Posts Tagged ‘Global Population’
Wednesday, July 25th, 2012
by Geoffrey Lutz and Jon Brorson, Mesirow Financial
Water is ubiquitous, the ultimate source for life and the most important commodity for human existence. No less importantly, water is a critical input for food. Yet only a small fraction of total global water – less than 1% – is usable for food production, due to salinity and glaciers1. As a result, water represents one of the single most important determinants of the value of today’s investment opportunities in food production and farmland.
Although water is used, it is neither created nor destroyed, meaning that the total existing amount remains constant. That total must be shared by a global population that is expected to increase from 7 billion today to more than 9 billion by 2050, according to United Nations estimates. What’s more, over the past 100 years, increases in water demand have outpaced overall population growth by a factor of two2. In 1990, 10,000 cubic meters of fresh water was available for each person; by 2010 that amount had dropped to 7,770 cubic meters3.
An equally powerful related trend is increasing urbanization, which can lead to higher pollution in fresh water supplies from the byproducts of industrialization and development.4 Half of the word’s population now lives in an urban area, and that fraction is expected to grow to over 60% in the next two decades.
By the year 2025, an estimated 1.8 billion people may face water scarcity5 as world demand for water is expected to exceed supply by approximately 40%6, By 2050, the excess demand may be as high as 140%, according to the consulting firm McKinsey.
Strong desire by populations worldwide for on-demand water has led to widespread over-allocation of existing supplies. Three of the world’s major rivers, the Nile, Colorado and Yellow, are now so heavily utilized that they often do not reach the sea7. Aquifers and other ground water sources are also being depleted – most notably in areas where water is most critically needed8. What’s more, as aquifer water levels drop, the quality of the remaining water can become compromised by natural substances – such as salt, arsenic and fluoride9 – that can harm crops.
While attempts have been made to manage water flow systems and aquifers, the knowledge to successfully counter a growing water crisis remains woefully insufficient, even in the world’s most developed regions. In Australia, for example, where water withdrawal is monitored through sophisticated accounting systems, engineers have not been able to prevent net losses in the country’s important Murray-Darling Basin10. Closer to home, the well known and heavily used Ogallala Aquifer in the Western United States faces inexorable rates of depletion11. Urban effluent and desalination may add to fresh water supplies, but these efforts are expensive and the quantities produced are insignificant relative to demand, particularly in the context of agriculture12.
Water and Food Production
Food production requires significant amounts of water, in some cases as much as 1,000 times the weight of food produced13. But that water is needed at specific points in the production cycle – too much or too little at any given time can be catastrophic. That delicate balance is often achieved through irrigation, which is vital to agriculture. China, where 70% of grain production depends on irrigation, exemplifies the emerging threat. Currently China is home to 21% of the world’s population, but only 6% of the fresh water, and its water resources are expected to drop 10% in the next 20 years14. But China isn’t alone. Almost half of all irrigated land in the world15 is located in Pakistan, India and China. As nations are beginning to become aware of the risks of restricted water supplies, aquifers and dams in rivers that cross political boundaries may represent significant sources of potential conflict16.
As water becomes an increasingly scare resource, its allocation will likely be based on the highest return from use. In most cases, the value of output per unit of water will be higher for a factory or energy producer than a food producer. As a result, agriculture’s claim on fresh water supplies will often be subordinate to that from industry, as well as from human consumption, sanitation, environmental and navigation needs. In other words, Los Angeles will get water for residents, at the expense of the farmers in the Central Valley.
As these current global trends accelerate, we expect several significant shifts in farmland values over time.
- Agricultural regions with adequate fresh water to grow food should experience greater demand for these products from consumers in water-stressed areas. Given its low value-to-weight and -volume ratios, food distribution may represent the most profitable way of transporting water (in some form) from regions with adequate supplies to those without.
- Irrigated properties with a politically secure source of water should increase in value relative to water -deficient areas that are accessible to industry and urban populations.
