Sunday, August 11, 2019

Declining Quantity Of Consumers Vs. Increasing Energy Consumption?!?

I compare the UN World Population Prospects 2019 report (split by the World Bank Gross National Income data) vs. the EIA International Energy Outlook 2017 (showing total global energy consumption).
I show the observed data sets from 1980 through 2018 and projected data sets from 2019 through 2050.
Imminent declines in the wealthier nations consumer populations are sure to mean significantly larger decelerations in Energy Consumption than presently forecast.
The ongoing but decelerating Poorer Nations population growth will not make up the difference.
A large, and likely non-linear, deceleration in global energy consumption appears likely.
Food for thought.  Utilizing data sets, rather than anecdotal evidence, can be helpful when attempting to understand the present and future realities we should anticipate.
Today, I compare the 2019 UN Population Prospects report vs. the EIA (US Energy Information Administration) International Energy Outlook 2017. 
  1. I split the world's 0-65 year-olds into roughly even populations by those nations with $4k (thousand) and above per capita purchasing power (solid blue line below) vs. those nations with per capita purchasing power below $4k (solid red line below).
  2. I compare total energy consumption, split by the same wealthier nations (dashed blue line) versus poorer nations (dashed red line).
  • The "above $4k" nations have an average purchasing power of over $16k per capita income while those nations "below $4k" average $1.6k.  This is about a 10 fold discrepancy in purchasing and consuming power of the wealthier vs. the poorer citizens of the world for what are essentially globally consistently priced commodities and exports. 
  • The wealthier nations consume just over 88% of the worlds energy and the poor nations the remaining 12%.
  • The data from 1980 through 2018 are actual observations while the data from 2019 through 2050 are projections.
In order to see better understand what is taking place, the chart below shows population change of the two groups on an annual change basis.  As the chart details, population change of the wealthier nations 0-65yr/old population (blue columns) has decelerated from +38 million annually in 1988 to just +5 million annually in 2019, and is set to cease growing as of 2023.  By 2035, this wealthier population is projected to be declining by about -15 million annually (this is assuming ongoing high rates of immigration, absent this, the declines will be larger).  Meanwhile, 0-65 year-old population growth among the poorer nations gently accelerated from '88 through '18 (+47 million to +53 million annually) but growth is now projected to continue a consistent deceleration to +35 million by 2050.  Fascinatingly, these changes in annual population growth are not expected to have significant impact on the trend growth of energy consumption (wealthier nations energy consumption=blue dashed line vs. poorer nations energy consumption=red dashed line).
Finally, detailing annual change in population and annual change in energy consumption.  As above, the annual population change of wealthier nations, (blue columns) versus poorer nations (red columns) but detailing the annual change in energy consumption of wealthier nations (blue line) versus annual change in energy consumption of poorer nations (red line).
Given the high volatility of the changing energy consumption vs. the relatively smooth population changes in the chart above, the last two charts average out the differing wealthier and poorer nations annual change in population and like annual change in energy consumption from 1980 through 2018 and 2019 through 2050.
First, Wealthier Nations...
From 1980 through 2018, wealthier nations saw an average annual increase of 24 million 0-65 year-olds versus an annual energy consumption increase of 6.9 quadrillion BTU's.
From 2019 through 2050, wealthier nations are projected to see an average annual decline of -8 million 0-65 year-olds versus an annual increase in energy consumption by 4.8 quadrillion BTU.
And Poorer Nations...
From 1980 through 2018, poorer nations saw an average increase of 49 million 0-65 year-olds annually versus an annual energy consumption increase of 1.4 quadrillion BTU's.
From 2019 through 2050, poorer nations are projected to see an average annual increase of 46 million 0-65 year-olds versus an annual increase of energy consumption of 1.9 quadrillion BTU's.
From 2019 through 2050, the consumer of 88% of earths energy, the wealthier nations, are expected to increase their total energy consumption by 154 quadrillion BTU's (+29%) versus a 62 quadrillion BTU increase among the poor nations (+87%).  This is based on an assumption of a 39% wealthy energy consumption increase on a per capita basis...versus a 33% increase on a per capita basis among the poor nations of the world.
The 2019 through 2050 wealthy energy consumption is a very strange projection that wealthier nations will significantly increase their total energy consumption against shrinking workforces, decelerating need for more infrastructure, more factories, more supply chains, etc..  Further, this is strange given continued innovation and conservation efforts in the creation and utilization of energy from all sources.

