The Winner of the 2024 US Presidential Election Is…

By the time you see this, I’ll already be on the other side of the world, so I figured it was the perfect opportunity to talk politics…specifically, who will walk away with the 2024 US Presidency.

This will piss everyone off, but the only way I see this election playing out is with another Biden v. Trump showdown. The cult following that Trump has garnered practically locked him in as the Republican nominee. And there’s really no one else that the Democratic Party is willing to let replace Biden. So get ready for a 2020 rematch.

Issues like age and vice presidents won’t move the needle on this election. To understand how this will shake out, we need to break down the voting behaviors of the Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. Most Democrats and Republicans vote within party lines, and a large majority of Independents always vote one way or another.

So this election really comes down to 10% of Independent voters who actually give a s*** about who wins. And based on the midterm turnout, Biden has all the numbers stacking up in his favor. All he has to do is stay alive and keep from drooling on stage, and he’s going to win the office for another four years.

Prefer to read the transcript of the video? Click here


Here at Zeihan On Geopolitics we select a single charity to sponsor. We have two criteria:
 
First, we look across the world and use our skill sets to identify where the needs are most acute. Second, we look for an institution with preexisting networks for both materials gathering and aid distribution. That way we know every cent of our donation is not simply going directly to where help is needed most, but our donations serve as a force multiplier for a system already in existence. Then we give what we can.
 
Today, our chosen charity is a group called Medshare, which provides emergency medical services to communities in need, with a very heavy emphasis on locations facing acute crises. Medshare operates right in the thick of it. Until future notice, every cent we earn from every book we sell in every format through every retailer is going to Medshare’s Ukraine fund.
 
And then there’s you.
 
Our newsletters and videologues are not only free, they will always be free. We also will never share your contact information with anyone. All we ask is that if you find one of our releases in any way useful, that you make a donation to Medshare. Over one third of Ukraine’s pre-war population has either been forced from their homes, kidnapped and shipped to Russia, or is trying to survive in occupied lands. This is our way to help who we can. Please, join us.

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MEDSHARE’S UKRAINE FUND

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MEDSHARE’S EFFORTS GLOBALLY


TRANSCIPT

Hey everybody. Peter Zeihan here coming to you from the San Francisco airport where I am getting ready to be going on my first real big boy vacation since COVID started, they’ve all kind of stacked up. So I figured as long as I was leaving the country and you weren’t going to see this until after I was on the other side of the international dateline, now would be a good time to talk about American politics and tell you who’s going to win the next presidential election.

Now, the person to understand, if you want to see how this election is going to play out is Bernie Sanders. Because I think most people in America agree that he’s a bit cuckoo and his ideas are crazy. And if you sit down and actually force him to go through the math, how some people have done, he will admit that the math doesn’t make sense and he’ll just raise taxes until it does. And if that raises the marginal tax rate to the point that it destroys everything, he has no problem with that. And people who support Bernie Sanders, once you walk them through that, will come to the same general realization. But they will not change their minds because they are committed to the cause. Put another way, Bernie Sanders is not a political leader. He’s a religious leader, and he has a cult following as a result. And so does Donald Trump. Now, what that means is somewhere between one quarter and one third of people who self-identify as Republicans don’t care what Trump does or what he says. I mean, hell, he could livestream the abortion of his trans lover and they would still support him, which means that if only three other people run against him for the Republican nomination, he’s going to win the way the Republican Party works when it comes to delegates, as is in most of the races, as long as you get one more vote than whoever comes in in second place, you walk away with every single delegate. So it’s really easy for someone to come in from the outside, just like Donald Trump did, because by most metrics, he’s not a conservative in the American sense, certainly not the Republican sense. But he was able to mobilize a group of people who had been left to the outside of the populace and has catapulted not just to the presidency, but to control the Republican Party as a result. So in the environment that we’re in now, since we already have another three people have declared for the presidency, it doesn’t matter if someone like Florida Governor DeSantis runs at this point. The vote is already sufficiently split that Donald Trump will walk away with the Republican nomination. That’s pretty much hardwired in at this point. So that’s the Republicans. 

So let’s talk about the Democrats. The Democrats select their candidates a little bit differently. They don’t have that winner take all mentality when it comes to the delegates. So if you get a number of strong candidates, they were going to break up the delegate count among them and it’s going to come down to the convention. And at the convention, there are a significant number of what they call superdelegates, which are people who are not representative of the primary, the caucus system, but instead represent kind of the party’s institution, which are primarily centrists. And the superdelegates came into play in the last presidential cycle when for a brief, shining, terrifying moment, it looked like Bernie Sanders might actually get the Democratic nominee. And since most centrist and center left Democrats were like, Oh, that would be disastrous by any number of manners. They all rallied together and used the party apparatus to make sure that Bernie did not get the nomination. And as a result, Biden was able to squeak through and then ultimately ran for president and ultimately gained the White House. Now, the centrists and the center left within the Democratic coalition have made the decision already that they’re not going through that again. And so if Bernie or more likely when Bernie decides to once again run for president, the centrists will swing into action to make sure it’s nipped in the bud as quickly as possible. In addition, the Democrats have always had a problem, I shouldn’t say always. The Democrats in the last 25 years have had a problem that it’s really hard for them to bring in fresh blood, because you’ve got these charismatic people at the top who are politically and maybe even economically powerful, who kind of suck all the oxygen out of the room and make it very difficult for young up and comers to make it into the system. Republicans don’t have that particular problem. And so you get a lot of people who are in their seventies, people like Biden, people like Pelosi, people like Schumer who dominate the scene. And there really isn’t a cadre of people below them. There is no deep bench. In that sort of environment, it’s really, really hard to get a primary system that runs on actual competitive candidates. You just get these freaks that come in from the outside, freaks like Bernie Sanders. Well, since the centrists have already decided what they’re going to do this time around, that means Biden is a shoo in to get the nomination, which puts us into a weird race. You get Republicans who are cult dedicated to Donald Trump and you’ve got Democrats who are willing to shut out everyone else so long as Biden doesn’t have a complete meltdown and start drooling effusively on stage, barring those two extreme events, we’re talking about a redux of the last election of Biden versus Trump.