- Regions with adequate and reliable rainfall should experience an even greater increase in demand than irrigation-dependent regions.
Currently, water may not be fully priced into land valuations. This relative mispricing represents significant agriculture investment opportunities in areas where rainfall is frequent and predictable, and where there are no other claims on water. However, the calculus is not simple. When attempting to exploit disparities between water-constrained and water-abundant properties, it is critical to consider water from multiple perspectives – including historical sources, variability, quality and the potential for future access – as well as a variety of other variables. These factors will vary widely, not only between continents, but also within regions and even between individual properties. For example, in many locations, water rights may be determined by the political process, or subject to sharing arrangements with neighboring properties, or completely separated from the surface rights of the property.
1 U.S. Geological Survey, Where is Earth’s Water Located?
2 FAO, United Nations, Water News: water scarcity
3 Bloomberg, Peak Water: The Rise and Fall of Cheap, Clean H2O, February 6, 2012
4 United Nations, International Decade for Action “Water for Life” 2005 – 2015
5 National Geographic, Water: Our Thirsty World, April 2010
6 Financial Times, Earth Talks “in need of vision and direction”, April 24, 2012
7 Bloomberg, ibid
8 FAO, United Nations, Water Report: Climate change, water and food security
9 U.S. Geological Survey/FAO, United Nations ibid
10 FAO, United Nations, ibid
11 USDA, NRCS, 2012 Ogallala Aquifer Initiative
12 U.S. Geological Survey
13 United Nations, World Water Day 2012 and Farm Journal, January 2012
14 FAO, United Nations, ibid
15 FAO, United Nations, ibid
16 University of Nebraska, Cornhusker Economics, May 9, 2012
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Tags: agricultural, Aquifers, Byproducts, Critical Input, Cubic Meters, Demand Water, Excess Demand, Food Production, Global Population, Global Water, Ground Water Sources, Human Existence, Industrialization, Investment Opportunities, Jon Brorson, Mckinsey, Population Growth, Strong Desire, Water Crisis, Water Demand, Water Scarcity
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Saturday, January 14th, 2012
What the Next Decade Holds for Commodities
By Frank Holmes, CEO and Chief Investment Officer
U.S. Global Investors
What a decade! A rapidly urbanizing global population driven by tremendous growth in emerging markets has sent commodities on quite a run over the past 10 years. If you annualize the returns since 2002, you find that all 14 commodities are in positive territory.
A precious metal was the best performer but it’s probably not the one you were thinking of. With an impressive 20 percent annualized return, silver is king of the commodity space over the past decade with gold (19 percent annualized) and copper (18 percent annualized) following closely behind.
Notably, all commodities except natural gas outperformed the S&P 500 Index 10-year annualized return of 2.92 percent.
Last year did not seem reflective of the decade-long clamor for commodities. In 2011, only four commodities we track increased: gold (10 percent), oil (8 percent), coal (nearly 6 percent), and corn (nearly 3 percent). The remaining listed on our popular Periodic Table of Commodity Returns fell, with losses ranging from nearly 10 percent for silver to 32 percent for natural gas.
I think this chart is a “must-have” for investors and advisors because you can visually see how commodities have fluctuated from year to year. Take natural gas, for example, which posted outstanding increases in 2002 and 2005, but has been a cellar-dweller for the last four years as a result of overabundant supply and softening demand. The industry is also still trying to digest breakthrough technology that opened the door to vast shale deposits at a much lower cost.
On the other hand, oil finished in the top half of the commodity basket six out of the past 10 years. No stranger to volatile price swings, oil possesses much more attractive fundamentals as we continually see restricted supply coupled with rising demand.
After 11 consecutive years of gains, some are questioning whether gold can keep its winning streak alive in 2012. One of those skeptics is CNBC’s “Street Signs” co-host Brian Sullivan. In an appearance on Thursday, I explained how I believe the Fear Trade and Love Trade will continue to fortify gold prices at historically high levels.
