Today’s investors need to understand geopolitical trends as a main driving force of markets. This book provides just that: an understanding of the interplay between geopolitics and economics, and of the impact of that dynamic on financial markets.
To me, geo-economics is the study of how geopolitics and economics interact in international relations.
Plenty of books on geopolitics have been written by eminent experts in politics and international affairs. This book is not one of them.
First, I am neither a political scientist nor an expert in international affairs. I am an economist and an investment strategist who has been fascinated by geopolitics for many years. And this fascination has led me to the realization that almost all books and articles written on geopolitics are useless for investors. Political scientists are not trained to think like investors, and they are not typically trained in quantitative methods. Instead, they engage in developing narratives for geopolitical events and processes that pose risks and opportunities for investors.
My main problem with these narratives is that they usually do not pass the “so what?” test. Geopolitical risks are important, but how am I to assess which risks are important for my portfolio and which ones are simply noise? Because geopolitics experts focus on politics, they do not provide an answer to this crucial question for investors. What could be important for a geopolitics expert and for global politics could be totally irrelevant for investors. For example, the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been going on for almost two decades now and have been an important influence on the political discussion in the United States. But for investors, the war in Afghanistan was a total nonevent, and the war in Iraq had only a fleeting influence, when it started in 2003.
Geopolitics experts cannot answer the question of which geopolitical events matter for investors and which do not. Unfortunately, some experts thus claim that all geopolitical risks matter and that these risks cannot be quantified but only assessed qualitatively. Nothing could be further from the truth. In the chapters that follow, I discuss geopolitical and geo-economic events from the viewpoint of an investor and show that they can be quantified and introduced as part of a traditional risk management process. I do this in two parts.
The first part of this book focuses on geopolitics that matters to investors. It reviews the literature on a range of geopolitical events and shows which events have a material economic effect and which do not. The second part of this book puts the insights from those first chapters into practice by applying them to current geopolitical trends. In this second part, I stick my head out and examine the impact the geopolitical trends have on the economy and financial markets today and their likely development in the coming years.
—Joachim Klement, CFA