What do golf, convertible cars, crime, American journalists and infant mortality have in common? They are all trending downward. Let’s start with golf and cars and then move to business and people-related downtrends.

The game of golf lost 1.1 million players in 2013, BusinessWeek reported. The sport has lost about 24 percent of its players between 2004 and 2013. TaylorMade suffered a 34 percent drop in sales in a recent quarterly report. Only 14 new courses were built but 160 were shut down in 2013.

The decline is staggering. The great recession had something to do with it, and Tiger Wood’s personal life revelations played a role as well. PGA may change the standard cup from 4.25 inches to 15 inches and adopt a 15-hole alternative standard to make the game both easier and quicker.

Golf club and ball

Wojciech Kulicki via Flickr

The production of convertible cars also has seen a major decline from over 800,000 units in the early 2000s to below 500,000 in the early 2010s. Due to soft sales, manufacturers have limited their convertibles to upscale models leaving only few affordable convertible cars in the market. Edmund’s lists more than 60 convertible cars available in the U.S. market but only ten cost under $30,000.

Japanese luxury cars are trending down relative to their German counterparts. In 2005 the worldwide sales of Audi, BMW and Mercedes were approximately 3 million cars combined. At the same time, the combined sales of Acura, Infinity and Lexus were approximately 1.5 million cars. Fast forward to 2013 and the same German manufacturers exceeded 5 million sold cars while the Japanese luxury brand sales were flat at about 1.5 million.

Government policies can create major up or down trends. Take the case of German policy framed in 2011 after Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster to decommission its nuclear power plants. The stocks of German energy giants E.ON and RWE lost 50 percent of their value, while at the same time the German stock market (DAX 30) had a 30 percent increase.

On the other hand, the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals adopted in 2000 may be partly responsible for a substantial drop in infant mortality in the developing world from over 12 percent mortality rate in 1990 to about 6 percent in 2013 as reported in the “Seven Million Lives Saved” by the Brookings Institution.

The racial mix of the U.S. has been changing constantly but in the last 200 years whites have been dominant. Public school enrollment data suggests that this dominance is about to end. In 2000 enrollment in U.S. public schools was 59 percent white, 18 percent black, 18 percent Hispanic and 5 percent Asian, Pacific Islander and other. The 2020 enrollment forecast by U.S. DOE is expected to be 46 percent white, 15 percent black, 29 percent Hispanic and 10 percentAsian, Pacific Islander and other. The end of the white majority in the U.S. is a condition present in Hawaii for decades; a lesson from which is: There is no reason for alarm.

A welcome downtrend is the substantial decline of crime in the seven most industrialized countries in the world (G7.) Since 1995 robberies are down 20 percent, homicides are down 30 percent and vehicle theft is down 55 percent. One reason for these trends is smart and cheap electronics. Smart electronics protect homes and immobilize cars. Cheap household electronic devices have removed the incentive of theft. Another big reason is the end of the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1990s in the U.S., which unfortunately is still lingering in Hawaii.

Who compiles and covers news like this? Journalists, but almost one third of them are out of work. Data from the American Society of Newspaper Editors indicate that the number of American journalists held steady at about 55,000 for almost 30 years between 1980 and 2008. The great recession combined with digital publishing have shrunk the ranks of journalists to 38,000 in 2013. The Economist reports that: “Financiers and philanthropists are investing in news: eBay founder Pierre Omidyar put $250 million into a new non-profit, First Look Media. All this has injected hope into a beleaguered industry.”

Finally a positive but likely temporary downtrend is the 10 percent drop of the price of oil this year. Not only it makes local transportation and flights more affordable for Hawaii but also it reduces the cost of electric power, the production of which is over 75 percent dependent on oil.

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