Inequality, democracy & overwhelming speed

I attended an interesting roundtable last night on inequality versus democracy. It will be aired live on NPR today, I think at 11am and 7pm – but I’m not sure of all the local variations. Best to check here, on Tom Ashbrook’s “On Point” program description. There you can also see who did the talking:

Chrystia Freeland, Liberal Party Candidate for Canadian Parliament, journalist and author of “Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else.” (@CaFreeland)

Martin Gilens, professor of Politics at Princeton University and author of “Affluence & Influence: Economic Inequality and Political Power in America.”

Alex Keyssar, Matthew W. Stirling Jr. Professor of History and Social Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy.


If you have been following the discussion about the rise of inequality in wealth distribution you will be familiar with some of the main themes of the talk. If not, there is also a helpful introduction at the outset that links the rise in inequality to the decline in democratic responsiveness to the public. Either way, pretty informative.

One thing I had wished to hear, but did not, was a bit about how the complexity and speed of financial trading now goes beyond what we can even respond to. There is a very interesting article on this topic that came out a few weeks ago, and a good summary of it here. And if you want to see what I mean, watch the clip below. It is from a mere 10 seconds of trading for Blackberry stocks. I copied the description in below too, just because otherwise it is pretty hard to understand.

“October 2, 2013 – Blackberry rallies from $7.60 to $8.00. Watch the deluge of quotes from Nasdaq (pink at 12 o’clock) overwhelm the system when the price ticks to the next level. Quote rates approach 40,000 per second on a 25 millisecond basis.”


  1. was just listening to that panel, can recommend the Plutocracy book.

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