The Welfare States of the Developed World are “long growth.” Without it, their finances are doomed.
First, a little background…
Generally, investors will pay more for a dollar’s worth of earnings from a stock than from a bond. Stocks are riskier than bonds, in the sense that share prices tend to go up and down more, depending on company results. But investors believe this ‘risk premium’ is worth it, because there is more ‘upside’ in stocks; they will grow with the economy. Over the long run, therefore, the rate of return on stock market investing should more or less reflect the stream of dividends received, plus the rate of growth in the economy. If the economy doesn’t grow, however, the risk premium becomes a costly artifact of an earlier age.
Pension and insurance funds, too, count on growth. They collect money. They invest it and make projections based on what they consider a likely rate of return. The difference between what they collect in premiums…and what they need to invest to cover their costs and payouts…is profit. As of 2012, the typical pension fund — such as those operated by state and local governments — was banking on a rate of investment return as much as four times higher than the GDP growth rate. If growth does not pick up, these funds will go broke.
Private households, pension and insurance funds all are on one side of the trade, betting that growth rates will recover to those of the ’80s or ’90s. If so, disaster might be averted. Higher growth rates will permit governments to keep the rate of debt growth in line with revenue increases. But if growth doesn’t recover, public finances all over the planet are doomed.
Over the last 4 years the number of people on disability has risen more than 7 times faster than the number of people with jobs. The number of people on food stamps has increased by 17 million during Obama’s term in office. From the beginning of Obama’s first term to the end of it, approximately 4.6 million jobs disappeared. But the number of additions to food-stamp and disability roles jumped 21.2 million.
Read More at dailyreckoning.com . By Bill Bonner.