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The Inequality Engine

Geoff Mann, 4 June 2020

Capital and Ideology 
by Thomas Piketty, translated by Arthur Goldhammer.
Harvard, 1150 pp., £31.95, March, 978 0 674 98082 2
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... superiority that commands prestige, and abilities of which society cannot sanely deprive itself.Thomas Piketty quotes Boutmy’s proposition in Capital in the 21st Century (2013), the bestseller that made him a household name among today’s intellectual and business elite. According to Piketty – and it is hard to ...

The Inequality Problem

Ed Miliband, 4 February 2016

... of our fellow citizens are falling farther and farther behind.’ Who said this? Jeremy Corbyn? Thomas Piketty? In fact it was Nick Hanauer, an American entrepreneur and multibillionaire, who in a TED talk in 2014 confessed to living a life that the rest of us ‘can’t even imagine’. Hanauer doesn’t believe he’s particularly talented or ...

Short Cuts

Jeremy Harding: The Morning After, 14 July 2016

... watching the host culture with a wary eye, and listening to what it says about events in the UK. Thomas Piketty wrote in his blog for Le Monde that Brexit was a moment of ‘collective unreason’, ‘profoundly nihilistic and irrational’, but no surprise: the EU’s liberal market policies have only magnified the effects of globalisation on powerless ...

Take your pick

James C. Scott: Cataclysm v. Capitalism, 19 October 2017

The Great Leveller: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the 21st Century 
by Walter Scheidel.
Princeton, 504 pp., £27.95, February 2017, 978 0 691 16502 8
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... and comparatively richer in recent decades has been evidenced in great statistical detail by Thomas Piketty in Capital in the 21st Century. While the two world wars and the world depression of the first half of the 20th century entailed a massive destruction of accumulated wealth which, however catastrophic, did reduce inequality, the postwar peace ...

Paupers and Richlings

Benjamin Kunkel: Piketty’s ‘Capital’, 3 July 2014

Capital in the 21st Century 
by Thomas Piketty, translated by Arthur Goldhammer.
Harvard, 696 pp., £29.95, March 2014, 978 0 674 43000 6
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... in which we live’. (The other – not unrelated – was the failure to achieve full employment.) Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century is an intelligent, ambitious and above all informative treatment of the problem. This accounts for much of the unusual excitement surrounding a lengthy, often dry economic tract. But there’s something else to ...

The Great Sorting

Ben Rogers: Urban Inequality, 26 April 2018

The New Urban Crisis: Gentrification, Housing Bubbles, Growing Inequality and What We Can Do about It 
by Richard Florida.
Oneworld, 352 pp., £20, September 2017, 978 1 78607 212 2
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... own it see their wealth soar, leaving behind those who don’t own property, or own it elsewhere. Thomas Piketty argued that we live in a world where returns from capital are greater than overall economic growth, but beneath the economic formulas is a pretty familiar phenomenon. Most of us who own a nice house in London, New York or Paris earn more from ...

Robin Hood in a Time of Austerity

James Meek, 18 February 2016

... they protect, it could be a forerunner to the far more radical global tax on capital proposed by Thomas Piketty as a way to ease the extremes of inequality built into the capitalist system. The idea goes back at least to Keynes. But the fact modern supporters chose to name it after the legendary hero of Sherwood Forest is a marker of how popular ...

Scalpers Inc.

John Lanchester: ‘Flash Boys’, 5 June 2014

Flash Boys: Cracking the Money Code 
by Michael Lewis.
Allen Lane, 274 pp., £20, March 2014, 978 0 241 00363 3
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... the bestseller list on both sides of the Atlantic. (In the US, it has only just been displaced, by Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century. Truly, we live in interesting times.) In the week of publication, inquiries into high-frequency trading were announced by the US Justice Department, the FBI, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the New York ...

The Long Con

Jackson Lears: Techno-Austerity, 16 July 2015

The Age of Acquiescence: The Life and Death of American Resistance to Organised Wealth and Power 
by Steve Fraser.
Little, Brown, 466 pp., £21.99, February 2015, 978 0 316 18543 1
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... After 600-plus pages documenting the maldistribution of wealth in Capital in the 21st Century, Thomas Piketty still couldn’t bring himself to mention labour organising as an antidote. Anything rather than confront power relations directly. A focus on exploitation confronts power relations by returning us to the workplace, where so much inequality is ...

Bloody Furious

William Davies: ‘Generation Left’, 20 February 2020

Generation Left 
by Keir Milburn.
Polity, 140 pp., £9.99, May 2019, 978 1 5095 3224 7
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... chose Remain in 2016, while 70 per cent of those who left school at 16 or younger voted Leave. As Thomas Piketty shows in his new book, Capital and Ideology, parties of the working class have been gradually morphing into parties of the educated all over the world, a shift that began around 1990.* But the expansion of higher education over the same period ...

Tempestuous Seasons

Adam Tooze: Keynes in China, 13 September 2018

In the Long Run We Are All Dead: Keynesianism, Political Economy and Revolution 
by Geoff Mann.
Verso, 432 pp., £20, January 2017, 978 1 78478 599 4
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... distance from Keynes himself, modern day economists of a reformist disposition, such as Thomas Piketty and Joseph Stiglitz, nonetheless reprise the sensibility typical of Keynesianism. Keynes​ was the paradigm, but was he the first Keynesian? Mann’s answer is bold. If Keynesianism is a constructive liberal response to revolution, a response ...

A Rage for Abstraction

Jeremy Harding, 16 June 2016

The Other Paris: An Illustrated Journey through a City’s Poor and Bohemian Past 
by Luc Sante.
Faber, 306 pp., £25, November 2015, 978 0 571 24128 6
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How the French Think: An Affectionate Portrait of an Intellectual People 
by Sudhir Hazareesingh.
Allen Lane, 427 pp., £20, June 2015, 978 1 84614 602 2
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... the basis of statistics but loath to slam ‘facts’ on the table like marked aces: France has a Thomas Piketty but no Malcolm Gladwell. It worries about experiments that naturalise themselves out of business: why go off to live at the edge of a pond, like Thoreau, when you may as well explore the relation of human sociability to nature over a book on ...


Jan-Werner Müller: The Problems of the Eurozone, 27 August 2015

... the Eurozone have to find ways to make their policy seem legitimate in the eyes of their peoples. Thomas Piketty has suggested that a separate Eurozone parliament be convened to do so; Hollande echoed this proposal with the call for a special ‘Euro-Chamber’ in the European Parliament. On the German side, Schäuble has suggested creating a ‘European ...

Who Lives and Who Dies

Paul Farmer: Who survives?, 5 February 2015

... of the causes’ of both ill-health and the impoverishment it so often triggers or complicates. Thomas Piketty​ argues that ‘economics should never have sought to divorce itself from the other social sciences and can advance only in conjunction with them.’ Anthropology is one example: Blind Spot, by the physician-anthropologist Salmaan ...

We Are Many

Tom Crewe: In the Corbyn Camp, 11 August 2016

... abandoned by several of the high-profile economists they signed up as advisers in 2015, including Thomas Piketty and David Blanchflower (who tweeted ‘he has no economic policies’). Corbyn’s former policy chief, Neale Coleman, who was often described as the most effective member of his team, has now been announced as a top adviser to his opponent in ...

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