Charting The Legacy Of The Baby Boomers

Tyler Durden's picture

While it is difficult to properly attribute blame for the collapse of the US economy, which commenced in the early 1980s, on either the Fed's policy of easy money starting with Alan Greenspan (and terminating with today's statement by Goldman that merely a suggestion of "not easing" may be equivalent to "tightening" - a symptom of a terminal junkie), or the resultant self-indulgent lifestyle of the maturing baby boomers, one thing is certain: the paradigm downturn of the United States began in the early 1980s. And here we are willing to break the cardinal rule of statistics and assume that correlation does imply causation. Because the 4 simple charts below don't lie: the US economy, as represented by its Balance of Payments, the profligacy of the US consumer, the massive expansion of consumer leverage, and the collapse in US manufacturing jobs, and specifically its current near-terminal state, is as much as legacy of the baby boom generation's actions (and lack thereof), as of everything else that has already been mulled over and scapegoated an infinite number of times in both the mainstream and fringe media.

Charts courtesy of John Lohman

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redpill's picture

Thanks guys!  From the Greatest Generation to this?  Sort of like a demographic version of "Superbowl to Toilet bowl" I guess.  Since the boomers legacy will be one of total suck-ass, the balance of karma should be in favor of at least a couple mildly responsible and rational generations to follow.


YC2's picture

I think the boomers losing their retirement portfolios in real or nominal terms could be the contrarian end to the most crowded trade of all time.  

markmotive's picture

Boomers can eat iPhone.

Can some Apple bears please eat up these Apple love-in comments:

LetThemEatRand's picture

The boomers were called the "me generation" for a reason.  Lower taxes for their immediate benefit, increase spending for their benefit, increase debt for their benefit, etc.  Let someone else worry about the consequences.  They love Ayn Rand because she excuses and in fact justifies their selfish behavior as rational and appropriate.

CIABS's picture

The boomers were re-programmed by members of the supposedly greatest generation starting around 1969.  In hindsight it looks like it was easily done.

narapoiddyslexia's picture

Anyone who thinks the problems of this country are attributable to one age group have partaken of the kool aid. Was Reagan a boomer? How many Fed chairmen have been boomers? Get a grip, people. It's the system. Lumping an age group together is indistinguishable from racism.

Z Beeblebrox's picture

Same old distraction. Blame the victim or blame the tool, blame the other team.




us/them tribal mentality;






Bicycle Repairman's picture

The meme is "jack the boomers".  Why?  As Willie Sutton said, "that's where the money is."  Boomers SS and 401Ks will certainly come under attack.  The "system" needs those funds.

As for generational disparity, I'd like to ask Gen X aka "Reagan's Babies" how they liked the free K-12 education I paid for.  Also, how do you like the low rates on your mortgages?  My savings are not earning anything.  I hope you aren't wasting the mortgage savings on big screen TVs!


JimmyCDN's picture

Sorry about your savings not earning anything.  I would gladly pay a higher mortgage rate, if the home I bought wasn't so expensive because of inflation.  When a starter 1300 sq ft home costs 5x your annual salary, I have a hard time feeling bad about your savings, because I will never have ANY.


I have a right to live, so where is my right to living space?






Moe Howard's picture

Purchase a portable garage and move into a local or state park. Quit the crying. Nobody owes anyone anything. Fuck.

What do you think? The entire generation was the fucking huxables and wally and beaver?

Harlequin001's picture

Surely the simple solution is to simply cancel pensions by defaulting on debt, cancel free healthcare and make those who benefitted most pay for their own upkeep?

Oh, yes,... sorry, forgot about that, what with all the talk about recovery. That's what's about to happen anyway isn't it...

herewego...'s picture

This Be the Verse BY PHILIP LARKIN

They fuck you up, your mum and dad. They may not mean to, but they do. They fill you with the faults they had And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn By fools in old-style hats and coats, Who half the time were soppy-stern And half at one another’s throats.

Man hands on misery to man. It deepens like a coastal shelf. Get out as early as you can, And don’t have any kids yourself.

YC2's picture

yeah but the average wage hasnt budged in like 40 years, what does that tell you?

