The financial crisis that has bred unemployment, austerity, and economic pain across the global for nearly fives years is also battering the reputation of the system many believe to be its main cause: “free market” capitalism.
According to a new global poll by Pew Research, only half or fewer — in 11 of 21 nations surveyed — now agree with the statement that people are better off in a “free market” economy than in some other kind.
In nine of the 16 countries for which there is trend data since 2007, before the financial crisis began, support for capitalism is down, with the greatest declines in Italy (down 23 percentage points) and Spain (down 20 points).
Support for capitalism is greatest in Brazil, China, Germany and the U.S, says the report. The biggest skeptics of the free market are in Mexico and Japan.
The survey found only four countries in which a majority of people were happy with and optimistic about the economic situation: China (83 percent), Germany (73 percent), Brazil (65 percent) and Turkey (57 percent). The Chinese are a particular exception to most of the questioning on economic optimism with Pew observing that, overall, the people of China — which runs a single party, state-controlled economy — “have been positive about their economy for the past decade.”
The survey also showed that the prolonged global economic slump has depressed the public mood about their national economies. In only four of 21 countries surveyed does a majority say their economy is doing well.
Anger at government was shared in most countries, but banks and financial institutions were frequently – in Spain (78%), France (74%) and Germany (74%) – seen as the culprit behind the poor performance of national economies. And in two instances – France and Spain – significantly more of the public blamed the banks than blamed the government.