A World Broken into Splinters

Published on
June 7th, 2019
72 minutes

A World Broken into Splinters

The Interview ·
Featuring Dee Smith and Raoul Pal

Published on: June 7th, 2019 • Duration: 72 minutes

Have we just tipped into a new geopolitical era? That’s the case that Dee Smith, founder of the Strategic Insights Group, makes in this interview with Raoul Pal. Smith calls it the “Age of Splintering,” and says it is marked by venerated institutions coming under attack as the consensus around the existing economic paradigms collapses. Smith talks of a rise of nationalism, populism and mercantilism as this fragmentation increases. The consequences for the economy will be profound. Filmed on May 15, 2019 in New York.



  • GC
    George C.
    13 October 2019 @ 11:35
    Lots of talk about the changes that are obvious to many people, but few or no non-obvious insights. Lots of questions, too, but, again, not new ones. Overall, disappointing.
  • CA
    Charles A.
    25 June 2019 @ 14:18
    Always great to hear Dee’s views. Awesome stuff
  • SF
    Simon F.
    16 June 2019 @ 09:36
    A very stimulating trip around the various moving parts of a world in transition. However, the one region that is going to see the largest population growth with arguably the greatest amount of headroom for growth, that if navigated successfully will become a major competitor, but if navigated badly will create a level of chaos including unprecedented levels of migration and other outcomes. Both scenarios, and any on the spectrum between the extremes will substantially impact the rest of the world. Africa has to be factored into any review of global macro if we are to have a balanced view of the moving parts that will effect our individual outcomes.
  • CC
    Charles C.
    15 June 2019 @ 22:51
    it would be great to get George Friedman on from time to time as well. He's another very thoughtful geopolitical strategist
  • KD
    Kevin D.
    15 June 2019 @ 04:17
    The new software that allows the listener to read the conversation along with the video is really useful! BRAVO!!!
  • KJ
    Kelly J.
    9 June 2019 @ 21:51
    I enjoy the great upbeat aspect of the investment world, and of investors like Raoul that causes them to say things like: "I think both you and I are very keen to not look at this and say, well, the world's fucked, to actually look at this and say, the world is changing, there's going to be opportunity. " I think it's also important to look at the other side of the equation very seriously: There's a good chance we all are, unfortunately, doing our part to make this civilization absurdly over-focused on making imaginary money gains while it is literally in the process of destroying itself by radically disrupting the global ecology and setting up major climate instability that will spiral beyond humans ability to control in the next decade or two. I found this humorous, but completely serious 1 hour reasoned argument entitled that civilization is way over its skis and headed toward inevitable collapse soon to be both entertaining and a worrisome antidote to the 'religion of false optimism' too often proselytized in investment discussions. ;-) It's called "How to Enjoy the End of the World" and focused on physics, energy and system-complexity rather than specifically on climate change. A number of people I've referred it to found it interesting and useful, whether they agreed with it or not. A key takeaway: the sooner this civilization and its phony financial world divorced from the real economy collapses in its current form, the better chance humanity and the global ecology have of surviving in some form. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=3&v=5WPB2u8EzL8
    • RM
      Robert M.
      10 June 2019 @ 09:08
      Thanks Kelly, I was thinking that too. The real opportunity is to somehow stop/ evolve through the world devouring machine we have created.
    • RM
      Robert M.
      15 June 2019 @ 02:35
      Kelly: have a look at 2052 by Jorgen Randers. He uses a model and data to conclude we have a bit more time than implied by your link above. But that the 2nd half of this century will bring the big climate caused collapse disasters.
  • SB
    Stephen B.
    7 June 2019 @ 20:59
    Worth listening to but i am not sure i learnt anything new (unlike most RV interviews). Moreover, i would disagree with the analysis on three key points. Firstly, it is obvious to any researcher that Middle East instability has been driven by two/three U.S. policy goals, namely; to protect/advance Israels security; to protect the petrodollar monopoly and to play favorites on whose natural gas gets to market. There was no mention of any of these drivers. Secondly, it is equally obvious that the climate change we all need to be concerned about is the natural solar cycle, one of the key effects of which is increasing extreme weather events (including colder winters), impacting agricultural production. Thirdly, having done business and lived in Latin America for many years, i can tell you that many latinos would argue that the instability in the region has been largely driven by the CIA, going back over decades. For instance, most Brazilians believe that the fall of (undoubtably corrupt) Lula/Dilma was a covert U.S. led regime change, as Brazil was falling too much under Chinese (and potentially Russian) influence and had to be bought back into the U.S. sphere of influence (i.e. another episode of the "Great Game"). I love Real Vision, primarily because of its objectivity and ruthless pursuit of the truth (much like old fashioned journalism) so feel disappointed when we hear the same viewpoints as we would get from CNN or the BBC.
