2017 is still over three years away, but we can already say a lot about it. We know that there will be a new President, although it’s not clear yet which party has the edge this far out. It’s likely that whoever is elected she (as it well could be) will try very hard to take the partisan edge off of Washington and get things done. There may even be a new Congress by then with a completely different configuration. But as big as the political changes are likely to be, the real change will be away from Washingtoon.
That will be the year that the peak Baby Boomers, born from 1952-1959, hit 65 years old and start to retire. Ahead of them are at least 15 million Boomers who will have passed that threshold, with probably 10M or more retiring. With slow growth inflation should still be low and unemployment will suddenly and sharply decline. The Millenial Generation will hit the workforce (and the electorate) in a big way. Combine that with the rising optimism coming on slowly and the boom should fire up.
What’s the right thing to do to help the economy? Clearly, Congress has no idea, making bizzy with games designed to impress their constituents. Major economists don’t agree, either, with at least three different views on what is going on and the appropriate remedies. How can it be so chaotic and disorganized?
It’s always been Barataria’s creed that if you complain about how things are you have to stick your neck out and offer a better solution. Our answer has always been that there is a totally new economy forming around us as we work through the Managed Depression, and that there is a dire need for public and private leadership to help us create that new world dynamically. That’s a bit too hard to define , but we can offer is a different way of looking at the situation we’re in. It doesn’t directly point to courses of action, but it suggests things that should be tried.
Here is a description of the Triple Threat to the US Economy – Business Cycles, Globalism, and Demographics – and how they are working together to make this a once in a lifetime change.
Perhaps the economy is a lot like the weather – if you wait long enough, it has to get better.
As we’ve noted before, income inequality is likely to improve in the US and the rest of the developed world once the postwar “Baby Boom” starts to retire. With as much as a quarter of the population removed from the labor force, there will be more jobs to go around – perhaps even too many. Wages are likely to rise and opportunities for employment will be everywhere.
If that doesn’t sound good enough, recent studies have suggested that inflation is likely to be low as the population ages, meaning interest rates will remain low and capital is likely to be plentiful. It’s starting to sound like this Depression is going to end with a golden age. Seriously.
Income inequality is one of the biggest barriers to sustained growth today. You can’t have a consumer economy without income reasonably well distributed, and such an economy is going to have more sustained, reliable growth. But as we’ve shown before, income inequality has grown since 1968, threatening long term growth.
Here is another way to look at that rising inequality as part of a long-term trend that defined 1968-2000 – the expansion of the workforce and subsequent collapse of that expansion that will solidify when the Baby Boom hits retirement. Economic changes are often demographic at heart, and we are due for some major upheaval that we need to be ready for.