Those 21st century inequality blues

Thomas Piketty is well known for having (with Emmanuel Saez and others) assembled long-run (18th century onwards) data on income and wealth in capitalist economies. He has now used the findings in a book forthcoming in English in March from Harvard University Press, [amazon_link id=”067443000X” target=”_blank” ]Capital in the 21st Century[/amazon_link]. It’s recently out in French, [amazon_link id=”2021082288″ target=”_blank” ]Le capital au XXIe siècle[/amazon_link].

There is a set of slides summing up the message (pdf). In short, he predicts that the concentration of wealth could exceed 19th century levels due to the combination of slow growth and high net-of-tax returns as a result in part of tax competition. The charts he presents suggest that the 20th century – fast per capita growth and an expanding middle class – might be an historical aberration.

He warns: “The history of income and wealth inequality is always political, chaotic and unpredictable; it involves national identities and sharp reversals; nobody can predict the reversals of the future.” Still, a global progressive wealth tax would be a good idea, he reckons. I can’t see the globocrats and oligarchs agreeing, however.

[amazon_image id=”067443000X” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Capital in the Twenty-First Century[/amazon_image]

The publication of the book will be an event – I’m looking forward to it. My thanks to @went1955 for pointing out the slides.

Inequality & Capitalism in the Long-Run — Slides lecture Thomas Piketty — (↬ FT Alphaville)
17/12/2013 09:10

3 thoughts on “Those 21st century inequality blues

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