    • JH
      Jesse H.
      7 June 2019 @ 21:30
      Well said. Mostly agree.
    • DR
      David R.
      7 June 2019 @ 23:42
    • RM
      Robert M.
      8 June 2019 @ 00:16
      #whatever (& you were going so well): http://climate.org/archive/topics/climate-change/debunking-climate-change-myths.html
    • KJ
      Kelly J.
      10 June 2019 @ 18:46
      "it is equally obvious that the climate change we all need to be concerned about is the natural solar cycle" Oh, please! - as Robert M says, 'you were doing so well'. This is cultist nonsense believed by a misguided handful of people. I've been following climate science for 30 years, and talked to scientist Robert Watson, former chair of the IPCC - an extremely kind, down-to-earth person with a razor sharp intellect. He did a presentation I organized in 2002. Your mythology doesn't hold a candle to his views or the views of the thousands of global scientists that agree with them.
    • SB
      Stephen B.
      11 June 2019 @ 13:49
      RV is not the place to have an in-depth discussion on the causes of climate change but to respond to the comments above: (i) to be fair to RV,
  • GO
    Glenn O.
    10 June 2019 @ 17:38
    I have to lister to Dee more than once, just to much great material covered. Very thought provoking Glenn
  • RA
    Robert A.
    9 June 2019 @ 21:14
    Really enjoyed this piece and thought this format much better showcased Dee Smith’s knowledge and ability to synthesize than the early RV “World on the Brink” presentation. I got 8 X more out of this one hour tightly produced piece than the former 5 hour presentation. I am now and will remain a huge Dee Smith fan and do hope that he will be back with his curated guests to keep us informed. I think it was important that Raoul handled this interview himself as the former “On the Brink” piece did not really do Dee justice and it was important that we could hear Dee and learn all that he has to offer in a better format. Excellent work here Gentlemen.
    • rr
      rlw r.
      10 June 2019 @ 16:12
      Yes that’s a gd assessment
  • SJ
    Sophie J.
    9 June 2019 @ 11:25
    While this is a good interview, it really comes across as old people discuss old problems with old solutions.
    • CH
      Chris H.
      10 June 2019 @ 10:17
      Come on Sophie, Raul has tears in his eyes with that comment. He still wears blue jeans and runners.
  • BA
    Bruce A.
    10 June 2019 @ 09:04
    More of Dee Smith please. A great educator/ explainer of cultures, history and geopolitics. Great job Raoul.
  • AB
    Anne-Marie B.
    8 June 2019 @ 22:00
    It was a grease pencil they used not a graphite one :)
    • AK
      Arthur K.
      9 June 2019 @ 17:20
      Thanks !
  • WM
    Will M.
    9 June 2019 @ 14:00
    Excellent discussion and more than enough warning and insight to reinforce investment concerns and the potential for unexpected change. Sophie J below expresses that this is just "old people discussing old problems with old solutions". I am going to presume Sophie is a younger reader and so as an older one I can sympathize with her comment. The trouble is, the world has been around for a long long time and much of it well documented. Humans simply rinse and repeat (or rhyme). The massive difference today is the vast improvement in human lifespan and its associated costs that were not properly foreseen (impact on social programs for example) coupled with the fact that our natural resources and being challenged. Like Raoul I believe technology can solve most things, but our social political systems are rapidly becoming outdated and not advancing much at all. So it does feel that the "old solutions" are indeed just waiting in the wings to materialize.
    • WM
      Will M.
      9 June 2019 @ 14:07
      Apologies, I want to mention one concern that increasing worries me. That is the cyber war component mentioned by Dee, I think we are all underestimating the potential for cyber attacks to cripple our utilities and financial systems. Just imagine if some cyber attack "froze" or "deleted" banking accounts and transactions? Sure it may be temporary.... but what would be the effect of confidence? I am very worried indeed about the loss of confidence that could occur, hence perhaps the value of holding some cash, and precious metals outside the banking system.
