Staggering stats

Article in the March 31 New Yorker cites French economist Thomas Piketty and his new book Capital in the Twenty-first Century, being hailed as a major intellectual event. While Piketty himself is interesting, I was drawn to the economic portrait described in the article. These statistics would be utterly astonishing … were it not for the fact that I’ve read something like them before. For example, author John Cassidy writes that in 2010 the richest 10% of American households owned 70% of the nation’s wealth, while the bottom 50% owned a mere 5%.  The top 1%  alone owned 35% of the wealth. According to Piketty, 95% of all the income growth in the U.S. economy between 2010 and 2012 accrued to the top 1%. Piketty avers that, in the level of inequality in terms of income generated by work, America is “probably higher than in any other society at any time in the past, anywhere in the world.”  I will leave that for economists to decide. No doubt Piketty has his critics — and Cassidy himself offers a critique — but the article is still a sobering read. (This New Yorker issue is on the Library’s magazine rack on the entry floor.)

 

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