Author Topic: Investing for the End of Growth  (Read 24738 times)

Pooperman

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Investing for the End of Growth
« on: June 08, 2015, 01:00:23 PM »
Important note before you all rage: this may or may not happen in our lifetimes (can't predict when, so it may or may not matter).

First and foremost, there are limits to growth. Seriously. There's only so much economic activity that can happen on Earth, the solar system, and even in the Milky Way. Growing at 4% per year after inflation is not sustainable forever. The Earth is not finite. Its resources are not finite. The main limitations are energy and non-renewable resources in general. Even with substitutions, we will end up using all of the solar energy that hits earth in a much shorter time than one might imagine (about 400 years). That brings with it some not good consequences (like raising surface temperature) but lets ignore that stuff for now.

So if energy is our limit in 400 or so years, why care about that now? Because growth has limits. It is physically impossible to grow at 4% forever. This begs the question, "how can one live off of interest/returns if there is fundamentally no growth?" How can we, as investors, make a living and retire early through a situation where the economy will not grow more?

If resources infinite, then non-material sources of economic activity (services, information, etc) will outpace the material goods until the material goods are cheap enough that anyone can afford them (due to automation, efficiency, etc). Since resources are, in fact, limited, then non-material sources will outpace material goods for a while until that limit is realized. At that point, the prices will rise steadily on the material goods as there is no longer a ready supply of them. This can be seen in some areas already (look at SF Bay real estate for one thing).

So, how do we invest with the end of growth in mind? This doesn't mean there's no growth. Companies will grow and collapse, but it'd be a zero-sum game overall. The only option I can think of is owning the means of production (owning a company, real estate, etc) which pays a significant enough dividend for owning to pay more than inflation.

In this scenario, ye olde index funde will rise in value with inflation and no more as the overall economy is not growing nor shrinking in any real amount.

Kaspian

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2015, 01:09:28 PM »
Because growth has limits.

What you're saying makes complete sense to me, but is it possible somebody presented the exact same argument in 1915?   Or are you talking out of our lifetimes--in 400 years or so?  This would presuppose a catastrophe which wipes out a good chunk of the population doesn't happen.
« Last Edit: June 08, 2015, 01:11:00 PM by Kaspian »

Pooperman

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2015, 01:13:31 PM »
Because growth has limits.

What you're saying makes complete sense to me, but is it possible somebody presented the exact same argument in 1915?   Or are you talking out of our lifetimes--in 400 years or so?  This would presuppose a catastrophe which wipes out a good chunk of the population doesn't happen.

It also supposes that humans will stay on Earth and not colonize other worlds during this time. Anything can happen, but it's an interesting question given the bent of this forum.

matchewed

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2015, 01:16:54 PM »
A) Thankfully I'm not investing for forever. I just need a small sliver in human time for growth to last. ;)

B) Assuming it would happen in our time frame then I think you've answered your question already. It's not that there isn't opportunity for growth in a small scale just that at a large scale there is no overall growth. So the answer would be to focus on the small scale and find the things which are poised for growth.

Kaspian

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2015, 01:17:58 PM »
Haha...  I'm a bit of an evil uncle.  Awhile ago my nephew was in stupid tears because he learned someday the sun would go out.  (Really acting like a brat about it.)  I said, "Don't worry, kid, statistically a comet or meteor will smash the earth to bits way before the sun goes out."  [Disapproving looks from the rest of my family.]

waltworks

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2015, 01:24:01 PM »
Dyson sphere, man, Dyson sphere.

I don't think this is much of a concern. If we're using that much energy by that point we will have lived through the end of scarcity. Everyone will be born "retired".

-W

sol

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #6 on: June 08, 2015, 01:53:55 PM »
Anyone who imagines humanity will cease striving to grow is ignorant of history.  I'm not worried.

Limited energy hitting earth?  Why limit yourself to the tiny fraction of sunlight that reaches earth?  There is more than enough mass in the solar system to capture all of the sun's energy, and it should be long lived enough to provide more than enough energy to physically relocate to a new younger star system.

