This may not be a surprise to many males, but human females are unlike the rest of the animals on earth. Human females have a unique and totally differentiating factor from nearly all other animal life; their bodies cease being capable of pregnancy approximately half way through their life cycle. This natural change to sterility (menopause) does not happen in the animal kingdom (nor in human males) essentially so long as they live (ok, actually there may be a couple of whales and porpoises that may also go through menopause...but I digress). Animals and male humans are still able to reproduce nearly until the end. But not human females. Even before menopause fully takes over, typically around 50 years of age, fertility rates drop radically after 40 and miscarriages surge among those able to get pregnant. By 45, pregnancies essentially cease.
What the hell does this have to do with economics, you may be asking yourself? Judging the size and change of humankinds population is quite different than any other species on earth because of this truncated period of fertility among human females. Thus, to gauge the direction of our species, and the future consumption and potential economic activity, we must focus on annual births versus the 20 to 40 year-old female population and understand that the post childbearing, 40+ year-old female population is, from a fertility perspective, simply an inert echo chamber. The 20 to 40 and 40+ year-old populations shown below through 2040 are not estimates or projections but actual persons which already exist and (absent some pandemic, world war, or change in life spans) will slide through the next 20 years. All data (except where noted) comes from the UN World Population Prospects 2019 and they collect / compile all the data from the national and regional bodies. The only real variables in what I'll show below are immigration, deaths, and births over the next 20 years. I also primarily focus on the world excluding Africa. Africa consumes so little, has relatively very low emigration rates, is highly reliant on the rest of the world for it's economic growth, but from a population perspective, is growing so rapidly as to skew the picture.
The 80% of the world population that consumes 97% of exports/energy is at the onset of an indefinitely declining childbearing population, and coupled with ongoing declines in fertility rates, the UN projects that the decline in births (excluding Africa) taking place since 1989 will only continue. But I'll show why significantly lower annual births are far more realistic than the UN projections. And given nation after nation is reporting "shocking" declines in births in 2018 and again 2019...the estimated numbers of births are only set to be significantly lower as something very momentous appears to be happening.
Last 70 years... 1950-'89 +32 million annual births, +375 million female 20-40 year-olds, +320 million female 40+year-olds 1989-'20-17 million annual births, +230 million female 20-40year-olds, +680 million female 40+year-olds
Next 20 years... 2020-'40-10 million births annually by 2040, -32 million female 20-40year-olds, +435 million female 40+year-olds
Below, looking at the same data as above, but focusing on the year over year change of 20 to 40 year-olds (red columns) versus the same for 40+ year-olds (blue columns), annual births (black line), and federal funds rate (yellow line). From a global population perspective, the 1980's were the turning point; federal funds rate peaking in 1981 (restricting access to capital as the growth in global demand was at its zenith), annual childbearing female population growth peaking in 1985 (adding nearly 18 million females in that year alone), and annual births subsequently peaking in 1989. Since 1989, the under 40 year old annual growth keeps decelerating, the births keep declining, and the federal funds rate moving lower. In 2020 or 2021, the global childbearing population of females (excluding Africa) will begin outright declining. The only thing rising was the annual growth of the 40+ year old population. However, the echo of annual growth among the post childbearing female population will peak around 2028...and then rapidly begin the deceleration glide path (still growing, but much slower while the childbearing population will continue to be in outright decline indefinitely).
Looking at the picture through the global regions. East Asia (China, Japan, Taiwan, S/N Korea, Mongolia)
For East Asia, 1989 was peak annual births, and the crossover point of post-childbearing outnumbering childbearing was in 2000. Births continue tanking and so is the childbearing female population. Only the fertility-wise inert post childbearing population continues soaring. By 2040, the region is set to reach a 2.8 post-childbearing to childbearing ratio. The higher this ratio moves, the greater the financial and societal pressure of elderly generations on the younger generations...further negatively impacting fertility rates and economic demand/growth.
