Greg Mankiw’s Weblog: Piketty in Transient


I simply learn Thomas Piketty’s newest ebook, A Transient Historical past of Equality. It’s the finest window into Piketty’s considering up to now partly as a result of it’s, in contrast to his earlier books, mercifully quick (244 pages, not counting the appendix).

After all, Piketty’s considering may be very totally different from mine. Phrases like provide, demand, comparative benefit, and the mutual good points from commerce are virtually completely absent from his ebook. As an alternative, we hear loads about political energy and exploitation of the weak by the sturdy. In Piketty’s worldview, the usual undergraduate textbook in economics is basically a non sequitur. So is Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations.

This new ebook purports to summarize the important thing factors of the huge volumes that Piketty has beforehand written. What I discovered most fascinating, due to this fact, was what was not included. Piketty doesn’t point out “the central contradiction of capitalism,” to make use of the phrase from his ebook Capital within the twenty first Century. In that earlier ebook, we have been instructed that r>g results in an “infinite inegalitarian spiral.” For causes I defined right here, I at all times thought that this declare was absurd.

Why is that this main theme from the sooner ebook omitted on this new one? Has Piketty tacitly recanted? It’s laborious to say.



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