Economic Survival in the 21st Century – the Three Key Questions to Ask

On this “particular report”, I wish to pose a couple of essential “philosophical questions” to my readers. Firstly — our Federal Reserve Chairman, Alan Greenspan, addressed the results and implications of our getting old inhabitants on issues reminiscent of Social Safety once more in a speech [http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20040828/ap_on_bi_ge/greenspan_32] that he made final Friday. Readers could do not forget that I additionally briefly talked about this concern in my June 24th commentary. I urge you to maintain this worldwide phenomenon of the getting old inhabitants firmly on the again of your minds. If you’re like most individuals, then you definately earn you residing by producing a sure factor – reminiscent of a shopper good, or a service that the plenty need. Let’s face it – how many individuals actually “struck it wealthy” by being pure merchants or funding managers? The inventory market and different monetary markets are positively crucial to us buyers/merchants however this “tremendous secular pattern” of the getting old of the worldwide inhabitants will affect each side of our lives, whether or not it’s shedding our relative competitiveness on the world enviornment, rising pension and healthcare prices, or perhaps a potential elementary change of our political system.

The second query that I need my readers to consider is the potential finish to the period of low-cost vitality costs – an period which we’ve mainly loved for the final twenty years with out pondering of the long-term repercussions. America, with lower than 5 % of the world’s inhabitants, at present eat roughly 25% of the world’s vitality every year. Provide is maturing whereas demand continues to surge – as exemplified by the surging in demand from China and India. Within the meantime, spare energy-producing capability and stock ranges have been at all-time lows – potential for an ideal storm?

Lastly, I wish to ask my readers the next query: What sort of investor are you? What investing model do you undertake and what investing model are you most snug with? Are you able to be a contrarian and purchase when the group is promoting or are you merely a follower who is simply snug if you slot in? These are simple questions – however these are questions that you really want to ask yourselves with the intention to really generate income in investing over the long term. If my readers take the day out to serious about these three questions or points – and in the end have a agency grasp of even simply one of many points – then you may be in a significantly better financial state of affairs than most Individuals 5 to 10 years from now.

To start, what are the potential implications of the “getting old inhabitants” phenomenon? Readers my recall that in my June twenty fourth commentary, I acknowledged: “Assuming that the present stage of advantages stay into the longer term and assuming the extent of taxes will not be raised, then public advantages to retirees would dramatically improve going ahead. On the intense finish, Japan and Spain will see a greater than 100% improve of their outlays to retirees. Clearly, this isn’t sustainable. Both issues reminiscent of protection or schooling spending will should be reduce, or the above nations might want to elevate their taxes. Neither of the 2 situations is perfect. Borrowing extra of their funds will not be a long-term resolution. Reducing funding in protection and schooling will comprise a rustic’s future, and elevating taxes will place an enormous social and monetary burden on the inhabitants of the developed world – the place taxes are already at a traditionally excessive stage. Take into consideration this: Should you have been a brilliant, younger, French industrialist and also you have been compelled to pay 60% of your earnings as taxes to help the aged, what would you do? Why, you’ll vote together with your toes and relocate to a different nation that’s extra tax-friendly and business-friendly – and so will different nice expertise which will have been an amazing contribution to the French economic system. The governments of the developed world acknowledge this – however there are not any straightforward options.

“This image will get grimmer when one takes word of a research that was completed by the Financial institution Credit score Analyst. In that research, the BCA predicts that by the yr 2050, the share share of the developed nations of the worldwide inhabitants will drop from over 30% in 1950 to lower than 14% — or about equal to the inhabitants of the Islamic nations of the world. Equally, Yemen can be extra populous than Germany in 2050; whereas Iraq can be 30% extra populous than Italy (Iraq is lower than 40% the dimensions of Italy as we speak). Russia’s inhabitants is projected to proceed to lower – at a fee such that the inhabitants of Iran can be even larger to that of Russia’s in 2050. India would be the most populous nation on the earth, and Pakistan will solely lag the U.S. by roughly 50 million individuals. If the developed nations of as we speak don’t select to work tougher or turn into extra environment friendly, then they are going to in the end lose their comparative benefit, because the youthful inhabitants of the world is inherently extra hard-working, energetic, progressive, and inventive. In as we speak’s globalized world, this can be a killer for the common employee within the developed nations – the extra so as soon as the language barrier is eradicated (the profitable commercialization of common language translators is projected to occur in ten to fifteen years). I’m usually extra optimistic, because the elimination of the language barrier will significantly improve enterprise alternatives and efficiencies, however an individual reminiscent of the common American employee will loss his or her comparative benefit within the international workforce. The provision of an enormous provide of labor also needs to drive down wages within the international market – and most likely improve the maldistribution of wealth in as we speak’s developed nations.”