2020 births will be about 50% lower than the 1989 peak, and given the known decline of a minimum of 45 million females of childbearing age by 2040 (and almost 70 million fewer, or -30% fewer, than the 2000 peak) there is really no good reason (other than massive government intervention) that births don't fall significantly further. Today it was announced that 2019 births continued to spiral lower, at 14.5 million (53% below peak births). My guestimate below for Chinese births, blue dashed line, is likely to be too "optimistic". By 2040, there will be more than 2.7 post-childbearing females for every potential mother. And now a trade deal with a nation that has an indefinitely shrinking domestic demand and massive housing over-capacity, factory overcapacity, etc. for a population (let alone middle class population) that will never be coming...hmm, interesting.
If Japan were a human, now would be about the time to bring in hospice care. From a growth perspective, they are terminal as even the 40+ year-old segment is now making its turn to decline along with births and the childbearing population. By 2040, there will be more than 3.7 post-childbearing females for every potential mother. What saved Japan during the long decline in domestic demand, a long rise in global export demand...is now over. The Japanese / German models of reliance on exports to make up for decelerating/declining domestic demand was premised on fast rising global demand which is simply no longer supported by a growing global population of potential consumers.
Again and again I am shocked when I look at South Korea. The 70% collapse in annual births will only continue picking up speed to the downside as those capable of childbearing are in freefall...while the 40+ population dwarf's the under 40 year-olds by more than 2 to 1 now and will be almost 4 to 1 by 2040 (a done deal, not a prediction). Absent state mandated pregnancies (or the like) births will fall in excess of 80% and may even be down 90%+ by 2040? A society collectively choosing not to reproduce or replace themselves...essentially committing a collective suicide at a time of the most relative plenty Korea has ever known, it boggles the mind!?! Again, collapsing domestic demand while global export markets are turning away and inward to meet their needs...it boggles the mind and this is not going to be pretty.
Eastern Europe (Russia, Belarus, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Czechia, Hungary, Poland, Moldova, Romania, Slovakia)
By 2030, the childbearing females of Eastern Europe will be nearly a third fewer than existed as of 2011. I am suggesting that given a third fewer potential females of childbearing age and given continuing flat to falling fertility rates...births will be significantly lower than the UN is projecting. The existing decline of 50% is likely to be down something like 70%+ by 2040. Like Japan, Eastern Europe's post-childbearing population is set to begin declining around 2030, and accelerating depopulation will be the order of the day. 2030 will also be the peak post-childbearing to childbearing ratio at nearly 3 to 1.
Not as dramatic as East Asia or Eastern Europe thanks to ongoing immigration, but the destination is the same. Growing quantities among the post childbearing population and ever fewer births and potential mothers. Almost a 2.9 post child-bearing to child-bearing ratio by 2040. The weight of the promises made to the old to be paid from the young is a crushing weight only further depressing births.
The charts for the US have a big problem, they assume high rates of immigration (primarily of childbearing age) to maintain a flat childbearing population shown from 2020 through 2040. However, the reality is that in 2019, the US had the lowest population growth in it's history for three reasons; tanking births, net outflow among illegal Mexicans, and far tighter border controls reducing illegal immigration to a relative trickle. Further, the locations that legal US immigrants are now coming from (China, India) and the education and income levels of the females coming in...these immigrants have even lower fertility rates than the general US population.
For the native population, there are surging costs of living (rent, healthcare, insurance, daycare, education, etc.) above / beyond rising income, forcing couples to be DINK's (dual income, no kids) just to avoid financial wreck. Getting married and having children is simply a luxury more and more simply find beyond their means...and given widely available contraceptives, this is more of a choice than ever. The US ratio of post childbearing to childbearing will be a minimum of 2.2 by 2040...but if the childbearing population falls, as I expect, the ratio (and societal weight it represents) will move northward.
