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Doubling the Brent Cross Shopping Centre: Hammerson says the wealthy will arrive by bus! (New York Review of Books: "Capital in the Twenty-First Century")

Link to web site [image is from elsewhere]

"Thomas Piketty, professor at the Paris School of Economics, isn’t a household name, although that may change with the Harvard University English-language publication of his magnificent, sweeping meditation on inequality, Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Yet his influence runs deep. It has become a commonplace to say that we are living in a second Gilded Age—or, as Piketty likes to put it, a second Belle Époque—defined by the incredible rise of the 'one percent'.

"But it has only become a commonplace thanks to Piketty’s work. In particular, he and a few colleagues (notably Anthony Atkinson at Oxford and Emmanuel Saez at Berkeley) have pioneered statistical techniques that make it possible to track the concentration of income and wealth deep into the past—back to the early twentieth century for America and Britain, and all the way to the late eighteenth century for France.

The result has been a revolution in our understanding of long-term trends in inequality. Before this revolution, most discussions of economic disparity more or less ignored the very rich. Some economists (not to mention politicians) tried to shout down any mention of inequality at all: 'Of the tendencies that are harmful to sound economics, the most seductive, and in my opinion the most poisonous, is to focus on questions of distribution,' declared Robert Lucas Jr. of the University of Chicago, the most influential macroeconomist of his generation, in 2004.

"But even those willing to discuss inequality generally focused on the gap between the poor or the working class and the merely well-off, not the truly rich—on college graduates whose wage gains outpaced those of less-educated workers, or on the comparative good fortune of the top fifth of the population compared with the bottom four fifths, not on the rapidly rising incomes of executives and bankers.

It therefore came as a revelation when Piketty and his colleagues showed that incomes of the now famous 'one percent', and of even narrower groups, are actually the big story in rising inequality.

Another review and videos: Huffington Post.

Link to The Guardian

The Guardian:
"Thomas Piketty's Capital: everything you need to know about the surprise bestseller"
"Piketty's argument is that, in an economy where the rate of return on capital outstrips the rate of growth, inherited wealth will always grow faster than earned wealth. So the fact that rich kids can swan aimlessly from gap year to internship to a job at father's bank/ministry/TV network – while the poor kids sweat into their barista uniforms – is not an accident: it is the system working normally.

"... Piketty has, more accurately, placed an unexploded bomb within mainstream, classical economics. If the underlying cause of the 2008 bank catastrophe was falling incomes alongside rising financial wealth then, says Piketty, these were no accident: no product of lax regulation or simple greed. The crisis is the product of the system working normally, and we should expect more.

"... You would expect the Wall Street Journal to dissent, but the power of Piketty's work is that it also challenges the narrative of the centre-left under globalisation, which believed upskilling the workforce, combined with mild redistribution, would promote social justice. This, Piketty demonstrates, is mistaken. All that social democracy and liberalism can produce, with their current policies, is the oligarch's yacht co-existing with the food bank for ever."

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