I always look forward the beginning of a new quarter, because it gives me a chance to read STRATFOR's update of their annual forecast, which I shared with you in January. Their quarterly forecast explores developing geopolitical trends in each region of the world. In recent months and quarters I've noticed a much wider recognition in published discussions of "geopolitical risk" as it relates to investments. Of course geopolitical risk is nothing new to my long-time readers who've been plugged into STRATFOR for years.
This Q2 forecast is a long read, but it addresses everything from China's battle with inflation, to Russia's economic opportunity, to the stalemate in Libya's civil war. They do a fantastic, and usually spot-on, job of telling you what to look out for. (And when they aren't spot-on, they're up-front about what they missed and why).
I hope you enjoy the forecast below, and take advantage of STRATFOR's current special offer – a free copy of my book, Endgame, to any of my readers who <<subscribe to their intelligence service here>> at a steeply discounted price. I suggest you check it out.
As you know, I'm an avid researcher when it comes to my own annual forecast, which you saw a couple of weeks ago. One of my favorite resources is STRATFOR, a global intelligence company founded by my friend George Friedman. Their focus is geopolitics, which means they cover political, economic and military developments all around the world. They have an annual forecast of their own, and George has been gracious enough to allow me to share it with you. As long-time OTB readers may know, STRATFOR's annual forecast can be very provocative.
Here are some examples of this year's themes:
- The U.S. is unlikely to withdraw from Iraq as promised in 2011.
- The U.S. economy will grow.
- In Europe, more countries will need bailouts. (A couple of names might surprise you.)
- Russian-German relations will strengthen.
- Japan will rot, but it will rot in seclusion.
Some of you may have seen STRATFOR's forecast if you took advantage of the deal I sent a couple weeks ago. For those that haven't, George's book, The Next Decade, comes out next week, so there's still time to <<buy it here for $16>>, and get a free three-month subscription to STRATFOR. For those of you already enjoying a subscription and wondering about your book: they start shipping next Tuesday. So finish up whatever you're reading now and get ready for a great read.
Really hear what I'm about to tell you. The center of gravity of the world economic system has moved from New York to Washington. Let me illustrate what I mean so you understand just how profound this is. Banks used to compete against banks. US carmakers competed against each other and the Japanese. And the New York financial markets told you how they're doing against each other.
Understand what's happening now. The US Treasury has become the only "customer" that matters. The Treasury is now the customerâ€”and investor -- with the $750+ billion checkbook. The Treasury is now the "investment banker" of last resort, arranging and financing mergers. Banks are competing against insurance companies for their slice of the bailout pie. Chrysler and GM (and the Michigan Congressional delegation) are looking to Washington, not Goldman or Merrill, to facilitate a merger. This is a seismic shift.
As investors, we have to start looking at the world in a completely different way, and getting our information from different sources. A company's 10-K is almost irrelevant if all it includes is financial statements and market outlooks. What matters now are the "exogenous" factors: government guarantees of the commercial paper market, currency interventions, direct capital infusions, etc. And how does a company describe in its Management Outlook that "Yes, our company is too big to fail."
In this environment, it's more important than ever to read unbiased geopolitical intelligence and analysis of government moves, and that's what my friend George Friedman at Stratfor offers. I'm enclosing below his team's Fourth Quarter Forecast. George's team analyzes US government policy as well as the moves that are being taken by central banks and governments around the world as the private sector gets taken public all across the globe. You will not be able to understand market moves if you don't understand who the real movers are now.
I'm sending you Stratfor's Fourth Quarter Forecast, and I strongly encourage you to join Stratfor and get access to all their daily intelligence. George has arranged a special offer on a Stratfor Membership for my readers: click here to take advantage of this opportunity. In this new era, I use Stratfor daily to give me a wide-lens, global view of politics and economics. I know you'll gain as much from reading Stratfor as I do.