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China’s rise is causing a major upheaval in international relations. The South China Sea is one of the major theatres where a rising China is confronting the existing status quo, threatening not just the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries’ maritime claims but also the influence of the US and Japan in the region. What is at stake is not just the territorial claims but also potential hydrocarbon resources, security of international maritime trade and local fishing economies. But despite rising tensions, common interests remains in ensuring that the sea trade remains unaffected. China is still ASEAN’s largest trading partner. The involvement of third parties, while complicating the situation, will help keep conflicting interests in check.

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Filippo Taddei is an Assistant Professor of Economics at SAIS’ Bologna Center, where he teaches macroeconomics and monetary theory. He also serves as a chief economic advisor to the Partito Democratico (PD), which heads Italy’s current coalition government under Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. Prof. Taddei holds degrees in economics from the University of Bologna and Columbia University, where he earned a PhD in 2005. We asked him about Renzi’s plans for Italy and his transition from academic to political advisor.

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The BCJIA recently sat down with Professor Erik Jones, Director of European Studies at Johns Hopkins SAIS and Director of the Bologna Institute for Policy Research, to discuss his newest book, as well as current developments in American foreign policy. Below are excerpts from the interview.

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With global development aid budgets on the decline, impact investing offers a cost-effective alternative to financing international development without deficit spending. The U.S. Government recently became an active participant in this space, investing in new funds and taking steps to clarify the tax code, but can and should do more to expand the global impact economy.