By Emily Donahue
May was one of the most eventful in history for the United States, and the global community. In addition to protests over racial inequity and the use of police force that shook major cities in the United States and abroad, the world continued to reel from the dual impacts of a global pandemic and the related economic downturn that caused mass unemployment, bankruptcies and predictions for long-term recession. RANE analysts steered clients and audiences through the many ups, downs and curves both on our own platforms and through the news media.
There is little doubt that the size and scale of the protests, with powerful messages raising issues of institutionalized racism, the appropriate use of police force and official responses to demands for change will have geopolitical implications. China and Iran, most notably, have attempted to use this moment to accuse U.S. officials of hypocrisy for accusing them of authoritarianism and denying their citizens basic liberties. This is likely to intensify in coming weeks, and we expect a major focus on the implications of the push for change in the United States next month.
At the beginning of May, as the COVID-19 lockdown was still in force, our network of experts noted the impacts of associated stress; not just from concern and confusion about the virus but also the sharp economic downturn. Dr. Harold Koplewicz is one of the nation's leading child and adolescent psychiatrists. He put it this way:
"This pandemic is so unusual, that it has had an effect on the mental health of every person in the United States. That doesn't mean everyone has a mental health disorder, but everyone's mental health is affected."
Koplewicz offered tips in a webinar RANE hosted for clients and the public on the topic. Addressing the Mental Health Effects of COVID-19 offers advice on how to spot and support people who have developed new anxieties during these uncertain times.
Media turned to RANE and its analysts at Stratfor for insight on the underlying geopolitics stemming from different reactions to the pandemic.
For instance, Reuters asked RANE network expert, James Bosworth, about Mexico drug cartels' communication infrastructure. And when the pandemic seemed to slow some of the cartels' actions, global security analyst Ben West told Fox News:
"They're extremely adaptable and so this is going to be just a disruption, but they are used to dealing in an environment where there's a lot of disruptions, so I wouldn't expect that it would totally knock them out."
Times of upheaval or uncertainty can intensify global geopolitics, which is why RANE analysts dug deep into forecasting and analysis of core themes during the pandemic; including oil markets, military and trade relations, the global economy, diplomacy, and regional impacts.
COVID-19 caused major impacts in oil-producing nations. Stratfor Director of Middle East and Energy Greg Priddy helped clients and the media stay ahead of the economic and geopolitical impacts of plummeting oil prices:
"This is clearly the largest production cut ever — and will be in real terms," Greg Priddy told Business Insider. "But it's also the largest demand destruction that we've seen in modern times."
Nations in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia and the GCC economies are critically dependent on oil income. Emily Hawthorne spoke to The Telegraph and Bloomberg about oil price impacts on the economies of both Saudi Arabia and Iraq.
As the world slowly reopened in May, Israel built towards the annexation of parts of the West. MENA analyst Ryan Bohl provided guidance on Turkey's interactions with Israel for readers of the Arab News.
Everywhere, events that may have been overlooked amid the pandemic were coming to light. In Prague, concern swirled about a potential Moscow-backed Ricin attack. As Ben West told Radio Free Europe:
"This has the elements of a psychological campaign against the Czech Republic to show Russia's disapproval of Prague's recent actions."
"China's trade competition with the United States, and then this Covid-19 crisis ... both of those have really exposed the difficulties of having supply chains that are overly dependent on particular areas."
Then, China instituted a new security act for Hong Kong, which brought protesters — with and without masks — into the streets. Baker explained to Yahoo Finance's Akiko Fujita that more countries other than the United States are starting to rethink their relationships with China beyond trade.
More recently, as attention has turned to peaceful demonstrations and nighttime violence in major cities, there has been talk on social media (and on some podcasts) suggesting linkages between loosely organized factions of groups such as antifa and boogaloo with possible outside forces attempting to destabilize the United States. While such claims are far from substantiated (at present), they almost certainly reflect growing tensions between China and the United States, and fears of outside influence in U.S. affairs in an election year. Given the nature of social media, we can expect that at some point such theories may rise to the surface as November nears.
Whenever and wherever news breaks, RANE is there. In times of disruption, like the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, our mission is clearer than ever. We were built for times like these — because shared risks demand shared solutions. Learn more about how individuals and organizations turn to RANE for risk intelligence that cuts through the hype to focus on what they need to know, what to expect, and what to do. Learn how.