; and, therefore, these countries don’t spread the infection as readily as in the U.S. and are thus far less likely to have recurring peaks and delayed terminations of the coronavirus crisis. (By contrast: in America, where losing one’s job can mean losing one’s health care, even sick employees may be inclined to stay on the job and perhaps infect customers.) And there are no corporate bailouts in either Denmark’s or Sweden’s legislation. Denmark’s Finance Minister, the Social Democrat (or democratic socialist) Nicolai Wammen was interviewed for 15 minutes on March 27th, by Christiane Amanpour, and he explained Denmark’s emergency law, which was overwhelmingly bottom-up, not top-down (such as America’s is).

Here, therefore, is the actual performance, thus far, of both of those two countries:

DENMARK 1,329 peaked April 7th

SWEDEN 1,517 peaked April 8th

Both of them are reasonably comparable to Germany, UK, Turkey, and Iran, but not as good as S. Korea, and not nearly as good as the two best, China and Japan.

In the final analysis, China and Japan could turn out to have the least-corrupt and best-run Governments; and the most corrupt Governments could turn out to be USA, Spain, and Italy. However, the performances of Brazil and some other nations in the southern hemisphere might yet turn out to be even worse than those of USA, Spain, and Italy, because the winter season has’t yet reached there.

Another important way of measuring a nation’s coronavirus performance is tests per million population. Among the nations with the largest numbers of cases, Italy and Germany are excellent on this, having above 20,000 persons tested per million population; and China is the worst (because it doesn’t even say how many were tested). Consequently: China’s outstanding performance (as measured by low number of reported cases) might actually be fraudulent. Japan’s outstandingly low number of reported cases might also be fraudulent, because their test-number per million is only 923. America’s test-rate is in the mid-range: 12,651. Denmark’s is 17,358. Sweden’s is 9,357.

What cannot be reasonably doubted is that America’s Governmental response to the coronavirus-19 pandemic is catastrophically corrupt. On April 16th, Wall Street on Parade headlined “Here Are the Contracts Showing How $4.5 Trillion in Stimulus Was Outsourced to Wall Street” and described — and documented — what the Wall Street Journal and the rest of the financial press would not, which is the U.S. Government’s legalized money-laundering operation, via the Fed, transferring onto the American public almost all of the losses that America’s billionaires will be suffering from the coronavirus crash. Back on 21 January 2020, WSP described this money-laundering, in its earlier 2008 embodiment, this way: “The epic financial collapse on Wall Street in 2008 was, reduced to its basic terms, simply the end game of Wall Street banks’ efforts to monetize their frauds.” They noted: “On April 9, 2019, the nonprofit Wall Street watchdog, Better Markets, released a study titled: “Wall Street’s Six Biggest Bailed-Out Banks: Their RAP Sheets & Their Ongoing Crime Spree.” It should have made headlines on the front pages of every major newspaper in the U.S. Instead, it was effectively ignored by mainstream media.” (Incidentally: Obama repeatedly promised to prosecute banksters, but secretly protected them and prosecuted none of them, though their crimes had been monstrous. The billionaires’ thefts from the public are entirely bipartisan, supported by over 95% of Congress — the billionaires own the Presidents and members of Congress, and not only own virtually all of the news-media.) On April 20th, America’s National Public Radio (NPR) broadcast “Amid Pandemic, Italian Prosecutors Warn That Mafia Groups Are Cementing Their Power” and reported that Mafia bosses were buying up cheap some of Italy’s suddenly desperate small businesses. If the same thing is being done by America’s billionaires, that’s not yet being reported by their press — perhaps it will instead be reported by Italy’s press.

The Federal Reserve are controlled by and represent the banksters — Wall Street — who not only skim on their own accounts but work with and for the billionaires, some of whom are themselves banksters, but many of whom are operating hedge funds, private equity funds, and all types of FORTUNE 500 companies. Basically, Wall Street works for the billionaires. The billionaires run practically everything in America, except Main Street.

In the upcoming June 2020 issue of the neoconservative (pro-U.S.-imperialist) Democratic Party U.S. magazine, The Atlantic, their George Packer banners “We Are Living in a Failed State: The coronavirus didn’t break America. It revealed what was already broken.” That magazine blames this “failed state” on the (neoconservative) Republican Party, and so Packer’s phrase there “a dysfunctional government” links to an anti-Republican article, by one of the top officials in the liberal neoconservative U.S. Administration of the Democrat Barack Obama, titled “How Trump Designed His White House to Fail.” However, the actual cause of the gradual collapse, since 1945, of what had been U.S. President FDR’s largely democratic U.S.A., is the billionaires who own both Parties — it is bipartisan. This rot comes from both Parties’ billionaires. (The particular propaganda-operation, The Atlantic, happens to be controlled by the same Democratic Party billionaire who controls Apple corporation.) No billionaire will publish the reality. For example, Packer’s article said: “The second crisis, in 2008, intensified it [‘a bitterness toward the political class’]. At the top, the financial crash could almost be considered a success. Congress passed a bipartisan bailout bill that saved the financial system.” The presumption there is that the only way to restore the economy after a crash is to bail out the country’s billionaires. It’s a timely propaganda-message, at this moment when the billionaires require their Government to bail them out, yet again. (I recently proposed one way to reduce the billionaires’ dictatorship over America.)