And I don’t think that any of the things that people are talking about right now as having an impact on the election would really matter at all. So, for example, the age issue, I mean. Yes, yes, yes, yes. Biden is older than dirt by a wide margin and he would be the oldest president ever if he wins again. However, if Trump beats him, Trump would then be the oldest president ever. So the age issue is really a non condition for any voter who says it is. It may be a compacting factor, but since the runner up in this case is almost as old, it doesn’t play. And the same comes for replacing the vice presidency with somebody besides Kamala Harris. Has she risen to the occasion? No. Has she turned out to be a good VP, probably not by most measures. But replacing her isn’t going to really change anyone’s mind. Nobody votes for the vice president, so we’re left with Biden versus Trump. So the question then is who walks away with that? From my point of view, it’s pretty straightforward.

Roughly 20 to 25% of the electorate is either hardcore Republican or hardcore Democrat, and they might not like the candidate, but they’ll hold their nose and they’ll pull the lever on no vote for whoever their party’s candidate is. They are locked in. There’s no negotiating room there. Then you have another about 20% on each side that says they’re independent. But, like in 85% of races, they vote for either a Republican or a Democrat. So they’re really only independent. And they really they’re just subsidiaries of the left and the right in the American system. There’s not a lot of wiggle room there. There’s only 10% of the American electorate that is truly independent. And they’re wishy washy and they’re judgmental and they get buyer’s remorse. And the votes of this last 10% is the primary reason why in mid-terms, usually the party in power loses because they’re having buyer’s remorse. And I know this very, very clearly because I’m part of that 10%. We’re never happy with what we are and we’re not part of the decision making to determine what the candidates are. And so we get handed this pallet that we just don’t like but we have to make do with. And that usually manifests as us voting against whoever happens to be the guy in charge at the moment.

So that is how it normally runs. That’s how it’s always run. It’s how it ran until we got to the 2022 midterms, because in the 2022 midterms, almost exclusively, the independents were polled as not liking Joe Biden, particularly on economic affairs. They saw his continued governance as being against their own economic best interests, and yet they decisively sided with Democrats in all the races that really matter. And so for the most part, independents polled as not liking the Biden administration’s economic policies. And they saw a continuation of those policies as against their own personal economic interests, and yet they decisively voted against Republicans. Why? Well, it is not too hard to understand. A lot of this talk about what’s going on with the election system is real, but you have to look at it from the independents point of view to really understand if the Republican Party under Trump is able to change the electoral system in the way that they say they want to, then swing voters don’t matter anymore and independent voters don’t have a party. That’s the general election is the only way that they play in American democracy. And if you remove that, they are powerless. So the United States government under Democrats and Republicans has this interesting saying when it comes to democracy in the Middle East, we want one person, one vote, but not just one time. And if we go down the path of Donald Trump wants to, you know, that’s compromised. That and Donald Trump has made personal loyalty the predominant issue in any political system in which he touches, which brings us crap candidates like Oz or Walker who are very, very easy to vote against. And so from the point of view of the independents, the people who have decided the last seven general elections, there’s nothing to decide anymore.

And so it’s pretty safe to say that if the midterms were decided by independents who usually don’t even show up to midterms and they were willing to vote against what they see as their own economic best interests, you can bet your ass they’re going to show up in the general election in two years and vote against Trump and everything that he stands for. So for that purpose, primarily, I see this election as a shoo in for Biden. Round two. All he has to do is not die and he’s going to win.

Okay, in Queenstown now let’s see. What were we talking about…Biden and Trump? Oh yeah. Why it matters. Now, obviously, if you’re obsessed about who wins the US presidential election, it matters independently. But beyond that it raises the possibility that the United States is going to have the first extended period of agreement in its foreign policy across administrations. Now, let me explain that a little bit for Obama was infamous for never having conversations with anyone. So for seven of his eight years as president, we basically had no foreign policy at all. Then Donald Trump comes in and Donald Trump would tweet something bold and assume that that made it policy. But then nothing would ever be done with it because he could be bothered to have a constructive conversation with anyone in the government or the bureaucracy or Congress. In fact, at one point he said that his tweets were notification to Congress of certain policies, which clearly legally is not kosher. So for his four years, very little happened at the federal level. Biden has come in and Biden almost to a tee, shares Trump’s approach to foreign economic policy making. Extraordinarily populist, extraordinarily nationalist. But the difference between the two is that Joe Biden actually believes in the power of government. And can sit through a meeting in a way that Barack Obama could not. And so he is actually going back through Donald Trump’s tweets and turning them one after another into foreign economic policy and then embedding them into governance and into the American government bureaucracy. So if you are a Biden supporter, you should be furious because he’s taken all of his cues from Trump. And if you are a Trump supporter, you should be furious because Biden is getting all of the credit for Trump’s economic decision making and policy statements.

So there’s plenty in this video for everyone to get pissed off at. Now, if you disagree with my assessments on where this election is going and who we should blame for why, that’s fine. That’s fine. Go ahead and reach out and contact me. You can reach me at [email protected]. That’s [email protected]. I’m going to be here in New Zealand for the next three or four weeks and I will be doing a number of videos and reporting back to you. It might not be on the most current of current events because for most of this I’m going to be backpacking and I’m not going to have information access, but I will be back in time and we’re going to do a lot of deep dive stuff while I am gone.

So everyone have a great month and I will see you near the end of April. Bye.

The Financial Crisis of 2023?

No, we’re not headed for another financial crisis…although, to those with more than 250k in one of the three failing banks, it may seem like we are. Silicon Valley Bank is the largest of the three, but it’s still only the 16th largest in the nation.

The problem for Silicon Valley Bank and the smaller Silvergate and Signature Bank is that they all took on a questionable amount of exposure to illiquid assets. For SVB, it was a variety of long-term bonds and securities with long durations. Then interest rates started to go up–way up. And SVB was not left with many tools to manage interest rate risk it had not hedged for. When its primary customers–the tech industry–found out, they sounded the alarm. Being the tech world, they’re all relatively well-connected and active on social media, triggering a stampede of customers wanting to pull their cash out more or less simultaneously, or what we’d call a good old-fashioned bank run.

