Trade Wars: The Unraveling of the Geopolitical World Order

Featuring Peter Zeihan

Geopolitical strategist Peter Zeihan, author of The Accidental Superpower, delves into the breakdown of global trade. Using geography, demographics, security and economic trends, he explores why the geopolitical framework that developed after WWII is dissolving and which countries stand to benefit. Filmed April 25, 2018 in New York City.

Published on
2 May, 2018
Geopolitics, Macro, Financial System
35 minutes
Asset class
Currencies, Commodities


  • AE

    Alex E.

    18 6 2018 04:28

    2       0

    If I were President of the United States, this man would be my Primary Advisor....WOW, Totally blown away by the intelligence of this interview!!! Please, Please, Please bring this man back on RVTV...

  • RP

    Ryan P.

    26 5 2018 23:56

    1       0

    I thought a lot of what he had to say was actually really interesting and if makes you think I wonder if our leaders think this way when they make the decisions they do...although it may just be his nature, but sometimes being too cocky about predictions makes you almost sound unbelievable.

    I think it would be invaluable to get this guy to sit down with a Kyle Bass or Mark Hart and talk China/ world order though. Raul/ Grant if you see this I think this would be an amazing content idea going forward. Let an “expert” get picked apart by an actual fund manager and let us watch it haha...

  • jh

    jim h.

    22 5 2018 18:57

    3       0

    Reading these comments I was truly amused. RV viewers would likely describe themselves as contrarian thinkers. This guy comes out with a viewpoint that is exactly the opposite of current global consensus. Gets roasted. Think about that!

  • TR

    Todd R.

    18 5 2018 12:05

    0       0

    would really love to see him debate someone with a less USA #1 view point.

  • TR

    Todd R.

    18 5 2018 11:52

    1       0

    loved this!! can we get a part 2?

  • PP

    Patrick P.

    11 5 2018 08:36

    3       0

    Hard to believe Peter left out India in his comments.

  • BS

    Bill S.

    11 5 2018 00:19

    0       1

    Interesting thesis but he ignores China's One Belt One Road

  • JR

    Joe R.

    10 5 2018 15:40

    0       0

    Wow, such a great presentation, would love to see more like this.

  • TC

    Ted C.

    10 5 2018 10:00

    3       0

    Loved it! Real VIsion needs more geopolitic analyst interviews. It’s hard to know where the world is going without knowing each nation’s interest.

    To all those hating America, seriously as the country that dictated the terms for world order, why would it be surprising to find them having advantages on the next cycle of events? No I am not American, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure that a country cannot win WWII, Cold War and act as world police by hiring monkeys for sensitive government positions that concerns national security. If America is anything, they are maliciously cunning in guise of justice and definitely not ignorant or delusional.

  • PR

    Peter R.

    8 5 2018 12:37

    4       0

    I thought it was at least a thought provoking presentation, although I agree with many of the comments about the discussion of the winners/loser (however i wouldn't get too uppity about it, as 27 minutes is hardly enough time to present a appropriately nuance view).

    I think on a 20+ year timeframe it is:

    -very possible that the US is 'ok', however pulls back from the global order significantly
    -likely China will also weather the transition with the OBOR project creating the security and trading partners it needs
    -pointless to discuss currency "winners or losers". It seems very unlikely to me that almost ANY of the current currencies that exist today will exist in their current form 20 years from now.

    I found there to be some really interesting parallels between the framework here and the recent Raoul and Mark Hart and Worth Wray interview.

  • LB

    Louis B.

    8 5 2018 09:26

    7       6

    My guess is that every person who liked his discourse is an American still dreaming the dream, i.e. asleep, and hoping it's really still possible to acheive. His arrogance was difficult to endure, but i just had to watch it all to see how hopelessly deluded his belief in American exceptionalism ideology has devoured any common sense left in him.

  • SH

    Steve H.

    7 5 2018 23:56

    5       7

    One of the most pompous, self-centered American views i’ve listen to. To downplay China after it led the world for 14 centuries is ridiculous. Typical “America will always be number one” viewpoint. 🙄

    I think he needs to travel to Asia more.

  • DR

    Daniel R.

    7 5 2018 04:51

    3       4

    This is one of the best RV videos ever. It delivers on the vision laid out at the beginning of RV tv.

  • B

    Bojo .

    6 5 2018 15:35

    4       3

    An interesting presentation worth watching. And incredible cognitive dissonance. As Catherine Austin Fitts says, many Americans need two things: their living standards and feel that they are ‘’good people’’. The author conveniently leaves out America’s using of Islamic radicals, importing heroin from Afghanistan, stealing people’s gold (like Gaddafi’s), all following the US evergreen motto: do what we say or we will kill you, metaphorically or quite literally. With love bombs, and for humanitarian purposes, of course.

