The Clash of Generations

The Clash of Generations

Saving Ourselves, Our Kids, and Our Economy

By Laurence J. Kotlikoff and Scott Burns

How America went bankrupt and how we can save ourselves—as a country and as individuals—from economic disaster.





How America went bankrupt and how we can save ourselves—as a country and as individuals—from economic disaster.

The United States is bankrupt, flat broke. Thanks to accounting that would make Enron blush, America's insolvency goes far beyond what our leaders are disclosing. The United States is a fiscal basket case, in worse shape than the notoriously bailed-out countries of Greece, Ireland, and others. How did this happen? InThe Clash of Generations, experts Laurence Kotlikoff and Scott Burns document our six-decade, off-balance-sheet, unsustainable financing scheme. They explain how we have balanced our longer lives on the backs of our (relatively few) children. At the same time, we've been on a consumption spree, saving and investing less than nothing. And that's not to mention the evisceration of the middle class and a financial system that has proven it can't be trusted. Kotlikoff and Burns outline grassroots strategies for saving ourselves—and especially our children—from what could be a truly catastrophic financial collapse.

Kotlikoff and Burns sounded the alarm in their widely acclaimedThe Coming Generational Storm, but politicians didn't listen. Now the need for action is even more urgent. It's up to us to demand radical reform of our tax system, our healthcare system, and our Social Security system, and to insist on better paths to investment return than those provided by Wall Street (mis)managers. Kotlikoff and Burns's "Purple Plans" (so called because they will appeal to both Republicans and Democrats) have been endorsed by a who's who of economists and offer a new way forward; and their revolutionary investment strategy for individuals replaces the idea of financial capital with "life decision capital."

Of course, we won't be doing all this just for ourselves. We need to fix America's fiscal mess before our kids inherit it.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262016728 288 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 4 b&w illus., 10 figures, 6 tables


$18.00 T ISBN: 9780262526104 288 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 4 b&w illus., 10 figures, 6 tables


  • This is a truly important book, and I hope that it will be so widely read as to inspire a meaningful widespread dialog among individuals, families, and policymakers.

    Geoff Considine

    The Portfolioist


  • The United States doesn't have a problem with debt it cannot pay, but rather with promises it cannot keep—promises to older Americans that, as things stand now, will bankrupt younger Americans. Intensely informative and entertaining at the same time, The Clash of Generations will lead you through the fiscal minefield that lies in our nation's future path and show you the way safely out of it. If you care about your grandchildren and the nation they will inhabit, you owe it to yourself and to them to read this book.

    William J. Bernstein

    author of The Investor's Manifesto and A Splendid Exchange

  • Economics doesn't get better or more disturbing than this.The Clash of Generations will tell you things you never knew and hoped you'd never learn. They are straight truths about our country's relentless expropriation of the next generation that will either land young and old alike in an early economic grave or culminate in generational war. Read this book if you care about your children. Read this book if you care about yourself. And read this book if you care about our country.

    John Silber

    President Emeritus, Boston University

  • The Clash of Generations is so well written that Scott Burns and Laurence Kotlikoff should be considered the Stieg Larsson of economics. But there is one difference: the horror story they tell—about the debts that burden the young—are not fictional. This is a great book of great importance, and every paragraph contains some new and interesting observation.

    George Akerlof

    Nobel Laureate in Economics, 2001

  • A clarion call for those who love America, and wish to preserve its virtues for future generations. A look down into the abyss to which we are headed, and some serious, well-considered recommendations for getting us back on track.The Clash of Generations is a compelling and fluid read, a don't-put-it-down-till-you-finish-it book, at once both scary and hopeful.

    William P. Bengen

    independent financial advisor