Peter Zeihan is a geopolitical strategist, which is a fancy way of saying he helps people understand how the world works. Peter combines an expert understanding of demography, economics, energy, politics, technology, and security to help clients best prepare for an uncertain future. Read More >
What’s Driving Towards Protectionist Tariffs?
Post-Cold War Order
American Withdrawal/Demographic Inversion
On Britain Leaving the EU
For the past three decades our world has known ever-rising volumes of money. Whether from Wall Street, the Federal Reserve, Europe or East Asia, this rising tide of capital at ever-cheaper rates has defined the post-Cold War era. It’s ending. Now. For reasons geopolitical and demographic, the globalization of finance is in its final months just as the overall inflows are dissolving for reasons demographic. This isn’t momentary. We will not return the capital structure of the 2000s and 2010s within our lifetimes. The questions now become how deep the crash will be, which sectors will suffer the most, and what islands will be able to weather the coming financial storm?
Manufacturing is an endlessly specialized and complicated venture, with most manufacturers directly or indirectly sourcing components from around the country and world. But what if the ability to sail components from site to site becomes compromised? What if capital availability proves insufficient to update industrial bases as technology evolves? The successful manufacturers of the future will be those who can command access to raw materials, capital, labor and markets – within defined areas of proximity. Such days are nearly upon us. Differences in COVID recovery and demographic structures are intermingling with failing Chinese relationships to push manufacturing in an entirely new direction.
The concept of countries being able to buy and sell their wares openly on the international marketplace is inviolable. The freedom to sail one’s products around the world is a given. Everything from the transfer of money to the accessibility of energy is sacrosanct. Yet all this and more is artificial: an unintended — if happy — side effect of the American-led global Order. With that Order in its final days, all countries and all industries must learn to operate in a world as unstructured as it is dangerous. Join us as Peter Zeihan lays out how we got to where we are, and what the future holds for sectors as diverse as energy, agriculture, finance, manufacturing and transport.
The Mideast wars have left the United States exhausted and leery. Immigration has become a four-letter word. Shale has severed most of the ties that bind. In sum, the United States has lost interest in the wider world and so is already hip-deep in a decade-long retrenchment. That will change not just the world, but America itself. Such evolutions will make next phase of American engagement not just more thoughtful and surgical, but also more lucrative.
The world of manufacturing is an endlessly specialized venture, with most manufacturers sourcing components from scores of facilities across a dozen or more countries. But what if the ability to sail components from site to site became compromised? What if capital availability proves insufficient to update industrial bases as technology evolves? What if intermediate and end markets become less desirable – or less accessible? All that and more is about to happen, which signals the end of manufacturing as we know it. The successful manufacturers of the future will be those who can command access to raw materials, capital, labor and markets – all in the same location.
In the decades since World War II, everything from computerization to securitization to the rise of the developing world has made the financial sector central to modern economic activity. But never forget that modern finance itself is an outgrowth of revenues generated by the global free trade order. Never forget that the past two decades have witnessed the richest and cheapest supplies of capital in history. A political decision made seven decades ago created the trade order. A fleeting demographic moment created the capital richness. Both have nearly run their course. Very soon we will bid finance as we know it goodbye, and the world will be much poorer for it. A few locations, however, will find the wreckage easier to struggle through than others. For those lucky few, the world will be their oyster.
The global energy sector is as complicated and opaque as it is omnipresent and essential, and it has adapted to not simply the changes in the global economic system, but the global political system. Countries that were weak to nonexistent in ages past now are major players in global energy markets, both as producers and consumers. The system that has allowed this evolution now is under fire, and soon the stability that has enabled the energy sector to create its global webwork will end. What will follow will be a world both more chaotic and poorer, one in which the process of finding, producing, transporting and refining energy will simply be beyond the military and financial capacity of most players. Only the largest, smartest and richest entities will be able to maintain – much less expand – their networks. Far from its final days, the era of the supermajor has not yet begun.
Americans think of themselves as set apart from the rest of the world, and to a certain degree they are correct. But it is not that Americans are ‘better’ or ‘more free’ that makes them different, instead that they enjoy supreme geographic positioning and favorable demography — something that is not currently enjoyed by any other major power. Played as little as twenty years forward, this will result in an American-dominated international system with all of the economic and strategic benefits that such implies. But it is a very different world from the one we now know.
Americans believe that their greatest days are behind them and that a series of new powers is rising up to displace them. On the contrary, America’s best days — militarily, economically, financially and culturally — are still ahead of them. In fact, many of the states that the Americans feel are up-and-comers — most notably China, Russia and India — are merely experiencing a historical moment in the sun courtesy of factors utterly beyond their control. Most of the powers of tomorrow are countries that the Americans either have very little knowledge of. The major powers of 2030 will not based in Beijing or Moscow, but in Jakarta, Buenos Aires, Warsaw, Istanbul and Mexico City.
