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Price Wars is a shattering account of the destabilizing power of price, and a powerful critique of the free market philosophy that leaves the most vulnerable at the mercy of the commodities markets.

For Rupert Russell, the Brexit vote was the latest shock in a decade full of them: the unstoppable war in Syria, huge migrant flows into Europe,  beheadings in Iraq, children placed in cages on the US border. A new breed of populists seemed responsible for the horrors: Boris Johnson, Donald Trump, Victor Orban, Nicolas Maduro, and Vladimir Putin, as well as terrorist groups like ISIS and Al-Shabaab. But what had unleashed these monsters on the world?

In Price Wars, Russell travels the world investigating the chaos that has overtaken societies in Tunisia, Iraq, Venezuela, Ukraine, East Africa and Central America and discovers that unrest in all these places was triggered by dramatic and mysterious swings in the price of commodities. Deregulation of the commodities markets means that food prices can shoot up even in years of abundant harvests, causing hunger and protest; oil prices and real estate values surge even when supplies are normal, emboldening dictators. It is this instability–fueled by banks and hedge funds far away–that has toppled regimes and unsettled the West. 

Price Wars is a groundbreaking expose of the power of the commodities markets to disrupt the world. 


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