The best of geopolitics Sharing things I’m learning about what’s going on in the world. Based on Ferran Adrià’s creative audit. By Bernabé Gutiérrez bernabe@qvixoteleaders.org

SEPTEMBER 2021

Sunday sermon Leadership altitudes: 50,000 feet (the big picture); 50 feet (execution); 5 feet (self)—Ram Charan

Sep 18 Toshiba to close 30-year-old Chinese plant. Production moves to Vietnam and Japan

Sep 17 It’s cold war 2.0 in Africa. China is the money and Russia is the muscle—US Senate Armed Services Committee hearing

Sep 16 Six countries in the world (America, Britain, China, France, India and Russia) operate nuclear-powered submarines. Australia may become the seventh (AUKUS alliance)

Sep 15 Belarus President Lukashenko is in survival mode, being closest to Russia

Sep 14 The price for sending a container from Shanghai to New York is $10,000–in 2019 it’dhave been around $2,500

Sep 13 In 1975 Catalonia’s economy was 25% bigger than Madrid’s region. By 2018 Madrid’s GDP had overtaken Catalonia’s

Sunday sermon 7s kill companies

Sep 11 Lessons learned from 9/11?

Sep 10 We need to defend the principle of non-interference in internal affairs—Wang Yi, Foreign Minister of China

Sep 9 Dani Rodrik’s Trilemma rests on the incompatibility of democracy, national sovereignty, and globalization: any two can be combined, but never all three simultaneously and in full

Sep 8 China wants critical technology from the Dutch firm ASML. The US says “No” for national security reasons

Sep 7 Germany’s inflation hit 3.9%, the highest since 1993 

Sep 6 Madagascar’s 28m people are about as poor today as they were at independence in 1960–compare to Mauritius

Sunday sermon Success breeds complacency. Complacency breeds failure. Only the paranoid survive—Andy Grove

Sep 4 US intelligence divided on origins of coronavirus

Sep 3 The Fed has bought more than $4trn in assets during the pandemic: equivalent to 18% of GDP

Sep 2 Russia created its own card payment system, MIR, in 2015–strategy for payment sovereignty

Sep 1 Elizabeth Holmes & Theranos board: Henry Kissinger, James Mattis, George Shultz … 

AUGUST 2021

Aug 31 Bill Gates is the largest farmland owner in the US

Aug 30 Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s ruler since 2003

Sunday sermon Winning has a price and leadership has a price—Michael Jordan

Aug 28 Semi-authoritarian or authoritarian regimes in El Salvador (Nayib Bukele), Honduras (Juan Orlando Hernández), Guatemala (Alejandro Giammattei) and Nicaragua (Daniel Ortega)

Aug 27 The Bank of England has a “dangerous addiction” to buying bonds—House of Lords

Aug 26 If Russia and Turkey went to war ought the U.S. enter war against Russia to defend the Turks? NATO, Article V

Aug 25 Ben & Jerry’s board in dispute with owners Unilever over Israel-Palestine conflict—the geopolitics of ice cream

Aug 24 Internal threats are more dangerous to the country than external ones—Russian Defense Minister

Aug 23 About 17% of the 728 released Guantanamo Bay detainees return to terrorist activities

Sunday sermon The “Ringelmann effect” describes the tendency for individual productivity to decrease as group size increases

Aug 21 Who else beyond Andy Marshall, Pentagon strategist, would have asked about China the day after 9/11?

Aug 20 Some global asset managers are calling Chinese tech stocks “uninvestable”

Aug 19 America’s ban on travellers with HIV was introduced in 1987 and abolished in 2010

Aug 18 President Biden on Afghanistan: counterterrorism— not counterinsurgency or nation building

Aug 17 Ashraf Ghani, the president of Afghanistan since 2014, three months ago. Q: How long can your government last without US support? A: Forever

Aug 16 President Biden: Afghans must fight for themselves

Sunday sermon Be David, not Goliath

Aug 14 US keeps 28,000 troops in South Korea

Aug 13 Iran’s president, Ebrahim Raisi, chooses a Cabinet dominated by hard-liners

Aug 12 US and China clash at UN Security Council over South China Sea disputes

Aug 11 We wanted someone with expertise in geopolitics. And we named Jami Miscik to the Board—Enrique Lores, President and CEO of HP Inc

Aug 10 China is America’s biggest geopolitical challenge—CIA Director William Burns

Aug 9 What if Bitcoin ($40K) went to zero?

