Thursday, February 6, 2020

Fiscal and Monetary Policy Insanity - Realized Depopulation Vs. Potential Pandemic

There is great concern (rightly) about the current Coronavirus and potential for a regional or global pandemic.  The loss of life and associated deceleration of economic activity have a fair number of folks pretty concerned and market riggers working overtime to avoid an asset "panic" (aka, free market price discovery).  However, how bad and widespread this may get is unknowable and speculative.
What is known before any pandemic is that the four regions of the world that make-up just 36% of global population but nearly 80% of global GDP (plus 70% of commodity / energy consumption) including East Asia (Japan, China, Taiwan, S/N Korea), Western Europe, Eastern Europe, and North America (US, Canada) all have declining under-60-year-old populations as of 2019.  As the chart below shows, all four regions are now in decline and the under 60 year-old declines are projected to worsen through 2040 in all but North America.  As for the US, the projections of a return to high rates of immigration and significant increases in fertility and births are unlikely to play out.  North America's under 60 year-old population is much more likely to hug the zero growth line through 2040 than return to growth.Just to make it clear what is happening (and the ludicrous nature of the central banks asset rigging programs), I include the total primary energy consumption of each of the four regions in the four charts below (total consumption in blue lines, year over year change in consumption shown in red columns)...and guess what, they all look to be in secular decline.  Total primary energy consumption (including all oil, coal, natural gas, nuclear, and renewable energy consumption) is the best possible proxy for real economic activity, shown from 1980 through 2017 (latest US Energy Information Administration data).  Consider...

Eastern Europe total energy consumption peaked in 1990 and energy consumption has been in decline ever since.  Since 1990, it has been a 19 quadrillion BTU decline, or -29% over 30 years.Western Europe total energy consumption peaked in 2006 and consumption has declined by 6 quadrillion BTU's, or -9% since 2006.As for North America, total primary energy consumption peaked in 2007, and over a dozen years later, US/Canadian consumption is still -2% below that peak.And then there is East Asia, 2013 through 2017 saw just a 2% increase in total energy consumption.  Decelerating growth will shortly turn to outright decline, following the regions demographics.  Despite all the ghost cities, bridges to nowhere, and mountains of unrepayable debt...eventually a declining population uses less energy and faces economic decline.
Many point to growing demand in the "developing" or third world as a source to offset the first world decelerations and declines.  However, this view is entirely misguided as it is the third world that is dependent on the first world growth for third world growth in the form of exported commodities and goods.  Absent first world growth, these demographically positive nations have little domestic earnings, savings, or access to credit to spur their own economies.
To make this point of third world dependency on first world global growth, I point to Latin America, Africa, and South Asia (India, Pakistan, Iran, Indonesia).
Latin America
The primary energy consumption of the top 12 Latin American economies, by GDP, is charted below (Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Panama, Costa Rica).  If the roll-over in the blue line of total primary energy consumption isn't clear enough, check the collapse in annual energy demand growth.  Note previous global recessions generally correspond with the periods of low growth and decline in Latin American energy demand...and 2016/2017 was unlike anything Latin America had ever seen, including 2009.Southern Asia
The primary energy consumption of the largest South Asian nations charted below (India, Pakistan, Iran, Indonesia).  Again, the first world weakness is visible in the decelerating growth in the columns showing annual change.Africa
The primary energy consumption of Africa's top 12 economies, by GDP, is charted below (Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Kenya, Angola, Ethiopia, Ghana, Tanzania, Cote d'Ivoire, Libya).  Again, the first world weakness is showing up in the decelerating annual growth as global demand for commodities/exports has slackened.Back to demographics, and what the change in under 60 year old population looks like on an annual change basis in millions of persons.  Noteworthy is 2009 was the gateway from centuries of secular growth to what is now decades or perhaps centuries of secular decline.  2020 is really the jumping off point, as a period of minor under 60yr/old population declines ends, and the downside speed accelerates in these four regions (particularly China in East Asia).
In 2020, the global population of consumers will decline by 5 million.  By 2030, the decline will be "at least" 17 million annually.  Why "at least"?  This data from the UN assumes birth rates and total births in these four regions far above what was observed in 2018 and 2019 and these UN assumptions of rising fertility and births is projected through 2040.  Since 2007, birth rates and total births are significantly breaking to the downside, particularly in 2019...and the difference in these four regions was over 2 million fewer births in 2019 alone and the delta is only growing over time.  The actual declines in the under 60 population will likely be in excess of 20 million by 2030.  In 2020, we are looking at a 0.2% to 0.3% annual decline in consumers with the jobs, income, savings, and/or access to credit to consume.  By 2030, the annual decline will be up to 0.7% to 0.8%.  It is very hard to grow when you are shrinking...and all the poor and third world nations are dependent on the demand growth among these four consumer regions for their growth.  You can see the problem (unless you are paid quite handsomely not to see it).
But what of the rest of the world?  The chart below shows the annual change in the rest of the world under 60 year-old population (excluding Western / Eastern Europe, North America, and East Asia).  Note a clear period of accelerating annual growth from 1950 until 1989, a two decade plateau of relatively no change to that annual growth (annually adding about 60 million under-60 year-olds), and now we are in the secular period of decelerating population growth among the under 60 year-old RoW.  Again, oongoing outright population declines among first world and decelerating growth among the rest of the world, progressively shifting from developing nations to the poorest of poor nations.
Strangely, the Federal Reserve and like central banks, in conjunction with federal governments, are making money ever cheaper with the aim of a continuation in global productive the face of fast declining populations that do all the consuming.  We are officially in a farcical period of fiscal lunacy and monetary policy in the face of depopulation among the global consumer base.
Population data via UN World Population Prospects 2019, energy data via US EIA.


  1. Chris, simplify things. Before you censor my comment, let me remind you that nobody else is even reading or commenting here. Take that into account.

    For the world as a whole, simply look at births minus deaths. Are births minus deaths positive, resulting in population growth? The answer is yes.

    For a given nation, look at births minus deaths and net migration. Are births minus deaths positive in America, and is net migration positive? Yes. So, the population of America will rise to infinity if present trends continue.

    Are some nations such as Japan going to decline because of the opposite - deaths outpacing births, and zero or negative net migration? Yes. But that doesn't impact the system. Japan has so much capacity that it can continue consuming and producing even in the face of population decline.

    People don't matter...fossil fuels do. It's the fuels doing the work in the world today. If fuels are available, global population will continue to rise. If fuels become unavailable, global population will decline.

    Simple, no need for complicated age related demographic analysis. It's interesting, mind you, but you're wasting your time. I can tell you are putting a lot of thought into this, why not go out there and make some money or bang some chicks or buy a Tesla or something? You'll end up happier in mid life and beyond rather than producing a lot of graphs that don't amount to a hill of beans.


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