Demographics

The future of work is a huge subject, not one that can really be tackled by in a forty minute period, but we gave it a shot at the Globe and Mail's recent Future Forward conference. I was part of a panel that touched on...

It always happens the same way: the economy slow and births go down, and then it gets better and there is a mini baby boom. Except - not this time. It is ten years after the end of the recession and births in the U.S..and...

Whenever I speak before an audience I inevitably bring up the subject of demographics, because to me it is the aging-elephant in the room. Whether I am engaged to talk about the economic outlook or about interest rates or about the future of work, it...

After this Globe and Mail column came out, I had a friend call and ask whether he should re-jig his portfolio to get rid of his auto stocks. The piece is about demographics, and specifically about the implications of the fact that people spend differently...

Here’s a piece I wrote for the Globe and Mail on the way that demographics are affecting the supply of young hockey players. Millennials have provided lots of young players which have sped up the game, but that may change, You can read the whole...

North America is aging, and a lot of  the rest of the world is aging as well. It is something to think about as we consider where we are going to get the labor we need to grow our economies in the years ahead. That...

There are a lot of things robots can do, but they cannot make societies any younger. Canada and the U.S. are aging – there is little debate about that. What exactly that will mean for the labor force and the economy is a bit more up...

What if you built a wall to keep people out, and it turned out that no one really wanted to get in anyway? Okay, some people might still want to enter the U.S. from Mexico and other countries which have typically supplied low skill labor,...

If I had to think of an industry prone to poisonous industrial relations battles I would probably think first or the auto sector, or maybe even something like education or health. The battles in those industries, however, are apparently being matched by orchestras (can I...

Sure you can go for a run for free, but if you did you would be off trend. That is one take-away from some new statistics on where people are spending their fitness dollars. According to this article from Quartz (which quotes data from the...

Maybe I’m late to the party, but it was only recently that I heard the phrase ‘side hustle’. Apparently it has been around a while: way back in 2013, Entrepreneur.com tacked up an online definition, calling ‘a way to make some extra cash that allows...

Here’s a new one to me: the ‘divorce mortgage’. No its not some crazy, invented term to describe a financing vehicle (my mind went back to ‘plain vanilla swaps’ from the days when derivatives were the buzz), but rather exactly what it sounds like: a...

You might not have noticed it, what with one economic crisis and stock market meltdown after another grabbing your attention, but the last few decades have actually been great ones for investors. Thanks to a perfect storm of factors, investment returns for the period from...

When people rhyme off the things they want to do in retirement, ‘pay off debts’ is never on the list. Nevertheless, it is something that baby boomers will have to do anyway, if data from the New York Federal Reserve (NY Fed) is to be...

We all say it, and we worry about it too: we are an aging society, and that’s going to have repercussions. In Canada, the median age of the population is now close to 41 while in the U.S. it is still-youthful 37ish but rising (according...

Everybody hates the suburbs right? Or at least all the cool people. They talk about a return to the downtowns, about walkable spaces, about riding bikes to work. It is all interesting stuff, but are people really rallying against the suburbs? Any look at population...

Was it all big one fun, Technicolor roller-coaster ride never to repeated? The economic growth of the past fifty years was awesome, at least in a historical context. Question is, was it a one-time-only, and are we destined to go back to the sluggish economic...

Former Abercrombie CEO Mike Jeffries (yes, I said ‘former’, he stepped down today) said some pretty dumb and offensive things about who he wanted his clientele to be. If the company’s numbers were good nobody might have cared, but in this retail environment he rightly...

Do you go to the mall? I used to, quite a bit actually. In the 70s, 80s, 90s, even the 00s – the mall was the place to buy stuff, and I liked stuff as much as any child and young woman in North America....

I never thought I would admire Mallory Keaton, but I really do. Okay, the person I admire is actress Justine Bateman, not Mallory Keaton, the ditzy teenager she played on television show Family Ties (it ran from 1982 through 1989). For those of us who grew...

Freelancing, the best thing ever to happen to the workplace or an evil idea designed to make workers poor and companies inefficient? We are not even close to a consensus on that, but apparently we are getting closer. According to one new study, 41 percent...

I love this: the newest trend in travelling is ‘Literary Tourism’, or making a pilgrimage to the birthplaces of your favorite authors or the sites of their books. As this article from the Atlantic details, it is certainly a gentler way to vacation than doing...

I wasn’t a tween and did not have a tween in the 1990s when Delia’s when in its heyday, but I certainly remember its cute logo, a mix of upper and lower case lettering. It was a regular in malls, a bright presence full of...

Call them shallow if you will, but when scouting for men women generally prefer those with jobs. According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, fully 78 percent of never-married women say that finding someone with a steady job would be ‘very important’ to...

