Summary of The Real Goldfinger: The London Banker Who Broke the World

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In the legendary 1964 James Bond movie Goldfinger, 007 goes after a business mogul who has devised an elaborate scheme to smuggle gold bullion out of Britain. For writer Oliver Bullough the plot illustrates how 1960s City of London financiers manipulated and eventually destroyed the post-World War II economic order. To learn more about the real-world consequences of their actions, getAbstract recommends you read Bullough’s highly entertaining essay.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Where the historical roots of growing global inequality lie and
  • Why an extreme concentration of wealth poses a risk to democracy.
 

About the Author

Oliver Bullough is the author of Moneyland: Why Thieves and Crooks Now Rule the World and How to Take It Back.

 

Summary

The gap between the ultra rich and the rest of the world’s population has been widening at a rapid pace. In 2017, 42 individuals worldwide owned as much wealth as the poorest half of the global population. This concentration of extreme wealth is a consequence of the collapse of the post-World War II global monetary system, established by the Allied powers at the Bretton Woods Conference in New Hampshire in 1944. All parties to the Bretton Woods agreement pledged to maintain fixed exchange rates between their currencies and the US dollar. The United States, in turn, pegged its currency to gold at a fixed exchange rate of $35 per ounce. In doing so, the signatories sought to stabilize the world economy by restricting international money flows and preventing financial speculation. For a while, the system worked: Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the Western economy experienced almost uninterrupted growth and growing economic equality. Since the system made it difficult for the wealthy to keep their money abroad, national governments were able to keep taxes high to pay for social services and infrastructure.


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