FMR Bankster's picture

Things have returned to normal, that's what. The period from the late 1940's through the early 1970's was the aberation. One third of the world distroyed by World War and another half under a horrible economic system (communism) that couldn't compete. Of course real wages went solidly higher until the rest of the world recovered. Average workers NEVER get ahead through pure labor during normal times. Period, end of sentence. You have to save money and OWN assets to get ahead. And there's no guarantee it will happen then if you can't invest it wisely. That's why there's always pressure between labor and capital.

YC2's picture

Yes but my point was that it certainly doesnt tell you that the younger generations arent as "hard working" and should worship the older ones for providing K-12 education when they had more than the ability to do so and provide a middle class life for themselves due to their circumstances.

YBNguy's picture

Im Gen. Y, but your comments could hold the same weight. So we got a free indoctrination, eeerr education for years. Thanks! It only took years to reverse. As for low mortgage rates, more like scooping up short sales thanks to your irresponsible generation. Lastly, its you fools who voted in and allowed these parasites to continue their corrupt ways LOOOOONNGGG before we could vote. Yes Obama is somewhat my generations fault, but your generation shoudlve revolted and taken back this country long before now, sadly this task now falls on us.

Z Beeblebrox's picture

When the people are given a choice between two parasites, do not blame the person who choses a parasite. Blame the culture-creators who have convinced the masses that the parasites are our necessary stewards.

SilverDOG's picture

Z Beeblebrox,

Run run, bought out coward.

Keep blaming flock mentality, it readily displays idiocy.


Z Beeblebrox's picture

I'm not blaming the sheep for flocking. I'm blaming the shepherd for convincing them he is their protector rather than their predator.

Socratic Dog's picture

"Yes Obama is somewhat my generations fault, but your generation should've revolted and taken back this country long before now, sadly this task now falls on us."

Well, let us know how that one works out for you.  Ho ho.

This finger-pointing generational shit is propaganda heaven for the 1 per-centers who set the whole fucking thing up.  Classic divide and conquer.

Small point about the charts: they go back to about 1958.  The thesis might be a little more credible if they went back to, say, 1900.  Why don't they?  Guys like me wouldn't be wondering if the data was cherry-picked.

JimmyCDN's picture

This finger-pointing generational shit is propaganda heaven for the 1 per-centers who set the whole fucking thing up.  Classic divide and conquer.


Bingo!  You sir get a virtual cigar!

YBNguy's picture

"Divide and conquer" the classic excuse of a people who failed to act and now see the differences between themselves and others........


So what, do we come together now? All I hear from you old folks is how you paid for your SS and it cannot be taken under ANY circumstance!!!


We are already divided, its about survival now. Sucks if you have a family to care for while my gen's gangs roam the streets and countryside. You have to look out for many, us - just ourselves. See how fun the divide game can get. You failed to fight TPTB and now its either up to us (the few folks who can see) or your average OWS fool who falls in line behind Van Jones and other marxist fvcks looking to 'remake' the system.


Here is a fun quiz: How many of your gen is voting for insider/NWO tools Mitt, Newt, or Ricky? How many of my gen is backing Dr. Paul?


My point exactly, your gen is full of braindead losers, yes you may be the exception, but the rest of your ilk (Rush/Levin-listening losers) are not.



Melin's picture

There are liberty lovers in every generation. 

How is Ron Paul different than Mark Levin?  They both hate undeclared wars especially those fought for purposes other than national defense.  They both think the government should monitor the wombs of women and they're both outspoken in their religiosity. 


Sam Clemons's picture

Lower mortgage rates = higher prices.  Higher mortgage rates encourage saving to rapidly pay off lower priced house.  

References:  math, common sense.

JimmyCDN's picture

Please add greed to your references.  Thank you.

old naughty's picture

...and add world domination via financial oligarchy to it as well.

It's simple until they mainpulate...

ChrisFromMorningside's picture

What a crock. You suggest that the evil "system" is out to get Boomer "savings." The "system" is the only reason that your generation has "savings." The "system" primarily exists to make sure your generation preserves its "savings." The "savings" you refer to are not the product of your labor but rather are the product of the biggest Ponzi in history. 

