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June 2018

Much Ado About Something? Demographics, Inflation and Asset Prices

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  • The world’s population is aging rapidly, driven primarily by a combination of retiring baby boomers, falling fertility and rising life expectancy.
  •  Demographic studies of this aging trend often predict large effects on inflation and asset prices, but also frequently contradict each other both in terms of direction and timing.
  • These conflicting views illustrate the complexities of measuring demographics and its potential effects.
  • In our view, rising life expectancy is likely to become the key driving force behind the aging phenomenon in the long run.
  • To capture this effect, we examine demographic trends by adjusting for rising life expectancy rather than use fixed age groups.
  • Based on our analysis, we draw two main conclusions: 1) demographics are probably overstated as a driver of inflation and asset prices; 2) over the next decade, demographics are likely to be modestly supportive for US inflation and modestly negative for equities and bonds.

 

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