Monday, December 15, 2008

Bubbles and Demographics

Like many during this current economic crisis, I have been trying to figure out what happened and when (if) we will get out of it. Will I have a job until I can retire? Will my 401k recover? Will Social Security be around when I'm retired? Will my company be able to cover it's pension costs?
I'm normally an optimist but this article has me wondering if any of the above will happen. The crux of this article boils down to one paragraph:

"There is nothing complicated about finance. It is based on old people lending to young people. Young people invest in homes and businesses; aging people save to acquire assets on which to retire. The new generation supports the old one, and retirement systems simply apportion rights to income between the generations. Never before in human history, though, has a new generation simply failed to appear. "

A look at the key graphic shows the problem:

The law of Supply and Demand is going to be hard pressed to overcome the demographic problem that the West has. The reduced population will have a low demand for the older generations money and homes. There will be a limited supply of money (i.e. taxes) to fund SS and pension funds.

My wife often argues that it is much better to have only one child so that you can have more for yourself. It is a view held by many, but in the end, this is a shortsighted and selfish view of the world. By failing to reproduce, we doom ourselves to a very bleak future.

Update: More from the same author with the Pope's views on free markets.

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