What Are Financial Professionals Telling Their Clients About "Investing For The Long Run"?

Authored by Chris Hamilton via Econimica blog,

I've been vacationing in England, France, and Spain with my family for the past couple weeks.  Just taking in the sights and having a merry old time but London, Barcelona, and so many other cities are flooded with people, particularly tourists.  So in response to some conversations I had, I just wanted to offer a simple factual detailing of the changing global population

The facts about fast declining populations and the negative impact on consumption in the face of the crowds I was surfing through seems off-key...but that is the reality in which we live - Flat to declining first and second world under 65 year old populations with fast growing elderly populations, fast growing urban centers, collapsing rural populations, plus surging third world poor populations.

I'm going to show the worlds nations in four buckets, from wealthy to poor (using World Banks GNI per capita) further broken down by UN population data showing young (0-14 year olds), child bearing (15 to 44 year olds), and old (45+ year olds).  Population estimates through 2050 are based on UN medium variants (which continue to over estimate actual growth).

What should be apparent is that the populations that do nearly 3/4ths the consuming of energy and exports have been declining and/or will be soon be declining...and will continue declining indefinitely.  The present and future growth among the poor and elderly simply won't be able to move the needle, from a growth perspective. 

Here goes...make of it what you will.

High income countries represent 1.2 billion of earths 7.6 billion inhabitants (as of 2018) and consume approximately 40% of earths energy and exports.  Economies with $12,500 gross national income (GNI) per capita and up.  The chart below shows high income nations by age segments (0 to 14, 15 to 44, and 45+ year old populations).

  • Young pop. peaked in 1970 at 230 million and has declined by 34 million (minus 15%) since that 1970 peak.  Est. to flat-line through 2050.

  • Child bearing pop. (15-44 yr/olds) peaked in 2009 and has declined by 10 million (minus 2%) since that 2009 peak.  Est. to decline by another 30 million (an additional 6% decrease) by 2050.

  • 45+ yr/old pop. has more than doubled (+210%) and is 280 million larger since 1970 when the young population peaked.  Estimated to grow another 120 million by 2050.

Upper middle income countries represent 2.6 billion and consume approximately 30% of the worlds energy and imports.  Economies ranging from $4,000 to $12,000 GNI per capita.  Upper middle income nation populations, by age segment:

  • Young pop. peaked in 1991 and has declined by 90 million (minus 17%) since that 1991 peak.  Est. to decline another 90 million (minus another 17%...a total decline of 31%) by 2050.

  • Child bearing pop. (15-44 yr/olds) peaked in 2009 and has declined by almost 60 million (minus 5%) since that 2009 peak.  Est. to decline another 180 million or an additional 15% by 2050.

  • 45+ yr/old pop. has more than tripled (+353%) and is 670 million larger since 1970.  Est. to grow another 420 million by 2050 (essentially peaking by 2050).

Lower middle-income countries represent 3.1 billion persons and consume approximately 20% of the worlds energy and exports.  The lower middle economies have GNI of $4000 to $1000 per capita.  Populations, by age segments, below:

  • Young pop. nearly doubled since 1970 +460 million (+180%) but is very near its peak and is estimated to grow "only" 40 million more (4%) through 2050.

  • Child bearing pop. (15-44 yr/olds) grew +960 million and nearly tripled since 1970 but growth is now decelerating but is est. to still grow another +390 million through 2050 but due to fast decelerating fertility rates, this is estimated to have almost no impact on the population of young.

  • 45+ yr/old pop. has more than tripled (+345%) and is 490 million larger since 1970.  It is estimated to more than double again (+760 million) by 2050.

Low income countries represent just 700 million persons and consume less than 10% of the worlds energy and exports.  The low income countries have economies with $1000 and below GNI per capita.  Populations by age segments, below:

  • Young pop. grew 200 million (or more than tripled) since 1970 and will grow another 170 million (or 159%) through 2050.

  • Child bearing pop. (15-44 yr/olds) grew +260 million since 1970 and is est. to still grow another +350 million through 2050.

  • 45+ yr/old pop. has more than tripled (+345%) and is 230 million larger since 1970.  It is estimated to more than double again (+350 million) by 2050.

Conclusion:

Those curious what the financial bubbles of  '01, '08, and present are about...it's the interest rate reaction and debt inducement tied to changing demographics and population growth. 

Those curious about the current trade war and ongoing currency wars...again, these are all about a fight for what is now a shrinking global pie of consumers among those with the ability to consume. 

The benefits of globalization have run their course and a rear guard action is now underway to maintain access to the shrinking first and second tier economies of the world. 

Achieving "growth" among an indefinitely shrinking pie is a fools errand which will only have progressively worse consequences.