I expect the current economy to be mostly unrecognizable in 200 years.  Imagine trying to explain Google's revenue stream to a 1700's peasant farmer.  They can't even envision the kind of world that needs a company like that, much less understand how that company generates and spends profits.  His world is about livestock and seasonal rains and tithing the church. Without understanding electricity he can't understand computers, without computers he can't understand the internet, without the internet he can't understand the need to organize information, and he certainly wouldn't get why they would provide that service to people for free.

Humanity has been around for about 200,000 years.  In the last 0.1% of that time we've moved from farmers to spacefarers.  How many of today's corporations were around 200 years ago, and how many of today's corporations do you think will last another 200 years?  Will corporations even exist by then, or will social structures by then look as different to us as ours would to them?

The future is scary, but not because humanity is going to stagnate.

hodedofome

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #7 on: June 08, 2015, 02:10:00 PM »
Japan is in year 25 of their stock market going nowhere to down. Part of that is because their market was stupidly overvalued, and part because their population is shrinking. What happens when world population stops increasing? What if it starts shrinking? I could see that happening before the sun gives way. Hard to see the economy increasing when the population isn't.

But whatever, I'm not an economist. And I certainly suck at predictions. Hopefully trend following still works if/when this happens.


brooklynguy

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #8 on: June 08, 2015, 02:12:30 PM »
Yep, I second all the responses above.  I don't pretend to be able to imagine what the world will look like in the next few hundred years, but it seems to me that the likelihood that "early retirement" will be rendered either (i) a matter of course for everyone (waltworks' end of scarcity scenario) or (ii) a possibility for no one (take your pick of reasons why, the most obvious being extinction of the human species) is exponentially greater than the likelihood that early retirement will be an achievable outcome for some but not all.

sol

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #9 on: June 08, 2015, 02:16:53 PM »
I expect human population growth to slow, but not stop.  You can't look at one little island country and say all of humanity will follow that course.  Why not use African growth rates instead of Japanese ones?  Why look at the worst case on the whole planet as your predictive example?

Barring any global catastrophes, we'll get off this rock eventually.  The universe is full of real estate and untapped natural resources.  We live in a tiny crevice.

Erica/NWEdible

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #10 on: June 08, 2015, 02:43:37 PM »
Barring any global catastrophes, we'll get off this rock eventually.  The universe is full of real estate and untapped natural resources.  We live in a tiny crevice.


theoverlook

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #11 on: June 08, 2015, 02:58:12 PM »
Japan is in year 25 of their stock market going nowhere to down. Part of that is because their market was stupidly overvalued, and part because their population is shrinking.

How much of it is due to them destroying and rebuilding their housing stock every 20 - 30 years?  Individuals get very little chance to build up a net worth if they're paying for a newly built home every couple decades.  I think looking at Japan as an example of a potential future for everyone is that their culture is not the same as everyone else's culture.

Heckler

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #12 on: June 08, 2015, 03:02:35 PM »
I'm investing in the Startrek replicator now.  Suckers!

hodedofome

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #13 on: June 08, 2015, 03:12:30 PM »
Ok if you think Japan is cherry picking look at Europe. They are barely growing

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/11414064/How-Europe-is-slowly-dying-despite-an-increasing-world-population.html

and their stock market is in the same spot it was 9 years ago.

IMO population growth is a huge indicator of economic activity.


nobodyspecial

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #14 on: June 08, 2015, 04:14:36 PM »
Quote
expect human population growth to slow, but not stop. 
The world population is expected to top out in the next 50years or so - at something around 10Bn (IIRC)
Basically as people become wealthier they don't need a dozen kids in the hope that 6 make it to adulthood and 3 are boys who will take care of them.  If you look at the rate that India/China went from being famine news reports to having a space program you can see how quickly they might reach 'developed country' negative population growth.

What happens when world population stops increasing? ..... Hard to see the economy increasing when the population isn't.
So India, China and Africa  develop to Scandanavian levels and start spending on consumer goods like Americans ?
Nope can't see any way to profit from Somalia going yuppie ;-)


« Last Edit: June 08, 2015, 04:22:12 PM by nobodyspecial »

Indexer

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #15 on: June 08, 2015, 06:59:13 PM »
Anyone who imagines humanity will cease striving to grow is ignorant of history.  I'm not worried.