I explained that one of the reasons the Fear Trade will persist in purchasing gold is the ever-rising government debt across numerous developed countries. During our Outlook 2012 webcast, John Mauldin kidded that the Mayans were not astrologers predicting the end of the world, but economists predicting the end of Europe. Whereas John believes the U.S. has wiggle room to decide on how to deal with deficits and debt, Europe and Japan are running out of time.
The situation is quite somber when you consider how much debt Europe, Japan and the U.S. owes this year alone, says global macro research provider Greg Weldon. In his preview of 2012, Weldon says that the maturing principal and interest on U.S. Treasury debt due this year totals just under $3 trillion. Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain together face nearly $2 trillion in principal and interest payments. Japan is the leader in the clubhouse, owing just over $3 trillion in 2012. With the combined debt for these developed countries totaling nearly $8 trillion, the interest payments alone dwarf the total GDP of many countries in the world.
This week, Germany sold a five-year government note for less than 1 percent, the lowest interest rate on record. Bids for the low-yielding debt were three times more than the amount sold, even as the consumer price index stands at more than 2 percent year-over-year. This means that investors have so few acceptable safe havens they are willing to accept negative real rates of return.
This is good news for gold as a safe haven alternative against depreciating currencies such as the euro, the yen and the U.S. dollar.
The overwhelming debt burden in developed countries translates to an expected slowdown in imports from the emerging world. However, the grandest of those countries, China, likely won’t be affected as much as some people assume. This is “the biggest misconception” about the country’s economy, says CLSA’s Andy Rothman. Exports only play a supporting role for the Chinese economy. The world’s second-largest economy is actually largely driven by domestic consumption from a population more than 1 billion strong with more padding in their wallets.
Andy says 10 years of tremendous income growth and little household debt, make China the “world’s best consumption story, for everything from instant noodles to luxury cars” in 2012.
According to December Chinese trade figures, month-over-month and year-over-year imports of aluminum and copper increased significantly. This may be a result of China restocking ahead of Chinese New Year, but M2 money supply growth rapidly rose in recent months, a sign the government is attempting to reaccelerate the economy. Also, the urban labor market has been robust over the past two years, with an annual change just below 5 percent—a record high over the past 15 years.
Along with rising urban employment, income growth has been tremendous as well. CLSA says that last year was “the eleventh consecutive year of 7 percent-plus real urban income growth,” with disposable incomes rising 152 percent over the past decade.
Investors shouldn’t expect China’s growth to be as robust as it’s been, as the country’s fixed asset investment growth drops below the 25 percent year-over-year pace of the last nine years, says CLSA. China’s 12th Five-Year Plan has less infrastructure spending compared to the 11th five-year plan. Transport and rail spending is also expected to drop, with only water and environmental protection spending growth rising.
As shown in the BCA chart above, GDP growth has declined below 10 percent, but the growth is currently not the lowest we’ve seen in recent years. CLSA believes that China will prevent GDP growth from slipping below 8.5 percent for the full year, as “Beijing has the fiscal resources and political will to quickly implement a much larger stimulus.”
Judging by the record number of articles mentioning a hard landing in China in late 2011, investor sentiment has swung from euphoria to excessive pessimism, according to BCA Research. Last fall, more than 1,000 articles discussed the risk of a “China Crash.”
As I’ve mentioned before, contrarians view extremely bearish sentiment as a potential attractive entry point. BCA believes the pessimism has been priced in, as technical indicators as well as valuations for domestic and investable markets appear “deeply depressed.”
What will happen over the next 10 years? I believe the supercycle of growth across emerging markets will continue with rising urbanization and income rates. This bodes well for commodities, especially copper, coal, oil and gold, and we’ll continue to focus on companies that will benefit the most from these much-needed resources.