Sunday sermon Make a decision if you have 70% of the information you think you need

Aug 7 Refugees from Syria and Afghanistan account for 5% of the Turkish population

Aug 6 India cannot give up coal overnight—Gautam Adani

Aug 5 UK foreign-aid cut from 0.7% to 0.5% (£10 billion)

Aug 4 Ads generate 98% of Facebook’s revenue

Aug 3 Iran 40% inflation 

Aug 2 Peru for the 5th President in 5yrs

Sunday sermon Creativity is not to copy-Ferran Adrià

JULY 2021

Jul 31 India’s Mastercard ban

Jul 30 Xi Jinping’s Harvard-daughter

Jul 29 Tunisia: 10 governments in 10yrs

Jul 28 First Chinese president to visit Tibet in 30yrs

Jul 27 70% of freshwater is used for agriculture 

Jul 26 The first AI war: Operation Guardians of the Walls

Sunday sermon You can’t make a good deal with a bad person

Jul 24 Fortune 500: 133 Chinese, 121 US, 53 Japanese  

Jul 23 Top 10 Defense Companies: 6 US, 3 Chinese, 1 UK

Jul 22 The forgotten 1957 pandemic

Jul 21 The future of Volkswagen will be decided on the Chinese market—Volkswagen’s Board

Jul 20 In 1991 Moldova had 4.3m people; now it has fewer than 3m

Jul 19 On Russia and China, Germany and America are not aligned

Sunday sermon Even Jesus had 12 co-workers

Jul 17 5G “geopolitical neutrality”: Neither Sweden (Ericsson) nor Finland (Nokia) belong to Nato

Jul 16 What matters for an authoritarian regime is the depth of its supporters

Jul 15 South Africa: extreme corruption, unemployment and inequality

Jul 14 The Indo-Pakistani war of 2028: The first use of a nuclear weapon in a conflict since 1945—scenario, National Intelligence Council, Jan 2017

Jul 13 The pandemic has widened the wealth gap

Jul 12 Afghan government could collapse three months after US withdrawal 

Sunday sermon Nobody cares what you did yesterday

Jul 10 Turkish support for President Erdogan’s AKP party hits all-time low

Jul 9 In Africa, aside from Somaliland, only Eswatini has full diplomatic ties with Taiwan

Jul 8 Goodbye Jeff Bezos: Is it still Day 1?

Jul 7 After 15 years of trying, Amazon gave up on China 

Jul 6 Montenegro uses the euro, although the country is not officially a member of the eurozone

Jul 5 Cuba is facing its worst shortage of food since the 1990s 

Sunday sermon Get better clients

Jul 3 The legacy of covid-19: growth in state power 

Jul 2 Google controls 92% of the global search market

Jul 1 China produces more than 70% of the world’s solar modules

JUNE 2021

Jun 30 Nine nuclear countries: America, China, Russia, Britain, France, India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea 

Jun 29 The global pandemic of 2023 dramatically reduced global travel in an effort to contain the spread of the disease, contributing to the slowing of global trade and decreased productivity—scenario, National Intelligence Council, January 2017 

Jun 28 75% of cobalt is mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Sunday sermon First who, then what

Jun 26 Russia fires warning shots at a British destroyer near Crimea

Jun 25 The most productive meetings contain only five to eight people = China’s Politburo Standing Committee 

Jun 24 Brazil’s economy is smaller now than it was in 2011 

Jun 23 Angela Merkel: Nord Stream 2 is no one’s business but Germany’s

Jun 22 China flies 28 military aircraft into Taiwan’s air defense

Jun 21 Countries with more robots tend to have less joblessness, not more

Sunday sermon Commuting to office work is obsolete—Peter Drucker, 1993

Jun 19 Breakeven oil prices in Algeria and Iran more than $150 per barrel—now $70

Jun 18 All this money (NATO) is money that won’t go towards increasing national budgets and a European defence effort—Florence Parly, France’s defense minister

