Russia’s troop build-up on the Ukrainian border: Why now?


The signals are worrisome: The Russian Federation’s troop concentrations on the Ukrainian border are unusual and at the same time frightening. After all, there are clear parallels with the last outbreak of war. Moreover, since this Russian-directed war in the Ukrainian Donbass region and the occupation of Crimea by Russian soldiers, relations between the two states are worse than any between other European states.

Is there a threat of war between Russia and the Ukraine?

Overall, the situation has to be described as very serious and the criticism from the Ukraine and other eastern NATO states that Germany and other Western states do not understand the situation in all its depth and threat is probably correct. Evaluations from our MBI CONIAS Conflict Database, in which the course of more than 1,000 political conflicts since 1945 is stored, also clearly show that in well over 50% of all recorded cases such troop concentrations were followed by wars or other highly violent military conflicts. Most recently, a report spread in Russia by the state-controlled media stating that the Ukraine was planning reconquests was highly concerning. Actions like this prepare the important domestic legitimacy needed by the Russian government for another war against the Ukraine. Companies are advised to be extremely mindful of this tense situation, to refrain from avoidable travel to the Ukraine, and to prepare for disruptions in the Ukrainian supply chain in contingency plans.

Why is this development taking place now?

An analysis of the situation always includes the question: What is the significance of the timing of the action? In other words: Why is the deployment taking place now, why not two months ago, what has changed? At least two answers are possible here, one confirming the dangerousness of the action, the other potentially providing a rational argument raising hope for a peaceful outcome to the situation. What has to be observed critically is that Russia has extensively issued passports to the population in the disputed regions of eastern Ukraine in recent years. Estimates put the number of new Russian citizens at at least 400,000. This could give Russia an argument for now wanting to protect this segment of the population on official Russian territory as well.

Is Russia testing the new U.S. President?

The second view dates back to the days of the Cold War, but given the current state of the international system, it may be accurate for precisely that reason: Russia could be testing the new U.S. President. Joe Biden has been in office for less than 100 days. His plans for a huge domestic economic stimulus program, the announcement of the withdrawal of American soldiers from Afghanistan, and the additionally tense budget situation after COVID make it clear that he shouldn’t have any interest in further international military engagements. Joe Biden, however, now has to demonstrate how he will respond to the provocations from Russia: It could be the overture for U.S.-Russian relations for years to come. It seems clear that U.S. President Biden is not going to engage in a military confrontation for the Ukraine any more than U.S. President Obama did during the previous crisis in 2014. In this context, he has to make it clear that the U.S. will not accept a similar approach as in 2014. Only if Biden acts quickly and decisively now and credibly conveys that the U.S. has a renewed interest in playing the role of the world’s policeman, the build-up can be halted and the Russian troops on the border to Ukraine under more or less credible justifications can be reduced. Otherwise, Russia might try to take advantage of the power vacuum created by the U.S. – as other regional powers have done. The result would be a further weakening of the international system with many more international crises to come.

Political risks have so far been considered complex and difficult to grasp. To learn more about MBI’s CONIAS Risk Intelligence and how it can support businesses in identifying risks and developing targeted adaptation strategies, contact our Sales Team.

About the author:

Dr. Nicolas Schwank
Chief Data Scientist Political Risk
Michael Bauer International GmbH

Image source: ВО «Свобода», CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Location Intelligence in Real Estate

Commercial Real Estate Properties

The most important factor in the real estate business is location. The value of a property highly depends on the surrounding area and its economic and social conditions. For the evaluation of existing investments and due diligence of future investment opportunities, location intelligence can be leveraged. It gives companies an advantage over the competition by identifying the potential of an area ahead of everybody else.

The detailed understanding of a location and emerging neighborhood trends gives investors a head start for buying or selling property in certain areas or regions. To align investment choices with requirements and needs, insights into the demographic of an area can be quite helpful. Utilizing data on population, households, purchasing power and consumer styles provides information not only on the demographic situation today but on how the area will evolve for the years to come after the investment decision.

