If I narrow the acknowledgements down to just those who helped me write this book, I should start with the trio of nationalists that destroyed my country: Slobodan Milošević, Franjo Tuđman, and Alija Izetbegović.1 Thanks to their brand of ethno‐populism, my homeland no longer exists, 150,000 people are dead, Yugoslavia is not dominating international hoops, and I am not a gynecologist like pretty much every other male in my family (shout out to my cousin Ljuba, carrying on the tradition!). Their warmongering made a lasting impression on a young kid who should have been playing with LEGOs and watching cartoons. Instead, I developed an analytical mind to make sense of the harrowing world around me.

So hey, thanks, guys!

I wrote this book in part because, to be honest, I want my grandkids to be able to pick up a book their grandpa wrote, rather than go through thousands of PDFs I generated while working in investment research.

I also miss academia. By introducing investors to my framework over the past decade, I've fulfilled my passion for generating those “aha” moments in clients, colleagues, and friends in the industry. These moments bring me as close to teaching as I will ever get. Nothing makes me happier than when a client or colleague turns the tables and uses the constraint framework to prove me wrong.

There are many people who have helped me live my life and build my career. An immense thank‐you goes to my partner and boss, Steve Drobny, who willed this book into existence. I have never met anyone with as much unconditional confidence in my abilities as Steve (other than my mom). He pushed me to put my thoughts on paper and has given me invaluable feedback throughout the process. He is a patient mentor and friend, and his only failure is at teaching me to surf, but that may be due to the fact that I have the balance of a beached whale.

The greatest thank you goes to my wife, Crystal. My finance career was constrained before it started. I mean, I can't do math! I took three economics classes in college. I still pantomime with my hands to figure out whether the curve steepening or flattening is bullish or bearish. To overcome my weaknesses, I've played catchup learning an industry that I parachuted into late in life. Over the past decade, my wife has helped me overcome this constraint by taking up the slack in every other responsibility that I have as a parent, husband, and human being. Crystal is the inspiration behind everything I do.

Thank you to my parents, Predrag and Gordana Papic. My dad was my first teacher in geopolitical analysis, and he would conclude every forecast with, “It's all Hollywood anyway.” (True!) My parents sacrificed a lot for me to be where I am. If I do half as good a job at parenting as they did, I will have succeeded. The jury is out thus far. My mom, my sister, Maja, and my aunt, Vesna, deserve a special place in the Marko Papic Hall of Fame. They have all listened to my BS for longer than anyone else. And somehow, they survived it! Big thank you to my uncle Zoran, who embraced me like a son when I left Europe for the beautiful British Columbia, as well as my entire family in Belgrade (uncle Pavle and aunt Nataša).

I wrote this book from the ocean‐view offices of the firm that Steve invited me to join: Clocktower Group. Thank you to all of my teammates at the firm. The other partners – Tyler Hathaway, Wei Liu, Benjamin Savage – gave their approval for Steve to let me crash the party. Ashton Rosin helped me learn what it is that I am supposed to do in this job. While writing, I relied on my teammates Kaiwen Wang, Ekaterina Shtrevensky, and Ben Novak. I owe a debt to Kaiwen, who helped hold down the fort on my day job while I wrote. Let's keep crushing it.

The intellectual muses I have relied on throughout my career contributed to this book.

My BCA Research and Stratfor teammate, Matt Gertken, reviewed the text and scrubbed out the hyperbole. Without Matt, I would have become persona non grata in several countries and made far too many inappropriate jokes. Matt and I started working on the same day and have been intellectual brothers ever since.

My friends Dan Green, Jay Reinfrank, Noel Muller, Bayless Parsley, and Charlie Tafoya are the other muses. Dan helped with the math section and has, throughout my life, inspired me to reach my full potential. Jay Reinfrank is the reason I have a career in finance. The Jerry Maguire memo from the Introduction and Chapter 1 was a blend of our ideas, and he was there at the inception of the framework. Noel Muller has been an intellectual sounding board longer than anyone. He has also ensured that I did not drown, self‐immolate, or get eaten by bears while meditating in the BC wilderness we both call home. Charlie Tafoya showed me everything there is to know about private markets and technology. And of course, there is Bayless, who gets a special mention in Chapter 3.

A large part of this book consists of research I wrote for BCA Research in Montreal. I owe a debt of gratitude to all of my colleagues at the firm, but especially: Anastasios Avgeriou, Emin Baghramyan, David Boucher, Santiago E. Gomez, Melanie Kermadjian, Jesse Anak Kuri, Jim Mylonas, Chester Ntonifor, and Mathieu Savary. They are my friends and teammates who, over a decade, grew up with me into the baller strategists we are.

My BCA mentors, David Abramson, Peter Berezin, Arthur Budaghyan, Dhaval Joshi, Ian MacFarlane, Mark McClellan, Doug Peta, Francis Scotland, and Chen Zhao also deserve many thanks. I still look back on our daily meetings in my early years at the firm, when as a starstruck young strategist I watched these macro mavens discuss the markets. And without Bashar Al‐Rehany, Martin Barnes, and Nicky Manoleas, I would still be “blogging” somewhere in Texas.

