Thomas Piketty: New thoughts on capital in the twenty-first century

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Thomas Piketty: New thoughts on capital in the twenty-first century

Thomas Piketty: New thoughts on capital in the twenty-first century


It’s very nice to be here tonight. So I’ve been working on the history of income and wealth distribution for the past 15 years, and one of the interesting lessons coming from this historical evidence is indeed that, in the long run, there is a tendency for
the rate of return of capital to exceed the economy’s growth rate, and this tends to lead to
high concentration of wealth. Not infinite concentration of wealth, but the higher the gap between r and g, the higher the level of inequality of wealth towards which society tends to converge. So this is a key force that
I’m going to talk about today, but let me say right away that this is not the only important force in the dynamics of income
and wealth distribution, and there are many other forces that play an important role in the long-run dynamics of income and wealth distribution. Also there is a lot of data that still needs to be collected. We know a little bit more today than we used to know,
but we still know too little, and certainly there are
many different processes — economic, social, political — that need to be studied more. And so I’m going to focus today on this simple force, but that doesn’t mean that other important forces do not exist. So most of the data I’m going to present comes from this database that’s available online: the World Top Incomes Database. So this is the largest existing historical database on inequality, and this comes from the effort of over 30 scholars from several dozen countries. So let me show you a couple of facts coming from this database, and then we’ll return to r bigger than g. So fact number one is that there has been a big reversal in the ordering of income inequality between the United States and Europe over the past century. So back in 1900, 1910, income inequality was actually much higher in Europe than in the United States, whereas today, it is a lot higher in the United States. So let me be very clear: The main explanation for this is not r bigger than g. It has more to do with changing supply and demand for skill, the race between education and technology, globalization, probably more unequal access to skills in the U.S., where you have very good, very top universities but where the bottom part of the educational system is not as good, so very unequal access to skills, and also an unprecedented rise of top managerial compensation of the United States, which is difficult to account for
just on the basis of education. So there is more going on here, but I’m not going to talk too much about this today, because I want to focus on wealth inequality. So let me just show you a very simple indicator about the income inequality part. So this is the share of total income going to the top 10 percent. So you can see that one century ago, it was between 45 and 50 percent in Europe and a little bit above 40 percent in the U.S., so there was more inequality in Europe. Then there was a sharp decline during the first half of the 20th century, and in the recent decade, you can see that the U.S. has become more unequal than Europe, and this is the first fact I just talked about. Now, the second fact is more about wealth inequality, and here the central fact is that wealth inequality is always a lot higher than income inequality, and also that wealth inequality, although it has also increased in recent decades, is still less extreme today than what it was a century ago, although the total quantity of wealth relative to income has now recovered from the very large shocks caused by World War I, the Great Depression, World War II. So let me show you two graphs illustrating fact number two and fact number three. So first, if you look at the level of wealth inequality, this is the share of total wealth going to the top 10 percent of wealth holders, so you can see the same kind of reversal between the U.S. and Europe that we had before for income inequality. So wealth concentration was higher in Europe than in the U.S. a century ago, and now it is the opposite. But you can also show two things: First, the general level of wealth inequality is always higher than income inequality. So remember, for income inequality, the share going to the top 10 percent was between 30 and 50 percent of total income, whereas for wealth, the share is always between 60 and 90 percent. Okay, so that’s fact number one, and that’s very important for what follows. Wealth concentration is always a lot higher than income concentration. Fact number two is that the rise in wealth inequality in recent decades is still not enough to get us back to 1910. So the big difference today, wealth inequality is still very large, with 60, 70 percent of total wealth for the top 10, but the good news is that it’s actually better than one century ago, where you had 90 percent in
Europe going to the top 10. So today what you have is what I call the middle 40 percent, the people who are not in the top 10 and who are not in the bottom 50, and what you can view as the wealth middle class that owns 20 to 30 percent of total wealth, national wealth, whereas they used to be poor, a century ago, when there was basically no wealth middle class. So this is an important change, and it’s interesting to see that wealth inequality has not fully recovered to pre-World War I levels, although the total quantity of wealth has recovered. Okay? So this is the total value of wealth relative to income, and you can see that in particular in Europe, we are almost back to the pre-World War I level. So there are really two different parts of the story here. One has to do with the total quantity of wealth that we accumulate, and there is nothing bad per se, of course, in accumulating a lot of wealth, and in particular if it is more diffuse and less concentrated. So what we really want to focus on is the long-run evolution of wealth inequality, and what’s going to happen in the future. How can we account for the fact that until World War I, wealth inequality was so high and, if anything, was rising to even higher levels, and how can we think about the future? So let me come to some of the explanations and speculations about the future. Let me first say that probably the best model to explain why wealth is so much more concentrated than income is a dynamic, dynastic model where individuals have a long horizon and accumulate wealth for all sorts of reasons. If people were accumulating wealth only for life cycle reasons, you know, to be able to consume when they are old, then the level of wealth inequality should be more or less in line with the level of income inequality. But it will be very difficult to explain why you have so much more wealth inequality than income inequality with a pure life cycle model, so you need a story where people also care about wealth accumulation for other reasons. So typically, they want to transmit wealth to the next generation, to their children, or sometimes they want to accumulate wealth because of the prestige, the
