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Economic Boom to Continue


Economic forecaster Harry S. Dent, Jr. is certainly not one of the coming millenium's prophets of gloom and doom. He predicts that much of the world will continue to experience an un-precedented economic boom during most of the new millenium's first decade. Mr. Dent presses his case in a book recently published by Simon and Schuster entitled The Roaring 2000s.

A confluence of important trends has already created an unprecedented economic boom that will continue until about the year 2000, Harry Dent says. He bases his prediction on statistics, trends and historical data. But, Mr. Dent says the most important factor sustaining the current boom is the size and spending habits of the world-wide, baby-boom generation, that huge segment of the population born between the years 1946 and 1964.

"It comes down to one trend. It is a mass of new people, world-wide and here (the U.S.), who are simply growing up. It is the number of people. It is the quadrupling of the population of the world. It is the fact that the baby boom generation (in the U.S.), when you include immigration, is almost five times the magnitude of the birth wave of the "Bob Hope" generation that came before it. So it is people exaggerating trends and doing predictable things as they age that is causing this. So, it is a confluence of many factors, but it all stems from the baby boom generation around the world. And it is all predictable stuff."

The massive baby-boom generation is just beginning to enjoy its peak years of spending and productivity, he explains. The impact of the baby boomers is being compounded by a technological revolution already in progress.

He says the information revolution launched in the 1950's is only now coming of age. Mr. Dent stresses this technological revolution is a major one, equaled in earlier centuries only by the invention of the printing press and the steam engine.

"The point of this book is that we have not even seen the real effects of the information revolution yet. Cars were invented in the 1880's, but the real impact on consumers and everyday people hit in the Roaring 20's. Well, computers first appeared in the 1950's. But only now, the Internet is just moving mainstream and making computing a mass phenomenon in the 1990's and the next decade."

With the exception of Japan, which did not produce a post-World-War-II baby-biin generation, the entire world is seeing rapid economic improvement, Mr. Dent says. Those in the developed world are enjoying the fruits of the information revolution, while developing nations continue to rapidly industrialize.

"So, this is a world-wide boom. And, in fact, it is more of a third-world boom, in some sense, than it is a developed world boom, because one-billion people industrialized in the last century. Five billion or more, maybe eight billion when it comes down to counting it, are going to industrialize in the next century. And faster than we did. And better, because they can learn from our mistakes, use our technologies, even use new technologies, and use our management experience."

Mr. Dent sees Asia's current financial problems as temporary, a mere bump along the road to economic progress. Temporary problems will sporadically appear throughout this current cycle of expansion, Mr. Dent says, but he expects to see strong economic growth continue, worldwide, for the next decade.

But, Mr. Dent says he realizes all good things must eventually come to an end. He predicts that the end of the current global boom will probably occur late in the year 2008. He explains, the baby boom generation will be moving out of its peak spending and productivity years, sparking a deep deflationary recession, or perhaps even a depression, that could last a dozen years or more. But, the generations that follow the baby boomers should not despair, Harry Dent says, because sometime after the year 2020 economic conditions should begin to improve. And, by the year 2023, the world's economies should be booming once again.


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