Harry Dent, author of The Sale of a Lifetime: How the Great Bubble Burst of 2017-2019 Can Make You Rich, joined Glenn on radio today to talk about the economic bubble we’re in — and how the government is only prolonging and worsening the inevitable.
“Governments are trying to prevent the obvious: A natural generational down cycle, like we saw from 1969 to ’82 and from 1930 to ’42. This happens every 40 years, and we shouldn’t prevent these cycles. We should let them happen and clear the decks of debt and excess capacity and bad companies to get efficient and prepare for the next generational boom. And we’re not doing that,” Dent said.
The government’s answer has been to interfere with endless quantitative easing, infrastructure spending and globalization — but it’s all starting to fail.
“Globalization has peaked. The second big surge from World War II into recently has peaked. Globalization has been a great productivity tool — better trade, all this stuff — but it has gone too far,” Dent said.
Listen to this segment from The Glenn Beck Program:
GLENN: Harry Dent is a friend of the program. Glad to have you back on, Harry. He’s got a book out, The Sale of a Lifetime: How the Great Bubble Burst of 2017 Can Make You Rich.
Harry, you and I kind of look at the world in similar ways: I don’t buy into — let me say it this way: I believe in seasons. I believe in the Kondratiev way. I believe in expansion and contraction and that patterns repeat. But everyone wants to deny those patterns even though you can go back, you know, 100 years plus and see that those patterns are there. Can you explain the — the cycles and principles of bubbles?
HARRY: Yeah. You know, this is a part of the entire creation. There’s just no question about it. Everything goes up and down. It’s even Newton’s third law of physics. And that’s what I do, is I study cycles.
And in the ’80s, I discovered demographic cycles, which economists and nobody else I know of, have much of a clue on.
The Baby Boom drove us up with their spending from 1983 to 2007, just a 46-year lag on the birth index. That’s how complex that was.
In 2008 into 2023, they drive us down. And, of course, governments have been fighting that with quantitative easing, and now Trump is going to come in and do fiscal stimulus and cut taxes and build infrastructure. It’s not going to happen.
So that’s —
GLENN: Wait. Wait. Wait. You’re saying it’s not going to happen. This is so important.
HARRY: Not going to happen, period.
GLENN: If you can explain a little bit. Because when you said this to me a while back and we were talking about real estate and you explained, “Glenn, the day of the big house is over for quite some time,” and you explained it because of the demographic bubble, I got it for the first time. Can you explain that?
HARRY: Yeah, two things: People buy their house a little earlier. The biggest house, the McMansion, if you can afford one, before their peak in spending at 46, at age 41. That’s why the housing bubble peaked ahead of the overall economy that started going down in 2008.
The housing started going down a few years earlier. And in addition to that, for the first time in history, we have a small — or slightly, in this case, slightly smaller generation. In many countries, a lot smaller, like Germany in most of Europe and Japan and east Asia, a smaller generation to follow. Houses last forever.
We don’t ever need to build another house in this country. And you’ve got 8 million empty homes in Japan and also a bunch in Germany and more to come because as people die, they become sellers. When there’s more Baby Boomers dying than millennials buying houses, then you actually have net contraction in the need for homes, as we’re already seeing in many countries.
So demographics is very predictive. It’s scientific. You can project it decades into the future, including inflation. Including overall growth and contraction, housing, potato chips, car buying. They all happen at different times in the consumer lifestyle, but I know when. You know, life insurance actuaries can tell you when the average person is going to die. It’s 79.6 in the US. I can tell you when they’re going to buy everything from cradle to grave. You know, from baby cribs to nursing home.
GLENN: So what is the — what do those demographics now say about 2017?
HARRY: Well, they say, first of all, we’ve been in a desk graphic down trend. Biggest boom in history from Baby Boomers now turns into the biggest bust. And if it weren’t for quantitative easing, we’d all be in a depression because we also have an 80-year four-season cycle as you know. The winter season, I said decades ago, would be 2008 to 2023.
We’re in that season. It’s just they’re turning up the heat with endless quantitative easing.
The problem is, it’s not working anymore. Negative interest rates started to backfire in Europe and Japan.
