27 February 2013

Baby Boomers Death Bubble

A demographic time bomb
25 Feb 2013
Whether you like it or not, there's a good chance you are going to have to work longer than your parents. Many countries are heading for what is commonly known as the Demographic Timebomb. This means an increasing proportion of their populations falling into older age-brackets. The proportion of 65-69-year olds in work in the country has risen from a low of 17.8% in 1985, to 27.6% by 2005, and to 32.1% in 2011. In the 70-74 bracket, the proportion of US citizens working rose from 9.8% in the first quarter of 1987 to an average of 18.8% in 2011. China's National Bureau of Statistics recently announced that the share of population aged between 15 and 60 years old declined for the first time in 2012.

UN warns over impact of rapidly ageing populations
01 Oct 2012
The world needs to do more to prepare for the impact of a rapidly ageing population, the UN has warned - particularly in developing countries. Within 10 years the number of people aged over 60 will pass one billion, a report by the UN Population Fund said. The demographic shift will present huge challenges to countries' welfare, pension and healthcare systems. The number of older people worldwide is growing faster than any other age group.

Ageing China: Changes and challenges
19 Sep 2012
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the government advocated a "later, longer, fewer" lifestyle, encouraging people to marry later, have wide gaps between children and fewer children overall. It also instated the controversial one-child policy. These were attempts to curb population growth in a bid to help modernize the economy. Chinese women are having fewer children, but having a smaller generation follow a boom generation - and longer life expectancies - means that by 2050, it is expected that for every 100 people aged 20-64, there will be 45 people aged over 65, compared with about 15 today.

Pension age: Ministers to speed up rise to 66
24 Jun 2010
The government is to speed up plans to raise the state pension age for men to 66, possibly by as early as 2016. Ministers will also raise the option of extending it further, perhaps to 70 and beyond in the following decades. The default retirement age of 65 - at which workers can be legally axed by employers - is also set to be axed.

Bernanke – Deficit Concerns and the Aging Population
09 Jun 2010
Among the primary forces putting upward pressure on the deficit is the aging of the U.S. population, as the number of persons expected to be working and paying taxes into various programs is rising more slowly than the number of persons projected to receive benefits. Notably, this year about 5 individuals are between the ages of 20 and 64 for each person aged 65 or older. By the time most of the baby boomers have retired in 2030, this ratio is projected to have declined to around 3. In addition, government expenditures on health care for both retirees and non-retirees have continued to rise rapidly as increases in the costs of care have exceeded increases in incomes.

US Medicare funding under threat
13 May 2009
The US social security and Medicare system, which provide pensions and health care for older people, are set to run out of money sooner than expected. The costs of these two government entitlement programs has already reached $1 trillion (tn), or one-third of the entire Federal budget, and is expected to rise significantly as 80 million "baby boomers" reach retirement age over the next two decades. The rising cost of providing health care - which is growing much faster than the overall growth rate of the economy - is putting pressure on the Medicare budget.

Japan eyes demographic time bomb
19 Nov 2007
Japan is about to experience demographic change on an unprecedented scale. The birth rate has been falling steeply for half a century. In the early 1970s it passed the replacement level of 2.1 births per woman and in 2005 hit a record low of 1.26. Japan has the world's highest proportion of elderly people. More than 20% of the population are now over the age of 65. By 2050, that figure is expected to rise to about 40%. As the number of retirees goes up that same government will be facing increasing pension and healthcare costs.

Japan's Ageing Population
27 Oct 2006
Japan has the fastest ageing population in the world. Nearly two million people in Japan are now aged over 80, but they too play a key role in family life and in the economy. Nowadays, the number of people living in a nursing home or another welfare facility for the aged is increasing. That is putting pressure on the nation's economy, and the expense of providing care facilities will go on rising as people live longer and the proportion of elderly people increases.

Bernanke- Deficit Concerns and the Aging Population
15 Mar 2006
US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke has voiced concerns over the size of the US budget deficit. Mr Bernanke warned persistent deficits need to be curbed, particularly as an ageing population will raise pressure on government spending. US finances were expected to come under "severe pressure" as baby-boomers began to retire and collect their Social Security and Medicare benefits.

