A Piketty primer

In: Daniel In The News

19 Jun 2014

For those who cannot face reading Thomas Piketty’s 700 page tome on inequality – and there must be a huge number of buyers who have just left it lying on the coffee table – a quick primer. His interview on the BBC Hardtalk programme gives a good quick “cheat” on where he is coming from. Essentially he is a mainstream technocratic economist:

  • He is staunchly pro capitalism and for market forces. At one point he suggests his goal in raising inequality as a problem is to protect capitalism.
  • He supports inequality in principle. His concern is that it might reach a point where it could go too far.
  • He is intolerant of criticism. Note his attempt to dismiss critical remarks by the Financial Times (although those points were themselves very narrow and technical).
  • He takes an instrumental role of education. Seeing it as having a role in narrowing inequality.
  • He has friends in high places. Having been invited to the White House and other influential forums.

It is also worth noting that he was an economic adviser to Ségolène Royale, the Socialist party candidate in the 2007 presidential election in France (and she is in turn a former long-term partner of François Hollande, the current president).

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