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Change In US Net Worth - By Age Group

Tyler Durden's picture


By now it is a well-known fact that the Fed's monetary policies over the past 5 years (and really ever since Greenspan unleashed the Great Moderation) have been very successful at one thing: transferring wealth from the US (and global) middle class and handing it over to the already wealthiest strata of society, either through financial repression, zero savings rates, or generally boosting financial asset values, which as we showed hit a record $63.9 trillion in Q3, or over 70% of total. However, just like the general public's attention is focused on the quantitative components of the monthly payroll number and completely ignores the qualitative gains or losses in the US labor force, so the broad definition of "middle class" leaves quite a bit to be desired. So what happens if one quantizes society instead of by class with wealth of income cutoff ranges but instead by age? In that case, one gets the following chart prepared by the Urban Institute showing the change in net worth in the period 1983-2010 by age group.

The discrepancy summarized:

Young adults’ ability to grow their personal assets over the past 30 years has decreased considerably. Average wealth for individuals in their 20s and 30s dropped 7 percent from 1983 to 2010, while those 74 and over have seen wealth increase by 149 percent in the same time period. Figure 7 highlights the substantial changes in net worth by age, showing that Millennials today are financially worse off than their parents were at the same age

It is meaningless to make ethical judgments based on the above chart, however the data does confirm one of the most troubling hurdles before any dreams of a virtuous economic recovery can be realized: because it is the younger age groups that drive household formation, and are responsible for the bulk of organic demand for homes - that so critical, missing variable in what would be a true housing recovery (instead of merely using houses as flippable hot potato assets whereby one investor sells homes to another investor with no intention of occupying, in the process making that entry-level home ever more unaffordable for the average young American).

And a question: in a society increasingly torn by conflicts (some of which as if created on purpose): by social status, by race, by ethnicity, by gender, and so many more, how long until one can add age as an ever growing source of social discontent?


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Tue, 12/17/2013 - 15:30 | Link to Comment Mr Pink
Mr Pink's picture

How bout showing a graph for the last 5 years...

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 15:35 | Link to Comment Skateboarder
Skateboarder's picture

When you equate your worth to USD (or <your favorite fiat here>), that's all you'll ever be worth... USD (or whatever).

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 15:44 | Link to Comment BaBaBouy
BaBaBouy's picture


Tue, 12/17/2013 - 15:56 | Link to Comment Ham-bone
Ham-bone's picture

I've toyed with the idea of an inheritance tax replacing all Federal through your life you pay no Federal taxes but on your death, you can pass on no more than say $1 million per those that will inherit your goes back to the state.  So, live it up while you are alive cause you can't take it with you.  Anyway, this will not happen and I'm sure folks would find backdoor exits to get all money out of the US prior to their death to ensure this would not work.  But, just sayin...

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 16:06 | Link to Comment WarHorse
WarHorse's picture

So - I work my ass off my entire life but I'm not allowed to pass that on to my family?  and you've determined $1MM is the limit?  F YOU PAL

You obviously have no kids .. and likely not a lot of money

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 16:14 | Link to Comment NotApplicable
NotApplicable's picture

Don't worry, ObamaCare's gonna flatten the fuck outta that chart!

"All your life savings are belong to us."

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 21:05 | Link to Comment nmewn
nmewn's picture

I was thinking the same thing until I pondered the 20-37 age bracket.

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 18:44 | Link to Comment Ham-bone
Ham-bone's picture

funny - I've been getting hit with the AMT for 10yrs now paying 35% Federal and another 9% state income tax right off the bat...and 2 kids in high school.  I've been paying over 50% of my income the chance to not pay all the Federal taxes during my lifetime and instead pay off my home, pay off all debt and never be a burden for my kids while simultaneously ensuring they get the best education and the best values and morals I can pass along...that's what is obvious to me.

And I removed asbestos during my summer breaks in college to pay for it...working 77 hrs a week so I got out debt free. 

But you were pretty close in your guesses.

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 19:24 | Link to Comment Ham-bone
Ham-bone's picture

I would also love a system that rewarded those who worked hard and had the best ideas...not those who are born with an inherited silver spoon in their mouth.  If I don't teach my kids these things...they shouldn't succeed by inheritance alone...

BTW - Taxpayers in the highest tax bracket of 39.6% potentially face a combined 43.4% (39.6% + 3.8%) marginal Federal tax rate on their 12.4% on the first $117k.  Lucky for me I'll only be in the 33% bracket this year + 12.4% on first $117k and 2.9% medicare...this means 41% of the income I generate goes directly to DC.  Another 9% to Salem, OR.  Significantly more goes to pay my counties property taxes and all kinds of other local taxes.  When you add it up...this is over 60% of my income annually...poof.  O

r said otherwise, I get to keep about 38% of what I fucking make which is probably why although our income is above normal, we don't FEEL much above normal.

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 19:28 | Link to Comment Mudduckk
Mudduckk's picture

Soo..after imparting great morals and values and ed upon your kids, you belive the state a better manager of your hard earned capital than your kids.

Cognitive dissonance thy name Ham Bone.

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 20:59 | Link to Comment Ham-bone
Ham-bone's picture

you should know that's not true about giving my money to the state...all I'm very convolutedly trying to say I'd prefer pay no Federal taxes but...given the choice of 40% every year for 50 years or zero for 49 years and take 90% in the 50th year...I'd prefer to have the money during my lifetime and get taxed in death (if I must be taxed...).  

