Japan’s infamous “Lost Decade” was supposed to refer to the stagnant economic period from 1991 until 2000, after the collapse of the asset price bubble in Japanese housing and stocks.
However, it seems the phrase was coined a little early, as now it seems even more ominous. The “Lost Decade” has turned into the “Lost Two Decades”, and many of the same economic problems continue to plague the nation today.
The most recent data from Japan’s Cabinet Office pegged Japan’s GDP growth in Q4 of 2015 at -0.3% compared with the previous three months.
That’s now two negative quarters out of the four in 2015.
Japan’s Demographic Headwinds
The problem is that the outlook isn’t getting any better with time.
In the background, and even more important, is Japan’s lingering demographic crisis. The country’s population is projected to fall from 127 million to 87 million by 2060, at which point more than 40% of the population will be older than 65.
Over the years, there have been many warnings that Japan’s population could begin to contract. However, this problem is now officially here, with the most recent census data showing that the Japanese population shrunk by nearly 1 million people between 2010 and 2015.
The working-age population could decline as much as 40% over the next 45 years. This would be coupled with a surge in the people dependent on social services, since Japan has some of the best life expectancy rates in the world.
By 2050, there could be just under 1 million Japanese that are 100 years and older in age.
Stopping the Decline
The urgency of Japan’s aging population is not lost on the public. In a recent Pew poll, Japanese respondents were asked if the next generation of children would be better or worse off than their parents. The overwhelming victor was “worse off” with a 72% share of the vote.
That’s why the current stated goal of the government is to keep the nation’s population from falling below 100 million by 2060. To do this, Japan is now working on “bold proposals” to find ways to raise the birthrate. The traditionally isolationist Japanese culture is even warming towards the idea of getting new blood through immigration.
However, even in meeting this audacious goal, the country’s population will still decline by 27 million people by 2060. It’s also unclear if or when economic growth could turn around, even in the best case scenario.
Japan was the first country to experience the cruel cocktail of economic stagnation, shrinking population, spiraling debt, and desperate monetary policy.
However, it won’t be the last.
Central banks around the world continue to take unprecedented action. QE, negative rates, the war on cash, and helicopter money are all coming to a country near you. No policy option is sacred anymore.
We must watch the Japanese problem closely, because we will need to have better solutions.
Original graphic by: Revolutions
The Biggest Tech Talent Hubs in the U.S. and Canada
6.5 million skilled tech workers currently work in the U.S. and Canada. Here we look at the largest tech hubs across the two countries
The Biggest Tech Talent Hubs in the U.S. and Canada
The tech workforce just keeps growing. In fact, there are now an estimated 6.5 million tech workers between the U.S. and Canada — 5.5 million of which work in the United States.
This infographic draws from a report by CBRE to determine which tech talent markets in the U.S. and Canada are the largest. The data looks at total workforce in the sector, as well as the change in tech worker population over time in various cities.
The report also classifies which metro areas and regions can rightly be considered tech hubs in the first place, by looking at a variety of factors including cost of living, average educational attainment, and tech employment levels as a share of different industries.
The Top Tech Hubs in the U.S.
Silicon Valley, in California’s Bay Area, remains the most prominent (and expensive) U.S. tech hub, with a talent pool of nearly 380,000 tech workers.
Here’s a look at the top tech talent markets in the country in terms of total worker population:
|🇺🇸 Market||Total Tech Talent||% Talent Growth (2016-2021)|
|SF Bay Area||378,870||13%|
|New York Metro||344,520||3%|
|Salt Lake City||55,930||29%|
America’s large, coastal cities still contain the lion’s share of tech talent, but mid-sized tech hubs like Salt Lake City, Portland, and Denver have put up strong growth numbers in recent years. Seattle, which is home to both Amazon and Microsoft, posted an impressive 32% growth rate over the last five years.
Emerging tech hubs include areas like Raleigh-Durham. The two cities have nearly 70,000 employed tech workers and a strong talent pipeline, seeing a 28% increase in degree completions in fields like Math/Statistics and Computer Engineering year-over-year to 2020. In fact, the entire state of North Carolina is becoming an increasingly attractive business hub.
Houston was the one city on this list that had a negative growth rate, at -2%.
The Top Tech Hubs in Canada
Tech giants like Google, Meta, and Amazon are continuously and aggressively growing their presence in Canada, further solidifying the country’s status as the next big destination for tech talent. Here are the country’s four tech hubs with a total worker population of more than 50,000:
|🇨🇦 Market||Total Tech Talent||% Talent Growth (2016-2021)|
Toronto saw the most absolute growth tech positions in 2021, adding 88,900 jobs. The tech sector in Canada’s largest city has seen a lot of momentum in recent years, and is now ranked by CBRE as North America’s #3 tech hub, after the SF Bay Area and New York City.
Vancouver’s tech talent population increased the most from its original figure, climbing 63%. Seattle-based companies like Microsoft and Amazon have established sizable offices in the city, adding to the already thriving tech scene. Furthermore, Google is set to build a submarine high-speed fiber optic cable connecting Canada to Asia, with a terminus in Vancouver.