power that goes with wealth. So there must be other reasons for accumulating wealth than just life cycle to explain what we see in the data. Now, in a large class of dynamic models of wealth accumulation with such dynastic motive for accumulating wealth, you will have all sorts of random, multiplicative shocks. So for instance, some families have a very large number of children, so the wealth will be divided. Some families have fewer children. You also have shocks to rates of return. Some families make huge capital gains. Some made bad investments. So you will always have some mobility in the wealth process. Some people will move up,
some people will move down. The important point is that, in any such model, for a given variance of such shocks, the equilibrium level of wealth inequality will be a steeply rising function of r minus g. And intuitively, the reason why the difference between the rate of return to wealth and the growth rate is important is that initial wealth inequalities will be amplified at a faster pace with a bigger r minus g. So take a simple example, with r equals five percent and g equals one percent, wealth holders only need to reinvest one fifth of their capital income to ensure that their wealth rises as fast as the size of the economy. So this makes it easier to build and perpetuate large fortunes because you can consume four fifths, assuming zero tax, and you can just reinvest one fifth. So of course some families
will consume more than that, some will consume less, so there will be some mobility in the distribution, but on average, they only need to reinvest one fifth, so this allows high wealth inequalities to be sustained. Now, you should not be surprised by the statement that r can be bigger than g forever, because, in fact, this is what happened during most of the history of mankind. And this was in a way very obvious to everybody for a simple reason, which is that growth was close to zero percent during most of the history of mankind. Growth was maybe 0.1, 0.2, 0.3 percent, but very slow growth of population and output per capita, whereas the rate of return on capital of course was not zero percent. It was, for land assets, which was the traditional form of assets in preindustrial societies, it was typically five percent. Any reader of Jane Austen would know that. If you want an annual income of 1,000 pounds, you should have a capital value of 20,000 pounds so that five percent of 20,000 is 1,000. And in a way, this was the very foundation of society, because r bigger than g was what allowed holders of wealth and assets to live off their capital income and to do something else in life than just to care about their own survival. Now, one important conclusion of my historical research is that modern industrial growth did not change this basic fact as much as one might have expected. Of course, the growth rate following the Industrial Revolution rose, typically from zero to one to two percent, but at the same time, the rate of return to capital also rose so that the gap between the two did not really change. So during the 20th century, you had a very unique combination of events. First, a very low rate of return due to the 1914 and 1945 war shocks, destruction of wealth, inflation, bankruptcy during the Great Depression, and all of this reduced the private rate of return to wealth to unusually low levels between 1914 and 1945. And then, in the postwar period, you had unusually high growth rate, partly due to the reconstruction. You know, in Germany, in France, in Japan, you had five percent growth rate between 1950 and 1980 largely due to reconstruction, and also due to very large demographic growth, the Baby Boom Cohort effect. Now, apparently that’s not going to last for very long, or at least the population growth is supposed to decline in the future, and the best projections we have is that the long-run growth is going to be closer to one to two percent rather than four to five percent. So if you look at this, these are the best estimates we have of world GDP growth and rate of return on capital, average rates of return on capital, so you can see that during most of the history of mankind, the growth rate was very small, much lower than the rate of return, and then during the 20th century, it is really the population growth, very high in the postwar period, and the reconstruction process that brought growth to a smaller gap with the rate of return. Here I use the United Nations population projections, so of course they are uncertain. It could be that we all start having a lot of children in the future, and the growth rates are going to be higher, but from now on, these are the best projections we have, and this will make global growth decline and the gap between the rate of return go up. Now, the other unusual event during the 20th century was, as I said, destruction, taxation of capital, so this is the pre-tax rate of return. This is the after-tax rate of return, and after destruction, and this is what brought the average rate of return after tax, after destruction, below the growth rate during a long time period. But without the destruction, without the taxation, this
would not have happened. So let me say that the balance between returns on capital and growth depends on many different factors that are very difficult to predict: technology and the development of capital-intensive techniques. So right now, the most capital-intensive sectors in the economy are the real estate sector, housing, the energy sector, but it could be in the future that we have a lot more robots in a number of sectors and that this would be a bigger share of the total capital stock that it is today. Well, we are very far from this, and from now, what’s going on in the real estate sector, the energy sector, is much more important for the total capital stock and capital share. The other important issue is that there are scale effects
