Capital in the Twenty-First Century


Brief description

What are 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, "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 will 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 rigor, Capital in the Twenty-First Century "reorients our understanding of economic history and confronts us with sobering lessons for today. (Source)

Why read this

Because of the structure of the present societies, we can't really avoid such notions, and more so, the effects of income and capital distribution. I would also add that this is a must read dystopian book for all the teens and young adults who fall in the category of wannabe millionaires and influencers, considering also the job automation trend. 

My experience

I first discovered this book in November 2014 on, where Bill wrote a rather critical review of Piketty's book. Yet, the subject discussed and the amount of data collected for the book convinced me to click "Buy" on Amazon. The 700 pages print version was a bit challenging for my nomad lifestyle, so I went on with the version. It was a long wait on my goodreads "Reading list", but finally, in April of 2016, I gave it a try during my morning commuting routine in Paris.

It's been an enlightening reading experience about history of taxation, income and wealth distribution, social and political implication of inequality  as well as discovery of other economists discussing for topic in question for the last 2 centuries. Piketty also provides some rather sad perspectives for the future of economic growth and potential social conflicts if the "r>g" - the central idea of the book, is not controlled by proper policies and tax regulations. 

The book was widely debated, but that's a good thing. Here is a review of why the book became such a hit and below you can enjoy few words by the author himself.

By the author