First, a reminder on the limits
The map is not the territory.
It’s an old saying to remind you that any summary of any situation (the map) is a necessary reduction of the real world (the territory), where a given author extracts from some given sources what he believes to be important for a specific purpose.
This underlines 3 important aspects: the author, the sources, and the purpose of the map.
The author’s background, culture, beliefs, and biases will influence his decision in the selection of what information he believes to be important.
The reliability, exhaustivity, and quality of his sources will directly influence the quality of the end result. You can’t make a good cake with rotten eggs.
And finally, the purpose of the map will define its limits, what can or can’t be used for.
For example, a subway map is perfect to plan travel as a passenger but is useless to the architect who needs to know if his new building is above the subway or not, because subway maps made for passengers don’t show exactly where the subway is going within the ground, only which station connect to which one.
By extension, using the wrong maps can lead to poor decisions, if the map was not designed for the purpose you wanted.
So let’s dig into the three main ingredients I use to prepare my reports.
I’m the author of everything published on this website, there are no external writers.
All authors have grown in a specific time (I was born in 1985), country (I spend the first 30 years of my life in France) with a specific life experience (I was an engineer and entrepreneur in software development, then moved in sales and marketing consulting and later became an investor).
Even with my best effort to stay objective, I will inevitably miss some aspects and nuances, especially when analyzing a very different culture, country, era, and life experiences from my own.
For example, I don’t have the same fears as someone who lived in a war zone, as much as I don’t have the same hopes as someone who lived in a post-war economic boom.
I lived in 4 countries, I learn every day, but we are all biased, me included.
My scientific background gives me the tools to look for and mitigate as much as I can my biases, but, however disciplined I might be, I’ll always have some biases and blind spots.
At least, contrary to many people giving their opinions on the internet, I’m aware of the potential intellectual and emotional traps, and I fight mine vigorously.
Also, in the context of investment, I will always disclose if I have some stakes in some companies affected by the subject of the article. If I don’t mention anything it means that I don’t think that what is explained in the article will affect my own investments in any way.
I do what is called “open intelligence”, which means I analyze only public sources.
All my foreign affairs reports are based on these sources :
- The public reports of the intelligence agencies around the world (American CIA, French DGSE, German BND, British MI6, Swiss FIS, Estonian EFIS, and several hundred others).
- The diplomatic and foreign relations magazines (foreignpolicy.com, foreignaffairs.com, thediplomat.com, diplomatist.com).
- Various think tanks focusing on international affairs, foreign policies, and the global economy (carnegieendowment.org, project-syndicate.org).
- University professors specialized in foreign affairs and diplomacy.
- Foreign embassies and diplomats of all countries, what they say publicly and what they say to their expatriates in each country.
As a reminder, all these entities and their authors all defend their own interests, of course, and publicly communicate only the obvious facts, what everyone can see, and will not divulge any secret information.
Also, no entity from any side depicts the complete truth, nor is perfectly honest in its description. Some people blatantly lie, but, more often, many lie by omission, picturing only the facts that serve their interests. I try my best to rely only on the most reputable and least biased sources available, and I cross-check all these sources against several other reputable sources.
My general purpose with this website is to find the true facts in a world of exaggerations, omissions, and plain lies.
I’m on a quest for knowledge and scientific truth.
They are the raw material I need to make educated decisions in life, business, and investments.
More specifically, my foreign affairs reports are written for 3 reasons:
- First, it’s for the physical safety of my loved ones. At the time of this writing, I live in Estonia, a “contested” geographic area. This area is in the NATO influence zone right now, but Russia has an interest in taking it back, because, according to the CIA, they crave the “strategic depth” against the perceived threat represented by NATO. Therefore, I have a vital interest to stay up to date on what’s going on in the area. By extension, knowing what’s going on military and economically in the different areas of the globe helps me estimate where are the safest spots in the future.
- Second, it’s because I have a small group of a dozen international business owners and investors who pay me to have my opinion for the same reasons. I don’t have any academic credential in that field, and I’m by no mean the smartest guy in the room compared to the best experts of CIA/NSA (among others), but I’m a decent analyst capable of producing useful summaries of what the intelligence community is currently discussing, from the perspective of international business owners and investors, and the impact on their lives, businesses, and investments. My client wouldn’t continue to pay me if I failed them.
- Third, as a global investor myself, it’s important to be knowledgeable of current international affairs. Macro-events knowledge is not sufficient to make good investments, but it’s often necessary to understand better every opportunities’ risks.
As a parenthesis about investments, foreign affairs won’t tell if a specific company is a better bet than another one, but it’s both a source of threats and opportunities. Treats of potential problems to come in a geographic area, and, at the same time, investment opportunities, because sometimes, buying a whole ship for a bucket of fishes to terrified sailors seeing the storm coming isn’t completely stupid. That ship might survive the storm, and for a sufficiently low price, it might be worth considering. Not all ships are equals facing storms. Likewise, not all businesses are destroyed in a war or economic crisis. Skeptic tank pumping and funeral homes are not exactly prime military targets, and yet they’ll be much needed as soon as a ceasefire is reached. Prime commercial real estate is undervalued during an economic crisis but has good chances to become significantly more valuable when good times will eventually come back. It’s all about thinking long term, betting on things that are less risky than what most investors believe, and staying away from things that are riskier than what most investors believe. We need to be as rational as possible, make deep analyses, and only act when we can have a big margin of safety. In this context, foreign affairs are one aspect of these assessments.
Using my reports for any other purpose is not recommended because, in the process of summarizing, I may have excluded information not concerning these explicit purposes.
Also, as always with all important decisions, do your own research. This website is purely for information and educational purposes. By no means, you should invest in something or make any decision based on my opinion of it. This website is made to help you spot aspects you might have missed, not guaranteeing you a specific outcome.
With all these things in mind, I hope you’ll find my work useful.
Feel free to contact me if you find any blind spots in my analysis, especially if you can provide me links to reliable sources. Thank you!