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on 22 September 2014
Succinct . and to the point A clear expose of factual information which has deliberately been ignored by UK and EU despite the grotesque failure of the "market forces" and "privatisation" policies .which have been followed.
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on 17 September 2014
A really good summary of a complex book. Handy as a study tool and also to have to hand to remind one of the complex issues involved in capital and its development.
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on 10 June 2017
A hugely important book; the world in which we live makes a lot more sense when you've finished reading it.
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on 29 October 2014
Great book and a great trader
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on 11 September 2014
A very practical and clear text on how T Picketty wrote his 950 page book. Our recommend it to anyone who is interested in Capitalism as a theory but does not have the time to read the original publication.
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on 15 August 2015
Yet again, I haven't finished it. but I thoroughly enjoyed what I did read, and, of course, learned a great deal in the process.
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‘Capital in the Twenty-First Century’ written by Thomas Piketty who is a Professor at the Paris School of Economics is a well-made evaluation of trends in the world economy until the 21st century. This is a translation of a book that was last year originally published in French, which I read on the original, but in English is much more understandable and therefore more accessible to a wider group of readers what with its quality certainly deserves.

The Piketty’s book is quite extensive, so take some solid amount of time for its nearly 700 pages that will definitely not disappoint you, but do not expect to read them as some light novel. ‘Capital in the Twenty-First Century’ is divided into four major units – ‘Income and Capital’, ‘The Dynamics of the Capital/Income Ratio’, ‘The Structure of Inequality’ and ‘Regulating Capital in the Twenty-First century’- and as good add-on that is for such a book mandatory supplement, the author at the end of the text added Index, his notes, contents in detail and list of book tables and illustrations.

At the very beginning Thomas Piketty raises significant questions which answer why he decided to write his book – “…But what do we really know about the distribution of wealth over the long term? Do the dynamics of private capital accumulation inevitably lead to the concentration of wealth in ever fewer hands, as Karl Marx believed in the nineteenth century? Or do the balancing forces of growth, competition, and technological progress lead in later stages of development to reduced inequality and greater harmony among the classes, as Simon Kuznets thought in the twentieth century? What do we really know… and what lessons can we derive from that knowledge for the century now under way?”

The author sincerely admits that his answers are not perfect and fully complete, but they are based on much more extensive historical and comparative research than were available to economists and researchers, covering three centuries and numerous countries, starting from the United States, providing a new framework that enables a better understanding of economy hidden mechanisms.

And although it might seem that this book is intended only to economic experts, due to its informativeness and clarity, ‘Capital in the Twenty-First Century’ will intrigue also general audience interested in economic developments and long term distribution of income and wealth.

After reading Piketty’s book the reader will, however, be clear that the author comes from Europe because his views are quite different from the American conservative ones, but we must not forget that a work based on such amount of data and the long period of trend observation no one has written before.

Therefore ‘Capital in the Twenty-First Century’ can certainly be considered credible and recommendable to read.
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on 9 April 2016
Hard work, but important. What this needs is a plain English summary for a 10 year old. Here goes:

Money works like this: the wealthiest 10% own 90% of stuff (money, land, buildings, investments). On that, they earn roughly 5%. So if you’ve got a million pounds, without getting out of bed you’ll get 50,000 of income a year. Better yet, because the returns on investment (about 5%) are higher than the growth in incomes (about 1-2%) the rich get even richer over the years.

That’s pretty much the way the world has always worked – why Kings get to build palaces, how the Pope got rich, and how Downton Abbey ran. It explains why many of the wealthiest in the world today haven’t done a days work in their lives. The average French citizen gets 70% of income from wages, and 30% from investment returns – but for the poor it nearly all comes from wages, and for the rich, they get more of their income from their investments. This is why if you want to be rich, you’re better off inheriting money or marrying into a rich family!

