Category Archives: GIS Statements

GIS Statements

The Ukrainian tragedy

GIS – Comment by Prince Michael of Liechtenstein*

The Ukrainian tragedy | Now that Russia has invaded Ukraine, European states would be well-advised to rethink their defense strategies to prevent other devastating wars.

The Ukrainian Tragedy
The Ukrainian tragedy – The people of Ukraine have shown great bravery and determination in the face of invading Russian forces. © GIS

Early in the morning on February 24, Russia invaded Ukraine from different directions. After initial rapid progress, the patriotic resistance of the Ukrainian forces, with extensive support from volunteers and the civilian population, managed to slow the Russian troops.

Ukraine is resisting. Russia’s blitzkrieg attempt might not work out as planned. Ukrainian volunteers – even Russian speakers – have lined up to be trained for resistance. Households in Kyiv are preparing Molotov cocktails to destroy Russian tanks in street fights. Others are donating blood to the medical services. During interrogations, Russian prisoners of war appear taken aback not to have been welcomed as liberators, but met with resistance. Ukraine deserves profound respect for its bravery and determination.

But, Ukraine’s courage notwithstanding, Russia’s military is stronger. The Ukrainian side has received diplomatic and materiel support, but no direct military assistance from NATO. Moscow insists on demilitarizing the country.

Moscow has proposed holding “peace” talks in Minsk, while Kyiv has suggested Warsaw. Preconditions are to be set by Russia – meaning they will likely be unacceptable. President Zelensky may allegedly agree to demilitarization. One hope is that Turkey will be able to negotiate a summit without preconditions.

Two weeks ago, GIS published the following statement: “Unfortunately for Ukraine, the country is a chip in a bigger geopolitical poker game between the West and Russia. Instability in areas of Ukraine will prevent it from joining NATO, fulfilling Moscow’s strategic goals as long as it cannot obtain a commitment that the country will not accede to the alliance. The Minsk protocol, meant to end the violence in eastern Ukraine, had many inconsistencies. It might have worked in an atmosphere of consent and good faith, but not under the climate of contention that prevailed. By openly moving its troops into the breakaway Ukrainian regions, Russia has now officially contravened the Minsk agreements, which call for all foreign forces to leave the area.

The West tends to view the conflict through the prism of the Helsinki Accords, while Moscow has not forgotten the philosophy of the Yalta agreement. Both sides interpret agreements reached at the time of German unification and NATO enlargement differently.”

This is still valid. Unfortunately, the consequences of these conflicting positions, and of the West’s indecisiveness, is a wide-ranging military conflict. Ukraine needs all the help it can get.

I was wrong to doubt the United States assertions that there would be a full-scale invasion. Russia has invaded. Whatever happens this week, the situation will result in a new European security architecture emerging …

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The Ukrainian Tragedy


*GIS is a global intelligence service providing independent, analytical, fact-based reports from a team of experts around the world. We also provide bespoke geopolitical consultancy services to businesses to support their international investment decisions. Our clients have access to expert insights in the fields of geopolitics, economics, defense, security and energy. Our experts provide scenarios on significant geopolitical events and trends. They use their knowledge to analyze the big picture and provide valuable recommendations of what is likely to happen next, in a way which informs long-term decision-making. Our experts play active roles in top universities, think-tanks, intelligence services, business and as government advisors. They have a unique blend of backgrounds and experience to deliver the narrative and understanding of global developments. They will help you develop a complete understanding of international affairs because they identify the key players, their motivations and what really matters in a changing world. Our experts examine the challenges and opportunities in economies old and new, identify emerging politicians and analyze and appraise new threats in a fast-changing world. They offer new ideas, fresh perspectives and rigorous study.

Democracy and Freedom – Mediocrity is a threat

GIS – Comment by Prince Michael of Liechtenstein*

Democracy and Freedom | People in Western democracies are losing trust in government, but that is hardly a surprise. Political mediocrity has caused leaders to make promises they cannot keep while shunning other points of view. Nothing less than freedom itself is at stake.

democracy and freedom
Democracy and freedom. Too often, politicians choose the easy route of promising solutions on which they cannot deliver and denouncing all dissenting voices as “radical” instead of standing for their principles, engaging in healthy debate and solving difficult problems. © GIS

Many forms of government have been tried and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” Winston Churchill uttered these words in 1947, and today they remain as true as ever.

In line with this important topic, please mark your calendar: XVI. International Gottfried v. Haberler Conference 'On the Morality of the State and the State of Political Morals' May 20, 2022 in Vaduz (Principality of Liechtenstein)

Since democracy is better than all of the other forms of government we have tried, one might expect that in Western democracies, trust in government and its institutions would be high. This is not the case. For many years, the Edelman Trust Barometer has measured the relationship between people and their governments. Citing the 2022 edition of the measure, Reuters pointed out that it had fallen to “new lows.” However, it also showed rising scores in autocratic states like China.

