For those unable to wait until June, and for those who do not subscribe to theJournal of Economic Literature, an early draft of this review is available here . Milanovic callsCapital in the Twenty-First Centuryone of the watershed books in economic thinking. He then goes on to explain why. His review demonstrates both a careful reading ofCapitaland a detailed knowledge of Pikettys previous work. It explains that the value added byCapitalis a general theory of capitalism. In brief, Piketty shows that annual returns to capital income (which mainly go to the very wealthiest households) have been relatively constant at 4%-5% over long historical stretches and have exceeded the annual rate of economic growth, whose gains go to average households. The result must be greater inequality, as more income gains go to the wealthy than go to other families. There are few notable exceptions to this trendwars leading to the destruction of capital and high tax rates in order to finance the fighting, and periods of hyperinflation that destroy wealth. During the Golden Era, the post-war decades, high taxes on high incomes and wealth reduced income equality and led to a rising middle class. But such brief historical epochs are aberrations according to Piketty; the dynamics of capitalism tend to return to long-term trends. Rising inequality is inevitable due to the math of returns to capital that exceed economic growth rates.
For the original version, , visit http://dollarsandsense.org/blog/2014/05/live-blogging-piketty-review-reviews-2-2.html
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