  • DS
    David S.
    7 June 2019 @ 19:40
    The independent city state is not a protectable option. In the US we can work toward more state and city rights within a federal and state system. We are already moving into a new political system of rule by the wealthy. It is expensive as the wealthy must convince the electorate to vote for the candidates that they control. This is being done with bipolar tv networks and social media. It will be much more efficient for them when the representative democracy is eliminated. This happened in Rome when Caesar crossed the Rubicon. That was the end of the Roman Senate and the beginning of the Roman Empire. Not sure how it will happen here, but glad I lived during the last 73 years. DLS
    • WM
      Will M.
      9 June 2019 @ 13:08
      David, I am a bit younger but these are also my exact thoughts for some twenty years. Additionally, I avoided war and national service, got a free education, benefitted greatly from the economic expansion and technical demand for graduates in the 70s and also from the free movement of skills that brought me to the USA some 30 years ago. I also got a good portion of defined benefit pension and was able to save well most of my life. Difficult to see how anyone not born as a baby boomer can't fail to understand how lucky they are and how the later generations have had a progressively rawer deal.
  • ag
    anthony g.
    9 June 2019 @ 11:24
    An interview with George Friedman at GPF might be a good idea. He really know the geopolitical area.
  • MS
    Matt S.
    8 June 2019 @ 20:17
    Damn right there is a rise in nationalism - Dee Smith and his CFR ilk better start building bunkers. Hate this man... stop putting him on Real Vision!
    • AC
      Andrew C.
      9 June 2019 @ 04:23
      Why? His opinion is valid, I hear it and then make my own judgement and course of action. But hate? That's pretty strong.
    • PN
      Philip N.
      9 June 2019 @ 06:14
      I want to hear from everyone, even the ones I don't agree with.
  • PN
    Philip N.
    9 June 2019 @ 06:14
    The old nationalism canard. Just ignoring the fact that it is the globalists that have taken us to war. Wilson into WW1 because he wanted to whore out his League of Nations. Roosevelt with his acts of war against Japan because he didn’t like what they were doing in China. Kennedy into Vietnam to protect the French empire. How about we have more nationalism. A nation where people say that nothing that happens in the Pakistan or France or Iran is worth the life of a single America soldier. A nation that doesn’t want to see their sons die to prop up a corrupt French puppet government on the other side of the world. Just leave other nations alone and deal with the governments they choose. If “leaders” want to send someone over there, wherever there is, let them send their own kids. There is nothing over there that we need.
  • AC
    Andrew C.
    9 June 2019 @ 04:29
    You will not be able to have your own opinion very shortly. You will not be able to find people with the same opinion. You will not be able to congregate. 1984 is here https://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-china-blog-48552907
  • JD
    John D.
    8 June 2019 @ 23:35
    Also, Doug Casey has literally been talking about this for years and at least a decade before this guy.
  • JD
    John D.
    8 June 2019 @ 22:01
    Decentralisation is the future and that is through technology
  • IO
    Indi O.
    8 June 2019 @ 19:12
    I would have liked to have heard more about what is happening in Africa outside the Middle East region. China is increasingly involved there and the nations of the continent are also forming some interesting alliances. They also seem to have the world's youths. As wars subside, vaccinations increase, and more governments prioritize education to support economies not based on merely extracting and selling natural resources, very interesting developments may come from there.
  • IP
    IDA P.
    8 June 2019 @ 14:18
    If you live in France or Italy and probably other European countries, you have the feeling that public officials are those with the real power, and if you are friends with them you will have an easy life and high earnings with no accountability whatsoever. The politicians come and go, the public officials remain for life. If you don't have the right friends among this group, you get left behind, no matter how much you work or your capabilities. I believe that this is one of the main causes of populism in Italy where the level is very high right now, and one of the main causes for which young adults in theri 20's leave the country for UK or Germany, etc.
  • ET
    Eduard T.
    8 June 2019 @ 08:10
    The part where they Dee Smith discusses the concept of virtual communities, "... you can get all oenophiles together, you can get all the butterfly collectors or whatever they all are. And they have these commonalities and their communities. So, it's really virtual communities that you're trying to have."....really reminds me of Reddit.
