April 13, 2015

The Markets

How much is one trillion?

  • If you waited one trillion seconds, it would take 31,688 years.
  • If you had a trillion dollars, and spent $10 million a day, it would take 273 years to go broke.
  • If you taped $100 bills end-to-end, you could wrap the earth 41 times with $1 trillion dollars.
  • Alternatively, you could paper over Delaware in $100 bills – twice.

Last week, the value of global equities surpassed – not $1 trillion – but $70 trillion, according to BloombergBusiness, which credited central banks’ stimulus programs for soaring stock values. Of the 24 national stock indices covered by Barron’s, 10 have delivered double-digit returns year-to-date. These include Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, China, and Philippines in the Asia Pacific region, and France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Sweden in Europe. The Standard & Poor’s 500, NASDAQ, and Dow Jones Industrial indices all remained in single-digit territory.

Millennials

Sure, you know China surpassed the United States to become the world’s largest economy, but did you know the millennial generation surpassed the baby boomers to become the largest generation here in America? According to Pew Research, there were about 75.3 million millennials (born from 1981 to 1997) at the end of 2014 and about 74.9 million baby boomers (born from 1946 to 1964).

It’s no secret baby boomers have had a profound affect on the American economy. History.com reported:

“Baby boomers bought mouse-ear hats to wear while they watched “The Mickey Mouse Club” and coonskin caps to wear while they watched Walt Disney’s TV specials about Davy Crockett. They bought rock and roll records, danced along with “American Bandstand,” and swooned over Elvis Presley. They collected hula hoops, Frisbees, and Barbie dolls. A 1958 story in Life magazine declared “kids” were a “built-in recession cure.”

As they retire, the baby boomers are expected to have a profound influence on health and wellness providers, pharmaceutical companies, and others in markets that serve the needs of retired Americans.

The boomer generation has been the focus of investors for so many years it can be easy to forget about the influence of millennials. They’ve come of age during the Great Recession which curbed their appetite for consumption. Millennials’ preference for access rather than ownership sparked the ‘sharing economy,’ which includes online companies that facilitate the sharing of unused goods. The New York Times reported, “Millions of people are using social media sites, redistribution networks, rentals, and cooperatives to share not only cars but also homes, clothes, tools, toys, and other items at low or near zero marginal cost. The sharing economy had projected revenues of $3.5 billion in 2013.”

It’s a good idea to keep an eye on demographic change. It can have a profound impact on economies, industries, and companies.

Weekly Focus

“When your mother asks ‘Do you want a piece of advice?’ it is a mere formality. It doesn’t matter if you answer yes or no. You’re going to get it anyway.”
-Erma Bombeck, Advice columnist

Image courtesy of ITU Pictures, used in accordance with the Creative Commons 2.0 Generic license.

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