Capital in the Twenty-First Century Summary and Reviews

Capital in the Twenty-First Century

by Thomas Piketty

Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty X
Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty
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Book Summary

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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Reviews

Media Reviews

"The book aims to revolutionize the way people think about the economic history of the past two centuries. It may well manage the feat." - The Economist

"It is a great work, a fearsome beast of analysis stuffed with an awesome amount of empirical data, and will surely be a landmark study in economics." - The Week

"Groundbreaking…Piketty's new volume offers a fresh perspective and a wealth of newly compiled data that will go a long way in helping us understand how capitalism actually works." - Fortune

"The proper role of public intellectuals is to question accepted dogmas, conceive of new methods of analysis, and expand the terms of public debate. Capital in the Twenty-first Century does all these things…Piketty has written a book that nobody interested in a defining issue of our era can afford to ignore." - The New Yorker

"It seems safe to say that Capital in the Twenty-First Century, the magnum opus of the French economist Thomas Piketty, will be the most important economics book of the year--and maybe of the decade." - The New York Times

"The most eagerly anticipated book on economics in many years." - Globe and Mail

"A seminal book on the economic and social evolution of the planet… A masterpiece." - Marianne (France)

"The book of the season." - Telerama (France)

"Outstanding… A political and theoretical bulldozer." - Mediapart (France)

"An explosive argument." - Liberation (France)

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Author Information

Thomas Piketty

Thomas Piketty is Professor at the Paris School of Economics.

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