Friday, March 6, 2009

Population Megatrends

“Within six years,” Chris Mayer also writes, ending today’s issue with a megatrend worth your attention, “New York will no longer be among the world's five largest cities. The new top five? Tokyo is No. 1, with a population (35 million) greater than all of Canada. Then follows Mumbai, Sao Paulo, Delhi… and Dhaka. Dhaka? Yes, Dhaka. It's the capital of Bangladesh.

“‘All cities are cities of the moment,’ says Richard Wurman, the celebrated American architect. He is right. No city stays on top for long. In the year 1000, the most populous city in the world was Cordova, Spain. Beijing was tops in 1500 and 1800. London was the biggest in 1900, New York the biggest in 1950. Today, Tokyo.

“The pace of urbanization is particularly swift in China and India. More than 25 million people move to cities each year (see the chart below).

“Some of the numbers are hard to fathom. As U.S. Global Investors points out in a recent presentation, China will add more people in 15 years than the entire population of the United States. ‘There will be up to 50,000 new skyscrapers,’ the company notes, ‘the equivalent of building 10 New Yorks. There could be up to 170 new mass transit systems. There are only about 70 in Europe today.’

“This massive population shift has enormous effects on infrastructure spending. Trillions of dollars will have to go toward building power systems, roads, water and wastewater systems, ports and more. It's like what the U.S. went through in the early 20th century -- only on a much more massive scale… these changes will create enormous opportunities for investors that a previous generation could barely imagine.”

No comments: