Fabrizio Franciosi

Talking heads
ECB's game of thrones

The background to the appointment of Luis de Guindos Jurado, currently Spanish Minister of economy, as Vice President of the European Central Bank (ECB), outlines what will happen in the next months (Draghi’s term of office will end in October 2019), with the maneuvers of France and Germany aiming at dominating the “control room” of the Union. 

Talking heads
The EU's Eastern problem

Warsaw, Budapest and the other Eastern capitals are the thorns in the sides of the European Union. 

Talking heads
Not enough to keep Asia happy

The outcomes of the recent United States President’s trip in Asia are somewhat perplexing. Admittedly, one should analyze the results of this diplomatic event according to each partner’s expectations and prospects. It is still unclear whether Donald Trump was aware of the mission he had to accomplish in the Far East : reassuring the traditional allies about  US military commitments in the area and  giving a new impetus (a “new deal”) to Asia - American relations. Promising tremendous trade ties, as Trump did with Vietnam, might not be sufficient. 

Cover story
Hate & love diplomacy

Despite some important shared viewpoints in world affairs between Donald Trump and Xi Jinping, there seems to be a dramatic distance from the proactive dynamic state capitalism embraced by Xi and the 20th century old economy endorsed by Trump.


Talking heads
Europe's tepid independence movements

Many enthusiastic Europeanists viewed the European Union as an effective way to euthanize nationalisms.

Talking heads
Scandinavia’s defense dilemma

Beyond the differences between the countries of the Scandinavian peninsula (we will analyze here Finland, as well, though it is not a “Scandinavian” country from a linguistic point of view and, by a historical one, its links with Sweden were severed in 1809 with the Peace of Frederiskshaven and its annexation by Russia), all of them have a feature in common, represented by an apparent contradiction: such states couple a traditional and distinctive element of pacifism, “the welfare state” and culture of “positive welcome,” along with an equally strong commitment in the military field.

Cover story
How Kim keeps the world in check

The young leader of North Korea, like his father and grandfather before him, is playing a dangerous game. But the game’s logic is quite sound. Now both China and the US are realizing they are hamstrung, though they are reluctant to admit it.

Cover story
Eurasian relations at stake

China’s relationship with Russia will determine not just the next iteration of the Great Game in Central Asia, but also the power balance in the rest of the world as the US struggles to keep its hegemony from waning.

Talking heads
Three seas between two giants

The Three Seas Initiative (3SI) is a cooperation agreement among 12 states – broadly stretching from the Baltic Sea through the Black Sea to the Adriatic Sea – launched last year by Polish President Andrzej Duda. It seeks to reinforce political cooperation in that geographical area and stimulate economic interconnection in some key sectors, such as defense and energy. Whether the 3SI will be successful remains to be seen. 

Cover story
Germany and China realigned

Strategically located at the western end of the Eurasian land mass, Germany must contend with a United States that seems to be drifting away. Now the interplay between Beijing and Berlin will have a huge impact on the world economy. 

Talking heads
Catalonia keeps pushing away

The President of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, officially announced that a referendum for the independence of his region from Spain would be held on October 1. This is the umpteenth phase of the duel between Madrid, representing the central Spanish government, and Barcelona, the capital of a very rich region – producing 20% of the whole national GDP – undoubtedly more projected and linked, by an economic point of view, to other European areas than to the country to which it belongs.

Talking heads
Germany’s Socialists are worrying

The German regional elections held in North Rhine-Westphalia, Schleswig-Holstein and Saarland Länder (the last tests before the major federal ballot of next September) confirmed the authority of Chancellor Angela Merkel over her party. The local results, moreover, were bearers of good omens for the CDU/CSU’s national victory and a severe setback for Martin Schulz’s party, the SPD.

How Le Pen missed her chance

The Front National gained unprecedented momentum in the run-up to the elections, thanks to populist victories in other countries. But certain fundamental elements in the far-right’s stance precluded a victory in France.

Talking heads
Korea on the brink

The Korean crisis will not be eased by setting out the usual diplomatic means. States, international institutions, non-governmental bodies and public opinion have lost the ability to deal with dictatorships based upon an ideology.

Cover story
A new arms race in Asia

With heightened tensions in East Asia and the ascent of China as an economic power, it should not be surprising that Asia is experiencing an arms race. The big question is how will it affect the balance of the region.

