Monday, December 21, 2020

"You Met Me at a Very Strange Time in My Life"

As we near 2021, I offer a prepper to detail where we stand demographically heading into the new year and close with a great clip from Fight Club summing up where we stand.

To begin, I'll divide the world into two roughly equal groups, consumers and non-consumers, using the World Bank gross national income per capita.

"Consumers" are half the worlds population, have average income per capita above $4,045...enjoy 80%+ of the income, savings, access to credit and likewise consume 80%+ of the worlds exported commodities and 80%+ of the worlds energy. They have average income of $12,000'ish. Consumers include:

  • 83 High Income Nations ($12,536+) - EU, US/Canada, Japan, Australia/NZ, Saudi Arabia/UAE, S. Korea, Taiwan, Israel
  • 56 Upper Middle Income Nations ($4,046-$12,535) - China, Mexico, Brazil, Russia, Iran/Iraq, Indonesia, Argentina, Thailand, Colombia/Venezuela

"Low or Non-consumers", the other half of the worlds population, have average income per capita of a few hundred dollars to $4044...earn less than 20% of world income, savings, access to credit and consume less than 20% of all exported commodities and burn less than 20% of global energy. They have average income of about $1,200 a year...10x less per person among non-consumers than the average "consumer".

  • 50 Lower Middle Income Nations ($1,036 to $4045) - India/Pakistan, Philippines, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Egypt, Vietnam, Ukraine, Honduras/Nicaragua/El Salvador, Bolivia
  • 29 Low Income Nations ($1,035 and below) - Afghanistan, Haiti, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, N. Korea, Madagascar, Chad, Uganda

Critically, as you read through this and see large scale present and future population declines among the consumer will note that while there is growth among non-consumer populations, it is more typically on a 1:1 basis...meaning the decline of one "consumer" is being met with the replacement of one "non-consumer"...each replacement resulting in something like a 90% decline in consumption capability.

First, a look at the head waters of global demand...annual global births. The yellow shaded area in the chart below shows global births peaked at approx. 135 million annually in 1989...and have not likely ever returned to that high water mark. Although UN expected 2020 births to surpass the 1989 quantity...when the UN releases its next updated report, births will have been adjusted down by millions to reflect the reality demographers have been witnessing, putting births well below the 1989 peak. And in 2021, the dearth of global pregnancies in 2020 will turn into one of the largest birth dearth in history.

Family formation and resultant births is the greatest force in creating growing demand (inflation). UN data shows that annual "consumer" births (blue line, below) have declined by 18 million from the 1989 peak back to the same number of births as were seen in 1950.  A full roundtrip, with 4 decades of rising births followed by 3 decades of declining births. These consumer nation numbers are generally inclusive of the births to immigrants within the consumer nations...absent that, the decline would have been much steeper. Low consumer nation births (yellow line) have risen by the same quantity as consumer nation declines. Both are expected to maintain their current trajectories...Low consumer births continuing to replace consumer births 1:1.

For those paying attention, inflation (as represented by the Federal Reserve set Federal Funds Rate) has been declining nearly in tandem with the declining consumer nation births, and global debt has blasted off inversely...with the impact of pulling demand forward against a future with organically declining demand. The question here, how would an ever smaller future of consumers pay off or outgrow ever more debt???

Narrowing in on high income nation births versus low income nation births...Not hard to see where this is going.

