The protesters have different aims in different countries. Higher taxes for the rich and a loathing of financiers is the closest thing to a common denominator, though in America polls show that popular rage against government eclipses that against Wall Street.
Yet even if the protests are small and muddled, it is dangerous to dismiss the broader rage that exists across the West. There are legitimate deep-seated grievances. Young people””and not just those on the streets””are likely to face higher taxes, less generous benefits and longer working lives than their parents. More immediately, houses are expensive, credit hard to get and jobs scarce””not just in old manufacturing industries but in the ritzier services that attract increasingly debt-laden graduates. In America 17.1% of those below 25 are out of work. Across the European Union, youth unemployment averages 20.9%. In Spain it is a staggering 46.2%. Only in Germany, the Netherlands and Austria is the rate in single digits.
It is not just the young who feel squeezed. The middle-aged face falling real wages and diminished pension rights….