Monday, July 21, 2014

Capital in the Twenty-First Century (I)

Thomas Piketty has started a conversation. I am just one, among the hundreds of participants. I wrote an introductory note, here. This is the second of a series. The Contents of the book is as follows:

Acknowledgements ' vii

Introduction ' 1

Part One: Income and Capital
1. Income and Output ' 19
2. Growth: Illusions and Realities ' 72

Part Two: The Dynamics of the Capital/Income Ratio
3. The Metamorphoses of Capital ' 113
4. From Old Europe to the New World ' 140
5. The Capital/Income Ratio over the Long Run ' 164
6. The Capital-Labor Split in the Twenty-First Century ' 199

Part Three: The Structure of Inequality
7. Inequality and Concentration: Preliminary Bearings ' 237
8. Two Worlds ' 271
9. Inequality of Labor Income ' 304
10. Inequality of Capital Ownership ' 336
11. Merit and Inheritance in the Long Run ' 377
12. Global Inequality of Wealth in the Twenty-First Century ' 430

Part Four: Regulating Capital in the Twenty-First Century 
13. A Social State for the Twenty-First Century ' 471
14. Rethinking the Progressive Income Tax ' 493
15. A Global Tax on Capital ' 515
16. The Question of the Public Debt ' 540

Conclusion ' 571

Notes ' 579
Contents in Detail ' 657
List of Tables and Illustrations ' 665
Index ' 671

The book is entertaining, with examples taken from popular culture, both modern, and from centuries back. I in particular liked his mention of Forbes Magazine list of billionaires. He mentions, both Carlos Slim, and Bill Gates, without getting into a debate about who deserves what, and more interested in how the accumulation of capital happened.

I consider this to be a very important work. I illustrate with one thought. A week from now, we are remembering the catastrophic decision by a few men to go to war a hundred years ago. That year, the distribution of wealth, was similar to what we have now, after a lull in the accumulation of capital, the world witnessed the creation of a huge middle class in Europe and the US, but now we are back to those levels of inequality that might have caused the war: Who assures us, that the same type of men, won't take us to war over Ukraine or Israel now?

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