Bridgewater Associates founder Ray Dalio fears the worst from Washington, D.C. these days.
Writing in his influential LinkedIn blog, the Westport hedge fund executive and deep-pocketed Democratic Party donor, warned that the Trump administration is creating a climate that could propel the nation into global economic and military conflicts. He questioned the president and his advisors on recent policy shifts, particularly the tariff talk related to Chinese imports.
“I’m worried and forced to look harder at the question of where Donald Trump is leading us,” Dalio wrote, pointing to statements from the White House regarding trade and foreign relations. “What is his real agenda? Are these statements just negotiating maneuvers that will eventually lead us to having peace with better terms for the U.S., or are they steps on a path toward trade and other types of wars (and what might those other types of wars look like)?”
Dalio cited past comments by Trump advisors Robert Lighthizer, Peter Navarro and John Bolton as favoring confrontational approaches with nations they perceive as being enemies. With Bolton, the newly appointed national security advisor, Dalio highlighted Bolton statements on using military action against Iran and North Korea as a reason for his apprehension.
“Recent geopolitical developments have led me to raise my probabilities of trade and other types of wars, such as capital wars, cyber wars (and possibly even shooting wars),” Dalio wrote. “To be clear, I’m not saying they’re probable, and I’m not sure that my assessment is right. I’m just saying that it seems to me that the odds have increased relative to where they were.”
Dalio also wondered if Trump’s policy approach is a prelude to a wider military conflict. “Naturally, leaders who consider the odds of war significant also want to make sure that the country’s productive means are capable and self-sufficient, which is a reason for protectionism,” he added. “ For instance, a country might decide that it needs a stronger steel industry in the event of war, even if that is not the most economical use of resources, because it fears potentially being cut off from key supply lines and strategic assets.”