Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else

Chrystia Freeland

Language: English

Pages: 352

ISBN: 0143124064

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


A Financial Times Best Book of the Year
Shortlisted for the Lionel Gelber Prize

There has always been some gap between rich and poor in this country, but recently what it means to be rich has changed dramatically. Forget the 1 percent—Plutocrats proves that it is the wealthiest 0.1 percent who are outpacing the rest of us at breakneck speed. Most of these new fortunes are not inherited, amassed instead by perceptive businesspeople who see themselves as deserving victors in a cutthroat international competition. With empathy and intelligence, Plutocrats reveals the consequences of concentrating the world’s wealth into fewer and fewer hands. Propelled by fascinating original interviews with the plutocrats themselves, Plutocrats is a tour de force of social and economic history, the definitive examination of inequality in our time.

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plan, she hastened to add, would of course have been to donate all the money to her charitable foundation. In Western countries with significant legal corruption, that financial gulf creates a revolving door between the regulators and the regulated. One study of the SEC found that, between 2006 and 2010, 219 former SEC employees had filed almost eight hundred disclosure statements for representing their new clients’ dealings with the agency, their former employer. Nearly half of these

tended to opt for technology as the driving force. But, drawing on detailed data from local labor markets in the United States, the authors of “The China Syndrome” argue that globalization, and in particular trade with the mighty Middle Kingdom, are today also having a huge impact on American blue-collar workers: “Conservatively, it explains one-quarter of the contemporaneous aggregate decline in U.S. manufacturing employment.” The deleterious effects go beyond those workers who lose their jobs.

Varshney, November 13, 2011. 27 “You could start a business” Kaitlin Shung, “Chinese ‘Fugitive’ Lai Changxing Faces Deportation in Canada,” China Briefing, July 13, 2011. 28 “Well, the U.S., like I said” CF interview with David Neeleman, September 14, 2010. 29 “The next ten years” Chrystia Freeland, “Working Wealthy Predominate the New Global Elite,” International Herald Tribune, January 25, 2011. 30 Following the model of Nucor, which revolutionized Ibid. pp. 101–8. 31 “Yes, you need to be

checking their BlackBerrys and iPads. The 2010 lineup of Zeitgeist speakers included such notables as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, London mayor Boris Johnson, and Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz (not to mention, of course, Google’s own CEO, Eric Schmidt). But the most potent currency at this and comparable gatherings is neither fame nor money. Rather, it’s what author Michael Lewis has dubbed “the new new thing”—the insight or algorithm or technology with the potential to change the world. Hence the

managerial aristocracy was trammeled by the rest of society, even as the companies they oversaw prospered. As Jensen and Murphy concluded in their 1990 paper: “The average salary plus bonus for top-quartile CEOs (in 1986 dollars) fell from $813,000 in 1934–38 to $645,000 in 1974–86, while the average market value of the sample firms doubled.” Jensen and Murphy agreed with Galbraith’s explanation of what was going on—social pressure was limiting CEO salaries: “Political forces operating both in

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