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What in the World?

Why I’m bullish on Houston’s global potential

Nov 18, 2022


According to a study by a division of the Financial Times, Houston is rated seventh in its list of Top 10 Overall American Cities of the Future for 2020-21, based on its economic potential, business friendliness, lifestyle, cost and connectivity. But Houston’s future may be even brighter than that. As Straight Arrow News contributor Peter Zeihan explains, Houston has the infrastructure in areas like manufacturing and agriculture to become a more dominant global player in the years to come.  

Excerpted from Peter’s Nov. 18 “Zeihan on Geopolitics” newsletter:

When you think about cities with bright futures, what are the factors you consider? Energy Production? Agriculture? Population? Manufacturing? There’s plenty more, but let’s focus on those.

Houston is a leader in all of that…and more. So once the global supply on each of these inputs and outputs dips into a deficit, Houston will be primed and ready to fill the need.

Established infrastructure + decreased supply = more money = more investment = Houston becoming one of the most dominant players in global production. Does me being bullish on Houston make a bit more sense now?

Hello from Houston, Peter Zeihan here. 

Since I’m in Houston, it seems reasonable to talk about the future of the city, which is probably the brightest of any really metro in the world for the next 30 years.

Whole lot of things going on here with its millions of people. It’s the third largest metro in the country now by population. First and foremost, of course, 

First and foremost, it’s the energy hub for U.S.

it is the energy hub for the United States but more than just being in producing and transporting and shipping out crude, it’s also the country’s largest refining base. So if you want gasoline, diesel or jet fuel, odds aren’t it came from here. 

There’s more than that, though. Because of all the natural gas that’s coming out of the system and all the mass that comes out of refineries, it’s also the United States’ largest petrochemical system. So if you use makeup, or tires, or batteries or plastics, that probably started here too. And in fact, we’re seeing more and more heavy manufacturing coming into the city to take those intermediate products and turn them into finished things that you use every day. 

But it’s also part of the Texas triangle, which is the largest manufacturing zone in the United States. And it’s the largest population hub within that, which puts it big into heavy equipment  and vehicles and really anything that involves big chunks of metal. 

It’s also the world’s second largest source for machinery. And when you think of machinery, think of the things that make other things. So if there’s an assembly line somewhere in the United States, that stuff either came from Germany, or Houston, and now that the Germans are having to shut down a lot of their industry because of the Ukraine war, it’s Houston, Houston, Houston, Houston. 

Finally, if you eat, it is the number two location for export of agricultural products. And unlike places like New Orleans, which by tonnage are higher up, there’s also food processing in Houston. Now of all of these things – manufactured goods, food, energy, petrochemicals, refined products – these are all products that are going to be in global shortage from now on. 

So any country, any location that already has the physical infrastructure to participate in those markets, is going to make mad money because they can serve their home market and a global market that is literally starving. Houston is going to be the global metro that is going to do the best in absolute terms for the next 30 years.

All right. Until next time,


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