The Rise of the New Global Super-rich and the Fall of Everyone Else

Book - 2012
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A Financial Times Best Book of the Year
Winner of the 2013 Lionel Gelber Prize

There has always been some gap between rich and poor in this country, but in the last few decades what it means to be rich has changed dramatically. Alarmingly, the greatest income gap is not between the 1 percent and the 99 percent, but within the wealthiest 1 percent of our nation--as the merely wealthy are left behind by the rapidly expanding fortunes of the new global super-rich. Forget the 1 per¢ Plutocrats proves that it is the wealthiest 0.1 percent who are outpacing the rest of us at break-neck speed.

What's changed is more than numbers. Today, most colossal fortunes are new, not inherited--amassed by perceptive businessmen who see themselves as deserving victors in a cut-throat international competition. As a transglobal class of successful professionals, today's self-made oligarchs often feel they have more in common with one another than with their countrymen back home. Bringing together the economics and psychology of these new super-rich, Plutocrats puts us inside a league very much of its own, with its own rules.

The closest mirror to our own time is the late nineteenth century Gilded Age--the era of powerful 'robber barons' like Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller. Then as now, emerging markets and innovative technologies collided to produce unprecedented wealth for more people than ever in human history. Yet those at the very top benefited far more than others--and from this pinnacle they exercised immense and unchecked power in their countries. Today's closest analogue to these robber barons can be found in the turbulent economies of India, Brazil, and China, all home to ferocious market competition and political turmoil. But wealth, corruption, and populism are no longer constrained by national borders, so this new Gilded Age is already transforming the economics of the West as well. Plutocrats demonstrates how  social upheavals generated by the first Gilded Age may pale in comparison to what is in store for us, as the wealth of the entire globalized world is concentrated in fewer and fewer hands.

Cracking open the tight-knit world of the new global super-rich is Chrystia Freeland, an acclaimed business journalist who has spent nearly two decades reporting on the new transglobal elite. She parses an internal Citigroup memo that urges clients to design portfolios around the international "Plutonomy" and not the national "rest"; follows Russian, Mexican, and Indian oligarchs during the privatization boom as they manipulate the levers of power to commandeer their local economies; breaks down the gender divide between the vast female-managed 'middle class' and the world's one thousand billionaires; shows how, by controlling both the economic and political institutions of their nation, the richest members of China's National People's Congress have amassed more wealth than every branch of American government combined--the president, his cabinet, the justices of the Supreme Court, and both houses of Congress.

Though the results can be shocking, Freeland dissects the lives of the world's wealthiest individuals with empathy, intelligence, and deep insight. Brightly written, powerfully researched, and propelled by fascinating original interviews with the plutocrats themselves, Plutocrats is a tour-de-force of social and economic history, and the definitive examination of inequality in our time.
Publisher: New York : Penguin Press, 2012.
ISBN: 9781594204098
Branch Call Number: 305.5234 Fre
Characteristics: xv, 330 pages


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Chrystia Freeland was born and raised in Peace River, Alberta. After finishing her education she became a minister in the present day Justin Trudeau cabinet. She has spent many hours dealing with the U.S.A. over free trade and NAFTA. Her book is an account of the 1% super wealthy who rule over our economy. The book is well written and informative. She regales us with inside stories of the important people she has dealt with on a personal basis. Must reading if one is hoping to understand the complex money machinations that are occuring in today's marketplace.

Jun 11, 2018

Ms. Freeland confirms what we the 99% suspect. Interesting insider scoop from a journalist who knows how and where to dig for dirt. Some readers are left wondering why the author has no suggestions on " What should we do"? I don't believe it is the authors responsibility to point out methods. It is up to "us" to be pro active based on the facts we read. It is up to "us", if "we" don't like how the system is rigged against the majority, to do something about it. However,gone are the days when activism was a "community" action. The internet has, if anything, made society into individualism leaving Twitter, Facebook and whatever else to be our placards of voicing frustrations. Ms Freeland knows this because her adversary at the moment is a Plutocrat.

HCL_staff_reviews Aug 08, 2017

There exists a growing gap between the rich and the poor--that much seems apparent. But did you know the real gap in 2013 is the gap between the top 1% and the top 0.1%? In her well-researched, well-documented new book, Freeland explores the second Gilded Age for the United States in conjunction with the first Gilded Age for developing countries such as China and India. She examines how globalization has created a new culture of free agents who are able to make a killing in the financial markets without regard to how their company, let their country, is faring, as well. As part of the 99%, it is a fascinating read and left me thinking about the direction of global politics and the importance of paying attention. — Anne P., Washburn Library

coroboreefarm Apr 26, 2017

Before entering politics and becoming Minister of Foreign Affairs in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet, Chrystia Freeland was most known as a respected journalist, writer and editor. In 2012 her book “Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-rich and the Fall of Everyone Else” was published. In the interesting times that exist currently in North American politics, trade and economics, this well described and interesting analysis of the growing gap between the super-rich, the wealthiest .01% and the average, or less than average earners, makes for a relevant and rather terrifying read.

If you enjoyed the examination of economic inequality, and the power of the super-rich as described in Dark Money, this is an interesting comparable read.

Oct 22, 2016

The system is rigged. 1% 'ers. Greed. Poorly educated 99% 'ers. This book exposes a system in epic failure. A system that is a great paint job over a rotten structure. It speaks volumes about the future. Little upside and a downside that should be frightening for the vast majority. Not exactly a book for the ages but certainly worth reading.

Dec 12, 2015

This is an excellent book about the new global super rich, the elite of the elite, how they got there and their methods to stay there. Lots of interesting anecdotes and stories. While some readers may find the level of detail over-reaching, the completeness and soundness of the analyses are impressive.

Barbarajean Mar 09, 2014

I found this book an easy, and absorbing read. For me it was a real eyeopener into the lives, and salaries of the really affluent.

Oct 31, 2013

The first 2/3 of this book all the Author does is talk about really rich people and how they got rich. I agree with rv_bolo, all the Author does is name drop after name drop filling the pages with useless information that adds nothing top the book. Like other commentators I almost gave up on this book it was so boring, dry, and repetitive.

During the whole book the Author does not once address how we can solve the problem of income equality. Just talks about why it exists, never wanting to step out of line and say something against the Plutocrats because as a financial reporter that might affect her bottom line.

A complete waste of my time.

Aug 23, 2013

The author is too in love with her own writing and repeats herself throughout the book, driving her point to death. Reference reference other references and intellectual aimed words used where simple English would make the point clear. You are convinced of her point by the first chapter...the rest just drive the point home over and over. If better composed and edited this book would be a two-thirds shorter, perhaps more. If you are an English major or don't mind reaching for the dictionary every two minutes, plus love an author in love with her own work, you might be able to finish this book! Alas, I could not, even though I agreed with it.

Aug 18, 2013

Excellent book!

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