Last week, I again attended VALUEx. If you’re a Value Investor, this is no more interesting use of your time – it is an extraordinary gathering of intelligent, talented and fun people.
Like me, many people at VALUEx avoid investing in technology firms. On the other hand, many participants know that it’s important to follow the evolution of what I call the “3 GRAIN” technologies (3D printing, Genetics, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Information Technology, and Nanotechnology). Each of the 3 GRAIN general purpose technologies will have an increasing impact on the creation of value in the years ahead. Moreover, how they will combine to produce social changes is something that Philippe and I think about a lot.
In a previous post, Milo argued that strategic thinking should begin at the level of Geostrategy (See Start with Geostrategy or call it tactics). Geostrategy looks at how geopolitical factors inform, constrain, and affect business over the long term. For convenience, you can place these geopolitical drivers into four categories that interact, evolve and change over time: Demographics, Geography, Technology, and Culture. It is “climate change” at the level of these geopolitical drivers– and especially the interaction among them – that create the economic and political “weather” of your firm. These are often same forces that fund managers harness to generate “alpha” for their funds. It is at their level that true strategy begins. In this post, we’ll look at the first one, Demographics.
The Foundations of Lasting Strategy
As I explain to my students at IE, the most any business school can hope to do is move you from unconscious ignorance to conscious ignorance of a subject. In other words, a course can lay a firm foundation in a subject, and then provide a jumping off point for future self-study. After my MIAF course “Geopolitics and Investing”, that usually prompts the question, “Where should I begin such self-study?” How do I start to learn to generate “geopolitical alpha”?
As I said in an earlier post, there are certain key books that point you towards how to think like an intelligence analyst. Because the skills of an intelligence analyst and a geopolitical investor overlap so much, I would also say that investors interested in geopolitics start with those key books. In particular, if you haven’t mastered the critical thinking and the basic analytic techniques described in Thinking in Time, Essence of Decision and The Thinker’s Toolkit, you are still in kindergarten as far as intelligence analysis is concerned. Heuer’s Psychology of Intelligence Analysis (downloadable free from the CIA’s site here) is also immensely valuable. None of these books will teach you geopolitical analysis per se, but they will give you a solid foundation in non-quantitative analysis.
One investor gets a grip on Geopolitics
Posted in Methodology & Tools, Theory
Tagged analysis, asset allocation, CIA, demography, economics, energy, event trading, forecasting, geopolitical alpha, Geopolitics, Geostrategy, Graham T. Allison, Hedge funds, Intelligence Analysis, investing, Luttwak, Richard Neustadt, strategic autism, Use of history