*Starred Review* Even Alan Greenspan is worried about the troubling trend of income inequality. International financial reporter Freeland looks beyond worries about the 1 percent to the even more troubling trend of the 0.1 percent of the world’s most wealthy having more in common with each other than their countrymen and acting on those interests, guaranteeing even more inequality. Is the gap between the superrich and everybody else the product of impersonal market forces or political machinations? Freeland offers an engaging and deeply analytical look at the history, politics, and economics behind the rise of the plutocrats. She draws parallels between current inequality and the Gilded Age of the late 1800s, when the top 1 percent of the U.S. population held one-third of the national income. Globalization and the technology revolution are the major factors behind what she sees as new and overlapping gilded ages: the second for the U.S., the first for developing nations. Drawing on interviews with economists and the elite themselves, Freeland chronicles lavish parties, hubris, and hand-wringing over the direction of the global economy. As she laments, The feedback loop between money, politics, and ideas is both cause and consequence of the rise of the super-elite. Readers will appreciate the broader political and economic implications of Freeland’s penetrating examination of growing global income inequality. --Vanessa Bush
One of Financial Times' Best Books of 2012
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A Booklist Editor's Choice of 2012
"Rising inequality is one of the most pressing issues of our time. Chrystia Freeland's Plutocrats provides us with a glimpse of the lives of America's elites and a disquieting look at the society that produces them. This well-written and lively account is a good primer for anyone who wants to understand one extreme of America today."
--Joseph Stiglitz, author of The Price of Inequality; University Professor, Columbia University
"Mix crisp economics, ripe history, and two pinches of salty gossip, and you have the flavor of Chrystia Freeland’s entertaining book. From the opulent Bradley Martin ball of 1897 to its modern echoes in Sun Valley and Davos, Plutocrats chronicles the habits of the workaholic overclass—its taste for British public schools, its immodest philanthropy, its fundamental rootlessness. Even as she describes this gilded tribe, Freeland advances a paradoxical warning. Open societies may allow super-achievers to pile up extraordinary riches—and to feel that they have more or less deserved them. But the more these meritocrats succeed, the more likely they are to entrench their own offspring at the top of the heap, negating the very meritocracy that afforded them their chances. Already in the United States, graduating from college is more closely linked to having wealthy parents than to grades in high school. When class matters more than going to class, Freeland’s message must be treated with the utmost seriousness."
--Sebastian Mallaby, author of More Money than God: Hedge Funds and the Making of a New Elite
"Our world increasingly revolves around global elites who not only have an oversized effect on our politics but also set the trends and furnish us with the dominant discourse. In this delightful book, Chrystia Freeland tells the story of how we got here and what distinguishes our elites from those of previous epochs. Most importantly, she explains why the elites' dominance, even when it appears benign, is a challenge to our institutions and gives us clues about how we can overcome it."
--Daron Acemoglu, co-author of Why Nations Fail; economics professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
"The world’s wealthy elite are more wealthy, more knit together, more separate from their fellow citizens and probably more powerful than ever before. This very important book describes their lives and more important how their lives affect all of ours. It should be read by anyone concerned with how their world is being shaped and how it will evolve."
--Lawrence Summers, Former U.S. Treasury Secretary; Charles W. Eliot , University Professor, Harvard University
"Chrystia Freeland has written a fascinating account of perhaps the most important economic and political development of our era: the rise of a new plutocracy. She explains that today’s wealthy are different from their predecessors: more skilled and more global; and more often employees than owners, notably so in finance and high technology. By putting together stories of individuals with reading of the scholarly evidence, she gives us a clear view of what many will view as a not so brave new world."
--Martin Wolf, Chief Economics Commentator for the Financial Times