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Old 08-11-2009, 02:35 PM
 
Location: Seattle
1,369 posts, read 3,054,482 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaggy001 View Post
It is also a generational thing. I was learning maths at school before the electronic calculator had been invented (we did have the hand cranked variety but never used them as they were not quick enough), before the PC had been invented, before spreadsheets had been thought of, etc. etc.. If you could not work it out on a piece of paper or a slide rule (I still have mine) then there was no other way!
I think it is a generational thing but at the same thing I think this is overemphasized a little bit. I know in graduate school the big indicator toward this type of intuitive, BOE type analysis was liberal arts education. Most students from Europe (even engineer types) had a very strong education in language, art, writing, and other type of ambiguous "free thinking" type of education that doesn't involve numbers or "cut and dry" type scenarios. If you combine this type of education with someone whose mind is quantitatively capable I think you get someone who is really capable, really smart and able to analyze things both intuitively and quantitatively. At the undergrad business level most quantitative problems generally involve an answer that is pretty clear from the numbers - ambiguity doesn't seem to be a topic discussed much in most undergrad business programs that I saw the curriculum from.

The US students who studied English or economics at a liberal arts type institution (NOT a business school) all seemed very capable of this thinking too. And since it was a pretty strong MBA program everyone had to be mathematically capable (most people were anyway) - obviously if people study English but can't do math this is kind of irrelevant. Many students from China and India literally never took a history or liberal arts class in their life - so that type of thinking was totally foreign to them - and I think intuitive analysis was really hard.

You are right in that it's a generational thing because in your generation that simply wasn't possible - and today it is. But I also think our education system has changed too such that many people in the quantitative business world have absolutely no training in qualitative thought, writing, reading and ambiguity. The key, IMO, is balance. But you also need a certain base line intellectual ability to make use of that balance.
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Old 08-11-2009, 02:36 PM
 
1,156 posts, read 3,437,721 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaggy001 View Post
I thought your post was pretty good but would take issue with the above .....

Do you really believe that?

We had the Vietnam war, we had the recession of the 1970s, we had the stock market crash of 1987, the recesssion at the end of the 1980s, the dot-com bust and now this crash. We saw most of the big computer companies we grew up with go bust, we saw companies like IBM nearly go bust and lay off thousands. We saw most of corporate America abandon their pension commitments. But, most of the time we dealt with it and bounced back pretty good. Sure we had good times, but we also had bad times.

So, what is the new reality?

Well, I do see a sense of entitlement, and disappointment, from a lot of boomers. Maybe its that they saw things really good, and can't help but wonder why they couldn't stay good?

I appreciate it wasn't all good for you - that's why I threw in the cold war question mark. But there is something in the boomer psyche that defaults to utopian ideals. In the absence of things being messed up, they SHOULD be awesome.

I think younger generations do not subscribe to that idea. Gen-X (generally, of course) does not think it "deserves" an idealized existence. We tend to believe that we have to work the system (ie, job hopping) one way or another to make our way in the world. That's part of the reason so many people complain about boomers. You'rewhat we are struggling to overtake.
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Old 08-11-2009, 02:42 PM
 
Location: Boca Raton, FL
5,813 posts, read 9,442,343 times
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Smile Age?

Why do people need to retire at 62 or 65? (I know it's not a great example but look at half the members in Congress, the Supreme Court, you get the drift).
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Old 08-11-2009, 02:45 PM
 
Location: Seattle
1,369 posts, read 3,054,482 times
Reputation: 1496
Jaggy,

I think by most analysis the boomer generation was pretty lucky, until recently. The period between 1985 and 2005 was pretty much the best 20 year bull market the world has ever seen. Those were the formative career years for most baby boomers and when they started having children and "moving up in the world." The recession in the 70s and the vietnam war were mostly before boomers got going in the world, and recovery started happening in their middle 20s to middle 30s (depending on the age of the boomer).

Now that said, this recession pretty much hit right as most boomers were finishing out retirement savings - a lot of them became empty nesters, had high incomes and were going through that EDIT: saving blitz. Unfortunately many people were a little too risky in investment allocation through this last blitz and got really really burned.

With this last recession I think it's a bit of a stretch to say the boomers got really lucky - before this recession they definitely had it good. I think the boomers in the top third of risk taking are the ones that got burned really hard by this recession. And I think this recession is more of a paradigm shift in economics than previous ones in terms of spending and risk taking, so it won't just "come back" in a couple years before the boomers retire.