Limited energy hitting earth?  Why limit yourself to the tiny fraction of sunlight that reaches earth?  There is more than enough mass in the solar system to capture all of the sun's energy, and it should be long lived enough to provide more than enough energy to physically relocate to a new younger star system.

I expect the current economy to be mostly unrecognizable in 200 years.  Imagine trying to explain Google's revenue stream to a 1700's peasant farmer.  They can't even envision the kind of world that needs a company like that, much less understand how that company generates and spends profits.  His world is about livestock and seasonal rains and tithing the church. Without understanding electricity he can't understand computers, without computers he can't understand the internet, without the internet he can't understand the need to organize information, and he certainly wouldn't get why they would provide that service to people for free.

Humanity has been around for about 200,000 years.  In the last 0.1% of that time we've moved from farmers to spacefarers.  How many of today's corporations were around 200 years ago, and how many of today's corporations do you think will last another 200 years?  Will corporations even exist by then, or will social structures by then look as different to us as ours would to them?

The future is scary, but not because humanity is going to stagnate.

+1

On the energy play I imagine the energy sources of the future to be things that seem almost impossible now.  Imagine pure matter to energy conversion.  This makes nuclear look like rubbing two sticks together.  It seems impossible, but CERN has created and annihilated anti-matter with matter.  The collision creates energy magnitudes greater than what is achievable with fission & fusion reactions.  Right now it requires insane amounts of energy to form anti-matter.  The estimated cost to make a gram is $62.5 trillion, but scientists think they might be able to get it down into the billions!  Progress!  However in the future imagine you could form anti-matter using only 199% of the energy obtainable from the the anti-matter.  Then when you combine that anti matter with matter you get the energy of both = 200%.  You could turn any form of matter into energy.  We wouldn't burn oil ever again.  Such a practice would be considered insanity because you could get thousands(millions?) of times more energy from the oil through matter to energy conversion.  We would take all the toxic waste produced from nuclear reactors and annihilate it into pure energy.  Very sci-fi and probably impossible, but you get the idea.  We might even find another way of converting matter into pure energy.  We might move way beyond solar energy in the next few hundred years.

nobodyspecial

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #16 on: June 08, 2015, 08:49:59 PM »
Making anti-matter puts in at least the amount of energy you get out. At the moment it takes a billion billion times as much energy in as you get out - power efficiency isn't a major part of the LHC

mrpercentage

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #17 on: June 08, 2015, 11:42:14 PM »
I agree with most of what Sol is saying.
My additions:
Nature is a rythym. There is growth between booms and busts.
There is growth in a change of industry.
Then there is the sad truth of zero sum. Everyone on the planet isn't winning. Some of the hardest working people get squat from their sweat shop that the world profits from in cheap goods.
Some people will continue to make bad financial choices even after being shown the truth.
I can't convince everyone to invest. Some will always see it as gambling and then go give Vegas 500 in 2 hours. I have a friend who is a manager at a casino and have seen some horror stories play out.
While I will never aim to exploit people, we all will profit from some others bad choices.
In the long term interest needs to go away. We will see restrictive credit and zero interest marry each other someday because there isn't an infinite snowball. We will become very efficient in everything we do. Cities will collapse the suburbs and we will have no profit 24 hr caffiterias that will eliminate the need for transportation Personal refrigerators and the like. Imagine moving walkway conveyer belts that zip around a metro area at 15 mph by increasing in speed in stages. We will cure cancer by activating our own genes through therapy and reprogramming our own body. This will develop into modifications for space flight. Then 1000 years from now we will come revisit the birth of our civilization as a new species now know as the greys.
That or we will overpopulate and have world war 3. Personally I pick the greys.
« Last Edit: June 08, 2015, 11:56:39 PM by mrpercentage »

Leisured

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #18 on: June 09, 2015, 12:17:54 AM »
Throughout much of history, economic growth was so slow it was effectively zero, but thrifty people saved and invested,and slowly accumulated property which paid an income. If corporations of the future grow slowly, if at all, but they will still pay dividends. Dividend yields are rather low now because investors expect to see asset growth, but if there is little asset growth, then asset prices will adjust  downwards to increase dividend yield.