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 16:06 | Link to Comment WarHorse
WarHorse's picture

So - I work my ass off my entire life but I'm not allowed to pass that on to my family?  and you've determined $1MM is the limit?  F YOU PAL

You obviously have no kids .. and likely not a lot of money

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 16:31 | Link to Comment Duke of Earl
Duke of Earl's picture

He doesn't need it, your family will pay for his.  TIA

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 18:04 | Link to Comment YC2
YC2's picture

although i am not a fan of sending more money to DC...  as someone whose parents are a massive financial liability i am not sure whether i care about your problems either.

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 16:09 | Link to Comment ZerOhead
ZerOhead's picture

Sure... things may look a little bleak for the under 40 crowd right now but once they finish paying off the national debt plus the 200 trillion or so in defered benefit costs... it will be their time to laugh and play in the sunshine...

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 18:49 | Link to Comment Agstacker
Agstacker's picture

Just two of these and it's paid off!!

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 16:05 | Link to Comment MachoMan
MachoMan's picture

If you'd ever actually done estate planning for anyone of wealth, then you'd understand why your proposal is ludicrous.  Hint: the person who acquires wealth by inheritance (as opposed to their own bare hands) tends to value it differently, as in not at all...

PS, generational planning through a tight knit nuclear family is probably something we want to promote as a society...

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 16:45 | Link to Comment Duke of Earl
Duke of Earl's picture

Not sure how this makes makes his proposal ludicrous on the value of money.  Those who inherit value the money they receive, otherwise they'd have to actually find a job.  I find it ludicrous on the principle that it creates a huge motivation for the wealth to evaporate as one ages...

Regarding promoting a tight knit nuclear family, would you say that the very nature of modern welfare states undermines the financial bonds (positive and negative) that would normally tie together a family?


Tue, 12/17/2013 - 17:29 | Link to Comment Raynja
Raynja's picture

On value of money, yes someone who is given a dollar will value it less than someone that creaets something of value to exchange for said dollar.  Also, someone given soemthing comes to believe they will be given more, just as someone who exchanges their time and talent for payment believes they will have to create something of value again in the future to aquire another dollar.


On your second point, yes you are completely correct, the state creates numerous rules that undermine the family, including, ss, healthcare, education, childcare, housing, welfare, police.  It all goes toward destroying the community in favor of the 'independent' individual and creating/increasing consumption.

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 17:42 | Link to Comment MachoMan
MachoMan's picture

His proposal is ludicrous because he advocates for an inheritance tax to spur spending by those who make the wealth, but fails to realize that their successors are going to blow all the money anyway...  Again, if you deal with wealthy people and plan their estates for them, then his proposal is laughable...  If you don't earn it, then you don't value it the same...  it's that simple.  If the first generation of children doesn't blow it, then the grandchildren most certainly will...  it's been this way from time immemorial, which is why we had to create the rule against perpetuities, to stop decedents from imposing their will (and prudence) beyond the grave.

With the prospect of inheritance, the patriarch (generally) of the family can actually work towards building multi-generational wealth and instill the values in successors necessary to carry on the patriarch's productivity...  With the welfare system, the patriarch has no incentive to instill anything in his successors as there is nothing to inherit and, further, the state will provide for his successors regardless of their skills.  Thus, successors become a mere meal ticket for the patriarch, rather than a legacy and representative of the family and its business.  Virtually all functions of the family get outsourced to the state (who is a terrible parent).  But don't take my word for it, just look at our society... 

The craziest part is that the "family farm" is one of the few things holding america's middle class together....  this isn't an issue of extreme wealth or decadence...  inheritance isn't just a rich man's problem.  It's one of the vehicles for upward mobility.

The bigger issue is one of incentive...  if you take my ability to transfer wealth to my progeny, then I can assure you that I won't have any excess when I leave this mudball.  In other words, it isn't a function of me spending it all before I go, rather I will decrease my productivity accordingly.  From a public policy standpoint, it seems pretty obvious that the person who created wealth is likely a better steward than the treasury...  If we have to decide between confiscation and inheritance, then I think the answer is pretty simple...  especially if we would tax passive income the same (or more) than ordinary income.

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 18:12 | Link to Comment Occident Mortal
Occident Mortal's picture

Rags to rags in three generations.

Children who are born into wealth are often feckless lazy and entitled. They often consume the wealth themselves and leave little for their own children.

The best thing you can do for your children isn't to leave them a pile a wealth, but to teach them how to get all the money they would ever need for themselves. Big difference.

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 21:49 | Link to Comment Big Brother
Big Brother's picture

The "three generations" rags-riches-rags phenomena has been around for a while. 

I happened across this guy's spending habits while touring Wales:,_3rd_Marquess_of_Bute

I'm sure there are others on a grander scale, but wow, what a way to spend it.


Tue, 12/17/2013 - 17:46 | Link to Comment stacking12321
stacking12321's picture

"PS, generational planning through a tight knit nuclear family is probably something we want to promote as a society..."

depends what you mean by promote as a society.

if you mean, by coercion at the end of a barrel of a gun (i.e., government laws / taxation), i would disagree. it is inappropriate for the government to engage in social engineering, or any other action forced on unwilling participants - let free men be free men, unfettered by government.

if you mean, encourage socially without coercion, i would agree.