Latin America (Western Hemisphere except US/Canada)
Births are declining, the childbearing population is at it's zenith and will shortly begin its secular decline, and only the post-childbearing population is growing. By 2040, the childbearing to post childbearing ratio will be about 1.8 to 1.
Southeast Asia (Cambodia, Brunei, Indonesia, Lao, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam)
The growth of the childbearing population is over and a decades long period of a flat childbearing population is underway. Births will likely slowly recede with declining fertility rates among a zero growth childbearing population. By 2040, the post childbearing will outnumber the childbearing by a 1.8 to 1 ratio.
South Asia (India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Bhutan/Nepal, Sri Lanka)
Like Southeast Asia, a long period of zero growth among annual births will be coming through the childbearing population beginning in 2030. By 2040, India's childbearing population will essentially be at it's peak and the 1.4 post childbearing to 1 childbearing ratio will be ready to rip higher over the next two decades. The engine of population growth among the worlds most populous region has already stalled and begun to reverse although it will take decades before this is apparent in the overall population numbers.
But Africa Will Continue To Populate The Earth!?!
Finally, the charts below shows the year over year change in births among the world (excluding Africa) versus year over year change in Africa, from 1950 through 2040. Note the great gyrations for births among the world (black line) versus the smooth and steady year over year increases in Africa (aqua line)...except that one deceleration around 2018?!? All forward growth among births is anticipated to take place in Africa, essentially just offsetting the declining births among the remainder of the world.
Getting a closer look from 2000 through 2040, the great 2008 through 2018 deceleration (still growing, but much slower) in growth of births among Africa is much more noticeable. Also of import, this UN report came out in early 2019, and the last hard data is through 2018...most everything in the report from 2019 on is projections. So, note the hard data from 2008 through 2018 is suggesting the same issues plaguing the worldwide slowdown in births is likely impacting Africa as well. Of course, with a fast rising childbearing population in Africa, the UN demographers immediately project that Africa's births will return to high year over year increases from 2019 onward...rather than suggesting that the same something that has turned global births upside down world-over will continue to show up in Africa. Definitely something to watch as, again, the only thing keeping global births from really tanking has been Africa, but I've a funny feeling this depopulation contagion is likely working it's way through Africa now.
What is the point of all this? The global economy is premised on perpetual growth of demand, of supply, of money, of asset prices, etc. But the pre-eminent engine for the growth (at least for the last few centuries) has been a rising population. More people need more of everything. This means more factories, more supply networks, more infrastructure, more homes, more cars, creating more employment, etc. Including more loans and debt being lent into existence, particularly among the younger populations allowing for the purchase of vehicles, homes, etc. in the present to be repaid "later". But when the collective younger adult population, undertaking the vast majority of leverage, ceases growing and all the growth shifts to older and elderly adults, who undertake relatively low levels of debt or in elderly years move to outright deleverage...the money supply ceases to grow organically and begins to shrink antithetically to a perpetually growing system.
It has been a long run-up since WWII to get here; decades of rate hikes during accelerating demand (constricting supply of money and causing inflation), then decades of rate cuts during decelerating demand (expanding supply of money and causing deflation but simultaneously asset inflation), resultant debt through individuals, corporations, and federal governments, all intertwined with the deceleration of population growth. Since 2009, the Fed is committed to buying bonds so as to avoid a free-market pricing for those bonds and avoid yields on US debt that would soar and consume much/most of the federal taxes collected. The Fed is also now committed to not allow free-market pricing of assets based on decelerating population growth of young and large deleveraging among elderly. I think it is also highly likely the Fed (and/or agents at its direction) are also manipulating precious metals and/or crypto's so as to hide the severity of the situation.
