The main driver of inequality-returns on capital that exceed the rate of economic growth-is again threatening to generate extreme discontent and undermine democratic values. Thomas Piketty's findings in this ambitious, original, rigorous work will transform debate and set the agenda for the next generation of thought about wealth and inequality.
What are the grand dynamics that drive the accumulation and distribution of capital? Questions about the long-term evolution of inequality, the concentration of wealth, and the prospects for economic growth lie at the heart of political economy. But satisfactory answers have been hard to find for lack of adequate data and clear guiding theories. 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.
Piketty shows that modern economic growth and the diffusion of knowledge have allowed us to avoid inequalities on the apocalyptic scale predicted by Karl Marx. But we have not modified the deep structures of capital and inequality as much as we thought in the optimistic decades following World War II. The main driver of inequality-the tendency of returns on capital to exceed the rate of economic growth-today threatens to generate extreme inequalities that stir discontent and undermine democratic values. But economic trends are not acts of God. Political action has curbed dangerous inequalities in the past, Piketty says, and may do so again.
A work of extraordinary ambition, originality, and rigor, Capital in the Twenty-First Century reorients our understanding of economic history and confronts us with sobering lessons for today.
Thomas Piketty is Director of Studies at L'Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales and Professor at the Paris School of Economics. He is the author of Capital in the Twenty-First Century.
Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century laid bare the deep structural forces that have made our brave new neoliberal economic order so dangerously topheavy and unstable.--Chris Lehmann"In These Times" (06/27/2017) Thomas Piketty's Capital in the 21st Century is arguably the most important popular economics book in recent memory. It will take its place among other classics in the field that have survived changing theoretical and political fashions, such as its namesake by Karl Marx (Das Kapital, 1867) or other ambitiously titled books such as John Maynard Keynes's The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (1936). Anyone who wants to engage in an informed discussion about the economic landscape will have to read Piketty.--Kate Bahn"Women's Review of Books" (01/01/2015) Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century delivered a well placed kick up the backside to complacent mainstream economics.--Paul Mason"The Observer" (11/30/2014) Magisterial...Piketty's Capital feels very much like a Category 4 hurricane that hasn't yet made landfall...Piketty draws on a vast store of historical data to argue that the broad dissemination of wealth that occurred during the decades following World War I was not, as economists then mistakenly believed, a natural state of capitalist equilibrium, but rather a halcyon interval between Belle poque inequality and the rising inequality of our own era...Piketty's most provocative argument is that the discrepancy between the high returns to capital and much more modest overall economic growth--briefly annulled during the mid-century--ensures that the gulf between the rich (who profit from capital investments) and the middle class (who depend chiefly on income from labor) will only continue to grow...The best reason to raise tax rates is not to punish the rich, of course, but to raise the revenue which the United States needs to invest in infrastructure and research, not to mention to pay for Social Security and health care. That investment gap poses a clear and present danger to American global economic leadership. Rising inequality exacerbates the problem by sapping the collective political will needed to address the problem.--James Traub"Foreign Policy online" (04/11/2014)
Winner of PROSE (Economics) 2015
Winner of PROSE (Excel in Soc. Science) 2015
Winner of PROSE (R.R. Hawkins Award) 2015
Commended for National Book Critics Circle Award (Nonfiction) 2014
Commended for Kirkus Prize (Nonfiction) 2014
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