Books : reviews

Thomas Piketty.
Capital in the Twenty-First Century.
Harvard University Press. 2014

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.

Thomas Piketty.
Chronicles on Our Troubled Times.
Viking. 2016

What can we do about inequality? How can we make the most of being in Europe? And how can we get the economy moving?

Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century was a critically acclaimed, prize-winning best-seller, with more than 2 million copies sold around the world. With the same powerful evidence and range of reference, Chronicles answers these questions and more, setting out Piketty’s thinking through his analysis of the financial crisis, what has happened since and where we should go from here.

Tackling a wider range of subjects than Capital, from Barack Obama to the migration crisis, it comprises the very best of his writing from the past ten years. Now, translated into English for the first time, it will bring much-needed clarity to our common future and further cement Piketty’s reputation as one of the world’s leading thinkers today.