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Generational Pigeon Holes ?

Generalizing individuals, especially millions of individuals, is tricky business and usually in bad taste, so here we go:

Early last summer, the media was obsessed with the rapidly falling economy. While I can talk for hours about the defense measures our economy can deploy, I find it helpful to tailor my comments to the listener’s generation. After all, life’s expectations reflect life’s experiences.

Members of the Greatest Generation remember economic collapse most of all and fear it. I explain to them that Great Depression happened before the Federal Reserve Bank was beefed up with its many regulatory authorities. Originally created in 1913 to handle liquidity problems of individual banks, the Fed has vastly more power today. They can purchase assets falling rapidly in value to arrest that fall. For example, they can buy failing banks. They are the lender of last resort, which is not a small thing. I also argue we learned a great deal about what works and when for both monetary and fiscal policies. I told them and still think we are more likely to see a short, shallow recession that a serious recession and certainly not a depression.

Members of the Boomer generations remember inflation most of all and fear it. I explain to them that this is not “your father’s inflation” — which was double digits for almost five years. We have learned a recession will ALWAYS defeat inflation but at what cost, both long-term and short-term?. It can be controlled! We have learned the impact of changes in the money supply will also change the economic direction. Money supply was growing at a 12% when last year started but grew ZERO percent during the last half. While there are numerous techniques to measure inflation, it is already clear that inflation is falling faster than expected.

Members of the post-Boomer generations were traumatized by watching their parents suffer during the Great Recession of 2008/9. They focus more on the labor market, distrusting both business and government and even religion. They were atomized into meaningless individual units by globalization. For them, I emphasize long-term thinking and the difficulty in short-term predictions versus long-term certainty. Even meaningless atomized individuals can become meaningful by saving and investing. “Just do it, just start saving and investing, just start doing it NOW.”

Just because all people are equal does not make them all the same . . . they perceive and communicate differently, especially by age.