by Branko Milanovic
Translated from English by Baptiste Mylondo
The Pocket Discovery, 336 p., € 13
There is nothing more perishable in bookstores than economics essays. Global inequalities. The fate of the middle classes, the ultra rich and equal opportunities by Serbo-American Branko Milanovic is, for his part, to be placed in the shelf of essential classics, which justifies welcoming its reissue in pocket, prefaced by another expert on the subject, the French Thomas Piketty.
Published in its original version in 2016, this founding book offers the first historical and global perspective on inequalities. Its success was built on its famous “elephant curve”, a graphic which traces the way in which the wealth produced by thirty years of globalization (1988-2008) has been distributed according to social class on a planetary scale. Better than a long speech, the drawing, in the shape of a pachyderm silhouette, shows that it is the poorest of the poor and emerging countries (lower back) and even more the richest of the rich countries (trunk raised) who were the big winners when the popular and middle classes in advanced countries have had to bow down and are among the big losers. A “discovery” which will renew the debate on the supposed benefits and damage of the globalization of trade.
But Branko Milanovic is not just a man of numbers. Here, the analysis of the data serves first of all to support a more subjective reflection on the political implications of this transformation of the world – including the contrary risks of populism and plutocracy – and the means of remedying them through policies. public authorities more committed to reducing inequalities through access to education, social transfers, and progressive taxation.
A work which helps to think, with seriousness and humility, a better world deserves at the very least that one gives oneself the pleasure of reading it.