Given 30 years of declining consumer nation births, no surprise the childbearing population among consumer nations is now in decline versus ongoing growth in the low consumer nations childbearing population.
Below, checking the year over year change of the high versus low consumer populations. The acceleration and deceleration of the "consumer" childbearing population (essentially mirrored by the Federal Funds Rate), note the apex of growth among low consumer nations has come and gone. Declining consumer nation childbearing populations and decelerating childbearing growth among low consumer nations is all we can expect from here.
And the demographic flow through means the apex of the 0-65 year old consumer nations population has just been reached, and continued declines are to be expected from here. Again, the consumer declines are anticipated to be offset by low consumer population growth (much of the anticipated growth to be significantly longer low consumer nation lifespans leading to larger elderly populations...while growth among low consumer younger populations decelerates).
Again, checking the year over year change that is now turned to consumer nations secular depopulation and decelerating growth among low consumer nations.
To round out the picture, 65+ consumers versus 65+ low consumers.
Year over year change in consumer vs. low consumer 65+ year old populations.
US of A
Despite all the US population growth and immigration, the US has only marginally exceeded the 1957 peak in annual births in a single year, 2007. And since that dual peak in 2007, births have again fallen by nearly 700,000 (-16%) fewer births annually. However, the imminent 2021 Covid-19 induced waterfall event in births will see 1+ million (-26%) fewer births than the '57/'07 dual peaks. Among major influences on the birth rate is the Fed's FFR% and asset purchasing resulting in large asset inflation essentially punishing young adults whom have few to no assets. Expenses rising  well ahead of incomes. Resultant lower marriage rates, births are an outflow of Federal Reserve policy.
Below, a simple birth to debt ratio to gauge the creation of all that debt against the future responsible for outgrowing, repaying, and/or servicing that debt. The curve of falling births and exploding debt has gone parabolic.
Working Age Population
To wrap it up, check the 15 to 64 year old population (blue line) versus those employed among the same age group (green line). Shouldn't be hard to see the decelerating population growth and the even faster decelerating employment growth.
Same population/employment as above but adding in the Federal Reserve set FFR% and expansion of Federal Reserve balance sheet (QE)...and the impact of those policies to encourage greater federal debt.
The Federal Reserve is tasked w/ stable prices (lol) and full employment.  Below, you can see the means to achieve full employment has been ever lower interest rates, more QE, to encourage ever higher debt fueled economic activity.
But if you add in the Wilshire 5000 (representing all publicly traded US equities), you can see quite clearly the primary winner of each progressive "full employment" cycle are not the employees but a shrinking percentage who hold a fast growing percentage of assets.
I'd be a bit remiss not to take a peek at housing. Below, annual change in the working age population (white line), 30 year fixed mortgage rate (grey line), and housing permits (blue line). What is taking place now has never happened as the Federal Reserve's interest rate setting and QE have pulled the 30 year fixed mortgage rates to record lows...while housing permits are being issued far in excess of the declining population of potential buyers.  All this while the elderly population, with the highest homeownership rates, turn to net sellers as they downsize or leave inherited properties to their heirs. In all cases, a surge of housing units is coming for a declining basis of buyers.
Looking a little closer at the same data as above, from 2000 to present.
Debt n Demographics
Quick review of US marketable public debt (red line), vs. Intragovernmental debt (debt held by SS trust funds, etc.), and Federal Funds rate. Essentially all debt issued from here forward will be marketable as the demographically driven IG rolls over to net declines. The US will be more reliant on foreigners, the Federal Reserve, and institutional buyers than ever before. This while the US government can afford essentially no higher interest payments than the present ZIRP induced reality.
Checking the annual change in marketable (red columns) vs IG (blue columns) debt, likewise change in 0-60 (green line) vs. 60+ (yellow line) year old US population, and again the Federal Funds rate.
For those curious to see the relationship of lower rates and ZIRP (black line) to encourage soaring debt; below are total US debt/GDP (blue line), Federal Government debt/GDP (red line), and the resulting heavens bound Wilshire 5000.
US Treasury Bonds
Below, Federal Reserve held US Treasury debt (yellow line) versus foreign holdings (black line). With so much more demographically driven issuance to come and so few buyers willing to buy US debt anywhere near current rates...the only natural buyer is a buyer whose motivation isn't profit but control. I'll bet the Fed isn't about to play the QT card again.
Comparing the soaring Federal Reserve held Treasury's to the largest holders of US debt; China, Japan, and the "BLUICS" compilation (Belgium, Luxembourg, UK, Ireland, Cayman Island, Switzerland). Despite running large dollar trade surplus', foreigners no longer recycle their excess dollars into Treasury's. But they must go somewhere...equities, precious metals, but perhaps particularly Bitcoin?
Only ongoing net buyer of US Treasury bonds are shadow banking nations with access to central bank swap lines rather than dollar based trade surplus'.  
Short and long of it...US is in a demographic driven decline, the federal government is committed to growth at all costs, the Federal Reserve is tasked with ensuring US Treasury bonds are not traded at "free market valuations".  And perhaps Bitcoin is the best way to short America?!?

