Market risks come in all shapes and sizes. A good starting point might be to categorize them as economic, financial, or monetary. But increasingly, and unfortunately, geopolitical risk is a threat that must be closely monitored and understood. And in this context, it was a pleasure to welcome Robert Dannenberg to the Alpha Exchange. Spending his entire career as an operations officer in the CIA, Rob served in various leadership positions, including as both chief of operations for the Counterterrorism Center and chief of the Central Eurasia Division.
With two tours of duty in Moscow, he faced off against Russian counterparts and in Rob’s words, his role was to ”steal their secrets and break their stuff”. Our conversation is primarily focused on the Russia/Ukraine conflict and in gaining a better appreciation for what drives Vladimir Putin. Here, Rob asserts that while perhaps deeply flawed, Putin has a highly convicted interpretation of history, citing a speech back in 2007 in Munich where he laid out a list of grievances about the West.
To gain a more complete picture of the conflict in Ukraine one must also understand the developing partnership between Russia and China. Rob tells us that Putin and Xi don’t just share a strong common worldview but are close friends committed to pushing back on Western hegemony. And with respect to China specifically, Rob absolutely sees the Taiwan situation coming to a head as Xi is determined to achieve what he views as a legacy issue of reincorporation with the mainland. If geopolitical risk is most often more bark than bite, Rob's perspective makes a strong case that global developments are increasingly complex and must be paid close attention to. I hope you enjoy this episode of the Alpha Exchange, my conversation with Robert Dannenberg.