in portfolio management, together with financial complexity, financial deregulation, that make it easier to get higher rates of return for a large portfolio, and this seems to be particularly strong for billionaires, large capital endowments. Just to give you one example, this comes from the Forbes billionaire rankings over the 1987-2013 period, and you can see the very top wealth holders have been going up at six, seven percent per year in real terms above inflation, whereas average income in the world, average wealth in the world, have increased at only two percent per year. And you find the same for large university endowments — the bigger the initial endowments, the bigger the rate of return. Now, what could be done? The first thing is that I think we need more financial transparency. We know too little about global wealth dynamics, so we need international transmission of bank information. We need a global registry of financial assets, more coordination on wealth taxation, and even wealth tax with a small tax rate will be a way to produce information so that then we can adapt our policies to whatever we observe. And to some extent, the fight against tax havens and automatic transmission of information is pushing us in this direction. Now, there are other ways to redistribute wealth, which it can be tempting to use. Inflation: it’s much easier to print money than to write a tax code, so that’s very tempting, but sometimes you don’t know
what you do with the money. This is a problem. Expropriation is very tempting. Just when you feel some people get too wealthy, you just expropriate them. But this is not a very efficient way to organize a regulation of wealth dynamics. So war is an even less efficient way, so I tend to prefer progressive taxation, but of course, history — (Laughter) — history will invent its own best ways, and it will probably involve a combination of all of these. Thank you. (Applause) Bruno Giussani: Thomas Piketty. Thank you. Thomas, I want to ask you two or three questions, because it’s impressive how you’re
in command of your data, of course, but basically what you suggest is growing wealth concentration is kind of a natural tendency of capitalism, and if we leave it to its own devices, it may threaten the system itself, so you’re suggesting that we need to act to implement policies that redistribute wealth, including the ones we just saw: progressive taxation, etc. In the current political context, how realistic are those? How likely do you think that it is that they will be implemented? Thomas Piketty: Well, you know, I think if you look back through time, the history of income, wealth and taxation is full of surprise. So I am not terribly impressed by those who know in advance what will or will not happen. I think one century ago, many people would have said that progressive income taxation would never happen and then it happened. And even five years ago, many people would have said that bank secrecy will be with us forever in Switzerland, that Switzerland was too powerful for the rest of the world, and then suddenly it took a few U.S. sanctions against Swiss banks for a big change to happen, and now we are moving toward more financial transparency. So I think it’s not that difficult to better coordinate politically. We are going to have a treaty with half of the world GDP around the table with the U.S. and the European Union, so if half of the world GDP is not enough to make progress on financial transparency and minimal tax for multinational corporate profits, what does it take? So I think these are not technical difficulties. I think we can make progress if we have a more pragmatic
approach to these questions and we have the proper sanctions on those who benefit from financial opacity. BG: One of the arguments against your point of view is that economic inequality is not only a feature of capitalism
but is actually one of its engines. So we take measures to lower inequality, and at the same time we lower growth, potentially. What do you answer to that? TP: Yeah, I think inequality is not a problem per se. I think inequality up to a point can actually be useful for innovation and growth. The problem is, it’s a question of degree. When inequality gets too extreme, then it becomes useless for growth and it can even become bad because it tends to lead to high perpetuation of inequality over time and low mobility. And for instance, the kind of wealth concentrations that we had in the 19th century and pretty much until World War I in every European country was, I think, not useful for growth. This was destroyed by a combination of tragic events and policy changes, and this did not prevent growth from happening. And also, extreme inequality can be bad for our democratic institutions if it creates very unequal access to political voice, and the influence of private money in U.S. politics, I think, is a matter of concern right now. So we don’t want to return to that kind of extreme, pre-World War I inequality. Having a decent share of the national wealth for the middle class is not bad for growth. It is actually useful both for equity and efficiency reasons. BG: I said at the beginning that your book has been criticized. Some of your data has been criticized. Some of your choice of data sets has been criticized. You have been accused of cherry-picking data to make your case. What do you answer to that? TP: Well, I answer that I am very happy that this book is stimulating debate. This is part of what it is intended for. Look, the reason why I put all the data online with all of the detailed computation is so that we can have
an open and transparent debate about this. So I have responded point by point to every concern. Let me say that if I was to rewrite the book today, I would actually conclude that the rise in wealth inequality, particularly in the United States, has been actually higher
than what I report in my book. There is a recent study by Saez and Zucman showing, with new data which I didn’t have at the time of the book, that wealth concentration in the U.S. has risen even more than what I report. And there will be other data in the future. Some of it will go in different directions. Look, we put online almost every week new, updated series on the
World Top Income Database and we will keep doing so in the future, in particular in emerging countries, and I welcome all of those who want to contribute to this data collection process. In fact, I certainly agree that there is not enough transparency about wealth dynamics, and a good way to have better data would be to have a wealth tax with a small tax rate to begin with so that we can all agree about this important evolution and adapt our policies to whatever we observe. So taxation is a source of knowledge, and that’s what we need the most right now. BG: Thomas Piketty, merci beaucoup. Thank you.
TP: Thank you. (Applause)

