The landscape of the American economy has shifted dramatically since the financial earthquake of 2007-08. The once free flowing rivers of credit have dried up. The mountain of student loan debt seems insurmountable. Interest rates are at valley lows, causing more investors to try their hand in the stock market. Jobs are being outsourced or automated, and workers are being displaced without the necessary skills to re-enter the workforce with a salary comparable to their old one. BUT THE S&P 500 HIT 2000! POP THE CHAMPAGNE!
As a broke millennial in the post-post-post modern society of this Information Age, I can't help but wonder how the US economy will do in the next couple of years. It seems as if we've built a system that creates a barrier to entry into the workforce, significantly hinders the earning power of those workers, and limit real economic opportunities for growth by making it more difficult to start and grow a business. Most employers require a college degree, which helps them weed out applicants, although they may discard applicants with the skill set necessary to perform the job functions. The majority of those applicants with college degrees have student loan debt, which hinders their ability to 1. Get the most usage out of their paychecks 2. Create wealth for them and their family. In order to truly build wealth, you'll have to invest in becoming a business owner. Funding a business on limited funds isn't easy, I know. Sometimes a business will need loans to start or grow, but banks aren't lending, and unless you have a technology company that peaks the interest of VCs, you'll have to bootstrap your endeavor. This is America, the land of opportunity.
Enter the millennials: a group of free thinking, idealistic, selfie-centered, instant gratification junkies with delusions of grandeur. We're the heroes the country needs but obviously doesn't deserve. Millennials are in prime position to usher in a new wave of economic development. Most have to hustle in order to make ends meet, since jobs are scarce. The internet allows people to create businesses with little capital. Recovering from a bad business venture is easier to do when you're younger, so millennials should become entrepreneurs now!
Bearing witness to one of the greatest financial collapses in history, millennials should have a healthy fear of irrational exuberance. If a deal is too good to be true, it probably is, and it would be prudent to examine it further. Millennials should also be unequivocally opposed to debt that isn't used to build wealth such as real estate and small business loans. Even with these types of loans, being conservative in borrowing could help reduce the chances of default. Millennials have already been risk takers, challenging the norms of society.
Changes have already occurred since the financial meltdown, and of course it can't all be attributed to millennial influence. We've seen challenges to the way we invest, crowdfunding to help support other millennial endeavors, blogs encouraging financial transparency, and challenges to the higher education system. There are people who are still going through financial hardship, and those that are marginalized, but the ball is rolling. There's never been a better time to change the world, and millennials truly think they can.