All of this inorganic money creation taking place now with the Fed (and central banks world-over) is to mask the fundamental accelerating weakness that a low population growth can organically support. The Federal government and Federal Reserve have now gone so far that any deceleration in inorganic growth (let alone outright declines in balance sheet, rate hikes, declines in excess reserves, tax hikes, lower federal deficits) have a high potential to take the economy into not a recession but a depression unlike the world has known. The primary ingredients for removing ourselves from previous recessions/depressions no longer exist. Global demand will begin declining indefinitely as this demographic picture plays out and rates back at zero will do little to move the needle (aside from more asset inflation). The fast rising population of elderly will continue to consume less than they did in their prime years and deleverage more...far beyond the capability of the young adults to offset the financial, economic, and currency impacts. The likely picture is that a generation(s) reset is likely in the offing before the demographic and depopulation dynamics can be turned around, before the debt can all be extinguished, before the overcapacity can be expunged, and order restored.
And I guess, the trillion dollar question should be how did we get here? Were the gyrations in the population and subsequent decelerations (and imminent population collapses in many nations/regions) simply the result of birth care becoming widely available, urbanization, female employment rates, etc. etc. that happened of their own accord...or if instead this is by design as central banks had an over-riding mandate since the 1970's (not unlike China...but by a different means), only now becoming clear?!? Was this simply humankind going beyond itself or was this imminent collapse centrally designed and engineered?
Today, rather than anecdotal economics and narratives of overpopulation, I offer a view of the world from the bottom up. Based on 2019 UN population data, I offer a ninety year window of annual births and those of childbearing age globally, regionally, and for some selected countries. Gauging the size and changing nature of the "pie" is a question business owners, economists, and even presidents should know. How many potential customers / consumers / workers presently exist and how will this be changing going forward? Based on this, business' and nations could make informed decisions on spending, leverage, and growth. So, without further wasted digital ink, I will show that annual births have peaked in each world region (except Africa), and subsequently when the female childbearing population peaked or will peak. Global Childbearing Females, Births
From 1950 to 1989, annual births rose by almost 1.5 million a year. Since 1989, global births have essentially stalled at around 135+/- million births a year (black columns below), while the growth of the potential quantity of females of childbearing age (red line) has slowed.1950-1989 +424 million, +111% 20-40yr/old females…Annual Births +57 million, +73% 1989-2020 +342 million, +40% females…Annual Births +0 million, +0% 2020-2030 +28 million, +2.5% females...Annual Births +0.5 million, +0.3% 2030-2040 +62 million, +5.3% females…Annual Births +1.4 million, +1%
Global Births, Excluding Africa
But if we exclude Africa, a radically different picture emerges. Why exclude Africa? Africa is incredibly poor, consumes just 3% of global energy/exports, and has very low levels of emigration. Essentially, what happens in Africa stays in Africa. From 1950 through 1989, global births (x-Africa) rose from 70 million births annually to 112 million annually. But 1989 was not only the beginning of a deceleration in births, it represented a hard pivot for mankind from growth to decline. Had births (x-Africa) continued to rise at the pre-1989 rate, annual births in 2040 would have reached 168+/- million. In the 30+ years since 1989, global annual births (x-Africa) have declined by 17 million, a 15% decline. The concern of overpopulation and wildly rising consumer bases ended over thirty years ago. Mankind's footprint (x-Africa) among the folks that consume 97% of everything will be persistently smaller as this plays out.World Childbearing Females, Births (both X-Africa)
Below, focusing on annual global births (x-Africa) and the 20 to 40 year old female population. Two main points, outside of Africa, all regions either have (or in the case of Asia, soon will have) negative fertility rates and the total population of childbearing females (x-Africa) will soon begin declining. With births peaking in 1989 and declining since, the world would have to wait about thirty years until the childbearing population began declining. Queue 2020 and the decline in those capable of giving birth is just a few years from beginning. Over the next ten years, the number of females capable of childbearing will decline by about 26 million or a 3% decline. This shrinking populace plus ongoing negative fertility rates means births will begin declining at an accelerating pace. The charts below are the UN medium variants which are consistently too high...but reality will be births falling faster than projected although the exact course of that decline is simply unknowable.1950-1989 +373 million, +109% females…Annual Births +43 million, +61% 1989-2020 +228 million, +32% females…Annual Births -17 million, -15% 2020-2030 -26 million, -3% females...Annual Births -5.6 million, -6% 2030-2040 -6.4 million, -1% females…Annual Births -4.2 million, -5%
