Capital in the Twenty-First Century, already a best seller, is an invaluable contribution to how we understand inequality and its possible consequences.
Thomas Piketty—economist from the Paris School of Economics and ground-breaking researcher on income inequality--examines data from more than twenty countries spanning in some cases as far back as the 18th century to assess the dynamics of income and wealth distribution, with a particular focus on the role of capital ownership as a driver of long-run trends in income inequality. He argues that when the rate of return on capital exceeds the rate of economic growth, as it has for most of history, then rising income inequality becomes inevitable. He says that if this rising inequality is allowed to continue unchecked, the results could be deep political and social disruption.
While Piketty notes that inequality has different dimensions across countries, he concludes with a recommendation: significantly increase the progressivity of both income and wealth taxation. Given the extraordinarily globalized market for capital, he further argues that the reach of such taxes must be global as well.
Here"s a quick guide to the book from The Economist: Thomas Piketty’s “Capital”, summarised in four paragraphs
PBS Economics correspondent Paul Solman interviews Piketty for his take on why inequality of wealth has reverted to a lofty level last seen in 19th century Europe.
The Economic Policy Institute and the Washington Center for Equitable Growth host a presentation by Thomas Piketty:
The Guardian on What You Need to Know
CEPR and the Bank of England joint workshop (includes videos)
Paul Krugman, in the New York Review of Books
Larry Summers Robert Solow Brad DeLong Jeffrey Frankel
Mervyn King, former Governor of the Bank of England
Why is it a bestseller?
Brad DeLong (again) A critique from Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson
Dani Rodrik "Piketty and the Zeitgeist" The Spectator magazine
Financial Times:Piketty’s Data Is Full of Errors Piketty's Response
and Piketty's longer (10 page) response
NYT: Did Thomas Piketty Get His Math Wrong?
The Economist on Piketty's calculations
The view from France