Jun 17 Globalisation was meant to change China. Instead, China is changing globalization

Jun 16 In 2010, the New York Times asked Time Warner chief executive Jeffrey Bewkes if he thought that Netflix would be a threat, his answer, “Is the Albanian army going to take over the world?… I don’t think so”

Jun 15 Deterrence: The potential aggressor must believe that the defender has the capability and will to do what it threatens

Jun 14 Eurozone, a 19-country experiment launched in 1999

Sunday sermon Leaders aren’t born, they are made through hard work

Jun 12 Separatism in Argentina’s winelands: Mendoza-mendocinos

Jun 11 Doing business rank: Algeria (157) v Morocco (53)

Jun 10 Afghanistan: 60% of the countryside is either contested or under Taliban control 

Jun 9 Hong Kong’s house prices are only 1.5% below their peak in 2019, despite two years of protests and pandemic 

Jun 8 Fed Chair Powell says it’s ‘very, very unlikely’ the U.S. will see 1970s-style inflation

Jun 7 China’s dual-circulation: from an export/investment-led economy to a domestic demand/innovation-driven economy

Sunday sermon Change demands a sense of urgency: now or never

Jun 5 Of the 19 firms created in the past 25 years that are now worth over $100bn, 9 are in America and 8 in China—Europe has none

Jun 4 Whoever becomes the leader in AI will become the ruler of the world—Putin, 2017

Jun 3 Venezuela’s Maduro: Washington talk these days is of regime improvement, not regime change

Jun 2 Texas: 9th largest economy in the world, ahead of Brazil

Jun 1 What if China seizes the Senkaku islands/Japan? 

MAY 2021

May 31 Russia’s list of unfriendly countries: the United States and Czech Republic

Sunday sermon What is your Family’s ‘Brand’? 

May 29 Mauritius is the freest country in all of Africa

May 28 Mexico’s president López Obrador catchphrase in cabinet meetings: “Shut up!”

May 27 Hyperinflation in Venezuela and Lebanon

May 26 Xi Jinping sees the Soviet Union as a cautionary tale 

May 25 France 2022: Ms Le Pen is on her third election campaign, just as Mitterrand was when he triumphed in 1981

May 24 What do investors fear most? Inflation & taper tantrum

Sunday sermon Leaders show up, no matter what

May 22 Morocco recognizes Israel, so America recognizes Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara 

May 21 Melting Pots (assimilation) v Salad Bowls (multicultural identity) 

May 20 EU countries are obliged to keep deficits below 3% and national debt below 60% of GDP—Stability and Growth Pact

May 19 Number of super-rich individuals grew worldwide during the pandemic 

May 18 Hamas v Fatah

May 17 On paper, the two Koreas are still at war

Sunday sermon Discipline beats talent

May 15 75% of Americans view Israel favorably

May 14 Balfour Declaration’s impact: 67 words 

May 13 Argentina 40% inflation

May 12 Colombia BBB-

May 11 Negotiating EU membership: Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey 

May 10 China’s Xi Jinping: from autocracy to dictatorship

Sunday sermon Figure out what works and do it

May 8 Does Somaliland deserve international recognition?

May 7 Biden 100 days: more executive orders than any president since Roosevelt

May 6 Kim Jong Un points out the fate of Saddam Hussein and Qaddafi as key examples of what happens to states that give up their nuclear weapons

May 5 The yuan accounts for 2% of international payments

May 4 Denmark aims for zero asylum seekers

May 3 Hungary downgraded from democracy to “hybrid regime” 

Sunday sermon Leaders need to make time to reflect

May 1 China could invade Taiwan by 2027—potential scenario

APRIL 2021

Apr 30 Population in China, Japan, and Spain to halve by 2100—forecast

Apr 29 Social unrest seems to peak two years after a pandemic ends—long Covid

Apr 28 We are all going to heaven as we’ve already experienced hell on earth—Chadians joke

Apr 27 Country analysis: GDP, debt, demography, competitiveness, and successful governments in a row

Apr 26 Too much is being expected of Italy PM Draghi

Sunday sermon You can perform only from strength

Apr 24 Could Britain break up?

