Saturday, March 22, 2014

Piketty’s Triumph

Three expert takes on Capital in the Twenty-First Century, French economist Thomas Piketty's data-driven magnum opus on inequality.

In the 1990s, two young French economists then affiliated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, began the first rigorous effort to gather facts on income inequality in developed countries going back decades. In the wake of the 2007 financial crash, fundamental questions about the economy that had long been ignored again garnered attention. Piketty and Saez’s research stood ready with data showing that elites in developed countries had, in recent years, grown far wealthier relative to the general population than most economists had suspected. By the past decade, according to Piketty and Saez, inequality had returned to levels nearing those of the early 20th century.
Last fall, Piketty published his magnum opus, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, in France. The book seeks to model the history, recent trends, and back-to-the-19th-century future of capitalism. The American Prospect asked experts and scholars in the field of inequality to weigh in on Piketty’s argument and potential impact for policymaking on our shores.

Jacob S. Hacker, director of the Institution for Social and Policy Studies and Stanley B. Resor Professor of Political Science at Yale, and Paul Pierson, the John Gross Professor of Political Science at the University of California at Berkeley, are the co-authors most recently of Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class. Heather Boushey is the executive director and chief economist at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth. Branko Milanovic is a visiting presidential professor at the Graduate Center, City University of New York, a visiting senior scholar at the Luxembourg Income Study Center, and the author of The Haves and the Have-Nots: A Brief and Idiosyncratic History of Global Inequality.

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