How do otherwise worthless hunks of rock in the South China Sea simultaneously affect global energy prices, U.S. aircraft carriers, Saudi Arabia, and China’s place in the world 50 years from now? Why is a presidential candidate’s platform irrelevant to how the U.S. is governed? How could you have foreseen the European sovereign debt crisis in 2005? What significance do east–west flowing rivers in the United States have on the level of the yuan?
Each question above is better answered when investors understand the convergence of geography with history, politics, economics, and societal imperatives. Without an able guide through the tangle of geopolitics, spurious analysis is common. George Friedman, founder and CEO of Stratfor, is acknowledged as one of the world’s most able guides of both political science and geopolitics. He is the author of several acclaimed books, including The Next Decade: Empire and Republic in a Changing World; The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century; and America’s Secret War: Inside the Hidden Worldwide Struggle Between America and Its Enemies. Friedman has a history of being right when many others are wrong and a history of being predictive when many are reactive.
Founded in 1996 as a subscriber-based private intelligence organization, Stratfor is relied upon by governmental intelligence agencies, national governments, business leaders, and investors alike to provide a thorough understanding of geopolitics combined with actionable analysis. Stratfor describes what is happening, why it is happening, what will happen next, and — perhaps most importantly — the organization often provides a uniquely trenchant view of critical events that disagrees with conventional wisdom. Critical to the trust Stratfor has earned is its open acknowledgment of mistakes, as well as public discussion of what it has learned from them.
Stratfor publishes free “Geopolitical Weekly” reports, where Friedman and others discuss topics such as the China–Japan conflict over islands in the East China Sea and the gap between promises and reality for presidential candidates. The Stratfor website also hosts Friedman’s 2006 forecast predicting the European debt crisis (login required) and Stratfor’s analysis showing how geographic features such as rivers have shaped economic development and the evolution of foreign policy in the United States.
Attendees at the 66th CFA Institute Annual Conference in Singapore will have an opportunity to absorb Friedman’s intelligence and wisdom about some of the most important geopolitical issues facing investors in mid-2013 to 2014. Register to attend the conference and follow this blog for more speaker updates as the event draws closer.