Like I’ve talked about earlier than, there are not any straightforward options. If the common American sees a rise of 10 years in his or her life expectancy, can she or he fairly or logically retire on the present regular retirement age of 65 (which was decided in the course of the Roosevelt administration in the course of the Nineteen Thirties) with out putting an undue burden on the system? The reply is most likely “no.” Making use of the identical working-years-to-retirement-years ratio to his or her new life expectancy, then the common American ought to in all probability work round 5 to 6 years extra – thus giving a revised regular retirement age of 70 or so. Furthermore, all this evaluation relies on the outdated inhabitants distribution within the type of a pyramid – the place the youthful and extra ready employees symbolize a majority of the inhabitants (and the place the aged represents solely a small minority of the overall inhabitants). The pyramid distribution has traditionally facilitated authorities help of the aged – because the financial and social burdens have been shouldered by a comparatively giant youthful inhabitants. The present expertise of Europe and Japan suggests a extra uniform distribution within the inhabitants of these nations going ahead – because the birthrate in these nations are actually dismally under the substitute fee of the inhabitants. The state of affairs in america will not be at present as drastic (given our comparatively lax immigration coverage) however we’re heading in the direction of the identical path. Thus to take care of the present way of life at retirement, my guess is that the overall inhabitants won’t solely must work longer, however work longer hours within the current (and save extra) as properly.

The state of affairs is extra alarming when one considers that the mixed inhabitants of China and India makes up over 1/3 of the world’s inhabitants. The variety of unemployed employees in China is bigger than the complete labor drive of america. The competitors for comparatively unskilled jobs will proceed, and it guarantees to speed up going ahead. The typical American who doesn’t keep forward of the curve or doesn’t preserve tempo of the pattern will discover his or her job being outsourced – to not point out the common wage being pushed down by international competitors. I, for one, consider that this persevering with pattern of globalization will make the world a greater place, as tons of of hundreds of individuals will lastly be empowered as they climb out of absolute poverty (once more, over half of the world’s inhabitants at present reside on lower than two {dollars} a day) – and because the costs of shopper items are pushed down nonetheless additional. The typical American will in all probability disagree, however the pattern of globalization and “offshoring” won’t cease. The final time america adopted financial and navy isolationism we had a Nice Melancholy and subsequently, World Conflict II. I sincerely don’t assume that this was a coincidence.

The pattern of the overall getting old inhabitants and globalization could have a profound affect on all Individuals. Finally, I believe all Individuals will profit – though it is probably not clear to people who find themselves shedding their jobs as we speak. For the initiated and nimble, you’ll not solely survive however thrive in these “fascinating new instances.” Think about a market on your product that’s over ten instances the dimensions of the inhabitants in america. China and India has traditionally dissatisfied – because the residents of these nations have traditionally been too poor to eat a lot U.S. items and companies. Globalization and offshoring will change all these. A world extra equalized economically may even imply a way more safe and fewer conflictive world.

