2nd Teir Men of the 21st Century
So in Part I, we discussed some of the trending problems amongst men today, and how first teir men were dealing with those problems. Essentially, they are stuck within a 20th century frame of mind which tells them that the tradional male jobs are the place to be. Those days are over, but they just don't know it yet.
Now, lets say you are a guy who has woken up to the fact that there is a great disappearance taking place amongst the traditional male jobs, and instead are looking for something that requires a lot more skill and finesse. You do some research and see that some of the people seemingly making the most amount of money in todays economy are on wall street. Bankers, financiers, hedge fund managers, accountants, and traders all come to mind. You do a little more digging and you may come across medicine and law as well. If you are part of this group, I consider you to be a teir 2 male where the 21st century is concerned. You’re starting to see the writing on the wall, and the requirement of schooling to actually get into those highly skilled positions that the new economy has some demand for.
So what is the problem then? Let’s start with the financial industry, a sector that is also traditionally male dominated, and tends to require a much higher skill set than other male dominated career options. A lot of guys go into areas like economics in college with the hopes of landing a job at a bank, being a stock broker, or becoming an accountant. Without beating around the bush, I’m just going to say that I believe the glory days of finance are coming to an end, in my honest opinion. We’re currently living in a transition period where the USA, once the single most important player in the world economy is being phased out by other rising stars. The heyday of finance was in the 1980’s and 90’s when the debt levels of the United States economy were lower, oil was dirt cheap (despite the both recent and temporary crash of oil prices today, which is more political than a natural, organic long term trend) and the stock market was doing better than ever. The story today however is much different.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (represented by the blue line on the graph above) is a good measure of the health of the whole U.S. stock market, as it is an index of the 30 largest companies within the U.S. itself (it’s often used by financial analysts as a sort of barometer for how the economy is doing). Notice that since the year 2000, if you had invested in the general stock market and held your position, it’s likely that you actually saw little to no increase in your net worth. Actually, its likely that you lost money, as you also have to account for inflation during that whole time period. The stock market has gone sideways, which mirrors the lack of real growth in the economy as a whole. Notice that since the year 2000, the stock market has been a roller coaster ride, with every crash followed up by desperate attempts by the U.S. Federal Reserve to pump it back up to all time highs. The red line is a prediction that many contrarian economists are making on where the likely trajectory of the Dow Jones will be, given where the U.S. economy is at. But with financial markets doing so well lately, one must assume that the financial sector in terms of jobs is booming right? Well, not quite..
So the economy is "recovering" according to the government and the stock market is at record highs, yet jobs are still being slashed in the financial sector left and right. What is going on exactly? Well, lets take a look at what a Gallup survey has to say:
Gallup attributes this low ownership rate to the high unemployment rate.
"Between 1998 and 2008, a period of relatively modest unemployment, Gallup, with one exception, found at least 60% of Americans reporting that they owned stock," said Gallup's Lydia Saad. "That changed in April 2009, at the same time the nation's economy was descending into recession and experiencing a near-doubling of the unemployment rate compared with April 2008. By April 2012, with unemployment still elevated at 8.1%, stock ownership had fallen to 53%. It remains at about that level today, perhaps indicating that the nation's current 7.5% unemployment rate, while improved, is still too high to support broader stock ownership."
We can't, however, ignore te possibility that the willingness to invest has also been low. The breathtaking collapse of the stock market from Fall 2008 into Spring 2009 certainly left a bad taste in the mouths of investors.
Source: Business Insider
And once again, we see that men are the ones taking the hardest hit
Of the 41 percent of Americans ages 18 to 34 who expressed interest in buying a home this year, 17 percent of men said their finances were “shaky” – whereas only 6 percent of women said the same.
Female breadwinners are also driving up their family wealth - when the mother is the primary breadwinner, the total median family income is nearly $80,000 – $2,000 more than when the husband is the breadwinner, according to the Pew survey.
What exactly has happened to men?
Many trace the beginning of this dramatic gender reversal to the days of the Great Recession when men were being laid off in droves – three-quarters of the 8 million jobs lost were lost by men, mainly in traditionally male-dominated industries like construction, manufacturing and finance.
So here's the gist of what is occuring. Finance is downsizing because Americans can’t afford to invest like they use to. Despite what the government may say, real unemployment is higher than it should be, and people still have unpleasant memories of the crash of 2008 which deters them from putting any of their now scarce, disposable income into the banking sector. Men in particular who traditionally are the most likely to invest in the stock market are feeling the pinch, and simply aren't participating the the gains being made today. Currently, the U.S. markets are again at a nominal peak, just as they were in 2007 before the crash and the U.S. Federal Reserve has positioned itself to do what it does best, which is popping stock market bubbles by raising interesting rates. As a matter of fact, the U.S. Federal Reserve already has plans to increase interest rates (specifically, the federal funds rate) by the spring of 2015
So you may be asking, “Well then, what happened the last time the Federal Reserve raised interest rates (specifically, the federal funds rate) at the peak of a stock market bubble?” To answer your question, look no further than the stock market bubble in the year 2000 (known as the tech bubble or dotcom bubble)
In mid-1999, the Federal Reserve began slowly raising the Federal Funds Rate as the internet bubble inflated. Eight months later, the internet bubble began to pop. At that time the Fed continued raising rates another point from 5.5% to 6.5%, where it left it for six more months. During that time period, the Nasdaq lost over 50% of its value. Of course, many people were quite angry with the Fed. Some blamed Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan for causing the recession that followed.
