[Piketty’s] magnum opus, which kicked off years of debate over the causes of and potential solutions for deep poverty in wealthy societies.
Los Angeles Times - Martin Wolk
What makes Thomas Piketty’s
Capital in the Twenty-First Century such a triumph is that it seems to have been written specifically to demolish the great economic shibboleths of our time…Piketty’s magnum opus.
The book aims to revolutionize the way people think about the economic history of the past two centuries. It may well manage the feat.
Piketty is offering something fresh in the discourse: an unimaginably massive data-set that traces the ebb and flow of wealth and productivity around the globe for three centuries…It’s a rare thing to see economists, especially pro-capitalist economists, praising taxation itself, but Piketty—careful, unemotional Piketty—dares…Besides, he says, the thing every red-blooded entrepreneur wants to see is people getting rich by their wits and deeds, not by the birthright of kings.
Boing Boing - Cory Doctorow
[Piketty] has demolished the Western myth that all who work hard can expect success.
The Telegraph - Mary Riddell
The book of the season.
Clearly written, ambitious in scope, rooted in economics but drawing on insights from related fields like history and sociology, Piketty’s
Capital resembles nothing so much as an old-fashioned work of political economy by the likes of Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Karl Marx, or John Maynard Keynes…The book’s major strength lies in Piketty’s ability to see the big picture. His original and rigorously well-documented insights into the deep structures of capitalism show us how the dynamics of capital accumulation have played out historically over the past three centuries, and how they’re likely to develop in the century to come.
Washington Monthly - Kathleen Geier
Monumental…One of the most thorough and illuminating studies of capitalist economics since Karl Marx published the original
Capital 150 years earlier.
Washington Post - Gary Gerstle
Capital in the Twenty-First Century laid bare the deep structural forces that have made our brave new neoliberal economic order so dangerously topheavy and unstable.
In These Times - Chris Lehmann
Piketty's magnum opus…A lucid tale of why inequality in the world is increasing, and what we should be doing about it. The right leaning crowd may be dismayed with his prescriptions of stiff global wealth taxes, but neither leftists nor rightists can dispute the data that he presents.
Business Today - Ajit Ranade
Piketty’s treatment of inequality is perfectly matched to its moment. Like [Paul] Kennedy a generation ago, Piketty has emerged as a rock star of the policy-intellectual world…But make no mistake, his work richly deserves all the attention it is receiving…By focusing attention on what has happened to a fortunate few among us, and by opening up for debate issues around the long-run functioning of our market system,
Capital in the Twenty-First Century has made a profoundly important contribution.
Democracy - Lawrence H. Summers
An explosive argument.
Magnificent…Even though it is a work more concerned with the past 200 years, it’s no coincidence that the full title of Piketty’s book is
Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Its ambition is to shape debates about the next two centuries, not the past two. And in that it may succeed.
The Australian - Christopher Croke
When it comes to economics…you need to get yourself a hold of
Capital in the Twenty-First Century…Piketty’s study will have readers plotting capital’s downfall because what it shows is that the growing inequalities we are seeing between the haves and have nots are endemic to the system…We are entering a new age of capital, he argues; a time, similar to the early 19th century, when many will live off their money. Without the need for work. Meanwhile, those without capital will always struggle to keep ahead of debts.
As befits a book of such size,
Capital is broad-ranging, both historically and geographically…Impressive.
The Tablet - William Keegan
Outstanding… A political and theoretical bulldozer.
Seven hundred pages on the evolution of inequality in economically advanced societies by the most fashionable new theorist to emerge for a long time. Many have been waiting for such a comprehensive critique of capitalism.
Evening Standard - David Sexton
Painstakingly details the dynamics of wealth and income inequality throughout the last two centuries, and offers a somewhat grim picture of the future of economic inequality. Along the way, Piketty also offers his theory of the cause of exploding executive pay and how we can successfully combat this destructive trend.
Piketty, a prominent economist, explains the tendency in mature societies for wealth to concentrate in a few hands.
One of the strengths of Piketty’s book is the depth and rigor of his historical analysis. Yet it is changes taking place now that make his concerns especially urgent.
London Evening Standard - Andrew Neather
In this monumental, vitally important work, [Piketty] forces us to reconsider what we think we know about the baseline functioning of capitalist economies over the long haul, and to grapple with the implications for ourselves and our times…Nearly every page of the book rewards a careful reading with new insights and intriguing questions.
