Doomsters warned of End Times from overpopulation. Now *fewer* people are disasterous.

Summary: Population change remains a favorite topic for doomsters, providing clicks for the news media and thrills for news consumers. For 5 decades we have heard about the standing room only days coming soon for Earth. That’s become a tired story, so they’ve devised a new one…

The Population Bomb
Available at Amazon.


The rapid rise in population has not yet produced the collapse long predicted by doomsters from Thomas Malthus in An Essay on the Principle of Population (1798) to Paul Ehrlich in The population bomb (1968). Now doomsters reverse the story. The coming population decline will produce horrific consequences, even a collapse.

Their first claim was false. Their new claim about falling population is even more bogus. Consider Japan. Japan’s government has worried about its overpopulation since the Meiji Restoration (1868). Their solution then was to encourage emigration to Korea; it did not help.

Japan’s population then was aprox. 3 million. Now they have 127 million people crowded into an urban belt along the coast. At Japan’s current level of fertility, by 2060 their population will fall to 86 million, back to the level of 1950 — and by 2100 to 50 million, the level of 1910. {See details here and here.) That would be wonderful.

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ECRI looks at our Great Monetary Experiment: It’s Too Big to Fail

Summary: The Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI), who correctly predicted the slow recovery, explains the slow growth in which the US and Japanese economies are mired, and the fantastic monetary experiment waged by central banks to prevent them slumping into recessions.

Appreciate the wonders of our time.

"Machinery of the Stars" by alexiuss
Machinery of the Stars” by alexiuss at DeviantArt.

The recovery since 2008 has been difficult for predictions, both by bulls and bears. The bulls have repeatedly predicted accelerated growth and rising inflation. But the bears too-often predicted a recession (boldness is often expensive for forecasters). In September 2011 the ECRI staff predicted a recession in 2012. They repeated that call in the following months, and in November 2012 said the recession had began in July.

A few of us correctly predicted continued slow growth — no boom, no recession (e.g., see this from August 2013) — and our similarity to Japan (see this of mine from September 2014).

On balance the bears have more accurately seen the big picture than the bulls. Paul Krugman, Larry Summers, and the ECRI (me, too) saw this secular stagnation (see this from November 2013). And growth has been slow. Over the past 10 years (Q1 2006 to Q1 2016) real growth in gross domestic income (GDI) has been 2.3%/year. More importantly, growth in GDP per capita has been only 1.2%/year. As for the future, the Fed expects even slower long-term growth in real GDP — only 2%.

So we should listen to the ERCI’s perspective on the US economy, the Fed’s efforts to stimulate it, and the global economic context. The West is running one of the greatest economic experiments in history, with high stakes.

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Stratfor: Japan’s leaders are paralyzed as their economy fades

Summary: Japan was the first nation to enter a period of secular stagnation, deflationary tendencies, and fertility collapse. Now Europe and America are following (in our own ways). Decades of extreme monetary and fiscal stimulus have stabilized the economy, but at the cost of falling incomes for many of its people. Since we are on the same path, watch Japan to see the challenges we’ll face in the future. Abenomics’ failure gives Japan’s leaders nothing but harsh choices, but they appear paralyzed.Stratfor

A State of Paralysis in Japan
Stratfor, 6 June 2016


Political and economic constraints at home and abroad have brought Japan’s government to a standstill, unable to enact the policies it needs. This paralysis reflects, in part, the limited options available to solve the country’s endemic economic problems. But it also is driven by the interests of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration to bolster his ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in July elections for the upper house of the Diet. Those factors have prompted a series of delays and avoidance of policy decisions that underscore the difficulties in tackling Japan’s economic woes in a charged political environment.


Political and economic considerations played a part in the decision, announced May 31, to delay plans to increase the consumption tax from 8% to 10%. Authorities had planned to implement this tax increase in April 2017 but will now do so in October 2019. In the past, Abe stressed the need for Japan to push ahead with the hike — barring major financial crisis or natural disaster — to address the country’s high national debt (around 245% of gross domestic product). But growing political opposition to the tax increase, not to mention economic indicators showing that the hike could push Japan’s sluggish economy into recession, left Abe with few options.