The Nexus of Inflation / Deflation
Family formation and child rearing ultimately drive spending and consumption. The chart below shows what is at the heart of global inflation; the year over year change in the female childbearing population (red columns), mirrored by the Federal Funds rate (yellow line), and the impact on annual global births (black line). The soon to be declining quantity of females of childbearing age coupled with ongoing declining fertility rates means births will continue declining...and organic demand declining...and only via destructive federal government / central bank ZIRP, NIRP, and market manipulation, can consumption and asset prices be manipulated upward.Regional Year of Peak Births, % Declines Since
While births have declined globally, the timing and depth of the declines have varied widely. To detail this, the chart below calls out the regional year of peak births and percentage decline in births from that peak through 2020. Eastern European births peaked in 1950 (or earlier) and have declined by 51% since...East Asia peaked far later, in 1989, but has fallen far faster since with annual births down 45%. Western European births peaked in 1969 and births are down 36% since. As for the US, annual births essentially doubled peaked in 1957 and a miniscule amount higher in 2007...births are down 14% since. Latin American (South America, Central America, plus the Caribbean) births peaked in 1995 and are down 11% since. South East Asia peaked in 2015 and are already down 9%. As for India/Pakistan, etc. of South Asia, annual births peaked in 2003 and after a long plateau, have declined 3% thus far.East Asia Childbearing Females, Annual Births (China, Japan, Taiwan, S/N Korea, Mongolia)
The 45% decline in East Asian births since 1989 has changed the world. By 2000, the East Asian female childbearing population peaked and likewise entered a secular decline. Over the next decade, this decline in births beginning three decades ago, will severely impact the size of the childbearing female population. 20 to 40 year old females capable of childbirth in East Asia will decline by 40 million persons or -17% over the next ten years. This collapse in those capable of childbearing coupled with ongoing declines in fertility rates (those willing to undertake childbearing) has the potential for much larger declines in births than the UN is currently projecting...and I offer a more likely quantity of births. I'm suggesting that, by 2040, annual births in East Asia will be down something like 70% from the 1989 peak. All the debt, excess capacity, bridges to nowhere, speculative unoccupied housing, etc. will likely be more than this region can bear.1950-1989 +132 million, +135% females...Annual Births +12 million, +53% 1989-2000 +28 million, +12%...Annual Births -11 million, -32% 2000-2020 -31 million, -12%...Annual Births -5 million, -22% 2020-2030 -39 million, -17%..Annual Births -2 million, -11% (-5 million, -26%) 2030-2040 -11 million, -6%...Annual Births -1 million, -5% (-2.5 million, -18%)
Eastern Europe Childbearing Females, Annual Births (Russia, Belarus, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Czechia, Hungary, Poland, Moldova, Romania, Slovakia)
Like East Asia, the Eastern European childbearing population is in the midst of an unavoidable freefall. Those females capable of childbirth will decline by 8.5 million or a 22% decline. Like East Asia, the collapse of those capable and ongoing collapse in those willing (fertility rate) will lead to significantly lower births than the UN is projecting. By 2040, annual births in Eastern European births are likely to be down 70%+.1950-1987 +8 million, +20% females...Annual Births -1.6 million, -25% 1987-2011 -1.8 million, -4%...Annual Births -1.4, -29% 2011-2020 -6 million, -14%...Annual Births -250k, -7.5% 2020-2030 -8.5 million, -22%...Annual Births -510, -16% (-1 million, -30%) 2030-2040 +800k, +2.6%...Annual Births +50k, +2.6% (-100k, -3.4%)
Western Europe Childbearing Females, Annual Births
Like East Asia and Eastern Europe, the childbearing females are in decline but the decline will be significantly gentler if high rates of immigration continue. Assuming ongoing immigration, the fall in births may likewise not be as stupendous. Because of immigration, Western European births are likely to be down "only" 50% from the '64 peak.1964-1993 +12 million, +20% Females…Annual Births -2.1 million, -31% 1993-2020 -8.5 million, -14% Females...Annual Births -330k, -7% 2020-2030 -3.6 million, -7% Females...Annual Births -210k, -5% (-420k, -10%) 2030-2040 -1.4 million, -3% Females...Annual Births -0, -0% (-380k, -10%) US Childbearing Females, Annual Births
