Stagnant Wealth for Younger Generations
In 2010, the average person of 20 to 28 had a net worth of $37,223, just slightly more than the average person of 20 to 28 in 1983. In contrast, the average person of 56 to 64 in 2010 had more than twice the wealth that someone the same age would have had 30 years ago.
So what's the solution? We are not going back to the golden-age compromise between labor and capital (1947-1973). And even if we were somehow to find a way to supply the middle class with the means to consume at rates that maintain the desired levels of profits (during the golden period, this was done with high wages; during the neoliberal moment, with credit), compound growth even at 1.5 percent (and most economists are only happy with 3 percent) can't be sustained. And what if this stagnancy is actually something more, something permanent? Meaning, in the past, growth was generated by things that are now proving to be unrealistic: universal home ownership, car ownership, and the consumption of fossil fuels. So what's really going on in this NYT report is that capital is confronted with a real limit and trying to imagine it as stagnancy. A limit is the end; stagnancy is just a phase.