Chris’ note: Our mission at the Cut is to put the world’s most powerful megatrends on your radar… before they go mainstream. And this week, I’ve been spotlighting a big idea from geopolitical strategist and bestselling author Peter Zeihan.
He’s out with a new book, The End of the World Is Just the Beginning. It charts how the world order we’ve known all our lives is breaking apart. And it maps out a new kind of global disorder that will replace it.
This has massive implications not only for us as investors… but also for the societies we live in. If Peter’s predictions are even half right, it means massive change is on the way.
So pick up a copy as soon as you can. You can’t prevent this collapse, but you can prepare. Then read on for more from Peter on why the progress of the postwar era is over… and why no economic system we’ve so far imagined will work in the new world that’s coming.
The past century has been a blitzkrieg of progress.
From horse-and-buggy… to passenger trains… to the family car… to everyday air travel.
From the abacus… to adding machines… to desktop calculators… to the iPhone 14.
From iron… to stainless steel… to silicon-laced aluminum… to touch-sensitive glass.
From waiting for wheat… to reaching for citrus… to on-demand guacamole.
Our world has gotten cheaper… better… and faster.
And in recent decades, the pace of progress has accelerated.
We’ve witnessed the release of more than 30 ever-more-sophisticated versions of the iPhone in just 15 years.
We’re trying to shift to electronic vehicles at 10 times the pace we adopted internal-combustion-engine cars.
The laptop I’m tapping this out on has more memory than the total of all computers in the late 1960s.
The human condition has also improved.
As a percent of the population, fewer people have died in fewer wars… occupations… famines… and disease outbreaks in the past seven decades than in the rest of recorded history.
Historically speaking, we live in an embarrassment of riches and peace.
But there’s a simple fact that’s often overlooked.
We’ve been living in a perfect moment. And it’s passing.
The world of the past few decades has been the best it will ever be in our lifetimes.
Instead of cheaper, better, faster, we’re rapidly shifting to pricier, worse, and slower.
Because the world – our world – is breaking apart.
But before we look at where we’re going, it’s important to understand how we got here.
At the end of World War II, the U.S. created history’s greatest military alliance to arrest, contain, and beat back the Soviet Union.
What’s often forgotten is this alliance was only half the plan.
To cement their new coalition, Americans also fostered an environment of global security.
Any nation could go anywhere, anytime, trade with anyone, join any supply chain, and access any raw materials it needed without needing a military escort.
In other words, it created globalization.
It brought development and industrialization to a wide swath of the planet for the first time.
It generated the mass consumption societies… the blizzard of trade… and the juggernaut of technological progress… we all find so familiar today.
And it reshaped global demographics.
Mass development and industrialization extended life spans. It also encouraged urbanization.
For decades, that meant more workers and consumers – the people who power economies.
One outcome among many was the fastest economic growth humanity has ever seen. Decades of it.
This postwar globalized order triggered a change in condition. By shifting the rules of the game, economics transformed on a global, national, and local basis. On every local basis.
That defines today’s world of advanced transport and finance… ever-present food and energy… never-ending improvements… and mind-bending speed.
But all things must pass. We now face a new change in condition.
Thirty years after the end of the Cold War, Americans have gone home. No one else has the military capacity to support global security, and from that, global trade.
The American-led order is giving way to disorder.
You see, aging didn’t stop once we reached that perfect moment of growth.
The global worker and consumer base that supported the American-led world order is aging into mass retirement. In our rush to urbanize, no replacement generation was ever born.
Since 1945, the world has been the best it has ever been. The best it will ever be. Which is a poetic way of saying this era is doomed.
The 2020s will see a collapse of consumption, production, investment, and trade – almost everywhere.
Globalization will shatter into pieces nationally and regionally, and some even smaller than that.
It will be costly. It will make life slower. And above all, it will make life worse. No economic system we’ve yet imagined can work in the future we face.
This devolution will be jarring, to say the least. It’s taken us decades of peace to build the world we live in today.
To think we’ll adapt easily or quickly to this titanic unraveling is to showcase more optimism than I’m capable of generating.
But that’s not to say I don’t have a few guideposts.
Tomorrow, I’ll tell you what those guideposts are. Stay tuned…
Author, The End of the World Is Just the Beginning
Chris here again – In his Q&A with colleague Nomi Prins, Peter showed how the U.S. will fare better than most of the world in the age of disorder he sees coming. So make sure to catch up here and here.
And don’t forget to order a copy of Peter’s book here. As primetime host Jessie Watters put it, “If your passion is politics, investing, energy, technology, international relations, or just being smart at parties, read Peter’s book.”