Richard Heinberg has a nice piece about drawing conclusions from present trends. Among his observations:
If current economic trends continue . . .
China’s economy will be 8 times as big as it is today by 2040.
China’s economy will surpass the size of the present global economy before 2050.
The US federal debt will double–from $14 trillion to $28 trillion–by 2022.
In 2072, the federal debt will amount to $896 trillion, or $1,629,091 for each American (assuming a US population then of 550 million).
By the end of the century, each American will “owe” over a billion dollars.
Thanks to the doubling of US households living on less than $2 per person per day between 1996 and 2011, in 150 years there will be about 1.5 billion Americans living on practically no income.
The number of billionaires in the world (having grown from 793 to 1210 in just two years, from 2009 to 2011) will equal the world population in only 70 years. (Given the previous trend, this is especially gratifying news: since the rate of growth in the number of billionaires in the world exceeds the rate of growth in extreme poverty in the US, this means each American will become a billionaire before his or her grandchildren plunge into desperate poverty).
As Heinberg rightly points out, following out trends is sometimes useful but also dangerous – and particularly dangerous because so many economic assumptions are built on underlying material assumptions that don’t hold up. The whole thing is well worth a read as an illustration of the thought traps we are popularly prone to.
Want to hear Richard speak in the Albany area? Want to hear me introduce him? Want to spot my husband and I in the same place due to the rare miracle of a babysitter ;-)? Richard will be speaking at SUNY Albany on March 27 at 7pm. Hope you can join us there!