Tue, 12/17/2013 - 16:10 | Link to Comment NotApplicable
NotApplicable's picture

Which part of "two wrongs don't make a right" is causing you such difficulty?

FUCK your evil taxation! ALL flavors of it.

Thou shall not steal. Is that asking too much, or do you really prefer a life of violence?

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 16:14 | Link to Comment ejmoosa
ejmoosa's picture

I've toyed with an organ tax.


If you are paying no federal income taxes, we can harvest your organs at any time for someone that actually is.



Tue, 12/17/2013 - 16:54 | Link to Comment Mercury
Mercury's picture

More likely: for those not subject to Obamacare.

Expect Nancy Pelosi's average age to be lower by next election cycle.

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 16:45 | Link to Comment g speed
g speed's picture

I've toyed with the baseball bat to the kneecaps idea for anyone bringing up another tax idea---just saying.

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 16:14 | Link to Comment eclectic syncretist
eclectic syncretist's picture

Sounds like you're toying with your ham-bone. 

Adjust this chart for inflation since 1983 and you'll realize everyone from 1-100 years old got fucked good by the Fed.

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 17:13 | Link to Comment Raging Debate
Raging Debate's picture

Eisenhower tried an inheritence taxHAM-bone. Industrialists like Ford opened non profit foundations that are tax exempt. Such structures still exist today.

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 18:16 | Link to Comment geno-econ
geno-econ's picture

how about taxing the rich while they make enormous incomes that boggle
and distort wage distribution levels. Remember during WWII when top earners paid a 90 percent tax rate during a national emergency when sacrifice was required. We now have a crisis, multiple Wars and absolutely no sacrifice---just greed and political / financial corruption

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 19:10 | Link to Comment GeezerGeek
GeezerGeek's picture

Yeah, I'm certain that, as the article says, it was "a loophole that Congress unintentionally created" that has allowed so many rich campaign donors to avoid taxes.

All I'll be leaving my heirs is a GPS reading showing where my boat tipped over while transporting all that metal I'd accumulated over the years. How does the DC monster tax GPS coordinates?

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 15:34 | Link to Comment BaBaBouy
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Tue, 12/17/2013 - 15:43 | Link to Comment CheapBastard
CheapBastard's picture

Inheritance Tax and cap gains tax on house sales.

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 16:26 | Link to Comment chubbar
chubbar's picture

I suppose you already realize that Obamacare includes a capital gains tax of an additional 3.8% on joint earners over 250K when they sell their house? So yeah, they've already thought of that one. Of course they reserve the right to increase that yet again.

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 16:42 | Link to Comment Mercury
Mercury's picture

Right because then Obama is going to turn around and give it to you like Santa Claus.

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 15:47 | Link to Comment Stuck on Zero
Stuck on Zero's picture

Death is the best form of inheritance tax and it is 100%.  Every aged person on the chart will pass his/her wealth on to someone younger. Guaranteed.


Tue, 12/17/2013 - 16:14 | Link to Comment James-Morrison
James-Morrison's picture

True, but the poster was advocating that the Government knows better than you about who should inherit your stuff when you die.  

Government is great at this. /sarc

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 17:35 | Link to Comment John_Coltrane
John_Coltrane's picture

I'm guessing that all of those over 74 would gladly give up all their "wealth" to be 25 again.  After all, they would have both youth, their wisdom and the work ethic it takes to accumulate wealth.  The most valuable wealth on this or any other planet is time. 

So, a coplot of fraction of time left until death for each age segment needs to be shown to put it in correct perspective.  So, who realy has the most real wealth?

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 19:17 | Link to Comment GeezerGeek
GeezerGeek's picture

I haven't reached 74 quite yet, but I'd not be willing to give up all wealth to gain 50 years of life. I'm not certain that current conditions, or those I expect to see for the next decade or three, will allow wisdom and hard work to generate wealth. Now if I could go back in time 50 years while retaining my knowledge of what was to come...shades of Back to the Future part 2.

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 16:08 | Link to Comment MachoMan
MachoMan's picture

I don't see a basis for inheritance tax, but I do see a basis for increasing the level of taxation for passive activities/investment relative to ordinary wages...

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 18:21 | Link to Comment YC2
YC2's picture

i enjoy the thought (except that not seeing any basis is a bit hyperbolic imo)  but - since we are talking about what we would like to see - why bring UP the lower rate to equalize them?  

Wed, 12/18/2013 - 11:22 | Link to Comment MachoMan
MachoMan's picture

I don't advocate bringing up the lower rate, rather I simply advocate that their should be parity among all income sources.  In other words, I would be perfectly happy to reduce the top bracket of ordinary income to the same level of capital gains...  or reduce them both even lower...

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 19:17 | Link to Comment GeezerGeek
GeezerGeek's picture

I don't see a basis for inheritance tax or any other tax for that matter. I do see a basis for imprisoning all elected officials, all government bureaucrats, and assorted Marxist/Leninist/Fascist/Progressive idiots who think they know what's good for me.

