The 1980s: Yesterday & Today
I remember back in the early 1980s when people were so worried about US President Ronald Reagan (who was known as “that actor with the monkey”), and experts clashed over what that type of leadership would mean for our future.
New tax cuts were instituted while national debt was soaring, and foreigners hated America as the Cold War continued to cast a shadow over geo-political relationships.
Yet, while all the noise on the surface was drawing most of the crowd's attention towards the negative spotlight, the demographic current headed our way was strong; in fact, stronger than we had ever witnessed before.
The Baby Boomers were marching into our economy. And as they arrived so did everything else; business growth, consumer spending, construction and new home purchasing, the stock market…
The people – the most impactful age cohort in US history at the time – were making the difference.
And now it’s all happening again as the new largest age cohort ever – the Millennials of Generation Y, and all the growth and development it is bringing with it – makes its footprint.
Gen Y is an even bigger wave, a larger flow and footprint on history than just numbers, which is primarily down to technology.
The Baby Boomers drove growth and set economic records that no one had ever considered possible.
They did so without technology, Microsoft Office, websites, the cloud, Apps, i-Phones, spreadsheets, GPS, gene splicing and DNA mapping, Nano-stuff, AI, VR, robotics, self-driving vehicles, edge computing, lasers, sensors, global mapping…all of which is now all in the palms of our hands.
They had none of that, and yet they managed to create the largest generational wealth flow ever witnessed.
So, as you relax and settle into the summer haze, try to consider what would have been created if all those tools were available back in the early 1980s. Then try to come up with an idea of where we could have gone with those things in our daily briefcase for the last 35 years.
Now put whatever multiplier on that mental picture you like (within reason).
My hunch is that the endgame you’ve just imagined, you'll come up well short compared to where America and the rest of the world is headed as an economic force.
Rest assured there will be more bear markets - big painful ones. Losses will be suffered; but likely not when everyone is telling you it will.
And there will be more human and economic catastrophes, making things like the tsunamis of 2004 and the tragedy of 9/11 look small, and the Great Recession feel more like a dress rehearsal of sorts...a small one at that.
There will be many, many times when you will be absolutely certain that "people" are not the underlying driving force of our economic outcomes.
But you will be wrong in that fear.
People have always made the difference.
And it’s happening again now.
Just like back in the early 1980s.