Brad DeLong looks backward from 2023:
Next, came the shift in world incomes. We had such change before but not at this scale. Iron-hulled steamships of the late 19th century were indirectly responsible for the extraordinary rise in purchasing power of immigrants in the New World, who bought cheap European-made goods. That income shift coincided with a swing to political right on the Continent, where elites saw that free trade and industrial growth weren’t necessarily in their best interests.
In the late 20th century, the advent of fiber-optic cable and the satellite spurred a similar sea change. Now any literate European-language speaker, living anywhere in the world, can compete for information-technology jobs that were once the exclusive property of the European and American middle classes.
The consequent boom in developing countries has seen them converge toward the developed-world norm at twice the pace seen in the late 20th century. International trade in white-color jobs is growing as competitive as trade in blue-collar jobs. That fact was underscored when Chicago Business School fired its faculty a decade ago and thereafter taught its courses via teleconference by professors from the Jakarta School of Economics. The resulting wage shifts in the U.S. gives it a relative income distribution of late 20th-century Brazil.