On April 17th, WSP headlined “Americans Are Paying a Tragic Price for Allowing Five Banks to Control the U.S. Economy” and closed by urging: “Americans need to use this time at home to call their Senators and Reps in Congress and demand the separation of federally-insured, deposit-taking banks from the casinos on Wall Street. We’re talking about nothing less than the survival of this country.” Needless to say, the ultimate beneficiaries of this public largesse — to America’s billionaires — don’t desire to publicize such writings, any more than they desire to expose to the public their offshore bank accounts. 

Unlike so much that’s in the billionaires’ ‘news’, the facts that are reported here are solidly documented (and linked-to), but the billionaires don’t report these facts. Thus, the masses don’t know these facts, and so the mass-violence, when it comes, won’t be focused against the billionaires. What you’re reading, here, is being kept secret by (not being published by) the billionaires’ media. So — if only in order to spread word that the cause of this is not “the Chinese” or “foreigners” or “the Jews” or some other amorphous ethnicity (who aren’t actually to blame) — please email the URL (the web-address) atop this article, to all of your friends, as “FYI:”. It might stir some interesting conversations, especially if all the ‘news’ that they know comes from America’s billionaires — the same people who fund the country’s successful politicians, each and every election-year. The American Revolution did not come about by misinformed people. It came about by informed people. Misinformed people create only more problems.

So, that’s “FYI.” And thanks for reading here.

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010

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Flourishing Forex Market amidst Covid pandemic

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The Covid-19 outbreak has halted the normal channel of life, people losing their livelihood and income has dwindled over the past eight months all over the world. However, in the tailspin the world has faced, the Forex accounts have witnessed a phenomenal growth over the pandemic-ridden months. Month-on-month growth has been recorded as close as 25-50% while the total volume has expedited at an all-time high of 300% growth. Over the past decade such a phenomenal growth was hardly ever seen since the last record high was a close to 40% which is mere compared to the colossal figure posted on the stage in June 2020.

The developing markets, however, post a lucrative section to invest in since the region has been the biggest contributor to the FX rise: close to 60% being the beneficiary of Europe, Africa and South Asian countries. Safe to say that this trend has been so steep largely due to the investors being ridden with optimism over the volatile prices of many of the commodities that were rendered stagnant over the previous decades. This includes the oil prices, gold valuation and even the real estate market that despite being involved in a price bubble leading to the worst financial crisis of the millennial, still stood relatively steady over the past 11 years.

The FX market is oozing optimism to say anything about the trend which could be directly associated to the unprecedented financial climate and the looming atmosphere of recession and financial crisis pushing people towards adopting a new income stream. As conventional income channels come to a dead stall and people having time and focus to spare towards trading, the large volume of cumulative accounts could be further expected to extrapolate since price volatility and unexpected events both in the trade and world affairs have had a conducive effect on even the layman to dip into the trading cycle: FX market being the coherent choice due to safe commodity and currency investments and quick gains.

Exacting one’s mind towards the milestones achieved this year, be it the plunge of global oil prices to the negative scale of the exchange or the sharp fall and sudden rise of DJI or even the injection of one of the largest stimulus packages in the United States since the infamous financial crisis, this year marks the focal point of risks and opportunities. The prospects of a new vaccine are still trailing to the second quarter of 2021 despite some countries picking up the pace to vaccinate early means the trend in the market is not short term unless a breakthrough is imminent. On the market front, the interest rate crunch with UK expected to nudge the rates in the negative along with global relief to debt financing, traders have a global ticket on both the borrowing and the lending front to turn up abnormal gains. However, reliable brokers are a tough nook to find since the uncertainty also grips the traders regarding investments in the skewed conditions as such. Moreover, with naïve traders entering the market, small scale brokers clustering the exchanges and limited physical interactions due to social distancing protocols are all but exhaustive factors that could easily deteriorate the growing trend and bring about a financial crisis much sooner than expected if not regulated efficiently.

