- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Press; 1 edition (October 11, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1594204098
- ISBN-13: 978-1594204098
- Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 1.2 x 9.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 259 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #273,674 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else Hardcover – October 11, 2012
|New from||Used from|
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
*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
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
Try the Kindle edition and experience these great reading features:
259 customer reviews
Review this product
Read reviews that mention
Showing 1-3 of 259 reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
"Plutocrats" is an insightful look at both the economics and politics of the super-elite class. Canadian writer, journalist and politician Chrystia Freeland provides the readers with an inside look at plutocrats. It's an interesting look at how plutocrats live their lives and how they earn their fortunes, and the impact it has on the rest of us. This interesting 335-page book includes the following six chapters: 1. History and Why It Matters, 2. Culture of the Plutocrats, 3. Superstars, 4. Responding to Revolution, 5. Rent-Seeking, and 6. Plutocrats and the Rest of Us.
1. A well-written, accessible and even-handed book.
2. A fascinating topic. Freeland should be commended for her ability to gain access to people from a very exclusive club.
3. Does a good job of explaining the rise of the plutocrats. "These three transformations--the technology revolution, globalization, and the rise of the Washington Consensus--have coincided with an age of strong global economic growth, and also with the reemergence of the plutocrats, this time on a global scale."
4. An interesting look at the rise of the Alpha Geeks. "The rise of the alpha geeks is most obvious in Silicon Valley, a culture and an economic engine they created. But you can find them everywhere you find the plutocracy."
5. Interesting perspectives on today's global economy. "Speaking at the same conference, Thomas Wilson, CEO of Allstate, told a similar story: "I can get [workers] anywhere in the world. It is a problem for America, but it is not necessarily a problem for American business. . . . American businesses will adapt."
6. The impact of women. "The year 2009 was a watershed for the American workplace--it was the first time since data was collected that women outnumbered men on the country's payrolls."
7. The power of intellectuals. "In the knowledge economy, more and more professions use a laptop rather than a steam engine, and that means that the superstars in these fields are earning ever greater rewards. The intellectuals are on the road to class power."
8. The three superstars of finance: Alfred Winslow Jones, Georges Doriot, and Victor Posner. "Hedge funds, venture capital, and private equity transformed finance--previously the dependable plumbing of the capitalist economy--into an innovative frontier where smart and lucky individuals could earn nearly instant fortunes."
9. When CEO salaries began to skyrocket. "The real takeoff was during the 1990s: by the end of that decade they were growing by 10 percent a year. As Roger Martin has calculated, for CEOs of S&P firms, the median level of pay soared from $2.3 million in 1992 to $7.2 million in 2001."
10. Good conclusions. "Pay for performance actually works, but only in companies where the board is strong enough to truly oversee the chief executive."
11. How to become a plutocrat. "Responding to revolution is how you become a plutocrat."
12. The changing economic landscape. ""It used to be that the big ate the small; now the fast eat the slow."
13. Great example of active inertia, Firestone.
14. The highest billionaire-to-GDP ratio. "Russia, with eighty-seven billionaires and a national GDP of $1.3 trillion, had the highest billionaire-to-GDP ratio. India, Rajan said, was number two, with fifty-five billionaires and $1.1 trillion of GDP."
15. Find out what was the largest transfer of assets in human history.
16. The richest person ever. "But all three are trumped by the man at the head of the 2012 Forbes global rich list, Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim. Forbes put Slim's fortune that year at $69 billion, enough to earn an income equivalent to the average annual salary of more than 400,000 Mexicans."
17. The impact of deregulation. "One reason the preeminence of the financiers within the global super-elite matters is that it highlights how crucial financial deregulation has been to the emergence of the plutocracy."
18. Important research. "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 disclosures were filed by people who had worked at the sharp end of the SEC's relationship with business, in its enforcement division."
19. The facts. "Most lobbying seeks to tilt the playing field in one direction or another, not to level it. Most lobbying is pro-business, in the sense that it promotes the interests of existing businesses, not pro-market in the sense of fostering truly free and open competition."
20. A bleak future? Find out. "Low taxes, light-touch regulation, weak unions, and unlimited campaign donations are certainly in the best interests of the plutocrats, but that doesn't mean they are the right way to maintain the economic system that created today's super-elite."
21. Formal bibliography included.
1. It's very hard to be too critical of the very people who were generous with their time. Overall, Freeland deserves credit and she did her best to be even handed but it's human nature to hold back after such exclusive access.
2. The eBook did not link the notes.
3. Tables, comparative charts, diagrams would have added value.
4. The impact of the repeal of the Glass Steagall Act was only mentioned once in passing.
5. Not as analytical as I would have liked.
6. Not convinced of the following argument, "The two gilded ages can also get in each other's way. As good an explanation as any for the 2008 financial crisis is that it is the result of the collision between China's gilded age and the West's--the financial imbalances that are an essential part of China's export-driven growth model also played a crucial role in inflating the credit bubble that burst with such devastating consequences in 2008."
In summary, this was an interesting look at the world of plutocrats. Freeland's contention is that to understand the changing shape of the global economy one must look at the very top. She does a wonderful job of providing insights into this exclusive club and discusses the ramifications it may have on the rest of us. Perhaps this book was not as analytical as I would have liked but nonetheless insightful and fun to read. I recommend it!
Further recommendations: "Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer--and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class" by Jacob S. Hacker, "The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future" and "Globalization and Its Discontents (Norton Paperback)" by Joseph E. Stiglitz, "The Crash of 2016: The Plot to Destroy America--and What We Can Do to Stop It" by Thom Hartmann, "The Haves and the Have-Nots: A Brief and Idiosyncratic History of Global Inequality" by Branko Milanovic, "Affluence and Influence: Economic Inequality and Political Power in America" by Martin Gilens, "Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress--and a Plan to Stop It" by Lawrence Lessig, "The New Elite: Inside the Minds of the Truly Wealthy" by Stephen Kraus, "Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty" by Daron Acemoglu, "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell, "ECONned" by Yves Smith, "The Great Divergence: America's Growing Inequality Crisis and What We Can Do about It" by Timothy Noah, and "Bailout" by Neil Barofsky.
Freeland, a financial journalist, makes the case that there is alarming income inequality in most countries -- but you probably already knew that. She interviews a laundry list of the ultra-rich, determines how these men (almost always men) rose to the top, and speculates on what it all means for "everyone else," i.e., the 99 percent. Is vast income disparity the inevitable result of capitalism? Is it possible that the wealth chasm is actually a good thing?
"Plutocrats" documents how the actions of Big Business are benefiting, if not the American middle class, then certainly new middle classes in emerging world markets such as China and India. It's hard to argue that that's a bad thing.
But our billionaires and millionaires are not exactly selfless. Many of them, particularly in the United States, feel victimized by government regulation and taxes, and they don't understand why they are increasingly demonized by the 99 percent. They do contribute to charity, but those contributions treat the symptoms of inequality, not the problem itself.
Freeland doesn't come right out and say it, but she implies that only government can place checks on Wall Street and corporate America. That might be anathema to conservatives and libertarians, but after events of the past five years, isn't it common sense to everyone else? Apparently not, for as Freeland writes:
"That's the irony of superstar economics in a democratic age. We all think we can be superstars, but in a winner-take-all economy, there isn't room for most of us at the top."
If you are at all concerned about spiraling economic equality (and you should be if you are paying attention!) then give this book a go.