The Brexit referendum is nothing less than an earthquake. But when an earthquake happens, seismologists try to understand how and why the tectonic plates had been shifting, and the pressures that had been building to bring about the event.   The causes underlying every earthquake are specific in how they come together, even if they are seen in different places. (more…)

Video of the worldwide launch of the Global Consumption and Income Project on April 15th, 2016 in New York, featuring an introduction by our team and distinguished scholarly and institutional commentators, is now available! Thanks to Prof. Donald Robotham of the Advanced Research Collaborative at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York for hosting the event.

On April 15th, 2016, we will  hold an open public event in New York to launch the Global Consumption and Income Project, making the unprecedented data on material living standards that we have collected for the first time freely available to all users.  The datasets we have constructed describe the levels of income and consumption of the populations of more than 160 countries over more than fifty years (1960 to the present). A recording of the event, featuring the project team and distinguished respondents, will be available subsequently. (more…)

There has been a lot of crowing in recent years about the so-called global middle class. Does such a thing really exist? If so, how many people belong to it and where do they live? My colleagues and I, in the Global Consumption and Income Project, attempt in our most recent paper  to distinguish different concepts of the middle class and argue both that these lead to very different conclusions and that claims about the size of the global middle class are highly exaggerated. (more…)

Chrystia Freeland, who fairly recently parachuted into Canadian politics from a career in journalism abroad, in which she was among other roles a senior functionary of the Financial Times, has just been appointed the Minister of International Trade in the new Liberal Party Cabinet.   When her book on Plutocrats came out in 2012, I was a discussant at an event centred on the book at the Institute for Public Knowledge at NYU.  I delivered a comment on that occasion, before the Piketty deluge, for what it’s worth, which was entitled ‘Where do Plutocrats Come From?’ [1].  It was not included in the symposium that was published online followed the panel, including Robert Frank and Shamus Khan, as I was not able to make the changes requested by the editor. I have to admit that I was not overwhelmed by the book, but it was good that someone was talking about the plutocracy, if in a defanged way.  Here is my comment: (more…)