How can you be sure that you paid for anything? If you pay for a 25 cent piece of candy but then steal a one dollar chocolate bar, you didn't *really* pay for anything did you? In net terms, Boomers took more than they received. Not to mention that the K-12 education you supposedly paid for really, really sucked and education in the U.S. slowly transformed into state-funded daycare. 

Low rates on mortgages? How many Boomers funded their retirement by flipping houses during the bubble, ONLY possible due to those same low rates that you decry as harmful to your generation. In contrast, how many younger people even have mortgages at this point? It's young people who are suffering because many have spent their *entire* working life in a brutally anti-savings economy with negative real interest rates. 

One of the primary reasons why we "can't" liquidate the insolvent major banks in the U.S. is because doing so would wipe out so many 401K and pension funds and we can't have that, can we?

Many on here ponder what TBTP are thinking with their "extend and pretend" and "kick the can" strategies. It only becomes clear when you consider the generational dimension. What is going on is that the Boomers will keep kicking the can til they themselves kick the can (die). By then, what do they care? They'll be dead. Let the next generations try to pick up the pieces and let them pay for the insane excesses of their parents and grandparents. It's the ultimate fuck-you, which is appropriate for a juvenile generation that never grew up. That's why I say that it is very possible that the S won't HTF for another decade. Even if the fiat ponzi collapses ... Those who set up the fiat system to fail will suddenly show up peddling their solution to our crisis: another incarnation of the same fiat bullshit. And the sheeple are so stupid they'll go along with it. 

blunderdog's picture

Pretty sure I don't like ya personally, but that was righteous.

icanhasbailout's picture

The "system" already stole the Boomer's SS funds - Boomers being in denial about that doesn't change the fact that the "trust fund" is a bunch of worthless IOUs from an insolvent entity that perpetuates itself on deception and fraud.


Tim White's picture

Exactly! Divide & Conquer...

Alexandros's picture

Global Debt Crisis

The greatest private fraud of human history.

Who are the great fraudsters who are becoming the murderers of the human kind? How does the economy "illness" threaten Democracy and the freedom of people?


People should start getting ready for great trials ...for International Courts, where the current loan sharks shall give account. Monetarism criminals should sit on the same benches that once sat Nazi criminals. Rothschild, Rockefeller, Greenspan, Bernanke, Trichet, Soros, Buffett –and other “kids” of the loan sharking- should not sleep calmly from this point on. So, should also do their Quisling-type partners ...all the traitors who undertook power supported by the Monetarists and exercised leadership at the expense of their people ...Merkel, Sarkozy, Barroso, Zapatero, Papandreou and others.


Barbarians_R_Us's picture

People should start getting ready for great trials ...for International Courts, where the current loan sharks shall give account. Monetarism criminals should sit on the same benches that once sat Nazi criminals.

Yes, but the difference this time is that Monetarism criminals OWN the courts; the Nazi criminals did not.

trav7777's picture

in the height of irony you seem to forget who the nazis were trying to evict from their country...the name warburg ring any bells?

subqtaneous's picture

True to a point (habitual, unbridled desire for acquisition and materialism w/o sufficient means, and as a gage of status, is completely counter to the previous generation's view of literally being stigmatized by debt as one example), but the sheer magnitude of people in one generation (20 yrs.) moving thru the 'system' which depends largely on equitable support from not only a smaller generation, but one with far fewer prospects to participate in the 'system' on equal footing is a recipe for disaster.

The most noble thing we can do for the problems this country faces in the next 30 years is to be as little a burden on the 'system' as possible, and by that I mean to simply die-off naturally . . . w/o any support from or burden upon these struggling young people. This is the least we can do after putting them thru 11 yrs of this hell we are only just now witnessing the repercussions—you'd think we would've learned something from our mistakes in Vietnam—and if we don't, we're likely to regret it sooner rather than later.

malek's picture

Thanks for disqualifying yourself from serious discussion.

Fred C Dobbs's picture

Vote up!

Vote down!


