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Ryan Morfin:

Welcome to Non-Beta Alpha I’m Ryan Morfin. On today’s episode, we have Barak Seener from Strategic Intelligence here talking to us about the European view on global affairs. This is Non-Beta Alpha. Barak welcome to the show. Thanks for joining us.

Barak Seener:

Hi, thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

Ryan Morfin:

Well, we really appreciate you coming on the show, calling in from London. So you’re a strategic consultant on international affairs. And today, the new cycle the United States is going to be really focused on the presidential election coming up in November. But I think it’s really important especially for financial advisors to be paying attention to some of the trends that are going on that aren’t going to make our new cycle for the next 60 to 90 days, maybe longer given that this may be a contested election.

Ryan Morfin:

So we’d love to talk to you about, where are things today, with nationalism becoming more on the forefront, America maybe taking an inward looking view, pulling back from some international obligations. What is your sense of the world today and is globalization dead?

Barak Seener:

I think that, America first doesn’t necessarily mean having an isolationist approach. I think America first is about identifying the fact that the post World War II Order, that President Truman created, Bretton Woods, the World Bank, the international institutions that underpin the global order of the West, is unsustainable today. And President Trump, he identifies the fact that globalization worked for a couple of decades, but it created huge financial disparities between the haves and the have nots, utterly decimating both working and middle classes.

Barak Seener:

And it’s really telling kind of sense when President Trump echoes what President Obama spoke about when they both said, “There is huge income disparities.” And as a result of that, America kind of looks at the fact that it created a middle class in China at its own expense. On one hand, you’ve got Walmart where you’ll buy cheap manufactured goods abroad, but it’s been at the expense of your own middle class and your working class. I think that the issue of the middle class has been really overlooked. People like, Steve Bannon, well President Trump, they’ve been really focused on the Rust Belt, the working class. And he constantly commented on the working class issues.

Barak Seener:

I think however, what’s really has been overlooked, is the issue of the middle class. And where the first post World War II generation that will do less well than our parents did. We’ll have to work two, three times as hard as our parents did to have the same lifestyle. So I think these are real issues that the political establishments around the globe haven’t really addressed. We know on one hand, that socialism has bankrupted every economy it’s been applied to, but we also know that capitalism has created huge disparities in income.

Barak Seener:

And the left right wing debate could have taken place at a time when politics was national. And when you didn’t have the same rate of financial flows taking place at a transnational level, but today the left right wing debate is moribund. So I think these are huge strategic questions that need to be taking place for the future.

Ryan Morfin:

Well, there’s a lot in what you just said. So I’m going to take a pause back and pull back for a second. So, we’re saying that globalization in the United States that we’ve financed through our consumption of imports from Asia has fully come at the expense of American working class, lower income households. You agree on that?

Barak Seener:

Middle class. Yeah.

Ryan Morfin:

And so the-

Barak Seener:

That’s been taking place across the Atlantic as well, it’s not only in the U.S. it’s taking place throughout the West.

Ryan Morfin:

Well, I was just going to ask that question. How is that playing out in the UK and the European Union? Is it the same dynamic? Is it just as pronounced? Because I totally agree and see it here, middle class has been eroded in United States. And if you look at what’s happening, all the consumption that we’ve been doing for Chinese goods, has been accelerating the rise of the middle class there.

Barak Seener:

But, they’ve manipulated their currencies. They’ve not subscribed to the basic tenets of globalization, which has been essentially, everybody’s a winner. If you play by the rules and you’re going to cause economies to become market economies, at the start you’re going to cause them to become manufacturing economies, they’re going to evolve to become service based economies, et cetera. And then those that manufacturing will shift to other lower income countries and will lift them up, that’s not taking place because China in a sense has been cheating.

Barak Seener:

And there’s no point to regurgitate that everybody knows it’s been regurgitated a million times what China has been doing. But what’s happened is as well, I published an article, The Godfather Wars, and there’s great quote by Donald Lucchese in the Godfather part three, where he says, “Finance is a gun, politics is knowing when to pull the trigger.” And the thinking behind globalization was that increased affluence and prosperity underpins peace and security. And what’s happened is that… China was admitted into the World Trade Organization in 2001. And what happened was, that what China did was, it became affluent with a growth of on average 10% every year in GDP.

Barak Seener:

But rather than economic liberalism spilling over to political liberalism, we failed to co-op them effectively. So they used their increased affluence to become more military assertive, not only at a regional level, but even globally to become more globally confrontational, whether it be an air to play in the sea, in the rollout of telecommunications, Wolf diplomacy. So they’ve been really playing a zero sum game. And that’s been as a result of their increased affluence. So that’s tend to be undermined the whole ethos behind globalization.

Ryan Morfin:

So let’s pause on that moment. So World Trade Organization works and globalization in a capitalistic global order. If everybody plays by the rules, China’s not playing by the rules. So the same dynamic happening to us in the U.S. is happening to the middle class in the UK, in Germany, Europe. There’s a book by honorable Liam Fox MP that I’m quite keen on called, Rising Tides is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time, was published a few years ago, but talks about the Anglosphere, forming to confront China on these issues. Do you see the kind of foundational elements of a new coalition to counterbalance the, we’ll call the rule breaking Chinese capitalist model with the rule seeking Western ideology of capitalism?

Barak Seener:

Look at the movement now you’ve got… We’re in a phase in history where we’re not at the point of confrontation with China, we’re at a pace of competition with China. Right? And if you compare this to a few years ago, it’s the shift from co-opting China to competition with China is quite striking. So what that looks like is, countries attempting to hedge countries… And you’ve asked about the Anglosphere, but you can you see this in Australia, but you also see it in India, that countries are attempting to play it both ways. They’re attempting to hedge on one hand, they want economic ties with China.

Barak Seener:

But on the other hand, they’re attempting to strategically over-shore sensitive industries away from China. On one hand, they have economic ties with China, but on the other hand, they’re thinking well, how are we going to regionalize or onshore our supply chains? On one hand, they are having economic ties with China, but they’re also exploring having increased military and intelligence ties with the United States. So there’s a shift. A few years ago, people would be speaking about when they were co-opting with China. It was an inevitability that the center of economic, sorry, the center of economic activity has shifted from the West Eastward.

Barak Seener:

That was a cliche that you’ve heard a million times. Now that has shifted to competition, which is taking the form of hedging, confrontation in the future, that shift from competition to confrontation will be a shift from hedging to, okay, here we have a system of increased military alliances to counter the United States. And the real question is, what is that going to look like? Is the United States going to have a hub and spokes approach of creating a series of bilateral ties with different allies? And that’s going to be very time consuming. And I think Secretary Pompeo is just beginning to undertake this.

