Rule of 72

The most powerful force in the universe is compound interest

— Albert Einstein

Compound interest motherfuckers… do you get it?!


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.

9 thoughts on “Rule of 72

  1. what’s all this nonsense about endless growth being bad. earth is like the tardis. its resources are endless and we can keep consuming forever. and it’s bigger on the inside.

  2. In 1972 “Limits to Growth” concluded that the end of growth would probably arrive between 2010 and 2050. Industrial output and food production would then fall, leading to a decline in population. Japan being a speedy microcosm of the global economy, they’ve merely experienced it first, likely because they were bombed into the stone age and then given New World Order economic blueprints from the designers/bombers themselves. An attempt at an isolated experiment to create a scientific mean, albeit on steroids, and not isolated. Who knew the designers were idiots who didn’t realize the country never had the taste for oil and never will?

    Five years ago when the world noticed that the failure of the once-proud Samurai male to woo his fair handmaiden seemed to spell economic doom for the relatively small group of islands, the media roared with laughter. The once iron blade of Japan has lost its thrust! When actually time has shown that, on purpose or by accident, the Japanese seem to know what they’re doing. Many Japanese I’ve talked to are looking forward to population decline (down from 127 to 95 million by 2050), although not so much to the influx of foreigners (Indonesians, Filipinos, Chinese) necessary to grow their rice and fuck their daughters. Zebrio’s offspring is a necessary evil, because well, at least he’s got a diploma. You do too…don’t you?

    • well, there’s another 72.

      something has changed around me. it used to be that these conversations would be mostly ignored, but now it’s perceived as simple common sense that we can’t go on growing forever, or that technology will save us. (fusion still might, but we’re cutting it awfully close…)

      the interesting part for japan is what happens after the snake has digested the cow, when teh bulge in the population curve is shat out into the past. will there be enough left for people to consider attempting to plan for equilibrium? with the chinese inexorably moving up the complexity scale it’s not a given that there will be a manufacturing niche left for the japanese to occupy. the theory goes that at some point enough chinese peasants will be pulled out of poverty, which in turn will drive wages and demand from china. undoubtedly a good theory, but i suspect that people fail to grasp the scale of billions.

      diploma? no i’ve not got one of those… far to stupid to work out how to breed.

      • Too stupid, that never killed you. Well, not too quickly anymore anyway. Maybe it’s a good thing not to be certified. I keep mindlessly aligning myself with the underdog, with the ugly, smelly, fat kid no one wants at the party, which here in the U.S. are immigrants. Say it to their racist faces and they’ll deny it, but generalize it enough and they’re all for separation, segregation, deportation, apartheid, lynching, bombing, et al.

        There’s plenty of room for lucrative solar panel farms in Arizona, but would you want to live with the thought police profiling you depending on your car and shoes? Oh I forgot, they don’t think do they…It’s funny how quickly self-preservation kicks in, despite our attempts to deny there’s anything wrong. Once the party is too full, we don’t want any more, so send the brown ones who can’t speak the language packing. I’m moving to Alaska to fish the last of the cod out of the sea for Japanese surimi. Happy Thanksgiving!

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