Warren Buffett once famously said that if you don’t find a way to make money while you sleep, you will work until you die. His prophetic words are now coming true for millions of Americans and if you’re not building wealth now, then you can go ahead and kiss your retirement plans goodbye.
When past generations reached retirement age, they counted on younger generations to support them by working, producing, and contributing through taxation, or they lived with their children’s families under the same roof. Those days are long gone due to the “graying of America”: the retirement age population is growing quickly, while young people are delaying having children.
As a result, an incredible thing happened in 2019: U.S. population growth basically flatlined, marking the lowest expansion rate in a century. Expect this trend to continue not only in America but worldwide: aging populations can’t count on young workers to support them into retirement anymore.
In France, people are rioting in the streets because the government plans to raise the retirement age by two years. In fact, in the Netherlands the retirement age is already considered to be 67, while France, Poland, and Spain are in the process of moving towards that age. And in America, the Social Security Administration now admits that 67, not 65, is the real retirement age for citizens born after 1960.
But the official retirement age won’t matter if people are forced for economic reasons to continue working past that age. As reality sets in, people are realizing that they’ll never be able to stop working:
Courtesy: Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies
Making matters worse is the absence of a government safety net for aging workers. Today, people understand that the government won’t be able to support them: 3 in 4 workers say they’re worried that Social Security will not be there for them when they retire.
They’re 100% right about that: the citizens know that Social Security and pension plans won’t save them from a life of endless work and financial worries. With too many people depending on the system and too few contributing to it, America is careening towards a demographic cliff with no brakes and no solutions.
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There are a lot of moving parts to this problem, but they all lead to a disaster waiting to happen. We have an economy that was once driven by productive workers, but now it depends wholly on consumers buying everything in sight and running up debt. And even that’s drying up: economists expected U.S. consumer confidence to come in at 128.2 for December but the actual reading was 126.5, indicating a downward and disappointing trend.
So don’t count on the American consumer to hold up the economy and the stock market in 2020. The only thing left to prop everything up now is the Federal Reserve, whose bond-buying program (the “not QE” 4th round of QE) is the stock market’s sole support system:
America’s central bank is buying $60 billion of T-Bills each and every month, and within four months their balance sheet has expanded by over $400 billion. That dwarfs QE1, 2, and 3, and the current bond-buying program is expected to last until April. After that, America will have to confront an economy and market without Fed support.
That’s when the fake markets will slow down and then we’ll find out what the economy really looks like without Fed assistance. Plus, the Fed will have to deal with the inevitable rise in inflation over the next year, which will catch them by surprise as it goes to 2.5%, 2.6%, and higher; sure, the Fed wanted inflation to “play catch-up,” but they weren’t ready for this.
The inflation scare will catch the Fed completely unprepared and the economy will slow in 2020; therefore, you need to prepare for unprecedented volatility. For those of us invested in commodities like gold and silver, this is all perfectly fine; for anyone depending on the Fed, the government, and index funds, it’s going to be a hell of a year for you.
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