For those wondering about the planet’s future – and who isn’t, these days – geostrategist Peter Zeihan provides a detailed but somber prognosis for the global economy. The abundance of global trade since World War II is about to give way to a poorer, “deglobalized” world, Zeihan believes. His analysis, written in a clear, conversational style, relies on insightful, data-driven research that draws a relationship between geography and political power, and that explains why demography is cultural destiny. Students of political economy will find this a thought-provoking text.
The prosperity of the decades following World War II was unique and is unlikely to continue.
The world’s best days, in terms of material prosperity, are behind it. Consumers in the advanced economies have become accustomed to receiving goods and services from around the globe in record time, often with just a click on a mobile device. Products come from elaborate supply chains that link raw materials, labor, manufacturing, transportation, just-in-time inventory, assembly, distribution and delivery. This economic system is often referred to as “free markets” or “globalization.”
This halcyon era of great material abundance and growth is the result of an “American Order” that was able to guarantee safe sea and air routes, courtesy of the overwhelming strength and reach of the US military. It was also made possible by the enforcement of a stable financial system achieved by the Bretton Woods agreement in aftermath of the 1945 Allied victory in World War II.
The American Order will degenerate into increasing disorder as the world “deglobalizes.” Globalization will no longer be enforceable, given the destabilizing...