For commercial properties, knowledge about how many people pass by and visit and also their duration of stay determines the value of a location. Therefore, location intelligence enables companies in the real estate business to find and invest in profitable commercial properties. In addition, matching tenant’s business concepts to the consumer behavior in the respective area reduces the risk of failing businesses and therefore turnover in leased commercial properties.

Location data can mean a competitive advantage in the real estate industry. By leveraging MBI’s Socio-Economic and Mobile Trace Data, companies can discover potential and make well-founded investment choices. If you are interested in optimizing your decision-making process with location intelligence, contact our Sales Team today.

A war between China and Taiwan? MBI CONIAS early warning indicators point upwards

CONIAS Conflict Spotlight: China (Taiwan)

Just yesterday, there were news that a high-ranking U.S. admiral warned about a Chinese invasion of Taiwan within the next six years. This is one of several similar reports that have been published in context of the China Taiwan Conflict in recent weeks. For example, only a few weeks ago in late January China itself warned representatives in Taiwan that any further efforts towards independence “would mean war”.

MBI CONIAS not only pays attention to current events, but also includes historical developments in all analyses

Is Taiwan a – self-proclaimed – independent state or rather a lapsed province of China, like the People’s Republic of China believes it to be? This dissent has been going on since the end of the civil war in China, the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 and the exile of the non-communist government on the island of Taiwan.

Diplomatic ties started to deteriorate in 2016, leading to high tension in 2019 with China often violating Taiwanese airspace with fighter jets and territorial waters with dredgers. Taiwan on the opposite is preparing for a Chinese invasion.

Moreover, China – claiming nearly the whole sea within its „nine-dash-line” – and the USA as main counterparts are practicing military maneuvers to show force in the conflict of South China Sea. Due to many overlaps to this conflict and the importance of Taiwanese computer technology for the western nations, further escalation is not totally unlikely anymore.

A complete picture of the situation only emerges if all political conflicts in and around China are included in the analysis

The China Taiwan Conflict is only one of 16 ongoing conflicts directly related to China monitored by the CONIAS Risk Intelligence database. In addition, we observe nearly 900 other conflicts, some of which also touch on China’s security. Only by combining all observations, the total risk value for China and each of its provinces can be calculated.

Learn more about MBI CONIAS Risk Intelligence and contact our Sales Team today for an introductory conversation.


Sources: The Guardian, BBC

Data availability in different languages and writing systems facilitates working in multinational companies

In companies with locations in several countries, employees often have to adapt to uniform standards such as a corporate language that is not their native language. However, not only international companies, but also those operating in a country with more than one national language are faced with this challenge.

In order to solve this issue and, for example, to be able to perform Search & Display as well as Geocoding in the various national languages ​​and writing systems, MBI has developed Additional Names in the new 2021 data update.

For a country like Belgium, for example, the various variables such as city names are now listed in all national languages ​​- in this case Dutch, French and German. At the same time, for countries with a writing system other than Latin, such as Greece, there is the advantage that additional entries are now available in the respective national writing system.

Additional names can be easily imported into existing systems due to their clear listing and integration into microgeographic, administrative and postal levels. If you are interested or for further information on MBI Additional Names, please contact our Sales Team.

Giving Back

This year, we decided to donate our annual Christmas budget to charity. Instead of just randomly selecting one, we asked our customers and partners to join us in making the decision as to whom we could support. After all, Christmas is a time of giving and the best gift is to be able to give. We left it to our partners and customers to decide whether they would like to donate their share of our budget to WWF, Doctors without Borders or Lanta Animal Welfare.

We chose Lanta Animal Welfare, a non-profit charity based in south west Thailand, instead of a global organization because one of our employees was volunteering there herself last year. Since they highly depend on tourists for support and donations, she brought their need for support in times of COVID to our attention.

