7 Days of Piketty: Saturday, or “All men are created unequal.”


I’m publishing seven days of links to web material about Thomas Piketty and his book, Capital in the Twenty-first Century. Piketty generally has been praised for the sheer depth of his research, and criticized for failing to offer a solution to the problem of inequality apart from a global tax on wealth, which strikes most observers as unlikely.

Pitchforks, anyone?

We continue with The Economist, circa 2014: “Revisiting an old argument about the impact of capitalism.”

All men are created unequal (The Economist)

INEQUALITY is one of the most controversial attributes of capitalism. Early in the industrial revolution stagnant wages and concentrated wealth led David Ricardo and Karl Marx to question capitalism’s sustainability. Twentieth-century economists lost interest in distributional issues amid the “Great Compression” that followed the second world war. But a modern surge in inequality has new economists wondering, as Marx and Ricardo did, which forces may be stopping the fruits of capitalism from being more widely distributed.

“Capital in the Twenty-First Century” by Thomas Piketty, an economist at the Paris School of Economics, is an authoritative guide to the question. Mr Piketty’s book, which was published in French in 2013 and will be released in English in March 2014, self-consciously builds on the work of 19th-century thinkers; his title is an allusion to Marx’s magnum opus. But he possesses an advantage they lacked: two centuries’ worth of hard data.