Politics, Geopolitics & Conflict
• U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has nominated Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State, sparking outrage on all sides of the political spectrum. What unites the opponents of Tillerson’s nomination is the belief that he has uncomfortably close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin and will work to end sanctions against Russia because of his loyalty to his current employer, Exxon. Others, however, argue that if Tillerson becomes Secretary of State, Trump will use him to convince Russia to back down from its strengthening alliance with Iran. This latter suggestion6 is unrealistic. Trump is not equipped to convince Putin of anything, and he will not be successful in any battle of wits with the Russian president.
• Brazil’s government has been shaken by another corruption scandal that could see investment-friendly President Michel Temer lose his job. The scandal is part of an ongoing investigation against a number of politicians and large business leaders accused of graft practices that brought down the senior management of state-owned energy giant Petrobras. Yet Petrobras was not alone in the corruption: construction firm Odebrecht has also been implicated in participation in the bribery network. Now, one Odebrecht executive is accusing Temer and members of his party of collecting millions of dollars in exchange for defending the company’s interests in Congress. The news has caused a fresh wave of protests among Brazilians, who were already pretty agitated by a bill aimed at capping public spending that the country’s Senate passed earlier this week. It is still not known whether any international company was involved in this new scandal. Just in October, international oil companies were hoping to see a huge benefit from the change of government in Brazil. The Brazilian Congress voted to open up the country’s oil sector to significantly more investment from international oil companies, liberalizing the lucrative pre-salt plays particularly. Foreign companies, under new legislation, will now be allowed to be pre-salt operators. All eyes will be on the risk to this new liberalization from continuing political instability.
• The battle for Syrian Aleppo is largely over and the evacuation of civilians and members of rebel groups has begun, according to various sources in both camps. A ceasefire was negotiated by the Syrian army, Russia and Iran with…