Finally I mention Bitcoin and just show it versus the Federal Reserve's combined holdings of Treasury's and Mortgage Backed Securities, plus the operations undertaken leading to an ever larger balance sheet. The flood of $'s and removal of large scale quantities of assets are pushing asset prices higher but the combination of cheap interest rates (are boosting long term capacity) while only offering short term boosts to demand, are pushing commodity prices ever lower. Make of this what you will.
Anyway, about now the nature of 2020, 2021 should be more clear...this is no typical business cycle or pandemic. Decades of demographic deceleration and now outright demographic declines are at the heart of central bank ZIRP/NIRP, QE, and soaring debt. Demographics are destiny and by now is should be clear there is no means to ever outgrow this debt. This appears to be the initiation of a global reset, de facto or otherwise.

To wrap it, at the conclusion of Fight Club, after having killed his alter-ego & arranged for the destruction of all global credit records...Ed Norton says, "You met me at a very strange time in my life" as the credit records are all destroyed.  I believe the world is equally living a dissociated reality but will soon become painfully self aware of the truths we have so long disavowed. Enjoy the clip...Fight Club
*Population data from UN World Population Prospects 2019.

Friday, December 18, 2020

Response to Coronavirus in Oregon Has Entered the Surreal

Today, as Oregon's official count of positive Coronavirus tests nearly tops 100,000, Governor Kate Brown made the determination to extend the current economic lockdown through the very least.

Brown stated, "As we near 100,000 cases of COVID-19 in Oregon, and with hospitals and health care workers stretched to their limits, there is no doubt that COVID-19 continues to pose a public health threat," she said in a statement. "These are the darkest days in the pandemic".

The governor determined that the public health risk is so severe that she is compelled to lock down the economy and strip select citizens of their ability to run a business or make a living as an employee. Similar to eminent domain, wherein the government can force the compensated sale of land for the "public good" this case business owners are being stripped of their right to earn a living, pay their bills, provide employment...but the state is offering no compensation. To top it off, the state is offering marginal tax breaks to small business owners, the equivalent of a band aid to someone whom you've just decapitated.

Yet, I struggle to see within the publicly available data from the state, a pandemic that rises to the level of economic lockdown and stripping citizens (uncompensated) of their right to earn a living. Not that I want to speak of death...but to gauge the severity of the situation, the number of annual deaths rise nearly every year in Oregon, thanks to a growing and greying population. The chart below shows total annual deaths through 2020, looking rather inline with normal expectations (official data available through Oct., Nov/Dec deaths are estimated and included, as shown in lower charts).  Link to Oregon Health Authority (OHA).

Again, so we can gauge the seriousness of the situation, consider the changing deaths on a year over year basis from 2010 through 2020. To this point, the rise of deaths in 2020 does not look particularly out of the normal increase.
Attempting to leave no stone unturned, chart below puts 2020 monthly deaths in perspective against the past four years. While July and August deaths were abnormally higher, deaths returned to trend by September and October. Obviously, November and December deaths are my guess-estimate.
As for Oregon hospitals "stretched to their limits"...please consider that according to the Department of Health and Human Services (updated last 12/15, link HHS), Oregon is among the states with a below average percentage of Covid patients in the hospitals (10.6% of beds occupied by Covid patients), among normal total hospital utilization (75% of available beds are filled), and among slightly elevated ICU utilization (about 75% of ICU beds are occupied). I do not minimize the terrific and tough job the doctors, nurses, and front line responders are doing...but the data does not show a crisis to the degree of locking down the economy and stripping individuals of their rights.

