As Saudi Arabia continues to ramp up production, taking market share away from U.S. shale producers, U.S. shale is being forced to cut back. This story has been told many times over the past few months, but the data is finally confirming the success of Saudi Arabia's strategy, albeit a minor one thus far.
It's often said that you can't get economists to agree on anything. Well, oil economists certainly can't agree on future prices, with commentators suggesting anything from $20 to $200. Seldom has there been such a discrepancy in forecasting, though the median forecasts seem to be somewhere between $60 and $70.
The recent deal between Cyprus and Russia may seemingly have no real short-term impact on the EU or Russia's politics in the Balkans. But it is in fact part of Russia's grand design to bypass the sanctions, stabilize and increase its foreign expansion in the EU, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East.
While the media touted the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit as a sign of Africa's "rising" and its soon-to-be key role on the world stage, the truth is quite the opposite. African leaders' love for summitry isn't a sign of a rising continent, but rather, a sign of confusion, weakness and lack of direction.
We have not yet seen any renewed attempt to re-establish the "Quadrilateral Security Dialogue," comprising Japan, Australia, the U.S., and India, which conducted joint military exercises in 2007 and was seen by China as a hostile containment enterprise. But it is not hard to imagine that this is still very much on Abe's wish list. The dangers should not be exaggerated. But, with strategic competition between the U.S. and China as delicately poised as it is, and with the economic interests of Australia, Japan, and many others in the region bound up just as intensely with China as their security interests are with the U.S., rocking the boat carries serious risks.
In the face of such promises and threats, it makes no sense to be optimistic or pessimistic: We are not spectators of the world in motion, but players. Only spectators may be content with being optimistic or pessimistic. As for players, they are neither the one nor the other at all times. They play.