The developed world’s Ponzi scheme is caused by record-high levels of public and private debt. As Boston Consulting Group notes, it is exacerbated by huge unfunded liabilities that will be impossible to pay off owing to long-term changes in developed-world demographics. Addressing these challenges at any time would be difficult. To make matters even worse, however, BCG points out that they come at a moment when the developed world’s traditional model of economic growth appears to be broken. This is partly a consequence of the Ponzi scheme itself. The underlying issues cannot be ignored any longer. The developed world faces a day of reckoning. It is time to act. In this excellent layman’s guide to the the real world, not only does BCG explain the Ponzi, but they lay out ten critical steps that developed economies must take to definitively end the era of Ponzi finance. Some are sacrifices required of various stakeholders. Others are new social investments, both public and private, that are needed in order to return to a sustainable growth path.
The paper starts with the Origins of the Ponzi Scheme we call modern economies…
goes on to discuss the Broken Growth Formula…
Then lays out ten steps to any solution for developed economies…
Via Boston Consulting Group:
1. Deal with the debt overhang – immediately. A precondition to addressing the fallout of the unsustainable policies of recent decades is a fast cleanup of the debt overhang. In previous papers, my colleagues and I have discussed the various options for doing so.35 Put simply, some combination of writeoffs and restructuring, austerity, higher taxes, and sizable inflation will be necessary.
2. Reduce unfunded liabilities. Once debt restructuring is under way and the broader public sees that wealthy owners of financial assets are contributing to the necessary cleanup, it should be easier for politicians to take another painful step: addressing openly and directly the trillions in unfunded liabilities that are weighing down budgets and balance sheets across the developed world. It will require a combination of several measures to bring these unfunded liabilities under control.
3. Increase the efficiency of government. Parallel to reductions in government spending on social-welfare benefits, another key to reducing government’s share of GDP and increasing economic growth is to make government itself more efficient. A smaller government sector does not necessarily mean a weaker government. By defining the right “rules of the road” for society and business, governments can set the tone and priorities for development in a more effective as well as a more efficient way.
4. Prepare for labor scarcity. Countries need to start now to prepare for the coming era of labor scarcity. Doing so will require a series of initiatives to reduce the decline of the workforce.
5. Develop smart immigration policy. Even if developed countries take all these steps, it will still not be enough to reverse demographic trends. Therefore, these countries also need to become far more open and attractive to immigrants.
6. Invest in education. Education has to play a significant role in the future growth potential of the developed economies. Quality education will be the decisive factor in protecting and increasing GDP per capita. It is also the foundation of social mobility and a precondition to fully utilizing the innovative capabilities and entrepreneurial talent of a society’s members. For both reasons, it needs to be another key target of social investment.
7. Reinvest in the asset base. For more than a decade, the developed economies have reduced investments in public infrastructure and productive assets. Given the importance of the quality of capital stock to productivity and economic growth, it is time to reverse this trend.
8. Increase raw-material efficiency. The age of cheap resources may have come to an end. Developed countries have to increase their efforts to decouple economic development from resource consumption.
9. Cooperate on a global basis. Competition among countries will become more intense in the years to come. All countries will try to increase their exports; all will try to attract the best-educated immigrants; and all will try to secure scarce resources, from water to oil to commodities. This increased competition will pay dividends in the form of new and innovative products. But even as they compete, the world’s countries must also cooperate. The problems of the developed economies can only be addressed in a cooperative way on a global scale. Otherwise, the world risks descending into a vicious circle of beggar-thy-neighbor economic policies leading to much lower growth and slower improvement of living conditions worldwide.
10. Launch the next Kondratiev wave. Last but not least, the developed world needs to prove Robert Gordon wrong. By investing in a growing and highly productive workforce and making it easier for engineers and technologists to innovate and for entrepreneurs to start new businesses, the developed economies need to unleash a new Kondratiev wave of global economic development.
and ends with ideas for Negotiating The Fallout…