December 22, 2014 9:10 AM EST

Can Vladimir Putin handle Russia’s economic mess?

He absolutely can, in the time frame most people are concerned about. There’s no question that the Russian economy is imploding, but it’s not imploding near fast enough to cause a serious cramp in Putin’s domestic survivability.

Do you think Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi can live up to the hype?

I do. The real question is, to what extent is Modi going to be effective as a national politician? Still, compared to where India was going, I certainly think the level of international support for Modi is going to be extraordinary.

What’s the lesson from the Sony Hack?

We may need some baseline regulatory standards to determine basic cybersecurity efforts in place at multinational corporations. What worries me is, what happens when it’s a bank?

Who loses the most from cheap oil?

Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela. They balanced their budget at $162 a barrel for 2014. That’s a good hundred dollars–plus over where it is right now.

2014 seemed terrible. Are there positive trends for 2015?

In Asia, there’s a lack of geopolitical tensions and there are leaders engaged in an economic transformation that is vastly overdue. The U.S. economy is in rebound. Those are all positives.

This appears in the December 29, 2014 issue of TIME.

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