Apr 23 Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel will have to deliver results fast

Apr 22 Warren Buffett bets on gas as the “bridge fuel” to a greener world 

Apr 21 Democracy Index lowest since 2006

Apr 20 26 monarchies left

Apr 19 Iran uranium to 60%

Sunday sermon Can you summarize your company’s strategy in one sentence?

Apr 17 Correlation between oil price of more than $100 and Russian invasions

Apr 16 CEO activism is risky business

Apr 15 China creates its own digital currency: e-yuan

Apr 14 Will the Taliban return to power in Afghanistan?

Apr 13 Spain’s real GDP will not return to pre-crisis levels before 2023 

Apr 12 20 ethnic militias fighting for autonomy in Myanmar

Sunday sermon When the 75 members of Stanford Graduate School of Business’s Advisory Council were asked to recommend the most important capability for leaders to develop, their answer was nearly unanimous: self-awareness.

Apr 10 Jordan’s King Abdullah: 13 different prime ministers since 1999

Apr 9 Italy has barely grown in real terms for 20 years

Apr 8 House prices (cities & suburbs) boom despite the pandemic

Apr 7 Intel bets on making more semiconductors in America

Apr 6 America, Japan, Australia and India—the Quad

Apr 5 Turkey‘s President Erdogan, four central bank governors in two years

Sunday sermon Did you leave the unit you led stronger than you found it?

Apr 3 H&M faces boycotts in China over stance on Uyghur treatment

Apr 2 Supply chains: Resilience is the new mantra

Apr 1 America’s debt stands above $27trn, or around 130% of GDP

MARCH 2021

Mar 31 China’s 14th Five Year Plan: The pursuit of self-sufficiency in the face of a hostile external environment

Mar 30 France’s strategic vision for 2030: The need to prepare for state-on-state conflict

Mar 29 Mercosur’s trade peaked as a share of its members’ total trade at 25% in 1997. Today that figure is just 14%

Sunday sermon Business is serving individuals: How can I help?

Mar 27 In addition to Russia and Iran, U.S. intel found that China, Cuba, Venezuela and Lebanese Hezbollah also worked to influence (not interfere) the 2020 election

Mar 26 Splinternet: An Internet that is increasingly fragmented due to nations filtering content or blocking it entirely for political purposes

Mar 25 Global power and telecommunications have almost always been closely linked

Mar 24 The Middle East has its oil. China has rare earths—Deng Xiaoping

Mar 23 The Amazon is home to 15% of all the biodiversity on Earth

Mar 22 Long-term interest rates have long been stuck near or below zero

Sunday sermon Randolph Churchill, Winston’s father and a posthumous follower of Disraeli’s, provided a lapidary summary of his hero’s career: “failure, failure, failure, partial success, renewed failure, ultimate and complete triumph.”

Mar 20 Agriculture is the source of over 20% of greenhouse gas emissions

Mar 19 China and Iran signed a 25-year partnership agreement

Mar 18 In 2019 the 100 most popular art museums globally enjoyed more than 230m visitors; in 2020 that figure fell to 54m, a drop of 77%

Mar 17 By the end of 2022, America’s economy is expected to be 6% larger than it was in 2019 

Mar 16 IF interest rates were to rise suddenly as a result of inflation

Mar 15 It has been over 200 years since Thomas Malthus predicted that population growth would outstrip food supply

Sunday sermon We solve problems through leadership

Mar 13 Agricultural employment (↓) v agricultural productivity (↑)

Mar 12 No Putin, no Russia—Volodin, Chairman of the State Duma

Mar 11 China produced four times as much nuclear energy in 2019 as it did in 2011

Mar 10 Crypto use in terrorism is a particular concern—Secretary Yellen

Mar 9 Governments hate competition—currency monopoly

Mar 8 Wealth inequality is resolved either by popular revolt, war or increasing taxes

Sunday sermon The coronavirus panic is dumb—Elon Musk, one year ago

Mar 6 Russia, a country of nearly 200 nationalities and 11 time zones

Mar 5 Egypt is the second largest recipient of foreign assistance from the US after Israel

Mar 4 Employment in agriculture: India (43%), China (26%), Brazil (9%), Rusia (6%), Spain (4%), America (1.5%)

