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Updated: Jul 20, 2023

“Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Luke 23:34


Gun violence targeting the young has increased this decade, and we all knew it before the tragedies of last week. In Chicago alone, 101 residents under the age of 20 were murdered in 2020, up from 76 in 2019. School shootings also rose in 2020; the Washington Post counted 42 in the U.S., the most on record and up from 27 in 2019. And now we have the unspeakable tragedies of Buffalo and Uvalde, where both shooters were 18 years old.


American adolescence is undergoing a drastic change. Three decades ago, the most dire public health threats to teenagers in the United States came from good ol’ fashioned drinking and smoking. Unfortunately, what I personally have always considered to be simple (and really, if we’re being honest, kinda awesome) rights of passage appear to have been replaced by soaring rates of mental health disorders.


Last November, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Children’s Hospital Association all declared that the pandemic-related decline in child and adolescent mental health had become a national emergency, citing “dramatic increases in emergency department visits for all mental health emergencies.”

In 2019, 13 percent of adolescents reported having a major depressive episode, a 60% increase from 2007. Emergency room visits by children and adolescents in that period also rose sharply for anxiety, mood disorders and self-harm. According to Express Scripts, prescriptions for antidepressants rose 38% for teenagers from 2015 to 2019 compared to 15% for adults. Suicide rates for people ages 10 to 24, stable from 2000 to 2007, leaped nearly 60% by 2018, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

San Diego County’s homeless population has exploded; my hometown of Encinitas, CA experienced a whopping 73% increase in homelessness since 2020. The overall number of homeless youths (under the age of 25) in the county increased 20%, and the number of those younger than 18 increased 50%.

The rising rates of mass shootings, prescriptions for antidepressants, emergency-room visits for suicide, and homelessness among our children leave little doubt that we are facing a new kind of societal challenge.


Federal research shows that teenagers are getting less sleep and exercise and spending less in-person time with friends. What we’re now dealing with is the fallout from the cognitive implosion we’ve forced upon our children that has resulted in anxiety, depression, compulsive behaviors, self-harm and suicide.

Over the last century, the age of puberty onset has dropped markedly for girls, to 12 years old today from 14 years old in 1990, and the age of onset for boys has followed a similar path. The falling age of puberty has created a widening gap between incoming stimulation and what a young brain can process because kids are being exposed to a deluge of adult stimulus at a much earlier age than previous generations by way of cell phones and social media.

Yet even with the declining age of puberty, federal research shows that the percentage of high-school-age teenagers who report having had sex at least once has plummeted from 50% in 1990 to just 38% a year ago. Teenage alcohol consumption? Down by even larger amounts. These statistics are seen by many as positive developments, but to me it indicates that our kids are so depressed that not even sex and booze are fun for them, and that’s definitely bad.


Of course, we’re seeing malaise of varying degrees across all aspects of society; that can definitely be said for financial markets. Inflation is so out of control that gasoline and meat are now beyond the budgets of millions of Americans. War continues to be waged abroad. Covid is spreading again like wildfire. And the slaughter of children. It’s fair to say that there’s a wide gamut of negative stimuli weighing on the collective American psyche.

And we haven’t gotten to our economic rock bottom, either. As Jamie Dimon said on Wednesday, we’re in store for a hurricane.

Plus, we just got a Jim Cramer indicator:

Cramer is one of the most reliable contrarian indicators that investors have. You know what to do.


We are sellers of rallies and buyers of dips. Besides just hugging your children and sharing some time together around the dinner table, we recommend in the current environment:

  • Not to buy breakouts

  • Fortifying portfolios for politically induced volatility

  • Sending your financial advisors a bottle of champagne or a box of chocolates-- you’re going to be leaning on them a lot the rest of this year.

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