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From pluto- +‎ -nomy.

Google’s n-gram search suggests the Plutonomy was coined in late 1800s. References to the term using n-gram can be found in books as early as 1851, in a book written by John Malcolm Forbes Ludlow titled “Christian Socialism and Its opponents”. Plutonomy was used in the context of wealth in these early Christian books. David Masson, Sir George Grove and John Morley wrote a chapter in Macmillan’s Magazine in 1861, in which the word was used from an Economics perspective. Interestingly, in a book titled Moral and Metaphysical Philisophy by Frederick Denison Maurice, he includes references from Adam Smith (1723-1790) in the page dedicated to Plutonomy.

In modern use, the word is incorrectly attributed to Ajay Kapur, although he did popularise the term during his tenure as Citigroup’s global strategist.[1]


plutonomy (countable and uncountable, plural plutonomies)

  1. (chiefly derogatory) The study of the production and distribution of wealth, or a society seen as dominated by such concerns. [from 19th c.]
    • 1866, Frederic Harrison, "Industrial Co-operation", in The Fortnightly Review, vol. III, page 499:
      On this side it [Socialism] is a crude compromise between the claims of labour and of capital — the hybrid child of Plutonomy and Communism.
    • 2015, Martin Ford, The Rise of the Robots, Oneworld:
      The analysts argued that the United States was evolving into a “plutonomy”—a top-heavy economic system where growth is driven primarily by a tiny, prosperous elite who consume an ever larger fraction of everything the economy produces.

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  1. ^ Plutonomics”, Robert Frank, Wall Street Journal blog The Wealth Report, January 8, 2007:
    ‘Ajay Kapur, global strategist at Citigroup, and his research team came up with the term “Plutonomy” in 2005 to describe a country that is defined by massive income and wealth inequality. According to their definition, the U.S. is a Plutonomy, along with the U.K., Canada and Australia.’