US births essentially peaked in 1957 and only in one year thereafter (2007) did the US ever have more children than in 1957. The US childbearing population of females rose rapidly from 1970 to 1990 but has been little changed ever since. The ongoing declining US fertility rate has been overwhelming the relatively minor growth in the childbearing female population, resulting in fast falling total births since 2007. Most / all of the anticipated growth in the US childbearing female population is anticipated to come from immigration, but primarily due to stricter border enforcement, US immigration is at low levels not seen for decades. The impact will be little to no growth in the childbearing population coupled with deeply negative fertility rates, resulting in ongoing falling total US births. Based on this, annual US births are likely to be down over 20% by 2040 instead of the Census and UN estimates of rising births. By the way, 10 US states are now outright depopulating (and this number will keep growing) and likely over half of the states have declining under 65 year old populations only disguised by even faster growing 65+ year old populations. As for counties, likely 60% to 80% of counties have declining under 65 year old populations. While major metropolitan centers continue growing, it is primarily at the expense of rural American emigration. 1957-1990 +17 million, +70% females...Annual Births -100k, -3% 1990-2007 -1 million, -2% females...Annual Births +140k, +3% 2007-2020 +4.7 million, +12% females...Annual Births -600k, -14% 2020-2030 +1.3 million, +3% females...Annual Births -400k, -11% 2030-2040 -1 million, -2% females...Annual Births -700k, -20%
As for the most optimistic of population growth scenarios, the chart below details the shifting population growth (as per UN #'s) per twenty year periods from among the young to almost solely among the elderly...with all the associated problems. Actual births and under 40 year old population growth will turn to outright decline if my birth projection and/or ongoing tanking immigration continue. Latin America / Caribbean / South America (Everything Western Hemisphere except US/Canada)
Annual births across Latin America peaked in 1995 and have been gently receding ever since. The outcome of these declining births and net emigration is a childbearing population that will begin declining by the mid 2020's. From there, births will begin declining faster. Annual births will only continue downward and likely far more than the UN's projection of a 27% decline by 2040. How far? Your guess is probably as good as mine.1950-1995 +52 million females, +216%...Annual Births +5.4 million, +89% 1995-2020 +27 million females, +35%...Annual Births -1.2 million, -11% 2020-2030 +0.6 million females, +1%..Annual Births -0.7 million, -7% 2030-2040 -3.3 million females, -3%...Annual Births -0.7 million, -7%
South East Asia Childbearing Females, Annual Births (Cambodia, Brunei, Indonesia, Lao, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam)
This region also had a double peak in annual births, 1985 and just slightly higher in 2015. A flat childbearing population coupled with mostly negative fertility rates among these nations will result in ongoing declining annual births, according to the UN, down something like 14% by 2040.1950-1985 +36 million, +149% females…Annual Births +6 million, +113% 1985-2015 +42 million, +70% females…Annual Births +200k, +2% 2015-2030 +3.9 million, +4% females...Annual Births -1.1, -10% 2030-2040 +0.5 million, +1% females…Annual Births -0.5 million, -5%
South Asia Childbearing Females, Annual Births (India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Bhutan/Nepal, Sri Lanka)
The worlds most populous region saw fast rising annual births from 1950 until 1986, more than doubling annual births over that period. However, since 1986, annual births have essentially been unchanged and peak births occurred somewhere around 2003. This means the growth of the childbearing population is nearly over and with fertility rates now nearly down to 2.1 and ongoing net emigration, the UN projects annual births will be down 14% from peak births by 2040.1950-1986 +81 million females, +115%...Annual Births +19 million, +117% 1986-2020 +156 million females, +103%...Annual Births +1.2 million, +3% 2020-2030 +19 million females, +6%...Annual Births -2.2 million, -6% 2030-2040 +2.5 million females, +1%...Annual Births -2.4 million, -7% Extra Credit-
The following countries are unlikely to survive within their current monetary, political, and geographical locations as the populations collapse against skyrocketing debt, surging overcapacity, and collapsing domestic and international import demand.
