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Customer Review

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Plenty of insight into the details but lacking perspective, 3 Jan. 2014
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This review is from: Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else (Hardcover)
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Chrystia Freeland takes us on a detailed tour of the world (in fact global village) of the super-high-net worth individuals that are growing in wealth and power in today's economy. She evidently knows the Davos set rather well and her access to their world allows insights that others would be hard pressed to discover. On the flip side, knowing this elusive and massively influential group of people - the unelected powers behind much of the `democratic' decision making process - she also seems to lack some more fundamental perspective that might come of not being so closely entangled in their lives.

She states that we live in unprecedented times of growth when compared to previous times of wide disparity between rich and poor; she states that much of the wealth of the newly-minted plutocrats comes from their salaries rather than their properties and yet I don't believe she once mentioned the simple mathematics of exponential (percentage) growth and how it can widen the rich-poor divide. She also falls into the classic pitfall of assigning too much agency to the results. Yes there are some super-rich individuals and they did leave many of their peers behind. But this doesn't necessarily mean that they did `something right'. Most entrepreneurial ventures will fail (statistically speaking) and those that fail don't often get asked what they did wrong simply because they don't feature on the journalistic radar. In fact, if you did ask them, those that failed will cite external difficulties - those that succeeded will cite their cunning and guile, grit and determination or whatever `special sauce' they believe they possess. Of course I'm not suggesting it's all luck. But once you find a set of people possessing the necessary drive and skills to succeed in their respective businesses, only a few of them actually will and what discriminates one from another is rarely more than chance circumstances.

Nevertheless, there's a lot to learn from this well compiled and clearly written compendium, or who's who, of the ultra-wealthy. For one thing, it could help the rest of us understand the way they think and that could help businesses and policy makers to make the most of what they have to offer us and minimise their costs to society.
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