The Great Deleveraging

In a fantastic long essay in yesterday’s Financial Times, the Millennials are referred to as the “recessionals.”

For so many of us, of whom so much has been expected for so long, the beginnings of our careers were marked by the financial crisis. Even throughout the longest bull market in history, “these tough economic times” remained a constant trope of the hiring and employment landscape.

Then, of course, came Covid — and a steeper and deeper crash, with broader and perhaps stickier changes in how we live and work.

Next up, runs the increasingly common wisdom, is the real climate crisis/adjustment. And, along the way, we’re finally facing some deeply rooted problems with how our society, culture, and economy have been structured.

It’s not too early to conclude that those of us born around the turn of the millennium have been and will continue to be a transitional generation. If you consider how many of us were raised with notions of public service (or world-saving), there might be a way to spin that as an enormous service to our countries and species.

But that’s a lot to ask. Depending on what kinds of adjustments we make or fail to make, this generation might be asked more, over more time, than any previous one.

This has to be recognized in some way. Two giant recessions in, too many recessionals are still just getting started — and we have to assume there will be more recessions to come.

It’s senseless — and extremely politically risky — to condemn this generation to keep bearing the burden of our culture’s great deleveraging forever, for lack of a better idea.

If we’re going to be the transition, how might we at least become the leading edge of what’s coming (in a good way) rather than the trailing edge of what was?