Greys’ elegy

THE population of the developed world is ageing. Everyone knows that it is happening but no one is sure what it will mean. A new paper from Morgan Stanley, part-written by Charles Goodhart, a former member of the Bank of England’s rate-setting committee, along with Manoj Pradhan and Pratyancha Pardeshi, suggests there may be dramatic economic impacts.

In particular, the paper suggests that the greying population may reverse three long-term trends: a decline in real (inflation-adjusted) interest rates, a squeeze on real wages and widening inequality. That is because those trends were driven by previous demographic shifts; first, the entry of the baby boomers into the workforce after 1970 and second, the more than doubling of the globally integrated workforce as China and eastern Europe joined the capitalist system.

This rise in the labour force produced downward pressure on real wages. It also led to slower improvements in productivity, particularly in Europe. As Mr Goodhart writes, “As labour cheapens, managers spend less effort and invest less capital in order to raise productivity.”

The falling cost of…Continue reading]]>


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