Thomas Piketty’s magnum opus on the accumulation and distribution of wealth over the last 200 years has been greeted with the biggest noise from mainstream (and heterodox) economics of any economics book. Piketty shows that inequality of wealth and income is inherent to capitalism and it is getting worse. The reason for the rise in the inequality of wealth is a rise of income going to capital in the form of profits, rent and interest. Inequality is not due to higher-skilled labour getting higher income than the lower-skilled. The central question for Piketty’s thesis is whether rising inequality is the central contradiction of capitalism and thus its gravedigger. Is it a tendency for a rising net return on capital (Piketty) or is it the tendency for a falling rate of profit (Marx) that is the key contradiction of capitalism in the twenty-first century?
CarchediGuglielmoRobertsMichael‘The Long Roots of the Present Crisis: Keynesians, Austerians, and Marx’s Law’World Review of Political Economy20134186115available at: <https://thenextrecession.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/the-long-roots-of-the-present-crisis.pdf>.
DeLongBrad‘Piketty Day Here at Berkeley: The Honest Broker for the Week of April 26, 2014’Washington Center for Equitable Growth2014April23available at: <http://equitablegrowth.org/2014/04/23/piketty-day-berkeley-honest-broker-week-april-26-2014/>.
MaitoEsteban Ezequiel‘The Historical Transience of Capital: The Downward Trend in the Rate of Profit since the Nineteenth Century’2014bavailable at: <http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/55894/1/mpra_paper_55894.pdf>.
MoseleyFred‘The Rate of Surplus Value, the Organic Composition, and the General Rate of Profit in the u.s. Economy, 1947–67: A Critique and Update of Wolff’s Estimates’American Economic Review1988781298303
PikettyThomas‘Appendix to Chapter 10, “Inequality of Capital Ownership”. Addendum: Response to ft’2014cMay28available at: <http://piketty.pse.ens.fr/files/capital21c/en/Piketty2014TechnicalAppendixResponsetoft.pdf>.
Oxfam International2014. Actually it is probably only 67 people since Oxfam’s data were compiled according to the website of the independent-left Senator Sanders of Vermont – see Moreno 2014.
See Saez and Zucman2014.
Kuznets1955. Kuznets predicted that inequality in economies would take the form of a bell curve: rising inequality as market economies emerged then as they matured falling inequality. In contrast Piketty sees a U-curve: high inequality with a brief period of lower inequality and then a return to high inequality. See Piketty 2014a p. 13.
See Ibbotson and Sinquefield2010.
Maito 2014a and Moseley1988.
For example see Carchedi and Roberts2013which also references many other studies on p. 114.