The story of global manufacturing production continues to be China’s growth, which is the conventional wisdom. The conventional wisdom however is not correct in the belief that the USA has failed. China shot past the USA, which dropped into 2nd place, but the USA still manufactures a great deal and has continually increased output (though very slowly in the last few years).
The story is pretty much the same as I have been writing for 8 years now. The biggest difference in that story is just that China actually finally moved into 1st place in 2010 and, maybe, the slowing of the USA growth in output (if that continues, I think the USA growth will improve). I said last year, that I expected China to build on the lead it finally took, and they did so. I expect that to continue, but I also wouldn’t be surprised to see China’s momentum slow (especially a few more years out – it may not slow for 3 or 4 more years).
As before, the four leading nations for manufacturing production remain solidly ahead of all the rest. Korea and Italy had manufacturing output of $313 billion in 2011 and Brazil moved up to $308 are in 4-6 place. Those 3 countries together could be in 4th place (ahead of just Germany). Even adding Korea and Italy together the total is short of Germany by $103 in 2011). I would expect Korea and Brazil to grow manufacturing output substantially more than Italy in the next 5 years.
A recent report by Deloitte, The Hidden Costs of U.S. Health Care: Consumer Discretionary Health Care Spending provides some interesting data.
Between 2006 and 2010 USA health care expenditures increased by 19%. Government spending accounted for 40% of costs (remember that figure is lowered due to Deloitte’s including inputed value for care of relatives). Those 65 and older account for 61% of the inputed cost care that is provided.
I find this imputed value largely not worth considering. There are problems with the way we count GDP and economic activity (that affect health care and lots of other things). It is fine to be aware that they think $492 billion of extra care is given by family members but using that figure in any sensible way (other than saying hey there is a huge cost in people’s time to dealing with our health care system and sick people that isn’t counted in economic data) is questionable.
It is useful in looking at the increasingly old population we will see in the future and judging their is a large need for supervisory care that is not captured in just looking at the costs included in economic data currently. Not only will our grandkids have to pay for our living beyond our means today they will have to do so while providing unpaid care to their parents and grandparents.
The burden of long term supervisor care (that which can be provided by a non-health care professional) is one reason a resurgence in multi-generation housing options make sense to me. There are other good reasons also (child care, socialization, financial support to the young…). There are some real advantages and real disadvantages to such options. But I think economic advantages are going to encourage more of this going forward.
Related: Personal Finance Basics: Long-term Care Insurance – Health Care in the USA Cost 17.9% of GDP, $2.6 Trillion, $8,402 per person in 2010 – Resources for Improving Health Care System Performance
I am glad we have a “fiscal cliff” to finally get some reduction in the future taxes both parties have been piling on with abandon the last few decades. When you have enormous spending beyond your income, as the USA has had the last few decades, cutting current taxes is just raising taxes on your grandchildren to pay for your spending. Shifting taxes to your grand children is not cutting taxes it is shifting them to future generations.
If you want to really cut taxes you must cut taxes and not pass on paying for your cuts to your kids. It seems pretty obvious those that advocating cutting current taxes the last few decades were only interested in living beyond their means today and foisting the responsibility to pay to their grandchildren. That is despicable behavior.
The fiscal cliff is an opportunity to return to a budget that has the generation doing the spending paying the taxes (last seen in the Clinton administration). The fiscal cliff outcome is going to be far from perfect. But the result will be a much more honorable outcome than foisting ever increasing taxes on future generations to pay for our current spending.
Obviously, if you reducing how much you are adding to your credit card balance each month and start paying your bills that means you don’t get to live off your future earnings today. So you will suffer today compared to continuing to tax the future to pay for your spending.
I hope the compromise results in spending cuts and an elimination of the Bush generation shifting taxes (cutting taxes on the the current wealthy without spending cuts – so just taxing the future to pay for tax cuts today). It is unlikely the fiscal cliff results in us actually paying for our spending (the best possible result is not an elimination of adding to the taxes future generations must pay but just a reduction in the level of tax increases we are imposing on the future every year).
Lots of little things should be done to save a few billion (maybe it could add up to $50 billion a year if we are very lucky). But the serious spending cuts have to come from reductions in military spending, reducing waste in the health care system and making social security more actuarially sensible (social security is not part of the fiscal cliff discussions though). Reducing tax breaks also has to happen, unless absolutely huge spending cuts can be found which is not at all likely.
Building your saving is largely about not very sexy actions. The point where most people fail is just not saving. It isn’t really about learning some tricky secret.
You can find yourself with pile of money without saving; if you win the lottery or inherit a few million from your rich relative via some tax dodge scheme like generation skipping trusts or charitable remainder trusts.