100 thoughts on Thomas Piketty: New thoughts on capital in the twenty-first century

  1. I'm afraid his ideas are at least doubtful. You can read about it here:

    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2543012
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/fsxunxjg4iivcon/piketty3.pdf?dl=0

  2. Thomas is not at all communist.
    Communism on one side and capitalism without regulations on the other side are 2 extreme positions, both very dangerous for our world. If there is a solution it is something balanced, something reasonable….
    A system who will keep continue to incent the performant people and protect the weakest. If not we will have big troubles, civil wars, society under control….
    What Piketty says is reasonable, increasing a little bit taxes for the rich will not at all impact their life-style, decreasing by 5% the income of the poor is a disaster for them. It is just a matter of good sense. If all the developed countries continue to compete with each other by sacrifying their middle class we will have problems and we will live in an terrible world.

  3. You people trashing his accent should go read his book. Or maybe you could go and try to learn French and see how difficult it is for a native English speaker; which would of course show you how difficult it must be the other way round.
    By the way, I have Portuguese as a native language and I can undersand every word he says. More than that: I focus in WHAT HE SAYS, and it is such a powerful message.

  4. I am italian and can understand everything he says… To all those english-speaking people that can't understand him I am sorry your iq is so low.

  5. french plus russian accent is really fun to hear…
    i have read his book and that is what probably helped me understand better…

  6. LOL
    I 'm French and think only a French can understand another French trying to speak English ahahahahahahahahahah !

