Stories to Follow
Tensions in Iraq Continue to Rise: Tensions in Iraq are again on the rise. After a rocket barrage in response to the killing of Soleimani in January, the United States and Iran backed away from further conflict. However, Iranian-backed militias launched salvos several times in the last few days, including those that killed U.S. service members. The Pentagon threatened a severe response, while the Iraqis remained worried about becoming embroiled in a U.S.-Iranian struggle. Iraqi officials were already under pressure from The Pentagon for not acting to prevent attacks on US interests. U.S. airstrikes were being conducted inside Iraq against sites belonging to Iranian-backed militias.
COVID-19 Grips the World: Amid the COVID-19 outbreak new questions are being asked about the strength of the U.S. and the global economy. Social distancing is keeping people away from public gatherings, flights, and other leisure activities that draw up on the service sector of the economy. Parallels are being drawn between the current market sell-offs and the 2008 financial crisis. Some economists contend that the economy’s fundamentals are sound and that liquidity is safe, while investors remain concerned about a drop in corporate earnings and the impacts that will have on credit and currency markets. Since the U.S. economy is driven primarily by the consumer, cutbacks in buying could trigger a more serious situation.
Oil Prices Continue to Drop: Oil prices continue to plummet, with prices now hovering in the low $30/barrel. For oil-exporting states there is cause for panic as their main commodity is being devalued in the global market. The depression in prices has resulted in tension between major players in petroleum. Saudi Arabia sought a deal to depress oil production in order to drive up prices but the Russians balked. Russian energy officials are comfortable underselling the Saudis because their break-even price is significantly lower, the cash-strapped Saudis are in a political and economic bind. China, with its never-ending need for energy, benefits the most from the cheaper oil.
Happening This Week
As a result of NYU’s effort to combat the COVID-19 spread, JPI events will be postponed or moved online. Please stay tuned for updates, and be sure to follow best-practice recommendations for mitigating infection.
Many events and gatherings have been cancelled or postponed in accordance with CDC recommendations. If you hold event tickets, check with vendors for refund and contingency policies.
In the meantime, this is a great opportunity to get outside and enjoy the parks and waterfronts that New York City has to offer. Be sure to follow social distancing guidelines when outdoors!
In Your Free Time
Is your gym closed? Got cabin fever? Try these home workouts to stay fit, healthy, and reduce stress.
Keep your hands busy with this collection of adult arts and crafts. It might not be the spring break you planned, but it will be fun. Finally, check out this article from The Atlantic on the art of socializing during social distancing.
This week’s Monday Briefing was brought to you by Daniel Shibley.