Rule of 72

The most powerful force in the universe is compound interest

— Albert Einstein

Compound interest motherfuckers… do you get it?!

<cough>

The impetus for this outburst is an article in the completely fucking clueless Daily Telegraph. It would be pointless to expect much else, but that doesn’t seem to stop me from needing to rant.

Figures released last week showed that the Japanese economy grew last quarter, albeit by just 0.9pc. But few expect the nascent recovery to last. Most economists expect the economy to contract in the current quarter as the strong yen damages Japan’s crucial export sector. Japan’s long struggle with deflation continues.

The pinhead that penned this drivel doesn’t seem to understand that an economy growing at ~1% a year will double in size in ~70 years. That’s what the ‘rule of 72‘ means.

In case it has escaped your notice Japan is pretty crowded. Some people might even opine that the over-crowding the big cities is the cause of the decline in birth rate. The dimwits at the Telegraph are still living in a victorian “world of infinite possibilities” … a deluded concept if ever there was one. Thus far we have, as a race, been too stupid to formulate a plan for living sustainably. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t strive to overcome our limitations (Greed?) and give up trying.

[Yes, you could argue that Tokugawa Japan, which kept Japan isolated from the rest of the world, living sustainable(?) for ~400 years is one counter-example… but i’m not sure it’s a model that can be replicated in this age of world trade… perhaps when the last of the cheap oil is gone?]

Don’t misunderstand me: Japan is an abysmally governed country. The ruling class would struggle to organise a kindergarten, and are about as mature. This, however, does not mean that what Japan needs is growth Growth GROWTH! In fact the last thing that Japan needs is growth. Growth is the one thing that hides the incompetence of governments better than war, or a perpetual state of fear!

Given that the prospects of growth around the world are … limited in the face of a massive wall of debt, and it could well be decades before the west (minus Japan) works through all this debt, the idea of adding to population seems to be akin to societal suicide to me. What are those new bodies going to do? Is it going to be productive? The UK is on schedule to be the most populous nation in Europe within in 50 years. At least the Japanese (and, for that matter, the Germans, also with a declining population) are still running a trade surplus, and seem capable of producing goods that the rest of the world wants to buy!

Oh, and while we’re hating, i fucking hate that cliched picture at the top of the Telegraph piece. What mindless crap.

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