Barak Seener:

I don’t think that there’s going to be a comprehensive sphere of influence like there was in the Cold War. In the Cold War, it was very different to today, you were able to achieve bipolarity because, first of all the Soviet Union wasn’t a consumer economy, right? They weren’t gonna buy any Western products. They were decoupled to begin with. Secondly, you had the United States and the Soviet Union,[inaudible 00:12:10] carve out spheres of influence. When you have respective economic spheres of influence, capitalism versus communism, it was very much a top down approach. Today it’s in the competition era, which we’re in today.

Barak Seener:

It’s much more complex in that strategic decoupling is beginning to take place, yet China is a huge consumer economy. Companies are still attempting to trade in China or invest in China, at an enormous rate, that decoupling hasn’t completely taken place. You also have China holding a lot of U.S. debt. So the economies are still tremendously intertwined. So it’s still quite ambiguous being in the competition stage. Currently, there’s a disparity between u.S. rhetoric and U.S. action. But I do think that the trend will be that the US action will escalate.

Ryan Morfin:

Before we get to that next phase of the conversation on confrontation with China, I want to ask you two questions. One is 20th century relic power structures of the Western order, World Trade Organization, Bretton Woods, World Bank. Do they survive in the 21st century or do we need to rethink those? And is that what Pompeo and Trump are starting to lay the groundwork for?

Barak Seener:

I think you’ve asked the most critical question. That is the most important question that I think nobody is addressed effectively. That’s something that I’m currently working on to publish in the next article. What is going to be the international architecture? What will that look like? Why is the United States the post World War II architecture not sustainable? Currently, what Trump is fully conscious of is, okay how can we change international value and supply chains to run through the United States? That is something that he spearheaded.

Barak Seener:

I don’t think that yet the United States is fully conscious of how to create a new international architecture. And, while the United States is pulling out of multilateral forums. That’s not adequate. That’s the first phase. And what’s the next phase is going to be? What will the follow up be? Will a future demonstration, will they be consequential like the Truman administration to create that new international economic and security architecture for the West? And I don’t think that they’re there yet. And.

Ryan Morfin:

I can tell you from the folks I know, what I call the nation building soft power skill sets in our government don’t exist anymore. From the post World War II, the Marshall Plan era, that skill set does not exist today. And just look at our inner cities. You could pretty much just straight up see that we don’t know how to do that. So the question is going to be, can we pull off new architecture that is teared up for a different element that we haven’t talked about yet, which is what I call Neo-libertarianism, where you’ve got people who don’t believe in ancient states, people who are globalists in mindset, multinational companies who hop around jurisdictions. Is it becoming more of a globalist nationalist fight? And China’s leading the globalist effort?

Barak Seener:

I think that you’re asking something, but you’re grazing upon something much deeper. And there’s a few things that you’re touching upon. First of all, regarding the day after, I think that the Trump administration has been really intuitive knowing what works and what doesn’t work. So they’ll pull out of the World Health Organization, or they’ll pull out of the Iran deal. Now I’m all pro pulling out of the Iran deal. But I predicted a few years ago when that took place.

Barak Seener:

Okay, so what’s gonna happen the next day afterwards. Has America pushed Iran into China’s sphere of influence? So, Chinese companies don’t care about the U.S. sanctions, they don’t need to operate in the U.S. market. So there’s a common denominator whereby the United States needs to be thinking about the day after, in terms of whether it be the Iran deal or replacement for existing multilateral organizations, but also other things like investing in STEM. So that the United States is going to have scientists to compete with China vis-à-vis artificial intelligence and things like that.

Barak Seener:

It’s also creating a flexible labor force. Our parents had the same jobs their entire lives, our generational will have three, four career shifts. So only the flexible and resilient will survive. The previous generation didn’t have to be flexible or resilient. And another thing you spoke about, this is what I meant about grazing on something which is much deeper. In terms of when you say, America knew you how to develop infrastructure and sort of create aid to develop infrastructure in Western Europe, post World War II, China is doing that in its Belt Road Initiative.

Barak Seener:

And it’s creating mercantile markets in a sense creating hostage markets, people that will be militarily, economically, politically hostage to them. America has not yet undertaken a comprehensive vision to counter China’s infrastructure development in these countries. In a sense it’s offering aid in a very traditional manner, but how is America going to be creating infrastructure? And the other two points that I want to raise which you’ve grazed upon is that on these points.

Barak Seener:

Number one, America has focused on its form of globalization has been very much a democratic globalization. Whereby, and being so democratic, it’s also been at its own expense. I’m not even talking about learning others like China, sort of abuse the rules and cause that shift in economic activity to take place more rapidly than it should have. What I’m talking about is the fact that being democratic, being open, it’s not been in control of where economic activity would shift.

Barak Seener:

It spoke about interconnectedness, whether it be digital interconnectedness. You remember the cliches of the day, globalization bringing a school to connect together an interconnected world, greater technological and financial flows, all these were buzzwords that you heard. And that was something that the Clinton era did. And indeed, NAFTA, caused economic activity to shift towards beneficiary states at the expense of the United States. China’s form of globalization has been very, very different.

Barak Seener:

And it’s a competing form of globalization. China’s globalization has been all geared towards accumulating and concentrating power at the head of the Communist Party. Say for example, when it needs telecommunication lines, sorry, fiber optics lines, or whether it has 5G, it’s all about collecting data to feed the Communist Party. Same with their Belt Road Initiative in terms of creating these mercantile markets and keeping people hostage. And it’s been cleverly branded as, Oh, China is now becoming more interconnected to the international community. This is an unprecedented infrastructure development project that is historically unparalleled.

Barak Seener:

But that’s what China has been doing. It’s been all about creating a competing form of globalization where interconnectedness would not create parity, but concentration of power for a totalitarian regime. And in the phase of competition, that is what has taken place. America has not created a comprehensive strategy to counter China, whether it be on their vision of globalization, and create international institutions. And it’s these international institutions that will reflect the United States competing vision of globalization.

Ryan Morfin:

So, what will it take or what are the precedents necessary for us to go from competition with China to a confrontation? How does that shift? Gradual or all at once?

Barak Seener:

I think it’s going to be a combination of the two. Look, when I talk about gradual data thefts, when you’ve heard the head of the FBI speaking about China data theft constituting an act of war, right? Question then becomes, what level of data theft becomes acceptable and what level becomes unacceptable? At which point does the United States think right, enough is enough? Because, the reason for China’s in a sense being ahead of the United States and certain technological areas, has been for a combination of state capitalism, whereby it’s not been a free market, they have directed the economy towards investing in technology.

Barak Seener:

So that’s been one form, or one reason for them bounding forwards. But another is also the theft of IP, the direct theft. Whether it be companies wanting to operate within China, and they have to give a huge percentage of their company away to a Chinese partner, or whether they have directly stolen from U.S. companies via malicious activities. A second point then also… So that’s something which is incremental. And at which point does United States think Well, enough, is enough. Right?