Here’s a a dry news headline that buried in the back pages of business sections yesterday but deserves a closer look: according to debt-ratings service Moody’s, the 25 largest U.S. public pensions face about $2 trillion in unfunded liabilities. Translation: unless something changes, retiring U.S....

I had no complaints, really, the last time I called a plumber. The nice lady on the phone (Lorraine) was efficient, she gave me a four hour window and sent out a cheerful plumber (Brent). He fixed the pipes under my sink then gave me...

It is a reality, and it is not fair: if you leave the workforce for a period of time, even for a good reason, your career can suffer for decades to come. Women have known that for a long time though the ‘motherhood penalty’ on...

It is not the first time, and it probably will not be the last, but International Monetary Fund (IMF) President Christine Lagarde is urging women to enter the Japanese labor force and at least buffer the effect of a rapidly aging society on the economy....

Of course I like Whole Foods. How can you not? It is like going to a carnival, almost. The cheeses are beautifully displayed with generous samples offered, the prepared food aisles are filled with yummy products you never knew you wanted, the flowers are always...

It is kind of an urban myth, if you’ll pardon the pun: there is a story afoot that people are leaving the suburbs and moving back to the cities. I’ve written about the trend myself, but honestly perhaps the best evidence that it is true...

The first chapter of my book Economorphics deals with the  closing of the 'demographic window'. Taking things a bit further, in this Commentary piece for the Macdonald Laurier Institute I look at the implication for Canada of a closing window- and how the country can maybe...

See my Globe and Mail Economy Lab blog here ...

Here's a quick quiz - which would you rather do: 1) Live in poverty or 2) Live with your spouse?  A lot of baby boomers seem to be choosing (1), although they may not actually know it.  Trouble is, boomers are ending their marriages in droves, and splitting up what are really very inadequate retirement assets.  So just when it seemed that the baby boomers could not make the dream of retirement even more elusive, they have apparently found a way to do so.
Here's an interesting item from on a possible softening of China's one-child policy.  Faster population in China will not necessarily be the salvation of that economy, and faster economic growth from China will not necessarily be the salvation of the world economy - but it would at least be a start.
Last time, I talked about who the middle-young ratio (ratio of 40somethings to 20somethings in the population) correlated with financial market activity in the U.S. and Canada. A population with a lot of 40somethings poured money into the stock markets through the 1990s, then a slightly older one held back a little on equities. The demographics certainly are not the whole story behind why the markets dipped over the past few years, but they were most certainly a contributing factor.

Aging population – market time bomb?

  Okay, that’s a sensationalistic way to put it, but that’s certainly one of the fears people have about an the shifting demographics in North America. Last time around I looked at how portfolio size tends to trend lower as people go past 65. All things being equal, the older the population gets, the more money that is going to be pulled out of the market. Question is, at what point does the ‘market time bomb’ thing go from sensationalism to reality – or does it?
This is the first in a series of blogs about the way that demographics are going to affect your investments. Yes, I know there has been a lot written on the topic, and most of us know the basic theory. The boomers poured a lot of money into the markets over the past couple of decades, and they made the markets go up. Now they are getting old (sorry if that term offends anyone, but the first wave of boomers is cashing in their pension checks as we speak) and they are going to be pulling the money out of their retirement accounts. This will make the markets go down. Really? Is it as simple as that?
Oh the labor shortage thing: it get dredged up every so often, and not without cause. We all know the theory behind it, more or less. The boomers are aging, and they are going ot exit the labor force. The generation coming up behind them was not nearly as plentiful in numbers, so they won't really be replaced. So, as long as the economy keeps growing and nothing major (immigration, labor force paritcipation rates etc.) changes, then there will be lots of unfilled jobs out there.

Here's an interesting study (by non-profit consultants Convio)  on how the different U.S. generations are doling out money to charity.  Turns out that everybody is still pretty generous in their giving (recession or no recession), but that not all charities are doing a good job in reaching the people that might write the checks. Actually, not all people give by writing checks when they give, which is part of the problem.
Baby boomers are going to retire and take down the pension system. Generation X is lazy. Generation Y is spoiled and undisciplined, and they've pretty much blown out their eardrums by having them stuffed with ipods all the time anyway.

The recession has taken what was more or less an nicely operational system, and created an absolute mess, a jobs situation without enough jobs and with years to go before we get to anything you could call 'normal'....

Loved this article from the Wall Street Journal on the battle for bride dollars. Basically the wedding magazines still standing (some folded during the ad recession of 2009) are battling each other to grab the soon-to-be-married market. And, despite the fact that revenues for U.S....