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The Cliff at the Border1 Lant Pritchett I begin with Keynes famous description of the world well London well upper middle class London at the apex of the first globalization just before that world s tragic end in the carnage of World War I dividing his text into four sections What an extraordinary episode in the economic progress of man that age was which came to an end in August 1914 in to the middle and upper classes for whom life offered at a low cost and with the least trouble conveniences comforts and amenities beyond the compass of the richest and most powerful monarchs of other ages The inhabitant of London could order by telephone sipping his morning tea in bed the various products of the whole earth in such quantity as he might see fit and reasonably expect their early delivery upon his doorstep What better description could there be of the benefits to the sovereign consumer of the liberalization of goods note already his awareness of the role of income inequality in this these are available to the middle and upper classes This description is even truer today as technical advance has put even more conveniences comforts and amenities like air travel cell phones medical care air conditioning on offer and globalization of the trade in goods has augmented this leading to goods of amazing variety e g foods from every corner of the earth availability e g fruits year round and low cost The material lifestyle of the middle class of rich countries today far exceeds that of the nobility of centuries ago he could at the same moment and by the same means adventure his wealth in the natural resources and new enterprises of any quarter of the 1 This is a contribution to the volume Equity and Growth in a Globalizing World edited by Ravi Kanbur and Michael Spence and is based very loosely on comments at a session sponsored by the Growth Commission on globalization I would like to thank Michael Clemens for comments on a preliminary version world and share without exertion



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