But the rest of us just have to do a pretty simple thing: save money. Then, keep saving money and invest that money sensibly. The key is saving money. The next key is not taking foolish risks. Getting fantastic returns is exciting but is not likely and the focus should be on lowering risk until you have enough savings to take risks with a portion of the portfolio.
My favorite tips along these lines are:
- spend less than you make
- save some of every raise you get
- save 10-15% of income for retirement
- add to any retirement account with employer matching (where say they add $500 for every $1,000 you put into your 401(k)
Spending less than you make and building up your long term savings puts you in the strongest personal finance position. These things matter much more than making a huge salary or getting fantastic investing returns some year. Avoiding risky investments is wise, and sure making great returns helps a great deal, but really just saving and investing in a boring manner puts you in great shape in the long run. Many of those making huge salaries are in atrocious personal financial shape.
Another way you can boost savings is to do so when you pay off a monthly bill. So when I paid off my car loan I just kept saving the old payment. Then I was able to buy my new car with the cash I saved in advance when I was ready for a new car.
The largest manufacturing countries are China, USA, Japan and then Germany. These 4 are far in the lead, and very firmly in their positions. Only the USA and China are close, and the momentum of China is likely moving it quickly ahead – even with their current struggles.
The chart below shows manufacturing production by country as a percent of GDP of the 10 countries that manufacture the most. China has over 30% of the GDP from manufacturing, though the GDP share fell dramatically from 2005 and is solidly in the lead.
Nearly every country is decreasing the percentage of their economic output from manufacturing. Korea is the only exception, in this group. I would expect Korea to start following the general trend. Also China has reduced less than others, I expect China will also move toward the trend shown by the others (from 2005 to 2010 they certainly did).
For the 10 largest manufacturing countries in 2010, the overall manufacturing GDP percentage was 24.9% of GDP in 1980 and dropped to 17.7% in 2010. The point often missed by those looking at their country is most of these countries are growing manufacturing, they are just growing the rest of their economy more rapidly. It isn’t accurate to see this as a decline of manufacturing. It is manufacturing growing more slowly than (information technology, health care, etc.).
The manufacturing share of the USA economy dropped from 21% in 1980 to 18% in 1990, 15% in 2000 and 13% in 2010. Still, as previous posts show, the USA manufacturing output has grown substantially: over 300% since 1980, and 175% since 1990. The proportion of manufacturing output by the USA (for the top 10 manufacturers) has declined from 33% in 1980, 32% in 1990, 35% in 2000 to 26% in 2010. If you exclude China, the USA was 36% of the manufacturing output of these 10 countries in 1980 and 36% in 2010. China’s share grew from 7.5% to 27% during that period.
The United Kingdom has seen manufacturing fall all the way to 10% of GDP, manufacturing little more than they did 15 years ago. Japan is the only other country growing manufacturing so slowly (but Japan has one of the highest proportion of GDP from manufacturing – at 20%). Japan manufactures very well actually, the costs are very high and so they have challenges but they have continued to manufacture quite a bit, even if they are not growing output much.
I’m really too lazy for any ongoing budgeting. This is the model I have used: write down your big expense (rent, car payment, required student loan payment…). Get the total take home pay each month subtract your big expenses. If that is negative you better do something else (make more money, get rid of big expenses).
Big monthly expenses:
- Rent: $900
- Car payment + insurance: $300
- Cash (miscellaneous spending food, gas, cloths, books…): $450
- Utilities+ (heat, electricity, phone, internet…): $250
Take home pay: $2,800.
That leaves $900/month ($2,800 – $1,900). Decide how to allocate that – toward your IRA, saving to buy a house or take a vacation, eating out (above what was allocated above for cash), pay off debt (if you have it…), build up an emergency fund, save to buy a new MacBook Pro with Retina display…
If I decided to allocate $300 to my IRA (or increase my 401k) I would just set that up automatically each month. Then say I decided to put $400 toward other savings I would have that go to my savings account each month. And I decided I could use the $200 to pamper myself I just leave that in my checking account and what is in checking is what I have to spend.
I just don’t spend more than that. Just like when I was in college I had little spending money. I could spend that. I couldn’t spend any more, I didn’t have it. If I were to go over (I never did), but if I were to have (say my credit card bill exceeded my checking account balance), I would have had to reduce my cash the next month. I reality I would have something like $2,000 extra in the checking account so no bills would be a problem (and just view $2,000 as 0).
In 6 months see where things stand. Is it really working? Did you mess up and forget some expenses… If you need to adjust, do so. Re-examine every 6 months (or every year, if you are doing pretty well).
