Across the globe, saving for retirement is a challenge. Longer lives and expensive health care create challenge to our natures (saving for far away needs is not easy for most of us to do – we are like the grasshopper not the ants, we play in the summer instead of saving). This varies across the globe, in Japan and China they save far more than in the USA for example.
The United States of America ranks 19th worldwide in the retirement security of its citizens, according to a new Natixis Global Retirement Index. The findings suggest that Americans will need to pick up a bigger share of their retirement costs – especially as the number of retirees grows and the government’s ability to
support them fades. The gauges how well retired citizens live in 150 nations, based on measures of health, material well-being, finances and other factors.
Top Countries for Retirees
- 1 – Norway
- 2 – Switzerland
- 3 – Luxembourg
- 6 – Finland
- 9 – Germany
- 10 – France
- 11 – Australia
- 13 – Canada
- 15 – Japan
- 19 – USA
- 20 – United Kingdom
Western European nations – backed by robust health care and retiree social programs – dominate the top of the rankings, taking the first 10 spots, including Sweden, Austria, Netherlands and Denmark. The USA finished ahead of the United Kingdom, but trailed the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Globally, the number of people aged 65 or older is on track to triple by 2050. By that time, the ratio of the working-age population to those over 65 in the USA is expected to drop from 5-to-1 to 2.8-to-1. The USA actually does much better demographically (not aging as quickly) as other rich countries mainly due to immigration. Slowing immigration going forward would make this problem worse (and does now for countries like Japan that have very restrictive immigration policies).
The economic downturn has taken a major toll on retirement savings. According to a recent report by the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, the country is facing a retirement savings deficit of $6.6 trillion, or nearly $57,000 per household. As a result, 53% of American workers 30 and older are on a path that will leave them unprepared for retirement, up significantly from 38% in 2011.
On another blog I recently wrote about another study looking at the Best Countries to Retirement Too: Ecuador, Panama, Malaysia. The study in the case was looking not at the overall state of retirees that worked in the country (as the study discussed in this post did) but instead where expat retirees find good options (which stretch limited retirement savings along with other benefits to retirees).
See the full press release.
Related: Top Stock Market Capitalization by Country from 1990 to 2010 – Easiest Countries in Which to Operate a Businesses: Singapore, Hong Kong, New Zealand, USA – Largest Nuclear Power Generation Countries from 1985-2010 – Leading countries for Economic Freedom: Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland – Countries with the Top Manufacturing Production
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.
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.
Nuclear power provided 14% of the world’s electricity in 2010. Wind power capacity increased 233% Worldwide from 2005 2010, to a total of 2.5% of global electricity needs. Nuclear power generation declined by .72% for the same period.
Burning coal was responsible for 41% of electricity generation in 2010. Burning natural gas accounted for 21% and hydroelectric generation accounted for 15%.
Japan just announced that they have closed their last operating nuclear power plant. They have no nuclear power plant generating electricity for the first time in more than 40 years. It will be interesting to see how low their actual generation totals fall this year. They plan to re-open some of the plants but it is a political issue that is far from settled.
Globally nuclear power production increased 84% from 1985 to 2010. This is a very low percentage. Global output over that period increased much more than that, as did global electricity use. The share of electricity production provided by nuclear power peaked at about 17% for much of the 1990s.
Related: Nuclear Power Production Globally from 1985 to 2009 – Oil Production by Country 1999-2009 – Top 10 Countries for Manufacturing Production from 1980 to 2010: China, USA, Japan, Germany… – Japan to Add Personal Solar Subsidies – Nuclear Energy Institute (statistics)
Another view of data on nuclear power shows which of the leading nuclear producing countries have the largest percentages of their electrical generating capacity provided by nuclear power plants (as of 2009). France has 75% of all electricity generated from nuclear power. Ukraine had the second largest percentage at 49%, then Sweden at 37% and South Korea at 35%. Japan is at 28% compared to 20% for the USA. Russia was at 18% and China was at just 2%.