Grog

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #19 on: June 09, 2015, 01:02:39 AM »
virtual reality man....already now there are people farming and selling virtual currency of videogames for real cash, just imagine a god-like system connected to our sensorial experience....unlimited access and experience and content will be the motor of growth.
Heck, we will probably be capable of downloading our brain on servers and live forever in virtual worlds using robots to as physical user interface.
Do not fear the lack of growth, cause population will not stop growing, they'll just be virtual.

mohawkbrah

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #20 on: June 09, 2015, 02:31:51 AM »
id assume in the next 100 years or so we'd have interstellar company's. like mining corps on asteroids and mars and the likes. so growth can continue on a galactic human empire scale! :D

there's still a lot of unused resources and land on earth so i say we won't have to worry about stagnated growth in our lifetime. plus like you said, real estate is always good for providing income. diversify and you shouldn't have to worry

2Birds1Stone

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #21 on: June 09, 2015, 06:10:41 AM »
Invest in finite resources such as land, real estate, etc.

Create a hands off passive income business, or be a silent partner in one.

You have many years to figure things out and find out which "hat" fits best.

theoverlook

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #22 on: June 09, 2015, 06:54:51 AM »

Then there is the sad truth of zero sum.

Life is not a zero sum game. Giving a hand up to someone doesn't pull you down in the process. As long as we're spending money and energy on growing industries and not on blowing each other up, the lot for everyone can improve.  It's when we're literally exploding billions of dollars on battle fields that things get to zero (and negative) sum.

rmendpara

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #23 on: June 09, 2015, 07:27:10 AM »
All I want is a real life light saber and I'll be happy chopping trees and "mowing" lawns and killing insects.

mrpercentage

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #24 on: June 09, 2015, 07:51:10 AM »

Then there is the sad truth of zero sum.

Life is not a zero sum game. Giving a hand up to someone doesn't pull you down in the process. As long as we're spending money and energy on growing industries and not on blowing each other up, the lot for everyone can improve.  It's when we're literally exploding billions of dollars on battle fields that things get to zero (and negative) sum.

I hope this is true. I just don't think the entire world can live like the United States. Something has to give somewhere. if we go much higher than 9 billion we are zero sum. We are in a mass extinction right now. Diverse living species are disappearing at an alarming rate. Rationing water in California? That is leaving nothing for wildlife. We are drinking and showering and water lawns until rivers and lakes run dry. Anyways, investments will be equities  with dividends. Bonds will not live in the zero interest and restrictive credit we need. The good news is inflation will die and you will be once again able to just save money for retirement because it will retain its value. That's how it should be anyway

StashDaddy

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #25 on: June 09, 2015, 07:53:29 AM »
The world is a lot bigger than you think, and most of it still remains un/under-developed.  Even in the US...try driving across TX sometime.  We have barely tapped the greatest, most-concentrated source of energy of all--the energy stored in all the matter around us (E = MC2).

mrpercentage

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #26 on: June 09, 2015, 09:03:45 AM »
The world is a lot bigger than you think, and most of it still remains un/under-developed.  Even in the US...try driving across TX sometime.  We have barely tapped the greatest, most-concentrated source of energy of all--the energy stored in all the matter around us (E = MC2).

I have driven from California to Maine down to Georgia and back to Arizona. I have been to Canada, Mexico, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, and The Middle East. I do very sincerely hope you are right. I just don't think the world can live the way we live now. Acidification of the ocean is killing our biggest O2 source, along with the reefs, and the fish are disappearing. We wiped out herds of 5,000,000 buffalo in less than 200 years. There are now 50,000 and 100 times the people. If we do not respect the Earth we will Easter Isle ourselves.

