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Ending Inequality with Thomas Philippon

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In The Great Reversal: How America Gave Up on Free Markets, Thomas Philippon, one of the world’s leading economists, argues that many key problems of the American economy are due not to the flaws of capitalism or the inevitabilities of globalization but to the concentration of corporate power. By lobbying against competition, the biggest firms drive profits higher while depressing wages and limiting opportunities for investment, innovation, and growth.

Join us for a live conversation discussing the book, hosted by Mark Sutcliffe. Presented in partnership with the Ottawa International Writer’s Festival and Library and Archives Canada.

You can attend via Zoom (please register to receive the link) or by Facebook Live (link will be made available the week before).

Why are cell-phone plans so much more expensive in the United States than in Europe? It seems a simple question. But the search for an answer took Thomas Philippon on an unexpected journey through some of the most complex and hotly debated issues in modern economics. Ultimately, he reached his surprising conclusion: American markets, once a model for the world, are giving up on healthy competition. Sector after economic sector is more concentrated than it was twenty years ago, dominated by fewer and bigger players who lobby politicians aggressively to protect and expand their profit margins. Across the country, this drives prices up while driving down investment, productivity, growth, and wages, resulting in more inequality. Meanwhile, Europe―long dismissed for competitive sclerosis and weak antitrust―is beating America at its own game.

Philippon did not expect these conclusions in the age of Silicon Valley start-ups and millennial millionaires. But the data from his cutting-edge research proved undeniable. In this compelling tale of economic detective work, we follow him as he works out the basic facts and consequences of industry concentration in the U.S. and Europe, shows how lobbying and campaign contributions have defanged antitrust regulators, and considers what all this means for free trade, technology, and innovation. For the sake of ordinary Americans, he concludes, government needs to return to what it once did best: keeping the playing field level for competition. It’s time to make markets great―and free―again.

We encourage our audiences to read widely, and shop (or borrow) locally. Click here to see the author's books in the library catalogue. A limited number of signed books are available from our friends at Perfect Books.