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Publisher's Summary

A San Francisco Chronicle Bestseller

The New York Times’s Global Economics Correspondent masterfully reveals how billionaires’ systematic plunder of the world—brazenly accelerated during the pandemic—has transformed 21st-century life and dangerously destabilized democracy.

"Davos Man will be read a hundred years from now as a warning." —EVAN OSNOS

“Excellent. A powerful, fiery book, and it could well be an essential one."  —NPR.org

The history of the last half century in America, Europe, and other major economies is in large part the story of wealth flowing upward. The most affluent people emerged from capitalism's triumph in the Cold War to loot the peace, depriving governments of the resources needed to serve their people, and leaving them tragically unprepared for the worst pandemic in a century.

Drawing on decades of experience covering the global economy, award-winning journalist Peter S. Goodman profiles five representative "Davos Men"–members of the billionaire class–chronicling how their shocking exploitation of the global pandemic has hastened a fifty-year trend of wealth centralization. Alongside this reporting, Goodman delivers textured portraits of those caught in Davos Man’s wake, including a former steelworker in the American Midwest, a Bangladeshi migrant in Qatar, a Seattle doctor on the front lines of the fight against COVID, blue-collar workers in the tenements of Buenos Aires, an African immigrant in Sweden, a textile manufacturer in Italy, an Amazon warehouse employee in New York City, and more.

Goodman’s rollicking and revelatory exposé of the global billionaire class reveals their hidden impact on nearly every aspect of modern society: widening wealth inequality, the rise of anti-democratic nationalism, the shrinking opportunity to earn a livable wage, the vulnerabilities of our health-care systems, access to affordable housing, unequal taxation, and even the quality of the shirt on your back. Meticulously reported yet compulsively readable, Davos Man is an essential read for anyone concerned about economic justice, the capacity of societies to grapple with their greatest challenges, and the sanctity of representative government. 

©2022 Peter S. Goodman (P)2022 HarperCollins Publishers

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absolute power corrupts absolutely & greed is bad

These Davos Men featured in this book are arsonist fire fighters; all of them, although some more so than others.

This necessary & current read by economic journalist Peter S. Goodman had me vacillating between being so nauseous I wanted to vomit, so angry I wanted to scream or so sad I wanted to cry. My spouse doesn’t understand why I do this to myself. I think it’s because I believe there are solutions but you have to have a deep understanding of the problems first & this book delivered deep understanding that’s for sure.

Had to listen to it over 3 days because I could only handle it in doses as it is very dense & now I am seriously in need of some fluffy stupidity or silence. I miss the capitalists of yesteryear like Blackstone CEO Steven Schwarzman’s father who understood contentment. Capitalism does not inherently need to be this evil. Chapter 17 was the only glimmer of hope of a real solution & reminded me of my favorite co-op grocery store called Rainbow in San Francisco. Establishing such an enterprise takes time & great effort though & Americans are extremely impatient, especially these days.

The complete lack of empathy while pretending to be SO empathetic, saying all the right things coupled with an unending scheming desire for “more,more,more” is leading to the destruction of our global society & the planet. It is way worse than I could have imagined. Intuitively I think we all assume the .0001% aren’t exactly angels, but Goodman lays out his facts like an expert trial prosecutor & ties it all up in a neat little package. There are no gray areas to be confused by. Although it made me ill, I absolutely adored this book.

This greed mentality of American billionaires has clearly reached now into every nook & cranny of every country & this book systematically lays out exactly how it was & is being done. Ugh, stop giving money to companies like Blackrock countries like Sweden! The promise of guaranteed returns for pension funds; did everyone forget Bernie Madoff? Honestly, sometimes I wish I was religious or believed in reincarnation & karma, as I am envious of people who can find comfort in such ideas. But my religion, had I one, would be books like Davos Man that rely on concrete events & facts & offer tangible insight. (One aside here, the poverty that instigated The French Revolution was not entirely Marie Antoinette’s fault. Although at times a foolish girl, but who in her position wasn’t at 19, it really began with Louis XIV, Louisiana & interest payments that fell on Louis XVI but I digress. No billionaire Davos man back in the 18th Century for a bailout so…guillotine?) Aside from fair taxation, a revolution against the rich is probably their second greatest fear? Or is it we will stop buying their products; probably the latter.

Here’s some facts not from Davos Man but I think is illuminating & helpful. The world population has more than doubled since the 1970’s, with India & China having the highest population gains. In the JFK 1960’s era, 95% of ALL clothing sold in the United States was manufactured in America. As of 2015, 97% is imported from other countries. We make 3% or less of our own clothing🤯 Our dependence on China is directly the fault of Davos Man but we consumers are also supporting it.

