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Demographic Doom Podcast

Author: demographicdoom

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Demographic philosopher Glenn Campbell looks at life and tries to predict the future through the lens of demography, or the study of human populations. Trying to view humanity from the widest possible angle, like aliens seeing us from space.
44 Episodes
In coming months, the world is due for a major collapse of real estate prices. The lockdowns prompted by Covid-19 have exposed the inherent weaknesses of most forms of "place". Offices, retail stores and expensive homes just don't have the same intrinsic value that they did five months ago, and a painful reckoning is at hand. With many employees and college students working successfully from home, it is becoming clear that knowledge work doesn't require a special location. The virus has given a huge boost to telecommuting, and once these wheels have been set in motion, they can't be turned back. The victims of the change are landlords providing office space and colleges forced to maintain expensive buildings that aren't being used, as well as all the workers who construct and maintain these facilities. Homeowners in major cities will also face losses as telecommuters flee to less expensive cities. Knowledge workers may have easier lives, but anyone who are already invested in real estate may face devastating losses. — Website: — Instagram & Twitter: @DemographicDoom — See the video version of this episode for notes, comments, corrections & links to other resources: [ep 44, 24 May 2020] ***** PODCAST IS ON HIATUS after this episode while I work on a book manuscript. See
In a single episode, Glenn Campbell reviews the entire economic history of the United States from the end of World War II to the current economic collapse. Recorded on May 10, 2020, when stock markets continue to defy the crisis, rising in the face of bad news. Glenn identifies five processes over the past 75 years that have made an economic crisis inevitable: (1) The rise and fall of the Baby Boomers. (2) Our expanded longevity due to advances in safety and medicine. (3) The "inflation of tastes" which has turn our economy into a frivolous one. (4) The explosion of debt in all sectors of the economy that cannot possibly be paid back, (5) Desperate attempts by the Federal Reserve to rectify to previous four processes through destructive monetary policy. — Website: — Instagram & Twitter: @DemographicDoom — See the video version of this episode for notes, comments, corrections & links to other resources: [ep 43, 10 May 2020]
Glenn Campbell discusses a basic dilemma of modern medicine: whether you should spare no expense to save one patient ("best practices") or ration medical resources in such as to save as many patients as possible ("triage medicine"). While he has benefited from best practices as a high-expense cancer patient, he has misgivings about its benefits to society at large. By giving perfect care to just a few patients, a society may end up killing more of its citizens in the long run. Replaying a 6-minute portion of Episode 37, Glenn expands on this dilemma and how it will play out in the future. Mankind may have already achieved "peak medicine" where advances in medical technology do not improve the longevity of the general population. — Website: — Instagram & Twitter: @DemographicDoom — See the video version of this episode for notes, comments, corrections & links to other resources: [ep 42, 29 April 2020]
On April 26, 2020, as most communities remain in lockdown for COVID-19, Glenn Campbell looks back on a video he released a year earlier called, "The Vanity Economy: The First Casualty in the Next Recession". This video was prescient and is rebroadcast here in full. Although Glenn knew nothing of any pandemic back then, he knew that a crash was coming and that it would start with a collapse in the market for nonessential products and services. Everyone needs food and medical care, but they can live without spa treatments, sports equipment, home renovation, new cars and countless other ego-motivated items. In a crash, those are the first things people eliminate from their budgets. Purging things you don't need may seem good for the soul, but it is devastating for a modern economy, which has come to depend on this discretionary market. This episode replays the original 10-minute video (visible on the YouTube version) followed by a commentary bringing it up to date. — Website: — Instagram & Twitter: @DemographicDoom — See the video version of this episode for notes, comments & corrections: [ep 41, 26 April 2020]
