Spotlight on Piketty
Thomas Piketty, Martin Wolf CBE and David Smith with debate Chair Stephanie Flanders
In conjunction with Intelligence Squared we bring you a debate on the work of Thomas Piketty. Thomas’s book Capital in the 21st Century was the surprise publishing sensation of 2014 and the recent winner of the 2014 Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year . An analysis of the causes and growth of inequality, it has sold nearly half a million copies worldwide to date. It was described by many reviewers as the economic book not just of the year, but of recent decades.
How is that a young, largely unknown French economist stirred up such a massive worldwide debate on inequality, a topic that Nobel Prize-winning economists such as Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman have been writing about for most of their careers? The answer lies in Piketty’s main argument, backed up by his extensive research, which states that capital – whether invested in the stock market or property – will always grow faster than income. As a result, he argues, people who are already rich will carry on getting richer, while those who depend on income will never catch up. Piketty’s solution? A global redistribution of wealth that would give poorer earners some capital to invest.
Thomas Piketty is professor at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS) and professor at the Paris School of Economics. He is the author of the bestselling book Capital in the Twenty-First Century (2014), which emphasises the themes of his work on wealth concentration and distribution over the past 250 years.
Martin Wolf is Associate Editor and Chief Economics Commentator at the Financial Times, London. He was awarded the CBE (Commander of the British Empire) in 2000 for services to financial journalism.
Mr Wolf is an honorary fellow of Nuffield College, Oxford University, of Corpus Christi College, Oxford University, of the Oxford Institute for Economic Policy (Oxonia) and of King’s College, London. He is also an honorary professor at the University of Nottingham and a member of the Board of Governors of the Ben Gurion University of the Negev, in Israel. He was a member of the UK government’s Independent Commission on Banking between June 2010 and September 2011. In 2014, he was made a University Global Fellow of Columbia University, New York, and a Senior Fellow in Global Economic Policy at its School of International Public Affairs.
David Smith has been Economics Editor of The Sunday Times since 1989. He is the author of several books, including most recently The Age of Instability: The Global Financial Crisis and What Comes Next.
Stephanie was BBC economics editor from 2008 to 2013. She presented numerous BBC television and radio programmes, including her own economics discussion show, ‘Stephanomics’, named after her influential blog. She is now chief market strategist for the UK and Europe for J.P. Morgan Asset Management.