The real thread connecting all of these banking mishaps, however, is one that’s not going to go away anytime soon. Rising capital costs. Many of these banks and their customers have been operating in a world where money has been as close to free as it has ever been in human history. Over the past year, we’ve seen interest rates rise–sharply–and there’s little reason to believe that we’re anywhere near done yet. The fundamental operating paradigm for banks and the financial paradigm of the past decade and a half is shifting, and we’re going to see which financial institutions are able to deal with the change and which ones won’t be able to keep up.

The Biden administration has now stated that the FDIC will make all depositors whole. That’s great for ending any potential bank runs, but those CFOs who thought it was a good idea to put all of their company’s capital into one bank won’t be learning their lesson this time around.

Prefer to read the transcript of the video? Click here


Here at Zeihan On Geopolitics we select a single charity to sponsor. We have two criteria:
 
First, we look across the world and use our skill sets to identify where the needs are most acute. Second, we look for an institution with preexisting networks for both materials gathering and aid distribution. That way we know every cent of our donation is not simply going directly to where help is needed most, but our donations serve as a force multiplier for a system already in existence. Then we give what we can.
 
Today, our chosen charity is a group called Medshare, which provides emergency medical services to communities in need, with a very heavy emphasis on locations facing acute crises. Medshare operates right in the thick of it. Until future notice, every cent we earn from every book we sell in every format through every retailer is going to Medshare’s Ukraine fund.
 
And then there’s you.
 
Our newsletters and videologues are not only free, they will always be free. We also will never share your contact information with anyone. All we ask is that if you find one of our releases in any way useful, that you make a donation to Medshare. Over one third of Ukraine’s pre-war population has either been forced from their homes, kidnapped and shipped to Russia, or is trying to survive in occupied lands. This is our way to help who we can. Please, join us.

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MEDSHARE’S UKRAINE FUND

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MEDSHARE’S EFFORTS GLOBALLY


TRANSCIPT

Hey, everybody. Peter Zeihan here, coming to you from Bloomington, Illinois. Sorry, I forgot where I was there for a second. It is the 14th of March. Tuesday. And for those of you that have been following the news, you, of course, know that the United States is facing a little bit of a banking hiccup right now. Over the course of the last few days, three banks of note Silvergate Signature and Silicon Valley have either been closed by regulators or just simply collapsed. And this is something that honestly, I don’t think anyone should really overly worry about. The biggest of them, Silicon Valley, is like number 16 in the country. So this is nothing like the financial crisis of 2007 when all of our Big Ten banks were in trouble all at the same time. Now, normally when you have a financial crisis, it’s because of a problem with loans. Whenever the business cycle turns, the cost of capital goes up and loans that may have made sense in the past don’t anymore. So in the 2007, the issue was subprime. We had, based on how you measure the math, somewhere between a half trillion and two and a half trillion dollars of questionable loans in the real estate market. And that meant that touched almost every single bank within the entire system. So when the real estate market turned and we realized that a lot of these people were baristas who had no incomes and had qualified for 100% mortgages on million dollar homes, and those loans went bad. We had problems across the entire space. Nothing like that is going on this time. We’ve had a very strong expansion and certainly capital has probably been overly cheap and there is some rot in the system that does need to be worked out. And what basically what’s going on is the financial system is going through the process of taking out the trash right now. You would expect some banks to go down. That’s not necessarily a signal of a broader contagion, systemic risk sort of thing.

In addition, the United States has something called the FDIC, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which is a system by where all banks pay a monthly fee into the system in order to get insurance for their depositors. So as long as your deposit is under a quarter of $1,000,000, you are federally guaranteed to get your money back without the federal government having to do anything. That system has kicked in and depositors will be made whole. It makes sense that these three banks are the ones that went under first. They won’t be the last, probably. Although that doesn’t mean I’m concerned about something like eating through the entire system like a cancer. It’s just that they’re all related to tech and tech tends to be a capital intensive industry, and especially when you’re talking about newer firms and startup firms and research firms, which are what these banks cater to. You’re talking about institutions and companies that don’t make money today. They’re hoping to make money next year or the year after, the year after that, or invest in the next big thing. So they tend to be more perspective. They don’t have to have any income. And so when capital costs go up, they face problems. And so these banks are the ones that are facing the issues. So there’s nothing about this that is any more than a run of the mill bank failure, that matches most of our understandings about macroeconomic trends. I don’t want to say it’s nothing to worry about, but I’m really not concerned about an overall national bank contagion or broad bank run. And I think what the stock markets have done in discounting all things financial is a gross overreaction. So there’s that.

Now, there are three reasons why this time it is a little bit different. First of all, tech has been on a tear for the last several years and not just because capital has been cheap, but because of COVID. When we all found ourselves living and working at home, we needed better cameras, we needed ring lights, we needed computers. We need to update our phones. And so in the year 2020 and 2021, and to a lesser degree in 2022, we were all buying all kinds of tech related products, generating a bit of a boom. Well, once you buy the newest and greatest computer and phone, you probably are going to wait before you get the next one. And so we were always going to have a little bit of a tech bust independent of what was happening with the overall economy. So that’s one. Number two, this is a little atypical for a bank run or a bank crash because normally the problem is on the loan side. It really isn’t this time. It’s not that there hasn’t been a capital crunch, but in the tech start up space, these companies usually don’t go to like the Small Business Administration to get a business loan. They get their capital directly from a venture capitalist. And it’s the venture capitalists who are finding themselves with less capital to throw at situations. So they’re not as able as they have been to throw money at these small startups. And so the startups have been drawing down on their cash, which means the problem from the bank point of view hasn’t been with the money that they’ve lent out. They don’t lend out very much. It’s been with the money that they thought they had. So as deposits have been drawn down, they haven’t had enough operating capital to continue normal operations.