Take a portion of each raise (50% maybe) and devote it to personal finance goals (paying off debt, retirement savings, building up emergency fund, saving for big purcahse, investing, give more to charity…); don’t just use it to increase spending. Use no more than half (or whatever level you set) of the raise to increase your current spending.
renewable power (excluding large hydro) accounted for 44% of new generation
capacity added worldwide in 2011, up from 34% in 2010 [and 10% in 2004]. The $237 billion invested in building these green power plants compares with $223 billion of net new expenditure annually on building additional fossil-fuelled power plants globally last year.
Current predictions are that total installed capacity in non-hydro renewable power will rise ninefold to 2.5Tw by 2030, with investment in assets rising from $225 billion in 2011 to $395 billion-a-year by 2020 and $460 billion-a-year by 2030
Total investment in solar in 2011 increased 52% to $147 billion, driven by a drop of 50% in photovoltaic module prices. Investment in wind dropped 12% to $84 billion, while onshore wind turbine prices fell between 5 and 10%. Biomass and waste to energy was the 3rd largest renewable sector at $11 billion in investments (down 12% from 2010).
USA investment surged 51% to $51 billion just behind China at $52 billion (China increased investment in renewable energy by 17% from 2010). German investment dropped 12% to $31 billion.
In 2011 renewable energy power capacity (excluding large hydropower), as a percentage of total system capacity, reached 9%, up from 4% in 2004. Total renewable energy generation (excluding large hydro) reached 6%, up from 4% in 2004.
When critics say that Europe is running out of time to deal with the financial crisis I wonder if they are not years too late. Both in Europe responding and those saying it is too late.
It feels to me similar to a situation where I have maxed out 8 credit cards and have a little bit left on my 9th. You can say that failing to approve my 10th credit card will lead to immediate pain. Not just to me, but all those I owe money to. That is true.
But wasn’t the time to intervene likely when I maxed out my 2nd credit card and get me to change my behavior of living beyond my means then? If you only look at how to avoid the crisis this month or year, yeah another credit card to buy more time is a decent “solution.”
But I am not at all sure that bailing out more bankers and politicians for bad financial decisions is a great long term strategy. It has been the primary strategy in the USA and Europe since the large financial institution caused great recession started. And, actually, for long before that the let-the-grandkids-pay-for-our-high-living-today has been the predominate economic “strategy” of the last 30 years in the USA and Europe.
That has not been the strategy in Japan, Korea, China, Singapore, Brazil, Malaysia… The Japanese government has adopted that strategy (with more borrowing than even the USA and European government) but for the economy overall in Japan has not been so focused on living beyond what the economy produces (there has been huge personal savings in Japan). Today the risks of excessive government borrowing in Japan and borrowing in China are potentially very serious problems.
I can understand the very serious economic problems people are worried about if bankers and governments are not bailed out. I am very unclear on how those wanting more bailout now see the long term problem being fixed. Unless you have some system in place to change the long term situation I don’t see the huge benefit in delaying the huge problems by getting a few more credit cards to maintain the fiction that this is sustainable.
We have seen what bankers and politicians have done with the trillions of dollars they have been given (by governments and central banks). It hardly makes me think giving them more is a wonderful strategy. I would certainly consider it, if tied to some sensible long term strategy. But if not, just slapping on a few more credit cards to let the bankers and politicians continue their actions hardly seems a great idea.
Related: Is the Euro Going to Survive in the Long Run? (2010) – Which Currency is the Least Bad? – Let the Good Times Roll (using Credit) – The USA Economy Needs to Reduce Personal and Government Debt (2009 – in the last year this has actually been improved, quite surprisingly, given how huge the federal deficit is) – What Should You Do With Your Government “Stimulus” Check? – Americans are Drowning in Debt – Failure to Regulate Financial Markets Leads to Predictable Consequences
The expenses for long term care is exactly the type of financial risk insurance is best for. The problem is the whole area is so uncertain that what you buy may not provide the coverage you planned on (the health care system is so broken that it is not certain insurance will cover the costs, companies can go bankrupt, change coverage rules drastically…).
The questions about long term care insurance are not about the sensibility of the coverage abstractly, it is very wise. But the complexities, today, in the real world make the question of buying more a guess about what coverage you will actually receive if you need it.
Many of my posts here are focused on the USA but applicable elsewhere, or just applicable wherever you are. This post is mainly focused on the USA, long term care insurance options in other locations will be very different and have different considerations (in many countries it may not even apply, mainly due to a less broken health care system than the USA has).