  • SR

    Steve R.

    6 5 2018 08:34

    5       2

    Beautifully presented in simple easy-to-understand language, just brilliant!

  • PJ

    Peter J.

    5 5 2018 18:03

    8       9

    One of the most biased and one sided interpretations of international events that I have come across

  • MS

    Martin S.

    5 5 2018 10:22

    7       1

    Interesting view, but unbalanced. He makes it sound a little like the poor little well-meaning boy scout USA is getting picked on by rude China and rude Germany, and so will take its world security toys home, where it will prosper alone. I think it's more like the USA is spending tons of money on its military in an attempt to achieve world domination. It's now getting challenged, and besides that, it can't keep going further and further and further into debt without repercussions eventually. So it will be forced to pull back at some point in time, and the world order will change.

  • TL

    Tony L.

    5 5 2018 06:51

    2       2

    "If there's one thing that everyone in the world agrees on, it's that the Brits should never be in charge again". :-)

  • JD

    John D.

    5 5 2018 00:28

    3       2

    Excellent... Bring him back tomorrow...

  • NO

    Neil O.

    4 5 2018 14:59

    3       0

    Naturally it will actually turn out differently to the way Mr Zeihan states, but that said, this struck as a fourth turning analysis in the Neil Howe framework. I would love to hear Neil's analysis of this interview.

  • JC

    John C.

    4 5 2018 12:18

    5       0

    I liked it but it's really top of the waves and obviously a ton could change the prognosis for what's going to happen going forward.

    Very interesting to see him say that China and Germany could be big losers. I think that might just turn out to be true, but can't see Germans losing 75% of their current standard of living from here (think that's what he said). Surely they will make energy deals with Russia and go back to nuclear if things get bad? China will become a competitor to Germany on the value-added side for sure (already is) and I guess if and when the Euro goes away German will be in dire straights export-wise if it has to go back to the Deutsche Mark.

    RE Turkey and Argentina being two of the top 'survivors' well, Turkey's Lira hit an all-time low today (with reserves dropping fast), the Turkish 10-year yield is near 13%, the current account deficit is at all time highs and they have a potential banking crisis on their hands. Also Turkey has to import much of its energy and is in a pretty hostile neighborhood overall, and has serious issues with Islamification. Not to mention a lot of bad blood with the Greeks, Armenians and others who seem to have nothing to lose given how bad a situation their countries current are in (with Greece just being Greece and Armenia in political chaos with the PM resigning and the country potentially trying to pivot away from Russia. Oh yeah they also have a never-ending battle with their Kurdish minority and PKK rebels who regularly blow things up inside the country. And a Syrian neighbor that's far from stable. Need I go on?

    I guess I just don't get the Turkey angle & why it will weather the storm better than most others - and who could trust 'rule of law' there or the political powers / Islamists to do the right thing?

    (but having just said that, maybe it's time to start thinking about going long Turkey?)

    RE Argentina. the peso is dropping fast today screaming about a new EM currency crisis already....

    Thanks RV!

  • FV

    Fredrik V.

    4 5 2018 06:42

    6       0

    How about seting up a discussion with Peter and Luke Gromen. Time horizon, signals and link to history would be interesting to see!

  • JJ

    Justin J.

    4 5 2018 04:11

    0       0

    Need book

  • MJ

    Manish J.

    4 5 2018 02:24

    2       0

    so much confidence

  • AH

    Ahmed H.

    4 5 2018 01:07

    5       0

    interesting views, albeit with a strong pro US bias - the US going at it alone or what i call the nuclear option is along the lines of stratfor s stuff.. i dont agree with it - world s moved on, there is enuf production capacity n demand in RoW for us to ignore the US .. think US knows that and to stay relevant is in places from mid east to europe - if it wasnt there we d have eurasian integration (a la chinese belt road vision n putin s russian european integration ) disbanded nato etc etc
    but hey interesting views

  • PD

    Peter D.

    4 5 2018 00:55

    23       2

    Much of Mr. Zeihan's theis regarding the US appears based on pipe dreams.

    1. America has "protected" the world...for free?
    The world has paid "protection" money in the form of trillions of dollars in surplus goods over decades for which it got nothing but paper in return....and default on their gold holdings.
    Paper that they can't use, because those countries are forced to sterilize US cash outflow, by holding trillions of USD in reserve.