But things have changed over time. Things got really unequal before the French Revolution, and during Industrial Revolution Britain (Charles Dickens wrote about that). It was one of the reasons behind the downfall of the Russian Tsar and the rise of communism and the start of the 20th Century.
But the wealth inequalities fell – quickly and dramatically last century. The first and second world war (and Great Depression between) destroyed much of the wealth of the rich. The end of Britain’s empire lost overseas assets worth over 4 times national income (40 times greater than the cost of physical destruction of the first and second world wars to Germany!). After the second world war, Western governments gave greater consideration to equality – in France for instance controls were set on maximum rents tenants needed to pay landlords; never-before seen levels of income taxes were introduced (the top UK tax-rate never fell below 90% from 1948-1979); and a new inheritance tax was created which meant that when people died, some of their money went to the government instead of their children. Also, the economy was growing faster than at any time ever in history. And when that happens, incomes grow too – creating more opportunities for people to create new fortunes (like Bill Gates’ from Microsoft). The result of all this was that the proportion of capital to income fell from 7:1 in 1870 to 2:1 in 1950. People were beginning to live of the money they earned rather than the income of their investments.

But things are now reversing – and we are returning to levels of inequality described by Charles Dickens and Jane Austin over 100 years ago. The capital to income ratio is now back up to 6:1. In the USA, the wealthiest 10% own 70%. That’s not as bad as the 90% as they owned in 1910, but it’s much unequal than the 50% they owned in the 50s. The poorest half of Americans own just 2% of its stuff.

Why has society become so unequal again?

One answer is that the world is simply returning to the way it’s always been. The period from 1910-1980 was simply an exception to the general rule – with horrible wars that destroyed wealth, and Western governments introducing special policies which gave priority to equality. In part, this was a reaction to the Communism which spread globally – to give capitalism a gentle face.

But by around 1980, and particularly after the fall of communism around 1990, people were less bothered about sharing wealth equally. Income taxes, rent controls, and inheritance taxes were all cut. And the removal of capital controls allowed the wealthy to move their assets to tax-free places around the world to seek out the highest-possible returns. Super-high salaries for top managers became common (why fight for a pay rise if 90% is going to the tax-man?)

So, almost without realising it, our world has returned to the old-normal. In Jane Austin’s time, landowners collected 5% rent on their land and went shooting. Nowadays the sons of Chinese billionaires collect 5% dividend on their shareholdings and play shooting computer games. For me this raises the question: at what point did Western public decide that we no longer cared about the distribution of wealth in society? If it’s the result of a conscious decision, then so be it. But I wonder instead if we haven’t just sleepwalked there, too preoccupied with fiddling on our iPhones and Twitter to realise that a fundamental shift in society has taken place. The French and Russians had revolutions – what are we going to do about it?
Thomas Piketty proposes a global tax on capital – a little bit, per year, and what you have. I’m sceptical that’ll be made to work – after all, we live in a world where China (apparently) invests more in the British Virgin Islands than it does in Europe – the idea of the wealthy of the world (and the tax-havens) suddenly agreeing to behave like saints seems a bit far fetched.
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on 6 January 2015
Lenin said that in order to have a revolution you need a disaffected middle class. If Pikerty is right, then we may well be well on the way to getting one. This is a scholarly work. The analysis of wealth and income is painstaking and meticulous and although it is possible to argue that given the nature of the data he has to use, uncertainties etc he may have some things wrong, the over-all thrust of his argument is not affected by this. His solution, however a universal wealth tax is another thing. Whatever your political persuasion this will give you something to chew on, and may cause you to question some of your assumptions whether you are on the right or the left, moderate or extreme. Not an easy read, but well worth the effort. If you live in in Britain, you might well consider the various parties political manifestos for the forthcoming election agains this analysis. All the spin doctors of whatever party would would I think would probably not want you to do so whatever interests they represent.
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on 4 October 2014
Interesting summary if a brief idea of the book's contents is what one wants. Unfortunately it is marred by inexcusable spelling, grammar and syntax errors leaving room for doubt about the seriousness of the rest of the content.
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