Nomi’s Note: Welcome to a special edition of Inside Wall Street. All this week, I’m bringing you some of my favorite content from geopolitical strategist Peter Zeihan.
Yesterday, I shared an excerpt of Peter’s new book, The End of the World Is Just the Beginning. In it, Peter told us that our world is breaking apart.
He believes the 2020s will see a collapse of consumption, production, investment, and trade almost everywhere. In short, globalization will shatter into pieces.
Today, Peter shares four guideposts for this new reality. Read on…
Yesterday, I told you the world – our world – is breaking apart.
The 2020s will see a collapse of consumption and production and investment and trade almost everywhere.
Globalization will shatter into pieces. Some regional. Some national. Some smaller.
It will be costly. It will make life slower. And above all, worse.
No economic system yet imagined can function in the sort of future we face.
This devolution will be jarring, to say the least. It’s taken us decades of peace to suss out this world of ours.
To think that we will adapt easily or quickly to such titanic unravelings is to showcase more optimism than I’m capable of generating.
But that’s not the same as saying I don’t have a few guideposts.
Today, I’ll tell you what those guideposts are.
Four Guideposts for the End of the World as We Know It
First comes something I call the “Geography of Success.”
Place matters. Hugely.
The Egyptian cities are where they are because they had the perfect mix of water and desert buffer for the preindustrial age.
Somewhat similarly, the Spanish and Portuguese rose to dominance not simply because of their early mastery of deepwater technologies…
But because their location on a peninsula somewhat freed them from the general melee of the European continent.
Toss industrial technologies into the mix and the story shifts.
Applying coal and concrete and railways and rebar en masse takes a lot of money. And the only places that could self-fund were those with a plethora of capital-generating navigable waterways.
Germany has more than anyone in Europe, making the German rise inevitable.
But the Americans have more than anyone in the world – than everyone else in the world – making the German fall just as inevitable.
Second, and you may have figured this out for yourself already, Geographies of Success are not immutable. As technologies evolve, the lists of winners and losers shift with them.
Advances in harnessing water and wind eroded what made Egypt special into history, providing room for a new slate of major powers.
The Industrial Revolution reduced Spain to a backwater, while heralding the beginning of the English Imperium.
The coming global Disorder and demographic collapse will do more than condemn a multitude of countries to the past. It will herald the rise of others.
Third, shifting the parameters of the possible impacts… pretty much everything. Our globalized world is, well, global.
A globalized world has one economic geography: the geography of the whole.
Regardless of trade or product, nearly every process crosses at least one international border. Some of the more complex cross thousands.
In the world we are (d)evolving into, that is relentlessly unwise.
A deglobalized world doesn’t simply have a different economic geography, it has thousands of different and separate geographies.
Economically speaking, the whole was stronger for the inclusion of all its parts. It is where we have gotten our wealth and pace of improvement and speed. Now the parts will be weaker for their separation.
Fourth, not only despite the global churn and degradation, but also in many cases because of it, the United States will largely escape the carnage to come.
End of a Golden Age
That probably triggered your BS detector.
How can I assert that the United States will waltz through something this tumultuous?
What with its ever-rising economic inequality, ever-fraying social fabric, and ever-more bitter and self-destructive political scene?
I understand the reflexive disbelief. I grew up during the age of duck-and-cover.
I find it galling that issues such as “safe spaces” in colleges devoid of divergent viewpoints, transgender bathroom policy, and vaccine benefits have even crossed into the proverbial town square…
Much less all but crowded-out issues such as nuclear proliferation or America’s place in the world.
Sometimes it feels as though American policy is pasted together from the random thoughts of the four-year-old product of a biker rally tryst between Bernie Sanders and Marjorie Taylor Greene.
My answer? That’s easy: it isn’t about them. It has never been about them.
And by “them” I don’t simply mean the unfettered wackadoos of contemporary America’s radicalized Left and Right. I mean America’s political players in general.
The 2020s are not the first time the United States has gone through a complete restructuring of its political system.
This is round seven for those of you with minds of historical bents.
Americans survived and thrived before because their geography is insulated from, while their demographic profile is starkly younger than, the bulk of the world.
They will survive and thrive now and into the future for similar reasons.
America’s strengths allow her debates to be petty, while those debates barely affect her strengths.
Perhaps the oddest thing of our soon-to-be present is that while the Americans revel in their petty, internal squabbles, they will barely notice that elsewhere the world is ending!!!
Lights will flicker and go dark. Famine’s leathery claws will dig deep and hold tight.
Access to the inputs – financial and material and labor – that define the modern world will cease existing in sufficient quantity to make modernity possible.
The story will be different everywhere, but the overarching theme will be unmistakable.
The last 75 years long will be remembered as a golden age…
And one that didn’t last nearly long enough at that.
Author, The End of the World Is Just the Beginning
Adapted from The End of the World Is Just the Beginning.
Copyright © 2022 by Peter Zeihan with permission from Harper Business, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
Nomi’s Note: Nomi here again. If you want to know what happens next in Peter’s story – our world’s story – you’ll want to pick up a copy of Peter’s new book, The End of the World Is Just the Beginning.
In it, he maps out what everything looks like on the other side of this massive change. Because, as Peter puts it in the book, “the end of the world really is just the beginning.”
To order your own copy of Peter’s book today – at a discount over the major retailers – simply click here.