23 Apr Demographics Never Gets Old (As a Speaking Topic Anyway)
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 inevitably all does come down to the subject of people, and how old everyone will be and what they will want to do with their time and money, Are we talking about a world of savers and investors, or one where everyone is forming households and thinking of having kids (which inevitably means a lot less money left over to save)? Are people retiring, or are there lots of new entrants to the workforce in the pipeline? Until you know those things, you cannot really get a feel for the outlook or what policy should be.
With that view in mind, I have really enjoyed being in front of some diverse audiences lately. In Vancouver, I spoke to Buildex, a huge gathering of commercial construction practitioners about the outlook for the sector in terms of demand and in terms of who would be doing the work. In Lake Geneva, Wisconsin I was in front of the Senior Leadership team of Marcus Hotels and Resorts to talk about the outlook, and yes, how demographics will play a part in it. In sunny and hot Fort Myers, Florida, I was lucky enough to be a speaker at a conference of the American Galvanizers Association about the way that their organization and the wider world will evolve with demographics. And in Calgary, Alberta I spoke to Alberta Credit Unions about what is going to change for them in terms of their workforces, their clientele and the broader environment. With every audience I sought to provide something tailored for their industry and with every audience I received questions and comments that helped me to understand the issues of people on the front-lines.
For sure economics matters (well I’m an economist, so of course I would say that). And for sure the business cycle matters, and so does what is happening in the markets today and this week. But concentrate on the short term too much and you will have a classic case of not seeing the forest for the trees. Demographics matters, and that is why even though we may all be getting older, the subject never does get old as a speaking topic.