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Debt-enabled asset bubbles on crash course with demographics

via Danielle Park

For anyone who may have been unconscious or in outer space for the last 20 years, here are the Coles Notes:

If finance had not been able to ‘securitize’ debts (turn them into assets) and sell them to speculators/investors over the past two decades, then debt creation could not have gone to such extremes and consumers would not have been able to borrow and spend themselves so far into financial ruin.  If western consumers had not been able to borrow themselves so far into ruin, they would also not have been able to buy so many goods from Asia and other developing nations for a time.  Asia and developing nations would not then have been able to mint so many new millionaires and billionaires in their governments and businesses who then funneled capital into western property markets, and western property markets would not have appreciated so far beyond domestic income gains.  If property prices had not increased so far beyond income gains, then households would not have had to borrow so much just to get a roof over their heads or a post-secondary education.  If they had not been able to borrow so much, property prices, education and related services would never have been able to rise so much for so long, and become so unaffordable for the masses.  But they did.

Now, as William Butler Yeats (1854-1939) warned in his poem The Second Coming, the world is upside down and the center cannot hold“:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity…

The old need the young to drive productivity and innovation, pay taxes and support the social safety net.  They also need the young to buy their assets (real estate, securities, businesses) when they wish to downsize and raise liquidity.  If the young are broke:  under-employed, over-indebted and under-saved, they cannot get a footing and the social contract is undone.

Twenty years of central bank and government-enabled debt-driven asset bubbles, have broken long-standing laws of financial and social equilibrium.  A secular global repricing cycle is necessary to break the impasse and reboot the system.  The status quo is unraveling, as it must.

For important insight on these trends in global property markets, see Young buyers are being priced out of global city property:

For centuries, great cities have lured the young and ambitious in search of streets paved with gold. Now those city streets seem more likely to appeal to the silver-haired as young people either flee or shun the increasingly unaffordable property prices. 

These charts are also on point.