This month, we’re exploring the new money culture: from alt assets, to crypto, to El*n M*sk.
In our Predictionary, we gave Gen Z a new name: Gen V, or Generation Virus—to reflect those those on the cusp of entering the real world who had their plans and lives upended by the pandemic, environmental devastation, and much more. Today a sense of this upheaval is transforming the worlds of money and finance — or whatever you want to call it now that $USD has turned into $WTF. The future of money is now, and it’s time we explored how Gen Z is at the forefront of the new money culture.
Gen Z came of age during the 2008 financial crisis and the chaotic inter-Covid economy.. That, and the fact that the country has been on a steady path of wealth consolidation amongst the top 1% since the Reagan era has shaped Gen Z’s thoughts not just on money itself but also on the culture that surrounds it.
While only 42% of Gen Zers hold a favorable view of capitalism, they’re also a generation (like others before them), with some striking contradictions. For instance, while 60% of Gen Z are influenced by a fashion brand reducing their carbon footprint, many also can’t get enough of brands like Shein, regarded by many as fast fashion on steroids. The same can be said for Gen Z and their value systems around money. Gen Z feels that capitalism is broken and that we’ve gone full gonzo, and maybe that’s the point. The Gen Z’s future of money is less Alex Keaton and more Keith Gill. Less Rolex and more Pokemon cards. So let’s dive in.
Gen Z’s shifting views on money are clearly driving markets and the popularity of trading platforms like Robinhood and Coinbase. Flush with time (and stimulus payments) last year, Gen Z took to trading. Brokerage firm Apex Clearing, said it opened nearly 6 million accounts in 2020 — up 137% from 2019 with 1 million new accounts belonging to Gen Z investors. Andreessen Horowitz partners Anish Acharya and Matthieu Hafemeister attribute this to “a natural extension of hustle culture, in which risk is embraced and failure is accepted (and even celebrated)." A digitally native generation, Gen Z easily adapted to the new online world of finance — one driven by r/WallStreetBets and meme accounts like @litquidity.
For better or for worse, investing became a game — even a joke. And it’s always a joke until it’s not, only this time, Gen Z is in on it. They were even part of the driving force behind the infamous Gamestop saga (and the ensuing AMC squeeze). One 20 year old Robinhood user, Louis Weimer said “it’s all fair game, so why should the system be so favorable to people who have more money?”