Neil Howe – The Pandemic and the Fourth Turning

This article is based on a presentation from John Mauldin’s 2020 Virtual Strategic Investment Conference, which is being held from May 11 to 21. To register for this conference, click here. The Strategic Investment Conference was just approved by CIMA and CFP for 14 hours of continuing education credits.

Neil Howe foresaw a global crisis that would upend society. He didn’t know it would be a pandemic, but, throughout his career, he has been predicting a “fourth turning” – an event that would reshape societal norms and usher in a new generation of leaders.

Howe spoke on May 15 as part of John Mauldin’s 2020 Virtual Strategic Investment Conference. He is an author and consultant.

Howe’s fourth turning is based on his study of cycles or rhythms in history.

In the late 1980s, he worked with Bill Strauss to study how generations had interacted in the post-WWII era. Generational upheaval was a big issue in the 1960s and 1970s, during the Vietnam era, but had died down by the 1980s. They realized that there were permanent difference in generations, and there was a recurring pattern going back to the 17th century – an archetype.

His research has gained popularity recently, partly as a result of its adoption by Steve Bannon, the former chief strategist for President Trump. Howe did not mention Bannon in his talk.

According to Howe, a generation lasts about 20-25 years and ends in a turning. Four turnings together constitute a period, which lasts from a crisis to a crisis.

Some of the great turning points, or periods, in history have occurred during the length of a lifetime, from the American Revolution to the Civil War to World War II. Some of those turning points have also been “great awakenings” that have revitalized our culture and changed paradigms within art, music and religion.