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Pocketmags Digital Magazines
Pocketmags Digital Magazines

It’s the inequality, stupid

Want to know why Trump really won? A breathtaking new economic analysis has some answers, argues Duncan Weldon

A Century of Wealth in America

by Edward N Wolff (Harvard University Press, £31.95)

Three and a half years ago, Thomas Piketty’s 700-page tome about inequality knocked Disney’s Frozen: Journey to the Ice Palace off the Amazon top spot. One reviewer joked Capital in the Twenty-First Century was a VIB (very important book). And it was about a VIP (very important problem)—although on Kindle, apparently, not many readers got past the introduction. Coffee tables groaned under the weight of the wealth gap, but that didn’t necessarily mean that the public had suddenly developed a new appetite for number crunching.

The vast inequality that mars much of the contemporary west, and the United States in particular, is not new: it has slowly set in over a generation or more. But for most of that time— until the 2008 crash—it was relegated to the margins of social science and the political left. Since Piketty’s breakthrough, however, publishers cannot get enough of it.

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About Prospect Magazine

In Prospect’s November issue: Joris Luyendijk and Stuart Ward try to uncover the way Britain is perceived by Europe and the rest of the world. Luyendijk—who lived in Britain for six years before recently moving back to his native Netherlands—explains that the Brexit vote has shown Europe that Britain needs time alone to find its identity again, while Ward—a native Australian—argues that its Britain’s imperial backstory that stops it from truly understanding what the world thinks of it. Elsewhere in the issue Jeffrey Lewis argues that US foreign policy has helped North Korea develop the nuclear bomb and we explore the effect that the Palestinian museum near Ramallah is having on the creation of a national identity. Also in this issue: Sameer Rahim profiles Armando Iannucci, Joseph Stiglitz on Britain’s tricky political situation.