June 18, 2014 at 10:58 am #101704
FWIW: me on Pikettyhttp://bigchieftablets.wordpress.com/2014/06/18/an-introduction-to-thomas-pikettys-capital-in-the-21st-century/June 18, 2014 at 12:04 pm #101705
A very good set of comments. The book takes it's place alongside the Spirit Level in scientific analysis. the important thing is they will have to take him on (some have had a pop at the Spirit Level, the main effect of which has been chaff for people to use as distraction rebuttals).The important thing, with Marx, wasn't every last line and formula of Capital, but the fact that he was with and of the workers' movement too, IMNSHO.June 18, 2014 at 12:34 pm #101706
Good point, thanks, Master Smeet!June 18, 2014 at 8:05 pm #101707
My copy arrived yesterday. Going to start reading it tomorrow. Don't know when I'll finish it as i's 670 pages.June 19, 2014 at 1:08 am #101708
Another review of the book to add to reading list by an advocate of the New Economics Movement that supports a "living wealth money system… to democratize the creation and allocation of money"http://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/06/18-13http://www.neweconomyworkinggroup.org/June 19, 2014 at 10:40 am #101674
Just watched most of an interview with Piketty on BBC's HardTalk. Seems he is not so liked by many of his fellow economists. Probably a case of one of their own letting on about the nature of capitalism. When the interviewer Sackur pressed him he stated several times he believed in market forces and capitalism, but was not so comfortable with the examples of extreme inequality that are increasing. He explained that the info regarding wealth accumulation is far from transparent.Not really a surprise that the establishment don't like the info on wealth distribution to be easy to interpret. That Sackur is a blatant apologist for capitalism, openly claiming it is a dynamic system of opportunity for all. It's as if the likes of him think the millions of people who go hungry every day are an unusual anomaly, or acceptable "collateral damage".June 19, 2014 at 11:40 am #101709
"I have no problem with inequality per se, Up to a point it can be a motivation for growth." PikettyJune 19, 2014 at 12:35 pm #101710
Piketty is not a socialist or Marxist and doesn't remotely pretend to be. This makes his argument more powerful in a way. When the right attack him for being a socialist or Marxist, when he obviously isn't, they stand revealed as being exactly what Marx said they were: apologists for wealth and power, not remotely interested in a scientific approach to economic questions. Piketty is against extremes of inequality but not inequality per se – this is consistent with his position. But it's the position of most socialists too – the demand is not for equality, but for the fulfilment of individual need, of freedom.June 19, 2014 at 1:57 pm #101711
To Socialist Punk:I think you are wrong about Stephen Sackur. I too saw his interview with Picketty whom I thought handled himself well, although his heavy French accent made it difficult for me hear him clearly. Sackur, alike those before him who appeared in Hard Talk, always takes the role of Devil’s Advocate. This is how the program is structured, so interviewees must know this beforehand surely. The interviewer is always going to be hard-headed in putting hard questions to the interviewee. It’s why it’s called Hard Talk and not something wussy like Questions and Answers. Sackur asked Picketty what he objected to about inequality, by quoting from a Canadian economist (I didn’t catch the name) who said something like “what Picketty has against inequality can be stated in one word: envy”. It’s the Canadian economist you should be calling “a blatant apologist for capitalism”, not Sackur. Sackur also questioned Picketty’s claim that the top wealth holders in the world were mainly those whose wealth was inherited. He referred to the latest Forbes 400 list of wealthy Americans and pointed out that most of those at the top had acquired their billions not through inheritance but rather through their talents and hard work (so he said). That doesn’t seem to me an unfair question at all since it was aimed directly at a major argument of Picketty, like asking “where’s your evidence?” Forbes BTW has carried the most hostile reviews of Picketty’s book that I have read so far. It’s surely appropriate for a Devil’s Advocate to go the lair of the capitalists to forge his questions to Picketty. Meanwhile, I too(like ALB) have finally bought a copy of the book, and have read 100 pages so far. 570 to go! So far, I agree with Stuart’s appraisal (see#30, #31).June 19, 2014 at 2:04 pm #101712
BTW, The programme can still be watched here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b048ns2s/hardtalk-thomas-piketty-economistJune 20, 2014 at 5:15 pm #101713
Hi pgbThat's a fair point about the nature of the show HardTalk and I agree with you that Piketty seemed to handle himself well. But I don't think Sackur was being Devil's Advocate on that point, Piketty was not having a go at the nature of capitalism as such, he agrees with it as an economic system, as Sackur would have been aware. So I saw his praise for the dynamism of capitalism as an unnecessary defence, as he went on to say that standards of living for ordinary people have improved. As I pointed out he must see starving children in "undeveloped" countries as a smudge on the glossy screen of capitalism, "…capitalism has delivered and continues to deliver." with Piketty in agreement. Didn't see much in the way of Devil's Advocate there.I still stand by my view that Sackur is an apologist, as are m0st mainstream journalists.June 23, 2014 at 7:18 am #101714
