Why geopolitics matters.
The reasons we started Geopolitical Dispatch, and introducing our new co-author.
Welcome to our second edition of Not in Dispatches.
So what is this all about?
It may not yet be as universal as economics, but a basic, current knowledge of geopolitics is becoming essential for business and investors.
Prior to starting Geopolitical Dispatch, we’d both experienced this in our professional lives - Michael in Liberia and Pakistan; Cam in Indonesia and Japan. Indeed, a brush with geopolitical risk over a mining project sent Michael down the path of getting a degree in international relations and becoming a diplomat, despite a successful career in investing and journalism.
The reasons need not be so dramatic, but we knew that to stay ahead in the modern world, business leaders and investors would need to have more than a passing appreciation of the non-financial forces that now shape trade, markets and valuations like never before.
Or is this really new?
The term ‘geopolitics’ is rooted in the 20th century, but the practice of international relations goes back a lot further. Alongside prostitution, espionage and mercenary soldiering (globe-trotting careers in their own right), diplomacy often lays claim to being the world’s oldest profession. Similarly, merchants and traders in the ancient world were keen followers of the craft.
Will my ship arrive on time (or at all)?
Will the king claim my harvest?
Will my village be safe from attack?
In the 21st century, it’s a bit different, but the fundamentals of business - logistics, regulation, security - remain at the mercy of similar dynamics.
Today, we might ask:
Will this order comply with sanctions? Does it need to be re-routed?
What can I expect for my company on tax or legislation?
Will insurance cover our assets in case of war or terrorist attack?
Thinking this through, we found it odd that businesses couldn’t access sensible information on broad questions like these without spending huge amounts on specialist consultants or spending hours each day scrolling through the news and working out an in-house method to make sense of it all.
We knew that geopolitical risk was already a thriving industry - and we have a lot of colleagues in the sector - but the products are generally expensive to access, detailed to a fault, technical in the extreme, and several days behind the news cycle.
We also knew that journalists were covering geopolitical news in increasing depth. And with the plethora of open-source intelligence, blogs and armchair Twitter generals, in many ways it’s never been a better time to access geopolitical news and opinion.
But who has the time to read it all, let alone sort the good from the bad, or work out what it all means?
Enter Geopolitical Dispatch.
Each day, like the heads of many governments, the US President receives a short, sharp summary, the Presidential Daily Brief, that not only outlines key developments in the previous 24 hours, but more importantly says what it means and why it matters.
Few in the business world would have the means to compile their own such personal intelligence service, but we figured that for most people, most of the time, the stories that mattered would be largely the same.
These were the stories that moved markets, dominated headlines, led to new laws and regulations, but were often baffling, counterintuitive, arcane in their detail, or hidden from view until it was too late.
US-China, Ukraine-Russia, Britain-EU, Italy-France, Korea-Japan, the list goes on.
Nice to know about, seemingly important, hard to fathom in their complexity.
Through our Daily Assessment, Geopolitical Dispatch aims to cover them all in a way that is as brief as a media summary with the depth of an intelligence assessment.
We are by no means the only provider of daily briefings on geopolitics. And Daily Assessment is certainly not the only product to give readers a snapshot on macro developments. But we think we provide the only way to currently get a Presidential-level worldview on the issues that matter each day for under 5 minutes.
Geopolitical Dispatch and Daily Assessment is still evolving - and you’re all part of that evolution - but we hope it remains a valuable way to spend a portion of your busy time.
Introducing Damien Bruckard
We're delighted that our friend and colleague Damien Bruckard is now joining us as a co-author. Some of you may already know him as the former author of the Vantage Point newsletter.
Damien has worked as a diplomat and trade negotiator, as well as at the United Nations and the International Chamber of Commerce, where he is currently head of global engagement. As a diplomat, Damien was posted to countries as big as Russia and as small as Nauru. He has amazing insights on global affairs, degrees in politics and law, and he speaks Russian, Italian and French.
The big launch
Finally, a reminder that we announce our presence to the world on Wednesday 14 June. When we do this on LinkedIn it would be great if you could like, repost or comment so we can push it up in LinkedIn’s algorithm. Getting more readers will make this newsletter sustainable, allowing us to keep producing it.
Michael and Cameron will post at 10:00 am Australian Eastern Standard Time, or 8:00 am Hong Kong, 8:00 pm New York and midnight in London.
Damien will post at 10:00 am Central European Summer Time, or 6:00 pm AEST, 4:00 pm Hong Kong, 4:00 am New York and 9:00 am in London.
In the meantime, thank you once for reading and please let us know your thoughts, whether on the page or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michael Feller, Cameron Grant and Damien Bruckard, co-authors