Ray Dalio has recently published two more articles on LinkedIn that double down on the cautious, even alarmed view he has espoused about rising global conflicts in past writings. Dalio sees events like the Israel-Hamas war and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as steps toward an outright major power war, most worryingly between the US and China.
As in his past work, Dalio analyzes these current events through the lens of historical cycles and his own analytical framework of five forces that drive global trends. He frequently references concepts like the “Big Cycle” of empires rising and declining and specific tipping points where contained conflicts escalate to outright war. Before delving into Dalio’s recent articles, you may want to check out my previous post on his long-term predictions in ‘The changing world order‘.
The Failure of Kevin McCarthy is Another Step Away from Democracy and Toward Civil War
In his October 5th article, Dalio focuses on the context of worsening domestic partisan polarization in the US, using the ousting of Kevin McCarthy as House Speaker as a timely example. He argues this is fueling internal disorder and raising risks of “some form of civil war”.
Another Step Toward International War
His October 12th article shifts to assessing the Israel-Hamas and Russia-Ukraine wars. Dalio sees these as likely to spread into a broader regional or even global conflict unless major powers step back from the brink. He draws explicit parallels to pre-WWI and pre-WWII periods and worries the current geopolitical tensions could unleash World War III.
While these new articles build on Dalio’s past work in their pessimism and use of historical cycles as an analytical prism, the tone feels more urgent. He speaks of specific near-term decisions and pivotal moments that will determine whether unrestrained war can be averted. There is also more explicit discussion of how internal partisan polarization affects global stability.
Dalio continues to make sweeping claims about the likelihood of civil war, great power war, etc. without always providing concrete data sources or evidence beyond historical anecdotes. However, his track record of macroeconomic analysis lends credibility. And he rightly identifies worrying real-world trends like increased nuclear saber rattling from Russia.
Reactions among policy experts to Dalio’s perspectives vary. Some see value in the “above the fray” geopolitical analysis he provides from the private sector. But others argue his conclusions go beyond what current data supports, and that predictions of imminent major war are premature or overstated.
I find Dalio has an astute ability to take a nuanced global view rooted in historical patterns. His analytical framework provides a valuable lens for filtering today’s chaotic events. However, his stark warnings about worldwide collapse into war and disorder should be viewed partly as deliberately provocative rather than prophesy.
In my view, his sweeping pronouncements about civil war in the US or global conflagration sometimes minimize the stable institutional bulwarks and inertia that still exist. Reform may be painfully slow, but pathways likely exist short of total system failure or war.
Still, we should be more worried now than six months ago.
Ray Dalio’s latest articles offer cogent food for thought about the trajectory of today’s interlocking risks, even if their urgency merits some skepticism. As with his past work, readers would be wise to soak in the big picture analysis he excels at while maintaining space for more optimistic scenarios the future may hold. His calls to action aim high, but the hope they represent might not be entirely in vain.