Saying all that Im still hopeful for the future and raising two kids. I know saying that seems gloomy, but Im not a dooms sayer. However I do want to acknowledge the challenges we face. With every challenge comes opportunity. I believe we will overcome somehow-- but not the way we have been doing it. We will find a new way

StashDaddy

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #27 on: June 09, 2015, 09:31:33 AM »
You talk of "acidification of the ocean", but are you aware that the ocean is highly alkaline with a pH of around 8?  Pure water has a pH of 7, and the pH scale is logarithmic, so sea water is 10 times more alkaline.  A better way to say it is that the oceans are becoming "less alkaline", or even "more neutral!"  In any event, coral reefs have been around for 600 million years and evolved under much higher CO2 concentrations. If anything, an excellent case could be made that oceans are now too alkaline, but why anyone would wish to make such a silly claim is ludicrous.  The threat of “acidification” to corals is complete, total & utter garbage purveyed by professional liars.

Overfishing is a self-governing phenomenon.  As we overfish, it makes fishing less profitable, and the production of fish will naturally shift to farm-based.  It is indeed sad the way that most of the buffalo were wiped out.  But if you really want to expand the number of buffalo, shift your diet to eating more of them.  Farmers will raise increasing quantities of them to satisfy the demand that you created.

theoverlook

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #28 on: June 09, 2015, 11:39:55 AM »
The world is a lot bigger than you think, and most of it still remains un/under-developed.  Even in the US...try driving across TX sometime.  We have barely tapped the greatest, most-concentrated source of energy of all--the energy stored in all the matter around us (E = MC2).

Yeah, anybody that says the US is overdeveloped has never driven across it.

mrpercentage

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #29 on: June 09, 2015, 04:50:35 PM »
You talk of "acidification of the ocean", but are you aware that the ocean is highly alkaline with a pH of around 8?  Pure water has a pH of 7, and the pH scale is logarithmic, so sea water is 10 times more alkaline.  A better way to say it is that the oceans are becoming "less alkaline", or even "more neutral!"  In any event, coral reefs have been around for 600 million years and evolved under much higher CO2 concentrations. If anything, an excellent case could be made that oceans are now too alkaline, but why anyone would wish to make such a silly claim is ludicrous.  The threat of “acidification” to corals is complete, total & utter garbage purveyed by professional liars.

Overfishing is a self-governing phenomenon.  As we overfish, it makes fishing less profitable, and the production of fish will naturally shift to farm-based.  It is indeed sad the way that most of the buffalo were wiped out.  But if you really want to expand the number of buffalo, shift your diet to eating more of them.  Farmers will raise increasing quantities of them to satisfy the demand that you created.
I disagree with your fishing argument. This line of thinking led to the extinction of two of the three types of United States buffalo. Ah there are five million of them in one herd so who cares if we kill them just for the hide. Now two types are extinct and there is only 50,000 left.  Who cares about the bee right they only pollinate the whole damn wilderness. There are plenty of tuna-- not. Fish don't have any mercury in them from dumping in the ocean that was always there and has nothing to do with mining or coal.
 You are highly underestimating how fast mechanized man can rape nature. We survive entirely by the support of machines and pull all of our bounty and life support from species that support themselves. That needs to be fiercely regulated and I will vote that way with both election and my personal purchases.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2015, 06:34:35 PM by mrpercentage »

Jags4186

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #30 on: June 09, 2015, 05:06:27 PM »
We don't need the world to continue to grow--we just need whatever we are particularly invested in to grow.  I am invested in the US economy and I have faith that it will continue to grow while places like Africa, Russia, and the Middle East will continue to flounder.

aspiringnomad

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #31 on: June 09, 2015, 10:37:46 PM »
Ok if you think Japan is cherry picking look at Europe. They are barely growing

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/11414064/How-Europe-is-slowly-dying-despite-an-increasing-world-population.html

and their stock market is in the same spot it was 9 years ago.

IMO population growth is a huge indicator of economic activity.

Economic growth is a function of population growth and productivity growth. While global population growth might stagnate at some point in our lifetimes, I think it is very likely that productivity will go through the roof as we start to get under the surface of the information age and the advances made possible by machine learning. So I guess I'm bullish, particularly on the US economy, but since technology will be ever easier to transfer to other economies, I'm also bullish globally. This also applies to the OP's concern about resources. The machines will innovate and adapt on our behalf.

