In Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Thomas Piketty analyzes a unique collection of data from twenty countries, ranging as far back as the eighteenth century, to uncover key economic and social patterns. His findings will transform debate and set the agenda for the next generation of thought about wealth and inequality.
Capital in the Twenty-First Century, the new book by the French economist Thomas Piketty, is a bona fide phenomenon. Other books on economics have been best sellers, but Mr. Piketty’s contribution is serious, discourse-changing scholarship in a way most best sellers aren’t ... what’s really new about Capital is the way it demolishes that most cherished of conservative myths, the insistence that we’re living in a meritocracy in which great wealth is earned and deserved ... Still, it has been amazing to watch conservatives, one after another, denounce Mr. Piketty as a Marxist. Even Mr. Pethokoukis, who is more sophisticated than the rest, calls Capital a work of 'soft Marxism,' which only makes sense if the mere mention of unequal wealth makes you a Marxist ... Money still talks ... Still, ideas matter too, shaping both how we talk about society and, eventually, what we do. And the Piketty panic shows that the right has run out of ideas.
That capitalism is unfair has been said before. But it is the way Thomas Piketty says it – subtly but with relentless logic – that has sent rightwing economics into a frenzy, both here and in the US ... Many of the book's 700 pages are spent marshalling the evidence that 21st-century capitalism is on a one-way journey towards inequality – unless we do something ... If Piketty is right, there are big political implications, and the beauty of the book is that he never refrains from drawing them ... The book's terms and explanations are utterly simple; with a myriad of historical data, Piketty reduces the story of capitalism to a clear narrative arc. To challenge his argument you have to reject the premises of it, not the working out ... Piketty has...placed an unexploded bomb within mainstream, classical economics ... You would expect the Wall Street Journal to dissent, but the power of Piketty's work is that it also challenges the narrative of the centre-left under globalisation, which believed upskilling the workforce, combined with mild redistribution, would promote social justice. This, Piketty demonstrates, is mistaken. All that social democracy and liberalism can produce, with their current policies, is the oligarch's yacht co-existing with the food bank for ever.
French economist Thomas Piketty has written an extraordinarily important book ... The result is a work of vast historical scope, grounded in exhaustive fact-based research, and suffused with literary references. It is both normative and political. Piketty rejects theorising ungrounded in data ... the book is built on a 15-year programme of empirical research conducted in conjunction with other scholars. Its result is a transformation of what we know about the evolution of income and wealth...over the past three centuries in leading high-income countries. That makes it an enthralling economic, social and political history ... Yet the book also has clear weaknesses. The most important is that it does not deal with why soaring inequality – while more than adequately demonstrated – matters. Essentially, Piketty simply assumes that it does.