In Termites of the State, renowned public economist Vito Tanzi presents a sweeping account of the industrialized world's economic development during the twentieth century to today. In the tradition of grand economic histories, Tanzi connects the biggest issues of the modern world including extreme gaps in income distribution, increasing complexity of government actions and regulations, and asymmetry of access to information and to political influence between the elite and the rest of society. Part one covers the growth of state intervention since the early twentieth century - a time before income taxes, central banks or social welfare programs. Part two investigates how and why laws and regulations have expanded in industrialized economies. Part three, building from this foundation, explains the forces behind the precipitous rise in global inequality. With a talent for clear, non-technical writing, Tanzi has produced an important book that will be of interest to any instructor, student, or general reader of economics and public policy.