The not very well thought out deals we made with China many presidential administrations ago, (corporations being forced to partner with Chinese government companies & share IP specifically for one) is why we are where we are today. And now we have lying political psychopaths for candidates cropping up everywhere such as 🥭 Mussolini who promise they can fix it with no intention of ever doing so but grift successfully because most people don’t have the time or inclination to understand what is going on & are like the example of the cab driver in Liverpool England who didn’t even know what Brexit was, he just knew the hated the liberals because of austerity. Through reminders of news stories highlighted in this book, I can see the parallels between the liberal elitism of David Cameron & Hillary Clinton & the questionable compromises of Macron & Chuck Schumer. However going with the obvious psychopath is never going to be the right answer. We need to hold the liberals accountable too as well as change consumer behavior from purchasing behavior to taking care of our own health so we can minimize our dependence on pharmaceuticals.

There’s a conflation of a multitude of paths taken that got us to our current global political & economic situation. Goodman explains succinctly much of this chaos by highlighting & illustrating key moments in recent history. The specific stories highlighted could have happened anywhere in the world & they probably have. For example in Chapter 3, what happened to the family owned Italian textile company, the same happened to nearly all the US textile companies except it was even worse because they actually completely disappeared vs. being taken over. Donald Trump wasn’t wrong that American manufacturing jobs are gone, but a man who has declared bankruptcy on 6 businesses is not the one to hire to fix it.

Also as another side note, most luxury clothing (French, British & American) companies use elite Italian factories to manufacture their items & countless heritage Italian brands are no longer family owned & the quality has been being gutted over the last several years. The luxury clothing market is unbelievably unprofitable. The profit hauls come usually from hand bags or perfume which has a similar business model to pharmaceuticals. Like pharmaceuticals, perfumes are also probably not that good for you but I digress again.

There is a saying of selling to the classes, means living with the masses… So tell me Davos Man, where are you going to buy your luxury clothing now since you’ve indirectly forced these companies to be sold to hedge funds or of the like that are only concerned with the short term problem of cutting costs & quality to increase profits? LVMH was never considered luxury in my book & somehow I managed to escape being a fan, but the example cited in Davos Man of Arnault avoiding 2 million annually in taxes on his mega yacht made me somehow dislike him even more which I didn’t think was possible. (For further info about Bernard Arnault read Deluxe, How Luxury Lost It’s Luster by Dana Thomas; an oldie but a goodie.)

The basic premise of Davos Man is that the .0001% avoiding taxation is the cornerstone of all of society’s ills, & although the problems are obviously more complex, I do agree it’s nonetheless still all their fault if you include their indirect meddling actions that caused the circular domino effect. Time after time they have ignored the dire warnings of astute economists in order to attain short term gains for the pursuit of greed. Read this book & you will see. I appreciated how things were explained in both a micro & macro level, as it’s really all the same.

Much gratitude to the author in providing me a starting list of companies I will absolutely never invest in through either working for them, purchasing their stock or using their financial services. Wow what a guy that Charles Schwab. Prevention is worth a pound of cure as they say. I’m not going to lie, avoiding some of these companies completely is nearly impossible, but I have been trying to do my small part by minimizing my purchases for awhile. There’s a minimal mention of Facebook, but it’s probably because this book is geared more towards economics & sociology not primarily psychology.

Eloquently written, some of my favorite phrases from this book: stakeholder capitalism, gluttonous cabal, corporate chieftains, compassionate capitalism, rank hypocrisy, false binary choices, cosmic lie, intermittent neglect & plunder, like fashion… a mindset that’s coming from everywhere, masterworks of misdirection, constituent service Washington style, benevolent masters, corporate panhandling..

There’s a 1971 Stanford prison experiment I learned about in my Psych101 class at the age of 15 in the early 1990’s that freaked me out & was forever seared in my memory on the propensity of human nature. People of equal stature were randomly assigned to be prisoners or guards & within 6 days everyone started taking on the characteristics of their roles. The study has questions of validity today, but what I do know is we behave in particular ways depending on our status in society. I am sure these Davos men believe themselves to be compassionate people who employ many families & contribute greatly to society, but in reality they are just products of their roles. Pay your fair share of taxes AND help fix what you’ve destroyed by investing in American manufacturing & skills. Otherwise your legacy will be just that you destroyed humanity. Oh & stop buying independent companies & monopolizing the market because of unending greed. Educating & creating a more empathetic future is good for everyone because finding another planet to inhabit is seriously delusional & we are destroying the one we have.

PS. 60% of all clothing manufactured currently worldwide is made of polyester, a fossil fuel, because it is cheap. Plastic is also a fossil fuel. It takes hundreds of years to degrade.

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great book, bad book about Trump

The author actually managed to write an etertaining and thought provoking book despite his apparent desire to write yet another anti-Trump book. We get it, you don't like Trump. Neither do I, and frankly, that's why I don't want everything framed around him. can we go give minutes without being reminded, yet again, that Trump is a racist, even if it has nothing to do with the story that's told? And why perpetuate the "very fine people" lie. Did the man understand and promote his appeal to young white men maybe a little more than would make us comfortable? Yeah. Did he say that neo-nazis were "very fine people"? No he did not. read the remarks, he said exactly the opposite. so why tarnish an otherwise fantastic and engrossing piece of journalism with this easily debunkable falsehood? anyways, I recommend this book, but I want Trump to stop making enjoyable things less enjoyable.