Not to be left behind, Ottawa has also taken giant strides to increase their tech talent and stamp their presence. The country’s capital even has the highest concentration of tech employment in its workforce, thanks in part to the success of Shopify.
The small, but well-known tech hub of Waterloo also had a very high concentration on tech employment (9.6%). The region has seen its tech workforce grow by 8% over the past five years.
Six out of the top 10 cities by tech workforce concentration are located in Canada.
Evolution of Tech Hubs
The post-COVID era has seen a shifting definition of what a tech hub means. It’s clear that remote work is here to stay, and as workers migrate to chase affordability and comfort, traditional tech hubs are seeing some decline — or at least slower growth — in their population of tech workers.
While it isn’t evident that there is a mass exodus of tech talent from traditional coastal hubs, the rise in high-paying tech jobs in smaller markets across the country could point to a trend and is positive for the industry.
While more workers with great talent, resources, and education continue to opt for cost-friendly places to reside and work remotely, will newer markets like Charlotte, Tennessee, and Calgary see a rise of tech companies, or will large corporations and startups alike continue to opt for the larger cities on the coast?
Animation: Visualizing U.S. Interest Rates Since 2020
U.S. interest rates have risen sharply after sitting near historic lows. This animation charts their trajectory since 2020.
Visualizing Interest Rates Since 2020
In March 2020, the U.S. Federal Reserve cut already depressed interest rates to historic lows amid an unraveling COVID-19 pandemic.
Fast-forward to 2022, and the central bank is grappling with a very different economic situation that includes high inflation, low unemployment, and increasing wage growth. Given these conditions, it raised interest rates to 2.25% up from 0% in just five months.
The above visualization from Jan Varsava shows U.S. interest rates over the last two years along with its impact on Treasury yields, often considered a key indicator for the economy.
Timeline of Interest Rates
Below, we show how U.S. interest rates have changed over the course of the pandemic:
|Date||Federal Funds Rate (Range)||Rate Change (bps)|
|July 27, 2022||2.25% to 2.50%||+75|
|June 16, 2022||1.50% to 1.75%||+75|
|May 5, 2022||0.75% to 1.00%||+50|
|March 17, 2022||0.25% to 0.50%||+25|
|March 16, 2020||0.00% to 0.25%||-100|
|March 3, 2020||1.00% to 1.25%||-150|
In early 2020, the Federal Reserve cut interest rates from 1% to 0% in emergency meetings. The U.S. economy then jumped back from its shortest recession ever recorded, partially supported by massive policy stimulus.
But by 2022, as the inflation rate hit 40-year highs, the central bank had to make its first rate increase in over two years. During the following Federal Reserve meetings, interest rates were then hiked 50 basis points, and then 75 basis points two times shortly after.
Despite these efforts to rein in inflation, price pressures remain high. The war in Ukraine, supply disruptions, and rising demand all contribute to higher prices, along with increasing public-debt loads. In fact, a Federal Reserve estimate suggests that inflation was 2.5% higher due to the $1.9 trillion stimulus, an effect of “fiscal inflation.”
Impact on the Treasury Yield Curve
The sharp rise in interest rates has sent shockwaves through markets. The S&P 500 Index has steadily declined 19% year-to-date, and the NASDAQ Composite Index has fallen over 27%.
Bond markets are also showing signs of uncertainty, with the 10-year minus 2-year Treasury yield curve acting as a prime example. This yield curve subtracts the return on short-term government bonds from long-term government bonds.
When long-term bond yields are lower than short-term yields—in other words, the yield curve inverts—it indicates that markets predict slower future growth. In recent history, the yield curve inverting has often signaled a recession. The table below shows periods of yield curve inversions for one month or more since 1978.
|Yield Curve Inversion Date||Number of Months||Maximum Difference (10 yr - 2 yr bps)|
*Data as of September 9, 2022
Source: Federal Reserve
For example, the yield curve inverted in February 2000 to a bottom of -51 basis points difference between the 10-year Treasury yield and the 2-year Treasury yield. In March 2001, the U.S. economy went into recession as the Dotcom Bubble burst.
More recently, the yield curve has inverted to its steepest level in two decades.
This trend is extending to other countries as well. Both New Zealand and the UK’s yield curves inverted in August. In Australia, the yield spread between 3-year and 10-year bond futures—its primary measure—was at its narrowest in a decade.
What’s On the Horizon?
Sustained Treasury yield inversions have sometimes occurred after tightening monetary policy.
In both 1980 and 2000, the Federal Reserve increased interest rates to fight inflation. For instance, when interest rates jumped to 20% in 1981 under Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, the U.S. Treasury yield inverted over 150 basis points.
This suggests that monetary policy can have a large impact on the direction of the yield curve. That’s because short-term interest rates rise when the central bank raises interest rates to combat inflation.
On the flip side, long-term bonds like the 10-year Treasury yield can be affected by growth prospects and market sentiment. If growth expectations are low and market uncertainty is high, it may cause yields to fall. Taken together, whether or not the economy could be headed for a recession remains unclear.
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