“The biggest losers of public trust over the last year,” the article continues, “were institutions in Germany, down 7 points to 46, Australia at 53 (-6), the Netherlands at 57 (-6), South Korea at 42 (-5) and the United States at 43 (-5). By contrast, public trust in institutions in China stood at 83 percent, up 11 points, 76 percent in the United Arab Emirates (+9) and 66 percent in Thailand (+5).” Businesses, however, “retained strong levels of trust globally,” due to their role in “developing vaccines and adapting workplace and retail practices.”

These are woeful scores for the “liberal democracies.” But what might be the underlying reason? Like many good things, democracy is susceptible to misuse. Many systems label themselves “democratic” though they have no democratic qualities whatsoever. The former German Democratic Republic or the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea come to mind.

Other places may have leaderships that act in a rather autocratic manner but have nevertheless been selected in a democratic way – Singapore is one example. In yet other places, there are successful democracies based on wide decentralization and the principle of subsidiarity, coupled with a strong element of direct democracy, such as in Switzerland. Most Western countries have systems of representative democracies with different degrees of centralization and federalism.

However, democracy is under constant threat – as is freedom. Just as freedom is a precious public good and must continuously be defended, so must democracy. The challenge for democracy is less autocracy, but rather two other phenomena: populism on one side and excessive bureaucracy (sometimes called “technocracy”) on the other …

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Political Mediocrity


*GIS is a global intelligence service providing independent, analytical, fact-based reports from a team of experts around the world. We also provide bespoke geopolitical consultancy services to businesses to support their international investment decisions. Our clients have access to expert insights in the fields of geopolitics, economics, defense, security and energy. Our experts provide scenarios on significant geopolitical events and trends. They use their knowledge to analyze the big picture and provide valuable recommendations of what is likely to happen next, in a way which informs long-term decision-making. Our experts play active roles in top universities, think-tanks, intelligence services, business and as government advisors. They have a unique blend of backgrounds and experience to deliver the narrative and understanding of global developments. They will help you develop a complete understanding of international affairs because they identify the key players, their motivations and what really matters in a changing world. Our experts examine the challenges and opportunities in economies old and new, identify emerging politicians and analyze and appraise new threats in a fast-changing world. They offer new ideas, fresh perspectives and rigorous study.

A critical look at the DMA

GIS Statement* by Henrique Schneider

The Digital Markets Act (DMA) introduces several wrongheaded notions. It would hamstring market leaders and reward laggards. The proposal could seriously set back innovation in Europe.

Opinion: A critical look at the Digital Markets Act (source: GIS)
Opinion: A critical look at the Digital Markets Act (source: GIS)

According to the European Commission, a unique type of firm exerts tremendous control over most digital business models. These behemoths, called “gatekeepers,” organize access and manage upstream and downstream businesses, just as trusts did in their day. Like trusts, these digital companies could bar any noncompliant business from using the internet, stifling competition and economic freedom. For all these reasons, the Commission felt compelled to propose a new regulation, the Digital Markets Act, or DMA.

As of this writing, the DMA remains only a proposal. It still needs consultation and political approval. However, in the EU, such legislation is often passed with few amendments. It is styled as a separate and complementary tool for competition enforcers, introducing new policy objectives of “fairness and contestability.”

The DMA introduces the notions of “digital sector” and “gatekeeper.” While the very idea of a “digital sector” is already difficult to grasp, the concept of “gatekeepers” is altogether foreign to antitrust practices. The DMA describes them as “structuring elements” of the digital economy that enjoy an entrenched position in providing intermediation services. Network effects help make users (businesses and individuals alike) dependent on these gatekeepers. According to the DMA, this dependence allows them to engage in unfair practices and harm consumer welfare. Therefore, gatekeepers have a major impact on digital markets and require oversight …

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Opinion: A critical look at the Digital Markets Act


*GIS is a global intelligence service providing independent, analytical, fact-based reports from a team of experts around the world. We also provide bespoke geopolitical consultancy services to businesses to support their international investment decisions. Our clients have access to expert insights in the fields of geopolitics, economics, defense, security and energy. Our experts provide scenarios on significant geopolitical events and trends. They use their knowledge to analyze the big picture and provide valuable recommendations of what is likely to happen next, in a way which informs long-term decision-making. Our experts play active roles in top universities, think-tanks, intelligence services, business and as government advisors. They have a unique blend of backgrounds and experience to deliver the narrative and understanding of global developments. They will help you develop a complete understanding of international affairs because they identify the key players, their motivations and what really matters in a changing world. Our experts examine the challenges and opportunities in economies old and new, identify emerging politicians and analyze and appraise new threats in a fast-changing world. They offer new ideas, fresh perspectives and rigorous study.