Riveting…[Piketty] embodies a model of engaged and sophisticated public debate, the sort of which politicians can only dream…Capital inequality has dispossessed us of our ‘democratic sovereignty,’ and that’s something we should all really worry about…His book is as much a story about the limits of modern democratic politics as it is about the structures of inequality.
Times Literary Supplement - Duncan Kelly
Piketty’s new book is an important contribution to understanding what we need to do to produce more growth, wider economic opportunity and greater social stability.
Al Jazeera America - David Cay Johnston
Thomas Piketty of the Paris School of Economics has done the definitive comparative historical research on income inequality in his
Capital in the Twenty-First Century.
New York Review of Books - Paul Starr
Stands a fair chance of becoming the most influential work of economics yet published in our young century. It is the most important study of inequality in over fifty years.
The Nation - Timothy Shenk
The year’s most popular and controversial book.
Sunday Times - Roland White
The book has made everyone with a stake in capitalism sit up and take notice…[Piketty’s] analysis should challenge Americans to rethink our notions of wealth and poverty and whether any semblance of ‘equal opportunity’ actually exists.
This is a truly path-breaking book offering a hard-hitting and well-founded critique of capitalism in the twenty-first century…Piketty shows himself to be not only a supereconomist but also a skilled politician. No wonder his thoughts have resonated even at the highest political levels. One can only hope that his work will actually influence adoption of his policy recommendations.
LSE Review of Books - Christel Lane
Groundbreaking…The usefulness of economics is determined by the quality of data at our disposal. Piketty’s new volume offers a fresh perspective and a wealth of newly compiled data that will go a long way in helping us understand how capitalism actually works.
Fortune - Christopher Matthews
The big questions that concerned Mill, Marx and Smith are now rearing their heads afresh…Thomas Piketty—who spent long years, during which the mainstream neglected inequality, mapping the distribution of income—is making waves with
Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Nodding at Marx, that title helps explain the attention, but his decidedly classical emphasis on historical dynamics in determining who gets what resonates in a world where an increasing proportion of citizens are feeling fleeced by the elite.
Magisterial…This book is economics at its best.
Times Higher Education - Philip Roscoe
The depth and range of evidence Piketty marshals allows him to deliver a devastating blow to the confidence of many economists that capitalism is a tide that gradually lifts all boats. In the process, he mounts an effective critique of the tendency of economic writers on both left and right to rely on theories and formal systems…His book challenges both mainstream economists’ faith in untested mathematical models, as well as radicals’ resistance to subjecting Marx’s economic theory to rigorous testing.
Chronicle of Higher Education - Michael W. Clune
We are in danger of entering into an era that, like the 19th century in France and England, is socially and politically dominated by those with vast amounts of inherited wealth…Piketty’s book is important because of the way he has clarified the magnitude of the problem and its dangers. And he has done so at a time of increasing soul-searching about the role technology plays in exacerbating inequality.
Technology Review - David Rotman
An extraordinary sweep of history backed by remarkably detailed data and analysis…Piketty’s economic analysis and historical proofs are breathtaking.
The Guardian - Robert B. Reich
Capital in the Twenty-First Century delivered a well placed kick up the backside to complacent mainstream economics.
The Observer - Paul Mason
Piketty has unearthed the history of income distribution for at least the past hundred years in every major capitalist nation. It makes for fascinating, grim and alarming reading…Piketty gives us the most important work of economics since John Maynard Keynes’s
Washington Post - Harold Meyerson
Rarely does a book come along…that completely alters the paradigm through which we frame our worldview. Thomas Piketty’s magisterial study of the structure of capitalism since the 18th century,
Capital in the Twenty-First Century, is such a book…This book is more than a must read. It is a manual for action that provides a fresh framework for the new politics of the 21st century.
The WorldPost - Nathan Gardels
A sweeping account of rising inequality…Piketty has written a book that nobody interested in a defining issue of our era can afford to ignore.
New Yorker - John Cassidy
Piketty’s genius lies in proving that inequality is growing and potentially threatens widespread political instability…Piketty has written a trenchant critique of our current economic system.
Boston Globe - Michael Washburn
The book is a terrific achievement.
Literary Review - Alan Ryan
The extraordinary resonance of Thomas Piketty’s
Capital in the Twenty-First Century suggests that inequality has become the most pressing economic issue of our time.