Tags: Annualized Return, Breakthrough Technology, Cellar Dweller, Chief Investment Officer, Clamor, Coal, Commodities, Commodity Space, Emerging Markets, Frank Holmes, Global Population, Hand Oil, Natural Gas, Next Decade, Periodic Table, Precious Metal, Price Swings, Shale Deposits, Stranger, U S Global Investors
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Wednesday, August 17th, 2011
David Bloom, via Project Syndicate
August 16, 2011
CAMBRIDGE – The world is in the midst of the greatest demographic upheaval in human history. Although the human race took perhaps one million years to reach one billion people (around the year 1800), we have been adding successive billions every 10-20 years since 1960. The world’s population now stands at seven billion and is projected to reach 9.3 billion by 2050. In other words, between now and 2050, the world is likely to add to its population almost as many people as populated the entire planet in 1950. Or think of it as adding another China and another India. Feeding, clothing, housing, and otherwise providing for this massive net addition to the global population is one of the main challenges facing humankind.
If we use as our guide average material progress over the course of centuries, it might seem that necessity will again serve as the mother of invention, and that we will meet the population challenge, just as we have met previous challenges, through technological and institutional innovation. But long-term averages can mask significant volatility over time and variation across countries. We know for certain that there is great risk in the population growth that lies ahead, as nearly all of it will occur in the world’s most economically, politically, socially, and environmentally fragile countries.
A failure to absorb large numbers of people into productive employment could lead to mass suffering and myriad catastrophes. The continuation of extreme cross-country income inequality could deter international cooperation, stalling or even reversing globalization, despite its potential to improve everyone’s standard of living. Rapid population growth also tends to accelerate the depletion of environmental resources both locally and globally, and can permanently undermine the prospects for their recovery. Some developing countries have addressed these population challenges well. For example, the East Asian “Tigers” cut their birth rates precipitously in the 1970’s and 1980’s, and used the resulting demographic breathing room to stunning advantage through judicious education and health policies, sound macroeconomic management, and careful regional and global economic engagement.
David E. Bloom is Professor of Economics and Demography at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Copyright © Project Syndicate
Tags: Catastrophes, David Bloom, Environmental Resources, Fragile Countries, Global Population, Human History, Income Inequality, India, Institutional Innovation, International Cooperation, Material Progress, Mother Of Invention, One Billion, One Million Years, Population Challenge, Productive Employment, Project Syndicate, Rapid Population Growth, Term Averages, Upheaval, Year 1800
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Wednesday, March 30th, 2011
Over the next 15 years, the number of children in middle-class households in emerging market cities around the world may grow 10 times faster than those in developed countries. This future generation living in places such as China, Latin America and South Asia should drive the demand for goods and services, housing and transportation that extend beyond the basic necessities of life.
In McKinsey Global Institute’s recently published report, “Urban world: Mapping the Economic Power of Cities,” the researchers focus on demographic and economic trends to determine which cities will provide the most economic growth in the future.
The pie charts show how dramatically the world’s economic weight is expected to shift over the next 15 years. Today, developed economies such as the U.S., Western Europe and emerging market megacities—cities with more than ten million people—contribute 73 percent of world GDP growth. By 2025, their contribution diminishes to a mere one-third of global GDP.
The largest drivers of this growth comes from small cities, rural areas and “middleweight” cities—those with populations between 150,000 and 10 million people—in emerging markets.
To establish which cities will be the next powerhouses, McKinsey developed a comprehensive list of urban centers they named the City 600, ranked by their GDP contribution. Currently, 23 megacities and 577 middleweights make up one-fifth of the world’s population and two-thirds are located in emerging market countries, including China, India and Latin America.
The population of these 600 cities is estimated to grow 1.6 times faster than global population, and 250 million new households are expected. China and Sub-Saharan Africa are two areas with the fastest pace of household growth, and both are expected to double by 2025. The growth in these emerging market cities could be so tremendous that by 2025, one out of every three developed market cities will likely be replaced by emerging world middleweights. China hosts the majority of these growth hotspots, but others include the cities of Fortaleza and Manaus in Brazil, Sharjah in the Middle East, and Nagpur and Vadodara in India.
