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Aging Boomers To Leave Trillions To Kids – Or Will They?

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4 minute read

Say you are a millennial or Gen Xer – that is, anyone born after 1964. You are, if a Gen Xer, pondering retirement with some anxiety, and watching in horror as your body enters middle age. If a millennial you’re possibly just stressed out about everything, or so the stereotype goes, anything but that distant mirage called retirement.

One thing is certain though – both those groups, and other institutions, are intently watching that huge pile of Boomer money, the multi-trillion-dollar wealth transfer that has bulked up spectacularly over the past decades. Where is it going to go to, how, and what will the recipients do with it?

There is a danger in thinking of this too simplistically, that the death of the boomers will mean boomer children gathered for the reading of the will simply be handed huge cheques with which to go frolic in the sunshine. Others see the looming wealth transfer as a vast turbo for the stock market, assuming that hordes of inheritors will park their money in stocks (bonds are too boring and pay nothing – not an easy sell to jaded youth) if the world survives the coronavirus meltdown (and if it doesn’t, there will be much bigger worries at hand, like trying to learn how to grow a carrot or chop firewood with that dull axe in the garage).

Of course the answer is far more complex than that; some inheritors will travel, some will invest, some will buy houses, and some will party like its 1999. Some stubborn boomers will not die for a very long time – recall that the Boomers are defined as being born before 1946 and 1964, or now aged between 74 and 56 – spring chickens here in the western world. How they will spend it is purely speculative and individual, but it’s worth considering some of the aspects that we know will happen for sure.

Demographically, children of boomers have tended to move to large centers, become urbanized, and not as enamored of the two cars in a two-car garage in the suburbs boomer mecca. A large question then becomes: what happens to all that boomer habitat?

A Google search of boomer homes indicates somewhere between 20 and 30 million homes in the US (and probably directly proportional in Canada) own homes (the number depending on vacation properties, rentals, etc.) are owned by boomers. Most of these are in suburbia, where millennials are not all that keen on hanging out. So, as one Wall Street Journal article from late 2019 asks, Boomers: Who’s going to buy your 21 million homes?

This is an important question, because much of that boomer wealth is tied up in those paid-for homes. Now, how does that muddy the waters?

We’ve tended to see the wealth transfer as a bunch of cash being thrown to inheritors, but what if the inheritance is millions of McMansions and other suburban treasures that few millennials want? What happens to the value of that pile, and, for the tail end of boomers and Gen Xers, what happens to the value of that real estate?

Given the fact that millennials prefer experience to stuff – that is, they tend to be motivated by things other than bigger fancier cars and bigger fancier houses – they may choose to take time traveling, or extreme-sporting to deal with anxious lives, or lord knows what. But we do know also that the younger generation is not nearly as interested in the stock market, so maybe that vast wealth transfer will turn out to be anything but what we imagine.

 

For more stories, visit Todayville Calgary

Terry Etam is a twenty-five-year veteran of Canada’s energy business. He has worked at a number of occupations spanning the finance, accounting, communications, and trading aspects of energy, and has written for several years on his own website Public Energy Number One and the widely-read industry site the BOE Report. In 2019, his first book, The End of Fossil Fuel Insanity, was published. Mr. Etam has been called an industry thought leader and the most influential voice in the oil patch. He lives in Calgary, Alberta.

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Economy

Carbon tax costs Canadian economy billions

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From the Canadian Taxpayers Federation

Author: Franco Terrazzano 

This tax costs Canadians big time at the gas pump, on home heating bills, on the farm and at the dinner table.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is calling on the federal government to scrap the carbon tax in light of newly released government data showing the tax will cost the Canadian economy about $25 billion in 2030.

“Once again, we see the government’s own data showing what hardworking Canadians already know: the carbon tax costs Canada big time,” said Franco Terrazzano, CTF Federal Director. “The carbon tax makes the necessities of life more expensive and it will cost our economy billions of dollars.

“Prime Minister Justin Trudeau must scrap his carbon tax now.”

The government of Canada released modelling showing the cost of the carbon tax on the Canadian economy Thursday.

“The country’s GDP is expected to be about $25 billion lower in 2030 due to carbon pricing than it would be otherwise,”  reports the Globe and Mail.

Canada contributes about 1.5 per cent of global emissions.

Government data shows emissions are going up in Canada. In 2022, the latest year of data, emissions in Canada were 708 megatonnes of CO2, an increase of 9.3 megatonnes from 2021.