Featured briefing
Playing their own game

The strategic flexibility found in China goes back to ancient times. A fundamental element of this approach is the projection of China’s cultural merits, what today is known as soft power.

Talking heads
The four horsemen of Latin America

The Asian pivot of late 1990s and the beginning of the 21st century, determined by the rise of China and the fight against terrorism, led Washington to deal with other issues, giving to South America a brand new status. After decades of strategic dependence on the United States, therefore, this part of the world could move toward new spheres of power. 

International security
Troubled borders

Now that North Korea has a nuclear weapon as insurance policy against regime change or external political pressure, the US and South Korea are in a bind. China is key to reigning in the North, but does it have the political will?

Talking heads
The future of trade agreements

Today more than ever, trade and geopolitics are intertwined. The inclusion of countries in already existing military alliances or in simple economic unions – widening areas and markets free of custom duties – can have severe effects on political frameworks and alter global stability. 

Cutting through the courts’ red tape

China recognizes that it is in need of judicial reforms. But the method by which this is achieved must balance the seeming contradictions of an increasingly free-market society guided by one-party rule.

Global trade
Xi Da Da, the global uncle

As protectionists gain the upper hand in the developed world, China’s Xi Jinping is coming to be seen as a champion of free trade. With the US retreating, Beijing 
is poised to step into the vacuum created, even to the point of replacing Uncle Sam with their own version. 

Talking heads
France’s Socialists lean further left

The Socialist Party primaries in France pose a dilemma. (As we go to press, the run-off has yet to take place.)

Talking heads
Choosing new friends

The possible premature end of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), signed last year, should sound the death knell of American preeminence in Asia. But since influence would automatically pass to China, it would also raise some strategic issues whose solution is far from being adequately handled by Beijing. Should Trump pull the United States out of the Treaty right after having taken office, the Communist leadership would be left alone in the daunting task of sorting the two sides of the Pacific out of a period of uncertainty.

The President-elect’s two-China policy

Tensions between China and Donald Trump flared up after the President-elect took an unprecedented phone call from Taiwan’s leader. Such slights could seriously damage an important bilateral relationship.

Talking heads
Russia's ring of friends and fire

Throughout history Russia’s lack of natural barriers have obliged it to seek out “strategic depth.” This has meant that it needs to have friendly nations on its borders. Better still would be to have client states that carry out Moscow’s bidding. When that can’t be achieved, and Russia feels that there is a hostile entity on its border, then a curtain of fire can always be created to keep enemies skittish of scorched earth at bay.

Cover story
Beijing cringes at US democracy

China has several reasons to be concerned about Trump. He has threatened a trade war, and even if he doesn’t follow through on his threats, Trump represents forces that could eventually contaminate the Chinese.

Talking heads
The perils of direct democracy

A ghost is haunting the world. Throughout many democratic systems based upon the representative model, one can easily find worrying signs of the establishment of its degenerate form: direct democracy. Since the beginning of this century an unfortunate combination of global shocks and internal crises of governance have exacerbated the latent conflicts already existing in developed societies. As a result, there has been understandable anger and/or lack of confidence vis-à-vis the political class.

Hoping the apples fall by the tree

As China deals with epochal changes, it is also preparing for a succession in which the next generation of leaders will determine the future of the country for the rest of the century. How will Xi Jiping manage the transition?

Talking heads
Talking Turkey with the world

The rise of a steady and reliable power acting in the convergence zone between Europe, Africa and Asia should have been welcomed as a beneficial contribution to the stabilization of an area in which the conflicts of the last 70 years impeded economic and social progress. 

Featured briefing
Transport in China’s smart cities

The Chinese government seems to be committed to lowering greenhouse gases. Its “smart city” policy hopes to incorporate technological advances that will not only keep the environment clean, but also give their industries an edge.

Talking heads
And now, for something completely different

Brexit is one of those cases in which politics and money diverge completely and branch off, taking two very different paths. Contrary to all expectations, none of the catastrophic effects on the London Stock Exchange, derived from the choice of leaving the EU, materialized, except for the fall of the pound (highly predictable).