Now, this is mostly good news because it means the overall exposure to the financial sector, which is normally what happens when you sell loans among banks, just isn’t there. But it is a very big problem for the tech sector.

And then we get to our third problem, which is how the Biden administration has chosen to deal with it. Now, if you are dealing with a deposit that’s under a quarter of $1,000,000, the federal government doesn’t have to lift a finger because the FDIC will take care of it. But a lot of these small startups, they put all of their money into individual banks, most notably Silicon Valley Bank. So it was a lot more than a quarter of a million now more than a quarter million is not insured. So what the federal government has done under the Biden administration is step in and say that all depositors will be made whole by the FDIC.

What will happen is banks will have to pay a little bit higher. All banks. Into the FDIC system in order to ultimately make up for this so that taxpayers don’t have to pay for the actual bailout. Now, this does put a hard stop on any risk of a bank run. So it’s definitely the right tool for the job there. But what it does is, is it encourages companies that have done stupid things like this to continue doing them, because now all of us have to pay through lower bank interest or more difficult loan conditions for a handful of startup companies who had CFOs who were just too dumb to realize that there is a limited limit to the deposit insurance system. And so this has injected a permanent level of stupidity into the financial system that was really not necessary. And by backing all depositors, the federal government, the Biden administration specifically has chosen to introduce what we call moral hazard into the system at the base level, which in my opinion, was really not a great idea, although it definitely does put a bit of a backstop on the financial maybe kind of sort of itty bitty crisis.

Okay. I’d like to give a little shout out here to Marci Rossell, who is an economist that I actually just saw on stage, who is fantastic. So if you ever have a chance to see her in person, she is definitely an entertaining show and will constantly give you new things to challenge your assumptions and think in new directions. Alright. That’s it for me. See you guys next time.

US Policy: Russia Gets Blacklisted 

Senator Lindsey Graham captured the essence of what today’s video is all about – “If you jump on the Putin train now, you’re dumber than dirt.”

Between President Biden’s visit to Ukraine and VP Harris’ comment on Russia’s crimes against humanity, it’s clear that the US has drawn a line in the sand, and Russia is on the other side. This means that Russia (or at least Putin’s government) is on the blacklist of world affairs.

According to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the Chinese are considering providing lethal aid to the Russians, so that blacklist might be getting a little bigger. Unfortunately for the Chinese, any disruption to the already crumbling relations between the US and China could prove catastrophic.

The breaking point has been on the horizon for years now, and we all should have seen this coming. The ramifications will be huge, and a complete reordering of the global economic system is just the tip of the iceberg.


Here at Zeihan On Geopolitics we select a single charity to sponsor. We have two criteria:
 
First, we look across the world and use our skill sets to identify where the needs are most acute. Second, we look for an institution with preexisting networks for both materials gathering and aid distribution. That way we know every cent of our donation is not simply going directly to where help is needed most, but our donations serve as a force multiplier for a system already in existence. Then we give what we can.
 
Today, our chosen charity is a group called Medshare, which provides emergency medical services to communities in need, with a very heavy emphasis on locations facing acute crises. Medshare operates right in the thick of it. Until future notice, every cent we earn from every book we sell in every format through every retailer is going to Medshare’s Ukraine fund.
 
And then there’s you.
 
Our newsletters and videologues are not only free, they will always be free. We also will never share your contact information with anyone. All we ask is that if you find one of our releases in any way useful, that you make a donation to Medshare. Over one third of Ukraine’s pre-war population has either been forced from their homes, kidnapped and shipped to Russia, or is trying to survive in occupied lands. This is our way to help who we can. Please, join us.

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MEDSHARE’S UKRAINE FUND

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MEDSHARE’S EFFORTS GLOBALLY

Why the Fed Is Shrinking the Balance Sheet

Before we jump into the newsletter, I wanted to remind you that tomorrow is the big day! Join the webinar and learn how the Ukraine War has affected global supply chains, agriculture and much more. Click the link below for more info, and I look forward to seeing you there!

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell wants to shrink the balance sheet to zero over the next few years. And while this may be good for the economy and the US overall, not everyone will like the outcome…especially our vest-wearing friends down on Wall Street.

So how did we get here? Well, the Fed is in the business of preventing economic crises, and one function of that is having the “tools” to do so. The typical “tools” we see are using interest rates and other money operations to manipulate the financial system, but what happens when that’s not enough?

Since the 2008 financial crisis, the US economy has seen all the unorthodox tools in the toolbox. One of those is purchasing bonds on the secondary markets…to the tune of $9 trillion. That’s not an easy pill to swallow for everyone, but it goes down a bit easier when the alternative is a depression.

Now that the economy has seen a few years of growth and unemployment is at an all-time low, the Fed is ready to pack up its unorthodox “toolbox” to be better prepared for a future economic downturn. So what does this all mean?

Lots of money is coming off the table very soon. With the Fed pulling back and the Baby Boomers aging into retirement, we’re about to see almost a third of all available capital leave the system. Hopefully, your financial advisor is really, really good.

Prefer to read the transcript of the video? Click here


Here at Zeihan On Geopolitics we select a single charity to sponsor. We have two criteria:
 
First, we look across the world and use our skill sets to identify where the needs are most acute. Second, we look for an institution with preexisting networks for both materials gathering and aid distribution. That way we know every cent of our donation is not simply going directly to where help is needed most, but our donations serve as a force multiplier for a system already in existence. Then we give what we can.
 
Today, our chosen charity is a group called Medshare, which provides emergency medical services to communities in need, with a very heavy emphasis on locations facing acute crises. Medshare operates right in the thick of it. Until future notice, every cent we earn from every book we sell in every format through every retailer is going to Medshare’s Ukraine fund.
 
And then there’s you.
 
Our newsletters and videologues are not only free, they will always be free. We also will never share your contact information with anyone. All we ask is that if you find one of our releases in any way useful, that you make a donation to Medshare. Over one third of Ukraine’s pre-war population has either been forced from their homes, kidnapped and shipped to Russia, or is trying to survive in occupied lands. This is our way to help who we can. Please, join us.