Times Literary Supplement - Michael Rosen
Not since John Rawls’s
A Theory of Justice in 1971 has a work of political theory been as rapturously received on the left as Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century…In this supposedly superficial and anti-intellectual age, his 690-page treatise on inequality, rich in empirical research, has resonated because it speaks to one of the central anxieties of our time: that society is becoming ever more fragmented as the very rich pull away from the rest.
Capital in the Twenty-First Century looks back in order to look forward, plumbing economic patterns from the 18th century onward and homing in on the staggering inequities that dominate our age.
The Atlantic - Hamilton Cain
Piketty solidifies and gives an intellectual edge to the view that something is wrong here, and something new and bold and radical has got to be done…People like me, and others, are certainly excited by the prospect of where Piketty might take us.
The Guardian - Len McCluskey
A book of such magisterial sweep…Piketty deserves huge credit for kickstarting a debate about inequality and illuminating the distribution of income and wealth.
The Guardian - Stephanie Flanders
This book has all the makings of a classic. It has already changed the way economists think about inequality. One hopes that these ideas will percolate into the chambers of policy-makers in governments and lending institutions and bring about changes in their policies to reduce inequality.
The Hindu - K. Subramanian
[A] seminal work on capitalism.
Financial Express - Madan Sabnavis
It’s going to be remembered as the economic tome of our era. Basically, Piketty has finally put to death, with data, the fallacies of trickle down economics…We can only hope that the politicians crafting today’s economic programs will take this book to heart.
The strength of [Piketty's] thesis is that it is founded on evidence rather than ideology…What Piketty has done is provide a strong factual understanding for how modern capitalist economies diverge from the image of risk-taking and productive commercial activity. At the very least, the book effectively debunks the notion that there is an economic imperative for low tax rates and a smaller state.
This book is the key to understanding how the automatic accumulation and concentration of wealth poses a threat to the peaceful economies in which entrepreneurs prosper.
The book has made everyone with a stake in capitalism sit up and take notice…[Piketty’s] analysis should challenge Americans to rethink our notions of wealth and poverty and whether any semblance of ‘equal opportunity’ actually exists.
The fundamental theme on the differences between returns to capital and returns to labor is one that
Piketty has brought, quite properly, to the center of policy discussions.
Bloomberg View - Stephen L. Carter
Though an heir to Tocqueville’s tradition of analytic history,
Thomas Piketty has a message that could not be more different: Unless we act, inequality will grow much worse, eventually making a mockery of our democratic institutions. With wealth more and more concentrated, countries racing to cut taxes on capital, and inheritance coming to rival entrepreneurship as a source of riches, a new patrimonial elite may prove as inevitable as Tocqueville once believed democratic equality was. This forecast is based not on speculation but on facts assembled through prodigious research…Private wealth has reached new highs relative to national income and is approaching levels of concentration not seen since before 1929…Piketty is rightly pessimistic about an immediate response. The influence of the wealthy on democratic politics and on how we think about merit and reward presents formidable obstacles…Perhaps with this magisterial book, the troubling realities Piketty unearths will become more visible and the rationalizations of the privileged that sustain them less dominant. Like Tocqueville, Piketty has given us a new image of ourselves. This time, it’s one we should resist, not welcome.
American Prospect - Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson
The rich get richer, through no fault—or virtue—of their own, according to this sweeping study of wealth in the modern world. Economist Piketty's formula "r > g" expresses the simple but profound insight that because the returns on capital—interest on savings, stock dividends and appreciation, rent from a farm or apartment building—usually exceed the economy's growth rate, wealth (especially inherited wealth) tends to grow faster than wages and become more concentrated at the top of the income scale, and the economy increasingly caters to rich elites instead of ordinary workers. (The best antidote to this inexorable tendency, he argues, is a direct progressive tax on wealth.) Piketty makes his case with three centuries' worth of economic data from around the world organized in a trove of detailed but lucid tables and graphs. This is a serious, meaty economic treatise, but Piketty's prose (in Goldhammer's deft translation) is wonderfully readable and engaging, and illuminates the human reality behind the econometric stats—especially in his explorations of the role of capital in the novels of Jane Austen and Balzac. Full of insights but free of dogma, this is a seminal examination of how entrenched wealth and intractable inequality continue to shape the economy. (Mar.)
There are books that you read and there are books that hit the nail on the head so hard that you want to get your teeth into them. Thomas Piketty’s
Capital in the Twenty-First Century…clearly belongs to the second category.