I really can’t figure out which currency is something I would want to hold if I had the option. It doesn’t really matter, since I am not going to act on it in a very direct way (maybe if I felt very strongly I would do something but it would probably be pretty limited), but I still keep thinking about this issue out of curiosity.
The USA dollar seems lousy to me. Huge debt (both government and consumer). Government debt is huge on the books and huge off the books (state and local retirement – and federal medical care [social security is really in much better shape than people think, though it also has issues 30 + years out}).
The Euro seemed a bit lame 3 years ago. Today it seems crazy to think at least one Euro country won’t default in the next 3 years – and likely more. And if they take steps to avoid that it seems like it is going to make the case for the Euro worse).
The Japanese Yen is much stronger than makes any sense to me. I think it is mainly because of how lousy all the options are. The huge government debt (worse that almost anywhere) and lousy demographics (and the refusal to deal with demographics with immigration or something) are big problems. The biggest reason for strength is that the individuals have huge savings (when your citizens own the debt it is much less horrible than when others do – especially when you are looking at currency value).
The Chinese Yuan is the best looking at the economic data. The problem is economic data is questionable for the best cases (looking at the USA, Japan…). China’s economic data is far from transparent. Their is also great political and social risk. The current worries of a real estate bubble seems justified to me and China just this week took exactly the wrong action – trying to prop up the bubble (in order to decrease the economic slowdown). I can see either of these cases playing out 10 years from now: It was obvious the Yuan was the strongest currency you are an idiot for not being able to see that or It was obvious China was a bubble with unsustainable policies and likely social upheaval thinking that was anything but a sign to sell the Yuan was foolish.
Given all this I think I weakly come down on the side that the Yuan is likely to be the strongest.
The safest play I think is the US dollar (as lousy as it is on an absolute basis the options make it look almost good). It could get clobbered. But that seems less likely than the others getting clobbered.
Smaller currencies have some promise but they can be swamped by global moves. I really have no idea about the Brazilian Real. That might actually be a really good option. The Australian Dollar and Canadian Dollar may also. But those economies are really small. I don’t trust India: they have many good macro-economic factors but the climate for business leaves far too much to be desired (as does the pace of progress fixing those weaknesses). Many economist like them due to demographic factors. I understand that demographic factors will help, but without systemic reform I question how well India can do (it certainly has the potential to do amazingly well, but they seem to be significantly farther away from reaching their potential compared to many countries).
The Singapore Dollar seems good on many levels, but the economy is small. I am not really sure about emerging economies, there currencies can get swamped in a hurry. Thailand and Indonesia experienced this recently. Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia are interesting to me in thinking about what their currencies may experience, I would like to read more on this.
This is more an intellectual and curiosity exercise than something I see directly tied to my investing strategy. But having clear answers of what I thought reasonable scenarios were for currencies going forward that would factor into my investing decisions. Right now, the confusing this causes me, leads me to favor companies that should be fine whatever happens: Apple, Google, Toyota, Intel (I don’t really like Facebook overall but in this way they fit). Lots of the stocks in my 12 stocks for 10 years portfolio, you might notice.
The Curious Cat Investing, Economics and Personal Finance Carnival is published twice each month. We find useful recent personal finance, investing and economics blog posts and articles to share with you.
- 2 Billionaire Brothers’ Insider Buying At Colfax by Zack Miller – “[In] the Danaher Business System… management believes its found a demonstrable, repeatable recipe for success, and it drives both culture and process at the company and its acquisitions. DBS is a form of Japanese kaizen, comprising 4 components: 1) People 2) Plans 3) Processes 4) Performance” [I own Danaher and have it in my 12 stocks for 10 year portfolio - John, my management blog focuses on such management systems]
- Apple’s Impossibly Good Quarter by John Hunter – “You can’t grow quarterly sales from $26.7 billion to $46.3 billion. $26 million to $46 million, fine that is possible, billions however – not possible. Except Apple did. You can’t grow a $6 billion quarterly profit to $13 billion in 1 year. Except Apple did. You can’t generate a cash flow of $17.5 billion in a quarter. Except Apple did. You can’t have a stockpile of $100 billion in cash. Except Apple does. These figures would not have been seen as unlikely just 3 years ago. They were impossible. But Apple achieved them.”