Anyone who thinks the problems of this country are attributable to one age group have partaken of the kool aid. Was Reagan a boomer? How many Fed chairmen have been boomers? Get a grip, people. It's the system. Lumping an age group together is indistinguishable from racism.


You got it right.


q99x2's picture

If you touch them they turn into orange juice.

Sophist Economicus's picture

No matter what the topic, you weave in Rand! Did she accuse you of having a small pecker or something?

Talleyrand's picture

Maybe. But boomers didn't invent the debt-based digital fiat reserve currency -- free from even the minor logistical constraints of ink and paper -- that fueled 'democracy' toward this, its logical, failed conclusion. Or, did they?

economics1996's picture

The big change was 1965 when the welfare society was created.  In 1965 the Social Security fund was raided to pay for Vietnam.  In 1971 Nixon went off the Bretton Woods Gold Standard.  All this was done by the Silent "Greatest" Generation and the GI Generation.  The overwhelming majority of baby boomers, 1946-1964, could not vote or have any influence.

It was the "Greatest Generation" that gobbled up Dr. Spock and the other BS that created the hippies.  

And the parasites broke through in 1965 with the elimination of national borders, unrestricted immigration from Mexico, LBJ's Great Society, welfare, job training, child support, and the destruction of the family by the federal government.

Get your facts strait, let me write one of these blogs explaining exactly who is guilty for what, boomers, were lead down the road by their parents who created the Ponzi system.

economics1996's picture


ZH really needs to let me write one of these "Guest Post" about what happened when by who.  Blaming the boomers is ridiculous, their parents set them up, it was generational theft and Ronald Reagan with his 1983 SS tax increase delivered the coup de grace to the boomers.

Bush, 2001-07, cremated the boomers, but not before giving them a warning in 2004 with his SS reform tour, warning given, warning not received.

1957-64 was a different group than 1946-56.


Renfield's picture

Yup. Generation Jones, you're referring to. Generation between the Boomers and X.

Z Beeblebrox's picture

Which generation of sheep should we blame for the shepherd's decision to harvest?

I Ching's picture

It is clearly the Muppets' fault for being Muppets.

trav7777's picture

fault is such a subjective term...85% of people HONESTLY believe they are above average drivers.

LetThemEatRand's picture

A very large number of politicians and oligarchs/bankers are Rand followers.   Her philosophy of celebrating narcissism on a global scale is affecting our daily lives even though most people do not realize it.    When we see the results, most people want to blame something else but I see a very direct connection between Rand and the charts on this story.  Rand followers like Grover Norquist dreamed up the idea of "starving the beast" by running up huge deficits while lowering taxes.  The result?  The charts above.

Sophist Economicus's picture

"A very large number of politicians"??????

Where? I'll assume your talking about the USA. Let's rule out anyone in the Democratic Party, I don't think she's their patron saint. On the Republican side of the aisle, I'd wager that a very small minority have even read Rand - and in any event, they may talk some of her playbook but don't actually act on it.

Rand's fundamental point is that the individual should be left alone to succeed or fail, based on his own ability. That the STATE, or anyone else for that matter, has no claim on another person's life. What is wrong with that?

Taxes are theft, pure and simple. Governments should be smothered. Their only purpose should be to insure the enfircemdnt of COMMON law and provide basic infrastructure support when the people think it be best performed there .vs. the private sector.

I don't see why this is so abhorrent

LetThemEatRand's picture

"Simple" is the only word in your diabtribe that makes sense.   It is ironic to me that people like you don't see that our greatest ills as a society are the direct result of the laissez-faire approach that you advocate.  How is it that you think China is rising while we fall?  The oligarchs have received license to go wherever they can exploit labor and resources for their own profit -- the exact model you advocate.  The result is a shrinking middle class in the West and an ever lowered standard of living for the large majority of the population while a select few become very rich.

BigJim's picture

  How is it that you think China is rising while we fall? 


China gets richer the less socialist they get; and we get poorer the more socialist we get.

The shrinking middle class is the result of statist-imposed fiat creation by a cartel of counterfeiters, ie, the banks. Our present predicament is the result of the state, not despite it.