On March 22, 2017 Ray Dalio published "Populism: The Phenomenon", a paper that analyzes the role of populism in today’s world and in history. Ray Dalio runs the $150 billion dollar hedge fund Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest. The paper introduces a "Developed World Populism Index", which Dalio says measures the strength of populism over time. It’s a weighted index of the vote share of anti-establishment parties or candidates in national elections for major developed countries since 1900. The index shows that populism is now at its highest level since the early 1930s. Contemporary populism includes supporters of Donald Trump, UKIP in the UK, AfD in Germany, National Front in France, Podemos in Spain and Five Star Movement in Italy. "Populism is not well understood because, over the past several decades, it has been infrequent in emerging countries (e.g., Chávez’s Venezuela, Duterte’s Philippines, etc.) and virtually nonexistent in developed countries. It is one of those phenomena that comes along in a big way about once a lifetime — like pandemics, depressions, or wars. The last time that it existed as a major force in the world was in the 1930s, when most countries became populist. Over the last year, it has again emerged as a major force."
|A portrait of President Andrew Jackson (1829-1837) hangs on the wall behind President Trump in the |
Oval Office of the White House. Jackson was a rich, bragging populist, who said: "I was born for a
storm and a calm doesn’t suit me." Also: "Peace, above all things, is to be desired, but blood must
sometimes be spilled to obtain it on equable and lasting terms." Trump like Jackson is a rich, bragging
businessman, a narcissist and reality TV star, who never held any public office before. Calm doesn’t
suit him either, and millions at the U.S. home front are prepared for storm and blood
(see also HERE + HERE).
"We believe that populism’s role in shaping economic conditions will probably be more powerful than classic monetary and fiscal policies (as well as a big influence on fiscal policies)," writes Dalio and three Bridgewater colleagues. Populism is a political and social phenomenon that arises from the common man, typically not well-educated, being fed up with 1) wealth and opportunity gaps, 2) perceived cultural threats from those with different values in the country and from outsiders, the “establishment elites” in positions of power, and 4) government not working effectively for them, according to Dalio. In other words, populism is a rebellion of the common man against the elites and, to some extend, against the system. In summary, populism is:
- power to the common man.
- through the tactic of attacking the establishment, the elites, and the powerful.
- brought about by wealth and opportunity gaps, xenophobia, and people being fed up with government not working effectively, which leads to the emergence of the strong leader to serve the common man and make the system run more efficiently.
- greater conflict, and greater attempts to influence or control the media.