Again, food for thought.  The chart below is the annual change in the wealthier 0-65 year-old population (blue columns), the annual change in their energy consumption (blue dashed line), annual change in the poorer nations energy consumption (red dashed line), and the federal funds rate (yellow line). Simply put, as population growth decelerated, the federal funds rate was systematically cut (in conjunction with large quantities of stimulus) and subsequent to each cut, energy consumption spiked (the only exception being the energy consumption decline associated with the break-up of the Soviet Union).

And pulling it all together from 1980 through 2050.  We are now in year 38 of secularly declining federal funds rate to incent greater leverage (debt) to offset the decelerating wealthier 0-65 year-old population growth.  The boom-bust impact on energy consumption of the wealthier nations is apparent as is the relative insignificance of the poorer nations upon the global energy consumption.  Perhaps one more boom-bust cycle is possible based on the imminent implementation of NIRP in conjunction with the latest-greatest stimulus/QE/WTF?!? programs, all in an effort to goose the engine one more time...but I don't think so.

My two the UN medium variant population data is overstating population growth (and understating population declines among the wealthy nations) and that the EIA International Energy Outlook is somewhere from mildly to wildly overstating energy consumption growth.  With a soon to be shrinking working age consumer base among the wealthier nations who do nearly 90% of the global consuming, the already existing oversupply of capacity will only grow larger.  This lack of demand growth will block the poorer nations from developing and producing further supply.  This lack of global demand will mean little to no export based growth among the poorer nations (no repeat of the "Asian tigers" or anticipated "S-curves" for India or Africa).  As these two data sets are trued up to reality (and one another), the implications for the present and future will be a very different world than is currently being projected.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Young Adults Vs. Elderly, Urban Vs. Rural. Simultaneous Housing Scarcity & Surplus

The Quantity of New Potential Homebuyers is Decelerating to a Trickle.
The Quantity of Potential Sellers is Surging.
This Mismatch Will Continue to Drive The Federal Reserve to Cut the Federal Funds Rate (& Resultant Mortgage Rates) to Record Lows.
The Net Result is a National Oversupply of Housing, Particularly in Rural Areas, While Select Urban Markets Continue to Face Housing Shortages.
Just a few charts today to make a simple point regarding the present and future of the housing market.

1960 through 2019

Potential Home Sellers
1- 65+ year-olds have the highest homeownership rate, presently 78% of these folks own their own home and they are over-represented in rural areas
2- 65+ year-olds now account for over 75% of the net annual population growth in America (red columns below)...with annual 65+ growth rising from +0.3 million in 1960 up to +1.6 million as of 2019
3- 65+ year-olds also account for 75% of annual deaths (grey negative columns below)...with elderly deaths accelerating from -1.1 million annually in 1960 to -2.1 million as of 2019 (to clarify, in 2019 this means +3.7 million enter the 65+ crowd but 2.1 million exit...leaving a net increase of +1.6 million)
4- When elderly die, there are a couple options for their property...
-A) will it to their heirs
-B) sell it to settle their affairs (as in the case of reverse mortgages) 
Generally their heirs either occupy the home themselves (and sell or rent their existing home) or sell or rent the deceased parties property.  The net result in all these scenarios is a net addition of housing to the market (either as a rental or property for sale).
Potential Home Buyers
5- 20 to 64 year-old annual population growth has decelerated from the 1998 peak of +2.4 million annually to just +0.5 million, as of 2019 (blue columns, below)...but they are over-represented in select urban areas
6- Those under 35 years-old (entering the 20-64 year-old population) have just a 36% homeownership rate, but the lack of 20-64 year-oid population growth coupled with record student loan debt, record rents as a percentage of income, minimal savings, record delayed marriages (average now over 30yrs/old) and record low birth / fertility rates all continues to undermine rising homeownership rate and total growth of potential buyers
Potential New Homes
7- The annual quantity of new homes (represented below by annual housing line) varied from 1 million to 2.2 million annually from 1960 through 2005...on the whole driven by the annual growth of potential buyers among the 20 to 65 year-old population with significant short term gyrations due to the impact of changes in the Federal Funds rate (yellow line), driving mortgage rates up/down.
Since 2005, new permits (like the 20-65 year-old annual population growth) collapsed but permits have partly recovered (thanks to a decade of ZIRP and the re-employment of the workforce following the GFC) while potential population growth among home buyers has continued to decelerate.