Wed, 12/18/2013 - 11:22 | Link to Comment MachoMan
MachoMan's picture

If the persons in the largest wealth increase categories likely have significantly more passive income than the younger/poorer folks, then the different treatment of income types tends to exacerbate the wealth gap...  so, if we have to choose between a wealth gap that threatens the existence of our society and spurring capital spending in bursts over time, I'd say we might want to shore up our foundation.

PS, there might be a bit of a consistency problem in unilaterally deciding for the imprisonment of elected officials at the same time as chastizing them for knowing what's best for you...

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 16:20 | Link to Comment Withdrawn Sanction
Withdrawn Sanction's picture


Sure.  So the youth cohorts who eventually "receive" this inheritance get shafted twice.  Right now, with diminished incomes and prospects, and again later as heirs. 

By all means, let's throw even more resources into the maw of the authoritarians in some vain quest for vengeance.

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 17:48 | Link to Comment MachoMan
MachoMan's picture

Don't kid yourself...  the healthcare industry/nursing home/retirement communities will siphon any inheritance...  if you're lucky, then the old folks will be busy gifting crumbs to beat the lookback period on medicaid if it comes to that or roll the dice with a trust...  most of us will be fucked both ways. 

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 19:21 | Link to Comment GeezerGeek
GeezerGeek's picture


Why wait for them to die? The all-benevolent dear leader needs your money now. 

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 16:10 | Link to Comment MassDecep
MassDecep's picture

The chart and article are meaniless banter. Has nothing to do with what is happening today and like Pink says, "the last 5 years" of robbing you and I.

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 16:20 | Link to Comment James-Morrison
James-Morrison's picture

Could you imagine the posts here if the chart was flipped? (All weath on the young side and negative wealth on the old side.)

Can you imagine the wars? (as in send the young off to battle to recoup the dough.)

Who would be working?

(Oh, never mnd that last one,  there would probably be no difference).

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 16:48 | Link to Comment DosZap
DosZap's picture

Except for the certain age group,I call BS on ALL the rest.Older folks are losing their ass on fixed NO income investments(if they have any).Is this a chart for the 1%er's?.

And lets see the chart Post Obywan, since '08.

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 15:28 | Link to Comment gafgroocK
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Tue, 12/17/2013 - 15:35 | Link to Comment ParkAveFlasher
ParkAveFlasher's picture

WHEW!  Just made the cut.  If you had issued this chart a few months ago, I would have been SCREWED.

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 15:46 | Link to Comment Seasmoke
Seasmoke's picture

So you are 38. Or 74 ???

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 15:48 | Link to Comment Ying-Yang
Ying-Yang's picture

Heh... you funny boy

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 17:02 | Link to Comment DaveyJones
DaveyJones's picture

Nice, I feel the same way about the overweight charts

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 15:38 | Link to Comment max2205
max2205's picture

Current age...or age as of 1983....ah who cares

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 15:48 | Link to Comment Grande Tetons
Grande Tetons's picture

The old, or their keepers, have casterated the young. Left with no balls..the young are not willing to fight as their normal biology would dictate. 

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 15:59 | Link to Comment MeBizarro
MeBizarro's picture

Elderly vote especially in primaries.  Instead of making it easier to vote too, both parties have stagnated on the issue and the GOP has actually retarded in many states limiting locations, hours, and absentee votes.  I have no problem with the ID requirements but the US has some of the worst-voting practices of any industrialized country in terms of making it easy to actually vote

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 16:47 | Link to Comment Jlasoon
Jlasoon's picture

If voting truly made a difference my friend they would have outlawed the practice generations ago. The illusion of participatory democracy is as pronounce as the health benefits of your hamburger joint selling you good ol' "soylent green". 

Classical Liberalism is dead, what you're seeing is neo-serfdom masquerading as progressive emancipation. Electronic voting just makes the job easier for the NSA.  


Tue, 12/17/2013 - 15:38 | Link to Comment Not_Sure
Not_Sure's picture

Hmmmm. What's up with the age 65-73 group?

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 15:42 | Link to Comment ParkAveFlasher
ParkAveFlasher's picture

They are hungover, went too deep on "investments" in wine from Bordeaux.

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 16:06 | Link to Comment centerline
centerline's picture

Took a more pronounced hit around 2000 is my guess.  Age group before them probably had already moved into safer asset classes.

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 17:16 | Link to Comment Helix6
Helix6's picture

Mmmm... and maybe 2008, too.  Most of those folks had 401Ks rather than defined benefit retirement programs, and saw a serious evaporation of wealth in 2007 - 2009. If they had lots of real estate or got spooked by the stock market meltdown and cashed out, they're SOL now.

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 15:40 | Link to Comment Tanzhosen
Tanzhosen's picture

And a question: in a society increasingly torn by conflicts (some of which as if created on purpose): by social status, by race, by ethnicity, by gender, and so many more, how long until one can add age as an ever growing source of social discontent?

Are race, ethnicity and gender really 'increasing' sources of conflict and societal rifts since 1983?  Or even since 2003?  Cannot imagine anyone who lived through the 80s and 90s sharing that opinion with a straight face.

Rising inequality is a major concern facing our country, no question, but trying to tie discontent to other imagined factors just undermines the argument.

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 15:41 | Link to Comment hmmmstrange
hmmmstrange's picture

My 92 year old grandmother is working 3 part time jobs. She deserves her +149% net worth.

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 15:42 | Link to Comment ParkAveFlasher
ParkAveFlasher's picture

Scab!  /sarc

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 15:45 | Link to Comment Chaos_Theory
Chaos_Theory's picture

Marriage, divorce, alimony and child support will do that to you (29-37 yr bracket). 

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 15:48 | Link to Comment oddjob
oddjob's picture

Seems the 29 to 37 age group know the value of a dollar.

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 16:11 | Link to Comment MachoMan
MachoMan's picture

"not worth enough to work for"

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 16:16 | Link to Comment NotApplicable
NotApplicable's picture

Nah, those are all of the peeps with the techy iJobs.

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 15:51 | Link to Comment Ying-Yang
Ying-Yang's picture

NEW NORMAL = Kids lose jobs & move back in w/parents

Parents die and Kids take over house and their Kids move back in

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 17:15 | Link to Comment Helix6
Helix6's picture

Sounds like a workable system, actually...

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 15:54 | Link to Comment Uber Vandal
Uber Vandal's picture

Could it be that the 56+ age groups tend to not spend every last dollar on the newest icrap, xbox, play station, tattoo, or other soon to be obsolete consumer dumpster fill?

Think back to life, ca. 1980.

What economic vampires were in one's life then.

Rent. Utilities. Car/Transportation. Taxes. Food. Phone.

What do we have now?

All of that, and more. Much more, but actually far, far less.

Cable/Satellite TV. Computer/internet. Cell Phone. Satellite Radio. Constant updates to newest whatever technology. Constantly paying fees for shit that used to be free. Constantly paying more for less.

So, we have filled our lives with gadgets and services that require a fuck ton of money and constantly need to be replaced, and have NO residual value.

Also, as Mr. Pink said, that chart would be much more interesting showing the last FIVE years compliments of ZIRP where EVERYONE who was remotely responsible may soon be forced to eat into their principle for they are not getting a dime of interest from CD's any longer.





Tue, 12/17/2013 - 15:57 | Link to Comment insanelysane
insanelysane's picture

We can't live without apps!

yet we did.

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 16:08 | Link to Comment Skateboarder
Skateboarder's picture

No, they weren't living back then. They were simply existing.

*stares at phone screen intently*

Look ma, I'm-a-livin!

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 17:00 | Link to Comment trader1
trader1's picture

life out of balance


Reggio stated that the Qatsi films are intended to simply create an experience and that "it is up [to] the viewer to take for himself/herself what it is that [the film] means." He also said that "these films have never been about the effect of technology, of industry on people. It's been that everyone: politics, education, things of the financial structure, the nation state structure, language, the culture, religion, all of that exists within the host of technology. So it's not the effect of, it's that everything exists within [technology]. It's not that we use technology, we livetechnology. Technology has become as ubiquitous as the air we breathe..."[1]

According to Hopi Dictionary: Hopìikwa Lavàytutuveni, the Hopi word koyaanisqatsi (Hopi pronunciation: [koj??nis?k?tsi])[21] is defined as "life of moral corruption and turmoil" or "life out of balance".[22] The prefix koyaanis– means "corrupted" or "chaotic", and the word qatsi means "life" or "existence",[23] literally translating koyaanisqatsi as "chaotic life".[22] The film also defines the word as "crazy life", "life in turmoil", "life disintegrating", and "a state of life that calls for another way of living".[24]

In the score by Philip Glass, the word "Koyaanisqatsi" is chanted at the beginning and end of the film in a dark, sepulchral basso profondo by singer Albert de Ruiter over a solemn, four-bar organ-passacaglia bassline. Three Hopi prophecies sung by a choral ensemble during the latter part of the "Prophecies" movement are translated just prior to the end credits:

  • "If we dig precious things from the land, we will invite disaster."
  • "Near the day of Purification, there will be cobwebs spun back and forth in the sky."
  • "A container of ashes might one day be thrown from the sky, which could burn the land and boil the oceans."

At the end of the film, the movie credits for inspiration Jacques EllulIvan IllichDavid MonongyeGuy Debord and Leopold Kohr. Moreover, amongst the consultants to the director are listed such names as Jeffrey Lew, T.A. PriceBelle CarpenterLangdon WinnerCybelle Carpenter and Barbara Pecarich.

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 15:56 | Link to Comment FLHRS
FLHRS's picture

Let's not forget that the "Young" are the main force behind this - ultra liberal, spend happy, let's fix this bad/mean world - president we have to put up with.  The most ignorant generation in at least 200 years.  The majority of them don't understand a fucking thing about this world.

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 16:08 | Link to Comment MeBizarro
MeBizarro's picture

Que?  I hear this type of nonsense from the Boomers and it utterly baffles me.  The single most expensive item Congress has passed the past 50 years was MMA of 2004 which added Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage with ZERO funding sources.  Even Obamacare wasn't nearly expensive.  The single most expensive foreign expenditure was the Afghanstan and Iraq wars.  

What part did people aged 28-37 play in passing either one of those things?


Tue, 12/17/2013 - 16:20 | Link to Comment MachoMan
MachoMan's picture

That, and the boomers want to complain about the younger generation flipping them the bird when it's all too obvious to us that making money for other people isn't much of an existence....  and we've got little opportunity to make it for ourselves...  we're not crazy...  it's just that the environment has incentivized us to move back into mom's basement, get high, and play video games...  if we've got no future, then we can at least get on with life and have a little entertainment, albeit of the cheap variety.