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Public Council Sets New Tasks to Support Russia-Africa Relations

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In this interview with Armen Khachatryan, Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Programme Director at the Roscongress Foundation, and now a member of the newly created Public Council under the Secretariat of the Russia–Africa Partnership Forum, argues that the first Summit held in October 2019 ultimately seeks to inject a new dynamism in the existing Russia-Africa relations.

According to him, as the African continent undergoes positive transformation, platforms for dialogue between Russia and Africa are profoundly changing too. The Russia–Africa Summit demonstrated the sheer enormity of potential that exists for collaboration across various areas, and one of the outcomes of that historic event was the establishment of the Secretariat of the Russia–Africa Partnership Forum. The Secretariat further created a Public Council, the body also incorporates a Coordinating Council, Research Council and Media Council.

Speaking with Kester Kenn Klomegah early January 2021, Armen Khachatryan unreservedly stressed that building on the existing relations and all that have been achieved over the past few years, needs new platforms such as the Public Council. This Public Council aims primarily to uplift and solidly support the relations into a new stage, change perception among the public and give it an entirely new outlook into the future. Here are the interview excerpts:

A meeting of the Public Council of the Russia–Africa Partnership Forum Secretariat took place early November 2020. What were the main outcomes of the event?

It was the first kick-off meeting held last year. We determined the objectives facing the Public Council of the Russia–Africa Partnership Forum Secretariat. Specifically, these were to do with implementing the decisions of the inaugural Russia–Africa Summit and organizing the second summit, which is planned to take place in 2022. We discussed the current state of Russian-African relations in the humanitarian sphere, as well as the potential to develop them further. We also set out the council’s plan of action.

In your opinion, what social initiatives were prioritized – particularly at this time when Russia is seriously looking to focus on Africa?

Humanitarian cooperation has recently played an increasingly significant role in the development of Russian-African relations. The lively discussions at the Russia–Africa Economic Forum in October, 2019, in Sochi are testament to the importance of joint social initiatives, and to the shared desire to implement them. I believe this is with good reason, as collaboration in this area can help build an atmosphere of mutual trust. It isabsolutely essential to forge sustainable partnerships in different spheres with Africa.

In terms of priorities, areas in which we have traditionally collaborated include education, healthcare, culture, the environment, safety and security and so forth. All of these fields possess enormous potential for Russia and Africa to work together, and our country is ready to share its experience and expertise on mutually beneficial terms. Unlike some other countries, Russia wants a strong Africa with genuine sovereignty and a competitive economy. With this in mind, I would place particular emphasis on education. From my point of view, Africa’s most valuable asset is not its natural resources, but its people.

Young people currently make up a significant percentage of the population across the African continent. And that figure is going to increase further still. The population of the continent has already passed the 1.3 billion mark, with a median age of about 20. Around 60% of the population are young people under the age of 25. And according to forecasts, by 2050 the elderly will account for just 9% of the population. Given these numbers, we not only need to increase quotas for African students looking to study in Russia, but also open branches of our universities in African countries. That would allow us to offer a Russian education to many more African students as well as establish student exchange programmes.

By all appearances, aspects to do with education and professional training – and issues of humanitarian nature – are currently being examined in keeping with the course that has been delineated. Do you think that civil society should be involved in extending the reach of public diplomacy between Russia and Africa?

There is no doubt that collaboration between Russia and Africa should extend across the board, and take place at various levels. It should not be limited to ties between government officials and members of the business community. In any country, ordinary citizens make up the majority of the population, and for countries to collaborate effectively with one another, there needs to be an understanding of their perspectives and wishes. Therefore, as we look to establish direct ties and foster an environment conducive to regular dialogue with the people of various African nations, it is vital to involve civil society more closely.

It would appear sensible to provide more opportunities to people in Africa in terms of volunteering and doing internships at large Russian companies that are looking to build their presence on the African continent. The aim would be for these people to potentially be offered jobs at the companies’ African branches. Human resources need to be at the heart of our efforts, given their potential role in strengthening ties in both industry and science.

For our part, the Roscongress Foundation, as a socially oriented non-financial development institution, is open to proposals and is ready to provide assistance in promoting Russia’s image in African countries. This includes through organizing business, cultural and sporting events. As far as this is concerned, I imagine that the Foundation will receive support from Russian embassies and Rossotrudnichestvo’s offices in African countries.

Do you envisage any problems during attempts to better leverage Russias soft power and to strengthen public diplomacy in Africa? Do you view competition from other foreign players as a challenge?

I don’t think it’s entirely appropriate to use the term “soft power” in this instance. In this regard, I am of the same opinion as Yevgeny Primakov, Head of Rossotrudnichestvo. The term I take issue with is “power”, which implies pressure of some kind. We have no intention of pressurizing anyone. We are in favour of equal relations with all of our partners, and this includes African nations. In particular, we are guided by the principle of “African solutions to African problems.”

