“Wherever you live in the world, you’ve been robbed. Not by a hidden bandit, but a global kleptocracy: the super-rich who’ve managed to rob the poor blind in every corner of the globe for the past seven decades.” — Michelle Chen
We’re living in a time of global income inequality on a scale never before seen in history. Money is concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer people around the world, and every year they have more of it than ever before. According to the 2018 World Inequality Report, those belonging to the wealthiest 0.1 percent of the global population have, since 1980, increased their combined wealth by as much as the poorest 50 percent. The combined net worth of all 2,208 of the world’s known billionaires is twice that of the poorest 2.5 billion people. By 2030, members of the wealthiest one percent of the global population are projected to hold 64 percent — a full two-thirds — of the world’s wealth.
It wasn’t supposed to turn out this way. The world’s top economists sat down in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, in 1944, to figure out how to prevent the world economy from ever again becoming as destabilized as it was in the years leading up to World War I. They envisioned a global financial system that would stop countries from manipulating their exchange rates, curtail unrestricted international cash flows, and lock speculative capital behind national borders.
At first, financial globalization — which generated international institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, and tied currencies to the U.S. dollar, which was tied to gold — worked exactly as intended. It laid the economic foundation for a period of unprecedented prosperity and stability in the second half of the 20th century.
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