  7. Some french people will say that such a bad accent is rare even in France, but I"m not sure. i live in France, my english teacher in school has the exact same accent, and my friends around me too, it's because French people don't listen that much of english oustide of school, and even in school we only work on the grammar aspect, all foreign films are dubbed and like in all countries where the language is spoke by a lot of people around the world, you won't see many bilingual. They are still better at foreign languages than native english people aha (ok it's a joke I don't really know)

  8. There exists a criticism, and I tend to agree, that wealth and capital are not quite the same thing. Capital goods are different from just any other asset and it seems that they are being treated as if they are interchangeable by Piketty.

  9. Look, the most important thing here isn't Piketty's accent but the content of his talk. It's normal, he's French, he studied in French, he worked in French, he still lives in France and French people have a horrible accent when speaking English. I'm lucky enough to be a French Canadian so I can watch his French conferences while understanding his English conferences as well, but you have to understand that here in Canada, you've got thoursands of English-Canadians living in Quebec since 30 years who are unable to say "Oui bonjour" in French. I don't think that English-speakers, as the least bilingual people in the world, can complaint about a guy speaking English with a foreign accent.

  10. His data shows that saving is the path to building wealth and that when economies don't grow, inequality grows. Why does any of that mean we need to tax more? Why does any of that mean that inequality in itself is bad? How is any of that an indictment of capitalism? Read The Great Escape by Angus Deaton, or Why Nations Fail by Acemoglu and Robinson. Capitalism is the only source of growth. Maybe the real indictment here is that when governments prop up their cronies (AIG, Goldman, GM) and growth consequently slows, inequality grows. Less government equals more growth equals more income mobility equals less inequality. That's the real story here.

  11. Gap between rich and poor in USA is increasing. Otherwise, gap between rich country and poor country are decreasing. For example, people Who live in Zimbabwe 's icome are increasing year by year. So the world will become more equal, if gap between rich and poor in world grows, we can just change tax system .

    Anyway I acually not interested in pikety's theory,
    what I focus is improving techology and human being so that people can save time.

    As an aside, Steve Jobs made iPhone to make people focus on human creativeness by removing inefficiency of work.

  12. >21st century
    >being a Communist

    Pick one.

    Protip: it's the first one, the second one is for retards and it's a failure.

  13. Fuction of nation is becoming smaller, private business companies will controll nation from now.

    Google, Amazon,Line , these private business compone's power is becoming bigger than national.

    From now , we induvidually should get imformation ,think about it,make decision. and put into practice .

    National power will be controlled by individual power and private business naltional.

  14. Piketty is one of the finest economists of the 21st century so far, author of a book that has totally changed our view of economics, and all the comments can do is complain about the accent…

  15. His work is not to find solutions, he made a big analysis about inequality, capital and growth than nobody did before, and that's already a huge step.

  16. The source of inequality is education. Education creates massive inequalities for wealth distribution. What's wrong with that? Those who are more intelligent should get more. The trouble is inflating this exaggeration with counterfeiting currency, picking winners and losers, exaggerates the wealth to favor asset owners over laborers. It's a counterfeiting currency crisis, exaggerated since August 15th, 1971. Blame Wall Street and the Fed.

  17. America has more wealth because the Europeans fought two world wars. America profited from supplying this war. Germany won both wars and America was called in by British bankers to defeat the Germans. America took England's empire as payment.

  18. Mr. Piketty's measurements of income are based on INCOME REPORTED ON TAX RETURNS (go to the link from the beginning of the presentation). Rich people are required to report more of their income, while the poor report less or don't have to report at all. This greatly skews the data making the rich look richer then they actually are and poor porrer then they actually are. Furthermore, Taxable income includes income from capital gains. When taxes went down on capital gains, such as in the 1920's and 1980's (see Mr. Piketty's graph at 3:00 ) people disposed of their assets and bought new ones, as it was prime time to do so. The capital gains created in this exchange skew Mr. Piketty's data to show the rich gaining income when they were in fact exchanging dodges for chevys and no new wealth was created. The fact of the matter is you cannot use Taxable income to determine income distribution, and if you do, you get the kind of false apocalyptic analysis here.