South China Morning Post - Perry Lam
Piketty’s great achievement, and one possible reason for the enthusiastic reception of his book, is his effective empirical demonstration of a fact long denied by neoclassical economics and its champions throughout the world: markets, when left to their own devices, do not provide individuals with rewards that are proportional to their efforts…[This book] effectively demolishes mainstream myths about the ability of markets to combat inequality.
[An] enormously important book.
Piketty has made his name central to serious discussions of inequality…[He] expands upon his empirical work of the last 10 years, while also setting forth a political theory of inequality. This last element of the book gives special attention to tax policy and makes some provocative suggestions—new and higher taxes on the very rich.
Forbes - Joseph Thorndike
Using sophisticated computer modeling and analyses, the professor from the Paris School of Economics debunks a long-held assumption—that income from wages will tend to grow at roughly the same rate as wealth—and instead makes a compelling case that, over time, the apparatus of capitalism grows wealth faster than wages. Result: Inequality between the wealthy and everyone else will widen faster and faster; and, without progressive taxation, his data show we’ll return to levels of inequality not seen since America’s Gilded Age.
Piketty presents the problem of inequality afresh, using new forms of historical narration and explanation that cut across disciplines and theoretical frameworks.
London Review of Books - William Davies
A monumental book that will influence economic analysis (and perhaps policymaking) in the years to come. In the way it is written and the importance of the questions it asks, it is a book the classic authors of economics could have written if they lived today and had access to the vast empirical material Piketty and his colleagues collected.
Branko Milanovicn Prospect
Capital in the Twenty-First Century is written in the tradition of great economic texts…This book is significant for its findings, as well as for how Piketty arrives at them. It’s easy—and fun—to argue about ideas. It is much more difficult to argue about facts. Facts are what Piketty gives us, while pressing the reader to engage in the journey of sorting through their implications.
Heather Bousheyn Prospect
The strength of Piketty’s book is his close attention to the different sources of inequality, the massive documentation underpinning his history and conclusions, and his impressive culls from sociology and literature, which exhibit the richness of ‘political economy’ compared to its thin mathematical successor that has attained such prominence…A timely intervention in the current debate about inequality and its causes.
Prospect - Robert Skidelsky
Bracing…Piketty provides a fresh and sweeping analysis of the world’s economic history that puts into question many of our core beliefs about the organization of market economies. His most startling news is that the belief that inequality will eventually stabilize and subside on its own, a long-held tenet of free market capitalism, is wrong. Rather, the economic forces concentrating more and more wealth into the hands of the fortunate few are almost sure to prevail for a very long time.
New York Times - Eduardo Porter
An important book…which paints a compelling, and scary, picture of the deep forces driving toward ever greater inequality in the modern world. Piketty’s historical focus adds power to his analysis of the trend toward greater financial inequality today.
Commonweal - Charles R. Morris
Magisterial…Piketty provides a sweeping, data-driven narrative about inequality trends in the United States and other Western economies over the past century or more, identifies a worrisome increase in income and wealth concentration in a small percentage of the population since 1980, and warns that this trend won’t likely correct itself.
U.S. News & World Report - Chad Stone
About as close to a blockbuster as there is in the world of economic literature—easily the most discussed book of its genre in years…Piketty challenges one of the underpinnings of modern democracies—namely, that growth and productivity make each generation better off than the previous one.
Globe and Mail - Barrie McKenna
This past July, I felt compelled to read Thomas Piketty’s
Capital in the Twenty-First Century after reading several reviews and hearing about it from friends. I’m glad I did. I encourage you to read it too…I agree with his most important conclusions, and I hope his work will draw more smart people into the study of wealth and income inequality.
There is a huge amount to admire and welcome in this book…Like the radicals of the 1790s, who toasted Edmund Burke in gratitude for the fundamental debate his writings on the French Revolution had provoked, even those who find Piketty’s remedies unpalatable and in some ways worse than the disease he is trying to cure should nevertheless applaud his industry, his acuity, and his humane commitment to the ideal of rational, temperate and informed public debate.
Standpoint - David Womersley
The most eagerly anticipated book on economics in many years.
Globe and Mail - Toby Sanger
[A] most unlikely best seller, a crossover from the world of scholarship into general public discussion of a kind that seems rarer than it used to be. The book’s thesis—that economic inequality in the developed world is increasing, with potentially dire consequences for social justice and democratic governance—has struck a nerve in the American body politic. But its implications extend beyond the realm of political economy…The book invites the re-examination of deeply held assumptions about the world.