China 20 to 40yr/old females, Annual BirthsAs of 2019, Chinese births have fallen 48% since the 1989 peak and childbearing females have declined 11% since the 2000 peak. By 2040, females will be down 31% and births down between 55% to 65%.
Below, the big picture in China. The next twenty years will be a collapse in domestic demand for everything except adult diapers as the under 40 year old population falls 140 million (this is using UN #'s, not my lower and more realistic #'s) and the 70+ segment rises by the same 140 million. Japan 20 to 40yr/old females, Annual BirthsAs of 2019, Japanese births have fallen 64% and childbearing females down 31%...by 2040 childbearing females will fall by 43% and births will be down between 66% to 77%.
Detailed below is that the next twenty years will be the end of population growth for any age segment in Japan. After 2040, all population segments will be pointing downward as Japan's population collapses (again, this is using UN #'s, not mine). South Korea 20 to 40yr/old females, Annual BirthsAs of 2019, South Korean births have declined 71% from the 1960 peak...the childbearing female population has declined 23%. By 2040, childbearing females will be down nearly 50% and annual births will be down more than the UN's 72% projection; more likely 85% or more.
The full picture in South Korea, the chart below details the changing nature of the Korean population. Over the next twenty years, the young and working age populations will sink (again, using UN #'s) while the number of elderly soar. The actual #'s will be significantly lower as more realistic births become evident but the elderly population growth will remain unchanged.This is not viable in South Korea, Japan, or China, among so many others and typically when something cannot be, it will not be. I suspect "something" will likely intercede before too long that radically changes the picture.
2019 was another "rung" in the ongoing bull market. The trifecta of a resumption of QE, interest rate cuts, and a flood of federal debt coupled with ongoing stock buybacks and corporate tax cuts all fueled an asset explosion. But the Census Bureau was kind enough to release their 2019 data (HERE), and it was simply as divergent to the positive market data as could be. I could only find once in US history that total US population grew at such a low rate (below 0.5%) and that was due to the 1918-1919 global influenza pandemic (Spanish Flu) which in the aftermath of WWI killed between 20 and 40 million globally and nearly 700,000 Americans. This was almost ten times those Americans that perished in the war to end all wars. The reality is the lower organic population growth (and resultant consumer growth) goes, the greater synthetic substitutes are employed.
Why all the debt?
The chart below should be the chart of the year except the US picture is relatively "better" than most advanced nations. It is the ongoing collapse in US population growth among the under 70 year-old population versus surging 70+ year-olds. The Census detailed that total 2019 population growth fell to just 1.55 million and this was due to ongoing declining total births and collapsing net immigration (much to due with stronger border enforcement). 2008 was the precipice and under 70 year-old population growth has been tumbling ever since. As a reminder, it is the 0-70 year-olds that make up 90%+ of the work force, that undertake 90%+ of the credit, and it is they that drive the increase in the money supply in our fractional reserve banking system. When their growth is minimal, the deleveraging of the fast growing elderly essentially destroys currency causing a cascade of deflation. Only via pure monetization underway now can central banks delay (postpone) the overwhelming tide of deflation and asset collapse and generationally redirect the losses.
