By Paul Wallace
This is often the first-ever, really international, indepth examine the big results of the demographic rolllercoaster and what it skill for employment, investments, new enterprise improvement, advertising and marketing and the commercial strength map of the realm.
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Additional resources for Agequake: Riding the Demographic Rollercoaster Shaking Business, Finance, and Our World
Adam Smith noted in 1776 that they were `frequently courted as a sort of fortune. '31 The same link between fertility and the economy was at work in the interwar years in countries like the US and the UK. This time, with the economy depressed and unemployment at record highs, the number of people who never married soared and the birth rate fell. The puzzle posed by the postwar baby boom and bust is why fertility should have fallen while living standards have continued to rise. 32 AGEQUAKE The most influential explanation, formulated by Nobel prize winner Gary Becker, is that the cost of children has risen sharply.
15 Yet when it comes to trying to build up financial assets, the Japanese are the sumo champions, not least because of their ageing FINANCIAL ROLLERCOASTER 51 population. Excess savings poured into government bonds in the 1990s, pushing yields to historic lows and creating a wild boom even as the stock market continued to sag. Excess savings also contributed to the economy's limp performance in the 1990s by consistently exceeding investment opportunities. All of which sounds a worrying warning: attempts by ageing populations to build up financial assets for their retirement could simply push economies into recession rather than stock markets into orbit.
The declining number of young people in western Europe should also push up overall savings, since on the lifecycle model they are net borrowers. A simple way of capturing the overall effect of these age shifts is to work out how the number of people in the key years for accumulating financial wealth stacks up in relation to the adult population. I call this the `twin peaks ratio': the number of 40- and 50-year-olds as a percentage of the adult population. Take a look at Figure 9, which shows how the American ratio has been moving since the early 1980s – and how this has tracked the shift of household wealth into equities.
Agequake: Riding the Demographic Rollercoaster Shaking Business, Finance, and Our World by Paul Wallace