Picking Piketty Apart
The superstar French economist tortures the data to fit his narrative
MARCH 31, 2015 by PHILLIP MAGNESS
This is an interesting tack for Piketty. It appears to concede a level of nuance that is often missing from his book, which frequently slips into sweeping narratives of history, oversimplified theoretical assumptions, and aggressive political prescriptions premised on their acceptance.
The centerpiece of Piketty’s inequality argument is a sweeping historical narrative of the 20th century, ostensibly rooted in data. Piketty contends that wealth inequality peaked during the Gilded Age conditions of the turn of the 20th century. This was the original version of the capital-hoarding rentier society that is predicted by his theory, in which the returns on capital are said to outpace the rate of economic growth, or the famous r > g formulation.
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