The Three Faces of Thomas Piketty

Chris Gregory

    Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


    Reflections on a No.1 bestseller: I have read Thomas Pikettys acclaimed book three times and my reaction has been different each time, due in part to the various times and places of my reading. The first reading was on my Kindle on a plane trip to Johannesburg and my reaction was positive. The mania driving the Piketty bubble was nearing its peak and I, like so many others, was captured by Pikettys persuasive rhetoric. The second reading was on the return trip to Australia some two weeks later. That time my reaction was negative. Having just spent two weeks in a country with one of the most unequal income distributions in the world it occurred to me that the author of this wealthy nationcentric book had absolutely no understanding of poor-nation poverty, in particular, or global inequality more generally. The third reading was at a more leisurely pace at my desk in Canberra. This time I was armed with a hard copy of his book, internet access to the online appendices on Pikettys website and some of the reviews of his book. By now the bubble had burst. Early rave reviews by Nobel Prizewinning economists were now replaced with tales of fundamental errors in his statistical data and logical flaws in his theoretical argument. As the voices of these inequality deniers began to reach full volume I realised that it was time for me to take a more dispassionate approach to the book. Perhaps there was something that this book has to teach anthropologists about the principles that govern the distribution of income among the top 1%, and the next 9%, in rich countries?
    Original languageEnglish
    Specialist publicationArena Magazine
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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