Handbook on Wealth and the Super-Rich
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Handbook on Wealth and the Super-Rich

Edited by Iain Hay and Jonathan V. Beaverstock

Fewer than 100 people own and control more wealth than 50 per cent of the world’s population. The Handbook on Wealth and the Super-Rich is a unique examination of both the lives and lifestyles of the super-rich, as well as the processes that underpin super-wealth generation and its unequal distribution. Drawing on a multiplicity of international examples, leading experts from across the social sciences offer a landmark multidisciplinary contribution to emerging analyses of the global super-rich and their astonishing wealth. The book’s 22 accessible and coherently organised chapters cover a range of captivating topics from biographies of illicit super-wealth, to tax footprint reduction, to the environmental consequences of super-rich lives and their conspicuous consumption.
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Chapter 4: On plutonomy: economy, power and the wealthy few in the second Gilded Age

Iain Hay


For many years geographers and other social scientists have tended to focus on middle class circumstances and the plight of the poor, attending to the mechanisms by which poverty and economically driven environmental destruction have been produced (e.g., Banerjee and Duflo, 2011; Harvey, 2014), but giving less explicit attention to reproduction of the conditions and circumstances by which the wealthy continue to accumulate their fortunes. It is only more recently that attention has been directed more systematically to those at the apex of affluence (Beaverstock et al., 2004; Hay, 2013; Dorling, 2014; Hay and Muller, 2014). Groundbreaking analysis of historical inequalities in wealth by French economist, Thomas Piketty (2014) and income by English economist Sir Anthony Atkinson (1993, 2003), coupled with the heightening (public) profile of the super-rich (e.g., Frank, 2007; Freeland, 2011, 2012; Di Muzio, 2015), have helped spark interest in not only the lifestyles of the rich and the circumstances under which they live but also the mechanisms that have permitted them to accrue and retain their riches. Provocative but less well-publicized work in these domains has been conducted since the mid-2000s by Ajay Kapur (and colleagues), formerly Chief Global Equity Strategist for Citigroup and now Equity Strategist with Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BoAML).

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