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What are the grand dynamics that drive the accumulation and distribution of capital? Questions about the long-term evolution of inequality, the concentration of wealth, and the prospects for economic growth lie at the heart of political economy. But satisfactory answers have been hard to find for lack of adequate data and clear guiding theories. In Capital in the Twenty-First Century, "Thomas Piketty analyzes a unique collection of data from twenty countries, ranging as far back as the eighteenth century, to uncover key economic and social patterns. His findings will transform debate and set the agenda for the next generation of thought about wealth and inequality. Piketty shows that modern economic growth and the diffusion of knowledge have allowed us to avoid inequalities on the apocalyptic scale predicted by Karl Marx. But we have not modified the deep structures of capital and inequality as much as we thought in the optimistic decades following World War II. The main driver of inequality--the tendency of returns on capital to exceed the rate of economic growth--today threatens to generate extreme inequalities that stir discontent and undermine democratic values. But economic trends are not acts of God. Political action has curbed dangerous inequalities in the past, Piketty says, and may do so again. A work of extraordinary ambition, originality, and rigor, Capital in the Twenty-First Century "reorients our understanding of economic history and confronts us with sobering lessons for today.
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WINNER OF THE FINANCIAL TIMES AND MCKINSEY BUSINESS BOOK OF THE YEAR 2014
SHORTLISTED FOR WATERSTONES BOOK OF THE YEAR 2014
Chosen as a book of 2014 in Observer, Financial Times, The Economist, Daily Telegraph and Sunday Times
"This book is not only the definitive account of the historical evolution of inequality in advanced economies, it is also a magisterial treatise on capitalism's inherent dynamics. Piketty ends his book with a ringing call for the global taxation of capital. Whether or not you agree with him on the solution, this book presents a stark challenge for those who would like to save capitalism from itself" --Dani Rodrik, Institute for Advanced Study
"The author, an inequality expert, is distinguished. The work is acclaimed. The book's empirical detail is already the stuff of legend." -- Karl Smith, Financial Times Blog Alphaville
"(Piketty's) thesis is simple. The growing concentration of capital in fewer hands has enabled its owners to keep it relatively scarce and thus valuable. (...) You many think that it doesn't require 600 pages to get this message across. This would be wrong. The strength of Piketty's book is his close attention to the different sources of inequality, the massive documentation underpinning his history and conclusions, and his impressive culls from sociology and literature, which exhibit the richness of 'political economy' compared to its thin mathematical successor that has attained such prominence. [...] Piketty's book is a timely intervention in the current debate about inequality and its causes." --Lord Robert Skidelsky, Prospect
"Thomas Piketty who spent long years, during which the mainstream neglected inequality, mapping the distribution of income is making waves with Capital in the 21st Century. Nodding at Marx, that title helps explain the attention, but his decidedly classical emphasis on historical dynamics in determining who gets what resonates in a world where an increasing proportion of citizens are feeling fleeced by the elite." --The Guardian
"The Frenchman's new book Capital in the 21st Century is already causing a stir. Some reviewers have called it the economic book of the year, others of the decade. Piketty's ground-breaking work on the historical evolution of income distribution is impressive." --Paul Sweeney, Irish Times
"With an extraordinary sweep of history backed by remarkably detailed data and analysis, Piketty shows that, for several centuries leading up to World War I, the financial returns to the owners of capital exceeded the rate of growth of modern economies, creating a wide divergence between incomes and wealth and, with that divergence, widening inequality between those owners and people who worked for a living... Piketty's economic analysis and historical proofs are breathtaking." ----Robert B Reich, The Guardian
"Piketty's book Capital is being acclaimed as the most important work of political economy to be published in decades. It has certainly caught the attention of Ed Miliband's inner circle."--Nick Pearce, New Statesman
"Thomas Piketty's Capital is a compelling, evidence based critique of capitalism...It is packed with anecdotes and literary references that illuminate the narrative. It also helps that it is fluently translated by Arthur Goldhammer, a literary stylist who has tackled the works of the likes of Albert Camus." --Andrew Hussey, Observer
"French economist Thomas Piketty has written an extraordinarily important book. Open-minded readers will surely find themselves unable to ignore the evidence and arguments he has brought to bear." -- Martin Wolf, Financial Times
"If you haven't heard of Thomas Piketty, the chances are you will before long. A French economist turning in a book of 640 closely-argued pages might not sound like author of the month, but Capital in the Twenty-First Century is one of those works that catches a moment." -- Ian Bell, Glasgow Herald
Piketty has won interest and enthusiasm on the left of the political spectrum...for this ambitious work. It is not, however, a politically sectarian argument; perhaps that explains why it has become a surprise bestseller. The strength of his thesis is that it is founded on evidence rather than ideology. Piketty has researched data over more than a century in order to derive his understanding of the dynamics of modern capitalism. He is able to point convincingly to a recent reversal of historical trends, so that the share of national income taken by the owners of capital has expanded over the past generation... What Piketty has done is provide a strong factual understanding for how modern capitalist economies diverge from the image of risk-taking and productive commercial activity. At the very least, the book effectively debunks the notion that there is an economic imperative for low tax rates and a smaller state. Oliver Kamm, The Times
A book of such magisterial sweep... Piketty deserves huge credit for kickstarting a debate about inequality and illuminating the distribution of income and wealth. Stephanie Flanders, The Guardian
Magisterial... Bursting with ideas... This book is economics at its best. Philip Roscoe, Times Higher Education
Seven hundred pages on the evolution of inequality in economically advanced societies by the most fashionable new theorist to emerge for a long time. Many have been waiting for such a comprehensive critique of capitalism. --David Sexton, The Evening Standard
Piketty s book Capital is being acclaimed as the most important work of political economy to be published in decades. It has certainly caught the attention of Ed Miliband s inner circle. --Nick Pearce, New Statesman, April 2014
Thomas Piketty is Director of Studies at L'Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales and Professor at the Paris School of Economics. He is the author of Capital in the Twenty-First Century.
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