Simon Tormey reviews 'Chronicles: On our troubled times' by Thomas Piketty

Simon Tormey reviews 'Chronicles: On our troubled times' by Thomas Piketty

Chronicles: On our troubled times

by by Thomas Piketty, translated by Seth Ackerman

Viking, $29.99 pb, 191 pp, 9780241234914

Thomas Piketty is of course the French economist who shot to fame, somewhat improbably, on the back of an 800-page tub thumper Capital in the Twenty-First Century, published in 2013. Notwithstanding the exorbitant length of the book, one that defeated all but determined professional readers, the message was handily clear. While economic growth is making societies richer, they are also becoming more unequal. This growing inequality is not the result of the rich working harder or longer, but because passive income, or 'rents' earned from land and patents, is far outstripping growth in salaries. Moreover, since these rents can be passed on down the generations, wealth and privilege encrusts itself in the hands of the few, irrespective of talent, merit, or ability.

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Published in August 2016, no. 383

Simon Tormey

Simon Tormey is Professor of Politics at the University of Sydney. His many books include Anti-Capitalism: A beginner’s guide, revised in 2013 for Oneworld, and most recently The End of Representative Politics (Polity Press, 2015). His new book, Populism: A beginner’s guide (Oneworld) will appear in 2019.

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