Mar 3 America is a net exporter of both oil and natural gas

Mar 2 Biden administration will recognize Armenian genocide by the Ottoman Empire during World War 1

Mar 1 Bitcoin $45K

FEBRUARY 2021

Sunday sermon Incentives drive human behavior—positive reinforcement

Feb 27 Crises reveal societies’ strengths and weaknesses

Feb 26 Where trust in government is highest: Denmark & New Zealand

Feb 25 History suggests that increases in social spending rarely disappear entirely after a crisis

Feb 24 Thucydides’s Trap

Feb 23 The Greens are an established governing party, part of coalitions in 11 of Germany’s 16 states 

Feb 22 Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, sacked the head of Petrobras, the state oil company, and replaced him with a retired army general

Sunday sermon Make it to the next meal

Feb 20 Philippines inflation to 4.2%

Feb 19 Armenia was humiliated in a recent war with Azerbaijan

Feb 18 A new oath for holders of public office in Hong Kong will require the swearing of allegiance to China’s central government

Feb 17 During the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, there were at least a dozen close calls that could have led to war

Feb 16 SPACS v IPOs

Feb 15 Some 5.4m Venezuelans have fled their country; 1.7m are in Colombia

Sunday sermon Jack Welch insisted that GE had to be number one or number two in every business they were in, or else get out

Feb 13 Oil prices $60 a barrel

Feb 12 2001 (Sep 11) + 2008 (financial crisis) + 2020 (covid)

Feb 11 U.S. ban on American investment in Chinese military companies

Feb 10 SecState Mike Pompeo: China is committing genocide in Xinjiang (Uyghur)

Feb 9 Abraham Accords: Israel acceptance in the region

Feb 8 The UN’s structures built in 1945 are not fit for 2021

Sunday sermon The UN was not created to take mankind to heaven, but to save humanity from hell—Dag Hammarskjold

Feb 6 China now pays 12% of the UN budget compared with 1% in 2000

Feb 5 No international order lasts forever. Over time the balance of power shifts, systems fail to adapt and the rot sets in

Feb 4 The future does not belong to globalists. The future belongs to patriots—Trump told the UN General Assembly last September

Feb 3 Since 2000 China’s share of global GDP has gone from less than 4% to nearly 16%

Feb 2 Jeff Immelt, 16 years as GE’s CEO, a total leadership failure

Feb 1 How bad will it get? The coronavirus is likely to become a pandemic—The Economist, one year ago

JANUARY 2021

Jan 30 Who will go nuclear next? 

Sunday sermon If I were to do it again from scratch (EU), I would start with culture—Jean Monnet

Jan 29 Alibaba’s founder, Jack Ma, has fallen foul of the authorities

Jan 28 Colombia’s FARC political party changes name to Comunes

Jan 27 India v China, first deadly clashes in 45 years—Galwan Valley

Jan 26 BlackRock beefed up its green strategy

Jan 25 Asia represents 75% of the world’s coal electricity generation

Sunday sermon The first generation makes it, the second generation spends it, and the third generation blows it

Jan 23 Palestine, last elections in 2006

Jan 22 Museveni (Uganda) has been president since 1986

Jan 21 War in Tigray

Jan 20 Guatemala blocks 7,000 people trying to head from Honduras to America

Jan 19 Deaths globally from coronavirus: 3m

Jan 18 Spain’s GDP contracted by 11% in 2020

Sunday sermon The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing—Archilochus

Jan 16 What if Russia seizes control of Narva in Estonia, now a NATO ally?

Jan 15 Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics

Jan 14 Global Britain

Jan 13 Aung San Suu Kyi is a complicated figure

Jan 12 16 years of Merkelism 

Jan 11 The time when private Chinese companies downplayed their links to the Communist Party is gone

Sunday sermon Model simple, think complex

Jan 9 SecState Mike Pompeo: al-Qaeda has a new “home base” in Iran

Jan 8 The roaring 20s? 

Jan 7 Trump, 11 million more votes than he did in 2016

Jan 6 The storming of the U.S. Capitol

Jan 5 Will Biden be the new Carter?

Jan 4 To get rich is glorious—Deng Xiaoping

Sunday sermon Mission first, people always

Jan 2 Iran uranium to 20%

Jan 1 K-shaped recovery

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