October 12, 2011

Fox's Varney sounds the alarm

News anchor contends that global demographic trends will have a lasting impact on economy, society.

By Toby Gooley

Although Fox Business news anchor Stuart Varney gave a lively and often humorous presentation during his keynote speech at CSCMP's Annual Global Conference in Philadelphia, his overall message was somber. The world we live in today, he said, "is a product of the financial panic of 2008." Much of his speech was devoted to the influence of finance, politics, and especially demographics on the current and future state of the U.S. and world economies.

Varney began by taking credit for stirring up animosity toward big business by reporting on the excesses of executives like former Tyco head Dennis Kozlowski. He then went on to say that such abuses of corporate resources, together with 2008's financial crash, directly contributed to the election of president Barack Obama and the Democrats' control of Congress. Now, he said, dissatisfaction with the economy and government control is causing the pendulum to swing the other way, and he predicted a renewed focus on private enterprise and a change in leadership after next year's elections.

Much of Varney's commentary focused on global demographic trends. He contended that "a demographic clash of monumental proportions" is building worldwide and that it will have enormous implications for economies and societies everywhere. The percentage of the population that is over the age of 65 is rising as people live longer. Meanwhile, birth rates are declining so rapidly that some countries are losing population, and by 2030, more than 50 percent of the population in such countries as France, Germany, Japan, and Italy will be senior citizens. The cost to government and businesses of pensions and healthcare in such a scenario will be "unsustainable economically."

How can the United States stimulate demand and create a vibrant economy in the coming decades? Varney suggests that welcoming immigration from developing countries with more youthful populations is one logical and feasible approach.