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 16:26 | Link to Comment FLHRS
FLHRS's picture

Look at the debt, !7 trillion, on this generations watch.  This president, along with Harry and Nancy, has done nothing but grease their political supporters pockets - unions, alt. energy companiies, blue states, entitlement programs, Obamacare.  Shovel ready jobs, my ass.  They have done nothing but lie and deceive.  The republicans aren't any different, except they don't have near the gall of this gang.

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 19:36 | Link to Comment GeezerGeek
GeezerGeek's picture

People have been complaining about "the younger generation" at least since Socrates. Every generation has its faults and weaknesses. It is unfortunate, but those negative traits seem to allow certain individuals to float to the top of society/government. Humanity is deeply flawed; learn to live with it.

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 19:58 | Link to Comment A. Magnus
A. Magnus's picture

SHUT THE FUCK UP YOU ROTTING, BOOMER FUCKSTICK LOSER! YOUR generation presided over taking the dollar off the gold standard, then as soon as you shallow assholes infested our country's companies our manufacturing infrastructure was shipped overseas to slave factories so you cocksuckers could pocket the wage differences for yourselves. Thanks to you the quality of EVERYTHING we can buy went in the shitter so that you cunt pustules can make an extra $0.02 on every widget constructed from cheap plastic and pop metal derivatives. FUCK OFF AND DIE, YOU MAGGOT!

Wed, 12/18/2013 - 12:34 | Link to Comment donmindme
donmindme's picture

Greatness. Thank you sir.  

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 15:56 | Link to Comment geno-econ
geno-econ's picture

Can we overlay a chart of consumption / savings rate over the age distribution and possibly a cultural values / education level chart as well. Probably find the older crowd saved more and we're less influenced by stupid advertising ,peer pressure , sports , auto leasing, refinancing,
and "must have" gadgets that impact household monthly expenses. In general we are becoming Economic Morons fostered by Big Business , irresponsible government and a fiat banking/monetary system. Social unrest will be the result with a quest to find scapegoats.

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 16:02 | Link to Comment B.J. Worthy
B.J. Worthy's picture

To whomever Hulk-smashed the VIX this afternoon: fuck you.

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 16:13 | Link to Comment ParkAveFlasher
ParkAveFlasher's picture

Running to VIX now is kinda like expecting safety by getting an early seat on the single life boat on a cruise ship for hippos just before it sinks from being just too heavy.

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 17:20 | Link to Comment negative rates
negative rates's picture

If you go crazy then will you still call you superman?

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 16:01 | Link to Comment Fix-ItSilly
Fix-ItSilly's picture

The wealth accumulation oscillation looks to be a function of how each age group encompassed the Fed created boom bust cycles since the '60s.  Quite a sad testament.

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 16:04 | Link to Comment JR
JR's picture

Facts might be facts but when they come from the Urban Institute they are targeting conservative principles; the Institute was founded by President Lyndon Johnson to support his policies for cities and used thereafter to target Republican Administrations such as Reagan’s…serving as a completely left-wing think tank.

Regardless of what the chart shows, using “averages,” “75% of Americans nearing retirement in 2010 had less than $30,000 in their retirement accounts.” And never mind that the bulk of an elderly person's wealth is in his home equity.

Facts like these in a powerful review of how the assault on Social Security may be an economic and social blunder of major magnitude has been put together by Ted Siedle on Forbes. Here’s the story: 

Edward "Ted" Siedle, Contributor

I cover pension, money management and securities industry practices.

The Greatest Retirement Crisis In American History| Forbes |3/20/2013

We are on the precipice of the greatest retirement crisis in the history of the world. In the decades to come, we will witness millions of elderly Americans, the Baby Boomers and others, slipping into poverty. Too frail to work, too poor to retire will become the “new normal” for many elderly Americans.

That dire prediction, which I wrote two years ago, is already coming true. Our national demographics, coupled with indisputable glaringly insufficient retirement savings and human physiology, suggest that a catastrophic outcome for at least a significant percentage of our elderly population is inevitable. With the average 401(k) balance for 65 year olds estimated at $25,000 by independent experts – $100,000 if you believe the retirement planning industry - the decades many elders will spend in forced or elected “retirement” will be grim.  (Update: In response to readers’ questions about the lower number, Teresa Ghilarducci, a professor of economics at the New School for Social Research, estimates that 75% of Americans nearing retirement in 2010 had less than $30,000 in their retirement accounts.) 

Corporate America and the financial wizards behind the past three decades of so-called retirement innovations, most notably titans of the pension benefits consulting and mutual fund 401(k) industries, are down-playing just how bad things are already and how much worse they are going to get.

Americans today are aware that corporate pensions have been virtually eliminated and that the few remaining private, as well as the nation’s public pensions, are in jeopardy. Even if you are among the lucky few that have a pension, you cannot rest assured that it will be there for all the years you’ll need it. Whether you know it or not, someone is busy trying to figure how to screw you out of your pension.

Americans also know the great 401k experiment of the past 30 years has been a disaster. It is now apparent that 401ks will not provide the retirement security promised to workers. As a former mutual fund legal counsel, when I recall some of the outrageous sales materials the industry came up with to peddle funds to workers, particularly in the 1980s, it’s almost laughable—if the results weren’t so tragic.

