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Ray Dalio is worried about Trump's tendency to lean toward conflict over harmony

Ray Dalio of Bridgewater Associates. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich

Billionaire Ray Dalio, the founder of $160 billion hedge-fund behemoth Bridgewater Associates, has some concerns about President Donald J. Trump.

“The more I see Donald Trump moving toward conflict rather than cooperation, the more I worry about him harming his presidency and its effects on most of us,” he wrote in a LinkedIn post on Monday.

Dalio described trying to understand Trump and the decisions he might make as an “interesting and challenging puzzle to try to solve.”

He noted that Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord “was consistent with his increasingly clear patterns of behavior.”

“From the higher-level perspective, when faced with the choices between what’s good for the whole and what’s good for the part, and between harmony and conflict, he has a strong tendency to choose the part and conflict. By ‘the whole,’ I mean the whole ecosystem, the whole world community, and whole of the US, and by ‘the part,’ I mean the part of the US that he is presumably trying to help.”

In March, Dalio co-authored a note titled “Populism: The Phenomenon,” where he noted that the most important thing to watch for early on is how conflict is handled and whether opposing sides can “coexist to make progress or whether they increasingly ‘go to war’ to block and hurt each other and cause gridlock.”

How Trump and his opponents approach conflict is something that Dalio has been paying close attention to.

“Sometimes conflict produces better results and sometimes it produces worse results for the people who are pursuing it to get what they want. For example, if Donald Trump were optimizing for his own well-being through conflict, it’s entirely possible that he would undermine his own well-being because the retaliation could be more damaging to him than the cooperation.”

“I have to confess a personal bias that is opposite his—i.e., I’m inclined to optimize for the whole through cooperation in order to make the pie bigger, and then cooperatively and competitively divide up the pie,” Dalio continued. “I believe that we are connected to our whole ecology, our whole world community, and our whole United States, such that it pays to be in symbiotic relationships with them—so, I’m concerned about his path. I am especially concerned about the consequences of his pursuing so much conflict.”

However, it’s not all gloom. Dalio is encouraged by Trump’s pursuit of “public-private partnerships to rebuild infrastructure.”

Julia La Roche is a finance reporter at Yahoo Finance.

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