Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else
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.
political capture by rent-seeking national oligarchs. An equal, and probably greater, danger is the rise of an international rent-seeking global oligarchy. SIX PLUTOCRATS AND THE REST OF US If you really wanted to examine percentage-wise who was hurt the most on their income, it was Wall Street brokers. —Alan Greenspan, shortly after his appointment as chairman of Gerald Ford’s Council of Economic Advisers in 1974, explaining the impact of inflation He was remembering now why he
duties to their shareholders. If the state’s willing to hand out gifts, there are many who feel compelled to go get them.” So this isn’t just a question of big versus small government. The issue, instead, is whether the interests of business and of the community at large are always the same and, if they aren’t, whether the government has the will, the authority, and the brains to defend the latter, even against the protests of the former. That’s why Carney wanted to raise capital requirements.
are some place other than here.” As a cautionary counterexample, Immelt cited inward-looking Japanese firms. “Look, when I was a young guy, when I first started with GE, Jack Welch sent us all to Japan because in those days Japan was gonna crush us,” he said. “And we learned a lot about Japan when we were there. But over the subsequent thirty years the Japanese companies all fell behind. And the reason why they fell behind is because they didn’t globalize. They didn’t have to go out and sing for
lot of your money but to be actively engaged in how it is spent. Gates has become an evangelist for this idea that capitalism must do good, and do-gooders must become more capitalist. He even has a name for it, “creative capitalism,” a term he unveiled in a speech at Davos—where else?—at the 2008 meeting of the World Economic Forum. Marx famously observed that early generations of philosophers had sought to describe the world; he wanted to change it. Gates and his plutocratic peers are having a
of how companies operate, the managers themselves are superstars, too. Entertainers and athletes are the most visible superstars, but they are hugely outnumbered by the army of business managers who in the past four decades have been transformed from salarymen to multimillionaires. The ideas Katzenberg laid out in his 1991 memo have been largely vindicated by subsequent academic research. Mostly strikingly, in a 1999 study analyzing the economics of two hundred movies, Abraham Ravid found that