- How to Save the Euro by George Soros – “the cuts in government expenditures that Germany wants to impose on other countries will push Europe into a deflationary debt trap. Reducing budget deficits will put both wages and profits under downward pressure, the economies will contract, and tax revenues will fall. So the debt burden, which is a ratio of the accumulated debt to the GDP, will actually rise, requiring further budget cuts, setting in motion a vicious circle.”
- Japan’s Trade Figures: Some Perspective by Eamonn Fingleton – “In a typical maneuver, goods might be shipped to China via Hong Kong. The goods are exported from Japan at heavily discounted prices and a Hong Kong subsidiary takes a huge profit in selling to China. Such profits constitute hidden export revenues that are not caught in the visible trade numbers. The maneuver makes sense because Japan’s corporate tax rate is one of the world’s highest.” [This is one, of many things, that make economic data difficult to rely on - you have to pay close attention to the details - John]
I decided to take a look at some historical economic data to see if some of my beliefs were accurate (largely about how well Singapore has done) and learn a bit more while I was at it.
I just picked countries that interested me and seemed worth looking at. I looked for some around the starting position of Singapore and close to Singapore geographically. And looked at Panama as the closest match to Singapore (for Singapore’s main 1970 asset, convenient for shipping lanes, and very close for GDP per capita).
Malaysia and Singapore were 1 country after independence (from 1963-1965).
I can’t imagine more than a couple countries could reasonably be argued to have had better economic performance from 1970 to 2010 than Singapore (Korea? China? Who else?). Singapore had very little going for it in 1970. They had a good location for shipping and that is about it macro-economically. No natural resources. No huge storage of wealth. No preeminence in science, technology or business.
It seems to me that Singapore actually did have 1 other thing. A government that was to preside over a fantastic economic growth success. You won’t find many textbooks talking about the way to economic success is a very well run government. And there is good reason for that, I believe. Relying on a very well run government will nearly always fail. In some ways Singapore was like Japan but with significantly more government influence on the way economic development played out.
I was surprised how poorly the USA has faired. It isn’t so surprising that we lagged. People forget how rich the USA was in 1970. The USA is still very rich but bunched together with lots of other rich countries instead of way out ahead as they were in 1970. And in 1970 the lead was already contracting, for what it had been earlier. But even knowing the relative performance of the USA had lagged, I was surprised by how much it under-performed.
I was also surprised with India. I knew they have done poorly but I didn’t realize it had been this poor. The failures to greatly improve infrastructure, education and the stifling effect of their bureaucracy have been causing them great harm. They have been doing some good things in the last 10 years especially but still have a long way to go. Their premier education is actually pretty decent. The problem is the other 90% of the education is often poor and many people (especially women) hardly have any education at all. It is very hard to get ahead when you fail to take advantage of the talents of so many of your people.
Related: Singapore and Iskandar Malaysia – Chart of Largest Petroleum Consuming Countries from 1980 to 2010 – Chart of Nuclear Power Production by Country from 1985-2009 – Top Countries For Renewable Energy Capacity
Chart of manufacturing production by the top 10 manufacturing countries (2000 to 2010). The chart was created by the Curious Cat Economics Blog. You may use the chart with attribution. All data is shown in 2010 USD (United States Dollar).
In my last post I looked at the output of the top 10 manufacturing countries with a focus on 1980 to 2010. Here I take a closer look at the last 10 years.
In 2010, China took the lead as the world’s leading manufacturing country from the USA. In 1995 the USA was actually very close to losing the lead to Japan (though you wouldn’t think it looking at the recent data). I believe China will be different, I believe China is going to build on their lead. As I discussed in the last post the data doesn’t support any decline in Chinese manufacturing (or significant moves away from China toward other South-East Asian countries). Indonesia has grown quickly (and have the most manufacturing production, of those discussed), but their total manufacturing output is less than China grew by per year for the last 5 years.