New York Times - A. O. Scott
The enthusiastic reception in the United States of Piketty’s rigorous
Capital in the Twenty-First Century, which answers the empirical spirit of the age with a welcome rush of statistics, may be a promising sign of renewal in the otherwise sedate intellectual pastures of the continent. To have made the word ‘redistribution’ utterable again by mainstream economists is already a considerable achievement…An unignorable account of the history of inequality in capitalist democracies.
The Nation - Thomas Meaney and Yascha Mounk
Capital in the Twenty-First Century is arguably the most important popular economics book in recent memory. It will take its place among other classics in the field that have survived changing theoretical and political fashions, such as its namesake by Karl Marx ( Das Kapital, 1867) or other ambitiously titled books such as John Maynard Keynes’s The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (1936). Anyone who wants to engage in an informed discussion about the economic landscape will have to read Piketty.
Women’s Review of Books - Kate Bahn
Argues that the great equalizing decades following World War II, which brought on the rise of the middle class in the United States, were but a historical anomaly. Armed with centuries of data, Piketty says the rich are going to continue to gobble up a greater share of income, and our current system will do nothing to reverse that trend.
New York Times Magazine - Shaila Dewan
Piketty’s main point, and his new and powerful contribution to an old topic: as long as the rate of return exceeds the rate of growth, the income and wealth of the rich will grow faster than the typical income from work…If the ownership of wealth in fact becomes even more concentrated during the rest of the twenty-first century, the outlook is pretty bleak unless you have a taste for oligarchy…Wouldn’t it be interesting if the United States were to become the land of the free, the home of the brave, and the last refuge of increasing inequality at the top (and perhaps also at the bottom)? Would that work for you?
New Republic - Robert Solow
Capital reflects decades of work in collecting national income data across centuries, countries, and class, done in partnership with academics across the globe. But beyond its remarkably rich and instructive history, the book’s deep and novel understanding of inequality in the economy has drawn well-deserved attention…The book is an attempt to ground the debate over inequality in strong empirical data, put the question of distribution back into economics, and open the debate not just to the entirety of the social sciences but to people themselves.
Boston Review - Mike Konczal
The best business book on economics of the year.
strategy+business - Daniel Gross
In this magisterial work, Thomas Piketty has performed a great service to the academy and to the public. He has written a pioneering book that is at once thoughtful, measured, and provocative. The force of his case rests not on a diatribe or a political agenda, but on carefully collected and analyzed data and reasoned thought.
It seems safe to say that
Capital in the Twenty-First Century, the magnum opus of the French economist Thomas Piketty, will be the most important economics book of the year—and maybe of the decade.
New York Times - Paul Krugman
A seminal book on the economic and social evolution of the planet… A masterpiece.
[Piketty] is just about to emerge as the most important thinker of his generation…He demonstrates that there is no reason to believe that capitalism can ever solve the problem of inequality, which he insists is getting worse rather than better. From the banking crisis of 2008 to the Occupy movement of 2011, this much has been intuited by ordinary people. The singular significance of his book is that it proves ‘scientifically’ that this intuition is correct. This is why his book has crossed over into the mainstream—it says what many people have already been thinking.
The Observer - Andrew Hussey
Piketty hits bullseye after bullseye about the exacerbating inequalities that disfigure society—especially American society…For [those] who suffer from the relentless blather about why the minimum wage cannot be raised; why ‘job creators’ cannot be taxed; and why American society remains the most open in the world, Piketty is what the doctor ordered.
New Republic - Russell Jacoby
It is a great work, a fearsome beast of analysis stuffed with an awesome amount of empirical data, and will surely be a landmark study in economics.
Capital in the Twenty-First Century is an intellectual tour de force, a triumph of economic history over the theoretical, mathematical modeling that has come to dominate the economics profession in recent years.
Washington Post - Steven Pearlstein
[A] timely, important book.
New York Times - Joseph E. Stiglitz
Defies left and right orthodoxy by arguing that worsening inequality is an inevitable outcome of free market capitalism…Without what [Piketty] acknowledges is a politically unrealistic global wealth tax, he sees the United States and the developed world on a path toward a degree of inequality that will reach levels likely to cause severe social disruption.