Roland of Gilead

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #32 on: June 09, 2015, 10:57:33 PM »
I am trying to picture someone 400 years ago coming up with the idea of a handheld device that can pinpoint their exact location on earth, communicate to almost anywhere on earth in seconds, contain all knowledge ever put to pen by man in a tiny portion of it's memory, translate languages instantly, and play candy crush.

Sorry can't do it.   I don't think you can see 400 years into the future either.   The guy 400 years into the future might use a device to obtain energy from the 15th universe, transport himself anywhere on earth in seconds, replicate any object, and play candy crush.

marty998

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #33 on: June 10, 2015, 01:44:47 AM »
I am trying to picture someone 400 years ago coming up with the idea of a handheld device that can pinpoint their exact location on earth, communicate to almost anywhere on earth in seconds, contain all knowledge ever put to pen by man in a tiny portion of it's memory, translate languages instantly, and play candy crush.

Sorry can't do it.   I don't think you can see 400 years into the future either.   The guy 400 years into the future might use a device to obtain energy from the 15th universe, transport himself anywhere on earth in seconds, replicate any object, and play candy crush.

It'll be a virtual reality 3 dimensional candy crush where you can physically push the candy around. Imagine how weird that will be doing it on the train Jetson's type flying public transport people mover.

innerscorecard

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #34 on: June 10, 2015, 04:15:57 AM »
If the level of aggregate growth is reduced or even zero, then that will be reflected in the pricing of assets.

mrpercentage

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #35 on: June 10, 2015, 04:56:31 AM »
Man I like this thread. Should we apply the limits of infinite growth to all things?

If we do then technology will cap off at some point and plateau just like everything else. Mechanics have been taken about as far as they can go. Have been since the blackbird. No real big new records because we have have found some of the limits of our current understanding of physics. Computers might start to slow at some point. The potential for better energy sources is huge we just have been taking the easy way. We need to go to Mars. We need to send them and have them come back home. That will push some limits and drive our innovation.

I have high jacked this enough but if you want to blow your mind this has haunted me since I watched it as a teen ager. So this thread strikes a cord with me.
On population.
https://youtu.be/4BbkQiQyaYc?t=1m1s

On energy... but this was before fracking
https://youtu.be/JeufX6S-Q_s

YoungInvestor

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #36 on: June 10, 2015, 05:09:09 AM »
I don't see why tyat's a problem. Stocks would be priced under the assumption that there will be no growth.

A share of stable profits is enough to live on.

TomTX

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #37 on: June 10, 2015, 05:27:05 AM »
Important note before you all rage: this may or may not happen in our lifetimes (can't predict when, so it may or may not matter).

First and foremost, there are limits to growth. Seriously. There's only so much economic activity that can happen on Earth, the solar system, and even in the Milky Way. Growing at 4% per year after inflation is not sustainable forever. The Earth is not finite. Its resources are not finite. The main limitations are energy and non-renewable resources in general. Even with substitutions, we will end up using all of the solar energy that hits earth in a much shorter time than one might imagine (about 400 years). That brings with it some not good consequences (like raising surface temperature) but lets ignore that stuff for now.

I dispute your 400 year energy limit. We have been profligate with energy use and are only recently starting to get serious improvements - efficiency is being improved every year.... and actually the incandescent bulb was an improvement.

Okay, measure light in lumens (more lumens = more light output) and measure power in watts (watts = energy you put in to get that light.

Candle: 0.3 lumens per watt, the standard from the dawn of using fire until sometime in the 1800s.
Gas mantle: 1-2 lumens per watt. MUCH more efficient.
Incandescent bulb: 15 lumens per watt. MUCH more efficient
Fluorescent bulb: 50 lumens per watt
Commercial LED: 100 lumens per watt

So today, you get 300x as much light per watt compared to 150 years ago. With a device that replaces 10,000 candles over its lifetime.

