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Ray Dalio

Raymond Thomas Dalio is an American billionaire investor and hedge fund manager, who has served as co-chief investment officer of the world's largest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, since 1985. He founded Bridgewater in 1975 in New York. A $5 million investment from the World Bank's retirement fund was made within five years. His innovations are regarded as some of the best in the industry, having popularized many commonly used practices, such as risk parity, currency overlay, portable alpha and global inflation-indexed bond management. Dalio was born in New York City and attended C.W. Post College of Long Island University before receiving an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1973. Two years later, in his apartment, Dalio launched Bridgewater. In 2013, it was listed as the largest hedge fund in the world. In 2020 Bloomberg ranked him the world's 79th-wealthiest person. Dalio is the author of the 2017 book Principles: Life & Work, about corporate management and investment philosophy. It was featured on The New York Times best seller list, where it was called a "gospel of radical transparency."

Books Mentioned in this Podcast with Lex Fridman & Ray Dalio:

Book Title: Principles for Dealing with the Changing World Order – Why Nations Succeed and Fail

Author: Ray Dalio

Book Title: Principles

Author: Ray Dalio

Book Title: Leadership – Six Studies in World Strategy

Author: Henry Kissinger

Book Title: The Republic

Author: Plato

Ray Dalio on Money, Power, and the Collapse of Empires – Lex Fridman Podcast #251 Overview

In an enlightening conversation with Lex Fridman, Ray Dalio, a legendary investor and founder of Bridgewater Associates, delved into the intricacies of global power dynamics, the interplay of money and power, and the historical patterns of rising and falling empires. Dalio, also an author, brings his extensive knowledge and unique perspective to analyze current geopolitical tensions, especially between the US and China, through the lens of history.

Money and Power: An Inseparable Duo

Dalio emphasized the inseparable nature of money and power, highlighting their mutual support and competition throughout history. He illustrated this with examples from different eras, noting how shifts in economic models, like the Industrial Revolution, altered the power balance. The discussion revealed how money and political power are intertwined, each influencing the other in a symbiotic relationship.

The Concept of the “Big Cycle”

Dalio introduced the idea of the “Big Cycle,” which governs the rise and fall of empires and impacts everything from currencies to markets. He identified three critical cycles: the long-term debt and capital market cycle, the internal order and disorder cycle, and the external order and disorder cycle. These cycles provide a framework to understand the internal governance and world order, reflecting on historical models like the Bretton Woods monetary system and the American world order post-World War II.

The Evolution of Empires: Education, Innovation, and Wealth Gaps

A significant part of the discussion focused on the evolution of empires, with education and innovation being key drivers. Dalio pointed out that successful empires have always prioritized broad-based education, leading to inventiveness and technological advancements. However, he also addressed the inevitable wealth and opportunity gaps arising from these developments. Examples of historical empires like the Dutch and the British illustrated these concepts.

The Current State of US and China

Dalio evaluated the current position of the US and China in the global landscape. He highlighted the financial challenges faced by the US, such as excessive borrowing and debt monetization, and contrasted it with China’s economic competitiveness and less internal conflict. The conversation also touched on the educational advancements in China and the potential decline in the US’s educational edge.

The Future of the American Empire

Exploring the future of the American empire, Dalio expressed concerns about several indicators, including financial instability, internal disorder, and declining education standards. He emphasized the need for strong leadership to invest in fundamentals like education and innovation to reverse these trends.

The Interplay of Geopolitical Tensions and Financial Stability

In the second segment of the podcast, Ray Dalio delves deeper into the geopolitical landscape, particularly focusing on the United States and China. Dalio presents a nuanced understanding of the financial and political dynamics at play, emphasizing the United States’ financial challenges, including excessive debt and money printing. Contrastingly, he points out China’s economic competitiveness and stability, albeit acknowledging its lack of a reserve currency status like the US.

Education as a Driver of Empirical Evolution

Dalio underscores the pivotal role of education in the evolution and success of empires. He illustrates how historically successful empires have leveraged broad-based education to spur innovation and technological advancement. However, he also addresses the resulting wealth and opportunity gaps. By drawing parallels with historical empires, Dalio stresses the importance of investing in education as a fundamental aspect of national success and stability.

Analyzing the Current State of the US and China

The conversation shifts to a detailed analysis of the current state of the US and China. Dalio highlights the internal and external challenges faced by the US, including financial instability, internal disorder, and a potential decline in educational standards. He contrasts this with China’s rise, noting its rapid advancements in education and economic competitiveness.

The Future of the American Empire and Global Power Dynamics

Exploring the future of the American empire, Dalio expresses concerns about its trajectory, pointing to indicators like financial instability and declining global influence. He suggests that strong leadership and investments in education and innovation are crucial to reversing these trends. Dalio’s analysis extends to the global power dynamics, examining the shifting balances and the potential outcomes of these changes.

The Global Financial System and Technological Advancements

In the final segment of his discussion with Lex Fridman, Ray Dalio delved into the intricacies of the global financial system and the role of technology. He emphasized the evolving nature of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, acknowledging their growing importance in a world where traditional fiat currencies are being challenged. Dalio compared Bitcoin to gold, discussing its potential and limitations as a store of value and medium of exchange. He provided a nuanced view of cryptocurrencies’ future, considering their role alongside traditional financial assets.

Societal Values and Leadership

Dalio discussed the importance of understanding societal values and leadership styles in different countries. He stressed the significance of historical context in shaping a nation’s current political and economic landscape. The conversation touched upon various leadership models, from democratic to autocratic, examining their strengths and vulnerabilities. Dalio highlighted how understanding these diverse approaches is crucial for effective global cooperation and conflict resolution.

The Future of US-China Relations and Global Stability

The conversation shifted to the future of US-China relations, where Dalio pointed out the potential for various types of conflicts, including trade and technological wars. He underscored the importance of mutual understanding and respect in international relations, advocating for a more empathetic approach to global diplomacy.

Education and Innovation as Key Indicators

Dalio reiterated the importance of education and innovation as leading indicators of a nation’s success. He discussed the role of these factors in fostering economic growth and maintaining global competitiveness. The conversation also touched upon the rapid advancements in technology and how they are reshaping the global economic landscape.


The final part of Ray Dalio’s conversation on the Lex Fridman podcast offered insightful perspectives on the global financial system, the importance of societal values and leadership in shaping world affairs, and the future of US-China relations. Dalio’s analysis, grounded in historical patterns and current geopolitical realities, provided a thought-provoking outlook on the dynamics of global power, the role of technology, and the importance of education and innovation in shaping the future.