How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer

By Dean Baker

There has been an enormous upward redistribution of income in the United States in the last four decades. In his most recent book, Baker shows that this upward redistribution was not the result of globalization and the natural workings of the market. Rather it was the result of conscious policies that were designed to put downward pressure on the wages of ordinary workers while protecting and enhancing the incomes of those at the top. Baker explains how rules on trade, patents, copyrights, corporate governance, and macroeconomic policy were rigged to make income flow upward.

"With clarity, facts, and force, Dean Baker explains how the U.S. economy is rigged and how the privileged class convinced majorities that this is just the way things have to be. Baker then thoroughly debunks such inevitability, providing what amounts to a powerful de-rigging manual to the growing number of us who want a global economy that works for everyone."

Jared Bernstein, Former Chief Economic Adviser to Vice President Joe Biden

"This is an important and compelling book about how the rules governing the American economy have been rigged in favor of those with the wealth and political clout to rig them. Baker shows why and how the nation's staggering inequality has been the consequence of staggeringly unequal political influence."

Robert B. Reich, Former Secretary of Labor

"Dean Baker’s timely book Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer is a must-read for the many who believe the status quo is unsustainable. In clear and compelling terms, Baker makes the case for rewriting the rules so that markets lead to truly progressive outcomes."

Katrina vanden Heuvel, Editor and Publisher of the Nation

"The era in which all economic policy discussion started from conservative premises that lent themselves to conservative solutions is coming to an end. Conservatives have become caricatures, warning of nonexistent inflation and promoting tax cuts for the rich as the solution to every problem. We are poised for a new progressive era of thinking and policy to deal with festering problems, such as rising inequality and slowing productivity growth, that conservatives are incapable of grasping, let alone dealing with. This book represents fresh thinking for a new progressive era. It may be for the Left what George Gilder’s “Wealth and Poverty” was for the Right."

Bruce Bartlett, Former aide to Ron Paul and Jack Kemp (U.S. Congress), Ronald Reagan (White House/OPD) and George H.W. Bush (Treasury Dept/Economic Policy)

"Dean Baker’s eye-opening Rigged tells the true story of how American incomes became so unequal. The rich and their handmaidens in the economic profession have told a selective story about the fairness and efficiency of free markets. The true story is that markets are not free. Government, under the influence of the rich and powerful, has written the rules of the game to favor distribution of income upward. Others talk about this theme but no one as comprehensively and insightfully as Baker. He makes starkly clear that, tragically, the U.S. is now a government of the rich, for the rich, and by the rich."

Jeffrey Madrick, Editor of Challenge: The Magazine of Economic Affairs

"High U.S. inequality is the product of conscious policy choices, argues Dean Baker in this excellent and provocative book. He identifies five areas in which the “upward distribution” induced by policies should be reversed: macroeconomics that focus on low inflation only; asymmetric treatment of privatized gains and socialized losses in the finance industry; heavy protection of patent rights at home and abroad; protection of high-skill occupations from foreign competition; and out-of-bounds CEO pay. By identifying five clear areas and giving concrete proposals for a change, Baker’s book should be seen as a roadmap for future U.S. policymakers who wish to bring income and wealth inequality back to sustainable levels."

Branko Milanovic, Author of Global Inequality: A New Approach for the Age of Globalization

"Baker's substantial and carefully referenced book advances logical and evidence-based trade and immigration policy reforms aimed to lift up living standards of all workers."

Teresa Ghilarducci, The New School for Social Research

"From Adam Smith on, clear-eyed analysts have recognized that markets can be distorted to favor those at the top — that, to use the language of contemporary economics, corporations and the wealthy can extract “rents” from the rest of us. In this provocative new book, Dean Baker shows that the rents in the American economy are high and rising. From patent laws that favor incumbents over innovation to financial and corporate rules that insulate excessive earnings, Baker uncovers the realities underneath the rationalizations of our rent-driven economy. No less important, he provides an agenda for fixing it."

Jacob S. Hacker, Professor of Political Science, Yale University, and co-author of Winner-Take-All Politics and American Amnesia

"Dean Baker has a gift possessed by few economists, the ability — and, perhaps more importantly, the desire — to lay out economic principles in terms as simple as they truly are. As Baker reminds us, this stuff isn't complicated, but those who have built the system to keep themselves in and keep others out are eager to convince that it is. Read Rigged and you'll be able to see right through them."

Ryan Grim, Washington bureau chief for The Huffington Post