Obviously, there is competition, but I would not call that a challenge as such. Our main objective is not to compete with someone, but to offer our own perspectives on certain issues, communicate our values, and build a positive image of Russia in the eyes of people in Africa. Let me explicitly reiterate here, we are not exerting power in any way. People in Africa will have the benefit of several alternative perspectives, and will be able to choose the approach they feel is closest to them. This, in my opinion, is the principle of equality and mutual respect.

Of course, there are things that are hampering efforts to implement a systemic Russian humanitarian policy in Africa. For example, Rossotrudnichestvo has only eight offices across Africa’s 54 nations. It would appear that Russian-African ties would benefit from Russia opening new diplomatic missions in the region. If we want Russia’s voice to be heard on the African continent, special attention needs to be given to this issue.

In terms of the media landscape, what steps need to be taken to improve the work done by various outlets? How can we better inform society about events in both parts of the world? Why, for example, news in Africa rarely reported on in Russia?

In terms of working with the African continent, I believe that raising awareness on both sides is one of the most important issues we face. It is difficult to talk about joint ventures, for example, to develop the SME sector, when the African continent remains so little known in Russia, and in Africa, there is only a vague notion of what Russia is. The Russia–Africa Summit and Economic Forum played a crucial role in addressing this, as did the 2018 FIFA World Cup. That event saw many people from Africa visit Russia for the first time. They were able to see with their own eyes what our country is like, instead of being presented an image by the Western media. People were following events using various information resources.

These events played a huge role in helping to shape the media landscape. However, this exchange of information needs to be done on a more permanent basis. It’s worth pointing out that in today’s world, awareness can be raised in more ways than just via the media. Given the spread of social media, the student exchanges I mentioned earlier could, over time, play a much more important role in cultivating Russia’s image than conventional media channels. However, in order to achieve this, it is vital to work with young people in both Russia and Africa.

Going back to conventional media, I believe that first of all, Russian news agencies need to expand their network of correspondents in Africa. That would allow our journalists to work with primary sources, rather than rely on material put together by foreign news agencies. It will also be important to get Russian and African journalists working together, for example, through placement programmes, master classes, roundtables and so forth.

To answer the question on news in Africa being reported on in Russia, things are developing. Telegram channels dedicated to the African continent are appearing, for example, so it is possible to stay up-to-date with key events. One organization which is doing much to leverage Telegram channels is the Association of Economic Cooperation with African States (AECAS). Its members include the Roscongress Foundation, which has considerable experience in developing and implementing humanitarian initiatives. AECAS is also currently working to build an integrated space for people in Russia and Africa to obtain information. This appears to me to be a very promising area. Admittedly, when it comes to large news agencies, the problem is that there are not enough events to report on which would garner widespread interest. However, I am in no doubt that as Russian‑African relations develop further, things will improve in this area.

The second Russian-African Public Forum took place in November 2020. In his welcome address, Foreign Affairs Minister Sergey Lavrov said that amendments needed to be made topolicy initiatives in order to respond to changing realities in Africa. What was he referring to, and what is your take on “changing realities” in Africa?

First of all, I would say that the African continent has undergone an enormous transformation over the last few years. Across all areas, Africa has become much more profoundly involved in the economic processes driving globalization. Partners in Africa are implementing a programme to ease the movement of goods, capital and people, and to employ new technology in business and marketing. This has made the African economy more open and attractive to foreign investors.

The first Russia–Africa Economic Forum in Sochi served as yet another clear demonstration to the Russian and global community that the African economy is becoming more organic. It served as proof of Africa’s increasingly significant role in the global economy. Indeed, the continent has a direct bearing on global growth, and on progress in science and technology. Africa’s economic ties with the rest of the world are certainly no longer solely about supplying raw materials and being a market for finished products.

The socioeconomic growth we are witnessing, together with the global economy’s accelerated transition to a new wave of tech innovation, has meant that Africa’s role and position in the global economy has shifted significantly. The continent is also becoming an important growth pole in terms of global demand. Consumer spending on the continent has already reached US$ 680 billion. According the World Bank, this figure is set to grow to US$ 2.2 trillion by 2030.

As the continent undergoes this transformation, platforms for dialogue between Russia and Africa are profoundly changing too. The Russia–Africa Summit demonstrated the sheer enormity of potential that exists for collaboration across various areas. It was a historic milestone for Russian-African cooperation. One of the outcomes of the event was the establishment of the Secretariat of the Russia–Africa Partnership Forum. In addition to a public council, the body also incorporates a coordinating council, research council, and media council. Never before in Russia’s modern history has there been such a serious mechanism for bringing together expertise and best practices from all sides and across all areas. It is set to act as a foundation to develop all aspects of Russian-African partnership, and to effectively position Africa’s transformation, which we briefly discussed earlier.