    2. The idea that China can't guard its sea lanes it America pulls back is ludicrous.
    China, which floated its second air craft carrier this month (and first domestically built one), already has a base in Djibouti, and is building one in Gwadar, right near the Persion Gulf.
    Soon it will have a "String of Pearls" as it calls those bases.
    Sure it spends less than 15% what America does on defence.
    But it is not clear that this is a bad thing.

    3. America an oil power based on fracking?
    Frackers are losing money with the 10-year at 3%.
    At any normalized interest rate the technology, is questionable at best.

    4. American demographics are superior?
    Well, there are a lot more births.
    But much much of them, possibly as many as half are minorities.
    Sure....that is a lot of potential.
    How this will affect social cohesion is far from clear.

    The Kool-Aid tasted great.

    But those investing ideas.... Argentina, Japan and France for the long-term?
    Let us know how that works out.

  • JM

    James M.

    3 5 2018 21:15

    3       6

    Unfortunate and a little sad to see the comments posted. If I had saw this in an airport lounge I would have assumed I was watching Fox Media.

  • VM

    Vincent M.

    3 5 2018 19:52

    6       0

    Very provocative....History teaches much if you are willing to listen.

    Love to have Jim Grant or Grant interview him.

  • TB

    Tim B.

    3 5 2018 18:35

    4       0

    That was brilliant.

  • FF

    Francis F.

    3 5 2018 17:01

    15       3

    I live on planet Earth. What planet is he talking about?

  • SC

    Sean C.

    3 5 2018 14:30

    9       0

    I liked his opinions even if I agree with them or not. May I suggest RV have an interviewer ask him questions so we can get more challenging questions asked and dialogue to come with it?

  • MN

    Maverick N.

    3 5 2018 14:14

    11       1

    Me after watching this interview:

    "Bartender, I will have what Peter is having!"

  • IC

    Ibrahim C.

    3 5 2018 08:40

    4       0

    For a Turkish living outside, I am surprised at his thoughts where we go from here. He is right on our changing regime in the country by the sole decision making of one man. However I do not agree on the self-sufficiency comments where I have observed full scale privatization where even the country's local staples are now being sold to foreign conglomerates. I have a slight hope if the coming elections should give the people a wake-up call in the face of economic depression occurring with full scale. Besides I do not believe that we are the only powerful country in the region to use this for our benevolent future. As a result it sounds to me a wishful statement not a real one!

  • DS

    Darryl S.

    3 5 2018 08:03

    1       6

    Very matter of fact approach. Insightful and almost irrefutable.

  • KC

    Klendathu C.

    3 5 2018 07:42

    2       1

    Could not disagree more with Mr. Zeihan's claim the world is shifting into disorder. It's changing, and far from dying it's strengthening through this change to adjust to the changes since WWII.

  • EL

    Emanuel L.

    3 5 2018 06:42

    15       0

    Mr. Zeihan tries quite hard to knit geopolitics into a brothers Grimm tale in which the US act as the global benefactor being disappointed by "rude" china and "rude" germany. He gets quite a lot right, the motives of the US being purely altruistic however is not one of them.

  • TT

    Timothy T.

    3 5 2018 03:38

    4       0

    View from a US bias. Have to discount many things and he does not understand US economic standing has declined and no longer dictates how the rest of the world works.

  • DV

    Dimitri V.

    3 5 2018 02:15

    5       0

    More of this! love

  • RM

    Robert M.

    3 5 2018 01:29

    1       1

    His reasons for an apocalyptic scale of almost total US pullback from globalization in the next few years are flimsy - the EZ not paying enough for NATO (not a new issue, so why now?), 17 years ago China downed a US spy plane (long time ago!) and in 2003 France & Germany abstained from the Iraq invasion (long time ago!).
    But if a trade war escalated out of control for some other reason (he needs to spell out how the US would arrive at such a momentous decision to completely and suddenly unwind a system which in turn was started by a momentous event - WW2), then his risk scenario is very interesting.

  • LC

    Luiz C.

    2 5 2018 23:17

    14       2

    RVTV at its best, content never heard anywhere else, very forward looking. Is he a visionary or a a charlatan? No idea, but the guy does present well and his talk/analysis flows like music...

  • TE

    Tito E.

    2 5 2018 21:45

    6       0

    What a jolly around-the-world-romp that was. Highly enjoyable.
    Pretty well reasoned too. In such a complex world i wonder how many of those events play out though.
    We do live in interesting times..

  • VS

    Victor S.

    2 5 2018 20:53

    5       0

    Interesting and 75% correct . What everyone misses is the “trend of political systems” . When the debt comes due you’ll separate the winners and losers

  • RE

    Richard E.

