Chapter 7: US-China Relations and Wars
Comment of the Day

September 25 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Chapter 7: US-China Relations and Wars

This chapter of Ray Dalio’s evolving book “The Changing World Order” is the most relevant to the global long-term outlook so far. Here is a section:

As far as a big hot war between the United States and China is concerned, it would include all the previously mentioned types of wars plus more pursued at their maximums because, in a fight for survival, each would throw all they have at the other, the way other countries in history have, so it would be World War III, and World War III would likely be much more deadly than World War II, which was much more deadly than World War I because of the technological advances that have been made in the ways we can hurt each other.  

In thinking about the timing of a war, I keep in mind the principle that when countries have big internal disorder, it is an opportune moment for opposing countries to aggressively exploit their vulnerabilities.  For example, the Japanese made their moves to take control of European colonies in Southeast Asia in the 1930s when the European countries were challenged by their depressions and their conflicts.  History has also taught us that when there are leadership transitions and/or weak leadership, at the same time that there is big internal conflict, the risk of the enemy making an offensive move should be considered elevated.  For example, those conditions could exist in the upcoming US presidential election.  However, because time is on China’s side (because of the trends of improvements and weakenings shown in prior charts), if there is to be a war, it is in the interest of the Chinese to have it later (e.g., 5-10 years from now when it will likely be more self-sufficient and stronger) and in the interest of the US to have it sooner.   

I’m now going to add two other types of war—1) the culture war, which will drive how each side will approach these circumstances, including what they would rather die for than give up, and 2) the war with ourselves, which will determine how effective we are, which will lead us to be strong or weak in the critical ways that we previously explored. 

Eoin Treacy's view

Governance is Everything has been a mantra at this service for decades. It is becoming increasingly relevant because standards of governance are in flux all over the world. Governance is never static, it’s the relative trend that determines the risk factor for investors. 

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