Why millennials do not trust the stock market

About a month ago, Goldman Sachs released a poll which came out with some quite stupefying results. It showed that only 18 percent of the young adults trusted the stock market as “the best way to save for the future.” This means that investor confidence within this age group is at an all time low, and that the stock market has gone “out of fashion”, as it were, in that people do not want to invest their money in stocks, especially given the uncertain nature of the economic climate, instead turning to crowdfunding and community banks as a way to secure income for later years. Above all, there are some key reasons why this generation do not trust the stock market as a way to generate income, the first of which being the economic crash of 2008.

When stocks plummeted in 2008, many millennials saw their elders lose the shirts off their backs, which extirpated the trust that had been gradually built up in previous years. The cost of living is rising rapidly as it is, therefore people need a stable source of income now more than ever. It is unmistakeable that stocks cannot provide this anymore, especially when we look at the recent volatility that the Chinese markets have been experiencing, with quite a few investors gaining a great deal of wealth and losing it almost as quickly. As student loan is higher now than ever, aspiring and enterprising people are having to sacrifice a large chunk of their income just to pay back these loans, which means that a steady stream of “extra” income is needed, not   a rapid gain and loss of wealth.

The general populace is also aware of more information than ever before these days, especially with sites such as Wikileaks coming to the fore, revealing information which national governments did not wish to be released. As such, millennials now know that the stock market is at least somewhat rigged, with stock prices surging far ahead of economic growth over the past five to ten years. The market being rigged also means that there is no longer a level playing field when investing in the stock market, as some high profile investors are aware of more information than others, giving them a greater chance of making money than their not so sagacious counterparts. In my opinion, millennials need the knowledge that they have the same chance of making money as anyone else off the financial markets, and, as this has not been provided thus far, they have been disincentivised to invest, and risk their money to the whims and fancies of society’s higher-ups.

Finally, some millennials just do not have the knowledge required to invest in the stock market. The Goldman poll showed that 16% of people believed that they did not have the practical knowledge required to invest in the financial markets, which links itself to a lack of financial literacy education in high school. Let us take America as an example. Only 17 states require financial literacy education in high school, which means that not enough millennials are aware of the opportunities for wealth creation that the financial markets provide. It follows that people will definitely not want to risk their money in an environment which they do not understand in the first place, and would rather have a stable, albeit comparatively low source of income than a volatile, fluctuating base of wealth. It remains to be seen whether these concerns can be addressed, and perhaps then the stock market will return to its previous place as a viable alternative to secure income for later years.

I must stress that these reasons are not meant to be taken as fact, but rather as a strong personal opinion of mine as to why millennials just do not want to invest in the financial markets anymore.

Why Greece should leave the Eurozone

The debate over Greece leaving the Eurozone has been raging for a matter of years now. Some believe that Greece staying in the Eurozone is axiomatic, in that a Greek exit from the Euro would ravage the economy, perhaps causing hyperinflation. Others argue to look at the other side of the coin, and propagate the idea that a Greece exit would attenuate the suffering of the Greek people, as they might only have to suffer for the next 10 years, rather than the next 50. Personally, it is my firm belief; my avowal, if you will, that Greece should leave the eurozone, and start a new era, having ended the old era of economic pain.

Almost at the very command of Angela Merkel, the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was forced to impose harsher austerity members than the previous weekend’s “No” vote had suggested. This paves the way for increased value added tax, increased privatisation of organisations previously owned by the state, and an increase in the retirement age, making the years that people have to work longer. The harsh austerity measures outlined in the plan forced on Tsipras make the deterioration of the economy an inevitability, which forces the Greeks to sell public assets. We can all agree on the fact that this is a malfeasance in itself, and that the Greek people should not be subjected to having the public assets sold in the interests of paying down Greece’s loans.

It can be clearly seen that Greece is in the midst of an economic depression. The latest measures imposed on Greece by Merkel will only make this worse, with the economy getting worse by the day. If Greece, however, exits the Euro and returns to the Drachma, they will have a substantially weaker currency on their hands, which will be a massive influence in helping Greece get themselves out of their deflation and debt. If Greece does get out of this negative spiral of deflation, they will be alleviated from the economic stagnation and high unemployment that currently pervades the country. This can only be a good thing, as more people can sustain a living due to an increase in jobs.

Moreover, it is arguable that the Greek economy will find it very hard to recover within the Eurozone. Greece needs a complete devaluation of its currency through a flexible exchange rate in order to make economic growth a likely scenario again. It is clear as a bell that the short term consequences would be quite damning for the Greek people, however this is a far better alternative than the other scenario, in which the people are suffering from hardship and poverty for the next half a century, potentially. This whole saga with Greece has affected other economies as well, which has led to fears of an Italian, or even a Spanish exit. If one of these two countries exits the eurozone, the ramifications of this would be irreversible for the euro and it would likely never bounce back.