2019 through 2030

These trends only become more acute over the next decade (chart below, same as above but including projections from 2019 through 2030).  The imbalance of miniscule growth among potential buyers (blue columns) versus massive growth among potential sellers (65+ year-olds, red columns) and definite sellers (65+year-old deaths...grey columns).
Below, same chart as above but 1980 through 2030 and flipping the annual elderly deaths (grey columns) to put them into perspective against the potential annual change in potential buyers (blue columns), potential sellers (red columns), 30yr mortgage rate (yellow dashed line), and permits (black line).  These are the changing ingredients that make up the US housing market (and economy).  Just some food for thought.
The 2019 through 2030 chart below highlights the discrepancy of minimal potential buyers (blue columns), surging elderly (red columns), accelerating elderly deaths (grey columns), and likely implementation of NIRP (yellow dashed line) versus best guestimate for new housing creation (permits, black dashed line).
By 2023, the growth of potential home buyers will decline to just 0.2 million annually, deaths among elderly will accelerate to -2.4 million annually (bringing up to 1.9 million properties to the market, either as rentals or "for sale"), and population growth among the elderly will peak at +2.4 million annually.
The net-net of this is an absolute mess.  65+ year-olds (who already own homes) are not likely to buy another and are more likely to downsize &/or enter a nursing/memory care home.  The accelerating deaths among the property owning elderly will bring significantly more properties to market against a fast decelerating quantity of new buyers.  The Federal Reserve is almost sure to push the Federal Funds rate negative (implementing NIRP) to incent the largest segment of the US economy, homebuilding, to continue creating new product. The NIRP is also likely to push mortgage rates to record lows, (perhaps 2% for a 30yr fixed?) continuing to push leverage, speculation, and valuations higher?!?  Of course, the lack of working age population growth and the already existing state of full employment means that potential employment growth over the next decade will likewise be a trickle (at best)...again putting secular downward pressure on the potential for new home buyers.
On a fundamental national basis, this means the imbalance only gets more severe with significantly more potential sellers versus just a trickle of growth among potential buyers...and the Fed will do all it can to kick the can as long as possible.  Of course, the local realities are very unique and quite different.  Simultaneously, urban markets are exhibiting housing shortages (due to relatively positive demographics, population growth, and jobs growth) while rural markets face overwhelming housing surplus' (due to awful demographics, depopulation, and declining jobs).  I previously detailed the urban / rural discrepancies in demographics, population growth, employment, by region South, West, MidwestNortheast, and National Overview.
Population data via UN 2019 Population Prospects Report

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Why The Fed Is Compelled To Cut Rates. Housing, Housing, Housing

