In nearly every realm of daily life there is an invisible velvet rope that divides how we live. On one side, appointments are secured, queues are skipped and doors are opened. On the other, people fight for an empty seat on the plane, a place in line at a theme park or even a medical exam.
Schwartz shows how business innovators have stepped in to exploit the gap between the rich and everyone else, shifting services away from the masses and finding new ways to profit by serving the privileged. The frictionless world of VIP experiences seems like good business, but as this model expands, the costs are mounting. Schwartz's gripping account takes us on a glittering, behind-the-scenes tour of this new reality - and shows the toll the velvet rope divide is taking on society.
If you've wondered how today's rich live ... you need to read The Velvet Rope Economy. You'll never look at boarding a plane-or privilege and polarization-the same way. -- Charles Duhigg, bestselling author ― The Power of Habit
Nelson Schwartz's book uses vivid and detailed reporting to advance an important, novel, and ultimately scary argument about the ways that inequality is changing our economy. Anyone interested in the topic of inequality should read this book. -- Jason Furman, former Chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers
Timely and essential . . . Through careful reporting and entertaining storytelling, Schwartz unpacks the degree to which wealth insulates the privileged, as well as the dangers of our free-falling transformation into a caste-based society. ― Esquire
Sharp and illuminating, [...] entertaining and infuriating, this carefully balanced inquiry strikes the right chord. ― Publishers Weekly
A masterpiece of beautifully written, carefully reported social commentary. Schwartz is able to take everyday things we already know-like the fact that the rich get to live a life entirely distinct from the rest of us-and shows, through colorful tales and great storytelling, that this is no curiosity. It is an indictment, a warning, a prediction, and a nuanced vision of our society. This book will become essential reading to understand this moment. But don't let the grandness of his work scare you: it's a fun, surprising read filled with unexpected peeks into the perquisites of superwealth. -- Adam Davidson, co-founder of Planet Money and author of The Passion Economy
Through vivid illustrations and systematic analysis, this brilliantly argued book demonstrates the corrosive impact of growing inequality on society....A must read. -- Emmanuel Saez, Professor of Economics, University of California, Berkeley
An intriguing examination of income inequality ― Kirkus Reviews
Schwartz decided not just to document all the ways our business culture has learned to cater to the rich at the expense of the rest of us, but to explain why it matters. It's an eye-opening exploration of a trend with many consequences, none of them good. -- Joe Nocera, author of A Piece of the Action: How the Middle Class Joined the Money Class
Schwartz vividly portrays the way inequality plays out in the thick of daily life. The visceral divides between us are brilliantly - and painfully - brought to life. -- Richard V. Reeves, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution and author ― Dream Hoarders
Explains how everything Americans purchase - travel, leisure, education, and health care - suddenly got really good for the wealthy and a lot worse for the rest of us ... This is a book that will likely make you very, very mad. It will also, however, provide some context on why you feel so mad, and perhaps give a sense of clarity about what it all means and how to fix it. ― Vox.com
About the Author
Nelson Schwartz has been a writer at the New York Times for a decade and covers economics. Before that, he wrote about Wall Street and banking for The Times, and also served as European economic correspondent in Paris.