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Friday, 25 April 2014 12:00

Book: Capital in the 21st Century

Written by  Team SCPA

An important new book on economics and the significant inequality in distribution of wealth -- which is adversely impacting democracy. Economist Paul Krugman says this may be the most important economics book of the decade.

'Capital in the Twenty-First Century'
by Thomas Piketty
Belknap Press
696 pages
Published 2014

[Ed. note: Whether or not this new book will prove to be imminently readable to most of us, we don't yet know, but there are superb commentaries and discussions taking place about this new book's relevance and importance to our current political-economic situation -- the extreme inequality in income distribution.]

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From the Introduction to 'Capital in the Twenty-First Century, by Thomas Piketty

The distribution of wealth is one of today’s most widely discussed and controversial issues. But what do we really know about its evolution over the long term? Do the dynamics of private capital accumulation inevitably lead to the concentration of wealth in ever fewer hands, as Karl Marx believed in the nineteenth century? Or do the balancing forces of growth, competition, and technological progress lead in later stages of development to reduced inequality and greater harmony among the classes, as Simon Kuznets thought in the twentieth century? What do we really know about how wealth and income have evolved since the eighteenth century, and what lessons can we derive from that knowledge for the century now under way?

These are the questions I attempt to answer in this book …

http://www.hup.harvard.edu/features/capital-in-the-twenty-first-century-introduction.html

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The Piketty Panic

New York Times, by Paul Krugman
April 24, 2014, published Op-Ed Fri. Apr. 25, 2014

“Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” the new book by the French economist Thomas Piketty, is a bona fide phenomenon. Other books on economics have been best sellers, but Mr. Piketty’s contribution is serious, discourse-changing scholarship in a way most best sellers aren’t. And conservatives are terrified. Thus James Pethokoukis of the American Enterprise Institute warns in National Review that Mr. Piketty’s work must be refuted, because otherwise it “will spread among the clerisy and reshape the political economic landscape on which all future policy battles will be waged.”

Well, good luck with that. The really striking thing about the debate so far is that the right seems unable to mount any kind of substantive counterattack to Mr. Piketty’s thesis. Instead, the response has been all about name-calling — in particular, claims that Mr. Piketty is a Marxist, and so is anyone who considers inequality of income and wealth an important issue. …

… So what’s a conservative, fearing that this diagnosis might be used to justify higher taxes on the wealthy, to do? He could try to refute Mr. Piketty in a substantive way, but, so far, I’ve seen no sign of that happening. Instead, as I said, it has been all about name-calling.

I guess this shouldn’t be surprising. I’ve been involved in debates over inequality for more than two decades, and have yet to see conservative “experts” manage to dispute the numbers without tripping over their own intellectual shoelaces. Why, it’s almost as if the facts are fundamentally not on their side. At the same time, red-baiting anyone who questions any aspect of free-market dogma has been standard right-wing operating procedure ever since the likes of William F. Buckley tried to block the teaching of Keynesian economics, not by showing that it was wrong, but by denouncing it as “collectivist.” …

MORE:
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/25/opinion/krugman-the-piketty-panic.html

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The Piketty Phenomenon

New York Times, by David Brooks
April 24, 2014

Many people join the political left driven by a concern for the poor. But, over the past several years, the Democratic Party has talked much more about the middle class than the poor. Meanwhile, progressive political movements like Occupy Wall Street directed their fervor at the top 1 percent. Progressive movies and books have focused their attention on conspiracy and oligarchy at the top, not “Grapes of Wrath” or “How the Other Half Lives” stories at the bottom.

This is natural. The modern left is led by smart professionals — academics, activists, people in the news media, the arts and so on — who tend to live in and around coastal cities. …

… The situation is ripe for the sort of class conflict the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu used to describe: pitting those who are rich in cultural capital against those who are rich in financial capital.
And into this fray wanders Thomas Piketty. His book “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” argues that the real driver of inequality is not primarily differences in human capital. It’s differences in financial capital. Inequality is not driven by young hip professionals who arm their kids with every advantage and get them into competitive colleges; it’s driven by hedge fund oligarchs. Well, of course, this book is going to set off a fervor that some have likened to Beatlemania. …

MORE:
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/25/opinion/brooks-the-piketty-phenomenon.html

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Taking on Adam Smith (and Karl Marx)

New York Times, by Steven Erlanger
Published April 20, 2014, online April 19, 2014.

Excerpts

… In his new book “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” (Harvard University Press), Mr. Piketty, 42, has written a blockbuster, at least in the world of economics. His book punctures earlier assumptions about the benevolence of advanced capitalism and forecasts sharply increasing inequality of wealth in industrialized countries, with deep and deleterious impact on democratic values of justice and fairness.

Branko Milanovic, a former economist at the World Bank, called it “one of the watershed books in economic thinking.” Paul Krugman, winner of the Nobel in economic science and a columnist for The New York Times, wrote that it “will be the most important economics book of the year — and maybe of the decade.” Remarkably for a book on such a weighty topic, it has already entered The New York Times’s best-seller list.

“Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” with its title echoing Marx’s “Das Kapital,” is meant to be a return to the kind of economic history, of political economy, written by predecessors like Marx and Adam Smith. It is nothing less than a broad effort to understand Western societies and the economic rules that underpin them. And in the process, by debunking the idea that “wealth raises all boats,” Mr. Piketty has thrown down a challenge to democratic governments to deal with an increasing gap between the rich and the poor — the very theme of inequality that recently moved both Pope Francis and President Obama to warn of its consequences. ...

MORE:
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/20/business/international/taking-on-adam-smith-and-karl-marx.html

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Bill Moyers and economist Paul Krugman discuss Capital in the Twenty-First Century

http://billmoyers.com/2014/04/18/reactions-to-capital-in-the-twenty-first-century/

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Inequality for All

Same topic: increasing inequality of wealth' -- and what to do about it. 2013 documentary film with Robert Reich, best-selling author of 13 books, professor and former Sec. of Labor, and a foremost expert on economics. This film premiered here on January 9, 2014.

See film trailer: http://inequalityforall.com/

Help get this film into our mainstream theaters?
http://www.scpaflorida.com/item/2809-inequality-for-all

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Compiled by Team SCPA

 

Last modified on Friday, 25 April 2014 12:52
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