The U.S. economy since the mid-20th century has always been driven by Americans willing to spend beyond their means — on a bigger house, a better car, a prestige college, a nice vacation, maybe skiing in the winter, the beach in the summer. Basically, it was the American Dream.
The spending was fueled by borrowed money and the sublime confidence of American wage earners that with regular pay increases they would ultimately be able to afford it all plus put something aside for retirement.
That came to a harsh and abrupt halt in the recession, and while the economy is steadily improving, car sales are healthy, and home sales and prices are rising in selected neighborhoods, it was clearly a traumatic event, no more so than on that group loosely defined as the “Millennial generation.”
Technically, these are people born between 1981 and 1999, but the term has come to define a state of mind as much as a certain age. And that state of mind is reflected in a recent news story that asserted, “Recent studies show Millennials are the cheapest generation.”