The high-level summit also led to the establishment of the Association of Economic Cooperation with African States, which will serve as a platform to strengthen business ties between Russia and Africa.

The situation is so diverse – politics, economy and culture – in Africa. In your opinion, what are the best pathways for promoting policy initiatives, as well as the social aspects of diplomacy with Africa?

That is quite important, but I don’t think we should try to identify a single “best” or “universal” pathway. It’s important to understand that Africa is a diverse continent – every country is unique, and requires an individual approach. And that’s before we consider that methods and initiatives that are employed in one region of the world – for example, Europe – are not at all necessarily appropriate for countries in Africa. We need to meticulously analyse each initiative, and be sure to draw the greatest possible benefit from them.

Generally speaking, there needs to be a focus on working with people, and in particular, with young people in Africa. These efforts should be based upon the needs of the population. And as I mentioned earlier, the pathways to achieving our aims could look very different from one another. Africa, just like Russia, is blessed with a wealth of extremely young talented people: some make films, others dance, others draw. But that’s not the important thing. What’s important here is to do everything we can to connect the lives of people in Africa with our country –we show that Russia is ready to help develop their talents. After all, these people could well become the thought leaders of the future, as well as ambassadors for Russian-African relations. These people could help foster a positive image of Russia in their respective countries. We are ready to engage and cooperate with intergovernmental organizations, civil society and African partners, work constructively to consolidate the results from the first summit and what both Russia and Africa further set inthe joint declaration in Sochi, in October 2019.

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Economy

The role of economic warfare in understanding contemporary geopolitics

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Despite Fukuyama’s theses, the traditional war is not over: especially in Europe, from the former Yugoslavia to Ukraine. As for economic relations between states, these – with all due respect to the Austrian school – do not amount to “soft trade”. Indeed, as early as 1990, Edward Luttwak heralded the age of geoeconomics when Bernard Esambert published The World Economic War. German surpluses against French deficits, weak dollar against strong euro, difficult negotiations between the United States and the European Union on the subject of the transatlantic treaty, the world yesterday as today is an arena. Economic warfare is so pervasive that expression is a victim of its success. It is therefore necessary to precisely define this new theoretical and practical object, to evaluate its real scope and its mode of action.

It should be clear, looking carefully at the contemporary dynamics, to affirm that economic war is the daughter of globalization

Although economic warfare in the broadest sense of the term is not new, its contemporary form has relatively recent roots. We can consider that after the Second World War, with the revival of an international monetary system and the signing of the GATT agreements in 1947, the rules for commercial competition between largely national economies were established within the Western bloc. Thus, the economic struggles that have taken place in recent years have been confined to an arena of limited size.

Furthermore, when Bernard Esambert published Le Troisième Conflit mondial in 1968, he traced the contours of an economic war with positive virtues: not only did this “soft” war replace the real war in the West, but it was also a stimulus for industrialized countries, engaged in a profitable competition for all. Furthermore, the Cold War forced the nations of the Western bloc into a de facto solidarity that further limited the effects of their economic rivalries.

It was precisely this balance that was upset in 1991 with the fall of the USSR and the end of communism. From that moment on, nothing stood in the way of the capitalist and free trade model which, until then, represented only one of the two economic systems at work on the planet. Now the arena is global and hardly anyone challenges the rules of the game, but at the same time the end of the war does not bring down the politics of power; it moves them from the military and geopolitical terrain (clash of blocs, peripheral conflicts, etc.) to the economic and commercial terrain (rivalry between powers over resources, the struggle for market share, etc.). According to Luttwak, “in the future, fear of economic consequences could settle trade disputes, and certainly more political interventions motivated by powerful strategic reasons.” If Luttwak probably underestimated the importance that geopolitical issues would maintain, he underlined the new dimension of our globalization: that of economic competition between nations Far from thinking like the men of the Enlightenment that trade softens morals, it believes that trade is only one of the modes of war when its armed side weakens.

Winners of the Cold War, the United States was in fact the first to take stock of the change that the world was going through. Basically, the Cold War gave them the opportunity to subsidize entire segments of their economy.

But if at the beginning of the 90s, the geopolitical argument collapsed, the economic discourse remains in all its purity. In the same year, Secretary of State Warren Christopher officially declared that “economic security” was to be elevated to the top foreign policy priority of the United States of America.