As I discussed in the onset, the chart below details the annual percentage growth of the under 65 year old population (yellow line) versus the debt to GDP ratio with periods of significant debt increases in red columns and debt to GDP declines in blue columns. The severity of the population decline due to the Spanish flu in 1918-1919 was not just the deaths, but the majority of deaths were among the 15-35 year old population. This large loss of those among childbearing age (and resultant employees, consumers) caused a vacuum felt through the 1930's. Only now, a hundred year later, is the US revisiting what is essentially zero growth but rather than due to a pandemic, this time the situation is structural rather than accidental. The vacuum being created this time is beyond anything previously experienced.
How much debt?
In order to see how 2019 fits into the bigger picture, I pull back to show US federal debt (split between public debt versus intragovernmental trust funds) and the federal funds rate. The $12+ trillion in net additional public debt issued since 2007 is only set to pick up pace as federal spending rises, taxation continues declining, and unfunded liabilities metastasize.
Viewing the same but breaking out annual federal debt split between the change in public and intragovernmental debt versus the federal funds rate. Both charts highlight the shift from Social Security and like IG trust funds (mandated to buy US debt with "surplus" funds) to Public (and pretty much solely the US Public as foreigners have ceased net buying). The Treasury Bulletin makes the lack of natural foreign or domestic buyers crystal clear.
Who bought all the debt?
Below, comparing the increase in Treasury holdings over the 2009 through 2014 versus 2015 through 2019 periods, the divergence is again clear thanks to Treasury Bulletin reports (HERE). The Federal Reserve and foreign buyers carried 70% of the new issuance from '09 through '14, while domestic buyers took down over 70% since QE 3's end. Since QE3 ended, that is supposedly nearly $4 trillion in low yielding US Treasury debt that domestic sources bought instead of stocks, or real estate, etc. Dubious is the word I would use to describe the likelihood of non-manipulated record asset prices in stocks, bonds, and real estate while supposedly simultaneously domestic sources poured $4 trillion into low yielding bonds?!?
And detailing the change among the domestic sources over the same periods as above. According to the Treasury, we can only really say who it isn't. Not banks, not savings bonds, not private buyers, not insurers, not state / local buying...it continues to be "other investors" (individuals, GSE's, corporates/non-corporate business', & brokers/dealers). Again, the credibility of domestic investors have trillions available to plow into low yielding Treasuries while simultaneously also driving stocks, etc. should be laughable. I have no evidence who did buy all that debt, only a long list of who didn't.
Debt & Employment
With minimal present and future working age population growth, the fact that the US is at historically full employment should be of great concern. With so few additional persons entering the potential workforce and nearly all those capable and willing already working...there is little further employment growth possible...and without that there is little to no further growth in consumers, home buyers, etc.. Throw all the debt and QE you want at this to get the existing population to consume more, but without further bodies available to work and consumer more...the party is over.
Debt and Population Growth Looking at annual births (blue columns below) versus changing age segments of the US population. The yellow line is the 15 to 40 year-old childbearing population and estimated to rise some five million through 2030...but as I showed above, the anticipated population streams of growth have been lost and thanks to tanking births and immigration, the childbearing population is unlikely to grow much...and with ongoing falling births, soon the childbearing population will be in decline. From there a declining childbearing population with negative birth rates leads to a likely rapid decline in births.
Debt in Perspective
Some attempt to detail the lunacy of the debt creation against a fixed asset like gold, but to wrap this up I show annual US births (inclusive of all the millions of immigrants both legal and illegal) versus US federal debt.
And dividing all that rising debt versus the annual quantity of newborns reveals a pretty unpleasant picture...the elderly saddling the youth with unrepayable debt to maintain a lifestyle that is utterly unrealistic and unachievable except via generational theft. Not the kindest of parting gifts.
Plus, I got last place in my college football bowl pool...again. Unbelievable. There's always next year. Anyway, happy 2020 and I hope you find this information useful in understanding what is happening all around us.