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The Biggest 2024 Election
James Rickards

Most investors are highly focused on the U.S. presidential election this November, and rightly so.

As of now, subject to change, that election is likely to feature a rematch of the Biden-Trump election of 2020. Their policies could not be more different.

Biden is a rubber stamp for every progressive policy from open borders, climate alarmism and support for abortion to expanding the war in Ukraine.

On the other hand, Trump favors more oil and gas production (“drill, baby, drill”), an end to subsidies for electric vehicles, peace negotiations in Ukraine and withdrawal from the globalist agenda including higher tariffs on China.

The point is that the 2024 presidential election in the U.S. is not just a political choice. It’s a major investment choice because you will see widely divergent policies and equally divergent investment results depending on the winner.

There are a large number of House and Senate races as well that investors can consider on a state-by-state basis that will affect the outcome of any presidential preferences.

One day, we’ll look back on 2024 as a major turning point for the U.S. regardless of who wins. Yet even that broad range of possible outcomes in the U.S. does not capture the full scope of political impact on global economic policy this year.

More by coincidence than design, 2024 happens to be a critical year for leadership elections outside the U.S. This year will not just be a U.S. turning point, it will be a global turning point as well.

Globally, more voters than ever in history will head to the polls. At least 64 countries (plus the European Union) — representing a combined population of about 49% of the people in the world — are meant to hold national elections.

The results of those elections will prove consequential for years to come.

U.S. politicians used to say, “Politics stops at the water’s edge.” What they meant was domestic politics could be hard fought and even nasty, but when it came to international affairs, all Americans were on the same team and would offer a unified front to foreign interests.

There’s something to be said for that approach but unfortunately that ethic is long gone. Today, domestic political disputes are fought out on the global stage from Taiwan to Israel and Ukraine and beyond. The opposite is true.

Foreign political contests impact the U.S. economy directly. Whether the issue is Taiwanese independence, Iranian uranium enrichment or Russian sanctions, the blowback to the U.S. economy and investors’ portfolios can be powerful and immediate.

And whether it’s oil output, strategic materials, grain production, High Tech or social unrest, the international scene will impact our markets as much as domestic politics this year.

Below, we take a break from U.S. politics and take a trip around the world to look at major elections either coming soon or recently concluded outside the U.S., an area overlooked by Wall Street research.

It’ll definitely put you ahead of the curve. Read on.

An Investment Guide Overlooked by Wall Street

The most important national elections this year (outside the United States) are in Russia. They’re coming up in a matter of days from March 15–17. The Russian president is elected for a six-year term, so the winner this year will be president until 2030. There’s no doubt about the outcome — Vladimir Putin should win easily.

The importance of this election is not about the outcome but about the process. Western politicians and commentators have already derided this election as a sham and as non-democratic. But the fact that Putin will win by a wide margin does not make the election a sham; it’s actually in line with the fact that Putin is immensely popular in Russia and his policies have put the economy on a high-growth trajectory with low unemployment and only mild inflation.

Putin’s expected electoral margin is consistent with his favorability rating in the polls.There’s no need to rig anything when your popularity is as high as Putin’s. The Russian elections will go smoothly, Putin will be reelected for six years and his pro-growth, pro-Russia (“Russia First?”) policies will continue.

This will leave Russia well positioned to win the war in Ukraine and continue its leadership of the BRICS’ efforts to create alternative payment and reserve currencies to the U.S. dollar.

Let’s next consider Argentina. The highly controversial Javier Milei was sworn in as the newly elected president of Argentina on Dec. 10, 2023, slightly ahead of the 2024 timeframe we’re considering today.

However, the impact of his policies is being felt in 2024 as his administration gets its feet on the ground. When Milei was sworn in, Argentina’s inflation was 143%, its currency had collapsed and 40% of the population were living in poverty.

The new president is implementing a radical policy of slashing government spending, eliminating government subsidies, stabilizing the currency (including a study of dollarizing the Argentine economy), confronting unfair Chinese trade practices and reducing regulation.

Milei has made substantial progress toward his goals, but further progress will depend upon legislative approval and cooperation from labor unions. His bigger goal is to make Argentina an attractive venue for direct foreign investment which will add to hard currency reserves and create jobs.

Argentina has always had abundant natural resources (farmland, ports, oil, mineral wealth and fresh water) but has suffered from corrupt and incompetent leadership for decades with few exceptions. Milei has posed for campaign photographs holding a chain saw, which is a symbol for how he plans to cut government spending.