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Stratfor: it’s the breakout year for cybercrime! How do we fight it?

Summary: 2016 is the breakout year for cybercrime. Ransomware went global, the third major theft using the global banking SWIFT system, and a multi-million attack on Japan’s ATM’s network. Here Stratfor looks at the mechanics of crime-fighting against cyberthevies.


To Catch a Cyber Thief
Stratfor, 3 June 2016


  • South Africa’s Standard Bank, so far the only institution to come forward as a victim of fraudulent withdrawals by an organized network, will not be able to recoup all of its $12.7 million in losses.
  • Arresting the street criminals associated with unlimited operations will do little to stop future strikes, which will continue until the hackers behind the heist are found and detained.
  • Nevertheless, authorities will likely apprehend the hackers behind the latest unlimited operation in Japan, though it may take years.

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What Will the US Do in a Recession? Look to Japan for Answers…

Summary: In a previous article I listed the powerful tools the US government would deploy during the next recession. Today we discuss something more important: will they work? We can look to Japan for an answer. Their great stagnation began with the 1989 crash, 11 years before the tech bubble burst and began America’s new era. Japan took fiscal and monetary policy to the outer limits. Now it’s in a recession. Although our circumstances differ, we’re following in their tracks.

Keiki Kaifuku, Kono Michi Shika Nai” (“Economic Recovery,
There Is No Road But This”).
— LDP Campaign Slogan, December 2014. If only this were true.

Japan: setting sun
Is that a setting sun, or a rising sun?

As Richard Koo predicted, during the Great Recession America repeated Japan’s mistakes during its “lost decade”. That’s the bad news. The good news is that America climbed into a slow recovery after the worst downturn since the 1930s. The worse news is that another recession lies ahead. Potentially a bad one, with both the world economy and many domestic sectors weak. The government will deploy powerful tools to fight this downturn. How well will they work? Look to Japan for answers…

Read the rest at Wolf Street.

Why Japan can become an economic star of the 21st century

Summary:  Today we look at the future of Japan, and speculate at how well it will cope with the new industrial revolution. Their unique strengths (sometimes wrongly considered weaknesses) suggest that the 21st century might see the sun again rising over Japan. America too will face this challenge; we should watch and learn from Japan.   {1st of 2 posts today. It is a revised version of posts from 2013 and 2014}


  1. A falling population is a boon for Japan
  2. A new Industrial Revolution
  3. Japan: suited to be a star of the 21st Century
  4. For More Information


(1)  A falling population is a boon for Japan

Japan’s government has worried about its overpopulation since the Meiji Restoration when they had about 3 million people (1868). They encouraged emigration to Korea, to no effect. They had 50 million in 1910, 100 million in 1967, and a peak in 2008 at 128 million — all crowded into a narrow urban belt along the coast. At their current level of fertility, by 2100 their population might be half of today’s, back to the level of 1930.  If fertility continues to fall, population might fall to 60 million (1925) or even 50 million (1910).

The effect on Japan’s environment would be wonderful. Japan could become a garden with the cleaner technology of that future era (a common question in grade-school history will be “Teacher, what is ‘pollution’?”).

See this graph showing the coming evolution of the age distribution in Japan (source; see more information from their National Institute of Population and Social Security Research).

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Updating the recession watch; & what might the government do to fight a slowdown?

Summary: The economic data continues to darken. Let’s review the situation — updating the recession watch — and guessing what might be the government’s response to a recession. It’s an era of new normals, so we should expect steps that would have been considered incredible or even mad a decade or two ago.  {1st of 2 posts today.}

“Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas any more. We must be over the rainbow!”
— Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz”.



  1. The bad news
  2. Worse news
  3. The weak data
  4. What comes next?
  5. For More Information
  6. Perhaps a better world lies ahead

(1)  The bad news

The graph below gives an ugly forecast. But let’s keep this in context, especially now that the doomsters have discovered it. The value of the Atlanta Fed’s GDPnow forecast is its immediacy. They explain that it’s no more accurate than forecasts by economists or other models. Which is to say it’s a best guess made with limited information. Also, the Fed remains hopeful that Q1 is an aberration, so that 2015 has growth of 2.3% – 2.7%.

20150317 GDPnow forecast

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