My clients, colleagues, and friends in the global macro club that is the financial community have pushed me to refine my framework and humbled me with their intellect and creativity. This book is written for them (though many do not need its insights), especially Kenneth Andersen, Raphael Arndt, Louis Bacon, Whitney Baker, Achin Batra, Scott Bessent, Tony Boeckh, Antonia Bothner, Ziad Boustany, John Burbank, Ahmad Butt, Drew Casino, Christopher Chan, Jim Chanos, John Coates, Paul Danis, Charles Davidson, Mehul Daya, José Luis Daza, Pete Dilworth, Frédéric Dion, Barry Eichengreen, Volker Engelbert, Tit Andrej Erker, Gary Evans, Marc Faber, Hans Fahlin, Jonathan Fayman, Peter Fletcher, Dave Foraie, Christopher Forbes, Stephan Gabillard, Jonathan Gashalter, Stephen Gilmore, Anna Golubovic, Ian Gordon, Nicola Grass, Mike Green, Paul Greenham, Karl‐Theodor zu Guttenberg, Elias Haddad, Cyrus Hadidi, Aljoscha Bjorn Grischa Haesen, Daniel Hepler, Alex Hess, Neels Heyneke, Ziad Hindo, Lisa Hintz, John Ho, Mike Hurley, Stephen Jen, David Kalk, Jitania Kandhari, Marc Keller, Mark Koenig, Kosta Kotsaboikidis, Zach Kurz, Franck Lacour, Andrew Lyon, Costas Lyras, Sebastian Mallaby, Michael and Yvonne Marsh, Mike Mayo, Dan McCollum, Nuno Amado Mendes, Jawad Mian, Brian Milner, Rafer Mitri, Oleg Mogilny, Andrew Moll, Shea Morenz, Jay Namyet, Russell Napier, Paul O'Brien, Ali Ojjeh, Juan Correa Ossa, Angkit Panda, Omar Paz, Andrew Pearse, Neil Phillips, Jean‐François Pepin, Magesh Pillay, Rajeeb Pramanik, Benjamin Preisler, Marlene Puffer, Alex Purewal, David Ross, Henri‐Paul Rousseau, Steve Saldanha, Ben Samild, Walter Schadenfroh, Zach Schreiber, Aaron Schuler, Murray Scott, Tatiana Semenova, Danilo Simonelli, Ilan Solot, Marc‐André Soublière, Jeremy Stein, Barry Sternlicht, Jayne Styles, Maxime Tessier, Mario Therrien, Parvinder Thiara, Cullen Thompson, Barbara Tong, François Trahan, Mark Trevena, Ronny Turiaf, Ion Valaskakis, John Valentino, Zoltán Varga, Alice Wang, Yan Wang, Marco Willner, Mike Wissell, Ed Wolfe, David Zervos, Felix Zulauf, and many more. Any omissions are an innocent oversight on my part.

In the geopolitical analysis community, the main thanks goes to R.P. Eddy, the CEO and founder of Ergo, who, from our first meeting years ago, has mentored me more than he knows. Eddy runs the best geopolitical consultancy in the world, and his curated community of clients is a club that every investor must join. I am also a big fan of Mark Rosenberg, the CEO and founder of GeoQuant, which sits on the other side of the methodological spectrum from Ergo. Mark taught me alternate paths to systematic geopolitical analysis. He has created a quant‐driven geopolitical consultancy that may revolutionize how we look at political risk (and put qualitative dinosaurs like me out of business!). George Friedman, my first‐ever boss in the private sector, was the original wielder of the constraints framework, and I learned a lot from him about geopolitical analysis. Ian Bremmer, Charlie Cook, Alastair Newton, Nate Silver, Philip Tetlock, and Peter Zeihan have all been inspirations to my career. As Grand Puba said, “I wouldn't be here today if the old school didn't pave the way.”

Melissa Lesh, the editor of this book, took up residence in my brain for three months. We became a hive mind without having ever met in person. She did more than just edit; she helped significantly reframe several chapters. If you need an editor, please reach out to her. She is a pro. Thanks also to the wider Team Papic that gave me the time to focus on my work, namely Rajeev Anand, Eva Stefanova, and Kristyna Sykorova.

I also want to thank my teachers. Above all, Grant Perry was an inspiration and mentor to me while at Stratfor. I will miss Grant immensely. Ivanka Anastasijević helped me as a young child to navigate the insanity of a country in its death throes. Larry Roetzel and Heather Gatley gave me confidence in my writing abilities, even though I learned English from movies, the Simpsons, and computer games. Yves Tiberghien was the first teacher to push me to strive for the best version of me. Robert Johnson, who opened my eyes to political theory, would be proud of Chapter 2 (I think … I hope). Barbara Arneil taught my first political science course, and Michael Byers showed me what self‐initiated research looks like. At the University of Texas, I thank the Department of Government for all their time and resources, particularly Zoltan Barany, Wendy Hunter, Robert Moser, Peter Trubowitz, and Kurt Weyland. And though I only met Professor John Mearsheimer later in life, he has forever changed how I perceive the tragedy of Great Power politics.

I dedicate this book to my lost homeland, a country that no longer exists. There is an emptiness in my source code that, I think, makes me a strong geopolitical analyst. My bug – lack of a place to call home – has become a feature of my framework. Without a home, there can be no home bias. As a result, I remain objective when forecasting the future, and I can teach others how to do the same. You don't really need to have your homeland descend into an orgy of suicidal violence to forecast geopolitics. But it helps.

There is nothing to thank my children for, not yet. Instead, an apology is in order. I am sorry, Eva, Pascal, and Isabella, for often putting my career before your needs. You are lucky to have the mother that you have. Life is full of sacrifices, a product of constraints. I have worked very hard so that one day, you can look back at what Dad has done as inspiration for your own effort.

Remember: do or do not, there is no try.

Finally, thank you to Brian the Chocolate Lab, a foil to populists the world over.

This book has been written to the soundtrack of DJ Skee, Bijelo Dugme, old‐school hip‐hop, and a massive dose of brain‐melting EDM.


  1. 1   Special mention goes to Saddam Hussein and Ruhollah Khomeini! My first introduction to geopolitics was as a three‐year‐old in Baghdad, where my family lived briefly. The very first conversation I remember having as a sentient being was with my mom, who was trying to explain why Iranian Scuds were flying over our heads.
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