Below, considering Oregon's Coronavirus cases, hospitalizations (severe cases), and deaths, by age groups. When compared to Spanish Flu, which hit young children and healthy 20-40yr/olds with high mortality rates...the profile is entirely reversed here. While young and young adults are the majority of Coronavirus cases, they are at very low risk of severe illness (requiring hospitalization) and at statistically infinitesimal risk of death. The young are the future and have so much to live for...and they are my greatest concern. The data shows their immune systems have been up to the task, thus far (data OHA).
So, the concern is among the elderly and those with well understood at-risk factors.  The rational course of action would be to minimize the elderly/at-risk interaction with the general public, focus the vaccinations on them (alongside health care workers), and utilize the tax base to support these people to help them manage their risk...rather than destroy the tax base and ask for more handouts from the federal government.

I doubt the governor nor the governors advisors will read this letter...or care much for my opinion formed from the states data. But I do wonder where these people are getting their data to form their opinions...because nowhere do I see a risk level that corresponds with economic repression, uncompensated loss of income, and for many, the ultimate loss of their business & means of self sufficiency.

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Update on US Treasury Debt, Demographic Causation, & Ongoing Federal Reserve Yield Curve Control

2020 has been quite a ride and although we've still a month to go, lets review US debt and interest rates.  

US marketable Treasury debt has increased by $4.2 trillion dollars thus far in 2020. This has driven US Treasury debt to $27.4 trillion. But nearly all the growth is coming among the marketable Treasury debt...while the demographically driven Intragovernmental (IG) debt (SS holdings, etc.) are in the process of rolling over.

Looking at annual change in marketable and IG debt (below), the aberration that is 2020 should be clear.  It is an explosion of federal marketable debt but concurrently, it is an unexpected and unplanned collapse in under 60 year old population that is coinciding with ZIRP, and an orgy of debt. While population growth in 2019 fell to just 1.55 million, 2020 will likely see total population growth of less than 1 million.  All the net growth will be among 60+ year olds (+1.9 million?) while the under 60 year old population will decline by 800,000...or perhaps a decline as in excess of 1 million. This inverting demographic pyramid, countered by the Federal Reserves ZIRP, QE, and federal government deficit spending is a bridge to nowhere (oh, where could I have heard this before???).
As for who is buying all this Treasury debt, it isn't foreigners, and it isn't banks, insurers, or the general US public looking for 1% yields.  It is the Federal Reserve that is maintaining a bid at anything near these rates.
Below, reviewing the Federal Reserves balance sheet, split between holdings of collective Treasury debt and MBS (Mortgage backed securities) vs dollar swap lines, repo's, etc. "Markets" have become dependent on the Federal Reserves consistent and reliable purchasing of US debt to maintain "confidence" in what is otherwise a broken market.
The only duration of US Treasury debt which the Federal Reserve has not yet broken new high ground during the latest round of QE is the 5 to 10 year duration (below)...but that is only a month or two away at the current pace.
To understand the impact that the Fed's purchasing has had to distort and avoid free market pricing, consider the following charts showing the Fed's holdings and the impact on relevant interest rates.  

