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What a great book! I don’t know that I agree with all of it, but I was challenged the whole way through the book. The author’s thesis is that the Era of Globalization is ending, and what will likely happen if the amount of trade is reduced markedly. Answer: a lot of famine worldwide, and societal collapse for starters, especially with China. Yikes! About the only country that will weather this storm is the United States; also, Australia, France, New Zealand, Canada, and Mexico will do fairly well.
Why is the era of globalization ending? First, in the Bretton Woods system, the only country to emerge stronger after the Second World War, the United States, agreed to provide free passage worldwide, and to support ever-expanding free trade. The world prospered, as each country did what it did best, knowing that the sea lanes would be protected. The United States has 11 aircraft carriers; China, Italy, and the UK have two each; and six other countries have one each. However, with the United States turning inward, if we stop guaranteeing open sea lanes, this could lead to a marked increase in the cost of insuring transportation.
Second, is the specter of COVID-19. China, out of pride, refuses to use readily American vaccines but instead has closed large parts of China down. Shipping from China, which was once a sure thing, is no longer. (I would point to Xi’s Cult of Personality and his hidebound nature, refusing to admit to COVID being unleashed on the world, and now refusing to vaccinate.) Suddenly, it doesn’t make sense to fabricate items in China; we would be far better off to fabricate them at home, or in Mexico.
Third, many of the leading countries are facing a demographic disaster. Many countries are failing to keep pace due to the lack of births. China and Japan are two of the oldest countries in the world. Young people are needed to keep the economy going. They weren’t being born in the last several decades. They are missing now.
Agriculture is the basic industry. No food, no life. However, the great crop yields are greatly increased by the use of fertilizer. Where are the sources of fertilizer? Well, two of the primary sources are Russia and Ukraine. Uh oh. Zeihan suggests that we are looking at up to a billion people dying of starvation and another two billion being chronically hungry. Is this disaster going to happen? I hope not. I fear so.
Do you need more of an incentive to read this book? Peter Zeihan is a prolific speaker. He has bunches of YouTube clips. Watch one of them. If you like it, you will love his book.Published in