Hoisted from Comments: The Idler on Ryan Avent vs. Clive Crook on Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the Twenty-First Century”

Apropos of Ryan Avent Is Very Unhappy with Clive Crook’s Review of Piketty’s “Capital in the Twenty-First Century”, The Idler makes a good catch. I would dearly love to hear anybody’s proposed reconciliation.

Clive Crook today:

The Most Important Book Ever Is All Wrong! Piketty’s terror at rising inequality is an important data point for the reader. It has perhaps influenced his judgment and his tendentious reading of his own evidence…

Clive Crook back before the election of Barack Obama:

First Principles: September 2006: The Height of Inequality: America’s productivity gains have gone to giant salaries for just a few… Productivity growth has always been seen as perhaps the single most important indicator of rising, broad-based prosperity. But remarkable growth in top-end pay, together with the relative constancy of labor’s overall share of income, has an obvious implication: the highest earners are now capturing most of the gain in national income caused by economy-wide productivity growth….

This is quite disturbing. Historically, rising productivity has been a tide that lifted nearly all boats. For more than twenty years during the long surge of productivity growth that followed the Second World War, median incomes in the United States rose as quickly as the highest incomes. This came to be regarded as normal—and, seen from a global vantage point, it still is. The dispersed benefits of high aggregate productivity are the reason why jobs of almost every kind pay better in rich countries than in poor ones….

Perhaps the CEOs’ appetites can be curbed. Maybe the superstars will find that their audiences cannot widen without limit. And perhaps, if both those things happen, productivity growth will again raise incomes broadly, as it once did, and as it is supposed to. If not, how much longer before the dwarves get restless?…

April 22, 2014


Brad DeLong
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