Federal Reserve held less than one year Treasury debt and the resultant 3 month Treasury interest rate.  The short rates continues to be pegged to the floor while Fed net purchasing continues.
Like the three month Treasury, the three 3 year continues to lurk near the lowest rates in US long as the Fed continues to remain a net purchaser.
Mid duration Fed holdings have nearly made it back to the peak QE holdings, and although the 10yr is lurking at 2020 highs, rates continue to be lower than any previous time in history. The 10 year is the foundation upon which the 30 year mortgage is based, and between the Fed's T purchases and MBS buying, the Fed is dead set on pushing mortgage rates ever maintain the last of the air in the refi and housing bubbles.
As for the long bond, Fed holdings continue skyrocketing and funny enough, rates just haven't been able to return to any of the previous range that rates inhabited prior to the Fed's Yield Curve Control.  Any breakout from here will almost surely be countered by a quickening of Federal Reserve purchasing. It's that serious and that important that the Fed not allow "free markets" to determine the true rates of US debt.
No time for further thoughts tonight...big day of late season hiking tomorrow...and not really sure what I'd say, anyway, beyond the fact that the Fed will control rates, even if they have to print unlimited money to do so. You could probably (almost) take that one to the bank.

Friday, December 4, 2020

Open Letter to Governor Brown of Oregon; Re: Current Coronavirus Shutdown

I'm a proud native Oregonian.  I've lived in Asia, Europe, and travelled most of the world, but I choose to live in Oregon. It's that good.  Oregon is also great because it is a political and social dichotomy.  Ultra liberal Portland, Eugene, Bend vs ultra conservative rural Oregon. There is a little something for everybody...and I love every bit of it.

So, as I'm watching the states recent implosion...I'm heartsick. Like everywhere else, Coronavirus has found it's way into Oregon. In March, the state chose to shut down and enter into a prolonged lockdown. I disagreed but couldn't do so with great conviction, because the reliable data to prove the shutdown wasn't warranted just didn't exist. However, as reliable data has been growing...the state has chosen to keep schools closed, cancelling athletic and social clubs. alongside in person learning.  And now the state has entered a second partial lockdown; shutting down restaurants, gyms, bars, and other select business'.  At the most critical business time of the year, the state has taken business owners/employees ability to earn a living with no compensation offered. This has been done to slow the spread of Coronavirus and avoid an overwhelming crush of patients in the states hospitals.

Like the Governor, I too want to keep Oregonians from needlessly dying. But I'm also cognizant that the state government is there to serve the people, not dictate to them. The state is there to educate to the risk factors and respect it's citizens well informed decisions. Unilaterally taking away many Oregonians right to run small and large business', send their children to school, etc. would have to be done based on some very hard and lethal evidence. It is this evidence I want to review.

First, consider the total number of Coronavirus cases, per age group, and the associated deaths (chart below). It should be obvious that the under 50 year old population makes up the vast majority of positive cases (and actual cases are likely 5x to 10x higher due to asymptomatic &/or mild undiagnosed cases) but under 50 year olds make up so few of the Coronavirus deaths. 

Looking at cases and deaths, by age group (chart below), consider...
  • Under 30yr/olds = 37% of cases, 9% of hospitalizations, & 0.2% of deaths.
  • 30 to 60yr/olds = 46% of cases, 34% of hospitalizations, & 9.1% of deaths.
  • 60+yr/olds = 17% of cases, 57% of hospitalizations, & 91.7% of deaths.
From the above chart, it should be abundantly clear who the "at-risk" population is and where the focus of attention and support should be directed.  Not school closures or business closures...but helping the primarily elderly population with at-risk maladies avoid the general public...not have the generally well public avoid contact with the generally well public! These interactions and potential infections lead to few hospitalizations and a statistically minute number of deaths.

To emphasize the point of who is filling Oregon's hospitals, and who needs greater support and care in avoiding the general public...again, it is the elderly population that is utilizing the hospitals (chart below)...not the young. As for the young and concern of long term impacts from fighting Coronavirus, the numbers of severe cases requiring hospitalization as so rare that the percentage of those with long term issues will be statistically incredibly low.
Further, the CDC has made it plain that Coronavirus alone is very rarely the cause of death.  As per the CDC, "For 6% of the deaths, COVID-19 was the only cause mentioned. For deaths with conditions or causes in addition to COVID-19, on average, there were 2.6 additional conditions or causes per death." Coronavirus, on it's own, is statistically so unlikely to cause death among the general public that they can go on with their lives w/out undue fear...and the focus should be safeguarding the at-risk.