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This book didn’t age well.

The author is so biased that it doesn’t age well. CV-19 is a Psy-Op. And the author fell for it. Will he ever admit it?

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Great until Part 3, when author advocates for trillions in new spending

I really enjoyed the first two parts of this book. The skewering of Jamie Dimon and Marc Beniof et all is so highly enjoyable. But then in Part 3, the author argues for TRILLIONS in new spending to provide “universal minimum income” with absolutely no mechanism to pay for it (etc). A let-down.

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Political bias ruins everything

So disappointing to find, once again, that political bias ruins everything.

The author ranges from neutrality to general right-bashing to full Trump derangement syndrome. Having the discussion of elite bankers interrupted by easily debunked 2017 anti-Trump talking points was frustrating at best. And once he starts, every time after is like nails on a chalkboard.

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Shut off halfway through

Summary:

The author hates the elites and Donald Trump....but loves open borders for all. A one-sided point of view, typical for someone from the New York Times. I shut it off halfway through

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Misleading

There should be a lot more said about Klaus Scwaub. It's almost entirely about Trump.

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Half the story

The author does a good job at identifying the and explaining the manipulation of the global billionaires. He uses fair statistics to emphasize these points.

However, he completely minimizes the problems of mass immigration and uses anecdotal stories to explain away the native westerners concerns.

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Better title is: Trump Derangement Syndrome

At first the book was factual, then suddenly after getting into the WEF the author claims Trump was in bed with the Globalists when he is on video saying exactly the opposite. Tried to listen past that conflicting BS but he kept going on more rants about "orange man bad" style CNN drama. No idea how I was conned into paying for this book as it is closer to false advertising than a factual account about Davos and Globalist corruption. Wish I could get a refund.

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Required reading for compassionate compatriots.

While many professed to dislike this book, to me Mr. Goodman is just saying what is obvious that we continue to feed the insatiable need for money.

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  • Neil Green
  • 04-11-22

Excellent book.

This is a must read for anyone wanting to understand the modern world. I disagree with the author's conclusion.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Andy
  • 03-06-22

Hugely left wing

The book is hugely emotional and unfounded in facts. I was expecting a balanced description of the mega rich, instead it’s an attack on the wealthy without balance and reason.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Paul Darlow
  • 04-12-22

Reasonable listen

Good account of today’s Plutocracy. I would recommend reading or listening to The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein first as Davos man sheds more light on the financial web the rich and the governments are weaving.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-01-22

Insightful and productive with a pinch of misleading title

READ THIS REVIEW IF YOU ARE WONDERING IF THIS BOOK REVEALS THE INNER WORKING AND DEEP IDEOLOGIES OF THE GLOBALIST AGENDA!!!

It doesn’t.
But what it lacks in dark conspiratorial intrigue and it made up for in a useful and productive summary behind some of the most wealthy people!

If you’re expecting to find out how Kissinger and a few other academic ideologues groomed Klaus Schwab to found the WEF through dark CIA and Mossad money under the cover of Harvard to lead a new world order of globalists based on some strange neo-communist Leninism global governance ideology enabled by Hararian bio-futurist technologies; this is not the book for you.

However if you want to understand why Trump is a greedy dud, and Biden kinda does want to fix the problem of inequality in the USA, then this is TOTALLY the book for you!

I learnt a lot, and I feel the title and blurb were misleading mainly because of the repeated mention of DJ Trump, who after completing the book I agree is a greedy populist narcissist willing to sell out to Fink et al, but is NOT a ‘Davos man’ as I imagine the term per. Whereas Biden, who sits on the Board of Trustees of Davos native World Economic Forum is given a soft touch comparatively.

Regardless I’m not from USA and I think Trump and Biden are both bad, so the political slights were just bothersome.

It’s the NYT touch, pervasive as hell I know long time veteran MD Axtell probably can’t help the political hit jobs, even in a book about Davos men!

I like how it focussed on economics, greed, ego, exploitation in a thorough and investigative way especially with regard to the financial corruption of politicians from Italy to Argentina! I like that Axtell gave cursor jabs at how these ‘Davos men’ would do anything for profit, especially off crises, and justify it any which way.

I would’ve preferred it to be more ideologically focussed around the foundation and philosophy behind the Davos phenomena that is becoming a large part of our global governance framework, and while the conclusions were thorough, the potential for tax or even democracy to solve the problem of wealth inequality is rapidly evaporating in my opinion.

This book gets 5 points to billionaire play boys but half a point to deep philosophical protégés, brain childs, and power brokers behind the usher of the New World Order or whatever catch line they give it next.