Weekly Geopolitical Report – Biden’s Foreign Policy (August 24, 2020)

by Bill O’Grady | PDF

Traditionally, Labor Day is considered the point when an increasing number of Americans start paying attention to the November elections.  As part of our analysis of the candidates, we create dossiers of the candidates and the leading figures with whom they surround themselves.  In this report, we will comment on those we see as potentially taking positions in the foreign policy team of a Biden presidency.  First-term presidents tend to lean heavily on foreign policy experts, so the people selected to fill these roles would have a hand in shaping policy.

There is an old saying in politics that “personnel equals policy.”  Although not completely the case, it does matter who is in the important cabinet and advisory posts.  Because this is a geopolitical report, we will focus on foreign policy positions—Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, Secretary of Treasury, Director of the CIA, and National Security Advisor.  We have no insider information about who will get these roles; our predictions are based on open sources and our own analysis.  But, based off these conjectures, we will attempt to determine what Biden’s foreign policy would look like.

We will begin with an overview of what we would expect in terms of foreign policy from a Biden presidency.  We will follow that discussion with a short biography of who we think are the leading candidates for the aforementioned positions and name other potential candidates for the positions.  Using this information, we will attempt to indicate what the sum of these positions would mean for the direction of Biden’s foreign policy.  As always, we will conclude with market ramifications.

Next week, we will do the same for President Trump.  Second terms are different than first terms.  First-term presidents are learning their job and tend to be dependent on the experts they appoint.  In the second term, presidents have more experience and the people they appoint to key positions are there mostly to execute the president’s policy preferences, not to offer advice.  In addition, by the second term, the party’s leading functionaries have served (and moved on) and the team that replaces them is usually second tier.  All that will be covered next week.

Read the full report