Trade Wars Are Class Wars How Rising Inequality Distorts the Global Economy and Threatens International Peace Matthew C. Klein, Michael Pettis

Publication date:
23 Jun 2020
Yale University Press
288 pages: 235 x 156 x 22mm
29 b-w illus.
Sales territories:


"This is a very important book."—Martin Wolf, Financial Times

A provocative look at how today’s trade conflicts are caused by governments promoting the interests of elites at the expense of workers

Longlisted for the 2020 Financial Times & McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award

“Worth reading for [the authors’] insights into the history of trade and finance.”—George Melloan, Wall Street Journal
Trade disputes are usually understood as conflicts between countries with competing national interests, but as Matthew C. Klein and Michael Pettis show, they are often the unexpected result of domestic political choices to serve the interests of the rich at the expense of workers and ordinary retirees. Klein and Pettis trace the origins of today’s trade wars to decisions made by politicians and business leaders in China, Europe, and the United States over the past thirty years. Across the world, the rich have prospered while workers can no longer afford to buy what they produce, have lost their jobs, or have been forced into higher levels of debt. In this thought‑provoking challenge to mainstream views, the authors provide a cohesive narrative that shows how the class wars of rising inequality are a threat to the global economy and international peace—and what we can do about it.

Matthew C. Klein is the economics commentator at Barron’s. Michael Pettis is professor of finance at Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management and a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

“The authors weave a complex tapestry of monetary, fiscal and social policies through history and offer opinions about what went right and what went wrong . . . Worth reading for their insights into the history of trade and finance.”—George Melloan, Wall Street Journal

"This is a very important book."—Martin Wolf, Financial Times

"[O]ffers a deeper argument about the source of the trouble”—Economist

“[A]s Matthew Klein and Michael Pettis argue in their brilliant polemic Trade Wars Are Class Wars, industrial policy instruments are only part of the story.”—Adam Tooze, London Review of Books

Trade Wars are Class Wars is a must-read from two of the most astute commentators on the global economy. Klein and Pettis offer an essential analysis of how domestic inequality and international conflict are interlinked, and provide an answer to the crisis of globalization.”—Adam Tooze, author of Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World

“An erudite, original, and provocative explanation of the global economic imbalances that have been at the root of numerous financial crises.”—Ernesto Zedillo, Director of the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization

"This is a book that everyone concerned with the global economy should read. A fascinating account of the damage that rising inequality—especially in China and Germany—has done to all our economies"—Dani Rodrik, Harvard University