Barak Seener:

A second point then is, if there is a flashpoint in the South China Seas, let’s say China reads United States in activity vis-à-vis Hong Kong confers. Right? We’re going to go into Taiwan. We’re going to take over Taiwan. Or if they continue to actively not support U.S. sanctions on North Korea, or if there is a direct confrontation in the South China Sea. At which point does America blow that tip over to a hot conflict? Will that become an escalation? And if that becomes a political and military confrontation. Well, then will that accelerate the strategic decoupling taking place at an economic level? Those are the big questions.

Ryan Morfin:

I think you’ll see the military in China get more hostile and assertive and aggressive regionally, as their middle class starts to develop the consumption necessary to keep their growth trajectory. And that’s where I’ve started while I look at China, I look at their middle class domestic consumption. And you can really just track it to perfect correlation to how aggressive they’ve been getting with U.S. military with allies. And it’s a fascinating time right now. And I think we’ll-

Barak Seener:

I think that’s a really interesting point, the fact that increased prosperity on the part of China domestically can spill over to increased confrontation with foreign powers. That’s really interesting point, I haven’t considered that.

Ryan Morfin:

So just going around the world here, what do you think of the Emirati Israel peace deal that the Trump administration is touting?

Barak Seener:

Look, I think it’s not a deal. There’s two types of peace deals. For example, Israel’s peace deal with Egypt, was when Sadat saw that the Soviets were going to take over Egypt. And it was a pivotal moment when Egypt had to decide right, whose sphere of influence are we going to be in? Are we going to be in the United States sphere of influence or are we going to get taken over by the Savior’s? And so Sadat, he did something monumental. He made a strategic shift towards the United States by signing a peace deal with Israel, right.

Barak Seener:

And then the military epsilon of Egypt received enormous amount of U.S. support. What’s happened here in contrast is, this is not a deal that changes facts on the ground. It’s a deal that reflects changing facts on the grounds. It’s reflective of a pre existing trend. When you’ve had at least a decade of close security and intelligence ties between the UAE and Israel because of the Iranian threat. You’ve also seen the fact that every Gulf state has to diversify their economies because they can’t rely on oil anymore.

Barak Seener:

Because, first of all, global recession, oil prices have plummeted. Secondly, everybody’s an oil producer, the United States now is a huge and it’s achieved energy independence with its shale oil and gas, it’s not reliant on the Middle East. So once upon a time, the Middle East was able to be very hostile towards the United States and Israel, because it had the luxury of being able to, because it had huge energy resources that the West was relying upon. Today, it doesn’t have that anymore.

Barak Seener:

So you see every single Gulf states is having a vision 2030 economic plan to diversify their economies. And they need as well support to especially have a digital economy. Israel is a power when it comes to high tech. It’s the startup nation. So the reason why they’ve aligned with Israel is not only because of Israel’s military and security capacity to help them confront Iran, but because of Israel’s economic base which is high tech foundations. So those are the trends that are coming together. But nonetheless the very [crosstalk 00:29:50] sorry.

Ryan Morfin:

No, I’m going to say they’ve always historically used either Mexican companies or foreign companies in the Middle East to go invest in Israel and bring the technology out. Yeah, it’s been fascinating. And I didn’t even know, there’s a real interesting bond between Mexico and Beirut. Carlos Slim is Lebanese. But there’s always been that dynamic where they’ve used-

Barak Seener:

Why is there a Mexico, Lebanese link? Why is that?

Ryan Morfin:

A lot of Lebanese left Beirut to go to Mexico in the early 20th century, became the entrepreneur class in Mexico. They also went to Colombia. So Shakira is Lebanese and Colombian. But there’s an interesting kind of, a lot of ultra wealthy folks that, from Latin America that run around the middle east, have been that proxy. So getting rid of those middlemen if you will, and having that direct dialogue should save a lot of money. So Barak, as we’re looking at these interest, global interests, the multinationals that exist, that hop from different jurisdiction.

Ryan Morfin:

Well, we start to see even in a domestic economy like the U.S., a Goldman Sachs or Facebook, have different interests, then we’ll call regional economic interests. People who are more domestically focused for commercial activities, and by doing so, have different alignments as it relates to where they go, and how they fund politicians. And so do we see that the multinationals as a new element in this new posture for spheres of influence in cold war kind of 2.0?

Barak Seener:

Well, first of all, how do you see that? Really, really interesting question, how do you see that? Do you see already the tension between multinationals and more local regional organized companies? How do you see it?

Ryan Morfin:

Yeah. I think a political divide that’s going to start to emerge is, people who don’t believe in the nation state anymore because their economic bread is buttered by globalist interest. So the folks in Silicon Valley who want more clicks in China, so they’ll give the source code and they’ll forgive their morals, by allowing a dictator or surveillance state to have access to the source data on the users. We’ll start to become more self-evident as we get through some of the background noise about Tik Tok and about what 5G bad efforts that China’s been producing globally, not just in the United States, Africa, Eastern Europe.

Ryan Morfin:

And so I think that’s going to start to become more self-evident. And so I think you’re going to see companies who do more business domestically, say, “Wait a minute, these multinationals, although they’ve got huge lobbying dollars in the United States don’t really reflect what’s good for the U.S. in the long term.” Because they’re not just U.S. companies anymore, they’re globalist companies. And I think that’s where you’re seeing like Microsoft, Facebook, some of the huge international companies that are domesticated here, start to really have perverse interests that aren’t aligned with long term American interests, because they’re their own nation state in some respects. And it’s a 21st century construct, to have a company that-

Barak Seener:

But I actually think that this is connected to the issue of strategic decoupling. I actually think that you’re going to get to a point in history whereby companies will be subjected to regulations that set out by the US government, by national governments, just like they are strategically onshoring sensitive industries. And they are blocking out Huawei. Bear in mind, Boris Johnson in the UK didn’t want to do that originally, he needed to get COVID in order to become more aware of the acute Chinese threat.

Barak Seener:

He resisted Donald Trump initially on this issue. So I actually think that we are going to enter a phase where companies are going to be forced to become local. I might be proven wrong, but I don’t think so. I think that is the trend whereby nationalism will replace globalization. And it’s going to be part of this escalating competition, escalating visions of globalization, escalating visions of technological advancement, in the process by the way, as well Western economy are going to be adapting elements of China to become corporatist states.

Barak Seener:

Just like you’re going to see the private and public sector work together very closely, especially in certain industries such as technology, right? In order to advance if this is going to be part of the race. And in the 1930s, Mussolini bought into the whole concept of the corporate state, which is something that Winston Churchill was very interested in. And I think what’s going to happen is increasingly, you’ll see increased government intervention, whether it be bailouts, stimulus packages, and increasingly private and public sector going to work together.

