Branko Milanovic’s new book is a welcome companion to Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century. It covers similar ground but is less polemical.
Milanovic, a Serbian-American economist, thinks that inequality between countries has been reduced. Since wars destroy assets, the 20th century saw income and wealth shared more equally for most of its duration, as the world rebuilt capital and regained skills. Then came the opening up of China, the re-integration of much of the former Soviet Union, the elimination of capital controls so money could move around more freely and the reduction in tariffs that has facilitated world trade. All this has led to a reduction in poverty and an expansion of the global middle class.