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Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else Hardcover – October 11, 2012


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Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else + The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future + Beyond Outrage: Expanded Edition: What has gone wrong with our economy and our democracy, and how to fix it
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The; 1 edition (October 11, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594204098
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594204098
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (204 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #151,938 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*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

Review

One of Financial Times' Best Books of 2012
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
 

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Customer Reviews

Very interesting, well written and informative.
T D Thomas
Freeland very clearly explains the development of the world's super elite.
Darius Smith
I have read this book and it is very insightful.
mimi

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

394 of 410 people found the following review helpful By J. Preston on October 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I saw this Author interviewed by Stephen Colbert on the Colbert Report.

The author is eminently qualified (as the editor of a number of top flight financial magazines) to comment on the subject of the dominance of our global economy by a very few hyper-rich entities.

Her thesis is that the 99% are dominated not just by the other 1%, but, by the upper .1% who control most of the resources in our global economy. Examples include the Red Chinese government, the top five oil companies, and the consortiums of health care finance companies.

What she points out is that these hyper-wealthy entities and consortiums serve only their own interests. They have no sense of responsibility to anyone other than themselves. In addition, although they control most of the resources of our race, they have no social responsibilities. The result is that these hyper-wealthy are more powerful than any of the governments on our planet. The hyper-wealthy have more economic power than any government precisely because, unlike governments, the hyper-wealthy have no responsibilities to ordinary people. Her conclusion is that the hyper-wealthy are really the entities that are "calling the shots" on our planet, instead of the people who inhabit it.

She has some fascinating insights such as her insight that "trickle-down" economics cannot work. The hyper-wealthy are not trickling down anything to the people. They are loaning back the resources of this planet to the people, at oppressive interest rates and under oppressive terms. This puts them in complete control of the world and our global economy.
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126 of 133 people found the following review helpful By S. A. Lee on October 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover
"Plutocrats" is a very interesting and well-written look at soaring income inequality in the U.S. and world wide. The book focuses especially on the people at the extreme top: the .01 (or even .001) percent and delves into the staggering differences between the lives of these people and average members of the population.

The book is full of interesting facts and insights. Bill Gates and Warren Buffet together control as much wealth as the 120 MILLION Americans at the bottom of the distribution. Most people have no idea how unequal our society has become. In one survey, Americans where shown unlabeled graphs of the income distribution in Sweden (the top 20% has 36% of the wealth) and the U.S.(the top 20% has 84%), and nearly everyone (92%) chose Sweden as the place they would prefer to live.

The book takes a balanced, pro-capitalism approach. It does not preach, nor does it conduct class warfare; it simply seeks to analyze the reasons for inequality and also its implications. The book looks at factors including political influence (a feedback loop where wealth begets influence which in turn begets even more wealth), as well as advancing technology and globalization

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the book is its coverage of the lives, culture and attitudes of the super rich. This is important because it has implications for society. In many cases the plutocrats withdraw into gated communities. They do not need public schools or libraries and do not have to worry about paying for college. In many cases, they rely very little on the public services and infrastructure that are vital to the rest of us, and that may partly explain their reluctance to support higher taxes to pay for these things.
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165 of 176 people found the following review helpful By Loyd E. Eskildson HALL OF FAME on October 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Real per-capita GDP has tripled in America since 1950, and 23X in China. Inequality, however, is becoming a major issue in both nations. From the mid-1920s til 1940, the share of income going to the top 10% was 45%, then falling to 33% until the late 1970s; by 2006 it had reached 50%. However, the greatest income gap is not between the 1% and the 99%, but within the wealthiest 1% of Americans. The 70 richest members of China's National People's Congress have more wealth than all of America's members of Congress, the Supreme Court, and our president and vice-president - combined. Explanations for this relatively recent phenomena tend to either emphasize the impact of new technology and globalization, or to politics. Author Freeland presents a case that both have contributed.

Freeland reports that last August Alan Greenspan, lifelong Ayn Rand devotee, made a forceful case on 'Meet the Press' that America's economy has become 'very distorted.' High-income individuals, large banks, and major corporations have experience 'significant recovery,' the rest - including small businesses and most of the labor force have been left stuck and struggling. Greenspan concluded that were now seeing 'two separate types of economy.' Greenspan, of course, if not the first to draw this conclusion. The idea of 'two Americas' was a central theme of John Edwards, and three analysts at Citgroup reported in 2005 that 'the World is dividing into two blocs - the Plutonomy and the rest.' And Larry Summers, not known for criticizing free markets has said 'for the first time . . . focusing on redistribution makes more sense than focusing on growth.
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