Wednesday, March 31, 2004

A tale of two sub-editors

"Baby boomers, you're living on borrowed time" and "The sorry plight of the affluent but confused baby boomer" are the two quite different titles given to an identical Op Ed piece by Ross Gittins in today's SMH and Age.

For basic sub-editorial concision and elegance, the SMH's version is much preferable. Gittins' main point - that today's boomer affluence is closely intertwined with decades of easy credit - is a valid one. However, as to whether the current preferred method of boomer credit bingeing - using asset price inflation to fund consumption - is sustainable, Gittins is merely equivocal.

Earth to Gittins - the looming crisis is not about whether boomers will be able to get used to living on "only" $20,000 p.a., or whatever. This is a completely boomer-centric view, that from any other perspective, looks unrealistically sanguine. The boomers "have lived lives of indulgence " "compared with previous generations". Err, whatever, Ross. What counts now, and for the next few decades, is the wealth that the boomers have built-up compared with subsequent generations. GenX has had the same easy-credit opportunities in theory, but of course their wealth ladder has operated very differently (mainly because of un- or McJob- employment, and tertiary education being a large net drain on lifetime earnings).

The easy-credit tie-in is ultimately a red-herring, or at most of historical interest only. What boomers really should be worrying about, as they head into retirement, is placating the over-educated GenX underclass, as it heads into middle-age.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?