A valuable contribution from Michael Roberts. It might sound a bit technical or abstract, but it is relevant to the Democratic Party debate the other night. What Roberts takes apart here is exactly what Sanders and Warren argued in that debate.
Back in 2014, French economist Thomas Piketty published a blockbuster book, Capital in the 21st century. Repeating the name of Marx’s Capital, the implication of the title was that it was an updating Marx’s 19th century critique of capitalism for the 21st century. Piketty argued that the inequality of income and wealth in the major capitalist economies had reached extremes not seen since the late 18th century and unless something was done, inequality would continue to rise.
The book had a huge impact, not just among economists (particularly in America, less so in France) but also among the general public. Two million copies were sold of this monumental 800p publication which was full of theoretical arguments, empirical data and anecdotes to explain increased inequality of wealth in modern capitalist economies. The book eventually won the dubious honour for the most bought book that nobody read, taking over from Stephen…
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