Finally, it is a definite fact that this whole drama has caused deep political instability and rifts within the Eurozone, which means that the tension between the people in the Eurozone has never been higher. It was revealed earlier that a majority of German citizens want Greece to exit the Eurozone, and if this is the case, then there will be gargantuan pressure on Angela Merkel to force this to happen (some would argue that she is already exhibiting this). In order to put this tension within the Eurozone to rest, Greece needs to exit so we can have some semblance of peace in the Eurozone. All these factors combined show that it is in the best interests of all the countries involved that Greece does exit the Eurozone, and although this may have significant short-term impacts, it is definitely the best thing to do to secure long term economic prosperity for all involved.

Do corporations and their higher-ups exhibit psychopathic traits?

In the mass media these days, psychopathy has been vilified to no end. Using examples such as Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Bundy, the media has managed to convince people that being a psychopath is contemporaneous with having an intrinsically malevolent personality. However, this could not be further away from the truth. Psychopathy is, in fact, simply an alternate way of being, not the thing that defines killers such as the aforementioned Dahmer. In fact, after having carried out extensive research about the matter over the past week, I have concluded that some of the most successful people in the world of business have psychopathic characteristics. Before I expand on my reasons for believing this, I would like to thank Mr. Matthew Gaffney for putting the proverbial seed in my mind to write about this matter. I would also like to say that these are simply my opinions and they are not to be taken as fact, or as definitive proof that any person or the companies mentioned are psychopathic in the slightest.

I will use some of the criminal psychologist Professor Robert Hare’s criteria to determine psychopaths in this blog post. The first trait I will examine is having a tendency to lie, or pathological lying. If a person is a pathological liar, this means that they lie in an extreme way, which I take to mean destructive, rather than constructive or “white” lies, which cause other people distress in some way. This trait was shown in its entirety by Coke last year, when they blatantly lied about their so called “Pomegranate Blueberry Flavored Blend of 5 Juices” a drink which contained just 0.3% pomegranate juice. Coke blatantly using false advertising in order to increase profits was indubitably to the detriment of their consumer base, meaning that Coke, did, indeed, show the trait of pathological lying when they blatantly did not tell the truth about the actual type of beverage that it was. This means that, without a doubt, some of the higher-ups at Coke must have seen this as a good thing to do, which does indicate a degree of psychopathy.

Psychopaths are also defined by another trait, which is to show a lack of remorse. What this means is that after having done something bad, a person does not feel bad about doing it and is not empathetic with the victims of whatever he or she has done. An example of this was not recherché at all, as it took me the best part of half a minute to find this article, detailing how Walmart fired 2200 employees due to “plumbing problems”. Walmart doing this just hours before stores closed shows an unequivocal lack of remorse on their part, as it shows that they were not empathetic in the slightest to the employees or their families. Again, some higher-ups in the corporation must have made the decision to make so many employees redundant at the same time, which shows this psychopathic trait has been exhibited by this corporation’s higher-ups.

According to Professor Hare’s test, a tendency to boredom is also exhibited by psychopaths. This is shown clearly when we look at the scenario of RBS executive Mr. Rory Cullinan leaving the company after complaining of being “bored” at work. Even after having such a presumably high-paying jobs, complete with the glamour of being in such a high position that we see on our television screens so much, Mr. Cullinan was bored of his life at RBS and so decided to leave. This fits in perfectly with the trait of a tendency to boredom, which shows that Mr. Cullinan was psychopathic to a degree in this regard. Being in such a high position, one can only wonder how many company decisions he may have influenced, which also must have added to the psychopathy of the company as a whole. This is also only one example, and one only has to wonder how many famous departures are not due to issues over pay and the like, but over the genuine boredom that a psychopath frequently experiences.

The final two psychopathic traits that I will examine in this article is a grandiose sense of self worth and sexually promiscuous. This means that people have an inflated ego, which leads them to believe that they are worth more than what they actually are and are somehow “special”, when it fact it may not be so. This trait could also perhaps lead to the sexually promiscuous behaviour mentioned before, as these individuals may think that they are too “good” to only keep to one partner. This is perhaps best shown by the executive chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt, who is described as a “serial womaniser” in the article, which talks about him buying a $15 million Manhattan penthouse. This article shows both of the psychopathic traits mentioned earlier in Schmidt, as not only is he buying himself such a large penthouse, which it could be argued that he does not need, but is also a “serial womaniser” and cannot stick to one partner, perhaps due to the aforementioned grandiose sense of self-worth. As such, it can be argued that Schmidt is indeed a psychopath to some degree, which may have been transferred in some part to the company he works for, Google.

In this blog post, I have examined five of the twenty traits that define a psychopath, and have shown how companies themselves and also their higher-ups exhibit these characteristics, whether it be through buying luxury penthouses or through falsely advertising pomegranate juice. Sometimes, these psychopathic traits can be good for a company, for example when a firing needs to happen and the psychopathic individual in question is only worried about the best thing for the company, and not the welfare of the individual being fired or his or her families. However, some of the arrogance displayed by these CEOs can and does give these companies a bad image. Regardless, this blog post has indeed proven that psychopathy is not also exclusive to serial killers such as Ted Bundy, but even the most successful individuals that we live up to display it as well. It is far more commonplace than the general populous think, and even the best of us are not free from its hold.