*Top Incomes in France in the Twentieth Century*

The author is Thomas Piketty, and the subtitle is Inequality and Redistribution, 1901-1998.  This is a reprint and translation of the author’s original French work from 2001.  It appears to be a very seriously researched volume.

Due out in May.


An announced site redesign and the possible return of Piketty as an endless source of posts - how will loyal readers respond to such forthcoming events?

Of course r>g. The new Lamborghini, you can't have one in your garage without first buying enough bookshelves to hold the 3000 new books that you bought. Reading a book a day to get the knowledge because the more you learn, the more you earn. Without the money for the knowledge, there is no fun driving around the Hollywood Hills in your Lamborghini. So conclusively, r>g

Income is not wealth.

depends on the value of r

I wonder if he'll address any of the published criticisms of his previous work...

Of course, immediately after pushing submit, I notice it's a reprint from 2001... :)

"It appears to be a very seriously researched volume."


Translator is Jacobin editor, has some long hits for them

So we start another round of criticism of Mr. Piketty, his motives, his methodology, his thesis, his data, all the while the critics ignore their lying eyes. My observation is that Piketty's thesis (r > g) to explain rising inequality may have been true at one time but not for a long time. Yes, at one time rising inequality in wealth depended on rising inequality in income, but not as much today, as rising inequality in wealth today is fueled by rising asset prices (the wealthy own most of the assets). In France (and Europe) wealth inequality collapsed as the result of the physical destruction of assets (in two major wars), while in America wealth inequality collapsed as the result of the destruction in the value of assets (the financial collapse and ensuing great depression). In America, even as wealth inequality was collapsing, income inequality continued on into the 1930s. Not until the rise in asset prices after the 1970s did wealth inequality rise to the level in 1928, where it is today. Piketty, of all people, believes central banks can maintain wealth inequality (as they did during the most recent financial collapse and great recession). It's right there in his book. It's true that the Fed, through extraordinary monetary stimulus, was able to restore asset prices and then propel asset prices to new highs. Piketty states in his book that central banks will always respond in that way. While Piketty's critics focus on petty details, they overlook what is likely his greatest mistake: his belief that central banks will always maintain wealth inequality through extraordinary monetary stimulus in the event of a financial collapse. Our Austrian friends will have their day!

True. I've read, and I think it was little remarked, that one less positive aspect of the roaring twenties was increased income/wealth inequality wherein all did not equally participate.

Re: inequality in rises asset prices, who is responsible? I say central banks and central planners.

Who exactly is the 'central planner(s)' in the US and where exactly is their plan? When the Fed stimulates the economy, they buy 3 month Treasury bills. Maybe under QE or 'Operation Twist' they will buy something a bit fancier like Treasury bonds or even MBAs.

But what isn't clear to me is why would that result in inequality? Why would an institution or person who just sold some relatively liquid bills for cash decide to put the funds into other paper assets like stocks rather than actual hard investment or consumption? i agree rising asset prices increases inequality but from the POV of someone whose rich who happens to have a boat load of cash, buying into a stock market that spent the last few years zooming high is actually pretty risky as a proposition. For this to work all the rich people have to insist on buying up paper assets no matter what and not actually investing in hard real assets.

"So we start another round of criticism of Mr. Piketty, his motives, his methodology, his thesis, his data, all the while the critics ignore their lying eyes."

Yes rayward. Feel free to avoid reading the threads if thought crimes bother you.

Yes, the wage inflation warriors, who deride the Fed for causing "inflation". No, not for causing inflation in asset prices but inflation in wages. Heaven forbid! A thoughtful person might ask why there is such a strong correlation between high levels of wealth inequality and financial instability. She might. But then again she might discover the answer. Better not to raise the issue and, instead, blabber on about "inflation". Stupid is as stupid repeats. http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/03/conservative-economists-turning-back-to-debt-hysteria.html

"Stupid is as stupid repeats."

I couldn't agree more.

"Lay not up to yourselves treasures on earth: where the rust, and moth consume, and where thieves break through and steal." Matthew 6:19

Decent advice before mothballs, stainless steel, and reliable door locks (and handguns).

Given that even Bitcoins aren't safe... one might at least want to consider Mr. Christ's words.


Is "seriously researched volume" some kind of academics' code? I mean besides that it will probably be unreadable.

I was stupid enough to buy Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Why would I be so stupid as to buy another one of his books?

What did you think of it?

omitted straussian subtext: "...but as we all know, appearances can be deceiving."

So much attention given to something so irrelevant. What difference does it make if the top 0.1% made 20 times the mean in 1960 instead of 40 times in 1998? (rhetorical numbers) What matters is how much people make typically (cap GDP or cap National Income) or better yet, how much they made per hour (mean and median GDP/hour worked) instead of BS like this.

If the advantages of wealth merely included status goods, wealth and income inequality wouldn’t matter and would likely be a public good (incentivizing socially-beneficial production, yadda yadda yadda...we know the dogma)

But in a world wealth buys anti-democratic privilege in political influence, legal representation, healthcare, childcare, education, and protection from a host of systemic social ills (crime & pollution),

then inequality becomes an affront to human dignity and social justice as much as it does an impediment to pragmatic public policy.

Human flourishing is a social, not an individual, phenomenon. It is rooted in communal norms that are eroded by injustice and neglect.

You could just have written "social justice", cut the rest.

Yeah. I wd suck @ Twitter

But that's precisely my point: if your income is already over 100 k it doesn't matter how much above 100 k it is. If Gates or Bezos wealth were 1,000 times smaller his real standard of living wouldn't change significantly. So who cares about the nominal discrepancy between the top 0.1% and the median?

I am talking about the median: in the US today the difference in effective living standards between a middle income household that makes 60 k and a billionaire is perhaps much smaller than a middle income household and the richest people in the US 60 years ago: 60 years ago rich people could travel and had access to culture such as music and literature that was highly restricted, today anybody in a developed country can log in the internet and has free access to almost all humanity's culture, while today middle class people can easily travel by plane and do tourism while in 1950 only the top 5% or so actually had access to tourism.

Good point.

Absolute material indicators are erasing the salience of absolute distinctions between classes. Yet other indicators (loss of trust, optimism) are reflecting the growing salience of relative status in society.

Inequality is not necessarily inequity. Academics are experts in greed and envy.

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