"Members found Peter Zeihan to be insightful and his comments to be very thought-provoking. As one Member stated, Peter's commentary gave them 'a realistic perspective on geopolitical issues that is missing in national conversations and by media.' Many Members stated that they would be considering ways to use automation to bridge ongoing labor and supply issues and that they would be looking at additional ways to move products out of China. Several Members have pledged to be more forward thinking by following long-term and world-wide trends."
"The 2 hour teleconference was a very informative time. The Material was provided in advance and Zeihan was able to immediately answer questions. If possible, we will ask Zeihan for another topic."
"Each year we conduct a Northwest Cherry Grower education day called Cherry Institute. We have been lucky enough to schedule Peter at this 400 grower event as our keynote lunch program speaker twice in the last 5 years. The growers continually request Peter as his insightful information on geopolitical events shaping our global business environment always hits the mark. I have had many attendees of Peter's presentation make statements like 'Peter pointed out that this would become a global issue two years ago and sure enough that issue has become part of our daily business planning.' In my mind, Peter presents has an amazing program which drives the global thinking of our entire industry. His insight applies to any segment of global business. We greatly appreciate that fact that he has a keen understanding of how Ag business fits into the broader global economy."
"Peter Zeihan's talk to over 600 attendees at the recent Growth Leadership Conference (GLC) by the Association for Corporate Growth (ACG) in Milwaukee was excellent. Honestly, after six years of co-chairing this conference, his pre-event private Q&A for sponsors and keynote were rated by colleagues, fellow board members and attendees as the best ever! Of course timing is everything –– Peters insights left lasting impressions. Thus ACG won too."
"Peter spoke to 150 of our senior management team at CVC's 2020 offsite. The event considers firm performance in the context of external influencers such as macro / micro economic factors. Peter is an incredibly engaging speaker who quickly builds rapport with the audience. He deftly covered the creation of the global order, the subsequent power dynamic of the USA, and how the Trump Administration is managing the global political relationships for the future. He held the audience for an hour and a half. The agenda notwithstanding, we could have listened to him for the whole afternoon."
"Given the degree of global events so prominently in the news, our firm decided to invest some time in the subject of geopolitics in a key client event. If you're thinking similarly, you won't go wrong with Peter. He has the ability to explain very difficult topics in an easy to understand and entertaining manner, and will help your audience put some logical context into what the future might hold."
"Peter spoke at AltaCorp Capital’s institutional investor conference, where he used his prior insights into some of the key forces driving change in today’s geo-political environment such as us energy self sufficiency, demographics and geography to explain the current state of multi-lateral and bi-lateral trade. There was a purposeful provocation at work that drove a thoughtful discussion. We received significant positive feedback and requests for his books. Peter’s insights have significantly influenced my worldview, investments, and business perspective."
"Peter was a thoroughly engaging speaker for my YPO Chapter (Young President’s Organization). He gave a global overview of geopolitics, geography, natural resources, debt, and demography to illustrate the future rise/fall of countries and where regional conflict is likely to spark. Peter then brought us a fresh perspective on American leadership at home/abroad and the effect international debt and our trade agreements will have on American business sectors. He was funny, engaging, and insightful. Peter’s presentation was one of the best we've ever had."
"As always, Peter did a great job engaging our audiences with information on how geopolitics will affect their businesses, and how they can use geopolitical trends to inform their decisions. Peter makes it entertaining and fast paced, always receiving top marks!"
"We hold an annual conference for the member companies of Lubar & Co. We solicit feedback each year from our executives as to what they would like hear at the next gathering. The unanimous consensus was to hear from someone who had interesting perspectives on the future. I read many books and found the history and outlook contained in The Accidental Superpower to be exactly what our management teams were looking for. Peter was an engaging speaker and captivated the audience for ninety minutes. He received top ratings from our audience!"
"As our opening keynote speaker, Peter hit a home run with our executive conference attendees. [Peter was] insightful and thought provoking, plus did a great job in addressing the key geopolitical issues faced by the energy sector."
"Peter Zeihan is the BEST speaker we have had in years (and we've had a lot of great speakers). He blended strong content with engaging and entertaining delivery. Peter received a standing ovation, our attendees are simply buzzing about his session. I have been congratulated several times for the 'great pick' (this never happens). The icing on the cake was his warm, friendly demeanor in the down time. He was a delight."
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