The Annual Growth Of Potential Home Buyers Is Decelerating To Near Zero And Will Remain There For The Next Decade.
The Annual Growth of Potential Sellers is Surging and Will Continue To Do So Over The Next Decade.
A Surplus of Homes Are Being Built Versus The Minimal Growth In Buyers.
The Fed Will Cut Rates In Pursuit Of Prolonging The Housing Bubble.
US Births, Fertility - 1950 to Present
From 2008 through 2018, there were 4.4 million fewer births in the US than the US Census estimated there would be in its 2008 projection.  2018 US births were over 500 thousand fewer than those seen in 2007.  The sharp and ongoing 12% decline in births since 2007 is entirely contrary to the sharp increases in asset prices and economic activity...and the Census and Federal Reserve expectations.  The chart below details annual births (blue columns) and the fertility rate (black line).  During each previous economic upturn and financial bubble, the gains were widespread enough to incent a higher fertility rate and higher quantity of births...until the opposite result has been observed for over a decade in the current cycle.  Whatever policies are in place are not translating to economic and financial well being among the child bearing population...and fertility and births reflect this.
Below, births (blue columns) versus the population segments.  The dark blue line representing the 0-14yr/old population versus the 45+yr/old population (red line) is so telling.  Since 1962, the 0-14yr/old population is essentially unchanged while the 45+yr/old population has more than doubled...rising by +76 million.  Meanwhile, the minor increases in the 15-45yr/old childbearing population (yellow line) continue to be overridden by falling fertility rates.  Thus a childbearing population that is nearly double the size it was in 1957 is having 12% fewer total births...and births continue falling fast.
Ok, you get the idea.  Total births in 2018 were 12% below the 2007 and 1957 double birth peaks and 17% below what was projected by the Census just a decade earlier.  The vast majority of population growth is now among the 65+ year old particular, the fastest growing segment by percentage and also in total numbers is the 75+ year olds.
Home Buying Population, Housing Permits, Interest/Mortgage Rates
So, what does this mean for housing?  On a net basis, nearly all housing is purchased by the 20 to 64yr/old population, the chart below shows their annual change (blue columns), housing permits (black columns), Federal Funds rate (yellow dashed line), and the 30 year mortgage (red dashed line).  The 20 to 64yr/old population saw twin annual growth peaks in 1981 and 1998, adding in excess of 2.2 and 2.4 million during those two years.  As for housing permits, they vacillated from 1 to 2.2 million annually from 1965 to 2005.  But the core population and housing permits essentially haphazardly mirrored one another from '65 through '05.  However, since '05 permits tanked unlike anything seen since 1950 while growth among potential buyers has fallen to levels unseen since prior to 1950.  Of course, the adoption of ZIRP by the Fed and record low 30 year mortgages have spurred home conjunction with investors looking for a cash flow vehicle and foreigners looking for a safe place to park excess cash.  However, now all three sources of buying have their own problems...population growth among buyers is falling away, foreigners have been spooked by currency and administration actions, and investors facing rent-to-property valuation ceilings.
And everything, save for one, is about to get worse aside from the Federal Funds rate (and resultant mortgage rates) going down.  While valuations are through the roof, annual growth of potential buyers is a fraction of that seen in '98 or '05, foreigners have net ceased their purchasing partly due to relative dollar strength, and whether foreign or domestic, investing at these valuations with flattening rents simply no longer pencils.
As the blue columns in the chart above from 2019 through 2030 show, the annual growth of buyers will be at a level unseen since before WWII.  By 2021, 20 to 64 year old growth is projected to be just 200 thousand annually (and this is entirely dependent on immigration, otherwise declines will rule).  On a monthly basis, this means less than 20 thousand new potential employees, less than 20 thousand new potential homebuyers, car buyers, etc. per month.  So, the next decade is one of essentially little to no growth among buyers (blue columns below) while potential sellers (65+ year olds, red columns) surge.  The case for full employment and minimal further working age population growth (and thus, minimal further jobs growth) is made HERE.
Anyone unsure of the Fed's motives in cutting interest rates need only look at the primary pillar of the US economy, the housing market, the decline of potential buyers versus surge in sellers.  The only remaining tool the Fed has is ZIRP and more likely NIRP to hammer mortgage rates to new record lows in an attempt to continue blowing the housing bubble and save the banks from their fate, otherwise.
Birth data is via the CDC, population data via the UN report, World Population Prospects 2019.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Soaring Debt Vs. Shrinking Populations Of Young To Repay Or Service That Debt

Global debt is currently at $246.5 trillion and primarily in the Wealthier, Consumer Nations of the world.
The population of young in Consumer Nations has fallen 12% or over 100 million Since Peaking in 1975.
Debt on a per capita basis gauged against the consumer nations young is going parabolic.
For nearly a half century wealthy nations young populations have been declining versus rising young among poor nations...offset by secularly declining interest rates and the addition of over $240 trillion in global debt to maintain unnaturally high rates of economic growth.  The consumer nations population of relatively wealthy young has been declining for nearly 4 and a half decades, falling over 100 million or 12% during that span.  The population of relatively poorer nations young has increased by nearly 190% or increased by 570 million.  On average, each wealthier nations young person represents $26.5k in per capita consumption versus each poor nations young represents $1.5k in per capita consumption.  Said otherwise, it takes 15 more poor nations inhabitants to replace the loss of every one wealthier nations inhabitant to simply maintain flat consumption, thus the impetus for interest rate cuts and massive increases in debt among the wealthy.  Obviously, consumption hasn't been flat but has grown tremendously, primarily thanks to interest rate cuts, cheap debt, and only in a very small part from growth in consumption among the poorer nations population gains.