There was the “Dial Your Own Return” cardboard wheel of fortune that showed investors which mutual funds they should select for any given level of return. Looking for 12%? Load up on our government plus or option income funds! It was that easy to get the level of income needed in retirement, investors were told.

The signs of the coming retirement crisis are all around you. Who’s bagging your groceries: a young high school kid or an older “retiree” who had to go back to work to supplement his income or qualify for health insurance?

The impending crisis will come in what I call “waves,” as opposed to a tsunami hitting all at once. With each successive wave, more elderly will be drowned. The older you are, the harder it is to recover from a set-back.

Wave 1: Retirees Come Back To Work

Workers who retired post-2000 realize they cannot possibly live on their meager retirement savings, virtually no interest and limited health benefits and conclude they must go back to work full-time. For example, one of my clients, a sheriff’s office, has already seen retirees coming back to work largely for health insurance coverage. While these retirees do have pensions, the cost of health insurance, when not subsidized by an employer, is far greater than they had anticipated. For those who are physically and mentally capable of going back to work and are welcomed by their former employers or other employers, this is a plausible survival strategy.

Wave 2: Workers Delay Full Retirement

Many current workers realize they have not saved enough to retire and postpone retirement for a certain number of years. They still believe, however, that someday they will be able to retire and live off their savings. This strategy makes sense for workers who can hang onto their jobs at the same (or better) pay and are healthy enough to keep working. On the other hand, older workers who are forced by employers to agree to demotions, pay cuts or part-time status to stay on, may feel demoralized.

Wave 3: Full Retirement Is Unachievable

Many current workers and retirees at some point realize that they can never fully retire, i.e., stop working altogether, and commit to working part-time for as many of their golden years as possible.

The problem is, of course, that each year more elderly people become too frail to work and fewer employers are interested in hiring them, even on a part-time basis. Remember those ads that said, “It’s hell to be forty and out of work?” Try looking for work at 70 or 80.

Wave 4: Drowning

At some point, lack of savings, lack of employment possibilities and failing health will catch up with the overwhelming majority of the nation’s elders.  Let me emphasize that we’re talking about the overwhelming majority, not a small percentage who arguably made bad decisions throughout their working lives.

Given the certainty that a retirement crisis is headed toward our shores, you’d think that our elected officials would be hard at work preparing a response. Of course, that’s not happening. To the contrary, conservatives are trying to pare back so-called entitlements that will mushroom in the near future and liberals have failed to acknowledge the crisis or propose any solutions.

Eventually the pain will be so widespread that the crisis will be impossible to ignore. For many, the challenge is to hang in there until help arrives


Tue, 12/17/2013 - 16:22 | Link to Comment NotApplicable
NotApplicable's picture

Grrr!!! I hate reading this much only to discover at the end that the author suffers from "Our Elected Officials" Disease.

How can he NOT realize that he is the problem here?

Fuckin' Kool-Aid drinkers will be the death of us all.

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 16:09 | Link to Comment FecundaGoat
FecundaGoat's picture

Compounding follows an exponential growth curve....Of course the old have more money!!

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 16:11 | Link to Comment ejmoosa
ejmoosa's picture

Let's see the change in net government benefits by political party.

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 16:15 | Link to Comment 1835jackson
1835jackson's picture

I am 21% down. Still trying to get that massive cock out of my ass.

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 16:23 | Link to Comment NotApplicable
NotApplicable's picture

I believe the cure is "you might as well learn to enjoy it."

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 16:21 | Link to Comment kralizec
kralizec's picture

This is bullshit, I do not have the increase in net worth (measured in fiat or whatever) that this joke says...epic fail at broad-brush characterizations based upon age, try again, and try to remember all people are not (or treated) equally in any large conglomeration!

Jeesh!  I expect better from ZeroHedge!  Shame!

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 16:26 | Link to Comment NotApplicable
NotApplicable's picture

Nobody said you did. Here, allow me to interperet.

The chart states that people who are X years of age in 2010 have on average, Y% gain/loss as compared to people who were X years of age in 1983.

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 16:20 | Link to Comment ZH11
ZH11's picture

Post democratic secular crisis, globally.

Without a reversal when it's still safe to do so this will end badly.

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 16:30 | Link to Comment Lordflin
Lordflin's picture

'How long until one can add age as an ever growing source of social discontent?'

I would suggest yesterday would be a reasonable guess...

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 17:09 | Link to Comment Fíréan
Fíréan's picture

So into which age bracket does Zuckerberger, or what ever his name is, fit ?

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 17:19 | Link to Comment el Gallinazo
el Gallinazo's picture

I wonder what that chart would look like if it were calculated in real dollars using John Williams' inflation index.

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 19:31 | Link to Comment mt paul
mt paul's picture

old age [money] and treachery

will defeat youth [no money] and skill

every time ..

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 22:58 | Link to Comment are we there yet
are we there yet's picture

Obvious predictions for 2014:

Politicians will grow government, and increase deficit spending,

The percent of GDP spent on servicing the debt will increase,

The dumbiset, laziest, most criminal entitelment class will have more children than the producers,

America will continue to pretend that all people are actually created equall, not just created with equal rights,

Each generation will be more dillusional than the last, detatched from reality,

We will have perpetual wars with places not worth a cats hemoroid,

The law of gravity will eventually (maby in a few years) bitch slap us all, and feed us false scapegoats.

