The fractured global economy is beginning to resemble the economy in the U.K. in the late 14th century around the time of the Peasant’s Revolt, according to the chief economist at HSBC Holdings plc (NYSE:HBC) (LON:HSBA).
The Peasant’s Revolt: A Brief History Lesson
At the time of the revolt, the U.K. was just beginning to come out of a pandemic of the Black Death. About 1.5 million people died from the plague, causing farmers to lose not only their families but also their entire workforces. The U.K. was paying high taxes in the wake of fighting with the French in the Hundred Years War.
Finally an official of the royal court tried to collect poll taxes that were unpaid in Brentwood, and that was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. There was a violent riot which spread across the U.K. as the peasant class rose up against the wealthy, opening up the jails and torching court records. They wanted the wealthy to lower taxes and to end the serfdom system.
Today’s Economy In The U.K.
HSBC Holdings plc (NYSE:HBC) (LON:HSBA)’s chief economist Stephen King (not to be confused with the popular U.S. author) warns that the widening gap between the wealthy and the low income and also a sense of entitlement are causing a shift similar to what happened around the time of the revolt. The Telegraph’s Katherine Rushton reports that the entitlement mindset which the Baby Boomer generation is sticking with is costing the younger generation a lot.
He said the London riots which happened two years ago and also the Occupy movement are the start of what might become larger protests from the younger generation who believe they deserve more than what they have received. According to King, political decisions are largely influenced by the Baby Boomer generation, which has led to big commitments on issues like pensioners’ health care. He said the trend must be reversed and start focusing on the needs and wants of the young minority.
The Occupy Movement
The Occupy movement has spanned continents and countries, starting in the U.S., where the Occupy Wall Street protest kicked things off in September 2011. The following month there were Occupy protests in more than 95 cities in 82 countries. The slogan used by the movement is “We are the 99%”—a reference to the dramatic difference in wealth between the top 1 percent of the wealthiest population and the rest of the world.
The three major Occupy movements in the U.K. were Occupy Edinburgh, Occupy Glasgow and Occupy London. In the U.K., the tax avoidance awareness group UK Uncut supports the Occupy movement, which is especially interesting in light of the recent uproar over accusations of tax avoidance by large international corporations like Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) and others.