Often while searching for a piece of data through Google, I stumble across something else, which is far more interesting. That is how I found the table below of international savings rates.
Why should you care? Because countries with high savings rates tend to have strong economies and great stock markets, since there is plenty of excess cash available to pour into investments. Those with low savings rates suffer from weak economies and poor stock markets, because of a shortage of available capital. When the American savings rate dropped below zero in the latter part of the last decade, it set off emergency alarms for me that a collapse of the financial markets was on the horizon.
During the last four decades, I have watched Japan’s savings rates plunge from 16% to 2.8%, and you know the result for markets there. When it approaches zero, that will be the time to short the JGB’s, the yen, and the Nikkei stock index. The only country that doesn’t fit this analysis is Australia, with a mere 2.5% savings rate, but boasts a positively virile stock market and currency. The resource boom there is skewing things towards under saving and over consumption.
By the way, the outlook for the US, with its still miserable 3.9% savings rate, does not look great when considering this benchmark. Don’t expect a runaway bull market anywhere savings rates are low and falling. What are savings rates telling us are the best countries in which to invest? China, 38%, India, 34.7%, and Turkey, 19.5%.