As I started in my last article, the world is characterized by stark inequalities among the global nations of "haves" and "have-nots". The World Bank is kind enough to categorize the world's nations into four buckets by the Atlas Gross National Income per capita (geographically detailed HERE and listed HERE). High income nations range from $84k to $12k per capita, Upper Middle income nations $12k-$4k per capita, Lower Middle income nations $4k to $1k, and Low income nations less than $1k per capita. To simplify what is taking place, I sweep the high and upper middle income nations 0-15yr/old populations together (blue line below), as these nations represent 90% of the global income, savings, and access to credit. They consume 90% of the global energy and purchase 90% of the global exports. They drive global economic activity. Likewise, I sweep the have-nots 0-15yr/old populations together (tan line, below).  To view the full picture, I include global debt (red line) and the Federal Funds rate (black dashed line).
Looking at the same chart but running through 2050, with UN population projections and debt estimated to continue growing at the same pace it has since 1950 (these #'s are inclusive of the impact of immigration and emigration).  Continued declines among the wealthy young consumers, growth among poor young non-consumers, and debt running from the current $250 trillion up to $2.6 quadrillion.  NIRP (negative interest rate policy) will be necessary to enable this sort of wildly irresponsible debt load.
And looking at the debt on a per capita basis of young in the consumer nations, the chart below shows the impressive rise of debt against a long decline in consumer nations young.  As of 2019, the per capita debt is over $334k per youngster.  But that is nothing compared to what is coming...
The chart below takes the UN population projection and estimated global debt through 2050, and drum roll please, by 2050 every consumer nation under 15 year old will be responsible for over $4 million in per capita debt.  That is the magic of surging debt and declining population...and that is entirely unworkable.  There is no possible way to repay or even service this sort of debt load in any free-market based fashion.
And just to round things out, the chart below shows annual changes in the populations of wealthier versus poorer nations under 15 year olds.  Also included is the rising debt, for some perspective on the role of debt in maintaining the growth of consumption.
Ok, to really round out the picture, here is the flip side of the equation...the 65+ year old populations of the same groupings of nations.
And annual changes in the populations...note the sharp acceleration in annual growth of consumer nations elderly since 2007 and the massive increases still to come.  This isn't even mentioning the unfunded pensions and liabilities due to these elderly.
And putting the changing population growth in perspective, the same groupings below but showing only the 0-65 year old annual changes among the wealthier and poorer nations alongside the Federal Funds rate (yellow line).  Note the deceleration of wealthier under 65 year old population growth from 2007 to now, and by 2023 turning to secular outright depopulation of consumer nations under 65 year olds throughout the remainder of the century.
Again, the growth in potential consumption among the far poorer populations in no way offsets the declining potential of consumption among the declining wealthier populations...without ZIRP (or more likely NIRP) and debt of gargantuan proportions.

Monday, July 22, 2019

How This Plays Out?!? Deceleration, Interest Rate & Asset Price Distortion, Debt, Deflation, Depopulation, Depression, Default

Some folks have asked how the current population and demographic scenario plays out and the impacts on economics, financials, politics, and the environment.  To give my best two cents, I offer the concept of stock versus flow.  The world is all about growth; month over month, quarter over quarter, and year over year growth. Not stock but flow.  In a world of 7.8 billion persons, from a growth perspective all that matters is the year over year growth of the population, the economy, financial assets.  Obviously, I'm going to focus on the nexus...population growth according to the UN World Population Prospects, 2019 (linked HERE).

From 1950 to 1988, total year over year global population growth accelerated from +48 million/yr up to +93 million/yr (chart below).  But since 1988, total year over year global population growth has been decelerating, now growing "only" +81 million annually in 2019, or 12 million fewer than the peak in 1988. By 2050, the UN estimates that total year over year growth will be somewhere between +48 million/yr (medium variant) to just +10 million/yr (low variant).

But the world is characterized by stark inequalities among the "haves" and "have-nots".  The World Bank is kind enough to categorize the worlds nations into four buckets by the Atlas Gross National Income per capita (geographically detailed HERE and listed HERE).  High income nations range from $84k to $12k per capita, Upper Middle income nations $12k-$4k per capita, Lower Middle income nations $4k to $1k, and Low income nations less than $1k per capita.  To simplify what is taking place, I sweep the high and upper middle income nations 0-65yr/old populations together (blue line below), as these nations represent 90% of the global income, savings, and access to credit.  They consume 90% of the energy and purchase 90% of the global exports.  They drive global economic activity.  Likewise, I sweep the have-nots 0-65yr/old populations together (tan line, below).

The momentous takeaway should be that population growth among the 0-65yr/old global consumers is on the precipice of ending...and the end of growth is the beginning of secular decline.  The lack of an effective transfer of wealth (and demand transfer) from haves to have nots is now a huge issue.