NOTES: Within each of these, there is a huge spread of efficiency - getting better over time, and generally getting better efficiency with bigger bulbs.

Presume a fairly well developed bulb, in a home-convenient size. For modern bulbs, somewhere around 800 lumens (60watt incandescent) Research-grade LEDs have shown efficiencies above 300 lumens per watt. It takes time to commercialize....


Pooperman

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #38 on: June 10, 2015, 05:31:15 AM »
Energy use doubled in 40 years. If that rate continues, humans will use all energy on earth (I.e Suns energy that reaches us) in about 400 years when starting from current use levels.

matchewed

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #39 on: June 10, 2015, 05:40:38 AM »
Energy use doubled in 40 years. If that rate continues, humans will use all energy on earth (I.e Suns energy that reaches us) in about 400 years when starting from current use levels.

That's using the assumption that the only energy being used in that time is energy from the sun. We're using stored energy from the sun though. Also it's a large assumption that energy use will continue at that rate, as more countries reach our level of technology and infrastructure that growth should slow.

TomTX

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #40 on: June 10, 2015, 05:45:44 AM »
Energy use doubled in 40 years. If that rate continues, humans will use all energy on earth (I.e Suns energy that reaches us) in about 400 years when starting from current use levels.

That's using the assumption that the only energy being used in that time is energy from the sun. We're using stored energy from the sun though. Also it's a large assumption that energy use will continue at that rate, as more countries reach our level of technology and infrastructure that growth should slow.

It's also miniscule compared to the energy available in stuff like Uranium and Thorium. Natural breakdown of those elements is what keeps the Earth's core molten(!)

...and it presumes energy usage will keep doubling forever based on those 2 data points. Malthus had a similar view on population in 1798. Now we're more worried about the slowing of population growth in developed countries. The USA only has growth due to immigration.

BTW, the Gates Foundation basically solved the exponential population growth problem for Africa. Widespread immunization. Once you get childhood deaths low, the parents stop having so many children. If you expect your children to grow up, you typically only want a few instead of a dozen.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2015, 05:47:26 AM by TomTX »

StashDaddy

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #41 on: June 10, 2015, 06:19:03 AM »
Mr. Percentage, you mention mercury pollution.  It sure seems to make a scary boogeyman for the media, environmental wackos, and political agencies.  But did you know that 70% of the world's mercury emissions come from natural sources, the ocean being the largest?  Even if we shut down EVERY SINGLE US power plant, the world's mercury emissions would decrease by a staggering.......get ready for it!......1%.

http://www.atmos-chem-phys.net/10/5951/2010/acp-10-5951-2010.pdf


« Last Edit: June 10, 2015, 06:21:21 AM by StashDaddy »

acroy

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #42 on: June 10, 2015, 07:37:14 AM »
Great thread Pooper!! thanks for bringing it up. I've been thinking along these lines as well.

A few musings using my own crystal ball for the health of the global economy:
-mostly based on global demographics: Global population is aging quickly; birth rate way down, etc. Demographics are working against, not for, growth.
-Assuming there's gonna be a New Big Thing in crowd-sourced finance (eventually supplanting commercial bank model)
-Assuming there's gonna be a huge push, long term, to get the hell off this rock and start colonizing the rest of the universe

Short Term 0-10yrs: Little or no growth from 1st world countries. Europe, Japan have flatlined despite aggressive number torture. Muted US growth as the debt bubble gets blown as large as possible. Turmoil in Bric countries as some of their own bubbles are popped or deflated (ongoing in Br now). Strong growth in a few Mint countries.

Medium Term 10-25yrs: Slow decline in 1st world countries (demographics). Slow or flat-lined growth also in Bric as demographics catch up with them. Mint countries mature and slow down.

Long Term 25yr+: revolutions in finance and push for space travel (this may be 100+yrs away) finally start a new period of growth. 

Doomsayers complain of resource scarcity (nothing new; the Bad News Boys have been yelling about this for hundreds of years). The facts say otherwise.
Energy:  essentially no limit, even just using current tech (modern nukes)
Water: no limit (given cheap energy; the Earth is 70%+ water, and all water is eventually recycled)
Food: extremely high limit given current ag tech, and the unexploited potential of ocean farming.

