Several recent articles (I need to track a few down and link to them) have talked about how the US for the first time is experiencing an era where children are not guaranteed a greater quality of life than their parents. There are many reasons for this, but the one I feel is most prominent is the lack of change in the education field. The world has had many forces reshape it over the past 40 plus years – some are good, but many are bad for teaching. Yet, the public education system has remained similar to what it was post World War II (and maybe even before that, I’ll look it up). Not much in the US has that much staying power.
There are also several recent articles describing the amount of the compensation package to hedge fund managers. If you hold one of these lucrative positions then there is a good chance that you are now one of the richest people in the world. You accepted a large amount of risk and the market has rewarded you for it. When the market is up, that tends to be the result. When it is down, I doubt we will see any articles, but that is not where I’m driving this. The growth of the number of hedge funds is accredited to the ease of amassing credit. This allows the manager to take volume gains on investments that are traditionally risky or long term. Since the taxes don’t disincent this investment activity then it is worth the risk. But what bothers me is that there isn’t anything innovative about this. We are in a positive market, so the results bear out.
This mentality of avoiding risk and going with what works is what is bothersome. The public education system is largely the same as it was for the past 60 years. Over that time, especially in the recent past, the margin between the rich and the middle class has widened. Normally, that is a ho hum story, but if the reports are true, that this is the first generation that won’t have an improved standard of living, then we have hit a new threshold. So in a positive market the ultrawealthy will get richer and the educational system won’t advance. What happens in a negative market?