Japan recently made waves with the news that its total debt would hit north of one quadrillion yen over the next several months: a number greater than the GDP of the entire Eurozone. Yet the one saving grace for Japan has long been the strawman that the bulk of its debt is locally held, and thus the risk of a sharp sell off is minimal as the capital has to be recycled within the borders of Japan, especially as the USA and soon the rest of the world will provide the same returns on debt as Japan, which has been locked in a 30 year deleveraging cycle, does. However, one thing that continues to be widely ignored is the demographic top that Japanese society is experiencing as ever more workers enter retirement, and there is no replenishment of young workers (perhaps Spain can export some of its youth to Tokyo?). This may change soon because as the AP reports, the Japanese population will be cut by 30% by 2060. Furthermore the country’s workforce of people aged 15 to 65 will shrink to half the population (a BLS wet dream as under those conditions the US unemployment rate would be very negative). Alas, the prospect of Japan’s population of 128 million dropping by 1 million every year over the coming decades, should be sufficiently sobering. This naturally means that any existing paper supply-demand equilibrium will soon have to start being reevaluated. But by 2060 we will likely have bigger problems than placing the 1 billion googol in JJBs that have to find a buyer to fund the country’s deficit. Lastly, we would love to see one of those charts showing how many working people will have to fund each and every retiree by the year 2060, first in Japan, and then in every other country.
Japan’s population of 128 million will shrink by one-third and seniors will account for 40 percent of people by 2060, placing a greater burden on a smaller working-age population to support the social security and tax systems.
The grim estimate of how rapid aging will shrink Japan’s population was released Monday by the Health and Welfare Ministry.
In year 2060, Japan will have 87 million people. The number of people 65 or older will nearly double to 40 percent, while the national work force of people between ages 15 and 65 will shrink to about half of the total population, according to the estimate made by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research.
Nowhere will the demographic crunch courtesy of the welfare state hit the world faster than in Japan, where the natural growth rate has been negative for quite some time:
The institute says Japan has been the world’s fastest aging country, and with its birthrate among the lowest, its population decline would be among the deepest globally in coming decades.
Experts say that Japan’s population will keep losing 1 million every year in coming decades and the country urgently needs to overhaul its social security and tax system to reflect the demographic shift.
The implication is that every single aspect of financial life will need a complete overhaul as existing assumptions have to be scrapped and entirely redone.
“Pension programs, employment and labor policy and social security system in this country is not designed to reflect such rapidly progressing population decline or aging,” Noriko Tsuya, a demography expert at Keio University, said on public broadcaster NHK. “The government needs to urgently revise the system and implement new measures based on the estimate.”
Fear not though. As pointed out previously, by 2060 the word sustainable will appear at least once in ever sentence, on its way to dominating the English language entirely another 50 years later…
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