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Expand chart
Data: Kurz et al. 2018; Chart: Naema Ahmed and Harry Stevens/Axios

When Generation X was the age of millennials, they had significantly more financial assets — more even than the Boomer generation before them, according to a new report by the Federal Reserve Bank.

If any generation could be called "entitled," it might have been Gen Xers — if it weren't for the typically large debt that ultimately crushed their chances of wealth.

  • The economic environment in the years immediately before the financial crash made it easy for young adults at the time — members of Generation X, born from 1965 to 1980 — to buy homes, cars and other properties, and to invest in stocks.
  • But when you subtract the average Gen Xer's debt — mostly the easy-to-obtain mortgages — they weren't much better off than young Boomers before them, Bill Emmons, assistant vice president at the Fed in St. Louis, tells Axios.

By the numbers: More than half of Gen Xers owned homes when they were 21 to 36, around the age of millennials today. Just 33.9% of the same age group in 2016 owned homes, the Fed said.

  • Young Gen Xers were also more likely to own stock at that age than millennials or boomers, at 28%, compared with 15% and 14%, respectively.
  • Millennials lacked the same financial opportunity to buy homes as Gen Xers at their age, and "as house prices have grown, they haven't been able to cash into that in the same way," said Lowell Rickets, of the St. Louis Fed's Center for Household Financial Stability.
  • But even with the student debt crisis, millennial median and average debt is less than that of the generation before them when they were the same age, according to the report.

The bottom line: With the financial crash, the investments that Gen Xers made when they were young still haven't really paid off, according to Emmons, and ultimately left them worse off.

Millennials may not bear the same risk as Gen Xers did, but they are still having trouble accumulating wealth, partly because of student debt.

Go deeper

The week the Trump show ended

Data: NewsWhip; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Donald Trump was eclipsed in media attention last week by President Biden for the first time since Trump took office, according to viewership data on the internet, on social media and on cable news.

Why it matters: After Trump crowded out nearly every other news figure and topic for five years, momentum of the new administration took hold last week and the former president retreated, partly by choice and partly by being forced off the big platforms.

Pay TV's bleak post-pandemic outlook

Data: eMarketer; Chart: Axios Visuals

The pandemic has taken a huge toll on the Pay-TV industry, and with the near-term future of live sports in question, there are no signs of it getting better in 2021.

Why it matters: The fraught Pay-TV landscape is forcing some smaller, niche cable channels out of business altogether.

1 hour ago - World

Biden sets his sights on China

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/Getty Images  

The new administration's first few moves and statements on China suggest that President Biden may continue some of the Trump era's most assertive policies.

Why it matters: China's severe domestic repression, its dramatic rise as a technological superpower, and its increasingly aggressive actions around the globe mean that the world expects the American president to take action.

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