By Eric Peters, CIO of One River Asset Management
“The younger generation must inherit and carry forward the spirit of self-reliance, and hard work, abandon arrogance, and engrave the passion of youth in the water just like our parents did, on the monument of history,” declared Xi, some time ago.
Youth unemployment across China continued its rise this summer. The official number approached 21% before Beijing halted its publication.
Unofficial estimates stretched to nearly 50% when one counts the “lying flat”, a term adopted by youth who are choosing to quit the rat race altogether. In previous decades, agitated youth took to the streets. New forms of hyper-surveillance make such rebellion far harder. Instead, the young simply opt out.
“The facts of countless successful lives show that in youth, if you choose to endure hardship, you will also choose to gain, and if you choose to contribute, you will also choose to be noble,” said Xi.
Parents across the world nodded in violent agreement, because of course, nothing could be truer.
“In youth, experiencing more beatings, setbacks, and tests, will help you walk a successful life,” said Xi, a cold terror slowly rising in the leader for life. The national savings rate rose further still, his subjects preparing for harder times.
China’s fertility rate collapsed to a stunning new low of 1.09 per woman (from 1.30 in 2020). This symptom of profound pessimism, if not reversed dramatically, will lead to economic and then civilizational collapse.
“In the later years of my life, I always reminded myself that hardship is an opportunity. I must persist in learning more and working more and go to difficult places to train myself,” said Xi, searching for a solution to a problem far more challenging than trade wars, chip dependencies, ghost cities, insolvent banks, stranded infrastructure built for a globalized world that is fading, not to mention his nation’s food, energy and water insecurity.
All such problems are solvable provided a nation has a growing population of ambitious, optimistic, hardworking youth. But how to lift a nation whose young consider their current circumstances, assess their future, and quietly lie flat?