Since US President Donald Trump swept to power in 2016, we have seen plenty of startling statistics about western politics. For me, the single most thought-provoking chart came courtesy of Bridgewater, the world’s largest hedge fund. In a Lunch with the FT interview last year, Ray Dalio, Bridgewater’s founder, told me that the proportion of the Western world voting for populist candidates had risen to 35%. The figure, from a report by his firm, was starkly higher than at the start of the decade (when it was 7%), after running at about 10% in previous decades. Indeed, such a surge was only previously seen in the 1920s after the Great Depression, when the populist vote jumped from 4% to a peak of 40% in 1939, before elections halted as the world tumbled into the Second World War. This is unnerving on several levels. Today, the world looks very different from the 1930s: the internet, capital markets and international supply chains have tied the global system closely together, and socia...

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