You will continue to have the illusion that you are in a democracy, and that your vote is important.

Each future president will be worse than the one before him.

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 20:47 | Link to Comment Inspector Bird
Inspector Bird's picture

There's no way this is a valid analysis.

Basically, if I'm to understand this correctly, these age cohorts have seen their net worth improve by significant amounts since 1983, correct?  So since 1983, when I was about 22, the net worth of people in that age group has only risen 5%?  I fail to see how that's even remotely meaningful.  I was right out of college and had a negative net worth at that point (one which is substantially larger now, for some I imagine, though I don't recommend college for most people today).

Still, the net worth for that age cohort SHOULDN'T increase significantly.  That's when you're starting out in life, and there's no reason why the net worth of that age group should be significantly greater today than it was when I was starting out.  If anything, it should be roughly the same.

It stands to reason, even in a normally functioning economy (as opposed to this jerry-rigged fascist government giveaway), that the older age groups should see greater increases in their incomes due to a) improved efficiency of productive work yielding better incomes over time and b) increased educational levels which assist in promoting point a, and c) the expansion of the investing class which we saw in the late 1980's through 2008. 

Prior to about 1989, the number of homes with invested incomes was relatively few - even 401(k)s were rare.  My first job, in 1984, I opened up a 401(k) and all my co-workers looked at me as if I was nuts.  I was 22 and my first job paid only $12,000 - why was I saving for retirement, they asked?  A large percentage of other people my age were spending every penny they had on basic needs, beer, and vacations.

Even today, I don't see new employees opening 401(k)s, though they will start to after working for a year or two.  I know, because as 'the old guy' in the office, they ask me what to do and where to put their money.

Even if you disagree with my point of view on this (as you're welcome to), the comparison is not justified simply because the age cohorts today are comprised of different people than they were 30 years ago.  It's like all those people who show 'inequality' charts and how the top 5% is "making so much more today than they were 30 years ago", forgetting that 30 years ago, the people at the top 30 years ago were not the ones at the top today, save a very few (like Buffett).  Mobility is very important, and it's something which people forget is important.  Stasis of incomes and wealth KILL an economy because they create a sclerotic mess of people whose incomes and wealth become 'stuck' at a certain level because of government policies to redistribute incomes - creating greater stratification over time as those who produce and 'have' become one class while those who consume and 'get' become another.  These behaviors become institutionalized, and we see in expanding today (don't say you haven't seen it, because I've heard all the rationalizations, but the fact is this kind of institutionalized behavior is more and more common as each income group begins to view it's place in society as being 'under attack' and they lash out calling for new government programs to 'fix' a non-existent problem, or at least a problem which is entirely of their own (and the government's) doing.


What I DO find surprising in this chart is the sharply higher increases in the final age cohort.  Modigliani would have suggested as people age they would spend down their net worth, and we see that with the 65-73 group.  My guess is that the 74+ group, having only been about 44 when this chart began it's measurement, assumed they'd have to work longer than the subsequent cohorts, and as a result didn't begin spending down their net worth.  It could also be that those 44+ in 1983 managed to take advantage of one of the biggest bull markets in history with 401(k)s and other investments, whereas those 35-43 were a bit later to the game so took a larger hit in 2008 since most of the last group had probably shuffled off their investments into fixed income groups, which performed well from 2006-today due to falling interest rates.  That makes substantially more sense to me.


I see no reason to support an inheritance tax from all this.  It stands to reason that any money the government takes will be wasted.  We hear cries for this tax, or that tax or tax the wealthy, tax inheritances, etc.  The fact is, the government doesn't have a revenue problem, and we all know this.  Every time it 'fixes' its revenue issues, it spends more.  Clearly it's a spending problem.  Before I agree to any further taxes, I'd like to see spending cut by 20% across the board.  Not  "cut" the way Ryan just did it - which was cutting future increases.  REAL cuts.  Like from $1 trillion to $800 billion cut.  Not from $1.2 trillion in 2015 to $1.18 trillion in 2015.  That's just kicking the can.

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 20:59 | Link to Comment Shizzmoney
Shizzmoney's picture

I love how my group is the only one in the minus territory

fuck me, man

Wed, 12/18/2013 - 02:52 | Link to Comment DarthVaderMentor
DarthVaderMentor's picture

That means you're the best value for the bottom feeders....the employers looking for cheap labor!

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 21:54 | Link to Comment Incubus
Incubus's picture






Oh We're  Gonna Take It
yeah, We're Gonna Take It
oh We're Gonna Take It All now

we ain't Got The Right To Choose And
there Ain't No Way We'll Get It
this Is Our Life, This Is Our Song
we'll suck The Powers That Be Off
just Pick Our Destiny 'cause
you Know Us, and You're in Charge

Wed, 12/18/2013 - 02:52 | Link to Comment DarthVaderMentor
DarthVaderMentor's picture

This chart could change very quickly if the markets tanks. Most of the rise in wealth among the older Americans has been because people are being herded (i.e. "forced") to save for their retirement in equity retirements accounts thanks to finance industry lobbying and their value rising due to the Fed's bubble. When (not if) the market has a major setback or the savings are confiscated (equal probability IMHO) the political implications will be huge for whoever is in power at the time.

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