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Will world growth continue – or are we heading for a slowdown? | Nouriel Roubini

Following IMF’s World Economic Outlook, here are three scenarios for global economy in medium term

For the past few years, the global economy has been oscillating between periods of acceleration (when growth is positive and strengthening) and periods of deceleration (when growth is positive but weakening). After more than a year of acceleration, is the world heading towards another slowdown, or will the recovery persist?

The current upswing in growth and equity markets has been going strong since the summer of 2016. Despite a brief hiccup after the Brexit vote, the acceleration endured not only Donald Trump’s election as US president but the heightening policy uncertainty and geopolitical chaos that he has generated. In response to this apparent resilience, the International Monetary Fund, which in recent years had characterised global growth as the “new mediocre”, upgraded its World Economic Outlook in July.

Related: Won’t get fooled again: IMF warning shows it’s learned from past errors

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Nigel Farage: “This Is The Clearest Proof Yet That The Great Brexit Betrayal Is Under Way”

Authored by Nigel Farage, originally published in the Telegraph

Theresa May is now the EU's Stepford Wife: subservient and submissive to their every whim

So there we have it. Theresa May does not believe in Brexit. In an interview with Iain Dale on LBC, she completely collapsed, proving incapable of answering the question of how would she vote if there was a referendum now. She simply would not answer if she would support Leave.

Everyone listening to that interview knows that the reality is that May is still a Remainer. I don’t believe it’s possible to carry out this great, historic change against a huge amount of international criticism unless you truly believe in it. Nor, as it happens, does May: in a speech on June 1 she herself said: “To deliver Brexit you have to believe it”. This is the clearest proof yet that the Great Brexit Betrayal is under way.

It is only the latest piece of evidence in a whole procession. On Monday we also found out that Boris Johnson – supposedly Brexit's loudest cheerleader in the Cabinet – has bottled it. Last month the Foreign Secretary stated in print his demand that the UK must leave the wretched European Court of Justice (ECJ) on Day One of our exit from the EU in March 2019. But then folded like a cheap suit by backing to the hilt Theresa May’s House of Commons Brexit statement – a speech which was itself further confirmation of the great betrayal.

This came to light in her answer to the rapier-like question from Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, in which she said that the UK will still be bound by ECJ rulings during the Brexit transition period, Jacob looked somewhat deflated by this answer. She also would not deny that any new EU laws would be applicable to us, simply trying to ignore the question by saying it was ‘highly unlikely’ this this would occur.

During her parliamentary address, May admitted to MPs that Britain will still be bound by the ECJ’s rulings during the Brexit transition period, currently set to end in 2021. Not only that, but she suggested this country will also have to accept any new EU laws which are dreamt up in Brussels during this time. 

In her world, this arrangement represents part of a “smooth and orderly process of withdrawal, with minimum disruption”.

To me, this demonstrates that May has become the Stepford Wife of the EU – conformist, subservient, submissive. It is woeful stuff.

The only good news of the day is that, at last, some contingency plans have been prepared for a no deal outcome. The only trouble is I simply do not believe that May has the courage to opt for this.

Depressingly, another supposed Brexiteer in the Cabinet, Environment Secretary Michael Gove, joined Johnson, hailing May’s “strong statement” in the Commons. To him, it was as though she had just made some important breakthrough for the good of mankind when all she had done was roll over and surrender for even longer our courts and laws to a distant power.

I realise that Johnson and Gove have assumed this new anything-goes position because they want to publicly support their troubled party leader at a difficult time and, by extension, remain in government for as long as possible. Anything to keep Jeremy Corbyn out of Downing Street is the mantra.

But is there not something utterly shameless about their acquiescence? Indeed, does anyone seriously believe either man actually welcomes our remaining under the ECJ for the foreseeable future?

By putting themselves and, let’s face it, their careers first, Johnson and Gove have made clear that they have no serious interest in carrying out the will of the 17.4 million people who last year voted to leave the EU. To them, the lives of the citizens are secondary.

In backing a proposition they don’t even agree with, they have done little more than make themselves look foolish and mocked the notion that we are an independent state.

What their actions show is that this is fast becoming Brexit in name only and, as I’ve written before, it should concern everybody that our politicians are caving in at the very time they should be standing firm.

What sort of message does it send to potential trading partners in the world that Britain is still bowing and scraping to the institution which in June 2016 we very publicly dumped?

Countries outside the EU will regard us as flaky, a shadow of ourselves, perhaps even untrustworthy. At the same time, some within the EU will smell blood, and will use our confused domestic political situation to punish us as they see fit. It is lose-lose.

With every week that passes we see May and her government dither and delay over one issue or another, and it is this sense that she is being worn down by her opponents in the EU that I find truly alarming. The fight appears to have gone out of her at the time we need it most. I wrote last month of May’s naivety in thinking that the EU even wants to do a deal with Britain. It is blatantly obvious they don’t, and that she should call their bluff and walk away. The time for appeasing Messrs Juncker, Barnier and Verhofstadt is over.

Yesterday, Theresa May became Theresa Maybe in that she left open the door to further concessions. Once again I find myself wondering whether, 16 months after we voted to do so, we have the leaders to complete the job.