April 18, 2020 — The Tragedy of the Commons is an economic dilemma first described in 1822. If a village uses a common plot of land to graze its animals, the incentive of each villager is to graze as many animals there as possible, but if everyone in the village does this, the land is denuded and all the animals starve. The only way to preserve the Commons is some form of government regulation limiting the grazing rights of each villager. This analogy applies to all manner of shared resources, like lakes and rivers, as well as financial instruments and the money supply. Governments have been successful in managing real-time resources like grasslands but have been less successful regulating secondary markets involving future resources. When villagers start buying and selling their future grazing rights, it can lead to bubbles where more rights are sold than the future Commons can actually support. That's the condition of our whole economy right now. More debts and promises are being traded than the real economy can ever fulfill. In this episode, Glenn Campbell looks at the new Tragedy of the Commons arising from too much debt and undisciplined monetary policy. — Website: — Instagram & Twitter: @DemographicDoom — See the video version of this episode for notes, comments & corrections: [ep 40, 18 April 2020]
April 9, 2020: As COVID-19 and "Lockdown Fever" grip the United States, virtually every response the Federal government can offer involves spending tons of money. They're sending stimulus checks to taxpayers and subsidizing businesses seen as essential, like banks and airlines. As usual, the government is spending money it doesn't have and never will. It couldn't even live within its means in the good times, and now, in the bad times, Federal debt is set to explode. In this episode, Glenn Campbell explores what will happen when Federal debt reaches its saturation point. Right now, desperate investors are eager to buy any bond the government issues, because it is seen as the least-worst place to put their money, but an insatiable market can't go on forever. Eventually, the Federal reserve must step in, buying bonds from the market and issuing new currency. This flood of new money will eventually result in massive inflation, even if it isn't evident today. Glenn predicts that by the end of 2020, inflation will resemble that of the 1970s, and hyperinflation could be next. In clear and simple terms, he explains how money printing works and why it can't be stopped. — Website: — Instagram & Twitter: @DemographicDoom — See the video version of this episode for notes, comments & corrections: [ep 39, 9 April 2020] 
April 8, 2020: As government-mandated lockdowns of "nonessential" workers enter their umpteenth day, Glenn Campbell explains why they are such a bad idea. Lockdowns are blind and indiscriminate, and their economic damage is irreparable. The cure for COVID-19 is strategically addressing the major vectors that convey the disease, like shaking hands and touching door handles. Lockdowns, however, are trying to eliminate every possible risk, no matter how unlikely, and it will be politically difficult to roll them back. That's not to say they won't be effective. Glenn predicts that the epidemic will peak soon, as most vectors of transmission are addressed. The issue, then, will be the long-term economic damage of the lockdowns themselves. This is a case where the cure may be far worse than the disease. — Website: — Instagram & Twitter: @DemographicDoom — See the video version of this episode for notes, comments & corrections: [ep 38, 8 April 2020]  
On April 5, 2020, as states and countries become deeply entrenched in open-ended lockdowns due to COVID-19, Glenn Campbell finds himself in an unexpected place: a cancer ward in Boston. After 13 days at Beth Israel Hospital, he is beginning treatment for a relapse of his lymphoma, with a good chance of recovery in about 4 months. In this personal episode, light on demography, Glenn describes his treatment plan and cancer history. He also provides some insight into how a big-city hospital is dealing with COVID-19. Is it pandemonium in the wards. Are the staff stressed beyond the breaking point? As far as Glenn can tell, the answer is no. The hospital continues to function pretty much as it normally has. The virus requires many change in procedure, but there is one compensation for the staff: No more annoying visitors. Glenn can be seen recording this podcast in the YouTube version, direct from his hospital bed. — Also see — Instagram & Twitter: @DemographicDoom — See the video version of this episode for notes, comments & corrections: [ep 37, 6 April 2020]
On March 26, 2020, the world was in the grips of "Lockdown Fever" when whole countries and regions were shutting down in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19. Transportation was restricted; nonessential businesses were closed, and workers were told to go home for an indeterminate period. Glenn Campbell regards these lockdowns as "national suicide", sabotaging the economies of the affected regions while saving few lives. In his words, lockdowns are "trying to kill a mouse with a sledgehammer." You may get the mouse eventually, but you destroy your own home in the process. There are better ways to control the disease, mainly by changing human hygiene practices and contact behavior. To illustrate why these methods work and lockdowns don't, Glenn the explores the vastly different outcomes of two countries: Japan and Italy. Japan, exposed to the virus first, has suffered only 45 deaths to date, while Italy, with half the population and exposed later, already has 7000. In Japan, few businesses have been closed. The subways remain packed with riders, and clubs are still open, while Italy is in full lockdown mode. What accounts for this radical difference in infection rates? If you understand that, you'll understand what really works in controlling the disease and why blanket lockdowns are such a tragic mistake. — Also see — Instagram & Twitter: @DemographicDoom — See the video version of this episode for notes, comments & corrections: [ep 36, 26 Mar 2020]