Now, I wish to deal with an analogous concern of all Individuals – because the period of low-cost vitality (mainly a budget vitality costs as skilled by Individuals for the final twenty years) involves a detailed. Whereas I believe oil costs will decline within the short-term (i.e. for the following few months), I’m longer-term bullish on each oil and pure gasoline costs (I’ll solely talk about oil on this commentary). Contemplate the next:

  • The world provide of oil is flattening out. Readers could not know this, however america as we speak nonetheless produce sufficient oil to fulfill roughly 40% of complete home demand. America additionally had 22.7 billion barrels of proved oil reserves as of January 1, 2004, eleventh highest on the earth. In response to the Vitality Info Administration (EIA), america produced round 7.9 million barrels per day throughout 2003. That is down sharply from the ten.6 million barrels averaged in 1985. The height of home oil provide occurred someday in the course of the Nineteen Seventies. At present, complete home manufacturing is at 50-year lows – and nonetheless falling.
  • Whereas Saudi Arabia (the world’s high exporter and incorporates 25% of the world’s reported reserves) has claimed that there are and can be no provide issues for the following few a long time, they haven’t been clear with their reserves knowledge. In response to Simmons & Firm Worldwide, 5 to seven key fields in Saudi Arabia produce 90% to 95% of its complete oil output – all however two fields are extraordinarily outdated – with the final main discover reported in 1968. The final publicized reserves knowledge was in 1975 – when Saudi Aramco was nonetheless managed by Exxon, Mobil, Chevron and Texaco. In that report, the world’s greatest specialists decided that every one the important thing fields at the moment contained 108 billion barrels of oil in recoverable reserves. If this holds true, then the height of provide in Saudi Arabia will come quickly. Furthermore, if the report is right, then there may be actually no “plan B” (not like in the course of the Nineteen Seventies when the middle of energy shifted from the Texas Railroad Fee to OPEC as a result of peaking of provide in america) – crude oil costs will soar.
  • The “final frontier” for the manufacturing of oil (particularly the North Sea, Siberia, and Alaska) is now getting old. Most firms are actually struggling with the intention to even preserve their present manufacturing ranges.
  • World oil demand continues to develop. Oil demand within the early Nineteen Nineties stayed comparatively flat (at round 66 to 68 million barrels per day) however over the following ten years to as we speak, world oil demand elevated 14 million barrels per day. At present, complete world oil demand is bigger than 82 million barrels per day. The vitality “specialists” who within the early Nineteen Nineties predicted a flattening of oil demand development and who wrote off demand development in creating nations have been lifeless flawed.
  • No new refineries have been inbuilt america for the previous twenty years, at the same time as refineries have been closing yearly throughout that very same time interval. Refining capability from 1981 to the mid Nineteen Nineties additionally dropped drastically (this creator estimates a drop of roughly 6 million barrels per day in refining capability throughout that point interval). Since 1994, nevertheless, an growth in refining capability at current refineries has contributed to a rise in refining capability from 15.0 million barrels per day to 16.7 million barrels per day (as of as we speak). Regardless of this growth, nevertheless, home refining capability remains to be stretched to the restrict, as utilization at U.S. refineries is now averaging practically 90% — leaving no cushion room if one thing unexpected occurs.

There are at present three components at work which ought to contribute to a continued improve on the earth oil value – the maturing of provide, rising demand, and the shortage of a cushion in refining capability and low inventories. The “perpetrator” has normally been labeled as China, however it’s fascinating to notice that america has had nearly no home vitality coverage (when it comes to conservation and inspiring the event of other fuels) for the final twenty-something years. China demand, nevertheless, has soared over the previous few years. It’s now the second largest oil shopper, having simply surpassed Japan for the title. Demand for oil in China has greater than doubled over the past 10 years (to as we speak’s 6 million barrels per day), and this wonderful improve is projected to proceed, particularly given the truth that oil demand in China remains to be a lowly 2 barrels per particular person per yr (in comparison with 25 barrels per particular person right here in america). Moreover, it’s fascinating to notice that the variety of automobiles in China solely totaled 700,000 as late as 1993 and 1.8 million as late as 2001. At present, the variety of automobiles in China totaled greater than 7 million – and this quantity might probably have been a lot larger if not for the Chinese language authorities intervention in limiting the variety of automobiles that may very well be offered and pushed every year. Now probably the most scary half: Present oil demand in India is simply 0.7 barrels per particular person per yr – given this reality, oil demand in India might probably explode over the following decade – barring an enormous worldwide financial recession or despair.