Perhaps it is easier to see the annual change in the two population sets, as annual growth among the consumers peaked in 1969 (blue columns below) and has been decelerating for nearly five decades.  But according to the UN, the growth of global 0-65yr/old consumers will cease in 2023 and declines among the consumers will accelerate, reaching up to -20 million annually by 2053.  As for the non-consumers (tan columns), they have progressed up and through peak growth and are now beginning a secular deceleration of growth.  To highlight which group drives demand, consumption, and inflation...I add the Federal Funds Rate (yellow line).  The FFR clearly tracked the accelerating and then decelerating growth among the consumers...and the case for ZIRP is pretty plain as a collapsing number of consumers versus rising total assets is imminent.

So, as growth among the consumers accelerated from 1950 through 1980, the Fed strangely made capital prohibitively more expensive, thus capping the growth of capacity against fast rising demand, thus stoking inflationary spirals.  Then, as the annual growth in demand began decelerating from 1980 to present, the Fed made capital progressively cheaper stoking overcapacity and deflationary excess.

If the Fed's goal was to manage the economy (and inflation and jobs within that context), the interest rate curve should have been the inverse supporting growth in capacity alongside accelerating growth in demand from 1950 to 1980.  And once demand was waning, higher rates would have been sensible to avoid cheap money fueling the creation of capacity into declelerating demand.  Whether the Fed's (and like central banks) intention was to strangle global economic activity and stoke inflation to control population growth, I have no way of knowing.  But with widely accessible birth control making child birth a conscious determination and costs of living rising well in advance of wages, each asset bubbles pushed fertility rates and population growth down further.

The chart below shows fertility rates from 1950 to 2020 and UN medium and low variants through 2100.  The UN predicts that in 2020, all regions except Africa will have fertility rates below 2.1 or negative fertility rates (ok, Asia is anticipated to turn negative by 2025).  What is surprising is the expectation that North America and Europe fertility rates will rise, particularly as they both continue to collapse to all time lows since 2007.  As for Africa, fertility rates are plummeting and expected to continue doing so...but the ongoing growth that Africa represents is not translating as it very low emigration rates, particularly compared to Central America or South Asia.

So, with tanking fertility rates and a declining childbearing population among the consumer nations ever since 2007, the confidence level is very high that growth isn't coming back any decade soon.  The chart below shows the annual change in the childbearing populations of consumers (blue columns) and non-consumers (tan columns).  This is a process of depopulation among the consumer nations that is already in the advanced stages.  Again, I include the Federal Funds Rate, as it is nearly a 1:1 match with the annual change of the consumer nations childbearing population, and the changing demand they represent.  The implication is that population growth leads (changing demand) and the Federal Funds rate ongoing rate policy shouldn't be hard to cipher.

What happens now?  A declining global workforce among the consumer nations (aka, declining potential consumers) versus the overcapacity of real goods, services, and assets (real estate, stocks, bonds, commodities).  This is a deflationary spiral only exacerbated by low rates incenting even more capacity creation thanks to ZIRP or more likely NIRP (paying debtors to take out further loans).  The cheap money is also fueling innovation, automation, robots, and autonomous vehicles, etc. (all good things, in a vacuum) that are all further exacerbating the deflationary spiral via ever greater capacity absent creating like demand.  Global commodity demand is likely to likewise collapse far sooner than anticipated and large overcapacities will likely stymy further "green" efforts.

This cheap money is rewarding asset holders more than wage earners (particularly asset-lite or asset-less young adults who comprise the childbearing population). These policies of inflating asset prices are rewarding elderly and institutions who own the bulk of assets over the young adults who are being penalized with record rents, home prices, insurance, medical costs, day care costs, and student loans, etc..  All this is further delaying marriage and family formation and only pushing fertility rates toward the low variant.  The global population is set to peak far sooner and more dramatically than the UN's current 2100'ish date.

All the D's are now in play; in the rearview mirror are the deceleration of population growth and concomitant decelerating economic growth, interest rate distortions to provide false signals to the market resulting in excessive personal, corporate, and federal debt.  The interest rate distortions have and continue to push asset price distortions.  Currently deflation is sweeping the globe, leading to upcoming outright depopulation, depression, and ultimately corporate and/or national currency defaults.  A debt and leverage based monetary system premised on continually stealing demand from an ever greater future is simply broken now.  The Ponzi is now clearly visible (how can perpetually ever more debt, upwards of $250 trillion, be repaid or even serviced by ever fewer persons of means?) but central banks are sworn to see this to it's broken end.  A terrible daisy chain of events has long been underway and although we still have better options, at every fork we seem to take the wrong turn.  In the not too distant tumult, those least responsible and those who played by the rules will likely disproportionately suffer the consequences as the bedrock on which they have built their homes, retirements, and dreams crumbles away.