Barak Seener:

And as part of that, I don’t think there’s going to be that wide latitude to go global, as countries have enjoyed for the past few decades. And very much the focus is going to shift towards how do we turn inward looking, not only to onshore supply chains or regionalize supply chains, but in the process, how do we develop our working and middle classes? So in a sense, it’s a reversal of history. And historically, there was this sense of the fact that nationalism was a wizard, belligerent, and confrontational or even imperialist force. Whereas today, nationalism was always at the expanse of the author.

Barak Seener:

If you look at European history especially, American history is very different because America was shielded by two oceans, and it’s nationalism was not its national project, it was an experiment. And the United States thought to have that experiment in direct opposition to the European experience, which they thought as very despotic. What I think is happening today, which is really interesting is as opposed to the 1930s, we have an upshot of nationalism, which led to the second world war, prior to that the World War I.

Barak Seener:

What’s really interesting today is the fact that you’ve got transnational nationalist movements, all geared towards reclaiming national sovereignty, that isn’t necessarily belligerent. And it’s not necessarily confrontational. So often, the media will be speaking about the all right as being the same as the far right. And I think that’s the wrong historical analogy. I think that there’s no historical precedent for this specific phenomenon.

Ryan Morfin:

Now, that’s interesting. I do think that the tech industry is going to face a lot of antitrust energy in the next four years next administration, no matter who wins. And I do think it goes back to Marshall. He told nation States you got to pick aside in 1946, in his famous Harvard speech before they launched the Marshall Plan. And I think, in many ways, someone’s going to say tech companies to multinationals, you’ve got to pick aside, because you can’t keep funding surveillance state Chinese Communist Party activities that are coming at the cost of national security or economic liberty of people around the world.

Ryan Morfin:

And so I think it’s going to become a very interesting dichotomy. There’s something very interesting for the first time, the protesters on the far left started getting upset in the U.S. about cotton that’s made up in the northern province where the Uighurs are, because that’s being generated by slave labor. And they’re starting to wake up well, Nike is making these shoes or these jackets at the cost of Muslim slave labor in northern China. And they’re starting to protest.

Barak Seener:

Recently a more recent example today, you’ve got Disney under enormous pressure because they previously operated in this globalist model creating new land. And now they have problems with, they can have maybe 200 million got slashed from revenues that they could potentially enjoy because they’re experiencing in the United States its a backlash over the fact that it’s got connections to the weak laws, and China is saying to them, “Hey, look, you’re saying to all this media outlets, you’re not allowed to promote this movie at all.” So you’re already seeing, it’s not only a domestic backlash against globalization, it’s globalization itself that is beginning to unravel.

Ryan Morfin:

Yes. One sensitive question and I’m going to ask it and forgive me ahead of time. But how is Israel not more offended that China is getting away with concentration camps in the north. How is that not the biggest discussion point in politics today from Israel, from the U.S., from the UK? How are we letting history repeat itself?

Barak Seener:

I wish that there would be more Israelis and Jewish people that would ask that question. I mean, if you think about somebody like Natalie Portman, when she speaks about the export of life products, or the eating of beef, as a Holocaust, right? Could you imagine if a non-Jewish person was to say, “To avert another Holocaust eat granola,” right? It would be out, there would be a huge outrage and industrialized genocide. Now, what I think was very naive on the part of many Jewish leaders at the time of the founding of the State of Israel was, there was a same sense of okay, the Jewish people’s national experience, and the Jewish ethos as well of the Judeo-Christian heritage and its own ethos of being good.

Barak Seener:

So that’s what would be a light unto the nations. And I think that, what’s happened to Israel is it has signed up to real politic, to the laws of statecraft. And as a result of that, I think that it’s not good enough to have Holocaust Memorial Days, when you have human rights abuses taking place in China, and other places in the globe. And the Jewish state is silent about that. And I think that in order to be more consistent, its ethos, and to be aligned with it, historical experiences. The Jewish state needs to have a great outcry of what is going on around the world.

Ryan Morfin:

I appreciate those comments, couldn’t agree with you more. I think time will tell what happens. So we have the final wrap up portion of today’s conversation, we have a thing we call the human factor. And we asked you six quick questions there kind of, yes, no quick answers that we ask all of our guests in season two. First question is, if there is a vaccine available, would you take it today? For COVID?

Barak Seener:

If it worked, yeah.

Ryan Morfin:

Second question, who wins 2020 election in the U.S., Trump or Biden?

Barak Seener:

Trump.

Ryan Morfin:

What type of economic recovery are we in, if at all? Is it a W? Is it a V? Is it a swoosh? Any thoughts on that?

Barak Seener:

I don’t think we’re in recovery. I don’t think that jobs increased job rates is indicative of recovery. When there’s going to be second third, fourth waves and future lockdowns.

Ryan Morfin:

Fair enough. Yep. I agree. Anything that you worked on during quarantine, the summer that you’re proud of, any new skills you picked up, or I think you may be writing a book and anything like that?

Barak Seener:

I just published an American interest, The Godfather Wars. Where I spoke and I want to turn it into a book form. I speak about, when do countries prioritize political over economic interests and vice versa. So I use the example of a model of Vito Corleone. He decides not to go too, into the drug trade with Slotzo. And he says, “While it might be very profitable, I’m not going to be able to maintain my political cachet and connections.” He prioritizes politics over economics.

Barak Seener:

World War I, their biggest trading partners prior sorry, Germany’s greatest trading partner prior to World War I was Russia and the United Kingdom who it went to war with. So sometimes countries prioritize political over economic interests. During globalization, it was very much I mentioned Clemenza. After they shoot Paulie, he says to Rocco, “Leave the gun, take the cannolis.” And it’s very much an idea of economic prosperity. Trump’s politics and security, it will lead to economic security. That was globalization thinking and I think it was wrong.

Barak Seener:

Then you had Donald Lucchese perspective whereby increased economic activity will spill over to greater belligerence and confrontation. And then you had as well Flyman Roth. Where Flyman Roth sought to be a substate actor in cahoots with a government. And that’s very much indicative of the private sector, which has often taken the initiative regionalizing and puncturing supply chains. It’s working in tandem with the government for stimulus packages. And it’s going to be increasingly working with the government in order to receive government investment in those sectors to achieve growth. And to stimulate the economy once again. That’s really what I worked on during lockdown.

Ryan Morfin:

Anything silver linings in the UK, or global economy that you think are going to be optimistic, bright spots?

Barak Seener:

It’s a double edged sword, because when China is seeing that when it invests in its economy, it also creates redundancies as well. Right? That’s the problem with state planning. So on one hand, technology companies are going to get a boost, there’s going to be greater investment in achieving different skills. But it’s all also going to create surplus and redundancies. So it’s not a pure silver lining, there’s a cost that will come with it.

Ryan Morfin:

And what are you reading, watching or listening to on podcasts today that kind of expand your view of the world?

