This month’s coverage of the Americas includes an update on Bolivia, where President Evo Morales has not given up his effort to eliminate the constitutional barrier to his standing for another term in October 2019.  PRS will assess how Morales might succeed after a proposal to lift the presidential term limit was rejected by voters in early 2016.  In that vein, the update will focus on a discussion of the policy course the president is likely to pursue as he attempts to build grassroots support for an extension of his tenure, and how that will impact both the business climate and economic performance in the near term.

Our extensive coverage of Western Europe includes a detailed analytical assessment of investor prospects in the Netherlands, analyzing the prospective stability of the new coalition government that was finally formed by Prime Minister Mark Rutte after more than 200 days of negotiations and a failed attempt to include the Greens following the inconclusive elections in March which saw the political landscape fragment.  Our report looks at the four parties involved, their major differences and key players, with a view to understanding the government’s durability and policy direction during the four-year term.  We outline new forecasts for key macro-fiscal indicators incorporating the new government’s program, and also examine the implications for the medium-term balance of political power should the political tensions that have boosted support for the far-right PVV persist.

Turning to Eastern Europe, our coverage this month features an update on Czech Republic, where, as expected, the moderately euroskeptic ANO emerged victorious at a parliamentary election held in October.  While voters were clearly prepared to ignore the cloud of scandal hanging over ANO leader Andrej Babiš, potential coalition partners are not.  The center-right ODS has ruled out a partnership with ANO as long as Babiš remains at the helm of the party, and there are limited alternative coalition options available to the ANO leader.  As such, it could be quite some time before a government is formed, and concluding a coalition agreement might require Babiš to let another member of his party fill the prime minister’s post.

The economy is on a firm footing thanks to the policy program implemented while Babiš served as minister of finance in the outgoing government, and should be able to weather a period of political uncertainty in good shape.  PRS’ analysis will include a discussion of how the policy agenda of an ANO-led government might differ from that of the previous government headed by the Social Democrats, and an assessment of what the change in government portends for both the climate for investment and the health of the economy.

Along with detailed reports on higher-risk Malaysia and Myanmar this month, our Asia coverage takes a look at the political risks developing in Singapore, as we question whether or not the city-state might lose its enviable reputation as one of the safest domains worldwide, and what that would mean for investors in the advent of the next legislative elections not due until 2021.  We take another look at the likely candidates to eventually replace Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as leader of the People’s Action Party (PAP), we investigate the controversy over the Lee family legacy causing a feud between siblings, and assess the silent protests occurring more frequently in response to allegations of abuse of power and a lack of democracy surrounding the recent presidential election process.  Our report rounds out with a detailed synopsis of forecasts for key macro-fiscal variables affecting the business and investor environment.

Shifting to the Middle East and North Africa, the November roster includes an update on Saudi Arabia, where King Salman’s controversial decision to designate his own son, Mohammed bin Salman, as the crown prince has heightened the risk that an inevitable generational transfer of royal power could be troubled by intense infighting and palace intrigue involving resentful cousins of the heir-apparent.  Mohammed bin Salman is both the minister of defense and the head of the kingdom’s economic planning body, and setbacks in the kingdom’s effort to establish itself as a military power in the region and a recent partial retreat on reforms aimed at transforming the oil-dependent economy have sown doubt as to Mohammed bin Salman’s readiness to wear the crown.

The update will discuss the near-term risk implications of an ongoing standoff between a Saudi-led regional coalition and Qatar, including the possible breakup of the GCC.  PRS will also assess the prospects for further progress on the crown prince’s plan to rapidly diversify the kingdom’s economy, and examine the risks associated with decreased oil revenues, including an increase in reports of government arrears on payments to contractors.

Finally, PRS’ coverage of Sub-Saharan Africa incudes an update on Angola that looks at conditions in the country following disputed legislative elections held in August that paved the way for João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço to replace José Eduardo dos Santos, who retired after 38 years in power.  With a fresh face at the helm promising a crackdown on corruption, and a new strategy to diversify the economy, Angolans have greeted Lourenço’s election with great expectations.  However, the continued presence of dos Santos as leader of the governing party, in which position he will no doubt seek to protect his family’s influence and business interests, and the economic realities stemming from the country’s dependence on oil point to a high likelihood that those expectations will be disappointed.  Our report looks ahead to the institutional and policy-making situation in 2018, and how it will affect business contracts, the currency, and the availability of foreign exchange, which is reported to be extremely scarce due to the drop in oil revenue and is naturally constraining the ability to pay for imports.

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