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MEDSHARE’S UKRAINE FUND

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MEDSHARE’S EFFORTS GLOBALLY


TRANSCIPT

Good morning from still chilly Colorado. Peter Zeihan coming to you to talk about what’s going on in the world of finance. For those of you who have not been watching, the US Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell has indicated he plans to shrink the balance sheet down to zero over the course of the next couple of years. So, you know, real quick, what’s the balance sheet and why does it exist?

The Federal Reserve prefers to use interest rates and money operations in order to manipulate the financial system to regulate the flow of capital, the cost of capital, and in general, what happens in the wider world. But from time to time, that is not enough. You can only push interest rates so low. I mean, once you hit zero, there’s really no further to go. And you can only shove so much money into the banking system to encourage lending. If people aren’t borrowing, people are not borrowing.

So from time to time, certainly at the end of the or in the middle of the financial crisis and into COVID, the Federal Reserve dipped into a series of relatively unorthodox tools that use the balance sheet. And what they did is they would expand the money supply to print currency and then use that money to purchase bonds on the secondary market. And they could be car loans or college loans or credit card debt, mortgages, whatever happened to be. And from 2008 until the peak, which was about about two years ago now, they did $9 trillion that way. So, you know, the U.S. federal budget deficit is about a trillion. So you get an idea of just how stimulatory that was. And there are a lot of people who thought that this was irresponsible and that it was inflationary, and it was another unorthodox. You know, they have a point. But from the Federal Reserve’s point of view, the alternative was to fall into a deep recession or maybe even depression, and didn’t feel they had much of a choice.

What’s going on now is the economy is on sounder footing. We are at record low unemployment levels and growth has been moderate to strong for three years in a row. So the Federal Reserve feels it’s time to kind of get out of that business and get back to normal. And if from the point that they really started this process a year ago to two years being done. 3 year process, you know, that’s like three or four times as fast as they built the thing up. So really quick, actually, when you’re thinking about the size of this $9 trillion, that’s a lot.

Now, what will that mean? It should, under normal circumstances, typically mean slower economic growth, because when you reduce the cost of capital, less stuff gets funded and the stuff that does get funded tends to be more viable. So more industrial plant, more infrastructure, more education, less on things that are like emerging technologies that haven’t made it to the prototype stage yet. Less on technologies that don’t seem to be working out in terms of cost benefit analysis. Overall, from an economic efficiency point of view, this is a really good step because shaking out some of the dead weight that has evolved in this environment we’ve had for the last 15 years of nearly free capital. You know, we’ve seen a lot of crazy shit go down and we’re finally going to see a lot of that get shaken out. Interest rates are getting back to a more normal posture. The Fed is not done raising. He’s got at least another full percentage point to go. I would argue probably closer to three. And we’re finally seeing all this surplus liquidity go out of the system and return us to a more balanced system, which means when we get to the next financial crisis or the next recession, the Fed will have a lot more tools, a lot more wiggle room, and the overall economy will be a lot healthier. These are all good things, but what is good for the system as a whole is not necessarily good for each individual piece.

So think of all the things that we have seen bubble up over the last 15 years because of cheap capital. In part, this is the Green Revolution, the technologies that on a cost benefit basis, once you include things like intermittency and geography, you know, are not really ready for prime time. EVs which are very materials intensive and tap supply chains that are not secure that we want to produce at scale, even though their carbon footprint in a lot of the country is heavier than ICEs internal combustion engines for at least several years. And then you’ve got your more traditional crap, your subprime, your Beanie Babies, your Bitcoin things that probably should have never existed in the first place. All of that is going to be in a much more difficult capital environment, and we should expect that to adjust appropriately. But perhaps where we’re going to see the most pain is in finance.

When the amount of money to be managed shrinks, the number of money managers that you need goes down. And it’s not like the Federal Reserve is the only player here. There are other things going on in the overall economic system that are also pushing us in the direction of less capital. I’d say the single biggest one, maybe even more significant than the Federal Reserve in the long term, is what’s happening with the baby boomers.

As you get older, you get better at your job, you earn more money, and after age 50 to 55, your kids have moved out of your house has been paid down. So from 55 to 65, that’s the most money you will ever have in your life. And then you retire. And when you retire, you take your money out of more prospective investments with higher velocity of capital, things like stocks and bonds. And you put them into T-bills and cash because the next time there’s a market crash, if you haven’t done that, you lose your shirt and you’re no longer working and you can’t buy a new one.

So the baby boomers, for the last 15 years have kind of been in that magical era between 55 and 65, where they’ve been saving money and investing it. And that has happened at the same time that the Federal Reserve has maintained an ultra loose monetary policy. Well, on average, the baby boomers retired last year, which means that their money is rapidly draining away from the system. At the same time that the Federal Reserve is tightening policy. So over the course of the next 2 to 3 years, we’re looking at a global reduction in available capital of at least a third and we will probably see the number of people employed in the financial sector in the United States drop by a similar number.

Good luck, folks. It’s going to be all about quality moving forward. Alright. Until next time.

Life After Trump

Disclaimer: The following newsletters were originally published in early 2021. As the newsletter continues to grow, I will occasionally re-share some of my older releases for the newer members of the audience.

The years of Donald Trump’s presidency are known far and wide. And the impact those 4 years had was…not small. The Trump-era of American politics has left the world with a number of questions, perhaps the most important being…what does life after Trump look like? Not just for Americans, but for everyone. This question is something still being discussed on the daily, and as the 2024 elections close in, we’ll continue to see the name Trump in the headlines for years to come.

I’m not sure precisely what I’m expecting to achieve with this series. Perhaps we’ll figure that out together.

