Piketty update: graduate takes on a super star and comes up with a comforting conclusion

Michael Roberts Blog

The work of Thomas Piketty is back in the spotlight among mainstream economists (see my post, https://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2014/04/15/thomas-piketty-and-the-search-for-r/).

After Piketty’s book, Capital in the 21st century, won the business book Oscars as a best seller in America last year, discussion of the book quietened after the American Economics Association’s annual jamboree came to an end in January (see my post, https://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2015/01/06/assa-part-one-the-rise-in-inequality-and-the-fall-in-piketty/).

But debate has been revived by the work of 26-year graduate student, Matthew Rognlie. Rognlie’s recent work on the Marginal Revolution blog run by neoclassical economist, Tyler Cowen, from George Mason University (http://marginalrevolution.com/), has revived discussion of Piketty, prompting the man himself to reply.

Contrary to Piketty’s view that the inequality of wealth in the major capitalist economies was set to rise over this century unless action was taken, Rognlie disputes this. Rognlie wrote in his blog post that the French economist’s argument “misses a subtle…

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