Tag Archives: millennials

There and Here, Generation Greed Wants Everything but Refuses to Pay For Anything

Who, in a decade or two, will want the job of changing former President Donald Trump’s diapers, and who will have to pay for it?  

As I’ve said for years, The Donald is THE MAN of his generation.  A generation that came to interpret freedom as freedom from responsibility, to a greater extent than the generations before or after.  For those on the so-called “right,” it was freedom from social responsibility — to the community through paying taxes, to the planet by conserving natural resources, and even, it turns out, to those around them by wearing masks and getting vaccinated.  For those in the so-called “left” it was freedom from personal responsibility, to family members, or non-family progeny, when personal fulfillment, or sexual gratification, or just wanting to get high made that responsibility burdensome.  That has been the story, but not the fact.  In reality Trump, like the majority of his generation, was against any responsibility at all, social or personal.  Eventually, however, he and those of his generation will age to the point where they require custodial care, care that is either hugely expensive or personally draining to provide.  To be provided and paid for by whom?

I bring this up again because it would appear that in the UK, the generation that demanded lower taxes on itself is now demanding additional old age care for itself, paid for exclusively by the less well of generations to follow. Generations already on the wrong end of slashing social benefits for children, while putting a triple lock on a guarantee of benefits for aging adults.  Thus continuing to align Generation Greed’s economic, social and political choices with what, at least here in the United States, have been the personal and family choices of many, if not most.  All while engaging in a culture war to distract attention from what they, collectively, have done.  But there, unlike here in the U.S., generational inequities are at least talked about.

If you happen to be a comedy writer or comedic playwright, hold that thought about Trump’s last days.  I’ll have a suggestion for you at the end of this post, one that could bring 40 years of economic and social trends home to the later-born in a way that perhaps lots of boring data and analysis that you’ll have to get through first does not.

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Who Are The Snowflakes Who Can’t Take the Heat?

I’m not a social media type guy – no Facebook, no Twitter, no Instagram –but due to changing personal circumstances I have spent some time on LinkedIn recently.  Last week a reporter posted a link to an article she had written for the publication Business Insider, itself based on an article on Bloomberg News

https://www.businessinsider.com/millennials-versus-boomers-wealth-gap-2020-10

Millennials may be the largest generation workforce in the US, but they’re also the least wealthy.

The generation holds just 4.6%, or $5.19 trillion, of US wealth, Bloomberg reported, citing recent Federal Reserve data. Boomers, however, are 10 times wealthier. They hold 53.2%, or $59.96 trillion, of US wealth. That’s also twice the $28.5 trillion of US wealth that Gen X holds.

This wealth gap is partially explained by the fact that boomers are older, so they’ve had more time to accumulate wealth. Millennials haven’t yet reached their peak earning years, and the youngest are still earning entry-level salaries.

But historical trends indicate that the wealth gap shouldn’t be this big. When boomers were millennials’ age in 1989, according to the Fed data, they held 21.3% of US wealth. That’s four times the 4.6% that millennials hold today.

This is not new.  The Federal Reserve releases this data, and other data on people’s personal financial situation, each year. And virtually all posts on LinkedIn pass with few if any comments.  

But in response to this one there were more than 600 comments, and a bunch of Baby Boomers, including those in positions of substantial economic authority according to their titles, pretty much lost their minds, with emotional responses that flew in the face of any evidence.  

https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6721562902681202688/

Showing that whether, to what extent, how and why later-born generations are worse off that those born previously is a massive issue hiding in plain sight, one that many people don’t want to hear about.  These are the sort of folks who accuse Millennials of being a bunch of “snowflakes” who don’t want to hear things at odds with “their truth.”  The reaction to this simple statement of factual data shows that perhaps the Millennials aren’t the snowflakes after all. If you don’t want to hide in your “safe space” with “your truth,” read on.

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Retirement Benefits Are to White Collar Crime and Generational Inequity What Handguns Are to Street Crime

Red State, Blue State, Democrats, Republicans, anti-tax advocates, public unions, public sector, private sector, federal, state and local and even in Europe.  Retirement and old age benefits are promises about the far off future, allowing any and all to use them as a tool to rip people off and make a getaway before the heist is discovered.  At the state and local government level, all over the U.S., one finds the generations now retired or about to retire promised themselves far more than they had been willing to pay for, leading to crises of various kinds. But always there is the assumption that the older generations that created the problem and benefitted from it can’t participate in sacrifices needed to prevent disaster.

