Farrar, Straus and Giroux
February 28, 2012
The world’s largest company, Wal-Mart Stores, has revenues higher than the GDP of all but twenty-five of the world’s countries. Its employees outnumber the populations of almost a hundred nations. The world’s largest asset manager, a secretive New York company called BlackRock, controls assets greater than the national reserves of any country on the planet. A private philanthropy, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, spends as much worldwide on health care as the World Health Organization.
The rise of private power may be the most important and least understood trend of our time. David Rothkopf provides a fresh, timely look at how we have reached a point where thousands of companies have greater power than all but a handful of states. Beginning with the story of an inquisitive Swedish goat wandering off from its master and inadvertently triggering the birth of one of the oldest companies still in existence, Power, Inc. follows the rise and fall of kings and empires, the making of great fortunes, and the chaos of bloody revolutions. A fast-based tale in which champions of liberty are revealed to be paid pamphleteers of moneyed interests and greedy scoundrels trigger changes that lift billions from deprivation, Power, Inc. traces a bruising jockeying for influence right up to today’s financial crises, growing inequality, a broken international financial system, and battles over the proper role of government and markets.
Rothkopf argues that these recent developments, coupled with the rise of powers like China and India, may not lead to the triumph of American capitalism that was celebrated just a few years ago. Instead, he considers an unexpected scenario, a contest among competing capitalisms offering different visions for how the world should work, a global ideological struggle in which European and Asian models may have advantages. An important look at the power struggle that is defining our times, Power, Inc. also offers critical insights into how to navigate the tumultuous years ahead.
David Rothkopf is the internationally acclaimed author of Superclass: The Global Power Elite and the World They Are Making and Running the World: The Inside Story of the National Security Council and the Architects of American Power. He is the president and chief executive of Garten Rothkopf, an international advisory firm, and a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.