In other words, the winners of the Cold War have officially declared economic war on the rest of the world. The perspective is certainly largely liberal; everyone has their chances and can win this game, but the discourse is ambiguous because it is tinged with the defense of national interests. In the end, it mixes both liberal and mercantilist rhetoric, principles hardly compatible in the eyes of economists but perfectly legitimate for politicians.

In order for a country to be fit to fight in economic warfare, it needs a state, that is – Esambert would say – a resolute warlord, who knows the profession of arms and who reduces the morale and spirit of conquest to the economy.

Yet in the 1980s and 1990s, in the era of neoliberalism and the Washington Consensus, the state had been mistreated; it was seen as an obstacle to economic development and therefore President Reagan was not afraid to say that “the problem is the state”. Financial globalization, the transnationalization of companies, the intensification of international trade have rung the death knell for this relic of the past. Not only has the state resisted the neoliberal potion, it is now making a comeback. The state continued to play its role of overseeing the private space by creating a favorable legal, fiscal and infrastructural environment for the economy. In our current context, states have also taken on the role of military leaders, to conquer markets and resources, both to secure their power and to enrich their businesses and their fellow citizens.

In fact, the state has a certain number of prerogatives or capabilities that companies are naturally lacking. The state can think long-term, finance long-term when companies prefer the short or medium term. Furthermore, it can implement expensive tools at the service of its companies to distinguish the sectors of the future, the fields in which they have an interest in investing; in short, the state has a far better view of the battlefield than any of its troops. The Japanese example of the MITI has a paradigmatic value, as demonstrated by the pioneering studies of the Paris school of economic warfare directed by Christian Harbulot.

It is also the state that guides the dynamics of tomorrow by setting goals: thus, the Lisbon strategy that the EU member countries adopted in 2000 intends to make the Union “the first knowledge economy” by 2010 by explicitly linking this goal to that of full employment. Only a state can tackle these kinds of tasks, the scope of which far exceeds the financing capabilities and motivations of a business.

States don’t wage wars without troops. These are businesses, large and small.

But what does all this mean specifically?

First of all, it concerns a simple but at the same time extremely delicate question in an era of globalization: the nationality of companies. Isn’t it an illusion to say that more and more multinational companies, owned by foreign capital, are American?

Indeed, economists have shown that, despite the logic of transnationalization, the idea of “corporate nationality” is not obsolete. First, because a number of strategic companies are protected by states: directly when they are shareholders indirectly when they are guarantors their independence from foreign companies. We recall, for example, that in 2006 the Bush administration forced the Dubai Port World company to sell to AIG International the management of the six large American ports carried out by the P&O company that DPW had purchased. Likewise, advertising firm China National Offshore Corporation was prevented in 2005 from acquiring the US company Unocal. What does this mean if not that states easily recognize national companies, even if their capitalization is now international?

In short, even in the era of the “Global Players”, we can speak of nationality of companies.

Secondly, we can assimilate the present large companies, even more so the multinationals, to the legions of the late Roman Empire; mixed, variegated, composed of Roman cadres and barbarian troops, they are nevertheless the army of the Empire. Today’s companies, despite their global character, still maintain a national foothold. Furthermore, the recent Peugeot bailout around an alliance between the family, the French state and the Chinese manufacturer Dongfeng illustrates well that the idea of a national company did not die with globalization, it is only more complex than in the past. .

Returning to contemporary economic warfare this can be read as a traditional conflict, with its war objectives. The first is to defensive carette: saving industrial jobs. This challenge has become an obsession as relocations or subcontracting to low-wage countries are draining our industrialized countries.

Why this obsession with industrial jobs in our outsourced world? It is because our post-industrial societies, in the sense that most of the GDP no longer comes from the secondary sector, are no less industrialized than they have ever been. Not only do industrial jobs generate tertiary employment, but there are also many that require a qualification. Bernard Esambert speaks of an “industry-service symbiosis” to designate this pair formed by the high-tech industry and the service sector that accompanies it. Losing the former to the advantage of the new industrial powers means losing the latter and risking regress, not to mention the risk of unemployment or underemployment, which no democracy can bear in the long run. Advocates of economic warfare therefore believe that industrial employment must be defended and even maintained . Beyond the economic debates about their cost-benefits, the destruction of jobs is difficult to accept in the eyes of voters and, therefore, decision makers.

The other objective of the war, decisive for the states, is no longer defense but the conquest of markets and scarce resources. Economic warfare scholars have clearly demonstrated the intensification of the war for the control of natural resources, mainly for the control of hydrocarbons.