  19. When people told me french people didn't speak english very well, I thought "they can't be worse than brazilians", this changed my mind.

  20. That's great why and how we should reconstruct the global taxation and even domestic taxation scheme for much better equality among the societies. Enjoy reading it anyway and reconsider the doctrines and future of the Marxism on going in a few countries.

  21. His book isn't even consistent. It literally says that the vast differences in capital accumulation in the 20th century is not because of capitalists, but because of increases in wages to executives. His whole theory that capitalists are just earning higher and higher percentage returns and that's the reason for the dichotomous rate of capital accumulation in america, isn't even true, by his own omission! The only reason this guy is famous, especially seeing as his book is so poorly read, despite the sales, is that he endorses something the political elites already wanted

  22. Luckily there are simple solutions to the problem;

    1. Stop being a victim of materialism. Pull yourself away from media. Stop keeping up with the joneses.

    2. Live minimal. Stay in a small house to minimise loan.

    3. Eat at least 90 percent plant based. Plants are our natural diet and cheaper than meat. You live longer, happier and healthier.

    4. Stop the suffering cycle, do not bring any child to this world unless you have enough R to offset the G. Adopt instead if you must.

    5. Learn to live with simple pleasures; gardening, reading, exercising, meditate, find the right path for life (I find Laozi and Buddha teachings make sense)

  23. Piketty's theory is destroyed during Hollande government. Piketty assessed Hollande on a tax reform applying higher income taxes to high income people. The result is that people started to leave the country with their money. Is the next Piketty's book talking about how to forbiden high income people to leave the country and force them to pay higher taxes?

  24. The man is super smart. I've watched interviews of him on French TV and he's amongst the most articulate speakers I've heard. Why not let him do his conference in French? He's fairly popular in France, so why not have him participate in a TED talk there?

  25. Except living standards are improving in almost every country almost every year, and so any discussion of inequality is largely meaningless.

  26. FACT: 1 tenth (1/10) of the top 1% has more money in the US then 90% of the entire population.  That should be illegal. Talk about inequality. How can we let such a small group of people have so much of our nations wealth. That 1/10 of 1 % literally control all large companies. They control what we pay..not only for products but gas, rent, the list goes on. They will over charge and under pay us until they control 100% of our nations wealth. What do the rest of us do THEN? It will only take 3 YEARS until the own 99% of the US wealth. Fucking scary times people…..

  27. These arguments are so tired that it would be cliche to even debunk them. Marxism (or WHATEVER bullshit pseudonym the left is using this current split second) creates prosperity like stage 4 cancer creates health and wellness.

  28. Tax very high incomes above 2 millions at 75%, above 10 millions at 90%.
    Like they did during 50 years in US between Roosevelt and Reagan.

  29. If the accumulation of wealth is true, why don't the wealth follow the Zipf distribution?

    Even if you're true, taxation is still a theft. We could at worst start a new currency (perhaps bitcoin).
    But it's not wrong to have a trillionaire if someone is happily making $100 a year or less.
    Next, even with this deal, the trade is still win-win. Tax will reduce the likelihood of someone trading. Riches will settle with what they've got while poors are struggling.

  30. Piketty is my personal hero. He will be such an inspirational speaker if he practices more on his pronunciation/accent to make it easier for us to understand his great thoughts.

  31. i wonder why he didn't include analysis of china and russia/ussr in the capital book. it would be quite enlightening to see the transformation of soviet style communism to the oligarchy, kleptocracy or whatever china is these past 30 years.

  32. Absolute Rubbish. Fails to state what happens to the wealth that the top earners earn. His theory is just based on a paranoid belief that there is something wrong with society if someone has more wealth than someone else despite what they have worked for. It may appeal to people who are envious but those people usually have no sympathy for anyone who earns less.
    Neither does he give up his own position of privilege and wealth allow others who earn less to have it.