Barak Seener:

No one in particular. I get a lot actually from LinkedIn. There are people that post really great strategic articles. I’m not interested in politics, I’m more interested in policy, I’m not interested in gossip, I’m more interested in strategic articles. So, there’s a lot of online journals, whether it be the National Interests Foreign Policy, as well as Asia Times. There’s a lot of really great strategic material out there. And often, if you’re immersed in social media, you’re going to get sucked into the cesspool of it all. And you’re going to miss all the future trends. So that’s really what if I have been focusing on.

Ryan Morfin:

I’m like, “That’s awesome.” Well, Barak, thanks so much for coming on the show, we’d love to have you back in the months ahead. And I’m sure there’s gonna be a lot to play out between November and January. So we’d love to have you come back on and talk to us about not only the European perspective, but kind of a global perspective from foreign policy and strategy standpoint.

Barak Seener:

[inaudible 00:48:39]

Ryan Morfin:

And I’ll make sure we send out your articles a hyperlink from the show. So thanks so much for coming on, and we’ll talk to you soon be safe.

Barak Seener:

Thank you. Take care. Bye bye.

Ryan Morfin:

Thanks for watching Non-Beta Alpha. And before we go, please remember to like and subscribe on YouTube, Apple podcast and Spotify. This is Non-Beta Alpha. And now you know.

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Ryan Morfin: Welcome to Non-Beta Alpha. I'm Ryan Morfin. On today's episode, we have Pini Althaus, CEO of USA Rare Earth, talking to us about the supply chain glut in rare earth minerals. This is Non-Beta Alpha.

Ryan MorfinPini, Welcome to the show. Thank you for coming on today.

Pini AlthausThank you for having me, Ryan. Good to be here.

Ryan Morfin: So you're an investor and a miner in rare earth minerals. Can you share with our listener base, what are rare earth minerals? Why are they important and why is there a geopolitical race going on globally?

Pini AlthausYeah, I mean, rare earths are an extremely ubiquitous part of all advanced manufacturing or technology manufacturing today's day and age. Several years ago, I had not heard too much about rare earths myself. I was not that familiar with it and being involved in this sector, in this company, for the past few years has given me an education of course. And I mean, I was sad to hear that 50% of all imports into the United States contain are earth elements and it runs the gamut from consumer electronic devices that we use every day. Our cell phones, our laptops, most communication devices, medical equipment. So there's a tie with COVID, which we can touch on at your discretion. Electric vehicles, defense equipment. So pretty much anything or everything high tech today has a rare earth element or critical minerals contained within them.

Ryan MorfinAnd what are some of the names of some of the more important rare earth? I know there's lithium for batteries, but what else is considered in this category, critical?

Pini Althaus: Yeah, so lithium is a separate category to battery material. The rare earths are 17 rare earths. The four, let's call it, key rare earths that we're focused on at our company, the four rare earths that go into the permanent magnets. And these are the magnets that are found, there are a number of them in your back of your cell phone or an iPad. But if you look at an F35 striker jet, you've got about a ton of rare earth magnets in those. And we've got two heavy rare earths and two light rare earths is part of the permanent magnets. You've got dysprosium, ytterbium are the heavies, and then you've got neodymium, praseodymium as the two light rare earths. So those would be key rare earths that are the focus.

Ryan MorfinAnd you use these in, I guess, in military applications as well, but historically, where has the United States sourced the rare earth for supply chain?

Pini AlthausYeah. And that's the shocking part. We've been securing those materials from China. So China controls the rare earth sector and has done so for the past 30 years or so. And it was a significant misstep on the part of the United States, allowing China to have this control. And actually this wasn't a question of China coming in and doing anything nefarious as far as stealing IP or anything. The US government made a conscious decision about 30 years ago to allow China to come to the United States and acquire the processing capabilities for rare earths. So just as part of some background, you've got the rare earth materials containing various mining projects, but once you extract them, you have to then process them and they go through certain phases before they get to the magnet phase. And China, the thought process was let China do the mining, let China do the processing.

Pini AlthausWe don't need to do that here. And we'll buy the materials from China cheaply and the premier of China at the time, Deng Xiaoping made the comment, he said, "The Middle East has oil. China has rare earths." And unfortunately we weren't smart enough to understand what he was saying. And the Chinese understood that the future of manufacturing is going to revolve around control of the rare earth and critical mineral supply chain. So if you think about it today, Ryan, we cannot build... Forget about consumer electronics and medical equipment. We cannot build the equipment that the US Pentagon or the US armed forces require, whether it's F35 fighter jet, Tomahawk cruise missile, communications equipment, without going to China and obtaining those materials. And it's obvious to all that this should be extremely alarming. We've seen China use this as a weapon, if you will, as far as how it interacts with other countries back in 2010, when there was a dispute between China and Japan on the East China Sea.

Pini AlthausSo China cut off rare earth exports from Japan for 40 days. Japan obviously being a significant user of rare earth elements for their high-tech manufacturing sector, that was stopped after 40 days. But in fact, it was President Obama that first made the United States aware of this, formed a division within the Department of Defense to handle this issue, but not much has happened. And we continue to be relying on China for these materials. And what has been made about trade war with China and whether the trade war is really the impetus for China withholding rare earth exports. And that is a huge misnomer. Whilst China had been talking or implying that they would cut off rare earth exports, the truth of the matter is that China, under it's made in China, 2025 mandate, its belt and road initiatives and others. And you seem to control the critical minerals and rare earth supply chain so that it can continue its dominance as a manufacturer or a global supplier of these materials and finished products.

Pini Althaus: It's the backbone of its economy. And in fact, China has become a net importer of rare earths from different countries like Miramar and others. So with that, they are decreasing the exports to countries like the United States, Japan and others.

Ryan Morfin: And was it ever a risk that the Chinese were going to turn off the exports of rare earth to the US during the trade war? How close were we to that? And was that ever some saber rattling that went down during trade negotiations?

Pini AlthausYeah, I think it was saber rattling. I think it would be paramount to an act of war. I can't say with any authority that that would not happen, but it would be probably, aside from war itself, it would be one of the most significant acts of war cutting the United States off from the ability to procure rare earths. But that being said, I mean, if you look at, as an analogy, the oil and gas sector and the reliance of the United States had for many, many years on OPEC countries to supply us with the oil. And we had embargoes and we had price manipulation by OPEC. This is far more significant given the ubiquity of where these rare earths go. And yes, we're always under the threat that China can cut off exports under the guise of a trade war or for any other nefarious reasons.

Pini AlthausBut I think even more importantly, to just as the natural run of the course of things with regards to their business and their desire to maintain themselves as the global leader in manufacturing and exporting of goods, China is in a position now where it actually requires these materials for their own domestic consumption and can legitimately cut off rare earth exports by stating that they need it for manufacturing and that would actually be somewhat correct. So we're in an extremely dangerous position here with this reliance on China. And it wouldn't just be China. If it was another country, it would be similar issues, not to the same extent, but reliance on one country for these materials is dangerous.