The first panacea for a mismanaged nation is inflation

GIS Statement* by Prince Michael of Liechtenstein

Inflation is a grave economic and social illness. The policymakers and central bankers who colluded in running up excessive public debts and rigging monetary policy to sustain them might silently have been praying for higher inflation rates for quite some time. Finally, they are getting their wish. But for the rest of us, this is terrible news.

The danger of inflation was downplayed by central bankers and many economists (source: GIS)

Ernest Hemingway, the famous American writer, was a keen observer of society. In “Notes on the Next War,” he makes this striking observation:

The first panacea for a mismanaged nation is inflation of the currency; the second is war. Both bring a temporary prosperity; both bring a permanent ruin. But both are the refuge of political and economic opportunists.
Fear of inflation is spreading globally. After an extended period of asset price inflation (during which the concern for general inflation was downplayed), now consumer price inflation is hitting 4 percent in Europe and 5 percent in the United States. A normal monetary policy reaction would be to take liquidity out of the system. Central banks would increase interest rates and minimum reserves. Since the European Central Bank (ECB) and the U.S. Federal Reserve (Fed) are currently financing governments directly by purchasing their bonds – a risky move that is against their statutes – the central bankers could, in theory, also reduce these purchases, which is called “tapering.”

Raising interest rates increases the debt-servicing burden of the overextended countries. But what about tapering? Last week, ECB President Christine Lagarde expressed the policy wryly and clearly: “The Lady is not for tapering.” …

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The first panacea for a mismanaged nation is inflation


*GIS is a global intelligence service providing independent, analytical, fact-based reports from a team of experts around the world. We also provide bespoke geopolitical consultancy services to businesses to support their international investment decisions. Our clients have access to expert insights in the fields of geopolitics, economics, defense, security and energy. Our experts provide scenarios on significant geopolitical events and trends. They use their knowledge to analyze the big picture and provide valuable recommendations of what is likely to happen next, in a way which informs long-term decision-making. Our experts play active roles in top universities, think-tanks, intelligence services, business and as government advisors. They have a unique blend of backgrounds and experience to deliver the narrative and understanding of global developments. They will help you develop a complete understanding of international affairs because they identify the key players, their motivations and what really matters in a changing world. Our experts examine the challenges and opportunities in economies old and new, identify emerging politicians and analyze and appraise new threats in a fast-changing world. They offer new ideas, fresh perspectives and rigorous study.

Sustainability: Let business lead the way

GIS Statement* by Prince Michael of Liechtenstein

To achieve development goals, societies across the world will have to balance economic sustainability, social factors and ecological necessities. Already, business is making strong progress on this front. Governments’ role should be to set sensible parameters, but too often gets in the way, trying to spend or economically plan its way toward sustainability.

Businesses are doing a good job balancing the crucial factors for sustainability, but governments often pull the rug out from under them by implementing restrictive regulations or intervening in the market (Cartoon by GIS)

Several years ago, the World Energy Council coined the term “Energy Trilemma” to describe how energy policies – from local to global – would need to balance three factors: energy security, energy equity and environmental sustainability.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which comprises 17 aims (see box) became the basis for many sustainability programs and are also subject to a three-pronged challenge. Implementing them will require finding an equilibrium between economic sustainability, social factors and ecological necessities.

Globally, however, imbalances are already visible across various regions. In the United States, social factors – under the umbrella of diversity (gender, race, etc.) – have become the priority, though this overlooks some basic needs and ignores cultural traditions across the globe. Europe is strongly focused on the ecological necessities. In some less developed but highly populated areas of the world, reducing poverty and protecting jobs are the top priorities …

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Sustainability: Let business lead the way


*GIS is a global intelligence service providing independent, analytical, fact-based reports from a team of experts around the world. We also provide bespoke geopolitical consultancy services to businesses to support their international investment decisions. Our clients have access to expert insights in the fields of geopolitics, economics, defense, security and energy. Our experts provide scenarios on significant geopolitical events and trends. They use their knowledge to analyze the big picture and provide valuable recommendations of what is likely to happen next, in a way which informs long-term decision-making. Our experts play active roles in top universities, think-tanks, intelligence services, business and as government advisors. They have a unique blend of backgrounds and experience to deliver the narrative and understanding of global developments. They will help you develop a complete understanding of international affairs because they identify the key players, their motivations and what really matters in a changing world. Our experts examine the challenges and opportunities in economies old and new, identify emerging politicians and analyze and appraise new threats in a fast-changing world. They offer new ideas, fresh perspectives and rigorous study.