Review of Capital in the Twenty-First Century

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Capital in the Twenty-First Century book summary

Rating

8 Overall

9 Applicability

8 Innovation

7 Style

Review

Professor Thomas Piketty’s economic analysis is marked by stubborn originality based on his profound dive into the historical, economic and cultural aspects of inequality. He ignores arguments that have been settled, asks questions that were supposedly answered, and just plows through volumes and volumes of data to reach his own conclusions. Piketty flattens large parts of the right’s ideology and supplants its narratives with a bigger story about how “not enough time has passed since 1945” to reveal capitalism’s full propensity to produce inequality – and what to do about that outcome. He’s looking down from a level of 30,000 feet, well above the cacophony of short-term political and economic fashions. Economics books rarely top the sales lists, but this one did, and it made a big splash. Piketty is not the first author to tackle the West’s growing obvious inequality, but he can claim to be the most thorough and among the most accessible.

About the Author

Thomas Piketty is a professor at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS) and at the Paris School of Economics, where he specializes in wealth and income inequalities.

 

Piketty writes in a factual, nonradical style. He considers the patterns of inequality throughout history rather than looking for answers in econometric equations and formulas. The narratives and insights Piketty gleans from his epic research confirm a fundamental trend: Inequality is growing. While his main recommendation to fix this problem – an international wealth tax – seems ideological, the book itself is not. Piketty provides a convincing, cool-headed narrative as to why you don’t have to be a socialist to justify addressing capitalism’s flaws with a tax on capital. Economists also appreciate how he captures new historical data, a task enabled by the Internet. He’s taken the opportunity this multidimensional viewpoint presents and produced a classic.

Piketty offers these lessons:

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