Ray Dalio (founder of the world’s biggest hedge fund firm Bridgewater, 46th richest person in the world, $18 billion net worth) knows a thing or two about financial systems. He isn’t afraid to shout about it, either. In 2007 he was one of few people to warn of an impending economic collapse. The next year the world entered the worst global recession since the 1930s.
12 years later, the coronavirus pandemic sees us all on the brink of financial uncertainty once again. As of 28 May, London’s FTSE 100 may have begun to recover but it has a long way to go after such a dramatic fall, with blue chip stocks and travel and leisure in decline. As a whole, the UK economy has shrunk by 2% since January 2020, leading chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak to warn that a ‘significant recession’ is now ‘very likely’.
Dalio, who is both an outspoken advocate for both progressive philanthropy and the epitome of an ultra-capitalist success, has some thoughts on the matter. In a virtual TED talk given this April, Dalio likened the coronavirus pandemic to a ‘tsunami’ and again warned of another Great Depression. In financial terms, Dalio believes that, however the global community chooses to weather the coming storm, one thing is for sure, “We’re not going to go back to the way it was.”
In order to recover from this impending – and inevitable – economic slump, Dalio believes the next few years needs to see global policy makers ‘restructure our economy and restructure our financial system’ in order that inequality and the wealth gap can be addressed, making a fairer world in which everyone stands to profit.
“There’s enough wealth to go around,” says Dalio, who has committed to donating more than half of his fortune to charitable causes within his lifetime. “But what do you do when you’re outside the ring of support?”
We are now entering into, he believes, a ‘defining moment’ in which we as a people can come together under one banner to support each other and accept that capitalism is in need of an overhaul. Or we can ignore the lessons of this newly developing economic crisis and those of the past, and continue to put number one first. The path we choose, Dalio argues, will define our future.
“I’m a capitalist. I believe in the system,” explains Dalio. “I believe you can increase the size of the pie and you could divide it well.”
Born in 1949 to a jazz musician and a homemaker, Dalio grew up in the Queens neighbourhood of Jackson Heights, an ethnically diverse area of New York with a high population of LGBTQ people, artists and musicians seeking to get away from Manhattan’s overcrowded theatre district. The area has had a reputation for high crime rates, but as of the early 2000s has become a more desirable destination for middle class families and young professionals. Whether struggling artist or middle class manager, every stratosphere of the area’s current and past population will be hit by the predicted economic fallout of coronavirus.
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