Ryan Morfin: And it's been mentioned in the past that in 2010, China flooded the market to really kill all the competitors in the rare earth mining industry. Where was the World Trade Organization during this period? And how did that play out and how does that set the chess board for China to run the tables?

Pini Althaus:

Yeah. So the WTO stepped in when China cut off rare earth exports from Japan, I think it lasted for about 40 days because the US and Japan protested the WTO, and they stepped in and China resumed exports. While I'm not an expert on these trade matters, one thing that I am aware of is that one of the reasons why China had to resume the export of rare earths was it did not legitimately need all the rare earths for domestic consumption. So therefore it was a nefarious act, if you will, to cut off rare earth exports. Now that has changed, which means China have to cut off rare earth exports today, they have a legitimate case to say that they require these materials. There's a shortage of these materials and they require them for their own domestic purposes. It is the backbone of their economy and there's very little we could do about this today, which is why it's becoming an even more urgent issue.

Ryan Morfin:

And the US government started stockpiling some of these after that incident. Can you talk a little bit about what DOD and DOE has done to start making sure that there's not a critical supply shortage going forward, and is it enough?

Pini Althaus:

Yeah, again, there is a national defense stock pile, and there are materials still that the United States needs to procure in order to shore up its stockpile. There are magnets, the finished magnet products as well, the United States government needs to stockpile. Again, there's a limited amount that the United States government has. It requires approval from Congress, whether it's in the NDAA or other approvals from Congress, to allocate monies for the national defense stock pile of these materials. That being said, there's no endless supply of these materials. And unfortunately, the apparatus, the way it's set up right now with the US government, it's going to continue to require having a secure supply chain of those materials for many, many years to come. So it's not a question of stockpiling for 10 or 20 years, and then this complacency and saying, we'll kick the can down the road. But keep in mind as well, Ryan, that US government accounts for low single digits of overall rare earth imports into the United States.

Pini Althaus:

We're talking about defense contractors, we're talking about the manufacturing sector. The direct impact this has on the economy, jobs, the automotive sector, and others is significant. So it's not just limited to the United States government. If you look at over the past couple of weeks, the sanctions that China have put on Raytheon, Boeing, Lockheed, et cetera. I mean, the question is where are they going to get those materials? And if we go beyond that, you need rare earths for the 5G network. Now that Huawei has been banned from installing the network, not only in the US but other countries, we have to have the ability to get a secure supply of these materials as well. Which currently, again, trying to control the hundred percent. So it runs across the board, both for government, defense and manufacturing in this country.

Ryan Morfin:

Well, and so help me paint a picture for our audience. Does China have all the mines for rare earth, or they're the only ones who started mining it? Or are their mines globally dispersed and nobody's been doing the actual infrastructure to do the mining?

Pini Althaus:

Yeah. So finding rare earth projects or rare earth elements is not the difficult part. It's finding them in significant quantities that makes a project economically viable. And part of that consideration are the environmental rigors that companies in the West have to adhere to. And China, even by their own admission, have had a complete disregard for mining these materials and even for processing these materials. And in fact, just the last week or so, the BBC did an expose on this, 60 Minutes has done an expose on this. But the Chinese have not denied this and have talked about cleaning up their act, but it has an effect on the bottom line for what the costs of mining and processing are if you have no environmental standards to adhere to. So China have exploited those rare earth projects they have, primarily in inner Mongolia, and have brought a number of projects online and quite quickly, and in a significant way, with a complete disregard for the environment.

Pini Althaus:

So it was seen as an environmental no-no in the West for many years. Now, what's happened over the past few years is you're starting to see rare earth projects in different parts of the world sprout up. You've got the Mountain World project in Australia owned by Linus, which is a producer of Nd and Pr, neodymium and praseodymium. So two of the light rare earths. They may have some heavy rare earths coming online at some point in time. And you've got Arafura, which is another company in Australia that we're working with to assist them with their processing so they don't have to send the materials to China for processing. But really these are a drop in the bucket for what the requirements are for the United States. And certainly what the requirements are for allied countries, the EU, et cetera. So there is a race, if you will, worldwide to start bringing projects online. The Chinese are very active in trying to secure assets outside of China.

Pini Althaus:

So in Africa. They have ownership of a project in Greenland. So there is somewhat of a race. The Australian government has stepped in and has started limiting the ability for China to own, or have ownership in, or off takes for the Australian rare earth projects. And that's part of the strategic Alliance between Australia and the US. Canada, similar thing as well. There are a number of projects that are looking to come alive, but these projects are, for the most part, will take many, many years to come online. We have to expedite the process. We have to assist with a [inaudible 00:14:41] supply chain and the domestic rare earth sector, because previously investors have been scared off by things like China flooding the market, which is not a possibility at this point in time, given that China can't actually afford to flood the market. They are already very heavily subsidizing their mine to magnet supply chain there.

Pini Althaus:

This is more now a case of being able to get production from non-Chinese sources so that the United States and allies have a viable, secure supply chain of these materials. And it's a concern worldwide. We speak to governments all over the world, and we're all facing the same issue. Some more than others, especially countries like Japan, that don't have their own rare earth projects there and are reliant on Australia where they've made some investments there. And in the United States, they've made an investment recently in Africa. So there is this race, if you will. And I think we've got a five-year window here to at least stand up a few projects worldwide. Otherwise we've lost this race and we will be dependent on China for many, many years to come. And Ryan, it's a bit of a hypocrisy. If you look at it where you've got materials going through clean, green energy applications, like electric vehicles, wind turbines, et cetera.

Pini Althaus:

That we're sourcing these materials from China, where they've, again by their own admission, has been complete environmental devastation to water bodies around these mines and processing facilities, to the communities. People have been getting sick around these projects yet we're putting these materials into our electric vehicles or wind turbines. It makes no sense at all. And people are starting to wake up to this. And that's why the sector is starting to see a lot of support come out of Congress and bi-partisan support. And in fact, it's one of the only bi-partisan issues right now in Washington. And it's good to see that some things decided to move in the right direction.

Ryan Morfin:

And is there a special process? You talk about the expense, is it really difficult to mine these? You have to go through a special chemical process to extract and clean and purify. Is it a lot harder than, say, gold or silver or some of the other, we'll call, more traditional elements?

Pini Althaus:

Yeah. It's all about the processing to some extent. So if you look at MP Materials in California, which used to be Molycorp before they went through their bankruptcy. They are a miner of Cerium and Lanthanum, which are two of the light rare earths, the lower valued light rare earths. Given that they do not currently have processing technology, they are sending those materials to China for processing where China is tariffing those heavily. Linus is also, they're doing their processing work in Malaysia and elsewhere. So it's really about the processing at this stage. One of the things that we've done, after we put out our PDA last year with our upgraded resource, which now includes a significant amount of lithium. We make a decision that, based on the test work that we had done around our processing methodology, that we were not going to send our materials to China. That it's paramount for us to do this work in the United States and in a collaborative effort as well.

