The U.S. government and its partners possess powerful financial and regulatory tools that help achieve foreign policy goals, but failure to use them appropriately will have major consequences for international trade, our alliances, and our own credibility. Conversations about national security and “sovereignty” cannot lapse into protectionism and special interest. Moreover, we should be mindful not to define economic statecraft only by punitive measures, but by potential incentive structures to deepen our ties with Allies and partners.

Featured work

China Economic Spotlight

Our experts review the individual China measures pursued by the US and its Allies and partners within their global political and economic context. Because taxation and accounting have never been so important. And because the whole is more than a sum of its parts, for the military and the markets alike.

Programmatic structure

Sanctions and Illicit Finance: Our goal is to clarify the role sanctions can (and cannot) play in advancing policy objectives, harness the power of our allies, and promote options that minimize consequences for the private sector. On the illicit finance side, the health and soundness of our financial infrastructure can be as important as military deterrence, and that protecting our financial system from abuse by illicit financial actors goes hand in hand with prudential supervision.

Transatlantic Trade and Regulation: Our program with check assumptions that transatlantic trade “should be easy” when two equal sized market powers with two equally viable regulatory frameworks stand their ground. We will also analyze the potential reshoring of foreign direct investment in light of COVID and attempts on both sides of the Atlantic to secure supply chains and also bolster domestic competitiveness in research and development, technology, and high-end manufacturing.

Tariffs, Investment Screening, and Export Controls: By bringing together stakeholders from economic, regulatory, military, foreign policy, and business communities, we will take an objective look at how restrictions on the movement of capital have emerged as a national security tool. By surveying D10 governments, private sector participants, business associations and academia, we will drive consensus among allies on what sectors of our economies deserve government interference, and which do not. 

Commentary and analysis

Fri, Sep 10, 2021

Afghanistan’s ex-central bank chief: The Taliban has money to ‘run an insurgency but not a government’

At an Atlantic Council event, Ajmal Ahmady discussed how the Taliban must govern a country short on cash and mired in multiple crises.

New Atlanticist by Dan Peleschuk

Afghanistan Conflict

Thu, Sep 9, 2021

Sanctions alone won’t tame the Taliban

The United States and its allies will need to wield both existing and new sanctions as strategically as possible, but changing the regime’s behavior will be difficult.

New Atlanticist by Brian O’Toole

Afghanistan Economic Sanctions

Fri, Sep 3, 2021

Broadening the pressure on the Lukashenka regime

Recent news of fresh IMF financing for Belarus has sparked controversy at a time when the democratic world is seeking to impose sanctions on the country’s Kremlin-backed dictator Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

UkraineAlert by Daniel Fried

Belarus Economic Sanctions

Fri, Sep 3, 2021

FAST THINKING: Who’s funding the Taliban?

On this episode of Fast Thinking, the Atlantic Council’s Julia Friedlander and Mark Nakhla, the executive vice president of Kharon, dive into the Taliban’s funding networks (don’t miss the helpful visuals!), which are primarily outside the reach of the international finance system.

Fast Thinking by Julia Friedlander

Afghanistan Conflict

Tue, Aug 24, 2021

Could China become the Taliban’s new benefactor?

Beijing is eyeing major investments in Afghanistan—but it’s up to the Taliban to ease its concerns about security.

New Atlanticist by Amin Mohseni-Cheraghlou, Niels Graham

Afghanistan China

Mon, Aug 23, 2021

They aren’t listed, but make no mistake: The UN has sanctions on the Taliban

As the militant group settles in to rule Afghanistan again, sanctions remain one of the only viable points of leverage for the international community. Here’s what the UN’s own rules say.

New Atlanticist by Brian O’Toole

Afghanistan Economic Sanctions

Tue, Aug 17, 2021

The Taliban now controls the Afghan economy. Here’s what that means.

The reality of a strengthened Taliban running the Afghan government creates substantial and imminent economic policy challenges for the United States and the international community.

New Atlanticist by Alex Zerden

Afghanistan Economic Sanctions

Wed, Aug 11, 2021

Nord Stream 2: How to make the best of a bad idea

The United States and Germany must work hard and fast to push back against Russia’s weaponization of energy.

New Atlanticist by Daniel Fried, Richard L. Morningstar, András Simonyi

Economic Sanctions Europe & Eurasia

Tue, Aug 10, 2021

Biden’s empty posts are a national security problem

The administration’s inaction on filling positions at the State and Treasury departments translates into real-world problems on everything from energy to rogue regimes to the US financial system.

New Atlanticist by Brian O’Toole

Economic Sanctions National Security

Mon, Aug 9, 2021

The new US sanctions on Belarus: Strong, but not enough

A reasonable set of targets, the sanctions are welcome news for the Belarusian opposition. But are they powerful enough to rattle President Lukashenka?

New Atlanticist by Daniel Fried, Brian O’Toole

Belarus Eastern Europe