Book Bits: 4 November 2023

The Rise of the Global Middle Class: How the Search for the Good Life Can Change the World
Homi Kharas
Interview with author via McKinsey Global Institute podcast
Q: In your new book, you highlight the fact that we’ve now reached the point at which half the world’s population is middle class or richer. Four billion people, and by 2030, that could be five billion. So what’s driven that enormous growth, and what could continue to drive it?
A: I think the simplest answer I can give is technology. It was technology that started the emergence of the middle class in the 19th century when it became clear that literate clerks were needed to write contracts between banks and factory owners so the latter could expand. The technology of the Industrial Revolution drove the need for a healthy, educated population. And that drove a demand for teachers, doctors, nurses. Productivity started to rise, and that brought about a rise in wages.

Antimonopoly and American Democracy
Edited by Daniel A. Crane and William J. Novak
Summary via publisher (Oxford U. Press)
Antimonopoly and American Democracy traces the history of antimonopoly politics in the United States, arguing that organized action against concentrated economic power comprises an important American democratic tradition. While prevailing narratives tend to treat monopoly as a risk to people mainly in their roles as consumers–by causing prices to increase, for example–this study broadens the conversation, recounting ways in which monopolism can hurt ordinary people without directly impacting their wallets. From the pre-revolutionary era to the age of Big Tech, the volume explores the effects that historical monopolies have had on democracy by using their wealth and influence to dominate electoral politics and regulation.

You Can’t Make Money From a Dead Planet: The Sustainable Method for Driving Profits
Mark Shayler
Excerpt via Porchlight Books
There is no economy on a dead planet, and the key challenge that we have is how we make more money by selling and consuming less ‘stuff’. This will become the focal point of the next 50 years of civilization and, in my opinion, is the greatest opportunity we have in terms of innovation. Placing sustainability at the heart of the innovation process rather than at the end means that it becomes an accelerator rather than a brake on the economy.

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