Posted January 18, 2023
China’s Baby Bust = One-Child Policy Folly
We received quite a bit of feedback per our question yesterday: What’s your stance on the climate change debate?
First, thanks for your participation! We enjoy animated debate. In that spirit, here’s a sample of your opinions…
“As a degreed geologist, I know Earth's climate has always changed,” says one contributor. “A million years ago, the Gulf of Mexico came up to southern Illinois. Ten thousand years ago, glaciers came as far south as southern Indiana
“Glaciers on the western coast of Canada have been retreating since first surveyed in the 1800s. Earth’s climate started warming at the end of the last glaciation. And it has been in a warming cycle ever since. How foolish it is to think we can stop it.
“None of the climate alarmists have ever studied historical geology. I think the ultimate goal… is control.”
Another reader, another opinion: “You are fools,” says one reader. “Jim Rickards is now a climate-change expert? In the latest recorded statistics, the last 8 - 10 years have been the warmest on record.
“Maybe you don't like The Washington Post, but the data was reported in multiple news outlets and weather sites last week,” our reader continues.
“I get very frustrated with your made-up political commentary. While I like some of your market analysis, I hate the disinformation and discord you spread. You are behaving very much like the German propaganda machine created during World War II. We all know what happened there.”
Keep reading for my response…
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Your Rundown for Wednesday, January 18, 2023...
Climate, COVID-19 and China’s Population Problem
We assure you, reader, our aim is to cut through partisan BS — not add to it. Admittedly, that’s a tough row to hoe. But if you read our suite of newsletters, you’ll find our editors have multiple perspectives. And we like it that way! There’s no “party line”at Paradigm Press.
That said, climate science never should have become a political issue in the first place. In the same way, COVID-19 never should have become a political issue. Yet, here we are.
Now, changing gears… Since we often keep tabs on what’s happening in the world’s second largest economy — China — we learned yesterday that China’s GDP grew 3% in 2022… which is abysmal by Beijing’s yardstick.
One could definitely make a case that zero-Covid restrictions threw grit in the gears of China’s economic-growth engine, but another variable is emerging as well.
“China’s population fell in 2022 for the first time in decades in a historic shift that is expected to have long-term consequences for the domestic and global economies,” The Financial Times reports.
“On Tuesday, the National Bureau of Statistics announced that the total population fell by 850,000 in 2022 to 1.41175 billion, the first decline in 60 years.” (For context, the number of official deaths outstripped the number of recorded births last year.)
Of course, our macro expert Jim Rickards has been alerting us to China’s aging-population problem for several years now. He traces the population decline back to Beijing’s one-child policy…
“China now has an insufficient number of younger people coming into the workforce to replace the rapidly aging adult workforce,” says Jim.
“China is facing a world,” he adds, “where an increasingly large part of the population will be in their 80s and 90s… while the declining prime age workforce will have to devote more resources to elder care.”
All of which translates to fewer workers available for the construction and manufacturing work that’s been the engine of China’s growth for 30 years now.
And here’s an apt comparison: “China’s demographic turning point puts it on the same path as Japan,” the FT says, “where the population began to decline in 2010 and has fallen every year since.”
The running joke about China? “Japan got rich before they got old… China risks getting old before they get rich.”
Which seems to be playing out now in real time…
Market Rundown for Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023
S&P 500 futures are up 0.40% to 4,000.
Oil is up 2.25% to $81.95 for a barrel of WTI.
Gold is up 0.50% to $1,919.60 per ounce.
And Bitcoin is up 0.40% to $21,420.
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