What I like about this site (as this first appeared on Depression2TV), as the former BNB, here we are again speculating into the future. Since few of us have crystal balls to gaze upon, most of us amass past and present information in presenting our cases. I'm no different in that respect and try to use historical and scientific fact intertwined with unproven theory supporting my assumptions. What does the rise and fall of industrial economies have to do with the housing market? A lot I suspect, and in many ways what is happening here is like a carbon copy of what happened in Japan over 15 years ago and continues to this day. Instead of focusing on those similarities that most of you probably already know about, I'm going to present a similar evolution that the industrial economies of the U.S. and Japan share.First, lets ponder why are the U.S. and Japan economies the largest in the world respectively and have been for decades? There is only one major reason for this and it's fact. When electricity (not oil or gas, derived from coal) made it ECONOMICALLY feasible to couple that power to machines that could mass produce uniform parts, could this only been realized. It did not matter whether Japan had the natural resources to do this, they had the technology/machines capable of producing interchangeable parts and products in a automatic process. If a machine broke down, it was just a simple matter in replacing that part with another like part, since that part was not hand made. It was economically feasible to ship resource there to be manufactured, especially when few countries were even capable of this feat. Only recently, are the economies of India and China capable of this. Furthermore, if the former USSR (and many other countries) were capable, then why didn't they do it? They didn't do it, because they couldn't, simple. To illustrate this concept, think WWII. Both the economies of Japan and the U.S. had this technology. The former USSR only after the war and in a very limited way. After the war, both economies (U.S. and Japan) picked right up and continued to expand, barely missing a beat. Yet another way of looking upon this can be, the machines that have transformed the old world into the modern world, (cars, trucks, planes, heavy equipment, etc.) were born from machines capable of making the parts and products to make this transformation possible. By and large, those products came from the U.S. and Japan. More later...
The rise and fall of industrial economies? Part IIMon, 03/31/2008 - 10:50 — yooper
In part I, we discovered the it was the economies of Japan and the U.S., that transformed the world into the modern era (by and large). This process happened when technology brought about coupling electrical generation to machines capable of mass producing standardized parts. This line of thought follows the Olduvai Theory, to an extent.
During this time, the people within these two economies standard of living (I'm using the term loosely), grew. Higher wages, better nutrition, better health care and a reliable modern infrastructure resulted. Which has brought about an aging population, living longer. This is a common occurrence within industrialized countries the medium age is much higher, depressing birth rates and some are actually in decline now. Of course the populations of China and India are exploding, they are just now coming on line of being industrialised, the medium age of the population is much lower and the birth rate much higher.
Limits to growth? Could Japan have already seen this limit? Especially, if their population is projected to decline? That alone would certainly depress housing prices. I suspect, if not for immigration, the U.S. would have seen similar circumstances. Is the U.S. just now experiencing this?
For years, I've always thought that Asian markets (for that matter the world), followed Western markets. That may be, in the short term. However, at this point, I'm seriously questioning if the Western market is not following the Nikkei in the long term? Furthermore, I'm wondering if the dynamics of the smaller cycles are similar to the larger, long term ones? That is, we'll see decline to be followed by periods of "recovery" that leads to even further decline. For example, look at our top and the dynamics since and then look to Nikkei graph in Michael's story. See a similar pattern?
We'll know for sure as time wanes (not waxes) into the future. Time will tell. If these patterns hold up, then this process is best described as a "catabolic collapse" introduced by John Michael Greer. His theory of catabolic collapse can be found here http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/ on the side bar. Another interesting point as Michael has suggested, Japan is almost producing at zero waste, that is a result of this process. Waste being converted into product. An interesting example of this was Henry Ford's idea to make the "Kingsford" brand of charcoal briquettes from wood waste from the factories.
What this means for the future of Japan and the U.S., I do not know. However, if I were to guess, housing prices have a lot further to decline.