The first response is always the union-friendly choice to drastically cut the pay and benefits of new hires, in order to offset the soaring cost of benefits for those cashing in and moving out.  Screwing the millennials as part of the “screw the newbie, flee to Florida” cycle that goes on and on.  “If you don’t like it, don’t take the job; take some other job that also pays 25 percent less than the Baby Boomers were paid for the same work,” as Federal Reserve Bank of New York research has shown.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/playing-catch-up-in-the-game-of-life-millennials-approach-middle-age-in-crisis-11558290908

But when that isn’t enough, the next proposal is a “pension freeze.” Middle-aged workers, now mostly the last of the Boomers in those in Generation X, get to keep the pension benefits they have earned so far, but are not allowed to accrue any new benefits at the rate they were promised.  They are allowed to contribute to a 401K instead.  “If you don’t like it, quit and take another job for 15 or 20 percent less than most Boomers and members of the Silent Generation were paid, if someone will hire you.”

That’s fair, isn’t it?  No it is not!

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Generation Greed: Away from New York, Is Omerta Starting to Crack?

You have to believe in facts. Without facts there’s no basis for cooperation. If I say this is a podium and you say this is an elephant, it’s going to be hard for us to cooperate.” — Barack Obama

It is amazing the way effect of decades of public policies and economic and social trends, all to the benefit of some generations at the expense of others, stays out of the news.  Even as, anything, everything else is blamed for the situation so many people find themselves in.  For the most part what you get is silence, and an attempt to change the subject to anything, everything else.   People and groups who on the surface are at war with each other, and unable to cooperate, somehow all agree to keep certain facts out of the public discussion.

If you look closely enough, however, some cracks are beginning to appear in the Omerta.  The fact that Generation Greed is leaving those coming after so much worse off hasn’t gone viral, but it is beginning to bubble up under the surface.   The rest of this post will quote from some examples I’ve come across.

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The New York Labor Force: Is The Donald Chasing People to To NYC?

In mid-2016, looking at Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data for that year, I found that after years of rapid growth New York City’s labor force, people working and looking for work, had stopped growing when compared with a year earlier, and in some months had declined.   I wondered if the millennials, faced with low wages (or just freelance gigs), high rents, high taxes and declining services were finally leaving, or not coming to, New York.

https://larrylittlefield.wordpress.com/2016/07/31/the-millennials-treated-like-serfs-may-have-started-to-flee-new-york-city/

Checking data for other metros, I found that labor force growth had slowed or reversed in other large coastal metro areas with high costs of living, such as Boston and San Francisco, while picking up in other metros that were more affordable.

https://larrylittlefield.wordpress.com/2016/08/14/the-u-s-labor-force-running-away-from-metros-with-high-costs-of-living/

A year later, American Community Survey data from the U.S. Census Bureau was released for 2016, and had similar findings.

https://boston.curbed.com/2017/12/18/16780366/boston-peak-millennial

Boston appears to have hit what some demographers call “peak millennial,” according to an analysis from Time magazine. That analysis looked at the number of millennials—the nation’s youngest cohort of adults—who have exited Boston proper in recent years. Roughly 7,000 exited in 2016, after the city reached a record high of 259,000 millennials calling Boston home in 2015.

Other larger East Coast cities such as New York and Washington are seeing a similar trend and the reason is clear: Housing costs. Millennials get to a certain ripe old age—say, 27—and decide they want space for themselves and a potential family more than they want convenient access to decent avocado toast. While things might change given the effects a federal tax overhaul could have on the Boston housing market, the trend of millennial exodus is expected to continue.

But has it? I downloaded the latest BLS data to find out.

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Fannie’s Mae and Freddie Mac’s Stealth Economic War on the Millennials

During the past 35 years we have had a buy now, and hope someone else will be stuck paying later economy. And as a result the generations born after 1957 or so have been left much poorer. But leaving the generations born after 1957 or so much poorer is apparently not enough for those older and more powerful to get everything they have promised themselves, but refused to pay for.

The millennials already receive lower pay, have higher debts, will be forced to pay higher taxes, will need to pay privately for what older generations had received as public services, and will need to save for what older generations had received as public old age benefits, at their expense. But for Generation Greed to finish cashing in, the millennials also have to keep spending money they do not have – to prop up consumer sales so the economy doesn’t finally collapse.  And to prop up stocks prices and housing prices at a level high enough for Generation Greed to sell. I recently found out just how crazy things have gotten just to keep the party going just a little bit longer. It is now federal policy that young homebuyers should pay so much for houses that 50 percent of their income goes for debts. Think I must be joking? Think that can’t be true?  Read on.

