Wealth, influence and the global elite Feb. 21, 2022

from Start the Week· ·

The Sassoons were one of the great commercial dynasties of the 19th century: ‘the Rothschilds of the East’. In Global Merchants the historian Joseph Sassoon charts how his ancestors – Jewish refugee exiles from Ottoman Baghdad – built a vast enterprise of trade and influence across the world. He tells Tom Sutcliffe how their meteoric rise and ultimate fall mirrored the British imperial project. At the height of their ambition the Sassoons led an extravagant lifestyle, but never quite overcame their origins to be accepted in upper class society in the West. Money, power, class and caste are at the …



The Sassoons were one of the great commercial dynasties of the 19th century: ‘the Rothschilds of the East’. In Global Merchants the historian Joseph Sassoon charts how his ancestors – Jewish refugee exiles from Ottoman Baghdad – built a vast enterprise of trade and influence across the world. He tells Tom Sutcliffe how their meteoric rise and ultimate fall mirrored the British imperial project. At the height of their ambition the Sassoons led an extravagant lifestyle, but never quite overcame their origins to be accepted in upper class society in the West. Money, power, class and caste are at the centre of Pankaj Mishra’s new novel, Run and Hide. The heroes of his story are lower class Indians determined to succeed – at a time when success is counted in private jets and lavish parties, and failure leads to a global financial scandal. The Head of Economics at the Open University, Professor Susan Newman, provided expert advice for the recent BBC 2 series, The Decade the Rich Won: Stories of power and influence, in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. In her studies she’s interested in the question of how wealth is accumulated today, the impact of globalisation on national decision-making, and growing inequality. Producer: Katy Hickman