Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Sources of Growth Examined and Found Entirely Lacking

3 Primary Drivers of Economic Growth---Population Growth, Wage Growth, Credit (private vs. public) Growth...
10,000 BC until now...the primary driver of growth has been that of ever greater populations.  Although a short downturn ensued during the "plague"...the most reliable economic factor has been increasing demand via greater populations.  The consumption of these growing populations was further augmented by rising wages and rising leverage via credit (aka, debt) but the greatest source of greater demand was population growth.  "Markets" and economies can be manipulated or gamed...but underlying population bases and the their slowing consumption appear to be coming to ever greater odds with the not-free market pricing mechanisms currently in place.

Global annual population growth peaked in 1988 at 93 million/yr and has now receded to 80 million/yr.  Since global population growth peaked, global credit (driven by central bank driven rate cuts) has rocketed as a substitute for the decelerating population growth.

The 0-64yr/old population component is broken out below.  It's clear the growth of younger populations are slowing considerably faster than the total population.  The 0-64yr/old annual growth has fallen about 30% from peak and is estimated to decelerate rapidly over the next 35 years (and again, credit/debt is the intended substitute for the decelerating demand).  The growth of the 65+ population is set to outpace the 0-65yr/old within 30yrs.  But the 65+ in developed nations generally are on fixed incomes or living on social programs or the responsibility of their children in developing nations.  They are asset rich and cash poor looking to offload assets, downsize, and find cash flow to survive their later years.  They are credit averse and have declining levels of consumption.

The below chart is worth a second look (minus the 65+ cohort).  The growth of 0-64yr/old population has quite a caveat.  In 2016, almost half the growth in the 0-64yr/old population is due to population growth of Africa...and by 2030 Africa will represent 90+% of net global population growth under 65.  This is worth mentioning as Africa has average incomes about a third that of China or half that of India and has relatively little access to credit.  Growth premised almost entirely on Africa actually isn't really growth from an economic or consumption standpoint.

Finally, the annual growth of the 0-14yr/old global population...the headwaters of population growth are plainly slowing to a trickle and almost entirely in Africa (on a net basis).  When looking at the below chart, it becomes evident the impact of the "one off" lengthening of lifespans on population "growth" vs. ongoing births.  Population growth among the young has fallen almost 2/3rds from it's 1960's peak and is estimated to continue slowing indefinitely.  What is not slowing is the growth of debt...which on a per capita debt per net new child is becoming mind bogglingly astronomical.

Peruse the engines of global growth, China, India, Brazil...



Sources of "growth" crapping out...except Africa.

Total population growth (yoy) peaks out in 1995 and has been decelerating since despite the near doubling of the total population.  Credit and debt have been the accelerating substitute for decelerating population growth.

In the chart below, the missing population growth of the younger 0-24 and 25-64yr/old population segments is circled in the red.  This missing population growth has only begun and will be decades at near stall speed.

No wage growth among developed and slowing among developing is only accelerating the slowdown in consumption and credit growth appears to have entirely run it's course.  An ominous loop of depopulation, depression, and currency devaluation is now very much upon us.  There are limits regarding how far a system can be twisted and manipulated and we are likely at some sort of limit now.  Please, prepare accordingly for a myriad of undesirable likely outcomes.

***All global population data (historical and estimates) are via the OECD and US population data is from the US Census.