March 18, 2020 — The main crisis humanity is facing right now is not a viral epidemic. It is a massive worldwide economic collapse, similar in impact to the Great Depression and World War II in Europe. The virus pricked a bubble that was already overinflated and ready to pop. All sectors of the economy have accumulated huge, unsustainable debts, and the coming crisis will neutralize them, probably not gracefully. The crisis will also dissolve many of the assets people thought they had. Almost everyone should be afraid right now. In this episode, Glenn Campbell tries to view the crisis from the widest possible perspective. If aliens were approaching Earth right now, what would they see? — Also see — Instagram & Twitter: @DemographicDoom — See episode notes, comments & corrections on the video version of this episode at [ep 35, 19 Mar 2020]
March 17, 2020 — As the COVID-19 epidemic spreads around the world, schools, businesses and events are shutting down, crippling the economy. Could the effects of these shutdowns be worse than the coronavirus itself? A lockdown of healthy people is different from a quarantine of sick ones, which is sensible and economically manageable. Telling your entire workforce to go home is not manageable, and its medical benefits are dubious. France and Italy have essentially shut down their entire countries, supposedly for a fixed period, but when will it ever end? At the end of 2-3 weeks, the epidemic will still exist, probably worse than before, so when can you tell people to go back to work and school? The longer a lockdown goes on, the more devastating it is to the economy and to the ultimate ability of a society to function. Instead of locking everything down, Glenn Campbell believes everyone should go about their usual business. They should modify their behavior to avoid infection, but they must do it in sustainable ways that allow the economy to keep functioning. If people simply go into their bunkers for six months, there may be no economy left when they come out. — Also see — Instagram & Twitter: @DemographicDoom — See episode notes, comments & corrections on the video version of this episode at [ep 34, 17 Mar 2020 revised]
When will the current COVID-19 epidemic end? The answer lies in the concept of "herd immunity." Since a virus can't live outside its hosts, it will expire when it doesn't have enough hosts to sustain it, which happens well before distribution reaches 100%. Current calculations suggest only a maximum of about 60% of the US population will get the disease. The rest are protected by the fact that not enough carriers will be available when too many people become immune. This means that one person does not need to catch the disease to share the immunity of others. Herd immunity has a number of social implications, including the perverse idea of deliberately infecting young people to protect their elders.— Also see — Instagram & Twitter: @DemographicDoom — See episode notes, comments & corrections on the video version of this episode at [ep 33, 15 Mar 2020]
COVID-19 disproportionately threatens the old while sparing the young, and this may spark a new conflict between the generations. Baby Boomers have often been accused of robbing future generations by monopolizing wealth and charging up the national debt. Now younger generations have a chance to get even. Because their risk from the virus is low, young people have little incentive to change their behavior. Many may ignore quarantines and recommended hygiene, which ultimately puts their elders at greater risk. There is no malice involved. Young people are simply obeying their own self-interest, just as the Boomers did. ***** UPDATE 3 MAY 2020: I was wrong! It isn't young people who are protesting the lockdowns but the same older voters who support Donald Trump. See video description for my confession. — Also see — Instagram & Twitter: @DemographicDoom — See episode notes, comments & corrections on the video version at [ep 32]
The Crash Begins

The Crash Begins


The week of February 24-28, 2020 saw the worst stock market drop since the Global Financial Crisis in 2008. Glenn Campbell congratulates himself on his accurate prediction of it in his episode two weeks earlier. This week, he says, marks the beginning of a massive economic collapse he has been predicting for over a year. Looking ahead, he sees only bad things happening as the coronavirus spreads around the world and economies react. While his crystal ball is foggy in the long term, he offers a new prediction for the medium term: Unemployment in the United States will double by the end of June, and things can only get worse from there. — Also see — Instagram & Twitter: @DemographicDoom — See episode notes, comments & corrections on the video version at [ep 31]
