Smashed avo complaint makes Aussies look like global idiots
THE debate surrounding the link between avocado toast and mortgages has gone global, making Australia an international laughing stock.
KPMG partner and The Australian columnist Bernard Salt wrote in October last year that "the evils of hipster cafes" were contributing to the woes of young people struggling to buy a first home.
"I have seen young people order smashed avocado with crumbed feta on five-grain toasted bread at $22 a pop and more," he wrote.
His so-called "rabbiting on about the old days" was tongue-in-cheek but many young people took offence.
However, it was 35-year-old property mogul Tim Gurner's recent interview on 60 Minutes that made the issue worthy of international headlines.
"When I was buying my first home, I wasn't buying smashed avocado for 19 bucks and four coffees at $4 each," he told the Nine Network.
The issue has been echoed all around the world - particularly in the United States and the United Kingdom, where newspapers and broadcasters are having a field day at the expense of Australian millennials.
Take the Los Angeles Times, who polled three experts to find out whether young people really are "throwing away their financial future on fancy toast".
Here's an excerpt:
"No, actually," said Greg McBride, the chief financial analyst for Bankrate.com.
"Obviously not," said Helaine Olen, a personal finance columnist for Slate and the author of the book "Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry."
"It's absolutely accurate," said G.U. Krueger, an L.A.-based housing economist who has done research for California Public Employees' Retirement System advisors and other investors.
Then, he laughed. "I'm kidding."
Time Magazine jumped on board with a ridiculous avocado toast calculator, asking people to enter the details of their city and state to find out how many servings they'd have to skip to be able to afford a home.
"If you're brunching in New York City or San Francisco, you could be looking at skipping roughly 10,000 and 21,000 avocado toast servings for a down payment, respectively," wrote journalist David Johnson with amusement.
The Telegraph in London dryly observed: "If one ate avocado toast at this cafe every day, and stopped this in order to save, it would still take over 40 years for the forlorn avocado fan to save the required amount for a deposit".
A quick Google search reveals the issue has been reported in countless other publications - including heavyweights such as the New York Times, who pedantically crunched the numbers to prove that while millennials could certainly save some money by ditching avocado toast, it wouldn't actually make any real difference.
In the vast majority of cases, Tim Gurner's comments were taken literally, reported with scorn, and ridiculed on social media.
"Gurner's hot take on both food and finances is garbage," opined Maura Judkis for the Washington Post.
"Man, they must really hate millennials and avocados in Australia."
@TIME I don't drink coffee or eat avocado toast. I'll take one house please.— Lockdawg16 (@DDes1616) May 15, 2017
I was gonna put a down payment on a house last year but then I spent $44,000 on avocado toast https://t.co/SvSEisua71— Snowbonk 201 199 165 (@albrightjc) May 15, 2017
Monthly expenses— Murtaza Hussain (@MazMHussain) May 15, 2017
Avocado toast: $35,000
Someone good at the economy please help me budget this
Only Fortune seemed to twig onto the fact that Mr Gurner was merely using references to food as metaphors to describe millennial spending habits.
"The Australian real estate millionaire who suggested millennials need to stop spending so freely on avocados to buy a house might actually have a point," wrote reporter Lucinda Shen.
"According to a Bank of America Merrill Edge study published Friday, today's 18- to 34-year-olds are much more likely to prioritize (sic) travel, dining, and their gym membership over their financial future."