Civil aviation
Flying the unfriendly skies

The geopolitics of civil aviation is shifting rapidly. Countries are forced to sacrifice long-subsidized national carriers in the face of free-market forces that are obliging airlines to unite and create scales of economy that can compete with new low-cost players.

Talking heads
French dog beds

An “end of empire” feel is floating upon the Elysée Palace in Paris. As time goes by, the last months of François Hollande’s presidential term are revealing themselves as an immense waste of time, skills, and missed opportunities: the current “chienlit” (a pun, meaning both “dog bed” and “shit in the bed,” used to describe social havoc), which spread throughout the public services with forceful actions aimed at severing the fuel distribution by blocking access to oil refineries, massive strikes – especially in rail transport – and continuous popular demonstrations and protests that always end up in acts of vandalism, shows how the power has weakened. Still, the French crisis, coupled with the Islamist terrorism emergency (and which, apart from the economic aspect, involves general issues such as national identity, immigration and the relationship with the European Union) should be correctly interpreted.

When art gets caught in war

Unfortunately, in order to destroy an enemy, human beings have learned that it is not always enough to destroy functional structures. Getting rid of cultural heritage is also an effective weapon for subjugating another nation.

Talking heads
All the news that's fit to click

Today more than ever, controlling the media implies an increased power over the society. 

Talking heads
Easing in Germany

In an attempt to support the European economy, affected by high unemployment and an inflation rate very close to, if not, zero, in the past months the ECB has cut its main refinancing rate to 0% and launched a large asset purchasing program, amounting to €80 billion per month – the so-called quantitative easing, or QE. 

Openings and closings in China

The current Chinese president is progressively consolidating power. A backlash within the Communist Party is inevitable, and observers are still debating what this means for the future of Chinese society.

Talking heads
A shift in Germany's core

The results of the German regional elections – held on March 13 – reflect the typical
“syndrome” of a mild federal state system.

The European shadow over Libya

The ongoing civil war in Libya was a direct result of European intervention. Now the mess across the Mediterranean risks further damaging the already fragile European project.

Talking heads
Money talks

If we were to describe what kind of feeling the presidents of some of the world’s major central banks are evoking with their reasons for the mediocre economic showing, it would be deep dismay.

The Chinese behind China's growth

The world’s markets watch China through statistics of growth, production and consumption. And yet, underlying the economy is a very particular mindset that developed over thousands of years and has recently faced revolutionary change.

Pacific hegemony
Vying for Taiwan

Beijing has always insisted that Taiwan is inseparable from mainland China. But for decades the Taiwanese have been under the protective wing of the United States.
As communist China’s power increases, Taipei is being pressed into a decision. 

Talking heads
The rich,the slick and the crude

The price of crude oil reached the critical level of $30 per barrel in mid-January, confirming the declining trend of the last years. 

Talking heads
Defense challenges
Is the world’s economy safe?
Yes, you’re the yuan

As China’s economic strength has grown, its government has cautiously eased its money toward full convertibility. The recent addition of the yuan to the IMF currency basket will have many ramifications, especially in China.

Talking heads
Myanmar makeover
Reading Beijing’s moves in the South China Sea

China and its neighbors have been at odds over the sovereignty of many islands in the South China Sea. In reality the issue reflects China’s attempt to assert itself
in the face of American hegemony in the Pacific. 

Testing the waters abroad

China has long been averse to any foreign military engagements that are not directly related to their security. Now with Russia having entered the Syrian
fray, Beijing is reassessing its role in international interventions.

Talking heads
Europe’s not-in-my-backyarders
China’s unending march
China restructures

As its growth slows down and its stock market faces unprecedented corrections, China is at a watershed.
The policies that drove its economic resurgence are no longer sustainable. The new direction, however, must take into account some common misunderstandings.

Talking heads
The blessed and the poor
Political models
Asian pop-com

East Asian communism was always different from the European variety. One of the reasons for this has to do with their millennial tradition of government. Over time the Asians have proved themselves to be more flexible and less ideological.

Talking heads
Spain’s two-party system at risk
Talking heads
Coming to terms with the castaways
Macao’s gambling problem

Macao is more than just China’s version of Las Vegas. It represents the Communist government’s first flirtation with the Western capitalist system. As such, its fate may be seen as a bellwether for China’s future.

Talking heads
Running to become France’s next republican monarch