Piketty's methods: parsing wealth inequality data and its critique


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Currently reading a digital copy. When faced with such a mighty tome in that medium, it can take a while to dawn on you…

It was when I’d finished the introduction which used enough words for three short stories, I knew I was holding a thick book.

I’m not a lot further into it yet, but it seems pretty plain so far that Piketty is fair dinkum; he has the hallmarks of a proper scholar.

You know how occasionally a book comes along that has a marked effect on society? I hope this book does that, hard.

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Paul Krugman on his blog is of the opinion that Piketty’s critics didn’t lay a finger on him.



Unfortunately, they don’t have to come up with any substantive criticisms in order to succeed. Every bit of evidence for a progressive cause gets this sort of flack. It’s almost formulaic-

  • Come up with some minor nitpick or (in this case) misinterpret the numbers and cherry-pick the data to support another conclusion.
  • It gets reported in the media as “one set of talking heads says this, another say the opposite”, because journalism doesn’t extend to reporting the facts or any hard analysis.
  • People with a vested political interest keep on referring to the inaccurate criticism and get away with it, because it takes time and effort to fact check everything.

I’m only 10% in, but I’m worried that Piketty hasn’t yet mentioned fractional reserve banking.

I’m not sure how he can hope to paint a representative picture without reference to the money system.

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