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Jeremy Harding: The Morning After

13 July 2016
... and clipped our surname, we could all become Françoise Hardy. For the moment we’re just migrants, watching the host culture with a wary eye, and listening to what it says about events in the UK. ThomasPiketty 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 ...
4 February 2016
... pitchforks, because while … plutocrats are living beyond the dreams of avarice, the other 99 per cent of our fellow citizens are falling farther and farther behind.’ Who said this? Jeremy Corbyn? ThomasPiketty? 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 ...

Paupers and Richlings

Benjamin Kunkel: Piketty’s ‘Capital’

2 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 the 1930s, when Keynes declared this one of ‘the outstanding faults of the economic society in which we live’. (The other – not unrelated – was the failure to achieve full employment.) ThomasPiketty’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 ...

Take your pick

James C. Scott: Cataclysm v. Capitalism

18 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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... as much wealth as the poorest half of the world’s population. That the rich have grown both absolutely and comparatively richer in recent decades has been evidenced in great statistical detail by ThomasPiketty 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 ...

The Great Sorting

Ben Rogers: Urban Inequality

25 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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... cities has grown, so has the demand on property. But city property is in short supply, so those who own it see their wealth soar, leaving behind those who don’t own property, or own it elsewhere. ThomasPiketty 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 ...
18 February 2016
... t a bad idea. Introduced by enough wealthy countries, and with enough pressure put on the tax havens they protect, it could be a forerunner to the far more radical global tax on capital proposed by ThomasPiketty 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 ...

The Long Con

Jackson Lears: Techno-Austerity

15 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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... analysis accounts for the anodyne references to an abstract ‘inequality’ in contemporary discourse. After 600-plus pages documenting the maldistribution of wealth in Capital in the 21st Century, ThomasPiketty 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 ...

Scalpers Inc.

John Lanchester: ‘Flash Boys’

4 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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... is the kind of writer who creates his own weather system, and the book went straight to the top of the bestseller list on both sides of the Atlantic. (In the US, it has only just been displaced, by ThomasPiketty’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 ...

Rule-Breaking

Jan-Werner Müller: The Problems of the Eurozone

26 August 2015
... an apolitical union based on unchangeable rules that aren’t observed in practice, the countries of the Eurozone have to find ways to make their policy seem legitimate in the eyes of their peoples. ThomasPiketty 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 ...
15 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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... for as long as these conversations are worth having. We know, too, that it’s happy to reason on the basis of statistics but loath to slam ‘facts’ on the table like marked aces: France has a ThomasPiketty 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 ...

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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... of Keynesian thought, even if as Mann shows in a brilliant series of cameos, despite their intellectual distance from Keynes himself, modern day economists of a reformist disposition, such as ThomasPiketty 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 ...

Who Lives and Who Dies

Paul Farmer: Who survives?

5 February 2015
... even the contraction of the notion of common goods like social protection – are one of ‘the causes of the causes’ of both ill-health and the impoverishment it so often triggers or complicates. ThomasPiketty​ 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 ...

We Are Many

Tom Crewe: In the Corbyn Camp

10 August 2016
... house and shadow Welsh secretary. Corbyn and his shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, have also been abandoned by several of the high-profile economists they signed up as advisers in 2015, including ThomasPiketty 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 ...
21 March 2019
... real estate, whose value grew while its owners sat on it. But the gilets jaunes were not convinced: why humiliate low-wage earners, they asked, by rewarding the wealthy with a tax break? Neither was ThomasPiketty. On his blog for Le Monde he rejected Macron’s assertions about capital flight – ‘totally false’ – and showed that receipts from the tax on global wealth had increased fourfold ...

What’s Missing

Katrina Navickas: Tawney, Polanyi, Thompson

11 October 2018
The Moral Economists: R.H. Tawney, Karl Polanyi, E.P. Thompson and the Critique of Capitalism 
by Tim Rogan.
Princeton, 263 pp., £30, December 2017, 978 0 691 17300 9
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... economy. Through this lens, people can extrapolate to the macroeconomic from their own individual experiences. Widespread anxiety produces phenomena unthinkable in more prosperous times: for example, ThomasPiketty’s seven hundred-page volume of economic theory, Capital in the 21st Century, joining the bestseller lists. During crises of capitalism in the 20th century, the equivalent bestsellers were ...

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