My last post referred to my status as the “94-Rock Economist” and “Economist to the Stars” — titles given me by former KRZZ morning show host TJ Trout. The New York Magazine posted an article about Thomas Piketty, the French economist who has made a rather big splash on this side of the Atlantic with his book “Capital in the 21st Century” released in English by Harvard University Press last month. The article refers to Piketty as a “rock star economist,” which is a status I guess economists rarely achieve. I was the 94-Rock Economist for about 20 years, and may survive longer if Swami Rob wants me back on his show more regularly. Time will tell.
But in the meantime, Piketty is getting all the attention. And justly deserved. If you read the many reviews of his 700-page book (The Economist provides a nice review), I’m sure you’ll find his thesis compelling. While he says lots of things, one of the biggies is that the more egalitarian economic experience of the middle of the 20th century was an aberration, a deviation, from the more normal state of things before, and after. We are currently experiencing a period of extreme income inequality, and apparently that’s more the norm than most of us would like. For me, the lasting value of Piketty’s book will be how it brought income, and especially wealth, inequality, back into the center of the discussion. It’s important, and we should be talking about it. Maybe it’s even more important than most things economists talk about.