May 2020 Geopolitical Event Watch


K.P. O'Reilly PhD, JD

K.P. O'Reilly PhD, JD

May 2020 Geopolitical Event Watch

April 30, 2020

Re-opening the Global Economy. As several countries in Europe look to have hit peak COVID-19 infections, efforts to re-start economies shuttered by social distancing measures have begun. Meanwhile, several US states are attempting tenuous re-openings, given low virus testing rates and capacities. Will such moves result in a second wave of the virus absent an effective vaccine and uncertainty as to immunity, as experienced in places like Singapore? A relapse could force further and more prolonged social distancing measures scuttling any hopes for a quick economic recovery.

Kim Jong-un Watch. A prolonged absence from state media coverage has set-off speculation that the North Korean leader is gravely ill or even dead. Questions as to Kim Jong-un’s grip on power or a possible transition of government control raise serious concerns that a power struggle or vacuum would have contagion effects both regionally and globally. A regime change potentially pits Chinese sphere of influence claims against long-standing US alliances in Asia.

VP Derby Begins. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is forming a search committee to select his running mate. He’s expected to pick a woman based on his recent statements. A shortlist of names includes former primary challengers Kamla Harris, Elizabeth Warren, and Amy Klobuchar, along with rising stars like Michigan governor Gretchen Witmer and Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams. The question is whether Biden will seek to secure potential swing state votes (e.g., Michigan) or appease progressive voters further on the left of the party.

COVID-19 Crashing Wave. Having passed through much of Asia and Europe, the next stop for the virus appears to be the developing world, particularly Sub-Sahara Africa. The potential impact of the illness on these countries led the World Health Organization (WHO) to warn that worst is yet to come. Limited health care resources and governance capacity mean the virus could harder hit developing countries (Figure 1). The resulting GDP losses risk wiping out standards of living gains while simultaneously governments will face constrained access to external funding and assistance.

Brazil Political Turmoil. Public dissatisfaction with President Jair Bolsonaro is growing with recent polling suggesting a disapproval rate of 64%. Negative sentiment appears fueled by his (mis)handling of policy related to the COVID-19 virus as confirmed cases continue to increase, and the firing of his health minister after repeated public disagreements. The resignation of Justice Minister Sergio Moro last week further fan growing concerns over potential corruption by members of Bolsonaro’s immediate family. Ultimately, a weakened presidency jeopardizes the ability to garner congressional support for the economic reform agenda hoped for by investors.


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2020-04-30T08:04:21+00:00 By |