And so now, everybody is backing off of that. We were first. And now Trump is saying, “Well, then I’ll just cut taxes, and I’ll build endless infrastructures.”
You can’t — we don’t need more infrastructures. Aging people don’t buy more of anything. They pay down debt. They don’t drive more. They buy almost no real estate, except nursing homes that somebody provides for them.
We don’t need more infrastructure. So this is all going to be wasteful spending. Governments are trying to prevent the obvious: A natural generational down cycle, like we saw from 1969 to ’82 and from 1930 to ’42. This happens every 40 years, and we shouldn’t prevent these cycles. We should let them happen and clear the decks of debt and excess capacity and bad companies to get efficient and prepare for the next generational boom. And we’re not doing that.
Japan is stimulated, ever since 1997, and guess what, they’re in a coma economy. Never entered the next spring season. They’re 15, 20 years ahead of us. And they’ve killed their economy. They’ve killed innovation. They’ve been growing at zero — with zero productivity and zero inflation. And that’s where we’re heading. When Trump says he’s going to create 4 percent growth, it’s not going to happen. I would stake my life on that. More than a quarter or two and people get excited because our workforce is no longer growing.
It’s actually shrinking a bit in the next several years. Productivity is back from 3 to 4 percent, down to zero, because old people don’t get more productive, they get less.
And Baby Boomers continue to retire from 2000, all the way to 2024, ’25. So that’s going to take more people out of the workforce and make us less productive. So we’re going to go from zero to negative. We’re going to be lucky to grow above zero for the next two terms of his administration. And I hate to say this, Glenn. It’s nothing against Donald.
I predicted today, got elected, he wouldn’t last the first year. Will not last the first year is my likely prediction.
HARRY: Because he’s promised something he cannot deliver. He’s pissed everybody off in every realm. Countries, immigrants, you know, ethnic groups, women. All this sort of stuff. He has the impulse control of a grease fire.
GLENN: Let me tell you — let me tell you — give you a counter to that.
When there is financial trouble and strife, a country can go one of two ways: It can go into riots in the streets, or it can go into nationalism and we all pull together. And we seem to be going the national way, without the economic strife yet.
If you’re saying the bubble burst is happening this year, I see a rise of nationalism. And that would make him stronger.
HARRY: Yeah, no, actually I predicted this before the election, that this thing, you know, Brexit and then the Italian vote and then Trump winning against the odds and we’re going to see much more — this is a global phenomenon.
GLENN: It is.
HARRY: Globalization has peaked. The second big surge from World War II into recently has peaked. Globalization has been a great productivity tool. Better trade. All this stuff. But it has gone too far. Too many people feel like their jobs have been lost. We’ve been put face-to-face in an internet globalized world. And now we’ve got a huge inflict in values.
GLENN: So what does this mean? What does this mean to the average person, Harry?
HARRY: It means we’ve got a cultural social civil war. In other words, the blue states and the red states, the blue cities, red cities, whatever you want to call it, are so polarized. And I’ve got measurements of this.
I mean, this is life just before the Civil War. That there’s no way to have compromise. There’s no way to have a government.
If Trump succeeds — and he is. He’s doing exactly what his voters told him to do. But what’s happening is now the blue states are reacting. If Hillary had come in, she would have the blue way, and the red states would have reacted.
Before the election, I said, if Hillary gets elected, somewhere pretty soon, states like Texas are going to talk about leaving the union. Well, guess who’s got a petition to put on ballot in 2018 —
HARRY: — for California to start to leave the union. And California is the largest state. Controls the two most productive dominant US industries in the world. Entertainment and Silicon Valley. And if they threaten to leave, that makes Italy and Greece threatening to leave the euro like nothing. So I think we have a civil — I don’t know how it works out. But I know the red states and the blue states cannot come to compromise. Trump is rolling forward as if he has a mandate from the red states. And he does. But does that say the blue states have to say, “Well, we’ll just roll over and do everything you say?” California is already saying no. There’s ten or 15 states that they could follow them. Now, what happens then? The South succeeded in the Civil War. We’ll see what happens. But I think the only way we may come together as a country, is when we realize, oh, my God, if we don’t find some way to work this out together, we’re going to split in two, and we’re not going to have the power we had.