 

What Saudis Hope To Get Out Of Russia Ties

Authored by M.K. Bhadrakumr viaThe Strategic Culture Foundation,

The mishap at the Moscow airport on Wednesday when the Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz arrived on a historic visit, was a wake-up call that even the most carefully choregraphed enterprises may hold unpleasant surprises.

When Salman exited his plane and stepped out onto the special escalator he travels with, something went wrong. It malfunctioned halfway down, leaving the king standing awkwardly for about 20 seconds before he decided to walk the rest of the way. For ordinary mortals, this wouldn’t have been an uncommon occurrence but divinity ordains when a king is involved.

The Russian-Saudi entente is not going to be smooth. The climactic event last week drawing Saudi Arabia into President Vladimir Putin’s Middle East sphere of influence, must be assessed with a sense of proportions.

Salman had hardly departed from Russian soil when the Pentagon issued a statement announcing that the State Department had on Friday approved a possible US$15-billion sale of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) systems to Saudi Arabia.

The statement recalled that Saudi Arabia had requested to purchase from America 44 THAAD launchers, 360 missiles, 16 fire control stations and seven radars.

The US officials confirmed that the sale was part of the $110-billion package of defense equipment and services initially announced during US President Donald Trump’s trip to Saudi Arabia in May. The Pentagon statement said, “This potential sale will substantially increase Saudi Arabia’s capability to defend itself against the growing ballistic missile threat in the region.”

The timing of the US announcement is highly significant. It comes in the wake of claims by Russian officials that Saudi Arabia had shown interest in buying the S-400 missile defense system from Russia. The Saudis have successfully pressured the Trump administration to approve the sale of the THAAD system. And Washington has signaled that the US will not let Russia make an entry into the Saudi arms bazaar.

Hard-nosed realpolitik

The hard-nosed realpolitik in the Saudi-Russian entente had a dramatic start when the then Saudi intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan visited Russia and held a four-hour meeting with Putin at the latter’s dacha outside Moscow in early August 2013. According to media leaks from Russian sources, the Prince allegedly confronted the Kremlin with a mix of inducements and threats in a bid to break Russia’s support for the Syrian regime, which Riyadh was trying to overthrow.

Bandar’s package was riveted on the alluring proposal of a unified Russian-Saudi strategy to keep oil production quantities at a level that keeps the price stable in global markets via an alliance between the OPEC cartel and Russia. And, in return for throwing the Syrian regime under the bus – thereby leaving Iran to face the brunt of the ISIS threat – Bandar promised that Russia could retain the naval base in Taurus under a successor regime in Damascus and be assured of security from a ‘jihadi’ backlash.

The Kremlin apparently spurned the overture in a huff. At any rate, by the beginning of 2014, symptoms of a new Cold War began appearing in Russia’s relations with the West following the regime change in Ukraine. The year 2015 also saw a ‘transition’ in Saudi Arabia with the death of King Abdullah. Of course, the year ended with Russia’s military intervention in Syria.

However, the seeds left behind by Bandar began sprouting and with the Russian economy feeling the crunch from Western sanctions, the fall in oil prices on the world market assumed an existential overtone for the Kremlin. The challenge of the US oil shale industry also meant that Saudi-Russian cooperation became a practical necessity. The rest is history.

Agreement to cut oil production

Indeed, the hallmark of Salman’s visit to Moscow has been the pledge by the two countries to carry forward their agreement to cut oil production. Putin disclosed that the deal to cut oil output to boost prices could be extended till the end of 2018, instead of expiring in March 2018.

Putin described his talks with the Saudi king as “very substantive, informative and very trusting”. And Russian commentators have hyped up that Saudi Arabia is “leaning toward Moscow in solving the Syrian crisis”. The Russian reports mentioned that Moscow and Riyadh are eyeing cooperation on nuclear energy, space exploration, plus infrastructure and arms deals.

However, Bandar’s proposal on oil production still remains the leitmotif of Saudi-Russian cooperation, as apparent from the rise in oil prices this week – as word came that Saudi Arabia and Russia would limit oil production through next year. (Brent crude was up 70 cents at $56.50 per barrel on Thursday.)

The point is, how do the Saudis view their ties with Russia? Are they aiming at a geopolitical shift in the Middle East? Evidently, Salman’s visit underscores that the Saudi and Russian leaders have decided to shift their focus toward common interests rather than let disagreements crowd the centre stage of relations. But then, the THAAD deal signals that Saudi Arabia also has a ‘big picture’ of itself being a major regional and international player.

Suffice to say, the Saudis are shifting away from their special relations with the West to a balanced foreign policy by opening up with Russia and creating multiple options for pursuing national interests. To be sure, the Saudis hope to diversify their partnerships based on common interests. While disagreements remain with Moscow over Syria – and notwithstanding the close ties between Moscow and Tehran – the Saudis have adopted a realistic policy toward the Kremlin.

Most certainly, the Saudi expectation is that at some point, the prospect of lucrative business opportunities would encourage the Kremlin to balance Russia’s relations with Iran. Basically, Bandar’s overture to Putin remains the bottom line.