Read the installments in this series:
 
Life after Trump, Part I: Living in the Lightning
Life after Trump, Part II: Searching for Truth in a Flood of Freedom
Life After Trump, Part III: The End of the Republican Alliance
Life After Trump, Part IV: Building a Better Democrat…Maybe
Life After Trump, Part V: The Opening Roster
Life After Trump, Part VI: The Crisis List—Russia
Life After Trump, Part VII: The Crisis List—The Middle East
Life After Trump, Part VIII: The Crisis List—China


Life after Trump, Part I: Living in the Lightning

Let me start of by saying that in an advanced democracy like the United States, political violence must never be tolerated. We have institutions and courts and elections expressly to manage our differences and debates. That isn’t simply how things are, that is how things should be. The ban on political violence is entrenched in both our norms and our laws and is the foundation of not simply our Constitution or our civilization, but of civilization itself. Anyone who encourages otherwise should rot.
 
Many have compared the events of the January 6 Capitol riots with the violence which occurred concurrently with the Black Lives Matter movement of 2020. The idea cannot simply be dismissed out of hand. But not being correct isn’t the same as being right. During the 2020 protests, some figures in national leadership encouraged people to do more than simply march, and cheerfully paid their bail after their arrests. AOC comes to mind. That is indeed crassly irresponsible. Damaging. Stupid.
 
But we expect different things from different people. We hold four-year-olds to different standards than college students, much less parents of four. That’s life.
 
So, while I am the polar opposite of impressed when folks like AOC engage in dubious political acts and grandstanding, I can’t say that I’m shocked or offended or mourning for the future of my country. I expect that sort of crap from young, first term Congresspeople and I weigh it against some of the less-than-wise things I did in my 20s. Yes, from time to time they besmirch their office and their place in history, but they are rabble-rousers. It’s their schtick. It isn’t like they are leaders.
 
In contrast, Trump is the president. He is the leader of the free world. The presidential standard is higher than the standard for a 31-year-old-until-recently-bartender-now-first-term-Congresswomen.
 
Even if the standard were the same, Trump has surrounded himself with people seeped in law & order conservatism and respect for American institutions like Reince Priebus, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Rex Tillerson, James Mattis, John Kelly, Nikki Haley, and HR McMaster. Even folks on TeamTrump that I might personally disagree with more often – such as John Bolton, Jeff Sessions and Gary Cohn – are hardly what I would call fascists or anarchists. Even if you hate any or all these men and women on ideological grounds, you must admit that they are adults and that they realize spending a month of your time encouraging the most violent portions of American society to descend on the capital to lay siege to the Capital complex isn’t a good call. I have zero doubt that all of them warned Trump against similar actions on multiple occasions.
 
I have zero doubt such warnings were the proximate reasons all no longer serve in the White House.

Continue reading

World Leaders of the Present and Recent Past

A note: The following newsletters were originally published in Oct. and Nov. of 2022. As the newsletter continues to grow, I will occasionally re-share some of my older releases for the newer members of the audience.

In this series I cover some of the world leaders of the present and recent past…with a strong focus on US presidents. You can find a compilation of all the videos here:  

Xi Jinping And The Challenge of Chinese Leadership

No matter the official line that comes out of the Chinese Communist Party Congress, Xi Jinping is China’s president for life. Rather than bringing stability to a very uncertain future for China, Xi’s leadership is almost guaranteed to further exacerbate the pressures Beijing currently faces. 

The polity we know as China today is composed of an amalgam of historically competing regions, with several regions often closer to invading/foreign powers (be they Mongol or European) than each other. These geographic and cultural differences persist today, even within the Han majority. But China’s problems under Xi are more a result of Xi’s leadership style and the method by which he consolidated power than any historic, geopolitical fissures that have persisted through Chinese history.

Xi Jinping And The Challenge of Chinese Leadership


Vladimir Putin and the Dearth of Russian Leadership

Many people would consider it difficult to manage a country like Russia. It’s not. Or at least for Vladimir Putin, he’s following a well trod path mapped out for him by the former Soviet Union and its heavy-handed imperial predecessor. The Russian center maintains absolute control, and any internal threats are simply crushed.

Putin, like his predecessors, must maintain a sprawling internal security apparatus and intelligence service, to infiltrate and eliminate (often defenestrate) any would-be competitors or questioners of his rule. Is this particularly good for economic and social development? No. But, Putin has managed to stay in power for decades. But one of the most salient downfalls of such a system is the concentration of authority within the hands of a chosen few. Chosen by whom? Not fate, or success, or a meritocratic system. But by Putin. So Russian leadership now is more or less a fraternity of people who neither threaten nor challenge Putin, and the greatest distillation of the shallowness of the depth of expertise of such a system is current Russian performance in its invasion of Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin and the Dearth of Russian Leadership


MbS and the Long Reach of Saudi Leadership

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia exists as an odd mish-mash of geography and geology. It’s large, desert frontiers are remarkably ill-suited to economic activity. Before the discovery of oil, the main financial rainmaker was the annual Hajj. What we now know as Saudi Arabia’s primary significance to the region was its role as the birthplace of Islam and the bedrock of Bedouin culture.

Fast forward a few centuries and enter the British, who not only empower the region’s local tribes to oust the Ottoman-backed tribal leadership of Mecca but also discover vast oil deposits. Saudi Arabia today is a wealthy, centrally-located key petroleum supplier to pretty much every industrialized economy who wants to be a buyer. And it has not been shy about using its vast cash and oil reserves to shape events on the ground as it sees fit–from wreaking havoc in oil markets to funding transnational jihadism.

At the center of the Saudi Arabian system is the vast, multigeneration House of Saud. Much elevated in stature from their days as desert brigands and bloody rivals of the Hashemite dynasty, they haven’t forgotten their roots. The size of the ruling family, its material resources, and ability to transition to a younger generation gives the Saudis an advantage rarely seen in most dictatorships: longevity.

MbS and the Long Reach of Saudi Leadership


Bill Clinton and America’s Post-Cold War Leadership

For all of Bill Clinton’s considerable intelligence, bouts of intense curiosity, and ability to make dazzle a room of even his opponents, there was not a lot of deep domestic or international policy crafting during his presidency. His focus on topics tended to follow polls and his own episodic interest. Good for his own approval polling, but in the end the inability to commit would take its toll. 