  • WB
    William B.
    8 June 2019 @ 06:10
    Yes, everyone has opinions even if they do their best to hide them. Only way to increase knowledge is by listening to facts/opinions you don’t know or agree with.
  • JF
    Josh F.
    7 June 2019 @ 11:09
    How do city states win in a fractured world with no real defense ability? How is the EU not the only credible counterpoint to US hegemony? If Scotland & Wales are candidates for breakaway, why would the US remain together?
    • DS
      David S.
      8 June 2019 @ 03:45
      The European Economic Community (EEC) is very creditable. EEC unity is being destroyed by the dissension caused by a fiat currency without a sovereign and immigration issues. It is not difficult to identify the problems. It may be impossible to solve the problems within the Euro regulations. DLS
  • Nv
    Nick v.
    7 June 2019 @ 09:41
    Interesting take on social media by Raoul....advertising on social media only works at the extremes of emotion (rage, fear). Social media makes the world worse. Bring on the regulation, the taxes and the fines. It's overdue
    • Hv
      Hannah v.
      8 June 2019 @ 02:59
      ..and who’s going to regulate it?? Be very careful what you wish for.
  • WS
    William S.
    8 June 2019 @ 02:34
    Dee Smith is a consummate imperial propagandist. All of his geopolitical analysis must be viewed through the lens of that understanding.
  • PD
    Peter D.
    8 June 2019 @ 00:05
    Dee Smith is a lot better with Raoul interviewing him than in his documentary formats, which are more suitable for the general public. Skip the first 20 minutes, but then, once he is warmed up there are some great insights. 1. The idea that the emergence of city-states - which better align communities and bring governments closer to the people - might provide solutions to increasing efficiencies (though it is not clear whether the Great Powers will allow this) is obvious. We either move to smaller governments or to a growing global bureaucratic nightmare of impoverishment. 2. The idea that America needs the Middle East less as a result of the advent of fracking. (Left out is the uncomfortable fact that America now increasingly has an interest in fostering Middle East wars and instability in order to drive up oil prices demand for American energy). 3. The observation that US corruption - through which businesses buy politicians - is no different than corruption in countries described that way by Transparency International where politicians themselves demand the bribes. Indeed this makes it far easier to understand South America and its Patron system (another interesting phenomenon this reader knew nothing about). 4. The description of the huge threats of instability as systems change .... notably Smith's description of how the 130 years of religious wars wiped out 30% of Europe's population. Chilling. But worth keeping in mind. The real takeaway though is the huge value of having a credible interviewer, whom the audience knows, likes and is comfortable with. Raoul and Grant Williams both meet that test. They need to work more.
  • Nv
    Nick v.
    7 June 2019 @ 09:49
    The end game of the US-China trade war is most likely lower steel production. Unsustainable to produce 50% of world steel when it has no competitive advantage (no cheap, high grade ore, not so cheap electricity) Lower trade surplus with US = less Dollars received Thus, need to reduce USD iron ore purchases from Australia, Brazil or reprice iron ore to CNH/AUD/BRL
    • DR
      David R.
      7 June 2019 @ 17:21
      One needs rare earth metals - and the ability to process them - to produce the best steel products. US is a decade from having that in any meaningful quantity, and probably longer given any environmental pushback. The Japanese discovery 1000km offshore is mostly worthless because it's radioactive. Heavily laced with thorium and the N.Koreans in the process of their successful nuclear testing cleverly detonated a dirty, large hydrogen nuclear explosion over it, exacerbating the radioactivity. N.Korea has REM potential. Finally, about half of the "Australia" REM come from an Australian company actually mining it in Malaysia, not Australia. Because Malaysia, like most of ASEAN, has tilted pro-China and anti-US this year, an astounding about-face in 2019 for the previously anti-Chinese Malaysian PM, Malaysia just recently revoked Australia's REM mining license in Malaysia effective Sept 1 and thus Australia loses half its REM supply that it might have sold to US. Albeit that's a small share, and US will have no practical alternative to the large Chinese REM supply for many, many years when it comes to sourcing and/or refining REM powders & pewters from China. Losing access to REM powders eliminates high-end steels, most electronics, semiconductor chips, advanced manufacturing incl aircraft & vehicles, glass, windows (and thus construction), the ability to maintain the power grid & water plants, and no defense industry, etc. So it's a big deal and the fact that REM is "not all that rare" misses the key point of how difficult it is to mine and then process, and how long it takes it get any REM mining and manufacturing process set up and going.
