The End Of A Growing Consumer Base... And The Beginning Of The Decline

Authored by Chris Hamilton via Econimica blog,

In 1960, the core population (25-54yr/olds) of the OECD nations (US, Canada, Mexico, Chile, most the EU, UK, Turkey, Israel, Japan, S. Korea, Australia, NZ) was a couple million larger than the combined core of CRB (China, Russia, and Brazil).  Since that time, OECD population growth has slowed to a crawl and it was CRB's growth that drove the global consumer base to new heights.  However, 2017 is a monumental year when those counting will notice something missing...growth.  A simple count of the core populations in the nations that consume over 70% of earths crude oil and nearly 80% of all global exports shows that the core populations of the OECD and the combined CRB begin outright shrinking as of 2018 (chart below).

Abnormally high population growth ended decades ago but only now has the wave crested in the critical heart of these nations economies...the 25-54yr/olds who drive economic growth.  These are not projections but simply moving the existing, smaller populations of young into the core.  With the core group now beginning decades of depopulation (chart below...and it is unclear when or under what conditions these depopulations will slow or cease), economic models premised solely on growth are obsolete.

Recession and depression (the absence of growth) will be unending as a declining population will consume less (no amount of rate cuts and subsequent debt accumulation can mask the declining demand).  But honestly, these terms are nonsensical in a sustained period of depopulation.  In a depopulation-ary world, nothing is the same.  Homes will go back to their original purpose, providing shelter.  A speculative excess of new and existing housing inventory, cars, planes, factories, etc. etc. will crest just as these core populations begin shrinking and the elderly begin selling.  Infrastructure footprints have been overextended and much may simply be left to rot.  All population growth shifting to the 65+yr/old population is a whole other set of issues.  In a depopulation-ary world, many of the things currently considered assets are instead either liabilities and/or potentially worthless.

Finally, the chart below highlights the combined OECD, CRB 25-54yr/old population (the global heart of consumerism) vs. the Wilshire 5000 (the value of all publicly traded US equities selling to that consumer base).

And a period by period view of how the core population and US equities have grown since 1970 (chart below)...and what the future holds over the next decade for a consumption based model with almost a 100 million fewer consumers with the income, savings, and or access to credit to consume

From 2018 to 2030, the prime global consumer base will decline by about 7%.

Invest accordingly.