All that said I think Gen Xers and people who are between about 32 and 38 are going to have a real tough time because they've had to deal with two recessions during their formative career years. People under 30 will probably be okay because they are still kind of getting going, and people over 45-50 already got there, but I think a lot of people around those ages will have a lot of problems with saving and career management. I know many in that age bracket who have been very successful but others who really have gotten into a "can't get anywhere" type of situation.

Last edited by drshang; 08-11-2009 at 02:59 PM..
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Old 08-11-2009, 02:51 PM
 
14,256 posts, read 16,243,951 times
Reputation: 13759
Quote:
Originally Posted by cdc3217 View Post
Well, I do see a sense of entitlement, and disappointment, from a lot of boomers. Maybe its that they saw things really good, and can't help but wonder why they couldn't stay good?

I appreciate it wasn't all good for you - that's why I threw in the cold war question mark. But there is something in the boomer psyche that defaults to utopian ideals. In the absence of things being messed up, they SHOULD be awesome.

I think younger generations do not subscribe to that idea. Gen-X (generally, of course) does not think it "deserves" an idealized existence. We tend to believe that we have to work the system (ie, job hopping) one way or another to make our way in the world. That's part of the reason so many people complain about boomers. You'rewhat we are struggling to overtake.
It was never really good. But, in the 1960s we all thought we could change the world and make it really good. We did change it but not in the utopian sense that the 1960s generation wanted. I think the vast majority of boomers are still anchored in the 1960s and 1970s in a way and maybe that is where your observation is coming from.
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Old 08-11-2009, 02:53 PM
 
14,256 posts, read 16,243,951 times
Reputation: 13759
Quote:
Originally Posted by drshang View Post
I think it is a generational thing but at the same thing I think this is overemphasized a little bit. I know in graduate school the big indicator toward this type of intuitive, BOE type analysis was liberal arts education. Most students from Europe (even engineer types) had a very strong education in language, art, writing, and other type of ambiguous "free thinking" type of education that doesn't involve numbers or "cut and dry" type scenarios. If you combine this type of education with someone whose mind is quantitatively capable I think you get someone who is really capable, really smart and able to analyze things both intuitively and quantitatively. At the undergrad business level most quantitative problems generally involve an answer that is pretty clear from the numbers - ambiguity doesn't seem to be a topic discussed much in most undergrad business programs that I saw the curriculum from.

The US students who studied English or economics at a liberal arts type institution (NOT a business school) all seemed very capable of this thinking too. And since it was a pretty strong MBA program everyone had to be mathematically capable (most people were anyway) - obviously if people study English but can't do math this is kind of irrelevant. Many students from China and India literally never took a history or liberal arts class in their life - so that type of thinking was totally foreign to them - and I think intuitive analysis was really hard.

You are right in that it's a generational thing because in your generation that simply wasn't possible - and today it is. But I also think our education system has changed too such that many people in the quantitative business world have absolutely no training in qualitative thought, writing, reading and ambiguity. The key, IMO, is balance. But you also need a certain base line intellectual ability to make use of that balance.
This is a very good analysis and one I can agree with. Suggests we need to take another look at how we educate the kid of today.
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Old 08-11-2009, 03:01 PM
 
14,256 posts, read 16,243,951 times
Reputation: 13759
Quote:
Originally Posted by drshang View Post
Jaggy,

I think by most analysis the boomer generation was pretty lucky, until recently. The period between 1985 and 2005 was pretty much the best 20 year bull market the world has ever seen. Those were the formative career years for most baby boomers and when they started having children and "moving up in the world." The recession in the 70s and the vietnam war were mostly before boomers got going in the world, and recovery started happening in their middle 20s to middle 30s (depending on the age of the boomer).

Now that said, this recession pretty much hit right as most boomers were finishing out retirement savings - a lot of them became empty nesters, had high incomes and were going through that spending blitz. Unfortunately many people were a little too risky in investment allocation through this last blitz and got really really burned.

With this last recession I think it's a bit of a stretch to say the boomers got really lucky - before this recession they definitely had it good. I think the boomers in the top third of risk taking are the ones that got burned really hard by this recession. And I think this recession is more of a paradigm shift in economics than previous ones in terms of spending and risk taking, so it won't just "come back" in a couple years before the boomers retire.