So riddle me this. With public perception and participation within the stock market at all time lows, what do you think will happen to their already low perception of investing and finance after the Federal Reserve pops the current bubble in the U.S. financial sector? What do you think will happen to the jobs currently available in an already shrinking sector? If you are looking at finance to be your saving grace, my suggestion to you is sit back and wait for the real fireworks to begin before jumping headfirst into what I view as ticking time bomb.
So what about some of the other professional jobs like doctors and lawyers? Well as a medical student myself, I can share with you some of the issues concerning becoming a doctor today. Firstly, doctors are graduating with more debt that they ever have. On top of this, they are facing the real probability of making less money due to Obamacare. Many specialist positions such as cardiology are being reduced in order to cut costs, or are being slowly phased out such as what is occurring amongst Anesthesiologists, where nurses (a female dominated field) are being given more and more authority to do the jobs of these anesthesiologists, again in favour of saving money.
What you may have picked up on already is that Obamacare does seem to favour one type of doctor, and those are general practitioners (which is something like a family doctor). So if you are looking to be a family doctor, there will definitely be a job there for you, especially since the baby boomer generation is now entering retirement age. The issue you will have to grapple with is the fact that family doctors are amongst the lowest paid doctors, and as mentioned already, the debt levels facing medical school graduates is higher than ever. When you add on top of the fact that there seems to be a growing bottleneck when it comes to getting accepted into medical school, you’ve got a field which may look amazing on paper, but has a lot of hidden caveats that may require further research on your part. It’s still a good field for the dedicated mind you, but I think there are better options personally.
Law is another field that comes up often, but unfortunately my view on lawyers prospects in the future is much worse than what I see for doctors. The USA has one of the highest saturations of lawyers on the planet.
Source: The Examiner
Just like with the medical profession, the economy has caused some malformations within the legal profession, but unlike doctors who still at least have the benefit of being scarce, the legal profession is supersaturated within the USA (and several other countries within the western world). Take a look at this excerpt from an article published on slate.com titled The Real Problem with Law Schools: They Train too many Lawyers
The crisis could have been predicted. Demand for legal services boomed in the 1990s and 2000s. College graduates, drawn by skyrocketing pay and subsidized by government-guaranteed loans, flocked to law school in ever greater numbers. Law schools, rational market actors that they are, hiked tuition. The higher prices people were willing to pay for legal education encouraged universities to enlarge classes and open additional law schools. Not surprisingly, supply overtook demand. The mismatch is now exacerbated by the development of technological substitutes for some legal work, including online services that enable people to fill out legal forms, and a weak economy.
The “crisis,” then, is just part of the normal cycle of the economy—familiar to anyone who has held a job as construction worker, software engineer, salesman, or journalist. And the market is reacting in a predictable way. Fewer people are applying to law schools; class sizes are shrinking; some law schools may shut down. The excess supply of lawyers will reduce the price of legal services—a boon for everyone outside the legal sector—and so some lawyers will leave the profession for early retirement or more lucrative pursuits. (We seem to have forgotten the usual complaint about lawyers that they charge too much, not too little.) Demand and supply will eventually equilibrate, and the legal services market will look something like it did 10 or 15 years ago.
There are some important dots I want to point out here before moving forward. Firstly, note that just like the financial sector, the medical and legal professions have also seen significant changes take place, all thanks to the declining economy. Doctors and lawyers are taking a cut in the name of creating a cheaper and more efficient system. But remember what i said earlier in this take, “If you can mould yourself into someone who finds solutions to the problems that exist today, or find ways of doing the same tasks in half the time and half the cost, the 21st century will build a monument in your name.” Lawyers today are increasingly being undercut by new, 21st century style digital systems that allows the average joe to bypass the legal fees and get the job done himself (read the last sentence of that first paragraph from the slate.com article). You can also bet your bottom dollar that regardless of whether or not republicans take power in the next election cycle, healthcare in the United States will increasingly promote measures seen in countries like Canada in order to reduce costs and increase efficiency. The USA has one of the most expensive healthcare systems in the world, but it is simultaneously amongst the least efficient in the world.
The point i’m trying to make here is that you want to be amongst the individuals who are creating things like Obamacare (which pushes for a much more digitized medical system) for the masses, and online tax/legal filing services which are solving 21st century problems using 21st century tools. Now, i don’t want anyone reading this take, who happens to be in economics, or medicine or law school to get the impression that I want you to drop whatever you’re studying and run for the hills. On the contrary. What I say to you in particular is find ways to differentiate yourself and solve problems within your field.
So a 2nd teir man of this centuty is one who sees the need to acquire an advanced skill set, but they still may be unaware of changing dynamics of the 21st century that are of a higher order, well above the comprehension of a first teir man. They are technically right, but they lack one important thing in my view which makes the difference between a man doing alright and a man doing phenomenally well in today’s economy. That thing is the realization that no matter what field you are in, be it music, graphic design, engineering, retail, etc…you need to have a fundamental understanding of the 21st century economy, where its going and the seismic shift that is occurring on a daily basis in the way the international monetary system works. A financial education/mindset (which can and should be self taught) absolutely must go hand in hand with whatever field you are in
In part III, we go into depth on what a 3rd teir 21st century man look like, and how I believe they will ultimately be the great leaders of the next decade and beyondThe Age of Men is Over - Part I