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

Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
Penguin Putnam
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 percent;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.

Baker & Taylor
A journalist and industry specialist for Reuters examines the growing disparity between the rich and the poor, taking a non-partisan look into the businesspeople who are amassing colossal fortunes and preferring the company of similar people around the world.

& Taylor

A journalist and industry specialist for Reuters examines the growing disparity between the rich and the poor, taking a non-partisan look into the businesspeople who are amassing today's colossal fortunes and preferring the company of similar people around the world. 50,000 first printing.

Publisher: New York : Penguin Press, 2012
ISBN: 9781594204098
Branch Call Number: 305.5234 F
Characteristics: xv, 330 p. ; 25 cm.


From the critics

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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
  • rvbolo rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

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 20, 2013

July 26, 2013, well after reading a few novels, it's time to do a little learning again, will take a stab at this one! (Got to admit, have a couple of audio books (Pat Conroy) and a Pierre Burton (Prisoners of the North) to resort to if this one gets a little too technical for my brain!).......Aug 20, well, it's been a bit of a slug, but I'm almost done. Just when I am about to give up on it, a very interesting part comes along. Hope to finish it today, or tomorrow, books are piling up in line! Worth reading, but I can't say I found it riveting. Economics was never my thing, I think I know how to make a buck now, but, I think I'd rather just enjoy my life! I'm starting to think these Plutocrats deserve their fortunes......not a lifestyle I'd enjoy. (Sure you have private jets, and get to stay in fancy places, with everyone catering to your every need, but, can you really feel good about it???

Aug 18, 2013
  • 22950006432421 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Excellent book!

Jul 28, 2013

Sadly, even the Plutocrats can't avoid the three Ds: disease, debility and death :(

Jul 01, 2013
  • ghreads rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

This book provides interesting and depressing insight into how the economic elite of our society – the Plutocrats – work, live and think and how they view the rest of us. It describes the causes of the growing gap between the top 1% and the other 99% and the gaps within the top 1% between the top .1% and .01% and the others. It discusses the effects of increasing globalization and the technological revolution and compares the Gilded Age of the late 19th century, which occurred only in the West, with the current Gilded Age which includes the emerging economies. Although most of us are powerless to affect the Plutocrats, it is important to understand their effects politically, economically and socially. The book is reasonably well-structured and well-written, but not outstanding. Although interesting, it does become a bit tedious at times but an individual reader’s judgement on that score will depend on the level of interest in the details of the subject. I would have been happy with a 50-page version. I quite often had a sense that the author was indulging in a lot of name-dropping as she described conversations she had with many members of the Plutocracy “over lunch” or such. One wonders how close she is to these people at the top. That said, she is essentially critical of the effect of this elite group on our economy and society and her analysis rings true. She could not have written the book without the kind of contacts she obviously has.

Jan 27, 2013

Good read. 9/10. The book reminds us that we are not a classless society.

Dec 01, 2012

The premise of this book, as some others over the past several decades, is that the old super-rich faded away, and there's an entirely new gang, conveniently ignoring the massive establishment and utilization of foundations, trusts, and unregistered trusts to hide wealth, ownership and further financial entities for the further obscuring of their total wealth. The Mellon family, Rockefeller family, du Ponts, etc., are still among the richest on the planet, but thanks to their many foundations, trusts and unregistered trusts their true total wealth is stealthily rendered obscure --- public sources don't explain what hidden private sources detail. One need only look at the top people in the intelligence community (the people with surnames like Mellon and Starr who were at the DIA, Robert Mueller III of the FBI --- scion of the Truesdale fortune --- George Truesdale/William Truesdale and their connections to Rockefeller and his South Improvement Company, etc.) to begin to understand how things really operate.

Nov 21, 2012
  • richibi rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Ms Freeland is fully and convincingly in charge of her facts, though too numerous examples here and there of her thesis become redundant, even enervating after a while, describing however, authoritatively ultimately, a new and disquieting social order, and auguring the start of a new age, whether for better or for worse none yet can tell, but which is decidedly, she has no trouble demonstrating, upon us

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