New York Times - Thomas B. Edsall
After receiving widespread attention in his native France, Thomas Piketty’s
Capital in the Twenty-First Century has received even greater attention on this side of the Atlantic, and deservedly so. It offers a stark and depressing picture for those who believe that some combination of democratic politics and economic growth can protect us from rampant inequality.
Washington Post - Kenneth Scheve and David Stasavage
Piketty has shown that we are living in a Second Gilded Age…Nestled under the book’s mass of data, elegant mathematical formulae, and literary references is an insistence that the turmoil of capitalism is a human turmoil, within the control of human beings. Piketty’s book is a call to citizenship, not as a series of fatalistic poses, but as a political responsibility. That spirit of engagement is more radical, at this moment in history, than any other proposal.
Los Angeles Review of Books - Stephen Marche
Drawing on hundreds of years of economic data (some of which has only recently become available to researchers) Piketty reaches a simple but disturbing conclusion: In the long run, the return on capital tends to be greater than the growth rate of the economies in which that capital is located…Readers can already guess the dire conclusion that flows from combining Piketty’s theory with the plausible assumption that unregulated wealth leads to plutocracy: If the only way to avoid plutocracy would be to employ political processes that the plutocrats themselves will eventually buy lock, stock and barrel, then the only way to avoid being ruled by the Lords of Capital is to become one of them.
[Piketty] has written a 700 page book on inequality which has achieved something few would have thought possible. He has rocked the neo-liberal economic establishment to its foundations…Even some of the most ideologically blinkered of free market economists, having read this book, now openly admit that Professor Piketty has laid down a challenge which they dare not ignore and which could change the political environment.
Piketty has looked at centuries of tax archives to formulate a theory of capitalism that is evidence-based and rigorously researched, but also attempts to answer the most basic questions in economic theory…
Capital in the Twenty-First Century is already being hailed as a seminal work of economic thought, and with very good reason.
Daily Beast - Thomas Flynn
A landmark book…which brings a ton of data to bear in reaching the commonsensical conclusion that inequality has to do with more than just blind market forces at work.
New Yorker - George Packer
[A] 700-page punch in the plutocracy’s pampered gut…It’s been half a century since a book of economic history broke out of its academic silo with such fireworks.
The Times - Giles Whittell
[Piketty’s] chief intellectual accomplishment is to show how the basic forces of capitalism tend inevitably toward an ever-greater accumulation of wealth at the tip of the pyramid…Piketty shows that the economics of the postwar era—when the West enjoyed strong, widely-shared growth—was a historical exception. For our Western democracies, it was also a political necessity. Capitalism is facing an existential challenge; smart plutocrats will be part of the solution.
Politico - Chrystia Freeland
Piketty’s book is revolutionary…[His] multi-century portrait of wealth and income obliterates economists’ complacent narratives…We are still seeking an economy that is both vibrant and humane, where mutual advantage is real and mutual aid possible. The one we have isn’t it.
Los Angeles Review of Books - Jedediah Purdy
This important and fascinating book surely ranks among the most influential economic analysis of recent decades.
Finance & Development - Andrew Berg
How does a rigorous, seven-hundred page economic history become a lionized hit? Through the canny voice of professor Thomas Piketty, and his demystification of inherited wealth, Karl Marx’s true legacy, and what we mean when we talk about monetary ‘growth’ and ‘inequality.’
This book is not only the definitive account of the historical evolution of inequality in advanced economies, it is also a magisterial treatise on capitalism’s inherent dynamics. Piketty ends his book with a ringing call for the global taxation of capital. Whether or not you agree with him on the solution, this book presents a stark challenge for those who would like to save capitalism from itself.
Piketty demonstrates in terrifying detail, with painstaking statistical research, that free-market capitalism, in the absence of major state redistribution, produces profound economic inequalities.
Chicago Tribune - Michael Robbins
It’s a brilliant, surprisingly readable work that synthesizes a staggering amount of careful research to make the case that income inequality is no accident…[Piketty] has starkly and convincingly outlined the stakes for future generations. Either we’ll have a new birth of reformed capitalism…or we’ll have wealth concentration on such a colossal scale that it will threaten the democratic order.
Piketty’s ground-breaking work on the historical evolution of income distribution is impressive…One of the best economic books in decades.
Irish Times - Paul Sweeney
The most remarkable work of economics in recent years, if not decades…The discipline of economics, Piketty argues, remains trapped in a juvenile passion for mathematics, divorced from history and its sister social sciences. His work aims to change that.
