From Lebanon to Chile, from Iraq to Ecuador, there have been waves of protests across the world this year; a groundswell of anger, and all of it directed at the ruling class.

Each protest movement is unique: some are demanding more democracy and greater political freedoms, while others are fuelled by anger over corruption. Among all these grievances, however, there appears to be a common underlying theme: frustration over the economy and rising inequality.

Grace Blakeley, author of the book Stolen, How to Save the World from Financialisation, believes that many of the protests, particularly in Latin America, are driven by economic discontent.

Blakeley argues that we are seeing cracks in the capitalist system. The problem, she says, is that corporations have become "financialised"; they are so focused on profits for shareholders that working people are losing out.

"They (corporations) will do anything to boost their short-term share price, even at the expense of long-term investment and paying their workers," she says.

Diego Zuluaga, a financial policy analyst at the Cato Institute, doesn't believe we are seeing a breakdown in the capitalist system and contends that people are generally better off economically.

"I think we haven't had a period in the history of the world like the last 30 years in which the vast majority of the global population, even in the most deprived places, have suddenly and finally gained access to the most basic essentials and necessities. And that has been driven universally by liberalisation," Zuluaga says.

In this week's Arena, we debate the state of capitalism with Grace Blakeley and Diego Zuluaga.

Follow UpFront on Twitter @AJUpFront and Facebook.

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