More About Capital in the 21st Century

Capital in the 21st Century

For a more in depth look, watch this 90-minute talk during his visit to CUNY’s graduate center.

Piketty Explained: Full Summary

The only post on this blog thoroughly breaks down Capital in 30 second and 15 minute summaries.

“Capital”, Summarised in Four Paragraphs

A (very) brief summary from The Economist. The comment section is quite an adventure.

How Gender Changes “Capital in the Twenty-First Century”

This is one of the few articles that discusses a glaring missing component of Piketty’s capital evaluation -gender and race!

“Capital” and the Developing World by Nancy Birdsall

Birdsall comments on where the developing world fits into Piketty’s model for reducing inequality.

Piketty’s brilliant book does not address the issue of global justice, but it does provoke this question: What is the future of a global capitalist system in which economic opportunities and vulnerabilities are evermore integrated and interdependent, but one without the equivalent of a global state to manage its politics and contain its inegalitarian dynamic?


What to Think About While Reading Capital in the Twenty-First Century

Capital in the 21st Century, Discussion Questions

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1. What was your reaction to the book?

2. What is the significance of inherited wealth?

3. What policy options for reducing wealth inequality are recommended by Piketty?

4. Why would there be no discussion of race or gender in a book that centers on inequality? Hasn’t discrimination contributed greatly to the wealth gap?

5. If those who already have the majority of capital continue to grow returns on it, what does that mean for people in developing communities who are trying to catch up?

6. Economists all have different conclusions (and statistics) about why or how the government should be involved. How would you decide how much government regulation will be effective in reducing inequality?

Add your questions and comments below!

Capital in the Twenty-First Century

Capital in the 21st Century


Happy New Year! I hope you had a good December sans development overload. I spent it reading through the Harry Potter series.

This month we are reading Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty. This book sparked a lot of conversation last year surrounding inequality and its causes. Even those who disagree with Piketty’s diagnosis on labour income and capital admit his work adds immensely to the field of economics. Despite the groundbreaking material (or not for those who think he recycles Marx) there remains a lot of room for discussion about how this book relates to developing countries. Nancy Birdsall has written some of her thoughts here.

Piketty is a French economist who spent over 15 years researching wealth and national growth. Because we only have a month, and a lot of this book focuses on Western countries (especially the USA and France), we are going to read “Introduction” and “Part three: The Structure of Inequality” (chapters 7-12). If you have time to read all 600 pages -go for it!