    2 5 2018 19:18

    2       0


  • KT

    Ken T.

    2 5 2018 19:01

    2       0

    Excellent. I really "took in" every minute.

  • HH

    HODL H.

    2 5 2018 18:21

    8       0

    Need hours of interviews with him please!!!

  • SL

    Stephen L.

    2 5 2018 17:05

    3       0

    In the Global Currencies section, no mention of Swiss? Though it wouldn't have changed his point. Or gold actually.

  • PR

    Pedro R.

    2 5 2018 15:40

    6       2

    I think he is very superficial on the analysis. With a world so interconnected I find it difficult to understand how the brake of the actual system don’t wreak everyone’s involved including and specially the biggest producer of capital goods the United States.

  • RM

    Richard M.

    2 5 2018 14:58

    9       0

    Wow, great discussion! Really thought provoking and it will be interesting to see if just half of what he predicted actually comes to pass. I will admit it really has my mind a flutter with possibilities. Great job Peter and RVTV!

  • TJ

    Terry J.

    2 5 2018 14:04

    37       1

    I really enjoyed hearing Peter's views even though I disagreed with most of them, but hey for all I know his future vision, heaven forbid, could be the one that materialises. His persuasive arguments might just have won me over were it not for his rose tinted American spectacles, and his insistence on how everybody benefitted from Bretton Woods at the expense of the US, who provided the trading security! The reality is that Bretton Woods agreement was a disaster which the US failed miserably to honour, as evidenced by the subsequent complete abandonment of that agreement by Nixon in August 1971 because France and others had worked out that the US could not be relied upon to manage its own deficits and keep the dollar honest. Consequently De Gaulle and other Europeans understandably said they would prefer to have the equivalnet gold from Fort Knox rather than than the green dollar paper, as the USD contrary to the Bretton Woods pronouncements was not "good as gold". Now the final chapter of the debt fuelled binge that US and other western banks undertook post 71 with no gold anchor to keep them in check, is in the throes of being written, and none of us know for sure how it wiill end but I dont think it will the rosy scenario for the US that Peter suggests. More likely, the recent birth of the petro yuan will see China and Russia, backed by all the gold they have acquired in the past few decades, increasingly bypass the dollar in internaitonal trade and eventually that is probally what will end the decades old Treasury bull market. If that transpires it will America and not Germany that the rest of the world will be praying does not resort to military aggression to try and hold on to its collpasing empire! Having listened with interest to Peter's views on the geopolitical future for the world, I'd love to see Real Vision offer the alternative view of Hugo Salinas Price on how the dollar's demise will play out.

  • TS

    Thomas S.

    2 5 2018 13:52

    7       0


  • BT

    Brian T.

    2 5 2018 13:10

    14       0

    Once again, a fresh look at very important issues where there are clearly intelligent and well reasoned opposing points of view. Bravo RVTV for finding another credible contributor with something new to say. They seem to be seeking you out at this point based on the recent frequency. The RVTV brand must be growing in recognition.

    The one thing I wish could be found is someone who integrates it all. Peter talks about the important basics - food, energy, security, reliance on others - but does not address the significant fiscal challenges of the U.S. (the twin deficits which are significantly externally financed) - and how they will influence this outcome. While we may be the best house on a poor block, it doesn't negate the influence on confidence that borrowing/printing ourselves into oblivion creates.

    Ultimately currency values are driven by confidence of the indigenous population and the parties it trades with. Peter's picture is that the U.S. is well-positioned and therefore our reserve currency status will not become threatened as the alternatives are not good. But surely the idea that we will need to "print" $100 trillion in the next 30+ years to fund our significant social programs must have an impact on willingness to hold the currency.

    I'm still looking for someone who can integrate all the various issues into a coherent model of how this may play out. The opposing forces are significant and the future seems very hazy to me. I like Peter's optimism as a U.S. citizen, but he conveniently ignores the important pillars of the negative dollar case.

  • CC

    Christopher C.

