Show Hide image

Morning Call: pick of the papers

The ten must-read comment pieces from this morning's papers.

1. Climate change deniers have grasped that markets can't fix the climate (Guardian)

The refusal to accept global warming is driven by corporate interests and the fear of what it will cost to try to stop it, says Seumas Milne. 

2. We're letting Putin win in the Ukraine (Daily Telegraph)

Ukrainians have been betrayed by the failure of a weak and divided west to stand up to the Kremlin, says Edward Lucas.

3. Alex Salmond and co are acting like spoilt children (Guardian)

The inadequacy of the SNP's engagement with serious issues like currency and Europe suggests they suspect the game is up, writes Martin Kettle. 

4. The US has bullied our banks into handing over a billion dollars (Daily Telegraph)

Quietly and without notice, Britain has surrendered control over its trade with Iran, writes Peter Oborne.

5. The drug we ignore that kills thousands (Independent)

We need to address the lack of funding for dealing with alcohol compared with other drugs, says Owen Jones.

6. Labour is impatient for an NHS disaster (Times)

Jeremy Hunt hasn’t got money to throw around but he will urge voters to look at Wales and realise it could be worse, writes Tim Montgomerie.

7. Washington rues the Abe it wished for (Financial Times)

The US fears that Japan’s departure from postwar pacifism will provoke Beijing, writes David Pilling. 

8. David Cameron and Tony Abbott are proving there’s life without spin (Daily Telegraph)

Both here and Down Under, the public are quite happy to hear less from their PMs, writes Sue Cameron. 

9. Canadian air freshens fusty Britain (Financial Times)

A non-Briton as head of the BoE accentuates the openness of the economy, says Patrick Jenkins.

10. Danish hypocrisy over animal welfare takes the biscuit (Times)

"Animal rights before religion" might be easier to accept if Denmark didn’t have such an intensive livestock industry, writes Peter Franklin. 

Getty
Show Hide image

In your 30s? You missed out on £26,000 and you're not even protesting

The 1980s kids seem resigned to their fate - for now. 

Imagine you’re in your thirties, and you’re renting in a shared house, on roughly the same pay you earned five years ago. Now imagine you have a friend, also in their thirties. This friend owns their own home, gets pay rises every year and has a more generous pension to beat. In fact, they are twice as rich as you. 

When you try to talk about how worried you are about your financial situation, the friend shrugs and says: “I was in that situation too.”

Un-friend, right? But this is, in fact, reality. A study from the Institute for Fiscal Studies found that Brits in their early thirties have a median wealth of £27,000. But ten years ago, a thirty something had £53,000. In other words, that unbearable friend is just someone exactly the same as you, who is now in their forties. 

Not only do Brits born in the early 1980s have half the wealth they would have had if they were born in the 1970s, but they are the first generation to be in this position since World War II.  According to the IFS study, each cohort has got progressively richer. But then, just as the 1980s kids were reaching adulthood, a couple of things happened at once.

House prices raced ahead of wages. Employers made pensions less generous. And, at the crucial point that the 1980s kids were finding their feet in the jobs market, the recession struck. The 1980s kids didn’t manage to buy homes in time to take advantage of low mortgage rates. Instead, they are stuck paying increasing amounts of rent. 

If the wealth distribution between someone in their 30s and someone in their 40s is stark, this is only the starting point in intergenerational inequality. The IFS expects pensioners’ incomes to race ahead of workers in the coming decade. 

So why, given this unprecedented reversal in fortunes, are Brits in their early thirties not marching in the streets? Why are they not burning tyres outside the Treasury while shouting: “Give us out £26k back?” 

The obvious fact that no one is going to be protesting their granny’s good fortune aside, it seems one reason for the 1980s kids’ resignation is they are still in denial. One thirty something wrote to The Staggers that the idea of being able to buy a house had become too abstract to worry about. Instead:

“You just try and get through this month and then worry about next month, which is probably self-defeating, but I think it's quite tough to get in the mindset that you're going to put something by so maybe in 10 years you can buy a shoebox a two-hour train ride from where you actually want to be.”

Another reflected that “people keep saying ‘something will turn up’”.

The Staggers turned to our resident thirty something, Yo Zushi, for his thoughts. He agreed with the IFS analysis that the recession mattered:

"We were spoiled by an artificially inflated balloon of cheap credit and growing up was something you did… later. Then the crash came in 2007-2008, and it became something we couldn’t afford to do. 

I would have got round to becoming comfortably off, I tell myself, had I been given another ten years of amoral capitalist boom to do so. Many of those who were born in the early 1970s drifted along, took a nap and woke up in possession of a house, all mod cons and a decent-paying job. But we slightly younger Gen X-ers followed in their slipstream and somehow fell off the edge. Oh well. "

Will the inertia of the1980s kids last? Perhaps – but Zushi sees in the support for Jeremy Corbyn, a swell of feeling at last. “Our lack of access to the life we were promised in our teens has woken many of us up to why things suck. That’s a good thing. 

“And now we have Corbyn to help sort it all out. That’s not meant sarcastically – I really think he’ll do it.”