Long-Term-Care Insurance: Who Needs It? by Marilyn Geewax
Such care can be crushingly expensive: Just one hour of home-health-aide care costs roughly $20, while the average private nursing home room costs $87,000 a year. Neither routine employer-based medical insurance nor Medicare will pay for extended periods of custodial care.”
Also, some people pay their premiums for years, and then get hit with rate hikes they can’t afford.
Insurance has a transaction cost. Paying that transaction cost for expenses you can afford is just waste. You should pay the cost directly. This is why higher deductibles are most often wise. It doesn’t make sense to cover pay insurance costs every year to pay for a $500 risk you can afford to absorb yourself.
But huge expenses are exactly what you want coverage for. Long term care expenses are huge. However, long term care insurance is still in flux, which isn’t good for something you want to provide long term protection. A huge risk is paying premiums for years, and then getting hit with rate hikes that may well be designed primarily just to get people to drop coverage (or be so expensive that those that stay pay enough that the insurance company makes money).
Ideally such insurance would be set so maybe the cost rose at some preset limit when you signed up. The problem is the USA health care system is so broken this won’t work. No one can predict how much more excessively expensive long term coverage will be in 30 years so the insurance companies can’t predict. It leaves consumers in a risky place.
Insurance is regulated by the states. There are huge differences in which states do a good job regulating long term care insurance and those that don’t. The majority don’t.
This is one of the more important areas of personal finance. Unfortunately there is no easy answer. If the system were stable, reliable and predictable, long term care insurance would be a definite requirement for a sound financial plan. Today it is wise to insure yourself from those risks, the problem is determining whether any of the options available are worth it. The risk of needing this insurance is high: it is both likely and costly. So getting coverage is definitely wise if you can find some you think is reliable over the long term. Because of the uncertain nature of the options, this will require much more effort on your part than many personal finance actions (I included several links below to help your research).
Also look at how long the coverage is for. This is another limitation insurance companies have put in place that makes it much less worthwhile.
Related: Personal Finance Basics: Long-term Care Insurance – National Clearinghouse for Long-Term Care Information – AARP advice – Disability Insurance is Very Important – How to Protect Your Financial Health
Just 6.4% of nondurable goods — things like food, clothing and toys — purchased in the U.S. are made in China; 76.2% are made in America. For durable goods — things like cars and furniture — 12% are made in China; 66.6% are made in America.
Those numbers are significantly less than I expected but the concept matches my understanding – that we greatly underestimate the purchasing of USA goods and services.
We have an inflated notion of how large the China macro economic numbers are for the USA (both debt and manufacturing exports to us). The China growth in both is still amazingly large: we just overestimate the totals today. We also forget that 25 years ago both numbers (imports from China and USA government debt owned by China) were close to 0.
We also greatly underestimate how much manufacturing the USA does, as I have been writing about for years. In fact, until 2010, the USA manufactured more than China.
Who owns the rest? The largest holder of U.S. debt is the federal government itself. Various government trust funds like the Social Security trust fund own about $4.4 trillion worth of Treasury securities. The Federal Reserve owns another $1.6 trillion.
Ok, this figure is a bit misleading. But even if you thrown out the accounting games 1.13/8.9 = 12.7%. That is a great deal. But it isn’t a majority of the debt or anything remotely close. Other foreign investors own $3.5 trillion trillion in federal debt (Japan $1 trillion, UK $500 billion). The $4.6 trillion of federal debt owned by foreigners is a huge problem. With investors getting paid so little for that debt though it isn’t one now. But it is a huge potential problem. If interest reates increase it will be a huge transfer of wealth from the USA to others.
The oil figure is a bit less meaningful, I think. Oil import are hugely fungible. The USA cutting back Middle East imports and pushing up imports from Canada, Mexico, Nigeria… doesn’t change the importance of Middle East oil to the USA in reality (the data might seem to suggest that but it is misleading due to the fungible nature of oil trading). Whether we get it directly from the Middle East or not our demand (and imports) creates more demand for Middle East oil. It is true the USA has greatly increased domestic production recently (and actually decreased the use of oil in 2009). So while I believe the data on Middle East oil I think that it is a bit misleading. If we had 0 direct imports from there we would still be greatly dependent on Middle East oil (because if France and China and India… were not getting their oil there they would buy it where we buy ours… Still the USA uses far more oil than any other country and is extremely dependent on imports. Several other countries are also extremely dependent on oil imports, including the next two top oil consuming countries: China, Japan.
Related: Oil Production by Country 1999-2009 – Government Debt as Percentage of GDP 1990-2009: USA, Japan, Germany, China… – Manufacturing Output as a Percent of GDP by Country – The Relative Economic Position of the USA is Likely to Decline