From Population Bomb to Bust: What It Means to Investors

Mark Skousen

Named one of the "Top 20 Living Economists," Dr. Skousen is a professional economist, investment expert, university professor, and author of more than 25 books.

“The burgeoning population growth means the inevitable: mass starvation.”

— Paul Erhlich, “The Population Bomb” (1968)

“We do not face the challenge of a population bomb but a population bust — a relentless, generation-after-generation culling of the human herd.”

— John Ibbitson and Darrell Bricker,Empty Planet” (2019)

In chapter 3 of my book, “The Making of Modern Economics,” I discuss the life and influence of the British economist Thomas Malthus (1766-1834) and the so-called Malthusian crisis — that a burgeoning population is destined to overwhelm the earth’s resources and lead to mass starvation and environmental degradation.

World population has grown exponentially, but not for the reasons Malthus proposed. There are more than 7 billion people on the earth today, not because people are having more children, but because of the sharp decline in the mortality rate due to the green technology and medical revolution.

The fact is that with a higher standard of living, the birth rate is declining sharply. According to authors of the new book, “Empty Planet,” the global population is headed for a steep decline and, in many countries (Japan and Germany), the decline already has begun. Even China’s recent decision to end its devastating one-child policy has not reversed the trend in Asia. Couples are having fewer children everywhere.

Image courtesy of OurWorldInData.org

There are benefits and costs associated with the population bust. On the positive side, wages will rise, the environment will improve and the risk of famine and mass starvation will decline.

But the costs are high. Expect worker shortages. Aging populations will put serious financial pressure on public welfare programs such as Social Security and Medicare. Unfunded liabilities will skyrocket.

Ibbiton & Bricker, authors of “Empty Planet,” point to one country that will continue to grow in population and a higher standard of living: Canada. They point out that Canada has a more generous immigration policy than the United States, allowing the country to grow faster in the future. Canada allows three times more immigrants than the United States (percentage wise).

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America First without immigrants will prove to be a disaster for the United States in the long run.

Investing in publicly traded companies that take advantage of the aging population, such as nursing home real estate investment trusts (REITs) and private pension systems, will do well in this environment. That’s the approach we are taking at Forecasts & Strategies.

‘The Book Socialists Fear the Most’

Response to my book, “The Making of Modern Economics: The Lives and Ideas of the Great Thinkers” (Routledge, 3rd ed.) has been most gratifying. I’ve received hundreds of orders for the book both here and abroad.

One British reader wrote me, “THIS is what economics should be like, not the rubbish I have to study at university.”

And Richard Rahn, Washington Times columnist and director of the Institute for Global Economic Growth, told me that my book should be read by every student who wants a general education in sound economics. He said he met last week with a student leader of a major campus organization, and he had never heard of the great economists such as Ludwig von Mises or Milton Friedman, but he had heard of Karl Marx and Keynes! 

“The Making of Modern Economics” retails for $53.95 from Routledge and $44.93 on Amazon, but you can buy it for only $35 postpaid from Skousen Books. I autograph each copy and mail it for free. Several subscribers have bought multiple copies and sent them to students, friends and professors to spread the word.

To order, call Harold at Ensign Publishing, 1-866-254-2057. Or order online at www.skousenbooks.com. (For orders from outside the US, add $30 extra for mailing.)

Yours for peace, prosperity, and liberty, AEIOU,

Mark Skousen

Upcoming Appearances

LIVE STREAMING EVENT TONIGHT: Reagan Ranch Center, Santa Barbara, California, March 14 (Thursday evening): I will be speaking on “How to Resolve the Issue of our Times: Inequality!” Good news! You will be able to watch my speech live at no charge by going to www.YAF.org/VirtualPass. You also will be able to ask a question. The event will start around 7:30-7:45 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time and will last for an hour.

