If the media alone were to dictate our collective mood in March, dire would be the word that comes to mind. Facebook spent much of the month attempting to save face in the wake of a massive data breach that potentially compromised the outcomes of Brexit, the US presidential election, and several other elections around the world. Donald Trump took to Twitter to raise the stakes in an escalating trade war with China. And young people from across the US marched on Washington to protest existing US gun laws in the wake of the Parkland, Florida high school shooting. Closer to home, interest rates are rising, real estate markets continue to sputter following government intervention, and reports suggest that Canadian household debt has hit a record 1.8 trillion.
Amid all of this vitriol, it’s hard to see the upside. This is why I am so looking forward to Omaha in less than a month’s time. On my annual pilgrimage to the Berkshire Hathaway annual general meeting, I never expect to hear Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett or his right-hand man Charlie Munger say anything I haven’t heard before. And yet, every year I return home with a spring in my step and a fresh outlook on the year just past and the year ahead.
Although I encourage every one of our clients to head down to Omaha to listen to Buffett and Munger in person, I know this isn’t always possible. However, I would like to recommend the next best thing: watch the live stream at Yahoo! Finance on May 5th. It’s six hours (or a little more) of your life I guarantee you won’t want back. It’s like a spa day for investors; you’ll emerge with a fresh perspective, and some of your faith in the world at large restored.
In the meantime, take heart in knowing that the sky really isn’t falling. Corporate earnings remain strong, unemployment rates remain at record lows, and interest rates are rising because Canada’s economy is chugging along at a robust pace.
Our future is in good hands
If we need another reason to be optimistic, look to Generation Z. My middle son is currently on an exchange semester in Europe as part of his university education. Born after 1996, he and my daughter are among the Generation Z demographic. As I watch them navigate the world, along with my eldest who is just a few years older and on the cusp of this revolutionary generation, I know the future is in good hands.
As the recent march on Washington to protest US gun laws following the Parkland, Florida high school shooting can attest, this is a generation of doers. They are intelligent, informed and digitally-savvy.
Like Millennials who came before them, Generation Z is much more interested in experiences than “stuff”. Taking full advantage of his time living in Europe, my second son and his friends spend their weekends exploring different parts of Europe. It’s not enough to read about it. They want to experience it, and with access to cheap flights, they find a way to do it in a cost-conscious way.
However, unlike Millennials, Generation Z grew up in a post 9/11 age that has them more aware—and wary—of the world around them. They have also come of age in the age of digital. They know the power of the Internet and everything “smart” and they use it to their advantage. They have also been raised in the shadow of climate change. These external influences have formed and informed a generation of active, activist-oriented citizens with a strong sense of who they are, what they want, and how to get it. They are independent-minded and will not stand for the status quo that the generations above them—and particularly Baby Boomers—are trying to maintain.
I watched some of the coverage of the Washington march. I saw children as young as 12 marching for their rights. I saw one teenager with a t-shirt that said, “I survived Sandy Hook.” An older person approached the teen and apologized for his generation.
If you want to know what the future holds, keep an eye on Generation Z. These kids are poised to change the world—for the better.
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