Will the 20s Be Roaring?

1147833388The Roaring 20s of the last century was “a time of wealth and excess. Building on post-war optimism, rural Americans migrated to the cities in vast numbers throughout the decade with the hopes of finding a more prosperous life in the ever-growing expansion of America’s industrial sector. While American cities prospered, the overproduction of agricultural produce created widespread financial despair among American farmers throughout the decade. This would later be blamed as one of the key factors that led to the 1929 stock market crash.

While the term “irrational exuberance” was coined by Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan about the dot-com bubble in the 90s, it clearly could have been used about the 1920s.

Fast forward to today, we are days away from entering the 20s. Let’s hope it won’t be a replay of the 1920s. On a personal note, I remember as a boy thinking about the year 2000 and 21st Century. I would be 47 when the Century would begin. I would be “old”, and it was too far away then to even comprehend. But 2000 came, and the world did not end with Y2K, and 20 years later we are facing far different and more complex issues in the decade ahead.

Here are my thoughts: I don’t want to be “Debbie Downer” but I am not hopeful about the years ahead. I want to be wrong, and perhaps I will be. But despite technological advances, the speed of which are mind blowing, the complexity and enormity of the economic, societal and environmental problems ahead make me worried.

Obviously, we face a critical election in 2020. I am personally horrified by the current administration. Impeachment or not, it is corrupt to the core and represents the worst of the United States on every level. Bigotry, cruelty, short-sidedness, and a lack of vision permeate our country. Other than in the Civil War, our country has never been so divided. My sincere hope is that a future Administration will help heal wounds, create a culture of tolerance and diversity and compassion for all citizens regardless of means, and address real issues facing our country.

From a business and economic perspective, our Administration claims we are experiencing the “Best Economy ever”. Are we? It is definitely true that some kind of job is available to virtually everyone who seeks one. Modest hourly/minimum wage jobs are largely open. Most with limited hours designed to curtail benefits. Is that the American Dream? Furthermore the “best economy” is something far less than that. (see recent Forbes article: Understanding The U.S. Economy: Lots Of Rotten Jobs)

From a tax perspective, The Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017 was designed to enrich those of means, and increase corporate profits at a time when there was no problem to solve. It had modest impact on the middle class, and negative impact for those who live in states with high state and local taxes since the act limited the state and local taxes deduction to $10,000 (try owning a home and working in NJ and you’ll understand). In any event we blew up our fiscal budget, creating massive debt that will need to be addressed. That’s part of the problem of the 2020s that we can’t avoid. 

Lastly, our environment is an afterthought. Worse than that, we continue to trash our planet as if there’s no cost.  “Regulations” viewed as governmental over-reach are hardly a problem as it relates to protecting our environment. What are we thinking?

So will be 20s be booming? I am not very hopeful. But I’d sure love to be wrong.

More Strumings

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