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  • Financial Markets, Politics, and the New Reality

    If you've been following my newsletter, you're familiar by now with my friend George Friedman and the geopolitical analysis company he founded, Stratfor. And if you've read any of George's work, you know that his entire methodology is based on the premise that the actions of leaders and nations are predictable. George starts with the constraints – what can they notdo, assuming they're rational actors – and moves forward from there. It's this methodology that allowed him to – in all seriousness and probably with an impressive amount of accuracy – write a book titled The Next 100 Years.

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  • The Election, the Presidency, and Foreign Policy

    The closer we get to the presidential election, the more we are bombarded with facts, opinions, predictions, and the like from both ends of the political spectrum.

    One thing I like about this analysis from my friend and geopolitical expert George Friedman is that he starts off with an obvious yet understated fact: you can't believe what presidential candidates say. Not because they are pathological liars, but because they must make promises that, once elected, they cannot keep, given the reality of the office.

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  • Stratfor Third Quarter Forecast

    There are plenty of forecasts out there, but today I send you one you can trust. Stratfor, a geopolitical analysis company, has one of the most rigorous methodologies out there, and their forecasts provide excellent insight into the outcome of world events in the coming quarter.

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  • The Futility of European Elections

    After I sent out this week's OTB on Germany, I remembered this very intriguingly titled piece by my friend George Friedman, founder of a geopolitical analysis company called Stratfor.

    The piece was written a few days ago, but when it comes to someone as ahead of the pack as George, who managed to write a book called The Next 100 Years, well, let's just say what he writes is pretty timeless.

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  • A Conversation on Europe’s Political Economy with George Friedman and John Mauldin

    My travels last week took me to Austin, and I was able to stop by Stratfor to visit my friend and fellow thinker George Friedman. We had a great discussion about Europe, and luckily he had the wherewithal to video it. It is short for a discussion between George and me, but we got our points in. I think you'll enjoy hearing George's point of view on political economy versus economy,and our back and forth. I don't always agree with him ... but disagreement produces the best conversations.

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  • China: Two Economic Models and the Ideological Divide in Chongqing

    There are political sides in America...and then there are political sides in the communist state of China. Here, it's a matter of the right and the left. In China, it's a matter of private enterprise and strong foreign investment versus highly centralized and debt-heavy state enterprise.

    According to the geopolitical analysis company Stratfor, the left may be losing ground in China, and Beijing may be headed down an economic path that focuses on private enterprise. If the trend becomes the national strategy in the long term, this could mean greater room for private business in China.

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  • The State of the World: A Framework

    Companies issue state of the enterprise addresses, and presidents issue state of the union addresses ... but you've got to be pretty confident to address the state of the world. Luckily for us, Stratfor founder and CEO George Friedman is just that confident – and it's well-deserved.

    George is the expert in geopolitics, and his company is the best source out there for geopolitical analysis. Thus, his recent article, "The State of the World: A Framework," is well worth a thorough read. It identifies three distinct phenomena the world is facing: the European financial crisis, the Chinese export crisis, and Iran's rise to power in the Middle East.

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  • The Unintended Empire

    A new year is almost upon us, so now seems like a perfect time to step back from the (many) crises at hand and take stock of the big picture. According to my friend & fellow thinker George Friedman, the big picture of the next 10 years is this: America will dominate, and the American president will have to figure out how to act as global emperor without admitting that's what he is.

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  • The Covert Intelligence War Against Iran

    Today I offer a topic that might have missed your "news-net" coverage of the eurozone crisis, US debt insanity, and a possible global recession. Folks, we may have the modern-day equivalent of the Cold War on our hands.

    Go ahead and let go of the images of McCarthy at the podium, the Sputnik launch, and reel footage of schoolchildren ducking under desks; this cold war likens more to Tom Cruise's Mission: Impossible than the original with Peter Graves. I'm referring to ongoing covert operations against Iran over its quest for nuclear capabilities, and its staunch position against the existence of Israel. After the defection of nuclear officials, the Stuxnet computer worm, and a few questionable "explosions," it is becoming increasingly clear that a cold war is being waged (and has been, since at least 2007) to ensure, simply put, some level of peace in the Middle East.