Stuart, pgb and anyone else reading or who has read Piketty's Capital, I have just finished reading chapter 6 but I can't understand the criticism of Marx he makes in the section "Back to Marx and the Falling Rate of Profit" (which I've read three times).He seems to be attributing to Marx the view that there is no growth of national income per head under capitalism or at least of not taking this into account. I can understand why Piketty might want to discuss an interesting limiting case where there is no such growth, but not why he would want to attribute this view to Marx (and Ricardo, John Stuart Mill, etc). Perhaps because he seems to think that Marx held the rate of profit will fall "inexorably" as capital accumulation proceeds.Anyway, what do others think he is trying to get at or of what he says?The ironic thing is that in this chapter Piketty argues that there is a tendency for the rate of profit (as the rate on return on capital as he defines it) to fall, though for different reasons than Marx or Ricardo, but that this can, has been and is offset by counter tendencies. Which of course was Marx's view too.Despite what he is reported to have said, Piketty clearly has read some of Marx as he discusses what Marx wrote in part of Volume I of Capital and in Value, Price and Profit. In fact, in footnote 33 on pages 600-1 he says he has done a detailed analysis of what Marx wrote in these places about profits' share and the rate of exploitation and that this is in the "online technical appendix". I can't find this part of the appendix online if anyone can help.June 23, 2014 at 7:37 am #101715Piketty wrote:Iwrite in the book on p.229 that Marx gavesome examples of companies’ accounts, which can let us imagine the capital intensity he had in mind. The more elaborated statistics that Marx analyzed can be found, for most of them, in Capital (1867),Volume 1, Chapter 25, named “ The General Law of Capital Accumulation”, or more exactly in the huge appendix 10 to Chapter 25. In particular, Marx used in this appendix the statistics from the Britishcorporate income tax 1846-1866. He intended to show that capital-intensive development is characterized by an explosion of the profits and potentially an increasing concentration of the capital. He wrote for instance that the industrial profits (as well as rent land ) rose by around 40%-50% between 1853 and 1864 whereas the population only rose by 12%. However, he did not try to estimatethe level and the evolution of the wage bill, of the production and of the national income, and as a consequence he did not tackle the question of the capital-labor split or the capital/income ratio. In particular, he did not try to link the fiscal statistics with the estimates of national capital and national income, which had multiplied in the United Kingdom since the beginning of the 18th century (Petty, King) and in the 19th century (Colquhoun), and which Giffen was about to systematize in the 1860s-1880s (his work is not quoted by Marx). He also gave some information about a possible increasing concentration of profits and wealth but rather anecdotally. In fact, the data that Marx used and that give the mostinformation and can let us have a better idea of what kind of capital -intensity he had in mind are in theChapter 9 of the Volume 1 of Capital called "The Rates of Surplus-Value". In particular , Marx gives a detailed example on the accounts of a mill, "given by the owner himself", specifying the whole set of technological and financial aspects, the fixed and variable assets, the number of spindles and workers, as well as the profits and wage bill, the quantity of cotton and coal used for the production, and of course the rent. Even if Marx did not exactly put it this way, it results from the accounts that the capital-intensity of this mill is extremely high with a K/Y ratio around 10, and a capital share about 50%, or even higher (which corresponds to a profits/wages ratio, or "rate of exploitation" according to Marx’s terminology, about 100%, or even more). On the basis of other examples of mills mentioned in this chapter or in other parts of the book, we can consider that it is the kind of order of magnitude Marx had in mind for the industrial capitalism of his time.June 23, 2014 at 11:22 am #101716
Interesting, I shall read carefully when I get that far and get back to you (as I hint in my review, I reviewed it before I’d finished reading it!). But if you can’t get it, I doubt I will! CheersJune 23, 2014 at 4:27 pm #101717
http://piketty.pse.ens.fr/files/Piketty2014Capital21c.pdfThis appears to be the Janet & John version.Interestingly, he defines r as being net of tax, which, from our perspective of seeing tax as a part of surplus value makes things interesting.Check out figure 3.1, note the decline in Agricultural capital.Table 21.1, the global growth of the top fractiles is a killer, it's exactly the point which we always emphasise: their wealth grows faster than ours.•Marx: with g=0,β↑∞, r→0 : revolution, war•My conclusions are less apocalyptic : with g>0, at least we have a steady-state β/gBut he notes that with any growth, the returns of capital grow disproportionately.(That's seems to be his conclusion, I think the formulas need translating, over to you Adam).
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