Thursday, February 12, 2015

"Depopulation: An Investor's Guide to Value in the Twenty-First Century"

Earlier this month, Marginal Revolution's Tyler Cowen linked to an interesting-sounding new e-book available on the Amazon Kindle platform, Depopulation: An Investor's Guide to Value in the Twenty-First Century by Philip Auerswald and Joon Yun.

Depopulation is a solid, inexpensive, and fairly quick read. Just 70 pages in length, Auerswald and Yun's e-book does what it promises in providing its readers with a quick look at some of the likely economic consequences of eventual global population decline. What asset classes will be hardest hit? Will it even make sense to own assets for investment purposes? How is migration, both intra-national and international, likely to change things? What sorts of policies might be adopted to ameliorate the effects of this change? What other unexpected consequences might come of all this? That the authors can't provide firm answers is owing to the relative novelty of the situation facing an increasingly large majority of the world population.

My substantial disagreement with the authors relates to the idea of competition over resources. Even in a hypothetical world of falling global populations, resource scarcity could still easily be an issue. I could imagine a future world less populous than ours but one with more competition over a resource, whether because potential consumers are wealthier and better able to make claims upon a resource (real estate, say, or some natural resource) or because the natural resources available are falling more quickly than the relevant population. This disagreement is more a matter of emphasis on my part than a substantial objection, mind.

I liked Depopulation, as a thought-provoking guide to our changing world's future. I think that you would, too.

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