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TL(PM) DIGEST: Peace sells—but who's buying?
Plus partisan polarization worldwide on national economic situations, friend-shoring ramps up, and we regret to inform you that far-right House members are at it again
1. Russia targets Kyiv as African leaders visit
What happened? Ukrainian Patriot missiles intercepted Russian ballistic missiles targeting Kyiv as a delegation of African leaders (including South African President Cyril Ramaphosa) visited the city to make an amorphous and ill-defined push for “peace.” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba responded to the timing of the Russian attack via a social media post:
Putin “builds confidence” by launching the largest missile attack on Kyiv in weeks, exactly amid the visit of African leaders to our capital. Russian missiles are a message to Africa: Russia wants more war, not peace.
Why does it matter? Moscow once again shows it has no interest in diplomacy or peace by lobbing missiles at Ukraine’s capital while a group of African leaders—one of whom who has effectively aligned with Russia while loudly proclaiming to be non-aligned—visit to push what would almost certainly be a plan favorable to the Kremlin. And weapons provided by America and its allies helped protect those same leaders.
TLP’s take: It’s hard to take incessant calls for diplomacy to “end” the war in Ukraine on the Kremlin’s terms that populate the pages of prestigious American and European media outlets all that seriously when Moscow goes out of its way to make clear that it’s not even remotely interested in talks. Any serious or substantial diplomacy will need to wait until the results of Ukraine’s new counteroffensive become clear—and that will take some time.
2. No truly objective public ratings of the national economy exist
What happened? New cross-national polling finds that “majorities of adults in 18 of 24 countries surveyed by Pew Research Center this spring rate their nation’s economic situation poorly. A median of 70 percent of adults across these countries say their nation’s economic situation is bad. Just 29 percent offer positive assessments.”
Why does it matter? As inflation and high interest rates continue to dampen people’s views about their national economies in multiple contexts, the differences in opinions from in-party supporters versus out-party supporters are striking. In every single country surveyed by Pew, supporters of the current governing party report more positive ratings of the economy by an eight to 47-point margin over those who do not support the governing party.
TLP’s take: As the United States girds itself for another interminable presidential election, keep in mind that views about the economy rarely correspond to actual macro conditions or even personal circumstances—they mostly serve as proxies for partisan support or leanings rather than as objective economic judgments. That said, when only 39 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents rate the current economy as good, and a mere 16 percent among opponents, President Biden has his work cut out for him convincing Americans that his stewardship of the economy deserves four more years.
3. Europe and Canada benefit from friend-shoring
What happened? The Financial Times reports that demand for new factories in Europe has risen by 29 percent over the past year as companies look to reduce geopolitical risk and shorten supply chains. U.S. chipmaker Intel, for instance, is set to build a $4.6 billion semiconductor assembly and testing plant in Poland. Meanwhile, Microsoft announced plans to relocate its top artificial intelligence researchers from China to Canada as part of its “Vancouver Plan” to build a new lab in there amidst growing U.S.-China tensions.
Why does it matter? The process of friend-shoring appears to have acquired a life of its own as private companies respond to both demands from their clients as well as economic and geopolitical incentives created by governments around the world. Still, it’s an uneven process: U.S. chipmaker Micron looks set to go ahead with a $600 million investment in a Chinese-based semiconductor facility even after Beijing banned the company’s chips from government-purchased computers.
TLP’s take: For all the talk about the possible horrors of as-yet non-existent economic “de-coupling” between the United States and China, private companies can read the geopolitical and, more importantly, economic writing on the wall. Much of the ongoing friend-shoring process will be driven by private companies responding to an increasingly closed and expensive China, strong public manufacturing incentives provided by America and its allies, and a post-pandemic desire for shorter supply chains.
4. We regret to inform you that far-right House members are at it again
What happened? After passing bipartisan legislation to cap spending and make other budgetary changes as part of a two-year suspension of the debt ceiling, House Republicans are already violating the agreement to push even lower spending targets in upcoming appropriations bills.
Why does it matter? The prospect of a fall government shutdown increases daily as unruly House Republicans fail to get their act together. The New York Times reports that rather than craft bills to meet the recent debt ceiling agreement targets, the House is doing the opposite:
Facing a rebellion by hard-right Republicans over the debt limit agreement, Mr. McCarthy and his leadership team blindsided Democrats this week by setting allocations for the 12 annual spending bills at 2022 levels, about $119 billion less than the $1.59 trillion allowed for in the agreement to raise the debt ceiling.
The lower spending levels, demanded by Freedom Caucus members who shut down the House last week to register their ire at the debt limit deal, were pushed through the Appropriations Committee on a party-line vote on Thursday after hours of acrimony during which Democrats accused Republicans of backtracking on the compromise.
TLP’s take: One thing you can always count on in American politics: party extremists willing to undermine broad national economic prosperity for narrow ideological purposes. The so-called Freedom Caucus already used the threat of national default to get their way on spending cuts—which they promptly rejected when it came time to vote, choosing default over compromise—and now they want to force a government shutdown to get even more unspecified demands.
Congress should reject their antics and ensure that the government functions properly and meets its responsibilities to the American people.
Just one more thing…
Wilson, a Belgian shepherd dog who heroically rescued four children that spent 40 days alone after their plane crashed in the Colombian Amazon, himself tragically went missing in the jungle during the search-and-rescue operation. He is believed to have become disoriented in the thick foliage or encountered a predator “caused a change in his normal behavior.”
The search for Wilson is ongoing.