New York: Basic Books, With the emergence of the? The discussion of inequality has always been present to some degree, especially during the past 30 years or so as inequality has grown by a variety of measures.? Still, the American public lately appears to be engaged with issues of distribution in a newly vigorous, if not always rigorous, way. Branko Milanovic?
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Reviewed by Darrell Delamaide Just how rich is Mr. Branko Milanovic playfully considers that situation and others like it in a thoughtful new book that comes to grips with a much weightier topic, involving one of the biggest issues of our time: the inequality of incomes. Milanovic, the lead economist in the research division of the World Bank, has spent a career compiling and analyzing income data from every corner of the planet.
He distills his broad learning in a book that is lucid if not always easy, and, at pages of text, is brief as advertised. The Haves and the Have-Nots is also, as advertised, idiosyncratic. Sandwiched between three long essays that comprise the book are a number of entertaining vignettes that explore questions readers might not have thought to ask. Through his analysis, we come to understand, for example, just how wealthy Mr. Milanovic looks at how rich the Roman aristocracy was, and mulls over the question of who was the richest person ever hint: It was not John D.
Rockefeller, Bill Gates or Carlos Slim. He even analyzes how open hiring of soccer players has concentrated talent in a handful of well-funded, European-based teams think New York Yankees on a global scale. The substance of the book is more difficult to understand but just as rewarding. Milanovic patiently tutors the reader in basic concepts necessary to understand why globalization has not led to a convergence of incomes, as classical economics had predicted, but in fact has increased the inequality between countries even as deregulation and free-market policies have widened the income gap in some rich countries such as the United States.
One of the greatest difficulties for any layman approaching economic issues is to understand the relative values of the numbers, and this is where Milanovic excels. Asia and Latin America, economically, are mirror images of one another. Asia is a region where the inequality within countries is relatively narrow, whereas the inequality between different countries — say, Japan and Bangladesh — is wide. Conversely, in Latin America, the inequality between countries is narrow, but the gap within countries, such as Brazil, is wide.
As for the United States, Milanovic documents what we all know — that income inequality has increased dramatically in the past several decades and is now considerably higher than in the similarly prosperous countries of Western Europe. Everyone from Robert Reich to Ben Bernanke has described this development as worrisome for its political and social consequences, but Milanovic keeps his focus on economics. The economic explanation, Milanovic says, lies in an excess of investable assets, which puts too much money in the hands of the wealthy, who then seek ever riskier investments to get adequate returns.
Countries are better off economically when more of the income stays in the hands of middle-class families, who spend it on real things they need.
But the rewards are commensurate. He traces the history of the study of inequality and elucidates the Gini coefficient, the main tool for measuring inequality within a country. The Gini coefficient demonstrates the rise in inequality in the United States, from 35 in the s to above 40 now, compared with 30 in egalitarian Sweden. In the second essay, Milanovic discusses inequality among nations. Here the key concept for comparing incomes is purchasing-power parity: What the local currency buys in real life, not the current exchange rate, is what determines its value and is the point of comparison.
The third essay looks at how these two different scales of inequality — within a nation and between nations—determine the inequality between individuals around the world. The author demonstrates that location — where you are born rather than into which class in that country — is the main factor in your rank on the global scale.
It gives the reader a new perspective and some useful tools for approaching issues of inequality. What it does not do is provide policy prescriptions, or even desirable objectives for national or international policy. But that, as they say, is the subject of another book. Specializing in business and economics, he was a Fulbright Scholar and spent several years as a foreign correspondent in Paris and other European cities.
Book Review in Non-Fiction More. Branko Milanovic's brief and idiosyncratic history of inequality around the globe. The author serves up his signature blend of wit and insight in this satisfying collection. An outstanding reflection from a horse trainer attempting to reach both animals and inmates.
Thy Neighbor’s Wealth
This short book of has a very interesting structure. It contains sections discussing respectively, inequality within nations Unequal People , inequality between countries Unequal countries and finally the combination of the two Unequal World. Each section contains an main essay followed by a series of Vignettes which highlight issues raised in the essay and interesting consequences. I found the wide varieties of topics covered in the Vignettes fascinating as these covered aspects of inequality that I have never previously been aware of. For a short read, this book covers a lot of ground. The author does not take any particular point of view and just states the facts.
The Haves and the Have-Nots
This delightful and quirky book explains in layman's terms the evolution of income inequality over the years, within countries and between countries. Twenty-six vignettes tackle diverse questions: Where does the reader fit into the global distribution of income? How unequal was income in the Roman Empire? Who was the world's richest person in history?
The Haves and the Have-Nots: A Brief and Idiosyncratic History of Global Inequality
Reviewed by Darrell Delamaide Just how rich is Mr. Branko Milanovic playfully considers that situation and others like it in a thoughtful new book that comes to grips with a much weightier topic, involving one of the biggest issues of our time: the inequality of incomes. Milanovic, the lead economist in the research division of the World Bank, has spent a career compiling and analyzing income data from every corner of the planet. He distills his broad learning in a book that is lucid if not always easy, and, at pages of text, is brief as advertised. The Haves and the Have-Nots is also, as advertised, idiosyncratic. Sandwiched between three long essays that comprise the book are a number of entertaining vignettes that explore questions readers might not have thought to ask.
The Haves and the Have-Nots Summary and Review
Pick up the key ideas in the book with this quick summary. Inequality is a world problem. In many countries, a thin slice at the top seems to hold all the wealth, while many suffer to make ends meet. Huge gaps exist even between countries, as some receive billions in foreign investment while others struggle to improve roads and basic services for their citizens.