Live Longer, Consume Less: Recipe for Slow Growth

Walmart could be the canary in the coalmine in forecasting a global trend downwards in consumer spending. A few days ago the company announced it expects a reduced sales outlook for this year and falling profits for next. Likewise, Chinese private consumption as a share of the total economy has fallen steadily over the last decade from around 43 percent in 2004 to the current figure of around 36 percent.

Current consumption is not living up to expectations. This explains why global growth keeps falling, now running at 3 to 3.5 percent instead of the 4.5 percent rate of a decade ago. Behavioral trends, annoyingly persistent, vindicate this assertion, but are rarely brought to the forefront by economists mired in mainstream economics. They generally do not detect factors outside economics, and if they do, such trends are brushed aside as irrelevant.