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Generation Greed: They Aren’t Using Those Words, but Some Folks Are Starting to Connect the Dots

After a three-decade party, with some folks getting to party a lot more than others, there is suddenly no way to avoid the reality other than drifting into closed-eyed fantasy. The generations I have identified as Generation Greed, the richest in American history, are leaving the generations to follow are much worse off in many ways. And, in many cases, those at the back end of Generation Greed are facing old age much worse off then they themselves had been, forced by their prior excess consumption, debts and prior lack of savings to downsize a material lifestyle that for many of them had been the whole project of their lives. As I most recently noted in detail in my previous post.

https://larrylittlefield.wordpress.com/2017/04/25/generation-greeds-last-economic-orgy-federal-reserve-z1-debt-data-for-2016-rising-housing-prices-census-bureau-data-on-worse-off-young-adults-falling-life-expectancy-etc/

The consequence of this realization has not been an increase in empathy or an attempt to change the worst aspects of a collective legacy while there is still time. There is still no willingness to make any personal sacrifices in the present for the collective future. The fact that the non-greedy minority of Generation Greed hasn’t stepped up to face the facts and battle for their own offspring is one final disappointment. The desperate desire of some of its rich to insulate their own children from the consequences of a diminished society — by repealing the estate tax — is the only effective example of concern by today’s seniors with what they will leave behind. Rather, the media they dominate remains filled with demands for scapegoats and rationalizations, and one more round of “what about my needs!” Needs that are somehow supposed to be met by latter born generations that are poorer, and yet are having large economic burdens shifted to them that will diminish their entire future.

But if one uses the right search terms, one can find some examples over the past year of younger generations beginning to resent the country they have inherited, albeit not enough to get off the couch and do something about it.

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Generation Greed’s Last Economic Orgy: Federal Reserve Z1 Debt Data for 2016, Rising Housing Prices, Census Bureau data on Worse Off Young Adults, Falling Life Expectancy, Etc.

The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money” – Margret Thatcher in 1976

The problem with capitalism is that given enough inequality, eventually businesses trying to sell things run out of other people’s money” — Larry Littlefield, 2016

For 35 years, generations of Americans born after 1957 or so have been paid less but sold more, with the difference covered first by more household members in the workforce, then by inadequate requirement savings, and then by soaring public and private debt. The richest and most entitled generations in U.S. history worked hard and were very creative, but they over-consumed what even they were able to produce and expected too many years in retirement with too little in savings, at the expense of the poorer generations that have followed them. With some members of those generations grabbing far more than the others. With too much money in too few hands, the whole world economy has become dependent on Americans spending more than they had. And since America finally started to go broke with millions retiring into poverty, the world economy has faced a global crisis of demand.

When you put all the trends together, as I have below, it adds to a shocking picture that puts every current debate in context. Today’s young adults paid less than Generation Greed was paid at the same age in 1975, and forced by government policy to pay more for housing. Life expectancy falling. Personal and federal debts once again soaring, all the mistakes of the 2000s being repeated. Topping it off, we now have Donald Trump as President. Does this mean that the U.S. is finally prepared to admit, face and tackle its problems? Or does it mean that the most over-privileged and entitled members of the most over-privileged and entitled generations in U.S. history are just grabbing more, in one last economy orgy before the final collapse?

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The Millennials, Treated Like Serfs, May Have Started to Flee New York City

I have long wondered if and when New York’s young workers, tired of low wages (or permanent freelancing or “internships”), squeezed by rising rents into living more than one to an apartment or even a room, faced with higher taxes that contribute to those rents, facing squeezes on the subway and diminished public services, would decide they have had enough. And realize there will be no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow like the ones prior generations received. No rent regulated or Mitchell Lama apartment, no owner-occupied unit purchased outside a housing bubble or at an “insider” price in a conversion, no stable job with benefits, no improving schools. Just higher taxes and deteriorating services to pay for those dead and gone or retired to Florida.

I have wondered if, at some point, the incredible inflow of hundreds of thousands of young workers to New York City that I chronicled here

https://larrylittlefield.wordpress.com/2013/10/06/new-york-city-economic-refugee-camp/

would slow, stop, and reverse. And based on data I downloaded Friday for a report I’ll be writing Monday on the job, it may have started to happen.

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Falling Wages: It’s Not Just the “Millennials” and It’s Not Just the Business Cycle

A recent article in The Atlantic chronicled the diminished economic circumstances of young Americans in the wake of the Great Recession.

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/12/the-incredible-shrinking-incomes-of-young-americans/383338/articleText

American families are grappling with stagnant wage growth, as the costs of health care, education, and housing continue to climb. But for many of America’s younger workers, “stagnant” wages shouldn’t sound so bad. In fact, they might sound like a massive raise. Since the Great Recession struck in 2007, the median wage for people between the ages of 25 and 34, adjusted for inflation, has fallen in every major industry except for health care.

What this analysis fails to account for is the difference between a cyclical trend – many people became worse off as the result of the recession – and a long term structural trend. One would expect incomes to fall behind inflation in a recession as severe as the one we just had – and then rise after a few years of recovery. In reality, however, the trend of later generations earning less than those who came before had earned when they themselves were young – indeed at every age – goes beyond the recession. In fact is has been going on for decades, starting with the second half of the baby boom. Each trough is lower, each peak not as high. Continue reading