Piketty fest continues – some directions for the reader

As yet more reviews pour out on Thomas Piketty’s book, Capital in the 21st century, and Piketty does video conferences galore online with an assembly of the great and good among mainstream economists, I thought that I might help the followers of my blog by presenting the following reviews that offer the most perceptive analyses that I have seen so far.



Kapital for the Twenty-First Century?

and you can find all the data for his tables here:


except the one that really matters, the sources for estimating the r.  The search for the r continues (see my previous post, https://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2014/04/15/thomas-piketty-and-the-search-for-r/).

One thought: it seems that rising inequality has become both the flagship for opposition to neo-liberal economics and at the same time the explanation for crises under capitalism – although Piketty says nothing about the latter at all in 677 pages.

For my view on inequality and Piketty on inequality, see https://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2014/03/11/is-inequality-the-cause-of-capitalist-crises/


The fest continued with a hugely laudatory review from Paul Krugman http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/04/16/piketty-day-notes/.  Krugman makes some good points about how Piketty has exposed the deniers of rising inequality:  “But there’s something else: this analysis isn’t just important, it’s beautiful. Piketty gives us something we didn’t know we needed — a sweeping, elegant integration of growth theory, the factor distribution of income, and the personal distribution of income and wealth. He even (in work linked to but not presented in the book) shows how to derive the power laws that we know govern the distribution of income and wealth at the top, and shows how r-g determines the crucial exponents.”  It is precisely because Piketty relies on mainstream noeclassical analysis that he falls well short of Marx in explaining the laws of motion of capitalism.  My review will explain why.



9 thoughts on “Piketty fest continues – some directions for the reader

  1. Michael,
    In Piketty’s discussion of Marx, he says the following: ‘Like his predecessors, Marx totally neglected the possibility of durable technological progress and steadily increasing productivity, which is a force that can to some extent serve as counterweight to the process of accumulation and concentration of private capital.’
    I suspect I am going to have to skip what mainstream economist,-no matter how liberal- have to say about Marx’s critique of capitalism if I am going to be able to read those economist who may make a useful empirical contribution on an important question such as inequality.
    The idea that Marx ‘totally ignored the possibility of durable technological progress’ is absurd. Marx’s whole theory of capitalist accumulation was base on the assertion that capitalist would be constantly driven to ‘revolutionize’ the means production and means capitalism would have to expand production (accumulate) to counter the fall in the rate of profit. Technological change is not the ‘counterweight’ to the ‘infinite accumulation’, the concentration and centralization of capital, and inequality, it is the cause of those phenomena.

  2. Hi, Mike. I want to remember you that the profit rate series for Germany 1869-2010 in that paper I sent to you, I mean ALL from the first to the last year, is based on Piketty´s dataset.
    So, It is not a matter of data, it´s about, due to ideological issues, not seeing what is in front of your own nose.
    Piketty prepared a dataset that allowes anybody to estimate the rate of profit for Germany in a very long period but he didn´t notice because as a mainstream economist he has a “particular” view.

  3. Hi! I knnow this is kinda off topic but I’d figured I’d ask.
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    If you are interested feel free to send me an e-mail. I look forward to hearing from you!
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  4. I commented that the index was incomplete. And now I find I can’t access the text using your link.

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