The rise of China and global demography created a ‘sweet spot’ that has dictated the path of inflation, interest rates, and inequality over the last three decades. However, we are at a point of inflexion, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. As that sweet spot turns sour, the multi-decade trends that demography brought about are set for a dramatic reversal.
Charles Goodhart & Manoj Pradhan‘s new book, The Great Demographic Reversal: Ageing Societies, Waning Inequality, and an Inflation Revival, (2020), discusses the implications of this at length. Many of their conclusions are controversial. Neither financial markets nor policymakers are prepared for a significant rise in inflation and wages, or a rise in nominal interest rates. Our other predictions are more benign – productivity will rise and labour will reclaim a greater share of national output, reducing the inequality that has led to so much social and political upheaval. Of one thing we are sure: the future will be nothing like the past.