Twelve of these emerging market middleweight cities are projected to grow to be megacities, each housing more than 10 million people by 2025.
Ranking the top 25 cities of today’s City 600 by GDP, the majority are in developed countries. However, three North American cities and four in Western Europe will be replaced by new megacities in Asia (see map).
McKinsey’s report expands on a theme we discuss often about how urbanization in many other developing countries drives global economic growth. As an example, in a previous blog, I discussed how China’s urbanization is driving housing growth and car sales (read the blog).
I encourage you to read the full McKinsey’s report and explore their interactive charts. McKinsey’s report offers a great visual representation of emerging market trends and validates our expectation that rising urban, middle class populations in developing world will continue to drive demand for commodities, natural resources and infrastructure projects. As McKinsey states, “urbanization will be one of this century’s biggest drivers of global economic growth.”
By clicking the links above, you will be directed to a third-party website. U.S. Global Investors does not endorse all information supplied by this website and is not responsible for its content.
Tags: Cities Around The World, Developed Countries, Economic Power, Economic Trends, Emerging Market Countries, Future Generation, Global Gdp, Global Population, Household Growth, India, Infrastructure, Latin America, Market Cities, Mckinsey Global Institute, Pie Charts, Powerhouses, Rsquo, South Asia, Sub Saharan Africa, Urban Centers, Urban World, World Gdp Growth
Posted in Brazil, Commodities, Emerging Markets, India, Infrastructure | Comments Off
Thursday, January 6th, 2011
Some time this year, there will be 7 billion people on the planet. If we all stood shoulder-to-shoulder, we would fit inside the city of Los Angeles.
National Geographic just kicked off its year-long series dedicated to this global milestone. Check out this video.
According to National Geographic, no human had lived through a doubling of the human population before the 20th Century. Now, there are people on this planet who have seen it triple. In fact, the world population hasn’t fallen since the Black Death wiped out nearly 60 percent of Europe’s population.
The problem with population isn’t space—we have plenty of it—it’s resources. Nearly 1 billion people go hungry every day and 20 years from now there will be 2 billion more mouths to feed.
If you’re analytical, you can think of it this way—the Earth has a finite number of resources but the demand and use of these resources are the variables. That demand not only depends on the number of people, but how intense their usage is.
Today, usage intensity is picking up in the emerging world—which happens to be home to the majority of the global population. As these people move, for example, from using bicycles to cars, or candles to electricity, the pressure on that finite amount of resources rises.
This, in a nutshell, is why we’re positive on natural resources—the supply of resources is limited while the demand is rising. Daily, monthly and even yearly fluctuations in demand or geopolitical events will cause volatility in prices, but the overall supply/demand fundamentals remain intact, and we believe these fundamentals lead to higher prices for these increasingly rare commodities.
Since this population theme is a cornerstone of the natural resources story, we’ll check back in on the National Geographic series as it progresses.
All opinions expressed and data provided are subject to change without notice. Some of these opinions may not be appropriate to every investor.
Tags: Bicycles, Black Death, Commodities, Cornerstone, Finite Number, Fluctuations, Geopolitical Events, Global Population, Human Population, Intensity, Milestone, Mouths, National Geographic, National Geographic Series, Natural Resources, Nutshell, Rare Commodities, Shoulder To Shoulder, Volatility, World Population
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Monday, March 15th, 2010
- The number of people living at or above the level of “medium development”— considered to live in reasonable conditions and have access to education, health care, clean water and electricity—has grown by more than 2 billion people during the past several decades. That is more than the entire global population in 1900.
- The Asia Pacific region provided 234 names to the latest Forbes World’s Billionaires list released this week, up from 130 last year. The region accounted for 23 percent of the total 1,011 billionaires globally.