The four largest countries are pretty solidly in their positions now: the order will likely be China, USA, Japan, Germany for 10 years (or longer): though I could always be surprised. In the last decade China relentlessly moved past the other 3, to move from 4th to 1st. Other than that though, those 3 only strengthened their position against their nearest competitors. Brazil, Korea or India would need to increase production quite rapidly to catch Germany sooner. After the first 4 though the situation is very fluid.
Chart of manufacturing production by the leading manufacturing countries (2000 to 2010). The top 4 countries are left off to look more closely at history of the next group. The chart was created by the Curious Cat Economics Blog based on UN data. You may use the chart with attribution.
Removing the top 4 to take a close look at the data on the other largest manufacturing countries we see that there are many countries bunched together. It is still hard to see, but if you look closely, you can make out that some countries are growing well, for example: Brazil, India and Indonesia. Other countries (most in Europe, as well as Mexico) did not fare well in the last decade.
The UK had a particularly bad decade, moving from first place in this group (5th in the world) to 5th in this group and likely to be passed by India in 2011. Europe has 4 countries in this list (if you exclude Russia) and they do not appear likely to do particularly well in the next decade, in my opinion. I would certainly expect Brazil, India, Korea and Indonesia to out produce Italy, France, UK and Spain in 2020. In 2010 the total was $976 billion by the European 4 to $961 billion by the non-European 4. In 2000 it was $718 billion for the European 4 to $343 billion (remember all the data is in 2010 USD).
I try to find global economic data on manufacturing and manufacturing jobs, but it isn’t easy. This is one of the areas I will be working on with the time I have freed up by moving to Malaysia (and taking a “sabbatical” [it isn't really a sabbatical, I guess, just me studying and working on what I want to instead of what someone pays me to]).
I found some interesting data from the USA census bureau on manufacturing employment in several countries (it would be interesting to see the data for more countries but for now I am limited to this data). Sadly they just use indexed data (I would rather see raw data). This data for example lets you see the changes in countries but I don’t see any way to compare the absolute values between countries – all you can compare is the changes between countries.
The data is all indexed at 2002 = 100. Interestingly the USA has increased output per hour much more than any other country since 2002. The USA index stands at 146, the next highest is Sweden at 127 then the UK at 120. Italy is the only country tracked that fell since 2002, to 94. Japan (the 3rd largest manufacturer and 2nd largest of the countries include, China isn’t included) only increased to 113. Germany (4th and 3rd) increased to 111.
The data also lets you look back from 1990 to 2002 and again the USA has increased productivity very well (2nd most) – the value in 1990 was 58. Sweden actually had the largest gain from 1990-2002, rising from 49. In 1990 Japan stood at 71 and Germany 70.
The USA remains, by a huge margin, the largest consumer of petroleum products (motor gasoline, jet fuel, liquefied petroleum gases, residential fuel oil…) using 22% of the total (with about 4.5% of the population). From 1980 to 2010 the global consumption increased 38% to 87 million barrels a day.
From 1980 to 2010 USA consumption increased 12% (so less than global consumption). Meanwhile, Germany, Japan and France decreased petroleum use by 19%, 17% and 10% respectively. Many countries have very low use in 1980 and have grown their economies dramatically over this period and increased petroleum use dramatically also: India up 433%, China up 411%, South Korea up 360%.
Africa, in total, used 3.3 million barrels a day in 2010, up 120% from 1980. Africa used 73% of what Japan used in 2010 and 17% of what the USA used and 50% more than Canada. The data shows no sign of declining petroleum consumption on a global basis. The USA uses as much as China, India, Brazil and Africa combined. I believe, in 2015 those countries (by which I mean all the countries in Africa too, not that Africa is a country, which of course it is not) will use more than the USA (and likely show significant growth from 2010 levels).
Data is from the US Energy Information Agency.
Related: Oil Production by Country 1999-2009 – Top Countries For Renewable Energy Capacity – Chart of Nuclear Power Production by Country from 1985-2009 – Increasing USA Foreign Oil Dependence In The Last 40 years