Good morning, Quartz readers!
Ten years after Lehman Brothers went bust, many of the financial scars have healed. Household balance sheets for most are roughly where they used to be. The stock market is up, housing has recovered, and banks are lending again. But real damage remains, and could have consequences for many years to come.
The financial crisis changed how millennials feel about risk. In fact, they may be forever more risk-averse than previous generations. This is reflected in how they invest in their education, careers, and financial portfolios.
There has been a crash in demand for humanities degrees, with university students majoring in more job-oriented fields, like nursing, computer science, and economics. But while nurses typically earn more, if history graduates get lucky, their salary ceilings are higher. Humanities is a riskier bet, but more practical fields feature a lower upside in terms of earnings.
The same goes for the kind of employer sought by workers who came of age after Lehman’s collapse. Despite the stereotype of millennials flocking to Silicon Valley to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams, they tend to be less inclined to self-employment than earlier generations. Since the financial crisis, there has been a drop-off in self-employment among 20- and 30-somethings.
Children of the Great Depression were wary of the stock market for their entire lives. The same seems true for millennials, at least so far. The data show that they choose to put less of their money into stocks than previous generations—much less.
Millennials are now approaching middle age with weaker asset returns and a slower earnings-growth career track. This implies an embrace of a low-risk, low-reward future. After all, 10 years ago, millennials experienced what happens when things go wrong—really wrong—and they won’t soon forget it. —Allison Schrager
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Why dairy matters. The US’s spat with Canada over milk imports is a sign of much bigger fights to come, as the world retreats from its embrace of “hyperglobalization” to the defense of the nation-state, writes Gwynn Guilford. This trade squabble is particularly fraught because of the wild swings in dairy production and consumption, which is ultimately the result of bovine biology.
The future of funding is female. More women than ever are starting companies, but women received just 15% of US venture capital last year. In the third installment of Quartz’s year-long exploration of the fight for gender equality, we created a searchable index of the top 250 female entrepreneurs who are working to shrink the gender fundraising gap.
Hurricane Maria was partly a manmade disaster. In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, as hospitals contended with a lack of electricity and basic supplies, many Puerto Ricans died agonizing and unnecessary deaths—but there’s never been an accurate death toll. Quartz’s Ana Campoy teamed up with the Associated Press and Puerto Rico’s Center for Investigative Journalism to tell victims’ stories and reveal the cost of ineffective disaster response.
Suicide hotlines really do save lives. Depression is a disease that’s uniquely isolating. But when Quartz senior reporter Corinne Purtill called a suicide hotline on the day she’d decided to end her life, she spoke to a stranger who offered compassion and help. As Purtill writes today, she now knows that suicide doesn’t end suffering: “The only way to safely dispose of pain is to transform it into something different, something of enduring value: into art, or empathy, or resilience.”
“Plus-size” fashion has no future. That’s what Alexandra Waldman, the co-founder of Universal Standard, a clothing label for women sized US 6 to 32, told Annaliese Griffin in an interview for Quartzy’s Redesigning Fashion series. The goal, Waldman said, was to make beautiful clothes for all: “They weren’t plus-size clothes, they were just clothes.”
Hunting reveals a lot about America, liberals, and masculinity. Can a solution to America’s gun problem be espied through a gun sight? Oliver Staley finds out the hard—or, more accurately, cold, expensive, and very, very still—way. That is, by learning how to shoot deer.
Five things elsewhere that made us smarter
Artificial intelligence is much more than an algorithm. Every question you ask Alexa can only be answered because thousands of humans have been exploited to build and maintain the technology. Researchers Kate Crawford and Vladan Joler map the vast resources required to make AI possible, from underground miners to data scientists.
China’s re-education camps are taking a toll—in Kazakhstan. In Xinjiang, China, an estimated 1 million Muslims are held in extrajudicial detention by the government and subject to torture and abuse as part of a re-education campaign. In Kazakhstan, where many of the detained Muslims come from, the Guardian’s Lily Kuo collected the heartbreaking stories of families left in complete darkness as they try to locate their loved ones.
Larry Page isn’t showing up. The Alphabet CEO spurned a request to testify on Capitol Hill this month, but as Mark Bergen and Austin Carr write for Bloomberg, that was just the latest incident of Page avoiding the public eye. With a mind geared more for R&D than P&L, Page shuns operational issues and prefers to focus on “moonshots.” That’s becoming an issue.
Left-wing British anti-Semitism in still on the rise. Barely a month goes by without another high-profile Labour party figure making yet another racist comment. Tanya Gold’s analysis of the crisis for Harper’s includes interviews with Labour figures that reveal more unsettling anti-Semitism. The crisis, it appears, will not be ending soon.
Americans are bringing fidget spinners to a gunfight. A couple of years ago, two humble Kickstarter products launched a now-booming market for anti-anxiety gadgets. At Vox, Rebecca Jennings traces the history of weighted blankets and fidget toys, asking whether it’s ethical to profit from America’s top mental health issue and what the anxiety economy can teach us.
Our best wishes for a relaxing but thought-filled weekend. Please send any news, comments, reclusive CEOs, and anti-anxiety gadgets to email@example.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day, or download our apps for iPhone and Android. Today’s Weekend Brief was edited by Kira Bindrim and Steve Mollman.