Other reviews of Capital

Having looked into our own review of Capital, and discussed some of the common misconceptions of the book, now is the time to allow a bit more perspective.  Here are a bunch of other reviews of Capital in the 21st Century that I have hunted down.  There is no way I’m saying I agree with all the reviews here – as if I did, my opinions would constantly contradict!  Instead, I just want as broad a range of views here as possible.

There is no particular order, but it appears that the more critical ones are ‘on average’ at the top.  This is because they turned up later, and I tended to add things near the top of the list as I was too lazy to scroll down 🙂

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Some misconceptions about Capital in the 21st Century

After reading Piketty’s book, I have run into a good number of comments from people about it.  Some of them appear to be based on some confusion about what the book is saying.  Below I’m going to note down some of the more popular ones, and point out why they are not backed by the central thesis in Capital.  This follows on from yesterday’s review.

This is not a criticism of any of the people making these claims – given the way the book has been discussed, and the nature of the text, I can understand where the confusion has come from.

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Book review: Capital

Here is my book review of Capital in the Twenty-First Century [Review of Capital].  I have tried to avoid other reviews, so that I can give a perspective based on my own reading of the book – the only bits I’ve noted before now are these discussions, this twitter post, these “reviews”, and this interview.  As a result, I have probably covered a lot of ground that has already been covered, just in a less informed fashion – my apologies!

My review is very long (20 pages).  Although it is still written as a blog post there are no hyperlinks or links to other blog posts, I’ve tried to go directly to literature instead.  Here is a pdf version of the review [Review of Capital].  So if, instead of reading this online, you’d prefer to make yourself a coffee, grab some dark chocolate, lie down on a bearskin rug in front of a roaring fire, and fall asleep to something, then this review should do the trick.

I will put down a cut down (and more accessible) version at some point well in the future – it already exists but is promised to other people.  In this post I will just put the “summary” section, if you want to read the full review you will have to click on the pdf version of the review.  My review is not very accessible, and I’m sorry about that.  However, I didn’t feel that I could discuss Piketty’s argument as “one thing” when it is very multifaceted – I hope this is clear from the summary at the start.  Going through the argument in the way I have, and then discussing assumptions involved individually, helped me to understand what is going on – so I may as well still share it 🙂

Note:  In the review there were two things I directly said, but I’m not sure if my language was clear enough – but as I can’t access the file prior to posting I’ll just stay here.  1) In the example, the higher MPL from higher K drives up w and drives down r, that is why I state w/r is higher – my language isn’t quite clear enough in it.  2) when discussing the average as the minimum wage worker, the point is that in reality individuals/households “move between” income deciles a lot, making this an awful benchmark – again my language may not be clear enough.

If you catch logical mistakes in the review, I’d love to hear from you – the reason I wrote this without reading anything else was to ensure that I gave the book an honest appraisal, on the basis of my actual understanding.  I’m more than happy to learn where my understanding is wrong.  Here is the introduction and summary:

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General Equilibrium and factor shares

Note:   I want you all to be highly critical of my posts on factor shares – and where you can throw literature at me.  I wrote a bunch of posts in a single day based on one book (and some prior knowledge), I have no appeal to authority here and would love to have your ideas thrown in there 🙂

I was surprised that there was a chapter focused solely in general equilibrium – and not GE in general, but competitive, neo-classical, GE.  I was especially surprised as such a model isn’t really “built” for distributional analysis – economists often say we need a different framework to do distributional work!

It is a neat chapter though, so let’s pop it in here 🙂 Read more

Neo-Ricardian factor shares

Note:   I want you all to be highly critical of my posts on factor shares – and where you can throw literature at me.  I wrote a bunch of posts in a single day based on one book (and some prior knowledge), I have no appeal to authority here and would love to have your ideas thrown in there 🙂

Last time I said I thought Neo-Ricardian was Post-Keynesian – it seems like they have similar authors, but the essays focus on different “important elements”.  Furthermore, the direct issues with “neo-classical factor models” are indeed clearer here!  However, the focus seems much more on short-term, and in some ways monetary policy, issues rather than long-term trends in factor shares.  That is ok, but it is important to note that some of the Post-Keynesian models in these chapters are discussing different questions than the questions the earlier part of the book was based on. Read more

Post-Keynesian factor shares

Note:   I want you all to be highly critical of my posts on factor shares – and where you can throw literature at me.  I wrote a bunch of posts in a single day based on one book (and some prior knowledge), I have no appeal to authority here and would love to have your ideas thrown in there 🙂

We are now in an area which is getting well outside my area of knowledge, so I’m hoping these essays will help tighten me up 🙂 .  I see there is an essay on Post-Keynesian income distribution work and a following one on Neo-Ricardian income distribution work (which I am marginally more familiar with) – I had thought they were the same thing, so hopefully I learn the difference while reading 🙂

I am sure many of you know more than me – and I’m more than happy to have things explained to me as I’m keen to learn.  Just remember, the goal here is to explore ideas about factor shares and what they mean in a distributional sense – not to dig too far into ideology or policy. Read more