The point of this article is not to create greater division or offer more finger is to offer clear data that Oregonians who are healthy are at no great risk from Coronavirus. The economy should remain open while those in poor health (they generally know who they are; elderly, fighting cancer, obesity, type 2 diabetes, immunocompromised, COPD, etc.) should be offered support to help them to avoid contact with the general public. Households with at-risk persons should consider avoiding sending their children to school but be offered online schooling options.  And it is a shame that solutions to avoid the ongoing high mortality within nursing homes isn't getting more attention (encompassing nearly 40% of all Coronavirus deaths). 

Simply, the tax base should be used (rather than abused) supporting those at risk should to avoid general interaction until a vaccine is ready (why the generally healthy public would take a vaccine for a virus that poses little to no threat is a question for another day). Things like subsidizing Instacart online shopping rather than in person shopping, etc. etc. Let's get creative, as lives are on the line.  This is just common sense that the state would focus the quarantine on the small population of at-risk persons, and offer/focus their support/resources there rather than harm the large, well, not at-risk population. Lastly, small business owners running restaurants, bars, gyms, etc. providing jobs and tax revenue should be hailed rather than bankrupted.

Oregon has long been an innovator and leader, and now it is time for Oregon to learn and lead again. It is time to re-open Oregon's business' and focus the state's resources on protecting the at-risk population rather than harming the large at very low risk population.

The data for this article is taken from the Oregon Health Authority

I also offer the below national data from the CDC, generally mirroring that of Oregon, FYR.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Observation on Shifting US, Japanese "Full Employment", "Financial Crisis", & Asset Appreciation

What if rather than mathematical economic formula's and double speak, we just looked at the population of potential workers, by age groups, and employment among them. Then cross reference against the Federal Reserve set Fed Funds rate, Federal Reserve purchased assets, and the debt these policies incentive (I'll focus on federal debt, but the same is true for corporations, individuals).

What is plain? There was a period of economic growth via population growth, a period of growth via increasing participation among females, and now a period of "pseudo growth" via ZIRP, QE, and unrepayable federal debt accrual. And every time the economy hit "full employment" whereupon no further slack or potential employees are available, an economic crisis is declared.  What is also obvious is the interplay of ZIRP, QE, and debt to inflate asset prices.  All of the rate cuts, QE, and debt are undertaken to purportedly achieve the Fed's mandate of "full employment" but nearly all the real benefits flow to a shrinking cadre of institutional and elderly asset holders.  As for the poor, young adults, retirees living on fixed incomes...they are all punished via costs of living rising far faster than incomes thanks to the flow through of the higher asset prices.

25 to 54 year old Population / Employees

25 to 54 year old population (blue line) vs. those employed among them (green line), Fed Funds Rate % (dashed black line), Federal Reserve assets (yellow line), and US federal government marketable Treasury debt (red shaded area).

1- Population growth decelerates into and through 2007...and entirely ceases thereafter.

2- 25 to 54 year old employment growth ends as of 2000, and has been essentially flat-lining for twenty years.

3- Fed funds rate essentially moves inverse the population/employment rate of growth...rising as rate of growth accelerated and falling as growth decelerated...and then turned ZIRP as population/employment ceased growth.

4- From 1981, as population/employment growth decelerated, the Fed Funds Rate was consistently cut to encourage the substitution of debt for the decelerating growth. But since 2007, as population/employment growth no longer existed, ZIRP plus QE were abused to encourage the explosion of unrepayable debt...and debt that can only be serviced at ZIRP or more likely NIRP.