All that said I think Gen Xers and people who are between about 32 and 38 are going to have a real tough time because they've had to deal with two recessions during their formative career years. People under 30 will probably be okay because they are still kind of getting going, and people over 45-50 already got there, but I think a lot of people around those ages will have a lot of problems with saving and career management. I know many in that age bracket who have been very successful but others who really have gotten into a "can't get anywhere" type of situation.
I don't really agree. I finished college in 1976 and had to try to find a decent job in the middle of a recesion. It was very real then. Stagflation, which was the current economic term, meant we had a stagnant economy and inflation.

The recession at the end of the 1980s was also very real. People were losing their jobs all over the place and houses were getting repossesed. Unlike in 2001, you couldn't take equity out of your home to get you through it. This current recession is on a par with the end of the 1980s. The main difference is that we didn't have big 401ks yet which could get blown away so there was not the impact on retirement.

So, yep, one recession at age 21 and another at age 35. That also makes two recessions in the formative years.

Obviously, there are generational differences but I don't think the Boomers somehow had it easier.
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Old 08-11-2009, 03:05 PM
 
22,769 posts, read 27,813,869 times
Reputation: 14617
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alaskapat528 View Post
Oh please....I quess Boomers haven't paid into Social Security or Medicare, huh????

I said the boomers ran up deficits, and they did. Between Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, they've managed to create huge public and private debt - by borrowing for things like Iraq and Medicare, and for keeping interest rates too low, encouraging private borrowing.

Comstock: Indebtedness May Cause Two Lost Decades | The Big Picture

You bring up medicare; do you really think boomers' medicare contributions will cover the entitlements they set themselves up for in 2003?

Last edited by le roi; 08-11-2009 at 03:19 PM..
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Old 08-11-2009, 04:00 PM
 
Location: Seattle
1,369 posts, read 3,054,482 times
Reputation: 1496
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaggy001 View Post
I don't really agree. I finished college in 1976 and had to try to find a decent job in the middle of a recesion. It was very real then. Stagflation, which was the current economic term, meant we had a stagnant economy and inflation.
I don't mean to say that the boomer generation didn't face significant economic adversity and that there weren't tough times during that period. But look at this chart:

S&P 500 Index Historic Calendar Year Returns 1957-2007 - ICMA-RC (http://www.icmarc.org/xp/rc/marketview/chart/2008/20080502SP500HistoricalReturns.html - broken link)

Market returns from 1985 to 2005 were, by historical standards, stellar. Real estate returns were stellar as well. Absolutely, you are right, the boomer generation faced tons of adversity and had recessions during their formative career years. But the degree of "good" was much more frequent and much stronger than the degree of "bad."

The year you graduated school had a near 25% return in the stock market and the year of the "big crash" in 1987 still had positive returns, and the year before and after the crash had over a 15% market return. I think my point is simply that the "bad times" weren't that bad and the "good times" were really good. Consequently the "bad times" for the Gen X generation have been much worse and to a much higher degree than the "good times." I mean look at the stock market table over the last 10 years (most of Gen X's career years) and compare it to the worst 10 years in any point of the baby boomer's career. I think the worst 10 years of the baby boomer's career has been the last 10 years, and I think the Gen Xers are unlikely to see a period of "good" that was nearly as long and potent as the boomers.

I mean I'm not trying to say boomers are lazy and boomers didn't work hard for what they have - they did. I'm just hopefully trying to illustrate why people say the boomers got "lucky" and why they many in Gen X are envious for the economic times for the boomer generation.

NOTE: the stock market isn't necessarily strongly correlated with "ease of finding a job." For instance, the market performed well in 2003 but the job market was terrible. I am not trying to say that in 1976 it was easy to find a job, but the stock market tends to be forward looking and employment backward looking, meaning that if the stock market was strong in 1976, generally speaking employment will be strong looking forward into the late 70s.
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Old 08-11-2009, 04:44 PM
 
15,850 posts, read 28,196,557 times
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Uh from my math (in my head), 1985+ were not the "formative years" for boomers, especially if you use the actual demographic description of the boom birth years (1946-1957ish). By 1985, I'd hope that these *adults* were mostly formed!

I stills say that class trumps birth cohort every time. I mean, not everyone comes from a suburban white-collar household, and sure didn't back then. Not everyone slid into an affordable college, paid for by middle-class parents, and then a greased slide into a white-collar job.
I find this generational sniping ridiculous. It's too... general.
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