On first contact, I was more than a little surprised by Angrynomics, an account of popular outrage about the state of the world, its causes and consequences, and what to do about it. Yes, yes, I thought as I waded through some quite familiar territory on the growth in wealth inequality, the backlash against globalisation and the parallel rise of increasingly angry tribal – or identity – politics. But what about the event of our times – the pandemic? Then the penny dropped: the text had been written before the outbreak began. In the end, the publisher was able to accommodate only the briefest of postscripts on the many-faceted coronavirus crisis.
Fortunately, it didn’t ultimately matter, for this refreshingly brief treatise on contemporary political economy, written as a series of dialogues between Eric Lonergan, a hedge-fund manager, and Mark Blyth, a professor of international political economy at Brown University, could hardly have been more relevant to the myriad burning issues the pandemic has raised. Uncannily, it could almost have been written with it in mind.
People are angry and have every reason to be, the authors observe. In analysing the causes of this anger, they make a distinction between two types of public anger: tribal anger, which appeals to our baser instincts and finds its most obvious manifestation in nationalism, and moral outrage, often legitimate,