But part of the reason his approval ratings stayed so high was the fact that his presidency overlapped a sort of halcyon age for Americans (according to Gallup, Clinton’s final presidential approval polls are the highest of any president going back to Harry S. Truman). But just because he got away with it doesn’t mean his leadership style didn’t cast a long shadow. We are still dealing directly with foreign policy decisions he made–and chose not to make–in the present day…

Bill Clinton and America’s Post-Cold War Leadership


George W. Bush and the Texan Style of American Leadership

Before becoming president of the United States, George W. Bush was famously the governor of Texas. There are few state-wide offices in the country as relatively weak as the Texas governorship, and it’s hard to find another state executive whose day-to-day role is as different than what the US president does as the Texas governor’s. 

George W. Bush attempted to make the transition by assembling one of the most impressive cabinets in US history. In true Texan style, he was ready to let them loose to pursue their respective policy prerogatives in order to reshape the United States, and the world, for the post-Cold War Order. All that changed after 9/11 happened. 

George W. Bush and the Texan Style of American Leadership


Barack Obama and the Disengagement of American Leadership

Many people are surprised when I say that Barack Obama was the second-smartest American president of recent history, after Bill Clinton. I should also say that in no way serves as an endorsement or that I think either was necessarily successful. 

President Obama in particular seemed not only ill-suited to but ultimately disinterested in engaging with the management of the massive, sprawling bureaucracy that is the US Federal Government. Some presidents relish the cooperation–or combativeness–of engaging with the legislative branch. Obama? Not so much. 

Was he engaged with his cabinet, suggesting policy and working to overhaul the federal bureaucracy? No. What about rebuilding his party? Famously not. Was he interested in managing the post-Bush, post-Iraq global order? Absolutely not.

After four terms of presidents who were charismatic and personable leaders, the Obama presidency presented a very “the man in the ivory tower” vibe–one that I’d argue laid the groundwork for Donald Trump’s runaway popularity with so much of the American electorate. 

Barack Obama and the Disengagement of American Leadership


Donald Trump and America’s Leadership by Tweet

The best way to understand Donald Trump is to compare him to his immediate predecessor, President Obama. Both were outside candidates who came with their own political support and ran on charisma, rather than policy. When President Trump came into office, unlike Obama, he embraced his party; taking it over by systematically kicking out factions he found problematic and recreating the party in his own image.

President Obama really understood what was going on in the world, but had no interest in meeting with the people who could create policy, resulting in 8 years of nothing. Donald Trump was similarly disinterested in what others had to say, but he loved the limelight. He released policy via Tweet and hoped the government would take it and run. There was no shortage of loud, brash and bold policies, but they were never implemented because the President was already moving onto the next thing. Trump’s ever-present government by speech and tweet was the same across domestic and foreign policy.

Donald Trump and America’s Leadership by Tweet


Joe Biden and Asking His Way through American Leadership

The last modern American president we’ll be discussing in our leadership series is – you guessed it – Joe Biden.

Similar to Barack Obama, President Biden didn’t spend much time working a “real job” prior to entering the U.S. Senate…a few centuries ago. Throughout his ~plentiful~ time spent in government, he has learned his fair share, but hasn’t actually done much. Although his leadership style may lean more ideological than most presidents’, he can undoubtedly run a meeting better than many of his predecessors.

Given Biden’s understanding of how to utilize the tools of government and willingness to ask questions, we are seeing the most engaged president of the past 13 or so years. This doesn’t necessarily equate to great policy, but it is a promising sign of a return to industry-informed policy.

Joe Biden and Asking His Way through American Leadership


Here at Zeihan On Geopolitics we select a single charity to sponsor. We have two criteria:
 
First, we look across the world and use our skill sets to identify where the needs are most acute. Second, we look for an institution with preexisting networks for both materials gathering and aid distribution. That way we know every cent of our donation is not simply going directly to where help is needed most, but our donations serve as a force multiplier for a system already in existence. Then we give what we can.
 
Today, our chosen charity is a group called Medshare, which provides emergency medical services to communities in need, with a very heavy emphasis on locations facing acute crises. Medshare operates right in the thick of it. Until future notice, every cent we earn from every book we sell in every format through every retailer is going to Medshare’s Ukraine fund.
 
And then there’s you.
 
Our newsletters and videologues are not only free, they will always be free. We also will never share your contact information with anyone. All we ask is that if you find one of our releases in any way useful, that you make a donation to Medshare. Over one third of Ukraine’s pre-war population has either been forced from their homes, kidnapped and shipped to Russia, or is trying to survive in occupied lands. This is our way to help who we can. Please, join us.

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MEDSHARE’S UKRAINE FUND

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MEDSHARE’S EFFORTS GLOBALLY

Biden’s Pro-American Present for Europe

President Biden is getting into the holiday spirit by slapping a bow and some American Flag wrapping paper on a sweet little surprise for Europe…The Inflation Reduction Act. Inside they’ll find a wide array of pro-American manufacturing programs that are less than favorable for the Europeans.

Europe has enjoyed 75 years of safe and lucrative trade thanks to the guns and butter deal we know as globalization, but the Americans have outgrown that model. They are ready to bring some of their manufacturing home, and not in a small quantity…we’re talking 12 zeros here. This comes at a time when Biden needs some new footing with the organized labor faction and nothing speaks louder than money.

Europe isn’t happy about the American’s leveling out the playing field and WTO action has been threatened, but at the end of the day, the Biden administration is going to get its way.


Here at Zeihan On Geopolitics we select a single charity to sponsor. We have two criteria:
 
First, we look across the world and use our skill sets to identify where the needs are most acute. Second, we look for an institution with preexisting networks for both materials gathering and aid distribution. That way we know every cent of our donation is not simply going directly to where help is needed most, but our donations serve as a force multiplier for a system already in existence. Then we give what we can.
 
Today, our chosen charity is a group called Medshare, which provides emergency medical services to communities in need, with a very heavy emphasis on locations facing acute crises. Medshare operates right in the thick of it. Until future notice, every cent we earn from every book we sell in every format through every retailer is going to Medshare’s Ukraine fund.
 