Retirement age 'should reach 85'
17 Feb 2006
The age of retirement should be raised to 85 by 2050 because of trends in life expectancy, a US biologist has said. That will put a strain on economies around the world if current retirement ages are maintained, he warned. The Stanford researcher has been looking at relationships between historical trends in ageing, population growth and economic activity. In the US, the cost of social security and medical care would almost double if people retired at 65 under. But an increase in the retirement age to 85 would bring costs down to today's levels. 

18 February 2013

State of the Union 2013 , President Obama

Growth Mantra Continued

State of the Union, President Obama
12 Feb 2013

It is our generation's task to reignite the true engine of America's economic growth - a rising, thriving middle class.  A growing economy that creates good, middle-class jobs - that must be the North Star that guides our efforts.  We won't grow the middle class simply by shifting the cost of healthcare or college on to families that are already struggling. Now, to grow our middle class, our citizens have to have access to the education and training that today's jobs require.

Most Americans know that broad-based economic growth requires a balanced approach.  

Let's streamline the process, and help our economy grow.

Sudden, harsh, arbitrary cuts would certainly slow our recovery, and cost us hundreds of thousands of jobs. How does that promote growth?

It is not a bigger government we need, but a smarter government that sets priorities and invests in broad-based growth.

We can make meaningful progress on this issue while driving strong economic growth.

Real reform means fixing the legal immigration system to cut waiting periods and attract the highly-skilled entrepreneurs and engineers that will help create jobs and grow our economy.

Coffee Ecological Disaster

Uncommon Grounds by Mark Pendergrast, 1999, Excerpts

Coffee production exploded from 5.5 million bags in 1890 to 16.3 million in 1901. Coffee planting doubled in the decade following abolition, and by the turn of the century over 500 million coffee trees grew in the state of Sao Paulo. Brazil flooded the world with coffee. This over reliance on one crop had a direct effect on the well-being of most Brazilians.

The ecological historian Warren Dean in his book [The Destruction of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest] documents the devastating affect that coffee had on Brazil’s environment. During the winter months of May, June, and July, gangs of workers would begin at the base of a hill, chopping through the trunks just enough to leave them standing. “Then it was the foreman’s task to decide which was the master tree, the giant that would be cut all the way through, bringing down all the others with it,” Dean writes. “If he succeeded, the entire hillside collapsed with a tremendous explosion, raising clouds of debris, and swarms of parrots, toucans, and songbirds.” After drying for a few weeks, the felled giants were set afire.

At the end of this conflagration, a temporary fertilizer of ash on top of the virgin soil gave a jump-start for year-old coffee seedlings, grown in shaded nurseries from hand-pulped seeds before transplanted. The coffee, grown in full sun rather than shade, sucked nutrition out of the depleting humus layer rather quickly. Cultivation practices guaranteed wildly fluctuating harvests. Coffee trees always take a rest the year after a heavy bearing season, but Brazilian conditions exacerbated the phenomenon. When the land was “tired,” it was simply abandoned and new swathes of forest were then cleared. Unlike the northern arboreal forests, these tropical rain forests, once destroyed, would take centuries to regenerate.

By the late nineteenth century the Rio coffee lands were dying. The Rio region was “quickly ruined by a plant whose destructive form of cultivation left forests razed, natural reserves exhausted, and general decadence in its wake,” wrote Eduardo Galeano in Open Veins in Latin America. “Previously virgin lands were pitilessly eroded as the plunder-march of coffee advanced.”

Guatemala's coffee rust 'emergency' devastates crops
09 Feb 2013
Guatemala has declared a state of agricultural emergency after a coffee tree fungus blighted about 70% of the national crop. Coffee rust causes trees to lose their leaves, resulting in fewer beans, of inferior quality. Honduras and Costa Rica have already declared national emergencies. El Salvador and Panama are also affected. Coffee rust first became a significant problem in the 1860s in what was then called Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka). More than 90% of crops were wiped out, and coffee-growing was abandoned on the island. Coffee is Guatemala's main export, and coffee growers warn that hundreds of thousands of jobs could be lost.