In all events, Argentina is fast becoming a more attractive target for U.S. investors who can buy newly privatized assets such as banks, airlines and energy companies at attractive prices using the strong dollar.

You might not think about Indonesia a lot, but it’s important because it has the fourth-highest population in the world and is a major oil producer. Indonesia is also strategically located since its archipelago of thousands of islands creates chokepoints between oil shipments from the Middle East and the ports of China, including the critical Straits of Malacca.

The Indonesian presidential election was recently conducted on Feb. 14. The winner was Prabowo Subianto of the Advanced Indonesian Coalition party. Prabowo is expected to continue the pro-growth and pro-investment policies of his predecessor who couldn’t run for reelection due to term limits.

Prabowo is often criticized in the West because he’s a former special forces commander who used brutal tactics to put down an armed revolt in East Timor in the 1990s. That incident seems well in the past and Prabowo today is a practical politician looking to maintain pro-growth and pro-investment policies.

Indonesia has its share of corruption typical of Southeast Asian nations, but it remains an attractive investment destination because of its growth-oriented economic policies and its steady hard-currency income from oil production and other natural resources.

Next is Pakistan. The election situation in Pakistan deserves close attention both because Pakistan is a nuclear power and because of its shared borders with Iran, India and Afghanistan and a disputed shared border with China.

Iran is fast approaching nuclear-armed status and India as well as China already possess nuclear weapons. Iran and Pakistan recently exchanged non-nuclear missile raids in the aftermath of a terrorist attack in Iran that’s being blamed on Pakistan-based terrorists. That matter seems to have settled down for now.

Parliamentary elections that could decide the new prime minister were held on Feb. 8. Some background is needed to interpret the results. Imran Khan had been the prime minister until he was removed from office by a no-confidence vote in 2022.

Subsequently, Khan was shot in an attempted assassination, arrested, convicted of corruption, sentenced to 10 years in jail and barred from politics. He was allowed to vote in 2024 from his jail cell. (There are interesting parallels here to the efforts to convict Trump of crimes and ban him from the ballot.)

The treatment of Khan led to two years of civil unrest as other politicians ran the government (with military support) while Khan’s supporters continued to demonstrate in his favor.

The February election shocked the world when Khan’s PTI party received 93 seats in the parliament compared to 108 for his main opposition (Nawaz Sharif of the PML Party) and 68 for a third candidate (Bilawal Zadari of the PPP party).

The PML and PPP quickly announced they would form a coalition government with the relatively unknown compromise choice Shehbaz Sharif as the new prime minister.

Khan’s PTI accused the military of vote rigging and challenged the result. While Pakistan has a functioning government in the short run, the military exercises de facto control behind the scenes and Khan and his supporters will not give up their protests soon.

The result will be continued social unrest and political instability. A military intervention cannot be ruled out. The governing coalition will not be effective from a policy perspective given the depth of feeling at being cheated held by the Khan faction.

Pakistan has economic upside given its huge population, industrial base and natural resources. But it is a no-go zone for investors for the foreseeable future because of internal political instability and geopolitical stress with its neighbors.

In addition to the elections covered above, certain countries do not have scheduled elections but may call elections whenever they like before certain outside dates. These elections are often called “snap” elections because they are called on short notice.

Snap elections generally take place when the ruling party feel they are in a strong position and want to solidify gains for a new full term. Snap elections are also called when a ruling party has lost a no-confidence vote and must call elections to regain confidence or pave the way for a new party to take over.

Given the current weakness in the standing of U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, the U.K. is one country where a snap election is a strong possibility before the end of 2024.

The bottom line is a lot of important foreign elections are occurring this year that could have a direct impact on your finances. And the more you know about them, the more it could boost your bottom line.



James G. Rickards is the editor of Strategic Intelligence. He is an American lawyer, economist, and investment banker with 35 years of experience working in capital markets on Wall Street. He was the principal negotiator of the rescue of Long-Term Capital Management L.P. (LTCM) by the U.S Federal Reserve in 1998. His clients include institutional investors and government directorates. His work is regularly featured in the Financial Times, Evening Standard, New York Times, The Telegraph, and Washington Post, and he is frequently a guest on BBC, RTE Irish National Radio, CNN, NPR, CSPAN, CNBC, Bloomberg, Fox, and The Wall Street Journal. He has contributed as an advisor on capital markets to the U.S. intelligence community, and at the Office of the Secretary of Defense in the Pentagon. Rickards is the author of The New Case for Gold (April 2016), and three New York Times best sellers, The Death of Money (2014), Currency Wars (2011), The Road to Ruin (2016) from Penguin Random House.


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