The melting away of North Atlantic social democracy

Over at Talking Points Memo: The Melting Away of North Atlantic Social Democracy: Hotshot French economist Thomas Piketty, of the Paris School of Economics, looked at the major democracies with North Atlantic coastlines over the past couple of centuries. He saw five striking facts:

  • First, ownership of private wealth—with its power to command resources, dictate where and how people would work, and shape politics—was always highly concentrated.
  • Second, 150 years—six generations—ago, the ratio of a country’s total private wealth to its total annual income was about six.
  • Third, 50 years—two generations—ago, that capital-income ratio was about three.
  • Fourth, over the past two generations that capital-income ratio has been rising rapidly.
  • Fifth, the flow of income to the owner of the dollar capital did not rise when capital was relatively scarce, but plodded along at a typical net rate of profit of about 5% per year generation after generation.

He wondered what these facts predicted for the shape of the major North Atlantic economies in the 21st century. And so he wrote a big book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century **READ MOAR at Talking Points Memo

Version with annotations, references, and deleted scenes:

Photo of Thomas Piketty in Sweden, June 30, 2014. (AP Photo/Janerik Henriksson)

December 22, 2015


Brad DeLong
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