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"Will The Real Global Economy Please Stand Up…?!"

Authored by Chris Hamilton via Econimica blog,

To say I’ve become skeptical of ‘markets’ and their movements is probably an understatement.  However, rather than waste more time trying to make sense of these skewed markets, I believe real economic activity is more accurately represented by changing populations and their energy consumption.

So today, we’ll play a little “To Tell The Truth”, an old television show where two imposters could lie but one contestant had to tell the truth.  The celebs would ask questions and then attempt to pick which contestant was the real deal.  I’ll lay out the data and let you determine how well this lines up with non-stop narrative of record market valuations and stories of strong economic activity.

I’ll start with Japan and work my up progressively larger.  The population data is from the UN and I use the 15 to 60 year old population to avoid speculation about changing birth rates over the next fifteen years.  Energy data is from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) and their projections using their IEO’17 (International Energy Outlook, 2017) models.


  • Core population peaked 1993, declined 14% since (as of 2015), will decline 22% by 2030 and 33% by 2040.
  • Energy consumption peak 2006, declined 17% since
    • My est. -25% by 2030, -30% by 2040
    • IEO’17 est. +3% by 2030, unchanged by 2040.


  • Core population peaked 1995, declined 5% since, will decline 17% by 2030 and 19% by 2040.
  • Energy consumption peaked 2006, declined 14% since, will decline 22% by 2030 and 28% by 2040.  IEO’17 data will be wrapped together for EU below.


  • Core population peaked 2005, declined 4% since.  Will decline 17% by 2030 and 25% by 2040.
  • Energy consumption peaked 2005, declined 17% since.  I estimate declines of 26% by 2030 and 32% by 2040.


  • Core population peaked 2006, declined 5% since.  Will decline 15% by 2030, 29% by 2040.
  • Energy Consumption peaked 2007, declined 27% since.  I estimate declines of 40% by 2030, 47% by 2040


  • Core population peaked in ’08, declined by 1% since.  Will decline 8% by 2030, 12% by 2040.
  • Energy consumption peaked in ’06, declined 8.5% since.  I estimate declines of 16% by 2030 and 19% by 2040.
    • EIA estimates increases of 11% and 16% by ’30 and ’40, respectively.


  • Core population peaked in 2007…declined 6.5% since.  Core -16% by 2030, -19% by 2040.
  • Energy consumption peaked 2015 (post Soviet Union) and declined 3% since.  Est. to decline 19% by 2030 and 23% by 2030.
    • IEO’17 estimates essentially no change through 2040.


  • Core population growth has slowed from +17% from ’85 to ’00, +10% from ’00 to ’15, and just +2.6% from ’15 to ’30.  The Census and UN estimates show core growth again from ’30 on based on a ludicrous and demonstrably false assumption that the current birth rate should be surging.  In fact, record low birth rates are occurring…so that +10 million core population growth from ’30 to ’40 is more likely to be an outright decline and US core population peak around 2030.
  • Energy consumption nearly ceased growing in ’00, peaked in ’07, and has declined 7.5% since.  I’m guessing 9.5% and 11% declines by 2030 and 2040, respectively.
    • EIA expects 5% to 7% increases through 2040.

South Korea

  • Core population peaked in 2014.  Will decline by 15% by 2030, 24% by 2040.
  • I estimate energy consumption to decline 13% by 2030, 27% by 2040.
    • EIA estimates an increase of 32% by 2030, 49% by 2040.


  • Core population peaked 2011, declined 1% since.  Will decline 9% by 2030 (-89 million) and 16% by 2040 (-154 million).
  • Energy consumption likely to peak before 2020 and decline 8% by 2030, 19% by 2040.
    • EIA estimates a 35% increase by 2030, 45% increase by 2040.

I could go on showing nation after nation slumping in population and energy consumption…but instead I’ll sum it up with the chart below detailing the 15 to 60 year old population of the nations that consume over 90% of the worlds energy (15 to 60 year old global population minus Africa, India).  From ’85 to ’15, this core population grew by 70% (or 1 billion) and energy consumption among them grew by nearly 50%.  However, from ’15 to ’40, this core population will grow just 3% and the change in energy consumption could be something like the EIA’s projected 25% increase or my guestimate of a 10% decline.

Finally, the chart below shows the combined core populations of Africa and India versus their energy consumption and the EIA estimates through 2040.  Noteworthy are the half billion person increases in the chart above from ’85 through ’00 and again from ’00 to ’15 resulting in 80 and 120 quadrillion increases (respectively) in energy consumption.  Compare and contrast those with the 2015 through 2040 core population increase of 750 million among Africa/India estimated to net “just” an increase of about 50 quadrillion BTU’s.

However, if I’m even half right in suggesting the imminent large scale energy consumption declines that will accompany the “baked in the cake” population declines, then non-linear disruptions or collapses are a probably a very good possibility.  As always, make of all this what you will.

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