All donations have now been transferred and we hope they’ll make a difference during these tough times. We also encourage our friends, customers and partners to support these or similar organizations in their quest to help those whom cannot help themselves. 

Was the military coup in Myanmar to be expected?


After the US Capitol was stormed in early January, now a military coup followed in Myanmar. Due to their constant observation of various risk aspects, our MBI CONIAS Risk Intelligence experts were already aware of the current danger of a coup in Myanmar. The following points had caused the country’s risk value to swell in recent months:

  1. The clear outcome of last November’s parliamentary elections, in which the power-conscious military experienced a resounding and sensitive defeat;
  2. The failed lawsuits of the defeated military-affiliated parties because of alleged election fraud and
  3. The corresponding threat by the military last week.

Now the military has actually arrested leading figures of the ruling party. Among them is Nobel Peace Prize laureate and de facto head of government Aung San Suu Kyi.

Will there be violent protests?

The situation is still difficult to assess for outsiders and observers. “What worries us,” says Dr. Nicolas Schwank, Chief Data Scientist for Political Risks at Michael Bauer International, “is the phase of democratization the country is currently in. The exceptionally large turnout of 70% in the parliamentary elections in November shows us that the population has taken a liking to democratic co-determination. The people may want to defend these new rights.” His attention now turns to the arrested election winners. Government leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who’s still one of the most popular politicians in the country, has already called on the people to oppose the coup. “Crucial to the question of whether there will be subsequent violent resistance to the coup is how the arrested leadership will continue to behave and whether they will call for violence. However, since San Suu Kyi has become well-known and influential because of her nonviolent resistance to the military, there’s hope that bloodshed can be avoided.”

What are the business risks arising from current events in Myanmar?

The risk to investments made by Western companies in recent years also cannot be definitively assessed at this time. “I currently consider the risk that Western countries will react with sanctions and trade embargoes as relatively high – also with reference to comparable cases stored in our database”, Dr. Schwank continues. Despite the encapsulation during the military dictatorship in the past, Dr. Schwank currently does not see any risk of the new military government deliberately destroying production facilities or warehouses belonging to foreign investors. The military wants to present itself as the guardian of law and order. Besides, the country urgently needs foreign currency even under military rule. At the same time, the information situation is still difficult at present, and it is advisable to continue listening to the military’s pronouncements very closely.

The events at the US Capitol as well as the current military coup in Myanmar show how important election dates are for the analysis of the current political country risk. Therefore, we offer our global MBI CONIAS election calendar to all clients and interested parties. If you are interested or for further information on MBI CONIAS Risk Intelligence, please contact our Sales Team.

Political risks are becoming more important – We provide the data on it


Two global risk reports were published last week and both support our analysis: Political risks are gaining in importance. While the World Risk Report of the World Economic Forum in Davos explicitly warns of a collapse of states as well as the use of weapons of mass destruction in the long-term perspective, the Allianz Risk Barometer now ranks the outbreak of political violence again among the top 10 business risks.

However, a closer look at the reports reveals that fear of political risks is often behind other mentions as well. For both the outbreak of pandemics and an intensification of climate change, the greatest concerns are social change such as growing inequality and distribution struggles within and between states.

In this context, the World Economic Forum as well as global management consultancies such as McKinsey urgently appeal to businesses to revise their risk management. Companies with a strong risk management culture not only record lower losses in claims, they are also superior to their competitors in terms of employee and customer loyalty, for example.

Political risks have so far been considered complex and difficult to grasp. With MBI’s CONIAS Risk Intelligence, political risks are as easy to understand as a weather forecast. Schedule a meeting with our Sales Team today to learn more.


Sources: World Economic Forum, McKinsey, Allianz

From a statistical perspective: Why the march to the Capitol was not a good idea for staying in power

How much Donald Trump really influenced the events on January 6th needs to be assessed later on by historians. Nevertheless, from an empirical point of view a few things can already be said today: Coups are an extremely rarely observable phenomenon for modern democracies, seem to have generally gone out of fashion and are almost never successful in democracies.

