- Boomers have left future generations with debt and a broken economy, billionaire Howard Marks said.
- With an affordability crisis and two recessions under their belt, millennials took the brunt of it.
- Boomers need to make room for millennials to wield economic and political influence.
One boomer billionaire is going off on his wealthy peers.
Howard Marks, investor and cofounder of Oaktree Capital Management, recently wrote a memo to clients full of his usually notable remarks on the economy — and a shot at baby boomers for essentially ruining the economy for younger generations.
He pointed out that over 71 million people are boomers — triple the 23 million Silent Gen members and 10% more than the 65 million Gen Xers, the two generations on either side of them.
“The magnitude of the boomers’ votes and financial resources have given them enormous political influence over the last 40 years,” he wrote. “The result has been extensive deficit spending on things the boomers want and a failure to modify benefit programs that need fixing, all at the expense of future generations.”
Marks explained that this exemplifies generational unfairness, with both party administrations historically and currently “spending vast amounts, taxing less than they should relative to their spending (thus incurring deficits), and running up the national debt, largely favoring the baby boomers.”
He continued: “Baby boomers have been and still are consuming more than their fair share of the pie. This will leave future generations saddled with substantial debt stemming from expenditures they didn’t benefit from proportionally.”
Marks did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Boomers’ hand in millennials’ affordability crisis
Marks isn’t the first to question boomers’ economic influence. Both generational experts and news outlets ranging from Vox to the Guardian have called out the generation for their role in bankrupting the rich economy they inherited, leaving millennials to pick up the pieces.
Millennials, now the largest generation, have faced an affordability crisis ever since they came limping out of the Great Recession into a blighted job market, struggling to build wealth as they faced soaring living costs and shouldered massive student debt. They were still dealing with its lingering effects a dozen years later when the coronavirus recession and a historic housing crisis hit.
Boomers, too, have been a force behind their economic plight. Neil Howe, the economist, historian, and demographer who coined the term “millennial,” previously told Insider that boomers refuse to pay for institutional upkeep, preferring to spend money on things that change people’s lives now. He said this is a result of their coming-of-age experience, in which their parents, the GI generation, cared about building strong institutions and looking into the future. Boomers took that for granted and developed a “live-for-today attitude,” he said.
They reaped economic benefits from this mindset, a Deutsche Bank Research report found last year. Boomers, it said, saw an increased value in assets thanks to low interest rates and inflated housing prices. They didn’t have to pay as much for education as millennials have, nor will they face the cost for environmental damage caused by the carbon emission-releasing companies in which they’ve invested.
Boomers created an economic crisis that will leave millennials the first generation worse off than their parents, author Jill Filipovic explores in her book “OK Boomer, Let’s Talk.” Millennials, she told Insider, are a generation of optimistic, hard-working people who have been dealt a bad hand. “None of this was an accident,” she said.
That boomers have held tremendous political, cultural, and economic power for the past several decades has prevented millennials from seeing the economic solutions they need, Filipovic said. She argues that millennials need boomers to impart their wisdom and experience while making room for the younger generation to be part of decision-making processes.
“Unless millennials are at the table, we’re really not going to see the issues that are most important to us addressed,” Filipovic said. “You need people who are actually going to live in the future, who have a stake in the future, at the decision making table.”