Perhaps nothing better than this example illustrates in the eyes of its proponents the obviousness of economic warfare: oil is a scarce and limited resource. Every drop gained by one is lost by the other. Therefore, as it is the basis of development, it is necessary for each state to ensure a secure and continuous supply. The inexorable struggle that the United States and China are waging for African oil but also for the other resources of the subsoil of this continent is an example of this. Absent in Africa 25 years ago, China is now the third largest trading partner after the United States and France; for two thirds it imports oil, but also metals, cotton and precious stones.

This war for natural resources is the scene of a reversal of the balance of power between Western countries on the one hand and emerging and / or developing countries on the other. The rise of China, of the BRICS, the rise of sovereign wealth funds in the Arab oil exporting countries would demonstrate this. In economic warfare, resources are powerful ammunition. And everything suggests that this conflict will escalate.

The International Energy Agency estimates that energy needs will increase by 50% by 2030, in part due to Indian and Chinese growth. The search for raw materials will in fact become a crucial issue for the States. As early as 2007, the Committee on Critical Mineral Impacts on the US Economy published a report in which it lists eleven minerals that are particularly crucial to the American economy due to their scarcity, their need in high-tech industries … the more coveted, is rhodium, used in particular in catalytic converters, and found in Russia but also in South Africa, a much better ally than Moscow. Rare metal, today it is the subject of struggles in which states and multinationals fight side by side. As guarantor of the national economy, each State is called upon to draw up, in its own way, a list of the resources that are or will be essential for it.

The “scarce resources” also include companies that today more than ever are falling prey not only to their private counterparts but also to governments. As such, the crisis has facilitated the entry into the capital of very large companies in the countries of the South through powerful sovereign wealth funds. The large investment funds of the United Arab Emirates, in particular Dubai and Abu Dhabi, have invested extensively in favor of the economic crisis in prestigious companies in difficulty: EADS, AMD, Sony, Citigroup … The Chinese sovereign fund holds almost 10% by Morgan Stanley. As for the Singapore fund, it entered the equity of Merril Lynch at the same level. Here we find the idea of revolution in the North / South hierarchy: winning in the economic war is not a legacy. The newcomers are shaking up the old hierarchy. Saudi Arabia is estimated to be responsible for 5% of US GDP thanks to wealth creation made possible by the use of Arab oil. Suffice it to say that Riyadh has a strategic advantage over its powerful economic partner.

Finally, there is a scarce and strategic commodity that constitutes a relatively new objective of the war: information. It is now important that companies and states know their opponents, their exact technological level, their strategy, in order to be able to anticipate them. Sometimes we speak of cognitive warfare to refer to the advanced weapon of economic warfare. In fact, the acquisition of information with high added value is also essential for the development of the tango economic activity as much as the accumulation of financial capital and the coordination of human skills. If states now want to help their companies gain market share, they must equip themselves with economic intelligence programs, otherwise they will lag considerably behind in a form of struggle that appears increasingly crucial as all the immense theoretical and operational work done by Ecole du guerre economique founded by Chrustian Harbulot.

In short, our time is woven of contradictions; on the one hand, the states hold an official speech supporting, sometimes with nuances, a multilateralism supported by the main international institutions such as the UN, the WTO, the IMF. On the other hand, everyone can see that the states are developing quite different reasoning. The imperative of solidarity in the financial field advocated by the G20 t new response to the need not to lose market share in a context of tension. In the midst of the crisis, the logic of competitiveness requires the conquest of foreign markets.

It is up to Christian Harbulot to have clearly shown this shift from Cold War Manichaeism to the multilateral economic war that states are waging today. According to him, the ally / opponent pair replaced the partner / competitor one. This transformation of possible alliances is accompanied, according to Harbulot, by a reorganization of the field of partners and competitors in geographical terms. The two blocks of the Cold War would have succeeded three blocks: the first is the degraded space of the Western world from which we can possibly extract the United States, the second is the expanded room for maneuver of the new powers, the third, finally, is space of survival of other countries. Each of these spaces follows very different power strategies. Furthermore, the members of each block are not necessarily allies as we have just seen.

Therefore, any peremptory statement becomes impossible. The United States and China are waging a relentless war over Africa’s resources. But China, through the purchase of US Treasuries, is the country that allows the United States to live on credit. Another example, China and Taiwan are political enemies but economic partners.

If economic warfare is a struggle, it is based on weapons and countermeasures. In covert warfare, a large number of tools count as weapons. The first of all is undoubtedly training: in our constantly changing societies, initial training helps create a workforce or managers prepared for change.

Likewise, the importance given to research is fundamental. Since 2010, China has more researchers than the United States, although the latter enjoy, thanks to the practice of brain drain, the sharpest minds on the planet. In this context, public-private collaboration is fundamental: in the United States, the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980 provides that patents financed with public funds – by universities or public research centers – are assigned mainly in the form of exclusive rights to private companies American.