The MBI CONIAS conflict database separately records coups and attempted coups since 1945: A total of 668 coups and attempted coups can be recorded at the country level between 1945 and 2020.


As illustrated in the figure above, the highest number of coups occurred in the period from 1962 to 1982 and then again around 1990. Both peaks can be explained by the number of young states and thus untested power and security structures during the period of decolonization or the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. Overall, a loss of significance of coups can be observed, showing for example in 2018 – a year with not a single coup or coup attempt.

The declining use of this instrument to change power (only rarely used to maintain power) can be explained, among other things, by its significantly reduced success rate. While in the period between 1950 and 1980 more than two-thirds (69%) were considered successful, meaning they led to a change of power, the measurable outcome in the following years tips exactly into the opposite direction. Between 1981 and the 1990s only one-third (34%) of all coup plotters achieved their goal with the rest failing. From the mid-1990s onward, the number of coups measured annually declined sharply. For the last ten years, the vast majority of all coups (62%) failed.

Coups are particularly unsuccessful in fully established democracies like the U.S. has been for many years. The most famous of these unsuccessful coups took place when then-King Juan Carlos opposed the military and sided with democracy in the 1982 military coup in Spain.

Political instability poses an immediate and highly complex set of risks to business interests. The MBI CONIAS Risk Intelligence analysis tool assesses the political risk situation. MBI’s up-to-date data support companies in identifying risks for location, logistics and investment security at an early stage and in developing targeted adaptation strategies.

If you want to learn more about coups, their chances of success, and the subsequent risks, please contact our Sales team.

Insurance industry: Political risk data is now also available for CRESTA zones

Karlsruhe, December 17th 2020: The MBI CONIAS global political risk data from Michael Bauer International GmbH are now also available for the CRESTA zones, which indicate the worldwide natural hazard zones. The combination of both products now maps the risk values for political and natural threats and supports the insurance industry in minimizing its risks.

Go to the press release and read more…

Please contact us for more information about political risk data and CRESTA zones!

Consistent data for European e-mobility solutions

A variety of data has to be taken into account for the development of e-mobility and charging infrastructure. At the same time, many companies are encountering difficulties in obtaining data for other European countries besides Germany. MBI provides globally consistent and comparable data for well-founded potential analyses and thus supports companies on their way to electromobility.

Karlsruhe, December 2nd 2020: The most valuable basis for mastering the challenges of electromobility is high-quality data and their analysis. MBI’s European e-mobility data bundle supports analysts and planners of distribution networks, planners of public and private charging infrastructure, the automotive industry and retailers in designing future mobility concepts.

Depending on the industry, the issues vary and have to be answered with different data solutions. These include the origin and destination of drivers, but also how long they stay at a particular location. Sociodemographic issues relating to the affinity for electromobility also play a major role.

MBI’s data portfolio includes, amongst others, data on households by type and sociodemography. Further insights are provided by data on market segmentation and target group definition of consumers as well as the behavior of target groups, their movement patterns, whereabouts and duration of stay. Knowing about the milieu affiliation of the population also has many advantages for targeting, since most decisions are made under the influence of lifestyle and social milieu.

This information can be enriched with additional data such as vehicle inventory data. Available for numerous European countries, they contain important technical insights such as the fuel type for over 97% of vehicles. As HERE Technologies Distributor, MBI also offers location data for charging stations for many countries around the world.

MBI Sales Director Andreas Wenzel says: “The energy sector and the automotive industry are in the midst of major changes. Markets and target groups have to be analyzed, potentials localized and sales activities and infrastructures carefully planned. With the right data, many of these questions can be answered faster and more reliably. The combination of MBI’s extensive expertise and our globally consistent and comparable data provides our customers with a precise basis for decisive planning for the future.”

Please contact us for more information on our e-mobility data portfolio!

Go to the press release and read more about MBI European e-mobility solutions…