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.
Combining investigative courage with forensic analysis, Price Wars is a geopolitical masterpiece bursting with bite, originality and compassionIf you're desperately searching for a single reason why Brexit, Trump or the war in Ukraine have caused such chaos, then sociologist and documentarian Rupert Russell might have the answer. [He] is a really engaging guideProvocative . . . Price Wars arrives at quite an appropriate moment, culturally speaking, with many people emerging from the depths of the pandemic wondering whether what was long billed as a core strength of globalisation, its flexibility, had been revealed through supply-chain shocks and other disruptions to be a bit of a broken promise or even an excuse for market fragilityPrice 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
Rupert Russell guilefully searches for chaos and finds the butterfly effect of volatile prices operating everywhere. His stories are vivid and analysis airtight. In his hands, prices become quantum: we can know its present value or trend, but not both. Is our civilisation slowly boiling, or can we simplify our hyper-complexity and tame the chaos we have unleashed through integrated financial markets? This fine book provides compelling answersRupert 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
An illuminating, sobering and endlessly fascinating look at the root causes and hidden connections between financial markets and some of the developing world's most wrenching crises. Fearlessly reported from conflict zones from separatist Ukrainian provinces to the Middle East, Russell compellingly draws a line between commodity manipulation on Wall Street and the chaos that fuels extremism and violenceA skilfully conducted tour of the role of price, once unmoored from reality, in adding chaos to an already chaotic world. A fresh look at some of the mostly deeply held dogmas of economics, exploding many along the wayWry, objective, scary, funny: let's hope it's not all true, but that seems unlikelyDeeply reported and thoroughly accessible, this investigation into the far-reaching consequences of economic speculation deserves a wide readershipPrice Wars is a thorough and compelling account of political instability generated by the hyper-financialization of commodities. It could not be more timelyOne of the most important books of our timeRupert Russell's new book shows how the financialization of commodity prices worsens volatility and destabilizes geopolitics. It couldn't be more timelyPrice Wars reveals that hedge fund managers and commodities traders based in the financial hubs of New York and London have manipulated the prices of essentials to maintain their profits . . . Russell argues that this practice has had a butterfly effect in contributing to human suffering and exacerbating social and political unrest in countries around the world