New Statesman - Nick Pearce
[Piketty] has been perhaps the most important thinker on inequality of the past decade or so…
Capital will change the political conversation in a more subtle way as well, by focusing it on wealth, not income.
Very readable and often slyly witty…Piketty does economics in a new way; or more accurately, he returns to an older way…He argues that the degree of inequality is not just the product of economic forces; it is also the product of politics.
Literary Review of Canada - George Fallis
Though an heir to Tocqueville’s tradition of analytic history, Thomas Piketty has a message that could not be more different: Unless we act, inequality will grow much worse, eventually making a mockery of our democratic institutions. With wealth more and more concentrated, countries racing to cut taxes on capital, and inheritance coming to rival entrepreneurship as a source of riches, a new patrimonial elite may prove as inevitable as Tocqueville once believed democratic equality was…Perhaps with this magisterial book, the troubling realities Piketty unearths will become more visible and the rationalizations of the privileged that sustain them less dominant. Like Tocqueville, Piketty has given us a new image of ourselves. This time, it’s one we should resist, not welcome.
Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Piersonn Prospect
Monumental…Translated beautifully by Arthur Goldhammer, [
Capital in the Twenty-First Century]…smashed into the intellectual world with incredible force…One also has to admire the way Piketty marshals the data to create a sweeping historical narrative, in a style reminiscent of the great thinkers of the 19th century.
[Piketty’s] overarching theme—that increased income disparity as a threat to democratic capitalism—remains prominent…His concerns about social unrest cannot be ignored.
Christian Century - James Halteman
Anyone remotely interested in economics needs to read Thomas Piketty’s
Capital in the Twenty-First Century.
Monumental…[Piketty] documents a sharp increase in such inequality over the last 25 years, not only in the United States, but also in Canada, Britain, Australia, New Zealand, China, India, Indonesia and South Africa, with people with the highest incomes far outstripping the rest of society. The book is impressive in its wealth of information.
New York Times - Robert J. Shiller
Intellectually hefty…Piketty has already engendered vigorous argument.
Capital is an arduous climb, but the subject is equally weighty, and it demands our best analyses, proposals and dialogues. Capital is an essential volume in the conversation.
Cleveland Plain Dealer - Earl Pike
Marx believed that free markets produce inequality, social division and violence. Piketty appears to side with Marx, but this is deceptive. When Piketty talks about ‘capital,’ he means the kind of investments held by today’s leisured
rentier class whose money is tied up in property and pensions. Piketty argues that a free market overloaded with this kind of capital may or may not lead to anger and alienation, but it will certainly act like lumpy blockages in the smooth running of the economy. Piketty only wants the economy to work better.
The Telegraph - Nicholas Blincoe
Capital in the Twenty-First Century shows how privateers use privatization, debt creation and capital inflation as a mechanism for rent extraction, with catastrophic consequences for public services.
Times Higher Education - Allyson Pollock
Piketty draws on a vast store of historical data to argue that the broad dissemination of wealth that occurred during the decades following World War I was not, as economists then mistakenly believed, a natural state of capitalist equilibrium, but rather a halcyon interval between Belle Époque inequality and the rising inequality of our own era…[His] most provocative argument is that the discrepancy between the high returns to capital and much more modest overall economic growth—briefly annulled during the mid-century—ensures that the gulf between the rich (who profit from capital investments) and the middle class (who depend chiefly on income from labor) will only continue to grow.
Foreign Policy - James Traub
A big book in every sense of the word, using empirical evidence from 30 countries to describe how capitalism has evolved over the past 300 years and is now reverting to what Piketty calls the Downton Abbey world of a century ago…It is rare for economics books to fly off the shelves. Once in every generation, usually when the world has started to recover after a serious recession, there is a search for answers. Will Hutton’s
The State We’re In was the must-buy book two decades ago just as Piketty’s is today.
Capital in the Twenty-First Century is written in the tradition of great economic texts… Piketty and his colleagues have spent recent years putting together a World Top Incomes Database, their detailed investigation into income in countries around the globe, spanning several decades…Informed by this historical, cross-country data, Piketty evaluatesand rejectsa number of generally accepted conclusions in economic thought, while being careful to note the limitations of inevitably “imperfect and incomplete” sources. The main finding of his investigation is that capital still matters…This book is significant for its findings, as well as for how Piketty arrives at them. It’s easyand funto argue about ideas. It is much more difficult to argue about facts. Facts are what Piketty gives us, while pressing the reader to engage in the journey of sorting through their implications.