Pini Althaus:

We've been asked by some of our investors, "Well, why would you be looking to help other projects with their processing?" And the answer is simple. There's no one project or one company that's going to put China out of business or make a dent, or somehow be able to take care of the overall demand worldwide for rare earths and critical minerals. And it's very important for us to have processing capability in the West. So that was the impetus for us opening up our own rare earth and critical minerals processing facility earlier this year, which we did in Wheatridge, Colorado. And in fact, we've made some significant progress on the method that we're using for this. And we're starting to collaborate with Australian companies, Canadian companies. We're currently talking to a group over in Europe as well, because this has to be a collaborative effort.

Ryan Morfin:

How does Europe solve for these problems? Do they have this better under control than the US?

Pini Althaus:

No, they're in a far worse position than we are. The EU commission recently put out a report, I think, a couple of months ago that the requirement for rare earths is going to increase tenfold within a short period of time. Lithium 18 times. They don't really have rare earth projects. Again, there are the Greenland projects, which people have heard in the news recently. Those need to further development work so they don't have rare earth projects ready to come online there. There are a couple of lithium projects that are spread around Europe, but for the most part, Europe is in an even more precarious position. If you look at Germany with the auto manufacturers, you look at the big companies like ThyssenKrupp and others, all these countries and companies are looking for alternatives to China, because we've already seen in the news about China withholding or reducing exports of some of these rare earths that are required for these industries.

Ryan Morfin:

And you mentioned earlier the regulatory posture of the US makes it difficult to mine. Is it becoming a more bi-partisan issue that we need to maybe relax some regulation around the mining exercise, to incentivize private sector to come in and start producing this? Or is the Republican party versus the Democratic party on two separate pages of music?

Pini Althaus:

Yeah. Good question, Ryan. I mean traditionally the Republican party is obviously being more pro-mining and in favor of less regulation when it comes to these things. With regards to our project, we're on Texas state land. So we don't trigger federal environmental permitting at this point in time. And obviously Texas being Texas, a mining state and oil and gas state, things are a lot easier in Texas than they are on projects on federal land where the Bureau of Land Management controls the environmental process around that. But the thing is here, and I don't want to step into what other companies are doing, et cetera, but we do need to be reasonable about allowing projects to come online if they're adhering to environmental standards that are acceptable worldwide. And what we do know, is that China is destroying the environment and cities and water bodies around their mines and processing facilities.

Pini Althaus:

We have standards here in the United States, and I think what we need to do is make it easier for companies to mine, while at the same time protecting the environment. And there are ways to do that. And we're definitely seeing buy-in from Congress, from both sides, with regards to looking how we can stand up a secure supply chain. And, obviously under the Obama administration, they had very strict regulations when it comes to mining. And that's changed under the Trump administration. Hopefully what we start to see is some normal middle ground that'll allow other projects to come online.

Ryan Morfin:

And typically in these rare earth mines, is it amalgamation of different minerals that are all consolidated together and you have to separate them out? Or do you ever find pure play, Europium, I can't even pronounce some of these. Gadolinium, Cerium. I mean, are they all mixed together and you've got to filter and sift them through, or are they pure play mines?

Pini Althaus:

No, they're generally they have a mix. So they're polymetallic projects. They have a number of different materials. Some projects, you more to what we call the light rare earths like MP in California or Linus in Australia. Our project is actually on the opposite end of the spectrum. We have a very high concentration of heavy rare earths. That being said, we do have to go through a process of separating these materials. But the case of our project where we've got 30 materials. We're not going to produce 30 materials. We're not going to market 30 materials. So what we're doing is we're focusing on the key materials that are marketable, that we need for permanent magnets, lithium as well, and working on the separation and the optimization of those materials in particular. But we're all faced with the same processing challenges and that is something that can't be set.

Pini Althaus:

There's no easy way to do this. There are different technologies that have been used in different parts of the world. So predominantly there's a process called solvent extraction, but it's big, it's bulky, it's not benign. It's a bespoke solution for one particular project. So it doesn't work for feedstock from other projects. What we've done is we're using a processing technology that's actually been around since the 1940s. It was part of the Manhattan Project. It's called continuous ion exchange. In fact, the Chinese use it to increase the purities from 99.99 to four nines, five nines, and even six nines. So for some applications you require higher purity levels. It's a far easier processing method to scale up and to take feedstock from other projects. In fact, we've demonstrated for the Department of Energy that we can take coal waste from Pennsylvania and do high purity separation of rare earths using our processing methods. So it's not a step that can be skipped unless one needs to send it to China for processing, which is not going to help us with our objectives here.

Ryan Morfin:

How many other, we'll call it, going concerns on any other businesses that are doing this, that are trying to, I guess, start the development of these mines. Are you guys one of a few or are you one of many? And is it an international or just a US game? Who's leading the charge at going after this?

Pini Althaus:

Yeah, well, I'd say the Australians are leading it outside of China right now. You've got some really good projects in Australia. Again, more skewed toward the light rare earths. There's one more heavy rare earth project in Australia, which is not yet producing. The United States, you've got MP Materials, you've got Ucore in Alaska, you've got the Bear Lodge project in Wyoming, which is also another light rare earth project. So as far as a heavy rare earth project that looks like it will come online in the near term, that would be our project. In Canada there are a couple of projects there as well, and again, more skewed toward the light rare earths. But we really need to get as many of these projects online as possible. Because again, I don't see it as competition. We all have a problem doing supply agreements or offtake agreements for our materials.

Pini Althaus:

In fact, one of the things that we're going to have to consider is looking at potentially scaling up our production, based on the demand that we're already starting to see. And I think other companies would find that as well. So it's all about the economics of the project. You have projects that were economically viable back in 2012 or rare earth prices with 35% or so higher than they are today, and are not necessarily viable today. So that's the challenge as well, economically viable projects. And we've got to get as many of them online as possible. It takes many, many years. I mean, our project has had over $70 million put into it to get to where we are today, and we're close to getting to the production scenario. It all revolves around processing at this point in time.

Pini Althaus:

We'd be very happy to see another couple of projects come online, because this is extremely important for national security and for the economy as well. I mean, if you think about it, Ryan, if you've got a billion dollars of rare earth materials, that translates into a trillion dollars or I should say trillions of dollars of finished product. So you've got a magnet in your phone there that's worth a couple of dollars and the cell phone's a thousand dollars. And electric vehicles and defense applications even more.

Ryan Morfin:

Yeah, everyone has one of these iPhones now, and there's tremendous amounts of rare earth on the circuit boards here. And I think people take it for granted that that supply chain is not secure right now. So one question for you, there's talk of this maybe medium term to longterm, but there's talk about mining in space. Do you think that's a feasible option in the longterm, medium term? What are your thoughts on that?