- China’s February exports grew by a higher-than-expected 45.7 percent year over year due to a strong rebound in exports of textile, steel products, televisions and motorcycles. Imports rose 44.7 percent in February from a year earlier thanks to a large swing of crude oil prices from last year.
- Brazil highway traffic in February rose by 6 percent year over year. It was driven mainly by heavy vehicles traffic (up 11.9 percent) and passenger traffic (up 4.3 percent).
- Brazil’s budget minister says his country is likely to see 6 percent GDP growth this year and the creation of 2 million jobs.
- January retail sales in Brazil increased 10.4 percent year over year.
- Industrial production in India in January rose 16.7 percent and was driven by higher activity in the mining sector (up 14.6 percent) and manufacturing (up 17.9 percent).
- Turkish new-car sales in February jumped 42 percent year over year, aided by tax incentives and a low base. The rise was above industry expectations.
- China’s growth in fixed-asset investment moderated to 26.6 percent year over year in January and February combined, compared with the stimulus-driven rate exceeding 30 percent between March and October 2009, as the government wound down new public investment projects.
- Despite restraining government policies, property prices in 70 cities in China climbed another 10.7 percent year over year in February, the fastest pace in 23 months, after January’s 9.5 percent gain. New and existing home prices increased 1.3 percent and 0.4 percent month over month, respectively.
- All three publicly traded airport groups in Mexico reported declines in passenger traffic during February.
- Turkey ended IMF negotiations without a loan agreement. In absence of the IMF loan, there will be little upside to 4 percent GDP growth projections for 2010.
- If home-buying sentiment in China has shifted toward “wait and see,” auto purchases have remained very strong as the government maintained policy incentives. Even in the seasonally slowest month of February, 1.21 million vehicles were sold. The combined 2.88 million units sold in January and February was 84 percent higher than the same period in 2009. Such strength is likely to carry into March and April, typically strong months for car sales, as potential auto buyers rush to purchase before subsidy programs are withdrawn. Opportunities still exist for Chinese automakers and steel mills.
- It is estimated that damage to Chile’s infrastructure from recent earthquakes will be $20 billion to $30 billion, and will result in a massive government revival program. Dealing with effects of the earthquake is going to be a priority for the new president, Sebastian Pinera. Chile has a very healthy fiscal position and should easily fund the program from its copper fund, as well as from local and external debt.
- After years of neglect, there is a structural shortage at the residential end of Russian real estate market. New strategy announcements from the Russian real estate companies suggest that they are coming out of hibernation and are planning to launch construction and start pre-sales.
- While China’s central bank governor said February’s 2.7 percent increase in consumer prices from a year earlier was in line with his expectation, the latest inflation figure did surpass the one-year deposit rate of 2.25 percent. Negative real interest rates may provide an additional incentive to drive asset prices further ahead, creating fears of imminent monetary tightening that may introduce short-term volatility into the market.
- Mexico’s official inflation in February rose 0.58 percent month over month (vs. 0.50 percent expected) and was up 4.8 percent on an annualized basis. While the rate is still within the 4.75 percent to 5 percent target range, we will closely monitor the trend in coming months.
- The issue of exiting from monetary stimulus becomes pressing in countries like Brazil and Turkey, where inflation pressures are building. The chart below shows Citi’s estimates of upcoming rate increases in emerging countries in 2010.
Tags: Asia Pacific Region, Asset Investment, Billionaires List, Brazil, BRIC, BRICs, Budget Minister, China, Cities In China, Crude Oil Prices, Education Health Care, Emerging Markets, Forbes World, GDP Growth, Global Population, Heavy Vehicles, Highway Traffic, Img Src, India, Industry Expectations, Investment Projects, Motorcycles Imports, New Car Sales, Openx, Passenger Traffic, Public Investment, Random Number, Russia, Steel Products, Target, Tax Incentives
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