Noah Smith had a series of tweets the other day about how much better the 1990s were than many young people can even imagine:
All of what he says here is 100% true. It’s difficult to remember what it was like in the late 1990s, it was so awesome. Jobs were literally everywhere – you really didn’t need a resume unless you were a lawyer or moving to a new city where you didn’t know anybody at all. All of my jobs in trading came from people I knew, and same with my girlfriends jobs. People asked you if you were looking for work because there were openings at where they were working.
Now the world is very different, especially for people who are just starting out. It’s vastly more difficult to get a job, and losing your job can mean losing your entire lifestyle.
The expectations of the stock market are very different too. Profits are vastly less certain, even while actual profits can be very high. Right now the chatter on CNBC is all about profit warnings, and people are incredibly worried about profits going lower. It’s as though there is a worry that once those profits go away, they will never ever come back.
Noah wrote a post related to this topic, but it fails to capture just how nice life can be when you have certainty about work and income. The widespread feeling of “there is enough”, multiplied across the entire population, is not something that can be fixed by growth alone. No matter how much better our stuff is, until you and everyone you know and everyone they know feels like most of the future is going to be great, we are poor in some vital way.