By simply dividing the employed vs. the population of the age group, we can see clearly where "full employment" lies.  As of 1989, full employment has occurred just over 80%...but to achieve the Fed's full employment mandate, it has taken exponentially lower rates and higher debt to fulfill that mandate.
The male vs. female participation (again, population vs. employed among them) explains why the total participation rate rose to 1989 and then has subsequently flatlined since. Female participation nearly doubled from 1960 to the peak of 2000...and since has risen no further.  All while male participation continually declines.
15 to 54 year old Population / Employees

Expanding to the wider 15 to 54 year old population & employees among them, still against the same variables.  You can see for yourself that population growth ended putting a lid on employment growth...and the substitution of cheaper/greater debt thanks to ZIRP and QE.
But to highlight the impact of the Federal Reserves reaction to no population/employment growth, check the Wilshire 5000 (representing all publicly traded US equity) added to the chart below.  The explosion of equities since ZIRP nicely mimics the surge in federal debt and Federal Reserve held assets.
And below you can find the real winners of the Federal Reserves "full employment" mandate...not employees but asset holders (again, see Wilshire 5000 below...but the same can be said for most leveraged financial assets benefitting from ever lower costs of interest service).
To punctuate the full inclusion of females into the workforce, check the 25 to 54 year old male / female participation (yes, duplicate from above) coupled with the now identical participation rates among 15 to 24 year old males and females.
15 to 24 year old population, employees among them, and participation rate.  Forty years of essentially zero population growth, declining employment among them, and declining participation begs the question of where economic, consumption, and financial growth will come from?
15 to 24 year old male, female participation. The rise, the 1989 peak of combined male/female participation, and thirty years of declining participation since.
15 to 74 year old Population / Employees
Widening out to the greatest possible "work force", below is the 15 to 74 year old population, employees, and like variables. What should be obvious is that all the population growth and employment growth since 2007 has been among the 55 to 74 year old population.  This point is critical as most "money" is created through debt via bank lending.  But most new home buyers, car purchasers, etc. are among the 15 to 54 year old population while the 55+ population are more typically neutral and trending to net deleveraging...or the destruction of currency.  As the population growth has shifted from net debtors to net "deleveragers", it is into this deflationary, dollar collapse that the Federal Reserve has stepped not just to avoid asset deflation...but offer a massive (yet temporary) asset inflation.
But as the final demographic growth bleeds out among the elderly, the "full employment" participation rate continues to decline...and ever greater ZIRP/NIRP, QE will be unleashed to get politicians to do what they want to do...spend.  It will also get corporations to undertake ever more debt as the servicing costs of that debt go to zero (or in the case of NIRP, they are paid to undertake debt).
Looking at the 15 to 74 year old male and female participation, the clear peak in 2000 and declining participation is plain to see.
But it's incomplete to review the US alone, without including the demographic patient zero, Japan.

15 to 64 year old population / Employees
Japan's working age population peaked in 1997 and has declined by 12 million (14%) since while employment among them has fallen by 3.6 million (6%).  The BoJ discount rate went to zero as the working age population ceased growth, incenting an explosion in debt/GDP, and since 2012 the Bank of Japan balance sheet has exploded.
Same as above except adding in the Nikkei 225 equity index, which peaked in 1989 but since the explosion in the Bank of Japan balance sheet, is likewise reflating...against all population/employment/economic fundamentals.
Note that the participation ratio (below) of 15 to 64 year old Japanese reached unheard of heights as of 2019.
This is solely due to females entering and staying in the workforce at higher rates than post-war Japan has ever seen.
In short, there was population growth, then female participation growth, and then the growth of ZIRP/NIRP, QE, and debt. The benefits of these different phases have shifted progressively toward the wealthiest. The Fed's full employment mandate (somehow never achieved, according to the Fed) has simply turned into an excuse to encourage unlimited / unrepayable debt...creating untold wealth for a decreasing few at an ever increasing pace.