Pini Althaus:

No, that's just ridiculous. I mean, we're trying to find ways to make mining on earth economically viable. I think the cost of going up to space would be more than what our capex will be bringing our entire project into production. I mean, we've got about a 350 to $400 million capex to bring 130 year mine life into production. I'm not an aerospace expert, but I think sending a rocket, building a rocket ship and sending it up, I think maybe on the fuel alone, you could bring a couple of projects into production. So unless we have a fortunate situation or an asteroid lands on earth, and fortunate if it lands somewhere where we don't care, I don't see how that happens. And if it's big enough, it's a problem as well. It's nonsense. And even, options aside of the deep sea mining for rare earths, I mean, you've got all sorts of environmental issues around that as well. I think we need to look at projects that we can bring online, that can be done so in an economic way, that can be done so in an environmentally responsible way.

Pini Althaus:

I mean, one of the things that we've done at our project is we've got in excess of 60% of the materials that have come out around top, will have a clean green energy applicability to them. So we're using the benign processing method. We're going to be using renewable energy on site. In fact, we will likely be putting a solar farm on site as well. We've talked to a couple of companies that have approached us about that, and we'll be a net producer of power for the surrounding area. So there are ways to do it which don't affect the environment. Obviously if there's a project that's situated on a sensitive area, that's a unique situation for that specific project. We've seen it with the Pebble project, which is not a rare earth project. The Pebble project in Alaska where their environmental concerns is we've been recognized by both Republicans and Democrats, but we have to be reasonable about the projects that don't have environmental concerns.

Ryan Morfin:

So Pini, in season two, we ask all of our guests a series of six questions. They're usually, yes, no questions, but trying to take a survey of our conversations. And if you want to add a little context to the yes or no, feel free, but here goes the first question. If there was a COVID vaccine available today, would you take it?

Pini Althaus:

Yes.

Ryan Morfin:

Who do you think is going to win the election?

Pini Althaus:

Which election?

Ryan Morfin:

The US election.

Pini Althaus:

Well, I think it looks like Joe Biden's going to win it, but I think what happens, if we go past January six from my understanding is that the house will vote on it and it's one vote per state. But I don't know if I see it getting there at this point in time. I really don't have a crystal ball.

Ryan Morfin:

Third question. What type of economic recovery are we in? What type of shape is it taking? A V-shape, W, U, L?

Pini Althaus:

Yeah, I think 2021 is going to be challenging. I think we've been, and rightly so. I mean, we've had no choice as of almost every other country. We've been printing money for the past year because of COVID. And I think we've got to brace ourselves that, at some point in time, the chickens come home to roost. It was a necessary step. People needed it on an individual level. Businesses needed it as well, but I think we've got to do whatever we can to stimulate the economy, give people confidence to go out and work again, employ people. So I think we've got to watch ourselves, especially in 2021. And I have some concerns, but long-term, I think the approach in the United States is a healthy one.

Ryan Morfin:

During lockdown this summer and quarantine, was there anything in particular that you accomplished that you're particularly proud of?

Pini Althaus:

Yeah. A great amount of family time, which, if you would've asked me a few years ago if I could sit at home and be at home for six months, I would have told you absolutely not. I wouldn't be able to do it for six days, but it has... I'm sure it's done this with a lot of families as well. It's brought families together. We had a baby actually last year on Thanksgiving. So I was doing a lot of travel at the time and thought I wouldn't get to see my daughter in her first year or couple of years too often. And being home with her every day is actually been just the most amazing experience. So thankful at least for some silver lining in COVID.

Ryan Morfin:

Are there any silver linings that you see in the economy going into 2021?

Pini Althaus:

Yeah, I think we've gone through an absolute beating and it looks like we've got the ability to come out of it. And I think that's a testament to how strong the economy was built up in the years preceding COVID. So overall I remain an optimist. I mean, we are a country built on opportunity and going out and making it happen. And we're not a socialist country sitting and waiting for people to send us paychecks or wealth distribution or anything like that. I think the American dream still lives on. I think if you go out and you're willing to work and put your head to it and heart in it, I think we do have the ability to climb out of it. So if we look at what the economy is doing over the past few weeks, it looks like it's starting to rebound. And to me, that's assuring because it could go completely one way as well.

Ryan Morfin:

And the last question is, is there anything that you're watching, or listening to, or reading today that has been impactful on your thinking that you'd like to share with our audience?

Pini Althaus:

Yeah, that's a good question. I think it's been more personal stories. The news, I sort of take that in context or with more than a grain of salt. In some cases stay off the news channels for a number of days at a time, it became quite repetitive. But I think on the personal side, talking to friends, my family's all back home in Australia, they've just come out of 110 day lockdown, which we can't relate to that. It's been very trying on them and seeing the fortitude that they've had to come out of that and stay intact. I think the mental health issues that will come out of COVID are going to have a far longer effect than the economic issues. I think we're going to have to focus on mental health issues in this country for a long time to come.

Pini Althaus:

The impact on kids has been significant with regards to lockdown or remote schooling, et cetera. But to see people come through it. I think it's a testament to people in general and to the country and other countries as well, to see got that fortitude and survival instinct to try to get through whatever adversity we can. So hearing the personal stories, the challenges that people have gone through, I think it's made me a lot more aware of things that I have to be thankful for and where we can help out other people as well. I think we have to be united going forward because there are things...

Pini Althaus:

I think one of the things that COVID has shown us is we can get into this complacency and life goes on and we go one day to the next. And all of a sudden we get hit by something that affects everybody equally. I mean, COVID, whilst there were groups of people, whether it was the elderly or people with underlying health conditions, that got hit the worst. I mean, we all got hit in some form or another. So really, this should be something that unites us, not divides us.

Ryan Morfin:

Well, Pini, I appreciate you coming on today to talk to us a little bit about the supply chain crimp on rare earth and we'll definitely keep an eye on it and would love to have you back in the future.

Pini Althaus:

Thank you, Ryan. Thanks for having me.

Ryan Morfin:

Absolutely. Thank you. Bye-bye. Thanks for watching Non-Beta Alpha. And before we go, please remember to like, and subscribe on Apple podcasts and our YouTube channel. This is Non-Beta Alpha, and now you know.

 

The unique history of a Maryland based distillery and craft secrets on how to make great American Bourbon w/ Admiral Scott Sanders Founder of Tobacco Barn Distillery

The unique history of a Maryland based distillery and craft secrets on how to make great American Bourbon w/ Admiral Scott Sanders Founder of Tobacco Barn Distillery

The unique history of a Maryland based distillery and craft secrets on how to make great American Bourbon w/ Admiral Scott Sanders Founder of Tobacco Barn Distillery

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