When James Wilson founded The Economist in 1843 his aim was to challenge a political and landowning class which was protecting its interests through tariffs on grain that were causing hunger and rioting across Britain.

Wilson was a radical. He was a champion of free trade. His great “newspaper”, launched alongside myriad others at a time of massive expansion of the printed word, has not only endured for 175 years but has evolved into a highly-profitable global product with influence at the highest levels in world politics and business.

Yet its purpose is widely misunderstood among those who have not yet joined its audience.

“There is a perception that The Economist is a rarified publication for nerds, elites and bankers,” says Kenneth Cukier, its senior editor. To some, its very name suggests it caters for ‘Davos Man’, the kind of gilded figure who hangs out at the annual World Economic Forum…