And then there’s you.
 
Our newsletters and videologues are not only free, they will always be free. We also will never share your contact information with anyone. All we ask is that if you find one of our releases in any way useful, that you make a donation to Medshare. Over one third of Ukraine’s pre-war population has either been forced from their homes, kidnapped and shipped to Russia, or is trying to survive in occupied lands. This is our way to help who we can. Please, join us.

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MEDSHARE’S UKRAINE FUND

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MEDSHARE’S EFFORTS GLOBALLY

Implications of Impending US Rail Strikes

Rail is one of the primary means of transport in the US, and a union strike could put all of that at risk. To understand how the US got itself into this mess, we have to consider the following facets of the American system.

First, the Jones Act diverted a majority of the cargo away from waterways, meaning without rail a whole lot of things just…stop. Second, the turning of the political system has forced the organized labor faction into a game of tug of war between both parties, each vying for the union’s support.

As long as there is a threat to the systems that the union has a stake in, they will resist. This will likely result in government intervention, but not necessarily the kind of intervention we would have seen 10 years ago.

(The situation surrounding the potential US freight rail strike remains fluid. At the time of publishing, the US House of Representatives has voted to approve a tentative labor deal to avert a strike, but it remains unclear how the US Senate and rail workers will respond.)


Here at Zeihan On Geopolitics we select a single charity to sponsor. We have two criteria:
 
First, we look across the world and use our skill sets to identify where the needs are most acute. Second, we look for an institution with preexisting networks for both materials gathering and aid distribution. That way we know every cent of our donation is not simply going directly to where help is needed most, but our donations serve as a force multiplier for a system already in existence. Then we give what we can.
 
Today, our chosen charity is a group called Medshare, which provides emergency medical services to communities in need, with a very heavy emphasis on locations facing acute crises. Medshare operates right in the thick of it. Until future notice, every cent we earn from every book we sell in every format through every retailer is going to Medshare’s Ukraine fund.
 
And then there’s you.
 
Our newsletters and videologues are not only free, they will always be free. We also will never share your contact information with anyone. All we ask is that if you find one of our releases in any way useful, that you make a donation to Medshare. Over one third of Ukraine’s pre-war population has either been forced from their homes, kidnapped and shipped to Russia, or is trying to survive in occupied lands. This is our way to help who we can. Please, join us.

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MEDSHARE’S UKRAINE FUND

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MEDSHARE’S EFFORTS GLOBALLY

Joe Biden and Asking His Way through American Leadership

The last modern American president we’ll be discussing in our leadership series is – you guessed it – Joe Biden.

Similar to Barack Obama, President Biden didn’t spend much time working a “real job” prior to entering the U.S. Senate…a few centuries ago. Throughout his ~plentiful~ time spent in government, he has learned his fair share, but hasn’t actually done much. Although his leadership style may lean more ideological than most presidents’, he can undoubtedly run a meeting better than many of his predecessors.

Given Biden’s understanding of how to utilize the tools of government and willingness to ask questions, we are seeing the most engaged president of the past 13 or so years. This doesn’t necessarily equate to great policy, but it is a promising sign of a return to industry-informed policy.


Here at Zeihan On Geopolitics we select a single charity to sponsor. We have two criteria:
 
First, we look across the world and use our skill sets to identify where the needs are most acute. Second, we look for an institution with preexisting networks for both materials gathering and aid distribution. That way we know every cent of our donation is not simply going directly to where help is needed most, but our donations serve as a force multiplier for a system already in existence. Then we give what we can.
 
Today, our chosen charity is a group called Medshare, which provides emergency medical services to communities in need, with a very heavy emphasis on locations facing acute crises. Medshare operates right in the thick of it. Until future notice, every cent we earn from every book we sell in every format through every retailer is going to Medshare’s Ukraine fund.
 
And then there’s you.
 
Our newsletters and videologues are not only free, they will always be free. We also will never share your contact information with anyone. All we ask is that if you find one of our releases in any way useful, that you make a donation to Medshare. Over one third of Ukraine’s pre-war population has either been forced from their homes, kidnapped and shipped to Russia, or is trying to survive in occupied lands. This is our way to help who we can. Please, join us.

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MEDSHARE’S UKRAINE FUND

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MEDSHARE’S EFFORTS GLOBALLY

Implications of Rising Interest Rates

Is it a bird? A plane? Nope, just interest rates rising again.

At this point, most of us know the drill with the Federal Reserve raising and lowering interest rates to play puppet master with demand. However, not all of us have adult-experience with a period of high interest rates…I’m talking about millennials. And guess who is responsible for the majority of the demand across the world…millennials.

While the US has enough millennial-backed demand to get them through this recession, the rest of the world will quickly show how important it is to have a full quiver of monetary regulation tools at their disposal.

As this economic crisis unfolds across the globe, expect plenty of whining from your favorite crypto-bros, millennials and Germans.


Here at Zeihan On Geopolitics we select a single charity to sponsor. We have two criteria:
 
First, we look across the world and use our skill sets to identify where the needs are most acute. Second, we look for an institution with preexisting networks for both materials gathering and aid distribution. That way we know every cent of our donation is not simply going directly to where help is needed most, but our donations serve as a force multiplier for a system already in existence. Then we give what we can.
 
Today, our chosen charity is a group called Medshare, which provides emergency medical services to communities in need, with a very heavy emphasis on locations facing acute crises. Medshare operates right in the thick of it. Until future notice, every cent we earn from every book we sell in every format through every retailer is going to Medshare’s Ukraine fund.
 
And then there’s you.
 
Our newsletters and videologues are not only free, they will always be free. We also will never share your contact information with anyone. All we ask is that if you find one of our releases in any way useful, that you make a donation to Medshare. Over one third of Ukraine’s pre-war population has either been forced from their homes, kidnapped and shipped to Russia, or is trying to survive in occupied lands. This is our way to help who we can. Please, join us.

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MEDSHARE’S UKRAINE FUND

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MEDSHARE’S EFFORTS GLOBALLY