scorecardRay Dalio says anyone who wants to understand today's world should read this 32-year-old book about empires
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Ray Dalio says anyone who wants to understand today's world should read this 32-year-old book about empires

Ray Dalio says anyone who wants to understand today's world should read this 32-year-old book about empires
StrategyStrategy2 min read

Ray Dalio

Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

Bridgewater Associates founder and co-CIO Ray Dalio.

For the past two years, billionaire Ray Dalio has been sounding the alarm on the rise of populism throughout the world, and earlier this year declared that capitalism is facing an "existential threat" in the United States. As the founder and co-CIO of Bridgewater Associates, the world's largest hedge fund, Dalio is one of the most influential voices in finance.

And in a recent interview for Business Insider's podcast "This Is Success," the investor gave a book recommendation in line with his assessment of the world today, calling it the best thing he's read in the past year: Yale historian Paul Kennedy's award-winning 1987 history, "The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers."

"I think we're going to enter a period that's very similar to the 1930s - and I held that view before reading this - but it's definitely the case that there is an arc for countries, just like there's a life arc," Dalio said. He sees the
US on a decline and China on a rise, marking the early stages of a change in global order.

"That dynamic has happened many, many times in history and understanding that well, I think, is very important," he said.

Kennedy's book is an investigation of the life spans of the world's great powers since 1500, the start of modern history. Each power was defined by economic hegemony that fell when that country became overstretched by its military presence and spending, which was accompanied by a lack of investment in other aspects of society, contributing to an overall decline. Kennedy noted that the US in 1980 looked to be in a similar position to the United Kingdom ahead of World War I, when it was headed toward falling from its peak.

In short, Dalio is worried about the state of America and believes that inequality should be treated as nothing less than "a national emergency," or else the shifting power dynamics around the world are going to hit the US especially hard.

Dalio said that he has been spending much of his time researching world history of the past 500 years, with a particular focus on reserve currencies (the dominant global currency), to help him make sense of where the world is at right now, and what can be done to mitigate potential damage. Out of everything he's used in his research, Kennedy's book is the one that's enthralled him the most.

You can listen to the full "This Is Success" interview below:

 

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