In other words, in the eyes of states in economic warfare, the search for patents is truly a national affair, a guarantee of productivity, a decisive weapon in the perspective of a trade struggle between nations. These tools are at the service of competitiveness, this ability to face competition on external and internal markets. As for the attractiveness – which could be understood as the competitiveness of a territory – it is the object of particular attention by many states that the disputes between the European Commission and Ireland regarding Apple have brought to light.

The ultimate hidden weapon of warfare is economic intelligence. It is similar both to a weapon, which anticipates the enemy’s movement to surprise him and steal his victory, but also to a defense tactic because it anticipates enemy moves, practicing disinformation for example. The United States is the main player in this information war. We now know that the NSA, initially created in a counterintelligence logic during the Cold War, would have used the Echelon network to know the position of the European Union in 1994 during the final negotiations of the Uruguay Round. In 2014, the New York Times revealed that the agency had spied on an American law firm defending a foreign country in a trade dispute with the U.S. Information has become one of the key issues of the economic war.

As states move from covert warfare to open warfare, weapons change. These attacks can take the form of geoeconomic retaliation in response to a geopolitical crisis; this is for example the case in the fruit and vegetable embargo between the European Union and Russia.

Voluntary import restrictions also amount to retaliatory measures. The well-known example of the restrictions imposed by the United States on Japanese cars in the 1980s testifies to the violence of the conflict. Faced with rising Japanese car sales, Washington sought to protect the “Big Three”. Rather than proceed unilaterally, the US government has asked the Japanese to limit their exports. Tokyo preferred to negotiate this perfectly anti-liberal measure rather than run the risk of even more unfavorable restrictions being imposed: this is the voluntary restriction agreement of 1980.

A series of disputes between states led to the adoption of tariff peaks in retaliation; for example, the United States decided in January 2009 to triple tariffs on Roquefort in response to a ban on exports of hormone-containing beef in Europe. In each of these cases, the best offense was the defense.

When worried about avoiding frontal conflicts, states prefer an alternative approach which is to facilitate the assault of their companies on foreign markets. For this reason the political power is an ardent promoter of its companies. This ancient practice has been systematized in the United States in the form of “commercial diplomacy”. This is based on three principles: preparing the ground by liberalizing trade with the destination country; use economic intelligence, industrial and commercial intelligence to provide American companies with all the data on the ground to be conquered; finally, to set up ad hoc structures such as the War room. This offensive public strategy is entirely in the service of the private corporations that are the strength of the United States. It is in the same perspective that Washington has increased the number of bilateral free trade treaties: with most of the countries of Central America in the 2000s, with Morocco in 2006, South Korea in 2010.

Finally, there is one last weapon that, individually, is now almost the prerogative of a few emerging countries: sovereign wealth funds. Although they deny themselves, these funds take hold in sometimes strategic groups and help guide their strategy.

To cope with these dangers, those involved in economic warfare have developed policies that resemble shields or even counterattacks. In a context where customs barriers are historically low, there are other means to preserve its market: export subsidies, standards, favoritism given to national companies in one form or another (think of the Small Business Act which reserves some public procurement for SMEs) In short, all means are good.

So it is with money, which has long been – and continues to be – a defensive weapon in the hands of states, especially in the form of devaluation. The UK gave us a recent example of the geo-economic use that could be made of a currency: at the height of the crisis, London let the pound slip while the euro remained strong. In this way, British exports were stimulated. We could reproduce the analysis for the yuan or even the yen at a time when Shinzo Abe has launched a policy of monetary expansion.

For large Western states, it is primarily about protecting their markets at a time when old-fashioned protectionism is almost outlawed. For emerging countries, the stakes are different: by increasing the number of regulatory sources (state, international, private, public, etc.), they weaken the universal legal system designed by the dominant states. Paradoxically, the desire to unify world trade has led to a legal fragmentation of the latter.

The rules of trade have become a battleground in a few decades. Witness the emergence in France of the notion of “economic patriotism”. Spread out in 2005 by Dominique de Villepin, then Prime Minister, the doctrine of economic patriotism is based on the idea that it would be up to the state to defend companies considered to belong to strategic sectors. In practice, success is mixed: while Suez was married to GDF in 2008 to deal with a potential takeover by Italy’s Enel, Arcelor was absorbed by Mittal.

Looking at the world today, it is tempting to provocatively conclude that war has a bright future; economic warfare of course, but also traditional warfare. But there is also a more dramatic scenario, namely that tomorrow’s economic wars can degenerate into armed conflicts.

In short, yesterday as today, historical reality is an ocean of forces that are opposed to each other, in a dynamic that determines a perpetual flow that now leads to ascent now to decline.

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