American Prospect - Heather Boushey
Capital in the Twenty-First Century is a monumental book that will influence economic analysis (and perhaps policymaking) in the years to come. In the way it is written and the importance of the questions it asks, it is a book the classic authors of economics could have written if they lived today and had access to the vast empirical material Piketty and his colleagues collected…In a short review, it is impossible to do even partial justice to the wealth of information, data, analysis, and discussion contained in this book of almost 700 pages. Piketty has returned economics to the classical roots where it seeks to understand the ‘laws of motion’ of capitalism. He has re-emphasized the distinction between ‘unearned’ and ‘earned’ income that had been tucked away for so long under misleading terminologies of ‘human capital,’ ‘economic agents,’ and ‘factors of production.’ Labor and capital—those who have to work for a living and those who live from property—people in flesh—are squarely back in economics via this great book.
American Prospect - Branko Milanovic
Thomas Piketty’s famous book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, after all the fuss about it, is a bit of a shock. It’s both much more radical and much less radical than its reputation…I was anticipating a left-wing rant, but Piketty’s tone is modest and politenot at all what you expect from a rock-star French intellectual…Piketty and his book remind me of my favorite economist, the 19th-century American Henry George, and his best-selling book, Progress and Poverty (1879). Both men’s books offer a comprehensive explanation of the world, in particular the problem of poverty. Both men acknowledge the importance of market incentives and entrepreneurship and the evils of protectionism and all of that good conservative stuff, even as they rail against the plutocrats. Both think we can end or reduce inequality without giving up the benefits of capitalism. And both see the answer in a new tax on capital…This is beginning to sound sort of reasonable, both in its demands on people at the top and its generosity to those on the bottom.
Vanity Fair - Michael Kinsley
New research from the Fed shows incomes of the richest Americans are bouncing back strongly after the crisis while average incomes have fallen…In essence, French economist
Thomas Piketty’s contention that wealth breeds wealthand that increasing inequality is part of capitalism’s inherent structure, rather than an occasional conditionlooks largely correct, at least since the early 1990s.
Business Insider - Tomas Hirst
Crossing the Atlantic like an intellectual tsunami, this study by French economist Piketty takes a long view of historical data to present an intriguing treatise on capital and income inequality. The audiobook has several major weaknesses; the pacing is relentless and rushed, and structurally the listener is unable to mull over an economic formula or the implications of tax policy as the narration continues without a chance to work through them. On the positive side, L.J. Ganser’s voice and accents are superb, and emphasis is well placed. Especially appreciated are the numerous charts available for download and appropriately referenced in the narration. Whether they agree or disagree with Piketty’s policy arguments, serious students of economics or public policy will find much to digest. M.L.R. © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine
A French academic serves up a long, rigorous critique, dense with historical data, of American-style predatory capitalism—and offers remedies that Karl Marx might applaud.Economist Piketty considers capital, in the monetary sense, from the vantage of what he considers the capital of the world, namely Paris; at times, his discussions of how capital works, and especially public capital, befit Locke-ian France and not Hobbesian America, a source of some controversy in the wide discussion surrounding his book. At heart, though, his argument turns on well-founded economic principles, notably r > g, meaning that the "rate of return on capital significantly exceeds the growth rate of the economy," in Piketty's gloss. It logically follows that when such conditions prevail, then wealth will accumulate in a few hands faster than it can be broadly distributed. By the author's reckoning, the United States is one of the leading nations in the "high inequality" camp, though it was not always so. In the colonial era, Piketty likens the inequality quotient in New England to be about that of Scandinavia today, with few abject poor and few mega-rich. The difference is that the rich now—who are mostly the "supermanagers" of business rather than the "superstars" of sports and entertainment—have surrounded themselves with political shields that keep them safe from the specter of paying more in taxes and adding to the fund of public wealth. The author's data is unassailable. His policy recommendations are considerably more controversial, including his call for a global tax on wealth. From start to finish, the discussion is written in plainspoken prose that, though punctuated by formulas, also draws on a wide range of cultural references.Essential reading for citizens of the here and now. Other economists should marvel at how that plain language can be put to work explaining the most complex of ideas, foremost among them the fact that economic inequality is at an all-time high—and is only bound to grow worse.