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  • Syria, Iran, and the Balance of Power in the Middle East

    Let's peel our eyes away from the eurozone disaster momentarily and take a look at another crisis – one with just as much potential to impact our global financial system.

    As we've discussed in Outside the Box before, Iran's trump card is not its nuclear capability but rather its opportune location next to the very narrow, very important Strait of Hormuz ... through which no less than 40% of the world's seaborne oil passes.

    As the US leaves Iraq, Iran is ready and waiting to fill the void and extend its regional influence. So where's the next turf war? A shaky Syria, where the Iranian-Saudi-US balance of power will continue to play out.

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  • Iran’s Nuclear Program and its Nuclear Option

    Take a minute – and maybe a deep breath too – and imagine the markets at opening bell on a hypothetical morning when live video shows burning oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz (through which 40% of the world's seaborne oil passes). Couple that with the already shaky state of the current global economy and you get ... well, what does chaos in a mosh pit look like?

    Iran is back in the headlines, and once again behaving in a less-than-cooperative fashion regarding its nuclear enrichment program. After they've failed to deliver on promise after promise, it does not appear that Iran will come clean anytime soon, and definitely not in time for the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) inspection report due out any day now.

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  • The European Banking Crisis: Assessing the Damage and a Look Ahead

    In my letter earlier this week, our guest writer, Grant Williams, gave Europe about the same odds of escaping crisis as a pitcher throwing a perfect game in baseball. That's 40,000 to 1. Take a look at this decision tree on Europe (below) from STRATFOR, a private intelligence company. Looks like they give Europe something more like the odds of a major-league pitcher leading in home runs. Not gonna happen.

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  • Navigating the Eurozone Crisis and Preparing for Greece’s Failure

    Folks, you hear a lot about the eurozone crisis, but what you don't run across very often is a coherent idea on how to move forward. My friends at STRATFOR, a private intelligence company, have done us all the courtesy of saying out loud what everyone else shies away from: Eject Greece from the eurozone.

    It's not pretty. It belies the lovely concept of a unified and prosperous Europe. And the worst part: it comes with a big fat price tag, of the 2-trillion-euro variety. But it may be the only way to steer the train before it derails completely.

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  • Obama’s Dilemma: U.S. Foreign Policy and Electoral Realities

    Folks, this piece from STRATFOR has compelled me to focus on the US for one more day before I head off to Europe. You've seen the articles and other insights I send on occasion from George Friedman, my friend and prophetic author of The Next 100 Years and The Next Decade, both bestsellers. Well, this article takes the cake. George is the founder of a geopolitical intelligence company called STRATFOR, whose focus is international affairs. But on the rare occasion when domestic politics and international affairs intersect, it's always a treat to get George's insight.

    I don't even want to give away any spoilers here. It's better to let you follow first-hand, as George builds his argument and arrives at a profound final conclusion. Let me just say: In Endgame, as you know, I predict that we will deal with the deficit in a controlled manner, or face disastrous consequences. Here, we learn how the realities of the next 14 months before the presidential election present some potential global consequences of their own.

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  • Portfolio: Venezuela’s Search for Economic Security

    You're familiar with my thoughts on gold: I buy it regularly as insurance, not an investment. Now here's something you didn't expect: I just watched a STRATFOR video and learned that the Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez, keeps an epic 60 percent of the nation's reserves in gold. Wow. Guess he sees it as insurance as well?

    Watch the video. It covers four recent moves by the ailing leader in an attempt to drum up some cash for his social programs, which can only be interpreted as a strategy to keep his waxing and waning political support strong. It all goes to show that Venezuela is a nation to watch, for better or worse, given Chavez's illness and the absence of a strong successor.

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