The next couple hundred years will be interesting!!

Pooperman

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #43 on: June 10, 2015, 07:47:31 AM »
I seriously hope we get off this rock in my lifetime. How cool would it be to die on Mars at age 90?

StashDaddy

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #44 on: June 10, 2015, 08:15:01 AM »
Mars is pretty much a barren wasteland with an unbreathable atmosphere.  Why would we go there again?  Just because?  Sightseeing?  To do some hiking?  This planet is paradise compared to that one.

Pooperman

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #45 on: June 10, 2015, 09:49:38 AM »
Mars is pretty much a barren wasteland with an unbreathable atmosphere.  Why would we go there again?  Just because?  Sightseeing?  To do some hiking?  This planet is paradise compared to that one.

Because there is an end to growth if we don't.

mrpercentage

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #46 on: June 10, 2015, 02:48:37 PM »
Mars is pretty much a barren wasteland with an unbreathable atmosphere.  Why would we go there again?  Just because?  Sightseeing?  To do some hiking?  This planet is paradise compared to that one.

The same reason we went to the moon-- because it is hard. We haven't stepped up to the plate and pushed our limits for space exploration for a long time. Because compared to what we spend on our military making everyone mad by policing the world-- NASA is cheap. The space program is directly responsible for many innovations we utilize today. When you grab our brightest engineers and put them all in one room and give them a really difficult goal-- magic happens. When we step on Mars, it will be for all mankind. Not the United States-- not for a political agenda-- for all mankind. I say take it one step further and get Russia, and China involved. God forbid we do something together. But if we can't do that we should do it ourselves anyway.

Roland of Gilead

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #47 on: June 10, 2015, 07:44:50 PM »
Another reason to expand into space is because some day Earth will get hit by something big...maybe really big.   Shoemaker-Levy hit Jupiter with the energy of 600 times the entire world nuclear arsenal.   A little bigger than that and everyone on earth would be toast.

REfinAnon

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #48 on: June 11, 2015, 07:18:27 AM »
I completely don't understand how you would assume there would be an end to growth. I do agree that stagnant populations are a bit of a concern but for the next 100 years or so there should be plenty of growth still in India, Africa etc.

Even without population growth there would still be growth from increased productivity. If anything, as time goes on, I see productivity gains increasing at a faster and faster rate as the robot/automation revolution kicks into high gear.

Furthermore, I agree with those who say that in 100+ years the world will be so unrecognizable that none of this even matters. Technological gains might be so vast that generating sizable returns won't even matter - will humans even be working in 100 years? Who knows.

StashDaddy

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Re: Investing for the End of Growth
« Reply #49 on: June 11, 2015, 07:19:28 AM »
End of growth?  Or the start of growth?  Here's some stats from an article I just read:

1.  Today, 6 in every 7 humans live in undeveloped nations.

2.  Rich nations have a GDP per capita of $45,000 with an average life expectancy of more than 81 years…in stark contrast to the $4,600 and 63 years experienced in the developing world.

3.  3 billion humans use traditional biomass for cooking/heating, meaning open fires and deadly indoor air pollution.  I think they would love to have a steady supply of electricity/natural gas, instead.

4.  More than 50% of global population growth through 2050 will occur in Sub-Saharan Africa, where 66% of the people today have no electricity.

5.  The UN projects that the population of Africa – easily the most underdeveloped region on Earth, with 35 of 52 countries having “low human development” – could more than double to 2.4 billion by 2050, and potentially reach 4.2 billion by 2100.

6.  2.5 billion humans live without basic sanitation, 1.3 billion have no electricity, 1.2 billion have no access to clean water, 805 million are chronically undernourished, and more than 780 million are illiterate (re-read these numbers, bearing in mind that the U.S., Canada, and Mexico have a combined 475 million people).

7.  While the number of passenger cars in developed countries is expected to level off, the number of passenger cars in developing countries is expected to triple by 2040 to about 2x the total in developed countries.