The federal carbon tax currently costs 17 cents per litre of gasoline, 21 cents per litre of diesel and 15 cents per cubic metre of natural gas.

The carbon tax adds about $13 to the cost of filling up a minivan, about $20 to the cost of filling up a pickup truck and about $200 to the cost of filling up a big rig truck with diesel.

Farmers are charged the carbon tax for heating their barns and drying grains with natural gas and propane. The carbon tax will cost Canadian farmers $1 billion by 2030, according to the Parliamentary Budget Officer.

“No matter how many times this government tries to put lipstick on the carbon tax pig, the reality is clear,” said Kris Sims, CTF Alberta Director. “This tax costs Canadians big time at the gas pump, on home heating bills, on the farm and at the dinner table. Trudeau should make life more affordable and improve the Canadian economy by scrapping his carbon tax.”

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New York and Vermont Seek to Impose a Retroactive Climate Tax

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From Heartland Daily News

By Joshua Loucks for the Cato Institute.

Energy producers will be subject to retroactive taxes in New York if the state assembly passes Senate Bill S2129A, known as the “Climate Change Superfund Act.” The superfund legislation seeks to impose a retroactive tax on energy companies that have emitted greenhouse gases (GHGs) and operated within the state over the last seventy years.

If passed, the new law will impose $75 billion in repayment fees for “historical polluters,” who lawmakers assert are primarily responsible for climate change damages within the state. The state will “assign liability to and require compensation from companies commensurate with their emissions” over the last “70 years or more.” The bill would establish a standard of strict liability, stating that “companies are required to pay into the fund because the use of their products caused the pollution. No finding of wrongdoing is required.”

New York is not alone in this effort. Superfunds built on retroactive taxes on GHG emissions are becoming increasingly popular. Vermont recently enacted similar legislation, S.259 (Act 122), titled the “Climate Superfund Act,” in which the state also retroactively taxes energy producers for historic emissions. Similar bills have also been introduced in Maryland and Massachusetts.

Climate superfund legislation seems to have one purpose: to raise revenue by taxing a politically unpopular industry. Under the New York law, fossil fuel‐​producing energy companies would be taxed billions of dollars retroactively for engaging in legal and necessary behavior. For example, the seventy‐​year retroactive tax would conceivably apply to any company—going back to 1954—that used fossil fuels to generate electricity or produced fuel for New York drivers.

The typical “economic efficiency” arguments for taxing an externality go out the window with the New York and Vermont approach, for at least two reasons. First, the goal of a blackboard or textbook approach to a carbon tax is to internalize the GHG externality. To apply such a tax accurately, the government would need to calculate the social cost of carbon (SCC).

Unfortunately, estimating the SCC is methodologically complex and open to wide ranges of estimates. As a result, the SCC is theoretically very useful but practically impossible to calculate with any reasonable degree of precision.

Second, the retroactive nature of these climate superfunds undermines the very incentives a textbook tax on externalities  would promote. A carbon tax’s central feature is that it is intended to reduce externalities from current and future activity by changing incentives. However, by imposing retroactive taxes, the New York and Vermont legislation will not impact emitters’ future behavior in a way that mimics a textbook carbon tax or improves economic outcomes.

Arbitrary and retroactive taxes can, however, raise prices for consumers by increasing policy uncertainty, affecting firm profitability, and reducing investment (or causing investors to flee GHG‐​emitting industries in the state altogether). Residents in both New York and Vermont already pay over 30 percent more than the US average in residential electricity prices, and this legislation will not lower these costs to consumers.

Climate superfunds are not a serious attempt to solve environmental challenges but rather a way to raise government revenue while unfairly punishing an entire industry (one whose actions the New York legislation claims “have been unconscionable, closely reflecting the strategy of denial, deflection, and delay used by the tobacco industry”).

Fossil fuel companies enabled GHG emissions, of course, but they also empowered significant growth, mobility, and prosperity. The punitive nature of the policy is laid bare by the fact that neither New York nor Vermont used a generic SCC or an evidentiary proceeding to calculate precise damages.

Finally, establishing a standard in which “no finding of wrongdoing is required” to levy fines against historical actions that were (and still are) legally permitted sets a dangerous precedent for what governments can do, not only to businesses that have produced fossil fuels but also to individuals who have consumed them.

Cato research associate Joshua Loucks contributed to this post.

Originally published by the Cato Institute. Republished with permission under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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