A shattering account of the destabilising power of price, and a potent critique of the free market philosophy that leaves the most vulnerable at the mercy of the commodities markets
For Rupert Russell, the shock of the Trump-Brexit victories was only the latest in a decade full of them: the unstoppable war in Syria, huge migrant flows into Europe, beheadings in Iraq, children caged at the US border. In Price Wars he sets out on an improbable journey to investigate what caused the wave of chaos that consumed the world in the 2010s.
Armed with a notebook, flak jacket and pink socks, Russell travels to modern apocalypses across five continents, embedding with separatist soldiers in the trenches of Eastern Ukraine, gangs of street kids battling over garbage in Caracas, the UN bomb disposal squad in Iraq and cattle raiders in Northern Kenya. He traces the origins of these conflicts back to dramatic and mysterious swings in the prices of essential commodities. He meets with commodity speculators who describe the inner workings of these volatile markets, explaining how food prices can spike even in years of abundant harvests, causing bread riots and revolutions. Oil prices can surge on rumours, enriching and emboldening dictators and terrorists alike. These price shocks, and many others across the decade, triggered local disasters that became global catastrophes. It is chaotic prices, Russell learned, fuelled by banks and hedge funds in New York and London, that have toppled regimes and fractured the West.
Price Wars is a page-turning chronicle of discovery and a ground-breaking expose of the power of price to devastate the world.
Price Wars is a totally original and stimulating read, part war zone reportage, part economic history and buzzing with ideas about the way markets work that will change your understanding of the world we live in
Dry, objective, scary, funny: let's hope it's not all true, but that seems unlikely
Rupert Russell's adventures into a host of modern apocalypses are retold in this thrilling page-turner. The result is an incredible synthesis that places global finance at the heart of chaos across the world