GLENN: So let me ask you this: We just saw that Jim Rodgers said, the death of cash is coming. Total government control of spending. We’ve seen this in India. We’re seeing the beginnings of it in Australia.
You know, I read a — I read a book recently called Defying Hitler, that really, when I read how Weimar Republic got out of their problems, I thought, oh, my gosh, they actually thought that worked. They thought that was a good thing.
And I think the central banks have looked at that lesson and said, “Well, we could always do that.” And, you know, you look at this with the inflating of the money. Because we were worried about deflation. The inflating of the money. The growing government control. Now they’re starting to digitize currency and saying, “Hey, you got a cap on this.” They’re allowing the banks to say, “We could have a bail-in.” I think we are headed for a firestorm in the financial sector with the people picking up pitchforks as they trap their money in banks and won’t allow them to have cash or at least large sums of cash.
HARRY: Yeah. This is one of many issues. And I do see civil unrest. I am — I am in Puerto Rico now. It’s a bankrupt country, but at least they know it. And they’re dealing with it like Iceland did. And, by the way, Iceland devalued. Did everything Greece should have done: Defaulted on their foreign debts. Went through three years of inflation. They crippled their consumers and came out the other side and are growing at 4 percent again.
They took their medicine, instead of endless bailouts, endless denial. Bail-ins — you go and take the best small businesses and large businesses and high net worth deposits over 100,000 and have those people bail out a bank and you think they’ll ever put money in a bank again and people won’t have pitchforks? So all of this reaction is coming from the fact that governments are not facing the problem. Politicians are not telling people, like in Puerto Rico, which they’ve been foreseeing that we are bankrupt. We are way more bankrupt than Puerto Rico.
GLENN: But we can’t declare — but we can’t declare bankruptcy. The United States can’t default on their debt.
HARRY: No, no, no, but you can restructure, especially private debt. What businesses do when businesses get in trouble in the economy, it used to be Chapter 7. Fire sale. And you get 10 cents on the dollar. The vulture creditors come in.
The US was the one that innovated Chapter 11. Let the courts protect the business for a short period of time so they can sell off their assets in an orderly manner instead of fire sale. Have time to renegotiate with creditors and say, “Hey, what if we pay you 50 cents instead of you getting 10 percent in a fire sale?” And then they come to an agreement and everything moves forward.
We need that. We have to write off debt. You can’t keep bailing out banks and things in countries like Greece. You have to restructure the debt and let the banks and the bondholders and the equity investors who took the risk from those things take losses. And then if governments do provide some financial assistance, it’s only in direction correlation to the amount that banks wrote down. Because when they write down debt, guess what, businesses and consumers get relief, it freeze up cash flow, and we can grow again. We will never come out of this with these denial policies. And every policy from QE to building infrastructures for nobody, you know, cutting taxes, all you’re doing is changing the fixed pie. You’re saying, “Okay. We’re going to take money that would have gone to government and give it to businesses.”
Well, why not just send everybody a 20,000 check like we gave the banks all this QE money. This is denial. It doesn’t solve the problem. It’s like taking a drug to feel better and keep from coming down, rather than going to detox.
We need a giant detox. Detox does not come without banks and some businesses going under that are zombies. And it doesn’t come without writing down debts. And we did that in spades in the Great Depression. The Great Depression only took three years to bottom. And we did nothing but grow after that.
Because like Iceland, we took our medicine and went on, instead of doing this denial. Oh — you know, even Trump came in and said, “We’re in a big, fat ugly bubble.” Well, he hasn’t studied bubbles. You can’t just walk out of a bubble. Bubbles are extremes, and you have to rebalance, and that is painful. Just like detox. It’s exactly like detox for a drug addict. There’s no other choice.
GLENN: Harry, I appreciate it. Thank you so much for being on with us. The name of the book is The Sale Of a Lifetime: How the Great Bubble Burst of 2017 Through 2019 Can Make You Rich.
Harry Dent. I highly recommend that you pay attention to him and that you pick up his book and read it. Harry, I can’t thank you enough. Thank you for being on.