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Global Aging and the Crisis of the 2020s

January 10, 2011

From the fall of the Roman and the Mayan empires to the Black Death to the colonization of the New World and the youth-driven revolutions of the twentieth century, demographic trends have played a decisive role in many of the great invasions, political upheavals, migrations, and environmental catastrophes of history. By the 2020s, an ominous new conjuncture of demographic trends may once again threaten widespread disruption. I am, of course, talking about global aging, which is likely to have a profound effect on economic growth, living standards, and the shape of the world order.

Long-time readers of Outside the Box are familiar with the work of Neil Howe, co-author of one of the most prescient books of the last few decades, The Fourth Turning (written in 1997), which described and indeed virtually nailed our current social climate. When Neil writes, it pays to pay attention. He has recently written a piece called "Global Aging and the Crisis of the 2020s," an article he co-authored with Richard Jackson. They work with the Center for Strategic and International Studies on the Global Aging Initiative. This week’s OTB was just published in the January 2011 issue of Current History, who have given me permission to send it to you.

Howe and Jackson are also the authors of “The Graying of the Great Powers” and other commentary on the impact that demographics will have on our future. You can see that paper and others at http://csis.org/publication/graying-great-powers-0.

Here in Cabo San Lucas we are staying at Casa Oliver (www.cabocasaoliver.com), which was recently featured in the Robb Report. The owner, Dene Oliver, is a very generous man who donates the use of his home to various charities, which is how Jon Sundt and his partners at Altegris secured the place, at a charity auction for an anti-drug organization sponsored by Jon.

The whales are cavorting a little way off the beach . The kids are in the pool. The sun is setting over the Pacific. Jon Sundt and company have picked a great place for our annual meeting. A great place to kick back and reflect on the future, which seems to be coming at us ever faster.

They are calling dinner, prepared by a serious world-class chef, Pia Quintana, so it’s time to go. Sushi night.

Your living larger than usual analyst,