I consider my readers needs to be made conscious of the present vitality provide/demand state of affairs. Given the above, what’s the greatest plan of action for the common American? How about the most effective plan of action when you have been the top of a motor firm like GM or an airline pilot employed by a legacy airline like Delta? How about the most effective plan of action for a mutual fund supervisor or a commodity fund supervisor? Since there are not any straightforward options, there needs to be no straightforward solutions both. Within the short-run (three to 5 years), Individuals must pay up if we wish to drive gas-guzzling SUVs, and legacy airways like Delta must proceed to chop prices by in all probability additional slashing labor prices as their first precedence. An additional enchancment in extraction know-how ought to assist, however the critical growth of other fuels must begin now. I additionally consider that the following critical decline can be induced by a mixture of an “oil shock” and an increase in rates of interest. Readers could recall the relative power chart that I developed in my August 15th commentary exhibiting the AMEX Oil Index vs. the S&P 500 and the large potential inverse heads and shoulders sample in that chart. For now, the relative power line ought to bounce across the neckline (the road drawn on that chart) – probably even for a couple of years – however as soon as the relative power line convincingly breaks above the neckline, crude oil costs might rise to $80 and even $100 a barrel. I positive hope that my readers wouldn’t be taken without warning if gasoline costs on the pump soars to $4.00 a gallon 5 to 6 years from now.

Lastly, I wish to pose to my readers the next query: Have you ever taken the day out to be taught extra about your psychological make-up and the way it has affected your funding or buying and selling selections? What sort of particular person are you in the case of the market? Are you a so-called buy-and-holder, a swing dealer, or a day dealer? An impartial thinker, a contrarian, a momentum investor or merely a follower? I’m asking you these questions due to my following concerns:

  • This creator believes that we’re at present in a secular bear market in home widespread shares. Whereas I consider that this present rally nonetheless have extra room to go, I consider {that a} cyclical bear market will emerge in due time – this upcoming cyclical bear market could even take us again or under the lows that we hit throughout October 2002. If that is true, then a buy-and-hold portfolio would positively not work – until you have been in pure assets or treasured metals mining shares.
  • When this cyclical bull market tops out, all your folks, relations, and the favored media can be telling you to purchase extra or to carry your widespread shares. The bears and all bearish ideas can be ostracized and frowned upon. This has occurred in each bull market in all the things in all human historical past. If you’re in money now, would you have the ability to stay in money when the highest lastly comes or will you be unable to withstand and purchase in since you are afraid of “the practice leaving the station with out you,” so to talk?
  • Most individuals are inherently not good day merchants and even swing merchants. To be good in even the latter, you want an enormous quantity of dedication and self-discipline.

Investing or buying and selling has all the time been dominated by feelings and all the time can be. My pondering in beginning www.marketthoughts.com has all the time been that that if I can get my readers to purchase in now, it is going to be a a lot simpler determination for them to promote and maintain money as soon as the DJIA reaches 11,000 or 12,000 or so – versus being in money and staying out for the remainder of this secular bear market. 99% of Individuals are simply not disciplined or devoted sufficient to remain in money throughout a secular bear market – to not point out staying in money in the course of the entirety of a secular bear market and shopping for and holding widespread shares in the course of the entirety of a subsequent secular bull market. The typical human psyche is simply not able to doing this. Due to this, I sincerely consider that success within the inventory market (for most individuals) in the course of the subsequent 5 to 10 years would contain catching the swings on the proper or near-right instances. For readers who simply can’t resist, I’m additionally going to proceed to suggest some widespread shares at opportune instances, however on no account ought to my readers take my suggestions as gospel and on no account ought to my readers put all their eggs in a single basket. If you’re an individual who can keep in money for the following ten years and wait till the Dow Industrials has a P/E under 10 and a dividend yield of over 5%, then extra energy to you – you might be both already wealthy who haven’t any must generate income out there anyway or you’re a very disciplined and independent-thinking particular person. Most Individuals simply can’t do this – however I’m right here to assist.

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