The French Critique Piketty

So report Tyler Cowen and Veronique de Rugy:

. . . some other French economists have taken the lead in challenging Mr. Piketty’s empirical claims. One recent paper by four economists at l’Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris challenges Mr. Piketty’s view that inequality has increased because the return to capital has been greater than general growth in the economy. The current shorthand is “r > g.”

The paper argues that the higher growth of capital rests entirely on returns to housing, and takes technical issues with the book’s treatment of housing, too. If Mr. Piketty’s argument depends on housing, it hardly seems to match his basic story about the ongoing ascendancy of capitalists.

I remind you that we are supposed to ignore these kinds of critiques because Paul Krugman commands us to.

I do want to read Piketty’s book. By all accounts, it is very well written (the translation is quite good and accessible), witty, and interesting. And perhaps there are arguments to be found in the book with which I will agree. But can we stop pretending that the book is absolutely immune from criticism? It is not good for us to do so, given many of the cogent critiques that have come out regarding Piketty’s work. Paul Krugman may enjoy living in an intellectual bubble, but the thought fills the rest of us with a sense of horror.

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