As of February 23, 2020, the coronavirus had invaded all of China and was gaining a foothold in several other countries, including Italy, South Korea and Iran. Glenn Campbell tries to comprehend the vast financial impacts of the pandemic—and finds that he can't. His position is like someone from 1939 trying to look ahead to the coming World War and trying to predict how it will work out. The best he can do is describe some of the medical and economic factors that will make this a truly horrible event. As of the date of this recording, stock market investors are in denial, pushing indexes to new highs. This cannot last. Before the virus, the economy was already in an "Everything Bubble" and a worldwide pandemic is more than enough to pop it. — Also see — Instagram & Twitter: @DemographicDoom — See episode notes, comments & corrections on the video version at [ep 30]
Glenn Campbell describes his own self-styled philosophy called "Triagism" based on medical triage as might be practiced in a big-city Emergency Room. Recorded on 21 February 2020 as coronavirus (Covid-19) spreads around the world, Triagism is highly relevant to the government response to this disease. If there are only 10 beds available in a hospital and 1000 sick patients show up outside its doors, how do the staff decide which patients to take in? In traditional triage, the aim is to save as many lives as possible by carefully selecting the patients served. Mildly sick patients may be declined because they are likely to live without intervention, while severely ill patients may also be refused because they are beyond help. Triage tends to favor the moderately ill patients who can most benefit from treatment. While intended for medical management, the same triage principles can be applied to all kinds of human decisions. — Also see — Instagram & Twitter: @DemographicDoom — See episode notes, comments & corrections on the video version at [ep 29]
By February 10, 2020, the coronavirus outbreak has spread across China despite draconian efforts by the Chinese government to contain it. As of now, the virus doesn't seem to have gained a foothold in overseas countries like the USA, but experts seem to concur that it will become endemic, affecting every part of the globe. At this pivotal point in history, Glenn Campbell summarizes what he understands about the virus and makes some predictions about the social and economic effects. — Also see — Instagram & Twitter: @DemographicDoom — See episode notes and comments on the video version at [ep 28]
As a viral epidemic takes hold in China, Glenn Campbell predicts it will be the "black swan" that pushes the world economy into severe recession. Podcast recorded on Feb. 3, 2020, when only 17,000 cases were confirmed and 360 official deaths. The news will certainly change over the coming weeks, but no matter what happens, the economic costs will be devastating. The real damage is loss of confidence. In previous podcasts, Glenn talked about the worldwide debt crisis and the coming major recession. The economic collapse only needs a trigger, and the coronavirus may be it. — Also see — Instagram & Twitter: @DemographicDoom — See episode notes and comments on the video version at [ep 27]
Governments around the world, desperate to raise their birth rates, are offering incentives to parents to make more babies. These can range for one-time cash bonuses to complex parental support systems like subsidized childcare. None of these systems seem to be working. For example, Sweden, which is doing everything right to encourage childbirth, has a fertility rate similar to the USA, which is doing little to support its parents. The core problem with any incentive program is that nothing a government can offer comes anywhere close to the true costs of parenthood. Such incentives may even have the perverse effect of encouraging the wrong kind of people to have children. — Also see — Instagram & Twitter: @DemographicDoom — See episode notes and comments on the video version at [ep 26]
"Fictitious wealth" is assets that people think they have that cannot be realized in the long run. You can own stocks, bonds, real estate even cash in a mattress, but none of it has a secure value in the future. All assets are vulnerable to crash, and government actions over the past decade have assured that nearly all of them will. During the Global Financial Crisis, big governments and central banks worked together to rescue the economy, but all they really did is kick the can down the road. Particularly demaging are the runaway deficits of the U.S. government and the low interest rates of the Federal Reserve. Both have given rise to an "everything bubble" that is bound to pop in the 2020s. Glenn Campbell explains the mechanisms involved and how there is little hope for a non-catastrophic resolution. — Also see + Instagram + Twitter. Comment on video at [ep 25]
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