It’s been a loooong time since I’ve posted here, but this quote is just too good to pass up:
“It’s plain to see there’s a ton of slack in the economy,” said [Jan Hatzius of Goldman Sachs]. “We’re not managing to generate enough demand to absorb all these
productive resources in the economy.”
This comes from a Times article featuring two economists with different points of view about where the economy is headed. It’s no surprise that the Gen Xer (although I’m sure Mr. Hatzius would reject that moniker) is much more pessimistic than the Boomer. Regardless, the fact that Slackonomics is still relevant two years after publication. Buy it here cheap!
The Slack Blog has been on hiatus. (Lelia Colette was born Nov. 22 — a month after I turned 40 years old. Very Gen X, that. But I digress.) It’s a new year and shit is still sucking big time! But don’t despair, because Gen X is all about resilience. For a primer on what Slackonomics is all about, check out an article in the Times titled:
MICHAEL TERRY led a double life for many years.
“During the day I worked at Morgan Stanley as an executive director, overseeing a group that raised money for hedge funds,” he said, “and at night I performed in comedy shows.”
Then, last February, his company announced a round of layoffs. Mr. Terry, motivated to pursue his goal of becoming a “Daily Show” correspondent, raised his hand.
“At the time, I figured the severance package would give me a couple of years to try comedy, something that was getting increasingly hard to balance with my day job.”
Since leaving Morgan Stanley, Mr. Terry, 37, has shot two pieces as an on-the-scene reporter for the Onion News Network, and his sketch comedy group, Party Central USA, has been given a prime spot at the coming Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival.
With Wall Street hemorrhaging jobs, bonuses disappearing and the financial sector going through a seismic shift, some bankers and lawyers are switching lanes to more creative career paths. They are putting down their Wall Street Journals and picking up Variety as they try their hands at comedy, filmmaking and writing. …
There you have it.
And here is my perfect little girl, Lelia (pronounced LELL-ee-uh).
We have entered a whole new era of creative destruction, folks. Here are a couple of paragraphs from an article in today’s Times:
The Bush administration on Saturday formally proposed to Congress what could become the largest financial bailout in United States history, requesting virtually unfettered authority for the Treasury to buy up to $700 billion in mortgage-related assets from financial institutions based in the United States. …
A $700 billion expenditure on distressed mortgage-related assets would be roughly what the country has spent in direct costs on the Iraq war and more than the Pentagon’s total yearly budget appropriation. It represents more than $2,000 for every man, woman and child in the United States.
And from the Economist:
Ten short days saw the nationalisation, failure or rescue of what was once the world’s biggest insurer, with assets of $1 trillion, two of the world’s biggest investment banks, with combined assets of another $1.5 trillion, and two giants of America’s mortgage markets, with assets of $1.8 trillion. The government of the world’s leading capitalist nation has been sucked deep into the maelstrom of its most capitalist industry. And it looks overwhelmed.
I’ve now read the Times, WSJ, the Economist and the Financial Times, and still I simply cannot get my head around what is happening. I suspect there’s a lot of people who are IN CHARGE of financial institutions and government agencies who can’t, either.
As I argue in my book Slackonomics, it could very well be up to Generation X to bring the economy back from the brink. I guess that was overly optimistic. In fact, it is going to be up to us to rebuild the economy from the ground up.
The 10th Anniversary edition of the surprise bestseller, The Not So Big House, will be published in the coming weeks. The book struck a nerve with Generation X, which embraced its emphasis of quality over quantity, Dwell-magazine practicality over McMansion bling. But I doubt Sarah Susanka (the architect and author) could have guessed just how far Gen X would take this trend.
In yesterday’s Home section of The New York Times is a story about the tiny house trend, featuring Michael Janzen. He is the epitome of an Xer who has learned how to deal with being whiplashed by the economy. In his twenties he lived in a space about the size of a two-car garage. At the age of 40, after getting married and making money as a Web designer for a bank, he has an in-ground pool, maid service, a yard landscaped with Japanese black pine bonsai trees, notes the Times. But Janzen has spent the summer building an 80-square-foot house out of free stuff he found on Craigslist. Why?
According to Mr. Janzen, he came to the realization that “I don’t want this life — the life of someone who’s working too hard to pay a large mortgage to live in this house.” The catalyst, he said, was watching the value of his home plummet with the rest of the real estate market, while the time and money required to maintain the property only increased. “The energy cost is enormous,” he said, “and the bigger your property gets, the more there is to do.”
That is Slackonomics, folks, pure and simple. Check out the article and audio slideshow below.
The Slacker Generation may be more charitable than the Greatest Generation.
According to a fresh survey from Northern Trust, which polled 1,000 households with investible assets of at least $1 million, Generation X millionaire households (those ages 28 to 42) gave away more money than Baby Boomers (43 to 61) or Silent Generationers (62 to 77). GenXers gave an average of $20,000 in 2006, compared with $10,000 for the older millionaire households. [DOUBLE!]
The GenXers also are more charitable in their plans for the afterlife. They expect to leave 22% of their estates to charity, compared with 16% for Boomers and 14% for Silent Generation millionaires.
The charitable goals for GenXers, however, are a little more self-centered. Fully 15% of Gen X millionaires stated that creating a lasting legacy for themselves or their family was their main goal–compared with 4% of older millionaires.
GenXers, not surprisingly, do give a bit more to global causes. Roughly 14% of the organizations receiving donations from Gen X households operate internationally, compared with 8% for Baby Boomers and 5% for Silent Generation millionaires.
Perhaps the slacker set has been misjudged. Maybe those children raised in the 1970s, amid social turmoil and growing globalism, now place greater importance on trying to solve the world’s problems. Maybe, after watching the boomers preach idealism in the 1960s and then define the “greed is good” generation of the 1980s and 1990s, the GenXers are charting their own course.