    2 5 2018 12:46

    34       0

    Interesting take on events. Seems more than a bit myopic and obtuse from a couple of perspectives. (Keep in mind I say this as an American.) 1.) Mr. Zeihan speaks of the US as a global benevolent benefactor providing security to others in order to facilitate free trade. While this is part of the picture it ignores the numerous times that the US has overthrown locally democratically elected governments and installed regimes willing to act more favorably to US business interests as opposed to local interests. Iran, Chile, Brazil, Guatemala, etc. etc. This is to say nothing of the countries that have been pressured/extorted through the IMF, The world Bank, and other not so benevolent facets of "the security deal" he speaks of. All this is recounted in such books as Confessions of an Economic Hitman... etc. And says nothing again of the less than savory folks the US has propped up in the Middle East and elsewhere to keep the oil flowing, and traded in US dollars. A system which appears to me, to be breaking down piece by piece. Luke Gromen (Forest for the Trees) has written very eloquently about this on twitter, and spoken at length about it on MacroVoices, etc. 2.) I keep hearing about "lubricating" trade and trade for "hard currencies." Given what is going on in the global macro currency race to the bottom, I think a more accurate terminology would be, "least soft currencies." Sure Europe has trouble, but when you price in US debt, unfunded liabilities, and social contract promises that will never be honored, let alone the social unrest that will come with it, I hardly see the US dollar being able to continue as the global reserve currency it once was. There may be a knee jerk reaction in relative strength as we are currently seeing now, but it seems to me to be the psychological path of least resistance/muscle memory/a death rattle as opposed to well thought out plan. Maybe I am wrong in this. 3.) The third factor which I did not hear discussed at all (perhaps I missed it) is the global macro demographic story. I think not speaking about this in general and integrating ideas such as put forward by, "The Fourth Turning" in specific, attempts project future trade and the geopolitical landscape without taking into account perhaps the biggest tectonic force with will shape the near future. 4.) The last point I think not broached is that this whole system is supported by the United State's ability to project force with our blue water navy. Given recent advances in drone technology, hypersonic missile development, and other asymmetric responses (I in NO way believe two US Navy ships collided with merchant ships due to poor seamanship. They were electronically jammed/gps spoofed. If true think about the implications of the US to project force in conflict as it effect planes, missiles, etc.) what happens if that stabilizing/required force is neutralized or removed from the playing board? I like the general ideas brought up in the video, and think there are several carefully thought out and well presented ideas. My concern is that a few primary ideas I see as key have not been integrated into the overall thesis being put forward. I say this not as a criticism of the speaker in the video, but in the hope that if I am wrong I would be presented with ideas that would help me disabuse myself of my current deficiencies in thought.

  • PU

    Peter U.

    2 5 2018 12:29

    3       0

    per the WSJ today: . .. Mr. Fischer, who served as Fed vice chairman from 2014 until 2017, has long been enmeshed in the U.S. and international responses to financial trouble. That still animates his thinking, he said.

    “I think about crises all the time” and he noted he’s surprised in large part by how the U.S. is acting under President Donald Trump and his push to roll back open trade, amid a broad questioning of U.S. security alliances.

    “The last thing I imagined the United States would say is the structure that we had put in place starting in 1944 wasn’t worth a damn,” Mr. Fischer said, although he didn’t criticize the president by name. He worried that if the U.S. follows the wrong policies it could end up handing the mantle of global leadership to Asia.

  • HB

    Heini B.

    2 5 2018 11:50

    10       1

    absolutely loved this, fresh new framework for looking at the world and the coming 4th turning.

  • KE

    Kathryn E.

    2 5 2018 11:46

    12       0

    This was a great video even if I didn't agree with everything on it.

    I believe the point that might have been missed is that the world could then gravitate towards China providing the security that USA would stop providing. My guess is China will continue to push for expansion by the belt and road initiative with an India that requires integration. It won't be a smooth ride, but if everyone but America is left to hang, old differences can be put aside.

    I also believe one of the worst affected if America decided to one day stop behaving like the world's protector, is Israel. They are basically hated by everyone in the region and although they could take a couple out, I doubt they can take them all at once.

  • SF

    Simon F.

    2 5 2018 11:15

    11       0

    Love it. Its great to see someone expounding a thesis based on the structural and enduring realities of geopolitics, and taking it on a thought experiment walk. At the margins there are so many moving parts that much of what he forecasts will turn out to be different due to a combination of him being wrong and the reflexive nature of the various actors. His final point returns to the terra firma of his thesis, the unique geography of the USA. It is this that should sober up those that think the USA has had its day. The question is will the one belt one road become the factor that keeps China from reverting to its historical state of chaos but instead counterbalancing the USA?

  • MB

    Michael B.

    2 5 2018 10:28

    8       0

    Very interesting perspective. I don't agree with everything but that's why we come here, to hear different points of view being presented so we can expand our understanding of how our world is moving ahead.

  • PU

    Peter U.

    2 5 2018 10:15

    0       0


  • PU

    Peter U.

    2 5 2018 10:14

    3       0

    Surely thought provoking, but for me, intellectually, his view are a bridge too far