    • RM
      Robert M.
      7 June 2019 @ 19:43
      David R: Lynas' mine is in Australia from where they ship ore to Malaysia for processing. The Malaysian plant operating license is up for renewal in Sept. The Malaysians want the radioactive waste cleaned up more. There are also shenanigans around current take over bids for Lynas.
    • DR
      David R.
      7 June 2019 @ 23:35
      Shenanigans indeed. On the Lycas issue, the Kuantan state MP and the Environment minister Yeo want its radioactive byproduct waste shipped back to that Lycas mine in Oz, as if that's gonna happen, which per Yeo is a condition of that plant license and she will meet the new Oz minister on 20 June with that ultimatum. Other REM and mining issues are on the table too, as Australian mining co's are at risk in both Malaysia and China now for different reasons. For example, the OP Nick sugg'd US should reduce iron ore purchases from Oz, but in fact in fact China already did so after the US and Oz ban of Huwaei (the only two countries banning it), which is a big sore point in Malaysia and ASEAN (two-thirds of a billion ppl) because it's mostly committed to Huawei and has already invested billions toward the Huawei 5G rollout, money that many countries cannot afford to throw away to start over with some other more expensive, lagging and inferior 5G solution offering (read Ericsson and Nokia)... Telecomm standards could potentially become incompatible and possibly not inter-connectible. A "world broken into splinters", indeed.
  • SB
    Stephen B.
    7 June 2019 @ 23:17
    If RV would value an alternative geopolitical perspective, my suggestion is that you invite for interview (former Presidential candidate) Ron Paul and/or Tom Luongo (of "Gold, Goats and Guns"). I would also have included David Stockman in this group but RV have already conducted an excellent interview with him. All three are not only capable of providing a first class geopolitical analysis but also able to then focus that analysis onto an economic / investment thesis.
  • JH
    Jesse H.
    7 June 2019 @ 20:40
    Three words gents: The Fourth Turning.
    • JH
      Jesse H.
      7 June 2019 @ 20:40
      Enjoyable interview- thanks RV and Raoul.
    • JH
      Jesse H.
      7 June 2019 @ 21:28
      One thing I will say, with no disrespect to Dee and his deep knowledge of the world, is that there is still an overly American-centric view here. Could RV interview some historians and economists from say Europe, Middle East or Asia? Would be interesting to get their take on what’s happening. Thanks.
  • PB
    Pieter B.
    7 June 2019 @ 20:55
    This was really unique and fun! Thanks a lot!
  • DS
    David S.
    7 June 2019 @ 18:14
    Great interview. I am watching for the second time. I am surprised that this is the first comment. I enjoyed all of Mr. Smith's informational pieces from the beginning and learned a great deal from each one. Mr. Smith's description of splintering feels like a bipolar view of the world to me. (Bipolar here refers to the psychological disorder that can cause a human being to be dysfunctional.) This was brought home again yesterday when I listened to two friends describe the British reaction to president Trump's visit. My friend on the right said it was reported how much the Queen and Brits loved president Trump and were impressed by sincerity. My friend on the left used the same facts to describe the visit in exactly opposite terms. This is what Nietzsche meant by there are no bare facts, just interpretations. This bipolar political point of view will not be resolved easily. IMO a representational democracy cannot function with a bipolar electorate and Congress as we are already seeing. The identifying of the issues is not difficult by either side, the solutions are miles apart and often mutually exclusive. I will be gone long before this is resolved. Best of luck to all of you. DLS
  • rr
    rlw r.
    7 June 2019 @ 17:41
    Really enjoyed this Big Picture chat, thanks Raoul & Dee. Hoping you reconvene often. Thoughtful content.
  • DR
    David R.
    7 June 2019 @ 17:25
    Great discussion. Well done. Makes me think of the old curse about living in interesting times though. And think wistfully about the simpler, better days when I was a young man.
  • DL
    David L.
    7 June 2019 @ 14:21
    Fascinating discussion. I was especially interested in learning about issues affecting Nicaragua and Latin America.