Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The old have seen it all before

McKinsey has just published a paper about how the spending behaviour of US consumers is changing and concluded that after two decades of unsustainably high levels it is returning to where it was in the past - much lower.

The bit of the research that really interested me was the difference in the expectations of how the stock market will behave over the next 30 years. Of course nobody has the faintest idea, but answering this question is a good proxy for people’s optimism about the future and the extent to which they perceive today’s economic problems as transitory. The chart says it all.

McKinsey concludes.
Finally, the historically poor returns of US equity markets during the lives of investors under the age of 45 may be creating a generation of equity-averse consumers. Less than half of US respondents believe that the stock market will produce returns above inflation over the next 30 years. Eighty-five percent of consumers from 36 to 45 believe that it won’t.
What a fascinating conclusion. Do the young know something the old don’t? Methinks not. This is all about the dent this recession has created to the risk averseness of the younger age groups. A factor that will be around for a long time to come. Dick Stroud

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