Egalitarianism’s Latest Foe: a critical review of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century

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The Real-World Economics Review commissioned a number of us to write critical reviews of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century.  They include, beside the over-signed, David Colander, Edward Fullbrook (who must be credited for the whole issue), James K. Galbraith, Michael Hudson, Richard Koo, Richard Parker, Ann Pettifor, and Robert Wade – see below for links to their papers.

My own contribution is entitled Egalitarianism’s Latest Foe: a critical review of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century. (A Spanish translation is also available here.) Read on for the links to all 16 articles…

real-world economics review, Issue no. 69, 7 October 2014

Special issue on Piketty’s Capital

Download whole issue 

You may post  and read comments on individual papers by clicking below on the paper titles.  To qualify for posting, comments must refer directly to the RWER paper, and not just to other comments.

Posted comments may be considered for publication in the journal.

The Piketty phenomenon and the future of inequality         2
Robert Wade         download pdf 

Egalitarianism’s latest foe        18
Yanis Varoufakis         download pdf

Piketty and the limits of marginal productivity theory        36
Lars Syll         download pdf 

Piketty’s determinism?        44
Ann Pettifor and Geoff Tily         download pdf 

Piketty’s global tax on capital         51
Heikki Patomäki         download pdf

Reading Piketty in Athens         58
Richard Parker         download pdf

Pondering Mexican hurdles while reading Capital in the XXI Century        74
Alicia Puyana Mutis           download pdf

Piketty’s inequality and local versus global Lewis turning points        89
Richard Koo         download pdf 

The growth of capital         100
Merijn Knibbe         download pdf 

Piketty vs. the classical economic reformers         122
Michael Hudson         download pdf 

Is Capital in the Twenty-first century Das Kapital for the twenty-first century?          131
Claude Hillinger         download pdf

Piketty and the resurgence of patrimonial capitalism         138
Jayati Ghosh         download pdf

Unpacking the first fundamental law         145
James K. Galbraith         download pdf

Capital and capital: The second most fundamental confusion         149
Edward Fullbrook         download pdf 

Piketty’s policy proposals: How to effectively redistribute income         161
David Colander         download pdf

Piketty: Inequality, poverty and managerial capitalism         167
Victor. A. Beker          download pdf

Capital in the Twenty-First Century: Are we doomed without a wealth tax?          175

Board of Editors, past contributors, submissions and etc.          181


  • Piketty is clear enough that he uses a definition of economic capital (wealth) instead of productive capital for the sake of practicality in aggregating assets. How else would you add up axes and apps? This results in intuitively unproductive assets such as buildings being counted, but can you disentangle the use value of a building from its monetary value? So long as you count once, i.e. if you count a company as shares you don’t also count the company’s building and machinery, it seems a reasonable approach.

    Where he falls down, I think, is in treating high wage incomes of technocrats and executives as wage, when clearly these incomes are primarily rents from intellectual capital and not compensation for the Marxian capacity to do work.

  • I know its not a constructive comment – but this is the best review of the Capital that I have read to date, and I read quite a few.
    I imagine The grasp of Economic theory, mathematics and so called light pen makes you a formidable enemy to ‘Classical’ bunch. When face-to-face.
    I for one enjoy most of your site content.

    I wish I had such professors when I was going through my Economic Department – good 15 years ago.