The French word of the month is chienlit, a centuries-old term literally meaning to soil the bed; it’s used today to describe the havoc in the streets. Famously deployed in the days of Charles de Gaulle during the 1968 student riots, it’s back in fashion after 10 days of strikes triggered by Emmanuel Macron’s hike in the minimum retirement age to 64 from 62.

The expression is French, as are the recent images of uncollected garbage being set on fire and clashes against riot police, but the root problem goes beyond France. We are in the grip of what Charles Goodhart and Manoj Pradhan in 2020 dubbed "The Great Demographic Reversal”: An end to several decades of benign economic trends in inflation, interest rates and inequality. Worryingly, while climate denialism is being rolled back, demographic denialism is on the rise.

The numbers bear repeating: The European continent is growing grayer as the post-war baby boom begins to disappear. The share of over-65s reached 21.1% in the European Union last year, up from 18% a decade ago. In a region where the median age is 44 and fertility rates have been declining, legal retirement ages are being eclipsed by reality. In a recent Bloomberg survey of life expectancy versus effective retirement age, European countries dominated the Top 20, led by France and Luxembourg, where the average man has 18 healthy years in retirement.