This is a crisply written analysis of economic discontents and their political consequences. Though written in the pre-pandemic era, the conclusions and prescriptions of this book are very relevant to our current debates.
The author is an economics commentator for the Financial Times. A decade of seeking to understand the reverberations of the Great Financial Crisis has equipped Sandbu with a lucid style and a thorough understanding of the great economic issues of our era.
The real argument of the book comes in the second half, namely that a set of radical but feasible policies holds the solution to inequality. And, if they were implemented, Sandbu eloquently argues, more globalisation would benefit all and defang populist polarisation. What are these policies? Spend more on education, and combine it with active labour market policies, a high minimum wage, and limits on top pay. Skilling up the workforce and compressing the wage distribution, as in the Nordic economies, will remove the incentive to hire low-wage, low-skill workers. The nice contrast presented here is between poor immigrants who manually wash cars at stoplights in the US, and the Norwegian operators of automated car washes.