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EconoSummit, March 23-24, Orleans Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada: I’ll be speaking Saturday morning on “Outlook for Geo-Politics: Can America Stay #1?” Other speakers include Bill Strauss, a senior economist at the Federal Reserve; Jeff Clark, a mixed martial arts (MMA) expert and manager of gyms in California I invested in; and Mike Lathigee, the president of the Investment Club of America (former the Las Vegas Investment Club). My subscribers get $100 off the registration fee — you pay only $199. For information, go to http://lvinvestmentclub.com/event/lvic-econosummit-2019/ or email service@lvinvestmentclub.com

Update: Visit to Hawaii

I’ll be traveling with my lovely wife in Hawaii next week during spring break at Chapman University, where I teach. We will be speaking a few times on the islands (see announcements below) and hope to see some of you there.

Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, Monday, March 18, Maui, Hawaii: I will be speakingon “Who’s Winning the Battle of Ideas: Marx, Keynes or Mises?” I will speak at a luncheon that will be held at 11:30 a.m. at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center. The price is only $10! For more information, go to https://www.eventbrite.com/e/whos-winning-the-battle-of-ideas-marx-keynes-or-mises-tickets; to reserve a space, email info@grassrootinstitute.org or call 808-591-9193.

Hawaii Pacific University, Tuesday, March 19, Honolulu, Hawaii: I will be appearing along with my wife Jo Ann to speak at the following events:

12:30-1:55 p.m. Principles of Macroeconomics, 1164 Bishop St., Room 214. My topic will feature Smith vs. Marx and GO.

4:00-5:00 p.m. Laissez Faire Society, 1188 Fort Street Mall, Room 243. Jo Ann’s topic is on Politics and Film.

5:45-7:00 p.m. International Trade and Finance, 1162 Bishop St., Room 214. My topic is on Contemporary Trade Issues.

If you want to attend any of these sessions, email Professor Ken Schoolland at ken.schoolland@gmail.com.

NEW! BYU-Hawaii, Laie, Oahu, Wednesday, March 20, 7:00 p.m., Room HGB 133: Jo Ann and I will be speaking on “Who’s Winning, Socialism or Freedom?” Sponsored by the College of Business & Government. For more information, email Professor Gale Pooley at gale.pooley@byuh.edu.

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You Nailed it!

Fred Koch’s Prediction about Venezuela

By Mark Skousen
Editor, Forecasts & Strategies

“At the proper time you will see that Venezuela is as Communist as Cuba.”

— Fred Koch

I’m teaching a class called “Libertarian CEOs” at Chapman University. Our first case study is Koch Industries, run by Charles and David Koch. Their father, Fred Koch, wrote a book called “A Business Man Looks at Communism” (3rd ed., 1961), based on Fred Koch’s time spent in the Soviet Union in the 1920s and 1930s.

Lo and behold, look at what he says on page 18:

“Romula Betancourt, President of Venezuela, is a Communist and cooperates with Castro and Moscow. At the proper time you will see that Venezuela is as Communist as Cuba.”

Now, 58 years later, his prophecy is proving sadly true!

Betancourt is a controversial figure in 20th century Venezuela. He was a member of the Communist Party in his youth, but later said his short membership was like ”a youthful attack of smallpox that left me immune to the disease.”

Whether a Communist or not, Betancourt was the first president of Venezuela to impose a 50-50 sharing of oil profits with the American oil companies — the beginning of the end of Venezuela as a free country. He was smart to impose a 50% tax rather than nationalization. Still, by 1970, Fraser Institute ranked Venezuela as the 10th most free country in the world (Economic Freedom Index). Now, it is one of the least free, mainly because Chavez nationalized its oil industry. What a tragedy.

Now the tragedy is getting worse, with 32 million people starving, drinking contaminated water, and living without electricity. Three million Venezuelans have left the country.

Venezuela’s leaders, Chavez and Maduro, are not just socialists. They are hard-core Communists, which means that it will be almost impossible to get rid of them short of military action.

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