Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty

If  inequality doesn’t bother you a bit – turn away. If you believe it’s an obscenity that the rich can stash away £13 trillion in offshore investment accounts in order to avoid tax ( whilst the poor are ground into the dust, made to work harder every day and have their income reduced – this is the book for you. (Incidentally, £6.3 trillion of assets is owned by only 92,000 people ((the town population of Hartlepool)), or 0.001 per cent of the world’s entire population.) By delving into this tome you’ll be in good company as lots of influential people are reading this book as I write. (June 2014)

This book (perhaps with a nod to the title of Marx’s magnum opus) investigates 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, French intellectual 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 are likely to 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 rigour, Capital in the Twenty-First Century reorients our understanding of economic history and confronts us with sobering lessons for today. If you have even a smidgen of interest in politics and economics I urge you to read it. First published 18 March 2014.

For background on the subject of capitalism, listen to the BBC Radio 4 ‘In Our Time’ 30 minute podcast from the link  With Anatole Kaletsky, economics commentator and Associate Editor of The Times, and author of The Costs of Default and In the Shadow of Debt; Edward Luttwak, Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington DC and author of Turbo Capitalism: Winners and Losers in the Global Economy. Chaired by Melvyn Bragg. First broadcast Thursday 24 Jun 1999.
696 pages in Harvard University Press

ISBN 978-0674430006

Economist and author Thomas Piketty speaks to the Department of Economics at the University of California, Berkeley on April 23, 2014 in Berkeley, California.  Economist author Thomas Piketty gave a lecture about his best-selling book titled "Capital in the 21st Century" at UC Berkeley's Department of Economics.

Thomas Piketty

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