  33. Currency right now is greatest hindrance to human advancement. So many things could be accomplished right now but for currency bottlenecks. I feel like currency has become obsolete.

  34. I thought there was going to be an extense and bastly interesting discussion down in the comments, but for the most part people are complaining about his accent. I live in México, have been doing that all my life, and understand him perfectly.

  35. Honestly, I think it would've been more constructive to give this presentation in French with dubs or subtitles rather than attempting to do it in such heavily accented English. I speak English and French fluently and found it impossibly distracting to pay attention to facts and figures. The author is brilliant and attempting to give this talk in English was a brave but miscalculated effort.

  36. I expect US viewers to struggle with his accent, they struggle with just about everything in life. Poor schooling unfortunately, not much hope for them. The sooner their empire disappears the better for the rest of us. It's for the best..

  37. Clearly this one man has not settled all the debates between left and right economists that have been in play for centuries now. I wish people would stop exaggerating the impact of this one book. It’s no better to completely dismissing the book out of hand.

  38. Being a foreigner I was happy to understand Pikkety’s speech much better than most speeches I’ve been hearing from native English speakers, many of them dumping bells, whistles and linguistic artifacts over the audience. Regarding content, his comprehensive work and correspondingly very synthesized outcome, in my view, are of huge value as tools to promote healthier policies for a better world. But as he said, this is not up to him, but for those people elected to do the job.

  39. This is pretty simple idea to any oncologist, epidemiologist, thermodynamics physicist, etc. Absent negative feedback inhibitors, any growth mechanism/pathway will eventually consume all available resources until there's nothing left. For a while, the US political economy had these checks in place. For example, prior to the infinite corporations, concentrated wealth was returned to the overall system via the estate tax. Or it was inhibited via a punitive top tax rate (90+% during the post-WW2 era) or by strict enforcement of antitrust law.

  40. He is great English speaker.
    Many French people his age even do not know simple English words………

  41. For those of you who mock him for having French accent… how many of you can speak his native language fluently and flawlessly?

  42. Anyone focused on his accent needs to spend more time @ the nearest metropolitan area near him/her. It says more about themselves than his beautiful French accent.

  43. Piketty is quite right in his analysis as far as he goes. However there is a great deal of 'leakage' after a while from wealthy families in the form of incompetent management by the second generation – frittering away the assets – and through gifting to foundations and endowments. Warren Buffet I think said he wanted to give his kids enough money so that they could do something, but not so much that they could do nothing.

  44. How is it possible to have such bad prononciation whereas the others langage skills are so good ? As a French native speaker from Switzerland, I’m not as fluent as him, but my accent is better despite the fact that I still have French accent.

  45. Do watch this Ted talk by the author himself. Capital in the Twenty-First Century is a 2013 book by French economist Thomas Piketty. It focuses on wealth and income inequality in Europe and the United States since the 18th century. It was initially published in French in August 2013; an English translation by Arthur Goldhammer followed in April 2014.[1]

    The book's central thesis is that when the rate of return on capital (r) is greater than the rate of economic growth (g) over the long term, the result is concentration of wealth, and this unequal distribution of wealth causes social and economic instability. Piketty proposes a global system of progressive wealth taxes to help reduce inequality and avoid the vast majority of wealth coming under the control of a tiny minority. His ideas can be used in essays related to inclusive development/growth

  46. In nature the old die to makeway for new and young to compete for the position or space previously occupied by the old.

    Unfortunately in modern economics, old organizations are protected through many regulations (most are unintended consequences).

    Reserve bank policy is a major life support for dysfunctional businesses that are too large to fail.

    Also retail banks favor the old and established.

    All of the above are the direct reasons the economy is unfair.

    People like Thomas Piketty are seeing the resulting problem and rather than fixing the cause are wanting to take direct action to correct the resulting unfair problems.

  47. I sense an irony here that both the Soviets and the Nazis would have agreed with this presentation. It’s only his intended audience who have no interest in the outcome of this research.

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