- General election June 7 - ruling Justice & Development party (AKP) expected to win.
- If current president Recep Erdogan wins super majority, he will try to shift Turkey from a parliamentary system to a presidential one.
- Erdogan's presidency is characterised by a neo-Islamist, intrusive, growing authoritarian rule.
- IMF now says no (after years of saying yes) because renminbi has gained 25% against the US$ over the last decade.
- US considers it "significantly undervalued" (saying China keeps it this way for trade advantage).
- China is the world's largest trading nation, and many attribute this to an artificially undervalued currency.
- Big depreciation of currency.
- Deep recession continues.
- Multi-year government stimulus program (aimed at prolonging a consumption & credit-led boom) has failed, and all that's left is a huge budget deficit.
- Seismic shift to the right in presidential poll as Andrzej Duda wins.
- His Law & Justice party = nationalist, eurosceptic, socially conservative.
- He was backed by anti-establishment youth & the elderly - his victory signals bumpy relations with Brussels & Berlin ahead.
- Recent regional & local elections have changed political backdrop from 2-party to 4-party contest.
- Ruling Popular party (PP) lost heavily (but still dominant political force) - traditional Socialist opposition did even worse.
- Political newcomers Podemos & Ciudadanos did well.
- Produces 10m barrels per day, but consumes 25% of them.
- Believed that at current consumption rate, given reserves and estimated extraction potential, set to become a net oil importer by 2025/30.
- Hence government is making announcements about investing in solar and wind energy + the need to phase out fossil fuel use by 2050.
- Al-Qaeda: Attack US, long term vision, win hearts & minds, don't alienate fellow Muslims.
- ISIS: Attack anyone, indiscriminate brutality.
- This strategic (medium/long-term) difference also evident from a tactical (short-term) perspective, where ISIS makes al-Qaeda look almost moderate.
- ISIS has regained momentum - recent big advances in Syria (captured Palmyra) & Iraq (captured Ramadi & now 1 hr from Baghdad).
- Now controls all border crossings between the two countries.
- Coalition (Iraq army, Iran-backed Shia militias, US airforce) looking ineffective (despite recent Tikrit victory).
- Problem for Japan is that economy is looking better but still no signs of much-needed in inflation (big fear is for deflation coming back to spook the economy).
- Central bank (BoJ) recently saying economic outlook ok and signs some signs of inflation, so therefore monetary easing on hold.
- IMF warning recovery is weak hence 3 arrows of Abenomics should continue (and therefore monetary easing should continue).
- El Niño = band of warm water that develops in the central Pacific that brings drought to some regions and floods to others.
- First one developing in 6 years (and described as "moderate-to-strong").
- Expected to bring drought to Sahel region of Africa, less rainfall to China, India, SE Asia, Australia & Brazil, but more rain to drought-hit California.