We Read Seven Thomas Piketty Think-Pieces For You

Seemingly everyone has an opinion about French economist Thomas Piketty and his new book describing the rise of inequality. Mike Konczal, a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute who blogs about economics at Rortybomb, reviews the think-pieces and offers his own take.


Piketty Think-Piece Number One

“Piketty’s tome is exhaustively researched and contains numerous statistics showing that the American economist Simon Kuznets was wrong to argue back in the 1950s that economies would become more equal as they matured. Piketty argues that inequality has grown in the US and Europe over the past decade because a new cadre of “supermanagers” has captured more wage income, and returns on accumulated wealth have outstripped the (modest) pace of economic growth. This means that people who are already rich are becoming richer, and many inherit their wealth.” – Gillian Tett

Piketty Think-Piece Number Two

“Simply put the rate of return on investments has tended to be greater than the rate of economic growth. It means that the great period of the growing middle class, the golden age of prosperity for all, amounts to a historical blip. Piketty's book ends the idea that a rising tide lifts all boats.” – Stephen Marche

Piketty Think-Piece Number Three

“Piketty’s rather French idea of a global wealth tax isn’t getting nearly the same amount of acclaim as the rest of the book is, and is very unlikely to happen: countries will always compete with each other to attract the stateless rich by not taxing them.” – Felix Salmon

Piketty Think-Piece Number Four

“He is, in a way, saying: go ahead and make whatever reforms you want. Break up the banks. Pass the campaign finance package of your dreams. Reach deep into the bag and pass all the non-reformist reforms that you can think of. All your reforms can’t guarantee that you are safe from the logic of r > g.” – Mike Konczal

Piketty Think-Piece Number Five

“Laced throughout Piketty’s book is an almost medieval hostility to the notion that financial capital earns a return Mr. Piketty believes that the wealthier a society becomes, the more people will claw for the best relative social station and the more inequality will ensue.” -- Daniel Shuchman

Piketty Think-Piece Number Six

Conservatives must “emphasize that the historically proven way to reduce inequality is lifting people from the bottom with human capital reform, not pushing down the top. In short, counter angry progressivism with unifying uplift.” – David Brooks