No Longer The Luckiest Generation: Boomer Finances Start To Roll Over

We Baby Boomers timed it perfectly. We came of age during in an era of plentiful jobs and relatively high wages. Public pensions were generous. Stock, bond and home prices were low, and have since risen strongly, enriching anyone who managed to save regularly. College was (by current standards) insanely cheap, allowing us to upgrade our skills with minimal sacrifice.

The result was a generation with high average net worth and, at first glance, a great shot at a comfortable retirement.

But that’s an illusion, for several reasons.

First, the “average net worth” stat masks the fact that many Boomers didn’t actually do much saving. All those outrageous wealth inequality charts include retirees, which by definition means that most Boomers have been harvested by the 1% along with their kids and grandkids.

wealth inequality boomer finances

Second, public sector pensions (as just about everyone knows by now) don’t have anything like the resources needed to actually pay current and future retirees what they’ve been promised. When those plans start imploding in the next recession, benefits will be cut dramatically. See here, here and here for the grisly details.

And this morning the Wall Street Journal added to the list with a feature on how (of all things) Boomer student loan balances are exploding:

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